Finding Value in Writing

7   Over the years, I have discussed my publishing about investing and related topics. (See this, this, this, or this). Many of us began doing this before monetizing content was a thing. Spend time reading any of the RWM Mafia and you a pattern as to why we put words to page emerges. We… Read More The post Finding Value in Writing appeared first on The Big Picture. 7   Over the years, I have discussed my publishing about investing and related topics. (See this, this, this, or this). Many of us began doing this before monetizing content was a thing. Spend time reading any of the RWM Mafia and you a pattern as to why we put words to page emerges. We write to: Figure out what we think Explore a topic or idea Memorialize an investment position (or potential trade) Share expertise Educate readers Publicize a concept Express outrage Signal interest in a topic Influence decision-makers Debate / argue around an issue Defend an idea or position Educate ourselves about a thing Resolve a noisy internal dialogue I am going to share a few examples, and I want you to look for the consistent thread that runs through all of them: They each add value, search for truth, expound on deeply held beliefs, are sincere, and reflect curiosity about the world. If only everything we read had those 5 attributes. Michael Batnick is Head of Research at RWM, a founding principal, and a crucial component of our investment committee (he does the heavy-lifting, I get all of the credit). This post is a perfect example of teaching readers even as he admits what he doesn’t understand: I Don’t F*ckn Get It All of this stuff is incredibly confounding. On the one hand, you have normal people speculating on Doge, which is cute and mostly harmless. I mean, it says right there on the website that “Dogecoin is an open-source peer-to-peer digital currency, favored by Shiba Inus worldwide” Silly, sure, but hard to get too worked up over this. And then on the other side are wealthy people who buy pet rocks as status symbols. I understand this drawing your ire, but I hope now, or at least after reading Packy’s piece, that you understand people’s motivations. And then, in the middle, you have brilliant investors like Chris Dixon who swear that this is web 3.0. Blair duQuesnay is a triple threat: She is a CFA who sits on our investment committee, advisor/CFP, and also manages RWM’s UHNW practice. A recent discussion reveals her curiosity and insight: Pluto is a Planet I find myself rebelling against this change like a cranky old man. Back in my day, Pluto was a planet! I refuse to call it a silly dwarf planet. Bah humbug! I’ll probably get angry again when my kids start learning the solar system in school. I notice this tendency among professional investors. The sands of time shift the way the world of money works, if only ever so slightly. What worked in investing 40 years ago, may not work today. We cling to the groundbreaking academic papers of yonder days – mean-variance optimization, the small-cap premium, the value premium, and book value. We read the masters – Ben Graham, Modigliani, Miller, Fama, French, and Merton – and we deem their work Gospel. Has anyone pursued the financial well-being of teachers more than Tony Isola? That is what he and Dina Isola do for RWM. This is first-rate: How To Escape Your Financial Cocoon Self-deception is a raging epidemic. A myriad of factors influences our point of view. Genes, family life, friends, experiences, and other items determine perceptions. Why do we believe our experiences are reality? James Low reinforces this concept. These stories have a tilt or bias. This generates a selectivity in our attention which blocks many of the other possibilities we might entertain. Delusion becomes fact. The worst part- We aren’t aware. Neither is anyone else. Nobody wants to rock the U.S.S. Delusion. Everyone’s wearing tinted sunglasses. Viewing reality in different shades turns fantasies into reality. Nick Maggiulli is our resident quant/data wonk/COO. This post is classic “Nickie Numbers” – take generally accepted wisdom, crunch the numbers, prove it is bullshit: Why Buying the Dip is a Terrible Investment Strategy But today, I’m going to change all that. Because today I’m going to give Buy the Dip the proper burial that it deserves and demonstrate without a reasonable doubt why it is a terrible investment strategy. Ben Carlson may be the best financial writer today who regularly uses data to demonstrate points on investing strategies. He works with our institutional clients. I could show you countless examples but let me simply go his most recent: The Worst Stock and Bond Returns Ever The U.S. stock market is up 13.5% per year since 2009. Valuations have been well above historical averages this entire time and moving ever higher. Interest rates are about as low as they’ve ever been. Add all this up and it’s hard to argue with the idea that investors should lower their return expectations going forward. The problem with this equation is you could have said this very same thing in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and so on yet it hasn’t happened. The low return environment that seemed like a sure thing has been nothing but high returns. There are few people in the world who can identify connections between disparate ideas like my partner and co-founder Josh Brown does. His ability to see what everyone else misses is unprecedented. And his writing is so sincerely beautiful. Like this piece: I Collect Cashflows I collect shares of businesses. Been doing it since my late teens. Not always successfully. I use a certain type of non fungible token called a stock certificate for this. I never lay hands on the certificate, it’s in digital form, living somewhere in the multiverse. A company called DTC makes sure the shares I’ve bought are the shares I get. And then I hold them. Sometimes I will trade them for digital dollars that I also don’t ever see or touch, but then soon after I am trading those dollars for another pile of virtual stock certificates. People will say “You’re crazy, why would you want to buy a fraction of a company you will never touch and hold in your hands?” And I’m like “You just don’t understand.” When ideas come together in a way that is informative, entertaining, and educational it is a thing of joy. Beautiful.   The post Finding Value in Writing appeared first on The Big Picture......»»

Category: blogSource: TheBigPictureOct 13th, 2021

These Were The Five Best And Worst Performing Small-Cap Stocks In April 2022

Small-cap stocks are companies with market capitalizations of less than $2 billion. These stocks can be very volatile, and thus, could offer impressive returns in the short-term as well. Additionally, what makes these stocks even more tempting is the Goldman Sachs data that small-cap stocks have outperformed the large-cap stocks over the past two decades, […] Small-cap stocks are companies with market capitalizations of less than $2 billion. These stocks can be very volatile, and thus, could offer impressive returns in the short-term as well. Additionally, what makes these stocks even more tempting is the Goldman Sachs data that small-cap stocks have outperformed the large-cap stocks over the past two decades, and the trend is expected to continue this year as well. Let’s take a look at the five best and worst performing small-cap stocks in April 2022. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Series in PDF Get the entire 10-part series on Charlie Munger in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues. (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q1 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Five Best Performing Small-Cap Stocks In April 2022 We have used the April return data from to come up with the five best and worst performing small-cap stocks in April 2022. First, let’s look at the five best performing small-cap stocks in April 2022: BlackBoxStocks (116%) Founded in 2011 and headquartered in Dallas, this company makes available real-time proprietary analytics and news to stock and options traders. BlackBoxStocks Inc (NASDAQ:BLBX) shares are down over 51% YTD and over 10% in the last year. Its shares are presently trading at over $1.80, while it has a 52-week range of $1.49 and $8.00. As of writing, BlackBoxStocks’ market cap was more than $22 million. Redbox Entertainment (127%) Founded in 2002 and headquartered in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., this company produces, acquires and distributes movies through its Redbox Entertainment Inc (NASDAQ:RDBX) brand. Redbox Entertainment shares are down almost 64% YTD and almost 73% in the last year. Its shares are presently trading at over $2.40, while it has a 52-week range of $1.6101 and $27.22. As of writing, Redbox Entertainment’s market cap was more than $145 million. Veru (136%) Founded in 1996 and headquartered in Miami, this company develops medicines for the management of prostate cancer and breast cancer. Veru Inc (NASDAQ:VERU) shares are up over 53% YTD and over 19% in the last year. Its shares are presently trading at over $9.60, while it has a 52-week range of $4.34 and $17.50. As of writing, Veru’s market cap was more than $650 million. Checkmate Pharmaceuticals (222%) Founded in 2015 and headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., this company deals in developing proprietary technology to use the immune system's power to combat cancer. Checkmate Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:CMPI) shares are up over 260% YTD and over 50% in the last year. Its shares are presently trading at over $10.40, while it has a 52-week range of $2.00 and $10.48. As of writing, Checkmate Pharmaceuticals’ market cap was more than $220 million. Cyngn (275%) Founded in 2013 and headquartered in Menlo Park, Calif., it is an autonomous vehicle technology company that focuses on finding industrial uses for autonomous vehicles. Cyngn Inc (NASDAQ:CYN) shares are down over 15% YTD but are up over 140% in the last three months. Its shares are presently trading at over $3.60, while it has a 52-week range of $1.08 and $9.91. As of writing, Cyngn’s market cap was more than $90 million. Five Worst Performing Small-Cap Stocks In April 2022 Following are the five worst performing small-cap stocks in April 2022: Agile Therapeutics (-76%) Founded in 1997 and headquartered in Princeton, N.J., this healthcare company develops and commercializes transdermal patches. Agilent Technologies Inc (NYSE:A) shares are down over 90% YTD and over 95% in the last year. Its shares are presently trading at over $1.60, while it has a 52-week range of $1.58 and $69.60. As of writing, Agile Therapeutics’ market cap was more than $6 million. Iveda Solutions (-77%) Founded in 2003 and headquartered in Mesa, AZ, this company enables cloud video surveillance through its Sentir data and video management platform. Iveda Solutions Inc (NASDAQ:IVDA) shares are down over 90% YTD and over 80% in the last year. Its shares are presently trading at over $1.10, while it has a 52-week range of $0.9709 and $19.52. As of writing, Iveda Solutions’ market cap was more than $12 million. Genocea Biosciences (-78%) Founded in 2006 and headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., this company develops and commercializes cancer vaccines. Genocea Biosciences Inc (NASDAQ:GNCA) shares are down over 85% YTD and over 90% in the last year. Its shares are presently trading at over $0.18, while it has a 52-week range of $0.1601 and $2.68. As of writing, Genocea Biosciences’ market cap was more than $9 million. Blue Water Vaccines (-93%) Founded in 2018 and headquartered in Cincinnati, this biotechnology company focuses on developing transformational vaccines to prevent infectious diseases worldwide. Blue Water Vaccines Inc (NASDAQ:BWV) shares are up over 70% in the last five days. Its shares are presently trading over $6.50, while it has a 52-week range of $3.26 and $90.90. As of writing, Blue Water Vaccines’ market cap was more than $70 million. Kaleido Biosciences (-97%) Founded in 2015 and headquartered in Lexington, Mass., this clinical stage healthcare company leverages the microbiome organ to treat disease and improve human health. Kaleido Biosciences Inc (OTCMKTS:KLDO) shares are down over 97% YTD and over 99% in the last one year. Its shares are presently trading over $0.04, while it has a 52-week range of $0.0411 and $9.470. As of writing, Kaleido Biosciences’ market cap was more than $2 million. Updated on May 13, 2022, 10:35 am (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkMay 13th, 2022

Bonobos cofounder Andy Dunn describes how he changed his unstylish ways to run a top fashion brand: "We needed a fashion-startup front man, not a neon orange liability"

In "Burn Rate," Andy Dunn says Brian Spaly, his more fashionable Bonobos cofounder, bought clothes for him and advised him on clothing choices. Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images Andy Dunn is the cofounder and former CEO of menswear brand Bonobos. In his new memoir "Burn Rate," he details one paradoxical challenge he faced while leading the fashion company: He wasn't fashionable. Dunn says his cofounder, Brian Spaly, bought him clothes, writing, "We needed a fashion-startup front man, not a neon orange liability." How do you run a fashion company if you're not fashionable yourself?Andy Dunn recalls finding himself in this very predicament as cofounder and former CEO of menswear brand Bonobos in his new memoir "Burn Rate: Launching a Startup and Losing My Mind," which hit shelves Tuesday.In the book, Dunn recalls meeting his Bonobos cofounder Brian Spaly while the two were students at Stanford's Graduate School of Business."We became fast friends and decided to room together at Schwab, the dorm where most first-year Stanford business school students lived," Dunn wrote. "I admired Spaly. He was better at sports. He was funnier. He had more money. He was self-reliant, disciplined, and frugal. I was none of those things."As for the most important difference between them, Dunn writes, "What defined our future, though, was this difference: he was fashionable and I was not."The two went on to launch Bonobos online in 2007, at first only selling pants before offering other clothing items. Spaly was skeptical about Dunn being CEO of the company because of his approach to clothing, according to the book."Spaly and I were on a run," Dunn recalled. "He made a comment that should have served as a bit of a warning. 'My only problem with you running this company is you're just not that fashionable.' It was cutting and true.""But Spaly was right: for a guy running a fashion company, fashion was not my strong suit," Dunn wrote. "I wore weird combinations. We had a thicker orange corduroy pant, with fatter wales, called the F. Scotts. I paired those with a tight-fitting T-shirt I'd bought on eBay, a replica Walter Payton Chicago Bears jersey, matching the orange pop of the Bears' stripes to the pants. As Spaly would say: 'Oh boy.'"As the two started building Bonobos, Spaly stepped in to lend a hand with Dunn's sartorial style, the book says."Spaly started buying me clothing," Dunn wrote. "We needed a fashion-startup front man, not a neon orange liability. He went to a Ralph Lauren sample sale and came back with a light purple cashmere sweater, a half-zip cotton pullover, and a prep school black-and-red embroidered jacket. He'd suggest which pants I should wear with each item and advise me on compatible shoe purchases."Outside of the book, Dunn has previously spoken about not being particularly stylish. In fact, Bonobos was built partly for men who find themselves in the same boat, he says."I'm kind of the least likely person that you could imagine to be a CEO of a fashion company, and yet at the same time I think it's almost perfect, because Bonobos is really built to make it easier for guys to get great clothes," he told the Associated Press in 2017. "We built the brand not only for guys who have great fashion sense, but for guys who need a little bit of help."In "Burn Rate," Dunn also recounts his experience running a business as someone with bipolar disorder and shares his advice for other business leaders who also have mental illness.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 11th, 2022

How To Double Your Savings Account in 12 Months (Do this One Thing)

Nearly 1 in 5 Americans didn’t save any money in 2021. If you’re one of them and determined to double your savings account by next year, there’s one thing you need to do. First, though, visualize success. Imagine for a moment that you wake up to see your savings account is double the amount it […] Nearly 1 in 5 Americans didn’t save any money in 2021. If you’re one of them and determined to double your savings account by next year, there’s one thing you need to do. First, though, visualize success. Imagine for a moment that you wake up to see your savings account is double the amount it was a year ago. You instantly feel the money stress that used to be so familiar melt away. With a solid savings, you know you can weather most financial storms. It brings a sense of security and contentment. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Henry Singleton Series in PDF Get the entire 4-part series on Henry Singleton in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q1 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more But, how can you get there? And what is the one thing that is most effective when it comes to doubling a savings account in one year? Automation Is The Secret Key To Savings Success You know the drill: You get paid, you spend some money on bills and maybe some fun, and then you hope there’s enough left over to save. But what if there was a way to take the guesswork – and the effort – out of saving money? That’s where automation comes in. In his book I Will Teach You to Be Rich, Ramit Sethi encourages people to automate their money saying, “The beauty of this system is that it works without your involvement and it’s flexible enough to add or remove accounts anytime. You’re accumulating money by default.” And, that’s the way saving money should be. It should be seamless and stress free. There are several ways to automate your savings, but the simplest is probably setting up a separate bank account for your savings and then arranging for a set amount of money to be transferred from your checking account to your savings account each month. This method has the added benefit of helping you keep track of how much you’re saving; after all, it’s easy to lose track of $50 here or $100 there when it’s coming out of your checking account along with everything else. But when that money is sitting in a separate account, it’s a lot easier to see how your savings are growing. Don’t Forget About Retirement Another way to automate your savings is through employer-sponsored retirement plans like 401(k)s. Many employers will allow you to designate a certain percentage of each paycheck to go into your 401(k), and once you’ve set it up, you won’t have to think about it again. Just make sure that you take the extra step to actually invest your savings in a fund so your hard earned money can benefit from compound interest over time. Strategies to Boost Your Savings If you don’t feel like you have excess funds to start automating your savings, below are some strategies you can use to increase your cash flow. More cash means you can automatically save more each month. This will help you successfully reach your goal of doubling your savings in 12 months. Temporarily Lower Your Expenses As anyone who has been following the news recently can attest, keeping our finances in order is more important now than ever. Not only are many of us dealing with financial hardships brought on by the pandemic and other factors, but many people struggle with overconsumption habits. It’s too easy to say increase your savings by cutting back on your expenses. Most people know that if they lower food expenses or stop shopping online, they can boost the amount of cash in their accounts. The problem is finding the desire to implement new habits when you have a goal to reach. So, sometimes it’s helpful to point out you only have to temporarily lower your expenses. You won’t always have to forgo a shopping spree to the mall or drinks out with your friends. These are temporary strategies you can use to double your savings account to give you the base savings account you need to feel comfortable and content. Become a Freelancer One great way to double your savings in 12 months is by creating additional streams of income. There are many ways to do this, so there’s sure to be an option that fits your skills and interests. One option is to start freelancing on the side. If you have a knack for writing, design, or programming, you can use your skills to earn money by working with clients on a freelance basis. The rise of working on the Internet has revolutionized the way freelancers work. One of the biggest advantages is that you can choose who you work with and what projects you want to work on. This is a lot more flexible than getting a side job delivering pizza or working at a store. When you’re a freelancer, you can make extra money but have a much greater sense of control over your work-life balance. Freelancing also allows you to work from anywhere in the world. As long as you have an Internet connection, you can work from home, a coffee shop, or even at the beach. This gives you a level of freedom that traditional side jobs simply can’t match. Finally, freelancing can be extremely rewarding financially even if you only do it part time. You’ll need to have a good work ethic and the motivation to go out and get work. But, this can be an incredibly lucrative way to add to your savings account quickly. Start a Small Business If you’re looking to double your savings account within the next year, one of the best ways to do so is by starting your own business. Not only can running your own company help you generate an income that more than covers your expenses, but it also allows you to be in control of your time and financial future. However, many people put off starting their own businesses due to high startup costs and upfront investments. Luckily, there are a number of ways to start a business on a budget. By keeping costs low and being strategic about where you invest your money and energy, you can set yourself up for success without breaking the bank. Some effective strategies for doing so might include launching a digital product or service that requires minimal overhead. For example, you could start a blog or podcast and use affiliate marketing to generate income. You could also launch an e-commerce store focused on selling products that have a high profit margin. When it comes to providing services to others, some examples include becoming a consultant, photographer, web developer,  or virtual assistant. If you have a unique skill set or talents that others are willing to pay for, there’s no reason why you can’t start your own business and begin generating an income today. This can help you not only reach your goal of doubling your savings account within 12 months, but also set you up for long-term financial success. Refinance Your Loans To double your savings account in just 12 months, it’s also helpful to look beyond the confines of your current financial situation. One option that may help you accomplish this goal is refinancing some of your debt, which could allow you to free up more cash each month and put those resources toward building your savings. Ideally, refinancing your debt will require that you take out a new, lower-interest loan or line of credit to consolidate your existing debts. This can save you significant amounts of money over time and can even allow you to pay off some loans ahead of schedule. In addition, using the extra cash from refinancing to make additional contributions to your savings account can help you reach your savings goal a lot faster. Planning and Discipline are the Keys to Success To summarize, if you want to double your savings account in 12 months, having a plan and staying disciplined are integral to your success.  Doing so will help you avoid unnecessary spending, live within your means, and save more money each month. While it may seem like a daunting task, remember that you can take small steps to reach your goal.  Automating your savings, finding ways to earn extra money, and refinancing your debt to increase cash flow are all great ways to get started. Article by Jeff Rose, Due About the Author Jeff Rose is an Iraqi Combat Veteran and founder of Good Financial Cents. He teaches people wealth hacking. He is a frequent on CNBC, Forbes, Nasdaq and many other publications. He is author of the book "Soldier of Finance: Take Charge of Your Money and Invest in your Future" where he teaches how he escaped from $20,000 in credit card debt to a life of wealth. Updated on May 10, 2022, 4:26 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkMay 11th, 2022

The Great Crash Of 2022... What Happens Next?

The Great Crash Of 2022... What Happens Next? Authored by Bill Blain via, “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger….” Yesterday’s market meltdown was heralded as a “capitulation trade”, but who knows? What we do know is there an awful lot to worry about, and the conditions for the BIG ONE have been building for decades. Time to re-read The Great Crash, 1929. There is nothing like a 6.30 am swim against the tide on cold, grey morning in muddy near-freezing water to remind you of why we spend so much money on mattresses and warm snuggly duvets. Of course, a swim should have been a wonderful moment to contemplate what the papers are calling the “Capitulation Trade” – as stocks posted their worst day in a couple of years and bonds tumbled…. But… Keeping up my momentum against the building down-tide was my primary concern. Does that mean I missed the opportunity to liquidate my entire account before the end of everything – which might be later this afternoon? Oh dear… On Wednesday, the market welcomed Jay Powell’s 50 bp hike with a relief rally. Yesterday it puked and reversed all its recent gains. What changed? Who knows, but was yesterday really the beginning of the big and negative something we’ve all been waiting for? Maybe, maybe not. Who knows? Who can tell? If I knew I wouldn’t be swimming in dirty cold rivers to stay fit, nor would I be writing about it each morning! The thing is there are market crashes, and there are market crashes. And there are Market Crashes… Confused? You will be, but let me try to explain… Let’s start this morning by taking the lotus position and reciting Blain’s Mantra No 1, 10 times: “The market has but one objective, to inflict the maximum amount of hurt on the maximum number of participants.” Om.. Yesterday’s news rumour mill was working overtime. Despite lining up a whole gang of super-villains to support his Bid, I don’t think Musk will acquire Twitter on this offer. Not just because of the regulators now circling it, but I suspect he’s going to step back and think it through. He’d be daft not to as conditions change… but his credibility is on the line.. so daft it may still be.. Back in the real world, talk of massive investor withdrawls, funds in trouble, banks worried about margin calls, and a host of little horrors. Things like Meta ordering a “hiring freeze as growth slows”, concerns about ARK, Tiger Fund and a billion other little signals things are getting a bit noxious out there.. On the other hand, let us not feign surprise if this overhyped market collapses. We’ve all known markets have been struggling for months. Sentiment is precarious. Momentum has been flat. We’ve been waiting for positive signals to resume the upside, but instead a host of exogenous and endogenous shocks from Ukraine, Energy and Food Inflation, Rate Hikes, QT, tax rises and politics have roiled sentiment. Even Robinhood traders can understand that is people have lower real earnings and savings are stretched, then they won’ consume as much and therefore the economy will slow… Doh.. even my puppy get’s that.. Crashes occur when the voting machine that is the market suddenly shifts, and the “maximum number of participants” find themselves on the wrong side of the move. Often a trigger is needed – like yesterday’s crash caused after the euphoric “buy-the-fact” rally was a replaced by the realisation a) the Fed is hawkish, b) the Fed doesn’t really know… That’s a feature of all good crashes – the folk we think know everything; the brilliant entreprenuers, the leaders of industry, the Titans of Finance, and Megamind Hedge fund managers are exposed as not knowing terribly much… (Or swimming naked as the tide goes out, as someone famous once said…) Crashes are momentum moments. They become a chain reaction: As the shift occurs players worry less about chasing the market higher and start to question why its falling. As they lack information, they wonder what others might now, their core beliefs are shaken, concerns are magnified, sentiment is rocked, fear triggers selling pressure, causing the herd to stampede, and all these behaviour shifts coalesce in a cascading ripple of panic that roils and rolls round the market. Bing, bosh, bank… criticality is reached. Yee Ha! Some crashes occur as a slow correction – when it becomes clear inflated financial assets expectations have been over-egged and that the returns are not as promising as hoped. The game becomes finding the “greater fool” – who will be the buyer at the top of the market as everyone else exits. The “greater fool” will often sell at a loss to another “optimistic idiot” who thinks the asset looks cheap as it falls, but doesn’t really the bubble is well and truly popped. That happened with the Dot.Com bust in 2000 and seems to be happening today with Names in Ark, and busted flushes like Meta and Netaflix. Some crashes occur as a sharp correction, when a massive sentiment bubble unexpectedly pops, causing the market to crash. Such crashes can reverse fairly quickly. The great Hurricane Black Monday Crash of 1987 was such an event – every major market crashed between 20-40%. It came on the back of a 300% rise in global stocks over 5 years, big bang in London, global growth and recovery after the bleak ‘70s, but the trigger was a series of tax changes and a rising trade deficit in the US. Suddenly everyone wanted their money out – triggering a stampede for the exits, and a timely reminder the New York Stock Exchange has 27 doors marked “entry” but only one says “exit”. And some crashes happen because the market has just been fooling itself too long. Imagine a world where massive amounts of central bank liquidity have been juicing stock markets and keeping bond yield low for a decade, where financial assets have been trading a repeated record highs in spite of lethargic economic growth, where the global economy is wracked by supply chain breakdowns, a global epidemic, out-of-control inflation and increasing geopolitical tension and the threat of war? Imagine a world where a single automaker meeting a fraction of the world’s auto demand is worth more and makes less than all the other manufacturers combined? A good example of what is to come might be The Great Crash of 1929. The Great Crash was the inevitable culmination of the gilded boom time of the Twenties, the excesses of the Gatsby era, and a fervent belief the world had changed and unlimited wealth and jobs were the new, new normal. Speculation, most famously in fetid Florida swaps, was rife. Credit was free and easy – and pretty much out of control. Everybody believed.. till the moment they did not. It all went south in October ’29. The inter-day falls were not record breaking, but collectively a 5-Black-day series was the worst collapse in stock market history. There was a mean reversion in the stock market over 3 years completely wiping out all the post-WW1 gains. Critically it triggered years of banking failures and economic decline as bankruptcies’ and corporate failure swept the US. It triggered global depression and ushered in the rise of populism in Europe. Recovery required a war. The initial political responses – like protectionist trade policies in the US – simply made the crash in global trade even more damaging. Eventually it was realised greater financial regulation an oversight was required, while Roosevelt’s new deal went to some to repair the social damage in the US. So let me set Porridge Readers some homework this weekend. Arm yourself with a copy of John Kenneth Galbraith’s fantastic and entertaining book The Great Crash 1929. See if you can spot any parallels.. If not… have you been paying attention? If you want to understand the future.. understand the past.. Tyler Durden Fri, 05/06/2022 - 08:13.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytMay 6th, 2022

Despite Republican saber-rattling about the "lawless" leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion, experts say it"s unlikely anyone broke the law

Sharing a seismic draft opinion that would gut Roe v. Wade with the press violated ethical norms but likely didn't run afoul of the law. AP/Jon Elswick GOP lawmakers and the right-wing media have zeroed in on the "lawless" leak of a seismic draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade. They've suggested that the person who leaked the draft broke the law and "should be prosecuted" and "go to jail for a very long time." But legal experts threw cold water on the allegations, saying that while the leak violated ethical norms, it likely didn't break any laws. The seismic reveal of a draft Supreme Court opinion Monday night that would strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling on abortion rights has sent the public and political sphere into a frenzy.While most of the conversation has centered on the enormous impact such a ruling would have on peoples' ability to access safe and legal abortions in the US, the right-wing has zeroed in on the leak itself.Almost immediately, it inspired a game of whodunit among conservatives and those in the right-wing media, many of whom suggested the person who leaked the draft opinion had broken the law.Fox News commentator Laura Ingraham said Monday night that it's "incumbent" on Chief Justice John Roberts to "bring every law clerk before him" and demand that they "give me your phones ... or the FBI. Give me your phones. We want all your accounts ... Look at every device you've ever used and find out who did this."Top congressional Republicans jumped on the bandwagon, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell describing the leak as a "lawless action" that should be "investigated and punished as fully as possible.""The Chief Justice must get to the bottom of it and the Department of Justice must pursue criminal charges if applicable," he added.GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas also called for an FBI investigation and told reporters the person responsible "should be prosecuted and should go to jail for a very long time."He added that it was "utterly stunning that anyone at the court would leak a draft opinion," and falsely claimed that "in over 200 years of our nation's history, this has never happened and I'm appalled."But as the law professor Jonathan Peters noted Monday, information has leaked out of the high court before, including 1973's Roe v. Wade ruling.And despite conservative saber-rattling about the nature of the leak, experts say it doesn't appear that any law was violated."I am genuinely wondering what authority the FBI has here," the national security lawyer Bradley Moss wrote. "Difficult to identify any realistic criminal violation."Orin Kerr, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, echoed that assessment, writing that while there are federal statutes that criminalize leaking classified information, draft Supreme Court opinions don't fall under that category."As far as I can tell, there is no federal criminal law that directly prohibits disclosure of a draft legal opinion," he wrote.He added, however, that "although the leaking itself isn't a crime, there may be a crime somewhere in the bigger picture. For example, perhaps someone or some institution hacked into the computer of someone who had a draft of the opinion. Or maybe someone stole a paper copy of the opinion from someone who had a copy. Both of those are federal crimes."Roberts announced in a statement Tuesday that he had ordered the Supreme Court marshal to spearhead an investigation into finding the source of the leak.David Lat, the author of the Original Jurisdiction newsletter and an expert on the court, told Insider that Roberts' decision to delegate the investigation to the marshal "suggests they are treating it like an ethical and employment issue" and an "internal matter," not a legal one.He also pointed out that the court has a history of stopping short of attaching liability for actions that might stretch the law."It's funny," Lat said. "They're not really fans of creative theories of criminal liability." That said, people familiar with the court's deliberation process stressed that the leak spells trouble for the collegiality and internal trust that justices have traditionally enjoyed."The court can't operate if that happens. This is a major, major leak," a former Supreme Court clerk told Insider. "It's hard to imagine a bigger leak."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 3rd, 2022

Despite conservative saber-rattling about the "lawless" leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion, experts say it"s unlikely anyone broke the law

