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JWB moving headquarters downtown after buying historic Greenleaf building

The move will result in long-time tenant Jacobs Jewelers moving to a new location......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsJun 24th, 2022

Martinique Hotel in Midtown Reopening; New Architect of Record

Steven Kratchman Architect P.C. has been appointed Architect of Record (AoR) by Burnett Equity, the new owner of the MartiniqueNew York on Broadway hotel, to continue renovations it slowly began 15 years ago with the former owner of this historic property, which at that time was a struggling single-room occupancy... The post Martinique Hotel in Midtown Reopening; New Architect of Record appeared first on Real Estate Weekly. Steven Kratchman Architect P.C. has been appointed Architect of Record (AoR) by Burnett Equity, the new owner of the MartiniqueNew York on Broadway hotel, to continue renovations it slowly began 15 years ago with the former owner of this historic property, which at that time was a struggling single-room occupancy property. Steven Kratchman Architect has been AoR for the Martinique since 2006, retained by former owner Herald Hotel Associates. Followingthe property’s recent sale to Burnett Equity in November 2021, the new owner re-signed Steven Kratchman Architect as AoR. proposed facade renovations During Steven Kratchman Architect’s work with the Martinique, the hotel was first under the Radisson flag, moving to Curio Collection by Hilton in 2018. When it was reflagged, Steven Kratchman Architect,as AoR, assisted the Hilton’s architectural team in beginning the renovation of the Martinique’s amenity spaces, its 531 rooms, and the execution of its overall Property Improvement Plan. Hotel Is Rapidly Opening Despite the change of ownership during apandemic-caused temporary closure, new ownership was able to close the deal and “just like that” open 200 of the 500-plus rooms with 100% occupancy prior to the holiday season and to reveal the sparkling new lobby to its initial guests, noted Steven Kratchman, owner and founder of Steven Kratchman Architect. “It was amazing to see the new lobby and entry, hear the occupancy report, and learn first-hand the previousrestaurateur group was back on the scene and signed up for all of the restaurant spaces plus new ones to be developed. “Because the hotel was originally built in the stand-alone campaigns from an assemblage of sites that have three frontages on three different streets, there are abundant opportunities at street level and below to build on and expand the retail restaurant options at this site,” Kratchman added. “We are growing the tenanted space count to seven from six, which requires significant infrastructure and planning, but isvery exciting to us.” Kratchman noted, “Our ongoing work for the Martinique New York is enhancing the hotel’s presence amidst many of the city’s iconic neighboring properties, including the Empire State Building, Madison Square Garden, and Penn Station. Given the potential of this property, we fully embrace the new owner’s strategy to strike fast and completeeverything that was started by the former owner, plus added enhancements.” Steven Kratchman Architect’s Plan To Quickly Transform The Martinique Immediately after the acquisition, Burnett Equity restarted the renovation project which was stalled during the COVID-19 pandemic and the property’s earlier bankruptcy. “The new owners are highly capitalized and motivated,” Kratchman added. “The coreconsulting and construction design team has been retained along with additional consultants and owner’s representatives so these renovations can be quickly undertaken to transform the Martinique New York.” Under the previous owner, Steven Kratchman Architect and Hilton had been working on alterations to interior common areas; hotel rooms; ground-level and below-ground retail, restaurant, and entertainment space; and egress spaces. Steven Kratchman Architect is continuing this work as AoR for Burnett Equity. Steven Kratchman Architect is currently undertaking Alteration Type 1 work to update the certificate of occupancy, reflecting the current and proposed occupancies. Kratchman said he anticipates the upcoming renovations to include: The balance of the hotel rooms and interior space, soon to be occupied The restoration of the façade and the non-landmarked exterior from the second floor down, beginning with the 30th Street frontage. Proposed are a new canopy, new flags relocated to historical original locations, new signage, and new architectural lighting, treating the hotel façade similarly to a historic New York City landmark building. (See caption below for attached proposed façade image) New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission approval for additional façade renovations New flags and signage Steven Kratchman Architect’s designs for these elements were approved by the former owner and have been adopted by Burnett Equity. The Oklahoma City-based firm closed on the $55 million Martinique purchase in November 2021 and expected to spend anadditional $60 million to renovate the hotel. Expertise in Restoration and Renovation Projects One of Steven Kratchman Architect’s areas of expertise is the preservation oflandmarks and historic buildings. The Tribeca-based studio is recognized for projects in New York City including the recently completed restoration of the façade of the Harmonie Club, home to the second oldest social club in Manhattan. However, Kratchman noted that the firm has completed building turnarounds in other regions, including the Midwest – where Kratchman grew up. “Among our prominent renovation projects is Mansion House, a multifamily complex in downtown Tulsa that neighbors a hotel in which Burnett Equity has holdings,” he said. “Coming from out of town to buy in New York City, it gave the Burnett team comfort that we renovated an Oklahoma project they were familiar with, as well as me having Midwestern roots.” On the register of Historic Hotels of America, the Martinique New York is a stunning Beaux-Arts building located at 49 West 32nd Street in the heart of midtown Manhattan. Opened in 1897 by owner William R.H. Martin, it was the city’s first luxury hotel and became a symbol of grand hospitality during the Gilded Age. The building was originally designed in a French Renaissance style by renowned architect Henry J. Hardenbergh, who conceived the original Waldorf-Astoria at Fifth Avenue, the Plaza Hotel and the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C. The post Martinique Hotel in Midtown Reopening; New Architect of Record appeared first on Real Estate Weekly......»»

Category: realestateSource: realestateweeklyJan 21st, 2022

Vivid Seats moving headquarters to offices above historic Marshall Field building on State Street

Chicago-based online ticket broker Vivid Seats is moving its headquarters to the historic Marshall Field building in converted office space above Macy’s flagship State Street store.Chicago-based online ticket broker Vivid Seats is moving its headquarters to the historic Marshall Field building in converted office space above Macy’s flagship State Street store......»»

Category: topSource: chicagotribuneJan 14th, 2022

Howard Marks January 2022 Memo: Selling Out

Howard Marks memo to Oaktree clients for the month of January 2022, titled, “Selling Out.” Q4 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more As I’m now in my fourth decade of memo writing, I’m sometimes tempted to conclude I should quit, because I’ve covered all the relevant topics. Then a new idea for a memo […] Howard Marks memo to Oaktree clients for the month of January 2022, titled, “Selling Out.” if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Series in PDF Get the entire 10-part series on Charlie Munger in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues. (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q4 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more As I’m now in my fourth decade of memo writing, I’m sometimes tempted to conclude I should quit, because I’ve covered all the relevant topics. Then a new idea for a memo pops up, delivering a pleasant surprise. My January 2021 memo Something of Value, which chronicled the time I spent in 2020 living and discussing investing with my son Andrew, recounted a semi-real conversation in which we briefly discussed whether and when to sell appreciated assets. It occurred to me that even though selling is an inescapable part of the investment process, I’ve never devoted an entire memo to it. The Basic Idea Everyone is familiar with the old saw that’s supposed to capture investing’s basic proposition: “buy low, sell high.” It’s a hackneyed caricature of the way most people view investing. But few things that are important can be distilled into just four words; thus, “buy low, sell high” is nothing but a starting point for discussion of a very complex process. Will Rogers, an American film star and humorist of the 1920s and ’30s, provided what he may have thought was a more comprehensive roadmap for success in the pursuit of wealth: Don’t gamble; take all your savings and buy some good stock and hold it till it goes up, then sell it. If it don’t go up, don’t buy it. The illogicality of his advice makes clear how simplistic this adage – like many others – really is. However, regardless of the details, people may unquestioningly accept that they should sell appreciated investments. But how helpful is that basic concept? Origins Much of what I’ll write here got its start in a 2015 memo called Liquidity. The hot topic in the investment world at that moment was the concern about a perceived decline in the liquidity provided by the market (when I say “the market,” I’m talking specifically about the U.S. stock market, but the statement has broad applicability). This was commonly attributed to a combination of (a) the licking investment banks had taken in the Global Financial Crisis of 2008-09 and (b) the Volcker Rule, which prohibited risky activities such as proprietary trading on the part of systemically important financial institutions. The latter constrained banks’ ability to “position” securities, or buy them, when clients wanted to sell. Maybe liquidity in 2015 was less than it had previously been, and maybe it wasn’t. However, looking beyond the events of the day, I closed that memo by stating my conviction that (a) most investors trade too much, to their own detriment, and (b) the best solution for illiquidity is to build portfolios for the long term that don’t rely on liquidity for success. Long-term investors have an advantage over those with short timeframes (and I think the latter describes the majority of market participants these days). Patient investors are able to ignore short-term performance, hold for the long run, and avoid excessive trading costs, while everyone else worries about what’s going to happen in the next month or quarter and therefore trades excessively. In addition, long-term investors can take advantage if illiquid assets become available for purchase at bargain prices. Like so many things in investing, however, just holding is easier said than done. Too many people equate activity with adding value. Here’s how I summed up this idea in Liquidity, inspired by something Andrew had said: When you find an investment with the potential to compound over a long period, one of the hardest things is to be patient and maintain your position as long as doing so is warranted based on the prospective return and risk. Investors can easily be moved to sell by news, emotion, the fact that they’ve made a lot of money to date, or the excitement of a new, seemingly more promising idea. When you look at the chart for something that’s gone up and to the right for 20 years, think about all the times a holder would have had to convince himself not to sell. Everyone wishes they’d bought Amazon at $5 on the first day of 1998, since it’s now up 660x at $3,304. But who would have continued to hold when the stock hit $85 in 1999 – up 17x in less than two years? Who among those who held on would have been able to avoid panicking in 2001, as the price fell 93%, to $6? And who wouldn’t have sold by late 2015 when it hit $600 – up 100x from the 2001 low? Yet anyone who sold at $600 captured only the first 18% of the overall rise from that low. This reminds me of the time I once visited Malibu with a friend and mentioned that the Rindge family is said to have bought the entire area – all 13,330 acres – in 1892 for $300,000, or $22.50 per acre. (It’s clearly worth many billions today.) My friend said, “I’d like to have bought all of Malibu for $300,000.” My response was simple: “you would have sold it when it got to $600,000.” The more I’ve thought about it since writing Liquidity, the more convinced I’ve become that there are two main reasons why people sell investments: because they’re up and because they’re down. You may say that sounds nutty, but what’s really nutty is many investors’ behavior. Selling Because It’s Up “Profit-taking” is the intelligent-sounding term in our business for selling things that have appreciated. To understand why people engage in it, you need insight into human behavior, because a lot of investors’ selling is motivated by psychology. In short, a good deal of selling takes place because people like the fact that their assets show gains, and they’re afraid the profits will go away. Most people invest a lot of time and effort trying to avoid unpleasant feelings like regret and embarrassment. What could cause an investor more self-recrimination than watching a big gain evaporate? And what about the professional investor who reports a big winner to clients one quarter and then has to explain why the holding is at or below cost the next? It’s only human to want to realize profits to avoid these outcomes. If you sell an appreciated asset, that puts the gain “in the books,” and it can never be reversed. Thus, some people consider selling winners extremely desirable – they love realized gains. In fact, at a meeting of a non-profit’s investment committee, a member suggested that they should be leery of increasing endowment spending in response to gains because those gains were unrealized. I was quick to point out that it’s usually a mistake to view realized gains as less transient than unrealized ones (assuming there’s no reason to doubt the veracity of the unrealized carrying values). Yes, the former have been made concrete. However, sales proceeds are generally reinvested, meaning the profits – and the principal – are put back at risk. One might argue that appreciated securities are more vulnerable to declines than new investments in assets currently deemed to be attractively priced, but that’s far from a certainty. I’m not saying investors shouldn’t sell appreciated assets and realize profits. But it certainly doesn’t make sense to sell things just because they’re up. Selling Because It’s Down As wrong as it is to sell appreciated assets solely to crystalize gains, it’s even worse to sell them just because they’re down. Nevertheless, I’m sure many people do it. While the rule is “buy low, sell high,” clearly many people become more motivated to sell assets the more they decline. In fact, just as continued buying of appreciated assets can eventually turn a bull market into a bubble, widespread selling of things that are down has the potential to turn market declines into crashes. Bubbles and crashes do occur, proving that investors contribute to excesses in both directions. In a movie that plays in my head, the typical investor buys something at $100. If it goes to $120, he says, “I think I’m onto something – I should add,” and if it reaches $150, he says, “Now I’m highly confident – I’m going to double up.” On the other hand, if it falls to $90, he says, “I’m going to think about increasing my position to reduce my average cost,” but at $75, he concludes he should reconfirm his thesis before averaging down further. At $50, he says, “I’d better wait for the dust to settle before buying more.” And at $20 he says, “It feels like it’s going to zero; get me out!” Just like those who are afraid of surrendering gains, many investors worry about letting losses compound. They might fear their clients will say (or they’ll say to themselves), “What kind of a lame-brain continues to hold a security after it’s gone from $100 to $50? Everyone knows a decline like that can foreshadow further declines. And look – it happened.” Do investors really make behavioral errors such as those I’ve described? There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence. For example, studies have shown that the average mutual fund investor performs worse than the average mutual fund. How can that be? If she merely held her positions, or if her errors were unsystematic, the average fund investor would, by definition, fare the same as the average fund. For the studies’ findings to occur, investors have to on balance reduce the amount of capital they have in funds that subsequently do better and increase their allocation to funds that go on to do worse. Let me put that another way: on average, mutual fund investors tend to sell the funds with the worst recent performance (missing out on their potential recoveries) in order to chase the funds that have done the best (and thus likely participate in their return to earth). We know that “retail investors” tend to be trend-followers, as described above, and their long-term performance often suffers as a result. What about the pros? Here the evidence is even clearer: the powerful shift in recent decades toward indexing and other forms of passive investing has taken place for the simple reason that active investment decisions are so often wrong. Of course, many forms of error contribute to this reality. Whatever the reason, however, we have to conclude that, on average, active professional investors held more of the things that did less well and less of the things that outperformed, and/or that they bought too much at elevated prices and sold too much at depressed prices. Passive investing hasn’t grown to cover the majority of U.S. equity mutual fund capital because passive results have been so good; I think it’s because active management has been so bad. Back when I worked at First National City Bank 50 years ago, prospective clients used to ask, “What kind of return do you think you can make in an equity portfolio?” The standard answer was 12%. Why? “Well,” we said (so simplistically), “the stock market returns about 10% a year. A little effort should enable us to improve on that by at least 20%.” Of course, as time has shown, there’s no truth in that. “A little effort” didn’t add anything. In fact, in most cases, active investing detracted: most equity funds failed to keep up with the indices, especially after fees. What about the ultimate proof? The essential ingredient in Oaktree’s investments in distressed debt – bargain purchases – has emanated from the great opportunities sellers gave us. Negativity reaches a crescendo during economic and market crises, causing many investors to become depressed or fearful and sell in panic. Results like those we target in distressed debt can only be achieved when holders sell to us at irrationally low prices. Superior investing consists largely of taking advantage of mistakes made by others. Clearly, selling things because they’re down is a mistake that can give the buyers great opportunities. When Should Investors Sell? If you shouldn’t sell things because they’re up, and you shouldn’t sell because they’re down, is it ever right to sell? As I previously mentioned, I described the discussions that took place while Andrew and his family lived with Nancy and me in 2020 in Something of Value. That experience truly was of great value – an unexpected silver lining to the pandemic. That memo evoked the strongest reaction from readers of any of my memos to date. This response was probably attributable to (a) the content, which mostly related to value investing; (b) the personal insights provided, and especially my confession regarding my need to grow with the times; or (c) the recreated conversation that I included as an appendix. The last of these went like this, in part: Howard: Hey, I see XYZ is up xx% this year and selling at a p/e ratio of xx. Are you tempted to take some profits? Andrew: Dad, I’ve told you I’m not a seller. Why would I sell? H: Well, you might sell some here because (a) you’re up so much; (b) you want to put some of the gain “in the books” to make sure you don’t give it all back; and (c) at that valuation, it might be overvalued and precarious. And, of course, (d) no one ever went broke taking a profit. A: Yeah, but on the other hand, (a) I’m a long-term investor, and I don’t think of shares as pieces of paper to trade, but as part ownership in a business; (b) the company still has enormous potential; and (c) I can live with a short-term downward fluctuation, the threat of which is part of what creates opportunities in stocks to begin with. Ultimately, it’s only the long term that matters. (There’s a lot of “a-b-c” in our house. I wonder where Andrew got that.) H: But if it’s potentially overvalued in the short term, shouldn’t you trim your holding and pocket some of the gain? Then if it goes down, (a) you’ve limited your regret and (b) you can buy in lower. A: If I owned a stake in a private company with enormous potential, strong momentum and great management, I would never sell part of it just because someone offered me a full price. Great compounders are extremely hard to find, so it’s usually a mistake to let them go. Also, I think it’s much more straightforward to predict the long-term outcome for a company than short-term price movements, and it doesn’t make sense to trade off a decision in an area of high conviction for one about which you’re limited to low conviction. . . . H: Isn’t there any point where you’d begin to sell? A: In theory there is, but it largely depends on (a) whether the fundamentals are playing out as I hope and (b) how this opportunity compares to the others that are available, taking into account my high level of comfort with this one. Aphorisms like “no one ever went broke taking a profit” may be relevant to people who invest part-time for themselves, but they should have no place in professional investing. There certainly are good reasons for selling, but they have nothing to do with the fear of making mistakes, experiencing regret and looking bad. Rather, these reasons should be based on the outlook for the investment – not the psyche of the investor – and they have to be identified through hardheaded financial analysis, rigor and discipline. Stanford University professor Sidney Cottle was the editor of the later versions of Benjamin Graham and David L. Dodd’s Security Analysis, “the bible of value investing,” including the edition I read at Wharton 56 years ago. For that reason, I knew the book as “Graham, Dodd and Cottle.” Sid was a consultant to the investment department at First National City Bank in the 1970s, and I’ve never forgotten his description of investing: “the discipline of relative selection.” In other words, most of the portfolio decisions investors make are relative choices. It’s patently clear that relative considerations should play an enormous part in any decision to sell existing holdings. If your investment thesis seems less valid than it did previously and/or the probability that it will prove accurate has declined, selling some or all of the holding is probably appropriate. Likewise, if another investment comes along that appears to have more promise – to offer a superior risk-adjusted prospective return – it’s reasonable to reduce or eliminate existing holdings to make room for it. Selling an asset is a decision that must not be considered in isolation. Cottle’s concept of “relative selection” highlights the fact that every sale results in proceeds. What will you do with them? Do you have something in mind that you think might produce a superior return? What might you miss by switching to the new investment? And what will you give up if you continue to hold the asset in your portfolio rather than making the change? Or perhaps you don’t plan to reinvest the proceeds. In that case, what’s the likelihood that holding the proceeds in cash will make you better off than you would have been if you had held onto the thing you sold? Questions like these relate to the concept of “opportunity cost,” one of the most important ideas in financial decision-making. Switching gears, what about the idea of selling because you think a temporary dip lies ahead that will affect one of your holdings or the whole market? There are real problems with this approach: Why sell something you think has a positive long-term future to prepare for a dip you expect to be temporary? Doing so introduces one more way to be wrong (of which there are so many), since the decline might not occur. Charlie Munger, vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, points out that selling for market-timing purposes actually gives an investor two ways to be wrong: the decline may or may not occur, and if it does, you’ll have to figure out when the time is right to go back in. Or maybe it’s three ways, because once you sell, you also have to decide what to do with the proceeds while you wait until the dip occurs and the time comes to get back in. People who avoid declines by selling too often may revel in their brilliance and fail to reinstate their positions at the resulting lows. Thus, even sellers who were right can fail to accomplish anything of lasting value. Lastly, what if you’re wrong and there is no dip? In that case, you’ll miss out on the ensuing gains and either never get back in or do so at higher prices. So it’s generally not a good idea to sell for purposes of market timing. There are very few occasions to do so profitably and very few people who possess the skill needed to take advantage of these opportunities. Before I close on this subject, it’s important to note that decisions to sell aren’t always within an investment manager’s control. Clients can withdraw capital from accounts and funds, necessitating sales, and the limited lifespan of closed-end funds can require managers to liquidate holdings even though they’re not ripe for selling. The choice of what to sell under these conditions can still be based on a manager’s expectations regarding future returns, but deciding not to sell isn’t among the manager’s choices. How Much Is Too Much to Hold? Certainly there are times when it’s right to sell one asset in favor of another based on the idea of relative selection. But we mustn’t do this in a mechanical manner. If we did, at the logical extreme, we would put all of our capital into the one investment we consider the best. Virtually all investors – even the best – diversify their portfolios. We may have a sense for which holding is the absolute best, but I’ve never heard of an investor with a one-asset portfolio. They may overweight favorites to take advantage of what they think they know, but they still diversify to protect against what they don’t know. That means they sub-optimize, potentially trading off some of their chance at a maximal return to increase the likelihood of a merely excellent one. Here’s a related question from my reconstructed conversation with Andrew: H: You run a concentrated portfolio. XYZ was a big position when you invested, and it’s even bigger today, given the appreciation. Intelligent investors concentrate portfolios and hold on to take advantage of what they know, but they diversify holdings and sell as things rise to limit the potential damage from what they don’t know. Hasn’t the growth in this position put our portfolio out of whack in that regard? A: Perhaps that’s true, depending on your goals. But trimming would mean selling something I feel immense comfort with based on my bottom-up assessment and moving into something I feel less good about or know less well (or cash). To me, it’s far better to own a small number of things about which I feel strongly. I’ll only have a few good insights over my lifetime, so I have to maximize the few I have. All professional investors want good investment performance for their clients, but they also want financial success for themselves. And amateurs have to invest within the limits of their risk tolerance. For these reasons, most investors – and certainly most investment managers’ clients – aren’t immune to apprehension regarding portfolio concentration and thus susceptibility to untoward developments. These considerations introduce valid reasons for limiting the size of individual asset purchases and trimming positions as they appreciate. Investors sometimes delegate the decision on how to weight assets in portfolios to a process called portfolio optimization. Inputs regarding asset classes’ return potential, risk and correlation are fed into a computer model, and out comes the portfolio with the optimal expected risk-adjusted return. If an asset appreciates relative to the others, the model can be rerun, and it will tell you what to buy and sell. The main problem with these models lies in the fact that all the data we have regarding those three parameters relates to the past, but to arrive at the ideal portfolio, the model needs data that accurately describes the future. Further, the models need a numerical input for risk, and I absolutely insist that no single number can fully describe an asset’s risk. Thus, optimization models can’t successfully dictate portfolio actions. The bottom line: we should base our investment decisions on our estimates of each asset’s potential, we shouldn’t sell just because the price has risen and the position has swelled, there can be legitimate reasons to limit the size of the positions we hold, but there’s no way to scientifically calculate what those limits should be. In other words, the decision to trim positions or to sell out entirely comes down to judgment . . . like everything else that matters in investing. The Final Word on Selling Most investors try to add value by over- and underweighting specific assets and/or through well-timed buying and selling. While few have demonstrated the ability to consistently do these things correctly (see my comments on active management on page 4), everyone’s free to have a go at it. There is, however, a big “but.” What’s clear to me is that simply being invested is by far “the most important thing.” (Someone should write a book with that title!) Most actively managed portfolios won’t outperform the market as a result of manipulation of portfolio weightings or buying and selling for purposes of market timing. You can try to add to returns by engaging in such machinations, but these actions are unlikely to work at best and can get in the way at worst. Most economies and corporations benefit from positive underlying secular trends, and thus most securities markets rise in most years and certainly over long periods. One of the longest-running U.S. equity indices, the S&P 500, has produced an estimated compound average return over the last 90 years of 10.5% per year. That’s startling performance. It means $1 invested in the S&P 500 90 years ago would have grown to roughly $8,000 today. Many people have remarked on the wonders of compounding. For example, Albert Einstein reportedly called compound interest “the eighth wonder of the world.” If $1 could be invested today at the historic compound return of 10.5% per year, it would grow to $147 in 50 years. One might argue that economic growth will be slower in the years ahead than it was in the past, or that bargain stocks were easier to find in previous periods than they are today. Nevertheless, even if it compounds at just 7%, $1 invested today will grow to over $29 in 50 years. Thus, someone entering adulthood today is practically guaranteed to be well fixed by the time they retire if they merely start investing promptly and avoid tampering with the process by trading. I like the way Bill Miller, one of the great investors of our time, put it in his 3Q 2021 Market Letter: In the post-war period the US stock market has gone up in around 70% of the years... Odds much less favorable than that have made casino owners very rich, yet most investors try to guess the 30% of the time stocks decline, or even worse spend time trying to surf, to no avail, the quarterly up and down waves in the market. Most of the returns in stocks are concentrated in sharp bursts beginning in periods of great pessimism or fear, as we saw most recently in the 2020 pandemic decline. We believe time, not timing, is the key to building wealth in the stock market. (October 18, 2021. Emphasis added) What are the “sharp bursts” Miller talks about? On April 11, 2019, The Motley Fool cited data from JP Morgan Asset Management’s 2019 Retirement Guide showing that in the 20-year period between 1999 and 2018, the annual return on the S&P 500 was 5.6%, but your return would only have been 2.0% if you had sat out the 10 best days (or roughly 0.4% of the trading days), and you wouldn’t have made any money at all if you had missed the 20 best days. In the past, returns have often been similarly concentrated in a small number of days. Nevertheless, overactive investors continue to jump in and out of the market, incurring transactions costs and capital gains taxes and running the risk of missing those “sharp bursts.” As mentioned earlier, investors often engage in selling because they believe a decline is imminent and they have the ability to avoid it. The truth, however, is that buying or holding – even at elevated prices – and experiencing a decline is in itself far from fatal. Usually, every market high is followed by a higher one and, after all, only the long-term return matters. Reducing market exposure through ill-conceived selling – and thus failing to participate fully in the markets’ positive long-term trend – is a cardinal sin in investing. That’s even more true of selling without reason things that have fallen, turning negative fluctuations into permanent losses and missing out on the miracle of long-term compounding. * * * When I meet people for the first time and they find out I’m in the investment business, they often ask (especially in Europe) “what do you trade?” That question makes me bristle. To me, “trading” means jumping in and out of individual assets and whole markets on the basis of guesswork as to what prices will do in the next hour, day, month or quarter. We don’t engage in such activity at Oaktree, and few people have demonstrated the ability to do it well. Rather than traders, we consider ourselves investors. In my view, investing means committing capital to assets based on well-reasoned estimates of their potential and benefitting from the results over the long term. Oaktree does employ people called traders, but their job consists of implementing long-term investment decisions made by portfolio managers based on assets’ fundamentals. No one at Oaktree believes they can make money or advance their career by selling now and buying back after an intervening decline, as opposed to holding for years and letting value lift prices if fundamental expectations prove out. When Oaktree was formed in 1995, the five founders – who at that point had worked together for nine years on average – established an investment philosophy based on what we’d successfully done in that time. One of the six tenets expressed our view on trying to time markets when buying and selling: Because we do not believe in the predictive ability required to correctly time markets, we keep portfolios fully invested whenever attractively priced assets can be bought. Concern about the market climate may cause us to tilt toward more defensive investments, increase selectivity or act more deliberately, but we never move to raise cash. Clients hire us to invest in specific market niches, and we must never fail to do our job. Holding investments that decline in price is unpleasant, but missing out on returns because we failed to buy what we were hired to buy is inexcusable. We’ve never changed any of the six tenets of our investment philosophy – including this one – and we have no plans to do so. January 13, 2022 Updated on Jan 14, 2022, 12:38 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkJan 14th, 2022

