In Her Own Words: Elyse DeLucci plays Mrs. Maisal in real life

As we continue to struggle with the lingering tail of Covid-19, women everywhere find laughter a rare commodity. Elyse DeLucci turned to TikTok to support her comedy career and preserve her sanity. "The pandemic had a major effect on everyone, and as a mother of two small, school-aged children, I can say (like any other Pandemic parent), these were challenging times. Homeschooling, working, cooking, the end of each day I was completely frazzled. I made a TikTok account and used it….....»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsNov 25th, 2021

Huxley"s New World, Part 2: The War On Science

Huxley's New World, Part 2: The War On Science Authored by Cynthia Chung via The Strategic Culture Foundation, Huxley makes it crystal clear that he considers the world to be overpopulated, and that science and progress cannot be free to advance without limits. In Part 1 the question was discussed what was Aldous’ real intention in writing the Brave New World; was it meant as an exhortation, an inevitable prophecy or as an Open Conspiracy? An Open Conspiracy closely linked to not only H.G. Wells, who clearly laid out such a vision in his book by the same title, published in 1928, but a vision also in the vein of Aldous’ famous grandfather Thomas Huxley “Darwin’s bulldog” and mentor to Wells. It is from here that we will continue to discuss what exactly were Aldous’ views on such matters, did he in fact believe in the need for a scientific dictatorship? A scientific caste system? Was he actually warning the people that such a dystopia would occur if we did not correct our course or was it all part of a mass psychological conditioning for what was regarded as inevitable, and that Aldous’ role was rather to “soften the transition” as much as possible towards a “dictatorship without tears”? The War on Science “ ‘A New Theory of Biology’ was the title of the paper which Mustapha Mond had just finished reading. He sat for some time, meditatively frowning, then picked up his pen and wrote across the title-page: ‘The author’s mathematical treatment of the conception of purpose is novel and highly ingenious, but heretical and, so far as the present social order is concerned, dangerous and potentially subversive. Not to be published.’ … A pity, he thought, as he signed his name. It was a masterly piece of work. But once you began admitting explanations in terms of purpose – well, you didn’t know what the result might be. It was the sort of idea that might easily decondition the more unsettled minds among the higher castes – make them lose their faith in happiness as the Sovereign Good and take to believing, instead, that the goal was somewhere beyond, somewhere outside the present human sphere, that the purpose of life was not the maintenance of well-being [as happiness and comfort], but some intensification and refining of consciousness, some enlargement of knowledge. Which was, the Controller reflected, quite possibly true. But not, in the present circumstance, admissible.” – Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” This is the credo for all scientific dictatorships, to forbid any search for knowledge whose purpose is the discovery of a universal truth, something that “is beyond, somewhere outside the present human sphere.” Something that is and will remain always true, and not just true so long as people are led to believe it is so. Thus, a scientific dictatorship must deny purpose by all means and promote an artificial “cushy” conception of happiness and comfort, since the former makes for very bad servants/slaves and the latter for very good ones. Purpose leads to unpredictability in the status quo, there are no sureties for an oligarchic system of governance in a world that is motivated by a purpose towards truth, beauty, and knowledge, as Mustapha Mond succinctly lays out. It is also the case that whenever one discovers a universal truth, it unifies rather than divides, truth is thus the very enemy of tyranny, for it offers clarity. And one can no longer be ruled over when they can see a superior alternative to their oppression. Therefore, under the rule of tyranny, truth must when possible be snuffed out, otherwise it is contorted until it is no longer recognizable, it is broken into fragments of itself in order to create factions, schools of opposing thought that are meant to confuse and lead its followers further astray. To deny purpose is thus the necessary condition to rule within a scientific dictatorship. Whether its controllers believe in purpose or not is irrelevant, since it is simply not admissible. The question thus is, where does Aldous fit into all of this? For starters let us take a look at Aldous’ family roots to see if indeed the apple did not fall too far from the tree… Aldous’ grandfather T.H. Huxley (1825-1895) had made a name for himself by the age of twenty-five and was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1950. Within a span of just a few years he would rise to become a leading member of Britain’s scientific establishment. By the late 1700s, discoveries in geology began to contradict the accepted religious view of Creation. It was increasingly found that steady changes were the primary cause of most geological formations which developed over very long spans of time and that these changes had even led to the extinction of certain organisms/creatures. This was the first time that the biblical view of Creation was ever challenged as a mainstream argument within the sciences. By the first part of the 1800s the scientific community was primarily in agreement that living processes and their environments did indeed “evolve.” In the 1820s Georges Cuvier (1769-1832) and Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire (1772-1844), once friends, had come into severe disagreement over the origins of anatomical forms which lead to a historic debate in 1830, raising issues that have yet to be resolved to this day. In 1838, upon reading Thomas Malthus’ “An Essay on the Principle of Population,” (who is known for calling for the courting of the plague to address the crisis of overpopulation), Darwin formulated his theory for “evolution” based on the “natural selection” of the fittest, he coined the term as an analogy of what he termed the “artificial selection” of selective breeding, with reference in particular to the practice of horse breeding. Darwin saw a similarity between farmers picking the best stock in selective breeding, and a Malthusian “Nature” selecting from chance variants. That is, Darwin’s ideas of “natural selection” and “survival of the fittest” implied no directionality to evolution but rather was based upon Nature’s selection of random variants. But how does one part of an organism evolve without affecting the other parts of said organism? According to Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, there is an inherent “potential” in evolution; the potential for change is inherent within the organism, and the shaping of its many parts occurs in a harmonic, coherent way. That is, change moves in a purposeful manner, not a random manner. The evolution of wings for flight, the eyes for sight, the nervous system for thought; Geoffroy was stating that these were not the result of countless minute mutations occurring and being selected upon separate from the other, but that the transformations were occurring with the very intention to create forms of flight, sight and thought. By Darwin rejecting this thesis, he created a paradox within his own theory. Either the potential for change is inherent in the organism in which many parts are able to change in a harmonic/coherent way, or it is not. However, if it is the latter, as Darwin claims it to be, random change of any part by itself without acknowledgement of the whole would more often than not lead to the death of the organism, as seen in studies of embryo formation, or would create a Dr. Moreau’s Island of freaks (which by the bye is another novel by our anti-hero H.G. Wells). The elegant creations we actually do see arise through evolutionary processes would be an extreme rarity in such a world of randomness. With everything we know today of the incredibly intricate details of biochemistry, the coordination of metabolic processes which occur in their thousands of “parts” would all need to evolve as randomly separate processes and yet, would also need to occur simultaneously and in conjunction with the other functioning parts. This would make Darwin’s concept for the selection of random variants within a coordinated functioning whole fundamentally impossible. Not only is the evolution of the eye one of the miracles of evolution, it has countless variations upon itself, such that there is no one standard model for what is an “eye.” Are we thus to believe that this has randomly occurred not only once but thousands of times in each species with its own distinct variation of what is an “eye”? In the early 1850s, Huxley had been introduced to Darwin and by the middle of the 1850s they were in close collaboration. Though Huxley never fully took to Darwin’s theory, he did become an avid defender and promoter of it nonetheless. At the time there was strong opposition to Darwin and Huxley within Europe and the United States. James Dwight Dana (1813-1895), a contemporary of T.H. Huxley, was among the American leadership that opposed this view, and argued that evolution did progress with a directionality, using examples such as the observation that biological organisms were proceeding towards greater “cephalization.” That is, that evolution was forming a general trend towards increasingly sophisticated nervous systems that could respond and interact with their environment. Thus, evolution was towards greater forms of complexity with more sophisticated forms of function. However, Thomas Huxley, “Darwin’s bulldog” was vehemently against this view of purposeful directionality in Nature. It did not matter that Darwin’s theory was just that, a theory, which still failed to explain much that was being observed in the evolutionary process. Although it is beyond the scope of this paper to discuss this in further detail (for more refer here), one cannot deny two major changes that occurred in “modern science” as a result of T.H. Huxley’s avid promotion of Darwin’s theory of evolution, that 1) Nature, and thus one could say the Universe, was not governed by purpose but rather by randomness, and that 2) man was but a beast, no longer to be among the children of God, no longer regarded as partaking in anything that was divine or sacred. And if man is but a beast what does he care for higher truths? What more does a beast need than the simple forms of comfort and happiness? Modern Science begets Modern Religion begets a Modern Utopia? Before we go on to speak about Aldous’ brother Julian Huxley, I will say just a few words on his father Leonard. Leonard Huxley published in 1926 his “Progress and the Unfit,” which was subsequently used to promote the Eugenics movement, to which H.G. Wells and Leonard’s son Julian were outspoken avid supporters of. Leonard also wrote favourably of his father T.H. Huxley’s views and that of Charles Darwin. In his book, Leonard discusses how modern-day science is only to look at the interdependence of body and mind, that the existence of the soul has been discredited by modern science, and thus that conditions for improvement on the human condition must solely rely upon the social and biological. He goes on to state that modern society has too long tolerated the proliferation of the feeble minded and so creates an ever-lasting burden for itself. He claims that mental defectiveness (which ranged from criminal behaviour, insanity, physical deformities and forms of mental retardation to addictions such as alcoholism and gambling, homelessness, owing massive debt etc. etc.) were all to be considered heritable qualities. Thus, those in possession of such unwanted qualities should be segregated from society or sterilised. He acknowledges that such measures may appear immoral, but that it is only immoral when coercion is used against persons of “normal intelligence,” for those who are deemed abnormal, unable to use reason, such standards of morality do not apply. This also appertained to what were considered to be the “lower” races, to which, T.H. Huxley was outspoken in his view that the “white race” was indeed the most superior race of all and that the “black race” was amongst the most inferior. With “modern science,” what stood in the way of the “mechanics of enforced good breeding” if humankind were to be regarded as no different from other beasts? And if we were judged to have no soul, the application of so-called “morality” was up for interpretation if not deemed entirely irrelevant. Julian Huxley (1887-1975), the older brother of Aldous, after serving in WWI became a Fellow at New College Oxford, serving as Senior Demonstrator in the University Department of Zoology. In 1925 he moved to King’s College London to work as Professor of Zoology. However, after only two years he resigned his chair to work full-time for H.G. Wells and his son G.P. Wells on “The Science of Life.” For those who are not too familiar with the views of H.G. Wells, I think it apt to share a quote, from part of his “new Bible” trilogy, “Anticipations of the Reaction of Mechanical and Scientific Progress upon Human Life and Thought” published in 1901: “It has become apparent that whole masses of human population are, as a whole, inferior in their claim upon the future, to other masses, that they cannot be given opportunities or trusted with power as the superior peoples are trusted, that their characteristic weaknesses are contagious and detrimental to the civilizing fabric, and that their range of incapacity tempts and demoralizes the strong. To give them equality is to sink to their level, to protect and cherish them is to be swamped in their fecundity. “ I assure you, there is plenty more where that came from. “The Science of Life,” which was also a part of Wells’ “new Bible” trilogy, was to give a popular account of all major aspects of biology as known in the 1920s. It is credited in introducing modern ecological concepts and emphasised the importance of behaviourism and Jungian psychology. At the very end of the 900 page volume, it is written: “To have a world encumbered for a time with an excess of sterile jazz dancers and joy riders may be a pleasanter way to elimination than hardship and death. Pleasure may achieve what force and sword have failed to do. The world can afford it; it is not a thing to fret about. It is only a passing fashion on a grand scale this phase of sterilized “enjoyment.” The great thing is that it should be able and willing to sterilize itself…The types that have a care for their posterity and the outlook of the race will naturally be the types which will possess the future.” This, believe it or not, is H.G. Wells at his best behaviour, amply toned down so to speak. To Wells this is a rather humane proposition, since those who are considered of defective biological stock are simply to be sterilised but are otherwise free to mingle within society, free to live out a comfortable life of pleasures in all their degeneracies with no threat that such contaminants will continue on in the future breeds of humankind. Thus, the age of pleasure will be more effective than the age of the sword (such as WWI), at diminishing the lower castes into a more “manageable” number. Within a generation, the human stock will be purified and a “Modern Utopia,” another book of H.G. Wells, can finally begin. Earth will become a paradise full of plenty, largely made up of a higher caste of reasonable, intelligent, healthy and attractive individuals and we will finally obtain world peace and harmony, until perhaps the next purge…. Besides Julian Huxley acting as Vice-President from 1937-1944 and President from 1959-1962 of the British Eugenics Society, he was also the first director-general of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in 1946, to which he wrote its mandate “UNESCO: Its Purpose and Its Philosophy” that same year. In it Julian lays out the need for a world government as the only means for avoiding war, and that the full sovereignty of separate nation states should be transferred over to this world government accordingly, under one political unity to which he expands upon, writing: “At the moment, it is probable that the indirect effect of civilization is dysgenic instead of eugenic, and in any case it seems likely that the dead weight of genetic stupidity, physical weakness, mental instability and disease proneness, which already exist in the human species will prove too great a burden for real progress to be achieved. Thus even though it is quite true that any radical eugenic policy will be for many years politically and psychologically impossible, it will be important for UNESCO to see that the eugenic problem is examined with the greatest care and that the public mind is informed of the issues at stake so that much that is now unthinkable may at least become thinkable.” (For more on this refer here.) In 1928, H.G. Wells publishes his “The Open Conspiracy: Blue Prints for a World Revolution,” where he calls for the reform of religion into a “modern religion,” which was only fitting now that science had become a “modern science.” In his concept of modern religion, he states that it will be necessary to strip religion down to its raw elements of service and subordination. Wells also wrote “The New World Order” in 1940, and no doubt, was a guiding influence on Julian’s outlook when he wrote the manifesto for UNESCO. The reader should also know that T.H. Huxley was the mentor of H.G. Wells and introduced him to the writings of Thomas Malthus and Charles Darwin. [Refer to Part 1 of this series for an in-depth discussion on how H.G. Wells influenced the works of Aldous Huxley.] The 20th Century Descent of Man At the very start of the 20th century, the influential International Congress of Mathematicians organised a conference in Paris, France 1900. It was at this conference that David Hilbert, a leading mathematician at Göttingen University was invited to speak on the future of mathematics, where he stressed the need for the field of mathematics to “prove that all axioms of arithmetic are consistent” and to “axiomatize those physical sciences in which mathematics plays an important role.” What Hilbert was calling for in his challenge for the future of mathematics was that all scientific knowledge be reduceable to the form of mathematical “logic” so to speak; that it be contained within a minimum of accepted truths and rules of derivation, which could be proven by consistent and complete formal mathematical proofs. Thus, all scientific knowledge would in the future be deduced from such mathematical models, there was nothing left to “discover” in the typical sense of what defined scientific investigations during the 19th century and earlier, they only need refer to the appropriate mathematical model. In 1900, Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead set out to meet Hilbert’s challenge which resulted in the “Principia Mathematica,” published thirteen years later. Although Kurt Gödel would disprove the entire premise for the “Principia Mathematica” with his “incompleteness theorems” which show the limits of provability in formal axiomatic theories, the “Principia Mathematica” is one of the most influential works of the 20th century, on not only shaping modern logic but also formed the basis for the latter development of cybernetics and systems analysis by Russell’s student Norbert Wiener during WWII. Before you conclude that Russell himself didn’t personally believe that irrationality was a fundamental force in the Universe simply because he tried formalizing said Universe, it is worth reading a section of his bitterly misanthropic view of humanity presented in his 1903 “A Free Man’s Worship”: “That man is the product of causes that had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins- all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand… Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.” Whether deterministic or random in view, the goal was the same, to promote a concept of the Universe that had no governing purpose, no directionality and no morality, that it was essentially a mechanism, discoverable by a few simple laws. This was not something new, the Enlightenment had already done much to emphasize individualism, skepticism and “science” reduced to the confines of empiricism and agnosticism. With such a view our connection to the Universe becomes inconsequential, with the Universe seen as something cold, unknowable and ultimately dead or dying. Such a concept only further enforces that there is no real meaning to anything, there is no purpose, at least, it is not a purpose that we have any place in. During the First World War, Aldous Huxley spent much time at the Garsington Manor, home of Lady Ottoline Morrell, a lover of Bertrand Russell, who believed (as Aldous and Julian would also), in the concept of open marriage. Although T.H. Huxley knew Russell’s parents, Lord and Lady Amberley, it was at the Garsington Manor that Aldous first met Bertrand Russell and the Bloomsbury Group. It is also where he met his first wife Maria Nys, a wartime Belgian refugee who had been invited to stay with Lady Ottoline Morrell. Maria, who was bisexual, had entered into a several year love affair with Lady Ottoline starting at the age of sixteen. Maria did finally accept Aldous’ proposal and they were married in 1919 keeping an open marriage. The Bloomsbury Group or Set, which met regularly at Lady Ottoline’s was an association of English writers, intellectuals, philosophers and artists which reflected in large part the influence of G.E Moore (who wrote the “Principia Ethica” in 1903) and Bertrand Russell who were amongst the founders of analytic philosophy. Alfred North Whitehead was also a member of the group. As Dorothy Parker, American poet and writer, described them in a famous quote of hers, “they lived in squares, painted in circles and loved in triangles”. Aldous Huxley would maintain a loose association with the Bloomsbury Group. It appears Aldous had a similar approach to Russell as he did with Wells, although he seems to have a serious dislike for both men, he nonetheless was greatly influenced by their works. In 1932, Russell exclaims in a letter to his publisher that the “Brave New World” was “merely an expansion of the two penultimate chapters of his ‘The Scientific Outlook,’ “ adding that “the parallelism applies in great detail, e.g., the prohibition of Shakespeare and the intoxicant producing no headache.” Russell went so far as to contemplate charging Aldous with plagiarism, to which his publisher dissuaded him from pursuing. In Russell’s “The Scientific Outlook” published in 1930 he describes a caste system with the need for two separate modes of education, one for the elite ruling class and the other for the slave class. The ruling class is to be concerned with improving the scientific technique, while “the manual workers [are to be] contented by means of continual new amusements.” Aldous echoes this sentiment in his “Brave New World Revisited,” where he writes: “The older dictators fell because they could never supply their subjects with enough bread, enough circuses, enough miracles and mysteries.” Although it is said that Aldous wrote the “Brave New World” as a satire of the works of H.G. Wells, and what appears to be the works of Russell as well, as already shown in Part 1 this is not true. Aldous is incorporating the ideas of Wells and Russell into his works, and though he may find these men dislikeable, he nonetheless never actually contradicts their views in any of his writings or lectures. The entire premise for his “Brave New World Revisited,” published in 1958, instead reinforces those very views. Aldous makes it crystal clear that he considers the world to be overpopulated, that this is a crisis that must be checked, and that science and progress cannot be free to advance without limits. He restresses these very themes again in his last novel “The Island” as well. In “Brave New World Revisited” he writes: “The annual increase of numbers should be reduced. But how? We are given two choices – famine or pestilence and war on the one hand, birth control on the other…how can those who ought to take the pill, but don’t want to, be persuaded to change their minds?…In reducing the birth rate of those industrially backward societies where such a reduction is most urgently needed?…Or consider the backward societies that are now trying to industrialise. If they succeed, who is to prevent them, in their desperate efforts to catch up and keep up, from squandering the planet’s irreplaceable resources as stupidly and wantonly as was done, and is still being done, by their forerunners in the race?” Here we need only replace the word “pill” with “sterilisation” and not much has changed. In fact, as published in The Guardian, “Huxley was in favour of genetic breeding programmes to arrest the multiplication of the unfit. In a particularly unsavoury article, published in 1930 in the Evening Standard, he confessed anxiety about the proliferation of mental defectives and called for their compulsory sterilisation.” Brave New World was written one year later in 1931. It looks like the apple did not fall too far from the tree after all… [Part 3 will discuss Aldous’ role in shaping the Esalen Institute, the Vedanta Society, his relationship to William Sargant and the CIA’s MKUltra, and how Aldous’ form of ideological spirituality went on to shape the drug-counter-culture movement.] Tyler Durden Mon, 11/01/2021 - 23:40.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytNov 2nd, 2021

38 useful and unique gifts for new parents - from a sound machine to a meal kit service