Sharing a seismic draft Supreme Court opinion that would gut Roe v. Wade with the press violated ethical norms but likely didn't run afoul of the law. AP/Jon Elswick GOP lawmakers and the right-wing media have zeroed in on the "lawless" leak of a seismic draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade. They've suggested that the person who leaked the draft broke the law and "should be prosecuted" and "go to jail for a very long time." But legal experts threw cold water on the allegations, saying that while the leak violated ethical norms, it likely didn't break any laws. The seismic reveal of a draft Supreme Court opinion Monday night that would strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling on abortion rights has sent the public and political sphere into a frenzy.While most of the conversation has centered on the enormous impact such a ruling would have on peoples' ability to access safe and legal abortions in the US, the right-wing has zeroed in on the leak itself.Almost immediately, it inspired a game of whodunit among conservatives and those in the right-wing media, many of whom suggested the person who leaked the draft opinion had broken the law.Fox News commentator Laura Ingraham said Monday night that it's "incumbent" for Chief Justice John Roberts to "bring every law clerk before him" and demand that they "give me your phones ... or the FBI. Give me your phones. We want all your accounts ... Look at every device you've ever used and find out who did this."Top congressional Republicans jumped on the bandwagon, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell describing the leak as a "lawless action" that should be "investigated and punished as fully as possible.""The Chief Justice must get to the bottom of it and the Department of Justice must pursue criminal charges if applicable," he added.GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas also called for an FBI investigation and told reporters the person responsible "should be prosecuted and should go to jail for a very long time."He added that it was "utterly stunning that anyone at the court would leak a draft opinion," and falsely claimed that "in over 200 years of our nation's history, this has never happened and I'm appalled."In fact, as the law professor Jonathan Peters noted Monday, information has leaked out of the high court before, including 1973's Roe v. Wade decision.Moreover, despite conservative saber-rattling about the nature of the leak, experts say it doesn't appear that any law has been violated."I am genuinely wondering what authority the FBI has here," the national security lawyer Bradley Moss wrote. "Difficult to identify any realistic criminal violation."Orin Kerr, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, echoed that assessment, writing that while there are federal statutes that criminalize leaking classified information, draft Supreme Court opinions don't fall under that category."As far as I can tell, there is no federal criminal law that directly prohibits disclosure of a draft legal opinion," he wrote.He added, however, that "although the leaking itself isn't a crime, there may be a crime somewhere in the bigger picture. For example, perhaps someone or some institution hacked into the computer of someone who had a draft of the opinion. Or maybe someone stole a paper copy of the opinion from someone who had a copy. Both of those are federal crimes."Roberts on Tuesday announced in a statement that he had ordered the Supreme Court marshal to spearhead an investigation into finding the source of the leak.David Lat, the author of the Original Jurisdiction newsletter and an expert on the court, told Insider that Roberts' decision to delegate the investigation to the marshal "suggests they are treating it like an ethical and employment issue" and an "internal matter," not a legal one.He also pointed out that the court has a history of stopping short of attaching liability for actions that might stretch the law."It's funny," Lat said. "They're not really fans of creative theories of criminal liability." That said, people familiar with the court's deliberation process stressed that the leak spells trouble for the collegiality and internal trust that justices have traditionally enjoyed."The court can't operate if that happens. This is a major, major leak," a former Supreme Court clerk told Insider. "It's hard to imagine a bigger leak."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 3rd, 2022

How To Start A Business With No Money

Have you ever dreamed of owning a business? I can’t blame you. The advantages, after all, are crystal clear. Mainly, you get to be your own boss, set your own hours, and make a living off of a passion. Because of this, it’s not surprising that about three in five Americans (61 percent) have an […] Have you ever dreamed of owning a business? I can’t blame you. The advantages, after all, are crystal clear. Mainly, you get to be your own boss, set your own hours, and make a living off of a passion. Because of this, it’s not surprising that about three in five Americans (61 percent) have an idea for starting a business, and about a third (34 percent) have had more than one idea. .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Ray Dalio Series in PDF Get the entire 10-part series on Ray Dalio in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q1 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Despite this, it remains a dream to many due to funding constraints. In fact, according to Zapier, 63% of Americans haven’t followed through with starting a business due to a lack of funding. To be fair, that’s a valid concern. After all, it costs money to start a business. And, if you’re already on a limited budget, this could further complicate matters. There is some good news though. A business can be started, or even expanded, for free if you think strategically and utilize available resources. Take advantage of what you have. Let’s say that you love pizza. Who doesn’t? But, you’re such an avid pizza fan that you want to have your own pizzeria. Even if you actually know how to make a mouthwatering pie that people would line up for, you need a lot of money upfront. Besides a physical location, you need key equipment like pizza ovens. Simply going the food truck route would also cost a pretty penny. Another option? About taking your passion and knowledge and sharing it with others through a blog. Believe it or not, you can set up your own blog via Blogger or Medium. So, that means you’re only investing your time. And, eventually, when you get a following you can make money with ads and affiliate marketing. That’s just a long way of saying that when starting a new business consider what you have at your fingertips. What unique skills do you currently possess? Do you have any past experience? What areas are you knowledgeable in? Identify your relationships with others, map out your network of contacts, and consider how your connections can assist you in using what you have to your advantage. What are your resources and what can you access? Consider what you have available in greater detail than what springs to mind immediately. And, you should also document your findings so that you take stock of what you already have and how that can assist you. Focus on businesses that require little upfront capital. After considering what you have at your disposal, are there any low-cost business ideas that correspond? Again, if you’re a pizza aficionado, then starting a blog is an obvious business idea that requires little capital upfront. In fact, the number of businesses you can start today requires little or no money initially. Particularly, service-based businesses. A service-based business is one in which you sell services as your primary product. Due to the fact that you won’t be selling products, you won’t need inventory, a shop to manufacture the goods, or a warehouse to store them. Almost any service business can be started on a shoestring budget. Online businesses, especially, are well suited to this. Often, you need nothing more than a computer, an internet connection, and your time. Suggestions would be consulting, freelancing, or dropshipping. There are also so offline ideas like dog walking or being an Airbnb host. Vet your idea. You’re probably going to put money into your idea eventually, even if you’re reinvesting the profits. “Before you put money in your business, make sure you validate your idea within your trusted circle,” says Fahim Sheikh, owner of SaaS company Trellis. “Sometimes, we think we have a great idea, but when we explain it or pitch it to others, we often realize that the concept may be a tough sell.” It’s important to ensure your idea has legs that will make it worth your time and ultimately earn you a profit despite the low startup costs. Calculate essential business expenses. It’s always a good idea to calculate your expected costs before you start a business with no money. Why? Because this will establish a savings goal so you have enough money to get started. Shopify estimates that starting a business with zero employees normally costs $18,000, while up to four employees typically spend $60k during the first year of operation. Shopify’s study included 300 business owners, and the following were the ways they funded their businesses; 198 drew on personal savings 90 reinvested revenue 69 received support from friends and family 63 obtained a personal loan As such, the number one way to start a business is by bootstrapping, so you’ll most likely need some type of personal capital eventually. According to Shopify, businesses should aim to spend a certain percentage of their budget on the following various aspects of the business. Operation: 10%–15% Product: 28%–36% Shipping: 8%–12% Online: 9%–10% Marketing: 7%–12% Team: 14%–30 The good news is that your budget will only be about $1,500 per month for a year’s worth of operation. Now, if you’re starting an online or service-based business, you can drastically reduce these expenses. Take operations, as an example. Instead of paying for Quicken you could use free alternatives like GnuCash. Regardless, at some, you will have to invest in your business. So, it’s not a bad idea to get ahead a start with your savings. Don’t quit your day job. It’s cool to have a big idea. It’s even cooler to actually make that idea a reality. But, let’s be real here. Ideas don’t put food on the table. It’s rarely a good idea to quit your day job and start a business that hasn’t been tested. Moreover, your chances of succeeding are better if you stay employed at your day job. The reason? As you begin and build your business, it will be easier for you to take risks if you have a steady income. Although this may be difficult at first it will help you scale your business faster. Additionally, this gives you the freedom to pursue new opportunities. Additionally, you can invest and grow your business faster with your income. You will also find transitioning from an employee into a business owner much easier once your business begins to thrive. In other words, you should build a solid foundation if you hope to achieve long-term success. How long should you keep your day job? That depends. However, it’s suggested that wait until you have at least six months of expenses saved. It usually takes about six months before you begin to see any cash flow. So, if having this stashed away prevents you from living on credit or depleting your savings. Invest only what you can afford to lose. A golden rule of investing is to never invest money that you can’t afford to lose. And, that definitely also applies to starting a business. You can maintain flexibility in the business by investing only what you can afford to lose. It also reduces stress and prevents overreaching. And, you may never launch your business because you’ll invest only when you expect a specific return. As an example, let’s say that there’s a person who refuses to quit their well-paying job until they find one that pays more. In contrast, one might decide to invest a small amount of money and three years into a project that they’re passionate about — regardless of whether it will pay more than they’re making now. Minimize your spending. When starting a business with no money, lower your costs as much as possible. You can start by taking these steps; Work from home. A business that can be run from home requires less capital than a storefront, warehouse, or office. Enact a spending freeze. Choose a length of time, whether a week, a month or six months, during which you do not purchase any products or services you do not need. Use cheap or free services. WordPress or Wix are free services that allow you to build a basic website and market your business using Facebook or Instagram. For accounting and project management there’s Wave and Wrike respectively. Get free or used equipment. You might be able to get a free computer, for instance, over at FreeCyle. Or, you can head over to EquipNet to scope out used office equipment or furniture. Invest in only what’s essential. Deciphering wants from needs can be tricky. In general, if something is essential to your survival, then it counts as a need. For your business, this should be directly related to revenue generation, such as marketing and training. Get in the trenches. Who else is going to invest as much time, energy, and resources into your business as you? No one. With that in mind, you’re going to have to put in the time and effort as a business owner. What’s more, you’re also going to have to wear multiple hats until you can afford to hire freelancers or employees. You must do everything you can to build a solid base for your new business. Whether that’s learning new skills for free online, making cold calls, writing blog posts, engaging your audience on social media, or attending trade shows. You will also make mistakes when you are in the trenches. In fact, mistake-making is an important element of setting up a new business. Making mistakes is the best way to find out what works and what doesn’t work for you or your business. Having all the groundwork laid beforehand will also make onboarding new employees more convenient. Due to your firsthand experience of what it takes to succeed in your business, you will be able to guide your employees to success. Find alternative funding sources. Despite the fact that you may need little to no money to start a business, there is a good chance you will incur some expenses along the way, especially if you expand. Fortunately, you have several funding options available to you. Friends and family. Prepare a business proposal to help you raise money if you know someone with enough capital to help fund your venture. Most importantly, you should set clear expectations about doing business with family or friends to avoid misunderstandings. Credit cards. While they may be the easiest way to obtain short-term financing, they have some drawbacks as well. One drawback is that they are very expensive. Most cash advances come with high-interest rates. Cash advances are typically charged an upfront fee of between 3% and 5% with credit cards. Business loans. Usually, a bank or alternative lender will make a business loan to a company. Small business loans come with high-interest rates, fees, and repayment terms, so do your research before applying for one. Generally, lenders consider your credit history, business history, annual revenue, and ability to pay back the loan when approving your loan. Home equity loans and home equity lines of credit. If you have sufficient equity in your home and are a homeowner, this will be an option. However, the collateral for the loan is going to be your home. You’re still responsible for the equity loan or line of credit if your business fails. Retirement plan loans. The IRS allows you to borrow up to 50% of your vested interest in your plan, or $50,000. But, you must continue working in order to receive the loan. You will need to repay the loan within 60 days if you leave your job to start your new business venture. Business grants. Business grants are a form of free capital given to companies to help them expand. They come with a number of requirements and stipulations, though. The competition for business grants can be fierce as well. This means that you should only apply for grants that directly relate to your business, such as business grants for women or business grants for minorities. Crowdfunding. Consider crowdfunding (raising money from many donors) if you don’t feel comfortable asking someone to help finance your business. It is possible to raise money through a donation, debt, reward, or equity crowdfunding campaign. Frequently Asked Questions About Starting a Business With No Money 1. Do I have what it takes to start a business? Even if you have an idea for a business, the best place to begin your planning process is to decide whether you have the skills required to start and operate a business An objective assessment of your skills, abilities, and talents as well as an assessment of your strengths, weaknesses, and personal situation are necessary when determining whether you possess business acumen. 2. Can I really start a business for free? Short answer; yes. It is possible to start a low-cost business on a shoestring and scale it up later. It is not unusual for businesses to start small, working from home or online, then expand and hire more employees while finding a larger location. 3. What kind of business should I start? If you’re unsure, you should start something in your area of expertise. You should view the start-up of any business as an investment in your own human potential. Although you could generate income for another company using your skills, you decided that opening a business will be a better option for you. In the same way that you wouldn’t invest in stocks or other investment vehicles outside your comfort zone, you shouldn’t do that with your own strengths. If you choose a business in a category you already know a lot about, starting a business will be easier, even if it’s not always a seamless process. 4. How will I market my business? Marketing your business will be easier if you know your target audience. B2B audiences may respond better to webinars and white papers, while younger audiences may benefit from social media. Understanding where and how you will market your business is crucial before you start a business. Brands that have successfully communicated their value proposition have become world leaders. Defining your unique selling proposition and communicating it to the right people should be your marketing focus before you launch. Poor marketing can be fatal for new companies. 5. When can I expect my business to turn a profit? Generally, it takes between six months and a year to reach profitability. Taking this into consideration, technological advancements and advances in communications have made it very easy to start your own business with almost no overhead, especially in a service-based economy. Here is where the importance of a business plan shines brightest, since a plan will allow you to project your profitability. Article by John Rampton, Due About the Author John Rampton is an entrepreneur and connector. When he was 23 years old while attending the University of Utah he was hurt in a construction accident. His leg was snapped in half. He was told by 13 doctors he would never walk again. Over the next 12 months he had several surgeries, stem cell injections and learned how to walk again. During this time he studied and mastered how to make money work for you, not against you. He has since taught thousands through books, courses and written over 5000 articles online about finance, entrepreneurship and productivity. He has been recognized as the Top Online Influencers in the World by Entrepreneur Magazine, Finance Expert by Time and Annuity Expert by Nasdaq. He is the Founder and CEO of Due. Updated on May 2, 2022, 4:30 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkMay 2nd, 2022

Billionaires Have Always Owned the Media. Musk Is No Great Threat

The explosive announcement that Elon Musk is buying Twitter and taking it private has generated a slew of commentary. While there have been some hosannas, the general tone has tended more toward the apocalyptic, and the most common refrain has been that we are at “peak billionaire” and that Musk’s acquisition reflects a disturbing acceleration… The explosive announcement that Elon Musk is buying Twitter and taking it private has generated a slew of commentary. While there have been some hosannas, the general tone has tended more toward the apocalyptic, and the most common refrain has been that we are at “peak billionaire” and that Musk’s acquisition reflects a disturbing acceleration of not just inequality but of the ability of the very rich to dictate the rules of the public square and hence of democracy itself. The consensus of the commentariat does not equal Truth with a capital T. Nor does the conviction that billionaires buying media companies imperils the free flow of information and debate in a democracy. If you believe, as many do, that the very existence of billionaires represents a failure of capitalism to distribute gains more equitably, then it follows that much of what the very rich do is tainted and likely not in the best interests of the many. In that case, most of what happens in capitalist systems today is at best sub-optimal for a good society. If, however, you accept that there is no perfect human society and that most of us are some messy mix of things that work well and things that are spectacularly awry, then it’s worth asking whether Musk buying Twitter is actually a very good thing for speech and democracy. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] The idea that the free flow of information is imperiled when new mediums are owned by a few wealthy individuals resonates today, but that doesn’t make it so. When William Randolph Heart and Joseph Pulitzer and Cyrus McCormick presided over their early 20th century news empires, their newspapers were undoubtedly partisan, but that was balanced by the fact that none had anything approaching a monopoly, even in individual cities. Today’s commentariat might be forgiven for forgetting such a distant past, but what of the more recent past? In the middle of the 20th century, the news outlets that were held as icons of the free press were by and large owned by…a few wealthy families: the Grahams owned The Washington Post, the Chandlers owned The Los Angeles Times, the Taylors owned The Boston Globe, and, of course, the Sulzbergers owned (and still own) The New York Times. Major media companies that controlled TV stations were likewise owned by a few major wealthy people, such as the Cox family (which still controls a plentitude of cable and TV stations), the Gannet family, and a bit later, the Sinclair family and its hundreds of stations, and, of course, the Murdochs with the Fox Network and The Wall Street Journal (purchased in turn from another wealthy family, the Bancrofts). Read More: What Musk Really Believes He’s Buying With Twitter So, during the two supposed “golden ages” of media, the first in the Progressive Era of the late 19th and early 20th centuries when journalists were part of the great social movement toward reform and government oversight and the second from roughly the 1950s through the 1990s, private ownership by the very rich was typical. When that began to falter in the early 2000s, we saw a massive closing of newspapers and gutting of local newsrooms, especially as ad revenue disappeared thanks to the rise of Facebook and Google. The same pattern happened with magazines, many of which had also been owned by wealthy families. The savior of those ailing properties in the past decade have been, by and large, wealthy individuals: John Henry bought The Boston Globe, Patrick Soon-Shiong bought the Los Angeles Times, Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post, Laurene Powell-Jobs The Atlantic, Chatchaval Jiaravanon Fortune, and Marc Benioff, of course, Time. That list is hardly comprehensive—most of the papers and platforms you likely read have similar owners, though some aren’t billionaires. Why then is Musk buying Twitter seen as such as dangerous anomaly? In part, it’s because Twitter isn’t a publication distributed in the public square (digitally or physically), it is one of the squares. In that way it’s more like a very big network than a single media property. But it commands nowhere near a monopoly, and if Musk were truly to turn it into a right-wing bro ghetto, it’s more than likely people would turn elsewhere, namely Facebook or Snap or Tiktok, all of which are already bigger than Twitter. Setting up a new social media platform has never been easier, even if doing it well is a challenge (as Trump and his rocky Truth Social launch have demonstrated). In part, however, the reaction to Musk is an explosive reaction to the general ugly tone of public debate, and the fear that the current state of social media is chaotic dissemination of unfiltered content in the name of profit that imperils democracy. That fear is palpable, but here too, that doesn’t mean it’s the right diagnosis of what ails us. The late Sixties and early Seventies were tumultuous, angry, and seemingly on the brink in both the U.S. and Europe when there was no social media, which suggests that the fact that social media is anarchic today doesn’t mean that it is a root cause of all of our collective ailments. Part of the reaction is undoubtedly about the epochal weirdness of Musk himself, and the mercurial unpredictability of his words and actions. And yet, here is a man who has excelled in constructing two mega-companies—Tesla and SpaceX—that requires meticulous attention to process and detail as well as rigorous organization, recruiting and retaining immensely talented people, and high levels of internal and external accountability. Musk’s persona in no way has precluded that and he has in fact enabled the cultures that make sophisticated vehicles whose failure would result in death. That should, at the very least, suggest that as a manager and owner, he does not play fast and loose. Finally, before this recent crop of wealthy individuals stepped in and bought these media properties and platforms, their ability to function as robust clearinghouses of information was becoming increasingly hampered by their inability to make a profit. Compared to the net worth of their new owners, these platforms and publications are mostly rounding errors: Bezos bought the Washington Post for $250 million, which was a fraction of his multi-billion net worth at the time. They bought these properties not to make money but to gratify either their ego or because of some sense of noblesse oblige that having a flourishing marketplace of ideas is simply a good thing for society. And judging from the past decade, as these publications and platforms have rebounded with the investments made by their wealthy private patrons, their ownership by a few wealthy people has been far healthier for a vibrant society than what came immediately before. Even if we don’t like these billionaires owning these publications, what’s the alternative? Government control? DAO-owned magazines? Twitter will cost Musk and his backers considerably more, but they will still be free to run the platform without the relentless pressure of Wall Street to generate profit and margins according to the dictates of fickle public markets. The fear that Musk will somehow turn Twitter into his personal megaphone belies that fact that it already is—and that’s true for many others, too. And the fear that he will turn Twitter into an ungovernable sphere of false information belies the fact that in many ways it currently is just that, along with a magnificent sphere for finding information and like-minded people and groups. Musk claims that he is dedicated to making that space better for speech; perhaps that will prove false, but that critique should come once that is clear, not in advance. There is nothing new about someone with great wealth buying a media platform. A look through the past decades suggests that free speech is often enabled by wealthy patrons. The uproar over Musk is predictable in our culture of outrage, but let’s pause our high dudgeon and see how this plays out before writing the obituaries and shrill pronouncements that perform so well on Twitter but do so little to advance our understanding of the world we are living in......»»

Category: topSource: timeApr 27th, 2022

The best new books to read in 2022, based on your zodiac sign

Whether you're an independent Aries or connection-driven Gemini, here are great 2022 book recommendations based on your zodiac sign. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.Whether you're an independent Aries or connection-driven Gemini, here are great 2022 book recommendations based on your zodiac sign.IStock PhotoWhen you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. With so many great books to choose from, finding a great read can be overwhelming. To help, here are newly released 2022 book recommendations based on your astrological sign. These picks include exciting new fiction and nonfiction reads in 2022. With so many amazing books on the market, it can feel impossible to choose the one you know you'll enjoy. As a Leo who doesn't fiercely crave the spotlight, I know our astrological signs don't create a flawless, spot-on image of who we are. But they can offer intriguing insights into what motivates or interests us.These 2022 books focus on great characters, stunning writing styles, and unique plots that mirror zodiac personality traits for each sign. So whether you're an independent Aries or connection-driven Gemini, here are 3 great 2022 book recommendations based on your zodiac sign. Learn more about how Insider Reviews reviews and researches books.The best 2022 books to read, based on your zodiac sign:Aries"The Memory Librarian" by Janelle MonáeAmazon"The Memory Librarian" by Janelle Monáe, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $23.99This collection of science fiction short stories begins with Jane 57821, who decides to break free from a world in which your thoughts can be controlled and erased by a select few. As a  natural leader that craves leadership and freedom, Aries will love the powerful characters rising against a totalitarian landscape in this inspired and artistic read."The Verifiers" by Jane PekAmazon"The Verifiers" by Jane Pek, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.59Featuring a strong, quick-witted heroine with which Aries can easily identify, "The Verifiers" is a mystery that follows Claudia Lin, an amateur sleuth who's just been recruited to work for an online-dating detective agency. In a story that will appeal to Aries' bold and brave nature, Claudia has to break protocol to investigate when someone goes missing."The Lost Dreamer" by Lizz HuertaAmazon"The Lost Dreamer" by Lizz Huerta, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.99In this debut YA fantasy, Indir is a Dreamer whose existence is threatened when a new king seeks to bring her kind to a permanent end and Saya is a seer who discovers she has more than one gift. Aries will love these two determined trailblazers as they face impossible choices, new frontiers, and high-stakes risks in this supernatural read inspired by ancient Mesoamerica.Taurus"The Nineties" by Chuck KlostermanAmazon"The Nineties" by Chuck Klosterman, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $17.78This new nonfiction read revisits 1990s America, recognizing the accelerated cultural revolution that occurred before convenience technology crept into everyday life. While "The Nineties" is a fascinating analysis of a decade of social rifts and shifts, Tauruses will revel in the nostalgia and the "good old days" feelings from which they've never quite let go."Homicide and Halo-Halo" by Mia P. ManansalaAmazon"Homicide and Halo-Halo" by Mia P. Manansala, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $13.39"Homicide and Halo-Halo" is a cozy, tasty mystery novel about Lila Macapagal, whose summer is turned upside down when a resurrected local beauty pageant leads to the murder of a judge. Taurus readers will love to settle into the comfort of this foodie mystery novel as Lila and her old rival put aside their past to solve the case."House of Sky and Breath" by Sarah J. MaasAmazon"House of Sky and Breath" by Sarah J. Maas, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $17.74"House of Sky and Breath" is the stunning fantasy sequel to "House of Earth and Blood." In this novel, the dust has just begun to settle around Bryce Quinlan and Hunt Athalar when they get pulled into rebel plans and must continue to fight for what's right. Tauruses will revel in the sheer beauty of this book, both inside and out, and enjoy the familiarity of a continued but equally captivating story.Gemini"All My Rage" by Sabaa TahirAmazon"All My Rage" by Sabaa Tahir, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $12.99While "All My Rage" will certainly appeal to Geminis because of its multiple storylines that stretch generations and continents, it's the connection between characters that will truly speak to Gemini readers. Sal and Noor were as close as family members until a terrible fight split them apart. Now, as each former friend struggles against personal and familial trials, they must weigh the value of friendship against what once divided them in this story of family, loss, and forgiveness."Gallant" by V.E. SchwabAmazon"Gallant" by V.E. Schwab, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.95When a strange letter invites Olivia Prior home to the secret-laden Gallant, she accidentally finds herself on the other side of a ruined wall, in a strange alternate version of the world she just left. As they are curious and extremely adaptable, Gemini readers will love to follow Olivia as she unravels generations of secrets and tries to find the place she belongs."Don't Cry for Me" by Daniel BlackAmazon"Don't Cry for Me" by Daniel Black, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $22.48As Jacob lies on his deathbed, he begins to write letters to his estranged son, Isaac, pouring out truths from his heart and ancestral stories he believes his son should know. Geminis, who are natural communicators and expressive with their emotions, will undoubtedly cherish this hopeful and authentic story of empathy, reconciliation, and forgiveness.Cancer"Black Cake" by Charmaine WilkersonAmazon"Black Cake" by Charmaine Wilkerson, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $17.81Cancers are family-oriented and drawn to nurturing, so the moving familial story of "Black Cake" is sure to be a great pick for this water sign. In the wake of their mother's passing, Byron and Benny are left with a voice recording and a family recipe for a traditional Caribbean black cake. As the once-close siblings attempt to fulfill their mother's final wish, they embark on a journey of inheritance, family history, and motherhood."Book Lovers" by Emily HenryBookshop"Book Lovers" by Emily Henry, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.99With their hard shell and soft interior, it's easy to know Cancers will love an enemies-to-lovers romance. Nora Stephens is a cutthroat literary agent ready to become the heroine of her own story when she takes a trip with her sister to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina. Hundreds of miles from the city, Nora still manages to run into editor Charlie Lastra, with whom she's had more than her share of unpleasant interactions, but can't seem to avoid in this bookish romance."Vinyl Moon" by Mahogany L. BrowneAmazon"Vinyl Moon" by Mahogany L. Browne, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.53As Angel attempts to heal from a painful incident that led her to Brooklyn and away from her California life, she manages to find healing in her literature course, amongst the prose of Black writers. As Cancers are sensitive but protective of their emotions, Angel's story will resonate with Cancer readers as she allows herself to become immersed in words and slowly heal from her past. Leo"The Paris Apartment" by Lucy FoleyAmazon"The Paris Apartment" by Lucy Foley, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $18.16Lucy Foley's newest twisty thriller, set in a Parisian apartment surrounded by eclectic and mysterious neighbors, is a great pick for any drama-loving Leo. When Jess is in need of a fresh start, her half-brother apathetically agrees to let her stay with him for a while but seems to be missing once she turns up at his apartment. As Jess begins to investigate his strange disappearance, it soon becomes clear that every neighbor is a suspect with their own secrets. "Run Rose Run" by James Patterson and Dolly PartonAmazon"Run Rose Run" by James Patterson and Dolly Parton, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $18.00Co-written by a musical legend and one of the bestselling authors of all time, "Run Rose Run" is a fast-paced mystery about a young girl who comes to Nashville to rise to the top while outrunning her past. Leo readers will root for AnnieLee Keyes while reveling in the danger, drama, and desire of this page-turner. "Ramón and Julieta" by Alana Quintana AlbertsonAmazon"Ramón and Julieta" by Alana Quintana Albertson, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.40Celebrity Chef Julieta Campos is fighting against a bitter rivalry, rising tensions, and a surprising connection to her new landlord, Ramón, to save her beloved taqueria. Strong, ambitious, and determined Leos are sure to love this contemporary retelling of "Romeo and Juliet" as Ramón and Julieta must decide if they'll allow rivalries to divide them or allow love to bring them together. Virgo"To Paradise" by Hanya YanagiharaBookshop"To Paradise" by Hanya Yanagihara, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $20.18Internally emotional and detail-oriented Virgos will find themselves easily immersed in "To Paradise", a powerful literary novel that spans three centuries from an alternate 1893 reality, to 1993 Manhattan submerged in the AIDS epidemic, to a totalitarian future in 2093. As the three sections of this incredible novel come together, the characters connect through their perfectly flawed humanity."The Intersectional Environmentalist" by Leah ThomasBookshop"The Intersectional Environmentalist" by Leah Thomas, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $20.99Since Virgos are intellectual and resourceful problem-solvers, "The Intersectional Environmentalist" is a great nonfiction pick for Virgo readers. In this book, Leah Thomas demonstrates how minorities, especially BIPOC, are significantly more impacted by environmental injustices. Both an informational read and a call to action, this book shows how the fight for civil rights and our environment are irrevocably intertwined."What My Bones Know: A Memoir of Healing from Complex Trauma" by Stephanie FooAmazon"What My Bones Know: A Memoir of Healing from Complex Trauma" by Stephanie Foo, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $23.99"What My Bones Know" is a powerful memoir about Stephanie Foo's journey to understand the years of abuse and generational trauma that led to her diagnosis of complex PTSD. Because Virgos are compassionate and driven to understand and support others, Stephanie Foo's deeply personal and heavily researched memoir will affect Virgio readers with a painful but hopeful and enlightening story. Libra"Weather Girl" by Rachel Lynn SolomonAmazon"Weather Girl" by Rachel Lynn Solomon, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $11.99This charming new love story is perfect for eternally romantic Libras. Ari Abrams and Russell Barringer work together on a news team, both subjected to the constant conflict of their divorced bosses. After a calamitous work party, Ari and Russell decide to secretly meddle in their bosses' issues in the hopes of mending their relationship until their plan backfires and they realize the real chemistry might be between them instead."The Violin Conspiracy" by Brendan SlocumbAmazon"The Violin Conspiracy" by Brendan Slocumb, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $17.88When Ray McMillian's prized family heirloom violin is stolen just before an international competition, his dreams of becoming a professional musician seem to be crushed. Libras, who value fairness and balance, will root for Ray as others, from family to foe, try to claim the precious violin as their own."Fiona and Jane" by Jean Chen HoAmazon"Fiona and Jane" by Jean Chen Ho, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.99Social and diplomatic Libras will love "Fiona and Jane," an alternating collection of short stories that illuminate two best friends who drift in and out of each other's lives over two decades. Best friends through childhood and adolescence, Fiona and Jane are separated by distance and betrayals but brought together by a multi-layered friendship in this contemplative read.Scorpio"An Arrow to the Moon" by Emily X. R. PanAmazon"An Arrow to the Moon" by Emily X. R. Pan, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.99When a new boy named Hunter Yee upends Luna Chang's life, their shared family secrets and hostility will bring them together in the face of an uncertain future. As Scorpios are intense and passionate, this magical retelling of "Romeo and Juliet" mixed with Chinese mythology will draw them in as Hunter and Luna are torn between fate and love. "Time Is a Mother" by Ocean VuongAmazon"Time Is a Mother" by Ocean Vuong, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $21.22"Time Is a Mother" is a deeply emotional, intimate, and slowly rejuvenating collection of poems that will speak to Scorpios' brooding and powerfully emotional side. In these poems, Ocean Vuong grapples with grief, loss, and restoration in the wake of his mother's passing."Sea of Tranquility" by Emily St. John MandelAmazon"Sea of Tranquility" by Emily St. John Mandel, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $17.38Since Scorpios crave psychological depth, "Sea of Tranquility" is sure to connect with their powerful mind. This epic, genre-bending tale illuminates humanity as it follows characters across time and space from the Canadian wilderness in 1912 to a writer who has left her colony on the moon to travel the Earth on a book tour. This novel is simply mesmerizing as Emily St. John Mandel creatively weaves three main stories into a transcendent work of fiction.Sagittarius"Violeta" by Isabel AllendeBookshop"Violeta" by Isabel Allende, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $24.99Born in 1920, Violeta's 100-year life is marked by revolutionary events, from the Great Depression to suffrage to personal heartbreak and great joy, outlined in this novel as she tells her incredible life story in a letter to her grandson. Because Sagittariuses crave exploration that leads to personal expansion, this historical fiction epic is sure to dazzle."The Cartographers" by Peng ShepherdAmazon"The Cartographers" by Peng Shepherd, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $25.19When Nell Young's legendary cartographer father is found dead in his office, she finds an incredibly rare and valuable map, possibly the last copy in the world. With a passion of her own for cartography, Nell sets out to uncover the secrets behind the map, her father, and the fight that tore their relationship apart. Sagittarius readers love adventure and anything that helps them understand the world better, so this new fantasy would make a great read."How High We Go in the Dark" by Sequoia NagamatsuAmazon"How High We Go in the Dark" by Sequoia Nagamatsu, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $19.97"How High We Go in the Dark" is an intricately told story about an accidentally unleashed Arctic Plague that devastates and reshapes humanity. Following a series of loosely connected characters and unique stories, this science fiction book is great for Sagittarius readers, who are curious explorers always seeking new ideas.Capricorn"How to Be Perfect: The Correct Answer" to Every Moral Question by Michael SchurAmazon"How to Be Perfect: The Correct Answer" to Every Moral Question by Michael Schur, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $23.14Since they're always searching for the answer to success, "How to Be Perfect" is a great new nonfiction read for Capricorns. Funny and thought-provoking, this philosophical book analyses complex ethical questions and searches for an ultimate "right" answer to each one through different insightful perspectives. Plus, Capricorns love having a greater perspective and finding a balance where success meets emotional and spiritual truths."The Atlas Six" by Olivie BlakeAmazon"The Atlas Six" by Olivie Blake, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $17.41This super popular fantasy book is about the Alexandrian Society, a secret and revered group of magical academicians that only considers six magicians per decade to attempt initiation into their society of wealth, power, and prestige. Drawn to all of these attributes, Capricorns will love to follow the six newest candidates as they fight to prove themselves and survive amongst their greatest rivals. "What the Fireflies Knew" by Kai HarrisBookshop"What the Fireflies Knew" by Kai Harris, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $18.20When KB and her sister, Nia, are sent to live with their estranged grandfather, they are still grappling with their father's death and the loss of their family home. With a disconnected family, sometimes-friendly neighbors, and a looming feeling of loneliness, KB must make sense of the pieces of her new, challenging life in this coming-of-age novel that Capricorns will cherish because of their own determination to succeed despite adversity.Aquarius"Wahala" by Nikki MayAmazon"Wahala" by Nikki May, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $18.73Social and fascinated by group dynamics, Aquarius readers will love this novel about Ronke, Boo, and Simi, who each have very different lives but are kept close by their deep and longstanding friendship. When the charismatic Isobel arrives and begins to infiltrate their small circle, chaos slowly ensues and threatens to dismantle relationships, aspirations, and trust in this entertaining read. "Moon Witch, Spider King" by Marlon JamesBookshop"Moon Witch, Spider King" by Marlon James, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $23.99In this sequel, Sologon, the 177-year-old Moon Witch, fights to tell her side of the magical and unforgettable story from "Black Leopard, Red Wolf." Curious, grounded, and proud to stand out from the pack, Aquarius readers will appreciate Sologon's perspective and crave to understand the reasoning behind her actions."South to America: A Journey Below the Mason Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation" by Imani PerryAmazon"South to America: A Journey Below the Mason Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation" by Imani Perry, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $23.16"South to America" anecdotal history of the American South is a great pick for Aquariuses, as they seek knowledge to better understand the world in order to make a powerful difference. This nonfiction read uses personal, political, and historical stories to demonstrate that the key to a greater, more equitable future lies in understanding the complexities of the South.Pisces"One Italian Summer" by Rebecca SerleBookshop"One Italian Summer" by Rebecca Serle, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.08Pisces are known for their emotional and intuitive nature and walking the line between fantasy and reality, so "One Italian Summer" is the perfect Pisces read. This book uses magical realism to bring Katy's story to life as she adventures on a mother-daughter trip alone shortly after her mom passes away. On the magical and alluring Amalfi Coast, Katy can somehow see her mother and get to know her as the young woman she once was."You Truly Assumed" by Laila SabreenAmazon"You Truly Assumed" by Laila Sabreen, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $15.15In "You Truly Assumed", a terrorist attack and growing Islamophobia brings three Black Muslim girls together over a blog used as an outlet and support system for a community of Muslim teens across the country. As Pisces readers are deeply compassionate and empathetic, the characters in this YA novel will resonate as they push back against the threats and hatred they receive in the fight to create a safe space for themselves and other Muslim teens."You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty" by Akwaeke EmeziBookshop"You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty" by Akwaeke Emezi, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $24.30Five years after the accident that killed the love of her life, Feyi Adekola wants to ease into dating again when she's whisked into a whirlwind summer of romance and luxury, complicated by an off-limits potential relationship that leaves her searching for real answers. Pisces are sure to love the passion in Akwaeke Emezi's writing and want to follow Feyi to the very last page as she seeks joy and healing after loss. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderApr 25th, 2022

