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Ohio State Supreme court throws out GOP-led redistricting map: "When the dealer stacks the deck in advance, the house usually wins"

The court's 4-3 ruling could very well benefit Democrats as they try to hang on to their razor-thin US House majority. The US Capitol.Stock photo via Getty Images The Ohio state Supreme Court threw out the state's GOP-biased congressional district map.  The court found that lawmakers violated the state's anti-gerrymandering amendment.  The ruling is a silver lining for House Demcorats as they try to hang on to a razor-thing majority. The Ohio State Supreme Court has thrown out Republican-drawn congressional district maps.Friday's 4-3 ruling marks the first time this redistricting cycle that a court has rejected a state's proposed congressional district maps. The ruling could very well benefit Democrats as they try to hang on to their razor-thin US House majority."When the dealer stacks the deck in advance, the house usually wins," wrote Justice Michael Donnelly in the court's opinion. "That perhaps explains how a party that generally musters no more than 55% of the statewide popular vote is positioned to reliably win anywhere from 75 percent to 80% of the seats in the Ohio congressional delegation. By any rational measure, that skewed result just does not add up."Ohio, currently represented by 12 Republicans and four Democrats in Congress, lost a House seat as a result of the 2020 Census. The map drawn by Ohio Republicans had 13 Republican-leaning districts and two heavily Democratic districts based in Cleveland and Columbus. It eliminated Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan's Youngstown-based district, made Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur's district more Republican, and split Hamilton County, home to Cincinnati, into three different GOP-leaning congressional districts represented by Republicans. Dave Wasserman, the House editor at the Cook Political Report and an expert on congressional districting, said Democrats could end up netting two or three more seats out of a new map.Democrats hold a five-seat House majority, so any ground they can make up or maintain in the once-in-a-decade redrawing of districts is vital to keeping the chamber. Republicans already have the wind of history at their backs given the trend of the president's party typically struggling in a midterm election.—Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) January 14, 2022 In its opinion, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that lawmakers failed to heed the will of voters who passed an anti-gerrymandering constitutional amendment in 2018 which says leaders cannot create maps that "unduly favors or disfavors a political party or its incumbents.""The bill resulted in districts in which undue political bias is—whether viewed through the lens of expert statistical analysis or by application of simple common sense—at least as if not more likely to favor Republican candidates than the 2011 reapportionment that impelled Ohio's constitutional reforms," Donnelly wrote.Friday's ruling comes a few days after the state Supreme Court struck down Ohio's new state legislative district maps for being gerrymandered. The Columbus Dispatch reported that the Ohio Supreme Court's Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor was a key vote in the 4-3 decision to reject the map. Ohio lawmakers now have 30 days to redraw a new map. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytJan 14th, 2022

Former ACLU lawyer running for Texas Attorney General on a pro-choice platform says her pregnancy inspired her campaign

Rochelle Garza tells Insider that her pregnancy helped inspire her bid for Texas attorney general, an office Republicans have held for 30 years. Former ACLU lawyer Rochelle Garza is running to be the first Latina attorney general in Texas.Verónica G. Cárdenas for Insider Rochelle Garza tells Insider that her pregnancy helped inspire her bid for Texas attorney general.  If she wins, the former ACLU lawyer could become the first Latina elected to statewide office in Texas.  Republicans have held the office for 30 years.  In early November, former civil liberties attorney Rochelle Garza went from vying for an open congressional seat in a safe Democratic district along the U.S.-Mexico border in South Texas to entering the race for Texas Attorney General,  an office that Republicans have held for 30 years. A political novice, Garza is best known as the former American Civil Liberties Union attorney who successfully sued the Trump administration on behalf of a detained teenager who was seeking an abortion, and for testifying against Justice Brett Kavanagh, who had ruled against her in that case, at his Supreme Court confirmation hearing.Weeks earlier, in October, Republican lawmakers in Texas had seemingly upended Garza's political prospects when they unveiled new redistricting maps that diluted the power of communities of color, which accounted for 95% of the state's population growth, and increased the number of majority-white Republican districts. The newly drawn maps made the neighboring seat more competitive, leading the Democrat who represented that district, Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, to run in Garza's home turf. (In early December, the U.S. Department of Justice sued Texas over the maps, calling them discriminatory.)In response, Garza decided to aim for an even bigger job. Garza reached the decision, she told Insider, after discovering she was pregnant. "It's so much more personal. I think a lot about what the future holds and what's at stake for democracy, civil rights, the Constitution," said Garza. News of the pregnancy, which she and her husband welcomed as a "blessing," only strengthened Garza's conviction that abortion is a healthcare issue between a person and their doctor. "I don't think anyone understands pregnancy unless they have gone through it. That is a lesson learned from all the things that are happening to my body," said Garza.Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (right) at his 2015 swearing-in, alongside outgoing Attorney General Greg Abbott (seated) who is now the Texas governor.Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty ImagesShe describes choice as an issue of respecting a pregnant person's humanity, adding, "I can't imagine what some of my clients were going through."  For decades, the Texas attorney general has been at the forefront of conservative and right-wing policy priorities nationally. Attorney General Ken Paxton, who's in his second term, has waged legal battles against vaccine and mask mandates; challenged the 2020 presidential election results, with tactics that included suing other states; and defended Texas' the states' recent abortion law, the nation's most restrictive, which bans abortion after six weeks, before most people know they are pregnant, and allows private citizens to sue anyone who "aids and abets" someone getting the procedure. Paxton took office in 2015 after Greg Abbott, who became Texas governor. Paxton has faced felony fraud charges for thr past six years, but has not yet faced trial. Jane Doe and the 'Garza Notice'In 2017, Garza represented a 17-year-old immigrant teenager, later known as Jane Doe, who was seeking a legal abortion while in government detention. After officials with U.S. Health and Human Services, which oversees the shelter system, refused to release her to undergo the procedure, Garza sued on the teen's behalf. A federal judge ruled in favor of Jane, but the Trump administration appealed. A panel of judges at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the government, but when the case was heard by the full appeals court, Garza's side prevailed.  Paxton, the Texas attorney general, would later argue to the U.S. Supreme Court that the appeals court had been wrong and that immigrants have no constitutional right to abortion. One of the judges who had ruled against Garza was Brett Kavanaugh, who argued that at issue was allowing access to "a new right" for unlawful immigrant minors. The following year, Trump nominated Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.Garza's client underwent the procedure. The case also led to the establishment of what is now known the "Garza notice," a government policy for informing pregnant teens in shelters and detention centers of their rights to abortion services and regulations for abiding by the court ruling in the context of Texas' restrictive abortion ban. Rochelle Garza testifying at Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee about how she helped an undocumented teenage girl fight for an abortion.J. Scott Applewhite/AP PhotoTo Garza, a clear line connects her work with teenage immigrants and the abortion cases the Supreme Court has considered this session."The erosion of rights begins with the most marginalized. With the Jane case, she was someone who, clearly, the Trump administration, Ken Paxton, and Brett Kavanaugh, did not think she mattered, and that her rights didn't matter, but they did," Garza told Insider. "And that's what we have to focus on, because if we don't protect someone like her who is the most vulnerable, what chance is there for the rest of us?"On Friday, the Supreme Court ruled that abortion providers could challenge the Texas law, which is considered the most restrictive in the nation, but left it in effect. A 'women's full pursuit'A recent Politico article drawn from interviews with dozens of Democratic strategists suggested that abortion rights are unlikely to galvanize the party's base "unless — and perhaps not even then — Roe is completely overturned."Until then, voters are more motivated on issues of employment and healthcare, and wealthy people in states that have blocked abortion access will be able to travel out of state for services. A recent Texas Tribune poll found that 46% of Texas voters disapproved of how "state leaders have handled abortion policy, while 39% approved. Garza disclosed her pregnancy on the day the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a challenge to Mississippi's abortion law, which bans abortion services after 15 weeks. Unlike the Texas law, which was written to evade federal review by placing the onus on private citizens, advocates believe the Mississippi case could lead to the court overturning Roe v. Wade. In a court briefing, Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch wrote that the precedent protecting abortion "out-of-date.""Innumerable women and mothers have reached the highest echelons of economic and social life independent of the right endorsed in those cases," Fitch continued. "Sweeping policy advances now promote women's full pursuit of both career and family."Protesters march down Congress Ave outside the Texas state capitol on May 29, 2021, after the governor signed a bill banning most abortions.Sergio Flores/Getty ImagesGarza seemingly embodies Mississippi's argument. With a supportive husband, she has leveraged her legal practice into a political career. All while pregnant.But in Garza's view, individual success does not erase the constitutional right to reproductive care or persistent systemic inequities. For Garza, abortion rights go hand in hand with expanding access to healthcare, child care,  and family leave. Texas has one of the highest rates of uninsured and one of the highest rates of children living in poverty. The maternal mortality rate is above the national average. After a state committee recommended the state expand Medicaid coverage to pregnant people from 60 days to one year, the state legislature extended coverage to six months.  At Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing, Garza invoked her client, Jane Doe: "She was alone and completely under the physical control of the federal government and at the mercy of decision-makers that knew nothing of what it was like to be her." 'They have the confidence'Garza hails from one of the poorest counties in Texas, the daughter of two teachers. Her father, the son of farmers, later became a state district judge. Her great-grandmother was a mid-wife and country doctor, informally trained to attend to people living on nearby farms. At Garza's ancestral house where red chili plants bloom in the front yard and pomegranates ripen from the vine, Garza's uncle Jesus Reyes Garza, a Vietnam Veteran, searches for a thread about the women in his family, and says matter-of-factly, "legends."Garza's campaign is built around taking on what she views as the entrenched structural inequities that transfer power into the hands of the few. Jesus Reyes Garza, the candidate's uncle.Verónica G. Cárdenas for InsiderJust one Latina, Lena Guerrero Aguirre, has ever held statewide office in Texas, according to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials – and she was appointed. Most of the state's top officials are white, even though white and Latino Texans account for about the same percent of the population.There are structural impediments to any Latina who seeks office in Texas, and researchers have found that women of color "fare worse" in statewide contests. In addition to the redistricting maps that come from the Republican-controlled state legislature, politics experts say that Latina Democrats who run for office must also overcome a host of impediments, including from their own party. "Democratic party leaders may not coalesce around a candidate of color out of fear of alienating white voters,." she writes, Kira Sanbonmatsu, a senior scholar at the Center for American Women and Politics in "Why Not a Woman of Color?: The Candidacies of US Women of Color for Statewide Executive Office." Texas Democratic consultant, James Aldrete, places Garza among the small but growing ranks of Latina maverick candidates that also includes Harris County judge Lina Hidalgo, who unseated a veteran incumbent to become the administrator of a county that includes Houston. "No one encouraged Lina, no one recruited her. She won and she is amazingly talented," said Aldrete. "If we are going to change things in Texas, it's going to take courage." There are also generational differences at play that can impede Latina voters from coalescing being a Latina candidate.Sharon A. Navarro, a professor of political science at the University of Texas at San Antonio, says some of this harkens back to the civil rights era, before Roe vs. Wade, when Latinas were expected to volunteer with grassroots causes while the men ran for political office. "When they meet older generation Latinas they often get asked the question, 'who is taking care of your children?'" she said. "The younger Latinas are ready. They have that confidence, they have law degrees. They are just the missing support and that structure."Rochelle Garza (second from right) talks to voters in Brownsville, Texas during her congressional campaign on Sept. 24, 2021.Eric Gay/AP PhotoGarza is the only woman and only Latina in a crowded March 1 Democratic primary. She is expected to face off against Galveston mayor, Joe Jaworski, who launched his campaign a year ago, and civil rights attorney Lee Merritt who represented the family of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who was murdered by white vigilantes while he was jogging in Georgia. While right-to-life groups that have sounded the alarm about Garza's candidacy, Garza is likely the least well-known. This week, Emily's List, which supports candidates who back abortion rights, endorsed Garza.  Former state supreme court justice Eva Guzman, also a Latina, is running on the Republican ticket. Guzman has billed herself as a tough law enforcement officer whose life history is rooted in an aspirational immigrant story. She is challenging Paxton, alongside candidates that includes George P. Bush, the Latino son of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and the nephew of George W. Bush, the former president and Texas governor. University of Houston researcher Brandon Rottinghaus, author of the report "Six Myths of Texas Latinx Republicans," says the party has expanded its Latino constituency, in part, by side-stepping issues of inequity, to appeal to aspirational and pro-business sentiment. "Republicans never talked about racial impact of policy or how structural racism exists in many policies that exist," he said. Garza says that her pregnancy has made the disparities more evident. She noticed the pregnant women working at the grocery store, the ice cream shop, the fast-food drive thru. In them she thought about issues of access to health care, family leave, and child care that cut across class and race. "We expect women to bear children, rear children and maintain jobs," said Garza. "But we don't expect that job to be Attorney General of Texas and that's obviously wrong and that's why we get laws that are harmful to women and that's what I'm trying to change." Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 12th, 2021

Risk Cracks After Moderna CEO Comments Spark Global Stock Rout

Risk Cracks After Moderna CEO Comments Spark Global Stock Rout Ask a drug dealer if methadone helps cure a cocaine addition and - shockingly - you will hear that the answer is "hell no", after all an affirmative response would mean the fixer needs to get a real job. Just as shocking was the "admission" of Moderna CEO, Stéphane Bancel, who in the latest stop on his media whirlwind tour of the past 48 hours gave the FT an interview in which he predicted that existing vaccines will be much less effective at tackling Omicron than earlier strains of coronavirus and warned it would take months before pharmaceutical companies could manufacture new variant-specific jabs at scale. “There is no world, I think, where [the effectiveness] is the same level . . . we had with [the] Delta [variant],” Bancel told the Financial Times, claiming that the high number of Omicron mutations on the spike protein, which the virus uses to infect human cells, and the rapid spread of the variant in South Africa suggested that the current crop of vaccines may need to be modified next year. Here, the self-serving CEO whose sell-mode was fully engaged - after all what else would the maker of a vaccine for covid say than "yes, the world will need more of my product" - completely ignored the earlier comments from Barry Schoub, chairman of South Afruca's Ministerial Advisory Committee on Vaccines, who over the weekend said that the large number of mutations found in the omicron variant appears to destabilize the virus, which might make it less “fit” than the dominant delta strain. As such, it would be a far less virulent strain... but of course that would also reduce the need for Moderna's mRNA therapy and so Bancel failed to mention it. What is grotesque is that the Moderna CEO’s comments on existing vaccines’ effectiveness against the omicron variant is “old news so should be a fade,” says Prashant Newnaha, a senior Asia-Pacific rates strategist at TD Securities in Singapore. Indeed as Bloomberg notes, Bancel reiterated comments made by Moderna’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Burton during the weekend. Alas, the last thing algos care about is nuance and/or reading between the lines, and so moments after Bancel's interview hit, markets hit risk off mode on Tuesday, and yesterday’s bounce in markets immediately reversed amid fresh worries about the efficacy of currently available vaccines with U.S. equity futures dropping along with stocks in Europe. Bonds gained as investors sought havens. After dropping as much as 1.2%, S&P futures pared losses to -0.7%, down 37 points just above 4,600. Dow Eminis were down 339 points or 1% and Nasdaq was down -0.8%. Adding to concerns is Fed Chair Jerome Powell who today will speak, alongside Janet Yellen, at the Senate Banking Committee in congressional oversight hearings related to pandemic stimulus. Last night Powell made a dovish pivot saying the new variant poses downside risks to employment and growth while adding to uncertainty about inflation. Powell's comments dragged yields lower and hit bank stocks overnight. “The market’s reaction to reports such as Moderna’s suggest the ball is still very much in the court of proving that this will not escalate,” said Patrick Bennett, head of macro strategy for Asia at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in Hong Kong. “Until that time, mode is to sell recoveries in risk and not to try and pick the extent of the selloff” U.S. airline and cruiseliner stocks dropped in premarket trading Tuesday, after vaccine maker Moderna’s top executives reiterated that the omicron variant of the coronavirus may require new vaccines. Most U.S. airline stocks were down: Alaska Air -5%, United -3.2%, American -3%, Spirit -2.7%, Delta -2.6%, JetBlue -2.6%, Southwest -1.7%. Here are some other notable movers today: U.S. banks decline in premarket trading following comments from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell that may push back bets on when the central bank will raise rates. Citigroup (C US) -2.4%, JPMorgan (JPM US) -2.2%, Morgan Stanley (MS US) -2.6% Vaccine manufacturers mixed in U.S. premarket trading after rallying in recent days and following further comments from Moderna about treating the new omicron Covid-19 variant. Pfizer (PFE US) +1.6%, Novavax  (NVAS US) +1.3%, Moderna (MRNA US) -3.8% U.S. airline and cruiseliner stocks dropped in premarket trading Tuesday, after vaccine maker Moderna’s top executives reiterated that the omicron variant of the coronavirus may require new vaccines. Alaska Air (ALK US) -5%, United (UAL US) -3.2%, American (AAL US) -3% Krystal Biotech (KRYS US) jumped 4.3% in postmarket trading on Monday, extending gains after a 122% jump during the regular session. The company is offering $200m of shares via Goldman Sachs, BofA, Cowen, William Blair, according to a postmarket statement MEI Pharma (MEIP US) gained 8% postmarket after the cancer-treatment company said it will hold a webcast Tuesday to report on data from the ongoing Phase 2 Tidal study evaluating zandelisib in patients with relapsed or refractory follicular lymphoma Intuit (INTU US) declined 3.4% postmarket after holder Dan Kurzius, co-founder of Mailchimp, offered the stake via Goldman Sachs In Europe, the Stoxx 600 index fell to almost a seven-week low. Cyclical sectors including retail, travel and carmakers were among the biggest decliners, while energy stocks tumbled as crude oil headed for the worst monthly loss this year; every industry sector fell led by travel stocks. Earlier in the session, the Asia Pacific Index dropped 0.6% while the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index lost 1.5% to finish at its weakest level since May 2016. Asian stocks erased early gains to head for a third day of losses on fresh concerns that existing Covid-19 vaccines will be less effective at tackling the omicron variant. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index extended its fall to nearly 1% after having risen as much as 0.8% earlier on Tuesday. The current crop of vaccines may need to be modified next year, Moderna Chief Executive Officer Stephane Bancel said in an interview with the Financial Times, adding that it may take months before pharmaceutical firms can manufacture new variant-specific jabs at scale. U.S. futures also reversed gains. Property and consumer staples were the worst-performing sectors on the regional benchmark. Key gauges in Hong Kong and South Korea were the biggest losers in Asia, with the Kospi index erasing all of its gains for this year. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index lost 1.5% to finish at its weakest level since May 2016. The fresh bout of selling offset early optimism spurred by data showing China’s factory sentiment improved in November. “With the slower vaccination rate and more limited health-care capacity in the region, uncertainty from the new omicron variant may seem to bring about higher economic risks for the region at a time where it is shifting towards further reopening,” said Jun Rong Yeap, a market strategist at IG Asia Pte. Asia’s stock benchmark is now down 3.5% for the month, set for its worst performance since July, as nervousness remains over the U.S. Federal Reserve’s tapering schedule and the potential economic impact of the omicron variant. “Moderna is one of the primary mRNA vaccines out there, so the risk-off sentiment is justified,” said Kelvin Wong, an analyst at CMC Markets (Singapore) Pte. Liquidity is thinner going into the end of the year, so investors are “thinking it’s wise to take some money off the table,” he added Japanese equities fell, reversing an earlier gain to cap their third-straight daily loss, after a report cast doubt on hopes for a quick answer to the omicron variant of the coronavirus. Telecoms and electronics makers were the biggest drags on the Topix, which dropped 1%, erasing an earlier gain of as much as 1.5%. Fast Retailing and SoftBank Group were the largest contributors to a 1.6% loss in the Nikkei 225. The yen strengthened about 0.4% against the dollar, reversing an earlier loss. Japanese stocks advanced earlier in the day, following U.S. peers higher as a relative sense of calm returned to global markets. Tokyo share gains reversed quickly in late afternoon trading after a Financial Times report that Moderna’s Chief Executive Officer Stephane Bancel said a new vaccine may be needed to fight omicron. “The report of Moderna CEO’s remarks has bolstered an overall movement toward taking off risk,” said SMBC Trust Bank analyst Masahiro Yamaguchi. “Market participants will probably be analyzing information on vaccines and the new virus variant for the next couple of weeks, so shares will likely continue to fluctuate on these headlines.” In FX, the dollar dropped alongside commodity-linked currencies while the yen and gold climbed and bitcoin surged as safe havens were bid. The yen swung to a gain after Moderna Inc.’s chief executive Stephane Bancel was quoted by the Financial Times saying existing vaccines may not be effective enough to tackle the omicron variant. Commodity-linked currencies including the Aussie, kiwi and Norwegian krone all declined, underperforming the dollar In rates, treasuries held gains after flight-to-quality rally extended during Asia session and European morning, when bunds and gilts also benefited from haven flows. Stocks fell after Moderna CEO predicted waning vaccine efficacy. Intermediates lead gains, with yields richer by nearly 6bp across 7-year sector; 10-year Treasuries are richer by 5.6bp at 1.443%, vs 2.5bp for German 10-year, 4.7bp for U.K. Long-end may draw support from potential for month-end buying; Bloomberg Treasury index rebalancing was projected to extend duration by 0.11yr as of Nov. 22. Expectations of month-end flows may support the market, and Fed Chair Powell is slated to testify to a Senate panel.       In commodities, crude futures are off their late-Asia lows but remain in the red. WTI trades close to $68.30, stalling near Friday’s lows; Brent is off over 2.5% near $71.50. Spot gold rises ~$11 near $1,796/oz. Base metals are mixed: LME zinc outperforms, rising as much as 1.6%.  To the day ahead now, and the main central bank highlight will be Fed Chair Powell’s appearance before the Senate Banking Committee, alongside Treasury Secretary Yellen. In addition, we’ll hear from Fed Vice Chair Clarida, the Fed’s Williams, the ECB’s Villeroy and de Cos, and the BoE’s Mann. On the data side, we’ll get the flash November CPI reading for the Euro Area today, as well as the readings from France and Italy. In addition, there’s data on German unemployment for November, Canadian GDP for Q3, whilst in the US there’s the Conference Board’s consumer confidence measure for November, the FHFA house price index for September, and the MNI Chicago PMI for November. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures down 1.2% to 4,595.00 STOXX Europe 600 down 1.4% to 460.47 MXAP down 0.5% to 190.51 MXAPJ down 0.6% to 620.60 Nikkei down 1.6% to 27,821.76 Topix down 1.0% to 1,928.35 Hang Seng Index down 1.6% to 23,475.26 Shanghai Composite little changed at 3,563.89 Sensex down 0.2% to 57,122.74 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.2% to 7,255.97 Kospi down 2.4% to 2,839.01 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.36% Euro up 0.6% to $1.1362 Brent Futures down 3.0% to $71.26/bbl Brent Futures down 3.0% to $71.26/bbl Gold spot up 0.7% to $1,796.41 U.S. Dollar Index down 0.65% to 95.72 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Euro-area inflation surged to a record for the era of the single currency and exceeded all forecasts, adding to the European Central Bank’s challenge before a crucial meeting next month on the future of monetary stimulus. If the drop in government bond yields on Friday signaled how skittish markets were, fresh declines are leaving them looking no less nervous. One of Germany’s most prominent economists is urging the European Central Bank to be more transparent in outlining its exit from unprecedented monetary stimulus and argues that ruling out an end to negative interest rates next year may be a mistake. The Hong Kong dollar fell into the weak half of its trading band for the first time since December 2019 as the emergence of a new coronavirus variant hurt appetite for risk assets. A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asian equities traded mixed with early momentum seen following the rebound on Wall Street where risk assets recovered from Friday’s heavy selling pressure as liquidity conditions normalized post-Thanksgiving and after some of the Omicron fears abated given the mild nature in cases so far, while participants also digested a slew of data releases including better than expected Chinese Manufacturing PMI. However, markets were later spooked following comments from Moderna's CEO that existing vaccines will be much less effective against the Omicron variant. ASX 200 (+0.2%) was underpinned by early strength across its sectors aside from utilities and with gold miners also hampered by the recent lacklustre mood in the precious metal which failed to reclaim the USD 1800/oz level but remained in proximity for another attempt. In addition, disappointing Building Approvals and inline Net Exports Contribution data had little impact on sentiment ahead of tomorrow’s Q3 GDP release, although the index then faded most its gains after the comments from Moderna's CEO, while Nikkei 225 (-1.6%) was initially lifted by the recent rebound in USD/JPY but then slumped amid the broad risk aversion late in the session. Hang Seng (-1.6%) and Shanghai Comp. (Unch) were varied in which the mainland was kept afloat for most the session after a surprise expansion in Chinese Manufacturing PMI and a mild liquidity injection by the PBoC, with a central bank-backed publication also suggesting that recent open market operations demonstrates an ample liquidity goal, although Hong Kong underperformed on tech and property losses and with casino names pressured again as shares in junket operator Suncity slumped 37% on reopen from a trading halt in its first opportunity to react to the arrest of its Chairman. Finally, 10yr JGBs were initially contained following early momentum in stocks and somewhat inconclusive 2yr JGB auction which showed better results from the prior, albeit at just a marginal improvement, but then was underpinned on a haven bid after fears of the Omicron variant later resurfaced. Top Asian News China’s Biggest Crypto Exchange Picks Singapore as Asia Base SoftBank-Backed Snapdeal Targets $250 Million IPO in 2022 Omicron Reaches Nations From U.K. to Japan in Widening Spread Slump in China Gas Shows Spreading Impact of Property Slowdown Major European bourses are on the backfoot (Euro Stoxx 50 -1.5%; Stoxx 600 -1.5%) as COVID fears again take the spotlight on month-end. APAC markets were firmer for a large part of the overnight session, but thereafter the risk-off trigger was attributed to comments from Moderna's CEO suggesting that existing vaccines will be much less effective against the Omicron COVID strain. On this, some caveats worth keeping in mind - the commentary on the potential need for a vaccine does come from a vaccine maker, who could benefit from further global inoculation, whilst data on the new variant remains sparse. Meanwhile, WSJ reported Regeneron's and Eli Lilly's COVID antiviral cocktails had lost efficacy vs the Omicron variant - however, the extent to which will need to be subject to further testing. Furthermore, producers appear to be confident that they will be able to adjust their products to accommodate the new variant, albeit the timeline for mass production will not be immediate. Nonetheless, the sullied sentiment has persisted throughout the European morning and has also seeped into US equity futures: the cyclically bias RTY (-1.7%) lags the ES (-1.0%) and YM (-1.3%), whilst the tech-laden NQ (-0.5%) is cushioned by the slump in yields. Back to Europe, broad-based losses are seen across the majors. Sectors tilt defensive but to a lesser extent than seen at the European cash open. Travel & Leisure, Oil & Gas, and Retail all sit at the bottom of the bunch amid the potential implications of the new COVID variant. Tech benefits from the yield play, which subsequently weighs on the Banking sector. The retail sector is also weighed on by Spanish giant Inditex (-4.3%) following a CEO reshuffle. In terms of other movers, Glencore (-0.9%) is softer after Activist investor Bluebell Capital Partners called on the Co. to spin off its coal business and divest non-core assets. In a letter seen by the FT, Glencore was also asked to improve corporate governance. In terms of equity commentary, analysts at JPM suggest investors should take a more nuanced view on reopening as the bank expects post-COVID normalisation to gradually asset itself over the course of 2022. The bank highlights hawkish central bank policy shifts as the main risk to their outlook. Thus, the analysts see European equities outperforming the US, whilst China is seen outpacing EMs. JPM targets S&P 500 at 5,050 (closed at 4,655.27 yesterday) by the end of 2022 with EPS at USD 240 – marking a 14% increase in annual EPS. Top European News Omicron Reaches Nations From U.K. to Japan in Widening Spread ECB Bosses Lack Full Diplomatic Immunity, EU’s Top Court Says Adler Keeps Investors Waiting for Answers on Fraud Claims European Gas Prices Surge Above 100 Euros With Eyes on Russia In FX, the Greenback may well have been grounded amidst rebalancing flows on the final trading day of November, as bank models are flagging a net sell signal, albeit relatively weak aside from vs the Yen per Cit’s index, but renewed Omicron concerns stoked by Moderna’s CEO casting considerable doubt about the efficacy of current vaccines against the new SA strain have pushed the Buck back down in any case. Indeed, the index has now retreated further from its 2021 apex set less than a week ago and through 96.000 to 95.662, with only the Loonie and Swedish Krona underperforming within the basket, and the Antipodean Dollars plus Norwegian Crown in wider G10 circles. Looking at individual pairings, Usd/Jpy has reversed from the high 113.00 area and breached a Fib just below the round number on the way down to circa 112.68 for a marginal new m-t-d low, while Eur/Usd is back above 1.1350 having scaled a Fib at 1.1290 and both have left decent option expiries some distance behind in the process (1.6 bn at 113.80 and 1.3 bn between 1.1250-55 respectively). Elsewhere, Usd/Chf is eyeing 0.9175 irrespective of a slightly weaker than forecast Swiss KoF indicator and Cable has bounced firmly from the low 1.3300 zone towards 1.3375 awaiting commentary from BoE’s Mann. NZD/AUD/CAD - As noted above, the tables have turned for the Kiwi, Aussie and Loonie along with risk sentiment in general, and Nzd/Usd is now pivoting 0.6800 with little help from a deterioration in NBNZ business confidence or a decline in the activity outlook. Similarly, Aud/Usd has been undermined by much weaker than forecast building approvals and a smaller than anticipated current account surplus, but mostly keeping hold of the 0.7100 handle ahead of Q3 GDP and Usd/Cad has shot up from around 1.2730 to top 1.2800 at one stage in advance of Canadian growth data for the prior quarter and month of September as oil recoils (WTI to an even deeper trough only cents off Usd 67/brl). Back down under, 1 bn option expiry interest at 1.0470 in Aud/Nzd could well come into play given that the cross is currently hovering near the base of a 1.0483-39 range. SCANDI/EM - The aforementioned downturn in risk appetite after Monday’s brief revival has hit the Sek and Nok hard, but the latter is also bearing the brunt of Brent’s latest collapse to the brink of Usd 70/brl at worst, while also taking on board that the Norges Bank plans to refrain from foreign currency selling through December having stopped midway through this month. The Rub is also feeling the adverse effect of weaker crude prices and ongoing geopolitical angst to the extent that hawkish CBR rhetoric alluding to aggressive tightening next month is hardly keeping it propped, but the Cnh and Cny continue to defy the odds or gravity in wake of a surprise pop back above 50.0 in China’s official manufacturing PMI. Conversely, the Zar is struggling to contain losses sub-16.0000 vs the Usd on SA virus-related factors even though Gold is approaching Usd 1800/oz again, while the Try is striving to stay within sight of 13.0000 following a slender miss in Turkish Q3 y/y GDP. In commodities, WTI and Brent front month futures are once again under pressure amid the aforementioned COVID jitters threatening the demand side of the equation, albeit the market remains in a state of uncertainty given how little is known about the new variant ahead of the OPEC+ confab. It is still unclear at this point in time which route OPEC+ members will opt for, but seemingly the feasible options on the table are 1) a pause in output hikes, 2) a smaller output hike, 3) maintaining current output hikes. Energy journalists have suggested the group will likely be influenced by oil price action, but nonetheless, the findings of the JTC and JMMC will be closely watched for the group's updated forecasts against the backdrop of COVID and the recently coordinated SPR releases from net oil consumers – a move which the US pledged to repeat if needed. Elsewhere, Iranian nuclear talks were reportedly somewhat constructive – according to the Russian delegate – with working groups set to meet today and tomorrow regarding the sanctions on Iran. This sentiment, however, was not reciprocated by Western sources (cited by WSJ), which suggested there was no clarity yet on whether the teams were ready for serious negotiations and serious concessions. WTI Jan resides around session lows near USD 67.50/bbl (vs high USD 71.22/bbl), while Brent Feb dipped under USD 71/bbl (vs high USD 84.56/bb). Over to metals, spot gold remains underpinned in European trade by the cluster of DMA's under USD 1,800/oz – including the 100 (USD 1,792/oz), 200 (USD 1,791/oz) and 50 (1,790/oz). Turning to base metals, LME copper is modestly softer around the USD 9,500/t mark, whilst Dalian iron ore futures meanwhile rose over 6% overnight, with traders citing increasing Chinese demand. US Event Calendar 9am: 3Q House Price Purchase Index QoQ, prior 4.9% 9am: Sept. FHFA House Price Index MoM, est. 1.2%, prior 1.0% 9am: Sept. Case Shiller Composite-20 YoY, est. 19.30%, prior 19.66%; S&P/CS 20 City MoM SA, est. 1.20%, prior 1.17% 9:45am: Nov. MNI Chicago PMI, est. 67.0, prior 68.4 10am: Nov. Conf. Board Consumer Confidenc, est. 111.0, prior 113.8 10am: Nov. Conf. Board Present Situation, prior 147.4 10am: Nov. Conf. Board Expectations, prior 91.3 Central Banks 10am: Powell, Yellen Testify Before Senate Panel on CARES Act Relief 10:30am: Fed’s Williams gives remarks at NY Fed food- insecurity event 1pm: Fed’s Clarida Discusses Fed Independence DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap Just as we go to print markets are reacting negatively to an interview with the Moderna CEO in the FT that has just landed where he said that with regards to Omicron, “There is no world, I think, where (the effectiveness) is the same level... we had with Delta…… I think it’s going to be a material drop (efficacy). I just don’t know how much because we need to wait for the data. But all the scientists I’ve talked to . . . are like ‘this is not going to be good’.”” This is not really new news relative to the last 3-4 days given what we know about the new mutation but the market is picking up on the explicit comments. In response S&P futures have gone from slightly up to down just over -0.5% and Treasury yields immediately dipped -4bps to 1.46%. The Nikkei has erased gains and is down around -1% and the Hang Seng is c.-1.8%. This is breaking news so check your screens after you read this. In China the official November PMI data came in stronger than expected with the Manufacturing PMI at 50.1 (49.7 consensus vs 49.2 previous) and the non-manufacturing PMI at 52.3 (51.5 consensus vs 52.4 previous). The negative headlines above as we go to print followed a market recovery yesterday as investors hoped that the Omicron variant wouldn’t prove as bad as initially feared. In reality, the evidence is still incredibly limited on this question, and nothing from the Moderna CEO overnight changes that. However the more positive sentiment was also evident from the results of our flash poll in yesterday’s EMR where we had 1569 responses so very many thanks. The poll showed that just 10% thought it would still be the biggest topic in financial markets by the end of the year, with 30% instead thinking it’ll largely be forgotten about. The other 60% thought it would still be an issue but only of moderate importance. So if that’s correct and our respondents are a fair reflection of broader market sentiment, then it points to some big downside risks ahead if we get notable bad news on the variant. For the record I would have been with the majority with tendencies towards the largely forgotten about answer. So I will be as off-side as much as most of you on the variant downside risk scenario. When I did a similar poll on Evergrande 2 and a half months ago, only 8% thought it would be significantly impacting markets a month later with 78% in aggregate thinking limited mention/impact, and 15% thinking it would have no impact. So broadly similar responses and back then the 15% were most correct although the next 78% weren’t far off. In terms of the latest developments yesterday, we’re still waiting to find out some of the key pieces of information about this new strain, including how effective vaccines still are, and about the extent of any increased risk of transmission, hospitalisation and death. Nevertheless, countries around the world are continuing to ramp up their own responses as they await this information. President Biden laid out the US strategy for tackling Omicron in a public address yesterday, underscoring the variant was a cause for concern rather than panic. He noted travel bans from certain jurisdictions would remain in place to buy authorities time to evaluate the variant, but did not anticipate that further travel bans or domestic lockdowns would be implemented, instead urging citizens to get vaccinated or a booster shot. Over in Europe, Bloomberg reported that EU leaders were discussing whether to have a virtual summit on Friday about the issue, and Poland moved to toughen up their own domestic restrictions, with a 50% capacity limit on restaurants, hotels, gyms and cinemas. In Germany, Chancellor Merkel and Vice Chancellor Scholz will be meeting with state premiers today, whilst the UK government’s vaccination committee recommended that every adult be eligible for a booster shot, rather than just the over-40s at present. Boosters have done a tremendous job in dramatically reducing cases in the elder cohort in the UK in recent weeks so one by product of Omicron is that it may accelerate protection in a wider age group everywhere. Assuming vaccines have some impact on Omicron this could be a positive development, especially if symptoms are less bad. Markets recovered somewhat yesterday, with the S&P 500 gaining +1.32% to recover a large portion of Friday’s loss. The index was driven by mega-cap tech names, with the Nasdaq up +1.88% and small cap stocks underperforming, with the Russell 2000 down -0.18%, so the market wasn’t completely pricing out omicron risks by any means. Nevertheless, Covid-specific names performed how you would expect given the improved sentiment; stay-at-home trades that outperformed Friday fell, including Zoom (-0.56%), Peloton (-4.35%), and HelloFresh (-0.8%), while Moderna (+11.80%) was the biggest winner following the weekend news that a reformulated vaccine could be available in early 2022. Elsewhere, Twitter (-2.74%) initially gained after it was announced CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey would be stepping down, but trended lower throughout the rest of the day. The broader moves put the index back in positive territory for the month as we hit November’s last trading day today. Europe saw its own bounceback too, with the STOXX 600 up +0.69%. Over in rates, the partial unwind of Friday’s moves was even smaller, with yields on 10yr Treasuries moving up +2.6bps to 1.50%, driven predominantly by real rates, as inflation breakevens were a touch narrower across the curve. One part of the curve that didn’t retrace Friday’s move was the short end, where markets continued to push Fed rate hikes back ever so slightly, with the first full hike now being priced for September (though contracts as early as May still price some meaningful probability of Fed hikes). We may see some further movements today as well, with Fed Chair Powell set to appear before the Senate Banking Committee at 15:00 London time, where he may well be asked about whether the Fed plans to accelerate the tapering of their asset purchases although it’s hard to believe he’ll go too far with any guidance with the Omicron uncertainty. The Chair’s brief planned testimony was published on the Fed’s website last night. It struck a slightly more hawkish tone on inflation, noting that the Fed’s forecast was for elevated inflation to persist well into next year and recognition that high inflation imposes burdens on those least able to handle them. On omicron, the testimony predictably stated it posed risks that could slow the economy’s progress, but tellingly on the inflation front, it could intensify supply chain disruptions. The real fireworks will almost certainly come in the question and answer portion of the testimony. The bond moves were more muted in Europe though, with yields on 10yr bunds (+2.0bps), OATs (+1.0bps) and BTPs (+0.4bps) only seeing a modest increase. Crude oil prices also didn’t bounce back with as much rigor as equities. Brent gained +0.99% while WTI futures increased +2.64%. They are back down -1 to -1.5% this morning. Elsewhere in DC, Senator Joe Manchin noted that Democrats could raise the debt ceiling on their own through the reconciliation process, but indicated a preference for the increase not to be included in the build back better bill, for which his support still seems lukewarm. We’re approaching crucial deadlines on the debt ceiling and financing the federal government, so these headlines should become more commonplace over the coming days. There were some further developments on the inflation front yesterday as Germany reported that inflation had risen to +6.0% in November (vs. +5.5% expected) on the EU-harmonised measure, and up from +4.6% in October. The German national measure also rose to +5.2% (vs. +5.0% expected), which was the highest since 1992. Speaking of Germany, Bloomberg reported that the shortlist for the Bundesbank presidency had been narrowed down to 4 candidates, which included Isabel Schnabel of the ECB’s Executive Board, and Joachim Nagel, who’s currently the Deputy Head of the Banking Department at the Bank for International Settlements. Today we’ll likely get some further headlines on inflation as the flash estimate for the entire Euro Area comes out, as well as the numbers for France and Italy. There wasn’t much in the way of other data yesterday, though UK mortgage approvals fell to 67.2k in October (vs. 70.0k expected), which is their lowest level since June 2020. Separately, US pending home sales were up +7.5% in October (vs. +1.0% expected), whilst the Dallas Fed’s manufacturing activity index for November unexpectedly fell to 11.8 (vs. 15.0 expected). Finally, the European Commission’s economic sentiment indicator for the Euro Area dipped to 117.5 in November as expected, its weakest level in 6 months. To the day ahead now, and the main central bank highlight will be Fed Chair Powell’s appearance before the Senate Banking Committee, alongside Treasury Secretary Yellen. In addition, we’ll hear from Fed Vice Chair Clarida, the Fed’s Williams, the ECB’s Villeroy and de Cos, and the BoE’s Mann. On the data side, we’ll get the flash November CPI reading for the Euro Area today, as well as the readings from France and Italy. In addition, there’s data on German unemployment for November, Canadian GDP for Q3, whilst in the US there’s the Conference Board’s consumer confidence measure for November, the FHFA house price index for September, and the MNI Chicago PMI for November. Tyler Durden Tue, 11/30/2021 - 07:50.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 30th, 2021