Industry mourns passing of architect Stephen B. Jacobs

Architects Stephen B. Jacobs has died at the age of 82. A Holocaust survivor who rose to become one of New York’s most accomplished architects, Mr Jacobs founded his own firm 1967 and later partnered with his interior designer wife, Andi Pepper, to work on projects inside and out. “Stephen... The post Industry mourns passing of architect Stephen B. Jacobs appeared first on Real Estate Weekly. Architects Stephen B. Jacobs has died at the age of 82. A Holocaust survivor who rose to become one of New York’s most accomplished architects, Mr Jacobs founded his own firm 1967 and later partnered with his interior designer wife, Andi Pepper, to work on projects inside and out. “Stephen led an extraordinary life,” said Stephen B. Jacobs Group PC principal partners Alexander B. Jacobs, AIA, Isaac-Daniel Astrachan, AIA and Jennifer Cheuk, AIA, in a statement. “From surviving the horrors of the Holocaust to building an award-winning architectural and interior design firm, Stephen led us to go above and beyond for our clients, personally guiding staff to ensure finished projects met clients’ needs. “His pioneering approaches such as “sensitive renovation” became textbook examples of how to develop the highest economic potential of an existing building while preserving its architectural and historic significance.” Born Stefan Jakubowicz in Lodz, Poland, on June 12, 1939, Mr Jacobs and his family moved to Piotrków — a city that became home to the Nazis’ first ghetto. The ghetto housed 25,000 people and was emptied in 1942. Jacobs and his parents, older brother, grandfather and three aunts were sent to concentration camps. The males went to Buchenwald, the females to Ravensbruck. He was only five years old at the time. In an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency last year, he said he managed to survive Buchenwald  through luck and the help of an underground resistance that worked to save children. He spent his days at the shoemaker’s shop, which allowed him to get out of the daily roll call, where guards likely would have killed him because of his youth. Later he hid in the tuberculosis ward of the camp hospital, where his father was working as an orderly. “I have fleeting memories,” Jacobs told JTA. “I have memories that are not chronological, particularly the last few weeks because that was a very traumatic and dangerous time because they were trying to liquidate the camp.” After the war, the entire family was eventually reunited and fled to Switzerland before moving to the US in 1948 where they lived in Washington Heights. After high school, he pursued his passion for painting and drawing at The Art Students League of New York, studying with Frank Mason, an academic landscape and portrait painter. “All he talked about was architecture and it stirred my interest,” Jacobs told Stoneworld.com. “Deep down inside I knew I was a lousy painter.” He enrolled at the Pratt Institute in 1963 and, after completing his Master’s in Architecture 1965, he worked as a designer and planner at Whittlesey, Conklin and Rossant before founding Stephen B. Jacobs & Associates in 1967. Inspired by his own experiences buying and renovating a Brownstone, he started small, designing owner-occupied Brownstones, mostly on the West Side of Manhattan. By the mid-70s, he had turned his attention to finding new uses for old industrial and manufacturing properties and his early work became textbook examples of Adaptive Reuse, for which he was awarded the Andrew J. Thomas Pioneer in Housing award by the American Institute of Architects. By the 80s, Jacobs was developing  his own properties using historic tax credits to raise equity to restore landmark buildings in Downtown Brooklyn then, in the mid-1990s, the company’s focus changed to hotels. He was among the first to see the potential in Manhattan’s rooftops and the success of his Hotel Gansevoort transformation in the Meatpacking District changed the city’s hospitality industry forever. Stephen B. Jacobs designed some of New York City’s earliest boutiques, including Sixty Thompson, The Library Hotel, and Hotel Giraffe, as well as multiple Gansevoort Hotel locations. Recognized as one of the city’s leading architectural firms, Stephen B. Jacobs has since completed a range of commissions, including high-rise condominiums, office buildings, and preservation projects. “Stephen B. Jacobs Group is mourning the loss of Stephen and his absence will not only be felt at our firm but by the entire industry,” said the company’s partners in their statement. The post Industry mourns passing of architect Stephen B. Jacobs appeared first on Real Estate Weekly......»»

Category: realestateSource: realestateweeklyDec 16th, 2021

"Santa Rally Is Finally Here": Futures Hit All Time High Day After Powell Goes Full Jean-Claude Trichet

"Santa Rally Is Finally Here": Futures Hit All Time High Day After Powell Goes Full Jean-Claude Trichet One day before what everyone knew would be a hawkish pivot by the Fed, the mood was dour with tech names tumbling and futures hanging one for dear life. One day after, Jerome Powell confirmed he would go full Jean-Claude Trichet as the Fed would not only turbo-taper into a sharply slowing economy, ending its QE program by March but then proceed with hiking rates as many as 3 times in 2022 (more than the 2 hike consensus), with the BOE shocking markets moments ago with a surprise rate hike and even the ECB trimming its turbo QE, and futures are.... at all time highs. That's right - eminis are higher by 140 points in 24 hours because the Fed was more hawkish than consensus expected.  At 8:00 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 215 points, or 0.61%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 27.25 points, or 0.57%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 100 points, or 0.61%. Treasury yields jumped alongside European bonds after the BOE became the first major central bank to raise rates since the pandemic, while the dollar fell and the pound jumped. The Euro also hit session highs after the ECB seemed to turn ever so slightly more hawkish as its monthly QE is set to shrink in the coming year. "The market likes facts it can digest. With the uncertainty now gone, it finds relief,” said Frederik Hildner, a portfolio manager at Salm-Salm & Partner. Gradual rising rates “provides more firepower for the next downturn, as it displays the ability normalize monetary policy.” On Wednesday, Jerome Powell said the U.S. economy no longer needed increasing amounts of policy support as annual inflation has been running at more than double the central bank's target in recent months, while the economy nears full employment. Recent readings on surging producer and consumer prices as well as the fast-spreading Omicron variant of the coronavirus have fueled anxiety as the benchmark S&P 500 inches closer to a record high. "Is the Santa Rally finally here? Markets certainly seem to have a spring in their step... the prospect of three interest rate hikes in 2022 would suggest the central bank has a clear plan to not let inflation get out of control," Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell wrote in a client note. "Equally, it isn't being too aggressive to trip up the economy. This sense of balance is exactly what investors want, and an upbeat tone from the Fed certainly seems to have rubbed off on markets" Bell said, clearly goalseeking his narrative to the market's response as just 24 hours later he would be saying just the opposite when futures were tanking of hawkish Fed fears. Big tech stocks and banks led gains in premarket trading. Shares in Tesla, Microsoft, Meta and Amazon.com rose between 0.7% and 2.4%, with the lift pushing Apple shares nearer to an historic market value of $3 trillion. Bank stocks including JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup all gained between 0.7% and 0.8%. Here are some of the biggest U.S. movers today: Apple (APPL) and other big U.S. tech stocks rise after the Federal Reserve said that it would speed up its taper, joining in with a broader relief rally across risk assets. Apple shares are up 0.6%, with the stock drawing nearer to an historic market capitalization of $3 trillion. Also Thursday, Goldman Sachs said lead times for Apple’s iPhone have declined in the latest week. Assertio (ASRT US) shares rise 4% after the company announced the $44 million acquisition of the Otrexup device from Antares Pharma. Blue Bird (BLBD US) dropped 6% after the school bus-maker provided a weaker-than-expected sales outlook. The company also offered $75m shares at $16/share in a private placement. Danimer Scientific (DNMR) falls 10% after announcing that it plans to offer $175 million of convertible senior notes. Delta Air Lines (DAL) is up 2% after saying it expects to report a profit for the fourth quarter, citing a strong demand for travel over the winter holiday period and a decline in jet fuel prices. Other airline stocks are also higher. DocuSign (DOCU) falls 2% as Morgan Stanley issued a downgrade, saying third-quarter results changed the firm’s view regarding the durability of growth through tough post-pandemic comparables. Freyr Battery (FREY) gains 14% after executing its inaugural offtake agreement for at least 31 GWh of low-carbon battery cells. IronNet (IRNT US) slumps 25% after the cybersecurity company’s results fell short of expectations, prompting a Street-low target from Jefferies. Lennar Corp. (LEN US) declined 6% after it reported a forecast for purchase contracts that was weaker than expected. Plug Power (PLUG) gains 5% after signing an agreement with Korean electric-vehicle manufacturer Edison Motors to develop an electric city bus powered by hydrogen fuel cells. Syndax Pharmaceuticals (SNDX) falls 8% after pricing 3.2 million shares at $17.50 each. Tesla (TSLA) is up 2%, rising with other electric vehicle stocks amid a broader gain in technology stocks and U.S. futures on hopes that the Federal Reserve’s policy tightening will fight high inflation without hampering economic growth. Wayfair (W) falls 2% after BofA downgraded the stock to underperform, citing weak near-term data and difficult comparisons through the first quarter of 2022 for the online furniture retailer. European equities rally with Euro Stoxx 50 up as much as 2.1% before drifting off best levels. The U.K.’s exporter-heavy FTSE 100 Index pared some gains after the BOE decision, while European dipped modestly after the European Central Bank’s meeting.  Miners, tech and autos are the best performers, utilities and media names lag. Equities have whipsawed in recent weeks as investors attempted to price in the prospect of rate hikes, while assessing risks from the spread of the omicron variant. The market’s early response to the Fed signals some relief arising from policy clarity, and optimism that the rebound from pandemic lows can weather the pivot away from ultra-loose monetary settings. “The market is breathing a sigh of relief that the FOMC meeting suggested that it is taking inflation risks in the United States more seriously,” Ann-Katrin Petersen, an investment strategist at Allianz Global Investors, said in an interview with Bloomberg TV. “The question really will be whether the Fed will dare to do even more in order to taper the inflation risk.” Asian stocks rose, halting a four-day slide, as confidence in Federal Reserve policy allowed investors to take on riskier assets. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed as much as 0.8%, buoyed by energy and technology shares. Japan was Asia’s top performer, aided by a weaker yen. Hong Kong and China stocks eked out gains amid ongoing concern over U.S. sanctions. Australian equities declined for a third day. Asia’s benchmark advanced for the first time this week on hopes the Fed will effectively combat surging prices without choking off economic growth. The U.S. central bank said it will double the pace of its asset tapering program to $30 billion a month and projected three interest-rate increases in 2022. In the run-up to the Fed’s decision, Asia’s equity gauge slumped almost 2% over the past four days, keeping it below the 50-day moving average.    The short-term boost to stock market sentiment is from Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s comments about wage inflation not being the main issue for now, and expectations that there’ll be full employment next year, said Ilya Spivak, head of Greater Asia at DailyFX. However, there’s a “meaningful risk” that the Fed’s latest policy stance will trigger liquidation as Asia stock portfolios are de-risked, Spivak said. Japan’s stocks rose for a second day after the yen weakened and U.S. stocks rallied amid speculation the Federal Reserve will combat surging prices without choking off economic growth. The Topix index climbed 1.5% to close at 2,013.08 in Tokyo, while the Nikkei 225 Stock Average advanced 2.1% to 29,066.32. Keyence Corp. contributed the most to the Topix’s gain, increasing 2.5%. Out of 2,181 shares in the index, 1,674 rose and 421 fell, while 86 were unchanged. “It wouldn’t be strange to see the discount on Japanese equities narrowing following the FOMC meeting results, with market interest centered around electronics, machinery, automakers and marine transportation stocks,” said Takashi Ito, an equity market strategist at Nomura Securities. Electronics firms and automakers helped lift the Topix as the yen headed for a four-day slump against the dollar, with the currency falling 0.1% to 114.19 Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.4% to close at 7,295.70, extending its losing streak to a third day.  CSL was the worst performer after the benchmark’s second-biggest company by weighting completed a placement to fund its Vifor acquisition. Mesoblast was the top performer after saying it plans to conduct an additional U.S. Phase 3 trial of rexlemestrocel-L in patients with chronic low back pain.  Investors also digested November jobs data. Australian employment soared last month, smashing expectations and pushing the jobless rate lower as virus restrictions eased on the east coast. In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.7% to 12,777.54 In rates, cash USTs bull steepened, bolstered by a large curve steepener that blocked in early London. Bunds are soft at the back end, peripherals slightly wider ahead of today’s ECB meeting. Gilts bear steepen slightly, white pack sonia futures are lower by 2-3.5 ticks. In FX, the dollar slipped for a second day and oil rose; cable snapped to best levels of the week after the BOE unexpectedly hiked rates.  The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell for a second day as the greenback weakened against all its Group-of-10 peers apart from the yen; Tresury yields fell, led by the belly of the curve. Commodity currencies were the best G-10 performers, led by the krone, which reversed an earlier loss after Norway’s central bank raised its interest rate for the second time this year and flagged another increase in March as officials acted to cool the rebounding economy despite renewed coronavirus concerns. The Australian and New Zealand dollars reversed earlier losses amid upbeat stock markets; the Aussie earlier weakened as RBA Governor Lowe hinted at the prospect of no rate hikes next year. The yen fell as the Federal Reserve’s decision reaffirmed yield differentials ahead of the Bank of Japan’s outcome on Friday. Bonds rose after a solid auction. Elsewhere in FX, NOK outperforms in G-10 after Norges Bank rate action, other commodity currencies are similarly well bid. In commodities, Crude futures hold a narrow range around best levels of the session. WTI is up 1.1% near $71.70, Brent near $74.70. Spot gold grinds higher, adding ~$9 near $1,786/oz. LME copper outperforms in a well-bid base metals complex To the day ahead now, and the main highlights will be the aforementioned policy decisions from the ECB and the BoE. On the data side, we’ll also get the flash PMIs for December from around the world, the Euro Area trade balance for October, and in the US there’s November data on industrial production, housing starts and building permits, as well as the weekly initial jobless claims. Finally, EU leaders will be meeting for a summit in Brussels. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.5% to 4,734.25 STOXX Europe 600 up 1.2% to 476.39 MXAP up 0.8% to 193.11 MXAPJ up 0.5% to 623.76 Nikkei up 2.1% to 29,066.32 Topix up 1.5% to 2,013.08 Hang Seng Index up 0.2% to 23,475.50 Shanghai Composite up 0.8% to 3,675.02 Sensex up 0.1% to 57,851.57 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.4% to 7,295.66 Kospi up 0.6% to 3,006.41 Brent Futures up 1.0% to $74.59/bbl Gold spot up 0.5% to $1,786.03 U.S. Dollar Index down 0.36% to 96.16 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.36% Euro up 0.2% to $1.1316 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg The greenback is set for its biggest annual gain in six years and its rally appears to be far from over, market participants say. The prime mover: a hawkish Federal Reserve that’s drawn a roadmap of interest-rate increases over the next three years, while other central banks look much more reticent to withdraw stimulus The ECB is poised to unveil a gradual withdrawal from extraordinary pandemic stimulus in the face of soaring inflation whose path is further clouded by the omicron coronavirus variant The “phenomenal pace” at which the new Covid-19 omicron strain is spreading across the U.K. will trigger a surge in hospital admissions over the holiday period, according to Boris Johnson’s top medical adviser The Swiss National Bank kept both the deposit and the policy rate at -0.75%, as widely predicted by economists. With the global economic recovery on shaky footing due to the omicron variant, President Thomas Jordan and fellow policy makers also reiterated their pledge to supplement subzero rates with currency interventions as needed France will impose tougher rules on people traveling from the U.K., including a ban on non-essential trips and a requirement to self-isolate, as it tries to slow the spread of the omicron variant IHS Markit said its index tracking output across the U.K. economy fell to 53.2 this month from 57.6 in November, reflecting weaker-than-expected growth in service industries including hotels, restaurants and travel-related businesses. Business-to-business services stalled European power prices soared to records after Electricite de France SA said that two nuclear reactors will stop unexpectedly and two will have prolonged halts -- just as the continent heads for a cold snap with already depleted gas inventories Hungary’s central bank increased the effective base interest rate for the fifth time in as many weeks to tackle the fastest inflation since 2007 and shore up the battered forint A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asian equity markets traded mixed as the region digested the FOMC meeting. The ASX 200 (-0.4%) was negative with heavy losses in the healthcare sector and as COVID infections remained rampant. There were also notable comments from RBA Governor Lowe that the board discussed tapering bond purchases in February and ending it in May or could even end purchases in February if economic progress is better than expected, although it is also open to reviewing bond buying again in May if the data disappoints. The Nikkei 225 (+2.1%) outperformed and reclaimed the 29k level after the Lower House recently passed the record extra budget stimulus and with the latest trade data showing double-digit percentage surges in Imports and Exports, despite the latter slightly missing on expectations. The Hang Seng (+0.2%) and Shanghai Comp. (+0.8%) were varied with Hong Kong pressured by losses in the big tech names amid ongoing frictions between the world’s two largest economies and as US lawmakers proposed a bill to allow the US oversight of China audits, although the mainland was kept afloat amid further speculation of a potential LPR cut this month, as well as reports that China will boost financial support for small businesses and offer more longer-term loans to manufacturers. Finally, 10yr JGBs were indecisive despite the constructive mood in Tokyo and with price action stuck near the 152.00 focal point, while demand was also sidelined amid mixed results at the 20yr JGB auction and as the BoJ kickstarts its two-day meeting. Top Asian News Indonesia Reports First Omicron Case in Jakarta Facility Asia Stocks Snap Four-Day Drop as Traders Take on Risk After Fed Shimao Group Shares Set for Best Day in Month Money Manager Vanishes With $313 Million From China Builder Equities in Europe have taken their cue from the post-FOMC rally seen across Wall Street (Euro Stoxx 50 +1.6%; Stoxx 600 +1.1%) following somewhat mixed APAC trade. As a reminder, markets saw relief with one of the major risk events out of the way, and with Chair Powell refraining from throwing hawkish curveballs. That being said, the forecast does see three rate hikes next year, whilst the Fed Board next year will also be more hawkish – at least within the rotating voters - with George, Mester and Bullard poised to vote from 2022. Nonetheless, US equity future continues grinding higher with all contracts in the green and the RTY (+1.3%) outperforming vs the NQ (+0.7%), ES (+0.6%), and YM (+0.5%). Bourses in Europe also experience broad-based gains with no real outliers, although the upside momentum somewhat waned amid some softer-than-expected PMI metrics ahead of ECB. Sectors in Europe paint a clear pro-cyclical bias. Tech outperforms following a similar sectorial performance seen on Wall Street. Basic Resources and Oil & Gas follow a close second, with Autos and Travel & Leisure also among the biggest gainers. The downside sees Personal & Household Goods, Telecoms and Food & Beverages. Healthcare meanwhile fares better than its defensive peers as Novartis (+4%) is bolstered after commencing a new USD 15bln buyback, highlighting confidence in growth and pipeline. On the flip side, EDF (-12%) shares have slipped after it narrowed FY EBITDA forecasts and highlighted some faults with some nuclear reactors amid corrosion. Top European News Britain’s Covid Resurgence Cuts Growth to Slowest Since Lockdown SNB Says Franc Is Highly Valued as Omicron Clouds Outlook Norway Delivers Rate Hike That Omicron Had Threatened to Derail Erdogan Approves Third Capital Boost for State Banks Since 2019 In FX, not much bang for the Buck fits the bill accurately as it is panning out in the FOMC aftermath even though market expectations were matched and arguably exceeded in terms of dot plots showing three hikes in 2022 vs two anticipated by most and only one previously, while the unwinding of asset purchases will occur in double quick time to end in March next year instead of June. However, there appears to be enough in the overall statement, SEP and Fed chair Powell’s post-meeting press conference to offset the initial knee-jerk spike in the Dollar and index that lifted the latter very close to its current y-t-d peak at 96.914 vs 96.938 from November 24. Indeed, the terminal rate was maintained at 2.5%, no decision has been taken about whether to take a break after tapering before tightening, and the recovery in labour market participation has been disappointing to the point that it will now take longer to return to higher levels. In response, or on further reflection, the DXY has recoiled to 96.141 and through the 21 DMA that comes in at 96.238 today. NZD/AUD/CAD/GBP/EUR/CHF - All on the rebound vs their US counterpart, with the Kiwi back on the 0.6800 handle and also encouraged by NZ GDP contracting less than feared in Q3, while the Aussie is hovering around 0.7200 in wake of a stellar jobs report only partly tempered by dovish remarks from RBA Governor Lowe who is still not in the 2022 hike camp and non-committal about ending QE next February or extending until May. Elsewhere, the Loonie has clawed back a chunk of its losses amidst recovering crude prices to regain 1.2800+ status ahead of Canadian wholesale trade that is buried between a raft of US data and survey releases, Sterling is flirting with 1.3300 in advance of the BoE that is likely to hold fire irrespective of significantly hotter than forecast UK inflation, the Euro is pivoting 1.1300 pre-ECB that is eyed for details of life after the PEPP and the Franc is somewhat mixed post-SNB that maintained rates and a highly valued assessment of the Chf with readiness to intervene as required. Note, Usd/Chf is meandering from 0.9256 to 0.9221 vs Eur/Chf more elevated within a 1.0455-30 band. JPY - The Yen is underperforming on the eve of the BoJ and looking technically weak to compound its yield and rate disadvantage after Usd/Jpy closed above a key chart level on Wednesday (at 114.03). As such, Fib resistance is now exposed at 114.38 vs the circa 114.25 high, so far, while decent option expiry interest may be influential one way or the other into the NY cut given around 1.3 bn at the 114.25 strike, 1.7 bn at 114.30 and 1.2 bn or so at 114.50. In commodities, WTI and Brent front-month futures are taking advantage of the risk appetite coupled with the softer Buck. WTI Jan trades on either side of USD 71.50/bbl (vs low USD 71.39/bbl) while Brent Feb sees itself around USD 74.50/bbl (vs low USD 74.28/bbl). Complex-specific news has again been on the quiet end, with prices working off the macro impulses for the time being, and with volumes also light heading into Christmas trade. Elsewhere spot gold and silver ebb higher – in tandem with the Dollar, with the former eyeing a group of DMAs to the upside including the 100 (1,788/oz), 21 (1,789/oz) 200 (1,794/oz) and 50 (1,796/oz). Turning to base metals, LME copper has been catapulted higher amid the risk and weaker Dollar, with prices re-testing USD 9,500/t to the upside. Meanwhile, a Chinese government consultancy has said that China's steel consumption will dip 0.7% on an annual basis in 2022 amid policies for the real estate market and uncertainties linked to COVID-19 curb demand. US event calendar 8:30am: Dec. Initial Jobless Claims, est. 200,000, prior 184,000; Continuing Claims, est. 1.94m, prior 1.99m 8:30am: Nov. Housing Starts MoM, est. 3.1%, prior -0.7% 8:30am: Nov. Housing Starts, est. 1.57m, prior 1.52m 8:30am: Nov. Building Permits MoM, est. 0.5%, prior 4.0%, revised 4.2% 8:30am: Nov. Building Permits, est. 1.66m, prior 1.65m, revised 1.65m 8:30am: Dec. Philadelphia Fed Business Outl, est. 29.6, prior 39.0 9:15am: Nov. Manufacturing (SIC) Production, est. 0.7%, prior 1.2%; Industrial Production MoM, est. 0.6%, prior 1.6% 9:45am: Dec. Markit US Manufacturing PMI, est. 58.5, prior 58.3 9:45am: Dec. Markit US Services PMI, est. 58.8, prior 58.0 DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap Yesterday’s biggest story was obviously the Fed. In line with our US economists call (their full recap here), the FOMC doubled the pace of taper to $30bn a month, which would bring an end to QE in mid-March. The new dot plot showed three rate hikes in 2022, up from the Committee being split over one hike in September. Farther out, the median dot had 3 additional hikes in 2023 and 2 hikes in 2024, bringing fed funds just below their estimate of the longer-term rate. Notably, all 18 Committee members have liftoff occurring next year, and 10 have 3 hikes penciled in, suggesting consensus behind the recent hawkish turn was strong. Short-end market pricing increased in line and now has around 2.9 hikes priced for 2022. The first hike is fully priced for the June meeting, but notably, meetings as early as March are priced as live, more on that in a bit. In the statement, the Committee admitted that inflation had exceeded target for some time (dropping ‘transitory’ completely), and that liftoff would be tied to the economy reaching full employment. By the sounds of the press conference, progress toward full employment has proceeded pretty rapidly. Chair Powell noted that while labour force participation progress has been disappointing, almost every other measure of labour market strength shows a very strong labour market, and could create upside risks to inflation should wage growth start to increase beyond productivity. It is within that context that he framed the decision to taper faster, it will leave the Fed in a position to react as needed, providing optionality. In that vein, he stressed a few times that the lag between the end of taper and liftoff need not be as long as it was in the last cycle, and that the Fed will raise rates after taper is done whenever needed, hence meetings as early as March being live. Notably on Omicron, the Chair, like the rest of us, recognises we don’t know much about the variant yet, but seemed optimistic about the economy’s ability to withstand subsequent Covid shocks, regardless of Omicron’s specifics. While Covid shocks can tighten supply chains, discourage labour participation, and reduce demand, as more people get vaccinated those impacts should dwindle over time, so his argument went. Hammering the point home, he sounded confident that the economy can handle whatever Omicron brings without any additional QE, justifying the accelerated taper path despite Covid risks. The hawkish turn had been well forecast through Fed speakers since the last meeting, not least of which the Chair himself during Congressional testimony, which served to dull the market impact. Treasury yields were slightly higher, (2yr Tsys +0.6bps and 10yr Tsys +1.5 bps) but were quite docile for an FOMC afternoon. The dollar initially strengthened on the statement release before reversing course and ending the day -0.24% lower. Stocks were the real outperformers, as the S&P 500 rallied through the FOMC events, gaining +1.63%, the best daily performance in two months, while the Nasdaq increased +2.15%. The Russell 2000 matched the S&P, gaining +1.65%. Obviously the market was anticipating the change in policy, but if doubling taper and adding three rate hikes in the next year isn’t enough to tighten financial conditions, what is? The Chair was asked about that in so many words in the press conference, where he responded by noting financial conditions could change on a dime. Indeed, they will have to tighten from historically easy levels if the Fed is to bring inflation back to target through policy. The Fed may be out of the way now, but the central bank excitement continues today as both the ECB and the BoE announce their own policy decisions later on. We’ll start with the ECB, who like the Fed have faced much higher than expected inflation lately, with the November flash estimate coming in at +4.9%, which is the highest since the formation of the single currency. Whilst Omicron has cast a shadow of uncertainty, with Commission President von der Leyen saying yesterday that it was likely to become dominant in Europe by mid-January, our European economics team doesn’t think there has been anything concrete enough to alter the ECB from their course (like the Fed). In our European economists’ preview (link here) they write the ECB appears on track to initiate a transition to a monetary policy stance based more on policy rates and rates guidance and less on liquidity provision. The ECB is set to confirm that PEPP net purchases will end in March, but will cushion the blow by working flexibility into the post-PEPP asset purchase arrangement. They are also set to make the policy framework more flexible to better respond to inflation uncertainties. One thing to keep an eye out for in particular will be the latest inflation projections, with a report from Bloomberg suggesting that they’ll show inflation beneath the 2% target in both 2023 and 2024. So if that’s true, that could offer a route to arguing against a tightening of monetary policy for the time being, since the ECB’s forward guidance has been that it won’t raise rates until it sees inflation at the target “durably for the rest of the projection horizon”. Today’s other big decision comes from the BoE, where our UK economist is expecting that there’ll be a 15bps increase in Bank Rate, taking it up to 0.25% although they suggest it’s a very close call. See here for the rationale. Ahead of that decision later on, we received a very strong UK inflation print for November, with CPI rising to +5.1% (vs. +4.8% expected), up from +4.2% in October and the fastest pace in a decade. That’s running ahead of the BoE’s own staff forecasts in the November Monetary Policy Report, which had seen inflation at just +4.5% that month, so six-tenths beneath the realised figure. We’ll get their decision at 12:00 London time, 45 minutes ahead of the ECB’s. In terms of the latest on the Omicron variant, there are continued signs of concern in South Africa, with cases coming in at a record 26,976 yesterday, whilst the number in hospital at 7,339 is up +73% compared to a week ago. Meanwhile the UK recorded their highest number of cases since the pandemic began, at 78,610. England’s Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty, said that a lot of Covid records would be broken in the coming weeks, and also that a majority of cases in London were now from the Omicron variant. Separately, the French government is set to hold a meeting tomorrow on Covid measures, and EU leaders will be discussing the pandemic at their summit today. When it comes to Omicron’s economic impact, we could see some light shed on that today as the December flash PMIs are released from around the world. Overnight we’ve already had the numbers out of Australia and Japan where hints of a slowdown are apparent. Japan's Manufacturing PMI came out at 54.2 (54.5 previous) and the Composite at 51.8 (53.3 previous) while Australia’s Manufacturing and Composite came in at 57.4 and 54.9 respectively (59.2 and 55.7 previous). Overnight in Asia stocks are trading mostly higher led by the Nikkei (+1.78%) followed by the Shanghai Composite (+0.28%), and KOSPI (+0.22%). However the CSI (-0.07%) and Hang Seng (-0.81%) are losing ground on concerns of US sanctions on Chinese tech companies. In Australia, the November employment report registered a strong beat by adding 366.1k jobs against 200k consensus. This is being reflected in a +12.75 bps surge in Australia's 3y bond. Elsewhere, in India wholesale inflation for November rose +14.2% year on year, levels last seen in 2000 against a consensus of +11.98% on the back of higher food and input prices. DM futures are indicating a positive start to markets today with S&P 500 (+0.19%) and DAX (+1.04%) contracts both higher as we type. Ahead of the Fed, European markets had put in a fairly steady performance yesterday, with the STOXX 600 up +0.26%. That brought an end to a run of 5 successive declines, with technology stocks in particular seeing an outperformance. Sovereign bond markets were also subdued ahead of the ECB and BoE meetings later, with yields on 10yr bunds (+0.9bps), OATs (+0.5bps) and gilts (+1.2bps) only seeing modest moves higher. In DC, despite optimistic sounding talks earlier in the week, the latest yesterday was President Biden and Senator Manchin remained far apart on the administration’s build back better bill, imperiling its chances of passing before Christmas. Elsewhere, reports suggested the President would have more nominations for the remaining Fed Board vacancies this week. Looking at yesterday’s other data, US retail sales underwhelmed in November with growth of just +0.3% (vs. +0.8% expected), and measure excluding gas and motor vehicles was also up just +0.2% (vs. +0.8% expected). Also the NAHB’s housing market index for December moved up to a 10-month high of 84, in line with expectations. To the day ahead now, and the main highlights will be the aforementioned policy decisions from the ECB and the BoE. On the data side, we’ll also get the flash PMIs for December from around the world, the Euro Area trade balance for October, and in the US there’s November data on industrial production, housing starts and building permits, as well as the weekly initial jobless claims. Finally, EU leaders will be meeting for a summit in Brussels. Tyler Durden Thu, 12/16/2021 - 08:29.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 16th, 2021

