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Category: topSource: bizjournalsMay 13th, 2022

25 HR leaders building the world"s most innovative, inclusive workplaces amid upheaval in corporate America

Meet the human-resources managers helping employees learn critical job skills, develop into effective leaders, and advance quickly in their careers. Kazi Awal/InsiderInsider compiled its third annual "HR Innovators" list of 25 prominent figures. Some of this year's most innovative HR leaders (shown above, starting from the left) are Sara Cooper, Karsten Vagner, Shirley J. Knowles, and Elaine Mak.Rachel Mendelson/Insider The "Great Resignation" and the transition to hybrid work have put tremendous pressure on HR. Insider put out an open call for talent heads who are leading successfully during the pandemic. Our list spans industries and includes human-resources leaders from Cisco, Maven, and Wiley. Insider recently undertook a search for human-resources leaders executing the most creative and ambitious plans for their companies.For a third year in a row, we asked our readers to tell us about HR stars. Then, we picked 25 who really impressed us. We looked for execs who bettered their companies through new policies regarding worker safety and wellness amid the pandemic, the "Great Resignation," and louder calls for diversity and inclusion. These talent professionals work across industries and at organizations of all sizes, including Cisco, Meta, and Wiley.Women hold most HR positions, and our list reflects that, with Insider featuring only a handful of people who are men or nonbinary. This was unintentional but not surprising.With workplace dynamics in flux, these executives are shaping the future of corporate America. They're building long-term policies around flexible work, finding new ways to attract talent, and addressing inequities that leave certain demographics at a disadvantage.Their accomplishments include promoting 30% of the workforce in one year, building early-career programs for underrepresented talent, and helping employees find programs to meet their educational goals. Cassie Whitlock, BambooHR's director of HR, said, "The pandemic elevated core 'human' needs that have always existed in business but were, for some, easy to ignore."In no particular order, here are the top 25 innovators in HR and their exclusive insights on reimagining work. These responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.Shirley J. Knowles, chief inclusion and diversity officer at Progress SoftwareShirley J. Knowles.Courtesy of Shirley J KnowlesCompany: Progress is a software company that offers custom software for creating and deploying business applications.Skills they've used to be successful in HR: Authenticity is an important core value. In conversations about diversity and inclusion, I use real-world scenarios — including my own experiences — to illustrate why this work is essential. I don't use buzzwords that many people are unclear of. I talk about things in a way that anyone can understand.How they've supported employees during the coronavirus pandemic: I have taken a particular interest in the well-being of our employees, specifically their mental and emotional health. We offer fitness classes, meditation sessions, and mental-health training led by a Harvard professor who is also a licensed mental-health counselor.By offering exercises that focus on burnout, avoiding isolation, and finding meaning in work and one's personal life, I am helping employees find balance while trying to navigate through the ongoing pandemic.Francine Katsoudas, executive vice president and chief people, policy, and purpose officer at CiscoFrancine Katsoudas.Courtesy of Francine KatsoudasCompany: Cisco develops, manufactures, and sells networking hardware, telecom equipment, and other IT services and products.How they've been supporting their company's diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts during the pandemic: In early 2020, right before the pandemic, we established our Social Justice Beliefs and Actions at Cisco outlining our ambitious goals for addressing injustice and establishing a framework to hold the company accountable to its commitments.Although we didn't know it at the time, this blueprint would guide our approach to social-justice issues that arose over the course of the pandemic. While these beliefs and actions were first focused on supporting the Black community, they have become an invaluable working guide to how we as a company respond to injustice and address inequities overall.Initiatives they've taken to address the effects of the Great Resignation: Every quarter, we conduct "engagement pulses" to check in with employees about top-of-mind issues and concerns. We've found that employees who aren't invited to participate in an engagement-pulse meeting are 21 times as likely to leave Cisco than their invited counterparts.We've also done more work to understand people's career trajectories within Cisco, examining the velocity of promotions for groups and individuals. As a result, we're proud to have promoted 30% of our workforce over the past 12 months.Books, podcasts, shows, or movies that inspire them: I'm reading "Black Magic: What Black Leaders Learned from Trauma and Triumph'' by Chad Sanders, who is powerful and inspiring. It was recommended to me by a leader here at Cisco. He said that it reminded him of his experience in corporate America. So by reading it, I have gotten to feel more proximate to his experience and journey, and that has been a wonderful gift.McKensie Mack, CEO at MMGMcKensie Mack.Courtesy of McKensie MackCompany: McKensie Mack Group is a research- and change-management firm that centers on racial and social justice.What initiatives they have taken to address the Great Resignation: Last year, in collaboration with Project Include, we published research on the impact of COVID-19 on remote workers. We developed and shared resources and guiding principles for leaders looking for support and education in reframing how they think about work, benefits, and productivity. Skills they've used to be successful in HR: My training and education as a transformative justice facilitator help me bring a restorative framework to the ways I work with people, de-escalate when situations get tense or uncomfortable, and seek noncarceral and nonpunitive approaches to working with people who make mistakes or cause harm.My knowledge of power, privilege, and positionality has been valuable in HR.Cassie Whitlock, director of HR at BambooHRCassie Whitlock.Courtesy of Cassie WhitlockCompany: BambooHR provides HR software for businesses. Skills they've used to be successful in HR: Understanding data and analysis has been essential in elevating my impact across the organization. Using data has helped me identify and solve complex challenges around screening and hiring, role progression, designing department structures, employee engagement, and retention. Data is the language of business, and it's critical in HR. How they've been supporting their company's diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts during the pandemic: Diversity starts with hiring practices. We had already implemented essential diversity, equity, and inclusion hiring practices like gender decoding on our job ads, diversity representation in the screening process, scorecards for consistent and equitable screening criteria, and antibias training for all hiring managers and interviewers. We also looked at internal diversity to understand how to best support employees. We adapted some roles to help working parents juggle remote work and homeschooling. We offered paid time off for employees who contracted COVID-19 or had to provide care for a family member with the virus. It was also essential to create income stability for employees with personal or family health risk factors.Sara Cooper, chief people officer at JobberSara Cooper.Courtesy of Sara CooperCompany: Jobber provides job tracking and customer-management software for home-service businesses.How the events of the pandemic affected their view of HR's role: The pandemic required HR leaders to be very quick on their feet, to make fast decisions often with little information and in an environment changing by the day. There was no pandemic playbook.The most successful companies did this by creating plans that took into account the evolving information almost daily and listening to their employees and customers. How they've supported employees during the coronavirus pandemic: We realized early in the pandemic that performance during this time had to be approached in a very different way.For example, we implemented "wellness Fridays" in the summers of 2020 and 2021, which provided employees with Fridays off to focus on self-care. In addition, we offered various programs for folks who needed to reduce their hours or take job-protected leaves to focus on themselves or their families. When we eventually reopen our offices, we will be moving to a hybrid structure.I realized early on that there's no single solution for every company but that the key to creating a thriving hybrid environment requires the input of the company's most important stakeholders: its employees.Danielle McMahan, chief people and business-operations officer at WileyDanielle McMahan.WileyCompany: Wiley is a global leader in scientific research and career-connected education.Initiatives they've taken to address the effects of the Great Resignation: We offer employees over 1,000 flexible and affordable degree and nondegree programs, including bachelor's and master's programs. As a global leader in research and education, we practice what we preach to unlock potential and support lifelong learning.How the events of the pandemic affected their view of HR's role: We transformed our department to become more people-centric: focusing on people rather than processes. To formally acknowledge this shift, we said goodbye to "human resources" and renamed our department the People Organization. Our employees are at the center of all that we do.Their favorite interview question: "Tell me your story." I love to hear people's career journeys, and it allows the candidate to reflect on what roles they've held in the past and how those roles inform the type of job they're looking for today.Through these stories, I also typically get to know the candidate personally. I am able to learn what is important to them and what they value. Susan LaMonica, chief human-resources officer, head of corporate social responsibility at Citizens Financial GroupSusan LaMonica.Courtesy of Susan LaMonicaCompany: Citizens Financial Group is one of the nation's oldest and largest financial institutions offering a wide variety of retail and commercial banking products.How they've been supporting their company's diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts during the pandemic: I've played a role in introducing initiatives such as the TalentUp program, which aims to reshape Citizens' workforce and prepare it for continual innovation focused on talent acquisition, reskilling and upskilling, mobility, and redeployment, partnerships, and expanding the talent pipeline.As a result of the program, in 2020, there were nearly 100 new hires sourced directly from early-career programs, with a significant segment identifying as women and people of color. With my main focus being democratization, I have ensured managers have the training and resources available to create equitable and inclusive environments for all colleagues. My team also began tying accountability goals to performance reviews to ensure managers prioritize democratization within their teams while understanding and working to eliminate biases at work.Books, podcasts, shows, or movies that inspire them: "How I Built This" with Guy Raz on NPR is my favorite podcast. Each episode highlights a well-known entrepreneur and their journey. I enjoy learning about the people and the journey behind many successful companies and brands. I'm inspired by the vision and tenacity of these entrepreneurs, many of whom had repeated failures.Ashley Alexander, head of people at FrontAshley Alexander.Front via InkHouseCompany: Front is a software company that develops a shared email inbox and calendar product. How they've supported employees during the coronavirus pandemic: Once we made the decision to transition to remote work, my mission was to ensure that our employees felt supported and connected. We doubled down on activities that fostered a sense of community, like our weekly all-hands meetings on Zoom, ask-me-anything sessions with our executives, and virtual companywide off-site activities.Why they pursued a career in HR: I got into HR because I wanted to help people, but throughout the course of my career, this idea has dramatically expanded. I now view my role as an employee advocate. I strive to demystify why things happen at a company the way they happen. I've found that even if they aren't happy with everything that happens in a company, if they understand our choices, ultimately, they can respect them.Lori Goler, head of people at MetaLori Goler.Courtesy of Lori GolerWhat their company does: Meta is the parent company of Facebook.How they've supported employees during the pandemic: We were the first tech company to shut down our offices, and employees began to work from home. We established an emergency-paid-leave program designed to give people time off for "in the moment emergencies," including eldercare, childcare, and school closures. We developed and executed a global return-to-office health strategy across 60 sites to enable a safe transition for those coming back to the office and created an office-deferral program for those who were not yet ready to return.How they've supported their company's DEI efforts: Meta committed publicly to have at least 50% of our workforce composed of underrepresented groups by 2024 and to increase the number of US-based leaders who are people of color by 30%. We announced in our eighth annual diversity report that in 2021, we increased representation of women, underrepresented minorities, and people with disabilities and veterans to 45.6% of our workforce. This will continue to be a focus for us.How they've addressed the Great Resignation at their company: This year, we introduced a number of new benefits, including a wellness-reimbursement benefit of up to $3,000 annually that people can use for expenses like financial planning, tuition reimbursement, fitness equipment and services, childcare for children over the age of 5, and eldercare. We also launched "choice days," which gives people an additional two days off per year to use however they choose, and we increased our 401(k)-match program to help people save more for retirement.Kali Beyah, global chief talent officer at HugeKali Beyah.HugeWhat their company does: Huge is a digital design and marketing agency. Clients include Google, Coca-Cola, and Unilever.How they've supported employees during the pandemic: Whether giving mental-health days, reimagining our return to the office, extending summer Fridays, flexing for childcare, shifting to "no-meeting Fridays," or continuing to invest in development, transparency, wellness workshops/resources, and DEI — we've taken a holistic and evolving approach.The constant as we evolve is that we listen to our people regularly, and we are authentic in our responses.How they've addressed the Great Resignation at their company: We are reimagining the future of work as the world not only encounters the "Great Resignation" but also the "Great Reevaluation." Our reimagining includes things such as "Huge holidays" (closure and collective recharging three weeks a year), "Huge summer" (work from anywhere in July), "no-meeting Fridays," and summer Fridays.How the pandemic changed their view of HR's role: We have an opportunity to reimagine work and the role it plays in people's lives — and we have an exciting opportunity to debunk false binaries and prove that people and businesses can both thrive.Lauren Nuttall, vice president of people at Boulevard LabsLauren Nuttall.Courtesy of Lauren NuttallCompany: Boulevard is a client-experience platform built for appointment-based self-care businesses.How they've supported employees during the coronavirus pandemic: I opted to take Boulevard 100% remote early on in the pandemic in March 2020. However, as the pandemic persisted into 2021, I realized that with the significant paradigm shift around the viability of remote work, coupled with the growing employee (and candidate) interest in staying fully remote, we needed to deepen our commitment.That meant giving up our physical office space altogether and allowing all employees to move wherever they want in the US without it negatively impacting their existing compensation package. Additionally, the need for better virtual access to mental health and high-quality medical care prompted the decision to bring on One Medical to provide complimentary subscriptions to all employees and their dependents.How they've been supporting their company's diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts during the pandemic: One of the programs that I'm most proud of was a virtual-speaker series where we sought to highlight and amplify underrepresented voices within the beauty and wellness industry.We invited a massage-business owner that catered specifically to LGBTQIA+ clientele for one of the sessions. This created a dialogue around how even limited pronoun options within a booking workflow can be harmful and resulted in us making actual changes to our product to better represent our customers and their clients. Surfacing these opportunities to educate and create dialogue can have incredible ripple effects.Tanya Reu-Narvaez, executive vice president and chief people officer at RealogyTanya Reu-Narvaez.Courtesy of Tanya Reu-NarvaezWhat their company does: Realogy is a real-estate-services firm that owns brokerages including Century 21, Sotheby's International Realty, and Corcoran. How they've supported their company's DEI efforts: To help increase representation in the industry, we established a new partnership with the National Association of Minority Mortgage Bankers of America and expanded the Inclusive Ownership program, an industry-first initiative designed to attract brokerage owners from underrepresented communities to launch their own franchise businesses.How they've addressed the Great Resignation at their company: We have a Go Further Today program where we've made small but impactful changes that decrease meeting and email fatigue and increase efficiency by working smarter.We have no internal meetings on Fridays, encourage employees to make smart decisions about whether to accept or decline meetings, and embrace an "exhale, then email" philosophy to help mitigate the pressure of email overload we're all facing. These are small but mighty changes that make a significant difference for our teams.Noa Geller, vice president of HR at Papaya GlobalNoa Geller.Eyal TouegWhat their company does: Papaya Global is a cloud-based payroll platform. How they've addressed the Great Resignation at their company: We added a learning and development budget for every employee to choose the development course that is meaningful and impactful to them. Driven from our employee-engagement survey, we took initiatives to support work-life balance, such as a work-from-anywhere benefit, allowing our employees to work up to one month per year outside of their home region.Also driven from our engagement survey, we are implementing more trainings around best practices and tools to ease the burnout that is a part of a hypergrowth company during COVID times.How the pandemic changed their view of HR's role: During the pandemic, the HR role became an even more crucial role within every organization. We were proactively working to support COVID policies and work-from-home best practices, and many of these things were unprecedented.HR managers really had to be innovative and creative — and in a very short amount of time. We have supported managers in learning how to manage remotely, how to navigate illnesses and emotional distress among their employees, as well as help employees remain connected to their teams and the company, while not only fully remote but often completely isolated.Tara Ataya, chief people and diversity officer at HootsuiteTara Ataya.HootsuiteWhat their company does: Hootsuite is a social-media-management platform whose clients include Ikea and Costco.How they've supported employees during the pandemic: We restructured the global offices to be used as creative hubs, built for collaboration and social connection, with a special focus on health and mental wellness.In addition, employees were granted the autonomy and benefits they needed to reshape their work environment to choose what works best for them by restructuring our workplace policy so every employee can choose if they wish to work full time in office, remote, or take a hybrid approach.How they've supported their company's DEI efforts: During the pandemic, we built on our partnership with the Black Professionals in Tech Network in Canada to help end systemic racism in the technology sector by providing Black professionals with equal access to opportunities in tech, an expanded peer network, and support in accelerating career growth.This helped foster a stronger sense of belonging in the workplace by joining an allyship training with the Black Professionals in Tech Network, along with 125 Hootsuite employees, including all members of the executive team, about best practices for sourcing Black talent.How the pandemic changed their view of HR's role: The pandemic shifted HR teams from being the best-kept secret superpower to the front-and-center compass for navigating through the most difficult time many organizations and generations have ever faced. The role of HR is one of strategy, that is adept at navigating uncertainty with agility and enables the business to drive meaningful business results with people in mind.Félix Manuel Chinea, diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging manager at DoximityFélix Manuel Chinea.Courtesy of Félix Manuel ChineaWhat their company does: Doximity is a professional medical network for physicians. The company went public in June.How they've supported employees during the pandemic: My focus during the pandemic has been to make DEI initiatives at Doximity meaningful, impactful, and tangible across the whole organization.By aligning DEI with our company mission and values, we are able to both directly support our employees and empower them to make a meaningful impact in their communities during and beyond the pandemic.How they've addressed the Great Resignation at their company: The Great Resignation has given us an opportunity to reflect on what makes working at our company fulfilling. Our organizational purpose at Doximity is to connect medical professionals and build clinical tools that will ultimately impact patient care. Amid a global pandemic and demand for racial justice, I believe our purpose allows us the opportunity to both attract and retain top talent and make a meaningful impact on health equity across historically marginalized communities.How the pandemic changed their view of HR's role: Both the pandemic and recent demands for racial justice have highlighted the long-standing need for all leaders to develop solutions and cultures that recognize the full humanity of employees.While every person is responsible for fostering an equitable and inclusive culture, DEI leaders must develop a strategic understanding of how to integrate these concepts into their company's organizational structure.Gloria Chen, chief people officer at AdobeGloria Chen.Courtesy of Gloria ChenWhat their company does: Adobe is a global software company. How they've supported employees during the pandemic: What I am most proud of during the pandemic is not what the company has done for our employees but what our employees have done for each other.When India was overcome by the Delta surge, and our employees and their families were ravaged by COVID, our employees created a phone tree to locate hospital beds, located oxygen to bring to hospitals, and cooked and delivered meals to families in quarantine. Our employees were truly our heroes.How they've supported their company's DEI efforts: In 2020, our diversity and inclusion team and our Black Employee Network launched the Taking Action Initiative task force to explore and drive actions we could take to make meaningful change internally and externally to the company.The effort led to strategic partnerships with historically Black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, and a sponsorship program to support career advancement for underrepresented individuals.How the pandemic changed their view of HR's role: Having stepped into the role of chief people officer in February 2020, my entire HR experience has been shaped by the pandemic.I learned that the basics of human needs — physical and mental health, a sense of security, and connectedness — cannot be taken for granted in a professional setting. During the pandemic, we lost one of our beloved cofounders. That gave me a tremendous sense of responsibility as a longtime Adobe employee to carry the torch for the values that they instilled in us.Kim Seymour, chief people officer at WW InternationalKim Seymour.WWWhat their company does: WW International (formerly known as Weight Watchers) offers a program for weight loss and wellness.How they've supported their company's DEI efforts during the pandemic: WW recently released an extensive report titled "Black Women & Wellness" to shed light on the disparities and biases that Black women face within the healthcare system today.The report showcases what is being done by changemakers within their communities to create safe spaces, better access to healthcare, and underscore why Black women deserve health, wellness, and quality healthcare.How they've addressed the Great Resignation at their company: Some of our most recent investments to address potential employee burnout include offering Sibly for resilience, One Medical for convenient medical care, and ClassPass for fitness goals. All of our employees at WW are also members and have access to the WW program.In addition to a personal-well-being allowance of $1,000 per employee, my team also created "flex Fridays," which allows employees to start their weekend early by redistributing the hours they work the remainder of that week, whether that's a Zoom-free Friday afternoon or signing off early.Manish Mehta, global head of human resources at BlackRockManish Mehta.Courtesy of Manish MehtaWhat their company does: BlackRock is a global investment manager that employs 16,000 people and manages more than $10 trillion in assets.How they've supported their company's DEI efforts: We are fortunate to have over 80% of our employees participate in one of our 15 global employee, professional, and social impact networks.Each network is sponsored by one or more of our Global Executive Committee members who engage with them to help navigate important cultural and strategic topics. I am a sponsor of our Asian and Middle Eastern Professionals network, which was formally launched in 2021.How they've addressed the Great Resignation at their company: We supported and enabled managers through training modules on delivering feedback, effectively setting objectives and managing performance, motivating and managing teams, and having productive conversations on returning our people to the office.We sustained our focus on career development. This includes career pathing in areas like technology, development programs for our emerging vice-president leaders, and our Black and Latinx managing directors and directors, and increasing our sponsorship programs.How the pandemic changed their view of HR's role: I have seen the difference HR can make in people's lives. Helping people navigate the loss of a loved one or a colleague, supporting the family of an employee we've lost, recognizing and helping those suffering from mental-health challenges, being there to listen and act when an employee does not feel like they belong, growing our benefits to respond to what employees are dealing with in their lives — these are just some of the things that HR does that are not always seen.Karsten Vagner, senior vice president of people at Maven ClinicKarsten Vagner.Courtesy of Karsten VagnerWhat their company does: Maven Clinic is a virtual platform that provides support across fertility, pregnancy, adoption, parenting, and pediatrics.How they've supported their employees during the coronavirus pandemic: Some of the companywide initiatives and programs included Donut, a Slack-integrated app, to help employees maintain that serendipitous connection they've all come to love at the office.We also experimented with other virtual events, like weekly "coffeehouse cabaret" sessions with Broadway talent over Google Hangouts, cooking challenges, a companywide talent show, Halloween in April for employees' children, and more. How they've supported their company's diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts during the pandemic: Working with Maven's people team, the company created employee working groups devoted to getting feedback about various aspects of Maven's business. While it was rewarding to see employee feedback come to life, what I'm most proud of is the fact that neither I nor the executive team did this work in a silo.Our DEI program was completely ground up and centered on employee needs. And it continues to be to this day. The work our organization has done — in recruiting, partnerships, volunteering, product— it's all been led by our employees.How they've supported their employees during the Great Resignation: To combat work-related stress, Maven introduced new programs to support employees' mental health, including group sessions with Maven's mental-health providers and career coaches, mandatory mental-health days, twice-a-week no-meeting blocks, and several weeks where employees had time to recharge and unwind.Elaine Mak, chief people officer at ValimailElaine Mak.Courtesy of Elaine MakWhat their company does: Valimail is a cloud-native platform for validating and authenticating sender identity to avoid phishing, spoofing, and brand hijacking.How they've supported their employees during the coronavirus pandemic: As the pandemic unfolded, it was an opportunity to lay a strategic foundation on Valimail's organizational design to serve a dual purpose: Drive talent acquisition and retention and seat people at the table to become an integral voice in making decisions that affect them.In 18 months, my team has refreshed Valimail's company mission, values, and strategy to explicitly prioritize and resource people and DEI efforts. My team has also pivoted the leadership model to a cross-functional structure that distributes power, agency, and autonomy of decision-makers across levels.I've also led the people team to expand and diversify the leadership team at Valimail to ensure appropriate voices and perspectives have a seat at the table to inform strategic decisions. How they've supported their company's diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts during the pandemic: We empowered a DEI committee resourced with an executive sponsor and budget focused on wellness initially to address burnout. Along with other company efforts, we have the foundation to execute a strategic road map on DEI education and development and further cement DEI at the heart of our business and people strategy.Lastly, our efforts in people and DEI culminated in an employer-brand makeover that authentically reflects a day-to-day reality where people-first is core to our culture.Kerris Hougardy, vice president of people at AdaKerris Hougardy.AdaWhat their company does: Ada is an automation platform that powers brand interactions between companies and their customers.How they've supported their employees during the coronavirus pandemic: Ada's first priority during the pandemic was to assess the health and safety of its employees and to implement an immediate change to the work environment.The transition to a full-remote, digital-first culture required Ada to ensure its employees could work and communicate effectively.Our employee-relations team is on hand to support anyone going through work or personal issues. We have a wellness fund for each employee to get access to support — mental health and physical, access to ClassPass, and lunch and learns where they can listen to speakers around burnout and resiliency.How have the events of the pandemic affected your view of HR's role? HR is no longer only about hiring and firing employees, but about supporting and engaging with employees as whole humans.People should be able to show up authentically and do their best work, to feel acceptance and belonging, and to feel supported with life's ups and downs.Cheryl Johnson, chief human-resources officer at PaylocityCheryl Johnson.Courtesy of Cheryl JohnsonWhat their company does: Paylocity provides cloud-based payroll- and human-capital-management software.How they've supported their employees during the coronavirus pandemic: My HR leaders collaborated with Paylocity's Diversity Leadership Council to ensure that company benefits intentionally built an inclusive and equitable culture for current and future employees and their families.The group also confirmed that medical plans aligned with the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming People.For financial flexibility, we rolled out a loan program, offering interest-free loans to any employees in need, along with on-demand payment for early access to earned wages if needed. At the same time, we introduced voluntary furloughs for up to 90 days and implemented an international work program to allow employees to work abroad for up to 90 days.How they've supported their employees during the Great Resignation: We formed task forces to understand why people were leaving but, more importantly, why people were staying. Recently our HR team has found success socializing "stay interviews," which help managers to improve their direct-report relationships, keep at-risk talent, and provide broader insights to build culture and connection.Giving employees greater transparency helps them spot career opportunities and paths to growth. Our HR team is implementing succession planning efforts to identify and develop key talent and give employees more freedom to impact how, where, and when they work. Dave Carhart, vice president of people at LatticeDave Carhart.Courtesy of Dave CarhartWhat their company does: Lattice is a people-management platform that helps leaders build engaged, high-performing teams.How they've supported their employees during the coronavirus pandemic: Work was stressful in "normal" pre-COVID times, but the pandemic has created new levels of burnout and exhaustion.Recognizing this, in 2020, I oversaw the rollout of Lattice "recharge days," a number of designated days where the entire company is off on the same day with the explicit goal of stepping away from work mentally. The recharge days has since been made permanent, with six annual recharge days added to our annual calendar on top of national holidays and flexible PTO. How have the events of the pandemic affected your view of HR's role? It's reminded us how critical it is to lead with empathy and represent a very human voice within our workplaces. We are asking people to bring their whole selves and all of their energy and commitment.With that will also come their personal passions, their family commitments, and the individual challenges that they are facing. We need to embrace all of that and come with support for the whole person and their family, too.Marlee Raber Proukou, director of people operations at JetsonMarlee Raber Proukou.Courtesy of Marlee ProukouWhat their company does: Jetson is a personal-mobility-devices company that sells electric bikes, electric scooters, and hoverboards.How they've supported their employees during the Great Resignation: In addition to navigating a global pandemic, our employees have had to adjust to the company's rapid growth, resulting in many being spread thin and approaching burnout.We've tried to address this two ways — focusing on both recruitment and employee appreciation. We built a larger people-operations team to increase our recruitment efforts, bringing in much needed full-time and contract hires to assist with our ever-increasing workload so our employees can enjoy more of a balance.Through bigger efforts, like rewarding our employees with promotions, bonuses, and raises to smaller changes like our new "all-star award" — a peer-nominated cash award presented monthly to an employee who is impacting their teammates — we continuously try to let our employees know we are grateful for them.How have the events of the pandemic affected your view of HR's role? The role has evolved from what many people thought of as traditional HR functions, like payroll and benefits administration, to encompass more people-centric priorities like supporting employees' work-life balance, ensuring a work environment that is both productive and safe, and creating an increasingly diverse workforce.In today's world, a successful HR team is quick-thinking, strategic, and empathetic. Most importantly, we are working to understand and support our employee's personal and professional experiences in what has been an extremely turbulent two years.Karen Craggs-Milne, vice president of ESG at ThoughtExchangeKaren Craggs-Milne.Courtesy of Karen Craggs-MilneWhat their company does: ThoughtExchange is a patented antibias enterprise tool that leaders use to gain insights that inform decision-making.How they've supported their employees during the coronavirus pandemic: With the pandemic causing a global shift to remote work, and recognizing the diverse circumstances of the company's employee base, we brought an equity lens to the people team's COVID-response initiatives.By asking diverse employees what they needed most to navigate the pandemic and how to best support employee well-being across different employee populations, we helped ThoughtExchange identify tailored solutions that made a big difference to employees.Listening to its employees, we offered financial support during school closures so parents could hire tutors, purchase memberships to educational sites or resources, and continue to ensure their children's educational needs were met.What are the skills you have used to be successful in HR? Empathy and patience are arguably the two most important characteristics to grasp when being a leader in HR.Employees want to feel heard and recognized during their time at an organization, and leveraging the ability to understand where all opinions are coming from, and then negotiating the best collective outcomes, is key to maintaining top talent that feels safe and valued within their work environment.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMar 18th, 2022