Sunday Collum: 2021 Year In Review, Part 1 - Crisis Of Authority & The Age Of Narratives

Sunday Collum: 2021 Year In Review, Part 1 - Crisis Of Authority & The Age Of Narratives Authored by David B. Collum, Betty R. Miller Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology - Cornell University (Email: dbc6@cornell.edu, Twitter: @DavidBCollum), Dave: You do lack self control, but I learned and laughed making my way thru this. ~ Larry Summers (@LHSummers), former Secretary of the Treasury Every year, David Collum writes a detailed “Year in Review” synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year’s is no exception. Introduction I’ve been trying to reach you about your car’s extended warranty. What began more than a dozen years ago as a synopsis of the year’s events in markets and finance for a few friends morphed beyond my control into a Year in Review (YIR)—an attempt to chronicle human folly and world events for the entire year. It captures key moments before they slip into the brain fog. The process of trying to write a coherent narrative helps me better understand WTF just happened and seminal moments that catch my eye. By far my favorite end-of-year recap for the last ten years. Finished it yesterday. Once again David hasn’t disappointed. He’s on my I want to go to dinner with list. ~ Jim Pallotta (@jimpallotta13), money manager and former owner of Boston Celtics I’m game, Jim, even if it’s just a pretzel, nachos, and a brewski. The title, “Crisis of Authorities,” is a double entendre. On the one hand, previously trusted authorities that we relied on to better understand the world are long gone. Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, and Tim Russert have been replaced with Chris Cuomo, Don Lemon, and Brian Stelter. Oops. Scratch Chris Cuomo. Ponder the following: which acronymed organization do you still trust? FBI? CIA? FEMA? DOJ? CBS? ABC? Fox? CNN? At one point I would have comfortably offered up the CDC, FDA, and NIH. Portions of those three should be razed. Social media offered up one acceptable answer: KFC. The second, more deeply disturbing meaning is that smoldering socialism has veered toward authoritarianism, a seismic shift that is global and quite possibly unstoppable. 2021: The year liberals threw eggs at black politicians, republicans pushed to legalize pot, conservatives declared “my body, my choice”, and libertarians muttered, “just shoot me now.” I am suffering future shock—the struggle to adapt to an abruptly changing world. Topics that seemed farcical not long ago are less entertaining now. Silly events in public schools and college campuses loosely defined as political correctness have morphed into religious wars. Progress was made in the Cancel Culture Wars. They tried to get Joe Rogan and couldn’t put a glove on him. The populace and the workers at Netflix went after Dave Chappelle and learned that not everybody kowtows: If this is what being canceled is like, I love it… To the transgender community, I am more than willing to give you an audience, but you will not summon me. I am not bending to anybody’s demands. ~ Dave Chappelle, wisdom Politicians groping for their vig—10% for the Big Guy—have mutated into total MAC (Mutually Assured Corruption). Social contagions are more virulent than biological pathogens. Attempts to stem the movements are emblematic of proto-authoritarianism of the past. I am unable to keep up—unable to even catch my breath on some days. Following up after listening to a widely distributed QTR podcast, a friend and long-time YIR reader asked, “Are you OK?” I said I was fine, but on further reflection realized I was not so sure. You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks. ~ Winston Churchill (@DeadGuy) I have lost friends and made new ones all because of the Great Partisan Divide. (Please excuse the caps throughout; everything now seems to demand a proper name and acronym.) My colleagues have put to rest doubts about whether I am nuts, noting that I am contrarian on all topics. Of course, they don’t hear about the ones for which I have no gripe, but their assertions are not entirely wrong. Friends let me be me, but there is something isolating about it. By contrast, I have many friends in the digital world for which the Venn Diagram of Ideas has a much greater overlap. You can have friends without ever seeing them in the flesh, but these digital pals become bucket-listers for me to meet. Some accept my invitation to have dinner on my deck overseeing Cayuga Lake. Try explaining to your wife that you are having dinner with some guy you met on the internet. This has included famous people like David Einhorn, Tony Deden, Cate Long, and Doug Noland as well as walk-ins whom I knew nothing about until they showed up with a bottle of wine. They have, without fail, brought rewarding evenings of lively chat. Disclaimer: Opinions and ideas expressed herein are not my own. I also don’t use asterisks, so you are just going to have to grow a f*cking pair. If this message is lost because you have sh*t for brains, my advice is to stop reading now. Philosophy. I have let go of the belief that I know truth, because I am relentlessly doubting the veracity of the data from which my narrative derives. In the Age of Narratives, all I can offer is Dave’s Narrative. There is also no topic in the Year of Our Lord 2021 in which my opinion is non-partisan because all opinions are now partisan. Consequently, I may come off as a right-wing white supremacist who moonlights as a Russian operative while serving up nostrums characteristic of an anti-war ex-hippie. This guy is so left wing that he doesn’t even understand his own bias. ~ Rich Weatherford, commenter on a podcast   The surest way to make a monkey of a man is to quote him. ~ Richard Benchley My attempt to create a Unified Theory of Everything is very much like building a jumbo jet in mid-flight. In science, when your model is right, it starts playing like the tail end of a game of Solitaire or a jigsaw puzzle—the cards and pieces naturally fall into place. If the nothing makes sense no matter how hard you try, it may be time to tear down that Rube Goldberg structure and start from a fresh perspective. My greatest strength and weakness are an ability to entertain almost any idea—entertain conspiracy theories and scamper down rabbit holes—until I hit paydirt or hardpan. Feel free to call me a conspiracy theorist; it helps me identify narrow-minded boneheads. What baffles me is why “conspiracy” is so pejorative. Men and women of wealth and power conspire. Anybody who cannot concede that point is an intellectual dingleberry (or works for the Deep State!) Alex Jones got more right than CNN. ~ Dave Smith, comic and possible presidential candidate   Conspiracy theorists of the world, believers in the hidden hands of the Rothschilds and the Masons and the Illuminati, we skeptics owe you an apology. You were right. The players may be a little different, but your basic premise is correct: The world is a rigged game. ~ Matt Taibbi I am an openly white, right-leaning, closeted hand-sexual male with audacious opinions. I promise, however, that I will sling barbs without regard to race, creed, or color. If I think you are a douche bag, I will say so. When anger consumes me, however, it gives way to angst because somebody may have suckered me into playing a role in some higher authority’s master plan to disrupt the American Dream. As we are being dazzled by the Harlem Globe Trotters, recognize that we are the Washington Generals. Remember the olden days when the wealthy and powerful nefariously assaulted the unsuspecting populace? If caught, scandal followed, heads rolled, and we moved on, leaving us plebes with the sense that justice was served. Since the government was small relative to GDP, the systemic corruption represented a few percent of the system. It’s now growing like a tumor and devoid of consequences for the powerful. In the Age of Narratives, we snarf down platters of propaganda served by powerful media empires. This bread and circuses is free but leaves us marinating in ignorance. It’s a trap Mickey: the cheese is not free! The Western media is now the arm of the State, no better than Pravda. Failed business model led the media into the oldest profession. How many narratives have we fallen for? How many have you fallen for? I think you owe it to yourselves to replay the tape from years past and ask whether you were duped. Malcolm Gladwell’s latest (see Books) suggests we are hard-wired to trust. As social animals, we cannot function if we don’t. It’s difficult to push back but push back we must. The more highly politicized the topic—climate change, pandemics, vaccines, elections, central banking, foreign wars—the greater the urgency to repel. I offer up one of several quotes from Gore Vidal, a thought-leader canted profoundly left whom I have come to view as the intellectuals’ George Carlin: Our rulers for more than half a century have made sure that we are never to be told the truth about anything that our government has done to other people, not to mention our own. ~ Gore Vidal Sources and Social Media. I am a Twitter long hauler with 70,000 followers but haven’t yet figured out how to monetize the micro-fame enough to buy a mocha Frappuccino. I do, however, find it a useful sounding board. One tweeter—probably a Twitter bot—captured the essence: If you need something researched for free and you don’t feel like doing it just post a tweet about it that’s mildly incorrect and wait. ~ @InternetHippo My Twitter long hauling has occasionally been interrupted by Twitter time-outs. They range from 12 hours to ponder the err in my ways for posting an inappropriate link to Bichute or The Lancet, to a full week for calling Tony Fauci “a skanky whore.” A permanent ban would (will) be painful because I have old and new friends there—Rudy: I love ya man!—who enrich my life with their wisdom. New posse members joining the already eclectic mix include @JonNajarian (getting me closer to winning CNBC Twitter Bingo), scholar and author @BretWeinstein (see Books), actor @AdamBaldwin, polymath rapper @ZubyMusic, and waves of bitcoin hodlers. Favorite news sources include podcasts—I am an audiophile—as well as blogs and newsletters by Tony Greer, James Grant, Jesse Felder, Bill Fleckenstein, Automatic Earth, Grant Williams, Ron Griess of The Chart Store, Chris Martenson, emails from a woman named Denise, and the 500 lb. gorilla of the internet—Zerohedge. I know I’ve missed many more. Apologies. The trouble is, you think you have time. ~ Buddha Figure 1. Toddler hacks the US Strategic Air Command; nuclear war was averted. Topics Untouched. As usual, I am up to my ass in debris on the cutting room floor writing this beast. Some topics simply proved unworthy; others were not ready yet. One of the great merits of blogging is that blogs stand alone; write them when you wish. A once-a-year narrative, by contrast, demands some sort of theme or glue, and, frankly, you can’t write The Wealth of Nations in November. By December the tank read “Empty”, but there were topics I had to finish. I actually started getting minor migraines. What follows are thumbnail sketches of a few stories that were left largely untold. There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen. ~ Vladimir Lenin By late 2020, it was clear that I had overlooked China as the global provocateur. They are Orwell’s hole in the air—the blurry schlieren in the jungle as the Predator arrives to tear out Arnie’s organs. The Chinese have infiltrated all aspects of the West’s geopolitical and economic system. Josh Rogin’s Chaos Under Heaven (see Books) is an excellent primer. I’ve heard second hand that the military top brass believes we are already at war but just don’t realize it yet. I regret punting the most important story, but they invented the punt for a reason. I’ve taken a pass on campus politics, cancel culture, and all things politically correct. I know how much joy it brought many of you to find out how much you wasted sending your children to college, but this was an off-year. Cancel culture may be fading because, to put it bluntly, nobody likes a bunch of clueless douche bags. Critical race theory (CRT) with its deeply Marxist underpinnings and intentions is a bad idea whose time has come. In a law school, there are scholarly components. As it seeps into the K–12 zone it becomes a steaming load of crap. If you have kids, you should go to school board meetings and get arrested for speaking up or, what is now called, being a domestic terrorist. It masquerades as objective science but was written as—all right, I’ll use the word—propaganda. ~ Steven Koonin (@SteveKoonin), former Cal Tech physicist, Obama Science Advisor, and author of Unsettled? The 2019 YIR tackled climate change.ref 1 I thought I might be augmenting it this year, but I will simply leave it by noting a few high-water marks. Steve Koonin, former Cal Tech physicist, expert modeler of complex systems, and Obama chief science advisor wrote the book Settled?. (See Books.) Like many other “climate deniers” his creds are beyond reproach. Steve had chaired the American Physical Society’s committee of 12 elite scientists that examined the state of climate science. After paying some lip service to Mankind’s contributions, Steve eviscerated the models and absurdities comprising the Climate Change Narrative. This, of course, caused a seismic shift in the scientific community’s view of our global climate initiatives. Just kidding. Nobody gave a shit because trillions of dollars have already been spent on it and an estimated $150 trillion more will be handed out to anybody willing to feign belief in the Scriptures. I also had a long talk with a Stanford University psychologist and media expert who went down that rabbit hole and became a denier. Nothing will get in the way of this $150-trillion-dollar juggernaut. All hail Greta! By the way, Michael Moore’s Planet of the Humans appears to have snuck back on YouTube after being banned for truthiness. It is a good documentary.ref 2 Despite numerous podcasts with Holy Rolling Bitcoin Hodlers with their Scriptures under arm trying to sell me currency warranties, I remain on the sidelines (a no-coiner, pejoratively speaking). I cannot add much to this heated debate except to congratulate them for riding Metcalf’s Law to riches. I suspect their next test will be a Tether insolvency or a good ol’ fashioned credit crunch, prefacing the final Battle of the Bastards pitting the Hodlers versus The State unwilling to forfeit control of the money supply. All of this presumes cryptos aren’t just a fad. I wish you laser-eyed crazies well. Dude –you deserve a Pulitzer for your coverage of the George Floyd Story, and I’m going to tweet that out. ~ Tony Greer (@TgMacro), TGMacro In the 2020 YIR I wrote extensively on why Chauvin would be a tricky conviction.ref 3 At least two of us thought it worthy. The trial went off without a hitch. The media’s minor lipservice given to why angry mobs in the street would make it hard for the jury to remain unbiased while obsessing over why he should be convicted no matter what. The jury did their job. The part that was missed was the witness nullification. I must confess to not watching much, but nobody—as in not a single person in court—wanted to provide the testimony that got Chauvin acquitted. You could hear witnesses choose their words carefully. I’m not even sure the defense team wanted the win. Oh well, I wouldn’t underwrite Derek’s life insurance policy. Prosecutor: But you decided you needed to run because of the fire of [inaudible]: why? What was so urgent? Kyle Rittenhouse: There was a fire. Enter the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. In shades of the Covington Scandal, even the President of the United States fondled the scales of justice to ensure the right outcome. The talking heads served up narratives that were fact-free clickbait to pay the bills. The prosecution was so comically bad—moments of great levityref 4a,b,c—that I began to wonder if they were tossing the case intentionally. Both the judge and the prosecution appeared to be intentionally setting up a mistrial. Kyle is gonna have a college essay to die for. Good luck getting it past all but Liberty University’s admissions committee.ref 5 In a related story, Nick Sandmann of Covington fame got his third quarter of a billion dollar settlement for defamation of character. Early negotiations are rumored to involve a 50:50 split of CNN by Sandmann and Rittenhouse. Figure 2. Judge David Collum and Kyle Rittenhouse playing Call of Duty-Modern Warfare. And now to bullet a few drive-by shootings: The Epstein story could have been resurrected from the 2019 YIRref 6 with the arrest of Head Pimp, Gishlaine “Gizz” Maxwell, caught hiding in a New Hampshire mansion already surveilled by the FBI, but it is just starting. I’m guessing she will be convicted of a 1997 minor traffic(king) violation, punished with time served, and retire comfortably on the MPP (Mossad Pension Plan) to live out her days in seclusion with her manly girlfriend, Jessica Schlepstein. Durham’s investigation of the Steele Dossier could heat up but hasn’t yet. Indictments are working their way from the bottom up. I won’t believe that plot has legs till I see it running. Nobody in power ever pays for their misdeeds. The Pandora Papers showed galaxy-class criminality of the global elite socking over $11 trillion dollars away in off-shore accounts, but prominent Americans were notably absent.ref 7 The media assured us that there are no crooks of such sociopathy in America.ref 8 The story had the shelf life of a souffle. John McAfee offed himself (or not). There were rumors that he had a kill switch that would hew vast stands of powerful people including voter fraudsters.ref 9 Well, McDeadGuy, we’re waiting. It won’t matter anyway because…oh never mind. Major Themes of 2021. Enough already: what are you going to talk about? I cover the usual topics on the economy and investing and take a bat to market valuations again. Broken Markets are a prominent because they’ve never been more broken. Covid-19 and the vaccine get serious facetime as the opening act of a much bigger drama. The events at the January Insurrection offers more plot thickener as one of the most important single days in American history. That anagnorisis arrives when the voice says, “The call is coming from inside the house!” The final scene will be the rise of global authoritarianism—total global domination—and you squeal… I did nazi that coming. WTF just happened? Figure 3. Change comes with little warning. Contents Part 1  Introduction My Year Investing – Gold, Energy, and Materials  Gold and Silver The Economy Inflation The Fed Valuations Broken Markets Part 2 (Coming Soon) Covid-19 – The Disease Covid-19 – The Response Vaccine – The Risks Vaccine – The Rollout Part 3 (Coming Soon) Biden – Freshman Year One Scorecard Capitol Insurrection Rising Authoritarianism Conclusion Acknowledgment Books My Year This report, by its very length, defends itself against the risk of being read. ~ Winston Churchill I read a book on narcissism. Although I flunked yet another test having checked a paucity of the boxes, there were a couple of categories demanding a big Sharpie. Narcissistic tendencies underly all achievement so there’s that too. This section is where I wander through the last calendar year of my life looking for college-essay material. It can be skipped by all but the most loyal readers (three at last count). That isn’t writing at all, it’s typing. ~ Truman Capote Self-Improvement. OK. Let’s call it attenuated personal decay. I had dropped 26 pounds of comorbidity in 2020 and another 10 pounds in 2021. I am by no means emaciated yet. I was pestered by London money manager Mitch Feierstein into playing a seminal round of golf after decades of neglect and was hooked. While watching the final hole of the FedEx Open, Cantalay hits a 371-yard drive, a 217-yard 6 iron 10 ft from the cup and two-putts for a birdie and $15 million. I’m thinkin’, “Hey: I can birdie a par 5 with a few Mulligans!” .....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytJan 3rd, 2022

Futures Surge After Powell-Driven Rout Proves To Be "Transitory"