Global Markets Tumble On Hawkish Central Bank Anguish, China Lockdown Fears

Global Markets Tumble On Hawkish Central Bank Anguish, China Lockdown Fears The global selloff that started in Asia, sending China's CSI300 plunging to the lowest level since May 2020, slamming the offshore yuan below 6.60 and sparking a liquidation in oil and cryptos amid fears that the Shanghai lockdown will spread to the capital Beijing and lead to an even greater slowdown in the global economy... ... has quickly spread around the globe, slamming not just European markets but US equity futures which slid as much as 1% as traders fretted over the prospects of aggressive tightening by the Federal Reserve, Chinese lockdowns and disappointing earnings. S&P 500 futures were down 0.9% as of 7:00am EDT after plunging 2.8% on Friday, while Nasdaq futures retreated 0.8%, with the rout hammering tech stocks especially hard. Some context: the Nasdaq 100 Index has erased about $1 trillion in market value since Netflix released disappointing earnings and is closing in on oversold levels; the tech-heavy FANGMAN basket has lost $2.4 trillion in market cap from 2021 ATH as Netflix and Facebook  Meta, have lost most of their gains from past 5yrs. Remember when Facebook hit the $1tn market cap club in 2021? Now it’s worth exactly half that. But now the tech bear market is finally spreading all US stocks which closed at their lowest levels in more than a month on Friday as fears over a more aggressive Federal Reserve tightening cycle led to broad-based selling. Investors are entering another busy week for big technology companies’ earnings, with Alphabet, Microsoft, Meta Platforms, Paypal and Apple all reporting results although don't expect some miraculous surge. Investor mood was already morose after Fed chair erome Powell’s hawkish comments last week hurt sentiment already sapped by the war in Ukraine, a slowdown in China and the risks inflation poses to company earnings, according to Michael Hewson, chief analyst at CMC Markets in London. “The final straw appears to be a concern about the prospect of a policy mistake by central banks, and a possible recession by the end of the year,” he said. One sole glimmer of green, Twitter shares, rose 0.6% in premarket trading after a WSJ report that Elon Musk met with the social media platform’s executives on Sunday as the company turns more receptive toward the billionaire’s $43 billion takeover offer. As discussed earlier, U.S.-listed Chinese stocks fell in premarket trading as expanded Covid lockdown measures in major Chinese cities spark concerns over the country’s growth outlook. Pinduoduo led a decline in American depositary receipts, down 4.7% in premarket trade. E-commerce peers Alibaba Group fell 3.9% and lost 2.5%. Electric carmakers including Nio and Li Auto also fell. The weakness tracks a 4.9% slump in China’s CSI 300 Index, which closed at its lowest level in two years. Here are some other notable premarket movers: U.S.-listed Chinese stocks look set to open lower on Monday as expanded Covid lockdown measures in major cities sparked concerns over the country’s economic growth outlook. Pinduoduo (PDD US) led a decline in American depositary receipts, down 4.7% in premarket trade. E-commerce peers Alibaba (BABA US) fell 3.9% and (JD US) lost 2.5%. Electric carmakers including Nio (NIO US) and Li Auto (LI US) also fell. AT&T (T US) reinstated with a buy rating at Goldman Sachs with the focus turning to the telecom giant’s core business, while the broker cuts its rating on Verizon (VZ US) on valuation grounds. AT&T up 0.6% in premarket, Verizon -1.4%. Cenntro Electric (CENN US) rises as much as 22% premarket ahead of the electric-vehicle company’s quarterly update due after the close on Monday. Kellogg (K US) was downgraded to hold from buy at Deutsche Bank, which stays cautious and below consensus ahead of 1Q22 results because of headwinds including worsening inflation and supply chain disruptions. Shares down 1.4% in premarket. Morgan Stanley says DoorDash (DASH US) is the “best executor around” among food delivery companies, but awaits a better entry point as initiates at equal-weight with Street- low $100 target. Shares down 1.1% in premarket on low volume. GoDaddy (GDDY US) upgraded to overweight at Piper Sandler on strong free cash flow potential, with the broker cutting its ratings on (WIX US) and Squarespace (SQSP US) in a rejig of its digital presence coverage. GoDaddy little changed in premarket, and Squarespace not traded. Coca-Cola and Activision Blizzard are among companies reporting earnings today. In Europe, markets are under heavy pressure: Euro Stoxx 50 drops as much as 2.6% with several other core indexes down over 2%. Spain’s IBEX outperforms. Miners are the weakest performers with the Stoxx 600 sector down over 5%. Energy and consumer products and services similarly lag.  Europe’s Basic Resources Index  crashed 6%, and was set for the worst daily drop since March 2020. Here are some of the biggest European movers today: Ubisoft shares rise as much as 12% after Bloomberg reported the video-game publisher is attracting takeover interest from private equity firms including Blackstone and KKR. Garanti stock rallies as much as 5.6% after parent BBVA sweetened its voluntary offer for the Turkish lender and the unit said 1Q net income tripled. Biogaia shares rise as much as 9.6% after the Swedish food-additives and supplements maker published preliminary 1Q sales figures, which included a large beat on operating profit and net sales. Barco shares rise as much as 4.2% after the projector maker’s Cinionic JV won a contract to install laser projectors in 3,500 U.S. auditoriums of cinema chain operator AMC. The Stoxx 600 Basic Resources and Energy sub- indexes both slumped on Monday amid broad declines for commodities prices on concerns that a growing Covid-19 outbreak in China will hit demand. Shell -4.5%, TotalEnergies SE -3.1%, Glencore -6.0%, Anglo American -6.5% Philips stock falls as much as 11% after publishing its latest earnings, where higher provisions related to its recall of Dreamstation breathing machines overshadowed better-than-expected 1Q sales. Roche shares fell as much as 3.6% after the Swiss pharma company reported mixed first quarter results. Sales beat expectations due to a boost to the diagnostics division, while the pharmaceutical unit missed. As we reported on Sunday, the big news out of France is that Macron won the second round of the Presidential Election with 58.6% of the vote vs Le Pen at 41.4%, while Le Pen conceded defeat after the initial projections, according to Reuters and Sky News. Elsewhere, ECB President Lagarde commented that interest rate hikes will not lower energy prices, according to Barron’s. ECB policymakers are said to be keen to finish bond purchases as soon as possible and possibly hike rates in July but no later than August, while they are leaning towards two rate moves this year with three also a possibility, according to Reuters sources. However, an ECB spokesperson declined to comment on the timing of ending bond purchases and potential interest rate increases. The EU is said to prepare the creation of a new trade and tech council with India, according to FT sources. The new forum could be unveiled on Monday during the European Commission President’s visit to India. Earlier in the session, Asian stocks slumped the most since March 11 as China’s worsening Covid-19 outbreak and a looming rate hike by the Federal Reserve hurt risk sentiment.  The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell as much as 2.2% Monday, setting off a grim start to the region’s busiest week for earnings. The biggest drags were technology stocks sensitive to higher interest rates, including Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, Alibaba and Tencent.  Equities in mainland China and Hong Kong were among the region’s worst performers. Chinese stocks slid to a two year low amid fears that rising infections in Beijing may spur an unprecedented city-wide lockdown of the capital. The Chinese regulator also ordered platform companies to better handle online violence, dragging tech stocks lower. READ: China Lockdown Angst Rips Through Markets as Stocks, Yuan Plunge The lockdowns that have now expanded to parts of Beijing will “cause a logistical problem that’s going to affect not just China but also the rest of the world,” Jeffrey Halley, Asia Pacific senior market analyst at Oanda, said in an interview with Bloomberg TV.  With no signs of change in Covid zero policy and very little in terms of actual stimulus, “that all points to lower China stocks and we are going to see a weaker yuan going forward,” he added. Investors are also on guard for corporate earnings. Stock-market heavyweights including Kweichow Moutai in China and Samsung Electronics in South Korea are expected to release first-quarter results this week.   With a number of Fed speakers recently showing support for 50-basis-point hikes, tech shares led declines of major gauges in the region. Taiwan’s Taiex dropped 10% from its January high.   Japanese equities dropped, extending a global selloff amid prospects for aggressive U.S. interest-rate hikes and a worsening Covid outbreak in China. Electronics and machinery makers were the biggest drags on the Topix, which fell 1.5%, with 32 of 33 industry groups in the red. Fast Retailing and SoftBank Group were the largest contributors to a 1.9% loss in the Nikkei 225. Indian stocks also fell, joining their peers across Asia, as appetite for risk waned amid renewed concerns over Covid infections and its possible impact on business growth.  The S&P BSE Sensex dropped 1.1% to 56,579.89, while the NSE Nifty 50 Index slipped 1.3% to 16,953.95. Reliance Industries Ltd. lost 2.3%, the most in seven weeks. It was the biggest drag on the Sensex, which saw 23 of its 30 stocks trading lower.   All but one of 19 sectoral sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. declined, led by a gauge of metal stocks.  The continued war in Ukraine and fears of a wider lockdown in Beijing are weighing on sentiment, already impacted by the risk of a global slowdown as the U.S. Fed raises rates to tame inflation. Of the six Nifty 50 firms that have announced results so far, four have missed, while two have beaten analyst estimates. Bajaj Finance, Hindustan Unilever, Axis Bank are among the companies releasing Jan-March earnings this week.  With risk off, safe havens were mostly bid: Treasuries advanced across the curve, with yields on the belly falling about 10bps and 10Y yields sliding 8bps to 2.833%. The belly of the UST curve outperforms by 1-2bps. Peripheral spreads widen to core with 10y Italy lagging peers on the rally. European bonds advanced, yet underperformed Treasuries; the spread between French 10-year bond yields and German equivalents tightened at the open after President Emmanuel Macron was re-elected as French president, only to widen as haven demand supported bunds. IG dollar issuance slate empty so far; preliminary estimates are for around $25 billion this week. •    Three-month dollar Libor +1.11bp to 1.22486%. In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index rose a third day to the highest level since May 2020; the greenback advanced against all of its Group-of-10 peers apart from the yen and the Swiss franc; AUD and NZD lag G-10 peers. USD/JPY holds above 128. The euro fell to its lowest level versus the dollar since March 2020, erasing earlier gains amid broader greenback strength.  The pound slumped to the lowest versus the dollar since September 2020 and gilts advanced. The Aussie was the worst G-10 performer amid fears over the outlook for China’s demand for iron ore and with the selloff boosted by options-related selling. The yen rose, as concerns about the economic impact of accelerating U.S. rate increases put a pause on the recent aggressive selling of the currency. Japan’s government bonds tracked Treasuries higher with support from purchases by the Bank of Japan. Perhaps most importantly, the yuan - which until now had resisted any weakness - plunged again, dropping to the lowest level in 17 months as the offshore yuan dropped below 6.60 the lowest level since Nov 2020, spurring a selloff in emerging-market currencies. In commodities, crude futures sold ell off with WTI down over 4% and back on a $97-handle. Base metals are similarly deep in the red. Spot gold drops ~$14 to trade near $1,916/oz. Monday’s pullback in the soaring price of commodities since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has done little to assuage concerns about runaway inflation. Fed Jerome Powell had outlined his most bold approach yet to reining in surging prices and the European Central Bank signaled stronger tightening. Bitcoin continued to tumble alongside the broader crypto market, even though the harder the stocks fall and the more the Fed tightens, the more it will eventually have to ease, unleashing the next surge higher in cryptos which we expect to push bitcoin over $100,000 and Ether over $10,000. Looking at the calendar, the economic data slate includes March Chicago Fed national activity (8:30am) and April Dallas Fed manufacturing activity(10:30am); consumer confidence, GDP, PCE deflator and University of Michigan sentiment are ahead this week. Today we will earnings from Coca-Cola, Activision Blizzard, Vivendi. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures down 0.7% to 4,235.25 STOXX Europe 600 down 1.8% to 445.31 MXAP down 2.0% to 166.02 MXAPJ down 2.4% to 546.02 Nikkei down 1.9% to 26,590.78 Topix down 1.5% to 1,876.52 Hang Seng Index down 3.7% to 19,869.34 Shanghai Composite down 5.1% to 2,928.51 Sensex down 1.0% to 56,637.35 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 1.6% to 7,473.28 Kospi down 1.8% to 2,657.13 German 10Y yield little changed at 0.89% Euro down 0.4% to $1.0751 Brent Futures down 4.4% to $101.96/bbl Gold spot down 0.6% to $1,920.54 U.S. Dollar Index up 0.20% to 101.43 Top Overnight  News from Bloomberg China’s coronavirus outbreak worsened as rising cases in Beijing sparked jitters about an unprecedented lockdown of the capital, with policy makers racing to avert a Shanghai-style crisis that’s already wrought havoc on the financial hub China must take stronger action to boost growth above 5% in the second quarter, said a central bank adviser who warned the country needs to lay a foundation for achieving its full-year target in the face of rising economic risks A sustained and substantial increase in U.S. real yields would be bad news for developing nations as it typically boosts the dollar and sucks capital out of riskier assets, like in 2008 and 2013 The U.S. announced it would start sending diplomats back to Ukraine and provide more military aid as Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin visited Kyiv late on Sunday night, in the highest- level U.S. visit to the war-torn country since Russia invaded China’s central bank stepped up its support for several distressed developers by allowing banks and bad-debt managers to loosen restrictions on some loans to ease a cash crunch, according to people familiar with the matter A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk APAC stocks traded negatively after last Friday's stock rout on Wall Street with risk sentiment hampered by holiday closures, China's COVID-19 woes and as participants brace for a busy week of key earnings releases. Nikkei 225 shed around 500 points with sentiment not helped by several earnings guidance downgrades and with Nissan shares were hit as alliance partner Renault mulls selling a partial stake in the Japanese automaker. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp underperformed on the COVID situation after daily deaths in Shanghai rose again and with the city to conduct another round of mass testing, while Beijing also scrambles to contain an outbreak with its Chaoyang district to require residents and workers to undergo three COVID-19 tests this week. Top Asian News Asia Stocks Fall Most in Six Weeks as China Outbreak Worsens China Woes Stoking Inflation Angst Set to Weigh on the Euro Shimao Unit Proposes to Pay Down Puttable Bond Faster: REDD Loan Curbs Eased for Distressed Developers: Evergrande Update European cash markets kicked off the week lower across the board with a relatively broad-based performance seen across the majors. Sectors are lower across the board with a clear defensive tilt: Energy and Basic Resources sit at the bottom of the bunch amid hefty downside in underlying commodities. Stateside futures are lower in tandem with the broader market sentiment, whilst the NQ is slightly more cushioned by the earlier decline in yields. Twitter is reportedly re-examining Elon Musk’s bid and be more receptive to a deal with the sides meeting on Sunday to discuss the proposal. It was separately reported that Twitter is facing increasing shareholder pressure to negotiate with Elon Musk in his takeover bid and that the Co. is in talks with Elon Musk in which a potential deal could be made as early as this week, according to WSJ. Top European News Macron Gets Second Chance to Show France His Vision Can Work Credit Suisse Special Audit Backed by Norway’s Wealth Fund SocGen Too Quick to Axe Boss Accused of Trying to Kiss Colleague Art Seized at U.S. Homes Part of Crackdown on Wealthy Russians FX: DXY sets new 2022 peak at 101.750 amid safety flight and sharp slide in crude alongside other commodities. Yen back in favour as risk sentiment sours irrespective of denials about joint Japanese and US intervention discussion - Usd/Jpy towards base of 128.87-127.89 range. Aussie underperforms on Anzac Day due to steep decline in copper and iron ore - Aud/Usd tests 0.7150 and Aud/Nzd cross under 1.0850 vs 1.0940 at one stage overnight. Yuan extends depreciation as Covid spreads to a district in Beijing and PBoC continues to lower Cny midpoint reference rate - Usd/Cnh just shy of 6.6000, Usd/Cny eyeing 6.5650. Euro averts 1.0700 test, narrowly, and pares more losses after surprisingly upbeat Ifo survey, on the surface - Eur/Usd rebounds to circa 1.0750, but still well below Macron victory high. Pound loses Fib support on the way through 1.2800 and sub-8400 vs Dollar and Euro respectively. Fixed Income Debt futures firm as risk appetite wanes, but bonds fade beyond 154.50 in Bunds, 119.00 in Gilts and 119-25 in the 10 year T-note. Core EZ bonds lose momentum after German Ifo survey beats and irrespective of less encouraging accompanying statements. French OATs off peak within 147.38-146.28 range posted on confirmation of Macron defeating Le Pen to retain Presidency. European Commission sells EUR 2.499bln (exp. EUR 2.500bln) 0.4% 2037 NGEU; b/c 2.05x (prev. 1.49x), average yield 1.626% (prev. 0.375%). Commodities: WTI and Brent June contacts have continued to decline since the resumption of futures trading. Spot gold has been caged to a near-USD 5/oz range since the European open as the impact of a firming Buck negated the effects of lower yields at the time. Base metals are in a sea of red as China's lockdown woes hit the demand side of the equation – with LME aluminium and zinc the laggards at the time of writing. US Event Calendar 08:30: March Chicago Fed Nat Activity Index, est. 0.45, prior 0.51 10:00: Revisions: Retail Sales, Inventories 10:30: April Dallas Fed Manf. Activity, est. 4.8, prior 8.7 DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap I survived a weekend alone with my kids but the only way for all of us to cope was to comfort eat and spend so much time on Netflix that I may as well cancel my subscription as there is nothing left to watch now. Never has Mum been so welcome by an adult, 3 kids and a dog, as she was on her return last night. Parenting is hard! Central bankers are finding it hard too at the moment and it was a fascinating past week on that front as several important central bankers belatedly played a game of leapfrog on who could make the most aggressively hawkish rhetoric on taming inflation. Those speaking at the start of the week might have seemed hawkish at the time but by the end of the week they almost looked dovish. The IMF/World Bank gathering probably focused the minds of all the Governors, Presidents and Chairs present and hawkishness spread through the event like wildfire with the notable exception of Japan's Kuroda who is seemingly sticking to the country's YCC. We are now in the Fed blackout period so they won't add to the hawkishness for the 9.5 days before we get the FOMC decision. Note that the BoJ meet on Thursday although nothing suggests they are going to pivot and will remain the last hawkish shoe to drop. The French election has passed without incident with President Macron gaining 58.6% of the vote vs. 41.4% for Le Pen. Macron won 66.1% of the second round vote in 2017 and with him unable to stand in 2027 and with the traditional parties share of the vote at record lows who knows where French politics will be by then. However much water will flow under Le Pont des Arts before we need to worry about that. Meanwhile, the next hurdle for Macron will come with the Parliamentary elections on the 12th and 19th of June. Commonly referred to as the ‘third round’, the elections will be crucial as it will define the make-up of the government Macron must rely on to push through his reform program. See Marc de-Muizon's blog last night here for more on this. The Euro popped nearly +0.6% higher at the Asian open after the results became clear but has subsequently dipped into negative territory as risk off dominates in Asia. Mainland Chinese stocks are sliding with the Shanghai Composite (-1.95%) and CSI (-2.39%) down, falling to its lowest level since 2020 amid the worsening Covid situation in China, particularly in the financial hub of Shanghai. Strict restrictions have begun to spread, with authorities ordering mandatory Covid tests in a district of Beijing and many buildings locked down. The Hang Seng (-2.47%) is also lagging and elsewhere, the Nikkei (-1.94%) and Kospi (-1.44%) are weak. Outside of Asia, futures contracts on the S&P 500 (-0.42%) and Nasdaq (-0.30%) are lower with 2 and 10yr US yields both around -5bps lower. Brent and WTI are both around -2.9%. Moving on to this week now and it is an important one for European inflation with German CPI on Thursday and the French and Italian equivalent (plus PPI) on Friday with the overall Euro CPI the same day. US (Thursday) and European Q1 GDP (Friday) will also be of interest. Back to the US and inflation related data will be the closest watched with Friday's ECI expected to be strong. This is one of the key indicators the Fed use for labour market strength. The core PCE deflator (the Fed's preferred inflation measure) also comes out as part of the income and spending report data on Friday. The rate of growth may well tick down here so this might provide a shred of good news on inflation without changing the story too much. It will be an important week for corporate earnings too with 179 of the S&P 500 reporting and 134 in the Stoxx 600. Big US tech will be the highlight with Microsoft and Alphabet (tomorrow), Meta (Wednesday), and Apple and Amazon (Thursday). Consumption patterns will be in focus when we get results from Coca-Cola (today), Mondelez, Chipotle (tomorrow), Kraft Heinz (Wednesday) and McDonald's (Thursday). Meanwhile, a range of banks across the globe will give a pulse check on consumer credit. Notable reporters will include HSBC, UBS, Santander (tomorrow), Credit Suisse (Wednesday), Barclays (Thursday), finishing with BBVA and NatWest on Friday. Other notable financials reporting will include Visa (tomorrow), PayPal (Wednesday) and Mastercard (Thursday). Other tech-related companies releasing results will include Activision Blizzard (Monday), LG, Qualcomm, Spotify (Wednesday), Samsung, Intel and Twitter (Thursday). In healthcare, another sector that benefitted from the pandemic, reporters will include Novartis (tomorrow), GlaxoSmithKline (Wednesday), Eli Lilly, Merck, Sanofi (Thursday) and AstraZeneca (Friday). To see how the commodity rally and the focus on energy transition affected major commodity companies worldwide, markets will get earnings from Iberdrola, Vale (Wednesday), Total, Repsol (Thursday), Exxon, Orsted, Chevron and Eni (Friday). Downstream users like transport firms will report too, including General Motors (tomorrow), Boeing, Mercedes-Benz and Ford (Wednesday). Other notable corporates releasing results will include Texas Instruments, General Electric, UPS and Caterpillar. The rest of the day by day calendar of events appears at the end as usual on a Monday. Reviewing last week now, as discussed at the top a cadre of central bank officials reinforced the idea that monetary policy needs to tighten on both sides of the Atlantic this year, thus driving sovereign yields higher. Chair Powell, in his last remarks before the Fed’s May meeting communications blackout, lent credence to the wisdom of front loading the hiking cycle and getting policy rates to neutral as quickly as possible. Regional Fed presidents, spanning ideologies, concurred throughout the week. Short-term markets ended the week pricing more than 150 basis points of tightening over the next three meetings, embedding some risk premium for a 75 basis point hike at each meeting. Futures markets are implying Fed policy rates will be north of 2.80% by the end of the year, above the Fed’s estimates of neutral. President Lagarde was careful to draw a distinction between the US and European situation, but nevertheless would not rule out an increase to ECB policy rates as early as July, following the cessation of net APP purchases, which is likely early in the third quarter. Markets are pricing 24 basis points of ECB tightening by the July meeting, and 85 basis points of tightening for the rest of the year. Bank of England Governor Bailey highlighted the path of policy was laced with uncertainty, but inflation was likely to increase due to rising energy costs. Bailey added the bank would not sell its security holdings into fragile markets. Even committed dove, Ingves of the Swedish Central Bank, rowed back on his previous mantras and acknowledged tightening was needed. As a result, Sovereign yields were higher in each jurisdiction, with 10yr Treasury, bund, and gilt yields increasing +8.2bps (-1.2bps Friday), +10.6bps (+2.4bps Friday), and +7.4bps (-4.9bps Friday), respectively. For their part, 10yr OAT yields closed the week at a +44.5bp spread above bund equivalents, their tightest since March, as President Macron’s polling advantage increased heading into yesterday’s election. Equity indices retreated on the tighter policy path. The STOXX 600 fell -1.42% (-1.79% Friday) while the S&P 500 was -2.75% lower (-2.77% Friday), bringing it into correction territory YTD (-10.37%) again. Mega cap tech stocks bore the brunt, with FANG+ falling -8.76% (-1.99%) as higher discount rates hit valuations. The mega cap losses accelerated after Netflix reported it lost subscribers in the first quarter, which sent its share prices more than -35% lower. The reprieve was only temporary the following day when Tesla reported a record profit on the back of surging electric car demand. Brent crude oil futures were relatively subdued by comparison to other asset classes and recent volatility, falling -5.43% (-2.48% Friday) over the week to $105.64/bbl. Elsewhere the IMF revised down their global growth expectations in light of Russia’s invasion, expecting the global economy to grow 3.6 percent in each of the next two years. Fighting continued in eastern Ukraine, with Russia declaring victory over the port city of Mariupol, while there was not any material public progress in peace negotiations. The Credit Derivatives Determinations Committee said Russia’s remuneration of foreign currency bonds with rubles would constitute a default and trigger credit default swaps. Russia has a 30-day grace period, which ends May 4, to make creditors whole. Tyler Durden Mon, 04/25/2022 - 07:48.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytApr 25th, 2022