Returning To Sound Money

Returning To Sound Money Authored by Alasdair Macleod via GoldMoney.com, With the threat of dollar hyperinflation now becoming a reality it is time to consider what will be required to stabilise the currency, and by extension the other fiat currencies which regard the dollar as their reserve. This article takes its cue from Ludwig von Mises’s 1952 analysis of what was required to return to a proper and enduring gold standard —metallic money, particularly gold, having been sound money for thousands of years, to which everyone has always returned when government fiat currency fails. When Mises wrote his 1952 article the dollar was nowhere near the state it is in today. But Mises had had practical experience of what was involved, having advised the Austrian government during and after its hyperinflation of the early 1920s, making his analysis doubly relevant. As a remedy for the developing collapse of the dollar, this article can do little more than address the major issues. But it shows how an economic and monetary collapse of the dollar can be turned to advantage - the opportunity it creates through the destruction of Keynesian and other inflationist fallacies to secure long-term economic and monetary stability under which economic progress can be maximised. Introduction There are two charts which sum up why the dollar and fiat currencies tied to it will collapse if current monetary policies persist, shown in Figure 1. The growth in the M1 quantity since February 2020 has been without precedent exploding from $4 trillion, already an historically high level, to nearly $20 trillion this September. That is an average annualised M1 inflation of 230%. It is simply currency debasement and has yet to impact on prices fully. Much of the increase has gone into the financial sector through quantitative easing, so its progress into the non-financial economy and the effects on consumer prices are delayed — but only delayed — as it will increasingly undermine the dollar’s purchasing power. The more immediate impact on the High Street is also alarming, shown in the second chart. A combination of the covid lockdowns and Federal Government money ending up in consumers’ pockets has driven their liquidity relative to goods purchases to unprecedented and unaccustomed heights. This is the more worrying chart because it quantifies the immediate fuel for a potential crack-up boom. A crack-up boom is the condition whereby consumers finally discard the currency, spending it to just get rid of it. We are not there yet, but clearly, if consumers take the view en masse that prices will continue to rise, then they will attempt to reduce their cash balances all at once by bringing their future purchases forward, thereby driving prices up even further and more rapidly, and therefore the purchasing power of the currency down. But for the moment, it is mostly creating a scramble for real assets, such as housing, which for the moment can be bought with mortgage finance fixed at deeply suppressed interest rates. Given supply constraints, rising commodity prices, and other production costs rising as well as unaccustomed levels of consumer liquidity, the rise in prices can only accelerate. Unless there is a fundamental change in monetary policy, which requires the expansion of currency to be stopped completely, there will come a point where consumers finally realise that it is not prices rising but the purchasing power of the currency falling. This is a difficult concept for most people to grasp because they are used to regarding currency as always possessing the objective value in their transactions. The history of monetary inflations confirms that ordinary folk have always been reluctant to understand that the currency is declining until too late. But today, a significant minority of the population has already been alerted to this development by their participation in or observation of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. And if the wider population learns the same lesson and acts accordingly all hope for the currency will be lost. The reason that changes in the quantity of currency recorded by narrow measures such as M1 must be closely watched is that it is the underlying base upon which bank credit is expanded. When interest rates inevitably begin to rise, rates paid to bank depositors are likely to lag, improving lending margins for banks. Improved lending margins will encourage the banks to expand credit, for the benefit of government and agency bonds, and for speculators such as hedge fund managers looking to arbitrage the difference between borrowing rates and the dollar’s future purchasing power. The narrow currency quantity therefore has a multiplier effect with respect to bank credit when it begins to expand. A dispassionate consideration of these established facts leads the independent observer to conclude that unless today’s fiat currency system is secured with a sound money regime a collapse of everyone’s circulating medium is inevitable. Putting to one side minor central banks, the most egregious debaser of currency is the Fed, as the charts above attest. But with the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, where the dollar goes, so will all the other western currencies. Fixing the dollar must be the priority. In a revised 1952 edition of his The Theory of Money and Credit, Ludwig von Mises added a section on The Return to Sound Money. Mises, who had cut his teeth as an economist dealing with Austria’s 1920s inflation made proposals which are still relevant. Under the influence of Keynesianism, the monetary situation facing America today is rapidly deteriorating towards the circumstances faced by Austria in 1920-22, but with technical differences. This article attempts to update Mises’s section on the return to sound money for current conditions to provide a framework for the benefit of monetary stability and long-term prosperity. The intractability of current inflationism Central banks and their governments like to say that the reasons for an acceleration of monetary expansion are short-term and justified by being expedient. But these policies, often termed extraordinary measures to validate them, become normal as we have seen with quantitative easing. We can reasonably assume therefore that no meaningful attempt to rein in currency debasement will occur, more extraordinary measures will be invented, and that the explosion in the M1 quantity is far from over. Changing the official mindset is proving an impossible task so long as currency expansion is available. The Federal Government relies on it as a growing source for its funding, which allows it to ignore budget deficits. The state employs bureaucrats who agree with this policy and is advised only by economists who are prepared to justify it. The whole establishment is in groupthink mode and brooks no criticism over its inflationism. Furthermore, the administration has been democratically elected on a platform of continuing to provide free and easy money. This is not a sudden phenomenon, being progressively ingrained in the establishment’s mindset for a century. It commenced with the establishment of the Fed before the First World War, which then fuelled an artificial boom in the 1920s after the brief post-war recession. The American state gradually subsumed control over money, removing it from transacting individuals and finally replacing it with completely fiat dollars in 1971. The course that the state had set itself was bound to lead to where we are now; the expansion of dollar currency getting out of control. Nowhere in the Fed’s regular FOMC statements is there any mention of monetary policy per se. It is as if the quantity of currency in circulation is irrelevant to its purchasing power. It is an important cover-up, because if the relationship between the quantity of money and its purchasing power was admitted, then the Fed would have to exercise control over it. And not only would an admission of the relationship be a public acknowledgement of currency mismanagement, not only would the US Treasury come down on the Fed like a ton of bricks for jeopardising its source of non-fiscal revenue, but inflation of the currency would no longer be freely available as a policy tool. One likes to think that there are policy makers with an understanding that inflation is of the quantity of dollars in circulation and not its effect on prices. But for a long time, it has not been in anyone’s interest to think this way — anyone who did so has been re-educated, sacked, or left the building. This is the essence of groupthink. It is worth noting that elsewhere, Jens Weidmann who is a well-known inflation hawk is resigning from the Bundesbank. And Andy Haldane has resigned as Chief Economist from the Bank of England, with a parting shot on inflation. Both these gentlemen appear to have decided it is a fight they cannot win. The only chance of reform is from circumstances leading to the final abandonment of the neo-Keynesian policies that have promoted statism over free markets. And that is unlikely to occur before economic and currency destruction has become too obvious for anyone in control of economic and monetary policy to ignore. We cannot be certain that this realisation in official circles will occur before the public finally loses all confidence in the currency. But so long as any hope for its recovery lingers, it seems unlikely that monetary policy will be reformed. To statist economists, the argument for sound money and its adoption would not only be a negation of everything they have come to believe, but it will be seen as destroying all their so-called scientific progress, particularly since the adoption of Keynes’s General Theory as the economists’ vade mecum. Additionally, the use of statistics to guide policy, particularly of GDP and CPI, will have been found to have badly misled policy makers and markets. Along with statist management of the dollar, they must be abandoned. They are primarily tools for imposing state control on economic activity. The objective of the reformed approach is to return to free markets and sound money, which means handing responsibility for their actions back to economic actors, those who divide their labour and use money as the bridge between their production and consumption. These are a volte-face from current policies and are sure to be strongly resisted even in the face of contrary evidence. Monetary reform is bound to be delayed until the last possible moment. The state’s preference is always to retain and build on the control it already has. This is why there are plans to introduce central bank digital currencies, which, it must be noted, are designed to continue with inflationary stimulation by other means. But as revolutionary France discovered, the substitution of one fiat (the assignat) by another (mandat territoriaux) merely leads to the more rapid failure of the second. Once public trust in the state to not debauch the first currency is gone, it cannot be restored for a succeeding unbacked state currency. We can only assume that at some point in the dollar’s descent towards worthlessness the US Treasury will be prepared to mobilise its gold reserves to stop it becoming completely worthless. We shall now look at the measures that are required from that point to return to sound money, that is to back the dollar credibly with metallic money, only gold and silver coinage — anything less will not be a permanent solution. Initial actions to stabilise the currency At the time when monetary stabilisation becomes a practical proposition, interest rates and bond yields will have already been driven to previously unimagined levels, reflecting the currency’s collapse thus far. Write-offs from non-performing loans and losses on bond valuations will have almost certainly wiped out all the equity of weaker banks, and the survivability of the stronger ones will have become questionable as well. The Federal deposit insurance limit of $250,000 will have become meaningless and a banking crisis will become integral to the currency collapse as depositors attempt to flee from bank deposits into goods and gold. A collapse of the fiat banking system was not a material factor when Mises tackled the problem in 1952. He was absorbed with preventing the currency’s collapse in the future, a future which was some way off but is now almost upon us. The first action must be for the Fed to cease expanding the quantity of money and to introduce regulations to stop the expansion of total bank credit. The former is a simple task. In practice, controlling bank credit is also not difficult. If one bank increases its balance sheet, the increase must be matched by a decrease in the balance sheets of the other banks. This means that new loans can only be extended with the permission of the central bank centralising the information on bank and other licenced credit providers’ balance sheets. And net drawdowns of existing credit facilities must similarly be matched by repayments of others. This is intended as an interim measure pending further reform of the banking system. But the consequences for surviving banks will be significant and immediate. The stabilisation of the currency will lead to increased savings. The allocation of these increased savings to investment capital will be routed through bond markets instead of across the collective balance sheets of the banking system. It will be up to savers and their agents to decide individual borrowing terms. And all taxes on savings must be removed to enable them to recirculate into productive investment. However, these measures will be consistent with the plans for subsequent bank reform described below. The US Treasury will be competing for savers’ savings and will no longer have unrestricted access to bank credit. A bank wishing to increase its exposure to Treasury stock be able to do so by disposing of other assets, Alternatively, if other banks reduce their balance sheets permission might be obtained from the Fed on the lines described above. Whether buying Treasuries is a sensible commercial decision must be left to the individual bank, and Basel-originated regulations designed to give preference to government bills and bonds over other classifications of assets must be repealed. The objective is to permit the government and its agencies to borrow but only on a non-inflationary basis, with the investment decision purely decided by investors, their agents, and bankers making their own risk assessments without regulatory bias. It is doubtful at this stage of the hyperinflation that economic activity would suffer overall from the loss of state intervention. The economy will already be in the deepest slump in living memory, with interest rates at unimaginable heights and beyond the Fed’s control. Anyone going bust will have most probably done so already. In these conditions there cannot be a better time to ensure the state withdraws from economic and monetary intervention and to introduce plans to stabilise the currency. But on their own measures to halt currency and credit expansion would be insufficient to stabilise the dollar and dollar interest rates beyond a temporary basis without further measures, which must be our next consideration. The return to a gold standard To stabilise the dollar the US Treasury must recognise that gold is money and the dollar an inferior currency. Accordingly, all taxes on physical gold and silver must be removed, and both metals be permitted to be freely exchanged by the public for dollars. Given that the circumstance of the reintroduction of a gold standard are likely to be those of a last resort, we can assume that the market will have already repriced the dollar in gold terms. That being the case, the exchange ratio between gold and the dollar can be fixed along with the arrangements permitting gold coin and the dollar to circulate together, with the dollar and dollar-credit being converted into reliable gold-backed substitutes. Legislation would have to be enacted to enshrine gold convertibility as an inalienable property right, never to be taken away from the public in future. This must also remove future devaluations as a government option, and even in the event of a crisis, such as a war, full convertibility must be maintained. A new body must be established, or the role of the Exchange Stabilisation Fund amended to act only as the custodian for the relationship between dollars and gold, with the nation’s gold reserves transferred to its control. We shall call this fund the Exchange Stabilisation Fund (ESF) hereafter. Dealing in foreign currencies and SDRs by the ESF must cease, and no other government or central bank entity be permitted to deal in gold. After acquiring its initial reserve from the Treasury, the ESF cannot be permitted to initiate gold transactions. Only dealings initiated by the public, exchanging gold for dollars or dollars for gold are to be permitted. Thenceforth, the expansion of dollars in circulation must be backed 100% by gold to be held transparently in a special account for that purpose. The basis of convertibility must be on coins freely demanded by holders of dollars without limitation. Legislation must be passed for gold coins to be struck in suitable currency denominations to ensure their practical circulation. Silver coins must also be reintroduced by law for smaller amounts, and the issuance of paper notes suited for smaller purchases must be rescinded to ensure that silver coins and the smaller gold coins circulate. The purpose of coin circulation is to permit the public to continually vote on the government’s adherence to the new rules. The slightest indication that it is considering breaking them will, in accordance with Gresham’s Law, drive the good money out of circulation: in other words, gold coin will be hoarded, and its paper substitutes disposed through spending. The knowledge that this is so will discourage politicians from considering watering down the standard. The gold/silver ratio should be struck to give silver coins a minor premium over their bullion value to ensure they remain in circulation and are not diverted for industrial use or arbitraged into gold. This will avoid the pitfalls that plagued bimetallic standards in the past. The introduction of a working gold coin standard on these lines will lead to a rapid fall in borrowing rates from their hyperinflation highs. The sooner it is operating and the currency stabilised, the quicker the economy can return to normality, which will be an obvious benefit for those persuading the public the merits of sound money. Interest rates will then correlate with the general level of wholesale prices. The reason for this correlation is that sound money allows producers to calculate for their business plans with a high degree of certainty about final prices. With that certainty in mind, they can then assess the rate of interest they are prepared to pay savers for an enterprise to be profitable. The disciplines of a working gold coin standard will also require other changes to take place. Government reform The time during a currency collapse when it might be adapted into a proper gold standard is also the most dangerous politically. The population will be suffering real hardships and dangerously disaffected from the establishment that steered them onto the economic and monetary rocks. The middle and professional classes will have lost nearly everything. It is a political situation ripe for violent revolution. It drove the French revolution and following the First World War drove Germany into Nazism. It is the setting described by Hayek in his The Road to Serfdom. The departure from proper economics and the move towards increasing state control over the people militates for yet more socialism and violence, with a total monetary collapse being the excuse for total oppression of the people by the state. If that happens, the outcome is a different course of events from the constructive one proposed here. But we must assume that the great American nation, for all its recent faults and having lost its way with economics and socialist drift, pulls back from the brink of the abyss. Unlike Germany following its hyperinflation of the 1920s, America’s population is ethnically diverse, comprised in the main of the descendants of refugees from political and economic oppressions elsewhere. We should accept that when the outlook is darkest, a Hayekian-described dictator might not emerge, but a statesman instead, like an Erhardt, who emerged for Germany in the late 1940s. Paradoxically, public support for a reform of the American currency system probably offers a better chance of success than similar measures taken elsewhere. We must proceed with that assumption. The popular mandate for the role of government in the economy to be radically revised will therefore become available. Without the cover of inflationary financing, an economy based on sound money is more obviously incompatible with a high-spending government, which must then reduce its burden on the productive economy to the minimum possible. At its most fundamental, its obligation to provide mandated welfare must be strictly curtailed. The ambition is to reduce the role of government to framing and upholding the law and maintaining national defence — not to be confused with funding military adventures abroad. Foreign policy must return to that of Britain in the days of Liverpool, Castlereagh, and Wellington following the Napoleonic Wars: never to interfere in another nation’s internal affairs. And regulations must be rescinded to permit free markets to regulate themselves. It will require economic understanding, statesmanship and perhaps a few years to fully achieve all these objectives. But given that the purchasing power of the dollar will have already depreciated substantially, the costs of welfare, such as state pensions and unemployment benefits, will have already degenerated in real terms. Furthermore, the population will be staring into an economic and monetary abyss, reducing their opposition to substantial cuts in state spending. Only in these circumstances will it be possible to take the necessary action, and the opportunity will be there. An initial target of reducing Federal government spending to under 20% of GDP and cutting taxes accordingly should be followed by a target of less than 15% of GDP in due course. Banking reform Following extensive debate between the currency and banking schools, England’s Bank Charter Act of 1844 was the watershed that validated bank credit cycles. The destabilising effect of these cycles led to Walter Bagehot’s concept of the role of The Bank of England being the lender of last resort, the excuse for central banks in the future to increase their powers of intervention. By the time of the 1844 Act, banking law and double entry bookkeeping had established the method of credit creation, which is different from that which is commonly understood. A bank commences the expansion of bank credit by making a loan to a customer, which appears on its balance sheet as an asset. At the same time, double entry bookkeeping demands a contra entry, which is achieved by the bank crediting the customer with a matching deposit, which continues to balance as the loan is drawn down. The bank’s balance sheet has expanded without its own capital being involved. The expansion of credit is monetary inflation, which eventually feeds through to rising prices, leading to increasing interest rates. Economic calculations made earlier in the credit cycle begin to go awry, and bankers eventually become cautious, contracting their balance sheets mindful of the gearing ratio between their equity and total liabilities. Alternatively, carried away by the apparent improvement in trading conditions, banks speculate in areas where they lack expertise or became overexposed and lack an exit. These were the respective reasons that Overend Gurney in 1866 and Barings in 1890 failed. Whatever the cause of their contraction, these cycles of bank credit lasted about a decade on average. A reformed gold coin standard must be complemented by the elimination of bank credit cycles. To eliminate it entirely would require banking to be segregated into two distinct functions, one to act as a custodian of deposits with ownership remaining with the depositor, and the other to act as an arranger of finance for fees or commission. This would eliminate bank credit entirely. The evolution of modern finance has led to the development of shadow banking, some of which has led to the creation of credit off-balance sheet by the banks or by unregulated entities. Measures should be taken to identify and end these practices. But given that shadow banking is the product of the interaction between the growth of fiat money and purely financial activities, shadow banking is likely to decline, or possibly even disappear with the end of fiat and the introduction of a gold standard. Furthermore, the speculative bubble in cryptocurrencies, whose rationale is purely to hedge against the relative expansion of fiat currencies, will lose the reason for their existence beyond the purely technical innovations, such as the blockchain, that they bring. The ending of these speculative activities generally will reduce even further the perceived need for bank credit expansion, particularly for those banks funding purely financial activities. Once the public and foreigners are confident that the dollar’s gold standard is firmly established it is likely that gold will flow back into the Exchange Stabilisation Fund, giving it yet more cover for future dollar redemptions and therefore credibility for the standard. The benefits and workings of a new gold standard With the dollar on a credible gold standard, there can be little doubt that other fiat currencies will develop similar monetary policies. The whole world works with the dollar as the international currency, even Russia whose energy earnings are paid to her in dollars, and China whose raw materials from abroad are sourced nearly entirely in dollars. The replacement of fiat dollars with dollar-denominated gold substitutes will change currency priorities for all other nations. They will confront the same issues that faced the European nations in the second half of the nineteenth century, when Britain with her empire dominated global trade. Not only was there a drift towards free trade (for example, the Cobden-Chevalier Trade Treaty between France and Britain in 1860) but the European nations adopted similar gold standards. If America establishes a credible gold standard, any nation not following suit is likely to see its currency collapse. Critics may say that instead of operating their own gold standards, other nations will simply operate dollar currency boards, throwing the burden on America to provide a global monetary standard. This would not be a problem, so long as the rules of 100% backing are followed by America. A country adopting a dollar standard for its own currency will have to acquire dollars, which it can only do for gold submitted to the Exchange Stabilisation Fund. By providing a simple solution to other national currency problems the ESF would therefore see substantial gold inflows, further securing its domestic and international currency position. The key is for the ESF to administer the new monetary rules, enshrined in law, to the letter. Once the new gold standard is fully established, demand for circulating dollars will be set by markets and can be met by the ESF issuing dollars only on a 100% gold backed basis. Imports must be paid for in gold-backed dollars, and because monetary discipline will force government deficits to become a thing of the past, trade deficits will tend to be as well. Changes to gold’s domestic purchasing power might be expected through changes in the savings rate, being the allocation between consumption and deferred consumption. Variations in the savings rates may be expected to drive price differentials between nations, but this would be an error. This is because a rise in domestic savings will tend to reduce domestic prices and increase exports, leading to an importation of gold. But the extra gold or gold-backed dollars in circulation from an export surplus will have a contrary effect, supporting prices so that there would be little change. By way of contrast, a fall in the savings rate would be expected to lead to a tendency for domestic prices to rise and therefore to an increase in imports, and a corresponding outflow of gold. But the outflow of gold will then tend to act to reduce domestic prices, thus stabilising the effects of increased domestic consumption. In terms of cross-border trade, the benefit of a gold standard and its associated rules is to eliminate trade imbalances and price differentials as a cause of economic disruption, depoliticising global trade and promoting overall price stability. The peoples of individual nations can therefore set their savings preferences without affecting the general price level. It permits producers to make business calculations with a high degree of certainty of output prices, not only for domestic markets, but international ones as well. Gold supply factors Unlike proposed distributed ledger cryptocurrencies acting as the future form of money, the merits of a working gold standard are found in its flexibility. The growth of the amount of above-ground gold has tended to match the increase in the world’s population over time. But not all gold is held for monetary use, with more than half of it being estimated to be in jewellery, and a smaller amount allocated to industrial use. But much of the gold jewellery is quasi-monetary, being regarded as a reserve store of monetary value particularly among the populous Asian nations. There is, therefore, a flexible stock of non-monetary gold available through market mechanisms to support a global monetary standard. The difference between a gold or gold exchange standard and fiat currencies is that the allocation of gold between its uses is determined by people through markets, and not by governments and their monetary policies. This means that the course of prices both generally and for individual products are set only by supply and demand. Price stability is the outcome, with competition, improved production methods and technology tending to reduce prices over time and rising living standards for all. This is the background which encourages savers to put aside some of their earnings, knowing that their savings’ purchasing power will be maintained, and even likely to increase over time. For these savers, financial asset values will no longer be driven by excessive quantities of fiat currency. With the infinite feed of fiat currency removed, outright speculation will become a thing of the past, replaced by genuine risk assessments of individual bond issuers and of equity participations. The expansion of fiat currency will no longer be available as the principal fuel driving financial asset values. It will be a different monetary environment, where capital will be scarce and therefore valued. Capital will be less wasted on spurious projects. It will be the basis for recovering economic progress, so sadly lost at an increasing pace since the dollar became purely a fiat currency. It is apt to end by quoting von Mises’ concluding paragraph to his 1952 addition on currency reform in his The Theory of Money and Credit, the inspiration for this article: “Cynics dispose of the advocacy of a restitution of the gold standard by calling it utopian. Yet we have only the choice between two utopias: the utopia of the market economy, not paralysed by government sabotage on the one hand, and the utopia of totalitarian all-round planning on the other hand. The choice of the first alternative implies the decision in favour of the gold standard.” Tyler Durden Sat, 11/20/2021 - 08:10.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 20th, 2021

Borrowing from your 401(k) plan can be helpful in accessing funds when you need it - here"s what to know