Futures Surge After Powell-Driven Rout Proves To Be "Transitory" Heading into yesterday's painful close to one of the ugliest months since March 2020, which saw a huge forced liquidation rebalance with more than $8 billion in Market on Close orders, we said that while we are seeing "forced selling dump into the close today" this would be followed by "forced Dec 1 buying frontrunning after the close." Forced selling dump into the close today. Forced Dec 1 buying frontrunning after the close — zerohedge (@zerohedge) November 30, 2021 And just as expected, despite yesterday's dramatic hawkish pivot by Powell, who said it was time to retire the word transitory in describing the inflation outlook (the same word the Fed used hundreds of times earlier in 2021 sparking relentless mockery from this website for being clueless as usual) while also saying the U.S. central bank would consider bringing forward plans for tapering its bond buying program at its next meeting in two weeks, the frontrunning of new monthly inflows is in full force with S&P futures rising over 1.2%, Nasdaq futures up 1.3%, and Dow futures up 0.9%, recovering almost all of Tuesday’s decline. The seemingly 'hawkish' comments served as a double whammy for markets, which were already nervous about the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant and its potential to hinder a global economic recovery. "At this point, COVID does not appear to be the biggest long-term Street fear, although it could have the largest impact if the new (or next) variant turns out to be worse than expected," Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst for S&P and Dow Jones indices, said in a note. "That honor goes to inflation, which continues to be fed by supply shortages, labor costs, worker shortages, as well as consumers, who have not pulled back." However, new month fund flows proved too powerful to sustain yesterday's month-end dump and with futures rising - and panic receding - safe havens were sold and the 10-year Treasury yield jumped almost 6bps, approaching 1.50%. The gap between yields on 5-year and 30-year Treasuries was around the narrowest since March last year. Crude oil and commodity-linked currencies rebounded. Gold remained just under $1,800 and bitcoin traded just over $57,000. There was more good news on the covid front with a WHO official saying some of the early indications are that most Omicron cases are mild with no severe cases. Separately Merck gained 3.8% in premarket trade after a panel of advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration narrowly voted to recommend the agency authorize the drugmaker's antiviral pill to treat COVID-19. Travel and leisure stocks also rebounded, with cruiseliners Norwegian, Carnival, Royal Caribbean rising more than 2.5% each. Easing of covid fears also pushed airlines and travel stocks higher in premarket trading: Southwest +2.9%, Delta +2.5%, Spirit +2.3%, American +2.2%, United +1.9%, JetBlue +1.3%. Vaccine makers traded modestly lower in pre-market trading after soaring in recent days as Wall Street weighs the widening spread of the omicron variant. Merck & Co. bucked the trend after its Covid-19 pill narrowly gained a key recommendation from advisers to U.S. regulators. Moderna slips 2.1%, BioNTech dips 1.3% and Pfizer is down 0.2%. Elsewhere, Occidental Petroleum led gains among the energy stocks, up 3.2% as oil prices climbed over 4% ahead of OPEC's meeting. Shares of major Wall Street lenders also moved higher after steep falls on Tuesday. Here are some of the other biggest U.S. movers today: Salesforce (CRM US) drops 5.9% in premarket trading after results and guidance missed estimates, with analysts highlighting currency-related headwinds and plateauing growth at the MuleSoft integration software business. Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE US) falls 1.3% in premarket after the computer equipment maker’s quarterly results showed the impact of the global supply chain crunch. Analysts noted solid order trends. Merck (MRK US) shares rise 5.8% in premarket after the company’s Covid-19 pill narrowly wins backing from FDA advisers, which analysts say is a sign of progress despite lingering challenges. Chinese electric vehicle makers were higher in premarket, leading U.S. peers up, after Nio, Li and XPeng reported strong deliveries for November; Nio (NIO US) +4%, Li (LI US ) +6%, XPeng (XPEV US) +4.3%. Ardelyx (ARDX US) shares gain as much as 34% in premarket, extending the biotech’s bounce after announcing plans to launch its irritable bowel syndrome treatment Ibsrela in the second quarter. CTI BioPharma (CTIC US) shares sink 18% in premarket after the company said the FDA extended the review period for a new drug application for pacritinib. Allbirds (BIRD US) fell 7.5% postmarket after the low end of the shoe retailer’s 2021 revenue forecast missed the average analyst estimate. Zscaler (ZS US) posted “yet another impressive quarter,” according to BMO. Several analysts increased their price targets for the security software company. Shares rose 4.6% in postmarket. Ambarella (AMBA US) rose 14% in postmarket after forecasting revenue for the fourth quarter that beat the average analyst estimate. Emcore (EMKR US) fell 9% postmarket after the aerospace and communications supplier reported fiscal fourth-quarter Ebitda that missed the average analyst estimate. Box (BOX US) shares gained as much as 10% in postmarket trading after the cloud company raised its revenue forecast for the full year. Meanwhile, the omicron variant continues to spread around the globe, though symptoms so far appear to be relatively mild. The Biden administration plans to tighten rules on travel to the U.S., and Japan said it would bar foreign residents returning from 10 southern African nations. As Bloomberg notes, volatility is buffeting markets as investors scrutinize whether the pandemic recovery can weather diminishing monetary policy support and potential risks from the omicron virus variant. Global manufacturing activity stabilized last month, purchasing managers’ gauges showed Wednesday, and while central banks are scaling back ultra-loose settings, financial conditions remain favorable in key economies. “The reality is hotter inflation coupled with a strong economic backdrop could end the Fed’s bond buying program as early as the first quarter of next year,” Charlie Ripley, senior investment strategist at Allianz Investment Management, said in emailed comments. “With potential changes in policy on the horizon, market participants should expect additional market volatility in this uncharted territory.” Looking ahead, Powell is back on the Hill for day 2, and is due to testify before a House Financial Services Committee hybrid hearing at 10 a.m. ET. On the economic data front, November readings on U.S. private payrolls and manufacturing activity will be closely watched later in the day to gauge the health of the American economy. Investors are also awaiting the Fed's latest "Beige Book" due at 2:00 p.m. ET. On the economic data front, November readings on U.S. private payrolls and manufacturing activity will be closely watched later in the day to gauge the health of the American economy. European equities soared more than 1.2%, with travel stocks and carmakers leading broad-based gain in the Stoxx Europe 600 index, all but wiping out Tuesday’s decline that capped only the third monthly loss for the benchmark this year.  Travel, miners and autos are the strongest sectors. Here are some of the biggest European movers today: Proximus shares rise as much as 6.5% after the company said it’s started preliminary talks regarding a potential deal involving TeleSign, with a SPAC merger among options under consideration. Dr. Martens gains as much as 4.6% to the highest since Sept. 8 after being upgraded to overweight from equal- weight at Barclays, which says the stock’s de-rating is overdone. Husqvarna advances as much as 5.3% after the company upgraded financial targets ahead of its capital markets day, including raising the profit margin target to 13% from 10%. Wizz Air, Lufthansa and other travel shares were among the biggest gainers as the sector rebounded after Tuesday’s losses; at a conference Wizz Air’s CEO reiterated expansion plans. Wizz Air gains as much as 7.5%, Lufthansa as much as 6.8% Elis, Accor and other stocks in the French travel and hospitality sector also rise after the country’s government pledged to support an industry that’s starting to get hit by the latest Covid-19 wave. Pendragon climbs as much as 6.5% after the car dealer boosted its outlook after the company said a supply crunch in the new vehicle market wasn’t as bad as it had anticipated. UniCredit rises as much as 3.6%, outperforming the Stoxx 600 Banks Index, after Deutsche Bank added the stock to its “top picks” list alongside UBS, and Bank of Ireland, Erste, Lloyds and Societe Generale. Earlier in the session, Asian stocks also soared, snapping a three-day losing streak, led by energy and technology shares, as traders assessed the potential impact from the omicron coronavirus variant and U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s hawkish pivot. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose as much as 1.3% Wednesday. South Korea led regional gains after reporting strong export figures, which bolsters growth prospects despite record domestic Covid-19 cases. Hong Kong stocks also bounced back after falling Tuesday to their lowest level since September 2020. Asia’s stock benchmark rebounded from a one-year low, though sentiment remained clouded by lingering concerns on the omicron strain and Fed’s potentially faster tapering pace. Powell earlier hinted that the U.S. central bank will accelerate its asset purchases at its meeting later this month.  “A faster taper in the U.S. is still dependent on omicron not causing a big setback to the outlook in the next few weeks,” said Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy and chief economist at AMP Capital, adding that he expects the Fed’s policy rate “will still be low through next year, which should still enable good global growth which will benefit Asia.” Chinese equities edged up after the latest economic data showed manufacturing activity remained at relatively weak levels in November, missing economists’ expectations. Earlier, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He said he’s fully confident in the nation’s economic growth in 2022 Japanese stocks rose, overcoming early volatility as traders parsed hawkish comments from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell. Electronics and auto makers were the biggest boosts to the Topix, which closed 0.4% higher after swinging between a gain of 0.9% and loss of 0.7% in the morning session. Daikin and Fanuc were the largest contributors to a 0.4% rise in the Nikkei 225, which similarly fluctuated. The Topix had dropped 4.8% over the previous three sessions due to concerns over the omicron virus variant. The benchmark fell 3.6% in November, its worst month since July 2020. “The market’s tolerance to risk is quite low at the moment, with people responding in a big way to the smallest bit of negative news,” said Tomo Kinoshita, a global market strategist at Invesco Asset Management in Tokyo. “But the decline in Japanese equities was far worse than those of other developed markets, so today’s market may find a bit of calm.” U.S. shares tumbled Tuesday after Powell said officials should weigh removing pandemic support at a faster pace and retired the word “transitory” to describe stubbornly high inflation In rates, bonds trade heavy, as yield curves bear-flatten. Treasuries extended declines with belly of the curve cheapening vs wings as traders continue to price in additional rate-hike premium over the next two years. Treasury yields were cheaper by up to 5bp across belly of the curve, cheapening 2s5s30s spread by ~5.5bp on the day; 10-year yields around 1.48%, cheaper by ~4bp, while gilts lag by additional 2bp in the sector. The short-end of the gilt curve markedly underperforms bunds and Treasuries with 2y yields rising ~11bps near 0.568%. Peripheral spreads widen with belly of the Italian curve lagging. The flattening Treasury yield curve “doesn’t suggest imminent doom for the equity market in and of itself,” Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab & Co., said on Bloomberg Television. “Alarm bells go off in terms of recession” when the curve gets closer to inverting, she said. In FX, the Turkish lira had a wild session, offered in early London trade before fading. USD/TRY dropped sharply to lows of 12.4267 on reports of central bank FX intervention due to “unhealthy price formations” before, once again, fading TRY strength after comments from Erdogan. The rest of G-10 FX is choppy; commodity currencies retain Asia’s bid tone, havens are sold: the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index inched lower, as the greenback traded mixed versus its Group-of-10 peers. The euro moved in a narrow range and Bund yields followed U.S. yields higher. The pound advanced as risk sentiment stabilized with focus still on news about the omicron variant. The U.K. 10-, 30-year curve flirted with inversion as gilts flattened, with money markets betting on 10bps of BOE tightening this month for the first time since Friday. The Australian and New Zealand dollars advanced as rising commodity prices fuel demand from exporters and leveraged funds. Better-than-expected growth data also aided the Aussie, with GDP expanding by 3.9% in the third quarter from a year earlier, beating the 3% estimated by economists. Austrian lawmakers extended a nationwide lockdown for a second 10-day period to suppress the latest wave of coronavirus infections before the Christmas holiday period.  The yen declined by the most among the Group-of-10 currencies as Powell’s comments renewed focus on yield differentials. 10-year yields rose ahead of Thursday’s debt auction In commodities, crude futures rally. WTI adds over 4% to trade on a $69-handle, Brent recovers near $72.40 after Goldman said overnight that oil had gotten extremely oversold. Spot gold fades a pop higher to trade near $1,785/oz. Base metals trade well with LME copper and nickel outperforming. Looking at the day ahead, once again we’ll have Fed Chair Powell and Treasury Secretary Yellen appearing, this time before the House Financial Services Committee. In addition to that, the Fed will be releasing their Beige Book, and BoE Governor Bailey is also speaking. On the data front, the main release will be the manufacturing PMIs from around the world, but there’s also the ADP’s report of private payrolls for November in the US, the ISM manufacturing reading in the US as well for November, and German retail sales for October. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 1.2% to 4,620.75 STOXX Europe 600 up 1.0% to 467.58 MXAP up 0.9% to 191.52 MXAPJ up 1.1% to 626.09 Nikkei up 0.4% to 27,935.62 Topix up 0.4% to 1,936.74 Hang Seng Index up 0.8% to 23,658.92 Shanghai Composite up 0.4% to 3,576.89 Sensex up 1.0% to 57,656.51 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.3% to 7,235.85 Kospi up 2.1% to 2,899.72 Brent Futures up 4.2% to $72.15/bbl Gold spot up 0.2% to $1,778.93 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 95.98 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.31% Euro down 0.1% to $1.1326 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Thursday, the first direct contact between officials of the two countries in weeks as tensions grow amid western fears Russia may be planning to invade Ukraine Oil rebounded from a sharp drop on speculation that recent deep losses were excessive and OPEC+ may on Thursday decide to pause hikes in production, with the abrupt reversal fanning already- elevated volatility The EU is set to recommend that member states review essential travel restrictions on a daily basis in the wake of the omicron variant, according to a draft EU document seen by Bloomberg China is planning to ban companies from going public on foreign stock markets through variable interest entities, according to people familiar with the matter, closing a loophole long used by the country’s technology industry to raise capital from overseas investors Manufacturing activity in Asia outside China stabilized last month amid easing lockdown and border restrictions, setting the sector on course to face a possible new challenge from the omicron variant of the coronavirus Germany urgently needs stricter measures to check a surge in Covid-19 infections and protect hospitals from a “particularly dangerous situation,” according to the head of the country’s DIVI intensive-care medicine lobby. A more detailed breakdown of global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asian equity markets traded mostly positive as regional bourses atoned for the prior day’s losses that were triggered by Omicron concerns, but with some of the momentum tempered by recent comments from Fed Chair Powell and mixed data releases including the miss on Chinese Caixin Manufacturing PMI. ASX 200 (-0.3%) was led lower by underperformance in consumer stocks and with utilities also pressured as reports noted that Shell and Telstra’s entrance in the domestic electricity market is set to ignite fierce competition and force existing players to overhaul their operations, although the losses in the index were cushioned following the latest GDP data which showed a narrower than feared quarterly contraction in Australia’s economy. Nikkei 225 (+0.4%) was on the mend after yesterday’s sell-off with the index helped by favourable currency flows and following a jump in company profits for Q3, while the KOSPI (+2.1%) was also boosted by strong trade data. Hang Seng (+0.8%) and Shanghai Comp. (+0.4%) were somewhat varied as a tech resurgence in Hong Kong overcompensated for the continued weakness in casinos stocks amid ongoing SunCity woes which closed all VIP gaming rooms in Macau after its Chairman's recent arrest, while the mood in the mainland was more reserved after a PBoC liquidity drain and disappointing Chinese Caixin Manufacturing PMI data which fell short of estimates and slipped back into contraction territory. Finally, 10yr JGBs were lower amid the gains in Japanese stocks and after the pullback in global fixed income peers in the aftermath of Fed Chair Powell’s hawkish comments, while a lack of BoJ purchases further contributed to the subdued demand for JGBs. Top Asian News Asia Stocks Bounce Back from One-Year Low Despite Looming Risks Gold Swings on Omicron’s Widening Spread, Inflation Worries Shell Sees Hedge Funds Moving to LNG, Supporting Higher Prices Abe Warns China Invading Taiwan Would Be ‘Economic Suicide’ Bourses in Europe are firmer across the board (Euro Stoxx 50 +1.6%; Stoxx 600 +1.1%) as the positive APAC sentiment reverberated into European markets. US equity futures are also on the front foot with the cyclical RTY (+2.0%) outpacing its peers: ES (+1.2%), NQ (+1.5%), YM (+0.8%). COVID remains a central theme for the time being as the Omicron variant is observed for any effects of concern – which thus far have not been reported. Analysts at UBS expect market focus to shift away from the variant and more towards growth and earnings. The analysts expect Omicron to fuse into the ongoing Delta outbreak that economies have already been tackling. Under this scenario, the desk expects some of the more cyclical markets and sectors to outperform. The desk also flags two tails risks, including an evasive variant and central bank tightening – particularly after Fed chair Powell’s commentary yesterday. Meanwhile, BofA looks for an over-10% fall in European stocks next year. Sticking with macro updates, the OECD, in their latest economic outlook, cut US, China, Eurozone growth forecasts for 2021 and 2022, with Omicron cited as a factor. Back to trade, broad-based gains are seen across European cash markets. Sectors hold a clear cyclical bias which consists of Travel & Leisure, Basic Resources, Autos, Retail and Oil & Gas as the top performers – with the former bolstered by the seemingly low appetite for coordination on restrictions and measures at an EU level – Deutsche Lufthansa (+6%) and IAG (+5.1%) now reside at the top of the Stoxx 600. The other side of the spectrum sees the defensive sectors – with Healthcare, Household Goods, Food & Beverages as the straddlers. In terms of induvial movers, German-listed Adler Group (+22%) following a divestment, whilst Blue Prism (+1.7%) is firmer after SS&C raised its offer for the Co. Top European News Wizz Says Travelers Are Booking at Shorter and Shorter Notice Turkey Central Bank Intervenes in FX Markets to Stabilize Lira Gold Swings on Omicron’s Widening Spread, Inflation Worries Former ABG Sundal Collier Partner Starts Advisory Firm In FX, the Dollar remains mixed against majors, but well off highs prompted by Fed chair Powell ditching transitory from the list of adjectives used to describe inflation and flagging that a faster pace of tapering will be on the agenda at December’s FOMC. However, the index is keeping tabs on the 96.000 handle and has retrenched into a tighter 95.774-96.138 range, for the time being, as trade remains very choppy and volatility elevated awaiting clearer medical data and analysis on Omicron to gauge its impact compared to the Delta strain and earlier COVID-19 variants. In the interim, US macro fundamentals might have some bearing, but the bar is high before NFP on Friday unless ADP or ISM really deviate from consensus or outside the forecast range. Instead, Fed chair Powell part II may be more pivotal if he opts to manage hawkish market expectations, while the Beige Book prepared for next month’s policy meeting could also add some additional insight. NZD/AUD/CAD/GBP - Broad risk sentiment continues to swing from side to side, and currently back in favour of the high beta, commodity and cyclical types, so the Kiwi has bounced firmly from worst levels on Tuesday ahead of NZ terms of trade, the Aussie has pared a chunk of its declines with some assistance from a smaller than anticipated GDP contraction and the Loonie is licking wounds alongside WTI in advance of Canadian building permits and Markit’s manufacturing PMI. Similarly, Sterling has regained some poise irrespective of relatively dovish remarks from BoE’s Mann and a slender downward revision to the final UK manufacturing PMI. Nzd/Usd is firmly back above 0.6800, Aud/Usd close to 0.7150 again, Usd/Cad straddling 1.2750 and Cable hovering on the 1.3300 handle compared to circa 0.6772, 0.7063, 1.2837 and 1.3195 respectively at various fairly adjacent stages yesterday. JPY/EUR/CHF - All undermined by the aforementioned latest upturn in risk appetite or less angst about coronavirus contagion, albeit to varying degrees, as the Yen retreats to retest support sub-113.50, Euro treads water above 1.1300 and Franc straddles 0.9200 after firmer than forecast Swiss CPI data vs a dip in the manufacturing PMI. In commodities, WTI and Brent front month futures are recovering following yesterday’s COVID and Powell-induced declines in the run-up to the OPEC meetings later today. The complex has also been underpinned by the reduced prospects of coordinated EU-wide restrictions, as per the abandonment of the COVID video conference between EU leaders. However, OPEC+ will take centre stage over the next couple of days, with a deluge of source reports likely as OPEC tests the waters. The case for OPEC+ to pause the planned monthly relaxation of output curbs by 400k BPD has been strengthening. There have been major supply and demand developments since the prior meeting. The recent emergence of the Omicron COVID variant and coordinated release of oil reserves have shifted the balance of expectations relative to earlier in the month (full Newsquawk preview available in the Research Suite). In terms of the schedule, the OPEC meeting is slated for 13:00GMT/08:00EST followed by the JTC meeting at 15:00GMT/10:00EST, whilst tomorrow sees the JMMC meeting at 12:00GMT/07:00EST; OPEC+ meeting at 13:00GMT/08:00EST. WTI Jan has reclaimed a USD 69/bbl handle (vs USD 66.20/bbl low) while Brent Feb hovers around USD 72.50/bbl (vs low USD 69.38/bbl) at the time of writing. Elsewhere, spot gold and silver trade with modest gains and largely in tandem with the Buck. Spot gold failed to sustain gains above the cluster of DMAs under USD 1,800/oz (100 DMA at USD 1,792/oz, 200 DMA at USD 1,791/oz, and 50 DMA at USD 1,790/oz) – trader should be aware of the potential for a technical Golden Cross (50 DMA > 200 DMA). Turning to base metals, copper is supported by the overall risk appetite, with the LME contract back above USD 9,500/t. Overnight, Chinese coking coal and coke futures rose over 5% apiece, with traders citing disrupted supply from Mongolia amid the COVID outbreak in the region. US Event Calendar 7am: Nov. MBA Mortgage Applications, prior 1.8% 8:15am: Nov. ADP Employment Change, est. 525,000, prior 571,000 9:45am: Nov. Markit US Manufacturing PMI, est. 59.1, prior 59.1 10am: Oct. Construction Spending MoM, est. 0.4%, prior -0.5% 10am: Nov. ISM Manufacturing, est. 61.2, prior 60.8 2pm: U.S. Federal Reserve Releases Beige Book Nov. Wards Total Vehicle Sales, est. 13.4m, prior 13m Central Banks 10am: Powell, Yellen Testify Before House Panel on CARES Act Relief DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap If you’re under 10 and reading this there’s a spoiler alert today in this first para so please skip beyond and onto the second. Yes my heart broke a little last night as my little 6-year old Maisie said to me at bedtime that “Santa isn’t real is he Daddy?”. I lied (I think it’s a lie) and said yes he was. I made up an elaborate story about how when we renovated our 100 year old house we deliberately kept the chimney purely to let Santa come down it once a year. Otherwise why would we have kept it? She then asked what about her friend who lives in a flat? I tried to bluff my way through it but maybe my answer sounded a bit like my answers as to what will happen with Omicron. I’ll test both out on clients later to see which is more convincing. Before we get to the latest on the virus, given it’s the start of the month, we’ll shortly be publishing our November performance review looking at how different assets fared over the month just gone and YTD. It arrived late on but Omicron was obviously the dominant story and led to some of the biggest swings of the year so far. It meant that oil (which is still the top performer on a YTD basis) was the worst performer in our monthly sample, with WTI and Brent seeing their worst monthly performances since the initial wave of market turmoil over Covid back in March 2020. And at the other end, sovereign bonds outperformed in November as Omicron’s emergence saw investors push back the likelihood of imminent rate hikes from central banks. So what was shaping up to be a good month for risk and a bad one for bonds flipped around in injury time. Watch out for the report soon from Henry. Back to yesterday now, and frankly the main takeaway was that markets were desperate for any piece of news they could get their hands on about the Omicron variant, particularly given the lack of proper hard data at the moment. The morning started with a sharp selloff as we discussed at the top yesterday, as some of the more optimistic noises from Monday were outweighed by that FT interview, whereby Moderna’s chief executive had said that the existing vaccines wouldn’t be as effective against the new variant. Then we had some further negative news from Regeneron, who said that analysis and modelling of the Omicron mutations indicated that its antibody drug may not be as effective, but that they were doing further analysis to confirm this. However, we later got some comments from a University of Oxford spokesperson, who said that there wasn’t any evidence so far that vaccinations wouldn’t provide high levels of protection against severe disease, which coincided with a shift in sentiment early in the European afternoon as equities begun to pare back their losses. The CEO of BioNTech and the Israeli health minister expressed similar sentiments, noting that vaccines were still likely to protect against severe disease even among those infected by Omicron, joining other officials encouraging people to get vaccinated or get booster shots. Another reassuring sign came in an update from the EU’s ECDC yesterday, who said that all of the 44 confirmed cases where information was available on severity “were either asymptomatic or had mild symptoms.” After the close, the FDA endorsed Merck’s antiviral Covid pill. While it’s not clear how the pill interacts with Omicron, the proliferation of more Covid treatments is still good news as we head into another winter. The other big piece of news came from Fed Chair Powell’s testimony to the Senate Banking Committee, where the main headline was his tapering comment that “It is appropriate to consider wrapping up a few months sooner.” So that would indicate an acceleration in the pace, which would be consistent with the view from our US economists that we’ll see a doubling in the pace of reductions at the December meeting that’s only two weeks from today. The Fed Chair made a forceful case for a faster taper despite lingering Omicron uncertainties, noting inflation is likely to stay elevated, the labour market has improved without a commensurate increase in labour supply (those sidelined because of Covid are likely to stay there), spending has remained strong, and that tapering was a removal of accommodation (which the economy doesn’t need more of given the first three points). Powell took pains to stress the risk of higher inflation, going so far as to ‘retire’ the use of the term ‘transitory’ when describing the current inflation outlook. So team transitory have seemingly had the pitch taken away from them mid match. The Chair left an exit clause that this outlook would be informed by incoming inflation, employment, and Omicron data before the December FOMC meeting. A faster taper ostensibly opens the door to earlier rate hikes and Powell’s comment led to a sharp move higher in shorter-dated Treasury yields, with the 2yr yield up +8.1bps on the day, having actually been more than -4bps lower when Powell began speaking. They were as low as 0.44% then and got as high as 0.57% before closing at 0.56%. 2yr yields have taken another leg higher overnight, increasing +2.5bps to 0.592%. Long-end yields moved lower though and failed to back up the early day moves even after Powell, leading to a major flattening in the yield curve on the back of those remarks, with the 2s10s down -13.7bps to 87.3bps, which is its flattest level since early January. Overnight 10yr yields are back up +3bps but the curve is only a touch steeper. My 2 cents on the yield curve are that the 2s10s continues to be my favourite US recession indicator. It’s worked over more cycles through history than any other. No recession since the early 1950s has occurred without the 2s10s inverting. But it takes on average 12-18 months from inversion to recession. The shortest was the covid recession at around 7 months which clearly doesn’t count but I think we were very late cycle in early 2020 and the probability of recession in the not too distant future was quite high but we will never know.The shortest outside of that was around 9 months. So with the curve still at c.+90bps we are moving in a more worrying direction but I would still say 2023-24 is the very earliest a recession is likely to occur (outside of a unexpected shock) and we’ll need a rapid flattening in 22 to encourage that. History also suggests markets tend to ignore the YC until it’s too late. So I wouldn’t base my market views in 22 on the yield curve and recession signal yet. However its something to look at as the Fed seemingly embarks on a tightening cycle in the months ahead. Onto markets and those remarks from Powell (along with the additional earlier pessimism about Omicron) proved incredibly unhelpful for equities yesterday, with the S&P 500 (-1.90%) giving up the previous day’s gains to close at its lowest level in over a month. It’s hard to overstate how broad-based this decline was, as just 7 companies in the entire S&P moved higher yesterday, which is the lowest number of the entire year so far and the lowest since June 11th, 2020, when 1 company ended in the green. Over in Europe it was much the same story, although they were relatively less affected by Powell’s remarks, and the STOXX 600 (-0.92%) moved lower on the day as well. Overnight in Asia, stocks are trading higher though with the KOSPI (+2.02%), Hang Seng (+1.40%), the Nikkei (+0.37%), Shanghai Composite (+0.11%) and CSI (+0.09%) all in the green. Australia’s Q3 GDP contracted (-1.9% qoq) less than -2.7% consensus while India’s Q3 GDP grew at a firm +8.4% year-on-year beating the +8.3% consensus. In China the Caixin Manufacturing PMI for November came in at 49.9 against a 50.6 consensus. Futures markets are indicating a positive start to markets in US & Europe with the S&P 500 (+0.73%) and DAX (+0.44%) trading higher again. Back in Europe, there was a significant inflation story amidst the other headlines above, since Euro Area inflation rose to its highest level since the creation of the single currency, with the flash estimate for November up to +4.9% (vs. +4.5% expected). That exceeded every economist’s estimate on Bloomberg, and core inflation also surpassed expectations at +2.6% (vs. +2.3% expected), again surpassing the all-time high since the single currency began. That’s only going to add to the pressure on the ECB, and yesterday saw Germany’s incoming Chancellor Scholz say that “we have to do something” if inflation doesn’t ease. European sovereign bonds rallied in spite of the inflation reading, with those on 10yr bunds (-3.1bps), OATs (-3.5bps) and BTPs (-0.9bps) all moving lower. Peripheral spreads widened once again though, and the gap between Italian and German 10yr yields closed at its highest level in just over a year. Meanwhile governments continued to move towards further action as the Omicron variant spreads, and Greece said that vaccinations would be mandatory for everyone over 60 soon, with those refusing having to pay a monthly €100 fine. Separately in Germany, incoming Chancellor Scholz said that there would be a parliamentary vote on the question of compulsory vaccinations, saying to the Bild newspaper in an interview that “My recommendation is that we don’t do this as a government, because it’s an issue of conscience”. In terms of other data yesterday, German unemployment fell by -34k in November (vs. -25k expected). Separately, the November CPI readings from France at +3.4% (vs. +3.2% expected) and Italy at +4.0% (vs. +3.3% expected) surprised to the upside as well. In the US, however, the Conference Board’s consumer confidence measure in November fell to its lowest since February at 109.5 (vs. 110.9 expected), and the MNI Chicago PMI for November fell to 61.8 9vs. 67.0 expected). To the day ahead now, and once again we’ll have Fed Chair Powell and Treasury Secretary Yellen appearing, this time before the House Financial Services Committee. In addition to that, the Fed will be releasing their Beige Book, and BoE Governor Bailey is also speaking. On the data front, the main release will be the manufacturing PMIs from around the world, but there’s also the ADP’s report of private payrolls for November in the US, the ISM manufacturing reading in the US as well for November, and German retail sales for October. Tyler Durden Wed, 12/01/2021 - 07:47.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 1st, 2021

Mississippi banned most abortions to be the "safest state" for the unborn. Meanwhile, one in three Mississippi kids live in poverty

Mississippi will defend its abortion ban before the Supreme Court on December 1. Back home, one in three Mississippi kids live in poverty. Drusilla Hicks, a single mom in Mississippi, with her two youngest kids.Rory Doyle for Insider Mississippi lawmakers said the ban on most abortions after 15 weeks would make Mississippi 'the safest state in the country' for the unborn.  The Supreme Court will hear a challenge to Mississippi's abortion law on Dec. 1. Advocates say Mississippi, the poorest state in the country, offers little support for children 'once they're here.' Brandon, Mississippi – Drusilla Hicks sinks into her couch. A week ago, she and her three young kids moved into their new home. After unloading the moving truck herself, unpacking all the boxes, and hanging photos on the wall, she's exhausted. All around her, stacks of folded laundry are perched on every available surface. Hicks wakes at five o'clock every morning and doesn't get home from work until dark. Between her daughter's cheerleading practice, her son's homework, and the baby's bath time, she rarely gets time to herself. The only reason she was home alone on a late October morning was because she'd been in a car accident the day before. Her body aching, Hicks, who's 28, was supposed to be resting. But the laundry won't fold itself. As a single mom with no child support, Hicks struggles. Her mother and the kids' grandmothers help out with childcare when they can. But the salary she earns from her job as an office manager for the county isn't enough to cover her bills. Her income is just a bit over the threshold for her to qualify for state aid. After trying repeatedly to request some kind of assistance, she's stopped asking. Instead, a friend helps her pay the bills each month. Without him, she's not sure where she and her children would be living. Right now, she's worried about how she will pay the $1,000 deductible to repair her car from the accident. To provide for her children, she often "pinches," or goes without."I'm trying to give my children a better life than I had," Hicks says. "It's hard because I'm trying to make sure they do the extra stuff they want to do, as well as make sure my bills are paid. If I don't have something, I go without and they'll just never know."After a moment, she gets up again. Soon, it will be time to pick up the kids. The children that are hereIn March of 2019, Mississippi drew national headlines when Governor Phil Bryant signed into law one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the country, making Mississippi – as backers of the bill frequently put it – "the safest place in the country for unborn babies." A challenge to the law, which bans most abortions after 15 weeks, has made it to the US Supreme Court and oral arguments are scheduled for Dec 1. It will be the first major challenge to abortion rights that the court has heard since Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative Trump appointee, was seated. Drusilla Hicks walks with her son.Rory Doyle for InsiderIn the meantime, Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch has been making the rounds on the national Christian media circuit—she rarely speaks with media in the state—touting the "empowering" options and opportunities that would stem from overturning Roe v. Wade.  "You have the option in life to really achieve your dream and goals, and you can have those beautiful children as well," Flynn said in September. But community leaders and organizers left with filling in the gaps left from the absence of state aid tell another story. They point to past legislative sessions where Mississippi leaders have repeatedly passed laws that make it harder for families to access aid, while stonewalling on bills that are designed to address income gaps. All of this puts Mississippi on the path to forcing women to have children, then providing little to no safety net once the children are born."We've had so many state leaders who have talked about wanting Mississippi to be the safest state in the country for unborn babies. Every time I hear that, I think, 'Oh my god, let's make this state the safest in the country for born babies,'" said Carol Burnette, executive director of the nonprofit Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative. "They're so determined about their anti-abortion stance; there's just no similar match to being concerned about children once they're here."A domino effect Mississippi is the poorest state in the nation. Around 600,000 people here, nearly 20 percent of Mississippians, live in poverty. It's even higher for kids: one in three Mississippi children live in poverty.In Mississippi, maternal deaths occur in 33.2 of every 100,000 births – nearly twice the national average of 17 deaths per 100,000 – and the state has the highest rate of infant mortality. Mississippi classrooms teach abstinence as sex education; there is no promotion of safe sex or contraceptives. The state has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the nation. Additionally, Mississippi is the only state without a law requiring equal pay, which advocates say especially disadvantages Black women and single moms. The Annie E. Casey Foundation, a  consistantly lists Mississippi last in its annual state ranking of overall child well-being. The issues facing poor Mississippi families are interconnected, creating a domino effect, so one issue exacerbates another.A wall of family photos at Drusilla Hicks' new home.Rory Doyle for InsiderAccording to Lea Anne Brandon, a former spokeswoman for the Mississippi Department of Children and Families, the overwhelming majority of children removed from their homes were living in poverty. "It wasn't 'I don't want to take care of this child,'" Brandon said. "It's 'I don't have the resources to or I don't have money to put them in daycare,' or 'I don't have enough money to buy them food or clothes or medicine.'"Based on the thousands of children and families she's seen, Brandon said the state often swoops in to "rescue" children instead of addressing the issue on the front end. "We're pro-birth. Are we pro-life? We want them born but once they're born, what do we do? 'Here's a pack of diapers' and 'Isn't your child cute?'" Brandon said. Nakeitra Burse, a maternal health advocate who works with pregnant women and mothers, has a unique vantage point of seeing both the administrative hurdles and the myriad of consequences that stem from a patchwork of care. Hospital closures in rural areas, and funding issues at hospitals across the state, for example, puts pregnant women at greater peril, she said.Burse points to a recent tragedy, where a young pregnant woman suffered a heart attack. The family lived in a rural part of the state that doesn't have a county hospital, and so the woman's husband attempted to drive her to a neighboring county. They didn't make it. The husband performed CPR on his dying wife on the side of the road. She and the baby died four days before her due date. "When you think about rural Mississippi, those access and quality issues are a big problem," Burse said. She continues: "Mississippi is so small, I know people that know her."A brigade of helpersThe tight group of activists, organizers and policy experts who work in this area come together to provide, in many instances, what the state does not. Born out of necessity, they've formed a unique brigade. Cassandra Welchlin with the Black Women's Roundtable is the voice in the room when it comes to equal pay and how the disparity impacts Black mothers. She'll defer to Burse when it comes to maternal health; Burse rattles off statistics with barely a breath in between, and can talk for hours about the importance of doulas. Cassandra Overton Welchlin (right) at a 2018 event to boost voter participation in Mississippi.Rogelio V. Solis/AP PhotoAnd childcare once those babies are born? That's Burnette's wheelhouse. If childcare isn't available or a mom needs help paying her bills that month, it's over to Laurie Bertram Roberts, co-founder of the Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund and executive director of the Yellowhammer Fund in Alabama, which also advocates for abortion access. Each of the women has dedicated their life to helping Mississippi women and families. Each of them also express frustration that the state isn't doing more, and, they feel in some instances, making it harder for women to get the help they so desperately need. Republican lawmakers in the state say their thinking comes down to responsible and sustainable budgeting. Burnette says that she spends a lot of her days navigating the red tape that state lawmakers have put up that makes it more difficult for Mississippians to access federal services. Take the Child Care Certificate Program, a federal block grant. More than 100,000 Mississippi children should be eligible, but in 2019 – the most recent year for which there's data – just 20,900 benefited from the program. The federal program is most commonly used by single mothers, but the state added an additional requirement: single parents have to cooperate with child support enforcement in order to enroll, meaning they have to provide information about the children's father so the state can track him down. Many are reluctant to do so. Laurie Bertram Roberts, left, confronts an abortion opponent blocking the driveway at Jackson Women's Health Organization in 2013. It's the sole abortion clinic in the state.Rogelio V. Solis/AP PhotoPrudent spending and a fair sliceWhile those on the ground have no shortage of suggestions to help push the state forward, on the top of almost everyone's wish lists is expanding access to Medicaid, a federally funded health care program for the poor. But it remains a major, if unreachable, priority for state Democrats. Currently, low-income women in the state can qualify for Medicaid coverage during their pregnancy and for 60 days after the birth of the child, and two thirds of births in the state are covered by Medicaid.Under the Affordable Care Act, states could opt-in to expand Medicaid coverage. But Mississippi lawmakers opted against it, joining 11 other states to date. In the 2021 legislative session, a proposal to expand Medicaid coverage to mothers for one year after the birth of the child postpartum failed to make it out of committee. From the top down, Mississippi Republican leaders have repeatedly spoken out against Medicaid expansion, including the state's current governor, Tate Reeves, and Speaker of the House Phillip Gunn. In his budget proposal for the 2022 fiscal year, Reeves said, "I remain adamantly opposed to Medicaid expansion in Mississippi. I firmly believe that it is not good public policy to place 300,000 additional Mississippians on government-funded health care."His spokesperson Bailey Martin told Insider, "Governor Reeves remains opposed to the expansion of Obamacare and Medicaid in Mississippi."Other issues impact affordability, too. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Mississippi is short 42,000 affordable housing units for families in need. Single-mother households with children under the age of 18 are in the most danger of facing eviction within the next few months, according to Matthew Carpenter of the NAACP. "We see the linkage between quality affordable housing and pretty much everything," he said. "The state being a low-income, low wage state, that impacts housing prospects for a lot of people, and it impacts the well-being of the kids.In Mississippi, eight out of ten Black women are heads of household, and many of the state's problems, from poverty to bad health outcomes, would be made more manageable if women's work – and especially Black women's work – was made more valuable, Welchlin said.Drusilla Hicks collects her youngest child from the car.Rory Doyle for InsiderTo push that debate along, every year members of the Black Women's Roundtable take slices of pie to the state legislature and leave them on the desks of representatives and senators. The message: we want our slice of the pie.For Burnette, The resistance to bolstering the state's social safety net is "inextricably tied to race" and a false narrative of the "welfare queen.""Mississippi has a long history of resisting federal programs and federal funding that comes in with the intent to improve things for poor people," she said. In fact, she said, "single moms have incredible work ethic." But they have to make ends meet with minimum wage jobs, while navigating the lack of affordable housing and affordable and flexible childcare. "They're working, they're just working in jobs that pay too little and because they're a single mom and the sole earner, they're hampered – not only by low wages but being the only wage earner," Burnette said.A full house Back in Brandon, it's been a week since Hicks' car accident. After work, she picks up the kids, and a pizza for dinner. Settled at the kitchen table, each of the older children grab a plate. Hicks does not, feeding the baby instead. Hicks has been in her new house for a week but already it has a warm, lived-in look, like they've been there for years. There are framed photos of the children on the wall, mirrors are hung just so, and a pumpkin is arranged on the front porch for fall. They clear the plates. In the living room, Hicks' daughter practices a cheer routine, which Hicks videos on her phone. Her son circles them on his skateboard. He's energetic, a showman. Later, as she helps him with homework, she worries about his grades.The worrying never really goes away. Hicks wonders if she's doing enough as a mom, and what more she can do to provide for her kids. Dinnertime at the Hicks home.Rory Doyle for InsiderDrusilla Hicks making a cellphone video of her daughter's cheer routine.Rory Doyle for InsiderDrusilla Hicks with her three kids.Rory Doyle for InsiderDrusilla Hicks gives her youngest kid a bath while her daughter looks on.Rory Doyle for InsiderDrusilla Hicks putting her son to bed.Rory Doyle for InsiderDrusilla Hicks getting a rare moment to herself.Rory Doyle for InsiderThe night winding down, she bathes the baby in the kitchen sink and tucks her son into bed in his Spiderman sheets. For a moment, it's quiet and Hicks takes a minute to herself, sitting with her phone in the dark. Hicks is stressed, but she's too exhausted at the end of each day for it to keep her awake at night. "I go to sleep as soon as my head hits the pillow," she says. She has to sleep sometime. In just a few short hours, it starts all over again. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 26th, 2021