Transcript: Maureen Farrell

     The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Maureen Farrell on the Cult of We is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here.   ~~~   RITHOLTZ: This… Read More The post Transcript: Maureen Farrell appeared first on The Big Picture.      The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Maureen Farrell on the Cult of We is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here.   ~~~   RITHOLTZ: This week on the podcast, I have a special guest. Her name is Maureen Farrell, and she is the co-author of the book, “The Cult of We: WeWork, Adam Neumann, and the Great Startup Delusion.” I read this book a couple of weeks ago and just plowed through it. It’s a lot of fun. Everything you think about WeWork is actually even crazier, and more insane, and more delusional than you would’ve guessed. All the venture capitalists and — and big investors not really doing the appropriate due diligence, relying on each other, and nobody really looking at the numbers, which kind of revealed that this was a giant money-losing, fast-growing startup that really was a real estate play pretending to be a tech play. You know, tech gets one sort of multiple, real estate gets a much lower multiple, and Neumann was able to convince a lot of people that this was a tech startup and, therefore, worthy of, you know, $1 billion and then multibillion-dollar valuation. It’s fascinating the — it’s deeply, deeply reported. There is just an incredible series of vignettes, and stories, and reveals that they’re just shocking what Neumann and company were able to — to fob off on their investors. Everything from ridiculous self-dealing to crazy valuations, to lackluster due diligence, and then just the craziest most egregious golden parachute in the history of corporate America. I found the book to be just fascinating and as well as my conversation with Maureen. So, with no further ado, my conversation with Maureen Farrell, co-author of “The Cult of We.” VOICE-OVER: This is Masters in Business with Barry Ritholtz on Bloomberg Radio. RITHOLTZ: My special guest this week is Maureen Farrell. She is the co-author of a new book, “The Cult of We: WeWork, Adam Neumann, and the Great Startup Delusion.” The book has been nominated for a Financial Times/McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award. Previously, she worked at the Wall Street Journal since 2013. Currently, she is a reporter, investigative reporter for The New York Times. Maureen Farrell, welcome to Bloomberg. FARRELL: Thank you so much for having me. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s start a little bit with your background and history. You — you covered capital markets and IPOs at the Wall Street Journal. What led you and your co-author Eliot Brown to this story because this was really a venture capital and a startup story for most of the 2010s, right? FARRELL: Exactly. And for me, personally, I was covering the IPO market and — and capital markets the sort of explosion of private capital. So, I was looking at WeWork from both angles, basically, you know, in the small cohort of the most interesting companies that were going to go public, along with Uber, Airbnb, Lyft. And it was also part of this group that had raised more capital than anyone ever before. I was looking at SoftBank and its vision fund a lot. And then — I mean, take within this cohort, there were some pretty interesting companies, but I mean, just along the way kept on hearing, you know, Adam Neumann stood out. That’s like a little bit of a different entrepreneur that the — the stories you would just hear over time just became more and more interesting a little and vain. RITHOLTZ: So when did you decide, hey, this is more than just a recurring series of — of articles? When did you say this is a book? We have to write a book about this? FARRELL: So, we were — around August 2019, by then we were writing more and more about the company as it was clear that it was, you know, made it known that it was going to go public. Suddenly, it’s S-1, the — the regulatory documents you file publicly to go public were out there, and they were completely bonkers. They sort of captivated, I think, the imagination of the business reading public. But then over the next few weeks, WeWork was on its way to finally doing this IPO. And my co-author Eliot and I who had been cover — he had covering the company long before me. He’s a real estate. He had been covering them since 2013, then he was out in San Francisco covering venture capital. And it just became the most insane story either one of us had ever reported, like day by day there’s a playbook for IPOs. And they — you know, things are different, but they sort of follow a formula and nothing was making sense. And it just was getting more and more insane until this IPO was eventually called off. And Adam Neumann, the founder and CEO was pushed out of the company for all sorts of crazy things that were given to. RITHOLTZ: So, we’re going to — we’re going to spend a lot of time talking about that. But you hinted at something I — I have to mention. Your co-author covered real estate. Hey, I was told WeWork was a tech startup, and an A.I. company, and everything else but a real estate arbitrage play. How did they manage to convince so many people that they weren’t a Regis. The CEO of Regis very famously said, “How was what they do any different than what we do?” FARRELL: Well, they tried to convince Eliot Brown, my co-author, of the same thing. He — he had heard about Adam Neumann and his company. He started seeing the valuation. Back then I think it was $1 billion, $1.5 billion, and he was … RITHOLTZ: Right. When that became a unicorn, suddenly it was like, “Wait, this is just a real estate play.” FARRELL: Exactly. And he was covering other commercial real estate companies like Regis. And he had followed them and he was like, “Wait, they only have a couple of locations even still at that point.” So, he went in to meet Adam Neumann for the first time, and he’s got great stories. But as part of it, Adam was like really horrified. He was, you know, very nice, his charming self, but also saying, “Hey, you’re a real estate reporter … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … for the Wall Street Journal. You’re the last person who should be covering this company. Do you have someone who covers like community companies?” RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: And Eliot said, “No, and I’ll be following you from here on out.” RITHOLTZ: We’ll — we’ll talk about community-adjusted EBITDA a little later also. But — but let’s talk about the genesis of this because Neumann and his partner McKelvey had a — a legit business Greendesk, the — was the predecessor to WeWork. It was sold. I don’t know what the dollar amount was. Was that ever disclosed? FARRELL: Ah. RITHOLTZ: But — but it was not — nothing. It was real. And the two of them rolled that money plus a third partner who is also — Joel Schreiber is a real estate developer in New York, not coincidently. And in 2010, they launched WeWork with the first site in SoHo. So why is this real estate assign long-term leases and sell shorter-term leases at a significant markup? How is this not possibly a real estate concern? How? What was — what was the argument they were making to people that, “Hey, we’re a tech company and we deserve tech company valuations.” FARRELL: Sure. So exactly as you said, they have this Brooklyn business that was the genesis of WeWork. It was — it had a lot of that business, and it was what they took to make WeWork. It has a lot of innovation to it in terms of architecturally the aesthetic of it. I mean, we probably all have been to WeWork. They’re just — they’re beautiful buildings. RITHOLTZ: Funky, fun … FARRELL: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … open … FARRELL: Light coming through … RITHOLTZ: … with a beer tap and lots of glass. FARRELL: … we had light streaming through the windows. You put — you pack people very close together. So, something they started in Brooklyn, it took off, but then their — the landlord there didn’t want to grow it, so they — they split up, they moved on. Adam and his — his co-founder Miguel McKelvey. And from the very beginning, the idea was something so much bigger. They say they created — they like sketched out something and it was like essentially WeWorld. It would be, you know, schools, and apartments, and this whole universe of we. But basically, as you said, I mean, throughout for the most part, it was this like arbitrage building, arbitrage company in terms of getting long-term leases and splitting it up. RITHOLTZ: All right. So, by 2014, they have a pretty substantial investor list, J.P. Morgan Chase, T. Rowe Price, Wellington, Goldman, Harvard Endowment, Benchmark Capital, Mort Zuckerman. Was this still a rational investment in 2014 or when did things kind of go off the rails? FARRELL: By then it still seemed like the valuation was really getting ahead of itself, and it was very much predicated on this idea that you said being a tech company. And I mean, at Adam Neumann’s genius was in marketing and fund raising. And what he had the ability to do really each step of the way and it’s — it’s masterful was sort of take — take the zeitgeist, like the big business idea of the moment that was captivating investors and put that on top of WeWork. So, he’s very into — a little bit before this like sort of acquainting it to Facebook. You know, Facebook was the social network. This is like a social network in person. RITHOLTZ: In real life, right. FARRELL: In — yeah, real life social network. And he didn’t manage to kind of convince people bit by bit. I mean, it’s interesting, Benchmark, you know, as you know, is like one of the top … RITHOLTZ: Legit — right, top shelf V.C., absolutely. FARRELL: Yeah, that’s been some — behind some of the biggest tech companies. RITHOLTZ: Bill Gurley, Uber, go down the list of just incredible … FARRELL: Snap. RITHOLTZ: … yeah, amazing. FARRELL: eBay. Yeah, they’ve had — through — for decades, they’ve been behind some of the biggest companies. So, they were willing to take a gamble on them, and then they saw red flags, but just decided to jump in anyway. But for Benchmark, I mean, we see and they ultimately — they get in at such a low valuation, it’s … RITHOLTZ: Doesn’t matter. FARRELL: … exactly like — you know, they want their homeruns. And I mean, it’s still — they still ultimately got out at a pretty good — really incredible return, but it’s … RITHOLTZ: Right, $600 million to $10 billion, something like that, something (inaudible). FARRELL: Yeah, something like that. RITHOLTZ: So — so just to clarify because I — I’m — I’m going to be trashing WeWork for the next hour, but this wasn’t a Theranos situation or a Bernie Madoff, this is not an issue of fraud or anything illegal or unlawful. Fees just were insane valuations. Somebody did a great job selling investors on the potential for WeWork, and it didn’t work out. FARRELL: I’m glad you brought that up because a lot of people do ask about the differences and the parallels between Elizabeth Holmes and Adam Neumann. And I — I mean, I almost think the story, in some ways, is more interesting. I mean, the Theranos story is, obviously, the craziest and — and horrifying in so many ways. But with Adam Neumann, on the margins, there are questions about, you know, some of them (inaudible). RITHOLTZ: They’re self-dealing and there’s some — a lot of avarice. And he just cashed out way, way early, so you could criticize his behavior. But, you know, you end up with the VCs and the outside investors either looking the other way or turning a blind eye. It’s not like the stuff wasn’t disclosed or anything, he was very out front. No, I need — I need a private jet because we’re opening up WeWorks in China and in 100 other countries, and I have to join around the world. FARRELL: Yeah, and maybe you (inaudible) thing. RITHOLTZ: Now, you need a $65 million (inaudible) is a different question. But, you know, there — they didn’t hide this. They were like proud of it. FARRELL: No, and I think it is every step of the way, you see. I mean, the investors and these were some of the most sophisticated investors in the world and some of the — you know, they are thought of as the smartest investors. They saw the numbers that WeWork was putting forth and they were real, real numbers. They also saw their projections and the projections were mythical, and they never quite reached them. But you could see, if you are going to invest in any round of WeWork, you could see what their prior projections were, how they failed to hit them. But instead, the thing that we saw time and time again to this point was, very often, Adam Neumann would meet the head of an investment company, whether it’s Benchmark or SoftBank or T. Rowe Price, like the — the main decision-maker totally captivate this person. You know, it’s usually a man. The man would become kind of smitten with Adam and all his ideas and what he was going to do, totally believing it. The underlings would look at the numbers, raise all these red flags, point them out. And then the decision-maker would say … RITHOLTZ: Do it anyway. FARRELL: … yeah, he’s amazing. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) RITHOLTZ: So I want to talk about the rapid rise of WeWork and their — their really fast growth path, but I have to ask, what sort of access did you have to the main characters in the book? Were people forthcoming? I have to imagine there were some people who had grudges and were happy to speak. What — what about the — some of the original founders, Adam and his wife Rebekah? Who — who did you have access to? FARRELL: Sure. So, you know, in the interest of privacy, I can’t get into specifics. But what I will say, the interesting thing was, I mean, when we really got access for hours and hours to the vast majority of players at every step of the way in this book. And the — one of the funny things was, I mean, the pandemic really started right as Eliot and I took book leave. We started a book leave in late February 2020. And we had both planned to sort of be and all around the world, meeting people in person. Eliot had moved to New York to meet a lot of the players in person. Obviously, the world shut down and, you know, was kind of nervous about what that would mean in terms of conversations. And the funny thing was I think people are home, bored, feeling pretty reflective. So, there are a number of people that said … RITHOLTZ: What the hell. FARRELL: … I didn’t know if I wanted to talk to you and … RITHOLTZ: But what the hell. FARRELL: … these — some of these people I probably had like 10 conversations … RITHOLTZ: Really? FARRELL: … for hours with. RITHOLTZ: And — and there are 40 something pages of endnotes. It’s — I’m not suggesting that this isn’t deeply researched because a lot of these conversations that you report on like you’re fly on the wall. Clearly, it can only be one of two or three people. So, it looks like you had a ton of access to a lot of senior people and I guess, we’ll just leave it at that. So — so let’s talk about that early rise in the beginning. They were really ramping up very rapidly. I mean, you could see how somebody interested in investing in a potential unicorn in 2012, ’13, ’14 coming out of the financial crisis. Hey, the idea of all these startups just leaving a little bit of space and not a long-term lease, it looks very attractive. It looks like, hey, you could put WeWorks wherever there’s a tech community, and they should do really well there. FARRELL: Yeah, there — and it was — the marketing was — it was very viral at that point. It was, you know, people would tell their friends about it, and they would fill up very rapidly. And they were building more and more. I mean — and this is one of the — you know, as part of the genius of Adam Neumann was, you know, he was telling people from day one they were really struggling to even secure the lease on the first building. And he was like, oh, we’re going to be global, we’re going to be international. He would set these goals of how many buildings they would open and people internally, and even investors, would say, “Oh, this is impossible.” RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: And he would — and he would hit that. He kept on sort of defying gravity, defying disbelief or questions. So, the growth was incredible and they were filling them up. We could talk about, you know, the lack of the cost of doing so. RITHOLTZ: Right. They — they were paying double to — to real estate agents when everybody else was paying. They were going to competitors and saying, “We’re going to reach out to your tenants, and we’re going to offer them free rent for a year.” I mean, they were really sharp elbowed and very aggressive. FARRELL: Especially as time went on. We did find that there is one year we got all their financials. We — you know, we got our hands on a vast trove of documents, but there was one year — I think it was 2011 — that they, I think, made $2 million in profit. RITHOLTZ: Wow. FARRELL: We were — we were kind of shocked to see that. We don’t think they had ever made a profit. And then from there, they did not, and the billions and billions just added up in terms of losses. RITHOLTZ: So — so the rapid rise, we — we mentioned, they peaked in 2019 at more than $47 billion. Neumann recently did a interview with your fellow Times correspondent Adam (sic) Ross Sorkin, and he was somewhat contrite. He — he had admitted that all the venture money and all the high valuations had — went to his head, quote, “You lose focus on really the core of the business and why the business is meant to be that way. It had a corrosive effect on my thinking.” That’s kind of a surprising admission from him. FARRELL: It was. Yeah, I mean, his mea culpa is very interesting. And I mean, one of the things that people said along the way was, you know, the — the higher the valuation, the more out of touch she became. I mean, he — he had a narcissist. And I don’t know what you want to call it, but … RITHOLTZ: Socio-pathological narcissistic personality disorder? I’m just — I’m not a psychologist, I’m just guessing, or a really successful salesman/CEO. There’s like a thin line between the two sometimes, it seems. FARRELL: And some of it — I mean, it seems insane. It was like, oh, he thought of himself in this like same — like with along with world leaders, but world leaders were really sort of … RITHOLTZ: Tailing him. FARRELL: … really wanted to meet him. RITHOLTZ: Yeah. FARRELL: Yeah. And he was like — we have a scene in the book that he was debating whether or not he was going to cancel on Theresa May because he had promised his wife that he would teach a class on entrepreneurship to their new school, so it was like a few of their kids and a few of their kids’ friends were in the school. RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: And they’re about five years old, five or six. And he had promised — and his wife … RITHOLTZ: Prime Minister, a five-year-old, that’s it. So, when you talk about losing touch with reality, some of the M&A that the startup did. Wavegarden or wave machine was a — like a surf wave machine, meetup.com, Conductor, they ended up dumping these for a fraction of what they paid for them. But what’s the thought process we’re going to become a technology conglomerate? I don’t — I don’t really follow the thinking other than will it be fun to have a wave machine at our buildings, like what’s the rationale there? FARRELL: OK. So, there were — there were two parts to that, and part of it was like it was the world was Adam Neumann’s playground, and he loves surfing, and he thought that — you know, that he found out this company has wave-making mission. They would make waves. So, him and his team went to Spain to surf on them and test them out, but he could basically convince his board, in general … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … who had to approve these that anything made sense, whether it’s the jet, the wave pool company or friends of his. I mean, Laird Hamilton, the famous surfer … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … was a friend of his. They invested like in his coffee creamer company. But then the second — so it was so many unseen investments that I really didn’t necessarily make any sense. But then on the other side, one of the things that we thought was interesting, he had this deal with Masa who — Masayoshi Son. He’s the CEO of SoftBank, became WeWork’s biggest investor, biggest enabler, you might say. RITHOLTZ: Yeah. FARRELL: And one of the — they were going to do this huge deal that would have actually kept WeWork private forever. It never came to pass, and that’s why it was sort of the beginning of the end when this deal fell apart. But as part of it, a lot of the deal is predicated on growing revenue. So, Adam also became obsessed with acquisitions like whatever they could possibly do to add more revenue to the company. I mean, he was talking about buying Sweet Cream, and he had like got pretty far along in the salad company … RITHOLTZ: Yeah, amazing. FARRELL: … in conversations with them. So, it was this idea of like let’s just throw in anything, we have money, and let’s just grow our top line. Who cares about anything else? RITHOLTZ: Let’s talk about Rebekah Neumann. She was Adam Neumann’s wife. What — what what’s her role in WeWork? How important was she? FARRELL: Her role is just so fascinating throughout. So, I mean, he — he met her right as he was starting Greendesk. And I think she just sort of opened his eyes. She’d grown up very wealthy. She’s Gwyneth Paltrow’s cousin. She had always ties to Hollywood. She gave him a loan early on, a high interest loan, I think even after they were married that we report about in the book. But as time went on, she — she really want a career in Hollywood, decides to — at one point, she — she was trying to be an actress and she tells someone that she’s done with Hollywood. She’s producing babies now. They’ve gone on to have six kids. But she sort of always kind of dabbled in the company, and they retroactively made her a co-founder. RITHOLTZ: Right, she wasn’t there from day one. It was only later she got pretty active. FARRELL: Yeah, she told people like giving tours early on that she help pick out the coffee in the — in the early WeWorks. But — so she became more active, but she was sort of jumped in and out. And it was by the — one of the things that she had a big focus on their kids were growing up, she didn’t really like their choices of private or public schools, so she decided to start — she helmed sort of the education initiative that’s something … RITHOLTZ: And she was deeply qualified for this because she — she was a certified yoga instructor, right? FARRELL: Yeah, she had been. RITHOLTZ: And — and I know she went to Cornell, which is certainly a good school. What bona fide does she bring to technology, real estate, education, like I’m trying to figure it out. And in the book, you don’t really go into any details that she’s qualified to do any of these things. FARRELL: I mean, especially with — with education, it’s like she didn’t — she want this — essentially she wanted a school for her children, and she wanted very specific things in that school. And once again, they decided that that would be the next like frontier for WeWork. They’re always adding different things. But no one really — then they let them do this. They started this school in New York in the headquarters, and they were going to teach the next-generation of entrepreneurs. And … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … I mean, they — one of the things — I mean, it was the education arm more than — as much or more than other parts of it is just so tragic because they had a lot of money. She’s — she, like Adam, can just speak like — speak so — like eloquently and with this vision. So, she attracted all these very talented teachers. She sort of wooed them from the schools that they were in before and told them that they were going to start this, you know, new enterprise and change education forever. And it’s just really devolved so quickly. It became very like kind of petty. I mean, if you pull so they have PTSD from her like obsession with like the rugs like … RITHOLTZ: Right, just … FARRELL: … it was a Montessori-type school. And yeah, she obsessed over like the color of white of the rugs and made them like send back 20 rugs. RITHOLTZ: What was the most shocking thing you found out about him or her or both? FARRELL: So, one — one of these was — I mean, there is a lot of the — their personal lives, as we said, whether it was a school or other — other things where their kids are educated in, just the way in which the personal entanglements, you know, small and huge levels, but I’ll give two examples. I mean, one of the things that people said in the school, so within the WeWork headquarters was a whole … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … floor and it’s beautiful if you see pictures of it, like it just this – like really incredible school. RITHOLTZ: Money was no object. FARRELL: Yeah. And they had Bjarke Ingels, this famous architect designed the school. And — but they basically, on Friday nights, would have dinners with their friends there. And according to many people would — the team would come in Monday morning … RITHOLTZ: It’d be a disaster. FARRELL: … it will be a complete … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … disaster. So, it was like really on so many levels like everything was their personal … RITHOLTZ: So, entitled. FARRELL: Yeah. And the second thing that really shocked us was she was very — she had a lot of kind of like phobias around like health and wellness. And she says — I mean, she had a — a real tragedy in her family. Her brother died from cancer, and so she was always — she’s very focused on and she said it as much in podcasts and things. But she was very fixated on 5G. And she’s worried about vaccines for their kids. And — but the 5G of like what that could do for — you know, these signals. She wouldn’t let them have printers on the floor, like any printers on — wireless printers on the floor of the school. But there is a — they bought this … RITHOLTZ: Can you — can you even by 5G printers today? What — what was the … FARRELL: Oh, no, it’s a wireless. RITHOLTZ: … yeah, just Wi-Fi? FARRELL: Yeah, the wireless like freaked her out, so the teachers of that are like run up and downstairs to just print everything. It seems ridiculous. But the 5G towers, there was one, either being built or built right near there, across the Beam Park. RITHOLTZ: (Inaudible) City Park. FARRELL: Yeah, right nearby. So, she was so obsessed with it. She didn’t want to move in there. They had bought like six apartments in this building that she — the CFO — this is around the time they’re preparing for the IPO. I used to work at Time Warner Cable, who is the CFO of Time Warner Cable. So, she said, “Can you, Artie Minson, help us get rid of the 5G tower and have it moved?” And basically, he deputized another aide who used to work for Cuomo and worked for Governor Christie, the — both former governors. And they — like that was something they — they actually worked on. So, the — yeah, that interplay was just kind of insane. RITHOLTZ: Seems rational. There was a Vanity Fair article, “How Rebekah Neumann Put the Woo-Woo in WeWork,” and — and what you’re describing very much is — is along the lines of that. I’ve seen Neumann described as a visionary, as a crackpot, as — as a grifter, but he thinks he’s going to become the world’s first trillionaire, and — and WeWork the first $10 trillion company. Is — is any realistic scenario where that happens or is he just completely delusional? FARRELL: I mean, it seems insane and like he seems completely delusional, but he had a lot of people going along with him, including the man with one of the biggest checkbooks in the world who is Masayoshi Son, the CEO and Founder of SoftBank, who had just — I mean, the timing of the story, it’s like there’s so many things that happened at the first enrollment. RITHOLTZ: Saudi Arabia wanting to diversify, giving a ton of money. You — you call Son the enabler-in-chief. He — he put more than $10 billion of capital showered on — on to WeWork. How much do you blame Son for all of this mayhem at least in the last couple of years of WeWork’s run as a private company? FARRELL: It seems like he was the main — you know, the main person kind of pushing all of this. And when you talk to a lot of people around Adam, they just said they were just such a dicey match like that Adam was crazy to begin with. Everyone thought that. You know, it can go both ways, but … RITHOLTZ: Yeah, but people drank the Kool-Aid. It — it reminded me — you don’t mention Steve Jobs in the book, but very much the reality distortion field that Jobs was famous for, I very much got the sense Neumann was creating something like that. How did he get everybody to drink the Kool-Aid? Was he just that charismatic and that good of a salesman? FARRELL: I think so. And it was just he could talk about things and make you feel like the reality was there, this reality of distortion field. He was — he was masterful in that. Yet the thing that he did was he always found new pots of money … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … all over the world. I mean, it was the time — it was the time when the private capital markets were getting deeper and deeper, the Fidelitys and the T. Rowe that like normally kind of sober mutual funds … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … were jumping into startups. And they — they were — we call one of the chapters FOMO. It was like the … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … fun FOMO. They were fearful of missing out on the next big thing. So that we’re sort of in this climate where there is an appetite to go after, to just take a chance for the chance of getting the next like maybe not trillion-dollar company, maybe no one but him and Masa believe that, the next big thing. RITHOLTZ: But the next 100X — right. And that’s really — you know, it’s always interesting when you see these stayed, old mutual fund companies that have literally no experience in venture capital or tech startups, but happy to plow into it because they — they — they want to be part of it. And maybe that’s how we end up with community-adjusted EBITDA. Can — can you explain to us what that phrase means? I don’t even know what else to call it. FARRELL: Sure. So WeWork was losing every — every step of the way. They were growing revenue more than doubling it. You know, they’re expanding all around the world. And with that, they were losing just as much, if not more every single year than they were taking in. So, they had this brilliant idea, really a lot stemming from the CFO and Adam Neumann love the CFO’s creation. His name is Artie Minson, the CFO. And it was this idea that you essentially strip out a lot of the costs of kind of creating all the — building out all the WeWorks and, you know, marketing and opening up new buildings. You strip it out, and then you’re suddenly a profitable company. It’s like the magic. RITHOLTZ: Wait, let me — let me make sure I understand this. So, if you eliminate the cost of generating that profit, you suddenly become profitable. How come nobody else thought of this sooner? It seems like a genius idea. FARRELL: Oh. RITHOLTZ: Just don’t — it’s profits, expenses. It’s fantastic. FARRELL: And the — the conviction with which certain people inside, especially on the finance team, believe this. I mean, they were saying throughout that like, oh, we will be a profitable company if we — the idea was if we just stop growing, we could be profitable right now. We take in more per building. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) FARRELL: Then we spend on it. But, you know, that never was the case. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s stick with the delusion concept. We talked about WeGrow, and we talked about WeLive a little bit, crazy stuff. What made this guy think he can help colonize Mars? Right, you’re laughing. You wrote it yourself, and it’s still funny. FARRELL: It is still … RITHOLTZ: By the way, I found a lot of the book very amusing, like very dry, like you guys didn’t try and crack jokes. But clearly, a lot of the stuff was just so insane. You read it, you start to laugh out loud. FARRELL: I’m — I’m glad to hear that because I think that we would joke that like every day. I mean, we’re in different places writing it. We are on calls constantly, and we would call each other. And it was often multiple times a day we would call each other and say, “You will never ever believe what I just heard.” And we would crack up, and we — we had a lot of fun writing it because it’s just — it was — the truth of the story was like more insane than … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … anything we could have made up ever. RITHOLTZ: That’s the joke that, you know, the difference between truth and — and fiction is fiction has to make sense, and truth is under no such obligation. So, let’s talk about Neumann colonizing Mars. FARRELL: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: I mean, was that a serious thing or was he just, you know, on one of his insane (inaudible) and everybody comes along? FARRELL: There — there — speaking of fine lines, I mean, he just — I think he — he started to believe more and more of like these delusions. And so, I think he really did, and yeah, he got this — he secured a meeting with Elon Musk, and he – Elon Musk — he always — Adam was always late to every meeting, would make people wait for hours, like even like the bankers in the IPO would just sit around. There’ll be rooms of like dozens of people waiting for Adam, and he’d show up like two hours late. But Elon Musk made him wait for this meeting. They sat and sat and sat, and then he told Elon Musk that getting — that he thought — like building a community on Mars is what he would do and he would help him with. And he said, you know, “Getting — getting to Mars is the easy part. Building a community is the hard part.” RITHOLTZ: Right. Because, you know, it’s very hard to get those beer taps to work in a … FARRELL: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … low-gravity, zero atmosphere environment. It’s a challenge, only WeWork could accomplish that. FARRELL: The – the fruit water. RITHOLTZ: Right. So — so I want to talk about the IPO, but before I get to that, I — I have to ask about the corporate offsites, the summer camp, which were described as three-day global summits of drinking and drug consumption. It was like a Woodstock event, not like a corporate retreat. How did these come about? FARRELL: So, Adam would say that he never — he grew up in Israel and he moved to the U.S. He lived for a little while the U.S., but move later in life. So, you said he never got to go to American summer camp, so he was going to recreate summer — American summer camp literally. They started at his wife’s family’s had a summer camp in upstate New York. That’s where they started. They just got bigger and bigger, eventually going to England and taking over this like huge like field — this huge estate there and bringing every single member of the company flying them from all over the world. RITHOLTZ: And there were thousands of employees? FARRELL: Thousands upon thousands, and the cost was unbelievable of every piece of it. I mean, every year, they just got bigger and bigger. I mean, the flew at the height of his fame not that he’s far off of it, but Lin-Manuel Miranda like, at the height of Hamilton, they flew him on a private jet. He — he performed on stage. The Roots came, and — and they would pay these people like … RITHOLTZ: Million dollars, right. FARRELL: … a million dollars, yeah. So, the money is no object. RITHOLTZ: That’s a good gig for an afternoon. FARRELL: Yeah, exactly. And they were — you know, especially at the beginning, it was like a younger group of people, in general. And — I mean, these — these were crazy. There’s tons of alcohol sanctioned by the company, handed out by the company. Drugs were in — you know, in supply not handed out by the company, but they were everywhere and … RITHOLTZ: And he talks about drugs. He says, “Well, we — it’s not really drugs, just, you know … FARRELL: He — so yeah, I think it — it got to a point and it was also mandatory to come to these events. So, I mean, the — they were … RITHOLTZ: And they were like meetings where there are shots, everybody has to do shots. FARRELL: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: This — this wasn’t just at these retreats, like hard partying was pretty common throughout the company or anywhere Neumann seemed to have touched. When — when he was there, everybody was expected to step-up and — and party hard. FARRELL: Including the investors. I mean, you’d walk into the office at 10 A.M., according to so many different people. And he’d insist on taking tequila shots with you in the morning in his office. And … RITHOLTZ: You didn’t have a shot before this? You — don’t you … FARRELL: Right. RITHOLTZ: … isn’t that — isn’t how every meeting begins? FARRELL: The breakfast … RITHOLTZ: Right? FARRELL: … of champions. RITHOLTZ: That’s — that’s right. So — so I got the sense from the book that they always seemed to be on the edge of running out of money, and they would always find another source, but it was all leading towards the IPO, but the S-1 one filing, the disclosures that go with an IPO filing, that seemed to be that they’re undoing the — the public just — investing public just torn apart. FARRELL: Exactly. I mean, the interesting piece of that, as you said, it was there’s always a new pool of capital like just when he thought that he was going to have to go public. And the board — and the board — I mean, one of the things we found time and time again was the board would say, you know, he’s really like crazy, things are getting out of hand. But like we won’t say no to him, but eventually he’s going to have to go public. This was back in like 2016-2017. RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: We thought he was going to run out of money, the only place to go because they’re burning so much cash with the public markets. And the public markets will take care of it, which — that kind of floored us each step of the way. But yes, as you said, he — he — he knew how to captivate on — in one-on-one or bigger meetings to convince you of this future to tell you we always describe him kind of as a magician and think of him like this, like don’t look here, look here, like the sleight of hand. He could — then this S-1 came out. It was a regulatory document. You have to follow rules. RITHOLTZ: There’s no sleight of hand in S-1 filing. FARRELL: No, like you have to see. And people suddenly saw the — the broad public the revenue, the losses of a lot, not even all of these, you know, the questionable corporate governance, I mean, the — the … RITHOLTZ: The self-dealing. FARRELL: … the self-dealing, only pieces of that were even in it because the jet wasn’t in the S-1. They didn’t have to disclose it. The — and the interesting thing about this, I think there’s always like this distinction that people try to make between like, oh, the smart money and the dumb money. And it’s like the smart money is like the Fidelitys and the T. Rowes, and the SoftBanks. And then the dumb money, you know, it’s like — or the, you know, the average retail investor. And so, it’s just so interesting that like he — he captivated the — the quote-unquote, “smart money.” And then the minute this was all made public, everything was there, the world saw it and just said like what is — like this is insane. RITHOLTZ: I’m nursing a pet theory that it was Twitter that demolished him because people just had a — I remember the day of this filing, Twitter just blew up with — like a — a million people are taking an S-1 apart sentence by sentence and the most outrageous things bubbled up to the top of Twitter. And it was very clear that they were dead in the water. There was going to be no IPO, and the dreams of these crazy valuations seemed to crash and burn with the — the IPO filing, which — which kind of raises a question about, you know, how was all of this corporate governance so amiss. All the self-dealings that were allowed, so my — my favorite one was he personally trademarked the word We and then charged the company $6 million to use it. Again, he — he’s given these sort of crazy disclosure explanations. Hey, I’m only allowed to say this. But it seems he bought a bunch of buildings in order to flip them to WeWork at a profit. I don’t understand how the board — we mentioned Theranos — here’s the parallel. How did the board tolerate just the most egregious, avarice, lack of interest in the company and only enrichment of oneself? How does the board of directors tolerate that? FARRELL: I know that was — I think, if anything, from this whole story that just floored us was exactly that this board, I mean, it was a — it was a real like heavy-hitting board of directors. They’re not — and all financial people as opposed to Theranos, you know, it was like people who didn’t really know … RITHOLTZ: Politics and generals, and … FARRELL: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … secretaries of states, right? It was a — and a lot of elderly men who were smitten with her. I mean, like men in — what was Kissinger on the board? He was 90 something. FARRELL: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: So — so with this though, the other thing that’s shocking is, you know, most founders of a successful company, they live a — a reasonably comfortable lifestyle, but the thought process is, hey, one day we’ll go public and my gravy train will come in, and I’ll have a — a high, you know, eight, nine, 10-figure net worth. Early in this time line, he was paying himself cashing out stock worth tens of millions, in some cases, hundreds of millions of dollars way, way early in — in — the company was five years old and he was worth a couple 100 million liquid, and god knows how much on paper. Again, how — how does the board allow that to take place? FARRELL: Yeah, that was — and a board, investors kind of signing off on this were jumping into it, I mean, seeing that he’s going to sell a lot of stock each round. I mean, now there does seem to be a shift and it’s kind of a scary one that this is like more private companies, the founders are selling more and more. But back then, you didn’t really see this very much. And one of the things I find very interesting is he was very much following the Travis Kalanick that — for Uber CEO’s playbook, and literally like following it that like going after the same investors, going around the world. Travis had raised more money than anyone before. Travis, every step of the way, made a huge point of, “I’m all-in. I’m never selling any stock” … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … until he was kicked out of the company basically. So, Adam followed his playbook, but each step of the way was — said he took money out and was like prepare about it. RITHOLTZ: I mean, he was very wealthy for a — a scrappy startup founder, 14, 15, 16. You would think, hey, he’s — maybe he’s making a decent living, but not hundreds of millions of dollars, it’s kind of amazing. FARRELL: Or like having many, many, many houses. RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: And they were like he didn’t hide the way in which he was living, having houses all over the world, jet setting all over the world. You know, and, in fact, he almost like, you know, wanted everyone to know that was part of his like a lure. RITHOLTZ: So, when the IPO filing in 2019, when — when that blows up, it seems to have a real impact on Silicon Valley for a while. Suddenly, high-spending, fast-growing, profitless companies looked bad, and now we’re back to we want profit growth and revenue, but that really didn’t last all that long, did it? FARRELL: No, it was unbelievable. I mean, we also — Eliot and I joked that we rewrote the epilogue like five times because, at first, we wrote it saying like this is the fallout. RITHOLTZ: Oh, look at the impact, right. FARRELL: Yeah, and it was — I mean, Masayoshi Son had his own mea culpa like, you know, I believe in Adam, I shouldn’t have, I made mistakes. But also, I want my companies to be profitable now … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … like I’m going to invest in these companies or the companies have invested already, they should be profitable. IPO investors, public market investors were totally spooled by money-losing companies. Then — you know, then came the pandemic, then came the Fed pumping money into the system. And then, you know, now, in some ways, it’s like, wow, WeWork always like made — generated revenue and losses. It’s like now today we have Rivian … RITHOLTZ: Right, Rivian and … FARRELL: … pre-revenue … RITHOLTZ: … Lucid and, you know, it’s all potential. Maybe it works out, maybe Amazon buys 100,000 trucks from them, but that’s kind of — that’s a possibility. And, you know, more — more than just the Fed, you had the CARES Act, you had a ton of money flow into the system, but it doesn’t necessarily flow to venture-funded outfits, it’s just a lot of cash sloshing around. Is that — is that a fair statement? FARRELL: Oh, completely. RITHOLTZ: So how quickly were the lessons of WeWork forgotten? FARRELL: Incredibly quickly. I mean, it felt like it had — it like it changed everything for a few months. I mean, the other part of it was Masayoshi Son had — had raised a $100 billion fund, biggest fund ever to invest in tech companies. He was literally about to close his second fund. It was … RITHOLTZ: $108 billion, right? FARRELL: Yeah, another $100 billion fund to just go and like pour into companies. RITHOLTZ: More, right. FARRELL: And then I mean, we’ve heard from all these people who are out meeting sovereign wealth funds, Saudi Arabia, and they were just like every meeting, it was like what about WeWork. And, you know, one of the things we’ve heard was he was pushing for it to just go public, you know, or to — or not to — to not go public because he didn’t want to take the mark. He didn’t want to make … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … all of this public. And we have a scene in the book about this that Masa tries to tell him to call off the IPO and tried to force his hand, and Adam is kind of like … RITHOLTZ: Confuses. FARRELL: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: Right. It’s — it’s — it’s really quite — it’s really quite astounding that we end up with — what did he burn through, $20 billion, $30 billion? FARRELL: More than $10 billion, I think. RITHOLTZ: Wow. FARRELL: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: That — that’s a lot of cash. FARRELL: Towards him essentially. RITHOLTZ: So — so here’s the curveball question to ask you. So, you’re now a business reporter at the Times. WeWork obviously isn’t the only company led by an eccentric leader. What are you reporting on now? What’s the next potential WeWork out there? FARRELL: You know, I’m — I’m just getting started. This is just a couple of weeks in, but — so it’s — I don’t quite know what the next WeWork is. I almost feel like there’s a lot of mini WeWorks out there, whether it’s — you know, the company is in the SPAC market. Some of these unicorns, I mean, there’s so many — so many red flags around these companies like I was saying before like if founders taking money out very early and, you know, investors are not really caring and just wanting to get into them, getting these massive packages — pay packages, compensation. So, I think there’s — there’s so many different places to look. I don’t get the sense that there’s one company now that’s sort of — of size of Adam Neumann. I think there are just a lot of many ones. I mean, he was a pretty like captivating and just insane in so many — larger than life in so many ways. But I have no doubt we’re going to find one of them fairly soon. There’ll be more. RITHOLTZ: And — and what do you think the future holds for Adam Neumann himself? He — we — we have to talk about the golden parachute, so not only does SoftBank refinance a couple hundred million dollars in loans that he has outstanding, they give him $183 million package and essentially purchased $1 billion of his stock, so he leaves WeWork as a billionaire. FARRELL: Yeah, it was — I mean, it was just an incredible thing. And I mean, then he got this pay package that they agreed to as part of the bailout. I mean, WeWork, once the IPO was called off, was on the verge of bankruptcy. They were going to run out of money in a couple of months so they had to do this very quickly. They were laid off thousands upon thousands of people. But basically, as part of the negotiations to get Adam Neumann to give up his super voting shares, these potent shares that would have let him continue to keep control of the company to do that, they struck this pay package. And I mean, it’s kind of interesting when we talk about the power founders right now that it wasn’t a wakeup call for Silicon Valley to be more wary of giving this power to founders, like when you saw the price tag that Adam Neumann extracted the cost of pushing out a founder who’s kind of a disastrous founder at some point. RITHOLTZ: Yeah. I — I remember reading that and thinking Son played it terribly. He could’ve said, “Hey, listen, I got $100 billion worth of other investments. If I take a $10 billion write-down, it’ll hurt, but I still have plenty of other money. If this goes belly up, you’re broke, you’re a disaster except I’ll give you $50 million or else you’re just impoverished. Good luck finding the lawsuits for the rest of your life.” That would have been the play, but he didn’t — I guess, it was the other second fund he didn’t want to put at risk. Why — why didn’t he hardball Neumann because I thought Son had all the leverage in that negotiation? FARRELL: That was one of the — like the enduring mysteries, I think, of this whole story because all the things you said are right, plus Adam had taken out so much money in terms. He had so much lent against his stock at $47 billion. I mean … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … J.P. Morgan, UBS, Credit Suisse, they have lent him hundreds of millions of dollars, and he would have gotten to default. He like didn’t necessarily have the liquidity to pay back everything … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … he had borrowed. So, it was — I mean, it’s kind of amazing in terms of his negotiating skills that Masa and SoftBank. It was led by Marcelo Claure who’s now the WeWork Executive Chairman. They blinked first. RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: They gave Adam a lot. And I totally agree with you, one of the things I’ve heard it was just like the interest of time. They just wanted it done $10 billion or whatever. It doesn’t mean that much. They want to just keep on moving, keep on … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … spending, not distract too much and just get this done, but it’s crazy. I mean, the … RITHOLTZ: So … FARRELL: … the time value of money … RITHOLTZ: … could be the greatest golden parachute in the history of corporate America. I mean, I — I’m hard pressed to think of anybody who, on the way out of a — a failing company, and it was a failing company at that moment, squeeze more money out of — out of their board. FARRELL: And just to say, I mean, Andrew Ross Sorkin at — in this first big interview with Adam that he gave was — I mean, Adam defended it in different ways. I mean, Andrew very much pushed him on like why that was okay and … RITHOLTZ: Very aggressively. FARRELL: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: That was early November. And he was sort of contrite and, you know, a little shifty, but for the most part surprisingly transparent. I was — when I was prepping for this, I watched this and, you know, you could see how he constructs that, you know, reality distortion field. But there was definitely more humility than we have seen previously. I don’t want to say humble, but just closer on that spectrum. Clearly, he wants to have a future in — in business, and he needs to offer a few mea culpas of his own. FARRELL: It does feel like this is the first step on the come back toward … RITHOLTZ: Yeah. FARRELL: … Adam Neumann. RITHOLTZ: I think that’s going to be a pretty big uphill battle. That’s going to be quite the Kilimanjaro to — to — to mount given what a debacle … FARRELL: The interesting thing just so in terms of his next step is I — I agree with you, there’s an uphill battle in terms of maybe getting people to — to give him money, but he now has a lot of money and from … RITHOLTZ: Family office, yeah. FARRELL: Exactly. Anecdotally, it sounds like a lot of people are very happy to take his money. So, to begin, that’s, you know, he’s seeding a lot of things that you — who knows where they’re going to go. RITHOLTZ: Interesting. So, I only have you for a limited amount of time. Let me jump to our favorite questions we ask all of our guests starting with, you spend a lot of time researching and writing during the lockdown. Did you have any time to stream anything on Netflix or Amazon Prime? FARRELL: There — I mean, there’s still a lot of like downtime. I — I probably watched not much. You know, there — there was downtime, and I did have a few shows that were … RITHOLTZ: Give us one or two favorites. FARRELL: … Little Fires Everywhere. I really liked Never Have I Ever. RITHOLTZ: I just started watching the last week, it’s quite charming. FARRELL: Yeah, it’s really good. RITHOLTZ: Anything Mindy Kaling does is quite amusing. FARRELL: She is amazing. Schitt’s Creek, we got through the whole — that was with my favorite pandemic. RITHOLTZ: So, the — the funny thing about that is the first episode, too, were like – it’s like — it’s like succession. You don’t like any of these people. The difference being in Schitt’s Creek, you quickly start to warm up to them and they start to reveal their own path to rehabilitation of — of themselves. FARRELL: It just gets better like ever — and then it’s so devastating at the end. RITHOLTZ: So, it was really great, right? That – that was one of my favorites. Let’s talk about your mentors, who helped shape your career as a business journalist. FARRELL: I guess, my earliest mentor as a journalist, in general, was in college, I’d always thought about journalism, and I got an internship with then, I think, a septuagenarian journalist. He — his name was Gabe Pressman. I grew up in New York. He was an NBC … RITHOLTZ: Sure. FARRELL: … journalist. This is sort of the political head honcho of local journalism. I worked for him for a summer. He was in his, I think, late 70s. And he was just the most energetic, passionate journalist I’ve ever met. He was still like chasing after mayors, grilling them. It was — with the Senate race it was Hillary in the Senate race. And it was like the most fun summer I’ve ever had and seeing his energy. And — and he — he passed away a few years ago, but literally, he started blogging into his 90s. And he would joke. He would say, “You know, my wife really wants me to like take a step back and work and teach at Columbia Journalism School,” where he had gone. And he was like, “I’m just not ready like, at some point, like scale back, and he never really did. So, he — I would say he was my first mentor. Just seeing like that, it is the most fun job in the world. He just was seeing that day in and day out. RITHOLTZ: Let’s talk about books. What are some of your favorites and — and what are you reading right now? FARRELL: Sure. I’ll start, you know, I always wish I read more fiction, but it’s like I always get pulled in, especially the business, genre. RITHOLTZ: Sure. FARRELL: So right at this minute, I’m reading “Trillions” by Robbin Wigglesworth. It’s really good. It’s about like index funds, sort of I’m learning a lot from it, the rise of Vanguard. RITHOLTZ: He was my guest last week just so you know … FARRELL: Oh, awesome. RITHOLTZ: … or two weeks ago. FARRELL: I’m midway through, but I’m, yeah, learning … RITHOLTZ: Really interesting. FARRELL: … a ton from it. I just read Anderson Cooper’s book about the Vanderbilts. It’s — I thought it was really great and it’s so interesting. You know, he talks — it starts like the Gilded Age. And you just see so many like eerie and kind of parallels between our age right now and just like the level of like wealth creation and what it leads to. So, I really enjoyed that. I read — this is a little bit dated, but “Say Nothing” by Patrick Radden Keefe. It’s about the troubles in Northern Ireland. It is — I mean, it’s — it’s very sad, but I — and it’s pretty long, and I just could not put it down. It’s … RITHOLTZ: Really? FARRELL: … so great. Yeah, I can’t recommend that one highly enough. RITHOLTZ: Quite, quite interesting. What sort of advice would you give to a recent college grad who was interested in a career in either journalism or — or business? FARRELL: In terms of journalism, I would just say jump in. I mean, it’s such a — as opposed to business, I felt like when I graduated from college, you know, so many people had jobs that they were going to make, you know, a decent amount of money. And with the journalism, you just have to find your way in and a lot of its internships. And it just — the path is hard. There’s no straight line. So, I would just say for journalism, it really helps to just jump into the first job you can get. Work really hard in it. And you just always have to keep — there’s no straight line, but jump and learn from it, meet people, find your mentors everywhere you go, and just keep going. You learn so much on the job. I went to Journalism School at Columbia. It was a super fun year, but it’s like within two days of working as a journalist, you just learn so much you can never learn in school. RITHOLTZ: And our final question, what do you know about the world of IPOs, capital market, business journalism today that you didn’t know 15, 20 years ago when you were first starting out? FARRELL: Okay. What I think have learned and probably the most in writing this book is you think people are rational players, and you think that titans of business are supposed to behave in sort of a rational way, and that these, you know, these checkmarks, these — like a T. Rowe Price or something or Fidelity that they’re going to do a certain amount of work looking at things. And I think the level of irrationality in business of just relationships of people, sort of not necessarily making rational decisions and just going with their gut and going with the people they like, I think, are cool like that that overrides a lot of things. I think it’s just so much less rational than you think it would be. And sometimes the things that are on their face seem really crazy and insane, maybe are. RITHOLTZ: Quite, quite fascinating. We have been speaking with Maureen Farrell. She is the co-author of “The Cult of We: WeWork, Adam Neumann, and the Great Startup Delusion.” If you enjoyed this conversation, well, be sure to check out any of our previous 400 interviews. You can find those at iTunes, Spotify, wherever your podcasts from. We love your comments, feedback, and suggestions. Write to us at mibpodcast@bloomberg.net. Follow me on Twitter @ritholtz. You can sign up for my daily reads at ritholtz.com. I would be remiss if I did not thank the team that helps put together these conversations each week. Charlie Vollmer is my Audio Engineer. Atika Valbrun is our Project Manager. Michael Batnick is my Director of Research. Paris Wald is my Producer. I’m Barry Ritholtz. You’ve been listening to Masters in Business on Bloomberg Radio.   ~~~   The post Transcript: Maureen Farrell appeared first on The Big Picture......»»