New parents appreciate useful gifts that make life with a new baby easier. Here are 38 of the best gifts for new parents, including a high chair & coffee. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. Amazon A thoughtful gift can really make a difference in the busy life of a new parent. From a portable high chair to a swaddling blanket, here are 38 of the best gifts for new parents. Still looking for a gift? Check out our list of the All-Time Best products we've ever tested. Being a new parent means that people will naturally want to shop for you and the baby - mainly because gifts for new parents are fun to buy. The gifts here are a great way to celebrate new life with gifts that are both practical and fun.We rounded up 38 gift ideas that will help new parents adjust to life with a baby, help everyone sleep a little better, eat a little easier, and make those new baby photos pop.Read on for 38 of the best gifts for new parents: A food catchall that is easy to clean The Rooted Baby Co. Silicone Bib, available at The Rooted Baby Co., $12.99Eating meals is a messy affair for the littlest eaters among us. This bib made of high-quality silicone makes cleanup a breeze with the ability to catch any snack spills. It's good to go for the next meal with just a few wipes and it's dishwasher safe. A way to nurse comfortably and stylishly at the same time Target Bamboobies Nursing Cover, available at Buy Buy Baby, Target, and Bed Bath & Beyond, $24.99New moms may take a little time adjusting to breastfeeding in public and there's no need to hide behind a hot blanket. A good nursing cover allows baby to feed in peace and mom to cover up for any occasion or outing. A comfy, personalized blanket made just for baby Pottery Barn Kids Cable Knit Recycled Chamois Baby Blanket, available at Pottery Barn Kids, $40Putting your baby's name on anything instantly makes it a family classic. This cable knit chamois version is the coziest blanket for afternoon naps to keep your little one warm. A bag that puts everything you need within reach Lululemon Lululemon Everywhere Belt Bag, available at Lululemon, $38Fanny packs have gotten a bad rap, but for a busy parent who needs three extra hands, it's the perfect solution. This belt bag allows you to put your most used items in quick reach so that you're not digging through a diaper bag to find your keys while also keeping an eye on the baby. A safe, easy-to-use nail trimmer Bblüv Bblüv Trimö Baby Electric Nail Trimmer, available at Buy Buy Baby, $29.99Baby nails can get really sharp. And because they're so small and delicate, they can be intimidating to take care of. This electric trimmer makes it easy to gently cut fingernails and toenails without having to worry about getting them too short. The electric file gently rounds off the rough edges. A fun way to clean up snot-nosed kids FridaBaby/Insider Frida Baby Nose Frida the Snotsucker, available at Buy Buy Baby and Amazon, from $9.50Stuffy noses can make a baby uncomfortable. Since they can't just go blow it out with a tissue, they need a little help. The Nose Frida Snotsucker looks, well, weird, but it's safe, clean, easy to wash, and if we're being honest, it's kind of fun too.  Cozy moccasins for baby's first steps TPMOCS TPMOCS Custom Moccasins, available at TPMocs from $74Handcrafted at every step of the way by Native American artisans, these beautiful, durable customized moccasins keep baby's feet comfortable with every step. A portion of all purchases goes toward addressing poverty for Native American communities in need.    A pillow spray to help parents get a good night's sleep This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray, available at Dermstore, $29Sleep is a tenuous proposition, at best, for new parents, so when they finally get the chance to turn in for the night, this spray will help them fall into a deeper and more relaxed sleep. Featuring a pleasing blend of lavender, chamomile, and vetivert, the relaxing scent helps a person doze off. One of our reporters swears by it for a better night's sleep. A cleverly designed towel that quickly dries and comforts babies Parachute Parachute Hooded Baby Towel, available at Parachute, $29Getting out of the bath is cold for babies, too, but this this absorbent towel keeps lets you wrap them up to keep them cozy while drying off. The adorable hood adds extra warmth. A keepsake calendar filled with sweet photos Artifact Uprising Artifact Uprising Wood Calendar, available at Artifact Uprising, $30Parents can't get enough photos of their newborn. Take some of those photos to create a unique, practical calendar featuring their little one that they can use every day. An essential supply they can never get enough of Honest/Business Insider Honest Diapers, available at, $10.95/packCloth diapers aren't for everyone, but these absorbent disposable diapers made from Earth-friendly materials are a good alternative for the eco-conscious. They also feature fun prints, even holiday designs. And to up the convenience factor for busy new parents, the company also has a diapers and wipes subscription box to save money and precious time.  A comfortable seat for baby Bumbo Bumboo Infant Floor Seat, available at Buy Buy Baby and Target, from $44.99Made from soft, durable foam, the Bumboo seat helps babies learn to sit upright, starting at three months. Parents will appreciate its portability as well as how easy it is to clean. A comfortable and flexible baby sling Amazon Baby K'tan Original Carrier, available at Buy Buy Baby, Amazon, and Target, from $49.95Hands-free carrying is a convenient way to keep baby close that parents will appreciate, whether they're grocery shopping or talking on the phone. This sling is comfortable for the baby as well as parents. It's a gift one of Business Insider's own gives to new parents after having used it with her kids from the time they were born until they were toddlers. You can check out our top picks for the best baby carriers here. Crib sheets in cute prints Brooklinen Brooklittles Crib Sheet Sets, available at Brooklinen, from $28.80From spit up to diaper blowouts, crib sheets have to endure a lot, so it's essential that there's always a clean one handy. Parents will really appreciate such a practical gift when they need one. Brooklinen's line of sheets for little ones feature fun patterns and prints that look great in any nursery. A baby book parents will actually want to fill out Maisonette Lucy Darling Flower Child Memory Book, available at Maisonette, $34.99Parents always appreciate looking back on the special memories they otherwise might have lost to sleep deprivation during baby's first year. Jotting down moments to savor won't feel like more paperwork with this spiral-bound baby book adorned with fun floral patterns. There's even a place for the baby's hand and foot prints. A warm cup of coffee on a cold day Contigo/Business Insider Contigo Autoseal West Loop Insulated Travel Mug, available at Amazon, $20.99Life with a baby doesn't pause so parents can rest, so having a little caffeine on hand can be a lifesaver when a parent's running morning errands on five hours of sleep. This leak-free travel mug keeps drinks hot or cold for up to seven hours, and it comes in 30 colors and a variety of sizes. An Amazon Prime membership so new parents can order supplies What to buy on Amazon Prime Day 2018 Sundry Photography/Shutterstock Amazon Prime gift subscription, three months, $39Nobody wants to make an extra trip to the store, especially busy new parents. A Prime membership lets them avoid the hassle, allowing them to order whatever they need and have it delivered instead, in two days.A full-year subscription is $119. And if they already have a Prime membership, they'll be able to convert your gift to credit so they can spend the money on anything they need. A portable gadget for fussy sleepers Amazon Baby Shusher Sleep Miracle, available at Buy Buy Baby, Amazon, and Target, $34.99White-noise machines are useful gadgets to have around because they're helpful for getting a fussy baby to fall asleep. The Baby Susher plays a real human voice, and it's easy to use at home, in the car, etc.  A pacifier that won't keep falling to the ground Amazon/Business Insider Philips Avent Soothie Snuggle Pacifier Holder with Detachable Pacifier, available at Buy Buy Baby and Amazon, from $14.95This pacifier features a plush animal that can be detached to make cleaning both pieces fast and easy. You can choose from a variety of animals, including elephant, giraffe, monkey, and seal, that make it easy to find and comforting for babies to snuggle.  A swaddling blanket that transforms their baby into a burrito Uncommon Goods Tortilla Baby, available at Uncommon Goods, $48What's better than a delicious burrito? A swaddling blanket that looks like a burrito and helps baby sleep tight after a long day. Socks for tired feet Bombas Gift a Bombas Gift Box, from $35Bombas' comfortable gym socks feature a blister tab and cushioned footbeds that wrap feet in luxury. Busy, tired parents will appreciate comfortable socks. Also, Bombas also donates a pair to a homeless shelter for every pair purchased.  A jolt of caffeine after a sleepless night Swift Cup Agaro Free-Dried Coffee (6 cup box), available at Swift Cup Coffee, $15Instant coffee isn't what it used to be; it's actually good now, and that's excellent news. Tested by our experts, these six individual packets of freeze-dried Ethiopian coffee will give sleepy parents the quick jolt they're looking for, and all they have to do it add 10 ounces of hot or cold water and stir. A sleek bassinet that rocks crying babies to sleep Snoo Snoo Rental Gift Card, available at Happiest Baby, from $25There's nothing new parents will appreciate more than a little help with a baby who doesn't sleep well. Sensing when a baby is tense, the Snoo automatically rocks them to sleep with a gentle motion. There's also a built-in white noise machine and a swaddle to help calm fussy little ones. Parents can control the bassinet and monitor it via the app. And while the Snoo is expensive, the company has a rental program for a more affordable option. Bilingual board books for early learning Amazon/Business Insider Canticos Board Books, available at Amazon, from $5.99It's never too soon to start learning a second language. These books help by introducing important early words like numbers, shapes, and more in both English and Spanish. A mustache pacifier BuyBuyBaby/Inider Mustachifier, available on BuyBuyBaby, $9.99This pacifier will have everyone doing a double take to see if that baby really does have a hipster mustache. And don't overlook the value of peace and quiet that comes with it too. A meal kit delivery service so they can cook for themselves Blue Apron Blue Apron Subscription Gift Card, from $60Cooking can be an extra hassle for frazzled new parents, but a delivery service like this can make it a little easier to get a healthy, home-cooked meal. Blue Apron boxes come with preportioned ingredients and three easy-to-cook recipes. They'll get one week of meal kits for $60.Check out our guide to the best meal kit delivery services, which includes options for special diets. A gadget to make diaper changes easier Diapertainment/Business Insider Diapertainment, available at Amazon, $19.99Diaper changing is much easier when a squirming baby is occupied. This smartphone mount does helps hold a little one's attention with their favorite short videos so parents can get down to business. An interactive play mat Lovevery The Lovevery Play Gym, available at Lovevery, $140This activity gym has different learning zones and a range of accessories designed to engage a baby as they grow. Designed by childhood development experts, there are features here for infants as well as toddlers.*This product is currently backordered A pregnancy journal to track progress and memories Amazon/Business Insider "Expecting You: A Keepsake Pregnancy Journal," available at Amazon, $13.46Pregnancy is a journey, and this journal gives new parents the chance to track their memories and experiences. Whether they end up using it as a reference for subsequent children or just as a way to look back on a special time, this keepsake journal makes a timeless treasure for parents. A portable way to secure babies to their seats BuyBuyBaby Inglesina Fast Table Chair in Black, available at Buy Buy Baby, $79.99A popular choice for an easy-to-use high chair because of its convenience, the Inglesia Fast Table Chair can be used with any table up to 3.3 inches thick. And it can be used for children ranging in age from 6 months to 3 years. A 5-in-1 machine to help baby sleep Baby Dream Machine Baby Dream Machine, available at Baby Dream Machine, $119On top of smoothing "pink noise" sound that help infants relax, the Baby Dream Machine is also a cool-mist humidifier as well as an aromatherapy machine. It even provides red light and night light therapy with an adorable bear design that will great in the nursery.  The gift of getting some shut-eye Halo/Business Insider Halo Sleepsack Swaddle Wrap, available at Buy Buy Baby, $24.99Swaddling helps a baby feel more relaxed, and a more relaxed baby is a better sleeper. This transitioning swaddle features a unique design that allows a baby to be wrapped with their arms in or out, which is important for safety once they start rolling. An adjustable, washable pillow to ensure a good night's rest Lauren Savoie/Business Insider Coop Home Goods Premium Adjustable Loft Pillow, available at Amazon, $61.99Few things help exhausted parents fall asleep faster than a comfortable pillow. This customizable pillow is hypoallergenic and works well for all sleeping positions. Fun PJs' for any occasion Hanna Andersson Earth Day Baby Zip Sleeper, available at Hanna Andersson, $25.20Whether they're cozying up to watch a parents' favorite show or settling in for a special holiday, matching family pajama sets are a fun way for families to share an experience. Hanna Andersson makes a comfy set of pajamas featuring everything from holiday prints to dinosaurs to popular characters. A time-saving food hack parents can feel good about Cerebelly/Business Insider Cerebelly Pouches, available at Cerebelly, $2.89 eachWith organic vegetable-based recipes that babies will love, these handy little pouches are perfect in a meal-time pinch. They're self-stable, so they'll last long enough to be around when you need them. Created by a neurosurgeon, this go-anywhere babyfood is also loaded with nutrients that help with brain development.   A smart home device to act as an assistant Lisa Eadicicco/Business Insider Echo Dot 4th generation, available at Target, $34.99A smart speaker is the perfect nursery assistant. It can play gentle music to help lull babies to sleep or set timers for feeding times. They're also compatible with a long list of smart home devices, which makes it easy to turn off light or set the thermostat while parents are busy changing diapers. An Instant Pot for easy meals Instant Pot Instant Pot Duo 60, available at Amazon, $89Our favorite Instant Pot includes a number features and functions, from pressure cooking to sautéing. Parents can make delicious one-pot meals for themselves and the baby with just a few easy steps and a lot less cleanup. Something to soothe and protect baby's delicate skin Dove/Business Insider Baby Dove Derma Care Body Wash, available at Walmart, $8.86Baby Dove Eczema Care Cream, available at Rite Aid, $8.69Newborns have delicate skin that requires gentle, soothing products to keep them clean and their outer layer soft and hydrated. Developed alongside pediatric dermatologists, Dove's wash and cream are free of dyes, parabens, phthalates, steroids, and fragrances. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 19th, 2021

The 10 books on the 2021 National Book Award"s fiction longlist includes picks praised by Oprah and Obama

The National Book Awards longlist for fiction in 2021 includes books by Pulitzer Prize-winning authors and an Oprah's Book Club pick. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. The books on the National Book Award fiction longlist in 2021 include "Bewilderment" by Richard Powers and "The Prophets" by Robert Jones, Jr. Amazon; Rachel Mendelson/Insider The National Book Foundation announced the 10 best US fiction books this week. Judges will name their top five in mid-October, and the winner in November. Below are all 10 books on the list, including ones from Pulitzer Prize-winning authors. Every year, the National Book Foundation crowns the best US literature of the year in five categories: Non-fiction, fiction, translated literature, poetry, and young adult books. 25 judges (five experts per genre) nominated by former winners, finalists, and judges spend the summer reading hundreds of hopeful submissions (about 150 for poetry to more than 500 for nonfiction) in search of standout books.By mid-September, they name their 10 favorites on a longlist. By mid-October, they cut it down to their top five. No one knows who the winner will be until the very day it's announced, when judges meet to hash out the best book. Winners, announced in November, receive $10,000, and finalists receive $1,000. Both can expect a boost in prestige and book sales. Past fiction winners for National Book Award in fiction include now-classics "Sophie's Choice" by William Styron, "All the Pretty Horses" by Cormac McCarthy, and "The Corrections" by Jonathan Franzen, as well as recent rising stars "Sing, Unburied, Sing" by Jesmyn Ward and "Interior Chinatown" by Charles Yu.Below, you'll find the 10 nonfiction books that made the National Book Award fiction longlist this year, including new novels by Pulitzer Prize-winning authors of "All the Light We Cannot See" and "The Overstory", an Obama summer reading selection, and an Oprah's Book Club pick. The 10 books on the 2021 National Book Award longlist for fiction:Descriptions provided by Amazon and lightly edited for clarity and length. "Cloud Cuckoo Land" by Anthony Doerr Bookshop "Cloud Cuckoo Land" by Anthony Doerr, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $21.49Set in Constantinople in the 15th century, in a small town in present-day Idaho, and on an interstellar ship decades from now, Anthony Doerr's gorgeous third novel is a triumph of imagination and compassion, a soaring story about children on the cusp of adulthood in worlds in peril, who find resilience, hope — and a book. In "Cloud Cuckoo Land," Doerr has created a magnificent tapestry of times and places that reflect our vast interconnectedness — with other species, with each other, with those who lived before us, and with those who will be here after we're gone.Note: Doerr's earlier novel, "All the Light We Cannot See" won the Pulitzer Prize in 2015. "Matrix" by Lauren Groff Bookshop "Matrix" by Lauren Groff, available at Amazon and Bookshop from $15Cast out of the royal court by Eleanor of Aquitaine, deemed too coarse and rough-hewn for marriage or courtly life, 17-year-old Marie de France is sent to England to be the new prioress of an impoverished abbey, its nuns on the brink of starvation and beset by disease.At first, taken aback by the severity of her new life, Marie finds focus and love in collective life with her singular and mercurial sisters. In this crucible, Marie steadily supplants her desire for family, for her homeland, for the passions of her youth with something new to her: devotion to her sisters, and a conviction in her own divine visions. Marie, born the last in a long line of women warriors and crusaders, is determined to chart a bold new course for the women she now leads and protects. But in a world that is shifting and corroding in frightening ways, one that can never reconcile itself with her existence, will the sheer force of Marie's vision be bulwark enough? "Abundance" by Jakob Guanzon Amazon "Abundance" by Jakob Guanzon, available at Amazon and Bookshop from $14.40Evicted from their trailer on New Year's Eve, Henry and his son, Junior, have been reduced to living out of a pickup truck. Six months later, things are even more desperate. Henry, barely a year out of prison for pushing opioids, is down to his last pocketful of dollars, and little remains between him and the street. But hope is on the horizon: Today is Junior's birthday, and Henry has a job interview tomorrow.To celebrate, Henry treats Junior to dinner at McDonald's, followed by a night in a real bed at a discount motel. For a moment, as Junior watches TV and Henry practices for his interview in the bathtub, all seems well. But after Henry has a disastrous altercation in the parking lot and Junior succumbs to a fever, father and son are sent into the night, struggling to hold things together and make it through tomorrow. "Zorrie" by Laird Hunt Amazon "Zorrie" by Laird Hunt, available at Amazon and Bookshop from $16As a girl, Zorrie Underwood's modest and hardscrabble home county was the only constant in her young life. After losing both her parents to diphtheria, Zorrie moved in with her aunt, whose own death orphaned Zorrie all over again, casting her off into the perilous realities and sublime landscapes of rural, Depression-era Indiana. Drifting west, Zorrie survived on odd jobs, sleeping in barns and under the stars, before finding a position at a radium processing plant. At the end of each day, the girls at her factory glowed from the radioactive material.But when Indiana calls Zorrie home, she finally finds the love and community that have eluded her in the small town of Hillisburg. And yet, even as she tries to build a new life, Zorrie discovers that her trials have only begun. "The Love Songs of W. E. B. Du Bois" by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers Amazon "The Love Songs of W. E. B. Du Bois" by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, available at Amazon and Bookshop from $21.38W. E. B. Du Bois, the great scholar, once wrote about the problem of race in America, and what he called "Double Consciousness," a sensitivity that every African American possesses in order to survive. Since childhood, Ailey Pearl Garfield has understood Du Bois's words all too well. Bearing the names of two formidable Black Americans — the revered choreographer Alvin Ailey and her great grandmother Pearl, the descendant of enslaved Georgians and tenant farmers — Ailey carries Du Bois's Problem on her shoulders.To come to terms with her own identity, Ailey embarks on a journey through her family's past, uncovering the shocking tales of generations of ancestors — Indigenous, Black, and white — in the deep South. In doing so Ailey must learn to embrace her full heritage, a legacy of oppression and resistance, bondage and independence, cruelty and resilience that is the story — and the song — of America itself.Note: This book has also been selected by Oprah's Book Club. "The Prophets" by Robert Jones, Jr. Bookshop "The Prophets" by Robert Jones, Jr., available at Amazon and Bookshop from $16.99Isaiah was Samuel's and Samuel was Isaiah's. That was the way it was since the beginning, and the way it was to be until the end. In the barn they tended to the animals, but also to each other, transforming the hollowed-out shed into a place of human refuge, a source of intimacy and hope in a world ruled by vicious masters. But when an older man — a fellow slave — seeks to gain favor by preaching the master's gospel on the plantation, the enslaved begin to turn on their own. Isaiah and Samuel's love, which was once so simple, is seen as sinful and a clear danger to the plantation's harmony.As tensions build and the weight of centuries — of ancestors and future generations to come — culminates in a climactic reckoning, "The Prophets" masterfully reveals the pain and suffering of inheritance, but is also shot through with hope, beauty, and truth, portraying the enormous, heroic power of love. "Intimacies" by Katie Kitamura Bookshop "Intimacies" by Katie Kitamura, available at Amazon and Bookshop from $15.95An interpreter has come to The Hague to escape New York and work at the International Court. A woman of many languages and identities, she is looking for a place to finally call home.She's drawn into simmering personal dramas: her lover, Adriaan, is separated from his wife but still entangled in his marriage. Her friend Jana witnesses a seemingly random act of violence, a crime the interpreter becomes increasingly obsessed with as she befriends the victim's sister. And she's pulled into an explosive political controversy when she's asked to interpret for a former president accused of war crimes.A woman of quiet passion, she confronts power, love, and violence, both in her personal intimacies and in her work at the Court. She is soon pushed to the precipice, where betrayal and heartbreak threaten to overwhelm her, forcing her to decide what she wants from her life. Note: This is one of Obama's 2021 summer reading list books. "The Souvenir Museum: Stories" by Elizabeth McCracken Bookshop "The Souvenir Museum: Stories" by Elizabeth McCracken, available at Amazon and Bookshop from $16.99In these stories, the mysterious bonds of family are tested, transformed, fractured, and fortified. A recent widower and his adult son ferry to a craggy Scottish island in search of puffins. An actress who plays a children's game-show villainess ushers in the New Year with her deadbeat half-brother. A mother, pining for her children, feasts on loaves of challah to fill the void. A new couple navigates a tightrope walk toward love. And on a trip to a Texas water park with their son, two fathers each confront a personal fear.  "Hell of a Book" by Jason Mott Bookshop "Hell of a Book" by Jason Mott, available at Amazon and Bookshop from $16.20In Jason Mott's "Hell of a Book," a Black author sets out on a cross-country publicity tour to promote his bestselling novel. That storyline drives "Hell of a Book" and is the scaffolding of something much larger and urgent: Since Mott's novel also tells the story of Soot, a young Black boy living in a rural town in the recent past, and The Kid, a possibly imaginary child who appears to the author on his tour.As these characters' stories build and converge, they astonish. For while this heartbreaking and magical book entertains and is at once about family, love of parents and children, art and money, it's also about the nation's reckoning with a tragic police shooting playing over and over again on the news. And with what it can mean to be Black in America.Who has been killed? Who is The Kid? Will the author finish his book tour, and what kind of world will he leave behind?  Unforgettably told, with characters who burn into your mind and an electrifying plot ideal for book club discussion, "Hell of a Book" is the novel Mott has been writing in his head for the last 10 years. "Bewilderment" by Richard Powers Bookshop "Bewilderment" by Richard Powers, available at Amazon and Bookshop from $21.64The astrobiologist Theo Byrne searches for life throughout the cosmos while single-handedly raising his unusual nine-year-old, Robin, following the death of his wife. Robin is a warm, kind boy who spends hours painting elaborate pictures of endangered animals. He's also about to be expelled from third grade for smashing his friend in the face. As his son grows more troubled, Theo hopes to keep him off psychoactive drugs. He learns of an experimental neurofeedback treatment to bolster Robin's emotional control, one that involves training the boy on the recorded patterns of his mother's brain…With its soaring descriptions of the natural world, its tantalizing vision of life beyond, and its account of a father and son's ferocious love, "Bewilderment" marks Richard Powers's most intimate and moving novel. At its heart lies the question: How can we tell our children the truth about this beautiful, imperiled planet? Note: This is also shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Powers' earlier book, "The Overstory" won the Pulitzer Prize in 2019.  Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 23rd, 2021