The life and lawsuits of Lucas Wall, a frequent flier who"s made it his mission to fight Biden"s mask mandate

Lucas Wall, a resident of Washington, DC, who says he's stranded in Florida, has become a leader of a group of anti-mask litigants. Frequent flier Lucas Wall outside his mom's place in The Villages, Florida, where he's been stuck since the Biden mask mandate was put in place. Wall, a leader of a coordinated group of anti-maskers, would often say, "I'm still at mom's."Octavio Jones for Insider Lucas Wall is in a legal battle with the Biden administration over mask mandates for travelers. Dozens of anti-maskers have joined him to argue that the mandates are unconstitutional. The administration has rebuked him. JetBlue has said he's "no longer welcome to fly" with it. A few months after federal mask mandates for US travelers went into effect, a frequent flier named Lucas Wall walked up to a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint at Orlando International Airport without a mask.Moments earlier, Wall had pressed record on a video that he would later file as an exhibit in a pair of lawsuits against the Biden administration and seven US airlines. The video began with a shot of his COVID-19 vaccination card. He told the camera that it had been about three weeks since he was considered fully vaccinated. He held up a boarding pass for a 10 a.m. Southwest Airlines flight to Fort Lauderdale."I am not traveling to another state today. Thus, the federal government has no jurisdiction to force me to cover my face," he said before approaching the checkpoint.A TSA agent pulled a mask out of a box. "To get in, you need a mask," the agent said. Wall declined. He said he was already vaccinated. The agent called for backup.For the next hour or so, Wall spoke with TSA and airport officials, along with Southwest staff members. They inspected his boarding pass and travel documents. They asked him whether he'd filed for a medical exemption. Nobody raised their voice; the resulting videos didn't feature the yelling, screaming, or kicking that has become common on planes during the pandemic. Wall was laying the groundwork for his legal arguments.The incident at the TSA booth on that Wednesday in June was the beginning of a months-long crusade in which Wall has filed thousands of pages of legal arguments and exhibits in federal court in Orlando. In July, Wall tried to take his argument directly to the Supreme Court. In August, the Biden administration filed a blistering response that amounted to its most robust legal defense of its mask mandate for travelers so far.This month, 26 states sued the administration over another mandate — a vaccination requirement for large businesses — using arguments that were very similar to Wall's. The states also argued that President Joe Biden did not have a constitutional grounding to require pandemic safety measures for most Americans.Surveys have suggested that a majority of Americans favor wearing masks as a safety measure. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization both say that wearing masks helps stop the spread of COVID-19.But face coverings have become polarizing, with surveys finding opposition from groups including conservatives, the wealthy, and men.Wall's lawsuits have attracted vocal promoters and detractors. Some have sent him emails or texts — a few of which he shared with Insider — accusing him of not taking the pandemic seriously. At least one email referred to him as an "inconsiderate piece of shit.""Sometimes the messages are just so vile that I just block the person and don't even bother responding," Wall said in a recent phone call from Florida. "If anything, they give me more motivation, because I know how wrong they are and I want to prove it to them by winning."Stuck 'at Mom's' in FloridaEarly this year, Wall flew from Washington, DC, where he lives, down to Florida to visit his mom, Lorraine Wall, who lives in The Villages, a sprawling retirement community. He'd been visiting regularly during the pandemic, making sure she was OK.He'd planned to fly back after he was fully vaccinated. But while he was there, Biden signed an executive order to mandate masks for travelers. The CDC and the TSA followed with federal mandates. Airlines also put in place their own requirements.Wall has generalized anxiety disorder, medical documents filed alongside his lawsuits say; he says it prevents him from wearing a mask. Wall, who has made it a goal to travel to every country and territory in the world — he's also been to every state, state capitol building, and national park — said he was grounded without an exemption from the carriers.In a series of phone conversations over the past few months, Wall told Insider about his battle against the government and airlines. He said he didn't have much to do at The Villages, a retirement community with 130,000 residents, but he was busy working on his lawsuits anyway. "Yeah, still at Mom's," he would say each time we spoke. But he was always cheerful about it.Residents dance in the square of The Villages in 2016.Rhona Whise/AFP via Getty Images"He's good company," Lorraine Wall said in an interview. "And he does a certain amount of chores."Lucas Wall credits his mother with his longtime love of travel. She retired from an airline, and they've seen the world using her travel benefits. She said she was "100%" supportive of his effort to end federal mask mandates for travelers, in part because she doesn't much like wearing masks either. ("They don't stay on my ears — they just keep popping off," she said.) Her son took over a wing of her house and immersed himself in legal studies. He'd pop in for dinner some nights when he wasn't too busy.In June, Wall filed two lawsuits in US District Court in Orlando. One was against the government, naming among its defendants Biden and the CDC. The other was against seven US airlines: Southwest, Alaska, Allegiant, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, and Spirit."He's very persistent," Wall's mother said, "and he's not going to stop until he wins."Those filings amounted to about 300 pages packed with dense legalese and citations of other cases and precedent. Growing up in northern Virginia in the '80s and '90s, Wall learned about the law from his father, William Wall, a former fighter pilot who became a lawyer. His father served as his attorney on his first case.Wall at The Villages last month.Octavio Jones for Insider"When he was in high school, he had a lawsuit against the school board," Wall's mother said a few weeks ago. "I think he may have told you about that."In the mid-1990s, Wall sued his high-school principal and other officials after they wouldn't hand over vote totals of a student election. It was his first big lawsuit against people in power. (He'd later spend three years in a legal battle with Virginia over whether he had to renew his driver's license.)He lost the suit against his principal. A local-news clip shot outside the Virginia courthouse showed Wall, in a suit and tie, surrounded by reporters, their microphones jammed in his face."One of the most important things I've learned in high school has been learning how to deal with defeat," he told the crowd. He'd later appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court, which heard the case but upheld the lower court's decision.He's had a few setbacks with his mask lawsuits, too. Wall has a brother and a sister-in-law in Germany whom he's looking forward to visiting again. He had a ticket to see them in July, which was the reason for his emergency Supreme Court petition. (Wall listed $769.89 in flight-related costs as part of his argument about "irreparable harm.") But Justice Clarence Thomas declined to review the petition with the full court.A growing followingWall's lawsuits attracted media attention in part because they were among the first of their kind, but also because he was representing himself. "I'm not a wealthy person, I don't have tens of thousands of dollars to hire an attorney, so that's why I've been working on this on my own," Wall said when we first spoke on the phone. After stories about his lawsuits were published, he heard from other people who also thought mask mandates were unjust or illegal, he said.In Chicago, there was Justin Mahwikizi, a driver for ride-hailing services. "I saw some coverage of his lawsuit while I was researching and drafting mine," Mahwikizi told me. "So I reached out to better understand the federal rules and procedures." After they spoke, Mahwikizi filed his own lawsuit against the CDC.Since then, Wall's anti-mask entourage has grown steadily. In August, more than 30 passengers and flight attendants filed declarations in support of Wall's lawsuit against the Biden administration. When Wall filed an amended complaint against the airlines in September, he added a dozen new plaintiffs. In October, other members of the group filed petitions in six federal circuit courts, with each filing referencing Wall's lawsuit. In an interview last month, Wall told Insider he was preparing a third lawsuit, this time against Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.Several people who've joined him in filing a series of lawsuits and petitions described him to Insider as a leader of sorts.In Kentucky, Shannon Greer Cila was browsing GoFundMe when she came across Wall's fundraiser and reached out to him. "He's a little terse. He's very focused. He's very directed," Cila said in a call recently. But he was hard-working, she said, and she signed on as a co-plaintiff against the airlines.Biden and Fauci in February.Evan Vucci/AP PhotoIn Florida, Leonardo McDonnell offered Wall his help after hearing about his lawsuits. "This is good versus evil, and I don't believe in defeating evil with kindness," McDonnell told Insider in an email.In Israel, Uriel ben-Mordechai found himself drawn into Wall's orbit via a Google search for people who felt similarly about mandates for masks, which he called "face diapers." He and his wife, Adi, donated to Wall's fundraiser, then joined his airline lawsuit."He's like me — he's not a lawyer, but he knows the system," ben-Mordechai said in a call recently. "This guy knows what he's doing."Outside of Wall's group of co-petitioners and supporters, views were different. On Villages-News.com, a community publication following Wall's lawsuits, a commenter dubbed Wall a "mommy's boy.""My eleven year-old nephew has a better understanding of the Constitution than you do," the commenter said. "I feel sorry for your mommy. She must loooove you lots to be embarrassed by your constant public statements."People who emailed Wall directly were just as blunt, he said. "People talk about what they do to help others or what they would do for their country but you can't even wear a mask," one email he shared with Insider said. "It's sad and speaks volumes about the type of person you are."The Biden administration's defenseIn early October, the Biden administration's lawyers tried to poke holes in Wall's complaint. He had bought his plane ticket on May 31, just two days before he planned to fly, they said.The lawyers said that instead of filling out Southwest's form to request a medical exemption from the mask mandate, Wall wrote on the form that he thought the request itself was illegal. They said that because he had booked the flight with such short notice, Southwest could not have granted an exemption, and TSA officials acted accordingly. They said the complaint "is due to be dismissed as a shotgun pleading," a term for legal filings that are stuffed with facts but have little organization. They'd taken issue with the first 182 pages, or 960 paragraphs, of Wall's initial 206-page filing, saying they were "replete with conclusory, vague, and immaterial facts."A US district courthouse.Cliff Owen/AP PhotoAs such, it was difficult to say which of those 960 paragraphs related to each of the 23 charges Wall had levied at the government, the lawyers wrote."It is not the Court's responsibility to cobble together portions of the Complaint to create a comprehensible pleading," they said.In late October, Wall replied with a 22-point objection, adding 55 pages of arguments. He said he'd filled out Southwest's "illegal mask-exemption-request form" immediately after booking."Even if it were permitted by law, it would have been impossible for me to send in the form any sooner," Wall wrote.Wall told the court that his claim was "long and detailed" but that "short and plain" statements of fact made up the 960 paragraphs the government had mentioned. He said his arguments were "simple, concise, and direct."A canceled ticketAs Wall continued his legal battle, members of his coalition of anti-maskers began running into difficulties of their own.In late September, Wall convened a group of 13 fliers who opposed masks for medical reasons. In one day, they filed petitions in six federal circuit courts, with each referencing Wall's suit. In the weeks that followed, they and Wall began running into issues with the TSA and airlines.One of the petitioners, Michael Faris, a helicopter technician from Kentucky, booked a flight on United but was denied boarding after he declined to wear a mask, then put one on at the gate, then had "a panic attack and collapse in the jetway," he said in a court filing. He rebooked with American but found that his boarding pass had been marked "SSSS," a TSA category meaning "Secondary Security Screening Selection," which required extensive searching before boarding.A boarding pass marked "SSSS," a TSA code for Secondary Security Screening Selection.Jim Urquhart/ReutersFaris wrote in an emergency petition that he "submitted a complaint to the Department of Homeland Security, TSA's parent agency, regarding his placement on the terrorist watchlist." A few days later, Faris said in a statement that he'd since been removed from the list. The TSA didn't respond to Insider's request for comment.Faris last week filed another emergency petition, again asking the court to invalidate the mask mandate. Dept. of Justice lawyers responded by saying that "any harm suffered by [Faris] is plainly outweighed by the need to protect the public from unsafe air operations." On Friday, three federal circuit judges denied the motion. A few weeks ago, Wall said in an email to Insider that he'd been barred from flying on JetBlue. He'd finally booked a flight to Washington, DC, and requested a mask waiver from the airline. But his ticket was canceled "with no explanation," he said. Later, an airline customer-service supervisor told him that the company's security department had canceled his ticket, Wall said."JetBlue's action banning me from flying because I sued over its unlawful mask policy constitutes illegal retaliation for asserting my rights under the Air Carrier Access Act to be free from discrimination," Wall said in his email.He sent similar emails to the media for each person in the group of 13 who'd been removed from a flight or prevented from flying. But behind the scenes, Wall was planning something bigger: a media event that would, he believed, bring further attention to his cause.A 'silent & peaceful' protestOn August 1, a private Facebook group called Americans Against Mask Mandates was created. The group, which said it opposed any government order that "muzzled" people, attracted hundreds of Facebook users.Weeks before Wall booked his flight from Orlando to Washington, he posted in that group looking for volunteers who wanted to make a statement against the mask mandate through "Operation Freedom to Breathe Flights" and to help launch his lawsuit against Fauci. (A person with access to the group shared the post with Insider.)The post said Wall was looking for people from around the country to book flights to Washington. On each flight, those volunteers would "remove their mask when the seatbelt sign is turned off and refuse to put it back on," the post said, adding, "All fliers will be given legal documents to hand to the flight attendants who come around demanding the muzzles be put back on."Wall wanted his volunteers to "agree to a SILENT & PEACEFUL" protest, with "no yelling, chanting, arguing with FAs and/or other passengers, etc.," it said.Wall in The Villages in October.Octavio Jones for InsiderJetBlue told Insider that Wall had been barred because of social-media posts that had been shared with the airline, not because of the lawsuit he'd filed against the airlines."We continue to comply with the federal mask mandate and offer a process for exemptions in limited cases. The safety of our crewmembers and customers is our top priority," a spokesperson, Derek Dombrowski, said in an email."This customer has publicly announced efforts to recruit and organize other customers to collectively disrupt flights on commercial aircraft heading to Washington, D.C., this month by refusing to wear their masks during flights. It's for this reason, not his current litigation, that he is no longer welcome to fly JetBlue."Wall had planned for the protesters to meet up in the baggage claim at Dulles Airport in Washington for a press conference. Then they'd "all ride maskless" on the subway to the federal courthouse near the Capitol, the post said. He pictured a media event with the plaintiffs going in the courthouse to file while others "yell and chant outside.""After we come out with the stamped 'FILED' copy of the complaint, we'll hold another media availability to talk about the lawsuit against Dr. Fauci et al," he said.As of mid-November, Wall hadn't yet filed that complaint.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 18th, 2021

New York AG Tish James is running for governor on her record of taking on Trump. But her role in the criminal probe of his company remains hazy.

What James has contributed to the Trump Organization criminal investigation is less clear than her record challenging the former president's policies. New York Attorney General and governor candidate Letitia James and former President Donald Trump. David Dee Delgado/Getty Images; Paul Hennessy/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images New York AG Letitia James has joined forces with the Manhattan DA for the Trump Organization investigation. She's also running for governor and touting her record of going after former President Donald Trump. Her office has scored wins against Trump on the policy front, but her exact role in the criminal investigation is unclear. When New York Attorney General Letitia James announced her run for the governor's mansion in October, she highlighted some of her biggest cases. And she put 76 of them in one category."I've sued the Trump administration 76 times," she said. "But who's counting?"James' challenges to former President Donald Trump fall into two categories, one of which went unmentioned in her announcement video.There are the cases she brought against the Trump administration, including lawsuits trying to halt policies that she alleged protected predatory lenders, relaxed environmental rules, and discriminated against LGBTQ people."Defending the rights and wellbeing of New Yorkers and fighting for the powerless have always been my top priorities as attorney general," James told Insider in a statement, once again touting her office's 76 lawsuits. "For two years, my office stood up and fought the Trump Administration every time it tried to trample on the rights of New Yorkers and Americans across the country."James also brought cases against Trump personally, including an investigation into the Trump Organization, which so far has produced a criminal indictment against the former president's company and its CFO, Allen Weisselberg.Two prosecutors from James' office were cross-designated to work with the Manhattan District Attorney's office, which is leading the Trump Organization probe. Since the investigation is ongoing - prosecutors impaneled a second grand jury for the case earlier this month - there's limited public information about the machinations behind the probe, including what work each office has contributed thus far.While James can't talk about the details because the investigation is ongoing, Daniel R. Alonso, a former top deputy for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., pointed out the information James' office gathered for its civil cases against Trump could be a major asset."My best guess is that what the attorney general's office brought to the table is a hell of a lot of knowledge about the Trump Organization," Alonso told Insider. James has called out Trump from her perch as New York AGJames has approached her cases against the Trump administration with a special zeal. When he was in office, she used her position to get federal courts to halt policies she said trampled on civil rights issues."We filed 76 lawsuits against an administration that was hostile towards women, immigrants, people of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community, workers, and countless others; and we won over and over again," she told Insider. "Now, under the Biden-Harris Administration, we've seen decisive leadership that has protected young Dreamers, women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and millions of others across New York and the rest of the United States."James also scored a big win with her office's investigation into the Trump Foundation, which was forced to dissolve in 2019, though the civil lawsuit began under the tenure of her predecessor, Barbara Underwood. Trump admitted to illegally using the nonprofit's money for personal profit and to advance his political career. Donald Trump attends the National Prayer Breakfast at a hotel in Washington, DC on February 8, 2018. MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images In an interview with ABC's "The View" in December 2020, when asked about Trump calling her investigations against him "harassment," James basically launched into a campaign speech.​​"With respect to the rant of the President of the United States since I've been in office these past two years - yes, my office has either led or joined 68 lawsuits against this administration. Protecting our environment, protecting immigrants, protecting the rights of women, protecting dreamers, protecting the Affordable Care Act, protecting the Postal Service and the list goes on," she said, adding: "It's important that the president of the United States understand that no one is above the law."The law came for the former president's business after Michael Cohen, the former Trump Organization executive and personal lawyer for Trump, testified before Congress in February 2019. He alleged the company kept two sets of books: one to receive favorable bank loan and insurance rates, the other to pay little in taxes.Both the Manhattan DA's office and the New York Attorney General's office were listening. The offices then opened investigations, on parallel tracks, to examine the company's finances. Court filings and public announcements suggested they were each looking at whether the Trump Organization broke state laws by making hush-money payments to people who said they had affairs with Trump, by misrepresenting its finances, and by offering untaxed benefits to top employees.James and the Manhattan DA joined forcesAs recently as fall 2020, both prosecutors' offices had separate teams working what appeared to be the same leads. In an interview with Insider , Jennifer Weisselberg, a cooperating witness for both investigations, said that investigators from each office asked her about the same issues in separate interviews.James' office distinguished itself in the following months with a series of announcements about the inquiries into the valuations of several Trump Organization properties as part of a civil investigation. Among them is 40 Wall Street, located just across the street from James' office in Manhattan. The Trump Organization's Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, center, arrives for a courtroom appearance in New York, Monday, Sept. 20, 2021. AP Photo/Craig Ruttle) The properties also include the Seven Springs estate in upstate New York, which the Trump Organization said in tax filings was used as a nature conservatory. Eric and Donald Trump Jr. said in media interviews that they used the estate as a summer home, however, and James' office successfully forced Eric Trump, now a Trump Organization executive, to sit for an interview.Meanwhile, Vance's office put enormous resources into the case. It went to the Supreme Court twice to enforce a subpoena for the Trump Organization and obtain reams of tax documents. Solomon Shinerock - the prosecutor in the DA's office who has been doing almost all the talking at the two public court hearings so far - said in September that the office had about 6 million pages of evidence for the charges against Weisselberg and the company.Under state statute, the New York Attorney General's office has the ability to bring criminal cases under only a few areas of law. Otherwise, it needs a referral from the governor's office or state legislature to pursue a wide-ranging criminal investigation.The office can also "cross-designate" its attorneys with a district attorney's office, which is what happened for the Trump Organization investigation. Earlier this year, two prosecutors on James' team were basically loaned out to the Manhattan DA's office. The team-up saves work for everyone, Alonso said."If somebody's already gathered evidence, and they've already cataloged that they've already interviewed witnesses related to it - there's a value in accelerating that part of the investigation," Alonso said. "So it makes sense to team up." Cyrus Roberts Vance Jr. District Attorney of New York County and New York State Attorney General Letitia James arrive in court for the hearing of Allen Weisselberg in New York on July 1, 2021. Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images The DA and AG offices jointly led a criminal investigation, while the AG's office has also continued its civil probe. In July, the prosecutors on the criminal case filed a 15-count indictment against the Trump Organization and Weisselberg, accusing the executive of evading taxes on income and benefits like a free apartment. Vance and James walked side-by-side that day into court, where the company and Weisselberg pleaded not guilty to the charges."My office remains committed to enforcing the law and holding accountable those who abuse their authority - no matter how powerful," James said in the statement to Insider.Vance will retire on December 31 after three terms as DA, and on January 1, Alvin Bragg will take over. Bragg is a former top official in the New York State Attorney General's office himself, leaving two weeks before James took office. He's widely expected to keep the same tack as Vance."My approach to this case will be the same as mine to every case: follow the facts and deliver justice for New Yorkers," Bragg told Insider in June. "That's what we did in the Attorney General's office where I led the team that sued Trump and his administration more than 100 times, including successfully suing the Trump Foundation, removing the citizenship question from the census, and challenging the travel bans and other unlawful policies."Running for governor as a sitting AG is a tradition in New York politicsIn Albany, James has earned a reputation as a shrewd operator and a rising star in the Democratic Party. As the state's attorney general, she's in the process of suing the National Rifle Association into oblivion, and her office's investigations and litigation has shut down consumer scams and led to hundreds of gun buybacks. Nearly every day, her office issues a press release about cases against predatory lenders and opioid deaths.Now that the gubernatorial primary is open, lawmakers are weighing whom to support, or whether to stay out of the race altogether as Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul implements her agenda while trying to secure a full term.For Assemblyman Phil Steck, an Upstate Democrat from Schenectady who has yet to endorse a candidate, James' record on antitrust enforcement and opioids carries more weight than her challenges to Trump."I'm a fan of the attorney general for two reasons," Steck, who endorsed James' rival, Zephyr Teachout, in the 2018 AG primary, told Insider. In that primary, disgraced former Gov. Andrew Cuomo endorsed James. Attorney General of New York Letitia James and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) take part in ceremonies before the Veteran's Day Parade in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., November 11, 2021. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri "First, since she's been attorney general, I think the office has done a lot of outstanding work in many areas that protect the public interest," Steck continued. "Two, she has a long history of progressive politics. So in comparison - while I know the current governor very well and like her - the reality is that the new administration is surrounding itself with a very similar aura to that which existed when Andrew Cuomo was governor."Changing how business is done in Albany could be a very powerful message for the James campaign following nearly three full terms of the Cuomo administration, Steck said. But he added that the AG's Trump investigations could play well in a primary atmosphere."I think from a strategic standpoint, what Tish James is doing is trying to show to Democrats that she was someone who was willing to take on Donald Trump," the assemblyman said.But did James's lawsuits against the Trump administration - often filed in concert with other Democratic state AGs - result in substantial change? One Democratic operative told Insider they didn't think so."Clearly Tish used Trump to raise her profile, and you see that in the announcement video," a longtime Democratic New York political operative, who plans on sitting out the 2022 gubernatorial primary campaign, told Insider."You know who's counting? The people who have seen zero results out of this," the operative continued. "To voters in New York and Democrats and donors across the country who were resting their hopes on Tish James, she's delivered bupkis." New York Attorney General Letitia James (L) and Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz take a look at some guns after a gun buyback event organized by the NYPD on June 12, 2021. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz Given that attorney general has been a well-trodden springboard for Empire State gubernatorial hopefuls - Cuomo ran on a "Clean Up Albany" slogan when he secured the top job - James' ability to showcase her record could make or break her campaign, according to the longtime state political operative."New York attorney general is one of the best perches for a push to run for office," the operative said. "Ask Elliot Spitzer. Ask Andrew Cuomo. Right? Elliot Spitzer, sheriff of Wall Street, took down titans in the financial industry - what did Tish do? She filed a few lawsuits against Donald Trump?"From the perspective of rival campaigns, the operative argued, there's an opening to to turn the primary electorate's anti-Trump fervor against James in a "boomerang" fashion."I do believe that you are going to see her Democratic opponents saying, 'Tish, where's the beef?'" the operative said, referencing the 1980s ad campaign from Wendy's. "So yeah, I think it's going to be a problem."Yet for a potential key Upstate endorsement like Steck, that decision won't hinge on James' Trump investigations."I'm just stressing the point that for me, when my decision as to who I might support for governor is announced, it's not going to be based on Donald Trump," Steck said.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 12th, 2021

We Only Think We’re Making Our Own Choices. It Matters How Options Are Framed

You might not know it, but when you gave your partner some choices for dinner after work this evening, you were a choice architect. You almost automatically thought about how may options to present, you presented them in a certain order, and you might have described them as heavy or light, meaty or vegetarian, or… You might not know it, but when you gave your partner some choices for dinner after work this evening, you were a choice architect. You almost automatically thought about how may options to present, you presented them in a certain order, and you might have described them as heavy or light, meaty or vegetarian, or scrumptious or healthy. You might not have known this, but your presentation probably influenced their response. You are not alone: every store, app, financial advisor, doctor, and parent practices choice architecture, and even though we all do it without a license, it matters. It affects everything from what kind of eggs we buy to where we choose to live. In fact, it touches on just about every decision we make. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Choice architecture refers to the many aspects of how a choice is posed that can be manipulated, intentionally or inadvertently, to influence the decisions we make. The options may be the same, but the presentation can change your choice. Before you make a decision, someone has molded many of the characteristics of that choice for you, and these design decisions will in some way affect what you choose. Many people, when first introduced to the concept, are uncomfortable with or even afraid of it. They are afraid their choices might be influenced by something outside their control, without their awareness, and that they might be exploited. As designers, they worry about influencing others, unintentionally or in harmful ways. Choice architecture can seem threatening: it gives the designer some control over what we choose. By setting a default, the car dealership is affecting what trim package you choose for your new vehicle; by sorting wine on their site, the online wine merchant may be making cheap, low‑quality wine seem more attractive. If people are unaware of the influence of choice architecture, maybe we can just tell them that they are going to be influenced. Warnings accompany all sorts of products, from vacuum cleaners to cigarettes, so why not choice architecture? Unfortunately, disclosing the presence and intent of choice architecture does not seem to work. Several studies have told people about what defaults do, in various ways, including saying that their goal is to change behavior. All that warning appears to do is to make the nudge seem more acceptable. This is why neglecting choice architecture as a designer can lead to harm. Designers don’t always know the power of the tools that are at their disposal. They might be harming choosers unintentionally, making haphazard selections of tools. Consider end‑of‑life decisions. When people are gravely ill, they can choose interventions that could extend their lives, but these therapies are intrusive and unpleasant, and the time added to your life often comes with the price of being put on a ventilator or having a feeding tube inserted. Grouped together, these treatments are called life-extension care. The alternative is called comfort care. The latter involves declining many invasive interventions and focusing on managing pain and ensuring comfort. In a remarkable study by Scott Halpern and colleagues, patients with terminal illnesses made choices about end‑of‑life care that actually determined their treatment. The advance directive given to them by the researchers first asked what their goal for care was: life extension or comfort care. For a third of the patients, the directive had a comfort‑care default, indicated by a pre-checked box. A second group had no preselection, and the third group had the life‑extension goal already checked. Comfort care was selected 77 percent of the time when it was the default, 66 percent of them time when no option was preselected, and only 43 percent of the time when life extension was the default. This means that the default affected specific interventions, like having a feeding tube. It is remarkable that the default had such a large effect on such an important decision. But what happened next is even more informative. Being ethical scientists, the investigators later explained to all the patients (at least those that were still living) that they had been randomly assigned to those defaults, told them about the influence of default effects, and most important, offered the respondents the chance to change their minds. If patients had preferences, this was their chance to express them. Yet, of the 132 terminal respondents, only 2 changed their choices. Even when they were told what the defaults were, that the defaults had been determined randomly, and the way defaults influence choice, the effect of defaults persisted. This is strong evidence that many people do not have preexisting preferences for end-of-life care. This is an incredibly difficult and unfamiliar decision. Most patients have not experienced intubation, the insertion of a feeding tube, or dialysis before, and these aren’t decisions anyone enjoys thinking about in advance. When the time comes, the primary decision‑maker may not be conscious, and the family members who inherit the decisions are overwhelmed. Making sure that people have a choice is laudable, but overwhelmed decision makers are even more likely to take the default. This is a problem: there is a disconnect between what people say they want when they are forced to make a choice and what happens when they are not forced. Comfort care was selected by the majority of patients in the Halpern‑led study when there was no default. But if you don’t make a choice, that is not what happens in reality. Unless the patient or their immediate family says otherwise, the patient will be treated as if they had chosen life extension. The design of most of the commonly used advance directives seems to bias people toward life extension. For example, “I want to have life support” is the first option on one commonly used document. Assuming patient autonomy and ignoring the influence of choice architecture has a significant impact on suffering, cost, and dignity. Doctors may be loath to influence end‑of-life care choices, but then patients also don’t want to make these decisions. This reluctance increases the importance of defaults. End‑of‑life choice illustrates when choice architecture might have its largest effects. Most choices are mundane and repetitive, but some choices are both important and rare. When people make them, they often lack clear ideas of what they want or how to proceed. Choosing a school, buying a house, selecting a pension plan, and settling on a type of end‑of life care are all examples of infrequent decisions with big consequences. Particularly if the decision‑maker has conflicting goals, choice architecture will play a larger role. Not all bad choice architecture results from ignorance or naïveté. Some designers experiment to see what works—for example, in direct mail campaigns or by conducting A/B tests on the internet. These designers could use this knowledge to advance their interests instead of those of the choosers. The result may be malevolent choice architecture. Choosers are very sensitive to initial costs, in terms of both money and effort. Badly intentioned designers can exploit that. We have all made the decision to start or stop a subscription service—say, a newspaper or a streaming service like Spotify or Hulu. This can be used to construct a subscription trap, where the designer has made it is easy to start and hard to stop. Newspapers are a mild example. It is very easy to start a subscription with a few clicks on most newspapers’ websites for a low initial rate, like $1 a week for fifty-two weeks. But once you have started, it is more difficult to stop—say, when the early rate increases to almost $5 a week. To cancel, you must call an 800 number. Designers can use costs to inhibit choices and maintain the status quo. Several years ago, I was interviewed by National Public Radio’s Marketplace. The interviewer and I sat together as he tried to change his privacy settings. By default, Verizon could track his phone calls and potentially sell that information. A Verizon representative had said opting out of tracking was very easy. The reality was different: after a long robotic message that suggested that the interviewer could “restrict or change options to his telecommunications service information,” he was given a long menu of options. After pressing 1, indicating that he wanted to change his privacy options, he was asked whether he wanted to place a restriction on his account. This seemed scary, like he would be giving up something rather than just changing his privacy settings. He was then asked to type in his ten‑digit telephone number as it appears on his bill, followed by pound. The robotic voice read it back, very slowly, digit by digit, and then asked him to enter it again. It then asked for the first thirteen digits of the account number from his bill, then asked him to speak his first and last name, remembering to press pound each time, speak his address, then his town, state, and zip code, and finally his first and last name again to confirm that he is the decision‑maker. I suspect the phone company already knew his phone number. Not surprisingly, Verizon reported that the number of people opting out was in the single digits. Of course, many privacy agreements have exactly this structure: we are presented with long and complex terms of service that seem designed to restrict comprehension. It’s estimated that over 90 percent of website users do not read terms‑of‑service documentation. This can lead to bad decisions. In one study, 98 percent of users agreed to a privacy policy that explicitly said it would share all information with the National Security Agency and their employer, and required them to provide their first‑born child as payment. Fortunately, this was an experiment, but bad choice architecture does lead to mistakes in understanding what we are giving up. Perhaps the most egregious example of malicious choice architecture involves electronic health records (EHRs). That is the computer system doctors use to keep track of patients and to prescribe drugs. Smaller practices and individual doctors don’t have the resources to develop and tune EHRs of their own. Many adopted a free system, provided by a successful start‑up called Practice Fusion. Heralded as “the Facebook of health” by TechCrunch, the company provided the EHRs funded by selling advertising targeted to the physicians. But that is not all. Practice Fusion also received payments from pharmaceutical companies in return for changes in their EHR’s choice architecture. One particularly nefarious example was an agreement between Practice Fusion and a company known in court as “Pharma X.” In exchange for $1 million, in 2016 Practice Fusion added an alert that reminded physicians to ask patients about their pain and then provided options. The alert was presented to doctors 230 million times in a three‑year period, and Pharma X estimated that the alert would add three thousand customers and as much as $11 million in sales. This was happening at the same time that concern was rising about overprescribing of pain medicines, specifically extended‑release opioids. The problem is that the prompts ignored the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for opiate prescriptions encouraging non-pharmaceutical and non-opioid treatments. If the doctor thought opioids were required, they were advised to avoid time‑release drugs, since they were more likely to lead to long‑term use, and to limit the number of pills to a small supply. But Practice Fusion’s EHR system included an option for extended‑use opioids, even where the guidelines warned against them. Pharma X was Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, which in 2021 settled a suit for misleading marketing of opioids with fines and payments estimated to be $4.5 billion. Meanwhile, Practice Fusion admitted to the payments it had received to change the EHR choice architecture, settling the charges brought by the state of Vermont for $145 million. Practice Fusion and Purdue were the designers of a choice architecture that caused harm to patients by providing inappropriate options to doctors. Choice architecture can have an enormous impact on people’s welfare. It can make it harder or easier to control our personal information. It can increase savings for retirement and help students find better schools. It can increase or decrease prescriptions for potentially addictive drugs. Choice design can make a difference, and ignoring it is not an option. This is particularly true when we look at who is most affected by choice architecture. It has a greater impact, positive or negative, on the people who are the most vulnerable: those with lower incomes, less education, and challenging social circumstances. Put another way, choice architecture could be a particularly potent tool for addressing income disparity and social justice. On the flip side, this means that malevolent choice architecture, like the examples we have just discussed, are particularly harmful to those who are the most disadvantaged. While a deeper understanding of how choice architecture works may tempt some to manipulate others for their own ends, I hope they will be very much in the minority. Overall, a more widespread understanding of how our design choices affect others should result in more intentional and constructive choice architectures from which we can all benefit. Designing choice architecture is like picking a path on a map. Many paths are possible, but some are much better for the chooser. Defaults can be selected in choosers’ best interests. Good alternatives can be made easy to see, and not obscured by many bad or irrelevant options. Benefit programs can be made easy to access instead of more difficult. And when we do know what we want, a good choice architecture can make it either easy to find or difficult. But how you use your newfound skill is, of course, up to you. Adapted from THE ELEMENTS OF CHOICE by Eric J. Johnson, published by Riverhead, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2021 by Eric J. Johnson......»»