A 401(k) loan allows you to borrow from your retirement account. But you'll have to pay interest and can't make regular contributions during repayment. If you need funds quickly, a 401(k) loan offers several advantages over other loans or 401(k) plan withdrawals - but there are many rules to follow. Jesse Casson/Getty A 401(k) loan allows you to borrow money from your retirement account and repay it within five years, with interest. A 401(k) loan isn't the same as a withdrawal, but there are still specific rules to follow. Any funds borrowed through a 401(k) loan won't grow, so you should borrow funds only as a last resort. Visit Insider's Investing Reference library for more stories. Your retirement accounts are meant for saving and investing money instead of borrowing it. However, if you find yourself in a situation where you need to borrow money and have few options, a 401(k) loan may be helpful for your situation. A 401(k) is an employer-sponsored retirement plan that allows you to make pre-tax contributions. There are penalties for withdrawing money from your account before 59 ½, but you can borrow some of your 401(k) money if you're able to follow a few specific rules. What is a 401(k) loan?A 401(k) loan is exactly what it sounds like - borrowing from your own 401(k) account and paying yourself back over time. However, a 401(k) loan isn't a true loan since there's no lender or credit score evaluation. Your 401(k) company may have its own limits on loan amounts, but the IRS limits how much you can borrow to whichever is less: $50,000 or 50% of you vested 401(k) balance.You do, however, have to pay origination fees and interest - you'll just pay this back to yourself. To borrow money from your 401(k), you'd need to ask your employer about their 401(k) loan options and fill out the necessary paperwork. Quick tip: Borrowing from a retirement account always comes with the risk of missing out on growth and compound interest. An alternative would be to consider getting a personal loan if your credit is good or try a 0% APR credit card for smaller expenses. 401(k) loan rules There are a lot of important rules to keep in mind if you're going to use a 401(k) loan.You can borrow only a maximum of $50,000 or 50% of your vested 401(k) balance within a 12-month period.A portion of the amount you borrowed, plus interest, is withheld from each paycheck right after the loan funds are dispersed to you.Borrowers typically have up to five years to repay the loan. (The only exception to this repayment term is if you're using the loan to purchase a primary residence.)If you lose your job during the repayment process, the remaining loan amount may be due immediately or with your next tax payment.If you're unable to repay your 401(k) loan by the end of the tax year, the remaining balance will be considered a distribution and you'll need to pay taxes as well as a 10% early withdrawal fee penalty on the amount.Depending on your retirement plan, you may need your spouse's consent to borrow more than $5,000."The interest rate on 401(k) loans tends to be relatively low, perhaps one or two points above the prime rate, which is less than [what] many consumers would pay for a personal loan," says Arvind Ven, CEO of Capital V Group located in California. "Also, unlike a traditional loan, the interest doesn't go to the bank or another commercial lender, it goes to you."Ven also warns that if you're unable to repay your 401(k) loan, the brokerage company managing your 401(k) will report it to the IRS on Form 1099-R. "By then, it's treated as a distribution which includes more fees, so it's important to keep up with payments and stay on track."Quick Tip: The IRA requires 401(k) loan payments to be made at least quarterly to avoid classifying the loan balance as a distribution. Even if you're falling behind with payments, you should aim to pay something on your 401(k) loan and communicate with the brokerage so you can get back on track and avoid paying taxes and penalties. Pros and cons of a 401(k) loanThere are some people who might say that getting a 401(k) loan is a good idea while others would disagree. This is why it's important to compare the pros and cons so you can make the best decision for your situation.ProsYou can get quick access to funds when you need it. The biggest benefit of getting a 401(k) loan is that you'll quickly gain access to cash to cover costs like medical expenses or home repairs. There's no credit check, and repayment rules are also flexible since payments are taken out of your paychecks. You won't have to worry about scraping up money for loan payments when you're in between paychecks.Any interest paid goes back to you. "With a 401(k) loan you are paying interest to yourself rather than a third-party bank or credit card company", says Bethany Riesenberg, a CPA at Spotlight Asset Group. "In many cases, the interest rate is lower than credit card rates, so it may make sense to take out a 401(k) loan to pay off high-interest debt you have."ConsWithdrawn funds won't benefit from market growth. The biggest drawback is that the money you take out of your 401(k) account won't grow. Even if you pay the money back within five years including any interest, this still may not make up for the money you lost if market growth occurred at a higher rate on average during those five years. You'll have to pay fees. Fees are another issue since borrowing from your 401(k) is far from free. Yes, you'll be paying interest back to yourself, but that's still extra money you'll need to hand over. Plus, you may pay an origination fee along with a maintenance fee to take out a 401(k) loan based on your plan.Payments made toward the loan are taxed. Another thing to consider is that your loan repayments are made with after-tax dollars (even if you use the loan to buy a house), and you'll be taxed again when you withdraw the money later during retirement.You might not be able to contribute to your 401(k). "Some plans do not allow you to continue to contribute to your 401(k) if you have a loan outstanding," says Riesenberg. "That means, if you take five years to pay off the loan, it will be five years before you can add funds to your 401(k), and you will have missed savings opportunities as well as missing out on the tax benefits of making 401(k) contributions."Additionally, if your employer makes matching contributions, you will also miss out on those during the years where you aren't contributing to your 401(k). You might need to pay off immediately if you leave your employer. Finally, an important drawback to consider is if you leave your job before the 401(k) loan is repaid. In this case, your plan sponsor may require you to repay the full 401(k) loan. Also, the IRS requires borrowers to repay their 401(k) loan balance in full upon the tax return filing date for that tax year. If you're unable to meet those requirements, the amount may be withdrawn from your vested 401(k) balance and treated like a distribution (subject to a 10% withdrawal penalty).ProsConsFast access to money (no application or credit check required)Can borrow up to $50,000 or 50% of your vested 401(k) balanceInterest rate is lower than credit cards and most personal loans Interest is paid back to your account5-year loan term may be extended if you borrow the funds to buy a primary residenceLose out on account market growthMay not be able to make retirement contributions during repaymentMiss out on employer match if you can't make contributions (until the loan is repaid)Loan payments are made with after-tax dollarsLoan turns into a distribution and is subject to taxes and penalties if you can't pay it back401(k) loan vs. 401(k) withdrawal You should utilize a 401(k) loan if you intend to pay the money back to your retirement account. However, if you're just looking to take money out for an expense, this would be considered a withdrawal. Withdrawing money early from your 401(k) is often not recommended since you'll be subject to fees and taxes if you're not at least age 59 ½. Let's look at an example of how a 401(k) loan would work: Let's say you needed $25,000 immediately to pay off high-interest debt and you have a vested 401(k) balance of $60,000. If you took out a 401(k) loan, you could receive a maximum of $30,000 (the lesser of $50,000 or 50% of your vested balance).But in this case, you could borrow $25,000 from your plan (minus any incremental fees), which would leave you with a 401(k) balance of $35,000 in your plan, and no taxes or penalties would be due related to your loan. Assuming the loan has a five-year term, a 5% interest rate, and you pay back your loan through bi-weekly payroll deductions, you'll make a payment every pay period of $235.89 ($471.78 each month). That means you'd end up repaying $28,306.85 in total ($25,000 + $3,306.85 [in interest] = $28,306.85).After five years, your loan will be fully paid off and your 401(k) account will now include all the loan and interest payments you made ($35,000 + $28,306.85 = $63,306.85).Now let's take an example of taking an early 401(k) withdrawal instead: If you take a withdrawal from your 401(k), you'll need to take out more money due to penalties and taxes to net $25,000. In this instance, you'd have to take out $39,683, which results in taxes and penalties of $14,683 (assuming a 20% federal tax rate, 7% state tax rate, and 10% early withdrawal penalty). This means your 401(k) balance (originally at $60,000) is down to $20,317 - almost $15,000 less than what it would be if you took out a 401(k) loan."Some plans have hardship withdrawals, which provide funds in very specific emergency cases, but you must have an immediate and heavy financial need," says Riesenberg. Riesenberg also adds that if you are allowed a hardship withdrawal from your 401(k) account, you're not required to pay the 10% early withdrawal penalty.Quick Tip: Your employer may have very stringent criteria on what may be considered a hardship withdrawal (including documentation requirements), and they have ultimate authority as to whether to approve the withdrawal as a hardship withdrawal.The financial takeaway401(k) loans could be an ideal way to pay off high-interest debt or cover a dire emergency if you've exhausted all other options. On the flip side, borrowing from your retirement account comes with a lot of risk if you can't afford to repay the loan or if you leave your job before the repayment term is up. In most cases, it's safer to not touch your retirement savings and resort to other options of borrowing cash, whether it's a low-interest personal loan or 0% APR credit card. Before you decide on a 401(k) loan, you should also consult with a financial planner who can help you explore all your options and also predict how the loan would impact your future retirement.Traditional IRA vs. Roth IRA: What's the difference?How to withdraw from your traditional 401(k) account early - the strategies to avoid penalties and feesWhat is a rollover IRA? How to transfer funds from your 401(k) to an IRA and avoid taxes9 ways to withdraw money early from your IRA - without paying a penaltyRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytSep 24th, 2021

Here"s How Much You"d Have If You Invested $1000 in NXP Semiconductors a Decade Ago

Why investing for the long run, especially if you buy certain popular stocks, could reap huge rewards. How much a stock's price changes over time is important for most investors, since price performance can both impact your investment portfolio and help you compare investment results across sectors and industries.The fear of missing out, or FOMO, also plays a factor in investing, especially with particular tech giants, as well as popular consumer-facing stocks.What if you'd invested in NXP Semiconductors (NXPI) ten years ago? It may not have been easy to hold on to NXPI for all that time, but if you did, how much would your investment be worth today?NXP Semiconductors' Business In-DepthWith that in mind, let's take a look at NXP Semiconductors' main business drivers. NXP Semiconductors N.V. provides high performance mixed signal and standard product solutions that leverage its RF, analog, power management, interface, security, as well as digital processing expertise. These solutions are used in a wide range of applications, namely automotive, wireless infrastructure, lighting, industrial, mobile, consumer and computing.NXP seems to be well positioned to capitalize on the level 2-5 automotive market. Its safety products for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and other key categories of autonomous vehicles — namely Connectivity, Powertrain & Vehicle Dynamics, Body & Comfort as well as Connected Infotainment — have been gaining momentum.Additionally, the company is the leader in general purpose microcontrollers and application processors in industrial and IoT markets. In the mobile segment, NXP is the leader in mobile payments. The company offers the full scope of mobile wallet development with mWallet 2GO, which is a big positive. It addresses user demands to quickly enable payment devices by digitizing their bank cards and experience smooth transactions at the Point-of-Sale.Total revenues were $11.1 billion in 2021, up 28% from 2020. The company derives revenues from four end markets — Automotive, Industrial & IoT, Mobile, as well as Communication Infrastructure & Others, which generated 49.6%, 21.8%, 12.8% and 15.8% of total revenues in 2021, respectively.Revenues from Automotive, Industrial & IoT, Mobile, and Communication Infrastructure end markets increased 44%, 31%, 13% and 3% year over year, respectively.Built on more than 60 years of combined experience and expertise, the company has approximately 29,000 employees in more than 30 countries.NXP competes with many different semiconductor companies. The company faces stiff competition from other well-established players in the semiconductor space, including ON Semiconductor Corporation, Analog Devices and Microchip Technology Incorporated.Bottom LineAnyone can invest, but building a successful investment portfolio requires research, patience, and a little bit of risk. So, if you had invested in NXP Semiconductors ten years ago, you're likely feeling pretty good about your investment today.According to our calculations, a $1000 investment made in May 2012 would be worth $8,820.05, or a gain of 782.01%, as of May 27, 2022, and this return excludes dividends but includes price increases.The S&P 500 rose 207.92% and the price of gold increased 14.10% over the same time frame in comparison.Going forward, analysts are expecting more upside for NXPI. NXP Semiconductors reported first quarter results wherein both earnings and revenues grew year over year. Top-line growth was driven by a strong performance across the automotive, industrial & IoT, mobile, and communication infrastructure & others’ end markets. Auto radar systems, auto domain and zonal processors, auto electrification systems, secure connected edge solutions, UWB secure access solutions and RF power for 5G infrastructure remained key catalysts. Further, NXP’s robust sensing, processing and control applications contributed well. However, the constantly increasing demand-than-supply situation negatively impacted the quarterly performance. Further, uncertainties related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic continue to remain major headwinds. The stock has underperformed its industry on a year-to-date basis. The stock has jumped 8.68% over the past four weeks. Additionally, no earnings estimate has gone lower in the past two months, compared to 12 higher, for fiscal 2022; the consensus estimate has moved up as well. Just Released: The Biggest Tech IPOs of 2022 For a limited time, Zacks is revealing the most anticipated tech IPOs expected to launch this year. Concerns about Federal interest rates and inflation caused many private companies to stay on the bench- leading to companies with better brand recognition and higher growth rates getting into the game. With the strength of our economy and record amounts of cash flooding into IPOs, you don’t want to miss this opportunity. See the complete list today.>>See Zacks Hottest IPOs NowWant the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report NXP Semiconductors N.V. (NXPI): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here......»»

Category: topSource: zacks16 hr. 20 min. ago

Visa"s (V) New Program to Boost Digitization of Small Businesses

Visa (V) launches the Acceptance Fast Track program with an aim to empower Asia Pacific's small businesses to accept digital payments swiftly. Visa Inc. V recently introduced the Acceptance Fast Track program, under which small businesses in Asia Pacific will be able to leverage Visa’s new solutions, onboarding processes and program participants and subsequently accept digital payments swiftly and seamlessly.The main aim of the newly launched program is to boost the digital prospects of small businesses throughout Asia Pacific. It also remains open for participation to payment facilitators and acquirers across the region. The program participants, backed by a helping hand from Visa, will make use of a comprehensive array of tools that are meant to cater to the Small and Medium Business segment for empowering small businesses to extend digital payment options.Unveiling the Acceptance Fast Track program seems to be a well-timed move by Visa. Since small businesses account for a major portion of the total businesses of Asia Pacific and generate significant employment opportunities in the region, Visa seems to keep a keen eye on harnessing the growth potential of small businesses in the region and extending them the much-needed help. The increased usage of V’s solutions to empower small businesses to accept digital payments is expected to fetch greater revenues for one of the world’s leaders in digital payments. The primary revenue source of Visa is money movement, which is conducted with the help of its innovative technologies among consumers, merchants, financial institutions, businesses, strategic partners as well as government entities stretched across over 200 countries and territories.Meanwhile, there are several benefits that the new program can offer to small businesses, ranging from access to Visa’s acceptance solutions, e-commerce payment capabilities to contactless payment acceptance capabilities. Digital payments might boost revenue streams and result in a growing customer base for small businesses.Visa has always been committed to providing the necessary assistance to small businesses, ranging from technological assistance to empowering them with enhanced payment solutions. The operations of such businesses were severely hit by the coronavirus outbreak, which resulted in a dire need to integrate digitization within their business processes. Thereby, it became difficult for small businesses to cope with the changing technology demands. Encouragingly, innovative business payment solution providers like Visa might provide some respite to small businesses.Equipping small businesses with digital prowess, in fact, proved to be the rescuer of small businesses from the pandemic-induced volatilities, as stated by 90% of small businesses backed by a digitial arm surveyed in the 2022 Visa Global Back to Business Study.Shares of Visa have gained 3.8% in the past six months against the industry’s 9.7% decline. V currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchStocks to ConsiderSome better-ranked stocks in the Business Services services space include Avis Budget Group, Inc. CAR, FactSet Research Systems Inc. FDS and ICF International, Inc. ICFI. While Avis Budget Group currently flaunts a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), FactSet Research Systems and ICF International carry a Zacks Rank of 2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.The bottom line of Avis Budget Group outpaced estimates in each of the last four quarters, the average surprise being 102.13%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for CAR’s 2022 earnings suggests an improvement of 59.9% from the year-ago reported figure. The same for revenues also suggests year-over-year growth of 21.2%. The consensus mark for Avis Budget Group’s 2022 earnings has moved 60.4% north in the past 30 days.FactSet Research Systems’ earnings outpaced estimates in three of the trailing four quarters and missed once, the average surprise being 6.09%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for FDS’s 2022 earnings suggests an improvement of 16.1% from the year-ago reported figure. The same for revenues also suggests growth of 14.1%. The consensus mark for FactSet Research Systems’ 2022 earnings has moved 1.6% north in the past 60 days.The bottom line of ICF International outpaced estimates in each of the last four quarters, the average surprise being 14.81%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for ICFI’s 2022 earnings suggests an improvement of 8.9% from the year-ago reported figure. The same for revenues also suggests growth of 10.5% from a year ago. ICF International has a Value Score of B.Shares of Avis Budget Group, FactSet Research Systems and ICF International have lost 41.3%,21% and 3.9%, respectively, in the past six months. Just Released: Zacks Top 10 Stocks for 2022 In addition to the investment ideas discussed above, would you like to know about our 10 top buy-and-hold tickers for the entirety of 2022? Last year's 2021 Zacks Top 10 Stocks portfolio returned gains as high as +147.7%. Now a brand-new portfolio has been handpicked from over 4,000 companies covered by the Zacks Rank. Don’t miss your chance to get in on these long-term buysAccess Zacks Top 10 Stocks for 2022 today >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Visa Inc. (V): Free Stock Analysis Report Avis Budget Group, Inc. (CAR): Free Stock Analysis Report FactSet Research Systems Inc. (FDS): Free Stock Analysis Report ICF International, Inc. (ICFI): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksMay 26th, 2022

What Happens If You Don’t Get Your Hotel Room Cleaned Every Day

The practice is being scaled back in the name of sustainability and guest privacy, but there's a price to pay HONOLULU (AP) — After guests checked out of a corner room at the Hilton Hawaiian Village resort on Waikiki beach, housekeeper Luz Espejo collected enough trash, some strewn under beds, to stuff seven large garbage bags. She stripped the linens from the beds, wiped built-up dust off furniture and scrubbed away layers of grime on the toilet and bathtub. She even got on her hands and knees to pick confetti from the carpet that a heavy-duty vacuum failed to swallow up. Like many other hotels across the United States, the Hilton Hawaiian Village has done away with daily housekeeping service, making what was already one of the toughest jobs in the hospitality industry even more grueling. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Industry insiders say the move away from daily cleaning, which gained traction during the pandemic, is driven by customer preferences. But others say it has more to do with profit and has allowed hotels to cut the number of housekeepers at a time when many of the mostly immigrant women who take those jobs are still reeling from lost work during coronavirus shutdowns. Read more: Business Travel’s Demise Could Have Far-Reaching Consequences Many housekeepers still employed say their hours have been cut and they are being asked to do far more work in that time. “It’s a big change for us,” said Espejo, a 60-year-old originally from the Philippines who has cleaned rooms at the world’s largest Hilton for 18 years, minus about a year she was laid off during the pandemic. “We are so busy at work now. We cannot finish cleaning our rooms.” Before the pandemic there were 670 housekeepers working at Espejo’s resort. More than two years later, 150 of them haven’t been hired back or are on-call status, spending each day from 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. waiting for a phone call saying there’s work for them. The number not hired back or on call stood at 300 just a few weeks ago. “This is all about more money in the owners’ pocket by putting a greater workload on the frontline workers and eliminating jobs,” said D. Taylor, president of UNITE HERE, a union representing hotel workers. A photo featuring a freshly made bed is displayed outside a Hilton hotel, May 18, 2022, in downtown Seattle. Guests don’t prefer daily room cleaning, say hotels While some hotels started experimenting with less frequent cleaning in the name of sustainability, it became far more widespread early in the pandemic, when to promote social distancing and other safety protocols, many hotels switched to offering room cleaning only if a guest requested, and sometimes only after staying a certain number of days. Guests were instructed to leave trash outside their door and call the front desk for clean towels. But even as safety restrictions fade and demand picks up as the country enters peak travel season, many hotels are keeping their new cleaning policies in place. A spokesperson for the Hilton Hawaiian Village said no Hilton representative was available for an interview about such policies at any Hilton property. Representatives for several major hotel chains, including Marriott and Caesars Entertainment, either declined to be interviewed or didn’t respond to Associated Press requests for comment. Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, a trade group whose members include hotel brands, owners and management companies, said it was the demands of guests—not hotel profits—that guided decisions about pandemic housekeeper services. “A lot of guests, to this day, don’t want people coming into their room during their stay,” he said. “To force something onto a guest that they don’t want is the antithesis of what it means to work in the hospitality industry.” Read More: Workers Who Were Laid Off Say They’re Being Passed Over—For Their Own Jobs The pandemic changed the standard of most hotel guests wanting daily cleaning, he said, adding it’s not yet clear if that will result in a permanent shift. Housekeeping policies vary based on the type of hotel, Rogers said, with luxury hotels tending to provide daily housekeeping unless guests opt out. Ben McLeod, of Bend, Oregon, and his family didn’t request housekeeping during a four-night stay at the Westin Hapuna Beach Resort on Hawaii’s Big Island in March. “My wife and I just have never really understood why there would be daily housekeeping…when that’s not the case at home and it’s wasteful,” he said. He said he expects his kids to tidy up after themselves. “I’m a Type-A, so I get out of bed and I make my bed, so I don’t need someone else to make my bed,” he said. Unionized hotel workers are trying get the message out that turning down daily room cleaning is hurting housekeepers and threatening jobs. Ted S. Warren—AP PhotoSonia Guevara outside the Hilton hotel where she works as a housekeeper in downtown Seattle, on May 18, 2022. Martha Bonilla, who has spent 10 years working at the Caesars Atlantic City Hotel & Casino in New Jersey, said she wants guests to ask for daily cleaning, noting it makes her job less difficult. Even though hotels in New Jersey are required by law to offer daily cleaning, some guests still turn it down. “When I come home from work now, the only thing I want to do is go to bed,” said Bonilla, originally from the Dominican Republic and a single mother of a 6-year-old daughter. “I am physically exhausted.” It’s not just partying guests like the ones who threw confetti around in Hawaii that leave behind filthy rooms, housekeepers say. Even with typical use, rooms left uncleaned for days become much harder to restore to the gleaming, pristine rooms guests expect when they check in. Elvia Angulo, a housekeeper at the Oakland Marriott City Center for 17 years, is the main breadwinner in her family. Read More: How to Decide If Business Travel Is Worth It Right Now For the first year of the pandemic, she worked a day or two a month. She has regained her 40 hours a week, but with rooms no longer cleaned daily, the number of people working each shift has been cut in half, from 25 to 12. “Thank God I have seniority here so I now have my five days again, and my salary is the same,” said Angulo, 54, who is from Mexico. “But the work really is now harder. If you don’t clean a room for five days you have five days of scum in the bathrooms. It’s scum over scum.” Many housekeepers still aren’t getting enough hours to qualify for benefits. Sonia Guevara, who has worked at a Seattle Hilton for seven years, used to really enjoy the benefits at her job. But since returning to work after being laid off for 18 months, she hasn’t qualified for health insurance. Jessica Christian/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images Nu Vong, a housekeeper for the past 32 years, works to clean a room on the 32nd floor of the Westin St. Francis hotel in San Francisco, Calif. Monday, February 1, 2021. “At first I was thinking to get a new job, but I feel like I want to wait,” she said. “I want to see if my hours change at the hotel.” She said there are few other job options with hours conducive for having two children in school. Now politicians are picking up on the issue, including Hawaii state Rep. Sonny Ganaden, who represents Kalihi, a Honolulu neighborhood where many hotel workers live. “Almost every time I talk to people at their doors, I meet someone who works in a hotel and then we talk about how they are overworked and what is happening and working conditions,” he said. “You’ve got a lot of first- and second-generation immigrant folks that are kind of left high and dry by these non-daily room cleaning requirements.” Read More: What to Do If You Test Positive for COVID-19 While Traveling Ganaden is among the lawmakers who introduced a resolution requesting Hawaii hotels “immediately rehire or recall employees who were laid off or placed on leave” because of the pandemic. If that’s not enough, Ganaden said he would be open to more forceful measures like some other places have taken. Washington, D.C.’s city council in April passed emergency legislation requiring hotels in the district to service rooms daily unless guests opt-out. Amal Hligue, an immigrant from Morocco, hopes the rules mean more hours at the Washington Hilton where she has worked for 22 years. She needs them so her husband can get health insurance. “I hope he has this month because I worked last month,” she said. At 57 years old, she doesn’t want to find a new job. “I’m not young, you know,” she said. “I have to stay.”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeMay 26th, 2022

"Davos Man" says billionaires are the problem — but fall short of offering a solution

New York Times correspondent Peter Goodman documents the global "wreckage" cased by Davos billionaires but is unsure how to fix it. Peter Goodman's book criticizes the solutions proposed by Davos billionaires, but falls short of offering an alternative remedy.Lambert/Ullstein Bild/Getty Images; Alex Wong/Getty Images; Blue Origin; Samantha Lee/Insider The World Economic Forum is being held at Davos, Switzerland this week.  In "Davos Man," Peter Goodman argues that billionaires are responsible for many of the problems they purport to solve at Davos.  Contributor Noam Cohen says Goodman's analysis falls short of offering any real solutions of his own.  In the 1940s, the young screenwriter Budd Schulberg dreamed up a dashing character, Sammy Glick, who in barely a decade rises from New York City's Jewish slums to the peak of the Hollywood studios by stepping over or double-dealing nearly every person he meets. The novel, which became a runaway best seller, is narrated by an idealistic, older screenwriter obsessed by the question: "What Makes Sammy Run?" How, he wonders, can you explain a person who "emerged sprinting out of his mother's womb, turning life into a race in which the only rules are fight for the rail and elbow on the turns and the only finish line is death?"Later in his life Schulberg would wonder if he asked the wrong question. The better questions raised by Sammy, he wrote, are "How do we slow him down?" and the deeper one, "How do we slow down the whole culture he threatens to run away with and that threatens to run away with us?"The same might be helpful to ask about the men and women attending this week's World Economic Forum, held each year in the Swiss mountain village of Davos. Peter Goodman, the global economics correspondent for the New York Times, sees the menace clearly, as is evident from the subtitle of his recent book, "Davos Man: How Billionaires Devoured the World." In over 400 pages, Goodman documents the wreckage from these exceedingly wealthy men (yes, all men) and their mad dash to be the wealthiest and most powerful. There's Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, whom the director of the UN's World Food Program called upon to "step up" and end world hunger at this year's forum. There's also Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA from Sweden, and the French business magnate, Bernard Arnault. Each in their own way, as Goodman puts it about Arnault, a "master at the art of avoiding taxation." Founded in 1971, the World Economic Forum serves dual purposes: It is both a reliable gathering place for the world's economic and political leaders to make deals on a global scale and a conference meant to assure the public that those in attendance are "Committed to Improving the State of the World," as its mission statement proclaims. This last bit, in Goodman's eyes, represents the Cosmic Lie, namely that "when the rules are organized around greater prosperity for those who already enjoy most of it, everyone's a winner." From India to Finland, Compton to Argentina, Goodman shows that even as Davos Men have grown immensely more prosperous those on the bottom are hardly "winners." One eye-popping statistic: In 2020, the first year of the pandemic, the collective wealth of billionaires worldwide had increased by $3.9 trillion while half a billion people descended into poverty. "Their recovery likely to take a decade or more," he writes. In another section, we see the lengths Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, goes to make the Argentinian government, struggling as the pandemic rages, pay back its debts at 55 cents to the dollar instead of 53 cents. Goodman writes succinctly on Argentina: "The billionaire who ran the world's largest asset management company had menaced a desperate country for two pennies on the dollar."To document a recent textbook case of billionaire wreckage, one need only sit still and observe Musk's recent Glick-like cynicism in purchasing Twitter. With swift assurance of being the company's savior, he made a bid to acquire it at a premium, trashed its executives, cast doubt on its business model and whether he would even go through with sale, made common cause with those who would "own the libs." Today, the value of the company is roughly where it was when Musk first arrived on the scene and, spoiler alert: no one was saved.In light of all this billionaire damage, Goodman's solutions can seem rather tame and no remedy wins his full praise. He waffles on Universal Basic Income — seemingly a favorite of socialists and billionaires alike. On one hand it's a "utopian flight of fancy," on the other, perhaps UBI can be applied "to expanding employment and encouraging economic growth." He suggests there isn't a simple way to finesse ourselves out of this current predicament with a clever new policy. "Absent substantial economic redistribution, the very concept of democracy is endangered," he explains. But then pulls up short of making any real demands: "Reclaiming power from Davos Man requires no insurrection or revolution of ideas. It demands the thoughtful use of a tool that has been there all along: democracy." One hopes democracy can save us. It's the only path I'd want to take.  But we need to recognize the depths of our problem and focus laser-like on reducing wealth inequality and boosting the power of workers through labor unions as a vital check on the powerful. In other words, the kinds of solutions you'd rarely see bandied about at an event like the World Economic Forum at Davos.It is important to replace the image of sophisticated, two-faced Davos Men that Goodman portrays with a more Glick-ish one – manic folk running madly to the top for some mysterious reason and without concern for the rest of us.We must slow them down for the sake of society and our planet.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 25th, 2022

NFT Marketplace – Why Are They Necessary And How Can They Be Developed?