28 fun gift ideas that will keep toddlers entertained

We rounded up 28 of the best gifts for toddlers. These picks are guided by experts and include books, toys, and dolls for kids 1 through 3 years old. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. The Melissa and Doug Fold and Go Dollhouse includes furniture and dolls. Amazon Finding gifts that toddlers will love more than the boxes they come in can be a challenge. I've already gone through that process with my toddler and have rounded up 28 of the best gifts for toddlers. You can check out all of Insider Reviews gift guides to shop for everyone on your list. Toddlers can be picky little humans. You know this if you've ever seen how long they're entertained by a cardboard box or bubbles, only to leave a pricey toy sitting by the wayside day after day. I would know - my 3-year-old has a big personality. But I've become a pro at buying gifts that she plays with longer than the packages they come in. Buying gifts for toddlers becomes even more complicated when you account for their rapid development. A 1-year-old might be enthralled by a toy that a 3-year-old finds boring. That's why I've rounded up 28 gifts that will be a hit with any toddler. Many of the gifts on this list have also been tried, tested, and well-loved by my own child. Here are 28 of the best gifts for toddlers: A developmentally appropriate puzzle Fat Brain Toys Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog Puzzle Playmate, available on Fat Brain Toys, $16.95This is a toy that can really span the toddler age ranges. Younger toddlers will delight in the challenge of matching shapes, while older toddlers can work on numbers and counting with the spikes. I've seen this toy meet my daughter at various stages of development since we started testing it over four months ago. Recommended ages: 18 months and up A working vacuum Walmart Ryan's World Children's Toy Vacuum Cleaner, available at Walmart, $24.56Toddlers love to imitate their favorite grown-ups. They also love their favorite characters, like Ryan from Ryan's World. If Ryan's World is a hit for your toddler, everyone will be happy with this vacuum that actually picks up dirt. Recommended ages: 2 years and up A themed sensory bin Amazon Creativity for Kids Sensory Bin, available on Amazon, from $15Sensory bins allow toddlers to create their own little worlds, and this one requires very minimal setup from grown-ups. Choose from six different themes: construction zone, dinosaur dig, garden and critters, ice cream shop, ocean and sand, and outer space. My daughter got the ocean & sand bin for her 3rd birthday, and it has been a huge hit. Recommended ages: 3 years and up Holiday-themed magnetic blocks Amazon Dr. Seuss The Grinch Magna-Tiles Structure Set, available on Amazon, $44.95Magnetic tiles are very much a tried-and-tested favorite in our house. When I tested this set, I wasn't sure that the Grinch theme would be enough to make these any better than plain-colored tiles. But I was pleasantly surprised. This 19-piece set lets kids build the Grinch himself, a Whoville home, or a cozy holiday scene.Recommended ages: 3 years and up Their first toolbox Amazon Hape Fix It Kid's Wooden Tool Box and Accessory Play Set, available at Amazon, $21.99Toddlers can fix things up around the house with this 17-piece toolbox. The small set is just the right size for toddler hands and includes a hammer, nails, screwdriver, screws, and more.  Recommended ages: 3 years and up Educational place mats Amazon Little Likes Kids Educational Two-Sided Place Mat Variety Pack, available at Amazon, $15.99Even as they refine their eating skills, toddlers still often make a mess. Keep your table clean and your toddlers entertained with these three double-sided place mats.Recommended ages: 3 years and up Books to build their library Amazon "Baby Goes to Market," available at Amazon, $14.56"The Rainbow Fish," available at Amazon, $9.95"The Snowy Day," available at Amazon, $6.11"Chicka Chicka Boom Boom," available at Amazon, $4.59"I Like It When . . . /Me gusta cuando . . ." available at Amazon, $6.08There's nothing quite like cuddling up with a good book at bedtime. From simple board books to narratives that encourage kindness, toddlers will ask to read these books again and again. Animal-themed bingo Amazon Banana Panda Let's Play Animal Bingo, available at Amazon, $16.15Toddlers can get in on the action with this simplified version of bingo. Each bingo card features animals in a different habitat, and the boards and tokens are made of thick cardboard that will hold up to rough play.Recommended ages: 2 years and up A World of Eric Carle puzzle Amazon Mudpuppy World of Eric Carle Brown Bear 4-in-A-Box Puzzles, available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, $14.99Four-piece puzzles are a step up from peg puzzles, another toddler favorite. This set of four puzzles is inspired by the popular book "Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?" As a former English teacher, I can't resist a toy that encourages reading. Even if you don't have the book at home, these puzzles will still be engaging and challenging while simultaneously exposing toddlers to color matching.  Recommended ages: 2 years and up The ultimate racetrack Alicia Betz/Business Insider Go! Go! Smart Wheels Ultimate Corkscrew Tower, available at Walmart and Target, from $29.82This quickly became our family's favorite Go! Go! Smart Wheels track after the company sent us a review sample a few months ago. It can be configured into one tall spiral or two smaller spirals for racing. You'll get one race car, and the track includes a switch track, hazards, and a trap door. Five different locations along the track prompt the car to play various sounds, songs, and phrases. If you already have other Go! Go! Smart Wheels tracks, you can connect them to the tower.Recommended ages: 1 to 5 years An interactive thinking chair Walmart Blues Clues and You! Play and Learn Thinking Chair, available at Walmart, $49.44If you have a Blues Clues fan, this real-life thinking chair will be a big hit. It comes with a mailbox, letters, and an interactive handy dandy notebook. The chair can detect when kids sit down or get up, and there is even a storage space under the seat. We've been testing it for a few months, and my daughter hasn't let it leave our living room since. Recommended ages: 2 to 5 years A color-changing bath book Amazon "Color Me: Who's in the Water?" available at Amazon, $11.99Toddlers will think this book is magic when it changes color in their bathwater. The illustrations are the central focus with just a few words on each page. This creates an ideal environment for reluctant readers to pick up a book. Use it for some water painting fun out of the bath, too. Recommended ages: 1 to 3 years A dump truck made of recycled plastic Amazon Green Toys Dump Truck, available at Amazon and Walmart, from $19.14Whether you have a sandbox, a dirt pile in the backyard, or a bunch of toys that need to be moved around the house, toddlers will enjoy loading this truck and dumping things out. The brightly colored toy is made of 100% recycled plastic. An added bonus: After this truck spends a long day hauling materials for your child, you can throw it in the dishwasher. Recommended ages: 12 months and up Reusable mess-free coloring pads Alicia Betz/Business Insider Melissa & Doug Water Wow! 3-Pack, available at Amazon and Kohl's, from $16.99If you have a toddler living in your house and you haven't yet discovered the magic that is Water Wow, you're missing out. Each pad comes with four reusable boards that change color when they make contact with the water pen. They make absolutely no mess and are some of our favorite travel toys for toddlers. We keep one in the car and always bring them along to places like the doctor's office and restaurants. Recommended ages: 3 years and up A picnic play set and shape sorter all in one Walmart Shapes and Sharing Picnic Basket, available at Walmart and Buy Buy Baby, from $19.99 This picnic play set is one of our favorite toys for 1-year-olds. It teaches toddlers concepts like shapes, colors, manners, and sharing. The basket includes a shape sorter, two cups, two forks, two plates, six food items, and a picnic blanket. Recommended ages: 6 months to 3 years A doll to love and care for Amazon Manhattan Toy Wee Baby Stella, available at Buy Buy Baby, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Amazon, from $19.99This doll can grow with children as they move through different developmental stages. Toddlers can practice caring skills and strengthen their fine motor skills by removing and replacing the doll's binky as well as changing its clothes. At 12 inches tall, Wee Baby Stella is also a great size for toddlers. Recommended ages: 1 year and up A starter dollhouse The Melissa and Doug Fold and Go Dollhouse includes furniture and dolls. Amazon Melissa & Doug Fold and Go Wooden Dollhouse, available at Amazon, $59Dollhouses can keep toddlers entertained for hours as they imagine new scenarios and practice everyday skills. The set comes with 11 pieces of wooden furniture and two dolls, which is a big plus as many dollhouses don't come with dolls. Recommended ages: 3 to 6 years Toddler-size crayons and coloring books Alicia Betz/Business Insider My First Toddler Coloring Book, available at Amazon, $3.99Crayola Jumbo Crayons, available at Walmart, $2.97Crayola Multicultural Large Crayons, available at Staples, $3.79This is a simple yet exciting gift for young toddlers who are just learning how to color and develop their fine motor skills. The large pictures, numbers, letters, and shapes have thick lines, and the pages are durable. These are all characteristics that make coloring easier for toddlers. Thicker jumbo and large crayons are designed for toddlers to have success coloring. This book was one of the first coloring books I bought my toddler over a year ago, and it's still going strong. Recommended ages: 1 to 3 years (coloring book); 3 years and up (crayons) A push car with all the bells and whistles Amazon Step2 Whisper Ride II Ride-On Push Car, available at Buy Buy Baby and Amazon, $74.99My neighbors can't help but smile when they see my toddler roll by in this push car. Step2 sent a review sample that we've been testing since the beginning of the summer. It's still in great shape and handles hills and bumpy roads well. Some standout features include a storage trunk, a working horn, cup holders (for you and your toddler!), and a seat belt. Recommended ages: 18 months to 4 years A cuddly version of everyone's favorite Star Wars character Target Star Wars The Mandalorian The Child aka Baby Yoda Plush, available at Target and Kohl's, from $19.89Toddlers can cuddle up with quite possibly the cutest Star Wars character ever. Toys based on characters like this one give kids just enough inspiration for imaginative play scenarios without doing all the work for them. Even if you haven't seen "The Mandalorian," it's hard to resist this endearing little creature.Recommended ages: 3 years and up A cleaning set so they can 'help' around the house Alicia Betz/Business Insider Melissa & Doug Let's Play House! Dust, Sweep & Mop Set, available at Buy Buy Baby, Kohl's, and Amazon, from $23.98My daughter loves to "help" me clean around the house and this set is the perfect size for her. It comes with a pint-sized broom, mop, duster, brush, dustpan, and even a storage rack. My toddler has consistently used it for more than a year, and it's still in excellent shape. Recommended ages: 3 years and up A doctor's play set Amazon B. Toys Toy Doctor Kit, available at Target and Amazon, from $19.99Doctor visits can be scary, but role-playing with a play doctor kit makes them more approachable and even fun. This 10-piece kit comes with a stethoscope, otoscope, blood pressure cuff, syringe, scissors, thermometer, mirror, a pair of tweezers, a beeper, and a carry case to keep it all organized. The pager beeps and lights up, and the stethoscope makes a heartbeat sound. Recommended ages: 18 months and up A Lego set for learning the alphabet Amazon Lego Duplo My First Alphabet Truck, available at Amazon, from $19.99This Lego Duplo set encourages hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills as toddlers stack blocks and move the truck around. It comes with 36 Duplo pieces, including 26 letter bricks, a truck, and 10 other bricks and figures. Recommended ages: 18 months and up A customized tricycle Alicia Betz/Business Insider Radio Flyer Custom Build-A-Trike, available at Radio Flyer, from $70There's nothing quite like a classic red tricycle. Radio Flyer sent this tricycle for me to test, and I'm impressed by its quality. Depending on how you customize it, this tricycle can grow with your child from 9 months to 5 years old. Available customization options include a classic bell, a canopy, and a footrest. What I appreciate most about it is the push handle — I use it to help my daughter learn to steer and make sure she is safe while learning to ride. Recommended ages: 9 months to 5 years A set of musical instruments Amazon B. Toys Drumroll Please Instrument Set, available at Target, $22.99This musical set inspires imagination and creativity. It includes a drum, two drumsticks, castanets, a whistle, a tambourine, and a shaker egg. All of the instruments fit neatly inside the drum so toddlers can take it anywhere.Recommended ages: 18 to 36 months A cash register with play food and money Target LeapFrog Count Along Cash Register, available at Target, $19.99My daughter and I have played many hours of "grocery store" with this set. It comes with a working cash register, eight pieces of play food, 10 coins, and a credit card. Prompts encourage kids to count coins, and buttons on the display correspond with the play food.  Recommended ages: 2 to 4 years A stylish play mixer for the budding chef Kohl's KidKraft Wooden Baking Set, available at Kohl's, $19.99This stylish mixer can be an addition to an existing play kitchen, but it's also ideal if you have limited space. The set comes with a mixer, a bowl, eggs, flour, sugar, milk, a baking sheet, cookies, and a working rolling pin. Toddlers can't help but imitate daily life, and this set let my daughter "make" cookies without making a mess. Recommended ages: 3 years and up Everything they need to complete rescue missions Amazon Paw Patrol Dino Rescue Rev Up Vehicle with Mystery Dinosaur Figure, available at Amazon, $11.90For less than $15, this toy comes with a figurine, a vehicle, and a surprise dinosaur egg. Choose from six different Paw Patrol characters: Chase, Marshall, Rocky, Rubble, Skye, and Zuma. Each vehicle has a rev-up motor and a working tool.Recommended ages: 3 years and up Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytSep 22nd, 2021

Shellenberger: The Real Threat To Banks Isn"t From Climate Change, It"s From Bankers

Shellenberger: The Real Threat To Banks Isn't From Climate Change, It's From Bankers Authored by Michael Shellenberger via substack, Over the last two years, some of the world’s most powerful and influential bankers and investors have argued that climate change poses a grave threat to financial markets and that nations must switch urgently from using fossil fuels to using renewables. In 2019, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco warned that climate change could cause banks to stop lending, towns to lose tax revenue, and home values to decline. Last year, 36 pension fund managers representing $1 trillion in assets said climate change “poses a systemic threat to financial markets and the real economy.” And upon taking office, President Joe Biden warned government agencies that climate change disasters threatened retirement funds, home prices, and the very stability of the financial system. But a major new staff report from the New York Federal Reserve Bank throws cold water on the over-heated rhetoric coming from activist investors, bankers, and politicians. “How Bad Are Weather Disasters for Banks?” asks the title of the report by three economists. “Not very,” they answer in the first sentence of the abstract. The reason is because “weather disasters over the last quarter century had insignificant or small effects on U.S. banks’ performance.” The study looked at FEMA-level disasters between 1995 and 2018, at county-level property damage estimates, and the impact on banking revenue. The New York Fed’s authors only looked at how banks have dealt with disasters in the past, and what they wrote isn’t likely to be the final word on the matter. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and most other scientific bodies predict that many weather events, including hurricanes and floods, which cause the greatest financial damage, are likely to become more extreme in the future, due to climate change. And in February, The New York Times quoted one of six United States Federal Reserve governors saying, “Financial institutions that do not put in place frameworks to measure, monitor and manage climate-related risks could face outsized losses on climate-sensitive assets caused by environmental shifts.” But the Fed economists looked separately at the most extreme 10 percent of all disasters and found that banks impacted not only didn’t suffer, “their income increases significantly with exposure,” and that the improved financial performance of banks hit by disasters wasn’t explained by increased federal disaster (FEMA) aid. In other words, disasters are actually good for banks, since they increase demand for loans. The larger a bank’s exposure to natural disasters, the larger its profits. Happily, the profits made by banks are trivial compared to rising societal resilience to disasters, which can be seen by the fact that the share of GDP spent on natural disasters has actually declined over the last 30 years. While scientists expect hurricanes to become five percent more extreme they also expect them to become 25 percent less frequent, and now, new data show global carbon emissions actually declined over the last decade, and thus there is no longer any serious risk of a significant rise in global temperatures. Banking Against Growth The real risk to banks and the global economy comes from climate policy, not climate change, particularly efforts to make energy more expensive and less reliable through the greater use of renewables, new taxes, and new regulations. “For policymakers,” warned the three economists writing for the New York Fed, “our findings suggest that potential transition risks from climate change warrant more attention than physical disaster risks.” While they may seem like outliers, they are far from alone in expressing their concern. The second half of the quote by the Fed governor about climate change, which was hyped by The New York Times, warned that banks “could face outsized losses” from the “transition to a low-carbon economy.” (My emphasis.) And, now concern is growing among members of Congress about the dangers of over-relying on weather-dependent energy, with some members citing the New York Fed’s report after The Wall Street Journal editorialized about it last week . Proof of the threat to the economy from climate policy is the worst global energy crisis in 50 years. Shareholder activists played a significant role in creating it, according to analysts at Goldman Sachs, Bloomberg, and The Financial Times, by reducing investment in oil and gas production, and causing nations to over-invest in unreliable solar and wind energies, which has driven up energy prices, and contributed significantly to inflation. And yet a crucial Biden Administration nominee for bank regulation has openly said she would like to bankrupt firms that produce oil and gas, the two fuels whose scarcity is causing the global energy crisis. Progressive academic, Saule Omarova, nominated by Biden, said recently that “we want [oil and gas firms] to go bankrupt” and that “the way we basically get rid of these carbon financiers is we starve them of their source of capital. Biden nominee Saule Omarova said she wants to bankrupt energy companies Omarova is not an outlier. The Biden Administration’s Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) is advocating 30 new climate regulations that should be imposed on banking. Many analysts believe the US Securities and Exchange Commission will require new regulations. The goal is to radically alter how America’s banks lend money, the energy sector, and the economy as a whole. And former Bank of England chief, Mark Carney, co-chair of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, has organized $130 trillion in investment and said recently that his investors should expect to make higher, not lower, returns than the market. How? In the exact same way Omarova predicted: by bankrupting some companies, and financing other ones, through government regulations and subsidies. Former Bank of England head Mark Carney Carney created the Glasgow Financial Alliance, or GFANZ, with Michael Bloomberg, and they did so under the official seal of the United Nations. “Carney said the alliance will put global finance on a trajectory that ultimately leaves high-carbon assets facing a much bleaker future,” wrote a reporter with Bloomberg. “He also said investors in such products will see the value of their holdings sink.” What’s going on, exactly? How is it that some of the world’s most powerful bankers, and the politicians they finance, came to support policies that threaten the stability of electrical grids, energy supplies, and thus the global economy itself? The Unseen Order Three of the largest donors to climate change causes are billionaire financial titans Michael Bloomberg, George Soros, and Tom Steyer, all of whom have significant investments in both renewables and fossil fuels. Tom Steyer, Michael Bloomberg, and George Soros Soros is worth $8 billion and recently made large investments in natural gas firms (EQT) and electric vehicles (Fisker), Bloomberg has a net worth of around $70 billion and has large investments in natural gas and renewables, and much of Steyer’s wealth derives from investments in all three main fossil fuels—coal, oil, and natural gas — as well as renewables. All three men finance climate activists and politicians, including President Biden, who then seek policies — from $500 billion for renewables and electric vehicles over the next decade to federal control over state energy systems to banking regulations to bankrupt oil and gas companies — which would benefit each of them personally. Bloomberg gave over $100 million to Sierra Club to lobby to shut down coal plants after he had taken a large stake in its replacement, natural gas, and operates one of the largest news media companies in the world, which publishes articles and sends emails nearly every day reporting that climate change threatens the economy, and that solar panels and wind turbines are the only cost-effective solution. Soros donates heavily to Center for American Progress, whose founder, John Podesta, was chief of staff to Bill Clinton, campaign chairman for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and who currently runs policy at the Biden White House. So too does Steyer, who funds the climate activist organization founded by New Yorker author Bill McKibben,, which reported revenues of nearly $20 million in 2018. The most influential environmental organization among Democrats and the Biden Administration is the Natural Resources Defense Council, NRDC, which advocated for federal control of state energy markets, the $500 billion for electric cars and renewables, and international carbon markets that would be controlled by the bankers and financiers who also donate to it. In the 1990s, NRDC helped energy trading company Enron to distribute hundreds of thousands of dollars to environmental groups. “On environmental stewardship, our experience is that you can trust Enron,” said NRDC’s Ralph Cavanagh in 1997, even though Enron executives at the time were defrauding investors of billions of dollars in an epic criminal conspiracy, which in 2001 bankrupted the company. From 2009 to 2011, NRDC advocated for and helped write complex cap-and-trade climate legislation that would have created and allowed some of their donors to take advantage of a carbon-trading market worth upwards of $1 trillion. NRDC created and invested $66 million of its own money in a BlackRock stock fund that invested heavily in natural gas companies, and in 2014 disclosed that it had millions invested in renewable funds. Former NRDC head, Gina McCarthey, now heads up Biden’s climate policy team, and Biden’s top economic advisor, Brian Deese, last worked at BlackRock, and almost certainly will return at the end of the Biden Administration. Money buys influence. In 2019, McKibben called Steyer a “climate champ” when Steyer announced he was running for president, adding that Steyer’s “just-released climate policy is damned good!” And in 2020, McKibben wrote an article called, “How Banks Could Bail Us Out of the Climate Crisis,” for The New Yorker, which repeated the claim that extreme weather created by climate change threatens financial interests, and that the way to prevent it is to divert public and private money away from reliable energy sources toward weather-dependent ones. Forms filed to the Internal Revenue Service by Steyer’s philanthropic organization, the TomKat Charitable Trust, show that it gave McKibben’s climate activist group,, $250,000 in 2012, 2014, and 2015, and may have given money to in 2013, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020, as well, because thanked either Steyer’s philanthropy, TomKat Foundation, or his organization, NextGen America, in each of its annual reports since 2013. At the same time, McKibben’s motivations are plainly spiritual. He claims that various natural disasters are caused by humans, that climate change literally threatens life on Earth, and is thus “greatest challenge humans have ever faced,” a statement so unhinged from reality, considering declining deaths from disasters, declining carbon emissions, and the total absence of any science for such a claim, that it must be considered religious. McKibben first book about climate change, The End of Nature, explicitly expressed his spiritual views, arguing that, through capitalist industrialization, humankind had lost its connection to nature. “We can no longer imagine that we are part of something larger than ourselves,” he wrote in The End of Nature. “That is what this all boils down to.” Indeed, for William James, the belief in “an unseen order” that we must adjust ourselves to, in order to avoid future punishment, is a defining feature of religion. Climate change is punishment for our sins against nature — that’s the basic narrative pushed by journalists, climate activists, and their banker sponsors, for 30 years. It has a supernatural element: the belief that natural disasters are getting worse, killing millions, and threatening the economy, when in reality they are getting better, killing fewer, and costing less. And it offers redemption: to avoid punishment we must align our behavior with the unseen order, namely, a new economy controlled by the U.N., bankers, and climate activists. Unfortunately, as is increasingly obvious, the unseen order is parasitical and destructive. When Nuclear Leads, the Bankers Will Follow The unseen order of bankers, climate activists, and the news media is so powerful that it is difficult to imagine how it could ever be challenged. The financial might of the climate lobby covers the wealth not only of billionaires Soros, Steyer, and Bloomberg, but also $130 trillion in investment funds, including many of the world’s largest pension funds, such as the one belonging to California public employees. The climate lobby’s political power is equally awesome, covering the entirety of the Democratic Party and a significant portion of the Republican Party, and most center-Left parties in Europe. Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emanuel Macron, and U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm And all of that is sustained by cultural power, which has led many elites to view climate change as the world’s number one issue, has convinced half of all humans that climate change will make our species extinct, and has served as the apocalyptic foundation for Woke religion. But serious cracks in the foundation are growing. The global energy crisis has revealed for many around the world the limits of unreliable renewables, with European governments having to subsidize energy to avoid public backlash, President Biden and other heads of state opening up emergency petroleum reserves, and all nations begging OPEC to produce more energy. The blackouts and rising unreliability of electricity in California, along with the work of the pro-nuclear movement over the last 6 years, has resulted in a growing number of Democrats supporting nuclear energy. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm last week publicly urged California Governor Gavin Newsom not to close California’s Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, the signature nuclear plant Environmental Progress has been trying to save since 2016. Democratic support in particular for nuclear is growing. And alternative media including Substack, podcasts, and social media platforms are increasingly providing a counterweight to the mainstream news media, exposing a huge number of issues that the media got wrong in recent years, and amplifying alternative voices. Nowhere is the change occurring faster than in Europe, where energy shortages are affecting heating, cooking, and electricity supplies in ways that undermine the legitimacy of the banker-led climate efforts. In Britain, private energy companies have gone bankrupt, forcing the government to bail them out. For-profit energy companies, like banks, ultimately depend on taxpayers, who are also voters. Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who led her nation’s exit from nuclear energy, acknowledged that Germany had been defeated in its anti-nuclear energy advocacy at the European Union level, and that nuclear would finally be recognized as low-carbon. And French president Emanuel Macron, under pressure from the political right as voters look to elections next year, gave a passionate speech in favor of nuclear energy last month, announcing $35 billion for new reactors. As the world returns to nuclear, policymakers, media elites, and climate advocates will be increasingly confronted with the question of why consumers and taxpayers will benefit from a global carbon trading scheme and more weather-dependent renewables, particularly at a time of declining global emissions from the continuing transition from coal to natural gas, reduced deforestation, and increased reforestation. Simply building more nuclear power plants means there is no climate change justification for weather-dependent renewables, which actually require greater use of natural gas, in order to deal with the high amount of unreliability. Nuclear power goes with slow and patient capital. The obvious funders of a nuclear expansion in the West would be the pension funds, which need the secure return on investment that major construction and infrastructure projects provide, and which unreliable renewables, as the energy crisis shows, do not. And though the news media is currently ignoring the New York Fed’s report, reporters will not be able to continue spreading misinformation about climate change indefinitely. Increasingly, they, and thus policymakers and the public, will be forced to confront facts inconvenient to their narrative, including that humans are adapting remarkably well to climate change, that renewables make energy unreliable and expensive, and that only nuclear can achieve sustainability goals of reduced emissions, material throughput, and land use. As people ask, “How Bad Are Weather Disasters?”, not just for banks, but for all of us, the answer will increasingly come back, “Not very.” *  *  * Michael Shellenberger is a Time Magazine "Hero of the Environment,"Green Book Award winner, and the founder and president of Environmental Progress. He is author of just launched book San Fransicko (Harper Collins) and the best-selling book, Apocalypse Never (Harper Collins June 30, 2020). Subscribe To Michael's substack here Donate to Environmental Progress Tyler Durden Sat, 12/04/2021 - 21:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedge11 hr. 42 min. ago