Category: blogSource: TheBigPictureDec 15th, 2021

NFT Art Collectors Are Playing a Risky Game—And Winning

In Miami, the next generation of art collection showed its colors Behind the high white walls of a nondescript single-story building in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood, past the velvet ropes and ticket-checkers, and through a hallway filled with disorienting billows of white smoke lies Aku World, the alternate universe of Aku, a young Black astronaut. The blank walls of one room were covered with moving projections of this cartoon extraterrestrial universe. At the center, a giant space helmet you could walk inside to view videos. In other rooms: traditional art from the likes of Jean-Michel Basquiat and young artists Jade Yasmeen and Floyd Strickland; a “merch” room with virtual 3D displays of branded backpacks and hoodies; and a futuristic sanctum with a massive, ovoid version of a TSA body scanner, used for 4D body-mapping. Visitors could develop and “mint” their own personalized avatars for the Aku World metaverse. A line of patrons snaked out the hallway. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] One of those people on this balmy Thursday evening of Art Basel Miami was Cooper Turley. Wearing designer sneakers, a black turtleneck and a diamond chain, Turley towered over his fellow Aku fans in line, a collection of diverse young people who had managed to snag one of the exclusive tickets to the pop-up. “I’ve been following the story for six months at this point,” Turley says proudly. But Turley, 26, was more than just another Aku fan. An investor in the project, Turley is also an NFT collector and a Twitter personality known for sharing upbeat takes on the future of the emerging world of web3. Originally an avid Pokemon collector—the type of teen who spent hours searching out rare cards on eBay—Turley turned a college music business degree into a career as an angel investor and general crypto expert after becoming intrigued by the concept of so-called “smart” contracts for music, which could more effectively apportion out revenue to the many stakeholders involved in a track. These days, he holds somewhere around 400 to 500 unique NFTs, ranging from an original Crypto Kitty (his first-ever NFT purchase) to a one-of-one from Fvckrender that he bought for a hefty 10ETH (currently about $44,000). “If I were trying to get [my collection] appraised today? It would be, like, a couple million dollars,” he says, doing some quick mental math. How NFT art collecting works Just like there are famous physical world art collectors—Peggy Guggenheim, J. Paul Getty, the Broads—Turley has joined the ranks of high-end NFT art collectors, as non-fungible tokens became the talk of the crypto and art worlds this year. (NFT auction platform OpenSea has tracked over $10 billion worth of sales since it launched in 2017. The buzz peaked last spring with the much-ballyhooed $69 million auction price for a one-of-one Beeple art work.) While an NFT can be anything, the first and most visible use-case so far has been for digital art. Sometimes that means a moving image. Or an audio-visual clip. Or a “profile picture project” (PFP) like CryptoPunks or Bored Ape Yacht Club, drawings that are variations on a theme within a particular universe. (Aku World started out as a collection of Aku NFTs.) Or a physical sculpture with an NFT certificate of ownership. More and more, it also can mean tokens that provide access to exclusive events or content—also a perk, in this instance, of Aku NFT ownership. Read More: Teen Artists Are Making Millions on NFTs. How Are They Doing It? For Turley, being a collector (and investor and advisor) in this space is both a career and, it seems, a calling. His social and professional lives are deeply intertwined. In Miami, his days were a mix of attending events like Aku World and carrying on into near-dawn club adventures with fellow collectors and artists he’s befriended. “There’s one part of my collecting that’s all about patronage,” he says. “It’s my friends getting involved in the space, so I am buying their work to simply say thank you for believing in this, thank you for taking a chance and putting your art into this ecosystem.” The other part is speculation. “There’s a science to knowing which entities are going to go up and being able to flip those,” he says. After all, he’s been able to build a multimillion dollar collection off his early crypto investments and willingness to play that game. The value of community Turley’s approach—recognizing both the power of patronage and the potential of speculation—is one echoed by most collectors in these early, volatile days of the NFT market. Jake Rogers, 38, also found his professional sweet spot as a collector and speculator. Crypto—and NFT art collecting—changed his life; after going through a divorce and diving into crypto self-education via the audio hangout app Clubhouse during the pandemic, Rogers left his role as the program director of a homeless shelter in Atlanta. He’s now a full-time NFT investor based in Miami. (He’s also building out a local cafe for “cannabis, coffee, crypto and tacos,” he says happily.) But you wouldn’t know any of this from his unassuming appearance; he shows up at a low-key pool party on a residential street in downtown Miami in a faded tank top, shorts, and a Patagonia baseball cap covering his grey hair, swigging from a bottle of electric yellow Gatorade. Rogers is here to say hello to the Queens-based music artist and general hype man Artz (real name: Raymond Allende), founder of the artist collective Reject Dreams. Rogers invested in some of Artz’s audio-visual works (and NFTs), and they’re friends via Clubhouse. With boyish energy, he settles onto a couch by a dusty pool table to explain his philosophy of NFT investing. Rogers has 487 works when we talk, and wants to hit 500 by the end of the weekend, with a budget to burn of roughly $200,000. He had been dabbling in crypto since 2017, but made his first NFT purchase in spring 2020, with a reasonably-priced piece from “some brothers in Russia,” he remembers, who he discovered on Clubhouse. “I got in for the community. And then—” he pauses. After he had collected about 100 works he loved, including four Bored Apes, three of which he sold for a healthy profit, “then I got in for the money.” Read More: NFTs Are Shaking Up the Art World—But They Could Change So Much More Now he’s using what he calls “house money,” re-investing his wins. “The reality is, it’s insider trading,” he says wryly. But with a cause: he likes to support early-stage artists who need the money to live. That positive feedback loop, and the sense that he’s making a difference in someone’s life, “is like a drug.” “I came from the world of understanding my privilege and helping people that have nothing,” he says. He has a system now for deciding what’s a worthy project, based on the rarity of the pieces, his trust in the people behind the project, and whether it’s a safe bet or a risky one. Rogers knows it might look like he’s having a midlife crisis right now. But he says he’s never felt a stronger sense of purpose: to invest in the future, and be a part of supporting the paths of artists he believes in—like Artz—who wouldn’t otherwise get a chance. We say goodbye, and he jumps up, snaps a quick selfie with Artz, and heads out to the next art exhibition. “I didn’t even know what the guy looked like until a few weeks ago,” Artz says after Rogers leaves. But his early support has been meaningful in helping Artz raise his profile. Later in the weekend, Artz would perform with rapper Busta Rhymes. Is NFT art “real art”? To outsiders, the NFT art world can look like a joke, or a bunch of high rollers playing a computer game. For those inside it, it is a game—but one with real stakes. Nowhere was that more clear than at the NFTNow x Christie’s party in downtown Miami, hosted in a corporate venue transformed into an NFT art gallery and party spot. On the blacked-out walls, digital works by top-selling artists like Fvckrender, Chad Knight and Dave Krugman popped out of the darkness. The open bar seemed of less interest to most than the works themselves. Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty ImagesGuests view an NFT art piece by German artist Mario Klingemann at Art Basel Miami 2021. Turley circulated with other bigwigs in the scene: collectors like Kamiar Maleki, director of Volta Art Fairs and Colborn Bell, the tall, bearded head of the Museum of Crypto Art; artists and celebrities like Beeple, Fewocious, Jared Leto and Timbaland. The Christie’s co-sign gave this new generation an air of officiality. But at the main Art Basel fair in a cavernous event space on Miami Beach, Turley felt out of place; he admits he’s not a traditional art connoisseur. Most of the booths were hosted by galleries—and NFT artists tend to bypass gallery representation. (One booth by blockchain company Tezos was a hit, however, and 5,000 NFTs were minted there over the course of the week.) “I felt a little bit of a disconnect,” Turley says. “All the art on display was physically appealing, and it looked fantastic,” but he didn’t feel the sense of connection that he could find with NFTs. “One of the things that I like the most about NFTs is that you are not bidding on the art itself, you’re bidding on a relationship with the creator. We are in an early enough stage where that could happen. The reason that a lot of people are spending so much money on NFTs is because they really want to get connected to that artist on a personal level,” he says. Turley himself has advised artists and creators on their NFT entrances. Crypto winter is coming Of course, in an emerging, unregulated market, not all plays are wins. Collectors spoke blithely about getting “rugged” on certain NFT investments, about how easy it is for hackers to entice potential investors into fake projects, into scams that result in an empty crypto wallet before they can back out of the exchange. But more often than not, a loss just sparks the desire to try again; risk is the accepted name of the game. Back at Aku World, Turley was joined by artist Isabella Addison and fellow young collector Brett Shear. (Shear focuses on music NFT collecting.) After Turley minted his new Aku avatar, the trio—already tired after a few days of the Miami party circuit—grabbed dinner at a low-key gyro restaurant a few blocks away, then headed to an event hosted by digital music collective Poolsuite. For artists like Addison, the support of these collectors has helped buoy her to stardom. On Saturday night, she was out and about with a collector who goes by the name Seedphrase, who recently estimated his NFT collection’s value at around $12 million. At a party co-hosted by Playboy and Proof of Party, a web3-focused event series, the walls flashed with moving projections of models. Pop star Charli XCX was in the deejay booth. A few hours later, Addison would wake up to hand-paint a Bentley for an auction. She was moving into a new apartment in L.A. soon. The collectors all warned of an upcoming “crypto winter” of increased volatility, for which they’re preparing by diversifying their investments into things like metaverse properties and crypto-focused DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations that invest as a collective). But for artists like Addison who are already reaping the rewards of their patronage, the season ahead looks bright......»»

Category: topSource: timeDec 9th, 2021

What the Labor Movement Needs to Keep ‘Striketober’ Going, According to New AFL-CIO Leader Liz Shuler

(To receive weekly emails of conversations with the world’s top CEOs and business decisionmakers, click here.) As a burgeoning labor shortage precipitated 10 million job openings and millions of Americans voluntarily leaving their jobs in August, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler was handed an extraordinary job at the nation’s largest labor union federation: Running it. She… (To receive weekly emails of conversations with the world’s top CEOs and business decisionmakers, click here.) As a burgeoning labor shortage precipitated 10 million job openings and millions of Americans voluntarily leaving their jobs in August, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler was handed an extraordinary job at the nation’s largest labor union federation: Running it. She was elected to fill the shoes of former AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, a beloved third-generation coal miner who cemented strong ties with the last two Democratic Presidents and with the federation’s roughly 12.5 million members between 2009 and his unexpected death from a heart attack in August. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Shuler wasn’t merely taking the reins during a once-in-a-century pandemic, but also in the midst of a revolutionary inflection point, where workers are emboldened by nationwide labor shortages to exact better wages, hours and general working conditions from their employers. As a record-breaking 4.3 million laborers voluntarily quit, swaths more decided not to resign for better opportunities elsewhere—but to strike for them at their current jobs. Tens of thousands of cameramen, makeup artists, lighting technicians and other behind-the-scenes television show professionals represented by the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) have threatened to strike for bigger profit shares from the streaming boom and more humane hours, in an effort that could result in the largest coordinated labor action in Hollywood since World War II. More than 10,000 United Auto Workers members from 14 John Deere facilities have walked off their job sites after rejecting the agricultural behemoth’s latest union contract offer. Over 14,000 workers from cereal giant Kellogg’s have been picketing for weeks over what they call an unfair, two-tier system of benefits. Meanwhile, more than 20,000 Kaiser Permanente employees authorized a strike earlier this month, and thousands more Nabisco workers recently returned to work after successfully striking for higher pay. “They’ve had enough,” Shuler says of the season, which many have dubbed “Striketober.” But as ripe as the current labor market conditions are for successful strikes, the current moment is also a critical juncture for the future existence of the very labor unions that make such revolts possible. Private sector union membership has fallen from roughly 32% in 1960 to 6% today, and stands to decline even more as older generations—who are more likely than younger ones to be in unions—near retirement age. “This is the challenge of our time. Something like 10,000 people a day are retiring,” Shuler says, “and that silver tsunami is about to hit us.” Shuler spoke with TIME about what the workers participating in this historic wave of strikes are fighting for, how union membership can help them get it, and what the AFL-CIO is doing to bolster its ranks—especially with young people—to preserve its collective bargaining power in the decades to come. (This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.) It’s Striketober! Tens of thousands of workers have voted to authorize strikes in recent weeks, building on a year of extraordinary labor activism. A strike database from Cornell University shows more than 250 strikes have taken place since the start of this year. As the brand new chief of one of the biggest unions in the country, how do you capitalize on this momentum? I’m glad you actually started from the beginning, because this is a moment in time, but it’s been building for a while. And everywhere we go, every person we talk to on those picket lines are just fed up. I think if you could sum it up, it’s just that they’ve had enough. We have over 30 strikes happening right now. Around 100,000 workers are either on strike or have authorized a strike at this moment, and so it’s the culmination of going through this pandemic, where workers were told they were essential, and now are being treated as expendable. They’ve sacrificed so much, and then now are faced with takeaways, and a basic lack of respect and recognition. And so it’s both economic forces at play here with a broken economic system—wages have been flat for so long—and the growing gulf that we’re seeing in the economy, but also just the recognition, the basic respect of being able to come to a workplace, have a decent paying job, have safety protections from a pandemic, and be able to return home safely at night back to their families. But at the same time, overall union membership is still roughly half of what it was in the 1980s. Do you think that this current wave of labor activism marks an inflection point of a possible union resurgence? Yes, the answer is absolutely yes. And if anything, working people in the country are now seeing the labor movement in a different way, we’re more relevant than we’ve ever been before. We’re more popular than we’ve ever been. You probably have seen the recent polling—68% of the public supports unions, 77% of young people [do]. They see unions fighting for change, and they see us out there fighting for better jobs. And so we do believe this is a moment where working people are feeling their power, and they’re ready to take risks and stand up more than ever before, because they’ve been the victims of a broken economic system for far too long. And we do have a shortage of good paying sustainable jobs that give people a fair share of the wealth that they’re helping create. They’re seeing CEOs being paid, like, 351 times what the average worker is making in the economy today. We just had a meeting this morning to talk about what we can do as a labor movement to bring more solidarity and support and unity to these fights, and the full breadth and power of labor movements to bear here because this is about our future. This is about preserving the middle class, and fighting back against rollbacks that are taking us back to times where we were fighting for the weekend. And in fact, in 2021, you saw the IATSE that was about to go on strike, they were fighting for meal and rest breaks, to not have to go to work after clocking out on a Friday night and then returning to work Saturday morning, less than eight hours later. So these are basic things that we’ve been fighting for for decades, that we should be far beyond in the year 2021. Read more: U.S. Workers Are Realizing It’s the Perfect Time to Go on Strike It’s also quite a moment for you individually. What has the transition to President of AFL-CIO been like for you in the wake of Richard Trumka’s unexpected death? It’s been exactly 60 days since I was elected. And it has been quite a responsibility to both step into some big shoes and to really keep this labor movement moving forward. Because we have such an opportunity in front of us, we can’t miss a beat. We’ve got this opportunity in Congress with all the investment that is poised to pass and create millions of good, well-paying jobs. And we have workers out in the streets, taking risks and looking for change, looking for hope. And the public sentiment is with us. I think that the labor movement can be the place where working people chart a path for a new future. A bold, dynamic, inclusive labor movement is going to be the path to that change. So we want to show every working person that they have a place in the labor movement, and that we are dynamic and relevant and are ready to meet the moment for this very diverse and changing work workforce, but also the economy that’s changing around us. When you were elected to replace Trumka, you said you were “humbled, honored and ready to guide this federation forward.” What does moving the union forward mean in real terms? Is it about becoming more accessible to young people, or ramping up social media outreach more? All of those things, yes. Of course, appealing to that next generation to show them that they can see themselves in our labor movement and rising into leadership, making the change that they want in their workplaces and using the labor movement as a vehicle for that change. To show women and people of color, who were in the emerging sectors of the economy that are growing that the labor movement is a place for them and that we make the difference in workplaces and close pay gaps for women and for people of color. And that as technology is changing our workplaces and disrupting the business model, we would be the place to have a voice and a seat at the table for working people to negotiate that change, and to not be sitting back waiting for it to happen. So we think the labor movement is the place where [we can manage] the big workplace changes that are on the horizon, but also the policy changes on Capitol Hill, and then to unleash unprecedented organizing, because the bottom line is we need to grow the labor movement, and represent more people to have more strength and to make that voice even louder. And especially with young people, the marquee of millennials and Gen Z is collaboration—they’re very civic-minded. They’re used to coming together and working in teams. That just naturally translates to the labor movement. We’ve seen some extraordinary grassroots movements take center stage in recent years, such as the global school strikes led by Greta Thunberg for climate activism and the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests after George Floyd’s murder. Is AFL-CIO taking inspiration from those movements? Are there any other movements that AFL-CIO is learning from? Yes, and in fact, many of our members are either at the front leading or very much active in those movements. Our headquarters is on what’s now called Black Lives Matter Plaza. And I remember coming down many times to join those protests and walk the streets, not only in DC, but in different parts of the country. And so we are learning from those movements, because they’re very dynamic. They’re led by young people, and we have so much in common, so it makes sense for us to be joining forces. In the labor movement, we have a network of state AFL-CIO [and] city level AFL-CIO bodies in over 400 cities that can actually make activism happen. Often, we work collaboratively with these various movements and partners and allies to make the change that so many of us are hungry for. We saw the Netflix walkout. And in the past, Google walkouts over sexual harassment. These are all workplace issues. Our job is to connect the dots—the change that people are hungry for can happen more effectively through the labor movement, because we have a permanence about our structure that really doesn’t happen anywhere else. When you walk out for a day, and then you go back to work the next day, it becomes very clear that it’s not sustainable unless you have a union that gives you the legal standing to sit across a table from the employers and demand change and actually have a mechanism to enforce the policies and bargain the change that you want to see. We’re seeing a lot of young people that are using collective bargaining as a tool for non-traditional subjects of bargaining, like the carbon footprint: You raised Greta. This is something that the labor movement has front and center where there are workers who are sitting down at the table saying, ‘What can we do as an organization as a company to address climate change more forcefully as an organization?’ A lot of people don’t understand collective bargaining. It is essentially that give-and-take process with an employer to negotiate, of course, better pay and benefits and working conditions, but also some of the social issues, [such as] civil and human rights; diversity, equity, inclusion; climate change and sexual harassment. These are some of the things that folks in our society and our economy care deeply about, but they don’t necessarily see unions as the path forward. That’s our challenge is to make that case to more working people outside of unions to see us as the path forward. Union membership rates continue to be highest among workers who are 45 to 64, and much lower among the younger generations. What can AFL-CIO—and unions more generally—do to recruit and retain the younger Americans? This is the challenge of our time, something like 10,000 people a day are retiring. And that silver tsunami is about to hit us. We are very much being intentional about engaging our young members. I think having young people in leadership helps show other young people that this labor movement is modern, and dynamic, and is interested in caring about the things they care about. When I first came to the AFL-CIO, we launched our Next Step program, which is our young worker program, and put together a pretty bold initiative to address economic issues that matter to young people. We [also] created a network of young worker organizations across the country at every central labor council in our network, so that young unionists could work with young activists on the ground in their communities to fight for change. We also started young worker groups at our affiliate unions so that within each union, they are looking at investing in young people, leadership training, making sure that we’re not just waiting around for years and years so that leaders are paying their dues and [saying], ‘You can’t lead until you’ve been here for 10 or 15 years.’ That’s not the case. Most of the young leaders that we have invested in during our Next Step program are actually now either on executive boards of their unions or running for political office, running for union office. That investment pays off because you invest early and then certainly those young people will be landing in positions of authority and power. We need to make sure that we’re doing the succession planning for our movement. Age aside, private sector union membership is still at its slowest rate in a century. The PRO Act, while it passed in the House with a little bit of Republican support, doesn’t seem likely to pass in the Senate, and some of the country’s largest companies—especially Amazon—continue to successfully squash unionization attempts. Despite these challenges, what is giving you hope that this is a potential turning point? When I walk the picket line with bakery workers and I see their determination, their tenacity, their courage, that’s what gives me hope. This is a moment. I think the PRO Act, of course, is very much needed legislation, because our labor laws are so broken in this country that it takes an act of absolute heroism to stand up and face down Goliath. That these companies are so powerful, they’ll throw millions of dollars to bust the unions, hire union busting consultants, they actually have a playbook that they operate from. And you saw it alive and well at Amazon, where they would go to no end to intimidate, harass, discriminate [against], bully, [and] fire workers who want to form a union. So we’re going to keep fighting for the PRO Act. But we’re also going to look for opportunities to get meaningful reforms in other vehicles that are moving. We want to make sure that the penalties for employers who break the law are meaningful. We’re working to try to make sure that gets passed in reconciliation. Read more: How Amazon Won the Preliminary Union Vote in Alabama A striking Kellogg’s employee of local 50G in Omaha likened Striketober to a second industrial revolution, citing record profits some companies are seeing but not passing down to their employees and the increasing wealth gap. Would you agree with his assessment? There’s no doubt that our economy is broken. He is absolutely right, that this is our chance to get it right—to invest in workers and to right the ship. This is unsustainable. Wages have been flat for over 30 years. Costs continue to go up. Health care gets more expensive. People have barely any retirement savings to rely on. The only way we can remedy that is to make a choice as a country that we are going to invest in the people that make this country hum. Certainly the essential workers throughout this pandemic are Exhibit A for why that’s important. Only by coming together collectively can we balance the scales of the economy and fight for the dignity and respect that we need on the job in addition to the pay and the benefits and the working conditions that are just absolute basic necessities for most working people. That’s all they want. They want to be treated fairly......»»

Category: topSource: timeOct 24th, 2021

Johnson Financial"s historic downtown building sold, search underway for new user

After moving its downtown Milwaukee operations, Johnson Financial Group sold its 1870 office and bank branch building on East Wisconsin Avenue to a developer group led by Michael Levine......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsOct 21st, 2021

Inside the World of Black Bitcoin, Where Crypto Is About Making More Than Just Money