Since the arrival of blockchains as an academic concept in the 1990s, they have been seen as a game-changer. They indeed changed how finance is perceived when first implemented through the legendary cryptocurrency Bitcoin. Suddenly, people became enthusiastic about the prospect of digitalizing life in the form which we had earlier imagined through literary content. […] Since the arrival of blockchains as an academic concept in the 1990s, they have been seen as a game-changer. They indeed changed how finance is perceived when first implemented through the legendary cryptocurrency Bitcoin. Suddenly, people became enthusiastic about the prospect of digitalizing life in the form which we had earlier imagined through literary content. Such a line of thought raised the standard and range of blockchain applications as time went by. Then, slowly, more applications related to cryptocurrencies started up their operations. 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 .af-body.af-standards 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 Additionally, more blockchain-based applications such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), decentralized finance (DeFi), metaverses, and decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) came through successfully. Non-fungible tokens, in particular, have attracted a massive market after their sales had gone up by extreme proportions within months. Even though the success has been mainly attributed to early NFT adopters, creators, and celebrities, the real credit goes to NFT marketplaces that handled the sudden surge efficiently. Hence, it can be said that running an NFT marketplace could be a great business opportunity in the current crypto world. But, owning such a platform requires a great deal of diligence and patience, as creating a community around your platform involves hectic work even from the first step. What Is An NFT Marketplace Platform? An NFT marketplace is a platform where people can buy, sell, and trade assets backed by non-fungible tokens (NFTs). They have been orchestrating an imminent role in driving NFTs to the levels that they are today. One can find all kinds of NFT assets on these platforms, such as art, music, video clips, in-game assets, trading cards, memes, profile picture punks, and more. Some NFT marketplaces focus on horizontal trade, selling different kinds of NFT assets to concentrate on a generic audience. Others focus on running a platform based on vertical trade, where specific NFT assets targeting a niche audience are listed. Examples of horizontal NFT marketplace are OpenSea, Rarible, Solsea, and LooksRare. Platforms such as SuperRare, Foundation, Sorare, Decentraland, NBA Top Shot, FanCraze, and Jump. trade are marketplaces that focus on a specific set of audiences. Trades in these marketplaces are typically made in exchange for cryptocurrencies, although a few of them accept crypto stable coins and fiat payments to widen their customer base. What Is The User Flow In An NFT Marketplace? First, users should create their account on the portal, irrespective of their status (buyer/seller), and connect their crypto wallet or fill cryptocurrency into the built-in wallet. Then the seller should mint NFTs to back their digital assets. They must provide sufficient information about the NFT, such as its details, cost (opening bid price/fixed price), deadline, and benefits. The marketplace admin will moderate the NFT asset, and if the items follow all their regulations, they are listed on the selling portal. The platform can also post the NFTs on a main page for a fee. A prospective buyer looks at the NFT and the details to place a bid or is willing to pay the price mentioned. The bid amount is taken from the buyer’s crypto wallet. If the seller finds that the offered bid satisfies them or the deadline is reached, they can accept the offer, which releases the NFTs to the buyer, and the amount is transferred to the seller. During the transaction, apart from the gas fee, a transaction fee may also be charged, with a lot of different combinations possible. The fees are typically taken as a proportion of final sales. The money is used for the platform’s maintenance and operations. Salient Features Of An NFT Marketplace Platform Storefront – The user-end portal should contain all the necessary information about NFT assets, such as descriptions, ownership history, bids, previews, and more. Search Engine – The marketplace should contain an advanced search feature, where users can easily search for the NFT items they need. A faster execution here is essential as this plays a significant role in determining the user experience. Filter and Sort Options – The NFT marketplace should also have a widespread filter option so that users can easily get relevant results and sort them easily according to their preferences. Listing Portal – Creators on an NFT marketplace should be able to mint and list their NFTs easily. A dedicated portal should allow sellers/creators to list their NFTs by providing necessary details, including descriptions, sale mode, and tags. Status Portal – This feature will be helpful for a seller while listing their NFTs for sale, as it will take some time for moderation. It will be beneficial for a seller who wishes to sell a collection of NFT collectibles. Bidding Portal – Buyers on the NFT marketplace should be able to place bids easily and update themselves with the current status. It is important to set a deadline date as this increases the interest for the NFT items auctioned on the platform. Crypto Wallet – It is a must-have feature for any NFT marketplace as they play a significant role in processing transactions. Although users can sign in with their wallet, it is advised to use a built-in wallet for security to offer a seamless experience to the users inside the platform. You can either build it from scratch or coordinate with a popular wallet provider like MetaMask or Coinbase. Ratings and Reviews – It is essential to have these features so that buyers can know which sellers are the best before making a purchase. In particular, newbies to the NFT world will feel at home when they can judge the worth of an NFT item based on the ratings and reviews given. A Step-Wise Guide To Develop An NFT Marketplace Platform Ideate – Like every other startup project, the initial phase of creating an NFT marketplace is to plan for it extensively. You should think about all the facets that can come into play. Some factors involved here include business, target market, niche, competitors, solution, features, marketing, payment, and technologies employed. Then, based on all the plans and decisions, frame the whitepaper that can help if you need funds. Design – After crafting your NFT marketplace venture plans, it is ideal to start designing your platform. Use necessary technical tools, including web.js, HTML, and React, to create the user-end screens. Ensure that the user interface (UI) provides an immersive user experience (UX). Get suggestions from a limited user base and implement them in the future. Develop – After having the user-end portal ready, it is time to develop the back-end, which supports all the front-end operations. Again, use advanced blockchain coding techniques, including Solidity, Python, C++, and Java. Also, it is the stage where you should create the smart contracts for NFTs, native tokens for your platform, and integrate your platform into the blockchain network. Test – After carrying out full-scale development of your platform, you should conduct intense testing. Alpha and beta testing should be performed with a small set of users and repeated automated test cases. Errors found should be resolved immediately to ensure that the final platform is free from bugs. Launch – It is now time to launch your platform for public use. Ensure that you have your user base ready through extensive marketing across mediums. A great way to gather your initial user base is to offer great advantages to early users. It is also important to have multiple communication channels for your venture through which you can get valuable feedback. Upgrade your platform periodically based on feedback to keep up with the trends. What Is The Difference Between Hiring In-house Developers And An Expert Firm? Fundamentally speaking, both the options give you the platform you asked for, although there are a lot of internal differences. For instance, finding in-house developers with enough experience developing blockchain applications is challenging as the technology is still emerging. Also, the expenses involved in employing them are massive as their work experience demands higher tariffs, irrespective of hiring full-time employees or freelancers for the duration of the project. On the other hand, a few firms excel in NFT marketplace development and have a team of experienced professionals. Such firms can create the platform according to your requirements while ensuring that no compromises are made in the fundamental aspects. The expenses associated with employing these outsource companies are also lesser than having developers work under your eyes. Recently, a few regions in Asia have been becoming blockchain hotspots as they have a lot of talented blockchain developers forming the backbone for some of the pioneer development companies in the area. Summarizing Thoughts Therefore, we can say that an NFT marketplace is one of the most profitable business ventures in the blockchain world. As far as development options are concerned, it depends on your ambitions and constraints, although working with an experienced development firm would sound ideal. With the world starting to embrace NFTs, it is only affirmed that new niches enter the NFT world, and hence, more unique marketplaces would start their operations underway. Article by Charles X, ReadWrite About the Author Charles is a Market Research Analyst at Blockchain app factory, exploring the heights of modern technology and innovation with love for words! Updated on May 25, 2022, 11:25 am (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; 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 25th, 2022

Before and after photos show how Russia"s assault turned Mariupol from an industrial port city into rubble

Before Putin's war, Mariupol was home to over 430,000 people. Months of bombardment has left the southern Ukrainian port city in ruins. Before and after photos show residential buildings in Mariupol.Jasteri/Shutterstock and AP Photo/Alexei Alexandrov Ukraine's southern port city of Mariupol was once an industrial hub, home to hundreds of thousands of people. It faced a Russian bombing campaign that killed scores and became a symbol of Ukrainian resistance.  Photos show what the city looked like before Russia's deadly assault, and after it was reduced to rubble.  Before: Located along the Sea of Azov, Mariupol is Ukraine's tenth-largest city.Ukraine. Mariupol. View of the coast of the Azov Sea, the village, and the seaport.Liudmila Ermolenko/ShutterstockUkraine's southern port city of Mariupol was home to over 430,000 people before Russia's February 24 invasion of the eastern European country.The city has historically been a major trading and industrial hub — a center for metallurgy, engineering, steel production, and iron production.After: In April, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said approximately 100,000 civilians remained in the city as Russian troops attacked.Civilians trapped in Mariupol city under Russian attacks, are evacuated in groups under the control of pro-Russian separatists, through other cities, in Mariupol, Ukraine on March 20, 2022.Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty ImagesDuring Russian President Vladimir Putin's ongoing war, Mariupol became the center of a devastating assault by Russian troops who wanted to capture the strategic city to build a land corridor from occupied Crimea to the eastern Donbas region.Russian forces leveled the city with indiscriminate bombardment — targeting a school, maternity hospital, theater, and other civilian structures. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in April that tens of thousands of Ukrainians were likely killed in attacks on Mariupol.Source: Business InsiderBefore: A rail vehicle is seen loaded with coal, a key Ukrainian export along with steel.Mariupol, Ukraine - winter 2022: Powerful diesel locomotive TEM7 pulls wagons loaded with anthracite along a large coal mine station.Zahnoi Alex/ShutterstockAfter: While some residents escaped Mariupol by train, others became trapped — many without food, medical care, water, electricity, and heat.A damaged tram is seen in a depot near the Azovstal plant amid Russian attacks in Mariupol, Ukraine on May 21, 2022.Photo by Leon Klein/Anadolu Agency via Getty ImagesSource: Business InsiderBefore: Residential buildings in Mariupol before Russian troops bombarded the city.Mariupol, Donetsk region, Ukraine, urban landscape with a multi-story residential building.Jasteri/ShutterstockSource: Business InsiderAfter: An analyst told Insider that Russia mismanaged its capture of Mariupol, causing the takeover to run longer than expected.An explosion is seen in an apartment building after Russian's army tank fires in Mariupol, Ukraine, Friday, March 11, 2022.Evgeniy Maloletka/AP PhotoSource: Business InsiderBefore: This January 27 photo shows the Donetsk Academic Regional Drama Theater, in the center of Mariupol, prior to the Russian bombing on March 16.Mariupol, Ukraine - Jan 27 2022: The center of Mariupol before the war began. Mariupol Theatre before the bombing.Hakuna77/ShutterstockAfter: An Associated Press investigation found that nearly 600 people were killed in the Mariupol Theatre bombing.Russian Emergencies personnel clear debris in the partially destroyed Mariupol drama theatre in the city of Mariupol on May 10, 2022, amid the ongoing Russian military action in Ukraine.STRINGER/AFP via Getty ImagesInsider previously reported that more than 1,000 civilians had been sheltering at the theater when Russian forces bombed the building.Satellite images taken prior to the bombing showed the word "CHILDREN" had been written in Russian, possibly in an attempt to warn Russian forces that civilians were inside.The Associated Press spoke to nearly two dozen survivors, rescuers and people familiar with the incident, and reported that nearly 600 people likely died in the bombing.City council officials accused Russia of "purposefully and cynically" bombing the theater.Before: Mariupol's Azovstal steel plant supported 10,000 jobs and was responsible for the production of steel, iron, and rolled metal.Mariupol, Ukraine - May 1, 2018: Panorama of the Azovstal metallurgical plant.Oleksandr Popenko/ShutterstockSources: Al Jazeera. Business InsiderAfter: With the final Ukrainian troops surrendering, Russia claimed to have captured Azovstal on Friday, and with it, Mariupol.A view shows the Azovstal steel plant in the city of Mariupol on May 10, 2022, amid the ongoing Russian military action in Ukraine.Photo by STRINGER/AFP via Getty ImagesA Russian defense ministry spokesperson told the state-owned news agency TASS that Azovstal was "completely liberated" on Friday with the surrender of 531 Ukrainian fighters.The capture marked the end of a months-long siege of the southern port city.Moscow-backed separatists hope to turn the city into a resort town after the war, a move that Mariupol city council said was intended to erase the city's history. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytMay 23rd, 2022

Central Bankers" Narratives Are Falling Apart

Central Bankers' Narratives Are Falling Apart Authored by Alasdair Macleod via GoldMoney.com, Central bankers’ narratives are falling apart. And faced with unpopularity over rising prices, politicians are beginning to question central bank independence. Driven by the groupthink coordinated in the regular meetings at the Bank for International Settlements, they became collectively blind to the policy errors of their own making. On several occasions I have written about the fallacies behind interest rate policies. I have written about the lost link between the quantity of currency and credit in circulation and the general level of prices. I have written about the effect of changing preferences between money and goods and the effect on prices. This article gets to the heart of why central banks’ monetary policy was originally flawed. The fundamental error is to regard economic cycles as originating in the private sector when they are the consequence of fluctuations in credit, to which we can add the supposed benefits of continual price inflation. Introduction Many investors swear by cycles. Unfortunately, there is little to link these supposed cycles to economic theory, other than the link between the business cycle and the cycle of bank credit. The American economist Irving Fisher got close to it with his debt-deflation theory by attributing the collapse of bank credit to the 1930s’ depression. Fisher’s was a well-argued case by the father of modern monetarism. But any further research by mainstream economists was brushed aside by the Keynesian revolution which simply argued that recessions, depressions, or slumps were evidence of the failings of free markets requiring state intervention. Neither Fisher nor Keynes appeared to be aware of the work being done by economists of the Austrian school, principally that of von Mises and Hayek. Fisher was on the American scene probably too early to have benefited from their findings, and Keynes was, well, Keynes the statist who in common with other statists in general placed little premium on the importance of time and its effects on human behaviour. It makes sense, therefore, to build on the Austrian case, and to make the following points at the outset: It is incorrectly assumed that business cycles arise out of free markets. Instead, they are the consequence of the expansion and contraction of unsound money and credit created by the banks and the banking system. The inflation of bank credit transfers wealth from savers and those on fixed incomes to the banking sector’s favoured customers. It has become a major cause of increasing disparities between the wealthy and the poor. The credit cycle is a repetitive boom-and-bust phenomenon, which historically has been roughly ten years in duration. The bust phase is the market’s way of eliminating unsustainable debt, created through credit expansion. If the bust is not allowed to proceed, trouble accumulates for the next credit cycle. Today, economic distortions from previous credit cycles have accumulated to the point where only a small rise in interest rates will be enough to trigger the next crisis. Consequently, central banks have very little room for manoeuvre in dealing with current and future price inflation. International coordination of monetary policies has increased the potential scale of the next credit crisis, and not contained it as the central banks mistakenly believe. The unwinding of the massive credit expansion in the Eurozone following the creation of the euro is an additional risk to the global economy. Comparable excesses in the Japanese monetary system pose a similar threat. Central banks will always fail in using monetary policy as a management tool for the economy. They act for the state, and not for the productive, non-financial private sector. Modern monetary assumptions The original Keynesian policy behind monetary and fiscal stimulation was to help an economy recover from a recession by encouraging extra consumption through bank credit expansion and government deficits funded by inflationary means. Originally, Keynes did not recommend a policy of continual monetary expansion, because he presumed that a recession was the result of a temporary failure of markets which could be remedied by the application of deficit spending by the state. The error was to fail to understand that the cycle is of credit itself, the consequence being the imposition of boom and bust on what would otherwise be a non-cyclical economy, where the random action by businesses in a sound money environment allowed for an evolutionary process delivering economic progress. It was this environment which Schumpeter described as creative destruction. In a sound money regime, businesses deploy the various forms of capital at their disposal in the most productive, profitable way in a competitive environment. Competition and failure of malinvestment provide the best returns for consumers, delivering on their desires and demands. Any business not understanding that the customer is king deserves to fail. The belief in monetary and fiscal stimulation wrongly assumes, among other things, that there are no intertemporal effects. As long ago as 1730, Richard Cantillon described how the introduction of new money into an economy affected prices. He noted that when new money entered circulation, it raised the prices of the goods first purchased. Subsequent acquirers of the new money raised the prices of the goods they demanded, and so on. In this manner, the new money is gradually distributed, raising prices as it is spent, until it is fully absorbed in the economy. Consequently, maximum benefit of the purchasing power of the new money accrues to the first receivers of it, in his time being the gold and silver imported by Spain from the Americas. But today it is principally the banks that create unbacked credit out of thin air, and their preferred customers who benefit most from the expansion of bank credit. The losers are those last to receive it, typically the low-paid, the retired, the unbanked and the poor, who find that their earnings and savings buy less in consequence. There is, in effect, a wealth transfer from the poorest in society to the banks and their favoured customers. Modern central banks seem totally oblivious of this effect, and the Bank of England has even gone to some trouble to dissuade us of it, by quoting marginal changes in the Gini coefficient, which as an average tells us nothing about how individuals, or groups of individuals are affected by monetary debasement. At the very least, we should question central banking’s monetary policies on grounds of both efficacy and the morality, which by debauching the currency, transfers wealth from savers to profligate borrowers —including the government. By pursuing the same monetary policies, all the major central banks are tarred with this bush of ignorance, and they are all trapped in the firm clutch of groupthink gobbledegook. The workings of a credit cycle To understand the relationship between the cycle of credit and the consequences for economic activity, A description of a typical credit cycle is necessary, though it should be noted that individual cycles can vary significantly in the detail. We shall take the credit crisis as our starting point in this repeating cycle. Typically, a credit crisis occurs after the central bank has raised interest rates and tightened lending conditions to curb price inflation, always the predictable result of earlier monetary expansion. This is graphically illustrated in Figure 1. The severity of the crisis is set by the amount of excessive private sector debt financed by bank credit relative to the overall economy. Furthermore, the severity is increasingly exacerbated by the international integration of monetary policies. While the 2007-2008 crises in the UK, the Eurozone and Japan were to varying degrees home-grown, the excessive speculation in the American residential property market, facilitated additionally by off-balance sheet securitisation invested in by the global banking network led to the crisis in each of the other major jurisdictions being more severe than it might otherwise have been. By acting as lender of last resort to the commercial banks, the central bank tries post-crisis to stabilise the economy. By encouraging a revival in bank lending, it seeks to stimulate the economy into recovery by reducing interest rates. However, it inevitably takes some time before businesses, mindful of the crisis just past, have the confidence to invest in production. They will only respond to signals from consumers when they in turn become less cautious in their spending. Banks, who at this stage will be equally cautious over their lending, will prefer to invest in short-maturity government bonds to minimise balance sheet risk. A period then follows during which interest rates remain suppressed by the central bank below their natural rate. During this period, the central bank will monitor unemployment, surveys of business confidence, and measures of price inflation for signs of economic recovery. In the absence of bank credit expansion, the central bank is trying to stimulate the economy, principally by suppressing interest rates and more recently by quantitative easing. Eventually, suppressed interest rates begin to stimulate corporate activity, as entrepreneurs utilise a low cost of capital to acquire weaker rivals, and redeploy underutilised assets in target companies. They improve their earnings by buying in their own shares, often funded by cheapened bank credit, as well as by undertaking other financial engineering actions. Larger businesses, in which the banks have confidence, are favoured in these activities compared with SMEs, who find it generally difficult to obtain finance in the early stages of the recovery phase. To that extent, the manipulation of money and credit by central banks ends up discriminating against entrepreneurial smaller companies, delaying the recovery in employment. Consumption eventually picks up, fuelled by credit from banks and other lending institutions, which will be gradually regaining their appetite for risk. The interest cost on consumer loans for big-ticket items, such as cars and household goods, is often lowered under competitive pressures, stimulating credit-fuelled consumer demand. The first to benefit from this credit expansion tend to be the better-off creditworthy consumers, and large corporations, which are the early receivers of expanding bank credit. The central bank could be expected to raise interest rates to slow credit growth if it was effectively managing credit. However, the fall in unemployment always lags in the cycle and is likely to be above the desired target level. And price inflation will almost certainly be below target, encouraging the central bank to continue suppressing interest rates. Bear in mind the Cantillon effect: it takes time for expanding bank credit to raise prices throughout the country, time which contributes to the cyclical effect. Even if the central bank has raised interest rates by this stage, it is inevitably by too little. By now, commercial banks will begin competing for loan business from large credit-worthy corporations, cutting their margins to gain market share. So, even if the central bank has increased interest rates modestly, at first the higher cost of borrowing fails to be passed on by commercial banks. With non-financial business confidence spreading outwards from financial centres, bank lending increases further, and more and more businesses start to expand their production, based upon their return-on-equity calculations prevailing at artificially low interest rates and input prices, which are yet to reflect the increase in credit. There’s a gathering momentum to benefit from the new mood. But future price inflation for business inputs is usually underestimated. Business plans based on false information begin to be implemented, growing financial speculation is supported by freely available credit, and the conditions are in place for another crisis to develop. Since tax revenues lag in any economic recovery, government finances have yet to benefit suvstantially from an increase in tax revenues. Budget deficits not wholly financed by bond issues subscribed to by the domestic public and by non-bank corporations represents an additional monetary stimulus, fuelling the credit cycle even more at a time when credit expansion should be at least moderated. For the planners at the central banks, the economy has now stabilised, and closely followed statistics begin to show signs of recovery. At this stage of the credit cycle, the effects of earlier monetary inflation start to be reflected more widely in rising prices. This delay between credit expansion and the effect on prices is due to the Cantillon effect, and only now it is beginning to be reflected in the calculation of the broad-based consumer price indices. Therefore, prices begin to rise persistently at a higher rate than that targeted by monetary policy, and the central bank has no option but to raise interest rates and restrain demand for credit. But with prices still rising from credit expansion still in the pipeline, moderate interest rate increases have little or no effect. Consequently, they continue to be raised to the point where earlier borrowing, encouraged by cheap and easy money, begins to become uneconomic. A rise in unemployment, and potentially falling prices then becomes a growing threat. As financial intermediaries in a developing debt crisis, the banks are suddenly exposed to extensive losses of their own capital. Bankers’ greed turns to a fear of being over-leveraged for the developing business conditions. They are quick to reduce their risk-exposure by liquidating loans where they can, irrespective of their soundness, putting increasing quantities of loan collateral up for sale. Asset inflation quickly reverses, with all marketable securities falling sharply in value. The onset of the financial crisis is always swift and catches the central bank unawares. When the crisis occurs, banks with too little capital for the size of their balance sheets risk collapsing. Businesses with unproductive debt and reliant on further credit go to the wall. The crisis is cathartic and a necessary cleaning of the excesses entirely due to the human desire of bankers and their shareholders to maximise profits through balance sheet leverage. At least, that’s what should happen. Instead, a modern central bank moves to contain the crisis by committing to underwrite the banking system to stem a potential downward spiral of collateral sales, and to ensure an increase in unemployment is contained. Consequently, many earlier malinvestments will survive. Over several cycles, the debt associated with past uncleared malinvestments accumulates, making each successive crisis greater in magnitude. 2007-2008 was worse than the fall-out from the dot-com bubble in 2000, which in turn was worse than previous crises. And for this reason, the current credit crisis promises to be even greater than the last. Credit cycles are increasingly a global affair. Unfortunately, all central banks share the same misconception, that they are managing a business cycle that emanates from private sector business errors and not from their licenced banks and own policy failures. Central banks through the forum of the Bank for International Settlements or G7, G10, and G20 meetings are fully committed to coordinating monetary policies on a global basis. The consequence is credit crises are potentially greater as a result. Remember that G20 was set up after the Lehman crisis to reinforce coordination of monetary and financial policies, promoting destructive groupthink even more. Not only does the onset of a credit crisis in any one country become potentially exogenous to it, but the failure of any one of the major central banks to contain its crisis is certain to undermine everyone else. Systemic risk, the risk that banking systems will fail, is now truly global and has worsened. The introduction of the new euro distorted credit cycles for Eurozone members, and today has become a significant additional financial and systemic threat to the global banking system. After the euro was introduced, the cost of borrowing dropped substantially for many high-risk member states. Unsurprisingly, governments in these states seized the opportunity to increase their debt-financed spending. The most extreme examples were Greece, followed by Italy, Spain, and Portugal —collectively the PIGS. Consequently, the political pressures to suppress euro interest rates are overwhelming, lest these state actors’ finances collapse. Eurozone commercial banks became exceptionally highly geared with asset to equity leverage more than twenty times on average for the global systemically important banks. Credit cycles for these countries have been made considerably more dangerous by bank leverage, non-performing debt, and the TARGET2 settlement system which has become dangerously unbalanced. The task facing the ECB today to stop the banking system from descending into a credit contraction crisis is almost impossible as a result. The unwinding of malinvestments and associated debt has been successfully deferred so far, but the Eurozone remains a major and increasing source of systemic risk and a credible trigger for the next global crisis. The seeds were sown for the next credit crisis in the last When new money is fully absorbed in an economy, prices can be said to have adjusted to accommodate it. The apparent stimulation from the extra money will have reversed itself, wealth having been transferred from the late receivers to the initial beneficiaries, leaving a higher stock of currency and credit and increased prices. This always assumes there has been no change in the public’s general level of preference for holding money relative to holding goods. Changes in this preference level can have a profound effect on prices. At one extreme, a general dislike of holding any money at all will render it valueless, while a strong preference for it will drive down prices of goods and services in what economists lazily call deflation. This is what happened in 1980-81, when Paul Volcker at the Federal Reserve Board raised the Fed’s fund rate to over 19% to put an end to a developing hyperinflation of prices. It is what happened more recently in 2007/08 when the great financial crisis broke, forcing the Fed to flood financial markets with unlimited credit to stop prices falling, and to rescue the financial system from collapse. The state-induced interest rate cycle, which lags the credit cycle for the reasons described above, always results in interest rates being raised high enough to undermine economic activity. The two examples quoted in the previous paragraph were extremes, but every credit cycle ends with rates being raised by the central bank by enough to trigger a crisis. The chart above of America’s Fed funds rate is repeated from earlier in this article for ease of reference. The interest rate peaks joined by the dotted line marked the turns of the US credit cycle in January 1989, mid-2000, early 2007, and mid-2019 respectively. These points also marked the beginning of the recession in the early nineties, the post-dotcom bubble collapse, the US housing market crisis, and the repo crisis in September 2019. The average period between these peaks was exactly ten years, echoing a similar periodicity observed in Britain’s nineteenth century. The threat to the US economy and its banking system has grown with every crisis. Successive interest peaks marked an increase in severity for succeeding credit crises, and it is notable that the level of interest rates required to trigger a crisis has continually declined. Extending this trend suggests that a Fed Funds Rate of no more than 2% today will be the trigger for a new momentum in the current financial crisis. The reason this must be so is the continuing accumulation of dollar-denominated private-sector debt. And this time, prices are fuelled by record increases in the quantity of outstanding currency and credit. Conclusions The driver behind the boom-and-bust cycle of business activity is credit itself. It therefore stands to reason that the greater the level of monetary intervention, the more uncontrollable the outcome becomes. This is confirmed by both reasoned theory and empirical evidence. It is equally clear that by seeking to manage the credit cycle, central banks themselves have become the primary cause of economic instability. They exhibit institutional groupthink in the implementation of their credit policies. Therefore, the underlying attempt to boost consumption by encouraging continual price inflation to alter the allocation of resources from deferred consumption to current consumption, is overly simplistic, and ignores the negative consequences. Any economist who argues in favour of an inflation target, such as that commonly set by central banks at 2%, fails to appreciate that monetary inflation transfers wealth from most people, who are truly the engine of production and spending. By impoverishing society inflationary policies are counterproductive. Neo-Keynesian economists also fail to understand that prices of goods and services in the main do not act like those of speculative investments. People will buy an asset if the price is rising because they see a bandwagon effect. They do not normally buy goods and services because they see a trend of rising prices. Instead, they seek out value, as any observer of the falling prices of electrical and electronic products can testify. We have seen that for policymakers the room for manoeuvre on interest rates has become increasingly limited over successive credit cycles. Furthermore, the continuing accumulation of private sector debt has reduced the height of interest rates that would trigger a financial and systemic crisis. In any event, a renewed global crisis could be triggered by the Fed if it raises the funds rate to as little as 2%. This can be expected with a high degree of confidence; unless, that is, a systemic crisis originates from elsewhere —the euro system and Japan are already seeing the euro and yen respectively in the early stages of a currency collapse. It is bound to lead to increased interest rates in the euro and yen, destabilising their respective banking systems. The likelihood of their failure appears to be increasing by the day, a situation that becomes obvious when one accepts that the problem is wholly financial, the result of irresponsible credit and currency expansion in the past. An economy that works best is one where sound money permits an increase in purchasing power of that money over time, reflecting the full benefits to consumers of improvements in production and technology. In such an economy, Schumpeter’s process of “creative destruction” takes place on a random basis. Instead, consumers and businesses are corralled into acing herd-like, financed by the cyclical ebb and flow of bank credit. The creation of the credit cycle forces us all into a form of destructive behaviour that otherwise would not occur. Tyler Durden Sun, 05/22/2022 - 08:10.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 22nd, 2022