The Case For Compulsory Vaccinations Is Dead... Omicron Just Killed It

The Case For Compulsory Vaccinations Is Dead... Omicron Just Killed It Authored by Kit Knightly via, Yesterday, Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, held a press conference where she talked at length about her “concerns” over the EU’s low vaccination rate, and how best to “fix” it. When asked about making vaccines mandatory, she said: It is understandable and appropriate to lead this discussion now – how we can encourage and potentially think about mandatory vaccination within the European Union. This needs discussion, this needs a common approach, but I think it’s a discussion that has to be led.” Adding: Two or three years ago, I would have never thought to witness what we see right now, that we have this horrible pandemic, we have the life-saving vaccines but they are not being used adequately everywhere. And thus this is an enormous health cost,” Of course, the idea that the EU nations are going to “debate” mandatory vaccinations is a joke, they are more likely to enforce them no matter what. But any real, rational debate was over as soon as the EU and the vaccine manufacturers both admitted that the vaccines do not work. By any pre-2021 definition, the Covid “vaccines” are not actually vaccines. From the beginning, it has been widely admitted that they don’t stop you getting the disease, and they don’t stop you spreading it. Every day we hear about some famous person or other testing positive “despite being vaccinated”. The EU has already hinted that their vaccination passes (which, ironically enough, they appear to have been planning for “two or three years” despite von der Leyen claiming they never saw the pandemic coming), will expire in nine months. Why will they expire? Because the “protection” allegedly conferred by the vaccine wears off. How fast does it wear off? They have no idea. The alleged emergence of the Omicron variant makes the situation even worse, from the establishment point of view. Indeed, it could be argued the first real casualty of the Omicron outbreak was narrative cohesion. Experts are already warning that the Omicron variant may be resistant to the vaccines, and the CEO of Moderna added his voice to this chorus yesterday, saying: I think it’s going to be a material drop [in vaccine effectiveness]. I just don’t know how much because we need to wait for the data. But all the scientists I’ve talked to…are like ‘this is not going to be good’.” Even if these warnings prove incorrect, and the mainstream suddenly backtracks and starts reporting that the vaccines work “better than expected” to combat Omicron, that’s irrelevant. They have just admitted that the “vaccines” could stop working the moment there is a new mutation. And viruses mutate a lot. So, they know the vaccine’s don’t work very well, they know they will wear off, and they know any new mutations could stop them working completely. The only thing they don’t know is what the long term side effects of the vaccines are, a fact admitted by Pfizer themselves in their supply contracts: the long-term effects and efficacy of the Vaccine are not currently known and that there may be adverse effects of the Vaccine that are not currently known Now, here’s the all-purpose disclaimer: This is not admitting that Covid19 is dangerous, the pandemic real or in any other way endorsing the narrative. Rather, and this is important, it’s pointing out that even on their own terms the establishment’s plan for compulsory vaccination does not make any sense at all. The current narrative is that: The vaccines do not confer immunity or prevent transmission. What beneficial effect they do have wears off, they don’t know when. They probably don’t protect against new variants or mutations. The vaccines have unknown longterm side effects. These are not fringe ideas or baseless theories, they are the self-contradictory supposed “facts” of the schizophrenic covid story. Going entirely by the mainstream’s own words, and completely on their own terms, any possible case for mandatory vaccinations is dead. The “Omicron variant” killed it, even if it never killed anything else. Tyler Durden Fri, 12/03/2021 - 23:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 4th, 2021

Cathie Wood"s ETF Is Unraveling

Cathie Wood's ETF Is Unraveling Cathie Wood's ARKK is sinking. Her flagship ETF, the ARK Innovation Fund, which was already having a dismal year, lagging major indices about 35%, is plunging to end the week today. Heading into the close, it's down about 6.3% and was down well below $100. On Friday, the damage got worse. Among Wood's woes were her holdings in Docusign, which by mid-day was down an astonishing 41%.   Additionally, Wood "bought the dip" by purchasing 2.1 million shares of Ginko Bioworks on Thursday, Bloomberg reported. On Friday, the stock fell by as much as 16%, at one point marking a 28% loss in just 5 days, amounting to $5 billion in value lost.  Bloomberg noted that ARKK hit some ugly technical indicators on Friday, as well. The stock's RSI plunged to 20 and saw a "trading range breakdown" according to technical analysis prepared by William Maloney, the voice of the U.S. equity squawk for Bloomberg. ETF expert Eric Balchunas put the performance in perspective on Friday. I'll zoom in just for the haters and show the since ATH returns, down 36%. That said, it's had multiple 30%+ drawdowns bf. This is what you get with high TE strategy. But for "fundamental" active mgrs saying I told you so, sorry to say your real competition is Vanguard, not ARK. — Eric Balchunas (@EricBalchunas) December 3, 2021 Recall, we had just written at the end of November about how ARK was running headfirst into one setback after another this year. Wood's Ark Genomic Revolution ETF had been suffering outflows in November as its returns lagged, falling 27% year to date by the end of November. We noted the fund suffered about $520 million in outflows, YTD, at the time. That fund compares to the NASDAQ Biotechnology Index, which at the time was up 10.49%. ARKG currently trades at a level lower than where it was a year ago. Key components like Exact Sciences and Teladoc are down 37% and 45%, respectively, this year.   Nate Geraci, president of The ETF Store, told Bloomberg: “It’s interesting that typically loyal Ark investors have been bailing on the ETF. The fund’s assets have been chopped in half since February. While I don’t believe the ETF is experiencing some of sort of ‘doom loop,’ clearly the outflows are putting downward price pressure on the underlying holdings and testing the will of remaining fund owners.” One day after we published this article, Wood took to CNBC and, sounding like a guy standing next to the scratch off lottery ticket dispenser at your local 7-11, claimed she was "really concerned" that investors leaving her funds at the end of November were leaving on "downward momentum" and that they'd miss the next swing higher. Since then, ARKK is down about another 10%.  As a reminder, Wood called the pullback "one of the best buying periods for her strategy," Yahoo News/Bloomberg reported during the last week of November. The "asset manager" said during a webinar organized by Bloomberg Intelligence last week: “Our concern for our clients is so significant that I get really upset when I think that they’re selling at the low or the other way around is buying into the high. At the high late last year and into January and February, I was saying, ‘We’re going to have a correction, keep some powder dry, keep some powder dry.’” She also reaffirmed her allegiance to Tesla's Elon Musk, who has peeled off billions of dollars worth of stock over the past two weeks. Wood commented:  “Tesla wants to save us from ourselves – wants to save humanity. Elon Musk is so convinced that we need to change our ways in terms of transportation and the environment that he’s dedicated his life to it.” Zero Hedge contributor Quoth the Raven also wrote last week about how Tesla has been one of the sole saving graces of an otherwise laggard group of companies behind ARKK: I kept arriving at the one key question any potential investor in ARK’s Innovation Fund should be asking themselves: how have Cathie Wood’s returns been, without the help of Tesla? After all, Tesla is only one component in an ETF that holds dozens of names. You can find the full list here. Over the last year, the market has started to understand why asking about Wood’s other positions is such an important question. What should be worrisome to Wood’s investors is not only that her flagship fund has vastly underperformed the major market indexes YTD, but also that it has done so while her flagship ETF component, Tesla - weighted at a monstrous 10% of ARKK - has done nothing but go up. In other words, Tesla has been saving ARKK from a complete and total meltdown. It is underperformance that only a visionary “active manager” could put together. At least it seems for now that Tesla is still holding the ship up. But how long will the $1000 level last? "Wood and her investors better hope that Tesla does not collapse, and I’m guessing that the number one tea leaf they probably don’t feel like attempting to read is an explanation for Elon Musk selling billions of dollars in stock over the last few weeks," QTR wrote: At first, Musk tried to write his sales off as selling for tax purposes. But with another Form 4 hitting last night for a cool billion in stock, my guess is that other questions will soon start to surface. Namely, complex questions like: “Does the company hiring an ex-SEC and ex-DOJ attorney as its managing counsel for litigation have anything to do with Musk’s stock sales?” We also documented that Musk has now sold over $10 billion in Tesla stock in less than a month this morning. His latest share sale was reported last night on a Form 4, where the world's richest man casually peeled off about $1.01 billion worth of stock via exercising options and stock sales.  Musk has been claiming that the purpose of recent stock sales has been to offset tax liabilities, but Musk's sales have shown no signs of stopping just yet. He has now sold 10.1 million shares since November 6, when he disclosed his intent to sell in a Twitter poll. In total, his sales amount to $10.9 billion, according to Bloomberg. While Musk has been dumping stock to his loyal followers, Tesla has held somewhat steady, an anomaly we pointed out weeks ago when Musk first began his sales. If Musk keeps selling, one has to ask: how much further underwater can the ARKK go before it starts taking on real water? Tyler Durden Fri, 12/03/2021 - 15:03.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 3rd, 2021

Democratic Muslim Reps. Omar, Tlaib, and Carson respond to Lauren Boebert"s anti-Muslim comments: "We are not anyone"s scapegoat"

Rep. Ilhan Omar played for the press an anti-Muslim death threat voicemail that she said she received after Rep. Lauren Boebert's comments. Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar plays a voicemail containing an anti-Muslim message from an unknown person during a news conference addressing Islamophobic comments by Rep. Lauren Boebert on November 30, 2021.Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters Democratic Muslim Reps. Omar, Tlaib, and Carson held a press conference following comments from Rep. Lauren Boebert.  Last week, a video surfaced of Boebert suggesting Omar was a suicide bomber. Boebert could face action from House Democrats this week. Democratic Reps. Andre Carson, of Indiana, Ilhan Omar, of Minnesota, and Rashida Tlaib, of Michigan — the only three Muslim members of the House of Representatives — called for Rep. Lauren Boebert and Republican leadership to face consequences after Boebert's recent anti-Muslim remarks."We are committed to ensuring a real consequence," Carson, the Dean of the Muslim Caucus, said during a press conference held by the three on Tuesday. "Rep. Boebert's comments are an insult to this institution and to American ideals. We are NOT anyone's scapegoat."Carson told reporters that he was working on a resolution with Democratic leadership. Rep. Rashida Tlaib urged Republican leadership to hold members of their caucus accountable and "end this now.""We may only be three among hundreds, but we are strong advocates that will not shy away from demanding justice for our community," Tlaib said.Rep. Ilhan Omar, who spoke last, opened with the story of Salman Hamdani, a Muslim-American EMT who died helping others on 9/11 but was vilified in the media because of his faith."Not all of us are as heroic, but almost all have experienced this suspicion," Omar said, recounting anti-Muslim comments she weathered from Republican colleagues and former President Donald Trump."On my first day, my then-colleague Steven King claimed that another member said there may be four pounds of C4 under my hijab that could destroy half of congress," Omar said, referring to a tweet King made last week. She added that Islamophobia "pervades our culture, our politics, and even policy decisions." Omar spoke of the treatment Keith Ellison, her predecessor, faced during his tenure as a Muslim politician."I myself have reported hundreds of threats on my life, often triggered by Republican attacks on my faith. And this week once again saw another increase. Here is just one voicemail my office received yesterday." Omar said.Omar then played a minute-long voicemail that she said she received recently. (Warning, the language in the video is graphic.)—The Recount (@therecount) November 30, 2021"We see you Muslim sand N-word bitch, we know what you're up to. You're all about taking over our country. Don't worry, there's plenty that will love the opportunity to take you off the face of this fucking earth. Come get it. But you fucking Muslim piece of shit. You jihadist. We know what you are. You're a fucking traitor. You will not live much longer," the man who sent the voicemail said. "We cannot pretend that this hate speech from leading politicians does not have real consequences," Omar said.Last week, a video surfaced of Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado telling an Islamophobic joke about Omar that suggested she was a suicide bomber. While House Democratic leadership has condemned Boebert's rhetoric, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters on Tuesday that a decision had not yet been made over whether to censure the congresswoman."There really hasn't been significant discussion about it, so I don't want to prejudge what action we think will be necessary," he said. "Hopefully the Republican Party and its leadership would take direct action to cleanse itself from this toxic kind of conduct."But House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has yet to comment on Boebert's remarks publicly."Silence is not appropriate," said Hoyer.'I don't think that will be a productive conversation'Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado at a press conference on March 17, 2021.Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesThe controversy over Boebert's Islamophobic remarks began on Thanksgiving Day, when a video surfaced on Twitter showing Boebert at a campaign event recounting a supposed run-in with Omar at the US Capitol where they both work in the House of Representatives.Boebert said she stepped onto an elevator with Omar on her way back to her office after a vote, prompting a Capitol Police officer to run towards the elevator with "fret all over his face." Boebert describes being confused about the encounter before noticing Omar standing in the elevator with her."Well, she doesn't have a backpack. We should be fine," Boebert said she told the officer.Boebert said she then turned to Omar and added, "Oh look, the Jihad Squad decided to show up for work today." "Jihad Squad" is a derisive term for the Squad, a group of six progressive members of Congress who are all people of color.Omar has denied that this encounter happened.Boebert later tweeted: "I apologize to anyone in the Muslim community I offended with my comment about Rep. Omar. I have reached out to her office to speak with her directly. There are plenty of policy differences to focus on without this unnecessary distraction."That led to a fractious phone call on Monday between the two members, with Boebert claiming that Omar hung up on her while the Minnesota congresswoman's team said that they ended the call after it became clear Boebert would not apologize more forcefully for her actions.McCarthy told CNN in a statement on Saturday that he had spoken with Hoyer about setting up a meeting between the two congresswomen. But Hoyer told reporters he "didn't broker a call" between the two members after speaking with Rep. Omar about the possibility."I called Mr. McCarthy back and I said I don't think that will be a productive conversation," said Hoyer, noting that Boebert has employed Islamophobic rhetoric throughout both her campaign and her tenure in Congress.Another video surfaced on Tuesday of Boebert telling a similar story about Omar at a separate event.—andrew kaczynski (@KFILE) November 30, 2021Former President Trump issued a lie-filled rant about Omar on Tuesday, calling on the Somali-American refugee to apologize for "abandoning her former country." Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 30th, 2021

A Tale Of Two Cities: Kenosha Vs. Waukesha

A Tale Of Two Cities: Kenosha Vs. Waukesha Authored by Victor Davis Hanson via, Both Wisconsin towns, Kenosha, and Waukesha, about 50 miles apart by car, were the recent sites of multiple deaths. The violence in both made national news. Yet in contradictory ways both reflected the common themes of America’s current legal, media, and societal corruption.   The relevant public prosecutors in both were in the news for alleged ideological bias. Specifically, they habitually calibrated the charging, indicting, and trying (or not) of defendants through ideological lenses and community pressure rather than on the basis of the facts and the law.   Kyle Rittenhouse was a 17-year-old armed youth who volunteered to protect business properties at the height of the August 2020 arson, riots, and looting in Kenosha. He was pursued and attacked by three members from a larger group who chased the armed youth, presumably either to disarm, injure, or kill him—or perhaps all three.  Rittenhouse variously was assaulted, kicked, and had a firearm pointed at him. In reaction, he fatally shot two of his pursuing attackers and wounded a third. Kenosha prosecutors reviewed videos of the altercations. They saw clearly that Rittenhouse was running away from his assailants. He was variously rushed by one assailant, kicked by another, and struck with a skateboard by still another. Again, a final pursuer pointed a gun at him at close range.   No matter. The Kenosha district attorney’s office charged Rittenhouse with several felonies including two first-degree homicide charges. All four whom Rittenhouse fired at—whether he missed, wounded, or fatally shot—had lengthy arrest records. Three were convicted felons; the fourth had a long arrest record.  Given the lengthy and quite horrific rap sheet of Rittenhouse’s first attacker Joseph Rosenbaum (including multiple counts of pedophiliac rape), it is difficult to understand why the latter was not in jail (he had been released earlier that day from a mental facility to which he had been committed after a failed suicide attempt). The common denominator to the various prior convictions of his other three assailants was that they should have led to consequences far worse, given that many of their arrest charges were dropped, or bail was sometimes waived, or plea bargaining turned serious charges into merely bothersome ones. The release of violent offenders on little or no bail seems now thematic in Wisconsin.  Shortly after the August 2020 shootings, the media, Joe Biden, and most of the left-wing commentariat had claimed Rittenhouse was a “white supremacist,” even though there was no evidence of such a libel, then or now. Remember, the Kenosha shootings took place just nine weeks before the November presidential elections, at a time when the Left was framing the incumbent Trump as a “white supremacist” and Joe Biden a “healer.”   The Racist Construct  The shootings were immediately declared to be “racial.” Yet both the shooter Rittenhouse and all of his attackers who were wounded or killed were white (a fourth assailant, an African-American who kicked Rittenhouse while he was on the ground escaped without injury).   What followed in the media was the most egregious example of concocted fictions since the Russian collusion hoax. Rittenhouse was falsely accused of crossing “state lines” (plural), while unlawfully armed with an “illegal automatic weapon.”   In truth, he did not buy the Smith & Wesson semi-automatic rifle, much less bring it into nearby Kenosha, Wisconsin from nearby Antioch, Illinois. It was legal for Rittenhouse to possess and use the firearm. The gun itself was not unlawful. He did not purchase it but had been given it by a friend. And Kenosha was his alternate home in that it was where his father and other relatives lived. Rittenhouse, then, was constructed as the proverbial white supremacist of the sort warned about by the likes of Joe Biden, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley.  At various times during the trial, the prosecuting attorneys called Rittenhouse a coward. They claimed he should have faced the pursuing mob of at least a dozen and willingly taking a beating from them face-to-face, in at least one case at gunpoint. The jury inter alia was told that the ongoing arson and other violent acts were not serious crimes, and that the three who attacked Rittenhouse were near-heroic victims.   Protestors outside the courthouse tried to intimidate the defense and jurors. A journalist sought to follow the jury bus, ostensibly to divulge their identities or to intimidate them (MSNBC was subsequently banned from the courtroom).   The piece de resistance was the lead DA’s pointing an empty semi-automatic weapon at the jury, with his finger on the trigger—all in the aftermath of Alec Baldwin’s accidental shooting with an “empty” loaded gun of two bystanders on a film set.   The DA apparently wished to scare the jury into a guilty verdict through the sensation of having a rifle pointed at them. Given the jury appears post facto to have been made up of reasonable people, that puerile gambit probably backfired. All that the imbecilic DA confirmed by his actions was the same recklessness as those in state and city government who had permitted parts of Kenosha to burn in the first place.        There were lots of suicidal prosecutorial stunts such as these in what turned out to be a circus of sorts. The DAs also sought to deprecate the constitutionally protected Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. They bizarrely saw their key witness admitting under cross examination that he had first pointed a handgun at Kyle Rittenhouse who then understandably fired at him. And they deliberately released an inferior version of the video record of the shooting to the defense while keeping the superior one to their perceived advantage.  So, the state’s madness raised strange questions. Were the incompetent DAs simply a window into a dysfunctional Kenosha County district attorney’s office where bumbling was an institutionalized force-multiplier to bias? Were the state prosecutors deliberately inept in order to prompt a mistrial and thus a retrial/second chance of their botched case? Or were they lazily going through the motions to satisfy the mob, but did not really believe Rittenhouse was guilty? Or were they just mediocre camera-hungry wannabe celebrities, who wished to win cheap media attention for as long as the bewildered judge would put up with their bizarre antics?  The Message of Acquittal A jury unanimously cleared Rittenhouse of all charges. It apparently concluded correctly that if law enforcement and the state either could not or would not protect lives and property in Kenosha, and if because of that dereliction of duty some citizens stepped up to take up the role that the police had utterly abandoned, then as citizens they had a right to defend themselves if attacked by those committing violence.   For some time, media demand has exceeded the available supply of clear-cut cases of white oppressors and black victims, at least if the Jussie Smollett hoax, the “hands up don’t shoot” lie, and the photoshopped pictures and edited tapes of George Zimmerman are any indication.   Yet the real reason the Left strained to gin up the theme of white-on-white violence as an example of racism was their larger agenda of sending a message to middle America: no American, in times of riot, arson, and looting, should have the right to use firearms to protect property. And under no circumstances could a citizen use a gun to ward off those intending to maim or kill him. Had Rittenhouse been found guilty, there no longer would be recourse for citizens living in cities where criminals were freely given the streets.  In other words, had such a clear-cut case of self-defense morphed into a successful murder conviction, then the most powerful figure in the nation would become the local district attorney. De facto, a DA could empower a mob to loot, burn, steal, and injure by refusing to indict those arrested—even if an increasingly politicized mayor and police chief chose to allow their officers to keep the public safe. We would then assume that in this state of nature anyone protecting property during a riot would be fair game for the mob, given the target would know he could become a convicted felon by defending himself from attack.  So, the Left understood well the messaging of attacking the open city and undefended town of Kenosha and the conviction of a “murderer” Rittenhouse: accept our political agendas and premises or otherwise your culpable community will be torn apart with impunity, and any who chose to combat the violence with violence will be charged with capital crimes.  Those Criminal SUVs  Not long after one Rittenhouse was acquitted, one Darrell Brooks, Jr., an African-American with a 20-year record of serious felonies, allegedly drove his car deliberately into a Christmas parade in Waukesha, killing 6 innocents and injuring over 60.  Unlike the dishonest media reaction lying about Rittenhouse, who had no criminal record, there was initial careful restraint not to identify the career criminal Brooks as the murderous driver who weaponized his vehicle against parade-goers. Despite first-hand accounts from bystanders that the lethal driver was an African-American with dreadlocks, the media, feigning unaccustomed professionalism in this instance, withheld rush-to-judgment identification and culpability. Joe Biden—for a moment—was commendably quiet in editorializing about the racial motivations or ideology of a suspect.  For a while the media ran with its own concocted rumor that Brooks merely was fleeing from an “altercation” and apparently had mistakenly turned the wrong way into a crowd—despite videos showing the driver deliberately ramming through street barriers repeatedly to seek out targets. Intent likely explains why he killed and injured so many innocents.   Finally, the news settled into the present narrative of a “car crash,”—as if a driverless vehicle on autopilot had simply bumped into various people in the street—before burying the murders altogether on their back pages and dropping the crime from the evening news. Or as the Washington Post put it, “Here’s what we know so far on the sequence of events that led to the Waukesha tragedy caused by a SUV.”  That media-generated ruse continued even when details of Brooks’ lengthy felony record were finally released. At the time he was mowing down strangers, he had five open arrest charges, including two felonies. Brooks had been released on $1,000 bail just two days earlier, in another eerie “coincidence” after being arrested for attempting to run over a woman and her child—the same modus operandi reified at the Waukesha Christmas slaughter.   An alien from Mars who examined Brooks’s life of crime, his recent violence, and the ease with which he was serially let loose upon the public might have concluded some sort of “privilege” as the cause of exemption.  Brooks posed on social media as an incompetent but narcissistic rapper. He left a video trail not just of his mediocre recordings, but of clear evidence of virulent anti-Semitism and anti-white racism, “So when we start bakk knokkin white people TF out ion wanna hear it…the old white ppl 2, KNOKK DEM TF OUT!! PERIOD.”   As pundits strained to deny any connection between the climate of BLM anger over the Rittenhouse verdict and Brooks’ murders, Brooks’ own testimonies point to a connection, at least in the sense of hating people on the basis of their race. Indeed, regional Milwaukee BLM activist Vaun Mayes quickly alleged that the Rittenhouse acquittal had earned the homicidal payback.   A low-level Democratic functionary tweeted that the dead children of Waukesha were proper karma for Rittenhouse walking free: “I’m sad anytime anyone dies. I just believe in Karma and this came around quick on the citizens of Wisconsin.” Or as Mayes further elaborated: Brooks was an insurrectionist whose violence had jumpstarted a supposed “revolution,” his apparent euphemism for mass murder. “But it sounds possible that the revolution has started in Wisconsin. It started with this Christmas parade.” Brooks is, for a while, in jail. Yet for some crazy reason he can be freed on a $5 million bond. He awaits charges of mass homicide—although one never quite knows. The Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisolm is a controversial “reformer” DA, whose campaigns have been funded in part by the George Soros conglomerate.  Creepier still, in the past a prescient Chisolm had boasted about his own future to the Milwaukee Sentinel, namely that his prosecutorial and bail policies would eventually release career criminals onto the street who would “inevitably” kill some innocents. Yet he riffed that such carnage was acceptable collateral damage from his decriminalization agendas: “Is there going to be an individual I divert, or I put into [a] treatment program, who’s going to go out and kill somebody? You bet. Guaranteed. It’s guaranteed to happen. It does not invalidate the overall approach.”  One wonders whether Chisolm will take that argument to the families of the Waukesha deceased—that the loss of their loved ones was a reasonable sacrifice to ensure that misunderstood 20-year criminals like Darrell Brooks, Jr. were not kept behind bars.  So, what are we left with from these horrors of two cities?  In Kenosha the media and the Left ginned up race when there was no such component in the trial. But in Waukesha they perpetuated racial arson and smothered the truth. That is, they kept largely silent when there clearly was racial hatred—given Brooks’ own record of anti-white and anti-Semitic venom. Again, the media can turn from creation to suppression on a dime, given the common theme of ginning up racial strife and hatred.  An amoral media and Left, so far, have kept an inconvenient Waukesha “car crash” out of the mainstream news—reversing their wild sensational obsessions with Kenosha. After all, in their unhinged racialized worldview, the demonization of a 17-year-old white male, who shot three other white males, still could be squeezed for racial juice, given the larger contextual landscape of a riot over a police wounding of an African-American male.   The shooting of Jacob Blake that set off the Kenosha riots was later determined to be justified, given the armed suspect was heading toward his car, after fighting with police, who were called to the residence to protect a woman who had a restraining order against the career violent felon.  In sum, Rittenhouse had no criminal record; all four of his assailants had lengthy arrest records. Three of them were ex-felons. He had no record of the racial hatred of which he was accused.   In contrast, Brooks was an abject violent racist whom the media sought to shield. And he was a career felon, who both long ago and quite recently should have been kept behind bars so that he would not murder innocents.   How a Wisconsin ex-felon received a $1,000 bail bond and freedom to mow down innocents, after trying to run down two with his car, while another juvenile without an arrest record, with good grounds to claim self-defense, was required to post a $2 million bond (and so stayed incarcerated pending charges without running water in his cell) is a commentary on the abject implosion of the American justice system.   Rittenhouse should have never been charged; Brooks should not have been out of jail. The effort to make the former a beneficiary of white supremacy and the latter a victim of it required a level of amoral media deceit that finally was unsustainable even in this bankrupt age.  Tyler Durden Mon, 11/29/2021 - 23:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 30th, 2021