“We can operate on an even playing field in the digital world” At the Black Blockchain Summit, there is almost no conversation about making money that does not carry with it the possibility of liberation. This is not simply a gathering for those who would like to ride whatever bumps and shocks, gains and losses come with cryptocurrency. It is a space for discussing the relationship between money and man, the powers that be and what they have done with power. Online and in person, on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C., an estimated 1,500 mostly Black people have gathered to talk about crypto—decentralized digital money backed not by governments but by blockchain technology, a secure means of recording transactions—as a way to make money while disrupting centuries-long patterns of oppression. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] “What we really need to be doing is to now utilize the technology behind blockchain to enhance the quality of life for our people,” says Christopher Mapondera, a Zimbabwean American and the first official speaker. As a white-haired engineer with the air of a lecturing statesman, Mapondera’s conviction feels very on-brand at a conference themed “Reparations and Revolutions.” Along with summit organizer Sinclair Skinner, Mapondera co-founded BillMari, a service that aims to make it easier to transmit cryptocurrency to wherever the sons and daughters of Africa have been scattered. So, not exactly your stereotypical “Bitcoin bro.” Contrary to the image associated with cryptocurrency since it entered mainstream awareness, almost no one at the summit is a fleece-vest-wearing finance guy or an Elon Musk type with a grudge against regulators. What they are is a cross section of the world of Black crypto traders, educators, marketers and market makers—a world that seemingly mushroomed during the pandemic, rallying around the idea that this is the boon that Black America needs. In fact, surveys indicate that people of color are investing in cryptocurrency in ways that outpace or equal other groups—something that can’t be said about most financial products. About 44% of those who own crypto are people of color, according to a June survey by the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center. In April, a Harris Poll reported that while just 16% of U.S. adults overall own cryptocurrency, 18% of Black Americans have gotten in on it. (For Latino Americans, the figure is 20%.) The actor Hill Harper of The Good Doctor, a Harvard Law School friend of former President Barack Obama, is a pitchman for Black Wall Street, a digital wallet and crypto trading service developed with Najah Roberts, a Black crypto expert. And this summer, when the popular money-transfer service Cash App added the option to purchase Bitcoin, its choice to explain the move was the MC Megan Thee Stallion. “With my knowledge and your hustle, you’ll have your own empire in no time,” she says in an ad titled “Bitcoin for Hotties.” Read more: Americans Have Learned to Talk About Racial Inequality. But They’ve Done Little to Solve It But, as even Megan Thee Stallion acknowledges in that ad, pinning one’s economic hopes on crypto is inherently risky. Many economic experts have described crypto as little better than a bubble, mere fool’s gold. The rapid pace of innovation—it’s been little more than a decade since Bitcoin was created by the enigmatic, pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto—has left consumers with few protections. Whether the potential is worth those risks is the stuff of constant, and some would say, infernal debate. Jared Soares for TIMECleve Mesidor, who founded the National Policy Network of Women of Color in Blockchain What looms in the backdrop is clear. In the U.S., the median white family’s wealth—reflecting not just assets minus debt, but also the ability to weather a financial setback—sat around $188,200, per the Federal Reserve’s most recent measure in 2019. That’s about eight times the median wealth of Black families. (For Latino families, it’s five times greater; the wealth of Asian, Pacific Island and other families sits between that of white and Latino families, according to the report.) Other estimates paint an even grimmer picture. If trends continue, the median Black household will have zero wealth by 2053. The summit attendees seem certain that crypto represents keys to a car bound for somewhere better. “Our digital selves are more important in some ways than our real-world selves,” Tony Perkins, a Black MIT-trained computer scientist, says during a summit session on “Enabling Black Land and Asset Ownership Using Blockchain.” The possibilities he rattles off—including fractional ownership of space stations—will, to many, sound fantastical. To others, they sound like hope. “We can operate on an even playing field in the digital world,” he says. The next night, when in-person attendees gather at Barcode, a Black-owned downtown D.C. establishment, for drinks and conversation, there’s a small rush on black T-shirts with white lettering: SATOSHI, they proclaim, IS BLACK. That’s an intriguing idea when your ancestors’ bodies form much of the foundation of U.S. prosperity. At the nation’s beginnings, land theft from Native Americans seeded the agricultural operations where enslaved Africans would labor and die, making others rich. By 1860, the cotton-friendly ground of Mississippi was so productive that it was home to more millionaires than anywhere else in the country. Government-supported pathways to wealth, from homesteading to homeownership, have been reliably accessible to white Americans only. So Black Bitcoiners’ embrace of decentralized currencies—and a degree of doubt about government regulators, as well as those who have done well in the traditional system—makes sense. Skinner, the conference organizer, believes there’s racial subtext in the caution from the financial mainstream regarding Bitcoin—a pervasive idea that Black people just don’t understand finance. “I’m skeptical of all of those [warnings], based on the history,” Skinner, who is Black American, says. Even a drop in the value of Bitcoin this year, which later went back up, has not made him reticent. “They have petrol shortages in England right now. They’ll blame the weather or Brexit, but they’ll never have to say they’re dumb. Something don’t work in Detroit or some city with a Black mayor, we get a collective shame on us.” Read more: America’s Interstate Slave Trade Once Trafficked Nearly 30,000 People a Year—And Reshaped the Country’s Economy The first time I speak to Skinner, the summit is still two weeks away. I’d asked him to talk through some of the logistics, but our conversation ranges from what gives money value to the impact of ride-share services on cabbies refusing Black passengers. Tech often promises to solve social problems, he says. The Internet was supposed to democratize all sorts of things. In many cases, it defaulted to old patterns. (As Black crypto policy expert Cleve Mesidor put it to me, “The Internet was supposed to be decentralized, and today it’s owned by four white men.”) But with the right people involved from the start of the next wave of change—crypto—the possibilities are endless, Skinner says. Skinner, a Howard grad and engineer by training, first turned to crypto when he and Mapondera were trying to find ways to do ethanol business in Zimbabwe. Traditional international transactions were slow or came with exorbitant fees. In Africa, consumers pay some of the world’s highest remittance, cell phone and Internet data fees in the world, a damaging continuation of centuries-long wealth transfers off the continent to others, Skinner says. Hearing about cryptocurrency, he was intrigued—particularly having seen, during the recession, the same banking industry that had profited from slavery getting bailed out as hundreds of thousands of people of color lost their homes. So in 2013, he invested “probably less than $3,000,” mostly in Bitcoin. Encouraged by his friend Brian Armstrong, CEO of Coinbase, one of the largest platforms for trading crypto, he grew his stake. In 2014, when Skinner went to a crypto conference in Amsterdam, only about eight Black people were there, five of them caterers, but he felt he had come home ideologically. He saw he didn’t need a Rockefeller inheritance to change the world. “I don’t have to build a bank where they literally used my ancestors to build the capital,” says Skinner, who today runs a site called I Love Black People, which operates like a global anti-racist Yelp. “I can unseat that thing by not trying to be like them.” Eventually, he and Mapondera founded BillMari and became the first crypto company to partner with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to lower fees on remittances, the flow of money from immigrants overseas back home to less-developed nations—an economy valued by the World Bank and its offshoot KNOMAD at $702 billion in 2020. (Some of the duo’s business plans later evaporated, after Zimbabwe’s central bank revoked approval for some cryptocurrency activities.) Skinner’s feelings about the economic overlords make it a bit surprising that he can attract people like Charlene Fadirepo, a banker by trade and former government regulator, to speak at the summit. On the first day, she offers attendees a report on why 2021 was a “breakout year for Bitcoin,” pointing out that major banks have begun helping high-net-worth clients invest in it, and that some corporations have bought crypto with their cash on hand, holding it as an asset. Fadirepo, who worked in the Fed’s inspector general’s office monitoring Federal Reserve banks and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is not a person who hates central banks or regulation. A Black American, she believes strongly in both, and in their importance for protecting investors and improving the economic position of Black people. Today she operates Guidefi, a financial education and advising company geared toward helping Black women connect with traditional financial advisers. It just launched, for a fee, direct education in cryptocurrency. Crypto is a relatively new part of Fadirepo’s life. She and her Nigerian-American doctor husband earn good salaries and follow all the responsible middle-class financial advice. But the pandemic showed her they still didn’t have what some of his white colleagues did: the freedom to walk away from high-risk work. As the stock market shuddered and storefronts shuttered, she decided a sea change was coming. A family member had mentioned Bitcoin at a funeral in 2017, but it sounded risky. Now, her research kept bringing her back to it. Last year, she and her husband bought $6,000 worth. No investment has ever generated the kinds of returns for them that Bitcoin has. “It has transformed people’s relationship with money,” she says. “Folks are just more intentional … and honestly feeling like they had access to a world that was previously walled off.” Read more: El Salvador Is Betting on Bitcoin to Rebrand the Country — and Strengthen the President’s Grip She knows frauds exists. In May, a federal watchdog revealed that since October 2020, nearly 7,000 people have reported losses of more than $80 million on crypto scams—12 times more scam reports than the same period the previous year. The median individual loss: $1,900. For Fadirepo, it’s worrying. That’s part of why she helps moderate recurring free learning and discussion options like the Black Bitcoin Billionaires chat room on Clubhouse, which has grown from about 2,000 to 130,000 club members this year. Jared Soares for TIMECharlene Fadirepo, a banker and former government regulator, near the National Museum of African American History and Culture There’s a reason Black investors might prefer their own spaces for that kind of education. Fadirepo says it’s not unheard-of in general crypto spaces—theoretically open to all, but not so much in practice—to hear that relying on the U.S. dollar is slavery. “To me, a descendant of enslaved people in America, that was painful,” she says. “There’s a lot of talk about sovereignty, freedom from the U.S. dollar, freedom from inflation, inflation is slavery, blah blah blah. The historical context has been sucked out of these conversations about traditional financial systems. I don’t know how I can talk about banking without also talking about history.” Back in January, I found myself in a convenience store in a low-income and predominantly Black neighborhood in Dallas, an area still living the impact of segregation decades after its official end. I was there to report on efforts to register Black residents for COVID-19 shots after an Internet-only sign-up system—and wealthier people gaming the system—created an early racial disparity in vaccinations. I stepped away to buy a bottle of water. Inside the store, a Black man wondered aloud where the lottery machine had gone. He’d come to spend his usual $2 on tickets and had found a Bitcoin machine sitting in its place. A second Black man standing nearby, surveying chip options, explained that Bitcoin was a form of money, an investment right there for the same $2. After just a few questions, the first man put his money in the machine and walked away with a receipt describing the fraction of one bitcoin he now owned. Read more: When a Texas County Tried to Ensure Racial Equity in COVID-19 Vaccinations, It Didn’t Go as Planned I was both worried and intrigued. What kind of arrangement had prompted the store’s owner to replace the lottery machine? That month, a single bitcoin reached the $40,000 mark. “That’s very revealing, if someone chooses to put a cryptocurrency machine in the same place where a lottery [machine] was,” says Jeffrey Frankel, a Harvard economist, when I tell him that story. Frankel has described cryptocurrencies as similar to gambling, more often than not attracting those who can least afford to lose, whether they are in El Salvador or Texas. Frankel ranks among the economists who have been critical of El Salvador’s decision to begin recognizing Bitcoin last month as an official currency, in part because of the reality that few in the county have access to the internet, as well as the cryptocurrency’s price instability and its lack of backing by hard assets, he says. At the same time that critics have pointed to the shambolic Bitcoin rollout in El Salvador, Bitcoin has become a major economic force in Nigeria, one of the world’s larger players in cryptocurrency trading. In fact, some have argued that it has helped people in that country weather food inflation. But, to Frankel, crypto does not contain promise for lasting economic transformation. To him, disdain for experts drives interest in cryptocurrency in much the same way it can fuel vaccine hesitancy. Frankel can see the potential to reduce remittance costs, and he does not doubt that some people have made money. Still, he’s concerned that the low cost and click-here ease of buying crypto may draw people to far riskier crypto assets, he says. Then he tells me he’d put the word assets here in a hard set of air quotes. And Frankel, who is white, is not alone. Darrick Hamilton, an economist at the New School who is Black, says Bitcoin should be seen in the same framework as other low-cost, high-risk, big-payoff options. “In the end, it’s a casino,” he says. To people with less wealth, it can feel like one of the few moneymaking methods open to them, but it’s not a source of group uplift. “Like any speculation, those that can arbitrage the market will be fine,” he says. “There’s a whole lot of people that benefited right before the Great Recession, but if they didn’t get out soon enough, they lost their shirts too.” To buyers like Jiri Sampson, a Black cryptocurrency investor who works in real estate and lives outside Washington, D.C., that perspective doesn’t register as quite right. The U.S.-born son of Guyanese immigrants wasn’t thinking about exploitation when he invested his first $20 in cryptocurrency in 2017. But the groundwork was there. Sampson homeschools his kids, due in part to his lack of faith that public schools equip Black children with the skills to determine their own fates. He is drawn to the capacity of this technology to create greater agency for Black people worldwide. The blockchain, for example, could be a way to establish ownership for people who don’t hold standard documents—an important issue in Guyana and many other parts of the world, where individuals who have lived on the land for generations are vulnerable to having their property co-opted if they lack formal deeds. Sampson even pitched a project using the blockchain and GPS technology to establish digital ownership records to the Guyanese government, which did not bite. “I don’t want to downplay the volatility of Bitcoin,” Sampson says. But that’s only a significant concern, he believes, if one intends to sell quickly. To him, Bitcoin represents a “harder” asset than the dollar, which he compares to a ship with a hole in it. Bitcoin has a limited supply, while the Fed can decide to print more dollars anytime. That, to Sampson, makes some cryptocurrencies, namely Bitcoin, good to buy and hold, to pass along wealth from one generation to another. Economists and crypto buyers aren’t the only ones paying attention. Congress, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Federal Reserve have indicated that they will move toward official assessments or regulation soon. At least 10 federal agencies are interested in or already regulating crypto in some way, and there’s now a Congressional Blockchain Caucus. Representatives from the Federal Reserve and the SEC declined to comment, but SEC Chairman Gary Gensler assured a Senate subcommittee in September that his agency is working to develop regulation that will apply to cryptocurrency markets and trading activity. Enter Cleve Mesidor, of the quip about the Internet being owned by four white men. When we meet during the summit, she introduces herself: “Cleve Mesidor, I’m in crypto.” She’s the first person I’ve ever heard describe herself that way, but not that long ago, “influencer” wasn’t a career either. A former Obama appointee who worked inside the Commerce Department on issues related to entrepreneurship and economic development, Mesidor learned about cryptocurrency during that time. But she didn’t get involved in it personally until 2013, when she purchased $200 in Bitcoin. After leaving government, she founded the National Policy Network of Women of Color in Blockchain, and is now the public policy adviser for the industry group the Blockchain Association. There are more men than women in Black crypto spaces, she tells me, but the gender imbalance tends to be less pronounced than in white-dominated crypto communities. Mesidor, who immigrated to the U.S. from Haiti and uses her crypto investments to fund her professional “wanderlust,” has also lived crypto’s downsides. She’s been hacked and the victim of an attempted ransomware attack. But she still believes cryptocurrency and related technology can solve real-world problems, and she’s trying, she says, to make sure that necessary consumer protections are not structured in a way that chokes the life out of small businesses or investors. “D.C. is like Vegas; the house always wins,” says Mesidor, whose independently published book is called The Clevolution: My Quest for Justice in Politics & Crypto. “The crypto community doesn’t get that.” Passion, she says, is not enough. The community needs to be involved in the regulatory discussions that first intensified after the price of a bitcoin went to $20,000 in 2017. A few days after the summit, when Mesidor and I spoke by phone, Bitcoin had climbed to nearly $60,000. At Barcode, the Washington lounge, Isaiah Jackson is holding court. A man with a toothpaste-commercial smile, he’s the author of the independently published Bitcoin & Black America, has appeared on CNBC and is half of the streaming show The Gentleman of Crypto, which bills itself as the one of the longest-running cryptocurrency shows on the Internet. When he was building websites as a sideline, he convinced a large black church in Charlotte, N.C., to, for a time, accept Bitcoin donations. He helped establish Black Bitcoin Billionaires on Clubhouse and, like Fadirepo, helps moderate some of its rooms and events. He’s also a former teacher, descended from a line of teachers, and is using those skills to develop (for a fee) online education for those who want to become crypto investors. Now, there’s a small group standing near him, talking, but mostly listening. Jackson was living in North Carolina when one of his roommates, a white man who worked for a money-management firm, told him he had just heard a presentation about crypto and thought he might want to suggest it to his wealthy parents. The concept blew Jackson’s mind. He soon started his own research. “Being in the Black community and seeing the actions of banks, with redlining and other things, it just appealed to me,” Jackson tells me. “You free the money, you free everything else.” Read more: Beyond Tulsa: The Historic Legacies and Overlooked Stories of America’s ‘Black Wall Streets’ He took his $400 savings and bought two bitcoins in October 2013. That December, the price of a single bitcoin topped $1,100. He started thinking about what kind of new car he’d buy. And he stuck with it, even seeing prices fluctuate and scams proliferate. When the Gentlemen of Bitcoin started putting together seminars, one of the early venues was at a college fair connected to an annual HBCU basketball tournament attended by thousands of mostly Black people. Bitcoin eventually became more than an investment. He believed there was great value in spreading the word. But that was then. “I’m done convincing people. There’s no point battling going back and forth,” he says. “Even if they don’t realize it, what [investors] are doing if they are keeping their bitcoin long term, they are moving money out of the current system into another one. And that is basically the best form of peaceful protest.”   —With reporting by Leslie Dickstein and Simmone Shah.....»»