Revisiting Liar’s Poker, 30 Years Later

    Every time I interview Michael Lewis, I learn something new. My excuse to chat this time was Season 3 of his podcast Against the Rules. In prepping for the interview, I learn that after 30 years, the audio rights to Liar’s Poker had reverted back to Lewis. He decides to re-read the book… Read More The post Revisiting Liar’s Poker, 30 Years Later appeared first on The Big Picture.     Every time I interview Michael Lewis, I learn something new. My excuse to chat this time was Season 3 of his podcast Against the Rules. In prepping for the interview, I learn that after 30 years, the audio rights to Liar’s Poker had reverted back to Lewis. He decides to re-read the book for the first time since he wrote it; he then records a complete, uncut audio version of Liar’s Poker himself (along with a companion podcast). If that’s not worth at least one segment in the show, I don’t know what is. Since it’s been 25 years since I read the book, I decide it’s time to reread all about Solomon Brothers’ bond trading desk in the 1990s. But I cannot find my copy – we are repainting and everything is in boxes. The book was published in 1989, and from that perspective, 2022 is the future. I automagically transfer the book onto one of my portable glass slabs and get reading. Here are my 10 takeaways: 1. 100% Fresh: I was surprised by how fresh and new the book was to me. Sure, some of it was vaguely familiar, but I did not recall in great detail a lot of it (25 years does that). It was vibrant and fun and if not quite current, the voice and tone felt new. Overall, I enjoyed reading it about as much as any other work by Michael Lewis (meaning, a lot). “Knowing about markets is knowing about other people’s weaknesses.” 2. Ancient Wall Street: It’s a time capsule, capturing a moment on Wall Street that has not existed for a decade or more. The main characters in Liars Poker – John Meriwether, mortgage department head Lewis Ranieri, CEO John Gutfreund – have become part of Wall Street lore. But Algos/HFT have replaced these egos of these characters, and a quieter breed of professionals run their firms more for money, not glory. It reflects a very specific moment in history, but it felt much closer to today than I expected. “Man for man Salomon brothers was in 1985 the world’s most profitable corporation.” 3. Characters drive everything: The prose is readable (if at times unsteady) but it is Lewis’ depictions of all of Solly’s characters that make the book really sing. They are fully fleshed out, and distinct from one another, all very recognizable. If you have worked on a trading desk and/or a large sell-side firm, you know all of these types – only your guys were probably not named the “Human Piranha” or “Dash Riprock.” “The first thing you learn on a trading floor is that when large numbers of people are after the same commodity be it a stock a bond or a job the commodity quickly becomes overvalued.” 4. The author is both narrator and protagonist: This is the only finance book he inserts himself into (Lewis also plays himself in “Coach”). But in every other book he has written, Lewis is the storyteller but not part of the story. And even where he has a role to play – see, The Blind Side or The Undoing Project – is confined to the intro or the epilogue. “Had Volcker never pushed through his radical change in policy, the world would be many bond traders and one memoir the poorer.” 5. Lewis is still finding his voice: The Michael Lewis you know and love today is not fully formed, but a work in progress in his first book. But there are obvious glimmers of him. In the chapters where he takes management to task for their gross incompetency and blind greed, we find vintage Lewis. His unique voice gets stronger and more confident as the book progresses. This quote is vintage Lewis: “A Solomon salesman who in the past had moved $5 million worth of merchandise through the traders book each week was now moving $300 million through each day.” 6. LOL Fiduciary Rule: Skinning clients, dumping crappy products on them, blowing them up — this was all part of the vernacular. Note this was not a boiler room, but rather, one of the best firms on Wall Street. “Caveat Emptor” was the guiding principle and woe to the client who did not realize this. 7. Hints of future books are scattered throughout: The oddball characters, the outsiders who spot an impending disaster/opportunity, the calcification of institutions are all here. Liar’s Poker foreshadows future Lewis books: Most obviously the focus on Solomon’s creation and trading of mortgage bonds is a precursor to the Big Short; the rise of the geeks and techies presages Moneyball and perhaps even Flashboys; the disdain for expertise is a prelim look at The Fifth Risk and The Premonition; “Whether Lehman’s misfortune was directly related to its unwillingness to admit it was out to make money I do not know.” 8. Debt and Borrowing OMG!: The book talks a lot about America’s borrowers and the evils of excess debt. It’s amazing how dated this is today, with characters warning of the imminent weakening of the US dollar and other economic troubles, none of which has come to pass. With the benefit of hindsight, the traditional view on debt, the dollar, and U.S. creditworthiness were totally wrong: “American governments, consumers, and corporations borrowed money at a faster clip during the 1980s than ever before: this meant the volume of bonds exploded (another way to look at this is investors were lending more money more freely than ever before). The combined indebtedness of the three groups in 1977 was 323 billion much of which wasn’t bonds but loans by commercial banks by 1985 the three groups had borrowed $7 trillion.” 9. He kept a notebook: Not his usual approach, he kept daily notes about his experiences. He was publishing articles in places like The Wall Street Journal under his own name, and causing problems for management. He was so well thought of that the compromise (lol) was for him to publish under a nom de plume. During the 1987 crash, he walked around the 41st-floor trading room in New York jotting down notes into his journal in plain view of everyone (no one noticed, they were a little busy). “People who believe themselves of social consequence tend to leave more of a paper trail, in the forms of memoirs and anecdotiana.” 10. The title “Liar’s Poker” nearly didn’t happen: The book almost had a very different title: Fast and Loose in the Golden Years, Bond Fever, Spellbond, Burn Out, The Empire Builders, Disposable Assets, Other People’s Money, Bonds of Passion all were in the running. “I had a great title staring me in the face and I didn’t even know it,” Lewis said. Hilarious endnote: Publishers were so encouraged by the success of Liar’s Poker that they wanted a novel as a follow-up; it took Lewis a few 100 pages of drafting before realizing what a terrible idea that was. ~~~ One of the interesting takeaways Lewis has discussed before has been that he thought he was writing a cautionary tale that would deter young people from entering the profession – as he learned, it only encouraged many of them.  That has since morphed into a deeper understanding of his craft: All an author can do is put their book out there; how it is perceived and what it means is up to the reader. If you haven’t read Liar’s Poker in decades, then consider this a strong endorsement. At the very least, it will keep you satisfied until the next Michael Lewis book comes out…     Previously: MiB: Michael Lewis on Experts (Coming in May 2022) MiB: Michael Lewis on Pandemic Planning (May 8, 2021) MiB: Michael Lewis on Coaches and Risk (May 25, 2020) MIB: Michael Lewis, Podcaster (April 6, 2019) MIB: Michael Lewis on a Writer’s Life (December 13, 2016) Michael Lewis’ Portrait of Two Men Who Changed the World (December 5, 2016)       The post Revisiting Liar’s Poker, 30 Years Later appeared first on The Big Picture......»»

Category: blogSource: TheBigPictureApr 23rd, 2022

Gold Prices Continue To Weather The Rate Storm

Gold Prices Continue To Weather The Rate Storm Via GoldMoney Insights, Over the past weeks, gold prices showed a remarkable resilience to the relentless rise in both nominal and real-interest rates. For the first time since 2020, gold prices are now reflecting slightly higher long-term inflation expectations than what is embedded in TIPS (breakeven inflation). However, we think overall markets are still much too optimistic about the Fed’s (and other central banks) ability to choke off current high inflation rates with aggressive monetary policy. We believe the Fed will stall economic activity before it can choke off inflation, which will force the central bank to reverse course long before it reaches its target interest rate. Current long term inflation expectations (2-10y) imply that investors are too complacent as they attribute near zero probability to such a scenario. Once confidence in the Fed’s ability to rein in inflation erodes, real-interest rate expectations will move lower again. The result will be a sharp repricing of gold. In February this year we published a report with the title Gold defies hawkish rate environment (February 02, 2022) in which we highlighted the discrepancy between rapidly rising real-interest rates and the resiliency of gold prices. Over the past years we have extensively written about the inverse relationship between real-interest rate expectations and the gold price (see Gold Price Framework Vol. 2: The energy side of the equation, May 28, 2018) (see Exhibit 1). Real-interest expectations (as observed in Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS) yields) had been on the rise since they bottomed out in December 2021. By the time we published our February report, 10-year TIPS yields had moved from their record low of -1.2% to -0.6% in just two months, as the market sharply reassessed the outlook for Fed rate hikes and a rapid tapering of Quantitative Easing (QE). Yet gold prices defied these pressures and remained stable. In fact, gold was up over the time frame by the time we published the report. Fast forward and the rate (and QE) environment looks even more bullish. 10-year TIPS yields are now at -0.1% and on a steep upward trajectory. QE has not just ended, but expectations are for the beginning of balance sheet reduction (negative QE) in the near term. Even some of the historically most dovish FOMC board members are calling for rapid balance sheet reductions. This all comes on the back of multi-decade high realized inflation. This has also lifted longer-term inflation expectations as observed in 10-year TIPS. 10-year breakeven inflation is now at a whopping 2.9%, the highest level since the first TIPS were marketed in 1997. However, nominal yields have been rising faster than implied breakeven inflation, with the result that long term real-interest rate expectations rose over 1% in less than four months. While all this should be very bearish for gold, gold price continue to weather the rate storm. Gold prices were $1,829/ozt by the end of December 2021, when TIPS yields were -1.1%. Today TIPS yields are 1% higher and gold is $125/ozt higher. In our February report, we presented some of our thoughts why gold prices did not drop despite the rise in real rates. We pointed out that the Fed had been buying TIPS at a faster rate than nominal treasuries, relative to their respective market size. This had the effect that TIPS yields were pushed down more than nominal yields when QE was strong, and implied inflation expectations were distorted to the upside. This had the effect that gold prices seemed too low relative to TIPS yields while the Fed was buying assets. We can see this effect playing out in our gold price framework, where gold prices underperformed predicted prices for all of 2021. At times, realized gold prices were $200/ozt below predicted prices (see Exhibit 6). Once the Fed began to taper and eventually end QE, the opposite took effect: gold prices remained stable and even moved higher even as real-interest rate expectations began to rise.  This lead to a convergence of realized gold prices and model predicted values (see Exhibit 6). We concluded in our February report that gold prices reflected the markets’ “true” long term inflation expectations rather than the breakeven inflation rates implied from TIPS yields. Interestingly, even as QE has now ended a while ago, gold prices continue to defy the continually rising real-interest rates. At the time of writing, gold prices exceed the model predicted prices by about $75/ozt. In the February report, we highlighted that gold is more accurately reflecting the markets long term inflation expectations than the TIPS market, but that in our view the market was severely underestimating the long term inflation risks. Since then the market has upwardly adjusted its long term inflation outlook embedded in both TIPS and gold prices and for the first time since 2020, gold prices now reflect higher long term inflation risks than the TIPS. According to our gold price model, 10-year inflation expectations are at around 3.15% (vs 2.9% breakeven inflation embedded in TIPS). Importantly, both the TIPS market and gold prices are still discounting the risks that the currently observed high inflation rates are anything but transitory. Realized headline CPI inflation for March was 8.5% while 10-year breakeven inflation is still only 2.9%. Moreover, the reason why 10-year inflation expectations are close to 3% is almost entirely due to heightened inflation expectations near term (0-2y). Inflation expectations beyond 2 years are barely above their long-term average. In other words, the market still thinks inflation is likely just transitory and limited to the next two years. In our view, the TIPS market is severely underestimating the upward risks of future inflation. Gold is pricing in slightly higher long term inflation expectations, but in our view those are still much too low. We think the market is too confident that the Fed (and later other major central banks) will raise interest rates to whatever level is needed in order to choke off inflation. We think that we are in an environment that gives the central banks much leeway. Central banks are currently finding themselves between a rock and a hard place. Energy shortages and supply chain issues continue to put a drag on economic activity. The recent widespread lockdowns in China will only make matters worse. At the same time, realized inflation in many Western economies are already at the highest levels since the 1970s. The Fed is leading the way and is raising rates at a rapid pace (rapid in comparison to previous rate hike periods) and several FOMC board members have become vocal about unwinding the Fed balance sheet. But there are only so many times they can hike before they push the US economy into a recession. The rest of the world would follow. To make matters worse, asset prices are still at extremely elevated levels by conventional metrics. A worsening economic outlook coupled with higher rates and unwinding of QE could lead to a massive crash in asset prices (equities, real estate) which in turn would worsen the recession (negative wealth effect, mortgage defaults, credit crunch). While a global recession might lead to some temporary relief in regards to the supply chain issues, this might not even give a temporary relief to inflation. Ultimately we think central banks will be forced to end the hiking cycle long before they reached their designated goals (currently 3% by 2023). We think a global recession will once again radically change the stance of central banks and there is a high chance we will see aggressive rate cuts and more QE (or potentially a successor to QE such as more stimulus checks or a form of UBI). The underlying conditions that led to the current inflation rates will largely remain in place and new stimulus and a renewed ZIRP or even NIRP environment will fall on fertile ground. Given the embedded inflation expectations over the 2-10 year horizon, the TIPS market is at the moment giving this scenario still close to zero percent chance. This means that also the gold market is giving this scenario close to zero percent chance. However, it appears that over the past few weeks, at least the gold market has been slowly warming up to this potential future given the widening gap between rates and gold prices. The threat of aggressive rate hikes over the coming months coupled with the risk of a global recession may prevent a massive break out in gold for now. However, once confidence in the Fed’s (and other central banks) ability to rein in inflation erodes, real-interest rate expectations will move sharply lower. The result will be a rapid repricing of gold. Tyler Durden Fri, 04/15/2022 - 08:35.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeApr 15th, 2022

Warner Bros. Discovery reportedly wants to "overhaul" DC, including revitalizing characters like Superman

Variety reports that DC's new corporate parent, Warner Bros. Discovery, is looking to make major changes to the comics and entertainment company. Robert Pattinson as Batman in "The Batman."Warner Bros. Variety reported on Thursday that Warner Bros. Discovery is looking to "overhaul" DC. The new company wants to revitalize underused characters like Superman, according to Variety. Comics professionals recently told Insider they were hoping for stability at DC. Some big changes could be coming to the home of Batman and Wonder Woman.Variety reported on Thursday that the comics and entertainment company's new corporate parent, Warner Bros. Discovery, is eyeing an "overhaul" for it, including finding a Kevin Feige-like figure to oversee DC's creative strategy and revitalizing underused characters like Superman.DC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.Feige is the creative chief for DC's biggest competitor, Marvel, overseeing the direction of its movies, comics, and TV. Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav was eyeing former Paramount Pictures exec Emma Watts for the role, according to Variety, though she isn't expected to take it.Warner Bros. Discovery also wants to revitalize popular characters that DC has ignored in recent years, such as Superman, Variety reported.Actor Henry Cavill's Superman film franchise was stalled after negative response to "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" and the theatrical cut of "Justice League," the latter of which drastically disappointed at the box office. However, author Ta-Nehisi Coates is writing a Superman movie for Warner Bros. that would feature a Black Superman.Henry Cavill as Superman in "Man of Steel."Warner Bros.The comics industry is hoping Warner Bros. Discovery brings prolonged stability to DCDC was rocked by major disruptions over the last few years during the AT&T era. 20% of its staff was cut in 2020, and that same year, its comics line was greatly reduced.Comics industry insiders worried that the comics side of the company was being undermined, and were dismayed by the direction of the company in recent years. Comics professionals recently told Insider that they were hoping for stability under Warner Bros. Discovery."Anything that stabilizes the industry and promotes good comics and product would be a welcome advancement," one comics industry source said. Milton Griepp — the founder and CEO of ICv2, an online publication that covers the comics business — recently told Insider that DC had "doubled down" on key characters like Batman since the comics print reduction, which he called "damaging to long-term IP development."So, if Warner Bros. Discovery wants to shine the spotlight on other characters, it could be in DC's best interest. DC will be essential for the new company, both in movie theaters and in the streaming space. "The Batman" has earned nearly $740 million worldwide, and a TV spinoff is in the works for HBO Max. That's just one of the upcoming DC film and TV projects on the docket. But it remains to be seen whether any changes Zaslav may make to DC would bring the stability the comics industry is looking for, or lead to more disruptions.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderApr 14th, 2022

When The World Changed – Part II

This is part two and three of a multi-part series on When The World Changed. See Part I here. Universal Incomes And Social Credits John, understandably, is deeply upset with himself. His career has evaporated in front of him, and now he faces a bleak future. Of course, he should have seen it coming. He […] This is part two and three of a multi-part series on When The World Changed. See Part I here. Universal Incomes And Social Credits John, understandably, is deeply upset with himself. His career has evaporated in front of him, and now he faces a bleak future. Of course, he should have seen it coming. He did see it coming. He saw all the signs around him but failed to act soon enough. When he first went to university, activist groups were calling for radical social reform. Among their demands was the need for a universal income and a social credit system. According to them, they foresaw that artificial intelligence and robots would decimate the labour market. They predicted the polarisation of the labour market. This meant that a few elites would be employed in research and development work, because computers weren’t capable of performing their jobs. The only other employment would be in low-level jobs not worth automating. The rest of us would be out of work. Work could only be found on the extremes, or opposite poles of the labour market. The huge unemployed masses would need an income. A universal income would be paid to all adults to meet their needs. However, income is only part of the employment issue. We work to earn, but we also work to provide purpose and meaning to our life. Work gives us a sense of pride in ourselves. Without providing for this, we have a social problem on our hands as big as the lack of income. Hence the idea of the social credit system. The system encourages people to seek opportunities to contribute to their community by providing their time and skills to address problems or opportunities within their community. Social credit schemes existed in the early ’20s. People or groups would post their requirements online, to which somebody would respond and earn social credits to complete the task. The idea was to upscale this and have it managed by a government body. Social credits could then be bartered or exchange for money. People could augment their universal income with these social credits. Among the radicals proposing universal incomes and social credits, a school of thought suggested the government manage all payments to its citizens. If somebody were fortunate to be employed, their employer would pay their salary to the government. The government would then pay the worker their universal income, plus their salary, after tax deductions. Salaries would be lower because the universal income comprises part of it. For those unemployed but earning social credits, these credits would be paid to the government as well. The government would convert these into a monetary value and pay them to the individual less any tax deductions. Some believed it would be fairer, than a barter system. No matter how the system was supposed to work, it would have provided a livable income, given purpose, meaning and pride back to people whose lives were ruined through the decimation of the labour market. Equally important, the social credit system would have focused the efforts of the many unemployed on building “common good.” A society’s strength is gauged by how well it looks after common interests or the common good. Unfortunately, since the 1970s, we placed self-interest ahead of common good. As a result of this self-interest, we have destroyed the planet’s ecosystem and brought about unimaginable social turmoil. Detractors of the universal income scheme said we could not afford it, which is nonsense. Look what we’ve ended up with. They also said that with every technological advancement, rather than lose jobs, we created new ones, so there’s no need to implement the scheme. The vast difference with previous advances was that the technology was not intended to replace humans but enhance what humans did. Now we know robots have greater dexterity, strength, speed and endurance than humans. We also know that AI has advanced to such a level they far outperform the human brain, and they collaborate far better than humans. We can’t compete. What about ASI – Artificial Super Intelligence? Today we know computers are far more creative than we are in virtually every field; composing music, writing, art, designing buildings, and rockets, the list is endless. Right now, researchers are losing their jobs – obsolete and hopelessly inefficient. So, what new jobs did they think we could do? Clean and polish the computers. Robots do that better at this than us. What a disaster! John heard these “radical” voices, but choose to ignore them. However, deep down, he knew they made sense, but he didn’t want to be seen siding with radical thinkers. In any event, he will have retired or been close to retirement when the changes they predicted occurred. Therefore, not his problem. Unfortunately, for John, his chickens have come home to roost early, and he and his young family will now pay the price. He has no Universal Income or Social Credit Scheme to fall back on. I don’t know what future awaits him, apart from a bleak one. Some may say my condemnation of John is harsh. “What can one man do against powerful forces hellbent on putting profit ahead of the community?” The answer is – stand-up and fight for what you know is right. Your voice will merger with others. Soon that one voice becomes millions, and millions of voices bring about change. It all starts by taking a stand, not remaining silent. Believing it’s somebody else’s problem, is the problem. Of course, there we numerous other events and incidents which conveyed the same message as the “radical” university group. The only thing the group got wrong was their timing. They underestimated the speed of change. Change accelerates change, so it’s challenging to predict the timing of change precisely. They could not have foreseen the massive changes made in the mid to late ’20s. One of the biggest milestones reached early in the ’20s was the mass introduction of autonomous vehicles. This decimated the labour market. A large portion of the population worldwide was employed as drivers. Over a relatively short time, most lost their jobs. This brought to the fore the evils of automation, which had silently encroached on the labour market for many years. This encroachment had seen millions of productive individuals sidelined, no longer part of the employment market. The social impact of this was huge but generally kept quiet by the wealthy elite, who benefited from this automation. However, the huge job losses created through autonomous vehicles were on a scale they could not hide. Following swiftly on the heels of autonomous vehicles was the explosion in blockchain and distributed ledger technology. In essence, it introduced a super-secure method of storing, authenticating, and protecting data, which revolutionised many aspects in business transactions. This resulted in the loss of tens of millions of white-collar jobs, particularly in sectors that had previously acted as “trusted agents”, such as brokers. These tectonic changes set in motion trends that saw the decline in marriage and increased single-parent families. Men could no longer commit to marriage and buying a house, as they had no work prospects. Families are at the centre of a stable society, so this break-up of the family saw the start of the collapse of our society. An increase in drug and alcohol abuse followed, as well as gambling. These are the consequences of desperate people turning to illusive solutions, leading to their accelerated downfall. The break-up of the family and increased anti-social activities, as a result of no work, was the toxic cocktail tearing the fabric of society apart. When people lose access to legal work, they are driven to illegal opportunities. When there are so many without work, crime, in every shape and form, explodes. We have seen the proliferation of illegal micro drug and alcohol producers. These producers put just about any crap they can lay their hands on into their toxic brews. This just compounded our social and economic woes. When we thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did. The foundation of this problem is that we are a society who put market needs before those of people. We falsely believed our purpose was to serve the markets when markets are supposed to serve the needs of the people. This false vision was promoted by the wealthy elite because the market serves them. The economy, like democracy, is supposed to serve the people. Unfortunately, we lost our way in the 1970s with the introduction of “free-market” thinking; making markets our master. The signs of social decay were more than apparent in the early ’20s, for those who cared, and were concerned enough to look for it. By the mid-’20s autonomous vehicles and blockchains had pushed the problem into your face; something you could no longer ignore, even if you tried. You would have thought that such radical change and coverage of the problems would lead to economic and social reform. They did not. The “evils of social democracy,” such as a Universal Income, and Social Credits, were pushed harder. At the same time, the merits of free-market as our “saviour” were expounded even harder. How sick and twisted are we? However, the real sickness was the complacent attitude of the masses, who were being destroyed by free-market thinking. The smell of revolution should have been in the air. But it wasn’t. Part III As an intern, John came face-to-face with the consequences of a shrinking labour market and its social consequences. On the A&E wards, the increased incidents of violence fuelled by an upsurge in broken families, aided and abetted by drug and alcohol abuse, had soared to new all-time highs. Self-harm, attempted suicides and suicides also reached new, astronomical heights. All around him, the signs of a broken society were evident. He read the daily news feeds on his phone. He knew of the adverse effects autonomous vehicles and blockchains were having on the labour market, economy and society. He did nothing. He’s only a medical doctor. He was thankful when he received a posting to a rural surgery. Hopefully, he could close his eyes, and all these problems would disappear. Perhaps the authorities would sort them out – that’s their job. Of course, this was all wishful thinking. He knew nothing was being done, and the same problems would be felt everywhere. Rural Britain could not escape change of this magnitude. When the vast majority lose their jobs, the economy shrinks. This shrinking affects other businesses who either close or reduce staff. The downward cycle accelerates. Many small businesses go to the wall early on. This included farmers. Being self-employed during an economic downturn causes untold stress on its owners. As a result, new business start-ups had almost ceased. The vital supply of new business blood had dried up. John faced the same problems in his rural environment as that in the city. Hardship and misery abounded. It even affected him personally. His brother-in-law ran a successful restaurant. He gave up his profession as an architect because of the encroachment of AI. The role of the architect was being replaced by software. He didn’t see much future for himself in his profession, and he wanted to pursue his dream of running his own restaurant. In the beginning, things went well, but then slowly, the market started shrinking. There were fewer and fewer employed people who could afford to eat out. It soon got to the point the business started losing money. He closed it down and tried to get back into architecture, but with no success. He’s been unemployed for some time now, with no prospects for the future. He has no money. John and his wife help him and his family when they can, but they don’t have a lot to spare either. John had got to the point of telling him he can no longer support him, as he has done in the past. The reason being his parents require additional support as their state pension has been severely cut and their savings eroded, as investments under-perform. The economy has shrunk so significantly now that unemployment is sitting (officially) at 68%. Most believe it to be much higher. The problem with AI and automation is that computers and robots don’t buy groceries, eat out, buy clothes, travel, or go on holiday. Not as much money circulates in the economy anymore. John’s first priority has to be with his immediate family, so he was about to break the bad news to his brother-in-law. Hopefully, he would understand. But having said that, his brother-in-law used to joke, “at least you’ve got a job for life.” How wrong he was. Now the only breadwinner in the wider family is in the same boat as everybody else, except John, has a lot more debt. They will lose everything: their home, car, furniture. Possibly, the shirt on his back. Here’s the problem I face. On the one hand, I have no hesitation in condemning John’s lack of action. On the other, I feel sorry for him and believe there must be something I’m missing. What stops an intelligent, caring individual from taking timely action? If he had the hindsight I now write with; I’m sure he would have been actively involved in introducing social and economic reform. I’m convinced he would have become involved during his early university days. He would not have left himself, and his family unprotected from this nightmare. But he didn’t. I must be missing something. John is an intelligent person. He is also a caring person. Despite being fully aware of the problems and possible solutions, he did nothing to bring about change. Why? He seemed to think it was somebody else who would have to fix the problems. This doesn’t make sense to me. As a result, I’m finding it difficult to feel any sympathy for him, despite the bleak future he faces. He knew, and he did nothing, so he’s equally responsible as those who mercilessly decimated the labour market, knowingly causing social and economic havoc. In legal terms, that’s referred to as “an accessory after the facts,” making him as guilty as those who committed the “crime” of decimating the labour market and economy. It would appear that John believed he lived in a bubble. He must have thought that as long as his bubble remained secure, he and his family would be safe. All he need do was maintain the bubble, and his future was assured. If he knew that bubble would burst only sixteen years from him entering university, he would have fought tooth and nail for social and economic reform. Clearly, John thought his bubble would never burst, or only when he had retired. As soon as the U-BEscopic was introduced, he should have seen it meant the beginning of the end. Perhaps he did, but realised he had left his disagreement with the state of the economy too late. However, if that were true, then he would not have reacted in the way he did – surprised and horrified, when he learnt he had lost his job. So why do intelligent people like John and you, live in a bubble? I include you as well because had you also taken action, in the early 20’s we would not be facing the crisis of losing our last secure job, with no social or economic support in place. If you did respond, you probably left it too late. Either way, nothing has happened and we’re in a real pickle now. The “bubble syndrome” affects most, if not all the rich elite. They believe their wealth will protect them in their bubble. In the past, this may have been true. However, by changing our circumstances so radically, this has changed everything. People who made a fortune from AI and robotics are now in the process of losing it all. Without the purchasing power of the masses, we have set off a downward economic cycle which doesn’t seem to be stopping. Like John, their bubble has burst. It’s easy to be tolerant or unconcerned about matters which are unlikely to affect you. You tolerate mass job losses or unfair labour practices because they won’t affect you, or perhaps even benefit you. You tolerate or even support lenient immigration policies because the consequences are unlikely to affect you. You pay little attention to the suffering of others caused through economic downturn and their concomitant social problems because they don’t affect you. It would be an entirely different story if they affected you directly and seriously. When something is patently wrong and adversely affecting the majority of your fellow citizens, I believe you are duty-bound to take action, even while you remain unaffected. Updated on Apr 11, 2022, 5:52 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkApr 12th, 2022

