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Feed Shortage Leads To Pig Cannibalism, China"s Economy Worsens

Feed Shortage Leads To Pig Cannibalism, China's Economy Worsens Authored by Alex Wu via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), A video showing pigs eating a deceased pig on a farm in China went viral recently. Some of the pig farmers, working for a major Chinese financial group, said that the cannibalism occurred because of feed shortages. One expert believes that feed shortages are a reflection of bigger problems in China’s economy. Pigs in a pen at a pig farm in Yiyang County, Henan Province, on Aug. 10, 2018. (Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images) Since July 24, the video has been one of the most searched topics on Chinese social media, putting a spotlight on the listed company and a major pig farming company, Jiangxi Zhengbang Tech (whose subsidiary is Jiangxi Zhengbang Breeding Co.), that contracted the farmers to raise the pigs. Posts about the company have been circulating online, such as “the farmers’ pig feed supply was cut off,” “the chairman of Zhengbang was restricted from buying high-end products,” “the company’s fundraising was delayed,” and “the company’s court ordered total amount of compensation reached 100 million yuan (about $14.8 million),” etc. It caused the stock of Zhengbang Tech to fall 6.66 percent to 5.89 yuan (about $0.87) per share on July 25. The company then issued several announcements in response to the issues. On July 25, Zhengbang Tech admitted that there were interruptions to the pig feed supply in July, citing the downturn in pig prices in June, COVID-19, the company’s funds being tight, logistics issues, and problems in coordination with the feed producers. There’s no mention of compensation for the pig farmers in the statement. The company’s statements did not affirm or deny that pig cannibalism occurred on the farms. Bigger Financial Issues In addition, a “necessary reminder” was included in the Zhengbang statement. It said: “The company’s net profit in the first half of 2022 is expected to lose 3.8 billion to 4.6 billion yuan (about $563 million to $682 million).” The statement has increased worries from the outside world about the company’s “shortage of funds.” Independent current affairs commentator Tang Jingyuan told The Epoch Times on July 27, that there are two main reasons for Zhengbang Tech’s shortage of pig feed. “One is a shortage of funds, and there may even be a break in the capital chain. The other is that the COVID-19 epidemic has caused the logistics system to be blocked, which is the problem with the coordination of logistics distribution and feed mills mentioned in the company’s official statement. Behind these two reasons, the root cause is actually that the economic environment in mainland China has deteriorated due to the regime’s zero-COVID policy and measures, resulting in a vicious cycle of mutual causation between the two reasons mentioned above.” “The deterioration in China’s economy is largely caused by policy mistakes rather than a natural disaster. Zhengbang Tech is only one of the countless companies that pay for it,” he said. Tyler Durden Fri, 08/05/2022 - 21:00.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytAug 5th, 2022

DEFCON 2... Or Cutting Off The Nose To Spite The Face

DEFCON 2... Or Cutting Off The Nose To Spite The Face By Peter Tchir of Academy Securities I had difficulty choosing a title for today. DEFCON 2 made a lot of sense as I’m increasingly worried about the economy and the market – for this summer. On the one hand I’m so perplexed by the messaging that the Fed is prepared to trigger a recession in its fight with inflation that I can’t help but think about cutting off your nose to spite the face. I could almost see Powell starting the press conference with “this is going to hurt me more than it is going to hurt you,” which based on my experience, is rarely true. Inflation - Food To expect monetary policy to reduce food prices seems like a stretch. We all must consume some basic level of food regardless of our income level. Sure, maybe the rich eat more Kraft dinners with fancy ketchup [apologies to the Barenaked Ladies], but food consumption seems relatively inelastic. Maybe lowering the cost of fuel will help reduce the cost of food [shipping, the farmer's use of diesel, etc.], but I'm not sure that will happen quickly enough [or be impactful enough] to help the average consumer in the meantime. Many of those consumers are now facing higher costs of funding - anything from credit cards to ARMs, or any new loan that they are looking at. The supply chain disruption in primarily wheat [and other basic groins due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine] is real and is likely to lost into next year. The longer that lasts, the more stockpiles will be eroded. That is a problem not impacted much one way or the other by interest rates. The shortage of fertilizer [a topic of conversation] will admittedly be helped by reduced energy prices [if the Fed achieves that], but again, I'm not sure this provides much near-term relief, Food, which may or may not be accurately reflected in official inflation measures [when I write may or may not I mean definitely not, but don't want to sound too aggressive] is unlikely to see price declines to the point where the consumer is helped materially. While the official data may or may not be accurate, the consumers know the "real world'' costs and that is affecting their behavior, their sentiment, their outlook, and ultimately their spending, I remain extremely worried about food inflation. Inflation - Energy I'm not sure that even the "after school" specials that used to air on broadcast TV [that always had a morality message] could come up with a plot where the "hero" beats up on the "villain" for most of the show, only to realize that the "villain" has something they need, Then the "hero" reaches out to the "villain" to strike a "mutually" beneficial deal and the "villain," which is so overjoyed to become part of the "good team," immediately acquiesces to that and ignores all the previous messaging, Weirdly, it is a plot too unbelievable for a children's special, but one that "we" (collectively] seem to think will work with Iron, Venezuela, and the Saudis. I won't even touch on the "side plot" of the long-overlooked friend, eagerly waiting for o word of encouragement from the "hero" and ready to step up and deliver, finding itself being treated worse than the "villain" at a time of need. If you missed the Academv Podcast that was "dropped" (I think that's the cool term for it] on Friday, I highly recommend listening to it, General Kearney [ret,] leads the conversation, along with Rachel Washburn, Michael Rodriguez [from an ESG perspective], and me, on nuclear proliferation, the nuclear geopolitical landscape, and also, crucially important, thoughts on the future of nuclear energy, But I've digressed, as those energy issues are really more issues related to D.C. and policy rather than anything controlled by interest rates and Fed policy, But maybe after all I didn't digress that much because I don't see how Fed policy helps reduce energy prices, other than if they are "successful” in derailing the economy. Again, much like food, individuals can only tinker with their need for energy. All of this has a limited impact on overall consumption: keeping the house warmer in the summer, colder in the carpooling a winter, carpooling a bit more, being more organized on errands, convincing the bosses that WFH is good for the environment, etc. Higher energy costs are already causing the demand shrinkage from consumers and I don't see any direct way that higher rates will help reduce gas demand or prices, unless, again, the Fed is "successful" in making the economy worse by a significant margin. On the other side of the coin, higher interest rates seem likely to increase the cost of new production and storage. Any company tying up working capital or expanding production is now experiencing higher interest costs and logic dictates that they will try and pass some of those costs on or not embark on some projects due to the higher cost of funds, So, the rate hikes’ direct impact on energy prices is to probably push them higher as the production and distribution systems face higher costs. Reducing Energy Prices, aka, Hitting the Economy Hard If interest rates are going to reduce energy prices it is going to come from cratering demand for anything and everything that uses energy that can be affected by interest rates! Housing/Real Estate/Construction. I have no idea how much energy goes into building a new home, but I assume a non-trivial amount, The materials that go into constructing a building can be energy intensive [copper piping, etc,], The transportation of these materials to the building site is also expensive, We are already seeing negative data in the housing sector [new home permits are down, expectations for new home sales are declining, the Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index is at its lowest level in a decade [except very briefly in March 2020 during the Covid lockdowns], I'm sure I could find more dato pointing to housing slowing, but maybe highlighting that the Bankrate.com 5/1 ARM national average is at 4.1% versus 2.75% at the start of the year, is sufficient, We could look at 30-year mortgages and really shock you, but I think that the 5/1 is as interesting as the rate environment because it demonstrates that there is little relief anywhere along the curve for those needing new mortgages. Autos. Annualized total U.S, auto sales [published by WARD'S automotive] have fallen recently. This measure has been "choppy" to say the least as auto sales have clearly been hit by supply issues. For many makes and models, I'm hearing the wait time is 6 months for a car where you pick the features and it is built to your specifications [which had become the "normal" way of buying cars]. So, maybe, just maybe, the sales here are still being impacted by that, but I’d have to guess that rising auto loan costs are playing a role as well. The Manheim used vehicle value index is still very high, but has stabilized of late. If that stabilization is related to higher loan costs, then it is bad for the auto industry. If it is related to new cars and trucks being more readily available, it isn't a great sign, since that means the new auto sales indications cannot be entirely explained away by supply constraints. My understanding, given the steel and other components, is a lot of energy goes into producing a new automobile. So, I guess it is "good" news that slowing auto sales [and presumably production] will curb energy demand? Consumer Purchases and Delivery, Everywhere you turn there are stories and anecdotes about consumer purchasing slowing down, CONsumer CONfidence [as discussed last weekend] is atrocious! Not only does energy go into the production of the goods that the consumer was purchasing, but with home delivery being such a feature of today's purchasing behavior, energy consumption should go down as delivery services slow down [and as they continue to become more efficient - a process spurred on by higher gas prices]. I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry. Higher interest rates will "help" reduce demand for autos, housing, and general consumer consumption, Apparently, that is good, because it reduces demand for energy and energy inflation [as well as inflation for those products]. I can see that, but I cannot help but think that we need to Be Careful What You Wish For! A Special Place in Hell for Inventories I fear that inventories were a big part of the rise in inflation and would contribute to stabilizing prices [all else being equal] and that recent rate hikes are going to turn a "normal" normalization into something far more dangerous, Manufacturing and Trade Inventories grew from 2014 until COVID at a steady pace, This seemed to correlate nicely with the growing U.S. and global economy. They dropped with supply chain issues, but were back to pre-COVID levels by last summer. Then, from late last summer until the end of April [most recent data point for this series], these inventories grew rapidly! Companies worried about supply chain issues overstocked. This could lead to much lower future orders. Companies shifting to "just in case" from "just in time" need higher inventories, so that part would be stable, but costs of carrying inventory have increased, Maybe companies used straight line extrapolation to accumulate inventory to meet expected consumer demand. That is bad for inventories if the demand isn't materializing! It is extra bad if consumers pulled forward demand in response to their supply chain concerns, meaning that any simplistic estimate of future demand [always problematic, though easy] is even further off the mark as the extrapolation was based on a faulty premise [which is not thinking consumers responded to supply chain issues]. We may have an inventory overhang in the economy. While inventories are significantly higher than pre-COVID levels, the number of people working has still not returned to pre-COVID levels, Yeah, I get that it is far easier to "spend now, pay later" than it used to be through a variety of fintech solutions [ignoring rising interest costs] and that the "wealth effect" and "gambling" culture allows for more spending per job [or maybe it did a few months ago, but not now?] Maybe I'm just a stick in the mud, but... When I look at this chart, I see the correlation between total number of people working and inventory has been completely dislocated! [It also makes me question some of the supply chain issues we allegedly have]. Again, this potential inventory overhang is "amazing" if you want to slow orders and "fix" inflation by having to work off excess inventory rather than adding more. Apologies, if you're tired of reading my snarky comments about things being "good" for inflation fighting. I'm tired of writing them, but cannot think of what else to do. But the Economy is So Resilient? More on this later,,. The "Disruptive Portfolio" Wealth Destruction We have examined the concept of Disruptive Portfolio Construction and continue to think that this is playing a major role in how markets are trading, but increasingly this creates a potential shock to the economy, Let's start with crypto, Bitcoin briefly dropped below $19,000 Saturday morning. I have no idea where it will be by the time you are reading this, but I am targeting $10,000 or less for bitcoin within a month or so. First the "altcoins" [some of which are derisively referred to as "sh*t-coins"] are a complete mess. Solana is down 88% from its November 2021 highs and is roughly back to where it "debuted" in June 2012. Dogecoin, which I think was originally created as a joke, but rose to 70 cents [I think the weekend of Elon Musk's Saturday Night Live appearance] is back to 5 cents, which I guess is still good for something that was originally created as a joke. Ethereum, a "smart contract" that has some use cases very different than bitcoin and was often talked about as a superior product, is down 80% from its November 2021 highs. Under the Bloomberg CRYP page there are 25 things listed as "Crypto Assets". Maybe if I looked at each one I'd find some with a different story, but somehow, I doubt it. Okay, I lied, I couldn't resist, I had never heard of Polkadot, but it looks like it was launched in April 2021 at $40, declined to $11, rallied to $54 in November 2021, and is now down to $7 [at least the name is still cute]. But bitcoin is the story I’m looking at because it is the biggest and the one that seems to have the most direct ties to the broader market. Crypto, to me, is often about adoption. It was why I got bullish a couple of years ago and caught at least part of the wave. Back then, every day some new, easier, better way to own crypto was being announced. Companies and famous billionaires were putting it on their corporate balance sheets. FOMO was everywhere with people racing to put ever higher targets on its future price and those who didn't have anyone to jump on to the bandwagon with were hiring people who could put on an ever-higher price target with a straight face. That ended a while ago and we are in the "disadoption" phase [spellcheck says disadoption isn't a word, but I'm sticking with it]. Or as I wrote the other day, which the FT picked up on, we have moved from FOMO [Fear Of Missing Out] to FOHO [Fear of Holding On]. Even more concerning is a world where HODLING [originally either a mistype of HOLDING that gained traction or short for Holding On for Dear Life] is more prevalent and many people are now unable to exit their positions even if they wanted to. There are some serious "plumbing" issues right now in the crypto space. Maybe the decentralized nature of crypto will work and be extremely resilient [I cannot fully discount that possibility] but maybe, just maybe, there is a reason banks and exchanges have regulators who enforce rules to protect everyone [yes, I can already see the flame mail accusing me of FUD and not understanding how self-regulating is better, etc, but then all I do is spend about 10 minutes looking at some of the shills out there and fall back to thinking "adult supervision" might be wise]. Stablecoins. Stablecoins are what I would call a "thunk" layer in programming language, It is an intermediate layer between two things, in this case, cryptocurrencies and fiat, Terra/LUNA got wiped out, but it was an "algo" based stablecoin which many, in hindsight, say was a flawed design [clearly it was], but that didn't stop it from growing to $20 billion with some big-name investors engaged. Tether is the one garnering a lot of attention now. It is still the largest stablecoin and it did survive on "attack" of sorts after the Terra/LUNA fiasco. The issue with Tether is that it purports to be fully backed by "safe" assets, yet will not produce audited financials. The disarray in stablecoins should at the very least slow adoption. Freezing Accounts. Celsius blocked withdrawals 5 days ago and as of the time I'm typing this, it was still frozen. Babel Finance announced Friday that it would stop withdrawals. I found this one particularly interesting, as in May, according to news reports, it raised $80 million in a Series B financing, valuing it at $2 billion. Maybe needing to suspend withdrawals isn't a big issue, or maybe it is a sign of how rapidly things can change in the space? Right now, I’d be more worried about extracting value from the system rather than adding to the system. Yes, these are isolated cases [so far] and there are some big players in the space which presumably are not at risk of such an event, but having lived through WorldCom and Enron, and then the mortgage fiasco of 2008, I'm heavily skewed to believing that the piping issues will spread and get worse before they get better. Industry Layoffs. In a rapidly evolving industry, one with so much potential, it makes me nervous how quickly we are seeing layoffs announced publicly or finding out about them privately. Maybe I'm cynical, but to me that signals that the insiders aren't seeing adoption increase, which for anything as momentum dependent as crypto has been, seems like a signal for more pain. The big question is how many of the "whales" and big "hodlers" will buy here to stabilize their existing holdings or whether some level of risk management is deemed prudent. You cannot go more than two minutes talking to a true believer without "generational wealth" being mentioned [trust me, I've tried]. At what point does wanting to stay really rich become the goal rather than trying for generational wealth, even if it means converting back ("cringe") to something as miserable as fiat? I expect more wealth destruction in crypto and that will hurt the economy! The wealth itself is gone, curbing spending [I'm already noticing how much I miss the Lambo photos all over social media]. The jobs are now disappearing, curbing spending. The advertising will likely slow down [though not having to watch Matt Damon or LeBron wax on about crypto might be a good thing for our sanity]. But seriously, ad dollars from this lucrative source [I'm assuming it's lucrative given how often ads appear in my social stream, during major sporting events, and even in an arena [or two] could be drying up just as retailers are also struggling. It seems that every week there is a conference somewhere dedicated to crypto [with Miami and Austin seemingly becoming a non-stop crypto conference/party]. This could turn out to hurt many companies and even some cities, Semiconductor purchases could decline. Mining rigs have been a big user of semiconductors, All you have to do is pull up a chart of bitcoin versus some select semi-conductor manufacturers and the correlation is obvious, Energy usage could decline. If mining slows [as a function of lower prices and less activity] then we might see less energy used by the crypto mining industry [the public miners are in some cases down almost 90% from their November 2021 highs, presumably because the industry is less profitable]. Ultimately this could reduce energy prices and semiconductor prices/backlogs, which would generally be good for the broader economy and would help the Fed on their inflation fight, but could hurt some individual firms that rely on this industry. My outlook for crypto is that we have more downside in sight and that will hurt broader markets and might do far more damage to the economy than many of the crypto haters realize. It is fine to dislike crypto, but it is naïve not to realize how much wealth was there helping spending and how impactful a slowdown on this industry could be! Which brings me briefly to "disruptive" stocks. The wealth created by these companies was simply astounding, Whether remaining in the hands of private equity or coming public through IPOs or via a SPAC, there was incredible wealth generated, Investors were rewarded, but so were the founders, sponsors, and employees! There was great wealth created as these innovators and disruptors [along with a mix of more traditional companies] were rewarded. I am extremely concerned about the employee wealth lost. I cannot imagine the personal wealth destruction that has occurred for many, especially mid-level to mildly senior employees. Just enough of a taste of the equity exposure to do well.  Many have restrictions so have not exited and many had options, not all of which were struck at zero, so they may be back to zero, That wealth lost has to translate into lower economic activity, especially as the losses seem more persistent than they might have been a few months ago! But investors have also been hit hard, and possibly harder than most people factor in. I will use ARKK here to illustrate an important point and why a subset of investors is in far more financial difficulty than might be apparent [assuming "traditional" portfolio construction]. ARKK, not accounting for dividends, is back to where it traded in the aftermath of the COVID shutdowns in March 2020. The number of shares outstanding have almost tripled since then. Yes, the number of shares traded daily is large and they frequently change hands, but on average, this shows that some large number of shares were issued as the fund price rallied. Many of those investors [on average] were originally reworded, but now, on average, those shares are somewhere between small losses and serious carnage. ARKK is down to $7.7 billion in AUM as of Friday from a peak of $28 billion in March 2021. The bulk of that change in market cap can be attributed to performance as shares outstanding are still near their peak. I highlight ARKK because I don't feel like talking about individual companies, the portfolio has changed so much, the performance is more generic than company specific, and ETFs are often just the observable "tip of the iceberg" of major trends that are more difficult to observe, but are still happening, TQQQ, the triple leveraged QQQ, exhibits a similar pattern and all the gambling stocks are doing poorly, which I attribute to incredible wealth destruction for a subset of investors, The three groups that I believe were most hurt are: Relatively young people, who took a very aggressive approach to trading/gambling [with relatively small amounts of money] that they can make back via their job earnings over time [or they might now need a job if they were living off of the trading/gambling money]. I don't see a material economic impact from this group, It may even encourage workforce participation, Aggressive disruptive investors. Many people went all-in on some version of a disruptive portfolio [I didn't even bring up those who treated mega-tech stocks as a bank account with dividends and upside], There could be some serious wealth lost here that will affect the economy [and is likely already affecting the economy], Employees, some of whom also adopted disruptive portfolios. As the likelihood of a near-term rebound recedes, there will be wealth preservation as a focus. The number of IPOs and SPACs that are not just below their all-time highs, but below their launch prices, is scary, and that really hurts the employees, or at least those who couldn't sell, didn't sell, or sold, but diversified into a disruptive portfolio. This is all deflationary (which I’m told is a good thing] but I cannot see how this is a good thing for the economy or broader markets! But the Economy is So Resilient? I challenge this. If we have an inventory overhang, the economy may grind to a halt far quicker than many are expecting. If banks start tightening lending practices [clear evidence this is occurring and will likely get worse than better] we will see credit contraction and that will feed into the economy, rapidly. We have NEVER gone from low rates and QE to higher rates and QT successfully [we haven't had many attempts, but I remain convinced that QE is very different than rate cuts and that it affects asset prices quite directly - see Stop Trying to Translate Balance Sheet to BPS. The wealth effect must be bad overall and devastating to some segments. My view is that: Things definitely hit faster than people realized. Often the inflection point has already occurred while many are still applying straight line extrapolation to what they perceive to be the still “existing" trend. "Gumming" up the piping often leads to more problems, rather than a quick solution [and I completely believe the current high levels of volatility in markets and lack of depth in liquidity is a form of gumming up the pipes]. If the problem hits the financial sector it is too late (unless immediate/strong support from central banks is provided). So far, the banking sector is looking good, though Europe is lagging the U.S, in that respect. The ECB came up with half-hearted efforts to reduce Italian bond yields relative to others. The JGB stuck to their yield curve targeting, but markets will soon just expect that to get reversed at their next meeting. Finally, the Fed, unlike in March 2020, will have difficulty reversing course and helping. The good news is so far this isn’t hitting the banking system, but I am watching this sector closely, especially in Europe. Risk happens fast! It's a phrase often said, but often ignored. I'm not ignoring it right now. Commodity Wars? This is a bigger question, and one that is coming up more frequently, but have we entered into a global "war" to secure natural resources? I think that, increasingly, this is the reality we live in and that will be inflationary, just like reshoring, onshoring, securing supply chains, and “transforming“ energy production/ distribution, etc., will all be inflationary longer-term as well, But I've taken up too much space already today and that isn’t a question that needs to be answered to drive my current thinking, Bottom Line I am including what I wrote last week because it largely worked and my views haven't materially changed, I added some color and exactness on the views while definitely shifting from DEFCON 3 to DEFC0N2. I want to own Treasuries here at the wide end of the range, but for the first time, I'm scared that we could break out of this range (big problem]. The 10-year finished almost unchanged on the week, going from 3.16% last Friday to close at 3.23% (it did gap to 3.48% on Tuesday]. The swings in the 2-year were even more "insane" given the level and maturity. So, as recession talk heats up, yields should go down, but I’d spend a bit of option premium protecting against a rapid gap to higher yields. Credit spreads should outperform equities here, though both may be weak, (Verbatim from last week]. Equities could be hit by the double whammy of earnings concerns and multiple reduction. I am told there is a lot of support, but I think that we see new lows this week unless central banks change their tune, which seems incredibly unlikely). I still find it mind boggling that we prefer recession to inflation. Crypto should remain under pressure. I think bitcoin will be sub $20k< before it reaches $35k. Now I think it will be $12,000 before $24,000. Have a great Father's Day and enjoy the Juneteenth long weekend! (Though, I have to admit, I kind of wish markets were open on Monday because this is the trading environment that deep down, I have to admit, I enjoy!] Tyler Durden Tue, 06/21/2022 - 07:20.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJun 21st, 2022

Food Shortages In Six Months – The Globalists Are Telling Us What Happens Next

Food Shortages In Six Months – The Globalists Are Telling Us What Happens Next Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.us, In mid 2007 the Bank for International Settlements (The central bank of central banks) released a statement predicting an impending “Great Depression” caused by a credit market implosion. That same year the International Monetary Fund also published warnings of “subprime woes” leading to wider economic strife. I started writing alternative economic analysis only a year earlier in 2006 and I immediately thought it was strange that these massive globalist institutions with far reaching influence on the financial world were suddenly starting to sound a lot like those of us in the liberty movement. This was 16 years ago, so many people reading this might not even remember, but in 2007 the alternative media had already been warning about an impending deflationary crash in US markets and housing for some time. And, not surprisingly, the mainstream media was always there to deny all of our concerns as “doom mongering” and “conspiracy theory.” Less than a year later the first companies awash in derivatives began to announce they were on the verge of bankruptcy and everything tanked. The media response? They made two very bizarre claims simultaneously: “No one could have seen it coming” and “We saw this coming a mile away.” Mainstream journalists scrambled to position themselves as the soothsayers of the day as if they said all along that the crash was imminent, yet, there were only a handful of people who actually did call it and none of them were in the MSM. Also ignored was the fact that the BIS and IMF had published their own “predictions” well before the crash; the media pretended as if they did not exist. In the alternative media we watch the statements and open admissions of the globalists VERY carefully because they are not in the business of threat analysis; rather, they are in the business of threat synthesis. That is to say, if something goes very wrong in the world economically, central bankers and money elites with aspirations of a single centralized economic authority for the world are ALWAYS found to have a hand in that disaster. For some reason, they like to tell us what they are about to do before they do it. The idea that globalists artificially create economic collapse events will of course be criticized as “conspiracy theory,” but it is a FACT. For more information on the reality of deliberate financial sabotage and the “order out of chaos” ideology of globalists please read my articles ‘Fed One Meeting Away From Creating A Doomsday Sinkhole’ and ‘What Is The Great Reset And What Do The Globalists Actually Want?’ The Great Reset agenda proposed by WEF head Klaus Schwab is just one example of the many discussions hidden in plain sight by globalists concerning their plans to use economic and social decline as an “opportunity” to quickly establish a new one world system based on socialism and technocracy. The primary problem with discerning what the globalists are planning is not in uncovering secret agendas – They tend to openly discuss their agendas if you know where to look. No, the problem is in separating the admissions from the disinformation, the lies from the truth. This requires matching up globalist white papers and statements to the facts and evidence at hand in the real world. Let’s look specifically at the food shortage problem in detail… Food Shortages In Six Months A week ago there was a torrent of press releases from global institutions all mentioning the same exact same concern: Food shortages within the next 3 to 6 months. These statements line up very closely with my own estimates, as I have been warning regularly about impending dangers of inflation leading to food rationing and supply chain disruptions. The IMF, the BIS, World Bank, The UN, the Rockefeller Foundation, the World Economic Forum, Bank of America and even Biden himself are all predicting a major food crisis in the near term, and it is not a coincidence that the policies of these very institutions and the actions of puppet politicians that work with them are causing the crisis they are now predicting. That is to say, it’s easy to predict a disaster when you created the disaster. The claim is that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is the primary cause, but this is a distraction from the real issue. Yes, sanctions against Russia will eventually lead to less food supply, but the globalists and the media are purposely ignoring the bigger threat, which is currency devaluation and price inflation created by central banks pumping out tens of trillions of dollars in stimulus packages to prop up “too big to fail” corporate partners. In 2020 alone, the Fed created over $6 trillion from nothing and air dropped it into the economy through covid welfare programs. Add that to the many trillions of dollars that the Fed has printed since the credit crash in 2008 – It has been a nonstop dollar destruction party and now the public is starting to feel the consequences. Lucky for the central bankers that covid struck and Russia invaded Ukraine, because now they can deflect all the blame for the inflationary calamity they have engineered onto the pandemic and onto Putin. Inflation hit 40 year highs in the US well before Russia invaded Ukraine, but let’s consider the ramifications of that war and how it affects the food supply. The Russian invasion certainly disrupts Ukrainian grain production, which makes up around 11% of the total world wheat market. Russia also maintains a 17% share and together these two nations feed a large swath of third world nations and parts of Europe with 30% of wheat and barley exports, 19% of corn exports, 23% of canola exports, and 78% of sunflower exports. It is the sanctions on Russia that are a problem well beyond Ukraine, however, as Russia also produces around 20% of global ammonia and 20% of global potash supplies. These are key ingredients to fertilizers used in large scale industrial farming. Farmers are estimating an overall price spike of around 10% in food markets, but I believe this is very conservative. I am already seeing overall price increases of at least 20% from six months ago, and I expect there to be another 30% in price hikes before this year is over. In other words, we are looking at 50% in average increases in 2022. Official government inflation data and CPI cannot be trusted. Double whatever numbers they give and you will be much closer to the truth. The inflation rate used by Shadowstats.com, calculated using methods once applied by the US government in the 1980s before they “adjusted” their models to hide the data, supports my position so far. The expectation among US agricultural experts is that China will fill the void where Russian supplies disappear, but it’s a mistake to make this assumption. Something Weird Is Going On In China China’s crackdown on covid infections has reached levels so bizarre I have to ask the question: Are their lockdowns really about covid, or are they hiding something else? The death rate of covid in China is impossible to calculate accurately because they have never released proper data that can be confirmed. However, almost everywhere else in the world we see a median infection fatality rate of 0.27% for covid; meaning, over 99.7% of people in the world on average have nothing to fear in terms of dying from the virus. But in China, the CCP is acting as if they are dealing with the Black Plague. Why? Lockdowns have resulted in food shortages across the country as supply chains become strained and manufacturing remains shut in many cases. The story many westerners are not hearing much about, though, is the fact that Chinese exports have essentially been frozen. This is very important so I think it needs emphasis – Over 1 IN 5 container ships IN THE WORLD are now backed up in Chinese ports due to their covid lockdowns. This is incredible. Why would China do this over a virus we all know is not dangerous to the vast majority of people? Why institute the worst lockdown in the country so far and starve their own people when the majority of Western governments have now given up on their pandemic fear mongering and the forced vaccination agenda? I would suggest the possibility that China might already be engaging in an economic war that many Americans and Europeans don’t even realize is going on. This may be a beta test for a shut down of exports to the US and Europe, or it is an incremental shutdown that is meant to become permanent. The bottleneck on trade may also be a precursor to a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. Taiwan is actually more dependent and intertwined with China’s economy than many people know. China is the biggest buyer of Taiwan’s exports and those exports account for 10% of Taiwan’s GDP. Taiwan has hundreds of thousands of workers and businessmen that travel regularly to China to work, another economic factor that is now strained by lockdowns. Furthermore, Taiwan has multiple corporations that operate their factories on mainland China, all of which could be closed due to covid lockdowns. All I’m saying is, if I was China planning on invading Taiwan in the near future, I might consider using covid as a cover for damaging their economy first and disrupting their export model. Communists see the population as a utility that can be sacrificed if necessary, and China is perfectly willing to cause short term suffering to their people if it means long term gains for the party. Beyond that, if I was going to engage in economic warfare with the west covertly, what better way than to tie up 20% of the world’s cargo ships and disrupt supply chains in the name of protecting the country form a “pandemic?” The bottom line? Don’t rely on China to fill export needs for fertilizer ingredients or anything else as sanctions on Russia continue. Inflation vs. Supply vs. Control It’s not just globalist organizations talking about incoming food shortages; the CEO of international food corporation Goya has also recently warned we are on the precipice of a food crisis. As I have noted in the past, inflation leads to government price controls, price controls lead to lack of production incentives (profits), lack of profits leads to loss of production, loss of production leads to shortages, and shortages lead to government rationing (control over all large food sources). As we have seen with almost every authoritarian regime in modern history, control over the food supply is key to controlling the population. It is only surpassed as a strategic concern by control over energy (which we will also see shortages of soon as Europe sanctions Russian oil and gas and starts eating up supplies from other exporters). The food issue hits closest to home because we can see the effects immediately on our wallets and on our families. There is nothing worse for many parents than the prospect of their children going hungry. The mainstream media is once again ignoring any potential economic threat, specifically they are denying the notion of food shortages as something to be worried about. I say, why listen to a group of people that are always wrong on these types of events? If anything, I would at least take the words of the globalists seriously when it comes to economic collapse; they benefit the most from such disasters after all, and they also have the most influence when it comes to triggering crisis. Preparedness today costs nothing tomorrow. Lack of preparedness today costs EVERYTHING tomorrow. The choice for anyone with a brain is simple – Get prepared for the end of affordable and easily available food before this year is out. *  *  * If you would like to support the work that Alt-Market does while also receiving content on advanced tactics for defeating the globalist agenda, subscribe to our exclusive newsletter The Wild Bunch Dispatch.  Learn more about it HERE. You can also follow me at – Parler: @AltMarket Gettr:  @Altmarket1 Tyler Durden Sun, 05/01/2022 - 22:10.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 2nd, 2022

The war in Ukraine is sending fertilizer prices through the roof. That could spark food shortages in countries already struggling with widespread hunger.