Category: topSource: timeOct 15th, 2021

Futures Surge On Debt Ceiling Reprieve, Slide In Energy Prices

Futures Surge On Debt Ceiling Reprieve, Slide In Energy Prices The nausea-inducing rollercoaster in the stock market continued on Thursday, when US index futures continued their violent Wednesday reversal - the biggest since March - and surged with Nasdaq futures up more than 1%, hitting a session high, as Chinese technology stocks rebounded from a record low, investors embraced progress on the debt-ceiling impasse in Washington, a dip in oil prices eased worries of higher inflation and concerns eased about the European energy crisis fueled a risk-on mood. At 7:30am ET, S&P futures were up 44 points or 1.00% and Dow futures were up 267 points or 0.78%. Oil tumbled as much as $2, dragging breakevens and nominal yields lower, while the dollar dipped and bitcoin traded around $54,000. Wednesday's reversal started after Mitch McConnell on Wednesday floated a plan to support an extension of the federal debt ceiling into December, potentially heading off a historic default, a proposal which Democrats have reportedly agreed to after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer suggested an agreement would be in place by this morning. While the deal is good news for markets worried about an imminent default, it only kicks the can to December when the drama and brinksmanship may run again. Markets have been rocked in the past month by worries about the global energy crisis, elevated inflation, reduced stimulus and slower growth. Meanwhile, the prospect of a deal to boost the U.S. debt limit into December is easing concern over political bickering, while Friday’s payrolls report may shed light on the the Federal Reserve’s timeline to cut bond purchases. “We have several things that we are watching right now -- certainly the debt ceiling is one of them and that’s been contributing to the recent volatility,” Tracie McMillion, head of global asset allocation strategy at Wells Fargo Investment Institute, said on Bloomberg Television. “But we look for these 5% corrections to add money to the equity markets.” Tech and FAAMG stocks including Apple (AAPL US +1%), Nvidia (NVDA +2%), Microsoft (MSFT US +0.9%), Tesla (TSLA US 0.8%) led the charge in premarket trading amid a dip in 10-year Treasury yields on Thursday, helped by a slide in energy prices on the back of Putin's Wednesday announcement that Russia could ramp up nat gas deliveries to Europe, something it still has clearly not done. Perhaps sensing that not all is at Putin said, after plunging on Wednesday UK nat gas futures (NBP) from 407p/therm to a low of 209, prices have ominously started to rise again. As oil fell, energy stocks including Chevron, Exxon Mobil and APA led declines with falls between 0.6% and 2.1%. Here are some of the other big movers today: Twitter (TWTR US) shares rise 2% in U.S. premarket trading after it agreed to sell MoPub to AppLovin for $1.05 billion in cash Levi Strauss (LEVI US) rises 4% in U.S. premarket trading after it boosted its adjusted earnings per share forecast for the full year; the guidance beat the average analyst estimate NRX Pharmaceuticals (NRXP US) drops in U.S. premarket trading after Relief Therapeutics sued the company, alleging breach of a collaboration pact Osmotica Pharmaceuticals (OSMT US) declined 28% in premarket trading after launching an offering of shares Rocket Lab USA (RKLB US) shares rose in Wednesday postmarket trading after the company announced it has been selected to launch NASA’s Advanced Composite Solar Sail System, or ACS3, on the Electron launch vehicle U.S. Silica Holdings (SLCA US) rose 7% Wednesday postmarket after it started a review of strategic alternatives for its Industrial & Specialty Products segment, including a potential sale or separation Global Blood Therapeutics (GBT US) climbed 2.6% in Wednesday after hours trading while Sage Therapeutics (SAGE US) dropped 3.9% after Jefferies analyst Akash Tewari kicked off his biotech sector coverage On the geopolitical front, a senior U.S. official said President Joe Biden’s plans to meet virtually with his Chinese counterpart before the end of the year. Tensions are escalating between the two countries, with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken criticizing China’s recent military maneuvers around Taiwan. European equities rebounded, with the Stoxx 600 index surging as much as 1.3% boosted by news that the European Central Bank was said to be studying a new bond-buying program as emergency programs are phased out. Also boosting sentiment on Thursday, ECB Governing Council member Yannis Stournaras said that investors shouldn’t expect premature interest-rate increases from the central bank. Here are some of the biggest European movers today: Iberdrola shares rise as much as 6.8% after an upgrade at BofA, and as Spanish utilities climbed following a report that the Ministry for Ecological Transition may suspend or modify the mechanism that reduces the income received by hydroelectric, nuclear and some renewables in relation to gas prices. Hermes shares climb as much as 3.8%, the most since February, after HSBC says “there isn’t much to worry about” from a possible slowdown in mainland China or questions over trend sustainability in the U.S. Edenred shares gain as much as 5.2%, their best day since Nov. 9, after HSBC upgrades the voucher company to buy from hold, saying that Edenred, along with Experian, offers faster recurring revenue growth than the rest of the business services sector. Valeo shares gain as much as 4.9% and is Thursday’s best performer in the Stoxx 600 Automobiles & Parts index; Citi raised to neutral from sell as broker updated its model ahead of 3Q results. Sika shares rise as much as 4.2% after company confirms 2021 guidance, which Baader said was helpful amid market concerns of sequentially declining margins due to rising raw material prices. Centrica shares rise as much as 3.6% as Morgan Stanley upgrades Centrica to overweight from equalweight, saying the utility provider will add market share as smaller U.K. companies fail due to the spike in wholesale energy prices. Earlier in the session, Asian stocks rallied, boosted by a rebound in Hong Kong-listed technology shares and optimism over the progress made toward a U.S. debt-ceiling accord. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed as much as 1.3%, on track for its biggest jump since Aug. 24. Alibaba, Tencent and Meituan were among the biggest contributors to the benchmark’s advance. Equity gauges in Hong Kong and Taiwan led a broad regional gain, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 also rebounded from its longest losing run since 2009. Thursday’s rally in Asia came after U.S. stocks closed higher overnight on a possible deal to boost the debt ceiling into December. Focus now shifts to the reopening of mainland China markets on Friday following the Golden Week holiday, and also the U.S. nonfarm payrolls report due that day. READ: China Tech Gauge Posts Best Day Since August After Touching Lows “Risk off sentiment has persisted due to a number of negative factors, but worry over some of these issues has been alleviated for the near term,” said Shogo Maekawa, a strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management in Tokyo. “One is that concern over stagflation has abated, with oil prices pulling back.” Sentiment toward risks assets was also supported as a senior U.S. official said President Joe Biden plans to meet virtually with Chinese President Xi Jinping before the end of the year. Of note, holders of Evergrande-guaranteed Jumbo Fortune bonds have yet to receive payment; the holders next step would be to request payment from Evergrande. The maturity of the bond in question was Sunday October 3rd, with a Monday October 4th effective due data, though the bond does have a five-day grace period only in the event that payment failure is due to an administrative/technical error. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.7% to close at 7,256.70. All subgauges finished the day higher, with the exception of energy stocks as Asian peers tumbled with a retreat in crude oil prices.  Collins Foods was among the top performers after the company signed an agreement to become KFC’s corporate franchisee in the Netherlands. Whitehaven tumbled, dropping the most for a session since June 17.  In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.5% to 13,104.61. Oil extended its decline from a seven-year high as U.S. stockpiles grew more than expected, and European natural gas prices tumbled on signals from Russia it may increase supplies to the continent. The yield on the U.S. 10-year Treasury was 1.526%, little changed on the day after erasing a 2.4bp increase; bunds outperformed by ~1.5bp, gilts by less than 1bp; long-end outperformance flattened 2s10s, 5s30s by ~0.5bp each. Treasuries pared losses during European morning as fuel prices ebbed and stocks gained. Bunds and gilts outperform while Treasuries curve flattens with long-end yields slightly richer on the day. WTI oil futures are lower after Russia’s offer to ease Europe’s energy crunch. Negotiations on a short-term increase to U.S. debt-ceiling continue.    In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was little changed and the greenback was weaker against most Group-of-10 peers, though moves were confined to relatively tight ranges. The U.S. jobs report Friday is the key risk for markets this week as a strong print could boost the dollar. Options traders see a strong chance that the euro manages to stay above a key technical support, at least on a closing basis. Risk sensitive currencies such as the Australian and New Zealand dollars as well as Sweden’s krona led G-10 gains, while Norway’s currency was the worst performer as European natural gas and power prices tumbled early Thursday after signals from Russia it may increase supplies to the continent. The pound gained against a broadly weaker dollar as concerns over the U.K. petrol crisis eased and focus turned to Bank of England policy. A warning shot buried deep in the BoE’s policy documents two weeks ago indicating that interest rates could rise as early as this year suddenly is becoming a more distinct possibility. Australia’s 10-year bonds rose for the first time in two weeks as sentiment was bolstered by a short-term deal involving the U.S. debt ceiling. The yen steadied amid a recovery in risk sentiment as stocks edged higher. Bond futures rose as a debt auction encouraged players to cautiously buy the dip. Looking ahead, investors will be looked forward to the release of weekly jobless claims data, likely showing 348,000 Americans filed claims for state unemployment benefits last week compared with 362,000 in the prior week. The ADP National Employment Report on Wednesday showed private payrolls increased by 568,000 jobs last month. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast a rise of 428,000 jobs. This comes ahead of the more comprehensive non-farm payrolls data due on Friday. It is expected to cement the case for the Fed’s slowing of asset purchases. We'll also get the latest August consumer credit print. From central banks, we’ll be getting the minutes from the ECB’s September meeting, and also hear from a range of speakers including the ECB’s President Lagarde, Lane, Elderson, Holzmann, Schnabel, Knot and Villeroy, along with the Fed’s Mester, BoC Governor Macklem and PBoC Governor Yi Gang. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 1% to 4,395.5 STOXX Europe 600 up 1.03% to 455.96 MXAP up 1.2% to 193.71 MXAPJ up 1.8% to 633.78 Nikkei up 0.5% to 27,678.21 Topix down 0.1% to 1,939.62 Hang Seng Index up 3.1% to 24,701.73 Shanghai Composite up 0.9% to 3,568.17 Sensex up 1.2% to 59,872.01 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.7% to 7,256.66 Kospi up 1.8% to 2,959.46 Brent Futures down 1.8% to $79.64/bbl Gold spot up 0.0% to $1,762.96 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 94.19 German 10Y yield fell 0.6 bps to -0.188% Euro little changed at $1.1563 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Democrats signaled they would take up Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell’s offer to raise the U.S. debt ceiling into December, alleviating the immediate risk of a default but raising the prospect of another bruising political fight near the end of the year The European Central Bank is studying a new bond-buying program to prevent any market turmoil when emergency purchases get phased out next year, according to officials familiar with the matter Market expectations for interest-rate hikes “are not in accordance with our new forward guidance,” ECB Governing Council member Yannis Stournaras said in an interview with Bloomberg Television Creditors have yet to receive repayment of a dollar bond they say is guaranteed by China Evergrande Group and one of its units, in what could be the firm’s first major miss on maturing notes since regulators urged the developer to avoid a near-term default Boris Johnson’s plan to overhaul the U.K. economy is a 10-year project he wants to see out as prime minister, according to a senior official. The time frame, which has not been disclosed publicly, illustrates the scale of Johnson’s gamble that British voters will accept a long period of what he regards as shock therapy to redefine Britain The U.K.’s surge in inflation has boosted the cost of investment-grade borrowing in sterling to the most since June 2020. The average yield on the corporate notes climbed just past 2%, according to a Bloomberg index A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asia-Pac stocks traded positively as the region took impetus from the mostly positive close in the US where the major indices spent the prior session clawing back opening losses, with sentiment supported amid a potential Biden-Xi virtual meeting this year, and hopes of a compromise on the debt ceiling after Senate Republican Leader McConnell offered a short-term debt limit extension to December. The ASX 200 (+0.7%) was led higher by strength in the tech sector and with risk appetite also helped by the announcement to begin easing restrictions in New South Wales from next Monday. The Nikkei 225 (+0.5%) attempted to reclaim the 28k level with advances spearheaded by tech and amid reports Tokyo is to lower its virus warning from the current top level. The Hang Seng (+3.1%) was the biggest gainer owing to strength in tech and property stocks, with Evergrande shareholder Chinese Estates surging in Hong Kong after a proposal from Solar Bright to take it private. Reports also noted that the US and China reportedly reached an agreement in principle for a Biden-Xi virtual meeting before year-end and with yesterday’s talks in Zurich between senior officials said to be more meaningful and constructive than other recent exchanges. Finally, 10yr JGBs retraced some of the prior day’s after-hours rebound with haven demand hampered by the upside in stocks and after the recent choppy mood in T-notes, while the latest enhanced liquidity auction for longer-dated JGBs resulted in a weaker bid-to-cover. Top Asian News Vietnam Faces Worker Exodus From Factory Hub for Gap, Nike, Puma Japan’s New Finance Minister Stresses FX Stability Is Vital Korea Lures Haven Seekers With Bonds Sold at Lowest Spread Africa’s Free-Trade Area to Get $7 Billion in Support From AfDB Bourses in Europe hold onto the gains seen at the cash open (Euro Stoxx 50 +1.5%; Stoxx 600 +1.1%) following on from an upbeat APAC handover, albeit the upside momentum took a pause shortly after the cash open. US equity futures are also firmer across the board but to a slightly lesser extent, with the tech-laden NQ (+1.0%) getting a boost from a pullback in yields and outperforming its ES (+0.7%), RTY (+0.6%) and YM (+0.6%). The constructive tone comes amid some positive vibes out of the States, and on a geopolitical note, with US Senate Minority Leader McConnell offered a short-term debt ceiling extension to December whilst US and China reached an agreement in principle for a Biden-Xi virtual meeting before the end of the year. Euro-bourses portray broad-based gains whilst the UK's FTSE 100 (+1.0%) narrowly lags the Euro Stoxx benchmarks, weighed on by its heavyweight energy and healthcare sectors, which currently reside at the foot of the bunch. Further, BoE's Chief Economist Pill also hit the wires today and suggested that the balance of risks is currently shifting towards great concerns about the inflation outlook, as the current strength of inflation looks set to prove more long-lasting than originally anticipated. Broader sectors initially opened with an anti-defensive bias (ex-energy), although the configuration since then has turned into more of a mixed picture, although Basic Resource and Autos still reside towards the top. Individual movers are somewhat scarce in what is seemingly a macro-driven day thus far. Miners top the charts on the last day of the Chinese Golden Week Holiday, with base metal prices also on the front foot in anticipation of demand from the nation – with Antofagasta (+5.1%), Anglo American (+4.2%) among the top gainers, whist Teamviewer (-8.2%) is again at the foot of the Stoxx 600 in a continuation of the losses seen after its guidance cut yesterday. Ubisoft (-5.1%) are also softer, potentially on a bad reception for its latest Ghost Recon game announcement. Top European News ECB’s Stournaras Reckons Investor Rate-Hike Bets Are Unwarranted Shell Flags Financial Impact of Gas Market Swings, Hurricane Johnson’s Plans for Economy Signal Ambitions for Decade in Power U.K. Grid Bids to Calm Market Saying Winter Gas Supply Is Enough In FX, the latest upturn in broad risk sentiment as the pendulum continues to swing one way then the other on alternate days, has given the Aussie a fillip along with news that COVID-19 restrictions in NSW remain on track for being eased by October 11, according to the state’s new Premier. Aud/Usd is eyeing 0.7300 in response to the above and a softer Greenback, while the Aud/Nzd cross is securing a firmer footing above 1.0500 in wake of a slender rise in AIG’s services index and ahead of the latest RBA FSR. Conversely, the Pound is relatively contained vs the Buck having probed 1.3600 when the DXY backed off further from Wednesday’s w-t-d peak to a 94.102 low and has retreated through 0.8500 against the Euro amidst unsubstantiated reports about less hawkish leaning remarks from a member of the BoE’s MPC. In short, the word is that Broadbent has downplayed the prospects of any fireworks in November via a rate hike, but on the flip-side new chief economist Pill delivered a hawkish assessment of the inflation situation in the UK when responding to a TSC questionnaire (see 10.18BST post on the Headline Feed for bullets and a link to his answers in full). Back to the Dollar index, challenger lay-offs are due and will provide another NFP guide before claims and commentary from Fed’s Mester, while from a technical perspective there is near term support just below 94.000 and resistance a fraction shy of 94.500, at 93.983 (yesterday’s low) and the aforementioned midweek session best (94.448 vs the 94.283 intraday high, so far). NZD - Notwithstanding the negative cross flows noted above, the Kiwi is also taking advantage of more constructive external and general factors to secure a firmer grip of the 0.6900 handle vs its US counterpart, but remains rather deflated post-RBNZ on cautious guidance in terms of further tightening. EUR/CHF/CAD/JPY - All narrowly mixed against their US peer and mostly well within recent ranges as the Euro reclaims 1.1500+ status in the run up to ECB minutes, the Franc consolidates off sub-0.9300 lows following dips in Swiss jobless rates, the Loonie weighs up WTI crude’s further loss of momentum against the Greenback’s retreat between 1.2600-1.2563 parameters awaiting Canada’s Ivey PMIs and a speech from BoC Governor Macklem, and the Yen retains an underlying recovery bid within 111.53-23 confines before a raft of Japanese data. Note, little reaction to comments from Japanese Finance Minister, when asked about recent Jpy weakening, as he simply said that currency stability is important, so is closely watching FX developments, but did not comment on current levels. In commodities, WTI and Brent front month futures are on the backfoot, in part amid the post-Putin losses across the Nat Gas space, with the UK ICE future dropping some 20% in early trade. This has also provided further headwinds to the crude complex, which itself tackles its own bearish omens. WTI underperforms Brent amid reports that the US was mulling a Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) release and did not rule out an export ban. Desks have offered their thoughts on the development. Goldman Sachs says a US SPR release would likely be of up to 60mln barrels, only representing a USD 3/bbl downside to the year-end USD 90/bbl Brent forecast and stated that relief would only be transitory given structural deficits the market will face from 2023 onwards. GS notes that any larger price impact that further hampers US shale activity would lead to elevated US nat gas prices in 2022, and an export ban would lead to significant disruption within the US oil market, likely bullish retail fuel price impact. RBC, meanwhile, believes that these comments were to incentivise OPEC+ to further open the taps after the producers opted to maintain a plan to hike output 400k BPD/m. On that note, sources noted that the OPEC+ decision against a larger supply hike at Monday's meeting was partly driven by concern that demand and prices could weaken – this would be in-fitting with sources back in July, which suggested that demand could weaken early 2022. The downside for crude prices was exacerbated as Brent Dec fell under USD 80/bbl to a low of near 79.00/bbl (vs 81.14/bbl), whilst WTI Nov briefly lost USD 75/bbl (vs high 77.23/bbl). Prices have trimmed some losses since. Metals in comparison have been less interesting; spot gold is flat and only modestly widened its overnight range to the current 1,756-66 range, whilst spot silver remains north of USD 22.50/bbl. Elsewhere, the risk tone has aided copper prices, with LME copper still north of USD 9,000/t, whilst some also cite supply concerns as a key mining road in Peru (second-largest copper producer) was blocked, with the indigenous community planning to continue the blockade indefinitely, according to a local leader. It is also worth noting that Chinese markets will return tomorrow from their Golden Week holiday. US Event Calendar 7:30am: Sept. Challenger Job Cuts YoY, prior -86.4% 8:30am: Oct. Initial Jobless Claims, est. 348,000, prior 362,000; Continuing Claims, est. 2.76m, prior 2.8m 9:45am: Oct. Langer Consumer Comfort, prior 54.7 11:45am: Fed’s Mester Takes Part in Panel on Inflation Dynamics 3pm: Aug. Consumer Credit, est. $17.5b, prior $17b DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap On the survey, given how fascinating markets are at the moment I think the results of this month’s edition will be especially interesting. However the irony is that when things are busy less people tend to fill it in as they are more pressed for time. So if you can try to spare 3-4 minutes your help would be much appreciated. Many thanks. It was a wild session for markets yesterday, with multiple asset classes swinging between gains and losses as investors sought to grapple with the extent of inflationary pressures and potential shock to growth. However US equities closed out in positive territory and at the highs as the news on the debt ceiling became more positive after Europe went home. Before this equities had lost ground throughout the London afternoon, with the S&P 500 down nearly -1.3% at one point with Europe’s STOXX 600 closing -1.03% lower. Cyclical sectors led the European underperformance, although it was a fairly broad-based decline. However after Europe went home – or closed their laptops in many cases – the positive debt ceiling developments saw risk sentiment improve throughout the rest of New York session. The S&P rallied to finish +0.41% and is now slightly up on the week, as defensive sectors such as utilities (+1.53%) and consumer staples (+1.00%) led the index while US cyclicals fell back like their European counterparts. Small cap stocks didn’t enjoy as much of a boost as the Russell 2000 ended the day -0.60% lower, while the megacap tech NYFANG+ index gained +0.82%. Risk sentiment improved following reports that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was willing to negotiate with Democrats to resolve the debt ceiling impasse and allow Democrats to raise the ceiling until December. This means President Biden and Congressional Democrats would be able to finish their fiscal spending package – now estimated at around $1.9-2.2 trillion – and include a further debt ceiling raise into one large reconciliation package near year-end. Senate Majority Leader Schumer has not publicly addressed the deal yet, but Democrats have signaled that they’ll accept the deal, although they’ve also indicated they’d still like to pass the longer-term debt ceiling bill under regular order in a bipartisan manner when the time came near year-end. Interestingly, if we did see the ceiling extended until December, this would put another deadline that month, since the government funding extension only went through to December 3, so we could have yet another round of multiple congressional negotiations in just a few weeks’ time. The news of a Republican offer coincided with President Biden’s virtual meeting with industry leaders, where the President implored them to join him in pressuring legislators to raise the debt limit. Treasury Secretary Yellen also attended the meeting, and re-emphasised her estimate for the so-called “drop dead date” to be October 18. Potentially at risk Treasury bills maturing shortly thereafter rallied a few basis points, signaling investors took yesterday afternoon’s debt ceiling developments as positive and credible. This was a far cry from where markets opened the London session as turmoil again gripped the gas market. UK and European natural gas futures both surged around +40% to reach an intraday high shortly after the open. However, energy markets went into reverse following comments from Russian President Putin that the country was set to supply more gas to Europe and help stabilise energy markets, with European futures erasing those earlier gains to actually end the day down -6.75%, with their UK counterpart similarly reversing course to close -6.96% too. The U.K. future traded in a stunning 255 to 408 price range on the day. We shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves here though, since even with the latest reversal, prices are still up by more than five-fold since the start of the year, and this astonishing increase over recent weeks has attracted attention from policymakers across the world as governments look to step in and protect consumers and industry. In the EU, the Energy Commissioner, Kadri Simson, said that the price shock was “hurting our citizens, in particular the most vulnerable households, weakening competitiveness and adding to inflationary pressure. … There is no question that we need to take policy measures”. However, the potential response appeared to differ across the continent. French President Macron said that more energy capacity was required, of which renewables and nuclear would be key elements, while Italian PM Draghi said that joint EU gas purchases had wide support. However, Hungarian PM Orban took the opportunity to blame the European Commission, saying that the Green Deal’s regulations were “indirect taxation”, which shows how these price spikes could create greater resistance to green measures moving forward. Elsewhere, blame was also cast on carbon speculators, with Spanish environment minister Rodriguez saying that “We don’t want to be hostages of external financial investors”, and outside the EU, Serbian President Vucic said that his country could ban power exports if there were further issues, which just shows how energy has the potential to become a big geopolitical issue this winter. Those declines in natural gas prices were echoed across the energy complex, with both Brent Crude (-1.79%) and WTI (-1.90%) oil prices subsiding from their multi-year highs the previous day, just as coal also fell -10.20%. In turn, that served to alleviate some of the concerns about building price pressures and helped measures of longer-term inflation expectations decline across the board. Indeed by the close, the 10yr breakeven in the US had come down -1.4bps, and the equivalent measures in Germany (-4.6bps), Italy (-6.1bps) and the UK (-4.2bps) had likewise seen declines of their own. In spite of those moves for inflation expectations, this proved little consolation for European sovereign bonds as higher real rates put them under continued pressure, even if yields had pared back some of their gains from the morning. Yields on 10yr bunds (+0.6bps), OATs (+0.9bps) and BTPs (+3.2bps) were all at their highest levels in 3 months, whilst those on Polish 10yr debt were up +13.7bps after the central bank there unexpectedly became the latest to raise rates, with the 40bps hike to 0.5% marking the first increase since 2012. However, for the US it was a different story, with yields on 10yr Treasuries down -0.5bps to 1.521%, having peaked at 1.57% earlier in the London morning. There was a late story in Europe that could bear watching in the coming weeks as Bloomberg reported that the ECB is studying a new bond-buying tool that could help ease market volatility if a “taper tantrum”-esque move were to happen when the PEPP purchases end in March. The plan would reportedly target purchases selectively if there were to be a larger selloff in more heavily indebted economies, which differs from the existing programs that buys debt in relation to the size of each member’s economy. Asian stocks overnight have performed strongly, with the Hang Seng (+2.28%), Nikkei (+1.68%) and KOSPI (+1.61%) all advancing after the positive news on the debt-ceiling, as well on news that US President Biden was set to meeting with Chinese President Xi by the end of the year. All the indices were lifted by the IT and consumer discretionary sectors, and the Hang Seng Tech index has rebounded by +3.29% this morning. Separately, Evergrande-related news has been subsiding in recent days, but China Estates, a company controlled by a backer of Evergrande, rose 30% after the company disclosed an offer to take it private for $245mn. Otherwise, US futures are pointing to a positive start later, with those on the S&P 500 (+0.50%) and DAX (+1.19%) both advancing. Turning to Germany, exploratory talks will be commencing today between the centre-left SPD, the Greens and the Liberal FDP, who together would make up a so-called “traffic-light” coalition. That marks a boost for the SPD, who beat the CDU/CSU bloc into first place in the September 26 election, although CDU leader Armin Laschet said that his party were “still ready to hold talks”. However, the CDU/CSU have faced internal tensions after they slumped to their worst-ever election result, whilst a Forsa poll out on Tuesday said that 53% of voters wanted a traffic-light coalition, versus just 22% who favoured the Jamaica option led by the CDU/CSU. So momentum seems clearly behind the traffic light option for now. Looking at yesterday’s data, in the US the ADP’s report at private payrolls came in at an unexpectedly strong +568k (vs. +430k expected), which is the highest in their series for 3 months and comes ahead of tomorrow’s US jobs report. However in Germany, factory orders in August fell by -7.7% (vs. -2.2% expected) amidst various supply issues. To the day ahead now, and data releases include German industrial production and Italian retail sales for August, whilst in the US we’ve got the weekly initial jobless claims and August’s consumer credit.From central banks, we’ll be getting the minutes from the ECB’s September meeting, and also hear from a range of speakers including the ECB’s President Lagarde, Lane, Elderson, Holzmann, Schnabel, Knot and Villeroy, along with the Fed’s Mester, BoC Governor Macklem and PBoC Governor Yi Gang. Tyler Durden Thu, 10/07/2021 - 07:57.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 7th, 2021