Category: topSource: timeNov 10th, 2021

Innoviz Technologies Reports Third Quarter 2021 Operational and Financial Results

TEL AVIV, Israel, Nov. 10, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Innoviz Technologies (NASDAQ:INVZ), a technology leader of high-performance, solid-state LiDAR sensors and perception software, today reported operational and financial results for the third quarter ended September 30, 2021. Innoviz management reaffirmed its long-term guidance, future potential order book, and provided operational updates on its commercial traction, technology leadership, and corporate development. Commercial Traction Innoviz continues to make progress on key automotive programs with leading car makers and technology companies for sourcing decisions in the short- and mid-term period. The unique cost and performance proposition offered by InnovizTwo has garnered significant interest from the market. For certain automotive programs, Innoviz can now provide the InnovizTwo solution as a direct Tier 1 supplier. Innoviz successfully completed an extensive, 12-month Tier 1 supplier audit process conducted by one of the largest car makers in the world. Innoviz is now recognized as a direct supplier as part of the final stage of consideration for a nomination for a L2/L3 program. If received, this recognition would mark an important milestone in Innoviz's progress and establishment in the automotive space. Integrated its Perception Platform with NVIDIA's DRIVE AGX autonomous vehicle development platform, including the NVIDIA DRIVE ecosystem, which is used on several programs where Innoviz is interested in expanding its business. Innoviz's LiDAR sensor is also integrated with the NVIDIA DRIVE Sim.   Selected by JueFX for its Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) solution to improve road safety and traffic alerts for autonomous vehicles in China. JueFX will install Innoviz's high-performance, solid-state LiDAR on smart city infrastructure and leverage its annotated data to monitor traffic in real time and to send alerts to autonomous vehicles. Technology Leadership On track with the industrialization of InnovizOne with the final hardware design freeze anticipated by the end of 2021. This would enable the mass production of InnovizOne at the fully automated production facility in Holly, Michigan. On track with InnovizTwo's new design to deliver its first engineering samples by the end of 2021. Expanded key automotive capabilities in-house, primarily around Automotive SPICE (Software Process Improvement and Capability), quality, supplier management, validation, and verification. Innoviz expects these capabilities to allow it to serve multiple programs in a more cost effective, comprehensive, and efficient manner. Migrated Innoviz's perception stack from InnovizAPP edge computing platform to the NVIDIA DRIVE AGX Platform, which is used on several programs in which Innoviz participates. Corporate Development Increased employee headcount by 32 people in the third quarter, bringing the company's total employee count to 369 at quarter end. The increase in headcount was driven by the need to support potential programs and new product development. Approximately 70% of the company's employees consist of the research and development team. Management Commentary "As the global LiDAR market moves towards the convergence on multiple programs, Innoviz is uniquely positioned to secure new design wins due to our extensive automotive experience, our growing capabilities and our portfolio of products," said Omer Keilaf, CEO and co-founder of Innoviz. "Given our Tier 1 status, InnovizTwo solution, the maturity of our customer engagements as well as a growing program pipeline, we are confident in our ability to solidify our position as the leading LiDAR supplier in the automotive industry." Third Quarter 2021 Financial Results Revenues for Q3 2021 were $2.1 million, an increase of 106% compared to Q2 2021, and an increase of 13% compared to Q3 2020. InnovizOne-related revenues in Q3 2021 were $1.6 million, or 79% of the total quarterly revenues, an increase of 36% compared to $1.2 million, or 66% of the total quarterly revenues, in Q3 2020. The company continues to see strong interest for its products and expects the positive momentum to continue. Operating expenses for Q3 2021 were $30.0 million, an increase from $16.8 million in Q3 2020. Q3 2021 operating expenses included $8.2 million of stock-based compensation. The increase in operating expenses compared to Q3 2020 was primarily due to an increase of $7.4 million of stock-based compensation and personnel-related expenses. Additionally, the company continued to invest in R&D, with R&D expenses totaling $20.6 million for Q3 2021, of which $3.7 million was attributable to stock-based compensation, compared to $14.7 million of R&D expenses incurred in Q3 2020, of which $0.6 million was attributable to stock-based compensation. As of September 30, 2021, the company had $139.6 million in cash and $185.0 million in short-term deposits, compared to $58.0 million in cash as of September 30, 2020. The increase in cash was related to the closing of the company's business combination transaction earlier this year. Forward-Looking Guidance Innoviz management reaffirmed its forward-looking order book guidance of $2.4 billion, representing the cumulative projected future sales of hardware and perception software through 2030 based on current estimates of volumes and pricing. Innoviz currently has 56 prospective customers in the late stages of technical evaluation, RFIs and RFQs. Of the 56 prospective customers, nine are in the RFQ or final commercial negotiations stage. These nine prospects represent more than $3.4 billion in future potential order book volume. Innoviz expects some of these projects to materialize into contractual relationships by mid-2022. Given Innoviz's proven automotive experience, the value and performance of its products, the maturity of its engagements, and the scope of its relationships, the company is confident in its potential to establish market leadership. Conference Call Innoviz management will hold a conference call today, November 10, 2021, at 9:00 a.m. Eastern time (6:00 a.m. Pacific time) to discuss these results. Innoviz CEO Omer Keilaf and CFO Eldar Cegla will host the call from New York City, joined by a distinguished guest from BMW. The presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer session. All are invited to listen to the event by registering in advance: Here. The webinar can also be accessed by telephone through the following details: One tap mobile:+13017158592, 84486760489# US (Washington DC)+13126266799, 84486760489# US (Chicago)+97239786688, 84486760489# Israel Join by phone:Dial (for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):US: +1 301 715 8592, +1 312 626 6799, +1 346 248 7799, +1 646 558 8656, +1 669 900 9128, +1 253 215 8782Israel: +972 3 978 6688 Webinar ID: 84486760489 International numbers are available here. A replay of the webinar will also be available shortly after the call in the Investors section of Innoviz's website for 90 days. About Innoviz Technologies    Innoviz is a leading provider of technology that will put autonomous vehicles on roads. Innoviz's LiDAR technology can "see" better than a human driver and meets the automotive industry's strict expectations for performance, safety, and price. Selected by BMW for its fully autonomous car program, Innoviz's technology will be deployed in BMW's consumer vehicles. InnovizOne LiDAR has also been selected by a leading European Tier 1 automotive company for its shuttle program. Innoviz is backed by top-tier strategic partners and investors, including SoftBank Ventures Asia, Samsung, SK, Magna International, Aptiv, Magma Venture Partners, and others. For more information, visit www.innoviz.tech. Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements This announcement contains certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws, including statements regarding the services offered by Innoviz, the anticipated technological capability of Innoviz's products, the markets in which Innoviz operates, customer acquisition, Innoviz's forward-looking order book, Innoviz's projected revenue, Innoviz's future potential order book and other future financial and operational results. These forward-looking statements generally are identified by the words "believe," "project," "expect," "anticipate," "estimate," "intend," "strategy," "future," "opportunity," "plan," "may," "should," "will," "would," "will be," "will continue," "will likely result," and similar expressions. Forward-looking statements are predictions, projections and other statements about future events that are based on current expectations and assumptions and, as a result, are subject to risks and uncertainties. Many factors could cause actual future events to differ materially from the forward-looking statements in this announcement, including but not limited to, the ability to implement business plans, forecasts, and other expectations, the ability to identify and realize additional opportunities, and potential changes and developments in the highly competitive LiDAR technology and related industries. The foregoing list of factors is not exhaustive. You should carefully consider the foregoing factors and the other risks and uncertainties described in Innoviz's annual report on Form 20-F filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC") on April 21, 2021 and other documents filed by Innoviz from time to time with the SEC. These filings identify and address other important risks and uncertainties that could cause actual events and results to differ materially from those contained in the forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made. Readers are cautioned not to put undue reliance on forward-looking statements, and Innoviz assumes no obligation and does not intend to update or revise these forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise. Innoviz gives no assurance that it will achieve its expectations. Media Contact: Media@innoviz-tech.com  Investor Contact: Maya LustigInnoviz Technologies+972 54 677 8100Maya.Lustig@innoviz-tech.com Gateway Investor Relations Cody Slach or Matt Glover (949) 574-3860 Investors@innoviz-tech.com -  Tables to follow -     INNOVIZ TECHNOLOGIES LTD. CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF OPERATIONS U.S. dollars in thousands (except share and per share data) Three Months Ended Nine Months Ended September 30, September 30, 2020 2021 2020 2021 (Unaudited) (Unaudited) Revenues $ 1,831 $ 2,076 $ 3,680 $ 3,811 Cost of revenues (1,318) (2,201) (5,097) (5,737) Gross profit (loss) 513 (125) (1,417) (1,926) Operating expenses:.....»»

Category: earningsSource: benzingaNov 10th, 2021

Will Dominion end up owning MyPillow if it wins a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against Mike Lindell? Here are 2 ways it could take control.

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell told Insider he isn't concerned about Dominion's lawsuit, and baselessly claimed its executives would go to prison. Mike Lindell, founder of My Pillow Inc., points to the crowd during a rally for then-President Donald Trump at the Bemidji Regional Airport on September 18, 2020 in Bemidji, Minnesota. Stephen Maturen/Getty Images Dominion filed a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against MyPillow and its CEO Mike Lindell in February. The litigation has led to people joking about how Dominion will soon own the pillow company. Legal experts told Insider there are 2 ways Dominion could wind up owning MyPillow if it wins in court. Dominion Voting System's spree of lawsuits fighting against 2020 election conspiracy theories have drawn wildly different reactions from the defendants.Some have taken steps to address the allegations, like Fox News, which asked the court to dismiss the defamation lawsuit, parted ways with co-defendant Lou Dobbs, and has avoided giving a platform to conspiracy theorists like Sidney Powell in the past few months.On the other end of the spectrum is MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, who instantly went nuclear.As soon as Dominion filed its lawsuit in February, Lindell declared he was "happy" to face the election technology company in court. He filed a counter-lawsuit, has refused to provide an answer to Dominion's initial claims, and subsequently bankrolled and starred in three "docu-movies" and one "cyber symposium" advancing the conspiracy theory that Dominion manipulated election results.As the meme goes, Dominion will soon own MyPillow, Lindell's company.Dominion is asking for $1.3 billion in damages, suing both MyPillow and Lindell personally. It alleges Lindell used his company's resources in pursuit of defaming the election technology company, selling more pillows in the process. "I'm the one that asked them to sue me," Lindell told Insider on Wednesday, repeating false claims of election fraud. "I don't care if it's a scrillion, a billion, whatever. It's all just a joke."Lindell said he was "not worried" about Dominion's "frivolous" lawsuits. Dominion wanted to suppress his voice "by trying to bankrupt Mike Lindell," he said, switching to third-person.But if Dominion wins its defamation lawsuit against Lindell's company, will it actually end up owning MyPillow?Bankruptcy law experts say it's possible. If MyPillow loses, Dominion will have two opportunities to add a pillow company to its portfolio: Seizing its assets or winning a bankruptcy auction.Dominion could use a judgment to freeze MyPillow's assets and seize themDominion has justified its $1.3 billion damages claim by arguing that Lindell's conspiracy theories have made it lose out on future contracts and generated death threats against its employees.A jury will ultimately decide how much to award in damages if the case goes to trial. If a jury agrees with Dominion's assessments, the damages will almost certainly exceed MyPillow's value and Lindell's net worth.As a privately held company, MyPillow's doesn't have a public valuation, and Lindell declined to comment on its value. The pillow mogul doesn't appear on any billionaire lists.Once the judge enters the jury's judgment - and assuming MyPillow loses on appeal, or fails in arguing the damages down to a manageable sum - Dominion will have an opportunity to seize MyPillow's assets.Dominion could go to Minnesota, where MyPillow is based, and file what's called a "writ of execution" to the local courts. From there, the local sheriffs or courts will be able to freeze assets like bank accounts and hand over Lindell's MyPillow shares and the keys to his pillow warehouses. CEO of Dominion Voting Systems John Poulos testifyiesduring a hearing before the House Administration Committee January 9, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty Images "What you need to do is you need to go into all the states that MyPillow has assets. So they go into Minnesota where MyPillow is, and they file the judgment there," Eric Snyder, a bankruptcy attorney at Wilk Auslander LLC, told Insider. "And then they go to the sheriff and say, 'I want you to start seizing the assets of MyPillow - inventory, equipment, everything they own."Dominion would have the ability to seize assets until the value of the judgment is satisfied. It could auction off those assets itself, or it could keep them and have them valued, according to Edward Adams, a professor of corporate and bankruptcy law at the University of Minnesota law school.Dominion's defamation lawsuit is moving through federal court in Washington, DC, but a judgment will still be recognized in Lindell's hometown in Minnesota. Minnesota state law regarding seizures only covers what assets can be seized, according to Adams.Dominion might be able to take MyPillow's office real estate, but they would have a tougher time getting Lindell's house, or personal items like his honorary Liberty University diploma, Adams said. MyPillow chief executive Mike Lindell, speaks to reporters outside federal court in Washington, Thursday, June 24, 2021. AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta Of course, Lindell can always decide to settle the lawsuit on his and his company's behalf. But it's hard to see that happening: Lindell has full control of the company, he told Insider. And he has refused to concede that Biden fairly won the 2020 election and Trump won't be reinstated as president.Dominion probably doesn't want to settle either, Snyder said."It's not in the best interest to settle. They're trying to make a point," Snyder told Insider. "If I'm Dominion, I don't even want the money. It's not what it's about. It's about the reputation."Lindell doesn't want the company he spent decades building to be seized by a company that sued him, so he'll probably take another route."MyPillow is not going to want any of that," Snyder told Insider. "So MyPillow is going to probably file bankruptcy."Winning a bankruptcy auction would be harder for Dominion, but it would still have a shotIf MyPillow filed for bankruptcy, it would liquidate itself with court-supervised auctions to pay off creditors and debts.In that scenario, Dominion wouldn't likely recover all the damages a jury may award it. Companies going through bankruptcy have an obligation to pay "secured" creditors first, including lenders and employees who are owed wages.Dominion wouldn't be high up on the priority list when it comes to getting proceeds from a bankruptcy auction, because judgments are considered "unsecured" creditors."In a typical corporate bankruptcy, unsecured creditors get 10 cents on the dollar," Adams told Insider. "It's not a great place to be." Then-President Donald J. Trump listens to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell at the Rose Garden at the White House on Monday, March 30, 2020 in Washington, DC. Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images Lindell told Insider that MyPillow doesn't have any creditors or debts. He said he owns the majority of shares in the company and has given some employees shares as well.But even if Dominion gets knocked down the priority list in a hypothetical bankruptcy auction's proceeds, Dominion could try to acquire MyPillow's assets as a bidder. And any judgment it may be awarded would be as good as money."They can place what's called a credit bid, which basically means they bid not with money, but with what's owed them," Adams said. "It's effectively money."With a massive judgment, Dominion would almost certainly be able to win any auction and own the pillow company."Maybe some competitor wants to buy MyPillow and they're willing to pay a hundred million," Adams said. "If their credit is $1.3 billion - I mean, they're going to win."Does Dominion want to own a pillow company?It's an open question whether Dominion even wants to own MyPillow, since producing and selling pillows requires a different skillset than administering election technology.It's also impossible to predict how much in damages Dominion would win at trial. The "big money," according to Clay Calvert, a press-freedom expert at the University of Florida, will be in the punitive damages, where a jury could impose massive numbers on Lindell."The punitive damages are beyond the compensatory damages, whether it's general compensatory or special damages," Calvert said. "They're designed to punish and to deter conduct like this in the future."Dominion may also be competing against Smartmatic, a rival election technology company that has been the subject of the same conspiracy theories and filed its own defamation lawsuits. Smartmatic hasn't sued Lindell, though.For his part, Lindell has shown no interest in owning an election technology company.In his interview with Insider, Lindell made the bold prediction that state attorneys general would file a lawsuit later this month that will result in the Supreme Court overturning the 2020 election results and getting rid of all voting machines in the United States."I want to take Dominion, the company, melt down the machines and use the metal for prison bars, and the plastic for the little trays they served breakfast on in prison, for all the Dominion people that were involved in this, and all the other criminals like Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, the CCP, everyone that was part of the biggest crime in the history of the world," he told Insider, referring to the Chinese Communist Party, which he baselessly claims was involved in hacking election results. My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell at the White House on Monday, March 30, 2020 in Washington, DC. Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images Asked if he was worried about Dominion's lawsuit succeeding, Lindell said Insider was "wasting my time" and speculated Dominion's executives would go to prison.A representative for Dominion pointed Insider to its original lawsuit in response to questions about its litigation."He is well aware of the independent audits and paper ballot recounts conclusively disproving the Big Lie," the lawsuit reads. "But Lindell - a talented salesman and former professional card counter - sells the lie to this day because the lie sells pillows."If a jury awarded Dominion $1.3 billion, it would almost certainly be the biggest-ever verdict in US history for a defamation case. It would be far beyond the $177 million Disney had to pay in the "pink slime" case, which is believed to be the biggest award in recent years and involved an NBC News story that misled viewers about a beef company's products.The beef company in that lawsuit hired Tom Clare, a famed defamation attorney, to represent them in the litigation, which ended in 2017.Clare is now representing Dominion.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 3rd, 2021

The 17 best places to buy Christmas decorations, from tree toppers to lights and novelty items

From tree toppers to lawn ornaments, these stores have all the Christmas decorations you could wish for. Shop at Wayfair, Etsy, and more. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty Images We've rounded up the best places to find Christmas decorations in a range of styles and prices. You can add festive flair to every room in your home, from flannel sheets to merry table cloths. Target, Etsy, Pottery Barn, and others have Christmas decorations in practically every category. Table of Contents: Masthead StickyThe holiday season has officially begun, and people have already brought their wreaths and lights out of storage. But if you haven't joined in on the reindeer games or your decorations could use a bit of updating, don't fret: The following retailers have all the decor you could want. Whether you like your Christmas cheer to be traditional, modern, eclectic, or rustic, you can deck your halls, walls, and everything else in knickknacks, candles, garlands, and so much more. There are plenty of options for the lawn and roof, as well. From those who just want an elegant wreath to those looking to go full Clark Griswold, you should be able to get most everything on your list. We've rounded up a variety of retailers selling holiday goodies at various price points. Keep in mind that supply-chain issues could affect holiday decor stock, so it's a good idea to start shopping early this year.Here are the best places to buy Christmas decorations Hammacher Schlemmer Hammacher Schlemmer It's been in business for over 170 years, but Hammacher Schlemmer offers Christmas decor beyond the traditional. Started as a hardware store in 1848, Hammacher Schlemmer has been selling unique items via catalog since 1881. It's known for product testing much of what it sells, including its Christmas trees — some of which cost over $1,000, if you opt for one taller than 8 feet.While the store offers the usual Christmas fare, from wreaths to angel tree toppers, its holiday entertaining choices are a bit more offbeat: an animated, singing Mickey Mouse; a tabletop fireplace; and a popcorn maker. And if you want to make a big splash outdoors, there's a 15-foot inflatable Rudolph with a blinking nose. Apologies in advance to your neighbors.Good for: outdoor decorations, Christmas trees, offbeat entertaining optionsChoreographed Illuminated Galloping Reindeer (small)7.5-Foot Northern Lights Christmas Tree (small)Cordless Twinkling Table Runner (small) Grandin Road Grandin Road Grandin Road has a curated selection of holiday decor, including some truly unique offerings.If you're already counting the days until Christmas, Grandin Road has the clock for you. The store's options aren't exhaustive, but it does encompass a lot of tastes. There's greenery in all sorts of styles, and the pillow section is especially adorable. Perhaps Grandin Road's most attention-grabbing decorations are the startlingly realistic sheep, which look like they might stroll over and munch your sofa at any moment. (There are similarly detailed llamas as well.) If you prefer your wildlife to appear a little more fanciful, a purple velvet reindeer might do the trick.Good for: collectibles, wreaths and garlands, outdoor decorationsMercury Glass LED Trees (small)Snow Boots (small)Winter Wonderland Pillows (small) Anthropologie Anthropologie For the holidays, Anthropologie brings its usual boho, arty feel to greenery, ornaments, and more.Similar to CB2, Anthropologie keeps its holiday selection limited, but there's still plenty of options in its signature style. Cozy faux-fur blankets come in purple, pink, green, or blue, in addition to the usual white and gray. If you want a stocking that stands out from the crowd, the brand's bright and tasseled ones might appeal to you. The candle collection is both beautiful and festively fragrant: There are wooden trees that smell like balsam and cedarwood, a candy cane scent, and plaid candles in various aromas. Good for: candles, ornaments, unusual stockingsFrosted Bottle Brush Tree Candle (small)Light-Up Holiday Village (small)Vegetable Garden Glass Ornaments (set of 12) (small) The Vermont Country Store The Vermont Country Store Like something out of a Hallmark Christmas movie, the Vermont Country Store has loads of quaint holiday decor. If your idea of Christmas is New England-inspired, you're probably already a fan of The Vermont Country Store. It's been in business since 1946 and has practically everything you need for an old-fashioned Christmas, from its selection of Christmas trees to holiday candles and candle holders.Flannel-bedding fans will find a good selection, including a few sheet sets decorated with Snoopy and the gang. If you've always dreamed of pulling apart your own holiday cracker, as they do in Britain, you can purchase them, as well. The store also sells holiday snacks, including tins of caramel corn and candy you may have eaten at Grandma's. Good for: sheets, holiday treats, knickknacksLeather Sleigh Bell Strap with 4 Brass Bells (small)Mosser Glass Christmas Tree (small)European Cookie Assortment (small) Bronner's Bronner's Bronner's is a year-round Christmas store located in Frankenmuth, Michigan, but it also has a robust online presence. Bronner's has essentially every category of Christmas decoration, from lights to outdoor accessories and wreaths. You'll even find Santa suits if you want to be part of the decor. The store sells cowboy-boot stockings, as well as more traditional kinds.Bronner's ornament selection is impressive, as well. Perhaps a lasagna would make the perfect addition to your Garfield-themed tree. (If you want an all-food tree, Bronner's more than has you covered. There's even a DQ Blizzard.) It sells all matter of dinosaur and Disney ornaments, And, of course, Bob Ross will make yours a happy little tree. Good for: Ornaments, wreaths, lights, collectibles Worth a look:Silhouette Camel Lighted LED Wire-Frame Shape (small, Preferred: Bronner's)Scrooge and Marley Counting House (small, Preferred: Bronner's)Transparent Red With Swirls Glass Ornament (small) Balsam Hill Balsam Hill Balsam Hill makes artificial Christmas trees, but there's much more to stock up on, as well. Balsam Hill has one of the more useful ways to hunt down a wreath or garland, letting you narrow down the choices by size and other descriptors, like realistic, undecorated, or safe for the outdoors. Styles like farmhouse are congregated on a single page, so you can easily find coordinating foliage. There are also some more unique items on offer, like the life-sized Santa or extremely convincing North Pole mailbox. Balsam Hill also has a partnership with the Biltmore Estate and sells ornaments and other items inspired by the holiday decorations at the historic, Gilded Age mansion that the Vanderbilt family built.  Good for: Artificial Christmas trees, high-end ornaments, wreaths and garlandsWorth a look:Christmas Village Wood Tree Collar (small, Preferred: Balsam Hill)Legacy Ornament Set (small, Preferred: Balsam Hill)Father Christmas Tree Topper (small) Wayfair Wayfair In addition to its usual furniture and decor, Wayfair has a whole holiday section full of everything from wreaths to bedding. You know a place is serious about its holiday decorations when its number of wreaths is in the thousands. Wayfair's outdoor ornaments come in all sorts of styles, too, from a penguin family to an inflatable station wagon with a tree, à la "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation." Or turn your garage into Santa's workshop with an oversized banner. For indoors, there's everything you'd expect: trees, lights, and ornaments, with hundreds of choices in each category. Holiday bedding and sheets, towels, and shower curtains are also available. Again, there is an almost overwhelming amount of each, so the filter options at the top of the site are good places to start. Good for: Trees, lights, ornaments, outdoor decorWorth a look:Bethlehem Star Tree Topper (small)Genia Single Floral Shower Curtain Set + Hooks (small)3-Piece LED-Lighted Table Christmas Balls Set (small) Pottery Barn Pottery Barn From reindeer serving trays to nostalgic dinnerware, Pottery Barn excels at helping you set your holiday table. Are you still expanding your holiday gnome collection? Pottery Barn has a whole gnome section. If you're not on that particular kick, the retailer also has a nice assortment of stockings and tree skirts that don't feature bearded men. Not every fireplace is ready-made for the occasion, so some attractive stocking holders will do the trick. For some, Christmas Eve is made extra special when they get to snuggle up in some holiday sheets. You'll find Christmas cats, snowy gnomes, merry bears, and more. Though not as vast as the Christmas section, check out the Diwali and Hanukkah shops for more holiday items.  Good for: Stockings and tree skirts, holiday sheets, table settingsWorth a look:Tahoe Fair Isle Stoneware Rectangular Serving Platter (small, Preferred: Pottery Barn)Red Santa Toile Organic Cotton Sheet Set, Queen (small)Red Ribbon Handmade Recycled Drinkware Collection (small) Target Target Target wants to make it easier for you to pull together a look this Christmas.Not everyone has an eye for what coordinates and what clashes, which is why many retailers create pages with different items that create a cohesive ambiance. That's the idea behind Target's shoppable rooms tool. You can click each piece of decor in the modern farmhouse living room and add it to your shopping cart. If you'd prefer the fun of styling (or you like the look and feel of eclecticism), Target also has a giant, browsable Christmas section, with lights, trees, wreaths, stockings, advent calendars, and on, and on, and on. Basically everything you need, in other words. Good for: Lights, trees, wreaths, stockings, ornamentsWorth a look:Small Metal Truck Decorative Figurine (small)Dew Drop Wrapped Star Decorative Figurine in Champagne (small)3.5-Foot Pre-Lit White Alberta Spruce Artificial Tree (small) Michaels Michaels Michaels was made for people who look at a premade wreath and think, "I could do that."Many people are looking for indoor activities this year, and making holiday decorations will both save you some money and keep you busy. Ribbons and decoratable ornaments are available at Michaels, as is everything you need to create your own holiday cards.In addition, Michaels also has DIY-less decor, from LED candles to tree skirts to Lemax Christmas villages. Even your mailbox doesn't have to feel left out. If yours is a Hanukkah household, this cookie-house decorating kit comes with a sugar mezuzah. Good for: Homemade ornaments, tree skirts, stockings, bowsWorth a look:Plaid Joy Christmas Stocking Holders Set (small, Preferred: Michaels)9ft. Pre-Lit Pine Artificial Christmas Tree, Warm White LED Lights (small, Preferred: Michaels)Haute Decor Lighted Merry Christmas Wood Blocks (small) L.L.Bean L.L.Bean L.L.Bean's Christmas selection is limited, but you still may find exactly what you're looking for, especially if you want a traditional vibe. While L.L.Bean doesn't have the breadth of holiday goods of some of the other retailers on the list, it does offer a number of items that fit in with a rustic vibe. Birchbark centerpieces, plaid tree skirts, and flannel sheets are unfussy yet still festive. (They're also our favorites in our guide to the best flannel sheets.)The store also has quite a few choices when it comes to needlepoint stockings to hang from the fireplace. These can be personalized, too, so no one has to know you didn't break out the needle and thread yourself.  Good for: Flannel sheets, stockingsWorth a look:Birch Box Centerpiece (small, Preferred: L.L.Bean)Christmas Needlepoint Stocking (small, Preferred: L.L.Bean)Woodland Advent Calendar (small, Preferred: L.L.Bean) Paper Source Paper Source Stationery store Paper Source has some spectacular holiday wrapping paper, quirky ornaments, and fun decor. It can be fun to match tree decor with the presents that go under them. Paper Source has an impressive selection of wrapping paper, ranging from ice skating animals to some sassy Santas. There are also elegant and artistic options. Finish them up with ribbons and gift tags. You can also find some cute ornaments, like this homage to Ranch dressing. Adorable advent calendars, pompom tree skirts, and squishy reindeer plush toys are also on offer. Paper Source also has some holiday craft kits, including an ambitious-looking snowflake garland. Good for: Wrapping paper, holiday cards Worth a look:Tinsel Bow Bag (small, Preferred: Paper Source)Glass Bulb Tree String Lights (small)Felt Penguin Ornament (small) Amazon Amazon For holiday decor, Amazon covers all the bases, no matter what you're looking for. Amazon is a one-stop shop for many, and Christmas decorations are no exception. Sometimes you don't want to spend hours decorating but still want your home to feel cheery. Pillows are an easy way to instantly make a couch or bedroom holiday-ready. Window decals are equally quick to put up and take down. Or add some brightness to your porch with a light-up gift display, which is easier than stringing up a ton of bulbs. If you do want to go that route, the retailer has lots of lighting choices, including strands of snowflakes and star-topped strings and stars all on their own. Since it's Amazon, you also pick up your tree and probably everything you want to go on it (and under it), too. Good for: Christmas lights, outdoor decorations, artificial treesWorth a look:Scandinavian Christmas Gnome Lights (small, Preferred: Amazon)Lighted Christmas Snow Globe Lantern (small)Flannel Collection Premium Cotton Bedding Sheet Set (small, Preferred: Amazon) CB2 CB2 If you like the modern aesthetic, CB2's holiday decorations match its furniture in both quality and vibe. Not everyone will find something in CB2's holiday section. The collection veers toward a particular style: modern and simple, with fairly muted colors. Metallics, black, and white all show up frequently. Many of the items are elegant and unique. The feathery wreaths are unusual and eye-catching. Acrylic nutcrackers, marble trees, and glass snowmen are modern twists on traditional favorites. CB2 also bundles some of its decorations, so you can save a bit of money if you find several items you love.Also, if you're in the market for unique menorahs, CB2 has a couple.Good for: Knickknacks, ornamentsWorth a look:Paz Steel and Frosted Glass Trees (set of 4) (small)36-Inch Faux Ivory Pampas Grass Wreath (small)Silver and Black Ball Garland (small) The Home Depot Home Depot The Home Depot has an impressive selection of outdoor holiday decorations, but they don't neglect the indoors, either. The Home Depot has everything you'd expect from a hardware store at Christmas, including artificial trees, outdoor inflatables, and yard ornaments. But it also has much more. You can buy outdoor trees, many of which are pre-lit — very nice if you're in a cold climate. There are also pages and pages of Christmas lights on Home Depot's website. Helpfully, you can narrow the choices in all sorts of ways, from color to power source to bulb shape to length. There are also tons of light projectors if you want to illuminate the outside of your home with very little effort. Good for: Christmas lights, outdoor decor, artificial trees, light projectorsWorth a look:6.5-Foot LED the Child and Mandalorian Christmas Inflatable (small)180-Light LED Carriage with 43 in LED Horse (small, Preferred: Home Depot)7.5 ft. Swiss Mountain Black Spruce Twinkly Rainbow Christmas Tree with 600 RGB LED Technology Lights (small, Preferred: Home Depot) Etsy Ren Fuller/Etsy Etsy's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and it's the best place to find handmade, vintage, or unique decorations.Etsy has plentiful options when it comes to finding fun and festive holiday decorations. Search by type of decor (wreath) or by style (rustic or glam). There are candles that smell like a freshly cut tree or Grinch repellant. (You can actually choose your scent for that one.)For the table, you can find tree-adorned napkins, lighted centerpieces, and reindeer mugs. Etsy is also a great place to find ornaments of your favorite animal: otters, hippos, narwhals, octopuses, and other water-loving creatures. It's important to pay attention to sellers' locations and shipping options to make sure you get your goods before the holidays are over. Good for: Wreaths, personalized ornaments, wrapping paper, pillowsWorth a look:Personalized T Rex Christmas Sack (small, Preferred: Etsy)Santa Wreath (small, Preferred: Etsy)Personalized Reindeer Mugs (small, Preferred: Etsy) Society6 Society6 If you love to decorate every room of your house — including the bathroom — you'll want to take a look at Society6. Society6's marketplace lets you purchase designs — many created by independent artists — in just about any form, from clocks to comforters to mugs. That means you can get a matching bath mat and shower curtain with T-Rexes in Santa hats. Decorative hand towels are also an option. Add some pillows and throws to cozy up the couch, and your home will instantly look festive. If you care as much about what's under the tree as what's on it, then just any wrapping paper won't do. Cover your gifts in an ugly sweater pattern (which is actually kind of cute) or gingerbread villages. For those who don't have a ton of holiday cards to send, the stationery sets are cute (but pricey), especially this cat tangled up in Christmas lights. Good for: Wrapping paper, pillows, blanketsWorth a look:Merry Christmas, Ya Filthy Animal – Red Throw Pillow (small, Preferred: Society6)Retro Ski Illustration Throw Blanket (small, Preferred: Society6)Slothy Holidays Shower Curtain (small, Preferred: Society6) Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 1st, 2021