Five Warning Signs The End Of Dollar Hegemony Is Near... Here"s What Happens Next

Five Warning Signs The End Of Dollar Hegemony Is Near... Here's What Happens Next Authored by Nick Giambruno via InternationalMan.com, It’s no secret that China and Russia have been stashing away as much gold as possible for many years. China is the world’s largest producer and buyer of gold. Russia is number two. Most of that gold finds its way into the Russian and Chinese governments’ treasuries. Russia has over 2,300 tonnes—or nearly 74 million troy ounces—of gold, one of the largest stashes in the world. Nobody knows the exact amount of gold China has, but most observers believe it is even larger than Russia’s stash. Russia and China’s gold gives them access to an apolitical neutral form of money with no counterparty risk. Remember, gold has been mankind’s most enduring form of money for over 2,500 years because of unique characteristics that make it suitable to store and exchange value. Gold is durable, divisible, consistent, convenient, scarce, and most importantly, the “hardest” of all physical commodities. In other words, gold is the one physical commodity that is the “hardest to produce” (relative to existing stockpiles) and, therefore, the most resistant to inflation. That’s what gives gold its superior monetary properties. Russia and China can use their gold to engage in international trade and perhaps back the currencies. That’s why gold represents a genuine monetary alternative to the US dollar, and Russia and China have a lot of it. Today it’s clear why China and Russia have had an insatiable demand for gold. They’ve been waiting for the right moment to pull the rug from beneath the US dollar. And now is that moment… This is a big problem for the US government, which reaps an unfathomable amount of power because the US dollar is the world’s premier reserve currency. It allows the US to print fake money out of thin air and export it to the rest of the world for real goods and services—a privileged racket no other country has. Russia and China’s gold could form the foundation of a new monetary system outside of the control of the US. Such moves would be the final nail in the coffin of dollar dominance. Five recent developments are a giant flashing red sign that something big could be imminent. Warning Sign #1: Russia Sanctions Prove Dollar Reserves “Aren’t Really Money” In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the US government has launched its most aggressive sanctions campaign ever. Exceeding even Iran and North Korea, Russia is now the most sanctioned nation in the world. As part of this, the US government seized the US dollar reserves of the Russian central bank—the accumulated savings of the nation. It was a stunning illustration of the dollar’s political risk. The US government can seize another sovereign country’s dollar reserves at the flip of a switch. The Wall Street Journal, in an article titled “If Russian Currency Reserves Aren’t Really Money, the World Is in for a Shock,” noted: “Sanctions have shown that currency reserves accumulated by central banks can be taken away. With China taking note, this may reshape geopolitics, economic management and even the international role of the U.S. dollar.” Russian President Putin said the US had defaulted on its obligations and that the dollar is no longer a reliable currency. The incident has eroded trust in the US dollar as the global reserve currency and catalyzed significant countries to use alternatives in trade and their reserves. China, India, Iran, and Turkey, among other countries, announced, or already are, doing business with Russia in their local currencies instead of the US dollar. These countries represent a market of over three billion people that no longer need to use the US dollar to trade with one another. The US government has incentivized almost half of mankind to find alternatives to the dollar by attempting to isolate Russia. Warning Sign #2: Rubles, Gold, and Bitcoin for Gas, Oil, and Other Commodities Russia is the world’s largest exporter of natural gas, lumber, wheat, fertilizer, and palladium (a crucial component in cars). It is the second-largest exporter of oil and aluminum and the third-largest exporter of nickel and coal. Russia is a major producer and processor of uranium for nuclear power plants. Enriched uranium from Russia and its allies provides electricity to 20% of the homes in the US. Aside from China, Russia produces more gold than any other country, accounting for more than 10% of global production. These are just a handful of examples. There are many strategic commodities that Russia dominates. In short, Russia is not just an oil and gas powerhouse but a commodity superpower. After the US government seized Russia’s US dollar reserves, Moscow has little use for the US dollar. Moscow does not want to exchange its scarce and valuable commodities for politicized money that its rivals can take away on a whim. Would the US government ever tolerate a situation where the US Treasury held its reserves in rubles in Russia? The head of the Russian Parliament recently called the US dollar a “candy wrapper” but not the candy itself. In other words, the dollar has the outward appearance of money but is not real money. That’s why Russia is no longer accepting US dollars (or euros) in exchange for its energy. They are of no use to Russia. So instead, Moscow is demanding payment in rubles. That’s an urgent problem for Europe, which cannot survive without Russian commodities. The Europeans have no alternative to Russian energy and have no choice but to comply. European buyers must now first buy rubles with their euros and use them to pay for Russian gas, oil, and other exports. This is a big reason why the ruble has recovered all of the value it lost in the initial days of the Ukraine invasion and then made further gains. In addition to rubles, the top Russian energy official said Moscow would also accept gold or Bitcoin in return for its commodities. “If they want to buy, let them pay either in hard currency—and this is gold for us… you can also trade Bitcoins.” Here’s the bottom line. US dollars are no longer needed (or wanted) to buy Russian commodities. Warning Sign #3: The Petrodollar System Flirts With Collapse Oil is by far the largest and most strategic commodity market. For the last 50 years, virtually anyone who wanted to import oil needed US dollars to pay for it. That’s because, in the early ’70s, the US made an agreement to protect Saudi Arabia in exchange for ensuring, among other things, all OPEC producers only accept US dollars for their oil. Every country needs oil. And if foreign countries need US dollars to buy oil, they have a compelling reason to hold large dollar reserves. This creates a huge artificial market for US dollars and forces foreigners to soak up many of the new currency units the Fed creates. Naturally, this gives a tremendous boost to the value of the dollar. The system has helped create a deeper, more liquid market for the dollar and US Treasuries. It also allows the US government to keep interest rates artificially low, thereby financing enormous deficits it otherwise would be unable to. In short, the petrodollar system has been the bedrock of the US financial system for the past 50 years. But that’s all about to change… and soon. After it invaded Ukraine, the US government kicked Russia out of the dollar system and seized hundreds of billions in dollar reserves of the Russian central bank. Washington has threatened to do the same to China for years. These threats helped ensure that China cracked down on North Korea, didn’t invade Taiwan, and did other things the US wanted. These threats against China may be a bluff, but if the US government carried them out—as it recently did against Russia—it would be like dropping a financial nuclear bomb on Beijing. Without access to dollars, China would struggle to import oil and engage in international trade. As a result, its economy would come to a grinding halt, an intolerable threat to the Chinese government. China would rather not depend on an adversary like this. This is one of the main reasons it created an alternative to the petrodollar system. After years of preparation, the Shanghai International Energy Exchange (INE) launched a crude oil futures contract denominated in Chinese yuan in 2017. Since then, any oil producer can sell its oil for something besides US dollars… in this case, the Chinese yuan. There’s one big issue, though. Most oil producers don’t want to accumulate a large yuan reserve, and China knows this. That’s why China has explicitly linked the crude futures contract with the ability to convert yuan into physical gold—without touching China’s official reserves—through gold exchanges in Shanghai (the world’s largest physical gold market) and Hong Kong. PetroChina and Sinopec, two Chinese oil companies, provide liquidity to the yuan crude futures by being big buyers. So, if any oil producer wants to sell their oil in yuan (and gold indirectly), there will always be a bid. After years of growth and working out the kinks, the INE yuan oil future contract is now ready for prime time. And now that the US has banned Russia from the dollar system, there is an urgent need for a credible system capable of handling hundreds of billions worth of oil sales outside of the US dollar and financial system. The Shanghai International Energy Exchange is that system. Back to Saudi Arabia… For nearly 50 years, the Saudis had always insisted anyone wanting their oil would need to pay with US dollars, upholding their end of the petrodollar system. But that could all change soon… Remember, China is already the world’s largest oil importer. Moreover, the amount of oil it imports continues to grow as it fuels an economy of over 1.4 billion people (more than 4x larger than the US). China is Saudi Arabia’s top customer. Beijing buys over 25% of Saudi oil exports and wants to buy more. The Chinese would rather not have to use the US dollar, the currency of their adversary, to buy an essential commodity. In this context, The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the Chinese and the Saudis had entered into serious discussions to accept yuan as payment for Saudi oil exports instead of dollars. The WSJ article claims the Saudis are angry at the US for not supporting it enough in its war against Yemen. They were further dismayed by the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the nuclear negotiations with Iran. In short, the Saudis don’t think the US is holding up its end of the deal. So they don’t feel like they need to hold up their part. Even the WSJ admits such a move would be disastrous for the US dollar. “The Saudi move could chip away at the supremacy of the US dollar in the international financial system, which Washington has relied on for decades to print Treasury bills it uses to finance its budget deficit.” Here’s the bottom line. Saudi Arabia—the linchpin of the petrodollar system—is flirting in the open with China about selling its oil in yuan. One way or another—and probably soon—the Chinese will find a way to compel the Saudis to accept the yuan. The sheer size of the Chinese market makes it impossible for Saudi Arabia—and other oil exporters—to ignore China’s demands to pay in yuan indefinitely. Moreover, using the INE to exchange oil for gold further sweetens the deal for oil exporters. Sometime soon, there will be a lot of extra dollars floating around suddenly looking for a home now that they are not needed to purchase oil. It signals an imminent and enormous change for anyone holding US dollars. It would be incredibly foolish to ignore this giant red warning sign. Warning Sign #4: Out of Control Money Printing and Record Price Increases In March of 2020, the chair of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, exercised unfathomable power… At the time, it was the height of the stock market crash amid the COVID hysteria. People were panicking as they watched the market plummet, and they turned to the Fed to do something. In a matter of days, the Fed created more dollars out of thin air than it had for the US’s nearly 250-year existence. It was an unprecedented amount of money printing that amounted to more than $4 trillion and nearly doubled the US money supply in less than a year. One trillion dollars is almost an unfathomable amount of money. The human mind has trouble wrapping itself around such figures. Let me try to put it into perspective. One million seconds ago was about 11 days ago. One billion seconds ago was 1988. One trillion seconds ago was 30,000 BC. For further perspective, the daily economic output of all 331 million people in the US is about $58 billion. At the push of a button, the Fed was creating more dollars out of thin air than the economic output of the entire country. The Fed’s actions during the Covid hysteria—which are ongoing—amounted to the biggest monetary explosion that has ever occurred in the US. When the Fed initiated this program, it assured the American people its actions wouldn’t cause severe price increases. But unfortunately, it didn’t take long to prove that absurd assertion false. As soon as rising prices became apparent, the mainstream media and Fed claimed that the inflation was only “transitory” and that there was nothing to be worried about. Of course, they were dead wrong, and they knew it—they were gaslighting. The truth is that inflation is out of control, and nothing can stop it. Even according to the government’s own crooked CPI statistics, which understates reality, inflation is rising. That means the actual situation is much worse. Recently the CPI hit a 40-year high and shows little sign of slowing down. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the CPI exceed its previous highs in the early 1980s as the situation gets out of control. After all, the money printing going on right now is orders of magnitude greater than it was then. Warning Sign #5: Fed Chair Admits Dollar Supremacy Is Dead “It’s possible to have more than one reserve currency.” These are the recent words of Jerome Powell, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. It’s a stunning admission from the one person who has the most control over the US dollar, the current world reserve currency. It would be as ridiculous as Mike Tyson saying that it’s possible to have more than one heavyweight champion. In other words, the jig is up. Not even the Chairman of the Federal Reserve can go along with the farce of maintaining the dollar’s supremacy anymore… and neither should you. Conclusion It’s clear the US dollar’s days of unchallenged dominance are quickly ending—something even the Fed Chairman openly admits. To recap, here are the five imminent, flashing red warning signs the end of dollar hegemony is near. Warning Sign #1: Russia Sanctions Prove Dollar Reserves “Aren’t Really Money” Warning Sign #2: Rubles, Gold, and Bitcoin for Gas, Oil, and Other Commodities Warning Sign #3: The Petrodollar System Flirts With Collapse Warning Sign #4: Out of Control Money Printing and Record Price Increases Warning Sign #5: Fed Chair Admits Dollar Supremacy Is Dead If we take a step back and zoom out, the Big Picture is clear. We are likely on the cusp of a historic shift… and what’s coming next could change everything. *  *  * The economic trajectory is troubling. Unfortunately, there’s little any individual can practically do to change the course of these trends in motion. The best you can and should do is to stay informed so that you can protect yourself in the best way possible, and even profit from the situation. That’s precisely why bestselling author Doug Casey and his colleagues just released an urgent new PDF report that explains what could come next and what you can do about it. Click here to download it now. Tyler Durden Sat, 05/21/2022 - 14:30.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytMay 21st, 2022

Biden is teasing a coming decision on student-loan forgiveness. Here"s everything we know about how it could look.

The President's campaign pledge to forgive $10,000 per borrower is still on the table. Meanwhile Republicans are working to stop any forgiveness. President Joe BidenAP Photo/Carolyn Kaster Pressure has been mounting for Biden to cancel student debt, as he pledged during his campaign.  Last month, he said his decision on relief would come in a matter of weeks.  While Republican opposition mounts, a few developments hint at the kind of relief borrowers might see. Despite President Joe Biden's campaign pledge to cancel $10,000 in debt per borrower, he's been largely silent on the issue through his presidency.But there may be a light at the end of tunnel for more than 40 million Americans with federal student loans.In late April, Biden said he'd "have an answer" on relief in the coming weeks. That was a year after Biden asked the Department of Education to prepare a memo outlining his legal power to cancel student debt. Insider found that the Education Department created and circulated the memo, but Biden has not revealed its contents. Instead of relief for all borrowers,  so far, Biden has focused on targeted groups like borrowers with disabilities and those defrauded by for-profit schools, who have seen more than $9 billion in collective debt relief. He also extended the pandemic pause on student loan payments four times since taking office, following two from former President Donald Trump. Democrats are pressuring him to relieve borrowers in fear of low midterm turnout, with some progressives urging him to cancel at least $50,000 for those in debt. Meanwhile, Republicans senators have introduced bills intended to prohibit cancellation.Biden's approval rating among the young people who helped get him elected is tanking. With the payment pause set to expire after August 31, Americans are on pins and needles to find out what Biden will do. Here's everything we know so far.In April, Biden said he would announce a decision or extend the payment pause by September, when the current payment pause is up.President Joe Biden speaks to reporters in the Oval Office of the White House on May 9, 2022.Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesIn April, Biden gave himself until the end of August to announce a decision regarding student debt cancellation, or to extend the payment pause he'd already continued four times. "Between now and August 31, it's either going to be extended again or we're going to make a decision, as Ron referenced, about canceling student debt," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told Pod Save America referring to Ron Klain, Biden's chief of staff, who also told the podcast in March that leading up to the prior May 1 payment restart date, the president would either extend the pause again — which he did — or decide how he could act on student debt using executive action. Later that month, Biden shortened his own timeline, saying he'll 'have an answer' on student-loan forgiveness in the coming weeks.President Joe Biden laughs during the White House Correspondents' Association dinner in Washington, DC, on April 30, 2022.NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty ImagesSince Psaki revealed the end-of-August deadline, Biden truncated the timeline for the announcement to be a few weeks from April. "I'm in the process of taking a hard look at whether there will be additional debt forgiveness," Biden said at the end of the month. "And I'll have an answer for that in the next couple of weeks." Republicans introduce their first bill to bar Biden from cancelling debt broadly.Sen. John Thune alongside Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell at a news conference.Alex Wong/Getty ImagesFollowing Biden's hints that an announcement on forgiveness could be coming soon, GOP Sens. John Thune, Richard Burr, Mike Braun, Bill Cassidy, and Roger Marshall introduced the Stop Reckless Student Loans Action Act, which would end the payment pause and bar Biden from canceling student debt broadly."As Americans continue to return to the workforce more than two years since the pandemic began, it is time for borrowers to resume repayment of student debt obligations," Thune said in a statement. "Taxpayers and working families should not be responsible for continuing to bear the costs associated with this suspension of repayment. This common-sense legislation would protect taxpayers and prevent President Biden from suspending federal student loan repayments in perpetuity." Shattering progressives' hopes, Biden confirmed in April that he won't be forgiving $50,000 in debt per borrower.President Biden at State of the Union.Saul Loeb - Pool/Getty ImagesDemocratic senators such as Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren have made it clear that for many progressives, $50,000 in forgiveness per borrower is the number to strive for. "Canceling $50,000 of student-loan debt would give 36 million Americans permanent total relief," Warren said during a town hall in January. "That would be the end of their debt burden. And it would aid millions more by significantly reducing the principal on their debt."But at the end of April, Biden shattered progressives' hopes, saying that although he is considering debt forgiveness as promised, it will not be for as high as $50,000 per borrower. "I am considering dealing with some debt reduction, I am not considering $50,000 debt reduction," he told a reporter last month. It marked one of his most decisive comments to date on what he is considering when it comes to canceling student debt broadly.  Biden considers excluding high earners from debt relief, possibly excluding people who make more than $125,000 or couples making $250,000.Biden considered income caps on student debt relief while on the campaign trail, but that may not be what the final policy looks like.Susan Walsh/AP PhotoTop Biden aides are looking at limiting student debt relief to people earning less than $125,000 to $150,000, or $250,000 to $300,000 for couples that file joint taxes, people familiar with the matter told The Washington Post. But they said that Biden hadn't made a final decision. "There's different proposals floating around the administration about how to structure this," one person told the Washington Post.But as Psaki later noted, while income caps are in line with what Biden considered on the campaign trail, that may not be what the final policy looks like. Income caps could also pose problems for many Americans, as doing so means setting up a layer of income verification before the government grants debt relief. And it would mean that borrowers would miss out on relief if they don't know to sign up or apply for it, Politico reported. Three Democratic senators make a last ditch effort to urge Biden to go big on relief.Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., are seen after the Senate Democrats luncheon in the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, October 19, 2021.Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty ImagesThree Democratic senators — Elizabeth Warren, Chuck Schumer, and Raphael Warnock — want Biden's student-loan relief to be expansive, and are requesting him to hold off on implementing any loan forgiveness through executive action until they can arrange a meeting with him, sources told Politico last week. Following Biden's comments that he is not considering $50,000 in debt cancellation for federal borrowers, something that Warren, Warnock, and Schumer have pushed for repeatedly, the progressive senators reportedly moved to intervene. "President Biden told the senator months ago he wanted to meet about this issue, and the senator wants to make sure the president hears why Georgians want strong debt relief before the White House takes any action," a Warnock spokesperson told Politico.A former Obama lawyer says Biden 'likely does not' have the legal standing to cancel student debt broadly.Then-Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama listens as his vice presidential running mate, then-Sen. Joe Biden, speaks at a rally in front of the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., on August 23, 2008.AP Photo/Alex BrandonThe contents of the Education Department's memo outlining whether or not the president has the authority to unilaterally cancel student debt remain private to Biden's team, leaving others to speculate over the last year. This month, a Wall Street Journal exclusive found that Charlie Rose, a top lawyer in former President Barack Obama's Education Department, is not confident that it's legal. According to a legal analysis the Journal obtained, Rose said that canceling student debt for every borrower without tailoring the relief toward each borrower's individual needs could be overruled in court and leave the administration at risk of being sued by student-loan companies."If the issue is litigated, the more persuasive analyses tend to support the conclusion that the Executive Branch likely does not have the unilateral authority to engage in mass student debt cancellation," Rose wrote. Republicans are starting to worry Biden might actually forgive some student debt.Rep. Virginia FoxxBill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty ImageRepublicans aren't happy about Biden's potential student loan action. Virginia Foxx, a North Carolina representative, was among congressional Republicans who have voiced their disapproval of student debt cancellation recently."The Biden administration is trying once again to save its tanking poll numbers by writing a blank check to student loan borrowers using Americans' pocketbooks," she said in an op-ed for Fox News. A group of Republicans led by Mitt Romney introduced a bill that would stop Biden from cancelling debt broadly.Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah outside the Senate chamber on December 7, 2021.Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty ImagesSenator Mitt Romney and several of his Republican colleagues introduced a bill that would bar the Biden administration from broadly canceling student-loan debt this week, prohibiting him from even partially forgiving borrowers' outstanding balances. The bill would include exemptions for student-loan forgiveness, cancelation, and repayment programs that are already in effect, such as the Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Teacher Loan Forgiveness programs.The bill is unlikely to become law anytime soon with a 50-50 Senate, a Democratic-controlled House, and Biden in the Oval Office, but the message is clear. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 20th, 2022