Fertilizer prices are up 42% since Russia invaded Ukraine. Higher prices risk higher food costs, malnutrition, and civil unrest around the world. Workers unloading imported fertilizer at the Port of Yantai in eastern China.Costfoto/Future Publishing/Getty Images The war in Ukraine has lifted fertilizer prices, leading to concerns of a global food shortage. Many low-income countries were struggling with hunger and pricey fertilizer before the invasion. The uptick in fertilizer prices also risks boosting inflation even higher. In an era of abundant economic worries, the chaos in the world's fertilizer market is one of the most concerning.The war in Ukraine has boosted already high fertilizer prices. Russia serves as the world's top fertilizer exporter, selling some $7.6 billion worth of fertilizer in 2020, according to data from the French research organization CEPII. Russia's invasion of Ukraine slammed both countries' abilities to trade, and in early March the Russian government called on fertilizer producers to suspend exports entirely.The new supply pressures have lifted prices at a stunning clip. The Green Markets North America fertilizer-price index — which tracks the costs of urea, potash, and diammonium phosphate — has soared by 42% since the invasion began in late February.Higher fertilizer prices may not seem worrisome for the average American — potash and urea don't show up on most people's grocery lists. But the prices of food staples like wheat are also soaring, risking hunger crises in low- and middle-income countries. Persistently higher fertilizer costs could turn food inflation into a lasting problem and plunge the world into a new kind of economic turmoil."I am deeply concerned that the violent conflict in Ukraine, already a catastrophe for those directly involved, will also be a tragedy for the world's poorest people living in rural areas who cannot absorb the price hikes of staple foods and farming inputs that will result from disruptions to global trade," said Gilbert Houngbo, the president of the UN's International Fund for Agricultural Development."We are already seeing price hikes, and this could cause an escalation of hunger and poverty with dire implications for global stability."Soaring fertilizer prices escalate food-shortage concernsThe world was already short on food before Russia invaded Ukraine in late February. A UN report on food security estimated that between 720 million and 811 million people faced hunger in 2020 — an increase of as many as 161 million from 2019 — as the coronavirus crisis and economic recession hobbled poorer countries.The Russia-Ukraine conflict has only worsened the problem. Wheat prices have soared by 27% since the invasion began, with markets bracing for supply from both Russia and Ukraine to fade. While advanced economies can absorb higher costs and turn to alternatives, developing countries are stuck with few options aside from footing a larger bill.Fertilizer prices are also up about 260% from prepandemic levels, having been dented by higher energy costs and new export-licensing mandates imposed by major exporters like Russia and China.These higher costs are forcing farmers to scale back production or use less fertilizer and risk harvesting smaller yields. Some are clamoring for animal manure to replace commercial nutrients. Even if the Russian invasion were to end soon and food inflation cooled, soaring fertilizer costs would have a delayed effect on the market and leave supply strained well into the future.Expensive crop nutrients hinder advanced economies' ability to fill the hole in the world's food supply. The US Department of Agriculture said in late March that it expected farmers in the US to plant less corn but a record amount of soybeans in 2022. Soybeans require less commercial fertilizer than corn, and a shift signals that farmers are gearing up for prolonged disruption in the fertilizer market.The uptick in fertilizer prices could even spark civil unrest in countries with unstable food supplies. Food-price shocks triggered riots in Haiti, Bangladesh, and Mozambique in 2007 and 2008, Insider's Jason Lalljee reported in March. Food scarcity also played a role in the Arab Spring protests of the early 2010s as people struggling with hunger and poverty mobilized against their governments.Intense damage has already emerged in the world's most vulnerable countries. The UN's World Food Programme said in late February that it had been forced to halve food assistance for 8 million people facing hunger in Yemen. The program's executive director, David Beasley, said the combination of dwindling funds and soaring prices risked pushing millions of Yemenis into famine conditions."We have no choice but to take food from the hungry to feed the starving," Beasley said, adding, "This will be hell on earth."Pricey fertilizer worsens the world's inflation problemThe fertilizer-price surge is also a major obstacle in the fight against inflation. Food prices are a major component of headline inflation measures; the category has a 14% weighting in the consumer price index, for example. If fertilizer prices don't fall back to earth, it could weigh on future crop yields and keep food supply well below US demand.The price surge also strikes at a weakness in the Federal Reserve's plan to quell price growth. The central bank started raising interest rates in March partly in an effort to ease inflation. Higher borrowing costs help rein in demand for a range of goods, but people need to eat, and the Fed's plan to fight inflation can't do much to close the gap between food supply and demand.Inflation in other pockets of the economy is worsening the fertilizer problem. Energy prices have soared more than any other major CPI category, leaping by nearly 26% over the past year. Natural gas is one of those surging energy commodities and a crucial component in the production of commercial fertilizers. Rising natural-gas prices have already forced European fertilizer factories to scale back production, threatening an even bigger nutrient shortage in the months ahead.The world is adjusting somewhat to combat the new price pressures. The USDA announced in March that it would make $250 million available in the summer to boost domestic fertilizer production.But last-minute adjustments aren't likely to fully counter a fertilizer shortage. The world is already struggling to shoulder rising food costs, and there's little indication that the war in Ukraine will end soon. As farmers make do, elevated fertilizer prices loom over hungry countries and inflation-rattled economies.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytApr 10th, 2022

Escobar: Sit Back & Watch Europe Commit Suicide

Escobar: Sit Back & Watch Europe Commit Suicide Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Cradle, If the US goal is to crush Russia's economy with sanctions and isolation, why is Europe in an economic free fall instead? The stunning spectacle of the EU committing slow motion hara-kiri is something for the ages... Like a cheap Kurosawa remake the movie is actually about the Empire of Lies-detonated demolition of the EU, complete with subsequent rerouting of some key Russian commodities exports to the US at the expense of the Europeans. It helps to have a 5th columnist actress strategically placed, in this case astonishingly incompetent European Commission head Ursula von der Lugen, with a brand new vociferous announcement of an extra sanctions package: Russian ships banned from EU ports; road transportation companies from Russia and Belarus prohibited from entering the EU; no more coal imports (over 4.4 billion euros a year). That translates in practice into the Empire of Lies shaking down its wealthiest – Western – clients/puppets. Russia of course is too powerful militarily. The Empire badly needs some of its key exports – especially minerals. Mission Accomplished in this case amounts to nudging the EU into imposing more and more sanctions and willfully collapsing their national economies, allowing the US to scoop everything up. Cue to the coming catastrophic economic consequences felt by Europeans in their daily life (but not by the wealthiest 5%): inflation devouring salaries and savings; next winter energy bills packing a mean punch; products disappearing from supermarkets; holiday bookings almost frozen; Le Petit Roi Macron in France – maybe up to a nasty electoral surprise – announcing “food stamps like in WWII are possible”. We have Germany facing the returning ghost of Weimar hyperinflation; BlackRock President Rob Kapito saying, in Texas, “for the first time, this generation is going to go into a store and not be able to get what they want”; farmers in Africa not able to afford fertilizer at all this year, reducing agricultural production by an amount capable of feeding 100 million people. Zoltan Poszar, former NY Fed and US Treasury guru, current Credit Suisse grand vizir, has been on a streak, stressing how commodity reserves – and here Russia is unrivaled – will be an essential feature of what he calls Bretton Woods III (yet, in fact, what’s being designed by Russia, China, Iran and the Eurasia Economic Union is a post-Bretton Woods). Poszar remarks that wars, historically, are won by those who have more food and energy supplies, in the past to power horses and soldiers, today to feed soldiers and fuel tanks and fighter jets. China, incidentally, has amassed large stocks of virtually everything. Poszar notes how our current Bretton Woods II system has a deflationary impulse (globalization, open trade, just-in-time supply chains) while Bretton Woods III will provide an inflationary impulse (de-globalization, autarky, hoarding of raw materials) of supply chains and extra military spending to be able to protect what will remain of seaborne trade. The implications are of course overwhelming. What’s implicit, ominously, is that this state of affairs may even lead to WWIII. Rublegas or American LNG? The Valdai Club has conducted an essential expert discussion on what we at The Cradle have defined as Rublegas – the real geoeconomic game-changer at the heart of the post-petrodollar era. Alexander Losev, a member of the Russian Council for Foreign and Defense Policy, offered the contours of the Big Picture. But it was up to Alexey Gromov, Chief Energy Director of the Institute of Energy and Finance, to come up with crucial nitty gritty details. Russia so far was selling gas to Europe to the amount of 155 billion cubic meters a year. The EU rhetorically promises to get rid of it by 2027, and reduce supply by the end of 2022 by 100 billion cubic meters. Gromov asked “how”, and remarked, “any expert has no answer. Most of Russia’s natural gas is shipped over pipelines. This cannot simply be replaced by LNG.” The risible European answer has been “start saving”, as in “prepare to be worse off. Reduce the temperature in households”. Gromov noted how, in Russia, “22 to 25 degrees in winter is the norm. Europe is promoting 16 degrees as ‘healthy’, and wearing sweaters at night.” The EU won’t be able to get the gas it needs from Norway or Algeria (which is privileging domestic consumption). Azerbaijan would be able to provide at best 10 billion cubic meters a year, but “that will take 2 or 3 years” to happen. Gromov stressed how “there’s no surplus in the market today for US and Qatar LNG.” And how prices for Asian customers are always higher. The bottom line is that “by end of 2022, Europe won’t be able to significantly reduce” what is buys from Russia: “they might cut by 50 billion cubic meters, maximum.” And prices in the spot market will be higher – at least $1,300 per cubic meter. An important development is that “Russia changed the logistical supply chains to Asia already”. That applies for gas and oil as well: “You can impose sanctions if there’s a surplus in the market. Now there’s a shortage of at least 1.5 million barrels of oil a day. We’ll be sending our supplies to Asia – with a discount.” As it stands, Asia is already paying a premium, from 3 to 5 dollars more per barrel of oil. On oil shipments, Gromov also commented on the key issue of insurance: “Insurance premiums are higher. Before Ukraine, it was all based on the FOB system. Now buyers are saying ‘we don’t want to take the risk of taking your cargo to our ports’. So they are applying the CIF system, where the seller has to insure and transport the cargo. That of course impacts revenues.” An absolutely key issue for Russia is how to make the transition to China as its key gas customer. It’s all about Power of Siberia 2 – which will reach full capacity only in 2024. And first the interconnector through Mongolia must be built – “we need 3 years to build this pipeline” – so everything will be in place only around 2025. On the Yamal pipeline, “most of the gas goes to Asia. If the Europeans don’t buy anymore we can redirect.” And then there’s the Arctic LNG 2 – which is larger than Yamal: “the first phase should be finished soon, it’s 80% ready.” An extra problem may be posed by the Russian “Unfriendlies” in Asia: Japan and South Korea. LNG infrastructure produced in Russia still depends on foreign technologies. That’s what leads Gromov to note that, “the model of mobilization- based economy is not so good.” But that’s what Russia needs to deal with at least in the short to medium term. The positives are that the new paradigm will allow “more cooperation within the BRICS”; the expansion of the International North South Transportation Corridor (INSTC); and more interaction and integration with “Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and Iran”. Only in terms of Iran and Russia, swaps in the Caspian are already in the works, as Iran produces more than it needs, and is set to increase cooperation with Russia in the framework of the strenghtened strategic partnership. Hypersonic geoeconomics It was up to Chinese energy expert Fu Chengyu to offer a concise explanation of why the EU drive of replacing Russian gas with American LNG is, well, a pipe dream. Essentially the US offer is “too limited and too costly”. Fu Chengyu showed how a lengthy, tricky process depends on four contracts: between the gas developer and the LNG company; between the LNG company and the buyer company; between the LNG buyer and the cargo company (which builds vessels); and between the buyer and the end user. “Each contract”, he pointed out, “takes a long time to finish. Without all these signed contracts no party will invest – be it investment on infrastructure or gas field development.” So actual delivery of American LNG to Europe assumes all these interconnected resources are available – and moving like clockwork. Fu Chengyu’s verdict is stark: this EU obsession on ditching Russian gas will provoke “an impact on global economic growth, and recession. They are pushing their own people – and the world. In the energy sector, we will all be harmed.” It was quite enlightening to juxtapose the coming geoeconomic turbulence – the EU obsession in bypassing Russian gas and the onset of Rublegas – with the real reasons behind Operation Z in Ukraine, completely obscured by Western media psyops. So I submitted a few questions to a US Deep State old pro, now retired, and quite familiar with the inner workings of the old OSS, the CIA precursor, all the way to the neocon dementia. His answers were quite sobering. He started by pointing out, “the whole Ukraine issue is over hypersonic missiles that can reach Moscow in less than four minutes. The US wants them there, in Poland, Romania, Baltic States, Sweden, Finland. This is in direct violation of the agreements in 1991 that NATO will not expand in Eastern Europe. The US does not have hypersonic missiles now but should – in a year or two. This is an existential threat to Russia. So they had to go into the Ukraine to stop this.  Next will be Poland and Romania where launchers have been built in Romania and are being built in Poland.” From a completely different geopolitical perspective, what’s really telling is that his analysis happens to dovetail with Zoltan Poszar’s geoeconomics: “The US and NATO are totally belligerent. This presents a real danger to Russia. The idea that nuclear war is unthinkable is a myth. If you look at the firebombing of Tokyo against Hiroshima and Nagasaki, more people died in Tokyo than Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These cities were rebuilt. The radiation goes away and life can restart. The difference between firebombing and nuclear bombing is only efficiency. NATO provocations are so extreme Russia had to place their nuclear missiles on standby alert. This is a gravely serious matter. But the US ignored it.” Tyler Durden Sat, 04/09/2022 - 07:00.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytApr 9th, 2022

Futures Trade Near All Time High As Traders Shrug At Inflation, Covid Concerns

Futures Trade Near All Time High As Traders Shrug At Inflation, Covid Concerns US equity futures and European markets started the Thanksgiving week on an upbeat note as investors set aside fear of surging inflation and focused on a pickup in M&A activity while China signaled possible easing measures. The euphoria which lifted S&P futures up some 0.5% overnight and just shy of all time highs ended abruptly and futures reversed after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the Covid situation in the country is worse than anything so far and tighter curbs are needed. At 730 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 95 points, or 0.26%. S&P 500 e-minis were up 12.25 points, or 0.26% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 58.75 points, or 0.357%. U.S. stocks trade near record levels, outpacing the rest of the world, as investors see few alternatives amid rising inflation and a persistent pandemic that undermines global recovery. Concerns about high valuations and the potential for the economy to run too hot on the back of loose monetary and fiscal policies have interrupted, but not stopped the rally. In other words, as Bloomberg puts it "bears are winning the argument, bulls are winning in the market" while Nasdaq futures hit another record high as demand for technology stocks remained strong. “Based on historical data, the Thanksgiving week is a strong week for U.S. equities,” Ipek Ozkardeskaya, a senior analyst at Swissquote, wrote in a note. “Black Friday sales will be closely watched. The good news is, people still have money to spend, even though they get less goods and services in exchange of what’s spent.” In premarket moves, heavyweights, including most FAANG majors, rose in premarket trade. Vonage Holdings Corp. jumped 26% in premarket trading after Ericsson agreed to buy it. Telecom Italia SpA jumped as much as 30% in Europe after KKR offered to buy it for $12 billion. Energy stocks recovered slightly from last week's losses, although anticipation of several economic readings this week kept gains in check. Bank stocks rose in premarket trading as the U.S. 10-year Treasury yield climbed for the first time in three sessions to about 1.58%. S&P 500 futures gain as much as 0.5% on Monday morning. Tesla gained 2.8% after Chief Executive Elon Musk tweeted that Model S Plaid will "probably" be coming to China around March. Activision Blizzard (ATVI.O) slipped 1.1% after a media report that the video game publisher's top boss, Bobby Kotick, would consider leaving if he cannot quickly fix culture problems. Travel and energy stocks, which were among the worst performers last week, also marked small gains before the open. Here is a list of the other notable premarket movers: Astra Space (ASTR US) shares surge 33% in premarket trading after the company said its rocket reached orbit. Aurora Innovation (AUR US) falls 8% in premarket, after soaring 71% last week amid a surge in popularity for self-driving technology companies among retail traders. Chinese electric-carmaker Xpeng (XPEV US) rises as much as 2.8% premarket after co. unveils a large sports-utility vehicle pitted more directly against Tesla’s Model Y and Nio’s ES series. Stocks of other EV makers are mixed. Monster Beverage (MNST US)., the maker of energy drinks, is exploring a combination with Corona brewer Constellation Brands (STZ US), according to people familiar with the matter. CASI Pharma (CASI US) jumped 17% in postmarket trading after CEO Wei-Wu He disclosed the purchase of 400,000 shares in a regulatory filing. Along with an eye on the Fed's plans for tightening policy, investors are also watching for an announcement from Joe Biden on his pick for the next Fed chair. Powell was supposed to make his decision by the weekend but has since delayed it repeatedly. Investors expect current chair Jerome Powell to stay on for another term, although Fed Governor Lael Brainard is also seen as a candidate for the position. “Bringing the most dovish of the doves wouldn’t guarantee a longer period of zero rates,” Ozkardeskaya wrote. “If the decisions are based on economic fundamentals, the economy is calling for a rate hike. And it’s calling for it quite soon.” The Stoxx 600 trimmed gains after German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for tighter Covid-19 restrictions. European telecom shares surged after KKR’s offer to buy Telecom Italia for about $12 billion, which boosted sentiment about M&A in the sector. The Stoxx 600 Telecommunications Index gained as much as 1.6%, the best-performing sector gauge for the region: Telefonica +4.8%, Infrastrutture Wireless Italiane +4%, KPN +2.7%. Meanwhile, telecom equipment stock Ericsson underperforms the rest of the SXKP index, falling as much as 4.9% after a deal to buy U.S. cloud communication provider Vonage; Danske Bank says the price is “quite steep”. Earlier in the session, Asian stocks fell as Covid-19 resurgences in Europe triggered risk-off sentiment across markets amid weaker oil prices, a strong U.S. dollar and higher bond yields. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index declined 0.3%, with India’s Sensex measure slumping the most since April as Paytm’s IPO weighed on sentiment. The country’s oil giant Reliance dragged down the Asian index after scrapping a deal with Saudi Aramco, and energy and financials were the biggest sector losers in the region. Asian markets have turned softer after capping their first weekly retreat this month, following lackluster moves from economically sensitive sectors in the U.S., while investors continue to monitor earnings reports of big Chinese technology firms this week. “Some impact from the regulatory risks and dull macroeconomic conditions have shown up in several Chinese big-tech earnings and that may put investors on the sidelines as earnings season continues,” Jun Rong Yeap, a market strategist at IG Asia Pte., wrote in a note. China’s equity gauge posted a second straight day of gains after the central bank’s quarterly report indicated a shift toward easing measures to bolster the economic recovery. South Korea led gains in the region, with the Kospi adding more than 1%, helped by chipmakers Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix. Asia’s chip-related shares rose after comments from Micron Technology CEO Sanjay Mehrotra added to optimism the global shortage of semiconductors is easing. Reports of Japan earmarking $6.8 billion to bolster domestic chipmaking and Samsung planning to announce the location of its new chip plant in the U.S. also aided sentiment. Japanese stocks fluctuated after U.S. shares retreated on Friday following hawkish remarks from Federal Reserve officials. The Topix index was virtually unchanged at 2,044.16 as of 2:21 p.m. Tokyo time, while the Nikkei 225 advanced 0.1% to 29,783.92. Out of 2,180 shares in the index, 1,107 rose and 948 fell, while 125 were unchanged. “There are uncertainties surrounding the direction of U.S. monetary policy,” said Shoji Hirakawa, chief global strategist at Tokai Tokyo Research Institute Co. “The latest comments from FRB members are spurring talk that steps to taper could accelerate.” Australian stocks sunk as banks tumbled to almost a 4-month low. The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.6% to close at 7,353.10, weighed down by banks and technology stocks as the measure for financial shares finished at the lowest level since July 30.  Nickel Mines was the top performer after agreeing to expand its strategic partnership with Shanghai Decent. Flight Centre fell for a second session, ending at its lowest close since Sept. 20, as the Covid-19 situation worsens in Europe. In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index fell 1% to 12,607.64. In FX, the Bloomberg dollar index holds Asia’s narrow range, trading little changed on the day. AUD outperforms G-10 peers, extending Asia’s modest gains. SEK and JPY are the weakest. RUB lags in EMFX, dropping as much as 1% versus the dollar with USD/RUB on a 74-handle. According to Bloomberg, hedge funds’ bullishness toward the dollar is starting to evaporate amid speculation the U.S. currency has risen too much given the Federal Reserve remains adamant it’s in no rush to raise interest rates. Meanwhile, the euro pared modest Asia session losses to trade below $1.13, while European bond yields edged higher, led by bunds and gilts. The pound dipped after comments from Bank of England policy makers raised questions about the certainty of an interest-rate increase in December. Governor Andrew Bailey said that the risks to the U.K. economy are “two-sided” in a weekend interview. Australian dollar advanced against the kiwi on position tweaking ahead of Wednesday’s RBNZ’s rate decision, and after China’s central bank removed sticking with “normal monetary policy” from its policy outlook. Yen declines as speculation China will steer toward more accommodative policy damps the currency’s haven appeal. Hungary’s forint tumbled to a record low against the euro as back-to-back interest rate increases failed to shield it during a rapidly deteriorating pandemic and a flight to safer assets. In commodities, crude futures drifted higher. WTI rises 0.3% near $76.20, Brent regains at $79-handle. Spot gold has a quiet session trading near $1,844/oz. Base metal are mixed: LME copper, tin and zinc post small losses; lead and nickel are in the green Looking at today's calendar, we get the October Chicago Fed national activity index, existing home sales data, and the Euro Area advance November consumer confidence. Zoom is among the companies reporting earnings. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.3% to 4,710.75 STOXX Europe 600 up 0.3% to 487.45 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.34% Euro little changed at $1.1283 MXAP down 0.2% to 198.88 MXAPJ down 0.2% to 647.20 Nikkei little changed at 29,774.11 Topix little changed at 2,042.82 Hang Seng Index down 0.4% to 24,951.34 Shanghai Composite up 0.6% to 3,582.08 Sensex down 2.0% to 58,450.84 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.6% to 7,353.08 Kospi up 1.4% to 3,013.25 Brent Futures up 0.4% to $79.22/bbl Gold spot little changed at $1,846.10 U.S. Dollar Index also little changed at 96.08 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Negotiators hammering out details of a transformative new global corporate tax regime are shaping the deal to maximize its chance of winning acceptance in the U.S., whose companies face the biggest impact from the overhaul The U.S. has shared intelligence including maps with European allies that shows a buildup of Russian troops and artillery to prepare for a rapid, large-scale push into Ukraine from multiple locations if President Vladimir Putin decided to invade, according to people familiar with the conversations. The ruble slid to the weakest since August and the hryvnia fell With investors ramping up expectations for the Federal Reserve and other developed-market central banks to tighten policy, the likes of the Brazilian real and Hungarian forint have been weighed down by inflation and political concerns even as local officials pushed up borrowing costs. The Chinese yuan, Taiwanese dollar and Russian ruble have been among the few to stand their ground An organization formed by key participants in China’s currency market urged banks to limit speculative foreign-exchange trading after the yuan climbed to a six-year high versus peers The Avalanche cryptocurrency has surged in the past several days, taking it briefly into the top 10 by market value and surpassing Dogecoin and Shiba Inu, after a deal related to improvement of U.S. disaster-relief funding A more detailed breakdown of overnight news courtesy of Newsquawk Asia-Pac stocks traded mixed following last Friday's mostly negative performance stateside, where risk appetite was dampened by concerns of a fourth COVID wave in Europe and recent hawkish Fed rhetoric. Weekend newsflow was light and the mood was tentative heading into this week's risk events including FOMC minutes and US GDP data before the Thanksgiving holiday. The ASX 200 (-0.6%) was subdued with declines led by weakness in gold miners and the energy sector. The Nikkei 225 (+0.1%) was lacklustre after last week’s inflows into the JPY but with downside eventually reversed as the currency faded some of the gains and following the recent cabinet approval of the stimulus spending. The KOSPI (+1.4%) outperformed and reclaimed the 3k level with shares in index heavyweight Samsung Electronics rallying as its de facto leader tours the US which spurred hopes the Co. could deploy its USD 100bln cash pile. The Hang Seng (-0.4%) and Shanghai Comp. (+0.6%) diverged with the mainland kept afloat after the PBoC conducted a mild liquidity injection and maintained its Loan Prime Rate for a 19th consecutive month as expected, although Hong Kong was pressured by losses in energy and cautiousness among developers, as well as the recent announcement of increased constituents in the local benchmark. Finally, 10yr JGBs eked marginal gains amid the cautious risk tone in Asia and following firmer demand at the enhanced liquidity auction for 2yr-20yr JGBs, but with upside capped as T-note futures continued to fade Friday’s early gains that were fuelled by the COVID-19 concerns in Europe before the advances were later halted by hawkish Fed rhetoric calling for a discussion on speeding up the tapering at next month’s meeting. Top Asian News China Blocks Peng Shuai News as It Seeks to Reassure World China FX Panel Urges Banks to Cap Speculation as Yuan Surges Paytm Founder Compares Himself to Musk After Historic IPO Flop China Tech Stocks Are Nearing Inflection Point, UBS GWM Says European cash bourses kicked off the new trading week with mild gains (Euro Stoxx 50 +0.3%; Stoxx 600 +0.3%) following a mixed APAC handover. Some have been attributing the mild gains across Europe in the context of the different approaches of the Fed and ECB, with the latter expected to remain dovish as the former moves tighter, while COVID lockdowns will restrict economic activity. News flow in the European morning has however been sparse, as participants look ahead to FOMC Minutes, Flash PMIs and US GDP ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday (full Newsquawk Desk Schedule on the headline feed) alongside the Fed Chair update from President Biden and a speech from him on the economy. US equity futures see modestly more pronounced gains, with the more cyclically-exposed RTY (+0.6%) performing better than then NQ (+0.4%), ES (+0.4%) and YM (+0.4%). Since the European cash open, the initial mildly positive momentum has somewhat waned across European cash and futures, with the region now conforming to a more mixed picture. Spain's IBEX (+0.7%) is the clear regional outperforming, aided by index heavyweight Telefonica (+5.0%), which benefits from the sectorial boost received by a couple of major M&A updates. Firstly, Telecom Italia (+22%) gapped higher at the open after KKR presented a EUR 0.505/shr offer for Telecom Italia. The offer presents a ~45% premium on Friday's close. Second, Ericsson (-3.5%) made a bid to acquire American publicly held business cloud communications provider Vonage in a deal worth USD 6.2bln. As things stand, the Telecom sector is the clear outperformer, closely followed by banks amid a revival in yields. The other end of the spectrum sees Travel & Leisure back at the foot of the bunch as COVID fears in Europe mount. In terms of individual movers, Vestas Wind Systems (-2.0%) was hit as a cyber incident that impacted parts of its internal IT structure and data has been compromised. Looking ahead, it’s worth noting that volume will likely be more muted towards the latter half of the week on account of the Thanksgiving holiday. Top European News Scholz Closer to German Chancellery as Cabinet Takes Shape Austria Back in Lockdown Ahead of Mandatory Vaccine Policy Energy Crunch Drives Carbon to Record as Europe Burns More Coal BP Goes on Hydrogen Hiring Spree in Bid for 10% Market Share In FX, the Antipodean Dollars are outperforming at the start of the new week on specific supportive factors, like a bounce in the price of iron ore and a further re-opening from pandemic restrictions in both Australia and New Zealand, while the REINZ shadow board is ‘overwhelmingly’ behind another RBNZ rate hike this week. Aud/Usd is holding around 0.7250 and Nzd/Usd is hovering circa 0.7000 as the Aud/Nzd cross pivots 1.0350 in the run up to flash Aussie PMIs and NZ retail sales. DXY - Aussie and Kiwi strength aside, the Greenback retains a solid underlying bid on safe haven and increasingly hawkish Fed grounds after a run of recent much better than expected US data. In index terms, a base just above 96.000 provides a platform to retest last week’s peaks at 96.245 and 96.266 vs 96.223 so far, but Monday’s agenda may not give bulls much in the way of encouragement via data with only existing home sales scheduled. Instead, the Buck could derive more impetus from Treasuries given front-loaded supply ahead of Thanksgiving in the form of Usd 58 bn 2 year and Usd 59 bn 5 year notes. CHF/CAD/EUR/GBP/JPY - All narrowly mixed against their US rival, as the Franc keeps its head above 0.9300 and meanders between 1.0485-61 vs the Euro amidst some signs of official intervention from a rise in weekly Swiss sight deposits at domestic banks. Meanwhile, the Loonie has some leverage from a mild rebound in crude prices to pare declines from sub-1.2650 and should glean support into 1.2700 from 1 bn option expiries at 1.2685 on any further risk aversion or fallout in WTI. Conversely, 1 bn option expiry interest from 1.1300-05 could scupper Euro recoveries from Friday’s new y-t-d low around 1.1250 against the backdrop of ongoing COVID-19 contagion and pre-ECB speakers plus preliminary Eurozone consumer confidence. Elsewhere, the Pound is weighing up BoE tightening prospects and the impact of no breakthrough between the UK and EU on NI Protocol as Cable and Eur/Gbp straddle the 1.3435-40 zone and 0.8400 respectively, while the Yen has unwound more of its safe haven premium within a 114.27-113.91 range eyeing UST yields in relation to JGBs alongside overall risk sentiment. SCANDI/EM - The Nok is deriving some traction from Brent back over Usd 79/brl, but geopolitical concerns are preventing the Rub from benefiting and the Mxn is also on a weaker footing along with most EM currencies. However, the Try is striving to draw a line in the sand irrespective of a marked deterioration in Turkish consumer sentiment and the Cnh/Cny are holding up well regardless of a softer PBoC fix for the onshore unit as LPRs were unchanged yet again and China’s FX regulator told banks to limit Yuan spec trades. In CEE, the Pln has plunged on diplomatic strains between Poland and the EU, the Huf has depreciated to all time lows on virus fears and the Czk has been hampered by CNB’s Holub downplaying the chances of more big tightening surprises such as the aggressive hike last time. In commodities, WTI and Brent front month futures see some consolidation following Friday’s slide in prices. In terms of the fundamentals, the demand side of the equations continues to be threatened by the fourth wave of COVID, namely in the European nations that have not had a successful vaccine rollout. As a reminder, Austria is in a 20-day nationwide lockdown as of today, whilst Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands see tighter restrictions, with the latter two also experiencing COVID-related social unrest over the weekend. The European Commission will on Wednesday issue a set of new recommendations to its member states on non-essential travel, a senior EU diplomat said, which will be watched for activity and jet fuel demand. Over to the supply side, There were weekend reports that Japan and the US are planning a joint announcement regarding the SPR release, although a key Japanese official later noted there was no fixed plan yet on releasing reserves. Japanese PM Kishida confirmed that they are considering releasing oil reserves to curb prices. Meanwhile, Iranian nuclear talks are regaining focus as negotiations are poised to resume on the 29th of November – it is likely we’ll see officials telegraph their stances heading into the meeting. Eyes will be on whether the US offers an olive branch as Tehran stands firm. Elsewhere, the next OPEC+ meeting is also looming, but against the backdrop of lower prices, COVID risk and SPR releases, it is difficult to see a scenario where OPEC+ will be more hawkish than dovish. WTI and Brent Jan trade on either side of USD 76/bbl and USD 79/bbl respectively and within relatively narrow bands. Spot gold and silver meanwhile see a mild divergence, with the yellow metal constrained by resistance in the USD 1,850/oz area, whilst spot silver rebounded off support at USD 24.50/oz. Finally, base metals are relatively mixed with no standout performers to point out. LME copper is flat but holds onto USD 9,500+/t status. US Event Calendar 8:30am: Oct. Chicago Fed Nat Activity Index, est. 0.10, prior -0.13 10am: Oct. Existing Home Sales MoM, est. -1.8%, prior 7.0% 10am: Oct. Home Resales with Condos, est. 6.18m, prior 6.29m DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap This morning we’ve just published our 2022 credit strategy outlook. 2021 has been one of the lowest vol years for credit on record but we think this is unlikely to last and spreads will sell-off at some point in H1 when markets reappraise how far behind the curve the Fed is. Even with covid restrictions mounting again in Europe as we go to print, we think it’s more likely that we’ll be in a “growthflationary” environment for 2022 and think overheating risks are more acute than the stagflation risk, especially in the US. Strong growth and high liquidity should mean that full year 2022 is a reasonable year for credit overall but if we’re correct there’ll be regular pockets of inflationary/interest rate concerns in the market, which we think is more likely to happen in H1. At the H1 wides, we could see spreads widen as much as 30-40bps in IG and 120-160bps in HY which is consistent with typical mid-cycle ranges through history. We do expect this to mostly retrace in H2 as markets recover from the shock and growth remains decent and liquidity still high. However, with the potential for a shift in the narrative to potential late-cycle dynamics, we think spreads will close 2022 slightly wider than they are today. We will be watching the yield curve closely through the year for clues as to how the cycle will evolve into 2023. This has the ability to move our YE 22 forecasts in both directions as the year progresses. This week will be heavily compressed given Thanksgiving on Thursday. The highlight though will be a likely choice of Fed governor before this, assuming the timetable doesn’t slip again. Overnight it’s been announced that Biden will give a speech to the American people tomorrow on the economy and prices. It’s possible the Fed Chair gets announced here and perhaps plans to release oil from the strategic reserve. We will see. Following that, Wednesday is especially busy as a pre-holiday US data dump descends upon us. We’ll see the minutes of the November 3rd FOMC meeting and earlier that day the core PCE deflator (the Fed's preferred inflation metric), Durable Goods, the UoM sentiment index (including latest inflation expectations), new home sales and jobless claims amongst a few other releases. More internationally, covid will be focus, especially in Europe as Austria enters lockdown today after the shock announcement on Friday. Germany is probably the swing factor here for sentiment in Europe so case numbers will be watched closely. Staying with Germany, there’s anticipation that a coalition agreement could be reached in Germany between the SPD, Greens and the FDP, almost two months after their federal election. Otherwise, the flash PMIs for November will be in focus, with the ECB following the Fed and releasing the minutes from their recent meeting on Thursday. As discussed at the top the most important market event this week is likely to be on the future leadership of the Federal Reserve, as it’s been widely reported that President Biden is expected to announce his choice on who’ll be the next Fed Chair by Thanksgiving on Thursday. Previous deadlines have slipped on this announcement, but time is becoming increasingly limited given the need for Senate confirmation ahead of Chair Powell’s current four-year term expiring in early February. The two names that are quite obviously in the frame are incumbent Chair Powell and Governor Brainard, but there are also a number of other positions to fill at the Fed in the coming months, with Vice Chair Clarida’s term as an FOMC governor expiring in January, Randal Quarles set to leave the Board by the end of this year, and another vacant post still unfilled. So a significant opportunity for the Biden administration to reshape the top positions at the Fed. In spite of all the speculation over the position of the Fed Chair, our US economists write in their latest Fed update (link here), that the decision is unlikely to have a material impact on the broad policy trajectory. Inflation in 2022 is likely to remain at levels that make most Fed officials uncomfortable, whilst the regional Fed presidents rotating as voters lean more hawkish next year, so there’ll be constraints to how policy could shift in a dovish direction, even if an incoming chair wanted to move things that way. Another unconfirmed but much anticipated announcement this week could come from Germany, where there’s hope that the centre-left SPD, the Greens and the liberal FDP will finally reach a coalition agreement. The general secretaries of all three parties have recently said that they hope next week will be when a deal is reached, and a deal would pave the way for the SPD’s Olaf Scholz to become chancellor at the head of a 3-party coalition. Nevertheless, there are still some hurdles to clear before then, since an agreement would mark the start of internal party approval processes. The FDP and the SPD are set to hold a party convention, whilst the Greens have announced that their members will vote on the agreement. On the virus, there is no doubt things are getting worse in Europe but it’s worth putting some of the vaccine numbers in some context. Austria (64% of total population) has a double vaccination rate that is somewhat lower than the likes of Spain (79%), Italy (74%), France (69%), the UK (69%) and Germany (68%). The UK for all its pandemic fighting faults is probably as well placed as any due to it being more advanced on the booster campaign due to an earlier vaccine start date and also due to higher natural infections. It was also a conscious decision back in the summer in the UK to flatten the peak to take load off the winter wave. So this is an area where scientists and the government may have made a calculated decision that pays off. Europe is a bit behind on boosters versus the UK but perhaps these will accelerate as more people get 6 months from their second jab, albeit a bit too late to stop some kind of winter wave. There may also be notable divergence within Europe. Countries like Italy and Spain (and to a slightly lesser extent France) that were hit hard in the initial waves have a high vaccination rate so it seems less likely they will suffer the dramatic escalation that Austria has seen. Germany is in the balance as they have had lower infection rates which unfortunately may have encouraged slightly lower vaccination rates. The irony here is that there is some correlation between early success/lower infections and lower subsequent vaccination rates. The opposite is also true - i.e. early bad outcomes but high vaccination rates. The US is another contradiction as it’s vaccination rate of 58% is very low in the developed world but it has had high levels of natural infections and has a higher intolerance for lockdowns. So tough to model all the above. Overall given that last winter we had no vaccines and this year we have very high levels of protection it seems unfathomable that we’ll have an outcome anywhere near as bad. Yes there will be selected countries where the virus will have a more severe impact but most developed countries will likely get by without lockdowns in my opinion even if the headlines aren’t always going to be pleasant. Famous last words but those are my thoughts. In light of the rising caseloads, the November flash PMIs should provide some context for how the global economy has performed into the month. We’ve already seen a deceleration in the composite PMIs for the Euro Area since the summer, so it’ll be interesting to see if that’s maintained. If anything the US data has reaccelerated in Q4 with the Atlanta Fed GDPNow series at 8.2% for the quarter after what will likely be a revised 2.2% print on Wednesday for Q3. Time will tell if Covid temporarily dampens this again. Elsewhere datawise, we’ll also get the Ifo’s latest business climate indicator for Germany on Wednesday, which has experienced a similar deceleration to other European data since the summer. The rest of the week ahead appears as usual in the day-by-day calendar at the end. Overnight in Asia stocks are mixed with the KOSPI (+1.31%) leading the pack followed by the Shanghai Composite (+0.65%) and CSI (+0.53%), while the Nikkei (-0.18%) and Hang Seng (-0.35%) are lower. Stocks in China are being boosted by optimism that the PBOC would be easing its policy stance after its quarterly monetary policy report on Friday dropped a few hints to that effect. Futures are pointing towards a positive start in the US and Europe with S&P 500 futures (+0.31%) and DAX futures (+0.14%) both in the green. Turning to last week now, rising Covid cases prompted renewed lockdown measures to varying degrees and hit risk sentiment. Countries across Europe implemented new lockdown measures and vaccine requirements to combat the latest rise in Covid cases. The standouts included Austria and Germany. Austria will start a nationwide lockdown starting today and will implement a compulsory Covid vaccine mandate from February. Germany will restrict leisure activities and access to public transportation for unvaccinated citizens and announced a plan to improve vaccination efforts. DM ten-year yields decreased following the headline. Treasury, bund, and gilt yields declined -3.8bps, -6.7bps, and -4.6bps on Friday, respectively, bringing the weekly totals to -1.3bps, -8.3bps, and -3.5bps, respectively. The broad dollar appreciated +0.54% Friday, and +0.98% over the week. Brent and WTI futures declined -2.89% and -3.68% on Friday following global demand fears, after drifting -4.27% and -5.79% lower throughout the week as headlines circulated that the US and allies were weighing whether to release strategic reserves. European equity indices declined late in the week as the renewed lockdown measures were publicized. The Stoxx 600, DAX, and CAC 40 declined -0.33%, -0.38%, and -0.42%, respectively on Friday, bringing their weekly totals to -0.14%, +0.41%, and +0.29%. The S&P 500 index was also hit ending the week +0.32% higher after declining -0.14% Friday, though weekly gains were concentrated in big technology and consumer discretionary stocks. U.S. risk markets were likely supported by the U.S. House of Representatives passing the Biden Administration’s climate and social spending bill. The bill will proceed to the Senate, where its fate lays with a few key moderate Democrats. This follows President Biden signing a physical infrastructure bill into law on Monday. On the Fed, communications from officials took a decidedly more hawkish turn on inflation dynamics, especially from dovish members. Whether the Fed decides to accelerate its asset purchase taper at the December FOMC will likely be the key focus in markets heading into the meeting. Ending the weekly wrap up with some positive Covid news: the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cleared Pfizer and Moderna booster shots for all adults. Additionally, the US will order 10 million doses of Pfizer’s Covid pill. Tyler Durden Mon, 11/22/2021 - 07:49.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 22nd, 2021