5 steps to start researching and buying stocks like the Wall Street pros

Researching the right stocks for your portfolio can feel like a daunting task. Here are the basics you need to know. Risk tolerance and budget are two key factors that should inform your stock research.Terry Vine/Getty Your budget, investment style, and risk tolerance should guide your stock research. Understanding a company's fundamentals is key to finding quality stocks. Certain documents, such as a company's annual report, reveal key financial information and risks. Visit Insider's Investing Reference library for more stories. For individual investors, choosing the right stocks can feel like a daunting task. But if you want to manage your own portfolio, you can apply the same kind of techniques that the pros on Wall Street use in their research and analysis.Not sure how to begin? Use these 5 steps to help guide your approach.Step 1: Understand the types of stock analysisThe first step to researching stocks is to understand the different types of stock analysis. When researching stocks, the three main types of analyses are:Fundamental analysis: Examines fundamentals such as earnings, cash flow, and financial position to forecast performance.Technical analysis: Uses past prices and trading patterns to forecast future price changes.Quantitative analysis: Uses mathematical and statistical modeling to assess the value of a stock.Each approach has its merits. However, in most cases, fundamental analysis should be your primary tool to assess the value of a given stock, according to Robert Johnson, chairman and CEO at index provider Economic Index Associates. "Investors should concern themselves primarily with a company or asset's fundamentals (earnings, cash flow, financial position, products, and the like)," he says.The reason for this is that fundamental analysis breaks down the real-world performance of a company. Technical analysis, on the other hand, may reveal anomalies in an asset's price. But those can occur for many reasons, such as negative news coverage."Technical analysis is an assessment of statistics generated by market activity, such as past prices and volume," says Melanie Mortimer, president at SIFMA Foundation, which provides financial literacy programs. "Technical analysts use charts and other tools to project a security's potential future activity, taking cues from patterns in the data."Quantitative analysis may use some of the same metrics as technical analysis but can incorporate statistical modeling in an attempt to determine whether a stock is a good investment opportunity. "Quantitative funds tend to rely more heavily on valuation metrics and market technicals such as price momentum," says Carl Ludwigson, director of manager research at Bel Air Investment Advisors.Quick tip: Start your analysis by checking a company's fundamentals, such as earnings, profit margin, and revenue growth. You can then use technical and quantitative analysis to supplement your fundamental analysis to gain deeper insight.Step 2: Establish your risk tolerance and budgetIt's important to establish both your risk tolerance and budget before you research stocks. After all, there are many types of stocks and theoretically no limit to how much you can invest.For instance, blue-chip stocks such as those included in the Dow Jones Industrial Average may provide a consistent return but not have quite the potential for gains  as a startup company. However, there is naturally a greater chance of a startup performing poorly, or even going out of business. Therefore, you must determine the balance between how much risk you are willing to take and what kind of return you expect."With a longer time to retire and fewer financial obligations, an individual has the ability to absorb some volatility in their investment portfolio, knowing that time can help balance any short-term losses with longer-term gains, or the ups and downs of economic cycles," says Mortimer.Willingness to bear risk, on the other hand, is more subjective. "One way to gauge a person's willingness to bear risk is to simply ask the question: If your portfolio suddenly declined in value by X percent, would you lose sleep over it and suffer substantial regret?" Johnson says. "If the answer switches from yes to no when X is 10 percent, then the person has very little willingness to bear risk, and quite frankly, has limited investment options."Your budget also plays a role. There is a large difference between a 10% return on a $1,000 investment and a 10% return on a $100,000 investment. In other words, if your budget is relatively small, you may have to take bigger risks to see the return you want. That is not unusual, though, as those who are early in their careers tend to have less to invest — but also more time to take risks. Understanding where you are on this spectrum is key to forming your investment strategy.Step 3: Know which investing metrics to pay attention toThere's no shortage of investing metrics available, especially for larger, well-established companies. Some are more critical than others. Key metrics to consider include:Price/earnings ratioPrice/book ratioNet profit marginFree cash flowReturn on equityReturn on assetsWhich metrics are most important depends in large part on the style of investing you prefer. For instance, two common forms of investing are value and growth investing. Value investing involves buying stock in companies that are undervalued, therefore selling at a discounted rate. Growth investing, on the other hand, means buying stocks of companies that are expected to grow at a rate faster than the market."Value-oriented managers tend to focus on price-to-book, price-to-cash flow, and other measures that indicate a depressed price compared to the normalized earnings or intrinsic value of a business which creates a margin of safety," says Ludwigson. In other words, for value investors, the key metrics are those that indicate the price is lower than competitors' stocks, such as on a price-to-earnings or price-to-book basis. The lower these ratios are, the better.One thing to watch out for with value investing is the tendency toward mean reversion, according to Johnson. "Historically, asset prices and historical returns gradually move toward the long-term mean. So, if a particular stock is selling at a low P/E or price-to-sales multiple, all else equal, the P/E or price-to-sales ratio will likely revert to the mean at some point," he says.Growth investors take an entirely different approach, says Ludwigson. "Growth managers tend to focus on revenue and earnings growth with less focus on metrics like price-to-earnings as they expect the earnings to expand over time to justify the price," he says. Oftentimes, growth stocks are companies that have not fully matured, so revenue and earnings growth is more important than price.Quick tip: Certain metrics are more important than others to pay attention to, depending on the style of investing. For instance, price-based metrics lend themselves to value investing, while growth investors focus more on growth of earnings and revenue. Step 4: Find the data you need to start your researchNow that you have an idea of which companies you want to analyze, it's time to dive deeper. Here are some of the documents, reports, and tools you may want to check:SEC reportsThe company's revenue and incomeOnline brokerage research platformsCompany press releasesStock screenersIndustry trendsWhen first starting your research, you can check each company on an online brokerage's research platform as well as in stock screeners. These are a good way to check some of those metrics, like profit margin and price-to-earnings. Then, you can take a deeper dive into reports on the companies that look good.There is no shortage of reports to detail the companies you are considering for investment. However, there are certain places you should direct your focus first, says Kevin L. Matthews II, founder of investment education company BuildingBread. "Any company that you're looking into usually has an investor relations section on the website. If you go there you can find any important press releases, financial documents, and  documents filed with the SEC like the 10-K and 10-Q," he says.Matthews notes that the 10-K (the annual report) is his favorite document to help with company research as it outlines performance as well as potential risks and other strategic and financial details.In addition to reports found on a company's investor relations page, there are some databases you should know about, says Johnson. "The SEC's role of running the EDGAR database is of utmost importance to investors. The key types of documents on EDGAR include Annual reports (10-Ks), Quarterly Reports (10-Qs), Proxy Statements (DEF 14As), Prospectuses (S-1s), and Interim Reports of Material Events (8-Ks)," he says.Step 5: Narrow your focus and pick stocks that fit your portfolioAs you have probably already discovered, there aren't any magic bullets that fit perfectly into your portfolio. Instead, you should look for the investments that best align with your investing goals. For example, do you prefer value or growth investing? What is your budget and what is your risk tolerance?Once you answer these questions, you can start to formulate your investing strategy. Certain metrics, such as price-to-earnings, lend themselves more to value investing, while metrics like profit margin are more important for growth investing. You can then hone in on a company's fundamentals using an online broker and company reports to identify the right stocks for you.Depending on how risky a given stock is, you can weigh it against your risk tolerance and budget to determine whether to invest — and if so, how much. Then, you can continue to evaluate using future quarterly and annual reports to ensure the company still fits within your strategy.The financial takeawayResearching stocks can seem overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. First, determine your preferred investment style, budget, and risk tolerance. Then, you can use an online broker as well as internal and external company filings to find out more about each stock you are considering.Once you have done that, you're ready to start investing. Be sure to continue to evaluate each of your investments, either quarterly or annually. You may want to make changes if a company no longer aligns with your strategy — just be aware of potential capital gains taxes if you decide to sell.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 29th, 2021

The many alleged identities of Bitcoin"s mysterious creator, Satoshi Nakamoto

The identity of Bitcoin's mysterious creator is at the center of a Florida lawsuit that seeks to claim half of Satoshi Nakamoto's $54 billion stake. Blue bitcoinYuichiro Chino The identity of Bitcoin's creator is at the center of a Florida lawsuit over Satoshi Nakamoto's $54 billion stake. Since it was created in 2009, bitcoin has become a top digital currency. Many names have been dropped as Bitcoin potential creators, but none have been proven. Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories. The mystery behind the creator of Bitcoin and their over $54 billion stake has captured public attention once more, as a court case in Florida seeks to verify the creator's identity — an unlikely effort toward unraveling an enigma that has been over a decade in the making.The family of a deceased man, David Kleiman, is claiming their family member helped create the popular digital currency and is suing Kleiman's alleged business partner in the endeavor, Craig Wright, for half of Satoshi Nakemoto's 1.1 million cache of Bitcoin. For the past five years, Wright has been claiming on and off that he created Bitcoin, but has failed to provide any proof of his ownership.The creator could easily prove their identity by moving even a fraction of the cache of Bitcoin, or using the private key that controls the account.The identity of Bitcoin's creator, known only as "Satoshi Nakamoto," has long been a point of major interest, especially as their personal wealth continues to grow. Since it was created in 2009, Bitcoin has experienced significant highs and lows. In the past year, the currency has risen over 400%.Bitcoin is considered the top cryptocurrency in the world by market value, but there's still plenty of mystery surrounding its creation. Who came up with Bitcoin? Was it created by more than one person? And who is Nakamoto?Here's a rundown on the currency's strange beginnings:In 2008, the first inklings of bitcoin began to circulate the web.HoworthIn August 2008, the domain name was quietly registered online. Two months later, a paper entitled 'Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System' was passed around a cryptography mailing list.The paper is the first instance of the mysterious figure, Satoshi Nakamoto's appearance on the web, and permanently links the name "Satoshi Nakamoto" to the cryptocurrency.    On January 3, 2009, 30,000 lines of code spelled out the beginning of Bitcoin.A copy of bitcoin standing on PC motherboard is seen in this illustration pictureThomson ReutersBitcoin runs through an autonomous software program that is 'mined' by people seeking bitcoin in a lottery-based system. Over the course of the next 20 years, a total of 21 million coins will be released.To date, about 90% of Bitcoin or about 18.7 million have been mined. Satoshi Nakamoto didn't work entirely alone.Hal FinneyVimeoAmong Bitcoin's earliest enthusiasts was Hal Finney, a console game developer and an early member of the "cypherpunk movement" who discovered Nakamoto's proposal for Bitcoin through the cryptocurrency mailing list. In a blog post from 2013, Finney said he was fascinated by the idea of a decentralized online currency. When Nakamoto announced the software's release, Finney offered to mine the first coins — 10 original bitcoins from block 70, which Satoshi sent over as a test.Of his interactions with Nakamoto, Finney says, "I thought I was dealing with a young man of Japanese ancestry who was very smart and sincere. I've had the good fortune to know many brilliant people over the course of my life, so I recognize the signs."Finney has flatly denied any claims that he was the inventor of Bitcoin and has always maintained his involvement in the currency was only ever secondary. In 2014, Finney died of the neuro-degenerative disease ALS. In one of his final posts on a Bitcoin forum, he said Satoshi Nakamoto's true identity still remained a mystery to him. Finney says he was proud of his legacy involving Bitcoin, and that his cache of bitcoins were stored in an offline wallet, left as part of an inheritance to his family. "Hopefully, they'll be worth something to my heirs," he wrote.As of today, one bitcoin is worth over $54,000.  Nearly a year later, Bitcoin is slowly on its way to becoming a viable currency.Mike LazloIn 2010, a handful of merchants started accepting bitcoin in lieu of established currencies.One of the first tangible items ever purchased with the cryptocurrency was a pizza. Today, the amount of bitcoin used to purchase those pizzas is valued at about $100 million. Other companies have also started to invest in the currency. In February, Tesla purchased over $1 billion in bitcoins and moved to allow customers to pay for electric cars with the digital currency, before back-tracking a few months later.In September, Bitcoin gained the status of legal tender within El Salvador. The country plans to build "Bitcoin City," which would operate as the world's first cryptocurrency-based city.In 2011, the Silk Road, an online marketplace for illegal drugs, launched. It used bitcoin as its chief form of currency.A snapshot of Silk Road's websiteScreenshotBitcoin is inherently trace-less, a quality that made it the ideal currency for facilitating drug trade on the burgeoning internet black market. It was the equivalent of digital cash, a self-governing system of commerce that preserved the anonymity of its owner.With bitcoin, anyone could take to the Silk Road and purchase cannabis seeds, LSD, and cocaine without revealing their identities. And the benefit wasn't entirely one-sided, either: in some ways, the drug trafficking site legitimized Bitcoin as a means of commerce, even if it was only being used to facilitate illicit trade.Two years later, the mysterious figure known as "Satoshi Nakamoto" disappeared from the web.Clark MoodyOn April 23, 2011, Nakamoto sent Bitcoin Core developer Mike Hearn a brief email. "I've moved on to other things," he said, referring to the Bitcoin project. The future of Bitcoin, he wrote, was "in good hands."In his wake, Nakamoto left behind a vast collection of writings, a premise on the workings of Bitcoin, and the most influential cryptocurrency ever created.  Who is this Japanese-American guy named Satoshi Nakamoto?Dorian S. Nakamoto, a man who had zero involvement in the creation of Bitcoin.REUTERS/David McNewGoogle "Satoshi Nakamoto" and the results will lead you straight to image after image of an elderly Asian man. This is Dorian S. Nakamoto, named "Satoshi Nakamoto" at birth. He is almost 70 years old, lives in Los Angeles with his mother, and, as he has reminded people hundreds of times, is not the creator of Bitcoin. In 2014, Newsweek reporter Leah Goodman published a feature story pinning the identity of Bitcoin's creator on Nakamoto due to his high profile work in engineering and pointedly private personal life. Following the story's immediate release, Nakamoto was dogged by reporters, who trailed him as he drove to a sushi restaurant. Nakamoto told a journalist from the Associated Press that he had only heard of Bitcoin weeks earlier, when Goodman had contacted him about the Newsweek story.Two weeks later, he issued a statement to Newsweek, stating he "did not create, invent or otherwise work on Bitcoin." Dorian Nakamoto's claim was corroborated by the actual Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto a day later, with Satoshi's username mysteriously surfacing in an online forum to post: "I am not Dorian Nakamoto."  The Craig Wright controversyAustralian entrepreneur Craig WrightScreenshot Via BBCIn 2016, Australian entrepreneur Craig Wright claimed to be the creator of Bitcoin and provided disputed code as proof. Bitcoin developer Gavin Andresen further corroborated Wright's gesture, saying he was "98 percent certain" that Wright was the pseudonymous Nakamoto.But others were quick to disagree, and Wright's claim drew fierce skepticism from the cryptocurrency community online as well as alleged interest from the FBI. Amid the sudden influx of scrutiny, Wright deleted his post and issued a cryptic apology. "I'm sorry," he wrote, "I believed that I could put the years of anonymity and hiding behind me. But, as the events of this week unfolded and I prepared to publish the proof of access to the earliest keys, I broke. I do not have the courage."Five years later, Wright continues to claim that he created the digital currency, but has yet to provide any publicly accepted proof.In November, the family of a deceased man, David Kleiman, sued Wright for half of Nakamoto's cache of 1.1 million Bitcoins. The family claims the two men created the cryptocurrency together. The Florida court case is currently in the process of being reviewed by a jury.  Nick Szabo has been repeatedly identified as the creator of Bitcoin, a claim he denies.The mysterious Nick SzaboBusiness Insider/Rob PriceIn the course of determining the identity of Nakamoto, there's one person who has been thumbed again and again: hyper-secretive cryptocurrency expert Nick Szabo, who was not only fundamental to the development of Bitcoin, but also created his own cryptocurrency called "bit gold" in the late '90s. In 2014, a team of linguistic researchers studied Nakamoto's writings alongside those of thirteen potential bitcoin creators. The results, they said, were indisputable. "The number of linguistic similarities between Szabo's writing and the Bitcoin whitepaper is uncanny," the researchers reported, "none of the other possible authors were anywhere near as good of a match."A story in the New York Times pegged Szabo as Bitcoin's creator, as well. Szabo, a staunch libertarian who has spoken publicly about the history of Bitcoin and blockchain technology, has been involved in cryptocurrency since its earliest beginnings.Szabo firmly denied these claims, both in The New York times story and in a tweet: "Not Satoshi, but thank you."  Here's how the real "Satoshi Nakamoto" could prove his identity:Flickr/Rachel JohnsonHe could use his PGP keyA PGP key is a unique encryption program associated with a given user's name — similar to an online signature. Nakamoto could attach his to a post or a message indicating his identity. He could move his bitcoinNakamoto has amassed a fortune in bitcoin: He's thought to possess over one million coins, which today would be valued in excess of a billion dollars. Theoretically, Nakamoto could move those coins to a different address.    Dorian Nakamoto, Nick Szabo, and Craig Wright aren't the only ones who have been pinned as the inventor of Bitcoin.REUTERS/Stephen LamThere's a laundry list of people who have been pegged with this claim, but so far, they've all been struck down. Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk has been accused of being Bitcoin's creator — a theory he adamantly denied in 2018. The Wikipedia entry on Satoshi Nakamoto names at least 13 potential candidates as being responsible for the creation of Bitcoin. It's been over a decade since Bitcoin's creation, and we're still not any closer to confirming who invented it.  Why would the inventor of the world's most important cryptocurrency choose to remain anonymous?Bernard von NotHaus, the creator of the Liberty DollarYouTubeAs it turns out, experimenting in new forms of currency is not without its consequences. In 1998, Hawaiian resident Bernard von NotHaus dabbled in a fledgling form of currency called "Liberty Dollars" to disastrous results: He was charged with violating federal law and sentenced to six months of house arrest, along with a three-year probation. In 2007, one of the first digital currencies, E-Gold, was shut down amid contentious circumstances by the government on grounds of money laundering. In January, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen suggested steps that could be taken to "curtail" Bitcoin.If the inventor of Bitcoin wants to remain anonymous, it's for good reason: by maintaining anonymity, they've avoided adverse legal consequences, making their anonymity at least partially responsible for the currency's success.  Besides, one of the founding principles of Bitcoin is that it's a decentralized currency, untethered to conspicuous institutions or individuals. In his original proposition on Bitcoin, Nakamoto wrote, "What is needed is an electronic payment system based on cryptographic proof instead of trust, allowing any two willing parties to transact directly with each other without the need for a trusted third party."According to a public filing from top US digital currency trading platform, Coinbase, if Nakamoto chose to come forward it could cause bitcoin's value to plummet.Why would someone go to all the trouble of creating a decentralized currency without sticking around to receive any of the credit?Bill Hinton/Getty ImagesMuch of the mystery surrounding Nakamoto involves his motivations. Why would someone go to the trouble of creating a detailed and brilliant decentralized currency, only to later completely disappear from the public view? A closer look at one of Nakamoto's original postings on the proposal of Bitcoin sheds some light on his possible motivations.In February 2009, Nakamoto wrote, "The root problem with conventional currency is all the trust that's required to make it work. The central bank must be trusted not to debase the currency, but the history of fiat currencies is full of breaches of that trust. Banks must be trusted to hold our money and transfer it electronically, but they lend it out in waves of credit bubbles with barely a fraction in reserve. We have to trust them with our privacy, trust them not to let identity thieves drain our accounts."In Bitcoin forums, it's been speculated that Nakamoto might be "a libertarian and hates the corrupt rich people and politicians." Other Bitcoin enthusiasts suggest the timing of Bitcoin's emergence is a clear indication of its raison d'être: The currency, which was created in the years following the housing bubble burst in 2007, might have been invented as a means of disrupting the corrupted banking system. Here's what we know about Satoshi Nakamoto for sure:Ethan Miller/Getty ImagesThey're a geniusIn a New Yorker article from 2011, a top internet security researcher describes Bitcoin code as an inscrutable execution that nears perfection: "Only the most paranoid, painstaking coder in the world could avoid making mistakes."They speak fluent EnglishNakamoto has written extensively about Bitcoin, authoring close to 80,000 words on the subject in the course of two years. His work reads like that of a native English speaker. They might be BritishJudging by their spelling, and their use of British colloquialisms (they refer to their apartment as a "flat" and call the subject math "maths"), it's thought they might hail from the UK.The timing of his posts seem to indicate this fact as well: It's been pointed out that Nakamoto posted during UK daylight hours.They might be more than one personThe foolproof brilliance of Bitcoin's code have left many wondering if it isn't the work of a team of developers. Bitcoin security researcher Dan Kaminsky says Nakamoto "could be either a team of people or a genius." How does its creator feel about its success?Publican Grant Fairweather talks with a customer from behind the bar where a bitcoin sign is displayed in Sydney, Australia, September 29, 2015.REUTERS/David GrayJoshua Davis, who spent four months researching the possible identity of Bitcoin's creator for a New Yorker story, says he's deeply curious about how the cryptocurrency's creator feels about its success. "Every time I see a news post about the rise of the value of the Bitcoin, I wonder if Satoshi is seeing that too. What's he thinking? Is he proud? Is he thinking that, at some point, some day, he'll finally reveal himself?"If "Satoshi Nakamoto" hasn't revealed himself by now, it's unlikely we'll ever know who is. Zoe Bernard contributed reporting to an earlier version of this article. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 28th, 2021