In Deep Ship: What"s Really Driving The Supply-Chain Crisis

In Deep Ship: What's Really Driving The Supply-Chain Crisis By Michael Every and Matteo Iagatti of Rabobank Summary It is impossible to ignore the current shipping crisis and its impact on global supply chains  A common view is that this is all the result of Covid-19. Yet while Covid has played a key role, it is only part of a far larger interconnected set of problems This report examines current shipping market dynamics; overlooked “Too Big to Sail” structural issues; a brewing political tsunami as a backlash; possible Cold War icebergs ahead; and the ‘ship of things to come’ if maritime past is a guide to maritime future  The central argument is that while central banks and governments both insist inflation is transitory and will fall once supply-chain bottlenecks are resolved, shipping dynamics suggest they are closer to becoming systemically entrenched Moreover, both historical and current trends towards addressing such problems suggest potential global market disruptions at least equal to the shocks we have already experienced. Many ports will get caught in this storm, if so Ready to ship off? It is impossible to ignore the current shipping crisis and its impact on global supply chains and economies. Businesses face huge headaches as supply dries up. Consumers see bare shelves and rising prices. Governments have no concrete solutions – save the army? Economists have to discuss the physical economy rather than a model. Central banks still assume this will all resolve itself. And shippers make massive profits. The giant Ever Given, which blocked the Suez Canal for six days in March 2021, is emblematic of these problems, but they run far deeper. This report will explore the shipping issue coast-to-coast, and past-to-present in six ‘containers’: “Are you shipping me?”, a deep-dive into market dynamics and supply-demand causes of soaring shipping prices; “To Big to Sail”, a key structural issue driving things; “Tsunami of politics” of the looming backlash to what is happening; “Cold War icebergs” of fat geopolitical tail risks; “Ship of things to come?”, asking if the maritime past is a potential guide to maritime future; and “Wait and sea?”, a strategic overview and conclusion. Are You Shipping Me? Since 2020, global shipping has been frenetic, with equally frenetic shipping rates (figure 2); difficulties for both businesses and consumers; and container-carrier profits. Is Covid-19 driving these developments, or are there other structural and cyclical factors at play? Let’s take stock. One root of the problem… In 2020, COVID-19 become a global pandemic, and lockdowns ensued: factories, restaurants, and shops all closed, bringing global supply chain almost to a halt. In this context, container carriers had no visibility on future demand and did the only reasonable thing: cut capacity. There is no economic sense in moving half-empty ships across the globe; it is costly, especially for a sector operated on tiny margins for a very long time. The consequence was widespread vessel cancellations, which soared in the first months of 2020 (figure 3). Progressively, more trade lines and ports were involved as containment measures were enacted globally. By H2-2020, virus containment measures were over in China, and many other nations eased them too. Shipping cancellations did not stop, however, just continuing at a slower pace. Indeed, capacity cuts have plagued supply-chains in 2021. Excluding the January-February peaks, from March to September 2021, an average of 9.2 vessels per week were cancelled, four vessels per week more than the previous off-peak period of July to December 2020 (figure 3). Cumulative cancellations (figure 4) underline the problems. Transpacific (e.g., China-US) and Asia-Northern Europe lines saw the largest capacity cuts, but Transatlantic and Mediterranean-North America vessels also reached historic levels of cancellations. Transpacific and Asia-Europe lines are the backbone of global trade, each representing 40% of the total container trade. More than 3 million TEUs (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units, a standard cargo measure) are moved on Transpacific and Asia-Europe lines in total per month. Due to cancellations, more than 10% of that capacity was lost in early 2020. In such a context, it was only normal to expect a rise in container rates. Over January-December 2020 the Global Baltic index (the world reference for box prices) increased by 115% from $1,460 to $3,140/TEU. However, as figure 2 shows, things then changed dramatically in 2021 for a variety of reasons. As can be seen (figure 5), cancellations alone cannot explain the price surge seen in the Baltic Dry Index -- the leading international Freight Rate Index, providing market rates for 12 global trade lines-- and on key global shipping routes (figure 6). So what did? We have instead identified five key themes that have pushed up shipping costs, which we will explore in turn: Suez – and what happened there; Sickness – or Covid-19 (again); Structure – of the shipping market; Stimulus – most so in the US; and “Stuck” – as in logistical congestion. Suez On March 23rd 2021, a 20,000TEU giant vessel, the Ever Given, owned by the Taiwanese carrier Evergreen, was forced by strong winds to park sideways in the Suez Canal, ultimately obstructing it. For the following six days, one of the fundamental arteries of trade between Europe, the Gulf, East Africa, the Indian Ocean, and South East Asia was closed for business. While the world realized how fragile globalized supply chains are, carriers and shippers were counting the costs. 370 ships could not pass the Canal, with cargoes worth around $9.5bn. Every conceivable good was on those ships. The result was more unforeseen delays, more congestions and, of course, more upward pressure on container rates. Sickness New COVID-19 Delta variant outbreaks in 20201 forced the closure of major Chinese ports such as Ningbo and Yantian causing delays and congestion that reverberated both in the region and globally. Vietnamese ports also suffered similar incidents. These closures, while not decisive blows, contributed to taking shipping capacity off the global grid, hindering the recovery trend. They were also signals of how thin the ice is that global supply chain are walking on. Indeed, Chinese and South-east Asian ports are still suffering the consequences of those earlier closures, with record queues of ships waiting to unload. Structure When external shocks cause price spikes it is always wise to look at structure of the sector in which disruption caused the price spike. This exercise provides precious hints on what the “descent” from the spike might look like. Crucially, in the shipping sector, consolidation and concentration has achieved levels that few other sectors of the economy reach. In the last five years, carriers controlling 80% of global capacity became more concentrated, with fewer operators of even larger size (figure 7). However, this is just the most obvious piece of the puzzle. In our opinion, the real change started in 2017, when the three main container alliances (2M, THE, and Ocean) were born. This changed horizontal cooperation between market leaders in shipping. The three do not fix prices, but via their networks capacity is shared and planned jointly, fully exploiting economies of scale that are decisive to making a capital-intensive business profitable and efficient. Unit margins can stay low as long as you move huge volume with high precision, and at the lowest cost possible. To be able to move the huge volumes required by a globalized and increasingly e-commerce economy at the levels of efficiency and speed demanded by operators up and down supply chains, there was little other options than to cooperate and keep goods flowing for the lowest cost possible at the highest speed possible. A tight discipline of cost was imposed on carriers, who also had to get bigger. This strategy more than paid off in the Covid crisis, when shippers demonstrated clear minds, efficiency in implementing capacity control, and a key understanding of the elements they could use to their advantage: in other words – how capitalism actually works. Carriers did not decide on the lockdowns or port closures; but they exploited their position in the global market when the pandemic erupted. In a recent report, Peter Sands from BIMCO (the Baltic and International Maritime Council) put it as follows: “Years of low freight rates resulting in rigorous cost-cutting by carriers have left them in a great position to maximise profits now that the market has turned.” Crucially, this market structure is here to stay - for now. It is a component of the global system. Carriers will continue to exert pressure and find ways to make profit but, most importantly, they will make more than sure that, this time, it is not only them that end up paying the costs of rebalancing within the global system. In short, the current market allows carriers to make historic levels of profits. However, in our view this is not the end of the story – as shall be shown later. Stimulus 2020 and 2021 saw unprecedented economic shocks from Covid-19, as well as unprecedented economic stimulus from some governments. In particular, the US government sent out direct stimulus cheques to taxpayers. With few services to spend the money on, it was instead centred on goods. Hence, consumer demand for some items is red-hot (figures 8-10). The consequences of this surge in buying on top of a workforce still partly in rolling lockdowns, and against a backlog of infrastructure decades in the making, was obvious: logistical gridlock. Moreover, with the US importing high volumes, and not exporting to match, and its own internal logistics log-jammed, there has been a build-up of shipping containers inside the US, and a shortage elsewhere. Shippers are, in some cases, even dropping their cargo and returning to Asia empty: the same has been reported in Australia. Against this backdrop, the US is perhaps close to introducing further major fiscal stimulus, with little of this able to address near-term infrastructure/logistical shortfalls. Needless to say, the impact on shipping, if such stimulus is passed, could be enormous. As such, while central banks and governments still insist that inflation is transitory, supply-chain dynamics suggest it is in fact closer to becoming systemically entrenched. Stuck In normal times, a surge in consumer spending would be a bonanza for everyone: raw material producers, manufacturers, carriers, shippers, and retailers alike. In Covid times, this is all a death-blow to global supply chains. Due to misplaced global capacity, high export volumes cannot be moved fast enough, intermediate goods cannot reach processors in time, and everybody is fighting to get a container spot on the ships available. Ports cannot handle the throughput given the backlog of containers that are still waiting to be shipped inland or loaded on a delayed boat. It is not by chance that congestion hit record peaks at the same time in Los Angeles – Long beach (LALB), and in the main ports in China, the two main poles of transpacific trade. Clearly, LALB cannot handle the surge in imports, the arrival queue keeps on growing by the day (figure 11). There are now plans to shift to working 24/7. However, critics note that all this would do is to shift containers from ships to clog other already backlogged areas of the port, potentially reducing efficiency even further. Meanwhile, in Shanghai and Ningbo there were also 154 ships waiting to unload at time of writing. The power-cuts seeing Chinese factories only operating 3-4 day weeks in many locations suggest a slow-down in the pace of goods accumulating at ports, but also imply disruption, shortages, and delays in loading, still making problems worse overall. Imagine large-scale US stimulus on top of a drop in supply! Overall, “endemic congestion” is the perfect definition for the state of the global shipping market. It is the results of many factors: vessels cancellations and capacity control; Covid; bursts of demand in some trade lines; imbalances in container distribution; regular disruption in key arteries and ports; a backlog and increasing volumes cannot be dealt with at the same time, all creating an exponentially amplifying effect. The epicenter is in the Pacific, but the problem is global. At present 10% of global container capacity is waiting to be unloaded on ship at the anchor outside some port. Solutions need to be found quickly – but can they be? The Transpacific situation is particularly delicate, stemming from a high number of cancellations, ongoing disruption, and the highest demand surge in the global economy. However, this perfect recipe for a disaster is also affecting Asia–Europe lines where shipping rates hikes also do not show any signs of slowing down. …and unstuck? The shipping business would logically seem best-placed to get out of this situation by increasing vessel capacity. Indeed, orders of new ships spiked in 2021, and in coming years 2.5m TEUs will come on stream (figure 12). However, this will not arrive for some time, and may not sharply reduce shipping prices when it does. Indeed, the industry --which historically operates on thin margins, and has seen many boom and bust cycles—knows all too well the old Greek phrase: “98 ships, 101 cargoes, profit; 101 ships, 98 cargoes, disaster”. They will want to preserve as much of the current profitability as possible, which a concentrated ‘Big 3’ makes easier. Tellingly, a recent article stressed: “Ship-owners and financiers should avoid sinking money into new container vessels despite a global crunch because record orders have driven up prices, according to industry insiders.” True, CMA CGM just froze shipping spot rates until February 2022, joining Hapag-Lloyd. Yet in both cases the new implied benchmark is of price freezes at what were once unthinkable levels – not price falls. To conclude, shipping prices are arguably very high for structural reasons, and are likely to stay high ahead – if those structures do not change. On which, we even need to look at the structure of ships themselves. Too Big to Sail Shipping, like much else, has become much larger over the years. Small feeder ships of up to 1,000TEU are dwarfed by the largest Ultra-Large Container Vessels (ULCVs), which start from 14,501 TEUS up, and are larger than the US Navy’s aircraft carriers. Of course, there is a reason for this gigantism: economy of scale. It is a sound argument. However, the same was said in other industries where painful experience, after the fact, has shown such commercial logic is not the best template for systemic stability. In banking we are aware of the phenomenon, and danger, of “Too Big to Fail”. In shipping, ULCVs and their associated industry patterns could perhaps be seen as representing “Too Big to Sail”. After all, there are downsides to so much topside beyond the obvious incident with the Ever Given earlier in the year: ULVCs cannot fit through the Panama Canal; Not all ports can handle ULCVs; They are slow at sea; They are slow to load and unload; They require more complex cargo placement / handling; They force carriers to maximize efficiency to cover costs; They force all in-land logistics to adapt to their scale; They force a hub-and-spokes global trade model; and They are vulnerable to accident or disruption, i.e., they were designed for an entirely peaceful shipping environment at a time of rising geopolitical tensions (which we will return to later). In short, current ULCV hub-and-spokes trade models are the antithesis of a nimble, distributed, flexible, resilient system, and actually help create and exacerbate the cascading supply-chain failures we are currently experiencing. However, we do not have a global shipping regulator to order shippers to change their commercial practices! Specifically, building ULVCs takes time, and shipyard capacity is more limited. As shown, the issue is not so much a lack of ULCVs, but limited capacity from ports onwards. That means we need to expand ports, which is a far slower and more difficult process than adding new containers or ships, given the constraints of geography, and the layers of local and international planning and politics involved in such developments. There is also then a need for matching warehousing, roads, trucks, truckers, rail, and retailer warehousing, etc. As we already see today, just finding truckers is already a huge issue in many  economies. Meanwhile, any incident that impacts on a ULCV port --a Covid lockdown, a weather event, power-cuts, or a physical action-- exacerbates feedback loops of supply-chain disruption more than any one, or several, smaller ports servicing smaller feeder ships would do. So why are we not adapting? Economic thinking, partly dictated by the need to survive in a tough industry; massive sunk costs; and equally massive vested interests – which we can collectively call “Too Big to Sail”. Naturally, some parties do not wish to move to a nimbler, less concentrated, more widely-distributed, locally-produced, more resilient supply-chain system --with lower economies of scale-- while some do: and this is ultimately a political stand-off. Crucially, nobody is going to make much-needed new investments in maritime logistics until they know what the future map of global production looks like. Post-Covid, do we still make most things in China, or will it be back in the US, EU, and Japan – or India, etc.? Are we Building Back Better? Where? Resolving that will help resolve our shipping problems: but it will of course create lots of new ones while doing so. Tidal Wave of Politics Against this backdrop, is it any surprise that a tsunami of politics could soon sweep over global shipping? In July, US President Biden introduced Executive Order 14036, “Promoting Competition in the American Economy”. This puts forward initiatives for federal agencies to establish policies to address corporate consolidation and decreased competition - which will include shipping. Ironically, the US encouraged “Too Big to Sail” for decades, but real and political tides both turn. Indeed, in August a bipartisan bill was introduced in Congress --“The Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021”-- which proposes radical changes to: Establish reciprocal trade to promote US exports as part of the Federal Maritime Commission’s (FMC) mission; Require ocean carriers to adhere to minimum service standards that meet the public interest, reflecting best practices in the global shipping industry; Require ocean carriers or marine terminal operators to certify that any late fees --known in maritime parlance as “detention and demurrage” charges-- comply with federal regulations or face penalties; Potentially eliminate “demurrage” charges for importers; Prohibit ocean carriers from declining opportunities for US exports unreasonably, as determined by the FMC in new required rulemaking; Require ocean common carriers to report to the FMC each calendar quarter on total import/export tonnage and TEUs (loaded/empty) per vessel that makes port in the US; and Authorizes the FMC to self-initiate investigations of ocean common carrier’s business practices and apply enforcement measures, as appropriate. Promoting reciprocal US trade would either slow global trade flows dramatically and/or force more US goods production. While that would help address the global container imbalance, it would also unbalance our economic and financial architecture. Fining carriers who refuse to pick up US exports would also rock many boats. Moreover, forcing carriers to carry the cost of demurrage would change shipping market dynamics hugely. At the moment, the profits of the shipping snarl sit with carriers and ports, and the rising costs with importers: the US wants to reverse that status quo. While global carriers and US ports obviously say this bill is “doomed to fail”, and will promote a “protectionist race to the bottom”, it is bipartisan, and has been endorsed by a large number of US organisations, agricultural producers and retailers. Even smaller global players are responding similarly. For example, Thailand is considering re-launching a national shipping carrier to help support its economic growth: will others follow suite ahead? Meanwhile, shipping will also be impacted by another political decision - the planned green energy transition. The EU will tax carbon in shipping from 2023, and new vessels will need to be built. For what presumed global trade map, as we just asked? The green transition will also see a huge increase in the demand for resources such as cobalt, lithium, and rare earths. Economies that lack these, e.g., Japan and the EU, will need to import them from locations such as Africa and Australia. That will require new infrastructure, new ports, and new shipping routes – which is also geopolitical. Indeed, the US, China, the EU, UK, and Japan have all made clear that they wish to hold commanding positions in new green value chains - yet not all will be able to do so if resources are limited. Therefore, green shipping threatens to be a zero-sum game akin to the 19th century scramble for resources. As Foreign Affairs noted back in July: “Electricity is the new oil” – meant in terms of ugly power politics, not more beautiful power production. Before the green transition, energy prices are soaring (see our “Gasflation” report). On one hand, this may lift bulk shipping rates; on another, we again see the need for resilient supply chains, in which shipping plays a key role. In short, current zero-sum supply-chains snarls, already seeing a growing backlash, are soon likely to be matched by a zero-sum shift to new green industrial technologies and related raw materials. In both dimensions, shipping will become as (geo)political as it is logistical. Notably, while tides may be turning, we can’t ‘just’ reshape the global shipping system, or get from “just in time” to “just in case”, or to a more localized “just for me” just like that: it will just get messy in the process. Cold War Icebergs The US is now pushing “extreme competition” between “liberal democracy and autocracy”; China counters that US hegemony is over. For both, part of this will run through global shipping. Both giants are happy to decouple supply chains from the other where it benefits them. However, the larger geostrategic implications are even more significant. Piracy and national/imperial exclusion zones used to be maritime problems, but post-WW2, the US Navy has kept the seas safe and open to trade for all carriers equally. This duty is extremely expensive, and will get more so as new ships have to be built to replace an ageing fleet. Meanwhile, China is building its own navy at breath-taking speed, and a maritime Belt and Road (BRI). As a result, a clear shift has occurred in US maritime strategy: 2007’s “A Co-operative Strategy for 21st Century Sea Power”, stressed: “We believe that preventing wars is as important as winning wars.” 2015’s update argued: “Our responsibility to the American people dictates an efficient use of our fiscal resources.” 2020’s title was changed to “Advantage at Sea: Prevailing with Integrated All-Domain Naval Power”, and stressed: “...the rules-based international order is once again under assault. We must prepare as a unified Naval Service to ensure that we are equal to the challenge.” The US is also pressing ahead with the AUKUS defence alliance and the ‘Quad’ of Japan, India, and Australia to maintain naval superiority in the Indo-Pacific. This is generating geopolitical frictions, and fears of further escalation of maritime clashes in the region. The Quad has also agreed to key tech and supply-chain cooperation, with Australia a key part of a new green minerals strategy – a race in which China is still well ahead, and the EU lags. Should any kind of major incident occur, shipping costs would escalate enormously, as can easily be seen in the case of US-UK shipping from 1887-1939: this leaped 1,600% during WW1, and these shipping data stopped entirely in September 1939 due to WW2. Crucially, US naval strategy is rooted in the post-WW2 power structure in which it benefitted from such control commercially. That architecture is crumbling - and there is a matching US consensus to shift towards “America First”, or “Made in America”. The thought progression from here is surely: “Why are we paying to protect shipping from China, or economies that do not support us against China?” In short, the strategic and financial logic is: surrender control of the seas, or ensure commercial gains from it. There are enormous implications for shipping if such a shift in thinking were to occur - and such discussions are already taking place. July 2020’s “Hidden Harbours: China’s State-backed Shipping Industry” from the Center for Strategic and International Studies argued: “The time is long overdue for the US to reinvigorate its maritime industries and challenge the Chinese in the same game by using the very same techniques the Chinese have used to gain dominance in the global maritime industry. The private-sector maritime industry cannot do this alone—the US maritime industry simply cannot compete against the power of the Chinese state. The US and allied governments must bring to bear substantial and sustained political action, policies, and financial support. To do anything less is to cede control of the world’s maritime industry and global supply chains to China, and perhaps to force the US and its allies to enter their own ‘century of shame.’” Meanwhile, stories link ports and shipping to national security (see here and here), underlining logistics are no longer seen as purely commercial areas, but rather fall within the “grey zone” between war and peace – as was the case pre-WW2. This again has major implications for the shipping business. Expect that trend to continue ahead if the maritime past as guide, as we shall now explore. The Ship of Things to Come? US maritime history in particular holds some clear lessons for today’s shipping world if looked at carefully. First, the importance of the sea to what we now think of as a land-based US: the US merchant marine helped it win independence from the powerful naval forces of the British, and the first piece of legislation Congress passed in 1789 was a 10% tariff on British imports, both to build US industry and merchant shipping. Indeed, the underlying message of US maritime history is that the US is a major commercial force at sea – but only when it sees this as a national-security goal. Following independence, US commercial shipping and industry surged in tandem, with an understandable dip only due to war with the British in 1812. The gradual normalisation of maritime trade with the UK after that saw a gradual decline in the share of trade US shipping carried, which accelerated with the end of steamship subsidies --which the British maintained-- and the US Civil War. By the start of the 20th century, W. L. Marvin was arguing: “A nation which is reaching out for the commercial mastery of the world cannot long suffer nine-tenths of its ocean-carrying to be monopolized by its foreign rivals.” Yet 1915 saw the welfare-focused US Seaman’s Act passed and US flags move to Panama, where costs were lower. However, WW1 saw US shipping surge, and the Jones Act in 1920 reaffirmed ‘cabotage’ – only US flagged and crewed vessels can trade cargo between US ports. The 1930s saw global trade and the US maritime marine dwindle again – until 1936, when the Federal Maritime Commission was set up "to promote the commerce of the US, and to aid in the national defense." WW2 then saw US mass production of Liberty Ships account for over a third of global merchant shipping – and then post-1945, this lead slipped away again, and the US merchant marine now stands at around just 0.4% of the world fleet. Indeed, in 2020, US sealift capability was reported short on personnel, hulls, and strategy such that the commercial fleet would be unlikely to meet the Pentagon’s needs for a large-scale troop build-up overseas. As we see, the US has been here several times before. If the past is any guide for the future response, this suggests the following US actions could be seen ahead: Use its market size to force shippers to change pricing – which may already be happening; Raise tariffs again (on green grounds?); Refuse to take goods from some foreign ships or ports; Force vessels to re-flag in the US, at higher cost; Build a rival to China’s marine BRI with allies; Massive ship-building, for the 3rd time in the last century; Charter US private firms to bring in green materials; or The US Navy stops protecting some sea lanes/carriers, or forces the costs of their patrols onto others. It goes without saying that any of these steps would have enormous implications for global shipping and the global economy – and yet most of them are compatible with both the strategic military/commercial logic previously underlined, as well as the lessons of history. Wait and Sea? We summarize what we have shown in the key points below: Markets For markets, there are obvious implications for inflation. How can it stay low if imported prices stay high? How will central banks respond? Rate hikes won’t help. Neither will loose monetary policy – and less it is directed to a directly-related government response on supply chains and logistics. This suggests greater impetus for a shift to more localised production on cost grounds, at least at the lower end of the value chain, if not the more-desirable higher end. Yet once this wave starts to build, it may be hard to stop. Look at EU plans for strategic autonomy in semiconductors, for example, which are echoed in the US, China, and Japan. For FX, the countries that ride that wave best will float; the ones that don’t will sink. Helicopter view of ships Clearly, shipping will continue to boom. There are huge opportunities in capex on ships, ports, logistics, and infrastructure ahead – as well as in new production and supply chains. Yet one first needs to be sure what, or whose, map of production will be used for them! As the industry sits and waits for the wind and tide to change, logically one wants to position oneself best for what may be coming next. That implies global consolidation and/or vertical integration: Large shippers looking at smaller shippers to snuff out alternative routes and capacity; shippers looking at ports; ports looking at shippers; giant retailers/producers looking at shippers; importers banding together for negotiating power in ultra-tight markets. Of course, nationally, governments are looking at shippers, or at starting new carriers. If this is to be a realpolitik power struggle for who rules the waves --“Too Big to Sail”, or a new more national/resilient map of production-- then having greater scale now increases your fire-power. Of course, it also makes you a larger target for others. Let’s presume current trends continue. Could we even end up with a return to older patterns of production, e.g., where oil used to be produced by company X, refined in its facilities, shipped on its vessels, to its de facto ports, and on to its retail distribution network. Might we even see the same for consumer goods? That is the logic of globalisation and geopolitics, as well as the accumulation of capital. However, if history is a guide, and (geo)politics is a tsunami, things will look very different on both the surface and at the deepest depths of the shipping industry and the global economy. Much we take as normal today could become flotsam and jetsam. To conclude, who benefits from the huge profits of the current shipping snarl, and who will pay the costs, is ultimately a (geo)political issue, not a market one. Many ports are likely going to be caught up in that storm. Tyler Durden Sun, 10/03/2021 - 12:15.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 3rd, 2021