Blow up your Instagram with these 10 over-the-top hotels in the US

Here are 10 cool, photogenic US hotels to post about on Instagram, with over-the-top decor, dramatic architecture, and eccentric rooms. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. The Saguaro When choosing a hotel, social media-minded travelers place a high value on a visual appeal. Many hotels design with Instagram in mind, with decor ranging from highly curated to eccentric. We found the most photogenic hotels across the US with options for all budgets and travelers. Table of Contents: Masthead StickyThe saying goes, "pics or it didn't happen," and when it comes to travel, that is especially true. After all, vacation visuals that get posted to social media serve as photogenic proof that you had an incredible time away, inspiring others' travel decisions, and perhaps even a bit of travel envy.Whether or not you're an influencer commanding a major social media presence, it's nice to visit somewhere that is visually appealing, both on and off the 'Gram. That's why we rounded up some of the most Instagram-worthy hotels across the United States, each catering to a variety of aesthetics.You can be sure that each and every hotel on this list has gorgeous decor that'll photograph perfectly, even if you're relatively inexperienced behind the camera.Browse all the most Instagrammable hotels in the US below, or jump directly to a specific area here.The most Instagrammable hotels in the USFAQ: Instagrammable hotelsHow we selected the most Instagrammable hotelsMore photogenic accommodationsThese are the most Instagrammable hotels in the US, sorted by price from low to high. The Roxbury This suite is inspired by the tale of "Cinderella" with a bathroom entrance fashioned out of her pumpkin carriage. Roxbury Hotel Book The RoxburyCategory: Budget Location: Roxbury, NYTypical starting/peak prices: $95/$138Best for: Couples, families, friendsOn-site amenities: Pool, spa, hiking trails (to a waterfall!)Pros: Between the property's two hotels, there are about two dozen room themes, meaning there's something to tickle everyone's fancy.Cons: There's no on-site restaurant, but daily breakfast is included. Guests are charged to use the pool (a one-time, not daily fee), which eliminates the need for a resort fee.When it comes to themed hotel rooms, no one does them quite like The Roxbury in New York's Catskills region.Made up of two hotels, the Roxbury Motel and the Roxbury at Stratton Falls, there are 28 whimsical rooms and suites. Entry-level rooms are fairly traditional, though still bold in colors, but it's the suites and cottages that really dazzle.Themes range from Maryann's Coconut Cream Pie, where the ceiling looks as if it's coated in undulating meringue; and The Wizard's Emeralds, a riff on "The Wizard of Oz" complete with a yellow brick (or, in this case, yellow tile) road and a glittering green bedspread worthy of the Emerald City. Additionally, the Tower Cottages are standalone duplex suites with themes like the Faerie Forest, where interiors resemble whimsical woods plucked out of a fairy tale, with flowers, ferns, mushrooms, and gnarled tree branches adorning every inch.The Roxbury also has a pool with a spa that appears warped to create the illusion that it's defying gravity, alongside a hot tub, dry sauna, and treatment rooms. There are also hiking trails, one of which leads to a 50-foot waterfall.COVID-19 procedures are available here. The Saguaro Palm Springs The colorful Saguaro is one of Palm Springs' most recognizable hotels. Tripadvisor Book The Saguaro Palm SpringsCategory: BudgetLocation: Palm Springs, CATypical starting/peak prices: $129/$350Best for: Couples, friends, solo travelersOn-site amenities: Pool, restaurants, bars, gym, spaPros: The pool is the place to see and be seen — and to take your Instagrams. Pool parties are particularly boisterous, and the rainbow backdrop of the hotel brightens up any photographs.Cons: There's a mandatory $38 (plus tax) resort fee, which makes seemingly affordable room rates less appealing.Palm Springs is a desert oasis primarily known for two things: amazing midcentury architecture and a raucous party scene, particularly at its hotels. The Saguaro Palm Springs is no exception to either.The hotel was built in 1971 but underwent a major renovation in 2012 by the same group behind the ultra-hip Ace Hotels. That refurbishment brought about the brightly painted exterior with a gradient rainbow effect for which the hotel is best known. These vibrant, cheerful colors carry throughout the entire property, most notably in the courtyard pool area. Paired with swaying palm trees, bright yellow umbrellas, and the cool blue of the pool, and it's positively photogenic.  That pool area, by the way, is one of the hotel's biggest draws. Lively parties are thrown regularly and often spill over into the Saguaro's restaurants and bars. Be sure to reserve a cabana in advance for the best spot for photos.Inside, guest rooms are similarly colorful with lemon yellow walls, royal purple carpets, and furniture done up in lime green, hot pink, or electric orange alongside technicolor striped bedspreads.COVID-19 procedures are available here. TWA Hotel Built into an old airline terminal, the TWA hotel offers a retro feel infused with heavy doses of '60s glam and nostalgia. TWA Hotel/David Mitchell Book TWA HotelCategory: BoutiqueLocation: New York, NYTypical starting/peak prices: $200/$280Best for: Couples, families, friends, solo travelers, aviation and design enthusiastsOn-site amenities: Restaurants, bars, gym, rooftop pool, event space, museums displays, ice/roller rinkPros: The main building is legendary among aviation geeks and architecture lovers, but anyone who appreciates funky design will enjoy the hotel. Don't miss the cocktail bar inside an old airplane. And, of course, if you're flying out of JFK, it doesn't get more convenient than staying here.Cons: The rooms are pretty small, even the suites. Mixed reviews cite cleanliness issues, too. You're far better off hanging out in the public spaces, which are more visually interesting anyway.As the only hotel within John F. Kennedy International Airport, the TWA Hotel is, of course, a place for those who need a place to rest pre- or post-flight. But it's also so much more, as a design-forward gem that feels like a slice of preserved history with front-row views of airplanes taking off and landing.Designed by midcentury architecture icon Eero Saarinen in 1962 (originally as a flight center for Trans World Airlines), the TWA hotel has jaw-dropping interiors. The main building, which houses the front desk, restaurants, and bars, features soaring, curved white ceilings that are not unlike a Jetsons-style spaceship with bright red carpets, classic midcentury furniture, and an old-school departures/arrivals board. Throughout the hotel and in some guest rooms, enjoy iconic views of the runway as planes land and depart, a boon for aviation enthusiasts. Rooms are small, but feel like you've stumbled onto the set of "Mad Men" with bright red Saarinen-designed Womb chairs, retro TWA travel posters, dark wood paneling, and brass accents on furniture, including a martini bar.Visiting this hotel is a lot like, walking into a time capsule, especially when you enter the hotel's cocktail bar housed within an actual 1958 Constellation airplane.COVID-19 procedures are available here. Madonna Inn The Floral Fantasy is one of 110 over-the-top themed rooms. Tripadvisor Book Madonna InnCategory: BoutiqueLocation: San Luis Obispo, CATypical starting/peak prices: $220/$580Best for: Families, friends, couplesOn-site amenities: Restaurants, bars, bakery, pool, spa, gym, dance floor, boutique, tennis, basketballPros: Every room is unique, meaning you can stay 110 times and have an entirely different experience for each visit. Cons: The decor is undoubtedly kitschy and even borderline gauche, which may not appeal to some guests. For others, it's the entire reason they're here.When it opened in 1958, the Madonna Inn in the midst of San Luis Obispo's wine country, had just 12 rooms. Today, it has 110, from economy kings to three-bedroom suites, and each one has its own absolutely one-of-a-kind, at times tacky, but highly memorable decor.In the Fabulous 50s room, teal walls are framed by pink trim, while gilded mirrors form a focal point in the bathroom. In the Victorian Gardens room, a four-post bed is matched with floral wallpaper, pink walls, and pink-velvet chairs and sofas. And in the Caveman room, the ceiling, walls, and floors are all made with rough-hewn rock, while furnishings are upholstered with animal print to complete the prehistoric theme.The rooms are spread across a 1,000-acre resort, which includes basketball and tennis courts, a pool, a retro gas station (a nod to the hotel's roots as a classic road trip stop, though today you'll find Tesla Superchargers there), a spa, a bakery, and several restaurants and bars.The eclectic decor doesn't stop in the rooms, either. Alex Madonna's Gold Rush Steak House is decked out in topsy-turvy pink and gold colors that recall either the Mad Hatter's tea party or the "Be Our Guest" scene in Beauty and the Beast." Hot pink circular banquettes are trimmed with gold, while a pink floral carpet provides punchy patterns. An organic, tree-like candelabra rises in the center of the room, its golden tendrils supporting dozens of electric candles. COVID-19 procedures are available by phone at 805-543-3000. The Greenbrier Bright colors mix heavily with punchy prints. The Greenbrier Book The GreenbrierCategory: ResortLocation: White Sulphur Springs, WVTypical starting/peak prices: $240/$425Best for: Families, couples, friends, solo travelersOn-site amenities: Restaurants, bars, casino, shopping, pool, tennis, golf, spa, ropes course, bowling, art studio, Cold War bunkerPros: Everything you could possibly want to do at a mountain resort, you can do here, whether falconry or jewelry making. It's almost shocking how many activities are offered.Cons: Some might find the decor a bit too traditional — there are lots of florals — but there's no denying it makes for a great Instagram post.Opened in 1778, the Greenbrier is an iconic American resort in West Virginia, having hosted 27 presidents throughout its history. Naturally, there have been many changes to the property over the centuries, but perhaps the most dramatic was a 1946 redecoration by lauded interior designer Dorothy Draper, who introduced lurid colors and punchy patterns into the historic buildings.Take the Greenbriar Avenue lobby, where black-and-white houndstooth club chairs sit atop bright red carpet, surrounded by teal-and-white striped columns, tropical-print wallpaper, and black-and-white checkered floors. Then in the Victorian Writing Room, rainbow-colored floral armchairs and drapes contrast with forest green walls and a bright red carpet.The guest rooms feature similar idiosyncratic decor, though perhaps not as in-your-face. Entry-level rooms all feature floral wallpaper with floral drapes to match, while higher room tiers have slightly more vibrant approaches to interior design. In the Windsor Club Rooms, you'll likely find brighter pink wallpaper, whole beds are covered by canopies, and furniture and carpets feature gingham or plaid patterns. The Greenbrier is also known for its many on-site activities, ranging from sports facilities, studios, and workshops for creative types to a casino, more than a dozen dining options, and plenty of shopping on the 11,000-acre grounds. But its most unusual amenity is a formerly secret Cold War-era bunker designed to house Congress. It's now declassified and open for tours.COVID-19 procedures are available here. Urban Cowboy Catskills Room designs are a feast for the eyes. Urban Cowboy Catskills Book Urban Cowboy CatskillsCategory: BoutiqueLocation: Big Indian, NYTypical starting/peak prices: $250/$500Best for: Couples, friends, solo travelersOn-site amenities: Restaurant, bar, games room, libraryPros: Despite being a wilderness lodge, there's very strong Wi-Fi for the WFH (or can't-be-disconnected) crowd.Cons: There are often minimum stay requirements, usually two to three nights on weekends.In New York's Catskills region, a popular weekend trip for city dwellers, the Urban Cowboy sits on 68 forested acres with plenty of outdoor recreation, but we wouldn't blame you if you wanted to spend your entire stay indoors.That's because the hotel's 28 accommodations feature super cool decor that focuses on quintessential rustic elements like deer antlers, live-wood furniture, rough-hewn wood beams, and outdoorsy accent pieces like snowshoes or oars. Colorful Native American pattern work covers the ceilings, beds, chairs, and rugs, creating a visual cacophony that feels high-design. And then there's the matter of the absolutely gorgeous copper soaking tubs set in front of big picture windows.This rugged-chic mountain style continues in public spaces, especially in the bar with a massive stone fireplace and columns that look like trees. The vibrant patterns make an appearance, too, from the walls to the sofas to the rugs.COVID-19 procedures are available here. Faena Hotel Miami Beach An attractive pool scene sets a sleek tone. Booking.com Book Faena Hotel Miami BeachCategory: LuxuryLocation: Miami Beach, FLTypical starting/peak prices: $445/$1,350Best for: Couples, friends, familiesOn-site amenities: Restaurants, bars, gym, spa, beach club, kids' clubPros: Despite its opulent, perhaps frenzied look, this is actually a surprisingly family-friendly hotel. Cons: It's 10 blocks north of South Beach, so you're not right in the heart of the action. However, there's plenty to do on-site.If it feels like Faena Hotel Miami Beach is some sort of phantasmagoric movie set, that's because it basically is. Filmmaker Baz Luhrmann and production and costume designer Catherine Martin, a husband-wife team, spearheaded the design of this Mid-Beach property, and they went all out.Public spaces are filled with sumptuous colors, dazzling metallics, and all manners of prints and patterns, from leopard spots to Art Deco geometry. Even the spa, a typically soothing space, is filled with bright colors, a neon-colored pom-pom chandelier, and bird-filled, floral landscape wallpaper.In fact, public areas are absolutely buzzing with visual elements, with a gold-covered woolly mammoth skeleton by the pool (a Damien Hirst artwork) that takes center stage.Guest rooms, however, are a bit more subdued, with white walls and wood floors to keep things grounded, accented by red and turquoise furnishings. Bits of animal print are thrown in for good measure and as subtle reminders of your larger surroundings. COVID-19 procedures are available here. The Inn of the Five Graces Guest rooms, spaces, and even bathrooms are bursts of colors, prints, and international influences. Tripadvisor Book The Inn of the Five GracesCategory: BoutiqueLocation: Santa Fe, NMTypical starting/peak prices: $715/$1,175Best for: Couples, friendsOn-site amenities: Bar, spa, gymPros: A made-to-order breakfast is included, as is a wine and cheese reception on Fridays. The spa's Tibetan-style treatment room is beautiful.Cons: There's no true on-site restaurant, but in-room dining is available via the restaurant next door.From the outside, the Inn of the Five Graces is just another (450-year-old) adobe dwelling in Santa Fe. But inside, it's a global journey along the Silk Road.Public spaces and all 24 rooms burst with colors and patterns, whether from mosaic tiles, Central Asian textiles, or South Asian works of art. The look is definitely maximalist, but the blend of international styles is somehow never overwhelming thanks to the smooth and soothing adobe walls that serve as a calming backdrop. Natural elements like wood-beamed ceilings and stone hearths also provide simple contrast.The boutique property is limited on amenities, though it has an exceptional spa treatment room inspired by Tibetan tradition (both in decor and in therapies), a gym, and in-room dining provided by a neighboring restaurant.The Inn of the Five Graces is a five-minute walk from downtown Santa Fe, but thanks to its global influences, it seems to transport you to the other side of the world.COVID-19 procedures are available here. The Villa Casa Casuarina Gianni Versace's former mansion is now a luxury hotel showcasing his ostentatious style. TripAdvisor Book The Villa Casa CasuarinaCategory: LuxuryLocation: Miami Beach, FLTypical starting/peak prices: $750/$1,400Best for: CouplesOn-site amenities: Pool, restaurant, barPros: The hotel's old-world-inspired grandeur truly is unmatched in Art Deco-filled South Beach.Cons: Because this is a major tourist site in Miami, there can be many people around snapping photos at all hours. Diners at the restaurant are loud, and noise can reach the rooms.Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace was tragically murdered in 1997, but his lavish Miami Beach mansion was preserved to pay homage to his life, and now, operates as a luxury hotel. Today it's called the Villa Casa Casuarina, and was inspired by the Alcázar de Cólon in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The Spanish-style mansion, built in 1930, captivated Versace, who bought it in 1992 and renovated it to suit his extravagant taste. It's still exquisitely over the top.The hotel's suites feature ostentatious decor in various themes. In the Azure Suite, blue-and-white decor abounds with Roman-inspired architectural details, like the medallion-inlaid pediments above the windows in the bedroom and the tromp l'oeil "plasterwork" in the bathroom. In the Signature Suite, however, there's a far more sultry vibe, with animal print upholstery, a sumptuous warm-tone marble bathroom, and gilded furnishings.But the visual highlight of the entire property is the Million Mosaic Pool, which is comprised of thousands of 24-karat gold tiles. COVID-19 procedures are available by phone at 305-908-1462​​. Amangiri Utah's luxury Amangiri resort is a favorite with celebrities. Amangiri Book AmangiriCategory: LuxuryLocation: Canyon Point, UtahTypical starting/peak prices: $1,931/$3,500Best for: CouplesOn-site amenities: Spa, restaurant, bar, poolPros: This is desert minimalism at its finest — the hotel blends perfectly into its landscape with earth-toned decor. The luxury service is unmatched.Cons: This is not the easiest property to get to, as the closest major airports are more than four hours away. But the remote location is one of the many reasons why people visit.Arguably one of the most exclusive resorts in the US, Amangiri is a lesson in understated elegance. Architecturally, the sleek hotel is designed to blend in with the stark, rocky landscape surrounding its 600 desert acres in Utah, with color palettes that match near perfectly.Despite the indulgent luxury price tag, everything here is understated. Furnishings are made of sinuous wood or matte concrete with white upholstery to maximize the natural surroundings, which are often framed by views so beautiful, they appear like a work of art. With so many clean lines, use the sky for color and take pictures at different times of day to create variation. Though it'd be easy to rest in your luxurious suite all day long, you'll want to spend time in the dramatic Aman Spa, which covers 25,000 square feet. With looming concrete walls, it can at times feel cavernous, akin to the deep canyons found just a few miles away. While expensive, the rate covers all meals (sans alcohol), some activities, and some spa treatments, too. Stunning nature, hiking, horseback riding, or climbing, are all activities that await. COVID-19 procedures are available here. FAQ: Instagrammable hotels What are other unique hotels in the US?For unusual hotels, consider the Dog Bark Park Inn in Cottonwood, Idaho, where the main building is shaped like a beagle; ​​The Inn at Christmas Place in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, where Christmas is celebrated year-round; and the Railroad Park Resort in Dunsmuir, California, where guests sleep in converted train cars.How do I find cool hotels to stay in?If you're looking for an Instagrammable hotel, head to Instagram to get inspired by other travelers. Search hashtags like #beautifulhotels or #coolhotels. Or trust the experts, like us!What makes a hotel Instagrammable?Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Styles that some might consider Instagram-worthy might not be quite right for the aesthetic of your feed. But in general, bold interior design is key or a stunning setting. And bold doesn't necessarily mean maximalist. A stark, minimalist interior can be visually dynamic in photographs, too.What are some of the most photogenic hotels in the world?There's no shortage of beautiful hotels in the world, whether you're looking for the classic Italian style of Villa d'Este on Lake Como, the over-the-top safari lodge Ol Jogi in Kenya's Laikipia region, or the futuristic ME by Meliá Dubai, designed by Zaha Hadid. How we selected the most Instagrammable hotels in the US As a travel writer who focuses on architecture and design, I determined that every hotel has photo-worthy design elements, whether in the guest rooms, public spaces, or exterior areas.Each property on the list is highly rated on traveler review sites like TripAdvisor, Booking.com, and Expedia.High-design hotels range greatly in budget. We've selected properties from each end of the spectrum; they cost anywhere from $95 to $$3,500 per night.Tastes vary, so we've picked a selection of decor styles. There's everything from kitschy-themed suites to magazine-worthy interior design.While COVID-19 policies vary from state to state, these hotels still have strict health and safety policies in place to protect both guests and staff. More photogenic hotels The Setai Miami Beach The best luxury hotels in the USThe best themed hotel suites for familiesThe best bucket-list Airbnbs in the US Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 21st, 2021

Supply Chain Problems Will Persist Because The System Is Being Sabotaged

Supply Chain Problems Will Persist Because The System Is Being Sabotaged Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.us, In a recent interview with Bloomberg, the executive vice president of UPS asserted that “regionalization” of the supply chain is critical to economic stability as geopolitcal conflicts expand. The word “regionalization” is basically a code word to describe decentralization, a concept which the UPS representative obviously did not want to dive into directly. Almost every trade expert and industry insider is admitting that supply chain problems are going to persist into the foreseeable future, and some are starting to also admit (in a roundabout way) that localized production and trade models are the key to survival. This is something that I and many other alternative economists have been talking about for a decade or more. The globalist dynamic of interdependency is a disaster waiting to happen, and now it’s happening. Without decentralized mining of raw materials, local manufacturing, locally sourced goods, local food production and locally integrated trade networks there can be no true stability. All it takes for the system to implode is one or two crisis events and the economy’s ability to meet public demand stagnates. The system doesn’t completely stop, but it does slowly shrivel and degrade. The war in Ukraine has been the go-to scapegoat the past few months for supply chain disruptions, but these issues started long before that. Years of central bank stimulus and fiat money creation have triggered the inevitable landslide of inflation/stagflation that alternative economists have been warning about. Price inflation is a direct contributor to production declines and supply chain disruptions because costs continually rise for manufacturers. Also, wages of workers cannot keep up with rising prices, inspiring many employees to quit and look for work elsewhere, or attempt to live off of government welfare. All of this leads to less supply, or slower production and thus, even higher prices. We were right, the mainstream media was wrong (or they lied). New York Times contributor Paul Krugman claimed that “no one saw this coming” when he was recently forced to admit that he was wrong on inflation. This is the same thing MSM economists said after the credit crash of 2008. It was a lie back then and it’s a lie now. Plenty of people saw it coming; we’ve been repeating our warnings for years, but they didn’t want to listen or they did not want us to be heard. Krugman is perhaps the worst and most arrogant economist/propagandist in the US, and though he belatedly acknowledged the inflation and supply chain threat after arguing for the past two years that it was “transitory,” he now claims that the traditionally accepted indicators of recession “don’t matter” anymore and that there is no downturn. How many times can this guy be proven ignorant and still keep his job? It’s this kind of disinformation that keeps the public in the dark on what is about to happen. Maybe it’s because of stupidity and ego, or maybe it’s a deliberate attempt to keep the population docile (I say it is deliberate), but in either case the American people are being put in great danger when it comes to the false narrative on inflation and the supply chain. The longer they are led to believe the disaster will simply go away on its own, the less time they have to prepare. The bottom line is this: Things are only going to get worse from here on. Maybe slowly, or maybe quickly depending on a handful of factors. Most of the world right now is focused on Taiwan and China’s persistent threats to invade. Nancy Pelosi’s widely publicized plan to visit the island nation (yes, CCP, it is a nation) is a bizarre act of non-discretion that is clearly meant to instigate wider tensions between the US and China. Why would Pelosi do this now? Well, she’s not doing it on her own and it’s certainly not the dementia addled Joe Biden’s idea. There are clearly other hands and other interests involved. The US sources around 20% of its retail goods from China as well as a large portion of it’s medical supplies. More concerning though is China’s near monopoly on Rare Earth metals which are integral to numerous electronic components. Furthermore, there is a pinnacle threat, which is China dumping trillions in US treasuries and dollar holding and virtually ending the dollar’s world reserve status. This is not to say China is in a great position financially – They are on the verge of debt crisis as well, which indicates to me that they will indeed invade Taiwan (and possibly other regions) as a means to expand their borders and consolidate resources. With billions of people to feed and control, the temptation for the CCP to seek military conquest is high. If they do, it will be soon – within the next couple of months when the weather in the Taiwan Strait is optimal for naval operations. The supply chain crisis is going to accelerate into winter as stagflation persists. Price inflation will remain high. The US is indeed officially in a recession today. Two consecutive negative GDP prints IS a recession, this is a fact that no one can change, including Joe Biden, Paul Krugman or Wikipedia. Reality does not answer to these people. The system is breaking, and certain people greatly benefit. A regional conflict with China on top of the Ukraine war could be the perfect smokescreen for a financial and supply chain collapse that was going to happen anyway. But when the mainstream media talks about the triggers and culprits, they’ll never mention central banks and political corruption, they will only talk about Russia and China. As I have noted in the past, the “Great Reset” agenda of the WEF, IMF, the BIS and other globalist organizations requires an extensive destabilization of the existing order. In other words, they need a controlled demolition of certain pillars of the economy. To frighten the public into accepting new collectivist and authoritarian models like the “Shared Economy” (where you will own nothing and like it), they will need a large and semi-chaotic disaster. People would have to be threatened with the loss of supply certainty and they would have to be unsure every day of where they will be able to get the necessities they need when they need them. This level of uncertainty drives calls for solutions, and the globalists will be there to offer their pre-planned objectives and “save the day.” Generally, inflation and shortages lead to price controls, government rationing, government “aid” with strings attached (Universal Basic Income), and eventually nationalization of all production as well as the attempted confiscation of supplies from people that prepared ahead of time. Redistribution will be the name of the game. Maybe not this year, maybe not next year, but soon enough. The limited corporate calls for “regionalization” are too little too late, just as the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes are too little too late. They all know it, and they don’t care. These actions are only designed to make it appear as if they tried to save the system so they have deniability of their involvement in the crisis. Stagflation and supply chain shortages are going to become the all encompassing issues of our era. They will be terms that are spoken about daily at every dinner table in America and probably through most of the world. These are dangers that were predicted extensively by the liberty media well ahead of time. They are NOT a surprise. And, there are plenty of institutions, corporate and government, that could have done something about them, but they chose not to. It’s important for people to accept the fact that this crisis is not a product of stupidity; it is a product of malicious motives and intent. *  *  * With global tensions spiking, thousands of Americans are moving their IRA or 401(k) into an IRA backed by physical gold. Now, thanks to a little-known IRS Tax Law, you can too. Learn how with a free info kit on gold from Birch Gold Group. It reveals how physical precious metals can protect your savings, and how to open a Gold IRA. Click here to get your free Info Kit on Gold. Tyler Durden Fri, 08/05/2022 - 16:20.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytAug 5th, 2022

Why The West Is Easing Its Sanctions On Russia

Why The West Is Easing Its Sanctions On Russia Authored by Irina Slav via OilPrice,com, While the EU remains determined to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, a shortage of energy and food is forcing the group to ease sanctions. The EU has already added exemptions to its sanctions to reduce disruptions to essential goods, while the U.S. is now pushing an oil price cap instead of an embargo. More recently, it seems that the UK is increasingly hesitant about joining the oil insurance ban despite its significant market share in the industry. If you ask a random EU official if the bloc should continue trying to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, you will invariably get a positive answer.  The sanction potential is reaching its end, but this is no reason for the EU to relieve the pressure, that official will say, as many have in conversations with the media. And yet, the EU has quietly begun to unwind its sanctions against Moscow. The UK's Express called it caving in to Putin. Bloomberg dubbed it "corrections to previous sanctions." Whatever it is called, it comes down to the same thing: the EU is loosening the noose. And it's not just the EU, either. For starters, the European Union decided to add exemptions to Russian sanctions, which would allow countries from outside the bloc to deal with sanctioned Russian entities, including banks and state companies such as Rosneft. Per the Bloomberg report, these exemptions are for entities "deemed essential to shipments of food, agricultural goods and oil to third countries outside the EU". The EU appears to be putting a lot of effort into convincing whoever is listening that their sanctions against Russia have absolutely nothing to do with either food or energy supply disruptions or, at the very least, they did not aim for them to happen. It said it directly in a news release by the Council of Europe that announced the latest round of sanctions that targeted Russia's gold. "More broadly, the EU is committed to avoiding all measures which might lead to food insecurity around the globe. None of the measures adopted today or earlier in view of Russia's actions destabilising the situation in Ukraine target in any way the trade in agricultural and food products, including wheat and fertilisers, between third countries and Russia," the news release stated. What all this effectively amounts to is an admission that sanctions against Russia are not working too well in their intended way and are instead hurting or threatening to hurt third parties not involved in the Ukraine conflict. There's more, too. While the EU tweaks its sanctions to allow the trade of more Russian oil in order to avoid another spike in oil prices, the UK is hesitant to join the block in its oil insurance ban on Russian vessels. The UK's participation in the insurance squeeze is essential because of the market share British-based insurers hold in shipping insurance and yet they are stalling. A recent Financial Times report on the topic suggests this might have something to do with the UK's big geopolitical brother and its concern about oil prices. The U.S., unlike the EU and its embargo, has opted for an alternative way of trying to reduce Russia's oil income: price caps. The UK, Canada, Germany, Japan, France, and Italy have agreed to pursue this cap. Judging by the latest news from the G7 camp, however, the cap is not moving ahead as planned. A lot of people - analysts, shipping industry insiders, and the head of Russia's central bank, among others - said that a price cap on Russian crude would not work. It appears that G7 has not heard them. Per a Reuters report from earlier this week, the G7 is looking into "a comprehensive prohibition of all services that enable transportation of Russian seaborne crude oil and petroleum products globally, unless the oil is purchased at or below a price to be agreed in consultation with international partners." Talk, however, is cheap, while action is not. Yet talking is important when the world is watching you, so the G7 planners also said that "In considering this and other options, we will also consider mitigation mechanisms alongside our restrictive measures to ensure the most vulnerable and impacted countries maintain access to energy markets including from Russia." In other words, just like the EU, the G7 would be wary of causing unintended damage to countries not involved in the Ukraine mess by making sure Russian oil reaches them freely. And then, refined products made from Russian oil will head back to the EU. India buys Russian oil, runs it through its refineries, and sells 'Indian refined products' where? To the EU. Ditto for other cargos. Ditto for Saudi Arabia. Those vessels' bills of lading won't mention Russia as they arrive at their EU destination. "In short, the EU is quietly facilitating the bypass of its own proclaimed 'crushing' sanctions regime," according to Alastair Crooke, director of Lebanon-based nonprofit Conflicts Forum, as quoted by the Express. It must have dawned on EU, UK, and U.S. policymakers that sanctioning Russia would not be as easy as sanctioning a smaller oil exporter, especially if this oil exporter also exports a lot of other vital stuff, such as food and fertilizers. The U.S. even issued a fact sheet to clarify that its sanctions do not target Russian fertilizer exports, or, indeed, agricultural product exports. And this while Amos Hochstein said that "Their economy has nothing else. They produce weapons and they produce and they drill for oil and gas." It appears that 'their economy" has at the very least a lot of fertilizers and agricultural produce that serves to feed people outside Russia as well, and that's without mentioning the metals, too. As for the oil, it seems pretty critical as well: nothing short of critical would force the EU, the UK, and the U.S. to loosen the sanction noose. Tyler Durden Fri, 08/05/2022 - 12:05.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytAug 5th, 2022