We Don"t Talk About Collapse To Revel In It, We Talk About Collapse To Prevent It

We Don't Talk About Collapse To Revel In It, We Talk About Collapse To Prevent It Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog, If one possible result of the current system is collapse, realizing the system itself must be changed isn't doom-and-gloom, it's problem-solving. Those of us who discuss collapse are generally dismissed as doom-and-gloomers, the equivalent of people who watch dash-cam videos of vehicle crashes all day, reveling in disaster. Why would we spend so much effort discussing collapse if we didn't long for it? Those dismissing us all as doom-and-gloomers hoping for collapse have it backward: yes, some long for collapse as a real-life disaster movie, but those discussing collapse in systems terms are trying to avoid it, not revel in it. If the system is vulnerable beneath a surface stability, then the only way to avoid negative consequences is to understand those vulnerabilities / fragilities and work out systemic changes that reduce those risks. It's not the analysis of vulnerabilities that causes collapse, it's refusing to look at vulnerabilities because to do so is considered negative. Why not be optimistic and just go with the consensus that the status quo is impervious to serious disruption? Can-do optimism is all that's needed to overcome any spot of bother. The problem is humanity's propensity to confuse optimism with magical thinking. This confusion is particularly visible in any discussion of energy. The status quo holds that every problem has a technological solution, and doubting this optimism is dismissed as naysaying: "why can't you be positive?" I consider myself an optimist in the sense that I see solutions that are within reach if we change our definition of the problem so we can enable new solutions. I consider myself a practical, pragmatic optimist because I understand from life experience that systemic solutions generally require arduous transformations that will demand great effort and sacrifice. In many cases, this process is mostly a series of failures and disappointments that are the essential parts of a steep learning curve. But little of this basic awareness is visible in media descriptions of "solutions." Thus every advance in a lab somewhere is immediately touted as the globally scalable solution: algae-based fuel, modular nuclear reactors, new battery designs, etc., in an endless profusion of technologies which are 1) not even to the prototype stage 2) cannot be scaled 3) limited to specific uses 4) require the construction of new infrastructure 5) consume vast resources to be built, including hydrocarbons 6) are not renewable as they must be replaced every 10-15 years 7) are not cost-effective once externalities are included 8) are intrinsically impractical due to complexity, dependency on rare minerals, etc. All this "optimism" is actually 95% magical thinking, as the practical, real-world realities are dismissed or glossed over: "oh, they'll figure all that out." In other words, throw enough money and talent at a problem ("we went to the moon, so anything is possible!") and it will always be solved in a way that's bigger and better. This is not optimism, this is magical thinking being passed off as optimism. Real optimism is cautious and contingent, hyper-aware that solutions are a dependency chain that only reach cost-effective scalability if an entire chain of circumstances and advances line up just right. There's another source of confusing optimism and magical thinking: being too successful for too long. Former Intel CEO Andy Grove discussed this in his book Only the Paranoid Survive: once an organization reckons it has succeeded and has everything necessary to continue achieving success without making any systemic changes, then it's doomed to decay and eventual collapse. When success becomes the default then all the hard parts of success--sacrifices made, failures mopped up, gambles that didn't pay off and gambles that did--melt away and all that's left is a sunny confidence that somebody somewhere will work out a solution that scales up to solve the problem for all of us: "we have top people working on it--top people!" Meanwhile, back in the real world, it takes 20 years to get a new bridge approved and built in the U.S., 20 years for a new subway line approved and built and 20 years to get a new landfill approved. We're supposed to make the leap to a renewable zero-net-carbon future in 20 years and we can't even build one new-design nuclear reactor prototype in 20 years, even as we'd need hundreds of new reactors to replace a significant slice of hydrocarbon consumption. But if you dare to point out this painfully visible discrepancy between the real-world difficulties in getting a single prototype built in less than 20 years and the claim that we're going to transition away from hydrocarbons in 20 years, then you're a doom-and-gloomer, a naysayer who derives some bitter pleasure from shooting down optimists working on painless, sacrifice-free techno-solutions. The essence of magical thinking is the belief that the long dependency chain between the idea/lab experiment and a solution that's cost-effective and scales up to serve everyone will always fall into place because it's always fallen into place in the past, and so there's no reason to doubt that all the pieces will fall into place going forward. This is magical thinking because it has zero interest in the real-world constraints embedded in each link in the long chain. If you bring up any of these constraints, the magical thinking "optimist" is immediately annoyed and accuses you of being a bitter naysayer. The idea that there might be real-world constraints that "top people" can't overcome is rejected as naysaying. The possibility that there might be systemic constraints is rejected out of hand because "anything's possible if we throw enough money and talent at it." There will always be a solution / substitute which will be affordable and sacrifice-free. That all the previous examples of this were enabled by our exploitation of the easiest-to-extract hydrocarbon wealth is overlooked as a footnote. This leaves us all frustrated. Those of us grounded in the real world are frustrated that if we bring up any real-world constraints--for example, those wondrous untapped ore deposits that are going to make all these new techno-wonders cheap and quick and easy are far from paved highways, far from major river or bluewater ports, far from processing plants, and far from sources of the millions of liters of diesel fuel that will be needed onsite to extract the ores--then we're bitter naysayers who can't bear optimism and easy success, while the magical thinking "optimists" are frustrated that we're not accepting the technocratic religion that "top people" and a tsunami of money will solve any problem. One thing I've noticed is "top people" (actual experts with long experience) are never the ones hyping some new technology as the pain-free affordable solution unless they're paid shills of special interests. Then they hype nuclear reactors as the solution without mentioning the problem of what to do with the waste, to name one constraint "optimists" inevitably ignore. In the real world, the hard part is getting every link of the long dependency chain to work reliably and at a cost that's sustainable/affordable. Success comes not from blithely dismissing constraints as naysaying but from accepting most potential solutions will fail due to issues for which there is no cost-effective, practical, scalable fix. On a systemic level, this requires questioning whether the system itself has to change if we want a different result. If one possible result of the current system is collapse, realizing the system itself must be changed isn't doom-and-gloom, it's problem-solving.backslash *  *  * Thank you, everyone who dropped a hard-earned coin in my begging bowl this week--you bolster my hope and refuel my spirits. If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via My recent books: A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook $17.46) Read the first section for free (PDF). Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World (Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF). Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 (Kindle), $10 (print), ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF). The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 (Kindle), $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF) Money and Work Unchained $6.95 (Kindle), $15 (print) Read the first section for free (PDF). Tyler Durden Sat, 11/27/2021 - 11:52.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 27th, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving, Now Here"s Two Reasons Why The Market Could Collapse In December

Happy Thanksgiving, Now Here's Two Reasons Why The Market Could Collapse In December Submitted by QTR's Fringe Finance Most traders have a tendency to pay little attention to the market, put themselves on autopilot and hope for the best heading from Thanksgiving into the end of the year. This year, I’m getting a feeling that this strategy might not work well for what could be looming in December. The short-lived rally yesterday on news of Jerome Powell being re-nominated as Fed Chair was a nice reminder that the market doesn’t like surprises, changes, or volatility of any kind. After all, the market rallied on the selection of the “hawkish” choice, between Powell and Lael Brainerd. While Brainerd was widely seen as the more dovish of the two potential Fed chairs, the market still celebrated the fact that there would be no change at the position by rallying early in the session, as soon as the news broke, yesterday. Then, reality kicked in and the market swung sharply lower during mid-day session, before doing the same at the cash close. All three indexes finished the day far off their highs. Tech stocks got the worst of it, with the Nasdaq Composite dropping more than 1%. I have already detailed several reasons why I believe the NASDAQ could be on the verge of a collapse without warning here: Why We Could Be Staring Down The Barrel of A Catastrophic NASDAQ Crash And Not Even Know It Now, I want to add to those reasons. I got this feeling yesterday, while it was taking place, that the sharp intraday reversal needed to be paid attention to. The signs that I think do not bode well for the market heading into the holidays are: The market’s realization that a taper is now definitely on its way. A rotation from shitty tech names into value. The Taper Is Definitely On Its Way The jitters yesterday, in my opinion, were catalyzed by the realization that even though there will be no change at the Fed chair position, Jerome Powell is going to try to see through his plan of tapering and, upon re-nomination, has very little holding him back from going rogue. By that I mean there will be little stopping Powell from taking extraordinary measures to try to curb inflation if he wants and/or needs to. This man is officially in the driver’s seat now: Photo: The Atlantic“Why worry about the taper,” you’ll ask. “It’ll never last!” You might be right - but that isn’t going to change the market’s expectation of it working over the next couple months. I’ll be the first person to joke that continued QE isn’t going to work. Me and my kind often argue that any taper will be short-lived before it stirs up market volatility and elected officials eventually give in and resort back to more quantitative easing. However, this won’t matter in the short term. That next leg up for the market from another round of insane stimulus is a long, long, long while away. Hell, look at how far we have come since just March of 2020. Reality is going to have to rear its head at some point. Whether we follow through or not, with Powell at the helm we now have to at least attempt the taper, which I believe is going to wind up moving the market lower over the next couple of months. I’m often one of the first people to joke about how nonsensical the idea of a Santa Claus rally is, but it puts the idea of a rising market over the holidays into everybody’s head, every year. Obviously, it’s just made up bullshit-lingo used to provide an excuse for people to buy overvalued money losing crap in the market, but it seems like a good year to remind market participants that a rally doesn’t always have to happen. For example, remember in 2018 when Steve Mnuchin had to “call the banks” after the market slid heading into Christmas Eve? I think we could be on the precipice of repeating that type of holiday plunge. In other words, Santa Claus may not be around for the rally this year. Instead, he might drink too much bourbon and pass out drunk on the pool table at his local watering hole. Jerome Powell has been under pressure - and will continue to be under pressure - during his second term the likes of which he hasn’t seen yet. Not only will he face angry politicians from the right who want to drum up fear about a very real inflation problem, he’s going to have to face sharp criticism from those on the left that wanted him out of his position for not being dovish enough. Either way, I think he commits to try and stick the landing on the taper, which could result in some serious shit for equity markets. Finally, while I am talking about a potential pullback in anticipation of the taper, I am also expecting a pullback once the taper begins. There’s no doubt about it: tapering crashes markets. It has pretty much always happened and there’s no reason not to expect it won’t happen going forward, especially as we reside in the biggest bubble in market history. Tech Selling Off Suggests A Rotation From Growth To Value Another thing I noticed in yesterday’s trading was that several of my value stocks were rising while the overall market seemed to be plunging. I saw green in names like Lockheed Martin, Disney, Walmart and Johnson and Johnson, while the tech index sold off hard. To me, this looks like the rotation from growth to value that I have been talking about over the last couple weeks could finally be getting started. Photo: MarketwatchFurther evidencing a potential rotation was a move out of non-profitable tech companies yesterday, as my kind friends at Zerohedge pointed out late in the day yesterday. Finally, everyone’s favorite collection of dogshit-placed-into-a-paper-bag-and-lit-on-fire-then-called-an-ETF (AKA the Ark “Innovation Fund”), has also experienced a tough last week, plunging 7.76% in just 5 trading days. Make no mistake about it, a “rotation” into Dow components and profitable companies from tech garbage would catalyze a sharp move lower for the overall markets. Most of the leverage, unsophisticated investors and super-speculative (read: fraud and bilge) companies in the market reside in tech. There are still huge bubbles in meme favorites like AMC and GMC, among others, that need to have the air let out of them. Crypto remains a multi-trillion dollar air pocket. If the market decides to start valuing 15x PE names like Lockheed Martin - as I suggested it might, days ago - in favor of buying AMC at a $30 billion market cap while the CEO dumps all of his holdings , look out below. And so what’s the moral of the story today? The rotation trade from growth to value could very much be on and we may experience a market that decides to pull back with some significance now that the smoke has cleared and everyone realizes Jerome Powell - at least for now - is a guaranteed attempt at a taper. -- Read more from QTR: 1. Covid Is Over (If You Want It) 2. Two Reasons The Market Could Collapse Heading Into The Holidays 3. When The Global Monetary Reset Happens, Don't Forget Who To Blame 4. Pride Goeth Before The Bitcoin Fall This was a free preview of paid content from QTR's Fringe Finance. Zerohedge readers always get 10% off a subscription to my blog for life by using this link. DISCLAIMER: I am long JNJ, DIS, LMT, WMT and short ARKK, IWM, SPY. I may add any name mentioned in this article and sell any name mentioned in this piece at any time. None of this is a solicitation to buy or sell securities.  Tyler Durden Thu, 11/25/2021 - 06:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 25th, 2021

In Her Own Words: Elyse DeLucci plays Mrs. Maisal in real life

As we continue to struggle with the lingering tail of Covid-19, women everywhere find laughter a rare commodity. Elyse DeLucci turned to TikTok to support her comedy career and preserve her sanity. "The pandemic had a major effect on everyone, and as a mother of two small, school-aged children, I can say (like any other Pandemic parent), these were challenging times. Homeschooling, working, cooking, the end of each day I was completely frazzled. I made a TikTok account and used it….....»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsNov 25th, 2021

I Tried Buying Only Used Holiday Gifts. It Changed How I Think About Shopping

Pre-owned or vintage gifts are often better for the environment, and won't run into the supply chain issues facing new goods made overseas. I love the double dopamine hit that comes from buying something new—the rush when you click “purchase,” and the second one when it arrives at your door and you tear open the box. And there are plenty of real benefits to our incredibly efficient online shopping network: grocery shipping is shrinking food deserts, rural communities with few store options can quickly and easily get items they otherwise couldn’t have, and the time we used to spend driving to stores and searching for things that may have been out of stock we can now spend more productively. But over the last few years, I’ve had a front-row seat to all the problems created by Americans’ obsession with shopping. I’ve seen cargo ships idling off the coast of Long Beach because the ports are so backlogged, containers stacked high as apartment buildings, the horizon a smoggy cloud of emissions. I’ve talked to truckers who spend weeks living out of their vehicles, prohibited from using the bathrooms at the warehouses where they’re waiting for hours to unload goods, all to get paid barely minimum wage. I’ve interviewed Amazon workers about the physical demands of packing goods in the fast-moving warehouses that provide much of the stuff we buy, and I’ve even undertaken the stressful toll of delivering Amazon packages myself. I’ve tried to look away as we devour resources like trees, water, and rare earth minerals in the pursuit of making more, more, more. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] This year, I was feeling too guilty to buy my family new holiday gifts from Amazon. COP26 reminded me that nearly half—45%—of greenhouse gas emissions come from the way we make and use products and food, meaning that this consumption that drives our economy is also choking the planet. And even as scientists try to capture our attention about the urgency of reducing emissions, we’re consuming more and more. U.S. shoppers spent a record $638 billion in October at stores and restaurants, up 22% from October 2019. Forecasters are predicting even more spending in a holiday season where some families may be seeing each other for the first time in two years. Read More: How American Shoppers Broke the Supply Chain Was there a way, I wondered, to keep getting that nice little feeling I get when I buy something without also ruining the planet? Advocates talk of a Circular Economy where, instead of buying things, using them, and throwing them away, we reduce what we buy and reuse a lot more stuff. Even big companies are eyeing the practice; Apple announced last week that it would allow customers to repair their own iPhones, a giant shift in how they approach devices. ThredUp, an online resale company was valued at $1.3 billion in its IPO in March, after GlobalData projected the market for secondhand goods would double to $64 billion by 2024. ThredUp says that if everyone bought one used item instead of a new one this holiday season, we’d save 4.5 billion pounds of carbon, the equivalent of planting 66 million trees, and 25 billion gallons of water. I’ve long tried to buy used clothes and acquire toys and other household items from sites like NextDoor, Craigslist, and Buy Nothing, a Facebook group where members of your community post things they no longer need and anyone can claim them. (Buy Nothing recently launched an app, too.) But gifting used is a whole new arena. Still, the U.S. drives the world’s largest share of consumption-related emissions, and many of the things we buy are purchased for the sake of giving a gift and will sit languishing in a closet, unused. Maybe it was time to expand the circular economy to gifting, too. Jeremy M. Lange for TIMENovember 20, 2021. Carrboro, North Carolina. Sarah Urquhart browses the aisles at CommunityWorx Thrift Shop. Sarah tries to avoid buying new items and typically shops for herself and friends at thrift stores throughout the area. The rise of pre-owned I’m not the only person thinking this way. TheRealReal, a luxury resale site, saw a 60% increase in orders with gift boxes from 2019 to 2020. Poshmark, a secondhand clothing site, has seen a 31% increase in vintage sales in men’s clothing from last year. ThredUp has seen orders increase 28% from the third quarter in 2020 to the same period this year. And eBay reported $19.5 billion in sales in the last quarter, up 9% compared to the same period in 2019. This is all happening at the same time that younger generations are embracing “vintage” and “pre-owned” and buying clothes on online resale sites like Depop, which was acquired by Etsy for $1.6 billon earlier this year. Buy Nothing groups now have 4.3 million participants across the country, having grown by about 2 million people during the pandemic. Stress about the supply chain has also contributed to this turn toward used stuff, says Jordan Sweetnam, eBay’s general manager of the North Americas market. “People who may have been on the fence about shopping pre-owned are going to go to a traditional retailer and just see empty shelves,” he says. Already, on eBay, sales of certified refurbished products are up 25% since June, he says. Baby Boomers may still balk at the idea of using someone’s old blender, he says, but Generation Z has no qualms buying used goods, whether it be clothes or electronics. Read More: Why Is Everything More Expensive Right Now? Let This Stuffed Giraffe Explain Supply chain bottlenecks coupled with a growing disgust with rampant consumerism motivated Maria Patterson to accelerate her practice of not buying anything new for the holidays. Patterson, a 29-year-old mom in Austin, Tex., usually makes a craft like hot sauce or recipe books or beeswax wraps and gives them to many of the people on her gift list. She used to buy some new items around the holidays, but this year, she’s trying to not buy anything at all. It’s easy to bake treats or give a friend a sweater of yours they’ve always admired, she says, or just give less stuff overall. “The world cannot continue with the level of consumption that it currently has,” she says. I don’t mind receiving used gifts: for my November birthday, I asked my parents to gift me a used hiking Deuter backpack in mint condition from Craigslist, saving hundreds of dollars in the process. I’m always scouring the “finds” section of NextDoor for free kid stuff that’s being given away so I don’t have to buy clothes that my son will outgrow in a matter of months; I got a giant Fisher Price Jumperoo on Buy Nothing that my son loved until we couldn’t tolerate the space it took up, and we gave it to the next family. But giving used stuff to other people seems different. Spending less money on a used gift somehow feels like indicating the receiver is less valuable to you, which of course is not the intent. People who grew up wearing used clothes for financial reasons say they don’t want to revisit the stigma of having old stuff. Plus I’ve gotten accustomed to the ease of buying something on Amazon, not having to pay for shipping, and knowing it will arrive in time for a birthday or special event. A few gifts were easy to find used. I got my brother a Red Sox collectible Monopoly set from eBay because he loves sports and playing board games. From Facebook Marketplace, I found a used bamboo balance board for a standing desk for my husband, who has been half-jokingly asking for a treadmill under his home standing desk. I found a toy wooden dinosaur at a neighbor’s “free store”—they put out stuff to give away daily—and resolved to wrap it for my son in an old Amazon box, which he would probably enjoy as much as the toy. Read More: Price Hikes Will Likely Continue Through the End of 2021, Fed Signals But when I started looking for specific items, shopping used started to get a lot harder. My dad’s sweaters are always getting holes, but buying a used sweater would probably just mean they’d get holes even more quickly. My husband needed new sleepwear, but even I felt a little weird about getting him used pajamas. My mom likes painting, but I didn’t think there was such a thing as used paint. My son needed some shoes because he had outgrown the old ones, but kids’ shoes take such a beating I wondered if I’d be able to find any used that weren’t falling apart. Besides, after years of shopping on Amazon, where items are listed with multiple pictures, from many angles, and now even include videos, the presentation on sites like ThredUp and eBay left me feeling a little cold. On ThredUp, sweaters are poised on white headless mannequin torsos, and bizarrely, the site doesn’t seem to have a Men’s section. I know free shipping is bad for the environment, since it incentivizes people to buy, buy, buy, but I couldn’t help but balk at the shipping rates on some items. One eBay seller wanted me to pay $21.15 for shipping alone, which probably accurately reflects the environmental cost, but was more than the item itself. I settled with what seemed to me like a compromise—I found some RockDove Memory Foam slippers for my husband, whose old ones came from Amazon and are currently in shreds—on eBay, but they were in new condition, according to the seller, with the tags still on. I bought them for less than they cost on Amazon, paid $2.99 for shipping, and tried not to think about whether they had fallen off the back of a truck. Jeremy M. Lange for TIMESarah Urquhart browses the aisles at CommunityWorx Thrift Shop. Sarah tries to avoid buying new items and typically shops for herself and friends at thrift stores throughout the area. What will happen to the U.S. economy? Of course, if Americans stop buying so much new stuff, the economy could crater, which is exactly what happened at the beginning of the pandemic when people hunkered down and didn’t go out. GDP growth fell 31% in the second quarter of 2020, as Americans stopped spending. Millions of people lost their jobs as economists wondered how bad things could get. If Americans stopped buying so much new stuff, a very similar situation could unfold, says William Emmons, the lead economist in the division of Supervision, Credit, and Learning at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Consumer spending drives nearly 70% of economic growth in the U.S., and while much of that is spending on services like meals out or massages, a big chunk of it is also all the stuff we buy for our homes and loved ones. With less consumer spending, there would be fewer jobs; Amazon alone employed 1.3 million people at the end of 2020. There would be less money created in the economy, and since so many government programs like the recent infrastructure bill are funded by taxing earnings, there might be less money for those programs, too. There’s a reason that federal policy in recessions has often been to give people stimulus money to spend—the government knows that increasing consumer spending will jumpstart the economy. Read More: 6 Things to Know (About Yourself) to Have a Successful Black Friday “The big rise in consumer spending we’re talking about may not be the best from its environmental consequences, and it is exacerbating distributional questions,” says William Emmons, the lead economist in the division of Supervision, Credit, and Learning at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. “But it may be the most feasible way to keep the motor running.” Sweetnam, of eBay, argues that if people started buying more used goods, other businesses would spring up to create value for the economy. There could be new businesses that sell used goods, that refurbish old clothes, that collect old products to make them new again. There are already companies that have succeeded in embracing the circular economy—Lehigh Technologies in Atlanta takes old tires and rubber waste and turns it into a type of rubber powder that can be used in construction. But economists say that just switching to a circular economy outright could be catastrophic in the short term because so much of economic growth right now depends on people buying lots and lots of new stuff. They say the best way to get people to stop buying so much wasteful stuff is to levy a carbon tax, which would make goods that have larger carbon footprints more expensive. Read More: ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ Apps Are Taking Over Holiday Shopping Season. Here’s What to Know About the Risks Right now, says Mark Zandi, an economist at Moody’s Analytics, we’re not paying the true cost of the products we’re consuming. Since it is often cheaper to buy a new toy made from virgin materials in China and then shipped across the ocean than it is to buy a high-quality used toy from a stranger, that’s become the default way to shop, he says. A carbon tax could change that equation, by making people pay not just for the cost of the toy, but for the environmental cost of all the carbon its production generated. People will think twice about buying flights if they cost $600 instead of $300, he says, and the planet will benefit if the money raised is invested in new technology. A carbon tax would also save shoppers like me the headache of trying to figure out what gifts are more and less environmentally friendly. Buying your kid a used car might be worse for the planet than buying a new one, because older cars tend to have higher carbon emissions. “We just have to price carbon and if you do, the cost of things we spend money on that have a high carbon footprint will cost more, we will buy less of it,” Zandi says. “That’s the magic of our system: prices work.” Changing the way we shop Apple may be changing its approach by allowing customers to reuse and repair its devices, but there still isn’t a huge economy for buying high-quality used stuff. I felt guilty that I couldn’t find much used stuff that I felt comfortable gifting, but a nanny named Sarah Urquhart helped me realize that until companies fully embrace the circular economy, I would have to change how I bought gifts. Urquhart wasn’t always a nanny. She used to work at an Amazon call center. Saddened by the amount of waste she saw—of people endlessly buying things and returning them—she decided to change the way she shops. American affluence has meant most of us go into the holiday season in November and start thinking about what specific things our family members want and how to acquire them. It’s always been easy to make a list, and then tick the items off one by one, and online shopping has made it even easier. “It was just a culture I didn’t want to be a part of anymore,” Urquhart says. This year, she’s holding what she calls “Merry Thriftmas.” Buying used, she says, won’t work if you start shopping with specific gifts in mind. “If you’re only looking for that thing, you’re not going to be successful,” she says. Instead, she keeps an eye out year-round for used stuff that might appeal to a friend or family member, and then she sets it aside until the holidays. She doesn’t shop with a list of things her family members need; she keeps an open mind for things that might make her family laugh, or smile, or might make their life easier. Jeremy M. Lange for TIME. Urquhart bought a coffee mug that she says looks like her father in law. Sheet music that Ms. Urquhart collects to make wrapping paper with. She’s found some good gifts recently. There was a mug that looks exactly like her father-in-law, and a like-new Buzz Lightyear doll for the kids she nannies. She sanitized the doll, she says, “and it was the happiest kid I’d ever seen.” Her mother-in-law plays the piano, so she found some old sheet music to wrap her gift in—Urquhart hasn’t yet thrifted the right gift, though. Urquhart, who is also a member of her local Buy Nothing groups, says that giving used gifts can be much more satisfying than buying new. When she gives away and picks up things from Buy Nothing, she makes a connection to her neighbors that has much more longevity than her connection to a random box that arrives at her doorstep. She can now point to the houses where she’s picked something up or dropped something off. Finding the just the right unique used gift gives her even more of a dopamine hit than buying something new, she says. So does giving away something on Buy Nothing and learning that the person you gave it to really loves it. The day I talked to Urquhart, I gave away an agility ladder on my local Buy Nothing group that my husband bought to get in shape before our wedding, but had been sitting in our closet for a year. I dropped it through a gate on the way to pick up my son from daycare, and I got a message from the recipient telling me she works at a nursing home and was going to use it to help residents relearn how to step over things for fall prevention. Now, every time I pick up my son from daycare, I imagine elderly people gingerly stepping through my old bright yellow agility ladder—improving their fitness and unknowingly reducing carbon emissions all at once. It still makes me smile, which, you could argue, is the point of the holiday season.    .....»»