The best laptops for college students in 2022

The best college laptops must be durable, reliable, and equipped to handle both work and leisure. These are the best college laptops we've tested. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.Dell; Apple; Google; InsiderAside from tuition, study materials, and living expenses, most college students will be required to buy a new laptop for school work at least once. The best college laptops will last through four – or more, depending on your area of study – years of school work in addition to the countless YouTube, Netflix, and Spotify sessions.The best laptop for college is a device that won't fail you with slow-downs or complete crashes during crucial work or study sessions, especially as most laptops lose their warranty after a year or two. I expect it to also be slim and lightweight for carrying around campus and has ample battery life so that it doesn't die on you at inopportune times. You'll also need to consider your core area of study: liberal arts may require more memory for all the tabs you'll open writing research papers, while engineering or art studies can demand more processing power to drive designing and simulation software.To help you find the best college laptop in time for your first round of exams, I have gathered up the best ones we've tested. Where needed, I have included some picks based on extensive research and our collective decades of computing expertise and knowledge.Read more about how we test tech and evaluate products, and why you can trust product recommendations from Insider Reviews.Here are the best college laptops of 2022:Best college laptop overall: Dell XPS 13, $1,196 available on DellDell's latest XPS 13 features all the trappings of a luxury, long-lasting laptop: strong performance, a portable design, a comfy keyboard, and a dazzling display.Best budget college laptop: Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5, $410 available on NeweggLenovo's Chromebook Flex 5 delivers shockingly reliable performance, decently long battery life, and 2-in-1 functionality at an affordable price.Best college MacBook: Apple MacBook Air, $1,000 available on AppleApple's latest MacBook Air received a considerable boost in performance and battery life with its new M1 processor, all while sticking to its winning design. Best 2-in-1 college laptop: Lenovo Yoga 9i, $1,030 available on LenovoLenovo's Yoga 9i packs plenty of power into a slim 2-in-1 design, but it's really the audio that sets this laptop apart.Best college Chromebook: Google Pixelbook Go, $650 available on Best BuyGoogle's Pixelbook Go combines a sleek design with an incredible keyboard and a surprising level of hardware for its starting price.Best college laptop for coding: Dell XPS 17, $1,900 available on DellDell's XPS 17 is ready for lengthy coding sessions with a giant display, fast and reliable performance, and a top-notch keyboard. Best college laptop for photo and video: Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch, $2,000 available on AppleApple's MacBook Pro 14 features leading performance in photo and editing apps, powered by M1 Pro or Max processors that also allow for long battery life.Best college laptop for 3D and gaming: Acer Predator Helios 300, $1,280 available on AmazonAcer's Predator Helios 300 packs impressive 3D graphics performance at a surprisingly reasonable price. Best college laptop overallDell$1195.58 FROM DELLThe Dell XPS 13 has all the hallmarks of an exquisite laptop: strong performance, a lightweight and striking design, a comfortable keyboard, and a gorgeous display.Price: Starts at $1,196Screen: 13.4-inch touchscreen, 4K (3,840 x 2,160) LED up to 3.5K (3,456 x 2,160) OLEDProcessor: 11th Gen Intel 2-Core i3 up to 4-Core i7Operating system: Windows 11 HomeMemory and storage: 8GB up to 16GB RAM, 256GB up to 1TB SSDPros: Excellent design, attractive screen, long battery life, good performanceCons: Webcam could be betterDell's flagship laptop has always stood out for its eye-catching design, nearly borderless screen, and solid performance. That's still true in 2021 with the newest version of the Dell XPS 13, which runs on Intel's 11th-generation processors and now offers the option for an OLED display.The XPS 13's design is a big part of what makes it a great choice for college students in particular. It starts at just 2.6 pounds, making it even lighter than the MacBook Air. Since there are barely any borders framing its screen, Dell was able to cram a 13-inch screen in what's essentially the size of an 11-inch laptop. That could be useful for college students in need of a portable laptop that will fit in almost any bag. The XPS 13 also has one of the most comfortable keyboards I've ever typed on, a perk students will appreciate when writing long papers or taking notes in class.Battery life in real-world usage is about six hours, which isn't the best we've seen on a laptop but is still more than enough to get you through a day of classes. But like many laptops, the Dell XPS 13's webcam resolution is only 720p, which might make you look a bit blurry and dim in video calls.The XPS packs plenty of performance, considering even the cheapest configuration on Dell's website comes with an 11th-generation Intel Core i3, 8GB of memory (RAM), and 256GB of storage. Dell also offers a 10% discount on select electronics and accessories as part of its education discount program for those who qualify.Best budget college laptopNewegg$409.99 FROM NEWEGGLenovo's Chromebook Flex 5 provides surprising performance, good battery life, and 2-in-1 flexibility at a low price.Price: Starts at $410Screen: 13-inch touchscreen, FHD (1,920 x 1,080)Processor: 10th Gen Intel 2-Core i3Operating system: Chrome OSMemory and storage: 4GB RAM, 64GB up to 128GB SSDPros: Solid performance, decent battery life, portable footprint, has a touchscreenCons: Limited memory and storage, works best with strong Internet connection The Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 is an affordable laptop that checks all the boxes for students who don't plan to run demanding software. It has a solid Intel Core i3 processor, can last seven to eight hours on a charge in typical use, and is small enough to easily fit in most backpacks or bags.  This laptop is a Chromebook, which means it runs on Google's Chrome OS. It's more limited than Windows because it's designed primarily for web apps, not local software. These limitations are serious, but they help the Flex 5 offer snappy performance on a budget. Windows laptops sold at the same price will feel slower in day-to-day use. The Flex 5 has a 1080p touchscreen. It's great to see this feature in an inexpensive Chromebook. While ChromeOS is not designed for touch specifically, it can run Android apps through the Google Play store. The laptop's flexible 360-hinge means you can use it like a tablet.  A few configurations of Flex 5 are available, but the specific model we recommend has just 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. This is fine for most owners because ChromeOS relies on Internet connectivity. Many of your files will be stored in the cloud, not on the hard drive. Still, this will feel lean if you work with high-resolution images, video, or other large files.Best college MacBookApple$999.00 FROM APPLE$999.99 FROM BEST BUYThe new MacBook Air gets a big boost in speed and battery life thanks to Apple's M1 chip, all while keeping the same sleek design. Price: Starts at $1,000Screen: 13.3-inch, 2,560 x 1,600 LED RetinaProcessor: Apple M1Operating system: macOS MontereyMemory and storage: 8GB up to 16GB unified memory, 256GB up to 2TB SSDPros: Fast performance, super-long battery life, much improved cameraCons: Lacks facial recognition and a borderless screen, iPhone apps don't add much without touch screensApple's thin-and-light laptop got a major upgrade in late 2020 with the introduction of its M1 chip, which brings much longer battery life and more power. That makes the $1,000 MacBook Air an even better choice for college students that may frequently find themselves away from an outlet.We were able to get about 12 hours of use out of the M1-powered MacBook Air, which is a noticeable increase from the previous-generation Intel MacBook Air's 7-hour battery life. Other than the boost in battery life and speed, you can also expect a significantly improved webcam that leverages Apple's image signal processor. That can be useful for students that may be attending lectures remotely or that frequently video chat with friends and family while away at school.We prefer the MacBook Air over the M1-powered MacBook Pro for its slimmer design and lower price. Both laptops offer a very similar experience, making the Pro a tough sell, especially for those who just need a laptop for writing papers, watching videos, and doing some light multimedia editing.The MacBook Air's starting configuration comes with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. It typically starts at $1,000, but students can get it at a $100 discount that brings the price down to $900.Best 2-in-1 college laptopLenovo$1029.99 FROM LENOVOLenovo's Yoga 9i packs plenty of power into a slim 2-in-1 design, but it's really the audio that sets this laptop apart. Price: Starts at $1,030Screen: 14-inch touchscreen, FHD 1,920 x 1,080 up to 4K (3,840 x 2,160) IPSProcessor: 11th Gen Intel 4-Core i5 up to 4-Core i7Operating System: Windows 11 Home Memory and storage: 8GB up to 16GB RAM, 256GB up to 1TB SSDPros: Excellent sound, sleek design, integrated stylusCons: Webcam is only 720p, ports located on one sideThe Lenovo Yoga 9i has a sleek design, integrated stylus, and excellent audio — making it great for scribbling notes, watching a movie, or blasting tunes in your room before a night out.It's the successor to our previous pick, the Yoga C940, and comes with Intel's newer 11th-generation Core processors as well as other improvements. The cheapest option available through Lenovo right now includes a powerful Intel Core i5 processor, a 14-inch 1080p screen, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage. The Yoga 9i's rotating Dolby Atmos soundbar is also capable of pumping out boisterous sound whether it's being used in laptop, tent, or tablet mode. That's because the soundbar is located in the hinge, a prime location that enables it to fire sound upward and outward regardless of its position. The battery life is average, but should be more than enough for most people. Overall, it's a great choice for those who want a powerful laptop with a great keyboard, excellent sound, and a flexible design that enables it to double as a tablet. But that doesn't mean it comes without drawbacks. The 720p webcam is fairly dim, which might make video calls less pleasant. There are plenty of ports, including one USB-A and two USB-C slots with Thunderbolt 4 for connecting accessories. But all of those ports are located on one side, which could be inconvenient.Best college ChromebookGoogle$649.00 FROM BEST BUY$649.00 FROM GOOGLEGoogle's Pixelbook Go combines a sleek design with an incredible keyboard and a surprising level of hardware for its starting price.Price: Starts at $650Screen: 13.3-inch touchscreen, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) up to 4K (3,840 x 2,160) LCDProcessor: 8th Gen Intel Core m3 up to Core i7Operating system: Google Chrome OSMemory and storage: 8GB up to 16GB RAM, 64GB up to 256GB SSDPros: Excellent display, incredible keyboard, lightweight and slim, long battery lifeCons: Fan-less CPU, pricey upgrades, no biometric login, small-capacity storage If you want a Chromebook that's a bit more powerful, check out Google's own Chromebook, the Pixelbook Go. Despite its attainable starting price, the Pixelbook Go provides a shockingly luxurious portable computing experience that similarly priced laptops can't match. For example, the Pixelbook Go has a 1080p touch-capable display with a 1080p camera, in addition to 8GB of RAM. However, the Pixelbook Go does come a bit short on storage, at least local storage. With merely 64GB of space in the entry configuration, it leans heavily on Google Drive cloud storage, which starts at $2 per month (or $20 per year) for 100GB more space (online connectivity required). Still, most other Chromebooks at this price point offer either the same or less local storage. Finally, the Pixelbook Go's battery can last for up to 12 hours, by Google's measure, putting it in line with the MacBook Air. We adore the Pixelbook Go for its silent and comfy keyboard as well as its overall offering of premium hardware for a relatively budget price. At its starting configuration, this is the best Chromebook for the money, although not the cheapest. However, if you're looking at the priciest model — with an Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and a 4K Ultra HD screen — we'd recommend seeking a high-end laptop running Windows or macOS instead.The Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5, the other Chromebook we recommend, is better for students on a budget. You should buy the Pixelbook Go if you prefer Chrome OS to Windows and MacOS and crave the best Google has to offer.Best college laptop for codingDell$1949.99 FROM DELLThe Dell XPS 17 supports long coding sessions with a massive display, excellent performance, and a class-leading keyboard.Price: Starts at $1,911Screen: 17-inch non-touch, FHD (1,920 x 1,200) LCDProcessor: 11th Gen Intel 8-Core i7Operating system: Windows 11Memory and storage: 16GB RAM, 512GB SSDPros: Massive and attractive display, strong performance, class-leading keyboardCons: Large and heavy, limited ports, very expensive with upgrades  Most Windows laptops will work for coding, but students who want to cram comfortably should consider the Dell XPS 17. Its headline feature is a massive 17-inch display with a 16:10 aspect ratio. This results in a huge workspace with room to use multiple windows side-by-side. That's helpful if you want to preview the results while writing code or need to flip between projects quickly. The XPS 17 offers a variety of configurations. The $1,900 base model is fast enough for most users, but students with demanding needs can stack on the upgrades. A top-tier Dell XPS 17 will pack a 12th Gen Intel Core i7 processor, Nvidia RTX 3050 or Intel Xe graphics, a 4K display, 64GB of RAM and 2TB of storage. It will also be priced at $3,282, so be careful about going overboard. Connectivity might be a sore spot. The XPS 17 has four Thunderbolt 4 ports but no USB-A ports, so you'll need a dongle to use older peripherals. It does have a 3.5mm audio jack and an SD card reader, at least. This is a large laptop but, thanks to thin display bezels and a lightweight design, it will fit in many bags designed for a 15-inch laptop. It also has decent battery life, delivering around seven to nine hours in typical use. That's great for a laptop with the XPS 17's strong performance.Best college laptop for photo and videoApple$1999.00 FROM APPLE$1999.00 FROM BEST BUYApple's MacBook Pro 14 packs outstanding performance in photo and editing programs, yet a full battery can power multiple days of use.Price: Starts at $2,000Screen: 14.2-inch, 3,024 x 1,964 Mini-LED, 120Hz refresh rateProcessor: Apple M1 Pro up to M1 MaxOperating system: MacOS Monterey Memory and storage: 16GB up to 32GB unified memory, 512GB up to 8TB SSDPros: Excellent performance in demanding apps, best-in-class battery life, unbeatable displayCons: Expensive base configuration, small display size Students working with photos, video, and other media should head straight for Apple's MacBook Pro 14. Powered by the company's own M1 Pro processor (with the M1 Max available as an upgrade), the Pro 14 delivers top-notch performance in demanding applications. It will generally outperform price-competitive Windows laptops. The MacBook Pro 14 has a class-leading Mini-LED display. It provides excellent sharpness, covers the DCI-P3 color gamut often used for professional photo and video editing, and has unparalleled support for HDR content. It's a great display for mastering content.  Better yet, the MacBook Pro 14 has amazing battery life. Apple quotes up to 17 hours, which is obtainable if you stick to web browsing. Heavier loads will drain the battery more quickly but, in most cases, it can handle a day of back-to-back classes and have several hours of use left over. You must pay for the laptop's perks, as the Apple MacBook Pro 14 starts at $2,000. A top-tier configuration with an Apple M1 Max processor, 64GB of RAM, and 8TB of storage rings up at $5,900. The upgrades can be tempting, but the base model will handle the needs of most multimedia students. Apple has special pricing for students with access to the program. This will knock the base model's price to $1,850, while a top-tier model is reduced to $5,360.One downside to the MacBook Pro 14 is its 14.2-inch display. This keeps the laptop highly portable but might seem tight when editing content. The larger MacBook Pro 16 provides more space but increases the base price to $2,500.Best college laptop for 3D and gamingAmazon$1269.86 FROM AMAZONAcer's Predator Helios 300 delivers excellent 3D performance at a surprisingly low price.Price: Starts at $1,200Screen: 15.6-inch non-touch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) LED, 144Hz refresh rateProcessor: Intel 8-Core i7Operating system: Windows 10 Memory and storage: 16GB RAM, 512GB SSDPros: Excellent 3D performance, great connectivity, low priceCons: Bulky and heavy, short battery lifeThe Acer Predator Helios 300 is an outstanding college laptop for students who need (or want) a laptop for 3D applications. This could include students interested in 3D modeling or CAD programs as well as those who want to play 3D games after class. This Acer has an Nvidia RTX 3060 graphics chip that will handle modern 3D apps and games with ease. It's paired with an eight-core Intel Core i7 processor and 16GB of RAM. Performance is excellent in a wide variety of tasks from coding to photo editing, but 3D apps are where it stands out.However, this laptop makes trade-offs to deliver performance at a reasonable price. It's large, heavy, and has a modest battery that lasts only four to five hours in typical use. You'll need to pack the power adapter if you'll be on campus all day. The cooling fans can be loud under full load, though this is true of all Windows laptops with a powerful graphics chip.Connectivity is a highlight. The Acer Predator Helios 300 has USB-A, USB-C, Ethernet, HDMI 2.1, and Mini-DisplayPort. You won't need a dongle to connect most devices, including external displays. The laptop's pricing is attractive as well. The Acer Predator Helios 300 is typically $1,300. We wouldn't call that affordable, but it's excellent given the hardware offered here. This laptop can go toe-to-toe with competitors priced closer to $2,000.What else we consideredMost students will find a laptop suited for their needs among the best laptops above, but they are far from the only laptops we tested. Acer Aspire 5 ($400): The Acer Aspire 5 is not as affordable as our top budget pick, but it runs Windows and has a slightly quicker processor.Acer Nitro 5 ($840): This entry-level gaming laptop is similar to the Acer Predator Helios 300, which we recommend, but has less capable hardware. Apple MacBook Pro 13 ($1,200): The MacBook Pro 13 is a capable college laptop with a great display and keyboard, but the MacBook Air is a better value.Apple MacBook Pro 16 ($2,500): Apple's powerful MacBook Pro 16 is expensive for a college laptop. Still, some students may prefer its large display. Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 ($725): This capable Chromebook is a good alternative to the Google Pixelbook Go.Asus TUF Dash 15 ($950): The Asus TUF Dash 15 is a good budget gaming laptop with solid performance, though it has less RAM than we'd like.Dell XPS 15 ($1,300): Dell's XPS 15 is a solid Windows laptop, but the XPS 17 is a better performer in most situations.HP 14 ($500): The HP 14 is a capable, basic Windows laptops available at an attractive price. Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 ($800): The Surface Laptop 4 is a premium Windows laptop available with 13-inch and 15-inch displays, but we recommend Dell's XPS line for most students.Microsoft Surface Pro 8 ($1,100): An excellent 2-in-1, the Surface Pro 8 is versatile and portable. Its performance is modest, however, and the price is high for what you receive.What to look for in a college laptopThe hardware inside of your laptop — often referred to as the "specs" — will determine how well it will run on a daily basis, and how long it should last before it gets replaced. All of the laptops in our guide should have enough processing power, storage, memory, and battery longevity to last for at least an entire four-year term of study. Of course, the more powerful laptops will be faster and could last a lot longer, but they're more expensive. You'll have to look within your budget, but we are recommending laptops that work for most college students.We're here to help you understand all the key aspects of a laptop and how they can play into your ability to use the machine for college. OS and software support Each of the laptops in our guide runs one of the three major operating systems (OS): Windows, MacOS, and ChromeOS. Each OS has its own set of pros and cons. Windows 11: Windows is the most popular computing operating system, and you'll have no problem finding the right software to help get your work done. It's also the best OS for games if that's how you plan on spending your free time. Windows 11 is the latest version of the Windows operating system, and you may want to learn more about Windows 11 before buying a new laptop.Windows 10: This older version of Windows is still found on some new Windows laptops. However, most offer a free Windows 11 upgrade. Check the manufacturer's website to confirm this.MacOS: Like Windows, MacOS is a fully fledged OS with a robust library of apps. If you need a popular app to get your work done, it's almost definitely available for the Mac. The downside is that MacOS only runs on Apple hardware. The upsides are that MacOS has far fewer viruses than Windows, and it shares many of the same apps as the iPhone.ChromeOS: ChromeOS is different from MacOS and Windows because it's based on Google's Chrome browser, and it requires online connectivity for much of its functionality. You won't have access to the same types of software as you would on a Mac or PC, but you can still use Google's G suite to write papers, prepare presentations, create and edit spreadsheets, and more. Learn more about whether a Chromebook is right for you.DisplaysThere are three important considerations for a laptop display for school. The first is resolution, which effectively lets you know how clear the picture will be. The short version is that the higher the number, the better the clarity. You'll often see labels such as 720p ("HD"), 1080p ("Full HD"), 4K ("UHD", "Ultra HD", or 2160p). Though more is better, the smaller displays of laptops tend to look perfectly sharp at 1080p, and the upgrade to 4K often comes with major sacrifices to battery life. Size is the next consideration. Smaller 11 and 12-inch displays are better when you only need one window open at a time. Medium-sized 13 and 14-inch models are good for light multitasking but can be difficult if you're not comfortable with small text. Larger 15.6- and 17-inch displays offer more workspace but will often mean bigger, heavier devices. Then there's brightness, which is often measured in nits. A display that's rated at 300 nits or below will be hard to use outdoors in bright conditions. Higher-brightness displays may work better outdoors, as can displays that offer a matte or anti-glare finish.ProcessorsYour processor is going to play heavily into how speedy your computer feels. Luckily, outside of gaming, engineering, or digital art, most modern processors you'll find in laptops will do just fine for school work. If the laptop you're looking at has an Intel processor, know that 8th-Gen Intel Core processors and newer will all but guarantee decent performance. If you don't see a generation listed, you can always find it out by looking at the processor's name, as the generation number always appears in the underlined spot in the examples: Intel Core i7-9700, Intel Core m3-8100Y, Intel Core i5-11300H. For AMD processors, you'll find Ryzen 3000, 4000, and 5000 series processors are up to snuff. For higher performance needs look for Intel or AMD processors that have an H at the end of their model name – these indicate higher-power models that can offer more cores or boost speeds. Memory Your computer's memory, or RAM (random access memory), is what keeps all your applications up and running. It's measured in gigabytes, and the simple thing to understand is that more is better. For most people, 8GB of RAM is plenty. But if you often work with a lot of windows and tabs open (especially in Chrome), you may start to use it all up. Your computer can start to feel a lot slower if all your RAM is getting used, and you may have programs crash. The upgrade to 16GB will more likely than not cover most users' needs outside of 3D modeling or high-res video editing. You may even be able to get by on 4GB if you tend to use your computer lightly for word processing and browsing with just a few tabs open. StorageIt's easy to keep a lot of important files saved online, so storage has become a bit less important for our laptops. You likely don't need a terabyte on your laptop if you stream movies and music. If you plan to game after class, that's when extra storage will be most crucial. For non-gamers, 256GB or even 128GB will likely be enough. What's most important is getting solid state storage (or an SSD), as these will make for a system that's lighter and feels much snappier than a system with a hard drive (or HDD). If you think you might need more storage in the future, many USB drives and microSD cards can serve as auxiliary storage while adding almost no bulk or weight to your laptop.PortsThese are surprisingly important. A computer that has only USB-C ports may feel modern, but it can become a pain to interface with a lot of accessories. Many mice, keyboards, and external drives still rely on USB-A ports, so it can be handy to have at least one available. If you want to get high speeds out of the USB connection, check the version: USB 2.0 is fine for a mouse or keyboard, while USB 3.0 and above are handy for external drives thanks to their fast transfer speeds. For even more speeds, you can look for Thunderbolt. It can also be helpful to have a laptop that charges over a USB-C port, since you'll have more options should you need to borrow a friend's charger.WeightThis may seem like a no-brainer, but your laptop's weight is going to matter a considerable amount for school. We'll start with 4 pounds as a baseline. That's a common ballpark for a lot of laptops, and it likely won't feel too heavy in a good backpack during short trips between classes. But, if you often bike or walk with your laptop, aiming for a laptop below 3 pounds can spare you some backaches. Heavier, high-performance laptops can quickly top 7 pounds, and though that may not sound like a lot, you'll quickly start to feel it when combined with your books and other school supplies. And, chargers are a compounding factor, as lighter laptops tend to have lighter charging bricks while heavier laptops have beefier bricks. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderApr 8th, 2022

Judge dismisses Trump"s request for recusal from Hillary Clinton RICO lawsuit, says the cases cited in Trump"s motion "do not appear to support his arguments"

To warrant recusal, "more must be involved than solely my appointment to the bench" 25 years ago "by the spouse of a litigant now before me," Judge Donald Middlebrooks ruled. Former President Donald Trump.Getty A Bill Clinton-appointed judge rejected Trump's request that he recuse himself from Trump's RICO case against Hillary Clinton. Judge Donald Middlebrooks ruled that to warrant recusal, "more must be involved than solely my appointment to the bench" 25 years ago "by the spouse of a litigant now before me." Middlebrooks also pointed out that 3 cases cited in Trump's motion for recusal "do not appear to support his arguments." A federal judge on Wednesday rejected former President Donald Trump's request that he recuse himself from overseeing Trump's sweeping lawsuit against Hillary Clinton, people linked to her campaign, and former FBI and DOJ officials.Trump's lawyers said in their motion for recusal that US District Judge Donald Middlebrooks should step aside because he was appointed to the federal bench by then-President Bill Clinton."Due to the fact that Judge Middlebrooks has a relationship to the Defendant, HILLARY CLINTON's husband, by way of his nomination as Judge to this Court, this amounts to prejudice so virulent or pervasive as to constitute bias against a party," their filing said.Middlebrooks in his Wednesday ruling acknowledged that Bill Clinton appointed him to the court. "Although former President Clinton is not a party to this lawsuit, I will give Plaintiff the benefit of the doubt and equate the interests of the Clintons for the sake of analysis here," the filing said.Even so, the judge found that Trump's argument doesn't hold water, writing that "to warrant recusal, something more must be involved than solely my appointment to the bench twenty-five years ago by the spouse of a litigant now before me."He also pointed out that the three cases that were cited in Trump's motion for recusal "compel no different conclusion, and indeed do not appear to support his arguments."In an accompanying footnote, Middlebrooks said that in the first case, Hamm v. Members of Board of Regents of Florida, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals "held that a district court judge did not exhibit bias sufficient to warrant recusal based on certain statements he made at trial."None of the cases cited "discussed whether judicial appointment by a party, without more, would cause a reasonable person to suspect bias on the part of the presiding judge," Middlebrooks wrote. And the ruling in one of them "emphasized that, to establish bias justifying disqualification, a party must demonstrate 'such pervasive bias and prejudice that it constitutes bias against a party' — a showing that certainly has not been made here."In all, "the law is well settled" that merely being appointed to the bench by a litigant does not "create in reasonable minds ... a perception that [the judge's] ability to carry out judicial responsibilities with integrity, impartiality, and competence [would be] impaired," Middlebrooks concluded, quoting the judicial code of conduct.Wednesday's ruling was widely expected given that, as Politico reported, it's exceedingly rare for courts to grant motions seeking the recusal of judges based on the political party of the president who nominated them.Middlebrooks also made that point, writing, "Every federal judge is appointed by a president who is affiliated with a major political party, and therefore every federal judge could theoretically be viewed as beholden, to some extent or another.""As judges, we must all transcend politics," he continued. "When I became a federal judge, I took an oath to 'faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all duties ... under the Constitution and laws of the United States' ... I have done so for the last twenty-five years, and this case will be no different."Trump's sweeping racketeering lawsuit against Clinton and the other defendants accused them of conspiring to fabricate evidence during the 2016 campaign tying him to "a hostile foreign sovereignty."It dismissed any "contrived Trump-Russia link." It also recycled other claims Trump has made about former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the Trump campaign and the 2016 election.Specifically, it said Mueller exonerated "Donald Trump and his campaign with his finding that there was no evidence of collusion with Russia." And it said the "Mueller Report demonstrated that, after a two-year long investigation coming on the heels of a year-long FBI investigation, the Special Counsel found no evidence that Donald Trump or his campaign ever colluded with the Russian government to undermine the 2016 election."Mueller concluded in 2019 that the Russian government interfered with the 2016 US election to damage Clinton and propel Trump to the Oval Office. But his final report specified that investigators evaluated the relevant events from "the framework of conspiracy law, not the concept of 'collusion.'"Prosecutors ultimately determined that there was not "sufficient evidence" to charge anyone on the Trump campaign with conspiring with Moscow. But they noted that the campaign "expected it would benefit electorally" from Russia's efforts.Hillary Clinton's spokesman Nick Merrill said in an earlier statement to Insider that the lawsuit was "nonsense."Charles R. Davis contributed reporting.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderApr 6th, 2022