Transcript: Graham Weaver

     The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Graham Weaver, Alpine Investors, 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. ~~~ ANNOUNCER: This is Masters in Business… Read More The post Transcript: Graham Weaver appeared first on The Big Picture.      The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Graham Weaver, Alpine Investors, 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. ~~~ ANNOUNCER: This is Masters in Business with Barry Ritholtz on Bloomberg Radio. BARRY RITHOLTZ, HOST, MASTERS IN BUSINESS: This week on the podcast, I have an extra special guest. Graham Weaver is the founder and partner at Alpine Investors, a private equity firm, focusing on software and services. Graham has a really interesting background, both engineering at Princeton and essentially launching a PE firm while he was a graduate student at Stanford. Everybody knows the story about Michael Dell launching a computer business out of his dorm room in Texas. This could be the first PE firm I’m familiar with, that got started in a dorm room. What makes Graham so interesting is while everybody else in the world of private equity is focused on the analytics and crunching numbers and creating econometric models that will tell you where to invest, I think they’ve found a very different model that has been extremely successful for them, where the key focus is on talent. How do we find the best talent, put them in place running our investment companies and allow them to generate the sort of returns that you don’t really generate by just looking at a model? I found our conversation absolutely fascinating and I think you will also. With no further ado, my discussion with Alpine Investors’ Graham Weaver. Let’s jump right into this, starting with your background. When I hear someone has an engineering degree, I tend to think of venture capital, not private equity. Tell us a little bit how you went the PE route instead of the VC route. GRAHAM WEAVER, FOUNDER AND CEO, ALPINE INVESTORS: Well, I actually started in private equity right out of undergrad. I really didn’t know the difference between private equity or consulting, or anything. I had zero knowledge of that. And I was fortunate to end up in Morgan Stanley’s private equity group, I loved it and I’ve kind of been at it ever since. RITHOLTZ: Really interesting. So is it from Princeton to Morgan Stanley, and then Stanford, or am I getting the order right? WEAVER: Yeah. When I was at Princeton then I went to Morgan Stanley in their private equity, then I worked at a firm called American Securities for a couple years, and then went to went to business school after that. RITHOLTZ: And somewhere in the middle of this, there’s a pig farm in Missouri that I am having a hard time figuring out what a pig farm has to do with private equity. WEAVER: So the very first deal I worked on, so I come out of school, I’m wearing my Cross pen and my lapel, and I’m like wearing a tie and — RITHOLTZ: All buttoned down. WEAVER: Exactly. And I think I’m a big shot being on Wall Street, and I get shipped out to this pig farm in Missouri which was a deal Morgan Stanley had invested in. They’ve invested a total of a billion, almost a billion dollars of debt and equity, and then suffice to say was not going well. So not that I was going to go save it as a 22-year-old analyst, but I’ve got shipped out. I lived in a CFO’s basement for about five months, and we did everything we could, but it turned out not to be a great investment. RITHOLTZ: So there’s not big money in pigs? WEAVER: Well, it turns out hog prices are wildly cyclical. And you know, there’s the expression, how does a six-foot man drowned in a river that averages five feet? You know, it’s because there’s parts of the river that are deeper. Well, you know, we build our whole model on hog prices being $47 and when we then — RITHOLTZ: And that’s what they average, right? WEAVER: That’s what they average. RITHOLTZ: But that doesn’t tell you how much they swing up and down. WEAVER: It turns out — yeah, they went to $18 and we had $700 million of debt, and that didn’t — RITHOLTZ: $18? WEAVER: That didn’t go well. So yeah. RITHOLTZ: That’s the old joke. It’s not the price, it’s the volatility. WEAVER: Yeah, it was rough. But it was a — that was my introduction to the glamorous business of private equity. RITHOLTZ: And you didn’t turn around and say, “I want nothing to do with this?” WEAVER: I had the time of my life. RITHOLTZ: Really? WEAVER: It was so fun. RITHOLTZ: How was — how was sleeping in the CFO’s basement — was his house on the pig farm? WEAVER: It was. Yeah, it was. The whole entire town smelled like a pig farm and everyone — RITHOLTZ: Which was not especially delightful? WEAVER: It’s not. No, it turns out. And pretty much everyone in the town worked and had some affiliation with the pig farm. The CFO was also a Morgan Stanley guy, and he was probably 27. So neither of us had any idea — RITHOLTZ: So many years, years of experience over you? WEAVER: Yeah, yeah. Exactly. Neither of us had any clue what we were doing. But it really wouldn’t have mattered when your revenue gets cut by like 80%, there’s just not a lot you’re going to do to turn that around. RITHOLTZ: So there’s a cliche about tech firms being started in dorm rooms. How does a private equity firm start in a dorm room? WEAVER: So I show up at Stanford, and I’m in my first week of class. And then similar as today, you have to take these core classes in your first year, which are just not that — you know, they’re just fundamental. They’re not that exciting. So the first class I sit down, and there’s this 25-year-old who’s never worked a day in his life. He’s a PhD student. He’s never taught before, and he’s kind of just reciting out of this strategy book. And I just thought to myself, oh, my God, what have I signed up for? So I had this idea that I was going to go try to buy a business. And I had — you know, in your first three years as an analyst, you basically build a financial model. But I had the confidence of someone I thought I was much more — much better than I was. So I convinced an owner — I started cold calling companies in a sector that I had looked at previously, and I convinced this owner to sell me his business, and then I had to go raise the money, most of which was debt and the little bit of equity that was needed. I financed with credit cards. So that was literally how I started, not your typical private equity founding story. RITHOLTZ: How did that initial PE transaction work out? WEAVER: I did a total of three labeled deals with some add-ons, lost money on one, made money on — or lost a little bit of money on — loss — made a little bit of money on the second one. And then the third one was a total homerun, which actually just sold this year, 20 years later. So that that one turned out well. RITHOLTZ: 20 years? That’s impressive. That’s not the typical private equity holding period. WEAVER: Yeah, well, it was just me. I was the — it was just my — RITHOLTZ: So you could afford to be patient. WEAVER: And it was awesome. It was great. That one — RITHOLTZ: What space was that at? WEAVER: It was the — we had these companies that made these little labels that went on products, like for example in Trader Joe’s private labels things, we made all those labels. It’s a totally unsexy business. RITHOLTZ: Right. WEAVER: But it was very consistent and — RITHOLTZ: And it’s profitable. WEAVER: It was really profitable. And no one wakes up and says, “You know, I’m going to be a hero because I’m going to save half a cent on my label.” So it tends to kind of like just clip along like a bond. RITHOLTZ: Right. WEAVER: So it turned out — it turned out well, but I mean, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. And so I made every mistake you can imagine. RITHOLTZ: And it still worked out. When you launched in 2001, you started with $50 million, $55 million, something like that? WEAVER: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: And now it’s up to $8 billion close to eight funds. WEAVER: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: And your most recent fund just closed about $2 billion, more or less? WEAVER: Yeah, about 2.4. Yeah. RITHOLTZ: All right. So that’s real money, 2.4. Obviously, you’re doing something right. The track record has to be attractive. Is it the same investors rolling over, or new and different investors? Who is the clientele for this? WEAVER: In the very early days, it was a number of individuals because no institution was going to back — RITHOLTZ: Right. Well, you have to have a certain track record, be around for certain length of period, be able to check all of their due diligence boxes, and that takes time and money. WEAVER: Yeah. And I checked zero of those boxes. RITHOLTZ: Right. Dorm room, check. What else? What else we got? WEAVER: Yeah. Track record. RITHOLTZ: How old is he? 22? WEAVER: No. RITHOLTZ: Sure. Let’s write him a big check. WEAVER: Exactly. I checked no boxes. And that took me like almost a year to figure out. I went to all these institutions and I never got past the first meeting anywhere. And then I found a number — really two individuals who, thank God, I still owe everything to these two. One, I don’t know if I can — RITHOLTZ: Sure. You can say whatever you like. WEAVER: So, one was Tom Steyer, who ran for president. RITHOLTZ: Oh, sure. WEAVER: He was one of the early ones. And then Doug Martin from the Stephens family. And they were just the two best investors you could ever have. They were supportive. And most importantly, they were supportive after Fund I which was not a good fund. So that’s the reason we’re still in business today. RITHOLTZ: Why not good fund, just performance wise, or was it — because when you launch in ’01, we’re still in the early days of a massive downfall in technology, media, Internet straight across the board. Not — you know, it’s not — unless it’s a distressed fund, that’s not the ideal time to launch. WEAVER: Yeah. I would love to say that it was the market, but it wasn’t. It was self-inflicted. RITHOLTZ: Yeah. WEAVER: It was me making a lot of dumb mistakes, being overconfident, you know, and just investing in companies that looked great in the spreadsheet and didn’t — what looks great in the spreadsheet is low purchase price and a lot of leverage. That looks — always looks good in a spreadsheet, but the — RITHOLTZ: Leverage is the problem. WEAVER: The qualitative — yeah, the leverage is the problem and the qualitative things about is it a quality business? Those things you can’t model in a spreadsheet. And so, I just made a lot of dumb mistakes. And actually the whole fund, overall, lost money. I would highly, Barry, not recommend having your first fund when you launched and lose money. It was a — RITHOLTZ: Probably not the best long-term strategy? WEAVER: Yeah. It was anchored around our neck for pretty much a decade. RITHOLTZ: So that raises the question, if the first fund was a bit of a stiff, how did you raise money for the second fund? WEAVER: Well, thankfully, we were — I really communicated a lot with Doug and Tom, and they understood. They could see us getting better. You know, they could see us making a lot of improvements, fixing a lot of the things that we got wrong. And both of them were pretty seasoned investors, both of them had had mistakes they’ve made before. And so they, you know, thank God, were really supportive. And then it wasn’t like immediately we started knocking out of the park either, but we started getting better and better. And then really around the time of the recession was when we really completely transformed and became kind of the business that we are today. RITHOLTZ: And it’s a little bit of a cliche, they’re not so much investing in a fund as they’re investing in you as the manager. Obviously, they saw something that was, “Hey, needs a little seasoning, but there’s a lot of potential here.” WEAVER: Yeah. They saw someone who was willing to literally run through walls and run through a burning building to make it work, and I almost literally did. I mean, it was that — we were — and not just me, but our whole team was really committed to try and make it work, and I think they saw that. RITHOLTZ: Quite interesting. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) RITHOLTZ: I have to talk a little bit about your growth rate. You began with $54 million. All-in, you’re $8 billion in assets totally. Obviously, a lot of that is not just growth, but new investors coming along. But still that’s a — as a PE company, Alpine has really seen quite a corporate growth trajectory. Tell us what led to this success rate. WEAVER: Yeah. So when the recession hit, we were in — we were not well positioned. We didn’t — RITHOLTZ: Now, when you say recession — WEAVER: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: — because some of our audience is, you know, older than 25, I’m assuming you mean, ’08. ’09, the financial crisis? WEAVER: ’08. ‘0. RITHOLTZ: Okay. WEAVER: Yes. RITHOLTZ: Not the one in 2020. WEAVER: Right. RITHOLTZ: And not the one that maybe happened sometime in 2022 and certainly not 2000. WEAVER: That’s right. RITHOLTZ: So the great financial crisis — WEAVER: So great financial crisis happens. We were — we invested the last dollar from our third fund two weeks before — two weeks before Lehman Brothers blew up. RITHOLTZ: Wow. WEAVER: And so we were out of money and we had — it took us forever to raise the next fund. But that period, where we didn’t have any money, turned out to be the most important period for us. RITHOLTZ: Why? WEAVER: Because we started deciding we were going to look at our own business, you know, kind of like rather than working in the business, we’re going to start working on our business. So I hired an executive coach — RITHOLTZ: Really? WEAVER: — and he helped — he really helped me kind of redefine the business that I truly was in, which I’ll come back to. We hired a consulting and coaching firm for our whole organization. And so, we really started doing some soul-searching for lack of a better word. And then — and from that, we really, you know, changed our strategy and developed kind of a new playbook. RITHOLTZ: So let me interrupt you there because that you raise something that I’m fascinated by. So first, what leads you to say, “We need a pro to come in and show us how to do this?” And second, how do you even go about finding an executive coach? That sounds like, man, that’s a consulting field fraught with, you know, let’s be polite and just say high risks. WEAVER: Yeah. It’s a great question. And I am a huge fan of executive coaching. I’ve had a coach since 2009. RITHOLTZ: Wow. WEAVER: I talk to a coach every week or every other week since ’09. RITHOLTZ: No kidding? WEAVER: And we, at Alpine, have 23 coaches that are part of our — they’re 1099 folks, but they’re part of our ecosystem that’s available to our people at Alpine and our executive. So I’m just a huge fan of coaching. And basically what I love about coaching is you create space away from the busyness of the day to day. You ask yourself a bunch of really important questions. You know, what do I want? What success look like? What do I want in — what does a five-year plan look like? And you actually have to really burn some energy and some thinking time, thinking about those answers, which are really hard answers, which most of us never spend time thinking about. RITHOLTZ: Was it just in the midst of the crash and recession that you said, “Hey, maybe we just need a little help. We’re not — we don’t have the professional background to run the business. We know the investing side, but the business side is something very different.” How did you get to that — WEAVER: Yeah, 100%. I mean, I think one of the benefits of phase planning in your first fund is that you get some humility. RITHOLTZ: Right. WEAVER: And you — I’ve always just been open to learning from people that are smarter and better than I am. And so, coaching was an exercise — back then in 2009, it was not very well known and it was definitely an exercise in humility of saying, “I think I need some help.” RITHOLTZ: That’s the old joke. Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want, right? WEAVER: Yeah. Exactly. Yeah. RITHOLTZ: So once you make the decision, “Hey, we want to bring in a professional to show us ways to improve our business methods,” how does one go about finding a business coach? WEAVER: So I had an introduction from a friend and then we had a number of lunches, and his business wasn’t going well in ’09 either, as you could imagine, so — RITHOLTZ: Well, who’s on — and other than people doing distressed debt investing, whose business was going great in ’08? WEAVER: Yeah. Exactly. Nobody. So — RITHOLTZ: Then in short sellers, everybody else was in trouble. WEAVER: So we had this awesome conversation. I can still — it’s one of these conversations you can still remember where you are and what you — you know, exactly the moment. So we had — this is actually after I brought him on. We have this awesome conversation where I said, “Hey, I have to” — his name is JP Flaum, and I said, “Hey, I have to cancel our coaching engagement. I’m just too busy,” which was like we’ve already decided ahead of time that that was no go. I had to stick with the — we made an agreement. RITHOLTZ: Right. WEAVER: So he texts back immediately says, “No, we’re having it.” So I get on the phone, he says, “Well, what’s — you know what’s so crazy that you’re so stressed?” I said, “Oh, my God, JP, you know, I got to fly to Dallas and fix this. And then I got to — you know, we got to deal we’re about to lose and then we lost a huge customer in Chicago. And then I got to go to D.C.” and then, you know I’m going on and on. And he said, “Okay, well, let’s kind of slow down and chill out. Let’s talk about Dallas. What’s going on there?” “Well, we — you know, we just missed our bank projections a second time,” and I’m going on and on. And he starts saying, “Well, tell me about the CEO in Dallas.” I’m like, “What does that have to do with anything? You know, we’re in the middle of the Great Recession,” like, blah, blah, blah. You know, it’s not — you know, it’s the markets or whatever. Anyway, it comes to points, he says — well, eventually, he says, “Well, how would you — how would you rate that CEO, you know, A, B, C?” I was like, “Oh, he’s probably a B.” He said, “Well, Graham, in one of our engagements, you said you wanted to build the greatest private equity firm of all time. Are you going to — are you going to do that with a B CEO?” And I just — it like hit me between the eyes. And then he asked me another question, he said, “And Graham, if you’re someone who keeps a B CEO” — RITHOLTZ: What does that make you? WEAVER: — “how would you rate yourself as a CEO?” RITHOLTZ: Right. WEAVER: and I just — like, it stopped me dead in my tracks. And that was really this light bulb that went off, that ended up having us — having me realize I’m actually in the talent business. That’s the fundamental business that I’m really in. And that was like ’09 that we came to that realization, and then started completely redesigning our firm to like build our companies around talent, build our firm around talent, build our investment strategy around talent. So that was just a huge turning point. RITHOLTZ: So let’s talk about that because all of your investments eventually get a CEO that’s been trained at Alpine and has the benefit of all of this coaching, all of this training, all of this expertise. It’s not that you’re just looking for attractive balance sheets, it’s where can we put someone in charge to move the needle by taking our expertise and applying it to this business model. Is that what you mean by when you say, you’re in the talent business? WEAVER: Yeah. I think that’s what I mean. There are two parts of it. One is our investment strategy, which is what you described the others, how we run our own firm. But sticking with what you were talking about, Barry, the investment strategy, we found that the single most important investment decision we make is the management team. And it’s more important than the price we pay. It’s more important than the leverage levels. It’s more important than the prior growth rate. And so, we just said, “Well, if that’s really the most correlated, most effective, or most important criteria, you know, let’s make sure we get that right. And so let’s actually kind of build our own CEOs and put our own CEOs in so that we can make sure that we’re getting a world-class person to run each one of our companies.” RITHOLTZ: So in some ways, this is almost parallel in the public markets to activist investing, where they identify a very attractive business that isn’t quite living up to potential, right? WEAVER: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: And they say, “Hey, with a few management changes, we can turn this into a really good business.” On the private equity side, I’m assuming the conversation is something like, “We want to either buy 30%, 40% of your business or your entire business. But regardless, we want one of our professionals to come in and manage it.” WEAVER: Yeah, that’s right. A lot of the companies we’re buying don’t have management. You know, it might be a corporate carve-out. It might be a management team that wants to retire, or exit. And that’s great. So there’s never any conflict. We’re totally transparent. We’re not doing hostile deals, nothing like that. It’s always the transaction that the seller wants to do is they want to retire. So it’s always very friendly. But we — there aren’t a lot of private equity firms that want to go through the process of changing management because it’s very, very hard to do. RITHOLTZ: And that’s the value add that you guys bring. WEAVER: That’s a big part of it. Yeah. RITHOLTZ: Yeah. That’s really quite fascinating. So there’s a quote of yours I have to lead with, which I find really intriguing quote, “People create returns, not deals, not price.” That’s a huge statement, considering most of the analyst community, especially private equity, is so analytical and modern driven. You’re saying this is a people business. WEAVER: Yeah, 100%, Barry. I think that if you want to do something different than people, you have to have some fundamental belief that’s different than what other people believe. And our belief is that returns come from people. They come from talent. And I think maybe one of the reasons why people shy away from that is it’s hard to analyze, it doesn’t fit in a spreadsheet, and it’s incredibly hard to manage. It’s a lot easier to manage the hard numbers, the financial statements and things than it is to, you know, really manage a team of people. RITHOLTZ: So we were talking earlier that you appoint the CEO at these purchased businesses that you’ve trained yourself. Tell us a little bit about what that in-house training looks like. WEAVER: So a lot of the CEOs we’re hiring, we’re bringing right out of MBA programs, and they have five years of experience typically before they go into business school. And that could be anything, that could be they’re in the military. They could have been in consulting firm. They could have been in investment banking. And we have success with any of those — any and all those backgrounds. So — and they’ve just been in two years of business school, so we don’t want to put them back in business school. But what we’re really teaching them, the fundamental thing we’re teaching them is how to hire, how to build their team, how to set a vision, how to create priorities, how to get everyone in their organization excited and aligned behind what they’re trying to do. Those are things that not a lot of business schools teach. It’s one of the things I try to teach in my class, but it’s something that we bring in — it’s the biggest thing we bring in that training program that we do. RITHOLTZ: Hiring has been described as the most difficult aspect of building a company versus everything else. WEAVER: 100%. RITHOLTZ: How do you teach good hiring? WEAVER: You can actually, to some extent, make hiring a science. And the simple — I could talk for you — I could talk for three hours about this, but I’ll try to do it in about two minutes, which is you build a scorecard for what you want that role — in that role, a specific list of outcomes you want that role to do. And then as you’re assessing a candidate, you’re looking for very specific evidence that they’re going to be able to perform against that scorecard. And you have two things, you’re looking for attributes and experience. Those are the two different parts of the interview process. RITHOLTZ: But we all know what experience is. Define what attributes mean. WEAVER: So attribute is about who somebody is versus what they’ve done. So an example for us, when we’re hiring young people to become CEOs, we’re looking at, you know, do they have a will to win? Do they have emotional intelligence and self-awareness that they can get along with people? And then did they have grit? Can they — are they going to be able to see things through after getting kicked in the teeth, because they’re going to get kicked in the teeth. So those are the three attributes that we’re looking for. Those are wildly more important than experience, because they’ll get experienced quickly. And you can teach experience, you can’t teach those three things. You can’t teach, you know, the will to win. They’re kind of coming to us with that or not. RITHOLTZ: That’s an — that’s an intrinsic aspect of the personality. You either have it or you don’t. There’s no way you’re going to learn that. WEAVER: Not in a period of time, or we don’t know how to teach it if it is writable. RITHOLTZ: Right. WEAVER: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: Really, really interesting. So you mentioned your class, let’s talk about the management course that seems to be related to that, CEOs-in-Training. Tell us about that. WEAVER: Yeah. So the CEO-in-Training is the — that’s the name for the people that we’re hiring. Did you want to talk about that, or the class itself? RITHOLTZ: Both, either/or. WEAVER: Okay. All right. So the CEO-in-Training is the name we give to those people we’re hiring right out of business school. We’re giving them that experience — training that I mentioned, and then we’re putting them right in. A lot of them are CEOs on day one of add-on acquisitions, and they get the reins and they’re — you know, they’re off to the races. And you know, there aren’t a lot of positions out of business school that you can become a CEO within — you know, right when you graduate. So we’re — we’ve designed that and it’s been — it’s been a homerun. We — I underestimated how amazing these students would do and the roles that they’ve done. And it’s been fantastic. RITHOLTZ: Do you end up hiring people right out of your classes or — WEAVER: Yeah. I mean, I don’t — RITHOLTZ: So this is really devious recruitment. WEAVER: I don’t interview anybody from Stanford, period. I don’t even know if they applied. I keep a wall between — RITHOLTZ: Right. WEAVER: — you know, my teaching and recruiting. But I will say probably teaching there has helped the Alpine brand. RITHOLTZ: Sure. WEAVER: And helped me — and more importantly, helped me understand what students are capable of, which is a lot, and what they want, which is they want to be the boss right away. And I think — so it’s helped — it helped me learn a little bit more about how to build a program that the students want to actually do. RITHOLTZ: So one of the things the CIT program does is to try and increase underrepresented individuals in PE. Tell us a little bit about what diversity does for your business. WEAVER: Yeah. Well, it’s awesome what we can do. If you — the great thing about hiring for attributes over experience is that we can actually have a huge impact on diversity. So for example, if I said we’re hiring a CEO to run a healthcare software business and our criteria is they have to have done it for 20 years. RITHOLTZ: Right. WEAVER: Then I’m — that battle has been won or lost 20 years ago. RITHOLTZ: Right. WEAVER: Yeah. I could hire someone who’s a diverse candidate from one of my competitors, but I haven’t really created any value. If I hire someone right out of business school, let’s just use women as an example and that woman wouldn’t have necessarily seen a path to become a CEO, and I can provide her a clear path, then I can actually increase the number of women that become CEOs, which is exactly what we’ve done. We have over 50% of our CEOs-in-Training that we’ve hired have been women. About 30% to 35% have been underrepresented minorities. And so we have — we can have a — we can really move the dial on creating more diversity in CEO ranks. RITHOLTZ: That’s really kind of interesting. Let’s talk a little bit about software and services, why focus on those areas in particular? WEAVER: So one of the things that we figured out, which probably took us way too long to figure out, is if you buy recurring revenue, there’s just a lot fewer things that go wrong. So we’re not unique in focusing on recurring revenue, but that we turn the dial in around that Great Recession time, and decided that was all we were going to do. RITHOLTZ: And so it’s less focused on winning that one big sale and it’s more about building a business that has a fairly steady revenue stream? WEAVER: That’s right. And then if you marry that with what I was saying before, about putting young people to run them, recurring revenue is really helpful because in the first year, they have a big learning curve. And you — RITHOLTZ: Right. WEAVER: You know, they — we need them to have a little bit of a cushion for them to get up to speed. So recurring revenue helps a ton because it does take a little while to learn how to be a CEO. RITHOLTZ: That’s really interesting. Software obviously has been really hot over the past couple of years. Any chance that that changes or slows down, or is software just the driver of the future? WEAVER: I mean, I think software is the driver of the future. And I think anything, even the driver of the future can get overpriced. RITHOLTZ: Sure. WEAVER: And you can overpay for any asset. And I think in the last few years, you know, people have gotten a little ahead of themselves with some of the multiples that were paid. But I don’t think that changes fundamentally that I think software — you know, software is here for a long time and it’s got a lot of really exciting trends. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) RITHOLTZ: I’m going to ask you a question. I’m going to have you put this back earlier in the hiring discussion because I missed something and I want to come back to it. You’ve discussed episodic versus programmatic hiring. Explain the difference between the two. WEAVER: Yeah, great question. So I might have made up those two terms, but — RITHOLTZ: Well, that’s why it jumped out at me. I don’t know what either those things are. I have to ask that question. WEAVER: I think I did make them up, but — so episodic hiring is what everyone does. Okay. We need a — RITHOLTZ: We have an opening. WEAVER: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: Fill this — go to LinkedIn — WEAVER: Exactly. RITHOLTZ: — put out an ad, get me somebody here. WEAVER: Exactly. Or yeah, we’ll hire Russell Reynolds to get us a CFO, whatever. That’s how everyone hires. That is two problems — well, a number of problems. One is it’s slow, and two is it’s expensive. And three is it actually doesn’t even work that well. Like, the hit rate is pretty low. The hit rate across the board in hiring statistically is about 50%, but that’s measured as are they still there in three years? Not this they — were they successful? So it’s even worse than that. So that’s the problem with episodic hiring. So programmatic hiring is you’re going to hire the same role a lot, and so how do you make that more of a program? So for example, you know, we’re hiring 17 people from business schools that start next month, or we’re hiring 27 undergrads to be interns who will matriculate into full time roles. And so, there’s a group of people that are graduating. You can kind of have a class of folks. You can give them way more training. You can build a whole program using the — to use the programmatic term around that, and it’s just a lot more effective. That’s two roles that we do at Alpine, the CEOs-in-Training and then the analysts. But then in our companies, you know, in some cases, that’s engineers, technicians, where that’s their recurring hire that they’re doing. And we’re helping them build programs to start with people who don’t know how to do those functions, and bring them up, you know, through training to learn those. RITHOLTZ: Really quite interesting. WEAVER: And you can scale — you can just scale a lot better, and you have a way higher hit rate doing that. RITHOLTZ: So you’re constantly maintaining a pool of either potential hires or actual employees that you’re waiting to promote? WEAVER: Absolutely. Yeah. RITHOLTZ: Before we get into the current market environment for private equity, I have to circle back to you teaching at Stanford, at the graduate school, tell us a little bit about the courses you teach and what students learn. WEAVER: So I teach two courses there. I teach — they’re both — they’re both basically similar. One is for first years, and one is for second years, but they’re both centered around entrepreneurship. And the idea of the courses is that there’s lots of classes on analysis and accounting and finance; and there aren’t a lot of classes around how to actually manage people, lead people. And I’m talking the nitty-gritty stuff of literally like what to say, if you have to fire someone. My students have to rule — my students will say, “Oh, I would just fire that person.” I said, “Okay, great. I’ll be them and you tell me.” RITHOLTZ: Right. Fire me. WEAVER: Fire me, and then they have to do it and they realize — RITHOLTZ: It’s harder than it looks. WEAVER: It’s a lot harder than it looks. So they’ll say — RITHOLTZ: That’s why people just cheat and send email. He’s so mortified. WEAVER: Yeah. That would not be something we teach. We do not — we not teach people to send an email. RITHOLTZ: So tell us about the role-playing. What does that — WEAVER: So we — so the student will actually play the protagonist in the case, and I’ll play the antagonist for lack of a better word of the other characters. And then they’ll fire me, or they’ll have to demote me, or they’ll have to tell me that they no longer want to be my partner, or whatever the situation is that they’re trying to get through. And then we’ll play around with it. And they’ll realize, you know, some things they do right, some things they do poorly. And then the entrepreneur about whom we’ve written the case is in the class, and so then they’ll chime in and say, “Well, wow, this is — you did this this way, this is why I didn’t do that,” or “I wish I would have done it that way. Instead, I did this.” So it’s a really — it’s a really, really fun class. It’s — and it’s something that they don’t get anywhere else where they actually have to kind of implement the stuff they’re talking about. RITHOLTZ: So aside from firing, what else do you teach them? WEAVER: So everything, we actually teach a lot on hiring. We have whole modules and playbooks and videos and things I’ve made and we do a class on that, which is really important. We talk about complex partnership issues, things with your board. They have to sell stuff. They have to fundraise, how to make an offense and defense deck to sell — to sell something, you know, a whole list of basically things that entrepreneurs are going to have to face in their life. RITHOLTZ: Really intriguing. I have to imagine having been a graduate student at Stanford, it’s deeply satisfying teaching there. WEAVER: It’s a blast. I started off as a case guest, where they wrote a case about me buying stuff in my dorm room, and I was a case guest and I kept — I would come home all energized. And it was my favorite day of the year. And then when the — Irv Grousbeck, who wrote the case about me, who’s a legend at Stanford, when he — he called me one day and said, “Hey, you know, I’m going to stop teaching this class, would you want to teach in?” And my first response was, “No, I have a job, you know, and I can’t,” but I didn’t say that. I said, “Hey, I’ll think about it.” And then, thankfully, everyone I was around was like, “Graham, you have to do this. And it’s your favorite thing you do.” And we figured out a way to make it work. So it’s a blast. RITHOLTZ: That sounds like — that sounds like it’s a lot of fun. WEAVER: One more thing I would just add is what I realized after a few years is I’ll teach students all about entrepreneurship, and we have this great class. And then they go take a job, you know, in consulting or investment banking; they never become entrepreneurs, even though that was what they wrote their essay about and that was what they’re excited about. So I added to the class a whole part on, okay, wait a second, what is it you really want to do with your life? You know, what’s holding you back? How’d you make a plan to go do that? What are your limiting beliefs? What are the things — what are your fears? So we have a whole thread, probably 25% of the class is on those things because I’m like what’s the point of teaching people to be entrepreneurs if they don’t become entrepreneurs? RITHOLTZ: Right. WEAVER: So I’ve invested a lot into, like, personal growth. And that’s a really, really fun part of us, too. RITHOLTZ: Are any of those skill sets transferable to consultants who arguably — WEAVER: Oh, 100%, a 100%. RITHOLTZ: — they’ll be working with other entrepreneurs and maybe haven’t been exposed? WEAVER: Yeah, a 100%. It wasn’t so much that I have anything against consulting, it was just that the student at the beginning of the class said, “My goal is to do X, and then they don’t do X.” That was all. RITHOLTZ: So tell us a little bit about your approach, what’s your process like to finding a potential acquisition target. And since we look at both private and public markets, what do you think of in terms of valuation? How do you come up with a number? WEAVER: Yeah. Yeah, great questions. We have a large team that looks for potential companies. We have actually 52 people at Alpine and in our portfolio companies that are looking for deals. RITHOLTZ: 52? WEAVER: 52. RITHOLTZ: So that’s a lot of people. WEAVER: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: How big is the firm overall? WEAVER: Overall, if you include the CEOs-in-Training and we have — RITHOLTZ: And your 1099 consultants. WEAVER: We probably have roughly 200. RITHOLTZ: All right, so that’s a — WEAVER: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: That’s a decent size. WEAVER: The 52 also includes a number of people that are working at the company who’s doing sourcing, but they’re doing the same thing. They’re calling companies, looking for investments. So we have 52 people looking for deals, and then a lot of those conversations are directly with founders. And what we’re trying to do is figure out — the way we think about it is we can pay a price, that we can hit our target returns, which I can’t talk about on, you know — RITHOLTZ: Right. WEAVER: But if we can hit our target — RITHOLTZ: We all have compliance departments. WEAVER: So we can pay a price so we could hit our target returns with like a 70% base case. And then we need there to be a lot more upside to that than downside. So we want there to be like a case where we could hit many multiples of our target returns. And so based on that, we kind of back into a price. And then where we get in trouble or where things get turned down at Investment Committee is when everything in the world has to go perfectly to hit that target. RITHOLTZ: Right. WEAVER: Because I’ve been in this business for 28 years, and when you start pricing in perfection, that’s a time when you realize you’re overpaying. RITHOLTZ: Right. WEAVER: So that’s — it’s that 70% probability and less a margin of safety thing that you really — as someone who’s like a little bit more senior at our firm, I have to bring that to the discussions. RITHOLTZ: Yeah. That perfect 10 stuck at landing, those are the outliers. You certainly can’t rely on that. WEAVER: Exactly. You can’t underwrite to that, for sure. RITHOLTZ: Yeah. So when you look at this macro environment, it seems to be pretty supportive of economic expansion generally. How closely do you pay attention to things like, hey, the Fed is raising rates pretty rapidly, maybe they’re going to cause a recession next year? WEAVER: We pay attention to it to some extent. If you go back to the ’08 crisis — RITHOLTZ: Now, that’s a recession. WEAVER: Yeah. And we’re just in a very different position. I think we’re way underbuilt on housing. So you know, I don’t see — RITHOLTZ: Wildly. WEAVER: Wildly underbuilt on housing, so I don’t see — you know, I don’t see things happen — you know, crashing there. I think we have — the consumer isn’t as leveraged as they were back in 2008. Businesses aren’t as leveraged as they were. I just think it’s a lot healthier. On the flip side, we also don’t have — the Fed can’t print money like they did in ’08 because of inflation. But I think, generally, it just feels like we’re a lot healthier than we were back then. RITHOLTZ: Right. You’re singing my song. I’m in the exact same place. I’m kind of perplexed by all the recession chatter. I mean, what are we? 27, 28 million new jobs in this year? That’s not what you usually see. Although, to be fair, some past recessions, we were creating jobs right until the moment it stopped and the bottom dropped out. But you know, it really depends on how aggressive the powers that you’re going to get about inflation. So here’s the question related to that in ’08, ’09, let’s say the naysayers are right and the end of this year or 2023, we see something more than just a mild shallow recession, we see a real recession. How does that affect the companies you look at? And do you start doing, for lack of a better phrase, distressed private equity investing? WEAVER: You know, I think that what we’ve been trying to do over the last 14 years is underwrite companies that would do well in a recession. So hopefully, we’re going to — our company is going to hold up well in that time. In terms of what we look for, it does open up the door when — you know, when there is a recession, there’s a lot more different things that are for sale at different prices. And I think one of the great assets is if you have a whole team of managers that you can put in to run distressed things, you have a lot of options open to what you can look at. So there — you know, there will be a lot more interesting things to do with, you know, if that happens. Certainly, we don’t wish that on the economy. RITHOLTZ: On anybody else. And then, finally, I have to ask about the way you score software companies and services companies, you use a metric. I really am not familiar with eNPS. Can you tell us a little bit about that? WEAVER: Yeah. So I think in general, that there are leading indicators and lagging indicators. Lagging indicator is revenue EBITDA. Those are lagging indicators. But yet, a lot of managers, they try to manage to lagging indicators. It’s like — and that’s just not very effective. So what we try to do is develop what are the leading indicators that are going to predict success. And the number one most important leading indicator, you’re not going to be surprised to hear me say, is talent. So if you tell me, “I’m on the board of your business, and we’re starting to build the world-class management team, I can tell you in two years, we’ll have a homerun investment.” So one of those leading — two of those leading indicators related to talent are employee net promoter score, which is the eNPS. RITHOLTZ: Meaning how employees rate their employee? WEAVER: Exactly. Yeah. Would they — would they recommend this company to a friend? And we measure that every quarter for every one of our companies. We measure it at Alpine. We measure it for a whole bunch of different groups within Alpine. And then retention is the other big one. So if we can be managing those and getting those right, those are leading indicators that are going to help us set up, you know, the revenue EBITDA that come later. And those are hard things to manage. Getting those metrics right takes a lot of work. That’s actually where I spend most of my time at Alpine, believe it or not, is making sure that we’re creating an environment where the best people want to be and stay. And most people again in the finance world, they don’t think about kind of squishy, soft metrics like that, but they should be. RITHOLTZ: Well, because they have a really outsized impact on the performance of a company. WEAVER: Absolutely. That’s my view is they have — they have the biggest impact. RITHOLTZ: And my last question before I get to our favorite questions we ask all our guests, so a little bit of a curveball, you are a captain on a national championship rowing team. WEAVER: I was. Yeah. RITHOLTZ: Tell us about that. WEAVER: So — RITHOLTZ: You look like you row. WEAVER: So I came to college not even knowing anything about rowing. I didn’t even know that the boats went backwards till I got in a boat. RITHOLTZ: Well, it’s not that they’re going backwards. It’s just that you’re facing backwards. WEAVER: Exactly. Yeah. I didn’t even know that. So I started as a novice, I walked on the team. And it seemed like everyone else on the team had rowed before, so I was horrible, absolutely horrible. I got cut, and then just kept kind of — and so there’s a funny story where the coach says, “Okay, these are the people who are going to boats. The rest of you are, quote, “land warriors.” And you’re a land warrior means you go on the rowing machines. And so that night when he kind of posted the boats and I wasn’t in the boat, he said, “All right.” So I did this calculus, and I’m like, okay, well, gosh, all the land warriors are going to show up before class. You know, classes — first class is at 9:00. So they’re going to show up at 8:00, but — so I got to show up at 7:00. No, no, no, everyone is going to think that, so I’ll show up at 6:00. So I show up the next morning, zero people. And one of the guys is like, “Hey, idiot, land warrior is another way to say you got cut.” But I still stayed as a land warrior, and kept getting better at — getting my Erg times better and better over time. And it was one of the greatest things I ever did. I had a great time and — RITHOLTZ: And when were they national champions? WEAVER: My senior year, I was — RITHOLTZ: So by then, you’re on the team? WEAVER: By my — yeah, by my senior year, I was pulling one of the best Erg times in the nation at the rowing machine — RITHOLTZ: Erg time? WEAVER: On the concept to rowing machine like you see in the gym, they actually have a standard test, which is 2000 meters which you submit, you know, nationally. And by my senior year, I had one of and maybe a few times the number one Erg time in the country, and I was elected captain by my teammates of our team. And then that year, we were supposed to have a rebuilding year because we lost all these seniors and we actually won the whole thing. RITHOLTZ: That’s amazing. WEAVER: So it was awesome. RITHOLTZ: Wow. That’s really amazing. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) RITHOLTZ: Let’s jump to our favorite questions that we ask all of our guests, starting with what kept you entertained during the pandemic lockdown? Tell us what you were streaming. WEAVER: I went on this whole Buddhist thing during the pandemic and I started reading a lot about Buddhism and streaming Buddhism, and it was — it was amazing. RITHOLTZ: Meditating or — WEAVER: Meditating and just kind of learning about Buddhism, and you know, why we all suffer and how to — you know, how all these thoughts we have in our head, our own imagination. And I went on this whole kick during the pandemic, which was phenomenal. I highly recommend it. And basically, the concept is that your reality is going through a filter. And everything that’s happened externally, you’re telling yourself a story about what that means, and whether that’s good, or whether that’s bad. And that that’s really — your reality isn’t what’s happening, it’s the story you’re telling yourself and that you have complete control over that story. RITHOLTZ: Right. That’s the classic narrative fallacy. WEAVER: Yeah, that’s the narrative fallacy. And that’s kind of the fundamental premise of Buddhism, which is your suffering is coming, not from what’s happening, but the story you’re telling yourself. So I went on this long, you know, meditating and reading, and kind of journaling about that. And that was — that was a lot of fun. RITHOLTZ: So the — we had this old joke about, we had a softball team here over in Central Park and we had the Buddhists playing the stoics and the game never finished. Everybody just sat down instead of having a long conversation. But I’m right there with you. You mentioned your — two of your mentors, who were some of your earliest investors. Are there anybody else you want to mention as mentors? The professor at Stanford you referred to also. WEAVER: Yeah. I’ll — both of those, Tom Steyer. Doug Martin and Irv Grousbeck were super important in my life. I’ll talk about Irv. He is probably if you had — there’s probably literally, Barry, a hundred people you could have on this podcast that would list Irv as one of their most important people. RITHOLTZ: Really? WEAVER: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: Wow. WEAVER: He a professor at Stanford and just, you know, makes time for folks. He built an incredible business. And he just has this, you know, unwavering moral code. He was an early investor. He’s the one who asked me to teach at Stanford. And I just — I just find the way he set up his life and his — just the way he treats other people, you’re always the most important person in the world when you’re with him. And so, I’ve definitely learned a lot from him. RITHOLTZ: Really interesting. Let’s talk about books. What are some of your favorites and what are you reading currently? WEAVER: I — it’s funny, I ended up rereading like the same 10 books. In terms of my favorites, I read — I have some I read currently too, but “Good to Great,” Warren Buffett’s Biography “Snowball,” Steve Jobs biography by Isaacson, Walt Disney’s biography by Neal Gabler, “Switch” by Dan and Chip Heath, “Made to Stick” by Dan and Chip Heath, Buffett’s annual letters. Like, those are like — I reread those and every time I reread them, I get kind of reenergized. And we’ve modeled a lot of our business and a lot of my life around some of the things I learned in some of those books. And a lot of those required reading and help. RITHOLTZ: I can imagine. What are you reading currently? WEAVER: And right now, I started getting on this Brene Brown kick. I don’t know if you’ve read some of her stuff, but “The Gifts of Imperfection” I’m reading right now, which is just phenomenal. She is — I actually downloaded it on Audible so I get to hear her talk about it. But she has just this incredible way of talking about things that other people don’t talk about, like shame and how to — how to deal with the things you’re not good at, and how to be intellectually honest and admit when you don’t know things. And she’s — I love her work. RITHOLTZ: What’s the title of the book you’re reading currently? WEAVER: “The Gift of Imperfection.” RITHOLTZ: It sounds really — WEAVER: Yeah, it’s phenomenal. It’s phenomenal. RITHOLTZ: Before I forget, just as an aside and you could edit this out. So I went to law school with a guy named Lawrence Cunningham, who was the first person who recognized, hey, all these letters from Warren Buffett, they’re really fascinating, deep stuff. He bound them. WEAVER: Yeah. I bought that book. I own that book. RITHOLTZ: That book has been like a perennial bestseller. WEAVER: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: And it’s — you know, the old joke about the two economists walking down the street. One says, “Is that a $100 bill on the floor?” And the other says, “No, if it was a $100 bill, someone would have picked it up.” It’s the same theme with that. WEAVER: He picked it up. Yeah. RITHOLTZ: These have been around for literally — WEAVER: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: I mean, I think he first started in like ‘90 or ‘92, something like that. And Buffett had been around for 30 years by then already, or 25 years, nobody had thought of doing that. WEAVER: And you know what, like, it doesn’t matter if it’s crypto or software valuations or the Internet. The stuff Buffett writes about is still the right stuff. RITHOLTZ: Fundamental common sense, block and tackling. WEAVER: You’re going to discount the cash flows back and decide what you can pay. You’re going to put a premium on the discount rate if the stuff is a lot more uncertain. It’s this — it is exactly the right formula today and it was 50 years ago, and it will be 50 years from now. And anytime that there’s something new, where people says this time, it’s different, you should be really skeptical. RITHOLTZ: Always. All right. Our final two questions, what sort of advice would you give to a recent college or business school graduate interested in a career in private equity? WEAVER: Well, I’ll start with the first part, just general advice, and then I’ll go the private equity. But, you know, as you can imagine, I actually give this advice all the time teaching. But the first thing that I think a lot of people graduating don’t ask is like, what they — what do I want? What is five years from now, 10 years from now, if I could — if I knew I wasn’t going to fail, what would I want to do with my life? And they can start with that question. And then start working backwards from that about what job you should take now and next year and five years from now. Instead, a lot of people just think, “Oh, these firms are interviewing on campus, and I’ll go here, I’ll go here.” And that’s okay. But if you know where you want to be 10 years from now, it will inform which firm you go to work and what skills you’re trying to acquire. So I think — I think that would be my advice is like, in 10 years, you will — you can do almost anything you set your mind to and so give yourself permission to really answer that question, what do I want to do in 10 years? RITHOLTZ: Why does it matter if you quote, “know you wouldn’t fail?” WEAVER: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: Just to open the set of possibilities or — WEAVER: Because — yeah, I always frame it as if you knew you wouldn’t fail, what would you do? Because without that, people already jumped to, “I can’t do this,” like subconsciously in the mind. RITHOLTZ: Fear of failure, is that big really? WEAVER: Fear of failure is so powerful. RITHOLTZ: Even amongst really high performing talent — WEAVER: I think it’s even — RITHOLTZ: I mean, Stanford graduate students, I have to think that’s the cream of the crop out there. WEAVER: In some ways, it’s almost more prevalent because they have had so much success, and they don’t — you know, they have this incredible track record. But I would say the number one thing that Stanford Business School students or really just about anyone in the world, it’s the same thing, which is their subconscious mind defaults to fear and fear of failure. RITHOLTZ: That’s fascinating because when I have discussions like this with colleagues or friends in Europe, the thing — or even Asia, the thing that makes United States so unique in the developed economy world is that failure isn’t a scarlet letter, especially in Silicon Valley. It’s almost a badge of honor. Look at all the VCs that list all, “Hey, we missed Apple and Cisco. We invested money in Pets.com. Look how terrible we are, except for our 40% compounded returns.” It’s a badge of honor to say, “We tried this face planted, brush yourself off and moved on.” WEAVER: But when you’re starting out your career and you don’t have anything to fall back on, and you haven’t yet had the success that you can look back, it’s really scary for people. And the thing that they miss is they underestimate what they could really do in 10 years and they underestimate themselves. They forgot what got them in that seat at Stanford Business School. RITHOLTZ: Sure. WEAVER: And they compare themselves to, you know, their roommate or their classmate or something. RITHOLTZ: So the other half of the question is advice about private equity. WEAVER: Yeah. I would say — I would say if someone is interested in a career in private equity, I would — I would say all private equity is not created equal. And there are — literally, like probably a thousand different models, and figure out, you know, go talk to a bunch of companies that are doing private equity in a whole bunch of different ways, and figure out what resonates with you and your interests and your superpowers, and where are you going to line up because it’s, it’s a very diverse industry. And you know, there are some firms that are making their money based on, you know, hardcore fundamental analysis. You know, we’re making our money on talent. There’s others that are, you know, doing cost cutting. There’s a whole bunch of different ways and one or more of those is going to line up a lot better with what you’re excited about. RITHOLTZ: And our final question, what do you know about the world of software services in private equity today that you wish you knew 28 years or so ago, when you were first getting started? WEAVER: Well, two things. The first thing is I wish I knew that it was going to work out fine. So I was so stressed and I put so much pressure on myself, that I wish — if I could go back and tell myself anything, it would be like, “Hey, Graham, you know, it’s going to be okay,” because I went through a lot. RITHOLTZ: That’s a really — that’s a really interesting answer because, you know, we just don’t realize how much we freak ourselves out and very often, unnecessarily. What’s the second thing? WEAVER: The second thing would be I would — if I could have realized earlier on just how important the world of talent is, and how that was really the thing that drove performance because that that would have saved me a decade. RITHOLTZ: It sounds really like you’ve honed in on exactly what makes your business work and really quite fascinating. Graham, thank you for being so generous with your time. We have been speaking with Graham Weaver, founder and partner at Alpine Investors. If you enjoyed this conversation, well, be sure to check out any of our previous 400 discussions that we’ve had over the past eight and a half years. You can find those at iTunes, Spotify, wherever you feed your podcast fix. We love your comments, feedback and suggestions. Write to us at mibpodcast@bloomberg.net. Sign up for my daily reading list @ritholtz.com You can follow me on Twitter @ritholtz. I would be remiss if I did not thank the crack team that helps put these conversations together each week. Robert Bragg is my audio engineer. Atika Valbrun is my project manager. Sean Russo runs all of our research. Paris Wald is my producer. I’m Barry Ritholtz. You’ve been listening to Masters in Business on Bloomberg Radio. END   ~~~   The post Transcript: Graham Weaver appeared first on The Big Picture......»»