DoorDash has opened its first virtual food hall and ghost kitchen in Brooklyn — see what it"s like to eat there

DoorDash Kitchens' new location in Downtown Brooklyn is the delivery platform's first ghost kitchen with seats for dine-in customers. Brittany Chang/Insider Doordash opened its first DoorDash Kitchens location in New York City in early May. The new location combines a virtual food hall with a ghost kitchen which will service parts of Brooklyn. It's Doordash's first "delivery-forward food hall," a concept its rivals have opened as well. Doordash has opened a third ghost kitchen, this time in New York City.Brittany Chang/InsiderSource: InsiderBut unlike its California-based predecessors, the delivery platform's latest Doordash Kitchens has a twist: it's half-ghost kitchen, half-public food hall.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe new location represents the next evolution of ghost kitchens by integrating dine-in seating areas, a strategy Kitchen United and Travis Kalanick's CloudKitchens' have employed as well.Brittany Chang/InsiderSource: InsiderBefore this, ghost kitchens — created to target the growing food delivery segment — often never saw their hungry customers.Brittany Chang/InsiderBut the cooking facilities no longer have to be a mysterious place where your meal gets magically prepared before being whisked away to your home.Brittany Chang/InsiderNow, ghost kitchens similar to Doordash's new location can be a place to work out of, grab a quick lunch, and eat with friends.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe company's new Brooklyn-based endeavor— which opened its doors in early May — is the third Doordash Kitchens location and its first outside of California.Brittany Chang/InsiderIt's also the first Doordash Kitchens with plenty of dine-in seats for hungry customers, creating a flexible "delivery forward food hall" for customers who want to order and eat on-site.Brittany Chang/InsiderSource: InsiderTo create this flexible space, Doordash partnered with New York-based commercial-kitchen company Nimbus, which leased the 9,500-square-foot Downtown Brooklyn space in May 2021.Brittany Chang/InsiderSource: InsiderDoordash manages the deliveries, pickups, and "relationships with restaurant partners," Ruth Isenstadt, Doordash Kitchens' senior director, told Insider in an email interview.Brittany Chang/InsiderNimbus then oversees the real estate and maintenance while supplying the kitchen facilities with adequate equipment ...Brittany Chang/Insider... while the restaurants manage their own cooking operations.Brittany Chang/InsiderIsenstadt predicts most of the orders going through the new Doordash Kitchens will be eaten off-site …Brittany Chang/Insider… as the new location was created to service surrounding Brooklyn neighborhoods like Gowanus, Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, Park Slope, and Dumbo.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe new Doordash Kitchens may be "delivery forward," but the dine-in space is still large enough to accommodate plenty of hungry people passing by.Brittany Chang/InsiderIf you haven't visited this virtual food hall, picture a long room with large windows, ample seating, and wall-mounted touchscreens that replace the presence of cashiers and food stalls.Brittany Chang/InsiderSource: InsiderUnlike a traditional food hall, the site doesn't have multiple food stands with large menus.Brittany Chang/InsiderInstead, the restaurants' footprints are all condensed into the three touchscreen kiosks. And the kitchens are hidden behind a wall so you'll never see your food being prepared in front of you.Brittany Chang/InsiderTo any unknowing visitor, the Brooklyn Doordash Kitchens may look like a large coffee shop.Brittany Chang/InsiderWhen you enter, you're immediately greeted by the three touchscreens in front of you and a coffee shop counter to your right.Brittany Chang/InsiderTo your left, you'll see a long room full of seating like a countertop with barstools and views of the street …Brittany Chang/Insider… a multi-seat communal table …Brittany Chang/Insider… and tables with booth-style seating.Brittany Chang/InsiderCreating and picking up your order is as seamless as any virtual food hall.Brittany Chang/InsiderBecause the location relies on self-serving kiosks, ordering and paying is done virtually.Brittany Chang/InsiderThere's no need to make small talk with a cashier or waitstaff.Brittany Chang/InsiderAll you have to do is select the restaurant and your order, pay using the payment pad …Brittany Chang/Insider… and wait until someone behind the counter calls your name to pick up your meal.Brittany Chang/InsiderYou can take a seat for a quick meal and a coffee or bring your takeout elsewhere.Brittany Chang/InsiderIf you're a picky eater, you're in luck. Several of the restaurants in operation at Doordash Kitchens are recognizable to any food-loving New Yorker.Brittany Chang/InsiderAnd the selection is somewhat diverse, giving even the finickiest dine-in visitor plenty of options.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe location currently houses Little Caesars, modern sushi restaurant Domodomo, popular Chinese-American spot Kings Co. Imperial …Brittany Chang/Insider… chicken-and-biscuit joint Pies 'n Thighs (shown below), Korean-American bowl concept Moonbowls …Brittany Chang/Insider… famed dessert store Milk Bar, pastries from Kado Patisri, and a Birch coffee shop.Brittany Chang/InsiderThese restaurants are "all highly regarded" in the city but several of them couldn't service the Downtown Brooklyn area from their previous locations in Manhattan or North Brooklyn, according to Isenstadt.Brittany Chang/InsiderBy using Doordash Kitchens' new facility, these restaurants can now serve more customers and test local demand without opening a new storefront.Brittany Chang/InsiderOf course, it wouldn't be a ghost kitchen without a robust delivery system.Brittany Chang/InsiderDoordash delivery workers, known as "Dashers," pick up their orders from a window in a separate space next to the food hall.Brittany Chang/InsiderSeparating the window from the dine-in half of Doordash Kitchens expedites the order pickup process, Isenstadt said …Brittany Chang/Insider… which is crucial for a space that'll likely see more delivery than dine-in orders.Brittany Chang/Insider"The community plays an important role in the success of Doordash Kitchens and we've been thrilled to see customers stopping by to support the restaurant partners operating in this location," Isenstadt said.Brittany Chang/InsiderRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 20th, 2022

Check out these 45 pitch decks fintechs disrupting trading, investing, and banking used to raise millions in funding