Transcript: Samara Cohen

     The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Samara Cohen, BlackRock CIO for ETF and Index Investments, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here. ~~~ RITHOLTZ:… Read More The post Transcript: Samara Cohen appeared first on The Big Picture.      The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Samara Cohen, BlackRock CIO for ETF and Index Investments, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here. ~~~ RITHOLTZ: This week on the podcast, I have yet another special guest — extra special guest. Samara Cohen is the Chief Investment Officer at BlackRock where she manages ETFs and index investing. BlackRock is $10 trillion. Their ETF business is over $3 trillion. Their index business is also over $3 trillion. Samara is consistently on everybody’s list of most influential women in finance, but that’s not why you want to listen to this. You want to listen to this because there really are very few people in the world more knowledgeable about managing ETFs, managing indexes, what passive really means, how people should be thinking about the actual engineering of products if you want to have broad market exposure or specific types of beta. Really, I’m going to stop talking and just say with no further ado, my conversation with Samara Cohen. ANNOUNCER: This is Masters in Business with Barry Ritholtz on Bloomberg Radio. RITHOLTZ: My extra special guest this week is Samara Cohen. She is BlackRock’s Chief Investment Officer for ETFs and index investments. BlackRock manages up about $10 trillion. The ETF business is about $3.27 trillion. Samara Cohen, welcome to Bloomberg. COHEN: Thank you so much, Barry. I’m happy to be here. RITHOLTZ: I’m happy to have you here. I have so many questions to ask you, but I have to start out with your education, which we usually skim over. So, you graduated UPenn with a B.S. in Economics and — and Finance at — at Wharton, but you also had a B.A. in Theatre Arts. How has theater training helped in your financial career? COHEN: First, Barry, when you hear theater, a lot of people might think that — that I was an actor, so I feel like I need to start with the fact that I was decidedly a backstage kid. My love of theater was very much on the production, design, directing, you know, behind-the-scene side, and that has definitely helped me across the course of my career. But I have to tell you, I came to the University of Pennsylvania to be a theater major, and I left with a dual degree in Finance and Theater. So, finance was something I discovered because I knew I was good at math, in fact, when I started college I didn’t really need to take any math classes because I had all of this credit. And I missed it, and so I discovered markets and economics, and it felt like math with a purpose, so — and I got to combine the financial degree with the theatre degree, which made my parents much more comfortable with the fact that I was spending all of my summers working for regional theater companies basically, but it was a big part of learning who I am. And — and today in my role, I often remember being told that casting is 95 percent of directing, and putting the right person in the right seat is a lot about leading any business, so it definitely has played a part throughout. RITHOLTZ: Really interesting. So, you — you end up interning at Goldman Sachs on the trading floor pretty early in your career. Tell us what that was like and — and how theatrical was that. COHEN: Well, actually I came to Goldman out of business school. I — well, my first job was actually at BlackRock. That’s where I came out of college. I was at BlackRock for four years, went to business school. And part of why I went back to school after BlackRock was in my head I thought, “Maybe I could further combine this love of finance and love of theater. And how might I do that?” And I loved the idea of going back to school. I’m kind of a voracious learner, and I’d work hard and I liked the idea of meeting other people and seeing what was out there after four years of — of working. And in that summer and actually in the process of figuring out where I wanted to work for the summer, I visited the trading floor. And I walked onto the trading floor, and I thought this is it. It’s a lot like theater. It’s a lot like that like multi-tasking, high-energy collaborative environment where lots of things are happening at the same time. And I thrive in that. And so, actually, the theater — the — the trading floor I found pretty theatrical, and that really worked for me. RITHOLTZ: Yeah, there’s a — there’s a buzz, there’s an electricity on a big trading floor, which I think is one of the things that’s lost from old Wall Street. You can replace it with more efficient algorithms and technology. But man, when you walk onto a big floor, you just feel there’s nothing like that. And ever … COHEN: Right. RITHOLTZ: … have a desire to become a trader? Was that — did that ever appeal to you? COHEN: Until I walked onto the trading floor, the idea really scared me. And you know what? I — actually, I don’t think I’ve ever told anybody this. I did not proactively send my résumé to the Securities Division. They reached out to me as part of a diversity hiring effort to get more women onto the trading floor. And the reason I didn’t send my résumé was it sounded really intimidating to me. And so, I think that’s just an important thing to — to note is that sometimes if something’s interesting, even if it’s intimidating, it’s worth checking out because I knew. And yes, there weren’t a lot of women on the floor when I walked out there, but it was really clear to me that I would, you know, once I got my bearing and learned to speak the language, it can be an intimidating place at first, but — but I knew it would be a great fit for me. RITHOLTZ: So, let me make sure I understand the chronology of your career. So, you intern at BlackRock, then you work at Goldman for like 16 years, something like, then you boomerang back to BlackRock. Did I — did I get that right? COHEN: Yeah, pretty much. I went to BlackRock out of college, and then business school from BlackRock, and then Goldman from business school, and then back to BlackRock. RITHOLTZ: That’s really, really interesting. I — I heard the phrase BlackRock boomerang. Is this a thing to people like work at BlackRock, leave, and then, you know, magnetically get drawn back? What’s that about? COHEN: In my case, it was definitely a thing. I don’t know the — like with the total stats are, but it’s definitely true for other people. I mean, people’s careers are marathons and — and not sprints. And — and, you know, part of my marathon — an important part of my marathon actually was that 16 years at Goldman. I think had it not been for that, I wouldn’t have the seat I currently occupy at BlackRock, so I’m pretty grateful for it. But also, I think my — my history with BlackRock and my passion for the firm and its purpose did draw me back as well. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s talk about that seat you have at BlackRock. You recently were promoted to Chief Investment Officer of ETFs and index investments. That sounds like a pretty serious job, especially when we consider at BlackRock, you know, that’s well over $3 trillion in assets. Tell us a little bit about your new job responsibilities. COHEN: I’m really excited about the new job. And — and even more than — than me being in the job, I’m excited about the fact that we have a Chief Investment Officer role for ETFs and index. And it actually is broader than the ETF book. It’s our whole indexing book. And in the — and — and what it means in short is that I’m accountable for — for investment performance in our ETFs and index book, which I love telling people because sometimes they look at me and they say, “Well, I don’t really understand that. Isn’t investment performance the outperformance of a benchmark? And aren’t you, Samara, ETF and index person the benchmark?” So, what is investment performance? And we’ve done a lot of work really in partnership with our clients and articulating what that is. And in the case of ETFs and index, it’s two things. It’s first what we call market quality. What do you expect an ETF? It’s how it trades in the market, secondary market volumes, market quality in stress scenarios, premium discount behavior. There’s a bunch of metrics that we monitor with respect to ETF market quality. Part of my job is to be accountable for performing on those, and the other part is delivering on those index outcomes, which in a world where what we can index is evolving as more markets and more strategies are indexed. It’s also important that we deliver to investors what they had signed on for with that index objective. And so, that’s what it means to be the CIO of an ETF and index book. RITHOLTZ: So you mentioned market quality and — and performing within the market, you know, was only less than two years ago we had the big COVID selloff in March, and people were concerned that ETFs were not going to be able to manage the — the pressure, they wouldn’t be able to deal with all of the stress, you know, all the usual criticisms of indexing plus additional criticisms of ETFs. How did ETFs perform during that 34 percent collapse from February to April of — of 2020? COHEN: The people who were concerned before the COVID bout of volatility had a huge and rich set of data to draw from when we emerge from those volatile markets that show that actually ETFs have really supported stressed markets, added liquidity, added transparency. And that was on a full display over the COVID volatility period, particularly in the bond market, where if you think about what was happening across the world, there were traders who were, you know, setting up their — their home desks, their — their home, you know — you know, hundreds of — that one trading floor that we talked about that came thousands and thousands of — of home office trading floors. And the bond market, in particular, still has largely operated in an over-the-counter bilateral basis in the bond market for — for that reason and a whole lot of other reasons. You know, and the treasury market, in particular, became very hard to access while ETF, you could see on your phone they were transparent, they were trading. RITHOLTZ: Right. COHEN: One of the stats that I love to quote that I think is quite indicative of what was happening over that period is, you know, we had an investment grade ETF that traded on one of those volatile days in March — March 24th 90,000 times on exchange. And, of course, every time something prints on an exchange is price formation where its — its underlying bonds — the top holdings of that underlying bond portfolio traded, on average, 30 times. So, 90,000 versus 30. There just wasn’t price formation happening in the bond market, but it was happening in the ETF market with buyers and sellers meeting on exchange, which meant that there wasn’t a whole lot that needed to happen in the underlying bond market to — to support that. And so, really — and — and what’s interesting is you can see a whole lot’s been written by policymakers around the world about this supportive role that ETFs have effectively played in — in stressed markets. The, you know, SEC has written about it, the BOE, IOSCO, so it’s been exciting to have this really rich dataset to draw and looking back at that period. RITHOLTZ: The bond discussion is really interesting, and — and I was referring to equities, but we’ll circle back to that. You know, a lot of people have complained that bond markets are thin. You know, you have a few 1,000 stocks, but there are just countless, countless numbers of bonds — many, many more times of bonds than there are stocks. It seems like the bond ETF universe handled the crash — or plunged maybe is a more accurate word because it was so short — handled it pretty well. Everybody — we saw a lot of money rotate out of stocks into bonds. As a safe harbor, didn’t seem like there were a lot of dislocations or wild price anomalies or an inability to get an execution. The bond ETF universe seemed to behave really well. COHEN: The bond ETF universe behaved well. And as a result, the bond market behaved better. And that’s one of the things that I get really excited about because the fact is I’m really a lifelong markets reformer. That’s the passion that I have. I’ve spent my entire career in the markets and — and my desire, at this point, is to contribute to making them better, making them safer, more efficient, more transparent, and we can measure how bond ETFs actually did that in the bond market. And, in fact, interestingly, as a result of the — the demand for bond ETFs that came out of the COVID period, we had seen the bond market start to trade more electronically big pieces of the bond market portfolios in the bond market. Bond dealers have started to really invest in algorithmic pricing, which creates more transparency, more trading, and more liquidity. So, we’ve written about and we’ve observed this what we call a real virtuous cycle of how ETFs have been integrated into the fabric of — of capital markets across the board. And we can definitely talk about equities, but how in the bond market it has been good for bond ETFs and also good for bonds. RITHOLTZ: So, when we had the great financial crisis since ’08, ’09, I thought that was pretty much the end of the argument that indexing is problematic for markets or ETFs aren’t going to be able to handle pressure. That — that should have been the last word in that. I was kind of surprised to see those same arguments still hanging around. And then March 20202, the execution seemed to go off without a problem. There were a handful of individual stocks that’s sort of pricing get a little wacky. But is this the end of the passivist destroying the markets and ETFs are dangerous argument or is there — are they just going to throw this out every time there’s something else to complain about. COHEN: I love your thoughts on that, Barry. I would hope that it’s a — it’s — it’s closer to the end where we — where we can kind of look forward to — to numerous things that can improve the markets. But look you make an excellent point. I mean, to be fair, in 2008, I was — I was on the bond trading floor actually at Goldman and I didn’t know what an ETF was, like in 2008, you know, in — in the fixed income markets, you didn’t — you know, you — we weren’t talking about what ETFs were. But to your point, it is true. If we look back at the data during those weeks and months when what was so valued by investors was transparency and was so feared was the lack of transparency when all this information was coming out about bank balance sheets and what was on balance sheets, we did see a real pick up in volume and velocity of ETF trading in 2008 and in 2009. And we have repeated stressed market events like the big energy selloff that happened at the end of 2015, the — you know, what we call Volpocalypse that happened in February of 2018 where we have repeatedly seen ETFs perform well under pressure and actually add support to high-velocity markets. And yet this still, you know, comes out from time to time, which feels like kind of the language that comes out around any sort of disruptive technology. But I do think like we talked about that the — the data is pretty clear. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) RITHOLTZ: You are definitely responsible for a lot of capital, and that leads me to a quote of yours that I — I need an explanation on. At BlackRock, there is absolutely nothing passive about index investing. Explain. COHEN: I am on a mission, Barry, to replace the word passive with the word index when people talk about ETFs and index investing because how we manage our portfolios is extremely active. And it goes back to that conversation we had about what investment performance is in the context of an ETF and index investment book. It is delivering the index outcomes, which the reason ETFs and – and index ones exist is that indexes aren’t often easily investable. They could have thousands and thousands of securities in them. And so, depending on how much you — you, you know, are investing, you can’t perfectly replicate the index, and so you need to optimize to deliver that index outcome with as little friction as possible. So that’s delivering the index outcomes. And then there is that huge dimension of ETF market quality, ensuring that the ETFs track the underlying portfolios with, you know, we call it premium discount behavior, ensuring that they’re strong secondary market quality, transparency, and liquidity in the ETFs. So, we have teams of people, not robots, but actual people. And a lot of them, by the way, are women around the world who are actively managing our market quality and investment performance in our ETF and index book. So that’s why there is absolutely nothing passive about it. RITHOLTZ: Really interesting. We’ve gone through these periods whether these spasms of anti-indexing sentiment, and it goes all the way back to Jack Bogle and — and the early days of indexing in the 1970’s. Indexing is un-American. It’s — we’ve heard people call it Marxist. It’s going to lead to market crashes. What — what’s your perspective when you hear these things crop up? The – by the way, the latest one is it’s anti-competitive and it’s going to lead to price fixing and a lack of competition due to all this ownership. How do you respond to those sort of backwater, low review silliness? COHEN: I — I begin with — and we’ve written on this this year in — in something we call the Investor Progress Report, but we estimate that there’s about 120 million people around the world who are accessing our ETF and index capabilities. There are more people accessing the markets, and investing in the markets, and participating in economic growth on their terms than never before in history. And from my perspective, there’s really nothing that’s more American than that. So that’s how I think about it. I think ETFs bring markets. They bring the market access. They bring transparency. And increasingly, they bring choice to lots of individual investors who are saving for retirement and thinking about their financial futures with the help of ETFs in ways that they couldn’t before. And a lot of the — you know, one of the pieces that we — that we put out recently points out to the fact that a lot of the households who own ETFs in the United States have — have median incomes of $125,000. So, you’re talking about investors who simply didn’t have market access before who, as a result of ETFs and indexation, can — can get diversified strategies to manage their risk the way more sophisticated institutional investors have and participate in the markets. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s talk a little bit about product engineering. Tell us a little bit about what that means. What sort of projects are these teams working on? It’s one of those phrases that definitely resonates. COHEN: I’m glad that it resonates. It’s something that we’ve been using for — for a few years now. And that team, which is global, there are product engineers in — in really every major region of the world. And they do two things. First, they help design the operating models and the investment process for — for new ETFs, how will creation redemption work, what are the characteristics of the index. What — you know, how will the index rebalance? Those types of things when it comes to new ETFs. And the second piece of what they do, which is actually really critical, is they continue to manage the structure of the product over its lifetime. So sometimes, we will identify something in one of those market quality statistics that, you know, let’s say it seems to be trading a little bit wide in the secondary market, and we’ll go out and we’ll talk to market makers and ask what’s happening. And they’ll say, well, it’s a little tricky to hedge because of X, Y, and Z. And sometimes, we can change something structurally and how the market interacts with the ETF to improve its investment performance in market quality. And that’s the purview of our product engineering group. So, I tell all of our teams, you know, I want all of our teams to be able to explain how they contribute to the active management of our ETF and index book, and that’s how the product engineering does by — by identifying the operating model and by continuously assessing and improving it. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s talk about the rest of your team. You have portfolio engineers, risk managers, platform architects, market structure developers, and product operating model designers. That sounds like some very intriguing job descriptions. Tell us about what a market structure developer does or some of those other really interesting titles. COHEN: I think they’re all exciting jobs, and I do have to make a plug for — for anybody who is — is considering going into investing. It’s never a dumb question to ask what — what is the job, but because there are so many different jobs. And I remember when I was in college, I was almost scared to ask that. But — but as you just pointed out, and it’s — it’s, you know, fun for me to kind of hear you walk through it, there are so many different types of ways to be an investor and to participate in an investment platform. So really, we do three things. Number one, we manage day in and day out. We are responsible for the investment performance of our funds, how we’re managing the portfolios through rebalances, through corporate actions, and how we’re managing ETF market quality. That’s number one. Number two is we are continuously improving our platform in the Aladdin technology that we use to manage our portfolios to make things that can be lower touch — lower touch to give us capacity to spend more time on, you know, new markets and new strategies so that platform architecture piece, how we create scale that’s kind of bucket two of what we do. And the third part is ecosystem leadership. And you talked about — you know, we talked about how we engage with liquidity providers, with stock exchanges. Earlier, you talked about the — the COVID volatility. And I think it’s really important and — and was a really interesting case study in the U.S. that a lot of the volatility guardrails that had been put in place by the U.S. stock exchanges over the five years preceding March 2020, market-wide circuit breakers, limit up/limit down, like the whole limit up/limit down framework was really only 10 years old had been tested a few times and had its biggest test in March of 2020. We engaged very deeply with stock exchanges. Remember in the U.S., ETFs are between 30 and 40 percent of daily trading volume, so those volatility guardrails really matter from a market quality perspective. So, focusing on the external environment for our ETFs, that’s what we mean by ecosystem developer. RITHOLTZ: You mentioned Aladdin. I just finished a couple of months ago the book, “Trillions” by Robin Wigglesworth, and he describes the Aladdin system really as the technological backbone of — of BlackRock from the very beginning and the secret sauce to that successful scaling. Tell us a little bit about — for — for a person who may be not familiar with Aladdin, tell us a little bit about that. COHEN: Aladdin is how we — we arm our investment managers, both BlackRock’s investment managers and the investment managers who are — who are Aladdin clients outside of BlackRock with best-in-class risk management tool. And it is the — the DNA of the firm. And I can say that actually because as I’ve shared with you, I was at the firm pretty much at its — at the beginning. BlackRock was started in — in 1988, and — and I started there in — in 1993. And the reason BlackRock was founded really was a group of fixed income markets, specifically mortgage-backed security experts who said, “We can take this technology that’s been built on the sell-side and deliver it directly to clients as a fiduciary to help them create better outcomes.” So, giving — putting better risk management tools directly in the hands of — of clients was really BlackRock’s founding mission. And — and that’s what Aladdin has grown in today. First, it was the system that all of BlackRock’s portfolio managers used, and then it became a system that — that other asset managers wanted to — to access as well, and it is really the — the backbone of how we — we look at risk and we run our portfolios. RITHOLTZ: Really intriguing. So, let’s talk a little bit about ESG generally, and then we’ll — we’ll — we’ll dig down a little more specifically. Your boss, Larry Fink, famously pens a — a letter each year to Corporate America’s. Tell us a little bit about why we do that and — and what — what’s the thinking behind that. COHEN: Larry writes a letter to start a conversation, and it’s really a conversation with our clients who are owners in all of these companies across Corporate America and — and what we think are — are the top of mind themes for the year ahead. And it’s a good integration of everything we’ve heard from clients, and how we’re thinking about the markets, and how we’re thinking about risk. And it becomes really a — a point of — of bringing people together us inside the firm and us with our clients to — to take a look at the world and what we’ve learned over the past year, and — and what we want to bring to — to the year in front of us. RITHOLTZ: Very interesting. Let’s talk a little bit about corporate governance. How do you think about that in terms of affecting risk? COHEN: The conversation about corporate governance is one we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about because, as — as you know, but it probably bears, you know, speaking to explicitly, in a lot of cases, we vote the shares on behalf of the clients whose money we manage. RITHOLTZ: Right. COHEN: And the question is do those clients want to vote the shares themselves? And something we did in December and it’s actually gone live this month or it went live at the beginning of 2022 was work to give our institutional clients and some of our comingled fund clients, but a — a good portion of our assets the option whether they’d want to vote their shares or not. So, it’s early to say are they going to take it us up on it or not, but that will be very instructive to us because our job is to help them create better financial futures, create better portfolio outcomes. In some cases, they may want to participate in the corporate governance process themselves. In other cases, they may want to intentionally delegate it to us, and we had a very big what we call investment stewardship function where we, you know, were very transparent. We publish the criteria in terms of what we think is important when we engage with companies, but some investors feel like, well, that — that engagement with companies is part of the value proposition that I hire my asset manager for. And some investors may feel, nope, I’d like them to manage my assets, but I want the votes. And we are really hopeful of increasingly being able to give those investors choice. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) RITHOLTZ: Let’s talk a little bit about ESG generally. You know, for a long time, it’s captured a lot of mindshare. People have talked about it, especially with climate change and the focus on the environment, but it doesn’t seem like ESG is captured as many inflows as it has, you know, sort of mindshare. What are your thoughts on that? Is this going to be a persistent gap or are we seeing more people, especially younger generations more interested in ESG investing? COHEN: I think flows are actually the tip of the ESG iceberg, and what you don’t see below the surface is the integration and evaluation of ESG risk across portfolios. And that has captured a huge amount of time and attention from investors and — and certainly from us. And it’s actually really exciting from — from an investor perspective that reminds me again dating myself here. But when I started at BlackRock, I — it was in — in, you know, 1993, and I think in the five years since BlackRock was founded, interest rates had dropped something like 300 basis points, right, like late 80’s call it 10 percent on the bond to — to seven percent. And one of the big topics of risk in the fixed income market was mortgage prepayments. And so, figuring out how to model that, articulate that, make that transparent better than anybody else, again a big part of BlackRock’s value prop that it was bringing to investors, and we are doing the same thing today with climate risk and with ESG integration. And we have integrated ESG metrics across our portfolios and transition risk metrics, so we can assess what sort of risks are there. And that’s the really the first step. It’s measurement, and transparency, and then decisions around capital commitment, and — and risk taking. RITHOLTZ: So — so I want to restate a little bit of what you’re saying. I’ve traditionally heard ESG described as I want to invest in a way that parallels my personal values, but you’re really describing ESG as a risk management tool, as a way to screen out potentially problematic concerns, sectors, companies, whatever. Am I — am I overstating that or is that a fair translation? COHEN: Both statements are actually true. It’s a spectrum, so what we need to do is give our clients choice and — and clarity, and — and help them articulate because often they’re not even sure where they want to be in that spectrum, but I would say the majority of the conversations that we have right now are much more understanding. Looking at my portfolio today, what are my ESG risks broadly? What are my climate risks? What are my risks to a net zero transition? And then the second question is how do I want to manage those. RITHOLTZ: Really, really intriguing. Let’s talk a little bit about no carbon and low carbon. That was kind of a — a hot topic a couple of years ago. I’ve always been a little perplexed by that because if you back out the big carbon producers in the S&P 500 everybody else who’s left are giant carbon consumers. How should we think about something like carbon? Is that the most attractive approach to dealing with I’m concerned about climate change or — or — or global warming? COHEN: It depends on what your goal is. And again, I think a big part of what our work has been is to offer a spectrum for investors who are trying to do different things. And even more importantly and this has been meaningful to me as a personal investor, offer transparency around what it all means. So, something we did in December is we published a metric for all of our public index and all of our ETFs called the ITR Metric, Implied Temperature Rise. And the beauty of this metric is it’s really easy to understand. You can pull up anything on our website. You can see the ITR Metric, and you can see is it Paris-aligned or not, meaning is it, you know, 1.5 degrees or lower or is it higher? And — and we show the spectrum of — of bands and ranges. And — and what you can see is, you know, to your point, 90 percent of — of companies in — in MSCI ACWI are not Paris-aligned … RITHOLTZ: Right. COHEN: … but step number one is — is getting transparency in terms of your book, and then deciding do you want to take the first step and move to something that is a screen diversion of — of that index or go much further and — and take more targeted exposures. And what we hear from clients is, you know, they want different things, so putting out that spectrum and putting out those measurements really, you know, looking to be champions of transparency in this world, which as it emerges can kind of become a Tower of Babel in terms of the different languages and different metrics. So arming investors, both institutional and personal investors, with the tools to understand what does this mean for me, that’s really been the priority. RITHOLTZ: That’s really interesting, the old Peter Drucker line is if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. And having metrics sounds like a great, great start. So, let’s talk a little bit about what it’s been like the past couple of years with the pandemic, and then last summer delta, it felt like it was ending, and then omicron hit. I keep hearing all these firms are trying to get their staffers back into the office and on the trading desks. Tell us what — what you guys are doing. Are you going to have everybody back in the office? Are you going to be remote? Are you going to be hybrid? What’s your thinking about the world going forward? COHEN: We are going to pilot a hybrid model, and we actually started piloting it in certain parts of the world, including New York City, prior to omicron. And what it was was you are welcome to back — to come back to the office for five days. If you would like to take two remote days, take two remote days, and — and we’ll see how that plays out. And then omicron happened and we kind of, you know, pulled back on the pilot and — and we’ll put it back in hopefully in a few weeks. I’m — I’m in the office right now. RITHOLTZ: I see. COHEN: I like being in the office. And I think we’ve had a whole bunch of learning. So, I mean, of course, our number one priority is making sure that people are safe and that people are healthy, but healthy doesn’t just mean, you know, being safe from the — from — from the virus. It means being mentally healthy. RITHOLTZ: Right. COHEN: And — and one of the things we’ve learned is — is a lot of us really missed the connection with other people. So, creating an environment where you can have those moments of human connection in the office. And, of course, there were moments of human connection that people, you know, particularly with kids of different ages we’re — we’re having at home that they didn’t have before, so trying to take those learnings from the pandemic and employ them in a way that makes people healthier physically and healthier mentally, that’s what the goal is. But I imagine we will be experimenting for a while both based if conditions in the world change and — and as we see how it works in our offices. RITHOLTZ: Yeah, the — the challenge has been how do you manage corporate culture over Zoom or remotely. And BlackRock has a very specific corporate culture. Lots of other firms are trying to maintain that. Finding that right balance seems to be a work in progress that we’re all going to be dealing with over the next couple of quarters or years for all we know. COHEN: Absolutely. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s talk a little bit about the rising demand for ETFs. It seems that lots of institutional traders are driving ETF demand. Can — can you talk to that a little bit? I’m curious as to your perspectives. COHEN: What might surprise you to hear is one of the biggest adopters of — of ETFs has been other asset managers. So institutional asset managers, you know, like, you know, BlackRock’s own asset managers outside of the index business who are integrating ETFs into their own pursuit as alpha generally to, you know, use ETFs as a cash equitization tool to look at ETFs alongside other sources of market beta like futures contracts or swap contracts, to look at options on ETFs. Often, we’ve seen — and — and this was actually a very interesting story going into the Brexit referendum, there weren’t a lot of volatility place out there, but there were some U.K. — we had a U.K. equity market ETF and — with options — with options ecosystem around it. An options open interest went up 1,800 percent … RITHOLTZ: Wow. COHEN: … into the referendum because it was a way to play volatility, and sometimes that would be an asset manager’s first experience of an ETF because they were looking for some sort of non-linear payout. And then they would become more interested in integrating ETFs as another wrapper, another tool in their overall toolkit in — in making money. So that has been one of the largest sources of — of adoption of ETF. RITHOLTZ: I have a very vivid recollection, I want to say 15 or 20 years ago. Hearing certain institutions say — or institutional fund managers say, “Look, we want to get exposure either to broad equity market or to the specific sector, but our due diligence and our research process takes so long that by the time we pick a particular company, a particular manager, a particular investment, the move is half over, I could just use the ETF and get instant exposure to X. Do you still see that sort of behavior or am I going too far back in history? COHEN: No, we absolutely see that behavior. Often, you know, people will use the ETF as a placeholder as they do that research and figure out where they want that exposure to be specifically. So sometimes they have longer-term horizon, sometimes they have shorter-term horizons, but again, this is actually a key reason why we see that increase in ETF trading during high velocity markets as they are very convenient and transparent way to manage risk and pivot exposures during fast-moving markets. So, you can make quick changes to adapt your risk profile and work into what your longer-term target state might be, and we do continue to see that. RITHOLTZ: Really interesting. Let’s talk about thematic ETFs. They seem to have exploded in popularity the past couple of years. How exciting is that for you guys to work on? And what do you see coming down the pipe? What — what’s new and interesting? COHEN: It’s so exciting that we can increasingly index new types of strategies and access new types of markets, and — and that’s really what we’re about, bringing the markets to investors on their terms. And, you know, one of the things that really brought it home for me with some of our climate-focused ETFs was being able to find something that my kids connected to. My daughter is a big environmentalist. She’s a part of her school’s Environmental Action Committee, and I think she never thought that ETFs were — or investing was particularly relevant to her. And talking to her about a climate-focused ETF, it was a conversation. So, part of how we are bringing more people into the markets is helping them connect to the themes that are important to them and then helping them use those as a way to start to construct the portfolios that will deliver the outcomes they’re looking for. RITHOLTZ: So, one of the big things that we’ve seen has been the rise of direct indexing. What are your thoughts on that? Is this a challenge to ETFs? And we’ve seen a lot of big institutions buy direct indexing shop. Tell us a little bit about your thoughts with that. COHEN: Direct indexing is a — is a very important part of the index and — and ETF ecosystem. About half of our book actually is direct indexing versus ETFs. Increasingly actually, there’s also been attention to what — to — to smaller direct indexing opportunities more for individual investors where we — we acquired Aperio to — to offer that service as well. So, I think direct indexing for individuals, for institutions fits nicely into that overall ecosystem. When you come to those things we talked about around what value the ETF wrapper brings, that secondary market liquidity, the transparency, that’s the role that ETFs play, but there’s certainly a role for a — a very important role for direct indexing, too. RITHOLTZ: Really intriguing. Your bio mentions that you’re an advocate for employee networks. Can you speak a little bit towards that? I — I know this is like a total subject change, but I don’t want to not get to this question. Tell us a little bit about employee networks, and — and what are they? And — and what role do you play with those? COHEN: I’ve been a big beneficiary over the course of my career of the networking and visibility that comes from being part of, you know, in my case, women’s networks. It’s an opportunity to meet and connect with people you wouldn’t otherwise know and an opportunity to — to think more intentionally and — and strategically about your career and — and maybe expand your universe of role models. So that’s how I participated in employee networks. And at BlackRock, one of the things I love about being a — a senior advocate for — for many of the networks is I really believe that you can’t do your best work unless you can talk about your challenges both inside and outside the office. And a lot of times these networks create safe spaces for people to talk about what they’ve struggled with, how they’ve overcome that. And — and — and I find that really inspiring and — and it helps me recruit great people. So — so it’s something that’s very important to me. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s stay with that topic, finance is notorious for not having a lot of diversity or inclusion. I know BlackRock has a couple of initiatives in that space. Tell us about them. COHEN: I’ve spent my career, you know, being asked the question of — of, well, what’s it like being a woman in finance. And — and we could talk about this for — for a really long time, what’s it like being a woman, what’s it like being a mother, what’s it like being a parent. And — and it’s always hard when you feel different no matter what. No matter what the source of the differences, I think it can be very hard to — to feel safe and to feel secure amid differences. And — and that is what we try to sell for, whether it’s with employee networks, whether it’s, you know, creating mentorships and role models, although I’ll have to say a lot of my — my most memorable mentors weren’t necessarily women. But again, thinking about those challenges, which are different for — for different people, talking about them and making people feel safe and raising what they are, that’s what we try to focus on the most. And — and probably, I think that’s what’s changed the most over the course of my career. I think early in my career I felt the imperative was to, you know, not — not address the fact that there were differences and just get out there and — and try to act like everybody else, and — and that didn’t necessarily work for me. But, you know, it was sometimes hard to talk about that. And so, talking about it like — and having transparency to those things has — you know, has really been the first step and — and one that we have to take again and again. So, I think it’s — it’s not an old conversation, it’s not a dated conversation. I am incredibly proud, Barry, that the leadership team of the ETF and index platform is majority female. And we talk all the time about how to increase our diversity — diversity of thought, racial diversity, geographic diversity because we think if we bring our differences to the table we’ll perform better. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) RITHOLTZ: So, let me throw you a curveball. You’re short of a bicoastal, New York and Boca. How do you split your time? And — and given what we’ve learned about working from home, can you operate from anywhere you have an internet connection? COHEN: I — I live in New York, Barry. I live in New York. I’m in the New York City office right now. I have a home in Florida. And — and I’ll tell you a funny story. My — my husband loves Florida, so we’ve always — we’ve had a home in Florida for a while. He — he’s a — he’s an investment manager, a triathlete. He cycles a lot. He plays a lot of golf. He, you know, does some work from down there. But I was always in Florida for vacations and weekends until the pandemic when during that 2020 spring lockdown I spent about six weeks there and — and liked it more than — than — than I had. So — but now Florida is — is — is really weekends and — and vacations for me. But last night, you’ll like the story. My daughter texted my husband and said, “Hey, dad, I’m wondering. Are you coming home tonight or are you going to be in New York City?” And, by the way, my husband and I were at a restaurant in New York City. So, the kids like to joke that my husband lives in Florida, but — but actually, we are — I am mostly here. And — and between May and November, he is mostly in — in New York City as well. RITHOLTZ: Really, really interesting. So, I know I only have you for so much time. Let me jump to my favorite questions that we ask all of our guests starting with tell us what you’re streaming these days. What have been keeping you entertained when everybody has been stuck at home? COHEN: I have three categories of — of things I stream, and I’m sure you’ve heard this before, Barry, the things I watch with my husband, the things I get my kids to sit down and watch with me, and — and the stuff I watch for myself. So — so in each category, my husband and I, we love Ted Lasso. That was one of our favorite things of the pandemic. And we also love Yellowstone. My — my kids will not sit down to watch the same shows together no matter how much I try. So, with my son, we’re watching Boba Fett and the Mandalorian. With my daughter, it’s been Emily in Paris. They are 15 and 13. And, you know, I’ll tell you for myself, I finished the — the sequel to Sex and the City and Just Like That, and I loved it. It was, you know, women around my age talking about dealing with their teenage kids and finding meaning in their lives. And I know the reviews were — were pretty mixed, but I really loved it. RITHOLTZ: We talked briefly, but you didn’t give us any names about some of the mentors who helped shape your career. Tell us about those folks. COHEN: I have had great mentors and sponsors, and I think it’s important to talk about both. I don’t think until more recently in my career I understood what a sponsor was, a sponsor being somebody who will actually work intentionally to — to move your career forward. But the — at Goldman Sachs, I had the, you know, privilege of working with John Rogers who asked me to testify to Congress in front of the House Banking Committee on — to represent Goldman, which was the scariest thing I had ever done. And what John told me, which I will never forget, it — it’s the scariest things that once you do, you are the proudest of — of having done. Marty Chavez, who I also worked for Goldman, was a tremendous mentor. And I think importantly, as I said, I’ve had — I’ve had some great female role models, but I’ve had some awesome male mentors. I think my high school calculus teacher Judy Conan (ph) probably changed the course of my career. So those three are my biggest mentors. At BlackRock, my — my boss Salim Ramji, our Head of H.R. Manish Mehta who was the — you know, had this job before me, they’ve been great sponsors. And I think being intentional about providing sponsorship as well as mentorship is something we think about a lot. RITHOLTZ: Really interesting. I know you read a lot. Tell us some of your favorite books and — and what are you reading right now. COHEN: I am — I’m sure you are as well, I am a voracious reader and I’m usually reading multiple books at a time. So, the two I am reading right now I kind of usually have something fiction, something non-fiction. The nonfiction book I’m reading is “Digital Body Language,” which in the, you know, situation that we’re in right now, it’s fascinating how — how — how we create a digital body language, how people respond to it and what you need to think about it. That’s my non-fiction book right now. And my fiction book, I’m — I’m a few chapters in and I’m loving it, it’s called “The Louding Voice,” and it’s about a young woman, a young teenager in a rural Nigerian village who gets married very young, and — and is thirsting for an education because she wants to find her louding voice, and that’s probably a theme in everything I read about women — people in general, but often women finding their voices and using them. And one of the books I read recently that — that had a big impact on me, a colleague of mine actually gave it to me when I was promoted to CIO, it was Indra Nooyi’s memoir, “My Life in Full.” And I absolutely love that book. She started out by saying, “I intended to write a book about my career as CEO of PepsiCo and not write about my life as a mother and a wife. I didn’t want to write that book. And what I ended up writing was exactly that book,” because when you’re a mom or a parent and a wife and — and how you show up with that to the office, you know, as a CEO weaving all of that together, she did brilliantly and it was really moving. RITHOLTZ: Really interesting. I have a book recommendation for your daughter. This is a fascinating book called “Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming” by McKenzie Funk that describes, since your daughter is interested in ESG investing … COHEN: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … it describes how the entire world to finance slowly started recognizing investment opportunities both at, you know, the individual company level, the ESG level, but also at the venture capital and startup level, and how Wall Street has arms into all these industries that are working on either climate change or, you know, electric cars. And — and — and that book is ready about five years old. So, when they talk about firms like Tesla, they’re still fairly nascent. Maybe it’s seven years old, 2014-2015. But if she’s interested in that, it’s a really well-written book and it’s really fascinating. She may really, really enjoy it. Let’s go on to our next question. Speaking of younger people, what sort of advice would you give to a recent college grad who is interested in a career in either finance or investment management? COHEN: Ask all of your questions. Find people, ask your questions. There are no dumb questions. And — and if it sounds interesting to you, it’s worth having a conversation about it. I wish I had done that more. In a lot of ways, I feel like I — I got lucky. I — I told you I was the product of actually a diversity recruiting effort that led me to the — to the trading floor at Goldman. But if it sounds interesting, it’s worth doing the exploration. And — and networking and finding friends and just saying, hey, can I spend 10 minutes and ask you about your job? Doing that a lot, I think, is an awesome idea. RITHOLTZ: Really interesting. And our final question, what do you know about the world of investing today you wish you knew 25, 30 years ago when you were first getting started? COHEN: If you asked me 30 years ago what I thought about the world of investing, I probably would have said Gordon Gekko. I mean, I was really thinking Wall Street. And — and even, you know, when I was in college, that was the — that was the vision that I had. That’s what you had to look like to be — to be an investor. Now what I know is excellence looks like lots of different things in the world of investing. And, you know, if you’re a woman, if you’re a person of color, it’s — you can be excellent. And, in fact, if you’re a theater major, you can find a path. I think there is a superpower in being different. And my mother always suggested that to me 30 years ago, so — so maybe I should say that’s what I wish I’d believe 30 years ago when I was told. Now I know it’s true. RITHOLTZ: Really interesting. Samara, thank you for being so generous with your time. We have been speaking with Samara Cohen. She is the Chief Investment Officer for ETFs and index investments at BlackRock. If you enjoy this conversation, be sure and check out any of the previous several hundred we’ve done over the past eight years. You can find that at iTunes, Spotify, Google, Bloomberg, wherever you feed your podcast fix. Check out my daily reads at Follow me on Twitter @ritholtz. I would be remiss if I did not thank the crack staff that helps put these conversations together each week. Mark Siniscalchi is my Audio Engineer. Paris Wald is my Producer. Shawn Russo (ph) is my Researcher. Atika Valbrun is our Project Manager. I’m Barry Ritholtz. You’ve been listening to Masters in Business on Bloomberg Radio.   ~~~     The post Transcript: Samara Cohen appeared first on The Big Picture......»»