Category: blogSource: TheBigPictureJul 26th, 2022

Top Energy Regulator Warns Germany Won"t Survive Winter Without Russian NatGas

Top Energy Regulator Warns Germany Won't Survive Winter Without Russian NatGas Germany is grappling with its worst energy shortage in decades as it might not meet the threshold of adequate natural gas reserves before winter.  Germany's national Sunday newspaper Bild am Sonntag interviewed Klaus Muller, head of the Federal Network Agency, the government regulator of electricity, gas, telecommunications, post, and railway markets, who warned NatGas inventories are "nearly 65% full" and "it's better than in the previous weeks," though not enough to "go through the winter without Russian gas." The German government sets a yearly target of 90% by November for NatGas inventories, and with nearly 3.5 months until the target date, injections have turned to withdraws due to the Nord Stream 1 pipeline scheduled maintenance and a menacing heatwave that has bolstered electricity demand.  Muller said Nord Stream's 10-day scheduled maintenance ends July 21 or this coming Thursday. The energy situation could worsen if Russian state-controlled natgas exporter Gazprom doesn't resume deliveries or continues to restrict flows.  When asked how long until energy prices decrease, Muller said, "there hasn't been any significant price surge this week, even though the Nord Stream 1 was shut off." He said this could signify that "markets have already internalized the loss of Russian gas supplies, and we've reached a gas price plateau." Berlin triggered the second stage of its national NatGas emergency plan last month -- the next phase is rationing NatGas. Muller said there is a rising probability of rationing, which would wreak havoc on the economy and supply chains. Germany also receives NatGas from Belgium, Norway, and the Netherlands, but the plunge in Russian supplies indicates Germany is behind on filling up its storage facilities to create reserves for winter.   Dutch front-month gas, the European benchmark, traded around 163 euros per megawatt-hour last week.  A recent Bank of America research note outlined how an "ugly" scenario of supply disruptions could push NatGas over 200 euros this year and in 2023. The energy situation in Germany is worsening, and more insight into Russia's pipeline flows will be available after Thursday, when Nord Stream is expected to return to service. Suppose Gazprom throttles flows and or even halts after the scheduled maintenance period is over. In that case, it will result in a situation that would spark economic doom for Germany and the continent this winter.  Even though Muller predicted Germany would be independent of Russian NatGas by the summer of 2024, Europe faces two years of tight supplies that will continue to feed into energy inflation and crush households and businesses.  Finally, Deutsche Bank senior economist Eric Heymann told clients Friday that German households will be chopping a lot of wood this winter and using fireplaces for heating as a cheap alternative to expensive NatGas. Tyler Durden Sun, 07/17/2022 - 13:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJul 17th, 2022

We were wrong about the Great Resignation. Workers are still powerless and the looming recession will make it worse.

Millions of workers gained a bit more power during the Great Resignation, but our economy isn't set up to let them keep it. 26% of 628 job switchers surveyed by Joblist in June said they regret quitting their last job, and 42% said their new roles have "not lived up to their expectations."RealPeopleGroup/Getty Images Over the past year, workers have been quitting — and switching jobs — at near-record highs. The Great Resignation helpd some workers gain more power, money, and benefits. But those gains have mostly benefited a select few, our economy won't allow them to last.  Isabella Dane got a new job this year and said she was able to "command a higher price point." But now the East Coast IT worker, who asked that her real name and the name of her employers be kept anonymous, isn't so sure it was the right move.She's not the only one kicking herself for joining the "Great Resignation": 26% of 628 job switchers surveyed by Joblist in June said they regret quitting their last job, and 42% said their new roles have "not lived up to their expectations."Dane said her new job isn't a good culture fit for her. She's required to work in the office every day, despite being told that the firm was moving toward more opportunities to work from home. "The money is nice," she said, but she hasn't been working on growing a new team — the job that she expected to do when she was hired. "I'm frustrated every day," Dane, who is in her late 30s, said. "I don't have the power to do anything about it."One reason she left her previous role was because she felt easily replaceable. But even after doing what millions of workers have done to try and assert their own power — quitting for more money and better workplace benefits —her new job hasn't measured up to her expectations. Unfortunately for Dane and the millions of other recent job-hoppers, their window of power could be closing as fears of an economic slowdown loom. The Great Resignation — or Great Reshuffle — has been hailed as a reclamation of worker power, including by this publication. But as recession fears throw cold water on the excitement of saying, "I quit," economists told Insider that the truth about the Great Resignation isn't as rosy. Only certain workers have gained any true bargaining power, and even though the lowest-wage workers have seen raises, soaring inflation has largely canceled them out. As the economy and wage growth continues to cool, they'll be the first to see their upper hand slip away.Elise Gould, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank, laid out a hypothetical example: "Let's say you had a little bit of bargaining power in the fall because employers had to work a little harder to attract and retain you, and maybe you got higher wages, maybe you got some kind of a signing bonus," she said. "There's nothing structural in our economy that makes that last permanently, or even in the medium term."Power comes from how badly a company needs workers — and that pressure on employers is easing upDuring the pandemic, an "elite set" of workers have improved their work lives by landing remote positions, higher pay, and more flexibility, according to Kathryn Anne Edwards, an economist at the Rand Corporation, a research and policy nonprofit. Edwards called this group "bleach-collar" workers — typically working in high end services with amenities and a job that meets their income requirements. They're people like software engineers, who have desk jobs, better benefits, and hover around the top 10% to 15% of the income scale. They've been able to get more amenities from their jobs during the pandemic, like continuing to work from home, pay bumps, and health stipends.The power of these bleach-collar workers has gotten more concentrated, but who they are — "highly educated, high-income, and white workers" — hasn't changed, according to research from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.Power comes from how badly a firm needs you, and how easy it is to replace you with other workers waiting in the wings, said Peter Cappelli, a Wharton professor of management and the director of the school's center for human resources. Bleach-collar workers include recent law-school graduates, who have asked for things like remote work and gotten it, Cappelli said. But as the labor market cools off and companies fear a coming recession, the conditions for next year's class "could be completely different," he said. The power to negotiate for more "could disappear in a heartbeat.""You're able to demand more from the job if they know that you can successfully walk away," Edwards said.As Cappelli put it, during the pandemic and subsequent labor shortage, at least some "employees who did front-line work were no longer powerless, which is where they had been."That's because they were able to gain power at work due to the record-high number job openings and employer competition for their labor. Even Beyoncé released an anthem about quitting your job for a "new drive."But what happens when the labor market shifts and companies stop hiring because they fear an economic downturn? Or when a worker doesn't have the time or resources to find a new job?"A childcare worker, for example, has little access to a computer or internet at work, and is occupied with a physical task of minding children," Edwards wrote in a paper for EPI examining worker mobility.There's still systemic bias standing in the way for many. It's well-documented that Black workers and other workers of color are filtered out (and even in this tight labor market, continue to see unemployment rates higher than average). As female workers often have to balance things like childcare and pickups, the opportunities they're able to take may also be limited."The harder it is for a worker to leave, the more power an employer has over that worker's wages," Edwards wrote.Employers will always have a lot of power — it's just part of our economySince having an income is a necessity in a country without guaranteed access to shelter, medicine, or food, many would-be job switchers have to settle for whatever they can get.That's because companies still wield what's called monopsony power, which means employers still have the upper hand in setting wages because of a lack of competition between companies. That power also means businesses have more control over work conditions, including things like precarious weekly scheduling and making employees sign noncompete agreements. Due to monopsony, workers are making 15% to 20% less than they would in a perfectly competitive labor market, according to the Department of Treasury.While firms with monopsony power may be able to hire more, they may not find workers who are willing to accept the low wages a company is offering, Elise Gould and Heidi Shierholz, the president of EPI, wrote in a 2018 Insider article.That might ring a bell for everyone who's been hearing about labor shortages for the last year and that "nobody wants to work." A lot of companies right now seem to be willing to leave roles vacant rather than raise wages, Cappelli said."That's a puzzle, especially for people who think that this labor market is so tight," he said. "Why are companies willing to keep positions vacant rather than fill them?" Employers know that worker demand for higher wages will only go so far — most Americans require a job to feed and house their families and provide health insurance. Without policy interventions such as stipends for childcare or universal healthcare access, those Americans depend on companies to provide that.Wages have been rising for some, especially low-wage workers. To some extent, the Great Resignation has been a moment where "we are seeing the least monopsony power in the low-wage part of the labor market that we've ever had," Suresh Naidu, a professor in economics and international and public affairs at Columbia University, said.!function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",(function(e){if(void 0!==e.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.querySelectorAll("iframe");for(var a in e.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var r=0;r.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytJul 17th, 2022

2 Undervalued Stocks In Promising Semi Equipment Industry

The longer-term outlook for the Zacks Semiconductor Equipment ??? Wafer Fabrication industry is solid while the near-term outlook is supply constrained. Valuation continues to deteriorate. The primary drivers of wafer fab equipment demand are the underlying strength of semiconductor demand and the existing capacity level. Social distancing and the at-home economy have accelerated digitization, driving up chip demand. And digitization has become a broader trend as companies prioritize their technology investments. Developments in auto, industrial, clean energy, IoT, healthcare, online services and defense segments will ensure continued strength in semiconductor demand, thus driving equipment spending.  A number of countries are moving to onshore semiconductor production as a strategic necessity, which is a long-term positive. Market researchers also see continued strength. Updated estimates from Gartner are not yet available and its prior estimates call for 10.7% growth in semiconductor equipment spending in 2022. Gartner expects WFE spending to come down in 2023 and 2024 as purchased equipment is digested. SEMI recently updated its estimates for global fab equipment spending. The firm sees 8% growth in 2022 on top of the 7% growth in 2021. Foundry is expected to remain the biggest segment in 2022 with a 53% share followed by memory, which will account for 33% as 158 existing fabs increase capacity, accounting for 85% of total equipment spend. Spending will increase 6% in 2023, with foundry remaining by far the largest segment with 53% share followed by memory with 34%. There with be capacity increases at 129 existing fabs (83% of total spending). Taiwan, the biggest spender, is expected to increase investment by 52% in 2022, followed by Korea, which will increase by 7% and then China, which will reduce by 14%.  Record investments are expected in Taiwan, Korea and Southeast Asia in 2023. The Americas will increase by 19% this year and 13% in the next. Despite the underlying strength, macro and geopolitical considerations, and supply constraints are weighing on stocks like ASML Holding ASML and Advanced Energy Industries AEIS.About The IndustryWafer fabrication is a process during which a silicon wafer (usually 200mm or 300mm in size) is treated with successive layers of conductive and semiconductive material using stencil-like structures called reticles. After each deposition of material on the surface, the excess material is etched away and the wafer exposed to a light source to implant the design. This is the front end process. The back-end process is involved in cutting up the individual die, packaging for protection and use, attaching of electrical leads and sorting. Semiconductor demand primarily comes from cloud (where there is continued strength), ecommerce (relative softness), PCs (softening after huge sales during the pandemic), smartphones (moderating demand), IoT (strong demand), automotive and industrial (chip shortage), and artificial intelligence, HPC, communications infrastructure (5G-related strength).Factors Shaping The IndustryCOVID has been both good and bad for the semiconductor industry, since it pushed up demand in some segments while depressing demand in others. Researchers are in agreement about the positive overall impact on WFE. The surge in semiconductor demand obviously has a direct impact on the WFE industry, and the biggest positive is that this equipment takes time to produce and sell. So the pandemic-related demand will boost equipment spending for a couple of years at least. The war in Ukraine is a general negative for the industry, especially those making equipment using neon and other gases the bulk of which are produced in the Ukraine and Russia. Even for those that don’t directly source a lot of their requirement from these countries, the general scarcity of supply is increasing prices of the commodity, which can result in weaker margins. Semiconductor demand is the primary driver of equipment purchases, although new fabs also play a big role. In fact, many new fabs are expected to come online over the next few years, which will make this a major driver in 2022 and beyond. According to SEMI, 10 new fabs will break ground in 2022, of which 7 are leading edge, together generating demand for $140 billion worth of equipment over the next few years. This is in addition to the 19 in 2021, of which leading edge (300mm) number 15. It generally takes two years from ground-breaking to equipping, so the current strength in equipment demand has a long tail. It is also worth keeping in mind that equipment demand tends to be relatively stable in times of short-term challenges because they are made with a longer-term objective. Memory typically makes up the largest part of WFE spending, but of the 29 new fabs mentioned here, 15 are meant for high-volume foundry production with 30,000 to 220,000 wspm capacity and 4 relate to memory production with 100,000 to 400,000 wspm capacity. China continues to play a big role (as both consumer and manufacturer of chips) because of the government’s initiative to make the country a major producer of semiconductors. While there are political pressures from across the world, particularly from the U.S., the Chinese are very determined to get there and have their own global relationships and partners. Since the west doesn’t want to sell it the most advanced equipment, it is investing heavily in its own equipment technology and there are concerns that it may have stolen some intellectual property. But because this is likely to take a few years, it’s a positive that of the 29 new fabs breaking ground in 2021 and 2022, 8 will be built in China. Because they will have to use imported equipment. Technology transitions, an important consideration for equipment purchases, will continue to respond to the move toward larger wafer sizes (fab upgrades to 300mm, as well as continued demand for 200mm), shrinking nodes (7nm and below), memory chip advancements (4D NAND as increasing layers are adding complexity), denser packaging (MEMS) and so forth. Materials research, device complexities, the need for greater manufacturing integration and new applications are also important factors. Other inflections will come from new chip architectures like workload-specific ASICs; next-generation 4D NAND; new materials in gate, contact and interconnect; advanced patterning; and advanced packaging. The increased complexity of building modern chips is good for equipment makers.Zacks Industry Rank Indicates Dismal ProspectsThe Zacks Semiconductor Equipment -Wafer Fabrication Industry is a stock group within the broader Zacks Computer And Technology Sector. It carries a Zacks Industry Rank #223, which places it in the bottom 11% of more than 250 Zacks industries.Our research shows that the top 50% of the Zacks-ranked industries outperforms the bottom 50% by a factor of more than 2 to 1. So the group’s Zacks Industry Rank, which is basically the average of the Zacks Rank of all the member stocks, indicates relative stability going forward.The industry’s positioning in the bottom 50% of Zacks-ranked industries is a result of the weakening in the earnings outlook of constituent companies in aggregate. The industry’s aggregate earnings estimate revision for 2022 represents a 3.7% decline from Jul 2021, while the 2023 revision amounts to a 5.6% increase.Before we present a few stocks that you may want to consider for your portfolio, let’s take a look at the industry’s recent stock-market performance and valuation picture.Industry Lagging On Shareholder ReturnsThe Zacks Semiconductor-Wafer fab Equipment Industry outperformed the S&P 500 in the last six months of last year, but has lagged the index through most of this year. It has performed similarly with respect to the broader technology sector. The main reasons for the negativity in 2022 are supply chain concerns, as exacerbated by the geopolitical crisis as well as recession fears that have impacted the whole market. So we see that the stocks in this industry have collectively lost 32.4% over the past year, while the S&P 500 Composite lost 13.5% and the Zacks Computer and Technology Sector 27%.One-Year Price PerformanceImage Source: Zacks Investment ResearchIndustry's Current ValuationOn the basis of the forward 12-month price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio, which is a commonly used method of valuing semiconductor equipment companies, we see that the industry is currently trading at 15.86X (the lowest point over the past year) and also trails the S&P 500’s 16.29X. It is also below the sector’s forward-12-month P/E of 19.48X.Over the past year, the industry has traded as high as 28.47X, as low as 15.86X and at the median of 24.00X, as the chart below shows.Forward 12 Month Price-to-Earnings (P/E) RatioImage Source: Zacks Investment Research2 Stocks With Solid Longer-term ProspectsWith pandemic concerns waning, it’s understood that the huge boost in semiconductor sales from the operating-from-home economy will not repeat, although the hybrid mode of operation has longer-term positive implications for the semiconductor and allied industries. Semiconductor demand will also be boosted by their expanding application across sectors and countries and current demand reflects this. Equipment demand is more stable than chips, because semiconductor manufacturing equipment is high-value and so, a part of the long-term planning process. That said, geopolitical tensions may disrupt the supply chain and increase cost, which will impact profitability.The industry has however been beaten down over the last few months and is certainly worth more than its current value reflects, which could be a reason for considering these #3 (Hold) ranked stocks.ASML Holding NV (ASML): This is one of the world’s largest suppliers of advanced semiconductor equipment systems consisting of lithography, metrology and inspection related systems for memory and logic chipmakers.ASML Holding continues to see very strong demand well in excess of its available capacity. It is therefore in the process of expanding capacity and adjusting with its supply chain partners.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2022 is down 0.6% in the last 30 days while the 2023 estimate is down 0.7%. Geopolitical concerns are considerable for ASML, which is making analysts incrementally cautious.The shares are down 35.1% over the past year.Being one of the leading players in the semi equipment space with major customers across important markets, the company is a beneficiary of strengthening demand in the industry.Price and Consensus: ASMLImage Source: Zacks Investment Research Advanced Energy Industries (AEIS): Advanced Energy Industries is a global supplier of precision power conversion, measurement and control solutions. It is currently focused on power-conversion solutions, including direct current, pulsed DC, low frequency, high voltage, and radio frequency (RF) power supplies, as well as matching networks and remote plasma sources for reactive gas applications and RF instrumentation into the semiconductor, flat panel display and industrial markets.Advanced Energy is seeing strong momentum across end markets, particularly for its dielectric etch, RPS and panel-level packaging products. Improving prospects in enterprise computing and 5G, as well as improving component supplies are positives.This stock has lost 24.8% of its value over the past year. The Zacks Consensus Estimates for 2022 earnings is up 0.8% in the last 30 days. The estimate for 2023 is down 0.6%.Price and Consensus: AEISImage Source: Zacks Investment Research Zacks Names "Single Best Pick to Double" From thousands of stocks, 5 Zacks experts each have chosen their favorite to skyrocket +100% or more in months to come. From those 5, Director of Research Sheraz Mian hand-picks one to have the most explosive upside of all. It’s a little-known chemical company that’s up 65% over last year, yet still dirt cheap. With unrelenting demand, soaring 2022 earnings estimates, and $1.5 billion for repurchasing shares, retail investors could jump in at any time. This company could rival or surpass other recent Zacks’ Stocks Set to Double like Boston Beer Company which shot up +143.0% in little more than 9 months and NVIDIA which boomed +175.9% in one year.Free: See Our Top Stock and 4 Runners Up >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report ASML Holding N.V. (ASML): Free Stock Analysis Report Advanced Energy Industries, Inc. (AEIS): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksJul 15th, 2022

Greece"s tourism minister wants German retirees to spend winter in Greece instead of stressing out about the natural-gas crisis

Germany — Europe's largest economy — is nervous Russia will cut off natural-gas supplies completely ahead of winter, when demand peaks due to heating. Winters in Greece are typically mild.Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto/Getty Images The Greek tourism minister is inviting Germans to spend winter in Greece, where the season is mild. Russia has been reducing natural-gas flows to Germany and Europe over the last few months. Germany is nervous Russia will cut off its natural-gas supplies completely ahead of winter. Greece has a proposition for Germans who are stressed out over the prospect of a natural-gas shortage this winter."For autumn and winter, it would be a great pleasure for us Greeks to welcome German pensioners who want to experience a 'Mediterranean winter' with Greek hospitality, mild weather and high-quality services," Greek tourism minister Vasilis Kikilias told the Bild newspaper, in a report published on Thursday. "We will wait for you here."The invitation comes as Russia has been reducing natural-gas flows to Germany and Europe over the last few months, citing reasons such as energy companies' refusal to pay in rubles and an equipment hold-up in Canada. Germany — Europe's largest economy — is nervous about a complete cut of Russian gas supplies ahead of winter as Moscow retaliates against sweeping sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine.But, as the mayor of the Greek port city of Chania on the island of Crete told Bild, "we don't need heating in the house.""We invite every German who wants to come to us this winter to live here — away from the crises. Chania is the perfect place to survive a crisis winter: warm, friendly people and perhaps the best year-round climate in all of Europe," said the city's mayor, Panagiotis Simandirakis, per Bild."No German will freeze in Greece," said Simandirakis.Berlin is trying to fill up natural-gas storage to 90% by the beginning of November. It's now 65% full, according to Germany's Federal Network Regulator, the country's energy regulator.Berlin has already moved into the second stage of its three-stage emergency gas plan that could lead to rationing in its final stage if the situation worsens. Germany is reliant on piped natural gas from Russia, which accounts for 35% of its imports of the fuel. The chief of Germany's Federal Network Agency, the energy regulator, warned consumers on Thursday their monthly bills could triple next year due to falling Russian natural-gas imports, according to the RND news outlet. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJul 15th, 2022

The Real Cost Of Inflation For Most Americans

The Real Cost Of Inflation For Most Americans Authored by Petr Svab via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), The June inflation figure of 9.1 percent, up half a percentage point from last month and the highest since 1981, doesn’t tell half the story of how expensive life has become for Americans. The overall figure hides the fact that not all prices have risen uniformly and that products that have become especially expensive also happen to be the ones people usually can’t do without, such as food, fuel, and energy, according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). U.S. consumer price inflation surged 9.1 percent over the past 12 months to June, the fastest increase since November 1981, according to government data released on July 13, 2022. (Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images) Among foodstuffs, margarine and eggs prices hiked the most over the 12 months ending June, up over 34 and 33 percent respectively. Trailing behind were butter (up over 21 percent), flour (up over 19 percent), and chicken (more than 18 percent). Milk and coffee were up about 16 percent. Regular gasoline hiked more than 60 percent, diesel about 76 percent, and fuel oil, which many Americans use to heat their homes, nearly doubled in price. Natural gas went up over 38 percent and electricity nearly 14 percent. The White House, through President Joe Biden’s Twitter account, called the inflation figures “not acceptable,” but “outdated” on July 13, noting gasoline price has declined about 40 cents per gallon (about 8 percent) over the past 30 days. The products with the most prominent price hikes tend to also suffer supply issues. Gasoline production is constrained by the policies of the Biden administration and the financial elites more generally as part of their efforts to curb carbon emissions. Egg production has been constrained by the avian flu outbreak that cut the number of laying hens by about 8 percent in recent months. Grain production has been hit with sky-high fertilizer prices and herbicide shortages. Higher grain prices, in turn, not only show up in bakery goods and flour, but also in animal feed, which then hits meat and milk prices too. Normally, consumers respond to higher prices by tightening their belts—consuming less—which in turn leads prices down. But because of the lavish federal spending packages during the COVID-19 pandemic, however, consumer demand has been artificially boosted. Prices will have to go up relatively steeply for another year or two before the productivity of the economy catches up with all the newly printed money, some economists have predicted. Read more here... Tyler Durden Thu, 07/14/2022 - 19:40.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJul 14th, 2022

California"s Energy War On The Poor

California's Energy War On The Poor Authored by Robert Bryce via Quiellette.com, California continues to implement policies on energy, housing, and transportation that are anti-poor and anti-working class... A few years ago, author and demographer Joel Kotkin declared that “California is a great state in which to be rich.” Of course, it’s good to be rich anywhere. But California—the province that for decades has led the United States in cultural issues like fashion, gay rights, and entertainment—has devolved into a state where the American dream is being strangled by a phalanx of energy and climate regulations that are imposing huge regressive taxes on the poor and middle class. And worse yet, the state’s vast bureaucracy is imposing yet more regulations that will further tighten the financial noose on Californians. Before going further, it’s essential to put California into context. While the state is known for posh spots like Beverly Hills, Marin County, and Silicon Valley, the Golden State has the highest poverty rate in America. Indeed, the poverty figures in the state can only be described as shocking. A 2021 report by the Public Policy Institute of California found that “More than a third of Californians are living in or near poverty. Nearly one in six (16.4 percent) Californians were not in poverty but lived fairly close to the poverty line … All told, more than a third (34.0 percent) of state residents were poor or near-poor in 2019.” Los Angeles, the state’s biggest city, and a magnet for generations of immigrants has one of the highest poverty rates among America’s biggest cities. California also has the largest Latino population in America. About 15 million Latinos live in the Golden State and they account for about 40 percent of its population. But the PPIC report also found that more than Latinos account for nearly 52 percent “of poor Californians but only 39.7 percent of the state population.” Despite these numbers, California policymakers continue to implement policies on energy, housing, and transportation that are driving up the cost of living and deepening the state’s poverty problem. In April, the state’s Air Resources Board released a plan that will ban the sale of automobiles with internal combustion engines by 2035. The plan was cheered by a lawyer at the Center for Biological Diversity who said it was essential to “free our streets from tailpipe pollution as fast as possible.” Sierra Club demonstration in California, 2004, Alamy In May, the Los Angeles City Council banned the use of natural gas appliances and heaters in new homes and businesses. By doing so, according to the Sierra Club, the city became the 57th municipality in the state to ban the fuel. The vote, said council member Nithya Raman, puts the city “in line with climate leaders across the country.” That climate leadership comes at a high cost to consumers. Why? On an energy-equivalent basis, electricity costs four times as much as natural gas. On July 1st, motorists in the state began paying an additional three-cent-per-gallon tax on gasoline, a move that will make California’s motor fuel even more expensive. In late June, motorists in the state were paying an average of $6.30 per gallon for gasoline, which is roughly 29 percent more than motorists in the rest of the US. Perhaps the most obvious casualty of California’s climate policies is the state’s tattered electric grid. Blackouts in the state have become so common, particularly in the Bay Area, that media outlets have largely quit reporting on them. Nearly every day, maps of Pacific Gas & Electric’s service territory show outages across wide swaths of central California. The state’s increased blackouts are coinciding with skyrocketing electricity prices. And those skyrocketing electricity prices are coinciding with the implementation of some of America’s most-aggressive renewable-energy mandates. In 2008, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an executive order that required the state’s utilities to obtain a third of the electricity they sell from renewables by 2020. In 2015, Governor Jerry Brown signed a law that boosted the mandate to 5o percent by 2030. In 2018, California lawmakers imposed yet another mandate that requires the state’s electric utilities to procure at least 60 percent of their electricity from renewables by 2030 and to be producing 100 percent “zero-carbon” electricity by 2045. What has happened since The Terminator signed that executive order? Between 2008 and 2021, the all-sector price of electricity in California increased five times faster than rates in the rest of the continental United States. Last year alone, the all-sector price of electricity in California jumped by 9.8 percent to 19.8 cents per kilowatt-hour. Residential prices increased even more, jumping by 11.7 percent to an average of 22.8 cents per kilowatt-hour. California residential users are now paying about 66 percent more for electricity than homeowners in the rest of the US. The state also faces a chronic shortage of affordable housing. Despite the shortage, home prices are being driven up by a myriad of mandates including the requirement that new homes have solar panels on their roofs. Since 2020, single-family homes and multi-family buildings up to three stories high in California must be topped with solar panels. In January 2023, that mandate will expand to include commercial buildings, including hotels, offices, retail and grocery stores, restaurants, and schools. It will also require panels to be put atop civic buildings, including theaters, auditoriums, and convention facilities. All of these mandates amount to what land-use and civil-rights lawyer Jennifer Hernandez calls “Green Jim Crow.” In an essay published last year by the Breakthrough Institute, Hernandez wrote that her home state: leads the world in renewable energy and electric vehicle ownership. But its industrial and manufacturing sectors have been decimated … Its climate accomplishments are illusory, a product of deindustrialization, high energy costs, and, more recently and improbably, depopulation. Inequality has hit record levels, and housing segregation has returned to a degree not seen since the early 1960s. Hernandez is the lead lawyer for The Two Hundred, a group of Latino leaders who have sued the state of California over its climate, housing, and transportation policies. In 2019, she and The Two Hundred filed a 250-page civil rights lawsuit that claims “Entrenched special interest groups, including environmentalists, block meaningful housing policy reforms” and that the state’s housing crisis is “deepening an already severe civil rights crisis.” Hernandez also points out that many of the regulations The Two Hundred is fighting were never directly authorized by the state legislature. There is no shortage of irony here. California is one of the most liberal states in America. In the 2020 presidential race, Joe Biden thrashed Donald Trump in California by a margin of nearly two to one, taking 63 percent of the vote. Although Trump lost California to Biden, the state is key for presidential hopefuls. That helps explain why Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, has already begun positioning himself for a White House bid in 2024. The California Senate has been controlled by the Democratic party since 1970. The lower house, the Assembly, has also been controlled by Democrats since the 1970s, except for two years in the mid-1990s. The Democratic Party has long considered itself the party of the working class and minorities. Nearly half of Latinos consider themselves Democrats while only about 23 percent identify as Republicans. But Latinos in California are not prospering under Democratic control. Quite the opposite. According to the report issued by the PPIC last year: More than one in five (21.4%) Latinos lived in poverty, compared to 17.4% of African Americans, 14.5% of Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, and 12.1% of whites. Though the Latino poverty rate has fallen from 30.9% in 2011, Latinos remain disproportionately poor—comprising 51.6% of poor Californians but only 39.7% of the state population. There are also big disparities in homeownership. In 2018, the homeownership rate among California Latinos was about 44 percent. Among whites, that rate is about 63 percent. Robert Apodaca, the executive director for The Two Hundred, and a long-time activist, told me that a myriad of pending regulations will exacerbate the state’s affordability crisis. He pointed to the state’s decarbonization efforts, which include a ban on the sale of cars powered by internal combustion engines that begins in 2035. The push for the electrification of transportation will require the installation of about 1.2 million new EV charging stations by 2030, according to the California Energy Commission. The cost of those stations will, of course, be borne by ratepayers. Furthermore, running all cars and trucks in the state on electricity will increase electricity demand by 25 percent, in a state that is already experiencing regular blackouts. Apodaca said the 100 percent zero-carbon electricity mandate and an economy-wide goal of carbon neutrality by 2045, will also increase costs. In February, the California Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved a scheme that aims to add more than 25 gigawatts of renewables and 15 gigawatts of batteries to the state's electric grid by 2032 at an estimated cost of $49.3 billion. Also in February, the California Independent System Operator released a draft plan to upgrade the state's transmission grid at a cost of some $30.5 billion. The combined cost of those two schemes is about $80 billion. Dividing that sum among 39 million residents works out to about $2,050 for every Californian. But the final price will almost certainly be far higher than $80 billion. Big public works projects routinely exceed initial estimates; California's beleaguered high-speed rail project was expected to cost $42 billion when it was launched in 2008. The latest cost estimate is $105 billion. Any effort to overhaul the state’s electric grid will require huge amounts of complex machinery, including generators, solar panels, transformers, and switch gear. It will also require vast amounts of land, steel, concrete, and tanker loads of industrial commodities at the same time that prices for everything from zinc and lithium to nickel and aluminum are soaring. The renewable-electricity push will force prices upward at a time when California is in the midst of an energy-affordability crisis. In January, electricity rates for customers of Pacific Gas & Electric, the biggest utility in the state, went up by eight percent. In March, PG&E customers were hit by another nine percent rate hike. Consumers served by San Diego Gas & Electric are also seeing big increases, with electricity price increases of nearly eight percent this year. Furthermore, PG&E is seeking rate big rate increases from 2023 to 2026 to pay for a variety of programs including burying thousands of miles of power lines. Electricity prices are soaring at a time when many consumers simply can't afford to pay. In March, more than a quarter of residential customers in San Diego County were behind on their utility payments. These soaring costs shouldn’t be surprising. Like what has occurred in Australia and Germany, the imposition of renewable-energy mandates in California has corresponded with dramatic increases in electricity prices. Of course, that’s not what we are told by climate activists like Bill McKibben who never tire of claiming that wind and solar are cheaper than traditional forms of electricity production. But a 2019 study done by academics at the University of Chicago found that renewable-energy mandates cause prices to go up, not down. Photo by Venti Views on Unsplash The report, by Michael Greenstone and Ishan Nath, said renewables “raise electricity prices more than previously thought” due to “hidden costs that have typically been ignored.” They also found that the mandates “come at a high cost to consumers and are inefficient in reducing carbon emissions.” Greenstone and Nath said “the intermittent nature of renewables means that back-up capacity must be added” and that “by mandating an increase in renewable power, baseload generation is prematurely displaced, and some of the cost is passed to consumers.” It continued, saying that renewable-energy mandates lead to lead to “substantial increases in electricity prices that mirror the program’s increasing stringency over time.” Of course, none of this fits the convenient narrative that California is leading the way on climate change. Nevertheless, the hard reality is that California’s climate policies and renewable-energy mandates are immiserating vast segments of the state’s population. In a July 1st telephone interview, Apodaca said the state’s climate policies are hard to fight because California is “being governed by the administrative state, the regulators.” He continued, saying “The legislature hasn’t mandated most of these climate rules. There is no legislative mandate for the majority of the regulations that the Air Resources Board and other agencies are creating. The agencies have gone too far. But they aren’t held accountable.” What has happened in California is a warning for the rest of the United States and the rest of the world. Kotkin, who I quoted at the top of this piece, has become one of the loudest and most-frequent critics of California’s decline. In April, citing a report he co-wrote (with Marshall Toplansky and three others) for Chapman University, Kotkin declared that California is in the midst of an “existential crisis, losing both its middle-aged and middle class, while its poor population faces dimming prospects. Despite the state’s myriad advantages, research shows it [is] plagued by economic immobility and inequality, crushing housing and energy costs, and a failing education system. Worse than just a case of progressive policies creating regressive outcomes, it appears California is descending into something resembling modern-day feudalism, with the poor and weak trapped by policies subsidized by taxes paid by the rich and powerful.” Given the state’s many problems, residents are reacting with what has been dubbed the “California Exodus.” Last year, for the first time in its 171-year history, California lost a seat in the US House of Representatives. Meanwhile, Texas gained two seats and Florida gained one. A few months ago, U-Haul, the company that rents moving trucks, issued a press release that said its California locations experienced the biggest loss of one-way truck rentals in 2021. The top destination for those soon-to-be-ex Californians? Texas. (I can verify this, as it seems everyone from California is moving to Austin.) Furthermore, since 2018, about 300 companies have moved their headquarters out of California. Among the more notable corporate departures: Tesla and Oracle, both of which moved their headquarters to Austin. The punchline here is obvious: For decades, regulators and politicians in California—a state that is a pillar of the Democratic Party as well as the home of US vice president Kamala Harris and the home of America’s biggest climate-activist group, the Sierra Club—have been implementing a skein of policies, nearly all of them tied to energy and climate, that are blatantly anti-poor and anti-working class. Yes, California is a fine place to be rich. But Californians who aren’t rich have seen enough. And now they are voting with their feet and with whatever U-Haul truck they can find.   * * * Join the newsletter to receive the latest updates in your inbox. Tyler Durden Wed, 07/13/2022 - 17:40.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytJul 13th, 2022