Category: topSource: timeNov 24th, 2021

Pride Goeth Before The Bitcoin Fall

Pride Goeth Before The Bitcoin Fall Submitted by QTR's Fringe Finance Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. - Proverbs 16:18 Many people already know some of my controversial takes on bitcoin, not the least of which is the idea that I believe a crypto cataclysm could be coming, and that China could be side-stepping a global economic crisis by bowing out of the crypto world. You can read those thoughts here: Is China Sidestepping A Crypto Cataclysm No One Else Sees Coming? So I was very interested when, last week, Kitco posted a debate between Peter Schiff and Alex Mashinsky on the merits of bitcoin versus gold. Schiff is CEO and chief global strategist of Euro Pacific Capital and a large proponent for buying gold as a safe heaven to preserve wealth. Mashinsky is the CEO of Celsius, a CeFi lending platform operated by use of blockchain technologies, and a proponent for bitcoin and cryptos as assets. I want to start this piece off by saying two things. First, just know I’m going to get a lot of shit from bitcoin bulls about it. If you’re one of those bulls already thinking about giving me shit, I encourage you to read some of the points I’m going to make here and not immediately try and throw a wet blanket over this entire article. Second, I want to make the points that (i) there are some things about bitcoin that I like and (ii) that I have exposure to some crypto related names. I like the idea of bitcoin, I just don’t know if it is going to stand up, long-term, in practice. Like many people, for a preservation of wealth and store of value, I am much more comfortable holding gold. Furthermore, I agree with the problem that a lot of bitcoiners are trying to solve: that the central banks are completely out of control and are doing more harm than good. So hopefully, if you are a crypto advocate, you don’t see this article as me widening the gap between us, but rather trying to identify some nonsense in the space that I think can help inform both bitcoin skeptics and those who are bullish. Source: KitcoWhen I first saw that Peter Schiff was debating Alex Mashinsky on Kitco news, I knew it was a debate that I wanted to watch. Before I even started watching the interview, I saw a disclaimer on Twitter written by Peter himself, where he apologized for losing his temper. I couldn’t help but wonder what, exactly, took place during the interview, as I have watched hundreds of Schiff interviews and have never seen him lose his temper. In fact, sometimes, I lose my temper watching the videos and get mad at Peter for not losing his temper because of how stupid some of the guests are that he is routinely pinned against when discussing things like the merits of capitalism versus socialism. But it wasn’t more than a couple of minutes into Kitco’s debate that I started to understand exactly why Peter was getting frustrated. The guy that he was “debating” against was throwing a slew of logical fallacies against the wall and just seeing what stuck. Mashinsky led the debate by suggesting a classic fallacy: that bitcoin’s past performance was going to always be indicative of its future results. This is akin to betting “black” at the roulette table after “red” comes out fifty times in a row because it is “due” to come out when, in fact, “black” still has the same 50% chance of coming out as it did on all of the prior spins. I give kudos to the Kitco moderator for trying to put a stop to this argument before it started, but this is always the first arrow in the quiver for bitcoin bulls. I have pointed out over and over, there is a reason that the first disclaimer you always see when buying a financial product is: “past performance is not indicative of future results.” Because it isn’t. Mashinsky then continues hopping from one logical fallacy and inaccuracy to the next. During a discussion about whether or not all bitcoin margin debt (key word: all) was liquidated during the last bitcoin crash, Peter Schiff points out that the amount of leverage people are using to buy bitcoin is likely still significant and dangerous. Mashinsky argues that he believes all margin debt had been liquidated during the last bitcoin plunge, a ridiculous assertion that had Peter fuming. MashinskyThe absolute worst and most irresponsible of all of the arguments from Mashinsky came when he suggested to viewers of the debate - many of whom likely lack financial sophistication - that both bitcoin and gold pay a yield. Of course, what he meant was that they pay a yield on his Celsius platform, but he failed to qualify his statements to make that clear. Neither asset pays a yield in general and Mashinsky knows that. As Peter noted, the capital to pay a yield has to come from somewhere. In dividend paying companies, it comes from their retained earnings. Bitcoin and gold don’t earn anything on their own, so there’s nowhere to draw from to pay a yield, let alone an astronomical 5% yield that Mashinsky claims during this debate. When Mashinsky claims bitcoin pays 5%, Peter hones in on the fallacy and immediately asks him repeatedly where the yield comes from. Mashinsky has no answer. Peter then takes a guess and asks if Celsius trades the crypto in order to come up with the proceeds to be able to pay the yield, but Mashinsky never gives him a clear answer. This is an extremely dangerous thing to suggest by Mashinsky without explaining in full - and I think even bitcoin bulls can understand why this is dangerous. You can’t get a 5% yield anywhere, let alone from a speculative new asset class. And if you are getting 5% somewhere, chances are you may not be getting it consistently or for a long period of time. Understanding how a yield is paid is one of the most important concepts in value investing, which is of course why Peter honed right in on the Achilles’ Heel and why Mashinsky refused to answer questions about it. Hilariously, there are also several times during the debate where Mashinsky refers to bitcoin as “gold” or the “gold standard”. Perhaps Mashinsky should take a step back and understand why things are labeled the gold standard to begin with. In the words of Peter Schiff: “Gold mines are literally gold mines!” SchiffMashinsky spends parts of the debate trying to juxtapose bitcoin and gold, like many others have done while advocating for bitcoin. But at some point, it’s going to become very apparent that the two are not the same and bitcoin bulls will one day wonder why they hadn’t made the distinction clearer to begin with. Mashinsky then contradicts himself several times when speaking about where the price of bitcoin is going to go. When questioned about where the price of both gold and bitcoin are going, he predicts that gold will go to between $2300 and $2500 over the next year. He then predicts that bitcoin will reach $150,000 next year. That prediction comes just moments after Mashinsky himself says that we have no idea where the price of either asset is going to go. The fact that he is replete with double talk like this should alarm prospective investors in bitcoin. There’s also a point in the middle of the debate where Mashinsky admits that psychological buy-in is the one thing that’s driving the price of bitcoin. Schiff then tries to ask several times what happens if people stop believing in it. Mashinsky admits that if people stop believing in it, it means that they have started believing in something else. This point should be fleshed out as a major risk factor and not just dashed over quickly after being avoided, as it was done in this interview. Showing off pure ignorance of where value comes from, Mashinsky even claims gold “has no value” during the interview, telling Peter: "Gold has zero value. Yes you can use it in jewelry and you can use it to build high fidelity electronic equipment, but that doesn't mean it has any value." Mashinsky also advocates for “borrowing against your fiat” to buy bitcoin. Make no doubt about it, this is asking people to borrow against their houses, credit cards and everything they own to pour money into bitcoin. It’s an idea that’s as irresponsible to suggest as it inverse to the idea of “protecting” your wealth. Mashinsky’s debate tactics also included ad hominem attacks, like when attempts to make fun of Peter for being a dinosaur, suggesting he is using a dial-up modem after his connection drops during the debate. These jokes, especially about Peter, often come up in the bitcoin community and while they are relatively harmless, it is important to understand that they are creating a climate of cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias that reaffirms the notion that bitcoin bulls have some super tech-savvy understanding of bitcoin that guys like Schiff and myself do not. Bitcoiners better hope they’re right. As I’ve argued several times before, sometimes it isn’t the fact that people don’t understand bitcoin that makes them skeptical, it’s the fact that they do. Finally, later in the debate, Mashinsky is also challenged on bitcoin’s need for a power source and the threat of quantum computing, both of which he doesn’t really seem to have a great answer for. People laugh at me when I bring up the idea of solar flares and coronal mass ejections rendering their bitcoin temporarily useless, but it is a real world scenario that could happen. In fact, we had solar storms just over the last week. When asked about the need for power, Mashinsky is forced to reply that all bitcoiners will be able to do in that instance is “wait for the power to come back on”. Since I have been paying attention to bitcoin over the last couple years, no one has been able to give a good answer for what to do when the power goes out. It looks like your bitcoin is simply rendered useless in that case. Yes, you could say the same thing about the banking system because a lot of it is digital, but people that own gold own it as a hedge against those systems. Wouldn’t it be safe to say that gold could be a hedge against bitcoin, too? When talking about quantum computing, Mashinsky admits that bitcoin is going to have to be modified over the next decade as quantum computing advances. No one knows what those advancements or changes will look like and who is to say whether the bitcoin you buy today will adhere to the same rules and same mathematical certainties it will after such a modification is made. Gold, on the other hand, has had the exact same properties and has been the exact same metal for thousands of years, which is specifically why people like it and why it works as a store of value.What are the two key points I’m trying to make in this article? First, bitcoin bulls can do better than Alex Mashinsky. The guy obviously spent a majority of the debate pitching his own service and not trying to legitimately deconstruct counter-arguments against bitcoin. I’ve met too many people who are too smart in the bitcoin community to let this guy be the person that represents you as a whole. Personally, I wouldn’t wanna do business with the guy either, but that’s just me. The second key point is to always remember that hubris comes before the fall. This is an old saying, but Mashinsky’s tone of arrogance and bragging about his business while not being able to answer key questions about how it functions, to me, looks like a great deal of hubris. The more interviews I watch like this, the more the hubris ramps up towards a fever pitch. Over time, nature and karma have a way of correcting these things. Admittedly, I’ve been saying the same thing about Tesla for years and its reckoning hasn’t happened yet, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t.Past performance is not indicative of future results. You can watch the entire hour long debate here. -- Read more from QTR: 1. Covid Is Over (If You Want It) 2. Two Reasons The Market Could Collapse Heading Into The Holidays 3. When The Global Monetary Reset Happens, Don't Forget Who To Blame -- Zerohedge readers always get 10% off a subscription to my blog for life by using this link. Tyler Durden Tue, 11/23/2021 - 23:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 23rd, 2021

David Rosenberg: "To Bet On Inflation Is To Bet Against Human Ingenuity"

David Rosenberg: "To Bet On Inflation Is To Bet Against Human Ingenuity" David Rosenberg, founder of Rosenberg Research, doesn't expect a sustained surge in inflation. In an in-depth interview with Christoph Gisiger of The, he explains how investors can position themselves for a disinflationary market environment and which indicators he’s paying particular attention to. * * * It's the all-important question for 2022: Will inflation come down again in the course of the coming months, or has a new regime of persistently high inflation begun in the wake of the pandemic? For David Rosenberg, the case is clear: The economist and investment strategist expects the economy to cool down next year. At the same time, supply bottlenecks will ease as more capacity is built up everywhere. "My outlook for the economy – for the lack of a better term in two words or less – is muddle through", Mr. Rosenberg says. "And that means inflation will come down next year", he adds. In this in-depth interview with The Market/NZZ, he explains why he does not believe that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates anytime soon, how investors can position themselves for a disinflationary market environment, and which economic indicators one should keep a particularly close eye on. Mr. Rosenberg, inflation in the U.S. has risen to its highest level in thirty years. Is this trend persistent or transitory? First of all, the definitions of transitory and persistent represent gray areas. So if you believed that transitory meant weeks, months or even quarters, this is obviously not proving to be transitory. But transitory truly defined just means an event that is expected to be short-term or brief in nature. What we’re seeing right now is a very sharp inflationary experience, and its magnitude has altered people’s perception on the duration of this inflationary period. Certainly, inflation rates are higher today than I would have thought several months ago. It also has proven to be a little stickier. And what happens next? Where I really differ – more than just on whether this is transitory or persistent – is with the prevailing view that somehow inflation has broadened out substantially. That’s not the case. It’s still narrowly confined to rent and automotive, basically anything with a microchip attached to it. This is still very much part and parcel of all the distortions we’ve seen through the entire pandemic. Therefore, I’m in agreement with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen that this inflation situation lasts as long as the pandemic lasts. We do have a mismatch between supply and demand. But within the next year, the pandemic likely and hopefully morphs into an endemic, and with that process the supply bottlenecks will resolve. What does this mean for the economic outlook? I actually think that the tables are going to be turning on the demand/supply equation. This time next year, demand is going to be quite a bit weaker. Recurring large rounds of fiscal stimulus have been the key component of demand growth, and that is going to decline. People have not appreciated the extent of the fiscal boost on aggregate demand. That is going to dissipate substantially, even with the Biden infrastructure package. At the same time, supply will come back on stream. We know that because that is what history tells us. So to bet on inflation is to bet against human ingenuity – and I’m not willing to do that. Following President Biden’s infrastructure package, however, Democrats are expected to push another stimulus package through Congress in the coming weeks. For one thing, investments in physical infrastructure are going to end up improving productivity which is an anti-inflationary supply side development. It would be like saying that Eisenhower’s rollout of the interstate highway system in the 1950s was inflationary. In reality, it was far from that. Also, it’s still unclear what’s going to happen with the social infrastructure part which doesn't have as much support politically as the physical infrastructure part does. In this regard, it’s important to say that there is no such thing as a free lunch. The next round does not come tax free. Any future stimulus will be accompanied by tax increases, and that is going to make it less beneficial for aggregate demand. Perhaps, you get a more just and fair society out of it, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be a pervasive boost to aggregate demand. So at what pace will the U.S. economy grow next year? The economy will likely grow in line with potential, call it roughly 2%. The Fed is at 3.8%, so I’m positioned squarely below, and that’s why I don’t have a very bearish outlook for bonds. Right now, a lot of the Street’s interest rate outlook is premised on inflation, and it’s premised on the Fed starting to raise interest rates by the summer of 2022. I’m pushing back very hard on that prognostication. My outlook for the economy - for the lack of a better term in two words or less - is «muddle through». And that means inflation will come down next year. What does this mean for your forecast on the Fed’s monetary policy? In terms of rate hikes next year, I’m at zero. A lot of the reason why the 10-year Treasury note is at 1.6% instead of 1.2% is that the market has aggressively priced in an early return to a rate hike cycle. But I don’t see that happening so quickly. The Fed has told us that it is going to take a flexible policy approach premised on the evolution of the economy relative to its baseline forecast. Importantly, the Fed historically had an institutional bias in its forecast towards growth being stronger than it ultimately proved to be. That’s why I’m in the camp that the economy will expand next year in line with potential. That means capacity pressures will stabilize, and this will provide the backdrop for inflation to come back down towards the Fed’s target. What would happen if the Fed nevertheless raised rates as early as next summer? As I said, I don’t see the need for a new rate hiking cycle quickly in the aftermath of the first global pandemic in over a century. There are still way too many uncertainties over the economic outlook. Remember, everything the Fed does in a moment of time has a peak impact on the economy 12 to 18 months later. Thus, raising rates too early in 2022 in what is perceived as a transitory inflation environment - no matter how you define transitory - will risk a recession in 2023. Then again, the stronger dollar also points to a somewhat tighter monetary policy in the United States, doesn't it? The dollar had a pickup because of the reset of interest rate expectations by the Fed at a time when the ECB has pushed back on rate hike expectations out of Europe. So part of that strengthening move has happened against the Euro. But it’s been quite broadly based, mostly in view of Fed Chair Powell starting to sound less dovish and more hawkish after the September FOMC meeting. That’s when the U.S. dollar started to circle around. In my view, this dollar rally has a short shelf life because interest rate expectations are going to head in the opposite direction next year. Hence, I am more of a dollar bear than a dollar bull, especially at today’s levels. What would it take to change your mind? The one thing that is going to be very important is the labor participation rate. That is where the rubber meets the road on the extent to which the inflation backdrop proves to me more pertinacious than what I’m talking about. I’m not worried about transportation costs or freight rates, and I’m not worried about the semiconductor and the automotive industry. But the biggest risk is if this turns into an accelerating wage cycle. Why? The only reason why the unemployment rate is at 4.6% and not above 6% is because of the very sluggish performance turned in by the labor force participation rate. In the next several months, it’s going to be critical for the labor participation rate to hook up more forcefully which means that the competition for job openings is going to expand, even with continued job creation. That puts a lid on the wage growth we had over the course of the past several months. This is going to be critical for bond bears and inflationists alike: Their call really stands on the participation rate remaining extremely low. Why do you assume otherwise? I like to make the comparison to Canada where the participation rate has gone almost back up to where it was pre-COVID, and wage growth is running at around 2%. In the United States, the participation rate has only reversed 40% of last year’s pandemic and lockdown induced decline. As a result, wage growth in the U.S is running close to 5%. The key difference, of course, is that the vaccination rate in the U.S. is almost 20 percentage points lower than in Canada. I bet that gap will be closing over time meaning people who have been less inclined to go back to work for health concerns will have those concerns alleviated, especially in industries within the sphere of the consumer cyclical sector. Therefore, if the participation rate is going to head back up towards the pre-COVID level, I think the unemployment rate ends up going back towards 7%. And, if that happens, the Fed is not raising rates, wage inflation recedes and the Treasury market embarks on what is otherwise known as a «bull flattener», a yield-rate environment in which long-term rates are decreasing more quickly than short-term rates. What does it mean for the stock market if monetary policy remains loose for the foreseeable future and speculative mania continues to rise? There are bubbles everywhere: residential real estate, equities, corporate credit, cryptos. But there is nothing in my interest rate forecast that is bearish for risk assets. Because in the final analysis, the central banks have to offer a policy based on the real economy. Without doubt, the valuations are crazy, and there will be a day of reckoning. It’s just not clear that it will be in the next twelve months. Against this backdrop, what’s your advice in terms of investment strategy? What’s interesting to me is that the pundits out there that have the highest inflation forecast and the highest interest rate forecast are also the ones that are most bullish on these risk assets which are long duration in nature. This is a classic case of cognitive dissonance: The people that are most bearish on bonds are the most bullish on stocks, not realizing that they are both joined at the hip. If bond yields really ratchet up, the bull market in equities and almost everything else that is considered risk and long duration is going to come under a serious correction if not an outright bear market. In other words, U.S. government bonds are an attractive investment? We can argue if they are a good investment. But if you agree with my view, they will be a good trade. If you have anything remotely close to a contrary antenna, you have to be owning Treasuries right now, I mean the very long end of the curve. That will generate the biggest return. With the new fiscal stimulus packages, however, government debt in the U.S. will rise even more. At the same time, the Fed is tapering its bond purchases. Aren't these unfavorable conditions for Treasuries? It’s very interesting. We’ve thrown so much at the treasury market: repeated rounds of fiscal stimulus, ubiquitous inflation, unrelenting growth, the re-opening of the economy and the Fed’s taper. Yet, here we have the 10-year note at below 1.6%. So what do you do for an encore? All the bad news for bonds is already out there. That is telling you a lot about the resilience of the bond market. We’re not at the bottom of a recession with clear skies ahead. We’re coming out of this best part of the growth, with inflation likely peaking. So how much will 10-year Treasuries yield next year? A lot of the factors that took us from 1.25% to 1.60% on the 10-year note are going to be unwinding. We are going to see disinflation next year and weaker than expected economic activity. That’s why I’m very bullish on treasuries. In the next twelve months I think the yield on the 10-year note is probably going to be gravitating towards 1.25%. And the long bond, the 30-year, is probably going to head down towards 1.5%. Also, keep in mind: This is a contrarian call which makes it all the more rewarding. All the hedge funds are more underweight treasuries than they ever have been at any point in the past two decades. And what about the outlook for equities? Right now, the cyclically adjusted Shiller P/E Ratio of the U.S. equity market is close to 40, and in the past century it’s only been at 40 or higher at 2% of the time. I mean, that’s a three standard deviation event. In the past, when we had the starting point on the multiple for equities this high, forward returns - whether it’s one, three or five years - were negative. So the starting point of the multiple is telling you the same thing as Treasury yields: We’re into a future of anemic expected returns because so much of those returns have already been harvested over the course of the past years. This means that active investing is going to be superior to passive investing, and that the ETF industry might have a tougher time. But didn’t you just say that the party for risk assets like stocks will go on? The legendary Wall Street veteran Bob Farrell famously said: Exponentially rising markets can go further than you think, but they don’t correct by going sideways. We’re still in the first part of that sentence. If my interest rate forecast is correct, it means real rates stay negative, and the bubble probably gets bigger. But in the name of prudence, I want to be invested in the sectors that will benefit from a bull flattening in the treasury curve and from slowing growth. That means I want to be positioned in utilities, healthcare and consumer staples. What, for example, speaks in favor of healthcare stocks? What I like about healthcare in particular is that it doesn’t have a correlation with GDP growth. If you go through a big slowdown, healthcare will be a very good place to be. What we learned with the pandemic and the variants is that the battle against these sorts of viruses is not going to go away any time soon. We also learned that healthcare has been an underinvested sector, and it will remain a focus for capital spending for an extended period of time. On top of that, healthcare is a secular theme that is tied at the hip with the aging demographic profile of the population. To me, healthcare has secular tailwinds that I want to be involved with at all times. Especially, in a year when we expect a rotation towards the most defensive sectors and out of the more cyclical sectors as GDP growth underperforms expectations. In this context, how do you assess the risk of drug price regulation? There is always political risk with investing in healthcare. That’s just the nature of the beast. But it’s not a reason to not have at least a few toes in the sector. And let’s face it, what happens next year is that the Republicans will likely take back the House and the Senate, and we end up with another two years of political gridlock. So I’m not really concerned about that aspect. When it comes to international investments, your bullish call on India this year turned out great. Where else do you spot opportunities for investments outside the U.S.? According to our models, valuations are much more compelling in Asia than they are in the United States. Thus, I like Asia over the U.S., particularly in the case of Japan. Japan is one of the most inexpensive stock markets in the world. And, with the recent victory of the Liberal Democratic Party, the political outlook has eliminated a source of uncertainty. What’s more, in the past few months, Japan has done a stellar job in getting their COVID case count down and their vaccination rates up. And of course, the recent cheapening of the Yen is a boon for their large cap exporters. What is the best way to invest in Japan? It is still very difficult to get a pulse of the Japanese consumer, but the business sector seems to be in very good shape. I think the industrials will perform well, especially with the upcoming fiscal stimulus and the weakening of the Yen. So large cap exporters will probably benefit the most. Are there any other opportunities for compelling investments? If you’re looking for a hard asset that is unloved and underowned, gold and gold mining stocks will be a very good place to be. Very recently, gold has been firming despite a strong U.S. dollar. If I’m right with my forecast and the dollar depreciates next year and real interest rates stay negative, this will be a very important tailwind for gold. There’s also the prospect that China continues to embark on its regulatory crackdown on crypto currencies, which should also be a positive for gold. Finally, you see it on a technical basis: Gold has been breaking out. That’s why I think that what I call the «bond-bullion barbell» will work very well in 2022. Tyler Durden Tue, 11/23/2021 - 17:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 23rd, 2021