Category: blogSource: TheBigPictureMar 29th, 2022

China"s Belt-And-Road Comes To America"s Heartland, Part 2: This Is Not The End

China's Belt-And-Road Comes To America's Heartland, Part 2: This Is Not The End Authored by Fortis Analysis via Human Terrain, Earlier this year, Fortis Analysis released details on the proposal by Fufeng Group, a CCP-connected company, to build a wet corn mill and amino acid production facility in Grand Forks, ND. In conducting further research, interviewing local residents, and working with recognized experts in national security and United States trade law, it is more and more clear that the Grand Forks city council and mayor Brandon Bochenski are both economically and constitutionally illiterate. Pictured: Fufeng USA Chief Operating Officer Eric Chutorash, speaking to Grand Forks City Council A single line of inquiry into this project is impossible, so we will work to highlight a range of domains where this project falls short of both good sense and the law of the land. To that end, let’s first explore the FAQ on this project released by the Grand Forks Regional Economic Development Council. There are numerous claims so easily rebutted that making them is either knowingly spreading false information, or an inexcusable lack of attention (or ability) to performing due diligence. A selection: CLAIM: ”Fufeng USA is a global leading bio-fermentation company manufacturing products that serve fast-growing animal nutrition. Their headquarters is in Chicago, Ill. Fufeng USA has chosen to invest in Grand Forks to establish a wet corn mill processing plant in the United States.” FACT: Fufeng USA Incorporated was established in the United States at the address of a private residence in Wheaton, IL. As of this writing, Fufeng USA Incorporated imports to the United States using the same Wheaton location as its official consignee address registered with US Customs and Border Protection. Another Fufeng USA corporate address noted on the Chicago Chinatown Chamber of Commerce website (under the “Manufacturers” section) is located inside a multi-tenant office building in Oak Brook, IL. This entity is wholly-owned by Fufeng USA Holdings Limited, which is domiciled in Hong Kong, and is itself wholly-owned by Trans-Asia Capital Resources Ltd., also domiciled in Hong Kong. Trans-Asia Capital Resources Ltd. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fufeng Group, which has its principal place of business in Junan in the Shandong Province of China. It is beyond a stretch to say that Fufeng USA is anything more than a shell company to facilitate Fufeng Group’s ability to do business in the United States. This information comes directly from Fufeng Group’s annual report for 2020, published in 2021. CLAIM: “The North Dakota Trade Office has done a search for illegal import/export activity for Fufeng USA and its principles. No red flags or areas of concern were found. NDTO resources include access to 30 federal databases. Fufeng USA has been operating in the United States since 2020. Also, First Biotech, Inc., a Fufeng USA subsidiary, has been doing business in the US for over 10 years. Both have filed federal taxes in the US and have established international banking accounts with large financial institutions that have significant federal oversight. The company will be subject to all the same US laws, regulations, and oversight and any US company. Fufeng USA Group is publicly traded on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The US Securities and Exchange Commission has a supervisory oversight relationship with the Exchange. Fufeng USA Group has many US and European institutional investors including TreeTop Management, Vanguard, Fidelity, Mellon, and Blackrock, all heavily regulated.” FACT: This is, quite simply, a word salad intended to obscure the real issue at stake here - the absence of correct and proper due diligence. The United States has multiple layers of regulatory oversight beyond basic financial oversight, few if any of which have been notified by GFREDC, the city, or Fufeng, let alone conducted formal inquiries. One other point that must be noted is that “Fufeng USA Group” is not a real entity, nor is any Fufeng USA entity “publicly traded on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange”. The publicly-traded entity is the ultimate parent company, Fufeng Group Limited. More detailed explorations of these points follow further in this analysis. In short, the absurd and incorrect statement that a cursory review of trade databases and some correctly-filed taxes is sufficient proof of Fufeng’s safety to national security should embarrass all involved in this process. CLAIM: “The development of the Fufeng USA plant will create a local market for corn and improve pricing. Regional farmers will have the option to sell to elevators or Fufeng USA. The North Dakota Corn Growers Association, a farmer led membership organization focused on policy that impacts North Dakota corn producers, were pleased with the announcement that Fufeng USA will establish a wet corn mill in Grand Forks. They issued a press release indicating the project will have tremendous value to regional farmers.” FACT: The claim made elsewhere by the city about the economic impact to farmers betrays a startling ignorance about the mechanisms of grain production and sales. The estimate of $.20 to $.40 per bushel of corn in premium versus current market conditions was not derived from careful analysis conducted by third-party experts. When pressed on the matter by Shaun Beauclair, himself a farmer and former board member of a regional corn processing facility, the GFREDC admitted that the premium assumption was given by a single farmer. In a February interview with AgWeek about the Fufeng project, Dr. Frayne Olson of North Dakota State University said that he believes the $.40 per bushel claim is only realistic for the first year or two to incentivize sales to the corn mill. Once the market settles back in future years, the realistic premium is closer to $.10 to $.20 per bushel. In practice, the grain elevators in the area who do not have direct interest in a value-added market for their purchased corn will quickly be faced with the choice of becoming a de facto origination and storage facility for Fufeng, or closing their doors. As one can see from this selection of “facts”, the Grand Forks Regional Economic Development Council has not done its best work to provide complete or accurate information to its stakeholders. Now, if this was the only vector of misinformation and all others involved were honest brokers, one might understand how an economic development group would choose to shade the truth a bit in order to bring a splashy, high-revenue project to town. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Multiple other individuals in positions of city leadership have also willingly promoted dishonest talking points, or chosen unscrupulous partners for the city, all in the interest of pushing the project forward. Let’s examine a few of these. Fufeng Group Has No Financial Connection to the Chinese Government On November 17, 2021, in a publicly-posted comment on his official Facebook account, Grand Forks mayor Brandon Bochenski stated that: “…the company is an American subsidiary of a publicly traded company that has zero govt. ownership. They are investing in an American facility built by American contractors, using American corn stock to produce products sold in America and manufactured by American workers. The company is more American than Apple, Nike and Amazon quite frankly in the global economy of today.” Members of the city council have used similar talking points in publicly-available council discussions. Now, this particular formulation of the zero-affiliation claim is intended to reassure listeners that as Fufeng Group Limited is a publicly-traded company on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (a subsidiary of HKEx, or Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing), it is not reasonable to believe that the firm or any of its subsidiaries would choose (or be forced) to act in any way outside the direct fiduciary interests of its global shareholders. A complete overview of the complicated (and compromised) relationship between the HKEx and the Chinese Communist Party is beyond the scope of this piece, but for now, the following data will more than suffice to rebut this talking point. HKEx’s largest single shareholder is the Hong Kong Government, which also has the right to appoint six of thirteen directors to HKEx’s board. This matters for a number of reasons, but perhaps the most important is the Hong Kong national security law unanimously passed by China’s Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on 30 June 2020 in the wake of widespread pro-democracy protests throughout Hong Kong. Among the various deeply anti-democratic provisions of the law are the requirement that companies listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange act in accordance with the security directives of a secret body called the Committee for Safeguarding National Security. This entity has the ability to at any time investigate, indict, prosecute, or ruin any non-compliant company who has any business interest in Hong Kong - and extend these enforcement protocols anywhere in the world in violation of sovereign law and international norms. It is impossible to believe that HKEx will push back in any way if the Chinese Communist Party directs Fufeng Group to perform certain actions or disclose confidential business, community, or employee information in any of its subsidiaries - including Fufeng USA Incorporated. In simplified form, if the secret national security entity in mainland China or Hong Kong creates any pretext whatsoever, it will be able to force Fufeng USA to reveal all personal details of any employee, contractor, or even guests of the corn mill, regardless of the laws of the United States. This is an extremely important detail that as of yet, has not been properly addressed by Fufeng or city officials. Moreover, it is not even accurate to say that Fufeng Group does not have a financial connection to the Chinese government. In the same annual report referenced earlier, Fufeng Group Limited lists an interesting disclosure: a 30% ownership stake in Jilin COFCO Biomaterial Co Ltd. This joint venture between Fufeng Group and China Oil and Foodstuffs Corporation (COFCO) is notable because COFCO is the largest agribusiness in China, and is a 100% state-owned enterprise under the management of the hyperpowerful State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council (SASAC). Note that SASAC manages numerous entities that are currently sanctioned by the United States for espionage activities, use of forced labor in Xinjiang and elsewhere, and violation of international treaties or laws. Though COFCO has as yet not been similarly sanctioned, it is important to note that its sister companies under SASAC were penalized for carrying out the will of the Chinese Communist Party, and that COFCO can at any time be similarly leveraged by the CCP to perform illegal activities against the United States. As with numerous other claims made by the North Dakota Trade Office, Mayor Bochenski, GFREDC, and the Grand Forks city council, one cannot help but wonder how much due diligence has actually been put into this project. The City Is Taking All Appropriate Steps to Examine the Impact on U.S. National Security Interests This omnibus talking point, used repeatedly by city officials, is also completely inaccurate. There are numerous checks and balances that exist at the federal level concerning real estate acquisitions and foreign investments into the U.S. economy. The most well-known of these, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), is a multi-agency group under the Executive Branch that has the mandate of reviewing transactions by foreign entities into companies or technologies designated as “critical” to national security, and/or real estate transactions located within 100 miles of designated military installations. An examination of the facts shows that the Fufeng project may fall into the category of a “covered real estate transaction”, which means CFIUS expects voluntary disclosure of the project’s details. The risk is that if stakeholders do not disclose and CFIUS chooses to open an inquiry at some point, then an adverse finding from CFIUS will result in significant penalties for all involved, up to and including the forced sale of the property and assets to an approved third party. That the city and county have been courting Fufeng Group since mid-2020 and as of yet have not sought out independent legal review for compliance with FIRRMA (the law governing CFIUS’ activities), or submitted for a free voluntary review with CFIUS since the public reveal of this project in November 2021, does not argue well for the city council’s competence or motives in continuing to ignore public outcry and push the process forward at a breakneck pace. Another talking point used by the city and GFREDC is that the county and city’s “base retention” consultant, retired USAF General David Deptula, has reviewed the proposal and discussed it with the leadership at Grand Forks Air Force Base. The claim is that no one has issued an objection to the Fufeng proposal. There are a few things about this, however, that raise red flags. First, Deptula was the subject of a multi-year investigation by Department of Defense into illicit contracting activities and fraud while he was in uniform. In February 2015, Deptula agreed with the Department of Justice to pay a fine of $125,000, and was barred by the Air Force from conducting business with the federal government from November 2014 to February 2016. Despite this, the Grand Forks city council continues to authorize a $5,000 per month direct payment to The Deptula Group (Deptula’s lobbying and consulting firm) for base retention activities. When questioned about this, city council president Dana Sande initially insisted that Grand Forks County employs Deptula, not the city. After being reminded of the monthly expense approved by Sande and the rest of the city council, Sande admitted that the city pays a portion of the funding for base retention activities, but the county is in charge of selecting and coordinating with Deptula. However, a review of the county’s 2021 budget does not show a request or approval for funding to be allocated under the Base Retention line item, nor do county minutes throughout 2021 show approvals to remit any funds to Deptula, his company, or for base retention activities. It is possible that the county has allocated funding under a different line item to pay for Deptula’s services, but such is not noted. However, if the county is indeed not contributing to paying Deptula, then the city of Grand Forks appears to be willingly carrying the cost of Mr. Deptula for “base retention” activities, even as the Air Force already publicly committed in 2021 to expanding the base’s role and increasing its footprint in Grand Forks. Regardless, the ongoing payment of Deptula for at least $5,000 per month from city funds reflects the council’s comfort with employing fixers who have a questionable at best code of ethics when it comes to personal enrichment at the expense of taxpayers. Moreover, it is not for the leadership of the local military installation to make a determination on if a particular project is compliant with national security regulations. Thus, the constant talking points by city officials that Grand Forks Air Force Base has reviewed the project and not issued a complaint is misleading and wholly incorrect. The base leadership cannot review and rule on the Fufeng project, or any other potential commercial investment by foreign entities in the area of the base. The fact that city officials have continuously asserted that the Grand Forks Air Force Base commander has done so is incorrect, and jeopardizes the careers of both the commanding officer and any active duty personnel so connected to the claim. It also opens the door to civilian law enforcement involvement, as active duty military personnel allegedly issuing inappropriate and unauthorized statements in support of foreign investment may also entangle the civilians making such claims into criminal or civil charges. This is a tightrope for city officials to publicly walk, and it would seem from the outside that they have created a fiasco in the making in their haste to justify a lack of responsible and legal due diligence. There Are No Other Conflicts of Interest on the City Council with This Project Before each City Council vote on this project, the council brings up councilmember Jeannie Mock’s conflict of interest in the project and votes to force her to abstain. Mock’s company, AE2S, was involved in the preparation of land-use and infrastructure data before the project was publicly revealed, as can be seen on Slide 12 of the city’s pitch deck for the project. It is not known for certain how Mock would vote on the project, but it is proper for her to abstain on the basis of conflicts of interests and good ethics. However, there are other potential future conflicts of interest on the council not discussed or considered as exclusionary by the council. Kyle Kvamme is employed by ICON Architectural Group, a regional commercial project design firm headquartered in Grand Forks. Kvamme is the Director of Community Engagement and Project Development. He also recently became an owner in the firm. ICON is an obvious potential beneficiary of such a massive development as Fufeng’s, being a prominent local firm specializing in the design of buildings and layouts for large-scope projects. Bret Weber, who has been one of the most supportive voices on the council for the Fufeng project, is employed by the University of North Dakota as Department Chair and Professor of Social Work. Also employed by UND is Danny Weigel, who is the Investigations Commander and Public Information Officer for the UND Police force. Both have disclaimed any conflicts of interest. However, neither has disclosed that Fufeng USA is a tenant of the UND Center for Innovation, the university’s on-campus “entrepreneurial incubator”. Nor has Weigel shared if he has conducted any background checks on Fufeng Group or its representatives prior to them establishing occupancy in campus facilities. It is currently unknown if Fufeng USA is simply paying rent for part of the Center’s co-working office space in order to have a local presence, or if the company is a more integrated user of Center resources, such as the wet lab. The Center touts the wet lab as such: “High tech, bioscience, and scientific companies are all welcome at the UND Center for Innovation. Our state of the art wet lab makes innovations happen.” Given that Fufeng USA is, fundamentally, a biotech company that must cultivate and maintain various strains of bacteria to manufacture amino acids, it is not unreasonable to assume that the company has been, or will be, a major stakeholder in the Center. As the university already financially benefits from Fufeng’s presence in Grand Forks, the full scope of UND’s interest in current and future projects involving Fufeng should be disclosed. So, too, should it be considered a potential conflict of interest for university employees to vote as city council members on favorable considerations for a company that is an active revenue stream for the entity that cuts their paychecks. The obvious rebuttal of “it’s a drop in the bucket in the university’s overall revenue stream” is beside the point, and frankly, is an inappropriate attitude for a public official to hold. Just as with the city utilizing a disgraced former general to help gain Department of Defense approval for the project, or Weber indicating in the March 7th city council meeting that he feels public concerns about the project’s impact to national security are overblown, it seems that a number of city officials involved with this project are willing to excuse impropriety and ethical lapses as the cost of doing business with Chinese companies. Fufeng USA and Its Parent Companies Have No Known Connection to Forced Labor or Human Rights Crimes In China This is the murkiest and most troubling of all the accusations Fortis Analysis and other groups have leveled against Fufeng, yet has been hand-waived away by project proponents as unfounded innuendo because the firm has not been sanctioned specifically by U.S. authorities. But like most of the complex issues involved with this project, such casual dismissals betray a malignant ignorance of how and why sanctions law functions as it does in our nation. Fortunately for the Grand Forks city officials, we are here to provide accurate and detailed information that can help those officials make informed decisions in line with their sworn duty to their offices. The United States takes very seriously the issue of China’s human rights abuses, particularly in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of western China. In fact, the devastating suppression of non-Han ethnic groups in Xinjiang has been so intense that on 13 July 2021, the U.S. State Department issued its “Xinjiang Supply Chain Business Advisory”, with the summary reading as such: The People’s Republic of China (PRC) government continues to carry out genocide and crimes against humanity against Uyghurs and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (Xinjiang), China. The PRC’s crimes against humanity include imprisonment, torture, rape, forced sterilization, and persecution, including through forced labor and the imposition of draconian restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement. Businesses, individuals, and other persons, including but not limited to investors, consultants, labor brokers, academic institutions, and research service providers (hereafter “businesses and individuals”) with potential exposure to or connection with operations, supply chains, or laborers from the Xinjiang-region, should be aware of the significant reputational, economic, and legal risks of involvement with entities or individuals in or linked to Xinjiang that engage in human rights abuses, including but not limited to forced labor and intrusive surveillance. Given the severity and extent of these abuses, including widespread, state-sponsored forced labor and intrusive surveillance taking place amid ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, businesses and individuals that do not exit supply chains, ventures, and/or investments connected to Xinjiang could run a high risk of violating U.S. law. Potential legal risks include: violation of statutes criminalizing forced labor including knowingly benefitting from participation in a venture, while knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that the venture has engaged in forced labor; sanctions violations if dealing with designated persons; export control violations; and violation of the prohibition of importations of goods produced in whole or in part with forced labor or convict labor. Now, given how adept Chinese companies are at masking their participation in, or benefit derived in part from, these evil activities, the U.S. will utilize a standard called “rebuttable presumption” when investigating abuses and issuing sanctions under the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act and future similar laws. What this means is that a company accused of connection to human rights abuses in Xinjiang (or other provinces) in China are treated by U.S. authorities as essentially being guilty until proven innocent. Importantly, this does not just mean that the company in question is directly employing forced laborers. Any company that uses raw materials, goods, or labor at any point in its supply chain where forced labor is involved is considered just as guilty of the abuse - a presumption of illegal benefit that extends to every single subsidiary, wherever it may be located. As just one example of the new risk to American stakeholders from this expanded enforcement against China’s human rights abuse, Fufeng Group lists in its annual report that coal is the primary energy feedstock for its corn mills in China. Coal is one of the sectors most heavily targeted for enforcement and sanctions due to Chinese coal mining companies making extensive use of forced labor to keep production costs low. Fufeng Group specifically notes that it strategically locates its facilities close to coal-fired power plants, and that such practice is “instrumental in strengthening the Group’s pricing power.” Even more so than coal, Fufeng consumes corn at enormous rates. Thus, it makes sense that Fufeng tends to locate its operations not only close to coal power production, but also major agriculture regions. Here, too, Fufeng should be assumed to benefit substantially from lower raw material prices derived from the involvement of forced labor. In Heilongjiang province, Fufeng’s subsidiary Qiqihar Fufeng is located less than 50 miles from the sprawling Liusan Prison farm, managed by the Communist Party Committee Deputy Secretary of Liusan. Only a few miles further southwest from Liusan inside Inner Mongolia, there are numerous other farms at Wutaqi, Ulan, and the notorious Bao’anzhao Prison. Hulunbeier Northeast Fufeng Biotechnologies is located approximately 200 miles from the large prison farm at “Genghis Kahn Ranch” in Zalantun City. One of Fufeng’s largest plants, Neimenggu Fufeng Biotechnologies, is located in Hohhot City in Inner Mongolia. The entire administrative apparatus for the corporation that sells forced prison labor goods to Chinese and international consumers is called Inner Mongolia Hengzheng Industrial Group Co., Ltd., and also happens to be located in Hohhot City. As of October 2019, the company was run by Xu Hongguang, a CCP member and the Deputy Director of the Ministry of Justice of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Among the company’s primary goods produced in the prisons and sold to companies in China are grains, processed agriculture commodities, and food ingredients. Notably, the company was sanctioned by the United States in October of 2020 for use of forced labor in manufacturing stevia sweetener, which like Fufeng’s products, are a derivative of biological processing. [Edit, 21 March 2022 - The original comment that stevia sweetener is a derivative of corn processing is not correct. The author has corrected the article.] It would require an absurd leap of faith to state that Fufeng has no plausible connections to, or benefit from, the expansive use of forced labor in agriculture production so logistically close to Fufeng’s major corn- and coal-consuming plants in Xingang, Heilongjiang, and Inner Mongolia. Should an investigation be raised by Commerce, State, or Treasury into the activities of any Fufeng Group subsidiary in connection to forced labor, it is highly likely that Fufeng would be unable to satisfy the rebuttable presumption of participation in the forced labor and abusive regimes in place in China. This would trigger automatic sanctions not only against Fufeng Group in China, but also their international subsidiaries such as First Biotech and Fufeng USA. Such sanctions would make it impossible for banks to lend to any of the affected entities in the United States or conduct normal business operations, shutting down the entire project in Grand Forks and invalidating the letter of credit the city proclaims as providing a no-risk guarantee to local taxpayers the city has not wasted money chasing a pot of gold at the end of the CCP’s genocidal rainbow. This Is Not the End As one can see, there is not much more that needs to be said about the Fufeng Group’s bid to purchase 370 acres of land in Grand Forks and build its wet corn mill. Nearly every single major talking point used by city officials and Fufeng USA is provably false or shaded with just enough truth to pass scrutiny of low-information voters. This is how it works when one chooses to do business with CCP-aligned entities who deliberately target local and state officials to circumvent the United States’ federal national security countermeasures. The officials, craving a big win to build their next campaign on, or perhaps finding some compelling self-interest in the economic aspects of the project, suspend all good sense and dive headfirst into extreme legal and moral hazard at the expense of their communities, their state, and their nation. Grand Forks Mayor Brandon Bochenski, City Council president Dana Sande, and their grasping enablers have (to this point) made the choice to do just that. And at least for now, we know that the most powerful weapon in the CCP’s gray zone war against the United States is not hypersonic missiles, cyberespionage, or theft of intellectual property. It’s 30 pieces of silver wrapped in a box of false promises to our elected officials. Addendum A number of Grand Forks residents and concerned stakeholders around the nation have expressed to this author their alarm and despair at the ease with which the Chinese Communist Party continues to corrupt and undermine the United States. That it all feels hopeless, and that our collapse as a nation is both certain and imminent. I will share this, then - Winston Churchill’s words to the Harrow School on 29 October 1941, in the midst of the darkest hours of Great Britain’s seemingly hopeless defense against the mighty Nazi war machine. “…Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never - in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy… Do not let us speak of darker days: let us speak rather of sterner days. These are not dark days; these are great days - the greatest days our country has ever lived; and we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race.” Dum spiro spero. Subscribe to Human Terrain Tyler Durden Fri, 03/25/2022 - 23:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytMar 25th, 2022