Europe On High Alert: July Shutdown Of Nord Stream Pipeline Has The EU Worried

Europe On High Alert: July Shutdown Of Nord Stream Pipeline Has The EU Worried It's a dynamic which some in the alternative media have been warning about for months – While the establishment claimed that Russia would be crushed under the weight of NATO sanctions, others have suggested that Russia could hurt the west more (specifically Europe) by implementing sanctions of their own.  While mainstream governments and journalists argued about how fast NATO should implement restrictions on Russian oil and gas, none of them seemed to consider the possibility that Putin would cut off energy exports himself.   This is the problem with instituting foreign policy and engaging in geopolitics using a “cancel culture” mentality; it leads to childish thinking and a lack of foresight.  You can't “cancel” a nation if you are dependent on them for 40% of your energy needs.   Anyone with moderate industry knowledge in oil and gas could have seen this coming.  Europe is now on “high alert” as the Nordtream 1 pipeline to Germany has lost 60% of its natural gas transfers as Russia pressures Canada for the return of a massive turbine being held in Canada for repairs.  Canada has lifted sanctions in response and allowed the shipment of the turbine back to Russia, showing that the Kremlin does indeed have economic leverage over NATO countries.  Even more concerning is that the pipeline will be undergoing an extended shutdown due to “maintenance” until July 21st.  Some officials in Europe believe this shutdown may be a precursor (a beta test) to a total block of Russian gas to the EU, and they are probably right. Speaking at the economic forum Les Rencontres Économiques, French Minister Bruno Le Maire said: 'Let's get ready for a total shutdown of the Russian gas supply...This is the most likely event.'  He added 'We should not take Vladimir Putin's threats lightly.' It's important to remember that Europe is not only dependent on oil and gas imports for heating, it is also dependent on them for electricity and many other needs.  The middle of summer does not seem like the worst time to face heating shortages, but the overall effect of energy loss would drag the EU economy down into panic.  Will the gas supply return after July 21?  Probably, but this shutdown indicates that the Kremlin may be sending a message that they could end Europe's economic stability anytime they want.   The closer we get to winter, the more pressure will be applied, no doubt. The US is far less dependent on Russian energy resources, but there is the greater problem of a “shrinking energy pie” to consider.  With Europe cut off, they will be scrambling (as they already are) to find replacement imports from alternative sources.  This means less oil and gas on the overall global market and even more price inflation for everyone, including Americans.   The Ukrainian government has chimed in on the scenario, arguing that Putin is “bluffing.”  However, if we look at recent developments in terms of Russia's trading partners, this sounds like political spin.  Both China and India have greatly increased their purchases of Russian oil over the past few months and Russia's oil revenues have soared despite western sanctions. Russian natural gas exports to China jumped 60% in May.  This shift in trade is part of a 30 year energy deal signed with China in February before the Ukraine war even began, indicating well planned contingencies on the part of the Kremlin.   Russia's economic backing from its trade partners was solidified at the recent BRICS summit, where nations like China and India showed full support and offered only passing interest in Ukraine.  With The BRICS representing well over 30% of the human population and China representing the largest importer exporter economy in the world today, Russia is not facing any shortage of export alternatives.  It is highly unlikely that they are bluffing when it comes to cutting off energy to Europe. If this does happen for any length of time during winter, prepare for a considerable reduction in living standards in the EU as energy inflation buries their economy and creates the potential for civil unrest.  In the US, prepare for even higher prices in terms of oil and gas as Europe gobbles up whatever energy exports they can find on the market to replace Russian losses.      Tyler Durden Tue, 07/12/2022 - 02:45.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJul 12th, 2022

We"ve got nearly 50 pitch decks that helped fintechs disrupting trading, investing, and banking raise millions in funding

Looking for examples of real fintech pitch decks? Check out pitch decks that Qolo, Lance, and other startups used to raise money from VCs. Check out these pitch decks for examples of fintech founders sold their vision.Yulia Reznikov/Getty Images Insider has been tracking the next wave of hot new startups that are blending finance and tech.  Check out these pitch decks to see how fintech founders sold their vision. See more stories on Insider's business page. Fintech funding has been on a tear.In 2021, fintech funding hit a record $132 billion globally, according to CB Insights, more than double 2020's mark.Insider has been tracking the next wave of hot new startups that are blending finance and tech. Check out these pitch decks to see how fintech founders are selling their vision and nabbing big bucks in the process. You'll see new financial tech geared at freelancers, fresh twists on digital banking, and innovation aimed at streamlining customer onboarding. New twists on digital bankingZach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradleyHMBradleyConsumers are getting used to the idea of branch-less banking, a trend that startup digital-only banks like Chime, N26, and Varo have benefited from. The majority of these fintechs target those who are underbanked, and rely on usage of their debit cards to make money off interchange. But fellow startup HMBradley has a different business model. "Our thesis going in was that we don't swipe our debit cards all that often, and we don't think the customer base that we're focusing on does either," Zach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradley, told Insider. "A lot of our customer base uses credit cards on a daily basis."Instead, the startup is aiming to build clientele with stable deposits. As a result, the bank is offering interest-rate tiers depending on how much a customer saves of their direct deposit.Notably, the rate tiers are dependent on the percentage of savings, not the net amount. "We'll pay you more when you save more of what comes in," Bruhnke said. "We didn't want to segment customers by how much money they had. So it was always going to be about a percentage of income. That was really important to us."Check out the 14-page pitch deck fintech HMBradley, a neobank offering interest rates as high as 3%, used to raise an $18.25 million Series APersonal finance is only a text awayYinon Ravid, the chief executive and cofounder of Albert.AlbertThe COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the growing preference of mobile banking as customers get comfortable managing their finances online.The financial app Albert has seen a similar jump in activity. Currently counting more than six million members, deposits in Albert's savings offering doubled from the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to May of this year, from $350 million to $700 million, according to new numbers released by the company. Founded in 2015, Albert offers automated budgeting and savings tools alongside guided investment portfolios. It's looked to differentiate itself through personalized features, like the ability for customers to text human financial experts.Budgeting and saving features are free on Albert. But for more tailored financial advice, customers pay a subscription fee that's a pay-what-you-can model, between $4 and $14 a month. And Albert's now banking on a new tool to bring together its investing, savings, and budgeting tools.Fintech Albert used this 10-page pitch deck to raise a $100 million Series C from General Atlantic and CapitalG 'A bank for immigrants'Priyank Singh and Rohit Mittal are the cofounders of Stilt.StiltRohit Mittal remembers the difficulties he faced when he first arrived in the United States a decade ago as a master's student at Columbia University.As an immigrant from India, Mittal had no credit score in the US and had difficulty integrating into the financial system. Mittal even struggled to get approved to rent an apartment and couch-surfed until he found a roommate willing to offer him space in his apartment in the New York neighborhood Morningside Heights.That roommate was Priyank Singh, who would go on to become Mittal's cofounder when the two started Stilt, a financial-technology company designed to address the problems Mittal faced when he arrived in the US.Stilt, which calls itself "a bank for immigrants," does not require a social security number or credit history to access its offerings, including unsecured personal loans.Instead of relying on traditional metrics like a credit score, Stilt uses data such as education and employment to predict an individual's future income stability and cash flow before issuing a loan. Stilt has seen its loan volume grow by 500% in the past 12 months, and the startup has loaned to immigrants from 160 countries since its launch. Here are the 15 slides Stilt, which calls itself 'a bank for immigrants,' used to raise a $14 million Series AAn IRA for alternativesHenry Yoshida is the co-founder and CEO of retirement fintech startup Rocket Dollar.Rocket DollarFintech startup Rocket Dollar, which helps users invest their individual retirement account (IRA) dollars into alternative assets, just raised $8 million for its Series A round, the company announced on Thursday.Park West Asset Management led the round, with participation from investors including Hyphen Capital, which focuses on backing Asian American entrepreneurs, and crypto exchange Kraken's venture arm. Co-founded in 2018 by CEO Henry Yoshida, CTO Rick Dude, and VP of marketing Thomas Young, Rocket Dollar now has over $350 million in assets under management on its platform. Yoshida sold his first startup, a roboadvisor called Honest Dollar, to Goldman Sachs' investment management division for an estimated $20 million.Yoshida told Insider that while ultra-high net worth investors have been investing self-directed retirement account dollars into alternative assets like real estate, private equity, and cryptocurrency, average investors have not historically been able to access the same opportunities to invest IRA dollars in alternative assets through traditional platforms.Here's the 34-page pitch deck a fintech that helps users invest their retirement savings in crypto and real estate assets used to nab $8 millionA trading app for activismAntoine Argouges, CEO and founder of TulipshareTulipshareAn up-and-coming fintech is taking aim at some of the world's largest corporations by empowering retail investors to push for social and environmental change by pooling their shareholder rights.London-based Tulipshare lets individuals in the UK invest as little as one pound in publicly-traded company stocks. The upstart combines individuals' shareholder rights with other like-minded investors to advocate for environmental, social, and corporate governance change at firms like JPMorgan, Apple, and Amazon.The goal is to achieve a higher number of shares to maximize the number of votes that can be submitted at shareholder meetings. Already a regulated broker-dealer in the UK, Tulipshare recently applied for registration as a broker-dealer in the US. "If you ask your friends and family if they've ever voted on shareholder resolutions, the answer will probably be close to zero," CEO and founder Antoine Argouges told Insider. "I started Tulipshare to utilize shareholder rights to bring about positive corporate change that has an impact on people's lives and our planet — what's more powerful than money to change the system we live in?"Check out the 14-page pitch deck from Tulipshare, a trading app that lets users pool their shareholder votes for activism campaignsDigital tools for independent financial advisorsJason Wenk, founder and CEO of AltruistAltruistJason Wenk started his career at Morgan Stanley in investment research over 20 years ago. Now, he's running a company that is hoping to broaden access to financial advice for less-wealthy individuals. The startup raised $50 million in Series B funding led by Insight Partners with participation from investors Vanguard and Venrock. The round brings the Los Angeles-based startup's total funding to just under $67 million.Founded in 2018, Altruist is a digital brokerage built for independent financial advisors, intended to be an "all-in-one" platform that unites custodial functions, portfolio accounting, and a client-facing portal. It allows advisors to open accounts, invest, build models, report, trade (including fractional shares), and bill clients through an interface that can advisors time by eliminating mundane operational tasks.Altruist aims to make personalized financial advice less expensive, more efficient, and more inclusive through the platform, which is designed for registered investment advisors (RIAs), a growing segment of the wealth management industry. Here's the pitch deck for Altruist, a wealth tech challenging custodians Fidelity and Charles Schwab, that raised $50 million from Vanguard and InsightRethinking debt collection Jason Saltzman, founder and CEO of ReliefReliefFor lenders, debt collection is largely automated. But for people who owe money on their credit cards, it can be a confusing and stressful process.  Relief is looking to change that. Its app automates the credit-card debt collection process for users, negotiating with lenders and collectors to settle outstanding balances on their behalf. The fintech just launched and closed a $2 million seed round led by Collaborative Ventures. Relief's fundraising experience was a bit different to most. Its pitch deck, which it shared with one investor via Google Slides, went viral. It set out to raise a $1 million seed round, but ended up doubling that and giving some investors money back to make room for others.Check out a 15-page pitch deck that went viral and helped a credit-card debt collection startup land a $2 million seed roundHelping small banks lendTKCollateralEdgeFor large corporations with a track record of tapping the credit markets, taking out debt is a well-structured and clear process handled by the nation's biggest investment banks and teams of accountants. But smaller, middle-market companies — typically those with annual revenues ranging up to $1 billion — are typically served by regional and community banks that don't always have the capacity to adequately measure the risk of loans or price them competitively. Per the National Center for the Middle Market, 200,000 companies fall into this range, accounting for roughly 33% of US private sector GDP and employment.Dallas-based fintech CollateralEdge works with these banks — typically those with between $1 billion and $50 billion in assets — to help analyze and price slices of commercial and industrial loans that previously might have gone unserved by smaller lenders.On October 20th, CollateralEdge announced a $3.5 million seed round led by Dallas venture fund Perot Jain with participation from Kneeland Youngblood (a founder of the healthcare-focused private-equity firm Pharos Capital) and other individual investors.Here's the 10-page deck CollateralEdge, a fintech streamlining how small banks lend to businesses, used to raise a $3.5 million seed roundA new way to assess creditworthinessPinwheel founders Curtis Lee, Kurt Lin, and Anish Basu.PinwheelGrowing up, Kurt Lin never saw his father get frustrated. A "traditional, stoic figure," Lin said his father immigrated to the United States in the 1970s. Becoming part of the financial system proved even more difficult than assimilating into a new culture.Lin recalled visiting bank after bank with his father as a child, watching as his father's applications for a mortgage were denied due to his lack of credit history. "That was the first time in my life I really saw him crack," Lin told Insider. "The system doesn't work for a lot of people — including my dad," he added. Lin would find a solution to his father's problem years later while working with Anish Basu, and Curtis Lee on an automated health savings account. The trio realized the payroll data integrations they were working on could be the basis of a product that would help lenders work with consumers without strong credit histories."That's when the lightbulb hit," said Lin, Pinwheel's CEO.In 2018, Lin, Basu, and Lee founded Pinwheel, an application-programming interface that shares payroll data to help both fintechs and traditional lenders serve consumers with limited or poor credit, who have historically struggled to access financial products. Here's the 9-page deck that Pinwheel, a fintech helping lenders tap into payroll data to serve consumers with little to no credit, used to raise a $50 million Series BAn alternative auto lenderTricolorAn alternative auto lender that caters to thin- and no-credit Hispanic borrowers is planning a national expansion after scoring a $90 million investment from BlackRock-managed funds. Tricolor is a Dallas-based auto lender that is a community development financial institution. It uses a proprietary artificial-intelligence engine that decisions each customer based on more than 100 data points, such as proof of income. Half of Tricolor's customers have a FICO score, and less than 12% have scores above 650, yet the average customer has lived in the US for 15 years, according to the deck.A 2017 survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation found 31.5% of Hispanic households had no mainstream credit compared to 14.4% of white households. "For decades, the deck has been stacked against low income or credit invisible Hispanics in the United States when it comes to the purchase and financing of a used vehicle," Daniel Chu, founder and CEO of Tricolor, said in a statement announcing the raise.An auto lender that caters to underbanked Hispanics used this 25-page deck to raise $90 million from BlackRock investors A new way to access credit The TomoCredit teamTomoCreditKristy Kim knows first-hand the challenge of obtaining credit in the US without an established credit history. Kim, who came to the US from South Korea, couldn't initially get access to credit despite having a job in investment banking after graduating college. "I was in my early twenties, I had a good income, my job was in investment banking but I could not get approved for anything," Kim told Insider. "Many young professionals like me, we deserve an opportunity to be considered but just because we didn't have a Fico, we weren't given a chance to even apply," she added.Kim started TomoCredit in 2018 to help others like herself gain access to consumer credit. TomoCredit spent three years building an internal algorithm to underwrite customers based on cash flow, rather than a credit score.TomoCredit, a fintech that lends to thin- and no-credit borrowers, used this 17-page pitch deck to raise its $10 million Series AHelping streamline how debts are repaidMethod Financial cofounders Jose Bethancourt and Marco del Carmen.Method FinancialWhen Jose Bethancourt graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in May 2019, he faced the same question that confronts over 43 million Americans: How would he repay his student loans?The problem led Bethancourt on a nearly two-year journey that culminated in the creation of a startup aimed at making it easier for consumers to more seamlessly pay off all kinds of debt.  Initially, Bethancourt and fellow UT grad Marco del Carmen built GradJoy, an app that helped users better understand how to manage student loan repayment and other financial habits. GradJoy was accepted into Y Combinator in the summer of 2019. But the duo quickly realized the real benefit to users would be helping them move money to make payments instead of simply offering recommendations."When we started GradJoy, we thought, 'Oh, we'll just give advice — we don't think people are comfortable with us touching their student loans,' and then we realized that people were saying, 'Hey, just move the money — if you think I should pay extra, then I'll pay extra.' So that's kind of the movement that we've seen, just, everybody's more comfortable with fintechs doing what's best for them," Bethancourt told Insider. Here is the 11-slide pitch deck Method Financial, a Y Combinator-backed fintech making debt repayment easier, used to raise $2.5 million in pre-seed fundingQuantum computing made easyQC Ware CEO Matt Johnson.QC WareEven though banks and hedge funds are still several years out from adding quantum computing to their tech arsenals, that hasn't stopped Wall Street giants from investing time and money into the emerging technology class. And momentum for QC Ware, a startup looking to cut the time and resources it takes to use quantum computing, is accelerating. The fintech secured a $25 million Series B on September 29 co-led by Koch Disruptive Technologies and Covestro with participation from D.E. Shaw, Citi, and Samsung Ventures.QC Ware, founded in 2014, builds quantum algorithms for the likes of Goldman Sachs (which led the fintech's Series A), Airbus, and BMW Group. The algorithms, which are effectively code bases that include quantum processing elements, can run on any of the four main public-cloud providers.Quantum computing allows companies to do complex calculations faster than traditional computers by using a form of physics that runs on quantum bits as opposed to the traditional 1s and 0s that computers use. This is especially helpful in banking for risk analytics or algorithmic trading, where executing calculations milliseconds faster than the competition can give firms a leg up. Here's the 20-page deck QC Ware, a fintech making quantum computing more accessible, used to raised its $25 million Series BAnalyzing financial contractsEric Chang and Alex Schumacher, co-founders of ClairaClairaIt was a match made in heaven — at least the Wall Street type.Joseph Squeri, a former CIO at Citadel and Barclays, had always struggled with the digitization of financial documents. When he was tapped by Brady Dougan, the former chief executive of Credit Suisse, to build out an all-digital investment bank in Exos, Squeri spent the first year getting let down by more than a dozen tools that lacked a depth in financial legal documents. His solution came in the form of Alex Schumacher and Eric Chang who had the tech and financial expertise, respectively, to build the tool he needed.Schumacher is an expert in natural-language processing and natural-language understanding, having specialized in turning unstructured text into useful business information.Chang spent a decade as a trader and investment strategist at Goldman Sachs, BlackRock, and AQR. He developed a familiarity with the kinds of financial documents Squeri wanted to digitize, such as the terms and conditions information from SEC filings and publicly traded securities and transactions, like municipal bonds and collateralized loan obligations (CLOs). The three converged at Exos, Squeri as its COO and CTO, Schumacher as the lead data scientist, and Chang as head of tech and strategy. See the 14-page pitch deck that sold Citi on Claira, a startup using AI to help firms read through financial contracts in a fraction of the timeSimplifying quant modelsKirat Singh and Mark Higgins, Beacon's cofounders.BeaconA fintech that helps financial institutions use quantitative models to streamline their businesses and improve risk management is catching the attention, and capital, of some of the country's biggest investment managers.Beacon Platform, founded in 2014, is a fintech that builds applications and tools to help banks, asset managers, and trading firms quickly integrate quantitative models that can help with analyzing risk, ensuring compliance, and improving operational efficiency. The company raised its Series C on Wednesday, scoring a $56 million investment led by Warburg Pincus with support from Blackstone Innovations Investments, PIMCO, and Global Atlantic. Blackstone, PIMCO, and Global Atlantic are also users of Beacon's tech, as are the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Shell New Energies, a division of Royal Dutch Shell, among others.The fintech provides a shortcut for firms looking to use quantitative modelling and data science across various aspects of their businesses, a process that can often take considerable resources if done solo.Here's the 20-page pitch deck Beacon, a fintech helping Wall Street better analyze risk and data, used to raise $56 million from Warburg Pincus, Blackstone, and PIMCOSussing out bad actorsFrom left to right: Cofounders CTO David Movshovitz, CEO Doron Hendler, and chief architect Adi DeGaniRevealSecurityAn encounter with an impersonation hacker led Doron Hendler to found RevealSecurity, a Tel Aviv-based cybersecurity startup that monitors for insider threats.Two years ago, a woman impersonating an insurance-agency representative called Hendler and convinced him that he made a mistake with his recent health insurance policy upgrade. She got him to share his login information for his insurer's website, even getting him to give the one-time passcode sent to his phone. Once the hacker got what she needed, she disconnected the call, prompting Hendler to call back. When no one picked up the phone, he realized he had been conned.He immediately called his insurance company to check on his account. Nothing seemed out of place to the representative. But Hendler, who was previously a vice president of a software company, suspected something intangible could have been collected, so he reset his credentials."The chief of information security, who was on the call, he asked me, 'So, how do you want me to identify you? You gave your credentials; you gave your ID; you gave the one time password. How the hell can I identify that it's not you?' And I told him, 'But I never behave like this,'" Hendler recalled of the conversation.RevealSecurity, a Tel Aviv-based cyber startup that tracks user behavior for abnormalities, used this 27-page deck to raise its Series AA new data feed for bond tradingMark Lennihan/APFor years, the only way investors could figure out the going price of a corporate bond was calling up a dealer on the phone. The rise of electronic trading has streamlined that process, but data can still be hard to come by sometimes. A startup founded by a former Goldman Sachs exec has big plans to change that. BondCliQ is a fintech that provides a data feed of pre-trade pricing quotes for the corporate bond market. Founded by Chris White, the creator of Goldman Sachs' defunct corporate-bond-trading system, BondCliQ strives to bring transparency to a market that has traditionally kept such data close to the vest. Banks, which typically serve as the dealers of corporate bonds, have historically kept pre-trade quotes hidden from other dealers to maintain a competitive advantage.But tech advancements and the rise of electronic marketplaces have shifted power dynamics into the hands of buy-side firms, like hedge funds and asset managers. The investors are now able to get a fuller picture of the market by aggregating price quotes directly from dealers or via vendors.Here's the 9-page pitch deck that BondCliQ, a fintech looking to bring more data and transparency to bond trading, used to raise its Series AFraud prevention for lenders and insurersFiordaliso/Getty ImagesOnboarding new customers with ease is key for any financial institution or retailer. The more friction you add, the more likely consumers are to abandon the entire process.But preventing fraud is also a priority, and that's where Neuro-ID comes in. The startup analyzes what it calls "digital body language," or, the way users scroll, type, and tap. Using that data, Neuro-ID can identify fraudulent users before they create an account. It's built for banks, lenders, insurers, and e-commerce players."The train has left the station for digital transformation, but there's a massive opportunity to try to replicate all those communications that we used to have when we did business in-person, all those tells that we would get verbally and non-verbally on whether or not someone was trustworthy," Neuro-ID CEO Jack Alton told Insider.Founded in 2014, the startup's pitch is twofold: Neuro-ID can save companies money by identifying fraud early, and help increase user conversion by making the onboarding process more seamless. In December Neuro-ID closed a $7 million Series A, co-led by Fin VC and TTV Capital, with participation from Canapi Ventures. With 30 employees, Neuro-ID is using the fresh funding to grow its team and create additional tools to be more self-serving for customers.Here's the 11-slide pitch deck a startup that analyzes consumers' digital behavior to fight fraud used to raise a $7 million Series AAI-powered tools to spot phony online reviews FakespotMarketplaces like Amazon and eBay host millions of third-party sellers, and their algorithms will often boost items in search based on consumer sentiment, which is largely based on reviews. But many third-party sellers use fake reviews often bought from click farms to boost their items, some of which are counterfeit or misrepresented to consumers.That's where Fakespot comes in. With its Chrome extension, it warns users of sellers using potentially fake reviews to boost sales and can identify fraudulent sellers. Fakespot is currently compatible with Amazon, BestBuy, eBay, Sephora, Steam, and Walmart."There are promotional reviews written by humans and bot-generated reviews written by robots or review farms," Fakespot founder and CEO Saoud Khalifah told Insider. "Our AI system has been built to detect both categories with very high accuracy."Fakespot's AI learns via reviews data available on marketplace websites, and uses natural-language processing to identify if reviews are genuine. Fakespot also looks at things like whether the number of positive reviews are plausible given how long a seller has been active.Fakespot, a startup that helps shoppers detect robot-generated reviews and phony sellers on Amazon and Shopify, used this pitch deck to nab a $4 million Series AHelping fintechs manage dataProper Finance co-founders Travis Gibson (left) and Kyle MaloneyProper FinanceAs the flow of data becomes evermore crucial for fintechs, from the strappy startup to the established powerhouse, a thorny issue in the back office is becoming increasingly complex.Even though fintechs are known for their sleek front ends, the back end is often quite the opposite. Behind that streamlined interface can be a mosaic of different partner integrations — be it with banks, payments players and networks, or software vendors — with a channel of data running between them. Two people who know that better than the average are Kyle Maloney and Travis Gibson, two former employees of Marqeta, a fintech that provides other fintechs with payments processing and card issuance. "Take an established neobank for example. They'll likely have one or two card issuers, two to three bank partners, ACH processing for direct deposits and payouts, mobile check deposits, peer-to-peer payments, and lending," Gibson told Insider. Here's the 12-page pitch deck a startup helping fintechs manage their data used to score a $4.3 million seed from investors like Redpoint Ventures and Y CombinatorE-commerce focused business bankingMichael Rangel, cofounder and CEO, and Tyler McIntyre, cofounder and CTO of Novo.Kristelle Boulos PhotographyBusiness banking is a hot market in fintech. And it seems investors can't get enough.Novo, the digital banking fintech aimed at small e-commerce businesses, raised a $40.7 million Series A led by Valar Ventures in June. Since its launch in 2018, Novo has signed up 100,000 small businesses. Beyond bank accounts, it offers expense management, a corporate card, and integrates with e-commerce infrastructure players like Shopify, Stripe, and Wise.Founded in 2018, Novo was based in New York City, but has since moved its headquarters to Miami. Here's the 12-page pitch deck e-commerce banking startup Novo used to raise its $40 million Series AShopify for embedded financeProductfy CEO and founder, Duy VoProductfyProductfy is looking to break into embedded finance by becoming the Shopify of back-end banking services.Embedded finance — integrating banking services in non-financial settings — has taken hold in the e-commerce world. But Productfy is going after a different kind of customer in churches, universities, and nonprofits.The San Jose, Calif.-based upstart aims to help non-finance companies offer their own banking products. Productfy can help customers launch finance features in as little as a week and without additional engineering resources or background knowledge of banking compliance or legal requirements, Productfy founder and CEO Duy Vo told Insider. "You don't need an engineer to stand up Shopify, right? You can be someone who's just creating art and you can use Shopify to build your own online store," Vo said, adding that Productfy is looking to take that user experience and replicate it for banking services.Here's the 15-page pitch deck Productfy, a fintech looking to be the Shopify of embedded finance, used to nab a $16 million Series ADeploying algorithms and automation to small-business financingJustin Straight and Bernard Worthy, LoanWell co-foundersLoanWellBernard Worthy and Justin Straight, the founders of LoanWell, want to break down barriers to financing for small and medium-size businesses — and they've got algorithms and automation in their tech arsenals that they hope will do it.Worthy, the company's CEO, and Straight, its chief operating and financial officer, are powering community-focused lenders to fill a gap in the SMB financing world by boosting access to loans under $100,000. And the upstart is known for catching the attention, and dollars, of mission-driven investors. LoanWell closed a $3 million seed financing round in December led by Impact America Fund with participation from SoftBank's SB Opportunity Fund and Collab Capital.LoanWell automates the financing process — from underwriting and origination, to money movement and servicing — which shaves down an up-to-90-day process to 30 days or even same-day with some LoanWell lenders, Worthy said. SMBs rely on these loans to process quickly after two years of financial uncertainty. But the pandemic illustrated how time-consuming and expensive SMB financing can be, highlighted by efforts like the federal government's Paycheck Protection Program.Community banks, once the lifeline to capital for many local businesses, continue to shutter. And demands for smaller loan amounts remain largely unmet. More than half of business-loan applicants sought $100,000 or less, according to 2018 data from the Federal Reserve. But the average small-business bank loan was closer to six times that amount, according to the latest data from a now discontinued Federal Reserve survey.Here's the 14-page pitch deck LoanWell used to raise $3 million from investors like SoftBank.Branded cards for SMBsJennifer Glaspie-Lundstrom is the cofounder and CEO of Tandym.TandymJennifer Glaspie-Lundstrom is no stranger to the private-label credit-card business. As a former Capital One exec, she worked in both the card giant's co-brand partnerships division and its tech organization during her seven years at the company.Now, Glaspie-Lundstrom is hoping to use that experience to innovate a sector that was initially created in malls decades ago.Glaspie-Lundstrom is the cofounder and CEO of Tandym, which offers private-label digital credit cards to merchants. Store and private-label credit cards aren't a new concept, but Tandym is targeting small- and medium-sized merchants with less than $1 billion in annual revenue. Glaspie-Lundstrom said that group often struggles to offer private-label credit due to the expense of working with legacy players."What you have is this example of a very valuable product type that merchants love and their customers love, but a huge, untapped market that has heretofore been unserved, and so that's what we're doing with Tandym," Glaspi-Lundstrom told Insider.A former Capital One exec used this deck to raise $60 million for a startup helping SMBs launch their own branded credit cardsCatering to 'micro businesses'Stefanie Sample is the founder and CEO of FundidFundidStartups aiming to simplify the often-complex world of corporate cards have boomed in recent years.Business-finance management startup Brex was last valued at $12.3 billion after raising $300 million last year. Startup card provider Ramp announced an $8.1 billion valuation in March after growing its revenue nearly 10x in 2021. Divvy, a small business card provider, was acquired by Bill.com in May 2021 for approximately $2.5 billion.But despite how hot the market has gotten, Stefanie Sample said she ended up working in the space by accident. Sample is the founder and CEO of Fundid, a new fintech that provides credit and lending products to small businesses.This May, Fundid announced a $3.25 million seed round led by Nevcaut Ventures. Additional investors include the Artemis Fund and Builders and Backers. The funding announcement capped off the company's first year: Sample introduced the Fundid concept in April 2021, launched its website in May, and began raising capital in August."I never meant to do Fundid," Sample told Insider. "I never meant to do something that was venture-backed."Read the 12-page deck used by Fundid, a fintech offering credit and lending tools for 'micro businesses'Embedded payments for SMBsThe Highnote teamHighnoteBranded cards have long been a way for merchants with the appropriate bank relationships to create additional revenue and build customer loyalty. The rise of embedded payments, or the ability to shop and pay in a seamless experience within a single app, has broadened the number of companies looking to launch branded cards.Highnote is a startup that helps small to mid-sized merchants roll out their own debit and pre-paid digital cards. The fintech emerged from stealth on Tuesday to announce it raised $54 million in seed and Series A funding.Here's the 12-page deck Highnote, a startup helping SMBs embed payments, used to raise $54 million in seed and Series A fundingSpeeding up loans for government contractors OppZo cofounders Warren Reed and Randy GarrettOppZoThe massive market for federal government contracts approached $700 billion in 2020, and it's likely to grow as spending accelerates amid an ongoing push for investment in the nation's infrastructure. Many of those dollars flow to small-and-medium sized businesses, even though larger corporations are awarded the bulk of contracts by volume. Of the roughly $680 billion in federal contracts awarded in 2020, roughly a quarter, according to federal guidelines, or some $146 billion that year, went to smaller businesses.But peeking under the hood of the procurement process, the cofounders of OppZo — Randy Garrett and Warren Reed — saw an opportunity to streamline how smaller-sized businesses can leverage those contracts to tap in to capital.  Securing a deal is "a government contractor's best day and their worst day," as Garrett, OppZo's president, likes to put it."At that point they need to pay vendors and hire folks to start the contract. And they may not get their first contract payment from the government for as long as 120 days," Reed, the startup's CEO,  told Insider. Check out the 12-page pitch deck OppZo, a fintech that has figured out how to speed up loans to small government contractors, used to raise $260 million in equity and debtHelping small businesses manage their taxesComplYant's founder Shiloh Jackson wants to help people be present in their bookkeeping.ComplYantAfter 14 years in tax accounting, Shiloh Johnson had formed a core philosophy around corporate accounting: everyone deserves to understand their business's money and business owners need to be present in their bookkeeping process.She wanted to help small businesses understand "this is why you need to do what you're doing and why you have to change the way you think about tax and be present in your bookkeeping process," she told Insider. The Los Angeles native wanted small businesses to not only understand business tax no matter their size but also to find the tools they needed to prepare their taxes in one spot. So Johnson developed a software platform that provides just that.The 13-page pitch deck ComplYant used to nab $4 million that details the tax startup's plan to be Turbotax, Quickbooks, and Xero rolled into one for small business ownersAutomating accounting ops for SMBsDecimal CEO Matt Tait.DecimalSmall- and medium-sized businesses can rely on any number of payroll, expense management, bill pay, and corporate-card startups promising to automate parts of their financial workflow. Smaller firms have adopted this corporate-financial software en masse, boosting growth throughout the pandemic for relatively new entrants like Ramp and massive, industry stalwarts like Intuit. But it's no easy task to connect all of those tools into one, seamless process. And while accounting operations might be far from where many startup founders want to focus their time, having efficient back-end finances does mean time — and capital — freed up to spend elsewhere. For Decimal CEO Matt Tait, there's ample opportunity in "the boring stuff you have to do to survive as a company," he told Insider. Launched in 2020, Decimal provides a back-end tech layer that small- and medium-sized businesses can use to integrate their accounting and business-management software tools in one place.On Wednesday, Decimal announced a $9 million seed fundraising round led by Minneapolis-based Arthur Ventures, alongside Service Providers Capital and other angel investors. See the 13-page pitch deck for Decimal, a startup automating accounting ops for small businessesInvoice financing for SMBsStacey Abrams and Lara Hodgson, Now co-foundersNowAbout a decade ago, politician Stacey Abrams and entrepreneur Lara Hodgson were forced to fold their startup because of a kink in the supply chain — but not in the traditional sense.Nourish, which made spill-proof bottled water for children, had grown quickly from selling to small retailers to national ones. And while that may sound like a feather in the small business' cap, there was a hang-up."It was taking longer and longer to get paid, and as you can imagine, you deliver the product and then you wait and you wait, but meanwhile you have to pay your employees and you have to pay your vendors," Hodgson told Insider. "Waiting to get paid was constraining our ability to grow."While it's not unusual for small businesses to grapple with working capital issues, the dust was still settling from the Great Recession. Abrams and Hodgson couldn't secure a line of credit or use financing tools like factoring to solve their problem. The two entrepreneurs were forced to close Nourish in 2012, but along the way they recognized a disconnect in the system.  "Why are we the ones borrowing money, when in fact we're the lender here because every time you send an invoice to a customer, you've essentially extended a free loan to that customer by letting them pay later," Hodgson said. "And the only reason why we were going to need to possibly borrow money was because we had just given ours away for free to Whole Foods," she added.Check out the 7-page deck that Now, Stacey Abrams' fintech that wants to help small businesses 'grow fearlessly', used to raise $29 millionCheckout made easyRyan Breslow.Ryan BreslowAmazon has long dominated e-commerce with its one-click checkout flows, offering easier ways for consumers to shop online than its small-business competitors.Bolt gives small merchants tools to offer the same easy checkouts so they can compete with the likes of Amazon.The startup raised its $393 million Series D to continue adding its one-click checkout feature to merchants' own websites in October.Bolt markets to merchants themselves. But a big part of Bolt's pitch is its growing network of consumers — currently over 5.6 million — that use its features across multiple Bolt merchant customers. Roughly 5% of Bolt's transactions were network-driven in May, meaning users that signed up for a Bolt account on another retailer's website used it elsewhere. The network effects were even more pronounced in verticals like furniture, where 49% of transactions were driven by the Bolt network."The network effect is now unleashed with Bolt in full fury, and that triggered the raise," Bolt's founder and CEO Ryan Breslow told Insider.Here's the 12-page deck that one-click checkout Bolt used to outline its network of 5.6 million consumers and raise its Series DPayments infrastructure for fintechsQolo CEO and co-founder Patricia MontesiQoloThree years ago, Patricia Montesi realized there was a disconnect in the payments world. "A lot of new economy companies or fintech companies were looking to mesh up a lot of payment modalities that they weren't able to," Montesi, CEO and co-founder of Qolo, told Insider.Integrating various payment capabilities often meant tapping several different providers that had specializations in one product or service, she added, like debit card issuance or cross-border payments. "The way people were getting around that was that they were creating this spider web of fintech," she said, adding that "at the end of it all, they had this mess of suppliers and integrations and bank accounts."The 20-year payments veteran rounded up a group of three other co-founders — who together had more than a century of combined industry experience — to start Qolo, a business-to-business fintech that sought out to bundle back-end payment rails for other fintechs.Here's the 11-slide pitch deck a startup that provides payments infrastructure for other fintechs used to raise a $15 million Series ABetter use of payroll dataAtomic's Head of Markets, Lindsay DavisAtomicEmployees at companies large and small know the importance — and limitations — of how firms manage their payrolls. A new crop of startups are building the API pipes that connect companies and their employees to offer a greater level of visibility and flexibility when it comes to payroll data and employee verification. On Thursday, one of those names, Atomic, announced a $40 million Series B fundraising round co-led by Mercato Partners and Greylock, alongside Core Innovation Capital, Portage, and ATX Capital. The round follows Atomic's Series A round announced in October, when the startup raised a $22 million Series A from investors including Core Innovation Capital, Portage, and Greylock.Payroll startup Atomic just raised a $40 million Series B. Here's an internal deck detailing the fintech's approach to the red-hot payments space.Saving on vendor invoicesHoward Katzenberg, Glean's CEO and cofounderGleanWhen it comes to high-flying tech startups, headlines and investors typically tend to focus on industry "disruption" and the total addressable market a company is hoping to reach. Expense cutting as a way to boost growth typically isn't part of the conversation early on, and finance teams are viewed as cost centers relative to sales teams. But one fast-growing area of business payments has turned its focus to managing those costs. Startups like Ramp and established names like Bill.com have made their name offering automated expense-management systems. Now, one new fintech competitor, Glean, is looking to take that further by offering both automated payment services and tailored line-item accounts-payable insights driven by machine-learning models. Glean's CFO and founder, Howard Katzenberg, told Insider that the genesis of Glean was driven by his own personal experience managing the finance teams of startups, including mortgage lender Better.com, which Katzenberg left in 2019, and online small-business lender OnDeck. "As a CFO of high-growth companies, I spent a lot of time focused on revenue and I had amazing dashboards in real time where I could see what is going on top of the funnel, what's going on with conversion rates, what's going on in terms of pricing and attrition," Katzenberg told Insider. See the 15-slide pitch deck Glean, a startup using machine learning to find savings in vendor invoices, used to raise $10.8 million in seed fundingReal-estate management made easyAgora founders Noam Kahan, CTO, Bar Mor, CEO, and Lior Dolinski, CPOAgoraFor alternative asset managers of any type, the operations underpinning sales and investor communications are a crucial but often overlooked part of the business. Fund managers love to make bets on markets, not coordinate hundreds of wire transfers to clients each quarter or organize customer-relationship-management databases.Within the $10.6 trillion global market for professionally managed real-estate investing, that's where Tel Aviv and New York-based startup Agora hopes to make its mark.Founded in 2019, Agora offers a set of back-office, investor relations, and sales software tools that real-estate investment managers can plug into their workflows. On Wednesday, Agora announced a $9 million seed round, led by Israel-based venture firm Aleph, with participation from River Park Ventures and Maccabee Ventures. The funding comes on the heels of an October 2020 pre-seed fund raise worth $890,000, in which Maccabee also participated.Here's the 15-slide pitch deck that Agora, a startup helping real-estate investors manage communications and sales with their clients, used to raise a $9 million seed roundAccess to commercial real-estate investing LEX Markets cofounders and co-CEOs Drew Sterrett and Jesse Daugherty.LEX MarketsDrew Sterrett was structuring real-estate deals while working in private equity when he realized the inefficiencies that existed in the market. Only high-net worth individuals or accredited investors could participate in commercial real-estate deals. If they ever wanted to leave a partnership or sell their stake in a property, it was difficult to find another investor to replace them. Owners also struggled to sell minority stakes in their properties and didn't have many good options to recapitalize an asset if necessary.In short, the market had a high barrier to entry despite the fact it didn't always have enough participants to get deals done quickly. "Most investors don't have access to high-quality commercial real-estate investments. How do we have the oldest and largest asset class in the world and one of the largest wealth creators with no public and liquid market?" Sterrett told Insider. "It sort of seems like a no-brainer, and that this should have existed 50 or 60 years ago."This 15-page pitch deck helped LEX Markets, a startup making investing in commercial real estate more accessible, raise $15 millionInsurance goes digitalJamie Hale, CEO and cofounder of LadderLadderFintechs looking to transform how insurance policies are underwritten, issued, and experienced by customers have grown as new technology driven by digital trends and artificial intelligence shape the market. And while verticals like auto, homeowner's, and renter's insurance have seen their fair share of innovation from forward-thinking fintechs, one company has taken on the massive life-insurance market. Founded in 2017, Ladder uses a tech-driven approach to offer life insurance with a digital, end-to-end service that it says is more flexible, faster, and cost-effective than incumbent players.Life, annuity, and accident and health insurance within the US comprise a big chunk of the broader market. In 2020, premiums written on those policies totaled some $767 billion, compared to $144 billion for auto policies and $97 billion for homeowner's insurance.Here's the 12-page deck that Ladder, a startup disrupting the 'crown jewel' of the insurance market, used to nab $100 millionData science for commercial insuranceTanner Hackett, founder and CEO of CounterpartCounterpartThere's been no shortage of funds flowing into insurance-technology companies over the past few years. Private-market funding to insurtechs soared to $15.4 billion in 2021, a 90% increase compared to 2020. Some of the most well-known consumer insurtech names — from Oscar (which focuses on health insurance) to Metromile (which focuses on auto) — launched on the public markets last year, only to fall over time or be acquired as investors questioned the sustainability of their business models. In the commercial arena, however, the head of one insurtech company thinks there is still room to grow — especially for those catering to small businesses operating in an entirely new, pandemic-defined environment. "The bigger opportunity is in commercial lines," Tanner Hackett, the CEO of management liability insurer Counterpart, told Insider."Everywhere I poke, I'm like, 'Oh my goodness, we're still in 1.0, and all the other businesses I've built were on version three.' Insurance is still in 1.0, still managing from spreadsheets and PDFs," added Hackett, who also previously co-founded Button, which focuses on mobile marketing. See the 8-page pitch deck Counterpart, a startup disrupting commercial insurance with data science, used to raise a $30 million Series BSmarter insurance for multifamily propertiesItai Ben-Zaken, cofounder and CEO of Honeycomb.HoneycombA veteran of the online-insurance world is looking to revolutionize the way the industry prices risk for commercial properties with the help of artificial intelligence.Insurance companies typically send inspectors to properties before issuing policies to better understand how the building is maintained and identify potential risks or issues with it. It's a process that can be time-consuming, expensive, and inefficient, making it hard to justify for smaller commercial properties, like apartment and condo buildings.Insurtech Honeycomb is looking to fix that by using AI to analyze a combination of third-party data and photos submitted by customers through the startup's app to quickly identify any potential risks at a property and more accurately price policies."That whole physical inspection thing had really good things in it, but it wasn't really something that is scalable and, it's also expensive," Itai Ben-Zaken, Honeycomb's cofounder and CEO, told Insider. "The best way to see a property right now is Google street view. Google street view is usually two years old."Here's the 10-page Series A pitch deck used by Honeycomb, a startup that wants to revolutionize the $26 billion market for multifamily property insuranceHelping freelancers with their taxesJaideep Singh is the CEO and co-founder of FlyFin, an AI-driven tax preparation software program for freelancers.FlyFinSome people, particularly those with families or freelancing businesses, spend days searching for receipts for tax season, making tax preparation a time consuming and, at times, taxing experience. That's why in 2020 Jaideep Singh founded FlyFin, an artificial-intelligence tax preparation program for freelancers that helps people, as he puts it, "fly through their finances." FlyFin is set up to connect to a person's bank accounts, allowing the AI program to help users monitor for certain expenses that can be claimed on their taxes like business expenditures, the interest on mortgages, property taxes, or whatever else that might apply. "For most individuals, people have expenses distributed over multiple financial institutions. So we built an AI platform that is able to look at expenses, understand the individual, understand your profession, understand the freelance population at large, and start the categorization," Singh told Insider.Check out the 7-page pitch deck a startup helping freelancers manage their taxes used to nab $8 million in fundingDigital banking for freelancersJGalione/Getty ImagesLance is a new digital bank hoping to simplify the life of those workers by offering what it calls an "active" approach to business banking. "We found that every time we sat down with the existing tools and resources of our accountants and QuickBooks and spreadsheets, we just ended up getting tangled up in the whole experience of it," Lance cofounder and CEO Oona Rokyta told Insider. Lance offers subaccounts for personal salaries, withholdings, and savings to which freelancers can automatically allocate funds according to custom preset levels. It also offers an expense balance that's connected to automated tax withholdings.In May, Lance announced the closing of a $2.8 million seed round that saw participation from Barclays, BDMI, Great Oaks Capital, Imagination Capital, Techstars, DFJ Frontier, and others.Here's the 21-page pitch deck Lance, a digital bank for freelancers, used to raise a $2.8 million seed round from investors including BarclaysSoftware for managing freelancersWorksome cofounder and CEO Morten Petersen.WorksomeThe way people work has fundamentally changed over the past year, with more flexibility and many workers opting to freelance to maintain their work-from-home lifestyles.But managing a freelance or contractor workforce is often an administrative headache for employers. Worksome is a startup looking to eliminate all the extra work required for employers to adapt to more flexible working norms.Worksome started as a freelancer marketplace automating the process of matching qualified workers with the right jobs. But the team ultimately pivoted to a full suite of workforce management software, automating administrative burdens required to hire, pay, and account for contract workers.In May, Worksome closed a $13 million Series A backed by European angel investor Tommy Ahlers and Danish firm Lind & Risør.Here's the 21-slide pitch deck used by a startup that helps firms like Carlsberg and Deloitte manage freelancersPayments and operations support HoneyBook cofounders Dror Shimoni, Oz Alon, and Naama Alon.HoneyBookWhile countless small businesses have been harmed by the pandemic, self-employment and entrepreneurship have found ways to blossom as Americans started new ventures.Half of the US population may be freelance by 2027, according to a study commissioned by remote-work hiring platform Upwork. HoneyBook, a fintech startup that provides payment and operations support for freelancers, in May raised $155 million in funding and achieved unicorn status with its $1 billion-plus valuation.Durable Capital Partners led the Series D funding with other new investors including renowned hedge fund Tiger Global, Battery Ventures, Zeev Ventures, and 01 Advisors. Citi Ventures, Citigroup's startup investment arm that also backs fintech robo-advisor Betterment, participated as an existing investor in the round alongside Norwest Venture partners. The latest round brings the company's fundraising total to $227 million to date.Here's the 21-page pitch deck a Citi-backed fintech for freelancers used to raise $155 million from investors like hedge fund Tiger GlobalPay-as-you-go compliance for banks, fintechs, and crypto startupsNeepa Patel, Themis' founder and CEOThemisWhen Themis founder and CEO Neepa Patel set out to build a new compliance tool for banks, fintech startups, and crypto companies, she tapped into her own experience managing risk at some of the nation's biggest financial firms. Having worked as a bank regulator at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and in compliance at Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, and the enterprise blockchain company R3, Patel was well-placed to assess the shortcomings in financial compliance software. But Patel, who left the corporate world to begin work on Themis in 2020, drew on more than just her own experience and frustrations to build the startup."It's not just me building a tool based on my personal pain points. I reached out to regulators. I reached out to bank compliance officers and members in the fintech community just to make sure that we're building it exactly how they do their work," Patel told Insider. "That was the biggest problem: No one built a tool that was reflective of how people do their work."Check out the 9-page pitch deck Themis, which offers pay-as-you-go compliance for banks, fintechs, and crypto startups, used to raise $9 million in seed fundingConnecting startups and investorsHum Capital cofounder and CEO Blair SilverbergHum CapitalBlair Silverberg is no stranger to fundraising.For six years, Silverberg was a venture capitalist at Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Private Credit Investments making bets on startups."I was meeting with thousands of founders in person each year, watching them one at a time go through this friction where they're meeting a ton of investors, and the investors are all asking the same questions," Silverberg told Insider. He switched gears about three years ago, moving to the opposite side of the metaphorical table, to start Hum Capital, which uses artificial intelligence to match investors with startups looking to fundraise.On August 31, the New York-based fintech announced its $9 million Series A. The round was led by Future Ventures with participation from Webb Investment Network, Wavemaker Partners, and Partech. This 11-page pitch deck helped Hum Capital, a fintech using AI to match investors with startups, raise a $9 million Series A.Helping LatAm startups get up to speedKamino cofounders Gut Fragoso, Rodrigo Perenha, Benjamin Gleason, and Gonzalo ParejoKaminoThere's more venture capital flowing into Latin America than ever before, but getting the funds in founders' hands is not exactly a simple process.In 2021, investors funneled $15.3 billion into Latin American companies, more than tripling the previous record of $4.9 billion in 2019. Fintech and e-commerce sectors drove funding, accounting for 39% and 25% of total funding, respectively.  However, for many startup founders in the region who have successfully sold their ideas and gotten investors on board, there's a patchwork of corporate structuring that's needed to access the funds, according to Benjamin Gleason, who was the chief financial officer at Groupon LatAm prior to cofounding Brazil-based fintech Kamino.It's a process Gleason and his three fellow Kamino cofounders have been through before as entrepreneurs and startup execs themselves. Most often, startups have to set up offshore financial accounts outside of Brazil, which "entails creating a Cayman [Islands] holding company, a Delaware LLC, and then connecting it to a local entity here and also opening US bank accounts for the Cayman entity, which is not trivial from a KYC perspective," said Gleason, who founded open-banking fintech Guiabolso in Sao Paulo. His partner, Gonzalo Parejo, experienced the same toils when he founded insurtech Bidu."Pretty much any international investor will usually ask for that," Gleason said, adding that investors typically cite liability issues."It's just a massive amount of bureaucracy, complexity, a lot of time from the founders. All of this just to get the money from the investor that wants to give them the money," he added.Here's the 8-page pitch deck Kamino, a fintech helping LatAm startups with everything from financing to corporate credit cards, used to raise a $6.1M pre-seed roundThe back-end tech for beautyDanielle Cohen-Shohet, CEO and founder of GlossGeniusGlossGeniusDanielle Cohen-Shohet might have started as a Goldman Sachs investment analyst, but at her core she was always a coder.After about three years at Goldman Sachs, Cohen-Shohet left the world of traditional finance to code her way into starting her own company in 2016. "There was a period of time where I did nothing, but eat, sleep, and code for a few weeks," Cohen-Shohet told Insider. Her technical edge and knowledge of the point-of-sale payment space led her to launch a software company focused on providing behind-the-scenes tech for beauty and wellness small businesses.Cohen-Shohet launched GlossGenius in 2017 to provide payments tech for hair stylists, nail technicians, blow-out bars, and other small businesses in the space.Here's the 11-page deck GlossGenius, a startup that provides back-end tech for the beauty industry, used to raise $16 millionRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJul 11th, 2022