Southwest Airlines shows off its unique history and company culture with its corporate office - see inside the company"s Texas headquarters

To celebrate its history, the airline has taken blips of its past and displayed it throughout its corporate headquarters in Dallas, Texas. The Winning Spirit conference room BOKA Powell Southwest Airlines displays its history and company culture in its corporate office in Dallas, Texas. The company's headquarters feature murals, unique lounges, model aircraft, and old flight attendant uniforms. Employees can watch Southwest aircraft take off and land from its deck overlooking Dallas Love Field Airport. Southwest Airlines turned 50 this year, and its long history of humor, hot pants, and unique marketing campaigns has made it a favorite among both leisure and business travelers. Southwest Heart One Southwest Airlines Source: Southwest Airlines To celebrate its history, the airline has taken blips of its past and important aspects of its culture and displayed it throughout its corporate headquarters in Dallas, Texas. Southwest corporate headquarters in Dallas, Texas Southwest Airlines Source: Southwest Airlines The company has walls lined with photos of special events, murals highlighting important people and moments, and dozens of other small tidbits that tell the company's story. Southwest Living Our Legacy wall art Southwest Airlines Source: Southwest Airlines Part of Southwest's interior was envisioned by architecture and design firm Corgan, which worked with over 1,000 employees to choose furniture and create area mock-ups. The result was a vibrant decor that maximized building density without sacrificing the company's employee-focused culture. Big Tee representing Southwest culture Southwest Airlines Source: Corgan, Southwest Airlines One of the building's biggest displays is the fleet of model aircraft hanging from the ceiling of its main lobby. The planes include the company's original Desert Gold livery, its new Canyon Blue paint scheme, and a slew of its specialty state flag liveries. Southwest headquarters main lobby Southwest Airlines Source: Southwest Airlines Throughout the company's five buildings, memorable photos and memorabilia cover the walls, like Southwest's old Heart logo... Old Heart logo and LUV campaign memorabilia Southwest Airlines Source: Southwest Airlines A framed display of nearly 30 heart-shaped bag tags from the 70s... Heart-shaped bag tags from the 70s Southwest Airlines Source: Southwest Airlines A collection of pins from Southwest pilots' former employers... Pilot wings from former employers Southwest Airlines Source: Southwest Airlines And its "50 Years of LUV" logo. 50 Years of LUV Southwest Airlines Source: Southwest Airlines The buildings also house dozens of conference rooms with unique names that recognize popular Southwest destinations, people, values, and events, like The Winning Spirit. The Winning Spirit conference room BOKA Powell Source: Southwest Airlines Southwest headquarters overlooks the runway at Dallas Love Field Airport, giving employees the unique opportunity to watch aircraft take off and land from the company's outdoor sitting area, The Deck. The Deck overlooking Dallas Love Field's runway Southwest Airlines Source: Southwest Airlines The buildings have a handful of employee lounge areas, known as "Culture Centers" that feature unique wall murals and interesting decor, like old cabin seats. Southwest culture center Corgan Source: Southwest Airlines Centers are also themed with fun names, like "Observe, Listen, Learn..." Observe, Listen, Learn culture center BOKA Powell Source: Southwest Airlines "Go. See. Do..." Go, See, Do culture center Southwest Airlines Source: Southwest Airlines "The Attic..." The Attic culture center Southwest Airlines Source: Southwest Airlines And "Nuts and Bolts." Nuts and Bolts culture center Southwest Airlines Source: Southwest Airlines Southwest's Training and Operational Support building, which is home to its training and dispatch centers, features photos from the airline's Triple Crown One aircraft that debuted in 1997. Also on display are the overhead bins from the plane's cabin. Triple Crown display Southwest Airlines Source: Southwest Airlines Triple Crown One was painted to honor the workers who helped Southwest receive five consecutive "Triple Crowns" for on-time performance, baggage handling, and customer service based on DOT data from 1992 to 1996. Each of the 24,113 employee names were etched into the overhead bins that are now on display at headquarters. 1997 Triple Crown livery Southwest Airlines Source: Southwest Airlines In 2015, the airline recreated the legendary plane with the original Triple Crown livery and the company's new color scheme on the tail. 2015 Triple Crown One livery Angel DiBilio/Shutterstock Source: Southwest Airlines Also in the TOPS building, which was designed by BOKA Powell, is a giant Southwest model aircraft in the lobby... Southwest TOPS lobby BOKA Powell Source: BOKA Powell, Southwest Airlines A life-size aircraft cabin where flight attendants train... Cabin simulator Southwest Airlines Source: Southwest Airlines An emergency evacuation training center... Emergency evacuation training center BOKA Powell Source: BOKA Powell, Southwest Airlines The Network Operations Center where dispatchers and crew schedulers work... Southwest Network Operations Center BOKA Powell Source: BOKA Powell, Southwest Airlines A large food court with a number of dining options, like soups, sandwiches, pizza, and a made-to-order grille... Southwest food court BOKA Powell Source: BOKA Powell, Southwest Airlines And a realistic airport experience, which includes a ticket counter, gate area, emergency evacuation center, baggage services office, and jet bridge. Ticket counter and gate training BOKA Powell Source: BOKA Powell, Southwest Airlines Southwest's corporate buildings have a handful of beautiful murals that tell the story of its people and culture, including information on its founders Herb Kelleher and Rollin King... Southwest's founders Herb Kelleher and Rollin King Southwest Airlines Source: Southwest Airlines Early flight attendants posing with passengers... Early flight attendants with customers Southwest Airlines Source: Southwest Airlines A button that sounds Southwest founder Herb Kelleher's laugh... Herb Kelleher's laugh button Southwest Airlines Source: Southwest Airlines A tribute to Kelleher's infamous Malice in Dallas arm-wrestling match... Malice in Dallas artwork in Southwest HQ Southwest Airlines Source: Southwest Airlines A reminder of the airline's purpose... Southwest media center with purpose displayed on wall Southwest Airlines Source: Southwest Airlines And a dedication to Southwest President Emerita Colleen Barrett, who was an influential figure in creating the company's culture and shaping its renowned "Servant's Heart" customer service strategy. Colleen Barrett Servant's Heart tribute Southwest Airlines Source: Southwest Airlines Small relics of Southwest's history are also on display, like mannequins of old flight attendant and pilot uniforms... Old uniforms Southwest Airlines Source: Southwest Airlines And a piece of the retired Lone Star One aircraft. Lone Star One skin Southwest Airlines Source: Southwest Airlines, Southwest Airlines Lone Star One debuted in 1990 and was the first of many flagship aircraft Southwest created to honor the states it serves. 1990 Lone Star One Southwest Airlines Source: Southwest Airlines, Southwest Airlines The company's new Lone Star One was unveiled in 2016. 2016 Lone Star One Southwest Airlines Source: Southwest Airlines, Southwest Airlines Also along the walls of Southwest headquarters are unique photo ops for employees, like an aircraft nose... Plane nose photo op Southwest Airlines Source: Southwest Airlines An engine... Engine photo op Southwest Airlines Source: Southwest Airlines And a flight deck. Flight deck photo op Southwest Airlines Source: Southwest Airlines Southwest prides itself on its eccentric Halloween costumes worn by Southwest's infamous leaders, like Herb Kelleher, Colleen Barrett, and Gary Kelly. Halloween costumes worn by Southwest executives Southwest Airlines Source: Southwest Airlines Southwest executives contribute to the company culture by participating in the annual holiday celebration. CEO Gary Kelly and executives dress up as Star Wars characters for Halloween 2019 Southwest Airlines Source: Southwest Airlines Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 18th, 2021

The Seven Secrets of Indra Nooyi’s Success

The former PepsiCo CEO shares details from her life and career in her book My Life in Full: Work, Family, and Our Future. Indra Nooyi struggles to be heard over the sounds of outdoor dining, midtown traffic, and a fountain gushing down the wall. That’s clearly rare for the former PepsiCo CEO—so she beckons the restaurant’s owner and asks if he can shut off the water. He obliges, and Nooyi proceeds to regale us, a table of female journalists at the helm of various New York media, with anecdotes from her just-released book, My Life in Full: Work, Family, and Our Future. The whole lunchtime interaction—assess problem, determine what’s in your control, improve outcome, go forth with grace—is signature Nooyi. Her book delves even further into this exacting style punctured by compassion, loyalty, and deep relationships that get results. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] I confess to having studied Nooyi for a long time now. I’ve watched her interviews, live and on YouTube, during my own career trajectory. A manager training I once attended spent hours dissecting Nooyi’s ability to peer around corners and lead a company through change. Then there’s the South Asian connection: a member of our own community ascended to a Fortune 50 company who proudly credits her childhood in Chennai and the role of extended family in making it all possible. For years, my people proudly (and wrongly) asserted that the 65-year-old executive wears a sari in the boardroom. Thankfully, her book debunks the myth: After feeling like a misfit in oversized polyester outfits, she chose the traditional Indian dress for an internship interview, landed the job, and donned the sari for the rest of the summer. Eventually, she transitioned to Western attire, and her sartorial choices gained style and confidence as her career progressed. Read more: A Woman of Color Cannot Save Your Workplace Culture Back stories like that are the hallmark of this part memoir, part clarion. We’ve heard a lot from Nooyi over the last two decades, talks distilled into tweetable headlines and soundbites on work-family balance. As a woman of color, a mother of two girls, an immigrant success story, she describes feeling almost a moral obligation to show up at speeches, panels, awards ceremonies, seminars, and guest lectures during her 12-year tenure as CEO. Life in Full stitches it all together and offers the context sometimes only possible in hindsight. The fast-paced narrative is as much a blueprint to getting ahead at work as an appreciation of the friends and family along for the journey. I found seven themes in particular surfaced repeatedly, together buoying Nooyi’s remarkable life: It’s okay to love work. Perhaps in all the reams written on the juggle, especially for women, the part that often feels shafted is the work itself. Nooyi’s love of the job—from walks on factory floors to battles with activist investors—is so apparent and infectious. Anyone who has fist-pumped after an excellent quarter or convinced a supervisor to implement their strategy will love the gusto with which Nooyi both throws herself into the work and celebrates wins. She also uses wonky but relatable examples to explain how to predict and embrace change in the bigger picture. Nooyi recounts walking into supermarkets and Walmarts to assess Frito-Lay packaging and placement on shelves and watching parents and kids at birthday parties shunning soda as precursors to PepsiCo’s focus on healthier products. She also remembers working long hours and skipping vacation to dive into the guts of a billion-dollar-plus proposal to overhaul enterprise software, and why it is so important for leaders to understand all aspects of what they are approving. Sharing the love of the work with the ones you love feels necessary and important, especially for children to understand why their mom is away: She loves you, but she also loves her work. It’s okay to talk about your family at work. Similarly, Nooyi seemingly effortlessly centers family in the workplace. There are subtle but important examples; for years, she kept a dry-erase board in her office just for the kids. Everyone from her bosses to her assistants helped in times of crisis, such as by offering to do school pickup. There are also the ways Nooyi recognized the families of her staffers. She recounts writing letters to the parents of colleagues to thank them for their role in their child’s stellar performance. These “report cards,” she says, were beloved and drew loyalty from staff and their families. She also thanked the spouses of her direct reports, and notes, “these letters released a lot of emotion.” Hire experts. Over and over, Nooyi finds herself in jobs or situations where she lacks expertise in an industry or product. It’s how she responds, also over and over, that is so brilliant. She doesn’t BS her way through presentations; she turns to experts. Nooyi matter-of-factly mentions that after she went to Motorola, two community college professors came twice a week to her office, one to explain how automobiles work and the other to discuss “solid-state physics and electronics.” You see how this instinct serves her well over time as she moves to PepsiCo. There, she turns to experts in design, science, and technology. Eventually, she hires a chief scientific officer, saying the role can help reduce salt in chips and add whole grains to Cheerio’s. But more importantly, she says, “science could be at the heart of reimagining the global food system.” Men have a role to play. At critical junctures in Nooyi’s career, men have preemptively jumped in and offered their support. When her father was dying, one boss offered six months paid leave. Importantly, the men initiated such support, she says, because “as a young consultant, I had zero leverage in asking for any kind of benefit that would help me through a difficult time.” When she was pregnant and working as a consultant, she recounts: “For my last meeting with Trane, Bill Roth, the CEO, chartered two planes to bring his entire executive team to our offices in Chicago. The meeting would typically have happened in his own boardroom, but I was nine months pregnant and couldn’t travel. Bill wanted me to be part of BCG’s final presentation to his company.” You can sense their immense respect for her at the root of the life-changing gestures. But imagine if such accommodation were the norm and not the exception. Would more women stay in the workforce? Similarly, Nooyi praises her father-in-law and husband for their lack of adherence to Indian tradition around gender roles. After marriage, her father-in-law said to her: “Indra, don’t give up your job. You have all this education, and you should use it. We will support you in any way we can.” Leave the crown in the garage. Nooyi repeatedly says being a mother is one of her most cherished roles. But one night, after being named president of PepsiCo, she comes home and her mother orders her to go get milk. Nooyi is annoyed, feeling like she can’t even revel in this newfound title and success. Her mother responds: “You may be the president or whatever of PepsiCo, but when you come home, you are a wife and a mother and a daughter. Nobody can take your place. So you leave that crown in the garage.” Such humility might not be expected of men, but Nooyi accepts this as a small price to keep peace on the home front. Another subtle point in the anecdote: Nobody will be as honest or hard on you as your mother. Care needs to be prioritized by everybody right now. While the brunt of the book dwells on Nooyi’s journey, she issues a call for action—rooted in deep study of states, companies, and countries with more family-friendly policies— for both prioritizing and training care workers like never before. Both in the book and in her lunch with journalists, Nooyi cites concern about two related crises. Women leaving the workforce and choosing not to have children, she says, will be disastrous for the economy, citing Japan as an example of our potential fate. She writes: “We must expand the future-of-work conversations that dwell on robotics and artificial intelligence to include another critical dimension of our success: how to shift our economies to better integrate work and family and ensure that women get equal pay and share power.” Purpose is everything. I have written reams during the pandemic on how purpose is the single most important motivator for the modern workforce. Nooyi was early to this trend. Her transformation of PepsiCo rested on a concept called “Performance with Purpose.” She writes: “PwP would transform the way PepsiCo made money and tie our business success to these objectives: Nourish. Replenish. Cherish.” Purpose translates, thus, not just to business objectives but life itself. Over the last year, retirement from PepsiCo a distant memory, Nooyi was working endless hours on a Covid task force. Her mother—the same woman who’d once said to leave the crown in the garage—seemed to have a change of heart. The need for home and work to accommodate each other might be more needed than ever. “You are someone who wants to help the world and not many people are like you,” her mother said. “I don’t think you should worry about the house so much. You have to give back as much as you can.”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeOct 12th, 2021