Tesla Fires Employee Days After He Posts Video Of Model 3 On FSD Hitting Traffic Pylon

Tesla Fires Employee Days After He Posts Video Of Model 3 On FSD Hitting Traffic Pylon The "Full Self Driving" drama continues... The latest chapter in the saga this week came when it was reported that Tesla had fired an employee about a week after he posted a YouTube video of his car plowing into a traffic pylon while using Full Self Driving.  Now former Tesla employee John Bernal received a separation agreement from the company during the second week of February, about a week after he posted a video on YouTube of FSD that now has more than 180,000 views, Bloomberg reported this week. The video shows Bernal's Model 3 running into a green traffic pylon after cutting a turn too sharply in San Jose, California. Bernal (Photo: CNBC) Bloomberg summed up the encounter: About 2 minutes into the just over 9-minute-long video in which his Model 3 ran into the traffic pylon, he praises the system for slowing down to let another car go by and moving from a far-right lane to a left-turn lane in time to make a traffic light. As the Model 3 is completing the turn, however, it has trouble finding the correct lane to turn into. About 2 minutes and 40 seconds in, the car runs a red light and turns right without stopping. A passenger brings up that Tesla had just disabled a setting in which FSD beta users were able to slowly roll through intersections without coming to a complete stop when no other cars or pedestrians were present. The carmaker determined a recall was necessary after meeting with NHTSA about the functionality in January.  Bernal’s Model 3 runs into the traffic pylon less than a minute later. “We hit that. It’s the first, for me, to have actually hit an object on FSD,” Bernal says in the video. The terms of his firing were never put into writing, he told Bloomberg, but he says he was "told it was in part due to improper use of FSD". Meanwhile, Tesla purports to have the FSD beta running on almost 60,000 vehicles in the U.S.  Bernal's YouTube channel, AI Addict, has more than 8,300 subscribers. He was told by a manager upon his firing that running his YouTube channel was a "conflict of interest" with the company. His FSD beta was also suspended based on his recent driving data, Bloomberg confirmed.  A company agreement for beta testers of FSD, which urges sharing of FSD experiences "responsibly and selectively" reportedly reads: “Do remember that there are a lot of people that want Tesla to fail. Don’t let them mischaracterize your feedback and media posts.” Bernal's channel was known to include both positive and negative feedback on Tesla's software, unlike many cult members Tesla fanatics who choose to only single out the good when speaking about Full Self Driving.  Tyler Durden Thu, 03/17/2022 - 09:53.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMar 17th, 2022

Why Did Vladimir Putin Invade Ukraine?

Why Did Vladimir Putin Invade Ukraine? Authored by Soeren Kern via The Gatestone Institute, Nearly three weeks have passed since Russian President Vladimir Putin began his invasion of Ukraine, but it still is not clear why he did so and what he hopes to achieve. Western analysts, commentators and government officials have put forward more than a dozen theories to explain Putin's actions, motives, and objectives. Some analysts posit that Putin is motivated by a desire to rebuild the Russian Empire. Others say he is obsessed with bringing Ukraine back into Russia's sphere of influence. Some believe that Putin wants to control Ukraine's vast offshore energy resources. Still others speculate that Putin, an aging autocrat, is seeking to maintain his grip on power. While some argue that Putin has a long-term proactive strategy aimed at establishing Russian primacy in Europe, others believe he is a short-term reactionary seeking to preserve what remains of Russia's diminishing position on the world stage. Following is a compilation of eight differing but complementary theories that try to explain why Putin invaded Ukraine. 1. Empire Building The most common explanation for Russia's invasion of Ukraine is that Putin, burning with resentment over the demise of the Soviet Empire, is determined to reestablish Russia (generally considered a regional power) as a great power that can exert influence on a global scale. According to this theory, Putin aims to regain control over the 14 post-Soviet states — often referred to as Russia's "near abroad" — that became independent after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. This is part of greater plan to rebuild the Russian Empire, which territorially was even more expansive than the Soviet Empire. The Russian Empire theory holds that Putin's invasion of Georgia in 2008 and Crimea in 2014, as well as his 2015 decision to intervene militarily in Syria, were all parts of a strategy to restore Russia's geopolitical position — and erode the U.S.-led rules-based international order. Those who believe Putin is trying to reestablish Russia as a great power say that once he gains control over Ukraine, he will turn his focus to other former Soviet republics, including the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, and eventually Bulgaria, Romania and even Poland. Putin's ultimate objective, they say, is to drive the United States out of Europe, establish an exclusive great-power sphere of influence for Russia on the continent and dominate the European security order. Russian literature supports this view. In 1997, for instance, Russian strategist Aleksandr Dugin, a friend of Putin, published a highly influential book — "Foundation of Geopolitics: The Geopolitical Future of Russia" — which argued that Russia's long-term goal should be the creation, not of a Russian Empire, but of a Eurasian Empire. Dugin's book, which is required reading in Russian military academies, states that to make Russia great again, Georgia should be dismembered, Finland should be annexed and Ukraine should cease to exist: "Ukraine, as an independent state with certain territorial ambitions, represents an enormous danger for all of Eurasia." Dugin, who has been described as "Putin's Rasputin," added: "The Eurasian Empire will be constructed on the fundamental principle of the common enemy: the rejection of Atlanticism, the strategic control of the USA, and the refusal to allow liberal values to dominate us." In April 2005, Putin echoed this sentiment when, in his annual state of the nation address, he described the collapse of the Soviet empire as "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century." Since then, Putin has repeatedly criticized the U.S.-led world order, in which Russia has a subordinate position. In February 2007, during a speech to the Munich Conference on Security Policy, Putin attacked the idea of a "unipolar" world order in which the United States, as the sole superpower, was able to spread its liberal democratic values to other parts of the world, including Russia. In October 2014, in a speech to the Valdai Discussion Club, a high-profile Russian think tank close to the Kremlin, Putin criticized the post-World War II liberal international order, whose principles and norms — including adherence to the rule of law, respect for human rights and the promotion of liberal democracy, as well as preserving the sanctity of territorial sovereignty and existing boundaries — have regulated the conduct of international relations for nearly 80 years. Putin called for the creation of a new multipolar world order that is more friendly to the interests of an autocratic Russia. The late Zbigniew Brzezinski (former National Security Advisor to U.S. President Jimmy Carter), in his 1997 book "The Grand Chessboard," wrote that Ukraine is essential to Russian imperial ambitions: "Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire.... However, if Moscow regains control over Ukraine, with its 52 million people and major resources as well as its access to the Black Sea, Russia automatically again regains the wherewithal to become a powerful imperial state, spanning Europe and Asia." The German historian Jan Behrends tweeted: "Make no mistake: For #Putin it's not about EU or NATO, it is about his mission to restore Russian empire. No more, no less. #Ukraine is just a stage, NATO is just one irritant. But the ultimate goal is Russian hegemony in Europe." Ukraine expert Peter Dickinson, writing for the Atlantic Council, noted: "Putin's extreme animosity towards Ukraine is shaped by his imperialistic instincts. It is often suggested that Putin wishes to recreate the Soviet Union, but this is actually far from the case. In fact, he is a Russian imperialist who dreams of a revived Czarist Empire and blames the early Soviet authorities for handing over ancestral Russian lands to Ukraine and other Soviet republics." Bulgarian scholar Ivan Krastev agreed: "America and Europe aren't divided on what Mr. Putin wants. For all the speculation about motives, that much is clear: The Kremlin wants a symbolic break from the 1990s, burying the post-Cold War order. That would take the form of a new European security architecture that recognizes Russia's sphere of influence in the post-Soviet space and rejects the universality of Western values. Rather than the restoration of the Soviet Union, the goal is the recovery of what Mr. Putin regards as historic Russia." Transatlantic security analyst Andrew Michta added that Putin's invasion of Ukraine was: "The culmination of almost two decades of policy aimed at reconstructing the Russian empire and bringing Russia back into European politics as one of the principal players empowered to shape the Continent's future." Writing for the national security blog 1945, Michta elaborated: "From Moscow's perspective the Ukrainian war is in effect the final battle of the Cold War — for Russia a time to reclaim its place on the European chessboard as a great empire, empowered to shape the Continent's destiny going forward. The West needs to understand and accept that only once Russia is unequivocally defeated in Ukraine will a genuine post-Cold War settlement finally be possible." 2. Buffer Zone Many analysts attribute the Russian invasion of Ukraine to geopolitics, which attempts to explain the behavior of states through the lens of geography. Most of the western part of Russia sits on the Russian Plain, a vast mountain-free area that extends over 4,000,000 square kilometers (1.5 million square miles). Also called the East European Plain, the vast flatland presents Russia with an acute security problem: an enemy army invading from central or eastern Europe would encounter few geographical obstacles to reach the Russian heartland. In other words, Russia, due to its geography, is especially difficult to defend. The veteran geopolitical analyst Robert Kaplan wrote that geography is the starting point for understanding everything else about Russia: "Russia remains illiberal and autocratic because, unlike Britain and America, it is not an island nation, but a vast continent with few geographical features to protect it from invasion. Putin's aggression stems ultimately from this fundamental geographical insecurity." Russia's leaders historically have sought to obtain strategic depth by pushing outward to create buffer zones — territorial barriers that increase the distance and time invaders would encounter to reach Moscow. The Russian Empire included the Baltics, Finland and Poland, all of which served as buffers. The Soviet Union created the Warsaw Pact — which included Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland and Romania — as a vast buffer to protect against potential invaders. Most of the former Warsaw Pact countries are now members of NATO. That leaves Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine, strategically located between Russia and the West, as the only eastern European countries left to serve as Russian buffer states. Some analysts argue that Russia's perceived need for a buffer is the primary factor in Putin's decision to invade Ukraine. Mark Galeotti, a leading British scholar of Russian power politics, noted that the possession of a buffer zone is intrinsic to Russia's understanding of great-power status: "From Putin's point of view, he has built so much of his political identity around the notion of making Russia a great power and making it recognized as a great power. When he thinks of great power, he is essentially a 19th century geopolitician. It's not the power of economic connectivity, or technological innovation, let alone soft power. No. Great power, in good old-fashioned terms, has a sphere of influence, countries whose sovereignty is subordinate to your own." Others believe that the concept of buffer states is obsolete. International security expert Benjamin Denison, for instance, argued that Russia cannot legitimately justify the need for a buffer zone: "Once nuclear weapons were invented ... buffer states were no longer seen as necessary regardless of geography, as nuclear deterrence worked to ensure the territorial integrity of great powers with nuclear capabilities.... The utility of buffer states and the concerns of geography invariably changed following the nuclear revolution. Without the concern of quick invasions into the homeland of a rival great power, buffer states lose their utility regardless of the geography of the territory.... "Narrowly defining national interests to geography, and mandating that geography pushes states to replicate past actions throughout history, only fosters inaccurate thinking and forgives Russian land-grabs as natural." 3. Ukrainian Independence Closely intertwined with theories about empire-building and geopolitics is Putin's obsession with extinguishing Ukrainian sovereignty. Putin contends that Ukraine has been part of Russia for centuries, and that its independence in August 1991 was a historical mistake. Ukraine, he claims, does not have a right to exist. Putin has repeatedly downplayed or negated Ukraine's right to statehood and sovereignty: In 2008, Putin told William Burns, then the U.S. ambassador to Russia (now director of the CIA): "Don't you know that Ukraine is not even a real country? Part of it is really East European and part is really Russian." In July 2021, Putin penned a 7,000-word essay — "On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians" — in which he expressed contempt for Ukrainian statehood, questioned the legitimacy of Ukraine's borders and argued that modern-day Ukraine occupies "the lands of historical Russia." He concluded: "I am confident that true sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia." In February 2022, just three days before he launched his invasion, Putin asserted that Ukraine was a fake state created by Vladimir Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union: "Modern Ukraine was entirely created by Russia or, to be more precise, by Bolshevik, Communist Russia. This process started practically right after the 1917 revolution, and Lenin and his associates did it in a way that was extremely harsh on Russia — by separating, severing what is historically Russian land.... Soviet Ukraine is the result of the Bolsheviks' policy and can be rightfully called 'Vladimir Lenin's Ukraine.' He was its creator and architect." Russia scholar Mark Katz, in an essay — "Blame It on Lenin: What Putin Gets Wrong About Ukraine" — argued that Putin should draw lessons from Lenin's realization that a more accommodating approach toward Ukrainian nationalism would better serve Russia's long-term interests: "Putin cannot escape the problem that Lenin himself had to deal with of how to reconcile non-Russians to being ruled by Russia. The forceful imposition of Russian rule in part — much less all — of Ukraine will not bring about such a reconciliation. For even if Ukrainians cannot resist the forceful imposition of Russian rule over part or all of Ukraine now, Putin's success in imposing it is only likely to intensify feelings of Ukrainian nationalism and lead it to burst forth again whenever the opportunity arises." Ukraine's political independence has been accompanied by a long-running feud with Russia over religious allegiance. In January 2019, in what was described as "the biggest rift in Christianity in centuries," the Orthodox church in Ukraine gained independence (autocephaly) from the Russian church. The Ukrainian church had been under the jurisdiction of the Moscow patriarchate since 1686. Its autonomy dealt a blow to the Russian church, which lost around one-fifth of the 150 million Orthodox Christians under its authority. The Ukrainian government claimed that Moscow-backed churches in Ukraine were being used by the Kremlin to spread propaganda and to support Russian separatists in the eastern Donbas region. Putin wants the Ukrainian church to return to Moscow's orbit, and has warned of "a heavy dispute, if not bloodshed" over any attempts to transfer ownership of church property. The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, has declared that Kyiv, where the Orthodox religion began, is comparable in terms of its historic importance to Jerusalem: "Ukraine is not on the periphery of our church. We call Kiev 'the mother of all Russian cities'. For us Kiev is what Jerusalem is for many. Russian Orthodoxy began there, so under no circumstances can we abandon this historical and spiritual relationship. The whole unity of our Local Church is based on these spiritual ties." On March 6, Kirill — a former KGB agent who is known as "Putin's altar boy" due to his subservience to the Russian leader — publicly endorsed the invasion of Ukraine. In a sermon he repeated Putin's claims that the Ukrainian government was carrying out a "genocide" of Russians in Ukraine: "For eight years, the suppression, extermination of people has been underway in Donbass. Eight years of suffering and the entire world is silent." German geopolitical analyst Ulrich Speck wrote: "For Putin, destroying Ukraine's independence has become an obsession.... Putin has often said, and even written, that Ukraine is not a separate nation, and should not exist as a sovereign state. It is this fundamental denial that has led Putin to wage this totally senseless war that he cannot win. And that leads us to the problem of making peace: either Ukraine has the right to exist as a nation and a sovereign state, or it hasn't. Sovereignty is indivisible. Putin denies it, Ukraine defends it. How can you make a compromise about the existence of Ukraine as a sovereign state? Impossible. That's why both sides can only fight on until they win. "Normally wars that take place between states are about conflicts they have between them. Yet this is a war about the existence of one state, which is denied by the aggressor. That's why the usual concepts of peacemaking — finding a compromise — do not apply. If Ukraine continues to exist as a sovereign state, Putin will have lost. He is not interested in territorial gain as such — it's rather a burden for him. He is only interested in controlling the entire country. Everything else for him is defeat." Ukraine expert Taras Kuzio added: "The real cause of today's crisis is Putin's quest to return Ukraine to the Russian orbit. For the past eight years, he has used a combination of direct military intervention, cyber-attacks, disinformation campaigns, economic pressure, and coercive diplomacy to try and force Ukraine into abandoning its Euro-Atlantic ambitions.... "Putin's ultimate objective is Ukraine's capitulation and the country's absorption into the Russian sphere of influence. His obsessive pursuit of this goal has already plunged the world into a new Cold War.... "Nothing less than Ukraine's return to the Kremlin orbit will satisfy Putin or assuage his fears over the further breakup of Russia's imperial inheritance. He will not stop until he is stopped. In order to achieve this, the West must become far more robust in responding to Russian imperial aggression, while also expediting Ukraine's own Euro-Atlantic integration." 4. NATO This theory holds that Putin invaded Ukraine to prevent it from joining NATO. The Russian president has repeatedly demanded that the West "immediately" guarantee that Ukraine will not be allowed to join NATO or the European Union. A vocal proponent of this viewpoint is the American international relations theorist John Mearsheimer, who, in a controversial essay, "Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West's Fault," argued that the eastward expansion of NATO provoked Putin to act militarily against Ukraine: "The United States and its European allies share most of the responsibility for the crisis. The taproot of the trouble is NATO enlargement, the central element of a larger strategy to move Ukraine out of Russia's orbit and integrate it into the West.... "Since the mid-1990s, Russian leaders have adamantly opposed NATO enlargement, and in recent years, they have made it clear that they would not stand by while their strategically important neighbor turned into a Western bastion." In a recent interview with The New Yorker, Mearsheimer blamed the United States and its European allies for the current conflict: "I think all the trouble in this case really started in April 2008, at the NATO Summit in Bucharest, where afterward NATO issued a statement that said Ukraine and Georgia would become part of NATO." In fact, Putin has not always opposed NATO expansion. Several times he went so far as to say that the eastward expansion of NATO was none of Russia's concern. In March 2000, for instance, Putin, in an interview with the late BBC television presenter David Frost, was asked whether he viewed NATO as a potential partner, rival or enemy. Putin responded: "Russia is part of the European culture. And I cannot imagine my own country in isolation from Europe and what we often call the civilized world. So, it is hard for me to visualize NATO as an enemy." In November 2001, in an interview with National Public Radio, Putin was asked if he opposed the admission of the three Baltic states — Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia — into NATO. He replied: "We of course are not in a position to tell people what to do. We cannot forbid people to make certain choices if they want to increase the security of their nations in a particular way." In May 2002, Putin, when asked about the future of relations between NATO and Ukraine, said matter-of-factly that he did not care one way or the other: "I am absolutely convinced that Ukraine will not shy away from the processes of expanding interaction with NATO and the Western allies as a whole. Ukraine has its own relations with NATO; there is the Ukraine-NATO Council. At the end of the day the decision is to be taken by NATO and Ukraine. It is a matter for those two partners." Putin's position on NATO expansion radically changed after the 2004 Orange Revolution, which was triggered by Moscow's attempt to steal Ukraine's presidential election. A massive pro-democracy uprising ultimately led to the defeat of Putin's preferred candidate, Viktor Yanukovych, who eventually did become president of Ukraine in 2010 but was ousted in the 2014 Euromaidan Revolution. Former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, in a recent interview with Radio Free Europe, discussed how Putin's views about NATO have changed: "Mr. Putin has changed over the years. My first meeting took place in 2002...and he was very positive regarding cooperation between Russia and the West. Then, gradually, he changed his mind. And from around 2005 to 2006, he got increasingly negative toward the West. And in 2008, he attacked Georgia.... In 2014, he took Crimea, and now we have seen a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. So, he has really changed over the years. "I think the revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine in 2004 and 2005 contributed to his change of mind. We shouldn't forget that Vladimir Putin grew up in the KGB. So, his thinking is very much impacted by that past. I think he suffers from paranoia. And he thought that after color revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine, that the aim [of the West] was to initiate a regime change in the Kremlin — in Moscow — as well. And that's why he turned against the West. "I put the blame entirely on Putin and Russia. Russia is not a victim. We have reached out to Russia several times during history.... First, we approved the NATO Russia Founding Act in 1997.... Next time, it was in 2002, we reached out once again, established something very special, namely the NATO-Russia Council. And in 2010, we decided at a NATO-Russia summit that we would develop a strategic partnership between Russia and NATO. So, time and again, we reached out to Russia. "I think we should have done more to deter Putin. Back in 2008, he attacked Georgia, took de facto Abkhazia and South Ossetia. We could have reacted much more determinedly already in that time." In recent years, Putin repeatedly has claimed that the post-Cold War enlargement of NATO poses a threat to Russia, which has been left with no other choice than to defend itself. He also has accused the West of trying to encircle Russia. In fact, of the 14 countries that have borders with Russia, only five are NATO members. The borders of those five countries — Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Poland — are contiguous with only 5% of Russia's total borders. Putin has claimed that NATO broke solemn promises it made in the 1990s that the alliance would not expand to the east. "You promised us in the 1990s that NATO would not move an inch to the east. You brazenly cheated us," he said in during a press conference in December 2021. Mikhail Gorbachev, then president of the Soviet Union, countered that such promises were never made. Putin recently issued three wildly unrealistic demands: NATO must withdraw its forces to its 1997 borders; NATO must not offer membership to other countries, including Finland, Sweden, Moldova or Georgia; NATO must provide written guarantees that Ukraine will never join the alliance. Writing for Foreign Affairs, Russian historian Dmitri Trenin, in an essay — "What Putin Really Wants in Ukraine" — argued that Putin wants stop NATO expansion, not to annex more territory: "Putin's actions suggest that his true goal is not to conquer Ukraine and absorb it into Russia but to change the post-Cold War setup in Europe's east. That setup left Russia as a rule-taker without much say in European security, which was centered on NATO. If he manages to keep NATO out of Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova, and U.S. intermediate-range missiles out of Europe, he thinks he could repair part of the damage Russia's security sustained after the Cold War ended. Not coincidentally, that could serve as a useful record to run on in 2024, when Putin would be up for re-election." 5. Democracy This theory holds that Ukraine, a flourishing democracy, poses an existential threat to Putin's autocratic model of governance. The continued existence of a Western-aligned, sovereign, free and democratic Ukraine could inspire the Russian people to demand the same. Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul and Robert Person, a professor at the United States Military Academy, wrote that Putin is terrified of democracy in Ukraine: "Over the last thirty years, the salience of the issue [NATO expansion] has risen and fallen not primarily because of the waves of NATO expansion, but due instead to waves of democratic expansion in Eurasia. In a very clear pattern, Moscow's complaints about NATO spike after democratic breakthroughs.... "Because the primary threat to Putin and his autocratic regime is democracy, not NATO, that perceived threat would not magically disappear with a moratorium on NATO expansion. Putin would not stop seeking to undermine democracy and sovereignty in Ukraine, Georgia, or the region as a whole if NATO stopped expanding. As long as citizens in free countries exercise their democratic rights to elect their own leaders and set their own course in domestic and foreign politics, Putin will keep them in his crosshairs.... "The more serious cause of tensions has been a series of democratic breakthroughs and popular protests for freedom throughout the 2000s, what many refer to as the "Color Revolutions." Putin believes that Russian national interests have been threatened by what he portrays as U.S.-supported coups. After each of them — Serbia in 2000, Georgia in 2003, Ukraine in 2004, the Arab Spring in 2011, Russia in 2011-12, and Ukraine in 2013-14 — Putin has pivoted to more hostile policies toward the United States, and then invoked the NATO threat as justification for doing so.... "Ukrainians who rose up in defense of their freedom were, in Putin's own assessment, Slavic brethren with close historical, religious, and cultural ties to Russia. If it could happen in Kyiv, why not in Moscow?" Ukraine expert Taras Kuzio agrees: "Putin remains haunted by the wave of pro-democracy uprisings that swept Eastern Europe in the late 1980s, setting the stage for the subsequent Soviet collapse. He sees Ukraine's fledgling democracy as a direct challenge to his own authoritarian regime and recognizes that Ukraine's historical closeness to Russia makes this threat particularly acute." 6. Energy Ukraine holds the second-biggest known reserves — more than one trillion cubic meters — of natural gas in Europe after Russia. These reserves, under the Black Sea, are concentrated around the Crimean Peninsula. In addition, large deposits of shale gas have been discovered in eastern Ukraine, around Kharkiv and Donetsk. In January 2013, Ukraine signed a 50-year, $10 billion deal with Royal Dutch Shell to explore and drill for natural gas in eastern Ukraine. Later that year, Kyiv signed a 50-year, $10 billion shale gas production-sharing agreement with the American energy company Chevron. Shell and Chevron pulled out of those deals after Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula. Some analysts believe Putin annexed Crimea to prevent Ukraine from becoming a major oil and gas provider to Europe and thereby challenge Russia's energy supremacy. Russia, they argue, was also worried that as Europe's second-largest petrostate, Ukraine would have been granted fast-track membership to the EU and NATO. According to this theory, Russia's invasion of Ukraine is aimed at forcing Kyiv to officially acknowledge Crimea as Russian, and recognize the separatist republics of Donetsk and Lugansk as independent states, so that Moscow can legally secure control over the natural resources in these areas. 7. Water On February 24, the first day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russian troops restored water flow to a strategically important canal linking the Dnieper River to Russian-controlled Crimea. Ukraine blocked the Soviet-era North Crimean Canal, which supplies 85% of Crimea's water needs, after Russia annexed the peninsula in 2014. The water shortages resulted in a massive reduction in agricultural production on the peninsula and forced Russia to spend billions of rubles each year to supply water from the mainland to sustain the Crimean population. The water crisis was a major source of tension between Ukraine and Russia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky insisted that the water supply would not be restored until Russia returns the Crimean Peninsula. Security analyst Polina Vynogradova noted that any resumption of water supply would have amounted to a de facto recognition of Russian authority in Crimea and would have undermined Ukraine's claim to the peninsula. It would also have weakened Ukrainian leverage over negotiations on Donbas. Even if Russian troops eventually withdraw from Ukraine, Russia likely will maintain permanent control over the entire 400-kilometer North Crimean Canal to ensure there are no more disruptions to Crimea's water supply. 8. Regime Survival This theory holds that the 69-year-old Putin, who has been in power since 2000, seeks perpetual military conflict as a way of remaining popular with the Russian public. Some analysts believe that after public uprisings in Belarus and Kazakhstan, Putin decided to invade Ukraine due to a fear of losing his grip on power. In an interview with Politico, Bill Browder, the American businessman who heads up the Global Magnitsky Justice Campaign, said that Putin feels the need to look strong at all times: "I don't think that this war is about NATO; I don't think this war is about Ukrainian people or the EU or even about Ukraine; this war is about starting a war in order to stay in power. Putin is a dictator, and he's a dictator whose intention is to stay in power until the end of his natural life. He said to himself that the writing's on the wall for him unless he does something dramatic. Putin is just thinking short-term ... 'how do I stay in power from this week to the next? And then next week to the next?'" Anders Åslund, a leading specialist on economic policy in Russia and Ukraine, agreed: "How to understand Putin's war in Ukraine. It is not about NATO, EU, USSR or even Ukraine. Putin needs a war to justify his rule & his swiftly increasing domestic repression.... It is really all about Putin, not about neo-imperialism, Russian nationalism or even the KGB." Russia expert Anna Borshchevskaya wrote that the invasion of Ukraine could be the beginning of the end for Putin: "Though he is not democratically elected, he worries about public opinion and protests at home, seeing them as threats to retaining his grip on power.... While Putin may have hoped that invading Ukraine would quickly expand Russian territory and help restore the grandeur of the former Russian empire, it could do the opposite." Tyler Durden Tue, 03/15/2022 - 02:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMar 15th, 2022