3 Stocks to Buy From the Prospering Diversified Operations Industry

Growth in manufacturing activities and strong demand across various end markets favor the Zacks Diversified Operations industry's prospects. CSL, GFF and STRR are poised to take advantage of the buoyant scenario. The Zacks Diversified Operations industry is benefiting from continued growth in manufacturing activities, thanks to recovery in the U.S. economy. Strong demand across various end markets, such as commercial aviation, chemical, industrial, aerospace and defense, as well as auto market recovery, bodes well for the industry. These factors place the industry on a solid footing for the near term despite ongoing supply-chain-related woes, high raw material costs and labor shortages.Against this buoyant backdrop, companies like Carlisle Companies CSL, Griffon Corporation GFF and Star Equity Holdings STRR are poised for growth.About the IndustryThe Zacks Diversified Operations industry includes companies that operate in various end-markets, including oil & gas, industrial, electronics, power, aviation, technology, finance, healthcare, chemical, non-residential construction, and transportation. Such companies manufacture and provide equipment and solutions, including bioprocessing products, molecular testing-related products, gas and steam turbines, generators, commercial jet engines, and engineered fluid-process equipment. The industry players also provide related services to a large customer base. In addition, a few companies offer services in the agriculture, marine and telecommunications markets, and are engaged in providing environmental and safety solutions. The diversified market operators have a vast global presence, with exposure in the United States, Japan, India, China, Canada and other countries.3 Trends Shaping the Future of the Diversified Operations IndustryIncrease in Manufacturing Activities: Continued growth in manufacturing activities over the past several months bodes well for the industry players as it indicates strong demand for their products. Although manufacturing index decreased 3.1 percentage points to 53% in June, it does remain above 50, which suggests expansion in manufacturing. Manufacturing activities have continued to expand, with the manufacturing PMI (Purchasing Managers’ Index) remaining above 50 since July 2021. While demand remains strong, manufacturing activities are being currently weighed down by the ongoing supply chain snarls and labor shortage. Nevertheless, manufacturing activities are expected to pick up as these headwinds abate. This should foster growth of industry players.Demand Across Various End-Markets: Though slower, the U.S. economy continues to recover from the pandemic-led slump. This is driving demand across the industry’s numerous end markets. High demand for vaccines (COVID-19) and therapeutics also bode well for the industry players with exposure to the medical market. Industry players with exposure in the commercial aviation markets are poised to gain from healthy growth in air transport flight hours. Strength across chemical, industrial, aerospace and defense end markets, along with auto market recovery, is expected to drive companies’ organic sales. For companies offering safety and productivity solutions, solid demand for productivity solutions and services, along with strength in advanced sensing technologies and gas detection businesses, are expected to drive growth.Efforts to Counter Supply-Chain and Cost Woes in Place: Persistent supply chain disruptions, especially those related to the shortage of semiconductor chips, are hurting operations of industry players. Longer delivery times are affecting production volumes for companies. The situation is unlikely to improve in the near term as the Russia-Ukraine war worsens the supply chain crisis. Inflationary pressure and labor shortages are added headwinds in the industry, which might impede production capabilities. In this scenario, the industry players have been focusing on pricing actions, cost-cutting measures, and efforts to improve productivity and efficiency that will help sustain margins. The digitalization of business operations has enabled industry participants to boost their competitiveness with enhanced operational productivity and product quality.Zacks Industry Rank Reflects Healthy ProspectsThe Zacks Diversified Operations industry, housed within the broader Zacks Conglomerates sector, currently carries a Zacks Industry Rank #52. This rank places it in the top 21% of more than 250 Zacks industries.The group’s Zacks Industry Rank, which is basically the average of the Zacks Rank of all the member stocks, indicates bright prospects. Our research shows that the top 50% of Zacks-ranked industries outperform the bottom 50% by a factor of more than two to one.The industry’s position in the top 50% of the Zacks-ranked industries is a result of a positive earnings outlook for the constituent companies in aggregate. Looking at the aggregate earnings estimate revisions, it appears that analysts are gradually gaining confidence in this group’s earnings growth potential. The industry’s earnings estimate has been revised upward by 2.5% since March end.Given the bullish near-term prospects of the industry, we will present a few stocks that you may want to consider for your portfolio. But it is worth taking a look at the industry’s shareholder returns and its current valuation first.Industry Lags S&P 500Over the past year, the Zacks Diversified Operations has underperformed the Zacks S&P 500 composite index. The industry has declined 27.5% compared with the S&P 500 Index’s 12.4% decrease.One-Year Price PerformanceIndustry's Current ValuationOn the basis of EV/EBITDA (F12M), which is a commonly used multiple for valuing diversified operations stocks, the industry is currently trading at 10.09X compared with the S&P 500’s 11.6.Over the past five years, the industry has traded as high as 14.56X, as low as 8.33X and at the median of 10.74X, as the chart below shows:EV/EBITDA Ratio (F12M) Versus S&P 5003 Diversified Operations Stocks to BuyCarlisle: Based in Scottsdale, AZ, the company engages in manufacturing and providing roofing and waterproofing products, finishing equipment and engineered products. CSL is expected to benefit from a robust reroofing market in the United States and growth in architectural metals platform. Also, growing demand for energy-efficient building products, coupled with a strong backlog level, bodes well for the company. Strength in the medical technologies business and recovery in the commercial aerospace business in the United States are other catalysts to its growth. Backed by these tailwinds, the company’s shares have rallied 28.4% in the past year.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the company’s current-year earnings has been revised upward by 10.7% in the past 60 days. Carlisle sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here. Price and Consensus: CSL Griffon: This New-York-based entity is primarily a management and holding company operating through its subsidiaries. The January 2022 acquisition of Hunter Fan is expected to continue to drive GFF’s top line. The company expects the transaction to contribute approximately $400 million in revenues and $90 million in EBITDA in fiscal 2022. This has been instrumental in the 14.1% gain in its share price over the past year. Strategic investments in in automation and facilities expansion also support growth of the company.Griffon currently flaunts a Zacks Rank #1. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for GFF’s current-year earnings has been revised upward by 28.9% in the past 60 days. Price and Consensus: GFF  Star Equity: A diversified holding company, STRR primarily operates across the healthcare and construction industries. Higher construction revenues, owing to strong housing market demand, are driving the company’s top line. Uptick in diagnostic imaging volumes bodes well for the healthcare segment. Pricing action implemented to counter higher raw material prices is expected to drive its profits in 2022. The stock has lost 70.6% over the past year.Star Equity currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy), The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the company’s current-year earnings has been revised upward by nearly 91% in the past 60 days.Price and Consensus: STRR  5 Stocks Set to Double Each was handpicked by a Zacks expert as the #1 favorite stock to gain +100% or more in 2021. Previous recommendations have soared +143.0%, +175.9%, +498.3% and +673.0%. Most of the stocks in this report are flying under Wall Street radar, which provides a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor.Today, See These 5 Potential Home Runs >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Carlisle Companies Incorporated (CSL): Free Stock Analysis Report Griffon Corporation (GFF): Free Stock Analysis Report Star Equity Holdings, Inc. (STRR): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksJul 7th, 2022

Hamburg Official Tells Residents Prepare For Hot Water Rationing Amid Energy Crisis 

Hamburg Official Tells Residents Prepare For Hot Water Rationing Amid Energy Crisis  The second-largest city in Germany is mulling over the potential rationing of hot water as the energy crisis worsens.  "In an acute gas shortage, warm water could only be made available at certain times of the day in an emergency," Hamburg's environment senator Jens Kerstan told German newspaper Welt am Sonntag on Saturday.  Kerstan also spoke with the German daily newspaper Hamburger Abendblatt and warned, "We are in a much worse crisis than most people realize."  He asked Hamburg residents to reduce shower times, install energy-saving shower heads, and modernize thermostats for maximum power savings.  "The more we save now, the better the situation will be in winter because the storage tanks fill up," he added, referring to the need to save power so more NatGas injections can be made into storage ahead of the winter season.  Kerstan's possible hot water restrictions follow German Vice-Chancellor and Economy Minister Robert Habeck's interview with Der Spiegel magazine last month that called for German citizens to shower less to overcome the worst energy crisis in a generation.  The German government's increasing talk about reducing shower time and conserving hot water comes as Russia reduced Nordstream NatGas flows by 60%. Germany is heavily reliant on cheap Russian Natgas, and fears mount that Europe's largest economy could face even more NatGas cuts later this summer.  Weeks ago, Germany triggered the "alarm stage" of its NatGas-emergency plan to address shortages. Yasmin Fahimi, the head of the German Federation of Trade Unions, warned over the weekend, "Because of the NatGas bottlenecks, entire industries are in danger of permanently collapsing: aluminum, glass, the chemical industry."  Fahimi warned: "Such a collapse would have massive consequences for the entire economy and jobs in Germany." Germany's worsening energy crisis shows no signs of abating, and it seems probable that Hamburg residents could be showering in cold water.  Tyler Durden Tue, 07/05/2022 - 05:45.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJul 5th, 2022

These 46 pitch decks helped fintechs disrupting trading, investing, and banking raise millions in funding