Camber Energy: What If They Made a Whole Company Out of Red Flags? – Kerrisdale

Kerrisdale Capital is short shares of Camber Energy Inc (NYSEAMERICAN:CEI). Camber is a defunct oil producer that has failed to file financial statements with the SEC since September 2020, is in danger of having its stock delisted next month, and just fired its accounting firm in September. Its only real asset is a 73% stake […] Kerrisdale Capital is short shares of Camber Energy Inc (NYSEAMERICAN:CEI). Camber is a defunct oil producer that has failed to file financial statements with the SEC since September 2020, is in danger of having its stock delisted next month, and just fired its accounting firm in September. Its only real asset is a 73% stake in Viking Energy Group Inc (OTCMKTS:VKIN), an OTC-traded company with negative book value and a going-concern warning that recently violated the maximum-leverage covenant on one of its loans. (For a time, it also had a fake CFO – long story.) Nonetheless, Camber’s stock price has increased by 6x over the past month; last week, astonishingly, an average of $1.9 billion worth of Camber shares changed hands every day. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Henry Singleton Series in PDF Get the entire 4-part series on Henry Singleton in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q2 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Is there any logic to this bizarre frenzy? Camber pumpers have seized upon the notion that the company is now a play on carbon capture and clean energy, citing a license agreement recently entered into by Viking. But the “ESG Clean Energy” technology license is a joke. Not only is it tiny relative to Camber’s market cap (costing only $5 million and granting exclusivity only in Canada), but it has embroiled Camber in the long-running escapades of a western Massachusetts family that once claimed to have created a revolutionary new combustion engine, only to wind up being penalized by the SEC for raising $80 million in unregistered securities offerings, often to unaccredited investors, and spending much of it on themselves. But the most fascinating part of the CEI boondoggle actually has to do with something far more basic: how many shares are there, and why has dilution been spiraling out of control? We believe the market is badly mistaken about Camber’s share count and ignorant of its terrifying capital structure. In fact, we estimate its fully diluted share count is roughly triple the widely reported number, bringing its true, fully diluted market cap, absurdly, to nearly $900 million. Since Camber is delinquent on its financials, investors have failed to fully appreciate the impact of its ongoing issuance of an unusual, highly dilutive class of convertible preferred stock. As a result of this “death spiral” preferred, Camber has already seen its share count increase 50- million-fold from early 2016 to July 2021 – and we believe it isn’t over yet, as preferred holders can and will continue to convert their securities and sell the resulting common shares. Even at the much lower valuation that investors incorrectly think Camber trades for, it’s still overvalued. The core Viking assets are low-quality and dangerously levered, while any near- term benefits from higher commodity prices will be muted by hedges established in 2020. The recent clean-energy license is nearly worthless. It’s ridiculous to have to say this, but Camber isn’t worth $900 million. If it looks like a penny stock, and it acts like a penny stock, it is a penny stock. Camber has been a penny stock before – no more than a month ago, in fact – and we expect that it will be once again. Company Background Founded in 2004, Camber was originally called Lucas Energy Resources. It went public via a reverse merger in 2006 with the plan of “capitaliz[ing] on the increasing availability of opportunistic acquisitions in the energy sector.”1 But after years of bad investments and a nearly 100% decline in its stock price, the company, which renamed itself Camber in 2017, found itself with little economic value left; faced with the prospect of losing its NYSE American listing, it cast about for new acquisitions beginning in early 2019. That’s when Viking entered the picture. Jim Miller, a member of Camber’s board, had served on the board of a micro-cap company called Guardian 8 that was working on “a proprietary new class of enhanced non-lethal weapons”; Guardian 8’s CEO, Steve Cochennet, happened to also be part owner of a Kansas-based company that operated some of Viking’s oil and gas assets and knew that Viking, whose shares traded over the counter, was interested in moving up to a national exchange.2 (In case you’re wondering, under Miller and Cochennet’s watch, Guardian 8’s stock saw its price drop to ~$0; it was delisted in 2019.3) Viking itself also had a checkered past. Previously a shell company, it was repurposed by a corporate lawyer and investment banker named Tom Simeo to create SinoCubate, “an incubator of and investor in privately held companies mainly in P.R. China.” But this business model went nowhere. In 2012, SinoCubate changed its name to Viking Investments but continued to achieve little. In 2014, Simeo brought in James A. Doris, a Canadian lawyer, as a member of the board of directors and then as president and CEO, tasked with executing on Viking’s new strategy of “acquir[ing] income-producing assets throughout North America in various sectors, including energy and real estate.” In a series of transactions, Doris gradually built up a portfolio of oil wells and other energy assets in the United States, relying on large amounts of high-cost debt to get deals done. But Viking has never achieved consistent GAAP profitability; indeed, under Doris’s leadership, from 2015 to the first half of 2021, Viking’s cumulative net income has totaled negative $105 million, and its financial statements warn of “substantial doubt regarding the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”4 At first, despite the Guardian 8 crew’s match-making, Camber showed little interest in Viking and pursued another acquisition instead. But, when that deal fell apart, Camber re-engaged with Viking and, in February 2020, announced an all-stock acquisition – effectively a reverse merger in which Viking would end up as the surviving company but transfer some value to incumbent Camber shareholders in exchange for the national listing. For reasons that remain somewhat unclear, this original deal structure was beset with delays, and in December 2020 (after months of insisting that deal closing was just around the corner) Camber announced that it would instead directly purchase a 51% stake in Viking; at the same time, Doris, Viking’s CEO, officially took over Camber as well. Subsequent transactions through July 2021 have brough Camber’s Viking stake up to 69.9 million shares (73% of Viking’s total common shares), in exchange for consideration in the form of a mixture of cash, debt forgiveness,5 and debt assumption, valued in the aggregate by Viking at only $50.7 million: Camber and Viking announced a new merger agreement in February 2021, aiming to take out the remaining Viking shares not owned by Camber and thus fully combine the two companies, but that plan is on hold because Camber has failed to file its last 10-K (as well as two subsequent 10-Qs) and is thus in danger of being delisted unless it catches up by November. Today, then, Camber’s absurd equity valuation rests entirely on its majority stake in a small, unprofitable oil-and-gas roll-up cobbled together by a Canadian lawyer. An Opaque Capital Structure Has Concealed the True Insanity of Camber’s Valuation What actually is Camber’s equity valuation? It sounds like a simple question, and sources like Bloomberg and Yahoo Finance supply what looks like a simple answer: 104.2 million shares outstanding times a $3.09 closing price (as of October 4, 2021) equals a market cap of $322 million – absurd enough, given what Camber owns. But these figures only tell part of the story. We estimate that the correct fully diluted market cap is actually a staggering $882 million, including the impact of both Camber’s unusual, highly dilutive Series C convertible preferred stock and its convertible debt. Because Camber is delinquent on its SEC filings, it’s difficult to assemble an up-to-date picture of its balance sheet and capital structure. The widely used 104.2-million-share figure comes from an 8-K filed in July that states, in part: As of July 9, 2021, the Company had 104,195,295 shares of common stock issued and outstanding. The increase in our outstanding shares of common stock from the date of the Company’s February 23, 2021 increase in authorized shares of common stock (from 25 million shares to 250 million shares), is primarily due to conversions of shares of Series C Preferred Stock of the Company into common stock, and conversion premiums due thereon, which are payable in shares of common stock. This bland language belies the stunning magnitude of the dilution that has already taken place. Indeed, we estimate that, of the 104.2 million common shares outstanding on July 9th, 99.7% were created via the conversion of Series C preferred in the past few years – and there’s more where that came from. The terms of Camber’s preferreds are complex but boil down to the following: they accrue non- cash dividends at the sky-high rate of 24.95% per year for a notional seven years but can be converted into common shares at any time. The face value of the preferred shares converts into common shares at a fixed conversion price of $162.50 per share, far higher than the current trading price – so far, so good (from a Camber-shareholder perspective). The problem is the additional “conversion premium,” which is equal to the full seven years’ worth of dividends, or 7 x 24.95% ≈ 175% of face value, all at once, and is converted at a far lower conversion price that “will never be above approximately $0.3985 per share…regardless of the actual trading price of Camber’s common stock” (but could in principle go lower if the price crashes to new lows).6 The upshot of all this is that one share of Series C preferred is now convertible into ~43,885 shares of common stock.7 Historically, all of Camber’s Series C preferred was held by one investor: Discover Growth Fund. The terms of the preferred agreement cap Discover’s ownership of Camber’s common shares at 9.99% of the total, but nothing stops Discover from converting preferred into common up to that cap, selling off the resulting shares, converting additional preferred shares into common up to the cap, selling those common shares, etc., as Camber has stated explicitly (and as Discover has in fact done over the years) (emphasis added): Although Discover may not receive shares of common stock exceeding 9.99% of its outstanding shares of common stock immediately after affecting such conversion, this restriction does not prevent Discover from receiving shares up to the 9.99% limit, selling those shares, and then receiving the rest of the shares it is due, in one or more tranches, while still staying below the 9.99% limit. If Discover chooses to do this, it will cause substantial dilution to the then holders of its common stock. Additionally, the continued sale of shares issuable upon successive conversions will likely create significant downward pressure on the price of its common stock as Discover sells material amounts of Camber’s common stock over time and/or in a short period of time. This could place further downward pressure on the price of its common stock and in turn result in Discover receiving an ever increasing number of additional shares of common stock upon conversion of its securities, and adjustments thereof, which in turn will likely lead to further dilution, reductions in the exercise/conversion price of Discover’s securities and even more downward pressure on its common stock, which could lead to its common stock becoming devalued or worthless.8 In 2017, soon after Discover began to convert some of its first preferred shares, Camber’s then- management claimed to be shocked by the results and sued Discover for fraud, arguing that “[t]he catastrophic effect of the Discover Documents [i.e. the terms of the preferred] is so devastating that the Discover Documents are prima facie unconscionable” because “they will permit Discover to strip Camber of its value and business well beyond the simple repayment of its debt.” Camber called the documents “extremely difficult to understand” and insisted that they “were drafted in such a way as to obscure the true terms of such documents and the total number of shares of common stock that could be issuable by Camber thereunder. … Only after signing the documents did Camber and [its then CEO]…learn that Discover’s reading of the Discover Documents was that the terms that applied were the strictest and most Camber unfriendly interpretation possible.”9 But the judge wasn’t impressed, suggesting that it was Camber’s own fault for failing to read the fine print, and the case was dismissed. With no better options, Camber then repeatedly came crawling back to Discover for additional tranches of funding via preferred sales. While the recent spike in common share count to 104.2 million as of early July includes some of the impact of ongoing preferred conversion, we believe it fails to include all of it. In addition to Discover’s 2,093 shares of Series C preferred held as of February 2021, Camber issued additional shares to EMC Capital Partners, a creditor of Viking’s, as part of a January agreement to reduce Viking’s debt.10 Then, in July, Camber issued another block of preferred shares – also to Discover, we believe – to help fund Viking’s recent deals.11 We speculate that many of these preferred shares have already been converted into common shares that have subsequently been sold into a frenzied retail bid. Beyond the Series C preferred, there is one additional source of potential dilution: debt issued to Discover in three transactions from December 2020 to April 2021, totaling $20.5 million in face value, and amended in July to be convertible at a fixed price of $1.25 per share.12 We summarize our estimates of all of these sources of potential common share issuance below: Might we be wrong about this math? Absolutely – the mechanics of the Series C preferreds are so convoluted that prior Camber management sued Discover complaining that the legal documents governing them “were drafted in such a way as to obscure the true terms of such documents and the total number of shares of common stock that could be issuable by Camber thereunder.” Camber management could easily set the record straight by revealing the most up- to-date share count via an SEC filing, along with any additional clarifications about the expected future share count upon conversion of all outstanding convertible securities. But we're confident that the current share count reported in financial databases like Bloomberg and Yahoo Finance significantly understates the true, fully diluted figure. An additional indication that Camber expects massive future dilution relates to the total authorized shares of common stock under its official articles of incorporation. It was only a few months ago, in February, that Camber had to hold a special shareholder meeting to increase its maximum authorized share count from 25 million to 250 million in order to accommodate all the shares to be issued because of preferred conversions. But under Camber’s July agreement to sell additional preferred shares to Discover, the company (emphasis added) agreed to include proposals relating to the approval of the July 2021 Purchase Agreement and the issuance of the shares of common stock upon conversion of the Series C Preferred Stock sold pursuant to the July 2021 Purchase Agreement, as well as an increase in authorized common stock to fulfill our obligations to issue such shares, at the Company’s next Annual Meeting, the meeting held to approve the Merger or a separate meeting in the event the Merger is terminated prior to shareholder approval, and to use commercially reasonable best efforts to obtain such approvals as soon as possible and in any event prior to January 1, 2022.13 In other words, Camber can already see that 250 million shares will soon not be enough, consistent with our estimate of ~285 million fully diluted shares above. In sum, Camber’s true overvaluation is dramatically worse than it initially appears because of the massive number of common shares that its preferred and other securities can convert into, leading to a fully diluted share count that is nearly triple the figure found in standard information sources used by investors. This enormous latent dilution, impossible to discern without combing through numerous scattered filings made by a company with no up-to-date financial statements in the public domain, means that the market is – perhaps out of ignorance – attributing close to one billion dollars of value to a very weak business. Camber’s Stake in Viking Has Little Real Value In light of Camber’s gargantuan valuation, it’s worth dwelling on some basic facts about its sole meaningful asset, a 73% stake in Viking Energy. As of 6/30/21: Viking had negative $15 million in shareholder equity/book Its financial statements noted “substantial doubt regarding the Company’s ability to continue as a going ” Of its $101.3 million in outstanding debt (at face value), nearly half (48%) was scheduled to mature and come due over the following 12 months. Viking noted that it “does not currently maintain controls and procedures that are designed to ensure that information required to be disclosed by the Company in the reports it files or submits under the Exchange Act are recorded, processed, summarized, and reported within the time periods specified by the Commission’s rules and forms.” Viking’s CEO “has concluded that these [disclosure] controls and procedures are not effective in providing reasonable assurance of compliance.” Viking disclosed that a key subsidiary, Elysium Energy, was “in default of the maximum leverage ratio covenant under the term loan agreement at June 30, 2021”; this covenant caps the entity’s total secured debt to EBITDA at 75 to 1.14 This is hardly a healthy operation. Indeed, even according to Viking’s own black-box estimates, the present value of its total proved reserves of oil and gas, using a 10% discount rate (likely generous given the company’s high debt costs), was $120 million as of 12/31/20,15 while its outstanding debt, as stated above, is $101 million – perhaps implying a sliver of residual economic value to equity holders, but not much. And while some market observers have recently gotten excited about how increases in commodity prices could benefit Camber/Viking, any near-term impact will be blunted by hedges put on by Viking in early 2020, which cover, with respect to its Elysium properties, “60% of the estimated production for 2021 and 50% of the estimated production for the period between January, 2022 to July, 2022. Theses hedges have a floor of $45 and a ceiling ranging from $52.70 to $56.00 for oil, and a floor of $2.00 and a ceiling of $2.425 for natural gas” – cutting into the benefit of any price spikes above those ceiling levels.16 Sharing our dreary view of Viking’s prospects is one of Viking’s own financial advisors, a firm called Scalar, LLC, that Viking hired to prepare a fairness opinion under the original all-stock merger agreement with Camber. Combining Viking’s own internal projections with data on comparable-company valuation multiples, Scalar concluded in October 2020 that Viking’s equity was worth somewhere between $0 and $20 million, depending on the methodology used, with the “purest” methodology – a true, full-blown DCF – yielding the lowest estimate of $0-1 million: Camber’s advisor, Mercer Capital, came to a similar conclusion: its “analysis indicated an implied equity value of Viking of $0 to $34.3 million.”17 It’s inconceivable that a majority stake in this company, deemed potentially worthless by multiple experts and clearly experiencing financial strains, could somehow justify a near-billion-dollar valuation. Instead of dwelling on the unpleasant realities of Viking’s oil and gas business, Camber has drawn investor attention to two recent transactions conducted by Viking with Camber funding: a license agreement with “ESG Clean Energy,” discussed in further detail below, and the acquisition of a 60.3% stake in Simson-Maxwell, described as “a leading manufacturer and supplier of industrial engines, power generation products, services and custom energy solutions.” But Viking paid just $8 million for its Simson-Maxwell shares,18 and the company has just 125 employees; it defies belief to think that this purchase was such a bargain as to make a material dent in Camber’s overvaluation. And what does Simson-Maxwell actually do? One of its key officers, Daryl Kruper (identified as its chairman in Camber’s press release), describes the company a bit less grandly and more concretely on his LinkedIn page: Simson Maxwell is a power systems specialist. The company assembles and sells generator sets, industrial engines, power control systems and switchgear. Simson Maxwell has service and parts facilities in Edmonton, Calgary, Prince George, Vancouver, Nanaimo and Terrace. The company has provided its western Canadian customers with exceptional service for over 70 years. In other words, Simson-Maxwell acts as a sort of distributor/consultant, packaging industrial- strength generators and engines manufactured by companies like GE and Mitsubishi into systems that can provide electrical power, often in remote areas in western Canada; Simson- Maxwell employees then drive around in vans maintaining and repairing these systems. There’s nothing obviously wrong with this business, but it’s small, regional (not just Canada – western Canada specifically), likely driven by an unpredictable flow of new large projects, and unlikely to garner a high standalone valuation. Indeed, buried in one of Viking’s agreements with Simson- Maxwell’s selling shareholders (see p. 23) are clauses giving Viking the right to purchase the rest of the company between July 2024 and July 2026 at a price of at least 8x trailing EBITDA and giving the selling shareholders the right to sell the rest of their shares during the same time frame at a price of at least 7x trailing EBITDA – the kind of multiples associated with sleepy industrial distributors, not fast-growing retail darlings. Since Simon-Maxwell has nothing to do with Viking’s pre-existing assets or (alleged) expertise in oil and gas, and Viking and Camber are hardly flush with cash, why did they make the purchase? We speculate that management is concerned about the combined company’s ability to maintain its listing on the NYSE American. For example, when describing its restruck merger agreement with Viking, Camber noted: Additional closing conditions to the Merger include that in the event the NYSE American determines that the Merger constitutes, or will constitute, a “back-door listing”/“reverse merger”, Camber (and its common stock) is required to qualify for initial listing on the NYSE American, pursuant to the applicable guidance and requirements of the NYSE as of the Effective Time. What does it take to qualify for initial listing on the NYSE American? There are several ways, but three require at least $4 million of positive stockholders’ equity, which Viking, the intended surviving company, doesn’t have today; another requires a market cap of greater than $75 million, which management might (quite reasonably) be concerned about achieving sustainably. That leaves a standard that requires a listed company to have $75 million in assets and revenue. With Viking running at only ~$40 million of annualized revenue, we believe management is attempting to buy up more via acquisition. In fact, if the goal is simply to “buy” GAAP revenue, the most efficient way to do it is by acquiring a stake in a low-margin, slow- growing business – little earnings power, hence a low purchase price, but plenty of revenue. And by buying a majority stake instead of the whole thing, the acquirer can further reduce the capital outlay while still being able to consolidate all of the operation’s revenue under GAAP accounting. Buying 60.3% of Simson-Maxwell seems to fit the bill, but it’s a placeholder, not a real value-creator. Camber’s Partners in the Laughable “ESG Clean Energy” Deal Have a Long History of Broken Promises and Alleged Securities Fraud The “catalyst” most commonly cited by Camber Energy bulls for the recent massive increase in the company’s stock price is an August 24th press release, “Camber Energy Secures Exclusive IP License for Patented Carbon-Capture System,” announcing that the company, via Viking, “entered into an Exclusive Intellectual Property License Agreement with ESG Clean Energy, LLC (‘ESG’) regarding ESG’s patent rights and know-how related to stationary electric power generation, including methods to utilize heat and capture carbon dioxide.” Our research suggests that the “intellectual property” in question amounts to very little: in essence, the concept of collecting the exhaust gases emitted by a natural-gas–fueled electric generator, cooling it down to distill out the water vapor, and isolating the remaining carbon dioxide. But what happens to the carbon dioxide then? The clearest answer ESG Clean Energy has given is that it “can be sold to…cannabis producers”19 to help their plants grow faster, though the vast majority of the carbon dioxide would still end up escaping into the atmosphere over time, and additional greenhouse gases would be generated in compressing and shipping this carbon dioxide to the cannabis producers, likely leading to a net worsening of carbon emissions.20 And what is Viking – which primarily extracts oil and gas from the ground, as opposed to running generators and selling electrical power – supposed to do with this technology anyway? The idea seems to be that the newly acquired Simson-Maxwell business will attempt to sell the “technology” as a value-add to customers who are buying generators in western Canada. Indeed, while Camber’s press-release headline emphasized the “exclusive” nature of the license, the license is only exclusive in Canada plus “up to twenty-five locations in the United States” – making the much vaunted deal even more trivial than it might first appear. Viking paid an upfront royalty of $1.5 million in cash in August, with additional installments of $1.5 and $2 million due by January and April 2022, respectively, for a total of $5 million. In addition, Viking “shall pay to ESG continuing royalties of not more than 15% of the net revenues of Viking generated using the Intellectual Property, with the continuing royalty percentage to be jointly determined by the parties collaboratively based on the parties’ development of realistic cashflow models resulting from initial projects utilizing the Intellectual Property, and with the parties utilizing mediation if they cannot jointly agree to the continuing royalty percentage”21 – a strangely open-ended, perhaps rushed, way of setting a royalty rate. Overall, then, Viking is paying $5 million for roughly 85% of the economics of a technology that might conceivably help “capture” CO2 emitted by electric generators in Canada (and up to 25 locations in the United States!) but then probably just re-emit it again. This is the great advance that has driven Camber to a nearly billion-dollar market cap. It’s with good reason that on ESG Clean Energy’s web site (as of early October), the list of “press releases that show that ESG Clean Energy is making waves in the distributive power industry” is blank: If the ESG Clean Energy license deal were just another trivial bit of vaporware hyped up by a promotional company and its over-eager shareholders, it would be problematic but unremarkable; things like that happen all the time. But it’s the nature and history of Camber/Viking’s counterparty in the ESG deal that truly makes the situation sublime. ESG Clean Energy is in fact an offshoot of the Scuderi Group, a family business in western Massachusetts created to develop the now deceased Carmelo Scuderi’s idea for a revolutionary new type of engine. (In a 2005 AP article entitled “Engine design draws skepticism,” an MIT professor “said the creation is almost certain to fail.”) Two of Carmelo’s children, Nick and Sal, appeared in a recent ESG Clean Energy video with Camber’s CEO, who called Sal “more of the brains behind the operation” but didn’t state his official role – interesting since documents associated with ESG Clean Energy’s recent small-scale capital raises don’t mention Sal at all. Buried in Viking’s contract with ESG Clean Energy is the following section, indicating that the patents and technology underlying the deal actually belong in the first instance to the Scuderi Group, Inc.: 2.6 Demonstration of ESG’s Exclusive License with Scuderi Group and Right to Grant Licenses in this Agreement. ESG shall provide necessary documentation to Viking which demonstrates ESG’s right to grant the licenses in this Section 2 of this Agreement. For the avoidance of doubt, ESG shall provide necessary documentation that verifies the terms and conditions of ESG’s exclusive license with the Scuderi Group, Inc., a Delaware USA corporation, having an address of 1111 Elm Street, Suite 33, West Springfield, MA 01089 USA (“Scuderi Group”), and that nothing within ESG’s exclusive license with the Scuderi Group is inconsistent with the terms of this Agreement. In fact, the ESG Clean Energy entity itself was originally called Scuderi Clean Energy but changed its name in 2019; its subsidiary ESG-H1, LLC, which presides over a long-delayed power-generation project in the small city of Holyoke, Massachusetts (discussed further below), used to be called Scuderi Holyoke Power LLC but also changed its name in 2019.22 The SEC provided a good summary of the Scuderi Group’s history in a 2013 cease-and-desist order that imposed a $100,000 civil money penalty on Sal Scuderi (emphasis added): Founded in 2002, Scuderi Group has been in the business of developing a new internal combustion engine design. Scuderi Group’s business plan is to develop, patent, and license its engine technology to automobile companies and other large engine manufacturers. Scuderi Group, which considers itself a development stage company, has not generated any revenue… …These proceedings arise out of unregistered, non-exempt stock offerings and misleading disclosures regarding the use of offering proceeds by Scuderi Group and Mr. Scuderi, the company’s president. Between 2004 and 2011, Scuderi Group sold more than $80 million worth of securities through offerings that were not registered with the Commission and did not qualify for any of the exemptions from the Securities Act’s registration requirement. The company’s private placement memoranda informed investors that Scuderi Group intended to use the proceeds from its offerings for “general corporate purposes, including working capital.” In fact, the company was making significant payments to Scuderi family members for non-corporate purposes, including, large, ad hoc bonus payments to Scuderi family employees to cover personal expenses; payments to family members who provided no services to Scuderi; loans to Scuderi family members that were undocumented, with no written interest and repayment terms; large loans to fund $20 million personal insurance policies for six of the Scuderi siblings for which the company has not been, and will not be, repaid; and personal estate planning services for the Scuderi family. Between 2008 and 2011, a period when Scuderi Group sold more than $75 million in securities despite not obtaining any revenue, Mr. Scuderi authorized more than $3.2 million in Scuderi Group spending on such purposes. …In connection with these offerings [of stock], Scuderi Group disseminated more than 3,000 PPMs [private placement memoranda] to potential investors, directly and through third parties. Scuderi Group found these potential investors by, among other things, conducting hundreds of roadshows across the U.S.; hiring a registered broker-dealer to find investors; and paying numerous intermediaries to encourage people to attend meetings that Scuderi Group arranged for potential investors. …Scuderi Group’s own documents reflect that, in total, over 90 of the company’s investors were non-accredited investors… The Scuderi Group and Sal Scuderi neither admitted nor denied the SEC’s findings but agreed to stop violating securities law. Contemporary local news coverage of the regulatory action added color to the SEC’s description of the Scuderis’ fund-raising tactics (emphasis added): Here on Long Island, folks like HVAC specialist Bill Constantine were early investors, hoping to earn a windfall from Scuderi licensing the idea to every engine manufacturer in the world. Constantine said he was familiar with the Scuderis because he worked at an Islandia company that distributed an oil-less compressor for a refrigerant recovery system designed by the family patriarch. Constantine told [Long Island Business News] he began investing in the engine in 2007, getting many of his friends and family to put their money in, too. The company held an invitation-only sales pitch at the Marriott in Islandia in February 2011. Commercial real estate broker George Tsunis said he was asked to recruit investors for the Scuderi Group, but declined after hearing the pitch. “They were talking about doing business with Volkswagen and Mercedes, but everything was on the come,” Tsunis said. “They were having a party and nobody came.” Hot on the heels of the SEC action, an individual investor who had purchased $197,000 of Scuderi Group preferred units sued the Scuderi Group as well as Sal, Nick, Deborah, Stephen, and Ruth Scuderi individually, alleging, among other things, securities fraud (e.g. “untrue statements of material fact” in offering memoranda). This case was settled out of court in 2016 after the judge reportedly “said from the bench that he was likely to grant summary judgement for [the] plaintiff. … That ruling would have clear the way for other investors in Scuderi to claim at least part of a monetary settlement.” (Two other investors filed a similar lawsuit in 2017 but had it dismissed in 2018 because they ran afoul of the statute of limitations.23) The Scuderi Group put on a brave face, saying publicly, “The company is very pleased to put the SEC matter behind it and return focus to its technology.” In fact, in December 2013, just months after the SEC news broke, the company entered into a “Cooperative Consortium Agreement” with Hino Motors, a Japanese manufacturer, creating an “engineering research group” to further develop the Scuderi engine concept. “Hino paid Scuderi an initial fee of $150,000 to join the Consortium Group, which was to be refunded if Scuderi was unable to raise the funding necessary to start the Project by the Commencement Date,” in the words of Hino’s later lawsuit.24 Sure enough, the Scuderi Group ended up canceling the project in early October 2014 “due to funding and participant issues” – but it didn’t pay back the $150,000. Hino’s lawsuit documents Stephen Scuderi’s long series of emailed excuses: 10/31/14: “I must apologize, but we are going to be a little late in our refund of the Consortium Fee of $150,000. I am sure you have been able to deduce that we have a fair amount of challenging financial problems that we are working through. I am counting on financing for our current backlog of Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) projects to provide the capital to refund the Consortium Fee. Though we are very optimistic that the financial package for our PPA projects will be completed successfully, the process is taking a little longer than I originally expected to complete (approximately 3 months longer).” 11/25/14: “I am confident that we can pay Hino back its refund by the end of January. … The reason I have been slow to respond is because I was waiting for feedback from a few large cornerstone investors that we have been negotiating with. The negotiations have been progressing very well and we are close to a comprehensive financing deal, but (as often happens) the back and forth of the negotiating process takes ” 1/12/15: “We have given a proposal to the potential high-end investors that is most interested in investing a large sum of money into Scuderi Group. That investor has done his due-diligence on our company and has communicated to us that he likes our proposal but wants to give us a counter ” 1/31/15: “The individual I spoke of last month is one of several high net worth individuals that are currently evaluating investing a significant amount of equity capital into our That particular individual has not yet responded with a counter proposal, because he wishes to complete a study on the power generation market as part of his due diligence effort first. Though we learned of the study only recently, we believe that his enthusiasm for investing in Scuderi Group remains as strong as ever and steady progress is being made with the other high net worth individuals as well. … I ask only that you be patient for a short while longer as we make every effort possible to raise the monies need[ed] to refund Hino its consortium fee.” Fed up, Hino sued instead of waiting for the next excuse – but ended up discovering that the Scuderi bank account to which it had wired the $150,000 now contained only about $64,000. Hino and the Scuderi Group then entered into a settlement in which that account balance was supposed to be immediately handed over to Hino, with the remainder plus interest to be paid back later – but Scuderi didn’t even comply with its own settlement, forcing Hino to re-initiate its lawsuit and obtain an official court judgment against Scuderi. Pursuant to that judgment, Hino formally requested an array of documents like tax returns and bank statements, but Scuderi simply ignored these requests, using the following brazen logic:25 Though as of this date, the execution has not been satisfied, Scuderi continues to operate in the ordinary course of business and reasonably expects to have money available to satisfy the execution in full in the near future. … Responding to the post- judgment discovery requests, as a practical matter, will not enable Scuderi to pay Hino any faster than can be achieved by Scuderi using all of its resources and efforts to conduct its day-to-day business operations and will only serve to impose additional and unnecessary costs on both parties. Scuderi has offered and is willing to make payments every 30 days to Hino in amounts not less than $10,000 until the execution is satisfied in full. Shortly thereafter, in March 2016, Hino dropped its case, perhaps having chosen to take the $10,000 per month rather than continue to tangle in court with the Scuderis (though we don’t know for sure). With its name tarnished by disgruntled investors and the SEC, and at least one of its bank accounts wiped out by Hino Motors, the Scuderi Group didn’t appear to have a bright future. But then, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, a new business was born: Scuderi Clean Energy, “a wholly owned subsidiary of Scuderi Group, Inc. … formed in October 2015 to market Scuderi Engine Technology to the power generation industry.” (Over time, references to the troubled “Scuderi Engine Technology” have faded away; today ESG Clean Energy is purportedly planning to use standard, off-the-shelf Caterpillar engines. And while an early press release described Scuderi Clean Energy as “a wholly owned subsidiary of Scuderi Group,” the current Scuderi/ESG Clean Energy, LLC, appears to have been created later as its own (nominally) independent entity, led by Nick Scuderi.) As the emailed excuses in the Hino dispute suggested, this pivot to “clean energy” and electric power generation had been in the works for some time, enabling Scuderi Clean Energy to hit the ground running by signing a deal with Holyoke Gas and Electric, a small utility company owned by the city of Holyoke, Massachusetts (population 38,238) in December 2015. The basic idea was that Scuderi Clean Energy would install a large natural-gas generator and associated equipment on a vacant lot and use it to supply Holyoke Gas and Electric with supplemental electric power, especially during “peak demand periods in the summer.”26 But it appears that, from day one, Holyoke had its doubts. In its 2015 annual report (p. 80), the company wrote (emphasis added): In December 2015, the Department contracted with Scuderi Clean Energy, LLC under a twenty (20) year [power purchase agreement] for a 4.375 MW [megawatt] natural gas generator. Uncertain if this project will move forward; however Department mitigated market and development risk by ensuring interconnection costs are born by other party and that rates under PPA are discounted to full wholesale energy and resulting load reduction cost savings (where and if applicable). Holyoke was right to be uncertain. Though its 2017 annual report optimistically said, “Expected Commercial Operation date is April 1, 2018” (p. 90), the 2018 annual report changed to “Expected Commercial Operation is unknown at this time” – language that had to be repeated verbatim in the 2019 and 2020 annual reports. Six years after the contract was signed, the Scuderi Clean Energy, now ESG Clean Energy, project still hasn’t produced one iota of power, let alone one dollar of revenue. What it has produced, however, is funding from retail investors, though perhaps not as much as the Scuderis could have hoped. Beginning in 2017, Scuderi Clean Energy managed to sell roughly $1.3 million27 in 5-year “TIGRcub” bonds (Top-Line Income Generation Rights Certificates) on the small online Entrex platform by advertising a 12% “minimum yield” and 16.72% “projected IRR” (based on 18.84% “revenue participation”) over a 5-year term. While we don’t know the exact terms of these bonds, we believe that, at least early on, interest payments were covered by some sort of prepaid insurance policy, while later payments depend on (so far nonexistent) revenue from the Holyoke project. But Scuderi Clean Energy had been aiming to raise $6 million to complete the project, not $1 million; indeed, this was only supposed to be the first component of a whole empire of “Scuderi power plants”28 that would require over $100 million to build but were supposedly already under contract.29 So far, however, nothing has come of these other projects, and, seemingly suffering from insufficient funding, the Holyoke effort languished. (Of course, it might have been more investor-friendly if Scuderi Clean Energy had only accepted funding on the condition that there was enough to actually complete construction.) Under the new ESG Clean Energy name, the Scuderis tried in 2019 to raise capital again, this time in the form of $5 million of preferred units marketed as a “5 year tax free Investment with 18% cash-on-cash return,” but, based on an SEC filing, it appears that the offering didn’t go well, raising just $150,000. With funding still limited and the Holyoke project far from finished, the clock is ticking: the $1.3 million of bonds will begin to mature in early 2022. It was thus fortunate that Viking came along when it did to pay ESG Clean Energy a $1.5 million upfront royalty for its incredible technology. Interestingly, ESG Clean Energy began in late 2020 to provide extremely detailed updates on its Holyoke construction progress, including items as prosaic as “Throughout the week, ESG had met with and continued to exchange numerous e-mails with our mechanical engineering firm.” With frequent references to the “very fluid environment,” the tone is unmistakably defensive. Consider the September update (emphasis not added): Reading between the lines, we believe the intended message is this: “We didn’t just take your money and run – honest! We’re working hard!” Nonetheless, someone appears to be unhappy, as indicated by the FINRA BrokerCheck report for one Eric Willer, a former employee of Fusion Analytics, which was listed as a recipient of sales compensation in connection with the Scuderi Clean Energy bond offerings. Willer may now be in hot water: a disclosure notice dated 3/31/2021 reads: “Wells Notice received as a preliminary determination to recommend disciplinary action of fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and recommendation without due diligence in the sale of bonds issued by Scuderi Holyoke,” with a further investigation still pending. We wait eagerly for additional updates. Why does the saga of the Scuderis matter? Many Camber investors seem to have convinced themselves that the ESG Clean Energy “carbon capture” IP licensed by Viking has enormous value and can plausibly justify hundreds of millions of dollars of incremental market cap. As we explained above, we find this thoroughly implausible even without getting into Scuderi family history: in the end, the “technology” will at best add a smidgen of value to some generators in Canada. But track records matter too, and the Scuderi track record of failed R&D, delays, excuses, and alleged misuse of funds is worth considering. These people have spent six years trying and failing to sell power to a single municipally owned utility company in a single small city in western Massachusetts. Are they really about to end climate change? The Case of the Fictitious CFO Since Camber is effectively a bet on Viking, and Viking, in its current form, has been assembled by James Doris, it’s important to assess Doris’s probity and good judgment. In that connection, it’s noteworthy that, from December 2014 to July 2016, at the very start of Doris’s reign as Viking’s CEO and president, the company’s CFO, Guangfang “Cecile” Yang, was apparently fictitious. (Covering the case in 2019, Dealbreaker used the headline “Possibly Imaginary CFO Grounds For Very Real Fraud Lawsuit.”) This strange situation was brought to light by an SEC lawsuit against Viking’s founder, Tom Simeo; just last month, a US district court granted summary judgment in favor of the SEC against Simeo, but Simeo’s penalties have yet to be determined.30 The court’s opinion provided a good overview of the facts (references omitted, emphasis added): In 2013, Simeo hired Yang, who lives in Shanghai, China, to be Viking’s CFO. Yang served in that position until she purportedly resigned in July 2016. When Yang joined the company, Simeo fabricated a standing resignation letter, in which Yang purported to “irrevocably” resign her position with Viking “at any time desired by the Company” and “[u]pon notification that the Company accepted [her] resignation”…Simeo forged Yang’s signature on this document. This letter allowed Simeo to remove Yang from the position of CFO whenever he pleased. Simeo also fabricated a power of attorney purportedly signed by Yang that allowed Simeo to “affix Yang’s signature to any and all documents,” including documents that Viking had to file with the SEC. Viking represented to the public that Yang was the company’s CFO and a member of its Board of Directors. But “Yang never actually functioned as Viking’s CFO.” She “was not involved in the financial and strategic decisions” of Viking during the Relevant Period. Nor did she play any role in “preparing Viking’s financial statements or public filings.” Indeed, at least as of April 3, 2015, Yang did not do “any work” on Viking’s financial statements and did not speak with anyone who was preparing them. She also did not “review or evaluate Viking’s internal controls over financial reporting.” Further, during most or all of the Relevant Period, Viking did not compensate Yang despite the fact that she was the company’s highest ranking financial employee. Nevertheless, Simeo says that he personally paid her in cash. Yang’s “sole point of contact” at Viking was Simeo. Indeed Simeo was “the only person at Viking who communicated with Yang.” Thus many people at Viking never interacted with Yang. Despite the fact that Doris has served as Viking’s CEO since December 2014, he “has never met or spoken to Yang either in person or through any other means, and he has never communicated with Yang in writing.” … To think Yang served as CFO during this time, but the CEO and other individuals involved with Viking’s SEC filings never once spoke with her, strains all logical credulity. It remains unclear whether Yang is even a real person. When the SEC asked Simeo directly (“Is it the case that you made up the existence of Ms. Yang?”) he responded by “invoking the Fifth Amendment.”31 While the SEC’s efforts thus far have focused on Simeo, the case clearly raises the question of what Doris knew and when he knew it. Indeed, though many of the required Sarbanes-Oxley certifications of Viking’s financial statements during the Yang period were signed by Simeo in his role as chairman, Doris did personally sign off on an amended 2015 10-K that refers to Yang as CFO through July 2016 and includes her complete, apparently fictitious, biography. Viking has also disclosed the following, which we believe pertains to the Yang affair (emphasis added): In April of 2019, the staff (the “Staff”) of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement notified the Company that the Staff had made a preliminary determination to recommend that the SEC file an enforcement action against the Company, as well as against its CEO and its CFO, for alleged violations of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder [laws that pertain to securities fraud] during the period from early 2014 through late 2016. The Staff’s notice is not a formal allegation or a finding of wrongdoing by the Company, and the Company has communicated with the Staff regarding its preliminary determination. The Company believes it has adequate defenses and intends to vigorously defend any enforcement action that may be initiated by the SEC.32 Perhaps the SEC has moved on from this matter and will let Doris and Viking off the hook, but the fact pattern is eyebrow-raising nonetheless. A similarly troubling incident came soon after the time of Yang’s “resignation,” when Viking’s auditing firm resigned, withdrew its recent audit report, and wrote a letter “advising the Company that it believed an illegal act may have occurred” – because of concerns that had nothing to do with Yang. First, Viking accounted for the timing of a grant of shares to a consultant in apparent contradiction of the terms of the written agreement with the consultant – a seemingly minor issue. But, under scrutiny from the auditor, Viking “produced a letter… (the version which was provided to us was unsigned), from the consultant stating that the Agreement was invalidated verbally.” Reading between the lines, the “uncomfortable” auditor suspected that this letter was a fake, created just to get him off Viking’s back. In another incident, the auditor “became aware that seven of the company’s loans…were due to be repaid” in August 2016 but hadn’t been, creating a default that would in turn “trigger[] a cross-default clause contained in 17 additional loans” – but Viking claimed it “had secured an oral extension to the loans from the broker-dealer representing the lenders by September 6, 2016” – after the loans’ maturity dates – “so the Company did not need to disclose ‘the defaults under these loans’ after such time since the loans were not in default.” It’s easy to see why an auditor would object to this attitude toward financial disclosure – no need to mention a default in August as long as you can secure a verbal agreement resolving it by September! Against this backdrop of disturbing behavior, the fact that Camber just dismissed its auditing firm three weeks ago on September 16th, even with delisting looming if the company can’t become current again with its SEC filings by November, seems even more unsettling. Have Camber and Viking management earned investors’ trust? Conclusion It’s not clear why, back in 2017, Lucas Energy changed its name to “Camber” specifically, but we’d like to think the inspiration was England’s Camber Castle. According to Atlas Obscura, the castle was supposed to help defend the English coast, but it took so long to build that its “advanced design was obsolete by the time of its completion,” and changes in the local environment meant that “the sea had receded so far that cannons fired from the fort would no longer be able to reach any invading ships.” Still, the useless castle was “manned and serviced” for nearly a century before being officially decommissioned. Today, Camber “lies derelict and almost unheard of.” But what’s in a name? Article by Kerrisdale Capital Management Updated on Oct 5, 2021, 12:06 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: valuewalkOct 5th, 2021

Elon Musk keeps attacking Jeff Bezos over the billionaires" rival space companies. Here"s a history of the Tesla CEO"s weirdest beefs, including with Azealia Banks and Pablo Escobar"s brother.