Hines, NPS acquire San Fran’ PG&E campus, plan massive redevelopment

Hines, the international real estate firm, and the National Pension Service of Korea (NPS), announced the acquisition of the historic Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) campus in the South Financial District in downtown San Francisco. Hines and its partner NPS, through their global build-to-core mandate, will reimagine and breathe... The post Hines, NPS acquire San Fran’ PG&E campus, plan massive redevelopment appeared first on Real Estate Weekly. Hines, the international real estate firm, and the National Pension Service of Korea (NPS), announced the acquisition of the historic Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) campus in the South Financial District in downtown San Francisco. Hines and its partner NPS, through their global build-to-core mandate, will reimagine and breathe new life into the site . Upon completion, the PG&E campus will represent the largest deal along Market Street in San Francisco in the last 10 years, and deliver two next generation office projects totaling approximately 1.6 million square feet and a future multifamily component. The first of the two office projects will consist of the restoration and renovation of a 600,000 s/f office complex dating back to the early 1900s. Hines plans to honor the building’s history and architectural integrity while elevating the office experience to trophy historic product quality. Hines will retain the historic architecture of the building facade and the original lobby but upgrade the building’s systems and technological capabilities to achieve the modern functionality of a Class-A office building. 77 Beale, to be renamed 200 Mission, is an existing 1,000,000 s/f 34-story tower which will be repositioned into a brand-new, premier office tower oriented toward Mission Street. Hines will completely transform the existing dated building into a state-of-the-art tower including all new systems and aesthetics. Led by Pickard Chilton, the future-facing design will meet the needs of a range of occupiers seeking to entice the next generation of workforce talent.    Lastly, Hines anticipates commencing the development of 50 Main, a new multifamily apartment complex that will consist of over 600 units. More details will be released in relation to this ground-breaking residential site in the future. “The site of PG&E’s headquarters is undoubtedly one of the best locations along the entire West Coast and we believe these projects will be the epitome of the next generation of office buildings, designed to answer future tenant needs by addressing what their employees want,” said Paul Paradis, senior managing director at Hines. “We are excited to be on the front lines of cutting-edge innovation in the built environment.” As part of the joint venture that NPS and Hines formed last year, this project aims to capture evolving demands by modernizing spaces across the real estate industry. “This venture targets a build-to-core strategy to create a portfolio of prime assets resilient to market uncertainties,” said Scott Kim, Head of Real Estate Investment Division at NPS. “This project embodies NPS and Hines’ belief that long-term investments in proven locations, supported by innovation and new technology, will capture sustained demand and create outsized value.” “We have been able to capitalize on an ideal project in the heart of San Francisco to create three emblematic projects that are representative of the future of real estate,” said Alfonso Munk, CIO of the Americas at Hines. “We are very excited to see this project come to life and set the bar for many more projects between Hines and NPS in the future.” “The Hines vision for this important block in the heart of downtown San Francisco is great news for the future of our city,” said Mayor London Breed. The proposed mix of uses – including residential, retail and office – addresses a crucial need for housing while bringing more economic vibrancy to our city. We look forward to seeing Hines deliver this exciting new addition to our community.” Hines has a long involvement with the PG&E campus, having completed a redevelopment project in the mid-1990s and served as property manager for a decade following. The PG&E project is located directly across the street from Hines’ landmark 101 California, developed in 1982, and nearby several other Hines signature projects in the area. The post Hines, NPS acquire San Fran’ PG&E campus, plan massive redevelopment appeared first on Real Estate Weekly......»»

Category: realestateSource: realestateweeklySep 22nd, 2021

Google buying St John’s Terminal building for $2.1B

Google today announced its intent to purchase the St. John’s Terminal development that it currently leases for $2.1 billion in Q1 2022.  Google’s decision to exercise its option to purchase St. John’s Terminal further builds upon its existing plans to invest more than $250 million this year in its New... The post Google buying St John’s Terminal building for $2.1B appeared first on Real Estate Weekly. Google today announced its intent to purchase the St. John’s Terminal development that it currently leases for $2.1 billion in Q1 2022.  Google’s decision to exercise its option to purchase St. John’s Terminal further builds upon its existing plans to invest more than $250 million this year in its New York campus presence. Google’s 1.7 million-square-foot Hudson Square campus spans three buildings: 315 Hudson Street, 345 Hudson Street and St. John’s Terminal at 550 Washington Street. Google’s spaces in the two Hudson Street buildings are now completed, and the St. John’s Terminal anchor site is expected to open by mid 2023 as the new NYC headquarters for Google’s Global Business Organization. “New York’s energy, creativity and world-class talent are what keep us rooted here and why we’re deepening our commitment with plans to purchase St. John’s Terminal,” said Ruth Porat, Alphabet and Google CFO. “We look forward to continuing to grow along with this remarkable, diverse city.” “This announcement from Google is yet another proof point that New York’s economy is recovering and rebuilding. We are creating jobs, investing in emerging industries, lifting up New Yorkers, and together, we are writing our comeback story,” said Governor Kathy Hochul. “Google’s historic investment in New York City marks an enormous step for our recovery,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The purchase of St. John’s Terminal will ensure New York remains a global leader in technology as well as a place that people are excited to live and work in.” The St John’s Terminal site was acquired for $700 million in 2017 by Oxford Properties, the project’s lead developer, and is a joint venture with Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. The 12-story, 1.3 million-square-foot St. John’s Terminal site encompasses two entire city blocks adjacent to Hudson River Park’s Pier 40 and is currently under construction.  “When we acquired the St. John’s Terminal site in 2017, we saw an incredible opportunity to rethink the modern workplace and bring that vision to New York,” said Dean Shapiro, Head of US Developments at Oxford Properties. “From day one of our partnership on the project, it was clear that Oxford and Google’s vision for the future of work were fully aligned. Today showcases our deeply shared commitment to the future of the office, and the great city of New York, as we drive innovation and creativity in the heart of NYC.” The former freight terminal is being reimagined into a highly sustainable, adaptable and connected building, with its biophilic design adding numerous outdoor open spaces and reconnecting the Hudson Square neighborhood to the waterfront. The building will also offset 100% of its carbon in support of Google’s carbon goals, in addition to pursuing LEED Platinum and ILFI (International Living Future Institute) Zero Carbon certifications. “St. John’s Terminal gave us the opportunity to design a healthy, high-performance building for Google that will connect Hudson Square to Hudson River Park with new public greenspaces and pathways, honor the industrial history of the area, and serve as a model for the sustainable future of New York City,” said Rick Cook, Founding Partner of COOKFOX Architects. As part of investing in its long-term campus footprint in New York City, construction is also proceeding at Pier 57 where Google will occupy about 320,000 s/f office space. Once completed next year, the site will also include a public food hall, community space, galleries, the city’s largest public rooftop space, and educational and environmental programs run by the Hudson River Park Trust.  Pier 57 rendering Google has had a presence in New York for more than 20 years, with 12,000 full-time employees in the state as Google’s largest office outside of California. The company’s campus investments will provide the capacity to grow its workforce in the city to more than 14,000 employees in the coming years. As part of its previously announced racial equity commitments, Google also plans to continue expanding the number of employees in diverse communities including New York that contribute to a high quality of life for Black+ Googlers. Google remains focused on helping local communities, organizations and people emerge stronger from the pandemic. Since 2005, Google has provided over $170 million in grant funding to nonprofits in New York. In the Hudson Square neighborhood, the company is supporting the new Jackie Robinson Museum opening next year with a grant to help deliver new educational programming for students. Google also provided grant funding to the Children’s Museum of the Arts to help launch new digital programming for childhood arts education, and to God’s Love We Deliver to offer free nutritious meals and services for those living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other serious illnesses.  Jackie Robinson Museum rendering via Gensler Google also continues to invest in growing the next generation of tech talent. Its Grow with Google programs are helping to create new pathways to in-demand, good paying tech jobs for people most impacted by the pandemic. Through Google’s skilling programs, more than 3,800 New Yorkers have completed a certificate program to date. Google is also working with select CUNY/SUNY Schools to add Google Certificates to their curriculum as part of the SUNY for All free online training program. “We are excited to see Google expand its footprint here in New York City bringing opportunities for thousands of tech and related good-paying jobs. It is a true commitment to the City’s economic recovery and the future of the workplace, proving New York City is a thriving vital place in the global tech landscape,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Rachel Loeb. “The announcement by Google today reinforces what we’ve known all along: that New York is a great home for the tech industry,” said Bill Rudin, CEO and Co-Chairman of Rudin Management Company. “Google has been a great partner to this city and their continual investment and growth here is a strong demonstration of their commitment to New York and of the strength of our economic future.” St. John’s Terminal renderings all via COOKFOX Architects The post Google buying St John’s Terminal building for $2.1B appeared first on Real Estate Weekly......»»

Category: realestateSource: realestateweeklySep 21st, 2021

S&P Retakes 3700 while NASDAQ Hits Another New Record

S&P Retakes 3700 while NASDAQ Hits Another New Record The market may still be waiting for a stimulus package at the moment, but it had enough energy on Wednesday to recapture a milestone and set a new record. The S&P closed above 3700 for only the second time in history today. The index rose 0.18% to 3701.17, which put it a little more than a point away from a new record. It was last above 3700 on Tuesday, December 8. Meanwhile, the NASDAQ climbed 0.50% (or about 63 points) to a new closing high of 12,658.19, but the Dow slipped 0.15% (or about 45 points) to 30,154.54. The Fed – and its unprecedented support for this economy – isn’t going anywhere. In addition to keeping rates unchanged as was widely expected, the Committee will continue its asset purchase program unabated until its goals are met. And you can bet that rates will stay at historic lows for the next several years. Meanwhile, the market is cautiously optimistic that Capitol Hill is finally on course for a relief package. In recent days, we’ve seen the proposal split into two separate bills that should be easier to pass. Also, the major players in both houses of Congress have been talking and seem encouraged that something will actually get done. This would be a great time to make it happen, as rising coronavirus cases are leading to renewed restrictions across the country. Such measures are being felt in the economic data. We got another example just today when retail sales for November were down 1.1%, which was worse than expected and marked a second straight monthly decline. And let’s not forget that the jobs data for November (released earlier this month) was quite sluggish with only 245K jobs being added instead of around 450K as expected. So the economic recovery is certainly slowing down, but a nice stimulus deal could keep it going while we wait for the vaccines to do their job... Today's Portfolio Highlights: Income Investor: Investment bankers like Goldman Sachs (GS) are handling this pandemic better than most other banks. Shares of the company surged 74% since the coronavirus lows, which easily outperformed the S&P. In addition, GS had a “blowout” third quarter and is diversifying for the future through initiatives like consumer banking. And yet, GS is still “just too cheap to ignore”, according to Maddy. Shares trade at 10x trailing 12-month earnings, compared to the finance market’s 18x. And its dividend currently yields just under 2.1% on an annual basis with a payout ratio at 21%, so there’ll be no problem covering payouts or planned increases moving forward. To recap: GS has market-leading positions, a diversifying revenue stream, top-tier profit levels and a solid dividend. And despite all that, it remains at “bargain basement levels”. No wonder the editor added the stock on Wednesday. Learn a lot more about this new addition in the complete commentary. Home Run Investor: Next year could be pretty strong for a name like Sterling Construction (STRL), which is a leading heavy civil construction company that specializes in the building and reconstruction of transportation and water infrastructure projects. In other words, it would be a big beneficiary of any federal infrastructure plans. The past two quarters included large earnings surprises, while rising estimates have lifted STRL to a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). If this stock sees some margin expansion, Brian thinks it would move sharply higher. In addition to adding STRL, the editor also sold The Andersons (ANDE) after slipping to a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). The agriculture company still brought the portfolio a return of approximately 10.2% in two months. Read the full write-up for more on today’s moves. In other news, this portfolio had a top performer on Wednesday as Dynatrace (DT) rose 8.3%. Counterstrike: This portfolio’s patience with Turtle Beach (HEAR) paid off on Wednesday, as the audio technology company was sold for a return of about 38%. Jeremy first bought the stock on July 13 and then added to it on August 17. The long awaited-for spike finally came and lifted HEAR to the top performer in the portfolio. Also today, the editor bought beverage company National Beverage Corp. (FIZZ) with a 7% allocation and added onto e-commerce service provider Overstock.com (OSTK) with a 6% allocation. FIZZ, which made 22% for the portfolio last month, had a nice pullback recently and seems set to move higher. Meanwhile, OSTK, which was first bought on November 24, has moved higher in the past couple of days and prompted Jeremy to make a bigger commitment. Read the complete commentary for a lot more about today’s moves. All the Best, Jim Giaquinto Recommendations from Zacks' Private Portfolios: Believe it or not, this article is not available on the Zacks.com website. The commentary is a partial overview of the daily activity from Zacks' private recommendation services. If you would like to follow our Buy and Sell signals in real time, we've made a special arrangement for readers of this website. Starting today you can see all the recommendations from all of Zacks' portfolios absolutely free for 7 days. Our services cover everything from value stocks and momentum trades to insider buying and positive earnings surprises (which we've predicted with an astonishing 80%+ accuracy). Click here to "test drive" Zacks Ultimate for FREE >>  Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 21st, 2021

Accenture moving Austin office to historic downtown building

The global consulting giant — which has about 3,500 employees in Austin — has leased 100% of one of the historic buildings on Austin's most prominent street, Congress Avenue......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsJan 15th, 2020

Continuum buying Watts building in downtown Milwaukee

Growing firm Continuum Architects and Planners is buying the historic George Watts & Son Inc. building in downtown Milwaukee and will renovate its second floor into a new home office......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsMar 28th, 2019

Digital auto insurer Root to move to Columbus Commons, add 460 jobs

Root Insurance Co. plans to grow to nearly 550 employees and is moving its headquarters to the 80 on the Commons mixed-use building under construction alongside downtown's Columbus Commons Park, according to City Council documents. Just over two ye.....»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsMay 18th, 2018

Exxon Mobil"s XTO Energy to Sell its Last Office Tower in Downtown Fort Worth

XTO Energy Inc., a subsidiary of Irving, TX-based Exxon Mobil, which is moving its headquarters to Houston this summer, is selling off its second-to-last building in downtown Fort Worth, TX. XTO E.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJun 7th, 2018

Opus acquires remaining downtown land where it’s been building apartment towers

The Opus Group is moving closer to its fourth project on the north end of Nicollet Mall,buying the remaining 1.5 acres of land on what is known as the Ritz block......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsAug 1st, 2018