Looking for examples of real fintech pitch decks? Check out pitch decks that Qolo, Lance, and other startups used to raise money from VCs. Check out these pitch decks for examples of fintech founders sold their vision.Yulia Reznikov/Getty Images Insider has been tracking the next wave of hot new startups that are blending finance and tech.  Check out these pitch decks to see how fintech founders sold their vision. See more stories on Insider's business page. Fintech funding has been on a tear.In 2021, fintech funding hit a record $132 billion globally, according to CB Insights, more than double 2020's mark.Insider has been tracking the next wave of hot new startups that are blending finance and tech. Check out these pitch decks to see how fintech founders are selling their vision and nabbing big bucks in the process. You'll see new financial tech geared at freelancers, fresh twists on digital banking, and innovation aimed at streamlining customer onboarding. Pay-as-you-go compliance for banks, fintechs, and crypto startupsNeepa Patel, Themis' founder and CEOThemisWhen Themis founder and CEO Neepa Patel set out to build a new compliance tool for banks, fintech startups, and crypto companies, she tapped into her own experience managing risk at some of the nation's biggest financial firms. Having worked as a bank regulator at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and in compliance at Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, and the enterprise blockchain company R3, Patel was well-placed to assess the shortcomings in financial compliance software. But Patel, who left the corporate world to begin work on Themis in 2020, drew on more than just her own experience and frustrations to build the startup."It's not just me building a tool based on my personal pain points. I reached out to regulators. I reached out to bank compliance officers and members in the fintech community just to make sure that we're building it exactly how they do their work," Patel told Insider. "That was the biggest problem: No one built a tool that was reflective of how people do their work."Check out the 9-page pitch deck Themis, which offers pay-as-you-go compliance for banks, fintechs, and crypto startups, used to raise $9 million in seed fundingDeploying algorithms and automation to small-business financingJustin Straight and Bernard Worthy, LoanWell co-foundersLoanWellBernard Worthy and Justin Straight, the founders of LoanWell, want to break down barriers to financing for small and medium-size businesses — and they've got algorithms and automation in their tech arsenals that they hope will do it.Worthy, the company's CEO, and Straight, its chief operating and financial officer, are powering community-focused lenders to fill a gap in the SMB financing world by boosting access to loans under $100,000. And the upstart is known for catching the attention, and dollars, of mission-driven investors. LoanWell closed a $3 million seed financing round in December led by Impact America Fund with participation from SoftBank's SB Opportunity Fund and Collab Capital.LoanWell automates the financing process — from underwriting and origination, to money movement and servicing — which shaves down an up-to-90-day process to 30 days or even same-day with some LoanWell lenders, Worthy said. SMBs rely on these loans to process quickly after two years of financial uncertainty. But the pandemic illustrated how time-consuming and expensive SMB financing can be, highlighted by efforts like the federal government's Paycheck Protection Program.Community banks, once the lifeline to capital for many local businesses, continue to shutter. And demands for smaller loan amounts remain largely unmet. More than half of business-loan applicants sought $100,000 or less, according to 2018 data from the Federal Reserve. But the average small-business bank loan was closer to six times that amount, according to the latest data from a now discontinued Federal Reserve survey.Here's the 14-page pitch deck LoanWell used to raise $3 million from investors like SoftBank.Helping small businesses manage their taxesComplYant's founder Shiloh Johnson wants to help people be present in their bookkeeping.ComplYantAfter 14 years in tax accounting, Shiloh Johnson had formed a core philosophy around corporate accounting: everyone deserves to understand their business's money and business owners need to be present in their bookkeeping process.She wanted to help small businesses understand "this is why you need to do what you're doing and why you have to change the way you think about tax and be present in your bookkeeping process," she told Insider. The Los Angeles native wanted small businesses to not only understand business tax no matter their size but also to find the tools they needed to prepare their taxes in one spot. So Johnson developed a software platform that provides just that.The 13-page pitch deck ComplYant used to nab $4 million that details the tax startup's plan to be Turbotax, Quickbooks, and Xero rolled into one for small business ownersHelping LatAm startups get up to speedKamino cofounders Guto Fragoso, Rodrigo Perenha, Benjamin Gleason, and Gonzalo Parejo.KaminoThere's more venture capital flowing into Latin America than ever before, but getting the funds in founders' hands is not exactly a simple process.In 2021, investors funneled $15.3 billion into Latin American companies, more than tripling the previous record of $4.9 billion in 2019. Fintech and e-commerce sectors drove funding, accounting for 39% and 25% of total funding, respectively.  However, for many startup founders in the region who have successfully sold their ideas and gotten investors on board, there's a patchwork of corporate structuring that's needed to access the funds, according to Benjamin Gleason, who was the chief financial officer at Groupon LatAm prior to cofounding Brazil-based fintech Kamino.It's a process Gleason and his three fellow Kamino cofounders have been through before as entrepreneurs and startup execs themselves. Most often, startups have to set up offshore financial accounts outside of Brazil, which "entails creating a Cayman [Islands] holding company, a Delaware LLC, and then connecting it to a local entity here and also opening US bank accounts for the Cayman entity, which is not trivial from a KYC perspective," said Gleason, who founded open-banking fintech Guiabolso in Sao Paulo. His partner, Gonzalo Parejo, experienced the same toils when he founded insurtech Bidu."Pretty much any international investor will usually ask for that," Gleason said, adding that investors typically cite liability issues."It's just a massive amount of bureaucracy, complexity, a lot of time from the founders. All of this just to get the money from the investor that wants to give them the money," he added.Here's the 8-page pitch deck Kamino, a fintech helping LatAm startups with everything from financing to corporate credit cards, used to raise a $6.1M pre-seed round 'A bank for immigrants'Priyank Singh and Rohit Mittal are the cofounders of Stilt.StiltRohit Mittal remembers the difficulties he faced when he first arrived in the United States a decade ago as a master's student at Columbia University.As an immigrant from India, Mittal had no credit score in the US and had difficulty integrating into the financial system. Mittal even struggled to get approved to rent an apartment and couch-surfed until he found a roommate willing to offer him space in his apartment in the New York neighborhood Morningside Heights.That roommate was Priyank Singh, who would go on to become Mittal's cofounder when the two started Stilt, a financial-technology company designed to address the problems Mittal faced when he arrived in the US.Stilt, which calls itself "a bank for immigrants," does not require a social security number or credit history to access its offerings, including unsecured personal loans.Instead of relying on traditional metrics like a credit score, Stilt uses data such as education and employment to predict an individual's future income stability and cash flow before issuing a loan. Stilt has seen its loan volume grow by 500% in the past 12 months, and the startup has loaned to immigrants from 160 countries since its launch. Here are the 15 slides Stilt, which calls itself 'a bank for immigrants,' used to raise a $14 million Series A Saving on vendor invoicesHoward Katzenberg, Glean's CEO and cofounder.GleanWhen it comes to high-flying tech startups, headlines and investors typically tend to focus on industry "disruption" and the total addressable market a company is hoping to reach. Expense cutting as a way to boost growth typically isn't part of the conversation early on, and finance teams are viewed as cost centers relative to sales teams. But one fast-growing area of business payments has turned its focus to managing those costs. Startups like Ramp and established names like Bill.com have made their name offering automated expense-management systems. Now, one new fintech competitor, Glean, is looking to take that further by offering both automated payment services and tailored line-item accounts-payable insights driven by machine-learning models. Glean's CFO and founder, Howard Katzenberg, told Insider that the genesis of Glean was driven by his own personal experience managing the finance teams of startups, including mortgage lender Better.com, which Katzenberg left in 2019, and online small-business lender OnDeck. "As a CFO of high-growth companies, I spent a lot of time focused on revenue and I had amazing dashboards in real time where I could see what is going on top of the funnel, what's going on with conversion rates, what's going on in terms of pricing and attrition," Katzenberg told Insider. See the 15-slide pitch deck Glean, a startup using machine learning to find savings in vendor invoices, used to raise $10.8 million in seed fundingBetter use of payroll dataAtomic's Head of Markets, Lindsay Davis.AtomicEmployees at companies large and small know the importance — and limitations — of how firms manage their payrolls. A new crop of startups are building the API pipes that connect companies and their employees to offer a greater level of visibility and flexibility when it comes to payroll data and employee verification. On Thursday, one of those names, Atomic, announced a $40 million Series B fundraising round co-led by Mercato Partners and Greylock, alongside Core Innovation Capital, Portage, and ATX Capital. The round follows Atomic's Series A round announced in October, when the startup raised a $22 million Series A from investors including Core Innovation Capital, Portage, and Greylock.Payroll startup Atomic just raised a $40 million Series B. Here's an internal deck detailing the fintech's approach to the red-hot payments space.Data science for commercial insuranceTanner Hackett, founder and CEO of Counterpart.CounterpartThere's been no shortage of funds flowing into insurance-technology companies over the past few years. Private-market funding to insurtechs soared to $15.4 billion in 2021, a 90% increase compared to 2020. Some of the most well-known consumer insurtech names — from Oscar (which focuses on health insurance) to Metromile (which focuses on auto) — launched on the public markets last year, only to fall over time or be acquired as investors questioned the sustainability of their business models. In the commercial arena, however, the head of one insurtech company thinks there is still room to grow — especially for those catering to small businesses operating in an entirely new, pandemic-defined environment. "The bigger opportunity is in commercial lines," Tanner Hackett, the CEO of management liability insurer Counterpart, told Insider."Everywhere I poke, I'm like, 'Oh my goodness, we're still in 1.0, and all the other businesses I've built were on version three.' Insurance is still in 1.0, still managing from spreadsheets and PDFs," added Hackett, who also previously co-founded Button, which focuses on mobile marketing. See the 8-page pitch deck Counterpart, a startup disrupting commercial insurance with data science, used to raise a $30 million Series BCrypto staking made easyEthan and Eric Parker, founders of crypto-investing app Giddy.GiddyFrom the outside looking in, cryptocurrency can seem like a world of potential, but also one of complexity. That's because digital currencies, which can be traded, invested in, and moved like traditional currencies, operate on decentralized blockchain networks that can be quite technical in nature. Still, they offer the promise of big gains and have been thrusted into the mainstream over the years, converting Wall Street stalwarts and bankers.But for the everyday investor, a fear of missing out is settling in. That's why brothers Ethan and Eric Parker built Giddy, a mobile app that enables users to invest in crypto, earn passive income on certain crypto holdings via staking, and get into the red-hot space of decentralized finance, or DeFi."What we're focusing on is giving an opportunity for people who otherwise couldn't access DeFi because it's just technically too difficult," Eric Parker, CEO at Giddy, told Insider. Here's the 7-page pitch deck Giddy, an app that lets users invest in DeFi, used to raise an $8 million seed roundAccess to commercial real-estate investing LEX Markets cofounders and co-CEOs Drew Sterrett and Jesse Daugherty.LEX MarketsDrew Sterrett was structuring real-estate deals while working in private equity when he realized the inefficiencies that existed in the market. Only high-net worth individuals or accredited investors could participate in commercial real-estate deals. If they ever wanted to leave a partnership or sell their stake in a property, it was difficult to find another investor to replace them. Owners also struggled to sell minority stakes in their properties and didn't have many good options to recapitalize an asset if necessary.In short, the market had a high barrier to entry despite the fact it didn't always have enough participants to get deals done quickly. "Most investors don't have access to high-quality commercial real-estate investments. How do we have the oldest and largest asset class in the world and one of the largest wealth creators with no public and liquid market?" Sterrett told Insider. "It sort of seems like a no-brainer, and that this should have existed 50 or 60 years ago."This 15-page pitch deck helped LEX Markets, a startup making investing in commercial real estate more accessible, raise $15 millionHelping streamline how debts are repaidMethod Financial cofounders Jose Bethancourt and Marco del Carmen.Method FinancialWhen Jose Bethancourt graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in May 2019, he faced the same question that confronts over 43 million Americans: How would he repay his student loans?The problem led Bethancourt on a nearly two-year journey that culminated in the creation of a startup aimed at making it easier for consumers to more seamlessly pay off all kinds of debt.  Initially, Bethancourt and fellow UT grad Marco del Carmen built GradJoy, an app that helped users better understand how to manage student loan repayment and other financial habits. GradJoy was accepted into Y Combinator in the summer of 2019. But the duo quickly realized the real benefit to users would be helping them move money to make payments instead of simply offering recommendations."When we started GradJoy, we thought, 'Oh, we'll just give advice — we don't think people are comfortable with us touching their student loans,' and then we realized that people were saying, 'Hey, just move the money — if you think I should pay extra, then I'll pay extra.' So that's kind of the movement that we've seen, just, everybody's more comfortable with fintechs doing what's best for them," Bethancourt told Insider. Here is the 11-slide pitch deck Method Financial, a Y Combinator-backed fintech making debt repayment easier, used to raise $2.5 million in pre-seed fundingSmarter insurance for multifamily propertiesItai Ben-Zaken, cofounder and CEO of Honeycomb.HoneycombA veteran of the online-insurance world is looking to revolutionize the way the industry prices risk for commercial properties with the help of artificial intelligence.Insurance companies typically send inspectors to properties before issuing policies to better understand how the building is maintained and identify potential risks or issues with it. It's a process that can be time-consuming, expensive, and inefficient, making it hard to justify for smaller commercial properties, like apartment and condo buildings.Insurtech Honeycomb is looking to fix that by using AI to analyze a combination of third-party data and photos submitted by customers through the startup's app to quickly identify any potential risks at a property and more accurately price policies."That whole physical inspection thing had really good things in it, but it wasn't really something that is scalable and, it's also expensive," Itai Ben-Zaken, Honeycomb's cofounder and CEO, told Insider. "The best way to see a property right now is Google street view. Google street view is usually two years old."Here's the 10-page Series A pitch deck used by Honeycomb, a startup that wants to revolutionize the $26 billion market for multifamily property insuranceRetirement accounts for cryptoTodd Southwick, CEO and co-founder of iTrustCapital.iTrustCapitalTodd Southwick and Blake Skadron stuck to a simple mandate when they were building out iTrustCapital, a $1.3 billion fintech that strives to offer cryptocurrencies to the masses via dedicated individual retirement accounts."We wanted to make a product that we would feel happy recommending for our parents to use," Southwick, the CEO of iTrustCapital, told Insider. That guiding framework resulted in a software system that helped to digitize and automate the traditionally clunky and paper-based process of setting up an IRA for alternative assets, Southwick said. "We saw a real opportunity within the self-directed IRAs because we knew at that point in time, there was a fairly small segment of people that was willing to deal with the inconvenience of having to set up an IRA" for crypto, Southwick said. The process often involved phone calls to sales reps and over-the-counter trading desks, paper and fax machines, and days of wait time.iTrustCapital allows customers to buy and sell cryptocurrencies using tax-advantaged IRAs with no monthly account fees. The startup provides access to 25 cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, ethereum, and dogecoin — charging a 1% transaction fee on crypto trades — as well as gold and silver.iTrustCapital, a fintech simplifying how to set up a crypto retirement account, used this 8-page pitch deck to raise a $125 million Series AA new way to assess creditworthinessPinwheel founders Curtis Lee, Kurt Lin, and Anish Basu.PinwheelGrowing up, Kurt Lin never saw his father get frustrated. A "traditional, stoic figure," Lin said his father immigrated to the United States in the 1970s. Becoming part of the financial system proved even more difficult than assimilating into a new culture.Lin recalled visiting bank after bank with his father as a child, watching as his father's applications for a mortgage were denied due to his lack of credit history. "That was the first time in my life I really saw him crack," Lin told Insider. "The system doesn't work for a lot of people — including my dad," he added. Lin would find a solution to his father's problem years later while working with Anish Basu, and Curtis Lee on an automated health savings account. The trio realized the payroll data integrations they were working on could be the basis of a product that would help lenders work with consumers without strong credit histories."That's when the lightbulb hit," said Lin, Pinwheel's CEO.In 2018, Lin, Basu, and Lee founded Pinwheel, an application-programming interface that shares payroll data to help both fintechs and traditional lenders serve consumers with limited or poor credit, who have historically struggled to access financial products. Here's the 9-page deck that Pinwheel, a fintech helping lenders tap into payroll data to serve consumers with little to no credit, used to raise a $50 million Series BA new data feed for bond tradingMark Lennihan/APFor years, the only way investors could figure out the going price of a corporate bond was calling up a dealer on the phone. The rise of electronic trading has streamlined that process, but data can still be hard to come by sometimes. A startup founded by a former Goldman Sachs exec has big plans to change that. BondCliQ is a fintech that provides a data feed of pre-trade pricing quotes for the corporate bond market. Founded by Chris White, the creator of Goldman Sachs' defunct corporate-bond-trading system, BondCliQ strives to bring transparency to a market that has traditionally kept such data close to the vest. Banks, which typically serve as the dealers of corporate bonds, have historically kept pre-trade quotes hidden from other dealers to maintain a competitive advantage.But tech advancements and the rise of electronic marketplaces have shifted power dynamics into the hands of buy-side firms, like hedge funds and asset managers. The investors are now able to get a fuller picture of the market by aggregating price quotes directly from dealers or via vendors.Here's the 9-page pitch deck that BondCliQ, a fintech looking to bring more data and transparency to bond trading, used to raise its Series AA trading app for activismAntoine Argouges, CEO and founder of Tulipshare.TulipshareAn up-and-coming fintech is taking aim at some of the world's largest corporations by empowering retail investors to push for social and environmental change by pooling their shareholder rights.London-based Tulipshare lets individuals in the UK invest as little as one pound in publicly-traded company stocks. The upstart combines individuals' shareholder rights with other like-minded investors to advocate for environmental, social, and corporate governance change at firms like JPMorgan, Apple, and Amazon.The goal is to achieve a higher number of shares to maximize the number of votes that can be submitted at shareholder meetings. Already a regulated broker-dealer in the UK, Tulipshare recently applied for registration as a broker-dealer in the US. "If you ask your friends and family if they've ever voted on shareholder resolutions, the answer will probably be close to zero," CEO and founder Antoine Argouges told Insider. "I started Tulipshare to utilize shareholder rights to bring about positive corporate change that has an impact on people's lives and our planet — what's more powerful than money to change the system we live in?"Check out the 14-page pitch deck from Tulipshare, a trading app that lets users pool their shareholder votes for activism campaignsThe back-end tech for beautyDanielle Cohen-Shohet, CEO and founder of GlossGeniusGlossGeniusDanielle Cohen-Shohet might have started as a Goldman Sachs investment analyst, but at her core she was always a coder.After about three years at Goldman Sachs, Cohen-Shohet left the world of traditional finance to code her way into starting her own company in 2016. "There was a period of time where I did nothing, but eat, sleep, and code for a few weeks," Cohen-Shohet told Insider. Her technical edge and knowledge of the point-of-sale payment space led her to launch a software company focused on providing behind-the-scenes tech for beauty and wellness small businesses.Cohen-Shohet launched GlossGenius in 2017 to provide payments tech for hair stylists, nail technicians, blow-out bars, and other small businesses in the space.Here's the 11-page deck GlossGenius, a startup that provides back-end tech for the beauty industry, used to raise $16 millionPrivate market data on the blockchainPat O'Meara, CEO of Inveniam.InveniamFor investors in publicly-traded stocks, there's typically no shortage of company data to guide investment decisions. Company financials are easily accessible and vetted by teams of regulators, lawyers, and accountants.But in the private markets — which encompass assets that range from real estate to private credit and private equity — that isn't always the case. Within real estate, for example, valuations of a specific slice of property are often the product of heavily-worked Excel models and a lot of institutional knowledge, leaving them susceptible to manual error at many points along the way.Inveniam, founded in 2017, is a software company that tokenizes the business data of private companies on the blockchain. Using a distributed ledger allows Inveniam to keep track of who is touching the data and what they are doing to it. Check out the 16-page pitch deck for Inveniam, a blockchain-based startup looking to be the Refinitiv of private-market dataHelping freelancers with their taxesJaideep Singh is the CEO and co-founder of FlyFin, an AI-driven tax preparation software program for freelancers.FlyFinSome people, particularly those with families or freelancing businesses, spend days searching for receipts for tax season, making tax preparation a time consuming and, at times, taxing experience. That's why in 2020 Jaideep Singh founded FlyFin, an artificial-intelligence tax preparation program for freelancers that helps people, as he puts it, "fly through their finances." FlyFin is set up to connect to a person's bank accounts, allowing the AI program to help users monitor for certain expenses that can be claimed on their taxes like business expenditures, the interest on mortgages, property taxes, or whatever else that might apply. "For most individuals, people have expenses distributed over multiple financial institutions. So we built an AI platform that is able to look at expenses, understand the individual, understand your profession, understand the freelance population at large, and start the categorization," Singh told Insider.Check out the 7-page pitch deck a startup helping freelancers manage their taxes used to nab $8 million in funding Shopify for embedded financeProductfy CEO and founder, Duy Vo.ProductfyProductfy is looking to break into embedded finance by becoming the Shopify of back-end banking services.Embedded finance — integrating banking services in non-financial settings — has taken hold in the e-commerce world. But Productfy is going after a different kind of customer in churches, universities, and nonprofits.The San Jose, Calif.-based upstart aims to help non-finance companies offer their own banking products. Productfy can help customers launch finance features in as little as a week and without additional engineering resources or background knowledge of banking compliance or legal requirements, Productfy founder and CEO Duy Vo told Insider. "You don't need an engineer to stand up Shopify, right? You can be someone who's just creating art and you can use Shopify to build your own online store," Vo said, adding that Productfy is looking to take that user experience and replicate it for banking services.Here's the 15-page pitch deck Productfy, a fintech looking to be the Shopify of embedded finance, used to nab a $16 million Series AReal-estate management made easyAgora founders Noam Kahan, CTO, Bar Mor, CEO, and Lior Dolinski, CPO.AgoraFor alternative asset managers of any type, the operations underpinning sales and investor communications are a crucial but often overlooked part of the business. Fund managers love to make bets on markets, not coordinate hundreds of wire transfers to clients each quarter or organize customer-relationship-management databases.Within the $10.6 trillion global market for professionally managed real-estate investing, that's where Tel Aviv and New York-based startup Agora hopes to make its mark.Founded in 2019, Agora offers a set of back-office, investor relations, and sales software tools that real-estate investment managers can plug into their workflows. On Wednesday, Agora announced a $9 million seed round, led by Israel-based venture firm Aleph, with participation from River Park Ventures and Maccabee Ventures. The funding comes on the heels of an October 2020 pre-seed fund raise worth $890,000, in which Maccabee also participated.Here's the 15-slide pitch deck that Agora, a startup helping real-estate investors manage communications and sales with their clients, used to raise a $9 million seed roundCheckout made easyBolt's Ryan Breslow.Ryan BreslowAmazon has long dominated e-commerce with its one-click checkout flows, offering easier ways for consumers to shop online than its small-business competitors.Bolt gives small merchants tools to offer the same easy checkouts so they can compete with the likes of Amazon.The startup raised its $393 million Series D to continue adding its one-click checkout feature to merchants' own websites in October.Bolt markets to merchants themselves. But a big part of Bolt's pitch is its growing network of consumers — currently over 5.6 million — that use its features across multiple Bolt merchant customers. Roughly 5% of Bolt's transactions were network-driven in May, meaning users that signed up for a Bolt account on another retailer's website used it elsewhere. The network effects were even more pronounced in verticals like furniture, where 49% of transactions were driven by the Bolt network."The network effect is now unleashed with Bolt in full fury, and that triggered the raise," Bolt's founder and CEO Ryan Breslow told Insider.Here's the 12-page deck that one-click checkout Bolt used to outline its network of 5.6 million consumers and raise its Series DHelping small banks lendCollateralEdge's Joel Radtke, cofounder, COO, and president, and Joe Beard, cofounder and CEO.CollateralEdgeFor large corporations with a track record of tapping the credit markets, taking out debt is a well-structured and clear process handled by the nation's biggest investment banks and teams of accountants. But smaller, middle-market companies — typically those with annual revenues ranging up to $1 billion — are typically served by regional and community banks that don't always have the capacity to adequately measure the risk of loans or price them competitively. Per the National Center for the Middle Market, 200,000 companies fall into this range, accounting for roughly 33% of US private sector GDP and employment.Dallas-based fintech CollateralEdge works with these banks — typically those with between $1 billion and $50 billion in assets — to help analyze and price slices of commercial and industrial loans that previously might have gone unserved by smaller lenders.On October 20th, CollateralEdge announced a $3.5 million seed round led by Dallas venture fund Perot Jain with participation from Kneeland Youngblood (a founder of the healthcare-focused private-equity firm Pharos Capital) and other individual investors.Here's the 10-page deck CollateralEdge, a fintech streamlining how small banks lend to businesses, used to raise a $3.5 million seed round Quantum computing made easyQC Ware CEO Matt Johnson.QC WareEven though banks and hedge funds are still several years out from adding quantum computing to their tech arsenals, that hasn't stopped Wall Street giants from investing time and money into the emerging technology class. And momentum for QC Ware, a startup looking to cut the time and resources it takes to use quantum computing, is accelerating. The fintech secured a $25 million Series B on September 29 co-led by Koch Disruptive Technologies and Covestro with participation from D.E. Shaw, Citi, and Samsung Ventures.QC Ware, founded in 2014, builds quantum algorithms for the likes of Goldman Sachs (which led the fintech's Series A), Airbus, and BMW Group. The algorithms, which are effectively code bases that include quantum processing elements, can run on any of the four main public-cloud providers.Quantum computing allows companies to do complex calculations faster than traditional computers by using a form of physics that runs on quantum bits as opposed to the traditional 1s and 0s that computers use. This is especially helpful in banking for risk analytics or algorithmic trading, where executing calculations milliseconds faster than the competition can give firms a leg up. Here's the 20-page deck QC Ware, a fintech making quantum computing more accessible, used to raised its $25 million Series BSimplifying quant modelsKirat Singh and Mark Higgins, Beacon's cofounders.BeaconA fintech that helps financial institutions use quantitative models to streamline their businesses and improve risk management is catching the attention, and capital, of some of the country's biggest investment managers.Beacon Platform, founded in 2014, is a fintech that builds applications and tools to help banks, asset managers, and trading firms quickly integrate quantitative models that can help with analyzing risk, ensuring compliance, and improving operational efficiency. The company raised its Series C on Wednesday, scoring a $56 million investment led by Warburg Pincus with support from Blackstone Innovations Investments, PIMCO, and Global Atlantic. Blackstone, PIMCO, and Global Atlantic are also users of Beacon's tech, as are the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Shell New Energies, a division of Royal Dutch Shell, among others.The fintech provides a shortcut for firms looking to use quantitative modelling and data science across various aspects of their businesses, a process that can often take considerable resources if done solo.Here's the 20-page pitch deck Beacon, a fintech helping Wall Street better analyze risk and data, used to raise $56 million from Warburg Pincus, Blackstone, and PIMCOInvoice financing for SMBsStacey Abrams and Lara Hodgson, Now cofounders.NowAbout a decade ago, politician Stacey Abrams and entrepreneur Lara Hodgson were forced to fold their startup because of a kink in the supply chain — but not in the traditional sense.Nourish, which made spill-proof bottled water for children, had grown quickly from selling to small retailers to national ones. And while that may sound like a feather in the small business' cap, there was a hang-up."It was taking longer and longer to get paid, and as you can imagine, you deliver the product and then you wait and you wait, but meanwhile you have to pay your employees and you have to pay your vendors," Hodgson told Insider. "Waiting to get paid was constraining our ability to grow."While it's not unusual for small businesses to grapple with working capital issues, the dust was still settling from the Great Recession. Abrams and Hodgson couldn't secure a line of credit or use financing tools like factoring to solve their problem. The two entrepreneurs were forced to close Nourish in 2012, but along the way they recognized a disconnect in the system.  "Why are we the ones borrowing money, when in fact we're the lender here because every time you send an invoice to a customer, you've essentially extended a free loan to that customer by letting them pay later," Hodgson said. "And the only reason why we were going to need to possibly borrow money was because we had just given ours away for free to Whole Foods," she added.Check out the 7-page deck that Now, Stacey Abrams' fintech that wants to help small businesses 'grow fearlessly', used to raise $29 millionInsurance goes digitalJamie Hale, CEO and cofounder of Ladder.LadderFintechs looking to transform how insurance policies are underwritten, issued, and experienced by customers have grown as new technology driven by digital trends and artificial intelligence shape the market. And while verticals like auto, homeowner's, and renter's insurance have seen their fair share of innovation from forward-thinking fintechs, one company has taken on the massive life-insurance market. Founded in 2017, Ladder uses a tech-driven approach to offer life insurance with a digital, end-to-end service that it says is more flexible, faster, and cost-effective than incumbent players.Life, annuity, and accident and health insurance within the US comprise a big chunk of the broader market. In 2020, premiums written on those policies totaled some $767 billion, compared to $144 billion for auto policies and $97 billion for homeowner's insurance.Here's the 12-page deck that Ladder, a startup disrupting the 'crown jewel' of the insurance market, used to nab $100 millionEmbedded payments for SMBsThe Highnote team.HighnoteBranded cards have long been a way for merchants with the appropriate bank relationships to create additional revenue and build customer loyalty. The rise of embedded payments, or the ability to shop and pay in a seamless experience within a single app, has broadened the number of companies looking to launch branded cards.Highnote is a startup that helps small to mid-sized merchants roll out their own debit and pre-paid digital cards. The fintech emerged from stealth on Tuesday to announce it raised $54 million in seed and Series A funding.Here's the 12-page deck Highnote, a startup helping SMBs embed payments, used to raise $54 million in seed and Series A fundingAn alternative auto lenderDaniel Chu, CEO and founder of Tricolor.TricolorAn alternative auto lender that caters to thin- and no-credit Hispanic borrowers is planning a national expansion after scoring a $90 million investment from BlackRock-managed funds. Tricolor is a Dallas-based auto lender that is a community development financial institution. It uses a proprietary artificial-intelligence engine that decisions each customer based on more than 100 data points, such as proof of income. Half of Tricolor's customers have a FICO score, and less than 12% have scores above 650, yet the average customer has lived in the US for 15 years, according to the deck.A 2017 survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation found 31.5% of Hispanic households had no mainstream credit compared to 14.4% of white households. "For decades, the deck has been stacked against low income or credit invisible Hispanics in the United States when it comes to the purchase and financing of a used vehicle," Daniel Chu, founder and CEO of Tricolor, said in a statement announcing the raise.An auto lender that caters to underbanked Hispanics used this 25-page deck to raise $90 million from BlackRock investorsA new way to access credit The TomoCredit team.TomoCreditKristy Kim knows first-hand the challenge of obtaining credit in the US without an established credit history. Kim, who came to the US from South Korea, couldn't initially get access to credit despite having a job in investment banking after graduating college. "I was in my early twenties, I had a good income, my job was in investment banking but I could not get approved for anything," Kim told Insider. "Many young professionals like me, we deserve an opportunity to be considered but just because we didn't have a Fico, we weren't given a chance to even apply," she added.Kim started TomoCredit in 2018 to help others like herself gain access to consumer credit. TomoCredit spent three years building an internal algorithm to underwrite customers based on cash flow, rather than a credit score.TomoCredit, a fintech that lends to thin- and no-credit borrowers, used this 17-page pitch deck to raise its $10 million Series AAn IRA for alternativesHenry Yoshida is the co-founder and CEO of retirement fintech startup Rocket Dollar.Rocket DollarFintech startup Rocket Dollar, which helps users invest their individual retirement account (IRA) dollars into alternative assets, just raised $8 million for its Series A round, the company announced on Thursday.Park West Asset Management led the round, with participation from investors including Hyphen Capital, which focuses on backing Asian American entrepreneurs, and crypto exchange Kraken's venture arm. Co-founded in 2018 by CEO Henry Yoshida, CTO Rick Dude, and VP of marketing Thomas Young, Rocket Dollar now has over $350 million in assets under management on its platform. Yoshida sold his first startup, a roboadvisor called Honest Dollar, to Goldman Sachs' investment management division for an estimated $20 million.Yoshida told Insider that while ultra-high net worth investors have been investing self-directed retirement account dollars into alternative assets like real estate, private equity, and cryptocurrency, average investors have not historically been able to access the same opportunities to invest IRA dollars in alternative assets through traditional platforms.Here's the 34-page pitch deck a fintech that helps users invest their retirement savings in crypto and real estate assets used to nab $8 millionConnecting startups and investorsHum Capital cofounder and CEO Blair Silverberg.Hum CapitalBlair Silverberg is no stranger to fundraising.For six years, Silverberg was a venture capitalist at Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Private Credit Investments making bets on startups."I was meeting with thousands of founders in person each year, watching them one at a time go through this friction where they're meeting a ton of investors, and the investors are all asking the same questions," Silverberg told Insider. He switched gears about three years ago, moving to the opposite side of the metaphorical table, to start Hum Capital, which uses artificial intelligence to match investors with startups looking to fundraise.On August 31, the New York-based fintech announced its $9 million Series A. The round was led by Future Ventures with participation from Webb Investment Network, Wavemaker Partners, and Partech. This 11-page pitch deck helped Hum Capital, a fintech using AI to match investors with startups, raise a $9 million Series A.Payments infrastructure for fintechsQolo CEO and co-founder Patricia Montesi.QoloThree years ago, Patricia Montesi realized there was a disconnect in the payments world. "A lot of new economy companies or fintech companies were looking to mesh up a lot of payment modalities that they weren't able to," Montesi, CEO and co-founder of Qolo, told Insider.Integrating various payment capabilities often meant tapping several different providers that had specializations in one product or service, she added, like debit card issuance or cross-border payments. "The way people were getting around that was that they were creating this spider web of fintech," she said, adding that "at the end of it all, they had this mess of suppliers and integrations and bank accounts."The 20-year payments veteran rounded up a group of three other co-founders — who together had more than a century of combined industry experience — to start Qolo, a business-to-business fintech that sought out to bundle back-end payment rails for other fintechs.Here's the 11-slide pitch deck a startup that provides payments infrastructure for other fintechs used to raise a $15 million Series ASoftware for managing freelancersWorksome cofounder and CEO Morten Petersen.WorksomeThe way people work has fundamentally changed over the past year, with more flexibility and many workers opting to freelance to maintain their work-from-home lifestyles.But managing a freelance or contractor workforce is often an administrative headache for employers. Worksome is a startup looking to eliminate all the extra work required for employers to adapt to more flexible working norms.Worksome started as a freelancer marketplace automating the process of matching qualified workers with the right jobs. But the team ultimately pivoted to a full suite of workforce management software, automating administrative burdens required to hire, pay, and account for contract workers.In May, Worksome closed a $13 million Series A backed by European angel investor Tommy Ahlers and Danish firm Lind & Risør.Here's the 21-slide pitch deck used by a startup that helps firms like Carlsberg and Deloitte manage freelancersPersonal finance is only a text awayYinon Ravid, the chief executive and cofounder of Albert.AlbertThe COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the growing preference of mobile banking as customers get comfortable managing their finances online.The financial app Albert has seen a similar jump in activity. Currently counting more than six million members, deposits in Albert's savings offering doubled from the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to May of this year, from $350 million to $700 million, according to new numbers released by the company. Founded in 2015, Albert offers automated budgeting and savings tools alongside guided investment portfolios. It's looked to differentiate itself through personalized features, like the ability for customers to text human financial experts.Budgeting and saving features are free on Albert. But for more tailored financial advice, customers pay a subscription fee that's a pay-what-you-can model, between $4 and $14 a month. And Albert's now banking on a new tool to bring together its investing, savings, and budgeting tools.Fintech Albert used this 10-page pitch deck to raise a $100 million Series C from General Atlantic and CapitalGRethinking debt collection Jason Saltzman, founder and CEO of ReliefReliefFor lenders, debt collection is largely automated. But for people who owe money on their credit cards, it can be a confusing and stressful process.  Relief is looking to change that. Its app automates the credit-card debt collection process for users, negotiating with lenders and collectors to settle outstanding balances on their behalf. The fintech just launched and closed a $2 million seed round led by Collaborative Ventures. Relief's fundraising experience was a bit different to most. Its pitch deck, which it shared with one investor via Google Slides, went viral. It set out to raise a $1 million seed round, but ended up doubling that and giving some investors money back to make room for others.Check out a 15-page pitch deck that went viral and helped a credit-card debt collection startup land a $2 million seed roundBlockchain for private-markets investing Carlos Domingo is cofounder and CEO of Securitize.SecuritizeSecuritize, founded in 2017 by the tech industry veterans Carlos Domingo and Jamie Finn, is bringing blockchain technology to private-markets investing. The company raised $48 million in Series B funding on June 21 from investors including Morgan Stanley and Blockchain Capital.Securitize helps companies crowdfund capital from individual and institutional investors by issuing their shares in the form of blockchain tokens that allow for more efficient settlement, record keeping, and compliance processes. Morgan Stanley's Tactical Value fund, which invests in private companies, made its first blockchain-technology investment when it coled the Series B, Securitize CEO Carlos Domingo told Insider.Here's the 11-page pitch deck a blockchain startup looking to revolutionize private-markets investing used to nab $48 million from investors like Morgan StanleyE-commerce focused business bankingMichael Rangel, cofounder and CEO, and Tyler McIntyre, cofounder and CTO of Novo.Kristelle Boulos PhotographyBusiness banking is a hot market in fintech. And it seems investors can't get enough.Novo, the digital banking fintech aimed at small e-commerce businesses, raised a $40.7 million Series A led by Valar Ventures in June. Since its launch in 2018, Novo has signed up 100,000 small businesses. Beyond bank accounts, it offers expense management, a corporate card, and integrates with e-commerce infrastructure players like Shopify, Stripe, and Wise.Founded in 2018, Novo was based in New York City, but has since moved its headquarters to Miami. Here's the 12-page pitch deck e-commerce banking startup Novo used to raise its $40 million Series ABlockchain-based credit score tech John Sun, Anna Fridman, and Adam Jiwan are the cofounders of fintech startup Spring Labs.Spring LabsA blockchain-based fintech startup that is aiming to disrupt the traditional model of evaluating peoples' creditworthiness recently raised $30 million in a Series B funding led by credit reporting giant TransUnion.Four-year-old Spring Labs aims to create a private, secure data-sharing model to help credit agencies better predict the creditworthiness of people who are not in the traditional credit bureau system. The founding team of three fintech veterans met as early employees of lending startup Avant.Existing investors GreatPoint Ventures and August Capital also joined in on the most recent round.  So far Spring Labs has raised $53 million from institutional rounds.TransUnion, a publicly-traded company with a $20 billion-plus market cap, is one of the three largest consumer credit agencies in the US. After 18 months of dialogue and six months of due diligence, TransAmerica and Spring Labs inked a deal, Spring Labs CEO and cofounder Adam Jiwan told Insider.Here's the 10-page pitch deck blockchain-based fintech Spring Labs used to snag $30 million from investors including credit reporting giant TransUnionDigital banking for freelancersJGalione/Getty ImagesLance is a new digital bank hoping to simplify the life of those workers by offering what it calls an "active" approach to business banking. "We found that every time we sat down with the existing tools and resources of our accountants and QuickBooks and spreadsheets, we just ended up getting tangled up in the whole experience of it," Lance cofounder and CEO Oona Rokyta told Insider. Lance offers subaccounts for personal salaries, withholdings, and savings to which freelancers can automatically allocate funds according to custom preset levels. It also offers an expense balance that's connected to automated tax withholdings.In May, Lance announced the closing of a $2.8 million seed round that saw participation from Barclays, BDMI, Great Oaks Capital, Imagination Capital, Techstars, DFJ Frontier, and others.Here's the 21-page pitch deck Lance, a digital bank for freelancers, used to raise a $2.8 million seed round from investors including BarclaysDigital tools for independent financial advisorsJason Wenk, founder and CEO of AltruistAltruistJason Wenk started his career at Morgan Stanley in investment research over 20 years ago. Now, he's running a company that is hoping to broaden access to financial advice for less-wealthy individuals. The startup raised $50 million in Series B funding led by Insight Partners with participation from investors Vanguard and Venrock. The round brings the Los Angeles-based startup's total funding to just under $67 million.Founded in 2018, Altruist is a digital brokerage built for independent financial advisors, intended to be an "all-in-one" platform that unites custodial functions, portfolio accounting, and a client-facing portal. It allows advisors to open accounts, invest, build models, report, trade (including fractional shares), and bill clients through an interface that can advisors time by eliminating mundane operational tasks.Altruist aims to make personalized financial advice less expensive, more efficient, and more inclusive through the platform, which is designed for registered investment advisors (RIAs), a growing segment of the wealth management industry. Here's the pitch deck for Altruist, a wealth tech challenging custodians Fidelity and Charles Schwab, that raised $50 million from Vanguard and InsightPayments and operations support HoneyBook cofounders Dror Shimoni, Oz Alon, and Naama Alon.HoneyBookWhile countless small businesses have been harmed by the pandemic, self-employment and entrepreneurship have found ways to blossom as Americans started new ventures.Half of the US population may be freelance by 2027, according to a study commissioned by remote-work hiring platform Upwork. HoneyBook, a fintech startup that provides payment and operations support for freelancers, in May raised $155 million in funding and achieved unicorn status with its $1 billion-plus valuation.Durable Capital Partners led the Series D funding with other new investors including renowned hedge fund Tiger Global, Battery Ventures, Zeev Ventures, and 01 Advisors. Citi Ventures, Citigroup's startup investment arm that also backs fintech robo-advisor Betterment, participated as an existing investor in the round alongside Norwest Venture partners. The latest round brings the company's fundraising total to $227 million to date.Here's the 21-page pitch deck a Citi-backed fintech for freelancers used to raise $155 million from investors like hedge fund Tiger GlobalFraud prevention for lenders and insurersFiordaliso/Getty ImagesOnboarding new customers with ease is key for any financial institution or retailer. The more friction you add, the more likely consumers are to abandon the entire process.But preventing fraud is also a priority, and that's where Neuro-ID comes in. The startup analyzes what it calls "digital body language," or, the way users scroll, type, and tap. Using that data, Neuro-ID can identify fraudulent users before they create an account. It's built for banks, lenders, insurers, and e-commerce players."The train has left the station for digital transformation, but there's a massive opportunity to try to replicate all those communications that we used to have when we did business in-person, all those tells that we would get verbally and non-verbally on whether or not someone was trustworthy," Neuro-ID CEO Jack Alton told Insider.Founded in 2014, the startup's pitch is twofold: Neuro-ID can save companies money by identifying fraud early, and help increase user conversion by making the onboarding process more seamless. In December Neuro-ID closed a $7 million Series A, co-led by Fin VC and TTV Capital, with participation from Canapi Ventures. With 30 employees, Neuro-ID is using the fresh funding to grow its team and create additional tools to be more self-serving for customers.Here's the 11-slide pitch deck a startup that analyzes consumers' digital behavior to fight fraud used to raise a $7 million Series AAI-powered tools to spot phony online reviews Saoud Khalifah, founder and CEO of Fakespot.FakespotMarketplaces like Amazon and eBay host millions of third-party sellers, and their algorithms will often boost items in search based on consumer sentiment, which is largely based on reviews. But many third-party sellers use fake reviews often bought from click farms to boost their items, some of which are counterfeit or misrepresented to consumers.That's where Fakespot comes in. With its Chrome extension, it warns users of sellers using potentially fake reviews to boost sales and can identify fraudulent sellers. Fakespot is currently compatible with Amazon, BestBuy, eBay, Sephora, Steam, and Walmart."There are promotional reviews written by humans and bot-generated reviews written by robots or review farms," Fakespot founder and CEO Saoud Khalifah told Insider. "Our AI system has been built to detect both categories with very high accuracy."Fakespot's AI learns via reviews data available on marketplace websites, and uses natural-language processing to identify if reviews are genuine. Fakespot also looks at things like whether the number of positive reviews are plausible given how long a seller has been active.Fakespot, a startup that helps shoppers detect robot-generated reviews and phony sellers on Amazon and Shopify, used this pitch deck to nab a $4 million Series ANew twists on digital bankingZach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradleyHMBradleyConsumers are getting used to the idea of branch-less banking, a trend that startup digital-only banks like Chime, N26, and Varo have benefited from. The majority of these fintechs target those who are underbanked, and rely on usage of their debit cards to make money off interchange. But fellow startup HMBradley has a different business model. "Our thesis going in was that we don't swipe our debit cards all that often, and we don't think the customer base that we're focusing on does either," Zach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradley, told Insider. "A lot of our customer base uses credit cards on a daily basis."Instead, the startup is aiming to build clientele with stable deposits. As a result, the bank is offering interest-rate tiers depending on how much a customer saves of their direct deposit.Notably, the rate tiers are dependent on the percentage of savings, not the net amount. "We'll pay you more when you save more of what comes in," Bruhnke said. "We didn't want to segment customers by how much money they had. So it was always going to be about a percentage of income. That was really important to us."Check out the 14-page pitch deck fintech HMBradley, a neobank offering interest rates as high as 3%, used to raise an $18.25 million Series ARead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 17th, 2022