Looking for examples of real fintech pitch decks? Check out pitch decks that Qolo, Lance, and other startups used to raise money from VCs. Check out these pitch decks for examples of fintech founders sold their vision.Yulia Reznikov/Getty Images Insider has been tracking the next wave of hot new startups that are blending finance and tech.  Check out these pitch decks to see how fintech founders sold their vision. See more stories on Insider's business page. Fintech funding has been on a tear.In 2021, fintech funding hit a record $132 billion globally, according to CB Insights, more than double 2020's mark.Insider has been tracking the next wave of hot new startups that are blending finance and tech. Check out these pitch decks to see how fintech founders are selling their vision and nabbing big bucks in the process. You'll see new financial tech geared at freelancers, fresh twists on digital banking, and innovation aimed at streamlining customer onboarding. New twists on digital bankingZach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradleyHMBradleyConsumers are getting used to the idea of branch-less banking, a trend that startup digital-only banks like Chime, N26, and Varo have benefited from. The majority of these fintechs target those who are underbanked, and rely on usage of their debit cards to make money off interchange. But fellow startup HMBradley has a different business model. "Our thesis going in was that we don't swipe our debit cards all that often, and we don't think the customer base that we're focusing on does either," Zach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradley, told Insider. "A lot of our customer base uses credit cards on a daily basis."Instead, the startup is aiming to build clientele with stable deposits. As a result, the bank is offering interest-rate tiers depending on how much a customer saves of their direct deposit.Notably, the rate tiers are dependent on the percentage of savings, not the net amount. "We'll pay you more when you save more of what comes in," Bruhnke said. "We didn't want to segment customers by how much money they had. So it was always going to be about a percentage of income. That was really important to us."Check out the 14-page pitch deck fintech HMBradley, a neobank offering interest rates as high as 3%, used to raise an $18.25 million Series APersonal finance is only a text awayYinon Ravid, the chief executive and cofounder of Albert.AlbertThe COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the growing preference of mobile banking as customers get comfortable managing their finances online.The financial app Albert has seen a similar jump in activity. Currently counting more than six million members, deposits in Albert's savings offering doubled from the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to May of this year, from $350 million to $700 million, according to new numbers released by the company. Founded in 2015, Albert offers automated budgeting and savings tools alongside guided investment portfolios. It's looked to differentiate itself through personalized features, like the ability for customers to text human financial experts.Budgeting and saving features are free on Albert. But for more tailored financial advice, customers pay a subscription fee that's a pay-what-you-can model, between $4 and $14 a month. And Albert's now banking on a new tool to bring together its investing, savings, and budgeting tools.Fintech Albert used this 10-page pitch deck to raise a $100 million Series C from General Atlantic and CapitalG 'A bank for immigrants'Priyank Singh and Rohit Mittal are the cofounders of Stilt.StiltRohit Mittal remembers the difficulties he faced when he first arrived in the United States a decade ago as a master's student at Columbia University.As an immigrant from India, Mittal had no credit score in the US and had difficulty integrating into the financial system. Mittal even struggled to get approved to rent an apartment and couch-surfed until he found a roommate willing to offer him space in his apartment in the New York neighborhood Morningside Heights.That roommate was Priyank Singh, who would go on to become Mittal's cofounder when the two started Stilt, a financial-technology company designed to address the problems Mittal faced when he arrived in the US.Stilt, which calls itself "a bank for immigrants," does not require a social security number or credit history to access its offerings, including unsecured personal loans.Instead of relying on traditional metrics like a credit score, Stilt uses data such as education and employment to predict an individual's future income stability and cash flow before issuing a loan. Stilt has seen its loan volume grow by 500% in the past 12 months, and the startup has loaned to immigrants from 160 countries since its launch. Here are the 15 slides Stilt, which calls itself 'a bank for immigrants,' used to raise a $14 million Series AAn IRA for alternativesHenry Yoshida is the co-founder and CEO of retirement fintech startup Rocket Dollar.Rocket DollarFintech startup Rocket Dollar, which helps users invest their individual retirement account (IRA) dollars into alternative assets, just raised $8 million for its Series A round, the company announced on Thursday.Park West Asset Management led the round, with participation from investors including Hyphen Capital, which focuses on backing Asian American entrepreneurs, and crypto exchange Kraken's venture arm. Co-founded in 2018 by CEO Henry Yoshida, CTO Rick Dude, and VP of marketing Thomas Young, Rocket Dollar now has over $350 million in assets under management on its platform. Yoshida sold his first startup, a roboadvisor called Honest Dollar, to Goldman Sachs' investment management division for an estimated $20 million.Yoshida told Insider that while ultra-high net worth investors have been investing self-directed retirement account dollars into alternative assets like real estate, private equity, and cryptocurrency, average investors have not historically been able to access the same opportunities to invest IRA dollars in alternative assets through traditional platforms.Here's the 34-page pitch deck a fintech that helps users invest their retirement savings in crypto and real estate assets used to nab $8 millionA trading app for activismAntoine Argouges, CEO and founder of TulipshareTulipshareAn up-and-coming fintech is taking aim at some of the world's largest corporations by empowering retail investors to push for social and environmental change by pooling their shareholder rights.London-based Tulipshare lets individuals in the UK invest as little as one pound in publicly-traded company stocks. The upstart combines individuals' shareholder rights with other like-minded investors to advocate for environmental, social, and corporate governance change at firms like JPMorgan, Apple, and Amazon.The goal is to achieve a higher number of shares to maximize the number of votes that can be submitted at shareholder meetings. Already a regulated broker-dealer in the UK, Tulipshare recently applied for registration as a broker-dealer in the US. "If you ask your friends and family if they've ever voted on shareholder resolutions, the answer will probably be close to zero," CEO and founder Antoine Argouges told Insider. "I started Tulipshare to utilize shareholder rights to bring about positive corporate change that has an impact on people's lives and our planet — what's more powerful than money to change the system we live in?"Check out the 14-page pitch deck from Tulipshare, a trading app that lets users pool their shareholder votes for activism campaignsDigital tools for independent financial advisorsJason Wenk, founder and CEO of AltruistAltruistJason Wenk started his career at Morgan Stanley in investment research over 20 years ago. Now, he's running a company that is hoping to broaden access to financial advice for less-wealthy individuals. The startup raised $50 million in Series B funding led by Insight Partners with participation from investors Vanguard and Venrock. The round brings the Los Angeles-based startup's total funding to just under $67 million.Founded in 2018, Altruist is a digital brokerage built for independent financial advisors, intended to be an "all-in-one" platform that unites custodial functions, portfolio accounting, and a client-facing portal. It allows advisors to open accounts, invest, build models, report, trade (including fractional shares), and bill clients through an interface that can advisors time by eliminating mundane operational tasks.Altruist aims to make personalized financial advice less expensive, more efficient, and more inclusive through the platform, which is designed for registered investment advisors (RIAs), a growing segment of the wealth management industry. Here's the pitch deck for Altruist, a wealth tech challenging custodians Fidelity and Charles Schwab, that raised $50 million from Vanguard and InsightRethinking debt collection Jason Saltzman, founder and CEO of ReliefReliefFor lenders, debt collection is largely automated. But for people who owe money on their credit cards, it can be a confusing and stressful process.  Relief is looking to change that. Its app automates the credit-card debt collection process for users, negotiating with lenders and collectors to settle outstanding balances on their behalf. The fintech just launched and closed a $2 million seed round led by Collaborative Ventures. Relief's fundraising experience was a bit different to most. Its pitch deck, which it shared with one investor via Google Slides, went viral. It set out to raise a $1 million seed round, but ended up doubling that and giving some investors money back to make room for others.Check out a 15-page pitch deck that went viral and helped a credit-card debt collection startup land a $2 million seed roundHelping small banks lendTKCollateralEdgeFor large corporations with a track record of tapping the credit markets, taking out debt is a well-structured and clear process handled by the nation's biggest investment banks and teams of accountants. But smaller, middle-market companies — typically those with annual revenues ranging up to $1 billion — are typically served by regional and community banks that don't always have the capacity to adequately measure the risk of loans or price them competitively. Per the National Center for the Middle Market, 200,000 companies fall into this range, accounting for roughly 33% of US private sector GDP and employment.Dallas-based fintech CollateralEdge works with these banks — typically those with between $1 billion and $50 billion in assets — to help analyze and price slices of commercial and industrial loans that previously might have gone unserved by smaller lenders.On October 20th, CollateralEdge announced a $3.5 million seed round led by Dallas venture fund Perot Jain with participation from Kneeland Youngblood (a founder of the healthcare-focused private-equity firm Pharos Capital) and other individual investors.Here's the 10-page deck CollateralEdge, a fintech streamlining how small banks lend to businesses, used to raise a $3.5 million seed roundA new way to assess creditworthinessPinwheel founders Curtis Lee, Kurt Lin, and Anish Basu.PinwheelGrowing up, Kurt Lin never saw his father get frustrated. A "traditional, stoic figure," Lin said his father immigrated to the United States in the 1970s. Becoming part of the financial system proved even more difficult than assimilating into a new culture.Lin recalled visiting bank after bank with his father as a child, watching as his father's applications for a mortgage were denied due to his lack of credit history. "That was the first time in my life I really saw him crack," Lin told Insider. "The system doesn't work for a lot of people — including my dad," he added. Lin would find a solution to his father's problem years later while working with Anish Basu, and Curtis Lee on an automated health savings account. The trio realized the payroll data integrations they were working on could be the basis of a product that would help lenders work with consumers without strong credit histories."That's when the lightbulb hit," said Lin, Pinwheel's CEO.In 2018, Lin, Basu, and Lee founded Pinwheel, an application-programming interface that shares payroll data to help both fintechs and traditional lenders serve consumers with limited or poor credit, who have historically struggled to access financial products. Here's the 9-page deck that Pinwheel, a fintech helping lenders tap into payroll data to serve consumers with little to no credit, used to raise a $50 million Series BAn alternative auto lenderTricolorAn alternative auto lender that caters to thin- and no-credit Hispanic borrowers is planning a national expansion after scoring a $90 million investment from BlackRock-managed funds. Tricolor is a Dallas-based auto lender that is a community development financial institution. It uses a proprietary artificial-intelligence engine that decisions each customer based on more than 100 data points, such as proof of income. Half of Tricolor's customers have a FICO score, and less than 12% have scores above 650, yet the average customer has lived in the US for 15 years, according to the deck.A 2017 survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation found 31.5% of Hispanic households had no mainstream credit compared to 14.4% of white households. "For decades, the deck has been stacked against low income or credit invisible Hispanics in the United States when it comes to the purchase and financing of a used vehicle," Daniel Chu, founder and CEO of Tricolor, said in a statement announcing the raise.An auto lender that caters to underbanked Hispanics used this 25-page deck to raise $90 million from BlackRock investors A new way to access credit The TomoCredit teamTomoCreditKristy Kim knows first-hand the challenge of obtaining credit in the US without an established credit history. Kim, who came to the US from South Korea, couldn't initially get access to credit despite having a job in investment banking after graduating college. "I was in my early twenties, I had a good income, my job was in investment banking but I could not get approved for anything," Kim told Insider. "Many young professionals like me, we deserve an opportunity to be considered but just because we didn't have a Fico, we weren't given a chance to even apply," she added.Kim started TomoCredit in 2018 to help others like herself gain access to consumer credit. TomoCredit spent three years building an internal algorithm to underwrite customers based on cash flow, rather than a credit score.TomoCredit, a fintech that lends to thin- and no-credit borrowers, used this 17-page pitch deck to raise its $10 million Series AHelping streamline how debts are repaidMethod Financial cofounders Jose Bethancourt and Marco del Carmen.Method FinancialWhen Jose Bethancourt graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in May 2019, he faced the same question that confronts over 43 million Americans: How would he repay his student loans?The problem led Bethancourt on a nearly two-year journey that culminated in the creation of a startup aimed at making it easier for consumers to more seamlessly pay off all kinds of debt.  Initially, Bethancourt and fellow UT grad Marco del Carmen built GradJoy, an app that helped users better understand how to manage student loan repayment and other financial habits. GradJoy was accepted into Y Combinator in the summer of 2019. But the duo quickly realized the real benefit to users would be helping them move money to make payments instead of simply offering recommendations."When we started GradJoy, we thought, 'Oh, we'll just give advice — we don't think people are comfortable with us touching their student loans,' and then we realized that people were saying, 'Hey, just move the money — if you think I should pay extra, then I'll pay extra.' So that's kind of the movement that we've seen, just, everybody's more comfortable with fintechs doing what's best for them," Bethancourt told Insider. Here is the 11-slide pitch deck Method Financial, a Y Combinator-backed fintech making debt repayment easier, used to raise $2.5 million in pre-seed fundingQuantum computing made easyQC Ware CEO Matt Johnson.QC WareEven though banks and hedge funds are still several years out from adding quantum computing to their tech arsenals, that hasn't stopped Wall Street giants from investing time and money into the emerging technology class. And momentum for QC Ware, a startup looking to cut the time and resources it takes to use quantum computing, is accelerating. The fintech secured a $25 million Series B on September 29 co-led by Koch Disruptive Technologies and Covestro with participation from D.E. Shaw, Citi, and Samsung Ventures.QC Ware, founded in 2014, builds quantum algorithms for the likes of Goldman Sachs (which led the fintech's Series A), Airbus, and BMW Group. The algorithms, which are effectively code bases that include quantum processing elements, can run on any of the four main public-cloud providers.Quantum computing allows companies to do complex calculations faster than traditional computers by using a form of physics that runs on quantum bits as opposed to the traditional 1s and 0s that computers use. This is especially helpful in banking for risk analytics or algorithmic trading, where executing calculations milliseconds faster than the competition can give firms a leg up. Here's the 20-page deck QC Ware, a fintech making quantum computing more accessible, used to raised its $25 million Series BSimplifying quant modelsKirat Singh and Mark Higgins, Beacon's cofounders.BeaconA fintech that helps financial institutions use quantitative models to streamline their businesses and improve risk management is catching the attention, and capital, of some of the country's biggest investment managers.Beacon Platform, founded in 2014, is a fintech that builds applications and tools to help banks, asset managers, and trading firms quickly integrate quantitative models that can help with analyzing risk, ensuring compliance, and improving operational efficiency. The company raised its Series C on Wednesday, scoring a $56 million investment led by Warburg Pincus with support from Blackstone Innovations Investments, PIMCO, and Global Atlantic. Blackstone, PIMCO, and Global Atlantic are also users of Beacon's tech, as are the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Shell New Energies, a division of Royal Dutch Shell, among others.The fintech provides a shortcut for firms looking to use quantitative modelling and data science across various aspects of their businesses, a process that can often take considerable resources if done solo.Here's the 20-page pitch deck Beacon, a fintech helping Wall Street better analyze risk and data, used to raise $56 million from Warburg Pincus, Blackstone, and PIMCOSussing out bad actorsFrom left to right: Cofounders CTO David Movshovitz, CEO Doron Hendler, and chief architect Adi DeGaniRevealSecurityAn encounter with an impersonation hacker led Doron Hendler to found RevealSecurity, a Tel Aviv-based cybersecurity startup that monitors for insider threats.Two years ago, a woman impersonating an insurance-agency representative called Hendler and convinced him that he made a mistake with his recent health insurance policy upgrade. She got him to share his login information for his insurer's website, even getting him to give the one-time passcode sent to his phone. Once the hacker got what she needed, she disconnected the call, prompting Hendler to call back. When no one picked up the phone, he realized he had been conned.He immediately called his insurance company to check on his account. Nothing seemed out of place to the representative. But Hendler, who was previously a vice president of a software company, suspected something intangible could have been collected, so he reset his credentials."The chief of information security, who was on the call, he asked me, 'So, how do you want me to identify you? You gave your credentials; you gave your ID; you gave the one time password. How the hell can I identify that it's not you?' And I told him, 'But I never behave like this,'" Hendler recalled of the conversation.RevealSecurity, a Tel Aviv-based cyber startup that tracks user behavior for abnormalities, used this 27-page deck to raise its Series AA new data feed for bond tradingMark Lennihan/APFor years, the only way investors could figure out the going price of a corporate bond was calling up a dealer on the phone. The rise of electronic trading has streamlined that process, but data can still be hard to come by sometimes. A startup founded by a former Goldman Sachs exec has big plans to change that. BondCliQ is a fintech that provides a data feed of pre-trade pricing quotes for the corporate bond market. Founded by Chris White, the creator of Goldman Sachs' defunct corporate-bond-trading system, BondCliQ strives to bring transparency to a market that has traditionally kept such data close to the vest. Banks, which typically serve as the dealers of corporate bonds, have historically kept pre-trade quotes hidden from other dealers to maintain a competitive advantage.But tech advancements and the rise of electronic marketplaces have shifted power dynamics into the hands of buy-side firms, like hedge funds and asset managers. The investors are now able to get a fuller picture of the market by aggregating price quotes directly from dealers or via vendors.Here's the 9-page pitch deck that BondCliQ, a fintech looking to bring more data and transparency to bond trading, used to raise its Series AFraud prevention for lenders and insurersFiordaliso/Getty ImagesOnboarding new customers with ease is key for any financial institution or retailer. The more friction you add, the more likely consumers are to abandon the entire process.But preventing fraud is also a priority, and that's where Neuro-ID comes in. The startup analyzes what it calls "digital body language," or, the way users scroll, type, and tap. Using that data, Neuro-ID can identify fraudulent users before they create an account. It's built for banks, lenders, insurers, and e-commerce players."The train has left the station for digital transformation, but there's a massive opportunity to try to replicate all those communications that we used to have when we did business in-person, all those tells that we would get verbally and non-verbally on whether or not someone was trustworthy," Neuro-ID CEO Jack Alton told Insider.Founded in 2014, the startup's pitch is twofold: Neuro-ID can save companies money by identifying fraud early, and help increase user conversion by making the onboarding process more seamless. In December Neuro-ID closed a $7 million Series A, co-led by Fin VC and TTV Capital, with participation from Canapi Ventures. With 30 employees, Neuro-ID is using the fresh funding to grow its team and create additional tools to be more self-serving for customers.Here's the 11-slide pitch deck a startup that analyzes consumers' digital behavior to fight fraud used to raise a $7 million Series AAI-powered tools to spot phony online reviews FakespotMarketplaces like Amazon and eBay host millions of third-party sellers, and their algorithms will often boost items in search based on consumer sentiment, which is largely based on reviews. But many third-party sellers use fake reviews often bought from click farms to boost their items, some of which are counterfeit or misrepresented to consumers.That's where Fakespot comes in. With its Chrome extension, it warns users of sellers using potentially fake reviews to boost sales and can identify fraudulent sellers. Fakespot is currently compatible with Amazon, BestBuy, eBay, Sephora, Steam, and Walmart."There are promotional reviews written by humans and bot-generated reviews written by robots or review farms," Fakespot founder and CEO Saoud Khalifah told Insider. "Our AI system has been built to detect both categories with very high accuracy."Fakespot's AI learns via reviews data available on marketplace websites, and uses natural-language processing to identify if reviews are genuine. Fakespot also looks at things like whether the number of positive reviews are plausible given how long a seller has been active.Fakespot, a startup that helps shoppers detect robot-generated reviews and phony sellers on Amazon and Shopify, used this pitch deck to nab a $4 million Series AHelping fintechs manage dataProper Finance co-founders Travis Gibson (left) and Kyle MaloneyProper FinanceAs the flow of data becomes evermore crucial for fintechs, from the strappy startup to the established powerhouse, a thorny issue in the back office is becoming increasingly complex.Even though fintechs are known for their sleek front ends, the back end is often quite the opposite. Behind that streamlined interface can be a mosaic of different partner integrations — be it with banks, payments players and networks, or software vendors — with a channel of data running between them. Two people who know that better than the average are Kyle Maloney and Travis Gibson, two former employees of Marqeta, a fintech that provides other fintechs with payments processing and card issuance. "Take an established neobank for example. They'll likely have one or two card issuers, two to three bank partners, ACH processing for direct deposits and payouts, mobile check deposits, peer-to-peer payments, and lending," Gibson told Insider. Here's the 12-page pitch deck a startup helping fintechs manage their data used to score a $4.3 million seed from investors like Redpoint Ventures and Y CombinatorE-commerce focused business bankingMichael Rangel, cofounder and CEO, and Tyler McIntyre, cofounder and CTO of Novo.Kristelle Boulos PhotographyBusiness banking is a hot market in fintech. And it seems investors can't get enough.Novo, the digital banking fintech aimed at small e-commerce businesses, raised a $40.7 million Series A led by Valar Ventures in June. Since its launch in 2018, Novo has signed up 100,000 small businesses. Beyond bank accounts, it offers expense management, a corporate card, and integrates with e-commerce infrastructure players like Shopify, Stripe, and Wise.Founded in 2018, Novo was based in New York City, but has since moved its headquarters to Miami. Here's the 12-page pitch deck e-commerce banking startup Novo used to raise its $40 million Series AShopify for embedded financeProductfy CEO and founder, Duy VoProductfyProductfy is looking to break into embedded finance by becoming the Shopify of back-end banking services.Embedded finance — integrating banking services in non-financial settings — has taken hold in the e-commerce world. But Productfy is going after a different kind of customer in churches, universities, and nonprofits.The San Jose, Calif.-based upstart aims to help non-finance companies offer their own banking products. Productfy can help customers launch finance features in as little as a week and without additional engineering resources or background knowledge of banking compliance or legal requirements, Productfy founder and CEO Duy Vo told Insider. "You don't need an engineer to stand up Shopify, right? You can be someone who's just creating art and you can use Shopify to build your own online store," Vo said, adding that Productfy is looking to take that user experience and replicate it for banking services.Here's the 15-page pitch deck Productfy, a fintech looking to be the Shopify of embedded finance, used to nab a $16 million Series ADeploying algorithms and automation to small-business financingJustin Straight and Bernard Worthy, LoanWell co-foundersLoanWellBernard Worthy and Justin Straight, the founders of LoanWell, want to break down barriers to financing for small and medium-size businesses — and they've got algorithms and automation in their tech arsenals that they hope will do it.Worthy, the company's CEO, and Straight, its chief operating and financial officer, are powering community-focused lenders to fill a gap in the SMB financing world by boosting access to loans under $100,000. And the upstart is known for catching the attention, and dollars, of mission-driven investors. LoanWell closed a $3 million seed financing round in December led by Impact America Fund with participation from SoftBank's SB Opportunity Fund and Collab Capital.LoanWell automates the financing process — from underwriting and origination, to money movement and servicing — which shaves down an up-to-90-day process to 30 days or even same-day with some LoanWell lenders, Worthy said. SMBs rely on these loans to process quickly after two years of financial uncertainty. But the pandemic illustrated how time-consuming and expensive SMB financing can be, highlighted by efforts like the federal government's Paycheck Protection Program.Community banks, once the lifeline to capital for many local businesses, continue to shutter. And demands for smaller loan amounts remain largely unmet. More than half of business-loan applicants sought $100,000 or less, according to 2018 data from the Federal Reserve. But the average small-business bank loan was closer to six times that amount, according to the latest data from a now discontinued Federal Reserve survey.Here's the 14-page pitch deck LoanWell used to raise $3 million from investors like SoftBank.Branded cards for SMBsJennifer Glaspie-Lundstrom is the cofounder and CEO of Tandym.TandymJennifer Glaspie-Lundstrom is no stranger to the private-label credit-card business. As a former Capital One exec, she worked in both the card giant's co-brand partnerships division and its tech organization during her seven years at the company.Now, Glaspie-Lundstrom is hoping to use that experience to innovate a sector that was initially created in malls decades ago.Glaspie-Lundstrom is the cofounder and CEO of Tandym, which offers private-label digital credit cards to merchants. Store and private-label credit cards aren't a new concept, but Tandym is targeting small- and medium-sized merchants with less than $1 billion in annual revenue. Glaspie-Lundstrom said that group often struggles to offer private-label credit due to the expense of working with legacy players."What you have is this example of a very valuable product type that merchants love and their customers love, but a huge, untapped market that has heretofore been unserved, and so that's what we're doing with Tandym," Glaspi-Lundstrom told Insider.A former Capital One exec used this deck to raise $60 million for a startup helping SMBs launch their own branded credit cardsCatering to 'micro businesses'Stefanie Sample is the founder and CEO of FundidFundidStartups aiming to simplify the often-complex world of corporate cards have boomed in recent years.Business-finance management startup Brex was last valued at $12.3 billion after raising $300 million last year. Startup card provider Ramp announced an $8.1 billion valuation in March after growing its revenue nearly 10x in 2021. Divvy, a small business card provider, was acquired by Bill.com in May 2021 for approximately $2.5 billion.But despite how hot the market has gotten, Stefanie Sample said she ended up working in the space by accident. Sample is the founder and CEO of Fundid, a new fintech that provides credit and lending products to small businesses.This May, Fundid announced a $3.25 million seed round led by Nevcaut Ventures. Additional investors include the Artemis Fund and Builders and Backers. The funding announcement capped off the company's first year: Sample introduced the Fundid concept in April 2021, launched its website in May, and began raising capital in August."I never meant to do Fundid," Sample told Insider. "I never meant to do something that was venture-backed."Read the 12-page deck used by Fundid, a fintech offering credit and lending tools for 'micro businesses'Embedded payments for SMBsThe Highnote teamHighnoteBranded cards have long been a way for merchants with the appropriate bank relationships to create additional revenue and build customer loyalty. The rise of embedded payments, or the ability to shop and pay in a seamless experience within a single app, has broadened the number of companies looking to launch branded cards.Highnote is a startup that helps small to mid-sized merchants roll out their own debit and pre-paid digital cards. The fintech emerged from stealth on Tuesday to announce it raised $54 million in seed and Series A funding.Here's the 12-page deck Highnote, a startup helping SMBs embed payments, used to raise $54 million in seed and Series A fundingSpeeding up loans for government contractors OppZo cofounders Warren Reed and Randy GarrettOppZoThe massive market for federal government contracts approached $700 billion in 2020, and it's likely to grow as spending accelerates amid an ongoing push for investment in the nation's infrastructure. Many of those dollars flow to small-and-medium sized businesses, even though larger corporations are awarded the bulk of contracts by volume. Of the roughly $680 billion in federal contracts awarded in 2020, roughly a quarter, according to federal guidelines, or some $146 billion that year, went to smaller businesses.But peeking under the hood of the procurement process, the cofounders of OppZo — Randy Garrett and Warren Reed — saw an opportunity to streamline how smaller-sized businesses can leverage those contracts to tap in to capital.  Securing a deal is "a government contractor's best day and their worst day," as Garrett, OppZo's president, likes to put it."At that point they need to pay vendors and hire folks to start the contract. And they may not get their first contract payment from the government for as long as 120 days," Reed, the startup's CEO,  told Insider. Check out the 12-page pitch deck OppZo, a fintech that has figured out how to speed up loans to small government contractors, used to raise $260 million in equity and debtHelping small businesses manage their taxesComplYant's founder Shiloh Jackson wants to help people be present in their bookkeeping.ComplYantAfter 14 years in tax accounting, Shiloh Johnson had formed a core philosophy around corporate accounting: everyone deserves to understand their business's money and business owners need to be present in their bookkeeping process.She wanted to help small businesses understand "this is why you need to do what you're doing and why you have to change the way you think about tax and be present in your bookkeeping process," she told Insider. The Los Angeles native wanted small businesses to not only understand business tax no matter their size but also to find the tools they needed to prepare their taxes in one spot. So Johnson developed a software platform that provides just that.The 13-page pitch deck ComplYant used to nab $4 million that details the tax startup's plan to be Turbotax, Quickbooks, and Xero rolled into one for small business ownersAutomating accounting ops for SMBsDecimal CEO Matt Tait.DecimalSmall- and medium-sized businesses can rely on any number of payroll, expense management, bill pay, and corporate-card startups promising to automate parts of their financial workflow. Smaller firms have adopted this corporate-financial software en masse, boosting growth throughout the pandemic for relatively new entrants like Ramp and massive, industry stalwarts like Intuit. But it's no easy task to connect all of those tools into one, seamless process. And while accounting operations might be far from where many startup founders want to focus their time, having efficient back-end finances does mean time — and capital — freed up to spend elsewhere. For Decimal CEO Matt Tait, there's ample opportunity in "the boring stuff you have to do to survive as a company," he told Insider. Launched in 2020, Decimal provides a back-end tech layer that small- and medium-sized businesses can use to integrate their accounting and business-management software tools in one place.On Wednesday, Decimal announced a $9 million seed fundraising round led by Minneapolis-based Arthur Ventures, alongside Service Providers Capital and other angel investors. See the 13-page pitch deck for Decimal, a startup automating accounting ops for small businessesInvoice financing for SMBsStacey Abrams and Lara Hodgson, Now co-foundersNowAbout a decade ago, politician Stacey Abrams and entrepreneur Lara Hodgson were forced to fold their startup because of a kink in the supply chain — but not in the traditional sense.Nourish, which made spill-proof bottled water for children, had grown quickly from selling to small retailers to national ones. And while that may sound like a feather in the small business' cap, there was a hang-up."It was taking longer and longer to get paid, and as you can imagine, you deliver the product and then you wait and you wait, but meanwhile you have to pay your employees and you have to pay your vendors," Hodgson told Insider. "Waiting to get paid was constraining our ability to grow."While it's not unusual for small businesses to grapple with working capital issues, the dust was still settling from the Great Recession. Abrams and Hodgson couldn't secure a line of credit or use financing tools like factoring to solve their problem. The two entrepreneurs were forced to close Nourish in 2012, but along the way they recognized a disconnect in the system.  "Why are we the ones borrowing money, when in fact we're the lender here because every time you send an invoice to a customer, you've essentially extended a free loan to that customer by letting them pay later," Hodgson said. "And the only reason why we were going to need to possibly borrow money was because we had just given ours away for free to Whole Foods," she added.Check out the 7-page deck that Now, Stacey Abrams' fintech that wants to help small businesses 'grow fearlessly', used to raise $29 millionCheckout made easyRyan Breslow.Ryan BreslowAmazon has long dominated e-commerce with its one-click checkout flows, offering easier ways for consumers to shop online than its small-business competitors.Bolt gives small merchants tools to offer the same easy checkouts so they can compete with the likes of Amazon.The startup raised its $393 million Series D to continue adding its one-click checkout feature to merchants' own websites in October.Bolt markets to merchants themselves. But a big part of Bolt's pitch is its growing network of consumers — currently over 5.6 million — that use its features across multiple Bolt merchant customers. Roughly 5% of Bolt's transactions were network-driven in May, meaning users that signed up for a Bolt account on another retailer's website used it elsewhere. The network effects were even more pronounced in verticals like furniture, where 49% of transactions were driven by the Bolt network."The network effect is now unleashed with Bolt in full fury, and that triggered the raise," Bolt's founder and CEO Ryan Breslow told Insider.Here's the 12-page deck that one-click checkout Bolt used to outline its network of 5.6 million consumers and raise its Series DPayments infrastructure for fintechsQolo CEO and co-founder Patricia MontesiQoloThree years ago, Patricia Montesi realized there was a disconnect in the payments world. "A lot of new economy companies or fintech companies were looking to mesh up a lot of payment modalities that they weren't able to," Montesi, CEO and co-founder of Qolo, told Insider.Integrating various payment capabilities often meant tapping several different providers that had specializations in one product or service, she added, like debit card issuance or cross-border payments. "The way people were getting around that was that they were creating this spider web of fintech," she said, adding that "at the end of it all, they had this mess of suppliers and integrations and bank accounts."The 20-year payments veteran rounded up a group of three other co-founders — who together had more than a century of combined industry experience — to start Qolo, a business-to-business fintech that sought out to bundle back-end payment rails for other fintechs.Here's the 11-slide pitch deck a startup that provides payments infrastructure for other fintechs used to raise a $15 million Series ABetter use of payroll dataAtomic's Head of Markets, Lindsay DavisAtomicEmployees at companies large and small know the importance — and limitations — of how firms manage their payrolls. A new crop of startups are building the API pipes that connect companies and their employees to offer a greater level of visibility and flexibility when it comes to payroll data and employee verification. On Thursday, one of those names, Atomic, announced a $40 million Series B fundraising round co-led by Mercato Partners and Greylock, alongside Core Innovation Capital, Portage, and ATX Capital. The round follows Atomic's Series A round announced in October, when the startup raised a $22 million Series A from investors including Core Innovation Capital, Portage, and Greylock.Payroll startup Atomic just raised a $40 million Series B. Here's an internal deck detailing the fintech's approach to the red-hot payments space.Saving on vendor invoicesHoward Katzenberg, Glean's CEO and cofounderGleanWhen it comes to high-flying tech startups, headlines and investors typically tend to focus on industry "disruption" and the total addressable market a company is hoping to reach. Expense cutting as a way to boost growth typically isn't part of the conversation early on, and finance teams are viewed as cost centers relative to sales teams. But one fast-growing area of business payments has turned its focus to managing those costs. Startups like Ramp and established names like Bill.com have made their name offering automated expense-management systems. Now, one new fintech competitor, Glean, is looking to take that further by offering both automated payment services and tailored line-item accounts-payable insights driven by machine-learning models. Glean's CFO and founder, Howard Katzenberg, told Insider that the genesis of Glean was driven by his own personal experience managing the finance teams of startups, including mortgage lender Better.com, which Katzenberg left in 2019, and online small-business lender OnDeck. "As a CFO of high-growth companies, I spent a lot of time focused on revenue and I had amazing dashboards in real time where I could see what is going on top of the funnel, what's going on with conversion rates, what's going on in terms of pricing and attrition," Katzenberg told Insider. See the 15-slide pitch deck Glean, a startup using machine learning to find savings in vendor invoices, used to raise $10.8 million in seed fundingReal-estate management made easyAgora founders Noam Kahan, CTO, Bar Mor, CEO, and Lior Dolinski, CPOAgoraFor alternative asset managers of any type, the operations underpinning sales and investor communications are a crucial but often overlooked part of the business. Fund managers love to make bets on markets, not coordinate hundreds of wire transfers to clients each quarter or organize customer-relationship-management databases.Within the $10.6 trillion global market for professionally managed real-estate investing, that's where Tel Aviv and New York-based startup Agora hopes to make its mark.Founded in 2019, Agora offers a set of back-office, investor relations, and sales software tools that real-estate investment managers can plug into their workflows. On Wednesday, Agora announced a $9 million seed round, led by Israel-based venture firm Aleph, with participation from River Park Ventures and Maccabee Ventures. The funding comes on the heels of an October 2020 pre-seed fund raise worth $890,000, in which Maccabee also participated.Here's the 15-slide pitch deck that Agora, a startup helping real-estate investors manage communications and sales with their clients, used to raise a $9 million seed roundAccess to commercial real-estate investing LEX Markets cofounders and co-CEOs Drew Sterrett and Jesse Daugherty.LEX MarketsDrew Sterrett was structuring real-estate deals while working in private equity when he realized the inefficiencies that existed in the market. Only high-net worth individuals or accredited investors could participate in commercial real-estate deals. If they ever wanted to leave a partnership or sell their stake in a property, it was difficult to find another investor to replace them. Owners also struggled to sell minority stakes in their properties and didn't have many good options to recapitalize an asset if necessary.In short, the market had a high barrier to entry despite the fact it didn't always have enough participants to get deals done quickly. "Most investors don't have access to high-quality commercial real-estate investments. How do we have the oldest and largest asset class in the world and one of the largest wealth creators with no public and liquid market?" Sterrett told Insider. "It sort of seems like a no-brainer, and that this should have existed 50 or 60 years ago."This 15-page pitch deck helped LEX Markets, a startup making investing in commercial real estate more accessible, raise $15 millionInsurance goes digitalJamie Hale, CEO and cofounder of LadderLadderFintechs looking to transform how insurance policies are underwritten, issued, and experienced by customers have grown as new technology driven by digital trends and artificial intelligence shape the market. And while verticals like auto, homeowner's, and renter's insurance have seen their fair share of innovation from forward-thinking fintechs, one company has taken on the massive life-insurance market. Founded in 2017, Ladder uses a tech-driven approach to offer life insurance with a digital, end-to-end service that it says is more flexible, faster, and cost-effective than incumbent players.Life, annuity, and accident and health insurance within the US comprise a big chunk of the broader market. In 2020, premiums written on those policies totaled some $767 billion, compared to $144 billion for auto policies and $97 billion for homeowner's insurance.Here's the 12-page deck that Ladder, a startup disrupting the 'crown jewel' of the insurance market, used to nab $100 millionData science for commercial insuranceTanner Hackett, founder and CEO of CounterpartCounterpartThere's been no shortage of funds flowing into insurance-technology companies over the past few years. Private-market funding to insurtechs soared to $15.4 billion in 2021, a 90% increase compared to 2020. Some of the most well-known consumer insurtech names — from Oscar (which focuses on health insurance) to Metromile (which focuses on auto) — launched on the public markets last year, only to fall over time or be acquired as investors questioned the sustainability of their business models. In the commercial arena, however, the head of one insurtech company thinks there is still room to grow — especially for those catering to small businesses operating in an entirely new, pandemic-defined environment. "The bigger opportunity is in commercial lines," Tanner Hackett, the CEO of management liability insurer Counterpart, told Insider."Everywhere I poke, I'm like, 'Oh my goodness, we're still in 1.0, and all the other businesses I've built were on version three.' Insurance is still in 1.0, still managing from spreadsheets and PDFs," added Hackett, who also previously co-founded Button, which focuses on mobile marketing. See the 8-page pitch deck Counterpart, a startup disrupting commercial insurance with data science, used to raise a $30 million Series BSmarter insurance for multifamily propertiesItai Ben-Zaken, cofounder and CEO of Honeycomb.HoneycombA veteran of the online-insurance world is looking to revolutionize the way the industry prices risk for commercial properties with the help of artificial intelligence.Insurance companies typically send inspectors to properties before issuing policies to better understand how the building is maintained and identify potential risks or issues with it. It's a process that can be time-consuming, expensive, and inefficient, making it hard to justify for smaller commercial properties, like apartment and condo buildings.Insurtech Honeycomb is looking to fix that by using AI to analyze a combination of third-party data and photos submitted by customers through the startup's app to quickly identify any potential risks at a property and more accurately price policies."That whole physical inspection thing had really good things in it, but it wasn't really something that is scalable and, it's also expensive," Itai Ben-Zaken, Honeycomb's cofounder and CEO, told Insider. "The best way to see a property right now is Google street view. Google street view is usually two years old."Here's the 10-page Series A pitch deck used by Honeycomb, a startup that wants to revolutionize the $26 billion market for multifamily property insuranceHelping freelancers with their taxesJaideep Singh is the CEO and co-founder of FlyFin, an AI-driven tax preparation software program for freelancers.FlyFinSome people, particularly those with families or freelancing businesses, spend days searching for receipts for tax season, making tax preparation a time consuming and, at times, taxing experience. That's why in 2020 Jaideep Singh founded FlyFin, an artificial-intelligence tax preparation program for freelancers that helps people, as he puts it, "fly through their finances." FlyFin is set up to connect to a person's bank accounts, allowing the AI program to help users monitor for certain expenses that can be claimed on their taxes like business expenditures, the interest on mortgages, property taxes, or whatever else that might apply. "For most individuals, people have expenses distributed over multiple financial institutions. So we built an AI platform that is able to look at expenses, understand the individual, understand your profession, understand the freelance population at large, and start the categorization," Singh told Insider.Check out the 7-page pitch deck a startup helping freelancers manage their taxes used to nab $8 million in fundingDigital banking for freelancersJGalione/Getty ImagesLance is a new digital bank hoping to simplify the life of those workers by offering what it calls an "active" approach to business banking. "We found that every time we sat down with the existing tools and resources of our accountants and QuickBooks and spreadsheets, we just ended up getting tangled up in the whole experience of it," Lance cofounder and CEO Oona Rokyta told Insider. Lance offers subaccounts for personal salaries, withholdings, and savings to which freelancers can automatically allocate funds according to custom preset levels. It also offers an expense balance that's connected to automated tax withholdings.In May, Lance announced the closing of a $2.8 million seed round that saw participation from Barclays, BDMI, Great Oaks Capital, Imagination Capital, Techstars, DFJ Frontier, and others.Here's the 21-page pitch deck Lance, a digital bank for freelancers, used to raise a $2.8 million seed round from investors including BarclaysSoftware for managing freelancersWorksome cofounder and CEO Morten Petersen.WorksomeThe way people work has fundamentally changed over the past year, with more flexibility and many workers opting to freelance to maintain their work-from-home lifestyles.But managing a freelance or contractor workforce is often an administrative headache for employers. Worksome is a startup looking to eliminate all the extra work required for employers to adapt to more flexible working norms.Worksome started as a freelancer marketplace automating the process of matching qualified workers with the right jobs. But the team ultimately pivoted to a full suite of workforce management software, automating administrative burdens required to hire, pay, and account for contract workers.In May, Worksome closed a $13 million Series A backed by European angel investor Tommy Ahlers and Danish firm Lind & Risør.Here's the 21-slide pitch deck used by a startup that helps firms like Carlsberg and Deloitte manage freelancersPayments and operations support HoneyBook cofounders Dror Shimoni, Oz Alon, and Naama Alon.HoneyBookWhile countless small businesses have been harmed by the pandemic, self-employment and entrepreneurship have found ways to blossom as Americans started new ventures.Half of the US population may be freelance by 2027, according to a study commissioned by remote-work hiring platform Upwork. HoneyBook, a fintech startup that provides payment and operations support for freelancers, in May raised $155 million in funding and achieved unicorn status with its $1 billion-plus valuation.Durable Capital Partners led the Series D funding with other new investors including renowned hedge fund Tiger Global, Battery Ventures, Zeev Ventures, and 01 Advisors. Citi Ventures, Citigroup's startup investment arm that also backs fintech robo-advisor Betterment, participated as an existing investor in the round alongside Norwest Venture partners. The latest round brings the company's fundraising total to $227 million to date.Here's the 21-page pitch deck a Citi-backed fintech for freelancers used to raise $155 million from investors like hedge fund Tiger GlobalPay-as-you-go compliance for banks, fintechs, and crypto startupsNeepa Patel, Themis' founder and CEOThemisWhen Themis founder and CEO Neepa Patel set out to build a new compliance tool for banks, fintech startups, and crypto companies, she tapped into her own experience managing risk at some of the nation's biggest financial firms. Having worked as a bank regulator at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and in compliance at Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, and the enterprise blockchain company R3, Patel was well-placed to assess the shortcomings in financial compliance software. But Patel, who left the corporate world to begin work on Themis in 2020, drew on more than just her own experience and frustrations to build the startup."It's not just me building a tool based on my personal pain points. I reached out to regulators. I reached out to bank compliance officers and members in the fintech community just to make sure that we're building it exactly how they do their work," Patel told Insider. "That was the biggest problem: No one built a tool that was reflective of how people do their work."Check out the 9-page pitch deck Themis, which offers pay-as-you-go compliance for banks, fintechs, and crypto startups, used to raise $9 million in seed fundingConnecting startups and investorsHum Capital cofounder and CEO Blair SilverbergHum CapitalBlair Silverberg is no stranger to fundraising.For six years, Silverberg was a venture capitalist at Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Private Credit Investments making bets on startups."I was meeting with thousands of founders in person each year, watching them one at a time go through this friction where they're meeting a ton of investors, and the investors are all asking the same questions," Silverberg told Insider. He switched gears about three years ago, moving to the opposite side of the metaphorical table, to start Hum Capital, which uses artificial intelligence to match investors with startups looking to fundraise.On August 31, the New York-based fintech announced its $9 million Series A. The round was led by Future Ventures with participation from Webb Investment Network, Wavemaker Partners, and Partech. This 11-page pitch deck helped Hum Capital, a fintech using AI to match investors with startups, raise a $9 million Series A.Helping LatAm startups get up to speedKamino cofounders Gut Fragoso, Rodrigo Perenha, Benjamin Gleason, and Gonzalo ParejoKaminoThere's more venture capital flowing into Latin America than ever before, but getting the funds in founders' hands is not exactly a simple process.In 2021, investors funneled $15.3 billion into Latin American companies, more than tripling the previous record of $4.9 billion in 2019. Fintech and e-commerce sectors drove funding, accounting for 39% and 25% of total funding, respectively.  However, for many startup founders in the region who have successfully sold their ideas and gotten investors on board, there's a patchwork of corporate structuring that's needed to access the funds, according to Benjamin Gleason, who was the chief financial officer at Groupon LatAm prior to cofounding Brazil-based fintech Kamino.It's a process Gleason and his three fellow Kamino cofounders have been through before as entrepreneurs and startup execs themselves. Most often, startups have to set up offshore financial accounts outside of Brazil, which "entails creating a Cayman [Islands] holding company, a Delaware LLC, and then connecting it to a local entity here and also opening US bank accounts for the Cayman entity, which is not trivial from a KYC perspective," said Gleason, who founded open-banking fintech Guiabolso in Sao Paulo. His partner, Gonzalo Parejo, experienced the same toils when he founded insurtech Bidu."Pretty much any international investor will usually ask for that," Gleason said, adding that investors typically cite liability issues."It's just a massive amount of bureaucracy, complexity, a lot of time from the founders. All of this just to get the money from the investor that wants to give them the money," he added.Here's the 8-page pitch deck Kamino, a fintech helping LatAm startups with everything from financing to corporate credit cards, used to raise a $6.1M pre-seed roundThe back-end tech for beautyDanielle Cohen-Shohet, CEO and founder of GlossGeniusGlossGeniusDanielle Cohen-Shohet might have started as a Goldman Sachs investment analyst, but at her core she was always a coder.After about three years at Goldman Sachs, Cohen-Shohet left the world of traditional finance to code her way into starting her own company in 2016. "There was a period of time where I did nothing, but eat, sleep, and code for a few weeks," Cohen-Shohet told Insider. Her technical edge and knowledge of the point-of-sale payment space led her to launch a software company focused on providing behind-the-scenes tech for beauty and wellness small businesses.Cohen-Shohet launched GlossGenius in 2017 to provide payments tech for hair stylists, nail technicians, blow-out bars, and other small businesses in the space.Here's the 11-page deck GlossGenius, a startup that provides back-end tech for the beauty industry, used to raise $16 millionRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 30th, 2022