Anonymity has always been part of the internet, but Facebook wants us to use our real names in the metaverse. Should we allow fake identities online?

Anonymous accounts have caused massive headaches for the internet, but the benefits to users are even more widespread. Some anonymity is a good thing. Social media is rife with fake accounts, anonymous users, and alternate profiles. Getting rid of anonymity won't solve the problems of the internet.Marianne Ayala/Insider Facebook has long pushed for people to use their real identity on its platforms.  But digital anonymity has been part of the internet since it began — and users love having the option.  For all the downsides of fake accounts, doing away with anonymity won't solve the internet's problems.  Drew is a Brooklyn-based writer who publishes the weekly newsletter Kneeling Bus. This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author. During a congressional hearing in September, Senator Richard Blumenthal unintentionally became a meme when he asked Facebook's global head of safety, Antigone Davis, "Will you commit to ending finsta?" Finsta, a slang term for a secondary, anonymous Instagram account that users create to reach smaller groups of users more privately, had come under congressional scrutiny for its supposed role in Facebook's growth strategy. And despite the ridicule that followed Blumenthal's poorly-worded question, his grasp of the concept was basically correct.Although finsta accounts are an emergent phenomenon among users — rather than a feature Facebook actively promotes — their existence illuminates the nuances of the company's relationship to users' digital identities as well as its control over those identities. Anonymity is arguably the finsta's essential quality: By linking multiple accounts to a single email address, Instagram users subvert the priorities dictated by the app itself, like maximizing followers and engagement that accrue to one's personal brand. The goal, in other words, is to reclaim a measure of control over one's digital presence by purposefully splitting it into multiple parts, some of which are anonymous.Such anonymity is only outwardly facing, however. Facebook knows who a given user is even if other users don't. The irony of Senator Blumenthal choosing "finsta" as his target is that Facebook itself has done more than perhaps any other company to make individuals' online identities more rigid, by enforcing the notion of a singular digital self that maps directly to one's offline existence. "You have one identity," Mark Zuckerberg said in a 2010 interview. "Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity."Facebook's website also states this intention clearly: "Facebook is a community where everyone uses the name they go by in everyday life … so that you always know who you're connecting with." The ability to have a fluid online identity is in many ways an inherent quality of digital existence as originally conceived, but has become a hotly contested issue more recently as the drawbacks of anonymity become increasingly apparent. Since Facebook's launch in 2004, it and other Web 2.0 companies have normalized the notion of having an online identity that matches one's identity in "everyday life." Today, the internet finds itself at a fork in the road: While the de-anonymized, social media-driven Web 2.0 remains dominant, the nascent, blockchain-based Web3 offers to reintroduce some of the fluidity and anonymity that became less attainable in the Facebook era. Meanwhile, Facebook itself — recently renamed Meta — has outlined its own vision for the "metaverse," which promises to further solidify the connection between our online and offline identities. But we shouldn't have to choose between these two approaches: Instead of simply embracing or rejecting anonymity altogether, Facebook and the other entities shaping the internet's future might recognize the benefits of the fluid identities that the internet makes possible, while also finding more sophisticated ways to combat the negative consequences of anonymity. In doing so, they would have the opportunity to synthesize the best aspects of each vision.Anonymity was a crucial part of the early internet Before Web 2.0 and Web3, there was Web 1.0: the internet of the '90s and early '00s in which a relatively small subset of users generated most of the content. Anonymity and pseudonymity were somewhat inherent to the Web 1.0 user experience, because most users were not posting much at all, and those who did frequently used an alias. Outside of walled gardens like AOL, the building blocks of the early internet were personal websites and message boards where users could present themselves however they wanted. The web was a place to transcend the limitations of the physical world, rather than a direct representation of it.When Facebook exploded in 2004, it changed this expectation dramatically, mapping online activity to offline reality. Users eagerly created profiles listing their interests alongside personal information like their birthday and relationship status. They "friended" their actual friends and soon began adding tagged photos, enabling Facebook to construct its social graph — a digital model of real-world social reality that would prove immensely profitable as a mechanism for targeted advertising. Instead of Web 1.0's individual servers, users' identities have come to live increasingly on big tech platforms' relational databases, which have collected more and more information about them. While social networks like Facebook did give us useful new ways to express ourselves online, the flexibility and relative anonymity of Web 1.0 was equally valuable. Potential for both harassment and free expressionAs Facebook matured, it found itself at war with users' efforts to escape their real-world identities, while in the past decade, the consequences of digital anonymity have become more visible. In 2012, Facebook's share price plummeted after the company estimated that there were as many as 83 million fake accounts on the social network, a situation that had obvious negative implications for its ad sales. Many attributed Donald Trump's presidential election victory in 2016 to misinformation spread by Russian bots and sock puppets — alternative online identities "used for purposes of deception," as Wikipedia defines them — on Facebook and other internet platforms. In a 2018 New Yorker piece about Russia's role in the election, Jane Meyer cited the significance of "the countless messages, created by masked Russian social-media accounts, that were spread by algorithms, bots, and unwitting American users." More broadly, a 2017 survey by Pew Research Center found that anonymity "is often blamed as a key enabler of cruelty and abuse in discussions of online harassment." At its most extreme, digital anonymity facilitates crime and violence, being the core feature of "dark web" networks that support a wide range of illicit transactions. These are all problems worth solving, but it's less clear whether prohibiting anonymity will actually rectify them on its own.While the drawbacks of anonymity are largely unambiguous and often extreme, the benefits are more subtle. The same Pew survey found that many respondents value the kind of anonymity that the internet makes possible: "On the positive side, 85% of Americans feel anonymity allows people to discuss sensitive topics freely, 77% think anonymity makes people feel more private and secure, and 59% say it is important to protecting freedom of speech." While positive outcomes rarely produce headlines as galvanizing as Russian misinformation or dark web crime, those benefits are arguably more widespread. For example, Facebook's real-name policy has proven limited: Some users, including Native Americans, have been suspended for using their real names, while Facebook still allows plausible-sounding names that are actually fake. Victims of real-world abuse and discrimination have complained that Facebook's enforcement of real names effectively doxxes them, thereby placing them in danger offline. The internet also provides a crucial channel of political speech under repressive regimes, a function that requires anonymity. Saudi Arabia, for example, has imprisoned human rights activists for "internet crimes" and has sought to end Twitter users' ability to be anonymous within the country. The emergence of finsta accounts themselves demonstrates users' desire to free themselves of social media's often-toxic usage norms.Anonymity on the future internet The current moment, then, is undeniably pivotal. Blockchain technology and Web3 promise to unshackle internet users from the platform-dominated internet where personal data and identity itself reside in databases owned by huge corporations. The potential for "trustless" interactions on the blockchain supposedly removes the need to know who exactly we're dealing with, in monetary transactions or social interaction. But at the same time, Web3 promises an immutable blockchain ledger that records all digital activity for posterity, in full public view. Users themselves might remain anonymous, but their behavior could become more trackable than ever.Facebook's metaverse vision, on the other hand, simply continues the company's effort to reproduce real-world identity and social connections in a virtual environment. We can try on different avatars in the metaverse, but Facebook will almost certainly ensure that we remain tethered to our singular offline identities. However valuable online anonymity may be, it is likely to remain somewhat elusive in Facebook's metaverse.Facebook's interest in regulating our identities ostensibly arises from safety concerns: minimizing harassment and other harms that become possible when, to use Facebook's language, you don't "know who you're connecting with." But maybe that's just what companies like Facebook want us to believe as they continue to compile proprietary data about us.After all, despite Facebook's ongoing struggle to firm up user identities, it seems just as toxic a place as ever, perhaps even more so. Instead of forcing digital identities to match their offline counterparts, companies like Facebook should recognize the value of anonymity and the flexibility of identity that the internet makes possible. Not only does such fluidity have real benefits, but it's inherent to the nature of the internet, and fighting it wholesale goes against the very grain of the medium. Facebook and other stewards of digital space might instead accept responsibility for the worlds they have designed and develop more innovative and nuanced solutions to the toxic problems that arise within them. Just because anonymity has drawbacks doesn't necessarily mean it should be eliminated.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 23rd, 2021

The 4 best Bluetooth speakers of 2021 for listening to music outside and around the house

These are the best Bluetooth speakers you can buy in 2021, whether you want a compact option on a budget or a smart model with voice control. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.Amazon Bluetooth speakers come in all shapes, sizes, and price ranges. The Sonos Move is our top pick thanks to quality sound, reliable smart features, and good battery life. Read more about why you can trust our tech team to provide the best product recommendations. A great listening experience for all your favorite music services shouldn't be limited by pesky wires. While the days of carrying around a boom box are by and large over, you can still get quality wireless music in the form of a Bluetooth speaker.Thanks to Bluetooth support, these speakers are able to play music from other Bluetooth-enabled sources, like a smartphone or laptop, without any cables. Whether you're getting a speaker for use around the house or a day at the park, there's a Bluetooth speaker for you. But there are several things to consider before you buy, including size, battery, durability, and sound quality.With all of those factors in mind, we selected the best Bluetooth speakers you can buy for a variety of needs. Since most people purchase Bluetooth speakers for their portability, all of our picks feature built-in batteries for listening on the go, though some are better suited for travel than others. Many of our picks are expected to be on sale for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so be sure to check out our deals coverage for all the latest discounts.Here are the best Bluetooth speakers:Best Bluetooth speaker overall: Sonos MoveBest Bluetooth speaker for portability: Bose SoundLink Revolve+ IIBest waterproof Bluetooth speaker: UE Boom 3Best cheap Bluetooth speaker: Anker Soundcore Flare MiniThe best deals on Bluetooth speakers from this guideBluetooth speaker deals are usually rather plentiful year-round, but substantial discounts on flagship models from Bose and Sonos tend to be rare. These models have a better chance of going on sale during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In anticipation of those big deal events, you can already snag a solid discount the UE Boom 3. Ultimate Ears Boom 3UE Boom 3 is well-designed and sounds pretty good, but it's also water resistant, making it great for use by the pool or at the beach.$129.99 FROM AMAZONOriginally $149.99 | Save 13%Read more about how the Insider Reviews team evaluates deals and why you should trust us.Best Bluetooth speaker overallAmazonThe Sonos Move looks good, sounds great, and offers voice control with Alexa and Google Assistant.Dimensions: 9.44 (H) x 6.29 (W) x 4.96 (D) inchesDrivers: One downward-firing tweeter and one mid-wooferSmart assistant: Alexa or Google Assistant (requires Wi-Fi)Battery life: Up to 11 hoursPros: Attractive design, integrates with other Sonos speakers, excellent audio quality, Alexa and Google Assistant with Wi-FiCons: A little expensive, a bit heavyWith an excellent design, awesome sound quality, and support for two digital assistants, the Sonos Move is one of the most fully featured Bluetooth speakers you can buy.The speaker offers a ton of bass, coupled with crisp clarity and detail in the high end. That makes it excellent for listening to music. The Move can even be calibrated using Trueplay tuning technology to suit different environments and locations.The Move has a charging station where you can keep it docked in your home, but it's also designed to be portable, so you can take it outside or move it around the house. It's rated for around 11 hours of battery life, so it should easily get you through a day of listening.Like other Sonos speakers, the Sonos Move is also smart. You can choose to use either Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, plus it integrates perfectly with Sonos' other speakers, allowing for multi-room audio. But what about the downsides? The speaker is a little pricey, and you won't get access to all of its smart features unless you're connected to Wi-Fi. The Move is also bigger and heavier than most Bluetooth speakers which limits its portability a bit.Buyers who want a similar speaker with a more compact design and cheaper price tag should consider the Move's smaller sibling, the Sonos Roam. It doesn't sound as good as the Move, but it's a better fit for people who primarily plan to use their speaker for on-the-go listening.Note: Stock for the Sonos Move is limited. Best Buy currently lists a December 13 delivery date for new orders.$399.99 FROM BEST BUY$399.00 FROM SONOS$399.99 FROM AMAZONBest Bluetooth speaker for portabilityBoseThe Bose SoundLink Revolve+ II is easy-to-use, offers 17 hours of battery, and features a convenient handle for travel.Dimensions: 7.25 (H) x 4.13 (W) x 4.13 (D) inchesDrivers: Dual passive radiators and downward-facing, full-range transducerSmart assistant: Requires separate deviceBattery life: Up to 17 hoursPros: Good sound, versatile design for portable use outdoors and around the house, long battery lifeCons: A bit pricey, lacks Wi-Fi supportThere are a number of things that make the Bose SoundLink Revolve+ II such an ideal portable option, from its great sound to its convenient design.The design is reminiscent of smart speakers, so it'll look right at home in any tech-savvy person's house. On top of that, it offers extremely easy-to-use controls, with six buttons located on the top for things like volume and Bluetooth control. Bose also added a handle to make it easy to bring the speaker with you outside or around the house.We tested the previous-generation model and were impressed by its great sound quality and how easy it is to move from room to room. It delivers ample volume and deep bass without distorting. This newer version is nearly identical to the one we tested, but features an upgrade from IPX4 water resistance to an IP55 rating. It also supports an extra hour of battery life for up to 17 hours of play time — the longest of any speaker on our guide. The SoundLink Revolve+ II even has some smart features, including Bluetooth pairing with voice prompts, the ability to take calls, and access to Siri or Google Assistant from your phone. That said, the speaker doesn't have Wi-Fi so it doesn't support a built-in digital assistant.$329.00 FROM AMAZON$329.99 FROM BEST BUYBest waterproof Bluetooth speakerUltimate EarsThe UE Boom 3 features a water resistant design, making it great for use by the pool or at the beach.Dimensions: 7.2 (H) x 2.8 (D) inchesDrivers: Dual 2-inch drivers and two passive radiatorsSmart assistant: NoBattery life: Up to 15 hoursRead our UE Boom 3 review herePros: Good sound quality, nice design, waterproof, can floatCons: High frequencies aren't as detailed as other speakersLooking for something that you can take to the beach or use by the pool without fear of it breaking due to water damage? The UE Boom 3 is the way to go. The speaker may not sound as robust as the Sonos Move, but it still sounds good, especially considering how small it is. The UE Boom 3 offers decent bass response, along with a well-tuned mid-range, and a solid amount of clarity in the high frequencies. One of the best things about it is that it can also get super loud, which is great for use outside.It's relatively small and portable, and it's available in a range of different colors. On the side, you get buttons for controlling volume, while on the top there are controls for things like Bluetooth pairing and power. The UE Boom 3 is built for use near water. The speaker is not only waterproof, but it's also designed to float, so you won't have to worry about losing it at the bottom of the pool. The Boom 3 is capable of being submerged in up to 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes, so it shouldn't break due to water damage.$129.99 FROM AMAZONOriginally $149.99 | Save 13%Best cheap Bluetooth speakerAmazonThe Anker Soundcore Flare Mini may be super-affordable, but it still looks and sounds solid for the price.Dimensions: 5.5 (H) x 2.8 (W) x 3.4 (D) inchesDrivers: Back-to-back neodymium drivers and dual IIR passive radiatorsSmart assistant: NoBattery life: Up to 12 hoursPros: Inexpensive, water-resistant, solid battery lifeCons: Sound quality is only decentLooking for an inexpensive speaker that still looks and sounds pretty good? The Anker Soundcore Flare Mini is the way to go. This speaker may carry a budget price, but it still sounds decent and won't break the bank.The Soundcore Flare is designed to look a lot better than other speakers in its price range. It features a cylindrical design with a fabric covering around the side and controls on the top. Those controls include power, volume, and Bluetooth pairing. There are even LED lights on the bottom, and you can control those lights through five different lighting modes.The design of the speaker plays into how it sounds too. The speaker can deliver 360-degree audio, so no matter where you are around it, you'll be to hear your music. It definitely won't sound as powerful as some of the more expensive speakers on our list, but it can still get pretty loud and offers a decent amount of bass.You'll get around 12 hours of battery life out of the speaker, which isn't bad at all, and it's water-resistant with an IPX7 rating. Considering the price range, perhaps the only real downside to the speaker is that it can't match more expensive offerings in the audio department.$42.99 FROM AMAZONWhat else we consideredJBLHere are other speakers we considered for our guide, and why they didn't make our top picks.Other Bluetooth speakers we recommend:JBL Flip 4: The JBL Flip 4 speaker was previously one of our picks, and it's still a fantastic Bluetooth speaker for the money. With that said, the less expensive Soundcore Flare Mini includes similar features for a more affordable price, making that model a better overall budget pick. If you're willing to spend more, however, the JBL Flip 4 features a bit more power and better sound quality.What you should look for in a Bluetooth speakerAmazonWhen shopping for a Bluetooth speaker, there are some key factors you should keep in mind. For instance, a compact model might not be a good fit for someone who wants the best audio quality, while a heavy speaker won't be ideal for someone who wants to take their audio on the go.Below, we've broken down some main features and design elements you should consider when selecting the best Bluetooth speaker for your needs.Size matters: Generally speaking, larger speakers will be louder, so they tend to be a better fit for parties and gatherings. Larger speakers also tend to have more refined audio quality with better clarity and bass. Of course, size also affects portability. If you're looking for something you can slip in your bag and carry around easily, then a smaller speaker will be a better choice.Battery life: You'll obviously want longer battery life if you're looking for a speaker that can last all day, but sometimes a speaker with shorter battery life will do the job — especially if you plan on being able to charge it often or even while in use. Though all of our picks include batteries, some Bluetooth speakers on the market only work with an outlet. If you just plan to use your speaker in one room, this isn't a problem, but if you want portability, a speaker with a battery is a must.Durability and water resistance: Durability is another important factor if you plan on carrying your speaker around a lot. Not only will your speaker last longer if it's more durable, but it might be a little more versatile, too. For example, you probably won't want to take a non-waterproof speaker to the pool or the beach.Sound quality: A single Bluetooth speaker is never going to offer the same quality as a true stereo speaker pair, but high-end Bluetooth speakers from brands like Sonos and Bose offer impressive performance. Again, larger models tend to have better sound, so if audio quality is a priority, you'll likely want to avoid ultra-compact speakers. Check out our other speaker buying guidesSonosThe best speakersThe best smart speakersThe best soundbarsThe best Alexa speakersThe best home theater systemsRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 22nd, 2021

Transcript: Edwin Conway

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

Category: blogSource: TheBigPictureNov 22nd, 2021