AerCap Holdings N.V. Reports Financial Results for the First Quarter 2022

Net loss for the first quarter of 2022, including net charges related to the Ukraine Conflict, was $2.0 billion, or $8.35 per share. Net income for the first quarter of 2022 was $540 million, or $2.23 per share, after adjustments for net charges related to the Ukraine Conflict and other items. DUBLIN, May 17, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- AerCap Holdings N.V. (NYSE:AER), the global leader in aviation leasing, today reported financial results for the first quarter of 2022 ended March 31, 2022. "During the first quarter, we continued to see a broad-based recovery in travel around the world as governments lifted travel restrictions and demand for travel continued to increase. We expect to see demand for travel continue to grow as the recovery progresses," said Aengus Kelly, Chief Executive Officer of AerCap. "During the first quarter, we ceased all of our leasing activity to Russian airlines and took a charge primarily related to our aircraft and engines that remain in Russia. We have filed insurance claims related to these assets and will vigorously pursue all available remedies to recover our losses," Mr. Kelly added. Highlights: Executed 157 transactions in the first quarter of 2022, including 102 lease agreements, 25 purchases and 30 sales. First quarter cash flow from operating activities was $1.3 billion, more than three times higher than the first quarter of 2021. Continued to see significant improvements in cash collections, trade receivables and deferral requests. Adjusted debt/equity ratio of 2.9 to 1 at March 31, 2022. 92% of new aircraft order book placed through 2023. $17 billion in total sources of liquidity, representing next 12 months' sources-to-uses coverage ratio of 2.1x. Revenue and Net Spread Three months ended March 31, 2022 2021 % increase/  (decrease) (U.S. Dollars in millions) Lease revenue:    Basic lease rents $1,554 $889 75%    Maintenance rents and other receipts 186 183 2% Total lease revenue 1,740 1,072 62% Net gain on sale of assets 3 5 (31%) Other income 47 19 154% Total Revenues and other income $1,790 $1,095 63% Basic lease rents were $1,554 million for the first quarter of 2022, compared with $889 million for the same period in 2021. The increase was primarily due to the impact of the GECAS acquisition. Basic lease rents were reduced by $57 million in the first quarter of 2022 as a result of the amortization of lease premium assets. Maintenance rents and other receipts were $186 million for the first quarter of 2022, compared with $183 million for the same period in 2021. Net gain on sale of assets for the first quarter of 2022 was $3 million, relating to 23 assets sold for $452 million, compared with $5 million for the same period in 2021, relating to nine aircraft sold for $184 million. The decrease was primarily due to the composition of asset sales. Other income for the first quarter of 2022 was $47 million, compared with $19 million for the same period in 2021. The increase was primarily due to higher management fee income, interest income and other income as a result of the GECAS acquisition. Three months ended March 31, 2022 2021 % increase/  (decrease) (U.S. Dollars in millions) Basic lease rents $1,554 $889 75% Interest expense 381 281 36% Adjusted for:    Mark-to-market of interest rate caps and swaps 36 10 261% Interest expense excluding mark-to-market of interest rate caps and swaps 417 291 43% Net interest margin (*) $1,137 $598 90% Depreciation and amortization, including maintenance rights expense (684) (401) 71% Net interest margin, less depreciation and amortization $453 $197 129% Average lease assets (*) $62,137 $36,362 71% Annualized net spread (*) 7.3% 6.6% Annualized net spread less depreciation and amortization (*) 2.9% 2.2% (*) Refer to "Notes Regarding Financial Information Presented in This Press Release" for details relating to these non-GAAP measures Interest expense excluding mark-to-market of interest rate caps and swaps was $417 million for the first quarter of 2022, compared with $291 million for the same period in 2021. AerCap's average cost of debt was 3.0% for the first quarter of 2022, and 3.7% for the same period in 2021, excluding debt issuance costs, upfront fees and other impacts. Net Charges Related to Ukraine Conflict In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and sanctions imposed by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom and other countries, we terminated the leasing of all our aircraft and engines with Russian airlines. Prior to the Russian invasion, we had 135 aircraft and 14 engines on lease with Russian airlines, which represented approximately 5% of AerCap's fleet by net book value as of December 31, 2021. We have removed 22 aircraft and 3 engines outside of Russia, and 113 aircraft and 11 engines remain in Russia. During the first quarter of 2022, we recognized a pre-tax charge of $2.7 billion ($2.4 billion after-tax) to our earnings, comprised of flight equipment write-offs and impairments, which were partially offset by the derecognition of lease-related assets and liabilities. We recognized a total loss on our assets that remain in Russia and Ukraine and impairment losses on the assets we have recovered from Russian and Ukrainian airlines. Three Months Ended March 31, 2022 (U.S. Dollars in millions) Write-offs and impairments of flight equipment $3,176 Derecognition of lease-related assets and liabilities (237) Letters of credit receipts (210) Net charges related to Ukraine Conflict (pre-tax) $2,729 Income tax effect (341) Net charges related to Ukraine Conflict (after-tax) $2,388 We had letters of credit related to our aircraft and engines leased to Russian airlines as of February 24, 2022 of approximately $260 million, confirmed by nine financial institutions in Western Europe. We have presented requests for payment to all these institutions. To date, we have received payments of $210 million related to these letters of credit. We have initiated legal proceedings against one financial institution which rejected our payment demands in respect of certain letters of credit. Our lessees are required to provide insurance coverage with respect to leased aircraft and we are named as insureds under those policies in the event of a total loss of an aircraft or engine. We also purchase insurance which provides us with coverage when our flight equipment are not subject to a lease or where a lessee's policy fails to indemnify us. We have submitted an insurance claim for approximately $3.5 billion with respect to all aircraft and engines remaining in Russia and intend to pursue all of our claims under these policies with respect to our assets leased to Russian airlines as of February 24, 2022. However, the timing and amount of any recoveries under these policies are uncertain and we have not recognized any claim receivables as of March 31, 2022. Selling, General and Administrative Expenses Three months ended March 31, 2022 2021 % increase/  (decrease) (U.S. Dollars in millions) Selling, general and administrative expenses $70 $41 69% Share-based compensation expenses 28 16 73% Total selling, general and administrative expenses $97 $57 70% Selling, general and administrative expenses increased to $97 million for the first quarter of 2022, compared with $57 million for the same period in 2021. The increase was primarily driven by higher expenses as a result of the GECAS acquisition and is consistent with our $150 million annual expense savings target from the GECAS acquisition. Other Expenses Asset impairment charges were $2 million for the first quarter of 2022, compared to $16 million for the same period in 2021. Asset impairment charges recorded in the first quarter of 2022 related to lease terminations and were offset by related maintenance revenue. Leasing expenses were $208 million for the first quarter of 2022, compared with $45 million for the same period in 2021. The increase was primarily due to higher leasing expenses and an increase in maintenance rights expense as a result of the GECAS acquisition. Effective Tax Rate AerCap's effective tax rate was 12.2% for the first quarter of 2022, compared to 15% for the first quarter of 2021. During the first quarter of 2022, we recorded an income tax benefit due to the recognition of net charges related to the Ukraine Conflict. Excluding these charges, our effective tax rate was 14%. The effective tax rate is impacted by the source and amount of earnings among our different tax jurisdictions as well as the amount of permanent tax differences relative to pre-tax income or loss, and certain other discrete items. Book Value Per Share March 31, 2022 March 31, 2021 (U.S. Dollars in millions,except share and per share data) Total AerCap Holdings N.V. shareholders' equity $14,653 $9,139 Ordinary shares outstanding 245,618,872 130,734,441 Unvested restricted stock (5,845,011) (2,591,959) Ordinary shares outstanding (excl. unvested restricted stock) 239,773,861 128,142,482 Book value per ordinary share outstanding (excl. unvested restricted stock) $61.11 $71.32 Financial Position March 31, 2022 December 31, 2021 % increase/ (decrease) over December 31, 2021 (U.S. Dollars in millions) Total cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash $1,346 $1,915 (30%) Total assets 70,208 74,570 (6%) Debt 48,913 50,205 (3%) Total liabilities 55,478 57,922 (4%) Total AerCap Holdings N.V. shareholders' equity 14,653 16,571 (12%) Total equity 14,730 16,647 (12%) Flight Equipment Portfolio As of March 31, 2022, AerCap's portfolio consisted of 3,615 aircraft, engines and helicopters that were owned, on order or managed. The average age of the company's owned aircraft fleet as of March 31, 2022 was 7.0 years (3.6 years for new technology aircraft, 12.9 years for current technology ...Full story available on Benzinga.com.....»»

Category: earningsSource: benzingaMay 17th, 2022

Cutting Off Russian Gas Would Be "Catastrophic", German Industry President Warns

Cutting Off Russian Gas Would Be "Catastrophic", German Industry President Warns As we detailed yesterday, almost two months after Europe rushed to declare it would impose unprecedented sanctions on Russia in response to Putin's invasion of Ukraine with no regard for how such sanctions would boomerang and cripple its own economies, the old continent which was and still remains hostage to Russian energy exports, is finally grasping the underlying math which was all too clear to Vladimir Putin long ago. The European Union’s executive arm said yesterday that the currency bloc’s economy would expand about 0.2% this year, with inflation topping 9%, as governments struggled to replace the imports. This severe stagflationary scenario is highlighted by Siegfried Russwurm, president of the Germany’s biggest industry association BDI, warning that the cessation of Russian gas deliveries would have a dire effect on the German economy. “The consequences of cutting off Russian gas supplies would be catastrophic,” he told tabloid Bild am Sonntag in an interview published at the weekend. Russwurm added that cutting off Russian gas would deprive businesses of fuel in Germany, forcing businesses to close production lines. “In this situation many companies will be completely cut off gas supplies. In many cases, affected businesses will be forced to stop production, some businesses may never be able to start again," he warned. Europe's "sudden realization" of just how destructive pushing through with full-blown sanctions will be, somewhat similar to that of Elon Musk who "learned" about the millions in Twitter spam accounts only after bidding $44 billion - is why over the weekend, Bloomberg reported that the European Union is set to fully water down its so-called sanctions and to offer gas importers a solution to avoid a breach of sanctions when buying fuel from Russia while satisfying President Vladimir Putin’s demands over payment in rubles. All of which helps explain why the Ruble is trading at a five-year high against the euro... And in typical European fashion, the messaging is full of confusion, with guidance for companies is one thing while the propaganda disseminated for public consumption totally different, all the while the biggest winner remains Putin and Russia which yesterday reported a new record high in its current account. Tyler Durden Tue, 05/17/2022 - 04:15.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 17th, 2022

Europe Predicts Full-Blown Stagflationary Shock If Russian Gas Supplies Disrupted, Folds To Putin"s Payment Demands

Europe Predicts Full-Blown Stagflationary Shock If Russian Gas Supplies Disrupted, Folds To Putin's Payment Demands Almost two months after Europe rushed to declare it would impose unprecedented sanctions on Russia in response to Putin's invasion of Ukraine with no regard for how such sanctions would boomerang and cripple its own economies, the old continent which was and still remains hostage to Russian energy exports, is finally grasping the underlying math which was all too clear to Vladimir Putin long ago. According to new projections from the European Commission, the euro area’s pandemic recovery would grind to a halt, while prices would surge even more quickly if there are serious disruptions to natural-gas supplies from Russia.  Under the severe (i.e., realistic) scenario, the currency bloc’s economy would expand about 0.2% this year, with inflation topping 9%, as governments struggled to replace the imports, the European Union’s executive arm said. After this initial stagflationary period, growth would be one percentage point below the baseline in 2023. In its first forecasts since Russia invaded Ukraine, the EU also cut its base-case outlook predicting GDP will only grow 2.7% this year and 2.3% in 2023, down from February’s 4% and 2.7%. The revisions suggest Germany, the continent’s biggest economy, won’t reach pre-crisis output until the final quarter of 2022, while Spain must wait until the third quarter of 2023, the commission said. And while growth slows, inflation is accelerating as stagflation spreads: Euro-zone inflation is seen at 6.1% and 2.7% this year and next, compared with previous projections of 3.5% and 1.7%. The peak is seen sometime this quarter. Amazingly, the truth is likely even worse: "Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is causing untold suffering and destruction, but is also weighing on Europe’s economic recovery," Paolo Gentiloni, the EU commissioner for the economy, said Monday in a statement. “Other scenarios are possible under which growth may be lower and inflation higher than we are projecting today.” Europe's "sudden realization" of just how destructive pushing through with full-blown sanctions will be, somewhat similar to that of Elon Musk who "learned" about the millions in Twitter spam accounts only after bidding $44 billion - is why over the weekend, Bloomberg reported that the European Union is set to fully water down its so-called sanctions and to offer gas importers a solution to avoid a breach of sanctions when buying fuel from Russia while satisfying President Vladimir Putin’s demands over payment in rubles. In new guidance on gas payments, the European Commission plans to say that companies should make a clear statement that they consider their obligations fulfilled once they pay in euros or dollars, in line with existing contracts. The EU’s executive arm told the governments that the guidance does not prevent companies from opening an account at Gazprombank and will allow them to purchase gas in accordance with EU sanctions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Putin’s decree called for companies to open two accounts with Gazprombank - one in euros and one in rubles - and stipulated that gas payments aren’t settled until euros are converted into rubles.  Russia clarified its decree earlier this month, stating that payments received in foreign currency would be exchanged to rubles via accounts with Russia’s National Clearing Center, and Gazprom provided buyers with additional assurances that the central bank would not be involved in the conversion process. As Bloomberg notes, European companies had been scrambling for weeks to figure out how they can meet Moscow’s demand for ruble payment, and keep the crucial gas flowing without violating sanctions on Russia’s central bank. Putin said on March 31 that if payments aren’t made in rubles, gas exports would be halted. Europe depends heavily on the Russian fuel to heat homes and power industry. Initially, the EU had assessed that the payment mechanism demanded by Putin handed Moscow total control of the process (which it did), breached contracts and violated the bloc’s sanctions. But realizing that a full-blown shutdown of gas shipments would destroy the European economy - i.e., Russia has all the leverage - on Friday, the commission told member states in a closed-door meeting that the updated guidance will clarify that companies can open an account in euros or dollars at Gazprombank as ordered by the Kremlin. But the EU’s executive arm stopped short of saying whether also having an account in rubles -- a step included in the Russian decree -- was in line with EU regulations. Previously, officials had indicated, though never in writing, that opening such an account would breach sanctions. The updated guidance, as presented to member states, fails to address this specific point, the Bloomberg sources said. Another key point in the guidance is that once European companies make a payment in euros or dollars and declare their obligation complete, no further action should be required of them from the Russian side in regard to the payment. The clock is ticking because many firms have payment deadlines falling due later this month - and if they don’t pay, gas flows could be cut off. Poland and Bulgaria already saw their supplies cut after failing to comply with Russia’s requests. Putin’s demands to pay in rubles divided EU member states, highlighting the dependence of some nations on Russian imports. Confirming that Europe has really fully and completely capitulated to Putin, last week Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi blew up the impression of European sanctions when he said that European companies will be able to pay for gas in rubles without breaching sanctions. At the Friday meeting, government representatives were split too, according to one of the people. While Germany, Hungary, Italy and France broadly endorsed the commission’s plan, Poland said it failed to offer legal clarity and called for the matter to be discussed by EU ambassadors. Others were confused by the lack of specific guidance on opening accounts in rubles. Germany said at the meeting that it consulted its companies on the proposal and got positive feedback, the person added. It also sought to fine-tune the recommendations by clarifying that EU sanctions don’t prohibit opening multiple accounts at Gazprombank. In other words, typical European confusion, where the guidance for companies is one thing while the propaganda disseminated for public consumption totally different, all the while the biggest winner remains Putin and Russia which today reported a new record high in its current account... ... as the Ukraine war remains the greatest thing that happened to the Russian economy in recent years. Tyler Durden Mon, 05/16/2022 - 13:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 16th, 2022

At Least 20 European Gas Buyers Open "Rubles-For-Gas" Account With Gazprombank

At Least 20 European Gas Buyers Open 'Rubles-For-Gas' Account With Gazprombank Europe's anti-Russian virtue signaling and harsh language are nothing more than a facade as the number of European companies opening accounts with Gazprombank JSC has doubled as President Vladimir Putin demands rubles for natural gas.  Bloomberg reports a person close to Gazprombank said twenty European companies had opened accounts with the private-owned Russian bank to swap euros for rubles to purchase natgas. Another 14 companies are requesting paperwork to facilitate transactions in rubles.  European gas buyers quietly paid for supplies in rubles, and the list continues to grow -- despite being in breach of Brussels sanctions.  "Under the new mechanism, clients have to open two accounts: one in foreign currency and one in rubles in Gazprombank," the person said.  This comes as deadlines for April supplies are near for major European buyers. The person said the payment structure involves European clients paying foreign currency to Gazprombank, then the funds automatically convert to rubles and won't involve Russia's central bank, which is under EU sanctions.  Last week, former Goldman partner and ECB head - Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi - confirmed companies will be able to pay for natgas in rubles without breaking EU sanctions.  "Most of the gas importers have already opened their account in rubles with Gazprom," Draghi said during a recent press conference. He added that German companies were already paying rubles for natgas as both countries are top importers of Russian fossil fuels.  On April 27, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen specifically warned companies not to cave to Russia's demands to pay for gas in rubles: "companies with such contracts should not accede to the Russian demands," von der Leyen said. "This would be a breach of the sanctions, so a high risk for the companies." It should be evident that more and more European companies are going against Brussels' sanctions. The bloc's harsh words against Putin are nothing more than fluff.  Putin forcing natgas to be paid in rubles, on top of capital controls, has transformed the ruble into the world's best-performing currency this year. It's now up more than 11% against the US Dollar since the start of the year, even outpacing the Real's 9% increase to become the top mover in 31 major currencies tracked by Bloomberg.  The person close to Gazprom said four clients paid in rubles and expects more to come. So much for the worthless EU sanctions to put an end to Putin war funding.  Tyler Durden Mon, 05/16/2022 - 08:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 16th, 2022

The EU is drafting a plan to pay for Russian gas without violating sanctions, insiders say

New guidance could allow gas importers to open a state-owned Gazprombank account and pay in euros or dollars, which would then be converted to rubles. The EU gets about 45% of its gas imports from Russia.AP The EU is planning to allow member states to open Gazprombank accounts, per Bloomberg. Putin has threatened to cut off the gas supply of "unfriendly" nations that don't pay in rubles. Some members, including Poland, said the plans lacked legal clarity. The European Union (EU) is drafting a plan to comply with Russian President Vladimir Putin's demands to pay for the country's gas in rubles without violating sanctions, sources told Bloomberg.Sources in attendance at a closed European Commission meeting on Friday said new guidance would allow importers of gas to open a Russian state-owned Gazprombank account and pay in euros or dollars, which would then be converted to rubles by the bank.According to Bloomberg, the sources said companies should make "a clear statement that they consider their obligations fulfilled once they pay in euros or dollars, in line with existing contracts." The commission did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment outside normal working hours.Putin is pushing for "unfriendly" countries to pay for gas in Rubles to maintain the strength of a currency that is being propped up by strict capital controls and high interest rates, threatening to cut off a line that supplies 45% of the EU's gas imports.The commission is now trying to find a way to satisfy Putin's demands without technically breaching sanctions, with an indication that paying into a Gazprombank account in euros or dollars would be legally sound. Buyers are required to set up two Gazprombank accounts: one in domestic currency and one in foreign currency. Paying in the domestic ruble would violate sanctions, though sources said it was unclear if the updated guidance would change this.Sources previously said 20 companies have already set up Gazprombank accounts to satisfy Putin's demands. European Commission president Ursula Von Der Leyen had described the demands as "blackmail" and "a clear breach of contract."One of the sources told Bloomberg that Germany, Hungary, Italy, and France were broadly in favor of the plan, while Poland said it didn't offer legal clarity, and others were confused by a lack of specific guidance. Most EU countries have payment deadlines with Russia for gas imports at the end of the month, at which point failure to comply with Putin's demands could see the taps turned off, as was the case with Poland and Bulgaria in April.The bloc is reportedly preparing a 195 billion euro plan to wean itself off Russian fossil fuels by 2027, according to draft documents seen by Reuters.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytMay 15th, 2022

Meet the "last-resort" mortgage lenders rising from the ashes of the financial crisis to help underqualified borrowers buy a home

"There are more self-employed business owners since the onset of the pandemic, and their needs are not easily met by traditional loans," an exec said. A suburban neighborhood.buzbuzzer / Getty Images Demand for mortgages has boomed during the pandemic. So has the number of self-employed people, a group that often has trouble qualifying for a mortgage. As a result, unconventional mortgages are gaining traction, while other home lending plummets. The number of Americans who have trouble landing a mortgage is on the rise, and a group of niche lenders are cashing in to help.Sprout Mortgage, Angel Oak, Carrington, and Athas Capital Group are four of the lenders who promise to help borrowers without a W-2. They offer competitive pricing and say they help those who are on the road to repairing their credit.Their specialty caters to investors and everyday borrowers who couldn't qualify for the tight underwriting standards that followed the 2008 housing bust, as well as to the self-employed. Following the subprime-mortgage crisis, they've been embraced by some but haven't played a major role in US housing finance.Now, with the rest of the mortgage industry shrinking, these lenders are doing better than ever by catering to borrowers who were outcasts of the market because of low credit scores, heavy debt, or their status as nonsalaried workers. These lenders' loans differ from conventional mortgages, as they aren't guaranteed by the US government or the finance agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — which have stricter underwriting guidelines — and they don't meet the definition of a gold-standard "qualified mortgage" set by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.The pool of borrowers of these "non-QM" loans may be large, with about 8% of mortgage applications denied each year, according to the mortgage publisher HSH. In another study, the personal-finance company NerdWallet found that while lender-processed loans increased 10% in 2020 from 2019, there were roughly 58,000 more denials.As for the self-employed, Pew Research found last year there were about 16 million of those workers."There are more self-employed business owners since the onset of the pandemic, and their needs are not easily met by traditional loans," Sam Bjelac, an executive vice president at Sprout Mortgage, said. Sprout Mortgage is a lender run by Michael Strauss, the former chief of American Home Mortgage, one of the many subprime lenders that went bankrupt in the late 2000s. More regular borrowers are also finding they can't fit into the standard mortgage box, either, Bjelac said.So as the mortgage market intensifies its focus on these underserved workers, the non-QM market is expanding. By the end of the year, some experts predict that the non-QM market will as much as quadruple to $100 billion. Angel Oak Mortgage Solutions, another non-QM lender, projected that its originations would surge to $7.5 billion this year from $3.9 billion in 2021. Angel Oak is finding the borrowers that fit into the non-QM mold are "very underserved" today, just as they were when the company spotted the need and jumped into the non-QM business nearly a decade ago, Tom Hutchens, an executive vice president at Angel Oak, said.By contrast, conventional lenders are scrambling to downsize their businesses as soaring mortgage rates curb their business. The Mortgage Bankers Association forecast total US mortgage originations would probably plunge by 40% this year to $6.8 trillion, with most of that decline due to the drop in refinancings.Non-QMs are 'more of an art'What's ailing the conventional-mortgage market is helping the non-QM lenders, whose borrowers are less sensitive to interest-rate movements because there are few alternatives. Brokers who were busy churning out easier-to-close loan refinances over the past several years are suddenly eager to help borrowers who have a harder time qualifying for loans, including those who could take advantage of non-QM products, Brian O'Shaughnessy, the co-CEO of Athas Capital Group, said.When originating a loan for non-QM borrowers or investors, lenders like Angel Oak and Athas are willing to consider a wider variety of financial information than lenders that sell their originations to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. For instance, Fannie Mae strictly limits the number of properties it finances for an investor, but Angel Oak approaches that differently. "If the cash flow of the investment property will cover their mortgage, taxes and insurance, and they've got a good credit score and probably a history of being a property investor, then we think that's a good loan to make," Hutchens said. "It really is more of an art and a specialty in the non-QM," said Greg Austin, an executive vice president at the California firm Carrington Mortgage Services, another non-QM lender with ties to the pre-crisis subprime industry.Carrington — as is common with non-QM lenders — works with self-employed borrowers to parse through bank statements, profit and loss statements, or 1099s to determine their loan eligibility. Some investors even keep a traditional job, just so their W-2 can save them from a headache."It's so much harder to get a loan being self-employed," Ryan Chaw, a real-estate investor, told Insider. Non-QMs are a 'last resort'Rashad Tillman, a California resident, said non-QM loans ended up being both a lifeline and a "last resort." Since he started looking for homes in early 2020, the 31-year-old father of three — and soon to be four — said he faced obstacles at nearly every turn. First, he said a total of four real-estate agents and four loan officers didn't want to work with him because of his unique income stream."When it comes to the self-employed person, they're like, 'Well, that takes too much time and that's too much effort.'" he told Insider.Tillman's financial picture is complicated. He's a full-time manager at a used-car dealership but also earns income from his small businesses. Because of the way Tillman structures his write-offs, the highest mortgage he qualified for under traditional methods was $400,000, though he was confident he could afford more."I can't look at a shack out here in California for $400,000," he said.Tillman said he learned of non-QM loans through a Facebook ad touting "bank statement loans," which are approved based on the deposits reflected in a bank account instead of a W-2. He filled out the survey that was attached, but that lender would look at only 50% of what he deposited in his business bank account.He kept searching until he found New American Funding, which he said offered him a non-QM loan that evaluated 100% of his income. His journey didn't stop there. Two homebuilding companies wouldn't accept non-QM loans. It wasn't until October, after nearly 10 months of searching and nearly giving up, that he found an agreeable homebuilder in Riverside County, California, about 90 minutes from Los Angeles.  He was able to purchase a three-bedroom, two-bathroom $640,000 home still under construction, which has the yard of his dreams. That wouldn't have been possible without the alternative mortgage, he said."It allowed me to finally qualify for a house that I can afford, that was in a safer area, that my wife would like, and that the kids can feel comfortable living in," he said.A downside to non-QM mortgages is that interest rates are higher than conventional loans, in part because they are sold and packaged into private mortgage-backed securities that don't carry the payment guarantees of bonds issued by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or Ginnie Mae. Rates have risen for all mortgages since the start of the year, though Tillman is still paying about 7%, or 2 percentage points more than a conventional loan.The rate is just part of the cost of having his own businesses, Tillman said."Either way, that money was going to go somewhere," he said. "Do I want to throw it towards the IRS? Or do I throw it towards my down payment on a house?"Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 14th, 2022