Musk has got into spats and even long-running feuds with an eclectic bunch of people, often over his preferred medium of Twitter. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has a history of strange spats. Getty Images Elon Musk has a habit of getting into bizarre fights. Recently he's been attacking Jeff Bezos over the billionaires' rival space companies. Bezos is one of an eclectic bunch of people Musk has feuded with, including rapper Azealia Banks. See more stories on Insider's business page. Elon Musk has a serious combative streak.The Tesla and SpaceX CEO is famously unpredictable as chief executives go, a personality trait which has sometimes landed him in trouble - particularly with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.But Musk's combative side doesn't just express itself in skirmishes with government bodies. The Tesla billionaire has ended up in bizarre spats with a strange array of people - from fellow billionaires to artists to rescue divers - and often via his preferred medium of Twitter.Recently, he has repeatedly attacked Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, whose space exploration company Blue Origin has been a thorn in the side of Musk's rival company SpaceX.The twists and turns in the stories of Musk's various battles are often baffling, and it can be hard to remember all the different ways Musk has squared up to various public figures and regular citizens.We've catalogued his weirdest fights. In May 2020 Musk challenged Alameda County officials to arrest him for reopening the Tesla factory during the coronavirus pandemic. AP Photo Reports surfaced in May 2020 that Tesla was asking workers in its California factory to return to work despite Alameda County's shelter-in-place order forbidding the factory from re-opening as only essential businesses are allowed to operate in California due to the coronavirus pandemic.Musk confirmed the reports on May 11 in a tweet. "Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules, I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me." Tesla threatened to sue Alameda County. The view of Tesla Inc's US vehicle factory in Fremont, California Reuters Tesla's suit hinged around the fact that California Gov. Gavin Newsom said manufacturers in the state would be allowed to reopen, but Alameda County extended its shelter-in-place order only allowing essential businesses to open.Tesla's suit argued that Alameda County's forced shutdown ignored an order from California Gov. Gavin Newsom allowing businesses from "16 crucial infrastructure industries" to remain open, one of which is transportation.The fight prompted Musk to leave California altogether. "Frankly, this is the final straw. Tesla will now move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately. If we even retain Fremont manufacturing activity at all, it will be dependen on how Tesla is treated in the future. Tesla is the last carmaker left in CA," Musk tweeted in May 2020.This prompted California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez to tweet: "F--- Elon Musk."Musk confirmed in December 2020 he had moved to Texas. Alameda County gave the Tesla factory the go-ahead to reopen on May 13, 2020. Alameda County officials said on May 13 Tesla would be allowed to reopen its Fremont factory so long as it implemented robust safety plans for its workers, and a Tesla executive sent a letter to employees saying it would resume "full production" the following week.Tesla dropped its lawsuit against Alameda County the same week it resumed production. Musk picked numerous fights over the severity of the coronavirus. Elon Musk speaks during the Satellite 2020 at the Washington Convention Center on March 9, 2020, in Washington, DC. Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty Images Musk has consistently espoused the theory that the threat posed by the coronavirus is overblown, and tweeted misinformation about the virus including that children are "basically immune."He has also been openly hostile towards state lockdowns, calling them "fascist," and questioned the official death count as it includes people with underlying health conditions.As Business Insider's Dave Mosher and Aylin Woodward write, Musk's rhetoric is dangerously misguided. Scientific evidence overwhelmingly suggests lockdowns help curb the spread of the virus and slow the death rate, and underlying health conditions make people more vulnerable to the virus, and so should not be discounted from death tolls. Musk's frustrations were tied to Tesla's fortunes. A worker descends from the top deck of a car carrier trailer carrying Tesla electric vehicles at Tesla's primary vehicle factory after CEO Elon Musk announced he was defying local officials' coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions by reopening the plant in Fremont, California on May 11, 2020. REUTERS/Stephen Lam Musk said during Tesla's Q1 2020 earnings call that the forced closure of the Tesla factory posed a "serious risk" to business."I should say we are a bit worried about not being able to resume production in the Bay Area, and that should be identified as a serious risk," Musk said.During the same call, Musk went on a tirade against lockdowns in general. "I would call it forcibly imprisoning people in their homes against all their constitutional rights. That's my opinion, and breaking people's freedoms in ways that are horrible and wrong and not why people came to America or built this country — what the f---. Excuse me, the outrage. It's just outrage," Musk said. In 2018 Musk called a complete stranger "pedo guy." British caver Vernon Unsworth looks to Tham Luang cave complex during a search for members of an under-16 soccer team and their coach, in the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand, June 27, 2018 REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun Vernon Unsworth is a British diver who participated in the rescue of 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave system in June 2018. It was a difficult, complex operation and the boys were successfully rescued after being trapped for 17 days by international divers and Thai Navy SEALs. Unsworth, an experienced cave explorer, was asked by Thai officials to aid in the rescue.He had never met Elon Musk, but would go on to spend most of 2019 locked in a legal battle with the Tesla billionaire.Musk had inserted himself into the Thai rescue operation and offered to build a mini-submarine to fetch the boys. The idea never materialized.Unsworth was asked about Musk's submarine in an interview with CNN, and described it in unflattering terms, describing it as a PR stunt. He added that Musk could "stick his submarine where it hurts."That angered Musk, who subsequently wrote a post on Twitter calling Unsworth a "pedo guy." When a Twitter user challenged him over it, he replied "bet ya a signed dollar it's true."His remarks immediately triggered headlines around the world, despite the fact he provided no proof for the "pedo" claim. Musk doubled down on the allegation by emailing BuzzFeed reporter Ryan Mac and calling Vernon Unsworth a "child rapist", with no evidence. Brendan McDermid/Reuters Censured by critics for using the slur, Musk deleted his tweet and apologised, but he didn't leave it there. A month later he responded to a Twitter user who criticised him. "You don't think it's strange he hasn't sued me? He was offered free legal services," Musk tweeted, referring to Unsworth.Then in September 2018, he doubled down. BuzzFeed reporter Ryan Mac emailed Musk asking for comment on a legal threat made by Unsworth's lawyer. Musk replied, suggesting Unsworth was a "child rapist" and "I hope he fucking sues me." Musk prefaced the email to Mac with "off the record," but the journalist had never agreed to go off the record, and published the entire exchange. Documents later revealed Musk called himself a "fucking idiot" for sending the email to Mac in the first place.A few weeks after Mac's article was published Unsworth sued Musk for defamation. Court filings revealed Musk hired a detective to investigate Unsworth - but the PI turned out to be a conman. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel listens to engineer and tech entrepreneur Elon Musk of The Boring Company talks about constructing a high speed transit tunnel at Block 37 during a news conference on June 14, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. Joshua Lott/Getty Images The case threw up some bizarre findings.Court filings revealed that Musk paid a man named James Higgins-Howard $50,000 to investigate Unsworth and relay reports to Musk's family office.Higgins-Howard emailed Musk out of the blue following the initial "pedo guy" tweet to offer his services as a private detective. "You may want to dig deep into Mr. Unsworth['s] past to prepare for his defamation claim," Higgins-Howard wrote, adding "no smoke without fire!"Higgins-Howard didn't find any evidence, however, and BuzzFeed's Ryan Mac later reported that the would-be PI had previously been convicted of fraud. Musk admitted in a deposition that he later realised Higgins-Howard was "just taking us for a ride."In depositions Musk has also argued that by calling Unsworth "pedo guy" he wasn't literally accusing him of being a pedophile because the term was used to be synonymous with "creepy old man" when he was growing up in South Africa. He also claimed he was genuinely worried Unsworth could be "another Jeffrey Epstein."The trial began on December 3, 2019.   On December 6, 2019, Elon Musk won the defamation case. Elon Musk arriving at court in California. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill After a four-day trial in California, the jury found Musk not guilty of defamation.The jury took less than half an hour to reach their decision, which reportedly hinged on the fact that Musk did not identify Unsworth in his tweet, according to the Times of London.The foreman also said that Unsworth's lawyers had made the case too emotive. "The failure probably happened because they didn't focus on the tweets... I think they tried to get our emotions involved in it. In a court of law you have to prove your case, which they did not prove," said foreman Joshua Jones, per The Guardian."My faith in humanity is restored," Musk said following the verdict.Unsworth's lawyer Lin Wood said in a tweet that his team would "explore legal options" for challenging the verdict.  In June 2018, Musk took a liking to some farting unicorn art but didn't pay for it, leading to a copyright dispute with a potter. Tom Edwards' farting unicorn mug. Tom Edwards, Wallyware  Musk locked horns with another unlikely member of the public in June 2018.Colorado-based potter Tom Edwards caught Musk's attention with a mug. The mug carried a painting of a unicorn farting rainbows to power an electric car. Musk tweeted a picture of a mug in February 2017 calling it "maybe my favorite mug ever." Two months later friends of Edwards' told him they had seen the same farting unicorn image used as an icon on Tesla screens, and the image was later used on Tesla's company Christmas cards.The Christmas card spurred Edwards into action. "I decided to make it my New Year's resolution to pursue getting compensation, because artists are always seeing their work just taken, and it happens all the time," he told Insider in June 2018.In later-deleted tweets Musk attacked Edwards, saying taking legal action would be "kinda lame.""If anything, this attention increased his mug sales," he said. Musk also claimed (also in subsequently deleted tweets) to have offered to pay for the work twice. Edwards said he'd had no contact from Musk or Tesla at that point. Despite Musk's protestations, the two eventually settled. Brendan McDermid/Reuters A month after the farting unicorn argument erupted on Twitter, Musk and Edwards came to a settlement. The terms of the settlement were not made public, but Edwards posted on his blog that it "resolves our issues in a way that everyone feels good about.""It's clear there were some misunderstandings that led to this escalating, but I'm just glad that everything has been cleared up," he added.Musk for his part tweeted a link to the blog accompanied by three emojis: a unicorn, a gust of wind, and a peace symbol.—Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 21, 2018  Azealia Banks waded into Tesla's regulatory troubles in August 2018. Rapper Azealia Banks became embroiled in Elon Musk's infamous "funding secured" saga. Getty On August 7, 2018, Elon Musk sent his infamous "funding secured" tweet, in which he claimed to be taking Tesla private at $420 a share.Tesla did not go private, and Musk landed himself with a $20 million fine from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for the tweet. He lost his position as chairman of Tesla's board, leading to long-running bad blood with the agency.It triggered another unlikely feud with rapper Azealia Banks.A week after Musk sent his fateful Tweet, Banks wrote on her Instagram that she had been at Musk's house at the time when he'd sent it. She had visited to collaborate with Musk's then-partner Grimes (real name Claire Boucher), and claimed she had been annoyed when the crisis caused by "funding secured" dominated Grimes' time."I waited around all weekend while grimes coddled her boyfriend," Banks wrote, and compared the weekend to the horror film "Get Out.""I saw him in the kitchen tucking his tail in between his legs scrounging for investors to cover his ass after that tweet," Banks told Insider at the time.   Banks accused Musk of taking her phone. Getty Images On August 20, Banks was back on Instagram, tagging Elon Musk. Banks posted "@elonmusk you need to contact me. ASAP." and "I need my phone back now.  @elonmusk," on her Instagram story — she later deleted the posts.Banks then shared a screenshot with Insider that appeared to show a text from Grimes saying the choice of share price ($420) was a weed reference. "He just got into weed cuz of me and he's super entertained by 420 so when he decided to take the stock private he calculated it was worth 419$ so he rounded up to 420 for a laugh and now the sec is investigating him for fraud," the text read.Musk told The New York Times that he rounded up the price because $420 had better "karma" than $419, and denied using weed. Musk didn't really respond publicly to Banks except to say he had never met her. Reuters / Rebecca Cook Musk told Gizmodo that he hadn't met Banks "or communicated with her in any way," but confirmed to the New York Times that he had seen her at his house."I saw her on Friday morning, for two seconds at about a 30-foot distance as she was leaving the house... I'd just finished working out. She was not within hearing range. I didn't even realize who it was. That's literally the only time I've ever laid eyes on her," he told the Times. The Banks-Musk feud dragged on for months after the story blew up. Isaiah Trickey/FilmMagic In January 2019, a court granted a motion to subpoena Banks, Grimes, and publications including Insider.In July 2021 Grimes posted in a Discord chat that she'd written a song, called "100% Tragedy," which was about "having to defeat Azealia Banks when she tried to destroy my life."Musk announced in September 2021 that he and Grimes had broken up after three years together. Banks responded to the news on her Instagram, saying: "Ok girl, can we finally make those darn songs now that apartheid Clyde is out of the way?"The nickname "Apartheid Clyde" is an apparent reference to Musk's South African upbringing. Musk was accused of stealing an idea from Pablo Escobar's brother in July 2019. Roberto Escobar (left). YouTube Musk ended up in a spat with Roberto Escobar, brother of deceased Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, over an accusation of intellectual property theft.TMZ first reported that Escobar had accused Musk of stealing his idea for a flamethrower when Musk's venture The Boring Company announced its "Not-A-Flamethrower" flamethrower in January 2018, beating Escobar's own flamethrower to market.Escobar claimed to TMZ that one of Musk's engineers had stolen the idea while visiting an Escobar family compound in 2017. "It's not a flamethrower, Mr. Escobar." iJustine/YouTube/Joe Rogan Experience Elon Musk responded to the story in classic Muskian style — on Twitter.Musk tweeted a link to the TMZ story accompanied by the words, "It's not a Flamethrower, Mr. Escobar," a tongue-in-cheek reference to the device's name.—Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 11, 2019In a follow-up tweet he added he stole the idea from the comedy movie "Spaceballs." Musk has traded jibes with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos about which parts of space to conquer. Jeff Bezos unveils Blue Moon, a lunar lander designed by his spaceflight company, Blue Origin, on May 9, 2019. Blue Origin Jeff Bezos owns a space exploration company called Blue Origin, a rival to Musk's own space exploration company SpaceX.Bezos and Musk have sporadically interacted about their companies' successes, sometimes applauding each other, but more often locking antlers.When Blue Origin unveiled its new lunar lander Blue Moon in May 2019 Bezos reportedly took a swipe at SpaceX's plans to colonize Mars during his presentation, saying that the moon was a much more realistic prospect. According to Bloomberg, Bezos showed a slide with a picture of Mars accompanied by the labels "Round-trip on the order of years" and "No real-time communication."Musk responded by mocking the lander's name."Competition is good. Results in a better outcome for all... But putting the word "Blue" on a ball is questionable branding," Musk said in a pair of tweets on May 10, 2019. Musk also called Bezos a "copycat" over his plan to launch thousands of satellites. Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters In April 2019, Amazon announced its plan to launch 3,236 satellites with the aim of providing broadband to communities without high-speed internet, nicknamed Project Kuiper.The project bears some resemblance to a SpaceX project called Starlink, which won FCC approval in November 2018 to launch almost 12,000 satellites into orbit. CNBC also reported that Amazon hired a former SpaceX executive to head up Kuiper.After news of Project Kuiper broke, Musk tagged Bezos and tweeted the word "copy" followed by a cat emoji.—Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 9, 2019Bezos did not respond.  Musk tweeted in June 2020 that Amazon should be broken up after it de-listed a book written by a coronavirus skeptic. AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais When Amazon's Direct Kindle Service refused to publish a book called "Unreported Truths about COVID-19 and Lockdowns," it caught Musk's eye.The author of the book, Alex Berenson, is a former New York Times reporter who has written claiming the threat posed by the coronavirus has been overblown.Musk, who has also been vocal in his opinion that the virus was not dangerous enough to warrant lockdown measures (despite evidence to the contrary) spotted a tweet by Berenson presenting the email he got from Amazon saying his book did not comply with its guidelines."This is insane @JeffBezos. Time to break up Amazon. Monopolies are wrong!" Musk tweeted.—Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 4, 2020 Amazon later confirmed to Business Insider the book had been removed in error and would be reinstated.  In mid-2021 Musk started attacking Bezos repeatedly claiming the Amazon founder retired so he could sue SpaceX. Blue Origin CEO Jeff Bezos (left) and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. Joe Raedle/Getty Images/Axel Springer On August 26, Elon Musk tweeted saying Bezos had "retired in order to pursue a full-time job filing lawsuits against SpaceX."Musk repeated the joke on September 1, and during an interview at the Code Conference on September 28 said he can't "sue your way to the moon."These attacks were prompted by both Amazon and Blue Origin mounting challenges against SpaceX.Amazon filed a protest letter with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in August 2021 urging it to block SpaceX's Starlink from putting up more satellites.Blue Origin also sued NASA in August after the agency granted an exclusive moon-lander contract to SpaceX.While Bezos tends not to engage personally in his feud with Musk, Amazon and Blue Origin have openly criticized Musk's companies. Amazon sent an unprompted 13-page list to The Verge of all the legal actions SpaceX has taken stretching back as far as 2004, claiming it showed SpaceX is just as litigious as itself. In a complaint submitted to the FCC on September 8 Amazon also said: "The conduct of SpaceX and other Musk-led companies makes their view plain: rules are for other people, and those who insist upon or even simply request compliance are deserving of derision and ad hominem attacks." Musk has a long-running animosity towards David Einhorn, a billionaire short seller he loves sending short shorts to. Greenlight Capital president David Einhorn. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid Musk has a pretty well-documented hatred for short sellers, tweeting in October 2018 "what they do should be illegal."One short seller, in particular, has drawn Musk's ire. David Einhorn is president of Greenlight Capital, and is typically pretty scathing in his notes about Tesla and Musk.When Einhorn blamed Tesla's good performance in the first half of 2018 for denting Greenlight's hedge fund, Elon Musk promised to send him a box of "short shorts" — and he followed through.—David Einhorn (@davidein) August 10, 2018In November 2019, Musk renewed the offer of short shorts after Einhorn published a damning note on Tesla's Q3 results, drawing attention to a shareholder's lawsuit against Tesla, which alleges that Musk acquired his cousin's company SolarCity at an inflated value to bail it out.Musk posted an incredibly sarcastic note on Twitter following Einhorn's letter, addressing him as "Mr. Unicorn." Einhorn is German for unicorn. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 1st, 2021

Futures Slide, Nasdaq Plunges As Yields Surge And Oil Tops $80

Futures Slide, Nasdaq Plunges As Yields Surge And Oil Tops $80 For much of 2021, a vocal contingent of market bulls had claimed that there is no way the broader market could sell off as long as the gigacap tech "general" refused to drop. Well, it looks like that day is finally upon us because this morning US equity futures are sliding again, continuing their Monday drop as yields from the US to Germany again, the 10Y TSY rising as high as 1.55%, driven to an extent by Fed tapering fears but mostly by the surge in oil which has pushed Brent above $80, the highest price since late 2018. The dollar gained amid the deteriorating global supply crunch from oil to semiconductors. The surge in oil sparked a new round of stagflation fears, sending Nasdaq futures down 240 points or 1.3% as the yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury climbed sharply. S&P 500 and Dow Jones futures also retreated, with spoos sliding below 4,400 as to a session low of 4,390. Rising bond yields prompted a shift from growth to cyclical stocks in the United States, in a move that analysts expect could become more permanent after a prolonged period of supressed bond yields. The premarket selloff was led by semiconductor stocks which tracked similar falls for European peers, as a rising 10-year Treasury yield puts pressure on the tech sector. Applied Materials Inc. led a slump in chip stocks in New York premarket trading while Nvidia was down 2.6%, AMD -2.1%, Applied Materials -2.9%, Micron -1.6%. Meanwhile retail trader favorite meme stock Naked Brand Group, an underwear and swimwear retailer, rises again after having surged 40% in the past two trading sessions after Chairman Justin Davis-Rice said in a letter to shareholders that he believes the company has found a “disruptive” potential acquisition in the clean technology sector. Frequency Electronics also soared after being awarded a contract by the Office of Naval Research to develop an atomic clock. Chinese stocks listed in the U.S. were mixed and semiconductor stocks declined. Here are some of the other notable U.S. movers today: iPower (IPW US) shares rise as much as 61% in U.S. premarket trading after the online hydroponics equipment retailer posted 4Q and FY21 earnings Alibaba (BABA US) rises 2.5% in U.S. premarket trading after the company’s shares listed in Hong Kong rose, adding to the Hang Seng Tech Index’s gains Frequency Electronics (FEIM US) soars 20% in U.S. premarket trading after being awarded a contract by the Office of Naval Research to develop an atomic clock Concentrix (CNXC) jumped 5.9% in Monday after hours trading after setting its first dividend payment and buyback program since being spun off from from Synnex in December Brookdale Senior Living (BKD US) shares fell in extended trading on Monday after announcing a $200 million convertible bond offering Altimmune (ALT US) rose as much as 4.2% in Monday postmarket trading on plans to announce results for an early stage study of ALT-801 in overweight people on Tuesday Ziopharm Oncology (ZIOP US) fell in extended trading after company said it cut about 60 positions, or a more than 50% reduction in personnel, to extend its cash runway into 1H 2023 Montrose Environmental Group (MEG US) was down 2.8% Monday postmarket after offering shares via JPMorgan, BofA Securities, William Blair The main catalyst for the stock selloff was the continued drop in Treasurys which sent the 10-year Treasury rising as high as 1.55% while shorter-dated rates surged toward pre-pandemic levels. This in turn was driven by the relentless meltup in commodities: overnight Brent roared above $80 a barrel - on its way to Goldman's revised $90 price target - on louder signs that demand is running ahead of supply and depleting inventories as the world finds itself in an unprecedented energy crisis. The international crude benchmark extended a recent run of gains to hit the highest since October 2018, while West Texas Intermediate also climbed. Oil’s latest upswing has come with a flurry of bullish price predictions from banks and traders, forecasts for surging demand this winter, and speculation the industry isn’t investing enough to maintain supplies. The jump to $80 also is adding inflationary pressure to the global economy at a time when prices of energy commodities are soaring. European natural gas, carbon permits and power rose to fresh records Tuesday, with little sign of the rally slowing. As Bloomberg notes, traders have begun reassessing valuations amid multiplying global risks, while Fed officials have communicated increasingly hawkish signals in recent days as supply-chain bottlenecks threaten to keep inflation elevated. China’s growth slowdown which saw Goldman lower its q/q Q3 GDP forecast to a flat 0.0%, and a debt crisis in the nation’s property market.have also fueled the risk-off shift. "Central bankers have set out how they want to normalize monetary policy for some time,” Chris Iggo, chief investment officer for core investments at AXA Investment Managers, said in a note. “That process could start soon. The realization of this has the potential to provoke some volatility in rates and equities." Elsewhere, European stocks also declined with the Stoxx Europe 600 dragged down most by technology shares. Europe’s Stoxx Tech Index drops as much as 2.8% to a five-week low after falling 1.5% on Monday having previously touched its highest level since 2000 earlier in the month. Single-stock downgrades also weighed. Stocks which performed particularly well this year are among the biggest fallers, with chip equipment makers BE Semi -4.6% and ASML -4.4%, and chipmaker Nordic Semi down 4.2%. Among other laggards, Logitech drops as much as 8.5% after being downgraded to underweight at Morgan Stanley. Earlier in the session, Asian stocks fell for the first time in four days as declines in technology names overshadowed a rally in energy shares.  The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped as much as 0.7%, with a jump in U.S. Treasury yields weighing on richly-valued tech stocks. That’s even as the region’s oil and gas shares climbed amid signs of a global energy crunch. Chipmakers Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing and Samsung Electronics were the biggest drags on the Asian benchmark. “The climb in yields led to the selling of growth stocks that have been strong, with investors rotating into names that are sensitive to business cycles - not unlike what happened in U.S. equities,” said Shutaro Yasuda, an analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Center.  Asian equities have been recovering after being whipsawed by concerns over any fallout from China Evergrande Group’s debt troubles. As worries over the distressed property developer abate, the pace of rise in Treasury yields and global inflation data are being closely watched for clues on the U.S. Federal Reserve’s policy stance. Australia’s equity benchmark was among the biggest losers in Asia Tuesday, dragged down by losses in mining and healthcare stocks. Still, broad-based gains in oil explorers and refiners helped mitigate the Asian market’s retreat. In South Korea, importers and distributors of liquefied petroleum gas and liquefied natural gas rallied as the price of natural gas jumped. The future of Evergrande is being forensically scrutinized by investors after the company last Friday did not meet a deadline to make an interest payment to offshore bond holders. Evergrande has 30 days to make the payment before it falls into default and Shenzen authorities are now investigating the company's wealth management unit. Without making reference to Evergrande, the People's Bank of China (PBOC) said Monday in a statement posted to its website that it would "safeguard the legitimate rights of housing consumers". Widening power shortages in China, meanwhile, halted production at a number of factories including suppliers to Apple Inc and Tesla Inc and are expected to hit the country's manufacturing sector and associated supply chains. Analysts cautioned the ongoing blackouts could affect the country's listed industrial stocks. "What we see in China with the developers and the blackouts is going to be a negative weight on the Asian markets," Tai Hui, JPMorgan Asset Management's Asian chief market strategist told Reuters. "Most people are trying to work out the potential contagion effect with Evergrande and how far and wide it could go. We keep monitoring the policy response and we have started to see some shift towards supporting homebuyers which is what we have been expecting." In rates, as noted above, the selloff in Treasuries gathered pace in Asia, early Europe session leaving yields cheaper by 3.5bp to 5.5bp across the curve with 20s and 30s extending above 2% and 10-year through 1.50%. Treasury 10-year yields traded around 1.53%, cheaper by 4.5bp on the day after topping at 1.55%, highest since mid-June; in front- and belly, 2- and 5-year yields remain near cheapest levels in at least 18 months; in 10-year sector, gilts lag by 3bp vs. Treasuries while German yields are narrowly richer. Gilts underperformed further, where long-end yields are cheaper by up to 7.5bp on the day. Treasury futures volumes over Asia, early European session were at more than twice usual levels, with most activity seen in 10-year note contract; eurodollar futures volumes were also well above recent average. With recent aggressive move higher in yields, threat of convexity hedging has exacerbated moves as rate hike premium continues to filter into the curve after last week’s FOMC. Auctions conclude Tuesday with 7-year note sale, while busy Fed speaker slate includes Fed Chair Powell. In FX, the Bloomberg dollar index reached the highest level in more than a month as rising energy costs drove up Treasury yields for a fourth session. The dollar gained against all its peers; Japan’s currency slid for a fifth day against the greenback before a speech Tuesday from Fed Chair Jerome Powell who will say inflation is elevated and is likely to remain so in coming months, according to prepared remarks. Treasury two-year yields rose to the highest since March 2020. “Dollar-yen saw the clearest expression of Treasury yield increases and we attributed this divergence to the surge in energy prices,” says Christopher Wong, senior foreign-exchange strategist at Malayan Banking in Singapore. U.S. natural gas futures soared to their highest since February 2014 on concern over tight inventories. Brent oil topped $80 a barrel amid signs demand is outrunning supply. The euro slipped to hit its lowest level since Aug. 20, nearing the year-to-date low of $1.1664. The Treasury yield curve bear steepened; euro curves followed suit, with the yield on U.K. 10-year notes soaring past 1% for the first time since March 2020 on the prospects for Bank of England policy tightening. In commodities, Crude futures extend Asia’s gains. WTI rises as much as 1.6% to highs of $76.67 before stalling. Brent holds above $80. Spot gold trades around last week’s lows near $1,740/oz. Base metals are mixed: LME aluminum outperforming, rising as much as 1.1%; nickel and copper are in the red. Looking at the day ahead, one of the main highlights will be the appearance of Fed Chair Powell, and Treasury Secretary Yellen at the Senate Banking Committee. Otherwise, central bank speakers include ECB President Lagarde, Vice President de Guindos, and the ECB’s Schnabel, Panetta and Kazimir, along with the BoE’s Mann and the Fed’s Evans, Bowman and Bostic. US data highlights include the US Conference Board’s consumer confidence indicator for September and the FHFA house price index for July. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures down 0.7% to 4,403.50 STOXX Europe 600 down 1.2% to 456.83 MXAP down 0.4% to 200.06 MXAPJ down 0.4% to 641.05 Nikkei down 0.2% to 30,183.96 Topix down 0.3% to 2,081.77 Hang Seng Index up 1.2% to 24,500.39 Shanghai Composite up 0.5% to 3,602.22 Sensex down 1.4% to 59,209.94 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 1.5% to 7,275.55 Kospi down 1.1% to 3,097.92 Brent Futures up 0.8% to $80.15/bbl Gold spot down 0.4% to $1,742.61 U.S. Dollar Index up 0.20% to 93.57 German 10Y yield rose 2.7 bps to -0.196% Euro down 0.1% to $1.1681 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Chinese authorities are striving to signal to traders that whatever happens to China Evergrande Group, its debt crisis won’t spiral out of control or derail the economy Brent oil roared above $80 a barrel, the latest milestone in a global energy crisis, on signs that demand is running ahead of supply and depleting inventories As the dust settles on Germany’s election, control over the finances of Europe’s largest economy could fall to a 42-year-old former tech entrepreneur who wants to lower taxes and tighten spending Wells Fargo agreed to pay $37 million in penalties and forfeiture to settle U.S. claims that it overcharged almost 800 commercial customers that used its foreign exchange services, the latest in a series of scandals at the bank A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asian equity markets traded mixed following on from a Wall Street lead where value outperformed growth and tech suffered as yields rose. ASX 200 (-1.5%) was the laggard with losses in healthcare, gold miners and tech frontrunning the declines which dragged the index beneath 7300. Nikkei 225 (-0.2%) was lacklustre and briefly approached 30k to the downside but then bounced off worse levels amid a softer currency, while the KOSPI (-1.1%) also declined following a suspected North Korean ballistic missile launch and with a recent South Korean court order to sell seized Mitsubishi Heavy assets as compensation for wartime forced labour, threatening a flare up of tensions between Japan and South Korea. Hang Seng (+1.2%) and Shanghai Comp. (+0.5%) were underpinned after the PBoC continued to inject liquidity ahead of the approaching National Day holidays and with Hong Kong led higher by strength in property names after the PBoC stated it will safeguard legitimate rights and interests of housing consumers which also provided Evergrande-related stocks further reprieve from their recent sell-off. Finally, 10yr JGBs retreated on spillover selling from T-notes after yields rose on the back of further Fed taper rhetoric and with prices not helped by the uninspiring 2yr and 5yr auctions stateside, while weaker results at the 40yr JGB auction also provided a headwind for prices. Top Asian News Top-Performing Global Luxury Stock Seen Cooling After 680% Gain China Power Price Hike Sought Amid Supply Crunch: Energy Update Macau Evacuates Airport Quarantine Hotel After Outbreak Iron Ore Dips Again as China Power Crisis Adds to Steel Curbs Bourses in Europe extended on the losses seen at the cash open and trade lower across the board (Euro Stoxx 50 -1.7%; Stoxx 600 -1.7%) as sentiment retreated from a mixed APAC handover as month-end looms alongside tier 1 data and a slew of central bank speakers. US equity futures have also succumbed to the mood in Europe alongside the surge in global yields – which takes its toll on the NQ (-1.5%) vs the ES (-0.8%), YM (-0.4%) and RTY (-0.3%). From a more technical standpoint, ESZ1 fell under its 50 DMA (4,431) and tested the 4,400 level to the downside, whilst NQZ1 briefly fell under 15k and the YMZ1 inches towards its 100 DMA (34,489). Back to Europe, the FTSE 100 (-0.4%) sees losses to a lesser extent vs its European peers as energy prices and yields keep the index oil giants and banks supported – with some of the top gainers including Shell (+2.8%), BP (+2.1%). Sectors in Europe are predominantly in the red, but Oil & Gas buck the trend. Sectors also portray more of a defensive bias, whilst the downside sees Tech, Real Estate, and Travel & Leisure at the foot of the bunch, with the former hit by the rise in yields, which sees the US 10yr further above 1.50%, the 20yr above 2.00% and the UK 10yr hitting 1.00% for the first time since March 2020. In terms of individual movers, Smiths Group (+3.8%) is at the top of the Stoxx 600 following encouraging earnings. ING (+0.3%) holds onto gains after sources noted SocGen's (-0.6%) interest in ING's retail banking arm. Finally, chip-maker ASM International (-3.5%) has succumbed to the broader tech weakness despite upping its guidance and announcing capacity expansion by early 2023. Top European News U.K. 10-Year Yield Rises Past 1% for First Time Since March 2020 Goldman’s Petershill Unit Valued at $5.5 Billion in U.K. IPO Go-Ahead Sinks as U.K. Takes Over Southeastern Rail Franchise Hedge Funds and Private Equity Are Targeting European Soccer In FX, It took a while for the index to breach resistance ahead of 93.500, but when US Treasuries resumed their bear-steepening run and the intensity of the moves in futures and cash picked up pace the break beyond the half round number was relatively quick and decisive. Indeed, the DXY duly surpassed its post-FOMC peak (93.526) and a prior recent high from August 19 (93.587) on the way to reaching 93.619 amidst almost all round Dollar gains, as 5, 10, 20 and 30 year yields all rallied through or further above psychological levels (such as 1%, 1.5% and 2% in the case of the latter two maturities). However, petro and a few other commodity currencies are displaying varying degrees of resilience in the face of general Greenback strength that is compounded by buy signals for September 30 rebalancing on spot month, quarter and half fy end. Ahead, trade data, consumer confidence, more regional Fed surveys, speakers and the 7 year auction. NZD/CHF/JPY/AUD - The Kiwi was already losing altitude above 0.7000 vs its US counterpart and 1.0400 against the Aussie on Monday, so the deeper retreat is hardly surprising to circa 0.6975 and 1.0415 awaiting some independent impetus that may come via NZ building consents tomorrow. Meanwhile, the Franc has recoiled towards 0.9300 in advance of comments from SNB’s Maechler and the Yen continues to suffer on the aforementioned rampant yield and steeper curve trajectory on top of a more pronounced 1+ sd portfolio hedge selling requirement vs the Buck, with Usd/Jpy meandering midway between 110.94-111.42 parameters irrespective of renewed risk aversion due to same bond rout dynamic. Back down under, Aud/Usd has faded from around 0.7311 to the low 0.7260 area, though holding up a bit better in wake of not quite as weak as forecast final retail sales overnight. CAD/EUR/GBP - All softer against their US rival, but the Loonie putting up a decent fight with ongoing help from WTI crude that has now topped Usd 76.50/brl, and Usd/Cad also has decent option expiry interest to keep an eye on given 1.2 bn rolling off at 1.2615 and an even heftier 3 bn at 1.2675 compared to current extremes spanning 1.2693-1.2652. Elsewhere, the Euro has lost its battle to stay afloat of multiple sub-1.1700 lows even though EGBs are tumbling alongside USTs and the same goes for Sterling in relation to the 1.3700 handle irrespective of the 10 year Gilt touching 1% for the first time since March 2020. SCANDI/EM - Brent’s advances on Usd 80 brl have been offset to an extent by soft Norwegian retail sales data, as the Nok pares more of its post-Norges Bank gains, while the Sek looks somewhat caught between stalls following a recovery in Swedish consumption, but big swing in trade balance from surplus to larger deficit. However, the Try is taking no delight from the costlier price of oil or remarks from Turkey’s Deputy Finance Minister contending that interest rates can move lower by reducing the current account and budget deficits, or conceding that Dollarisation is a problem and steps need to be taken to enhance confidence in the Lira. Conversely, the Cnh and Cny are still holding a firm line following another net injection of 2 week funds from the PBoC and the Governor saying that China will lengthen the period for the implementation of normal monetary policy, adding that it has conditions to keep a normal and upward yield curve, as it sees no need to purchase assets at present. In commodities, WTI and Brent futures have extended on the gains seen during APAC hours, which saw the Brent November contract topping USD 80/bbl, albeit the volume and open interest has migrated to the December contract – which topped out just before the USD 80/bbl mark. WTI November meanwhile advanced past the USD 76/bbl mark to a current peak at USD 76.67/bbl (vs low USD 75.21/bbl). Desks have been attributing the leg higher to tight supply – with the UK fuel situation further deteriorating amid a shortage of drivers coupled with panic buying. It's worth bearing in mind that the demand side of the equation has also seen supportive, with the US announcing the lifting of international travel curbs recently alongside the economic resilience to the Delta variant heading into the winter period. Traders would also be keeping an eye on the electricity situation in China, which in theory would provide tailwinds for diesel demand via generators, although this could be offset by a slowdown in economic activity due to power outages. There has also been growing noise for OPEC+ to hike output beyond the monthly plan of 400k BPD, with some African nations also struggling to ramp up production due to maintenance issues and lack of investments. Ministers recently noted that the plan would be maintained at next week's confab. As a reminder, the OPEC World Oil Outlook is set to be released at 13:30BST/08:30EDT, although the findings may be stale given the recent developments in crude dynamics. Major banks have also provided commentary on Brent following Goldman Sachs' bullish call recently, with Barclays upping its forecast for both benchmarks due to supply deficits, whilst Morgan Stanley maintained its forecast but suggested that the USD 85/bbl Brent scenario clearly exists. MS also noted that oil inventories continue to draw at high rates and suggest that the market is more undersupplied than generally perceived; the analysts see the market undersupplied into 2022 amid its expectation for further OPEC discipline. Nat gas also remains in focus, with prices +11% at one point, whilst Russia's Kremlin said Russia remains the safeguard of natural gas to Europe and Gazprom is ready to discuss new gas supply contracts with increased volumes to meet rising European demand. It's also worth being aware of the increasing likelihood of state intervention at these levels as nations attempt to save or at least cushion consumers and company margins. Elsewhere, precious metals are under pressure as the Buck remains buoyant, with spot gold still under USD 1,750/oz as it inches closer to the 11th August low of USD 1,722/oz. Spot silver remains within recent ranges above USD 22/oz. Overnight Chinese nickel and tin prices extended losses with traders citing subdued demand, whilst coking coal and coke futures leapt on tight supply. US Event Calendar 8:30am: Aug. Advance Goods Trade Balance, est. -$87.3b, prior -$86.4b, revised -$86.8b 8:30am: Aug. Retail Inventories MoM, est. 0.5%, prior 0.4%; Wholesale Inventories MoM, est. 0.8%, prior 0.6% 9am: July S&P CS Composite-20 YoY, est. 20.00%, prior 19.08% 9am: July S&P/CS 20 City MoM SA, est. 1.70%, prior 1.77% 9am: July FHFA House Price Index MoM, est. 1.5%, prior 1.6% 10am: Sept. Conf. Board Consumer Confidence, est. 115.0, prior 113.8 Expectations, prior 91.4 Present Situation, prior 147.3 10am: Sept. Richmond Fed Index, est. 10, prior 9 Central Bank Speakers 9am: Fed’s Evans Makes Welcome Remarks at Payments Conference 10am: Powell and Yellen Appear Before Senate Banking Panel 1:40pm: Fed’s Bowman Speaks at Community Bank Event 3pm: Fed’s Bostic Discusses the Economic Outlook 7pm: Fed’s Bullard Discusses U.S. Economy and Monetary Policy DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap What a difference a week makes. You hardly hear the word Evergrande now. We asked in a flash poll last week whether we would still be talking about it in a month or whether it would be a distant memory by then. Maybe we should have narrowed the time frame to a week! We’ve quickly moved on to rate hikes and rising bond yields as the topic de jour. A further rise in the Bloomberg Commodity Spot Index (+1.87%) to a fresh high for the decade helped reinforce the move. Indeed, sovereign bond yields moved higher once again yesterday amidst a sharp rise in inflation expectations, with those on 10yr Treasury yields rising +3.6bps to 1.487%, their highest level in over 3 months. Meanwhile the 2yr yield rose +0.8bps to 0.278%, its highest level since the pandemic began, which comes on the back of last week’s Fed meeting that prompted investors to price in an initial rate hike from the Fed by the end of 2022. The moves in Treasury yields were almost entirely driven by higher inflation breakevens, with 10yr breakevens up +3.7bps. That echoed similar moves in Europe, where the German 10yr breakeven (+4.7bps) hit a post-2013 high of 1.653%, and their Italian counterparts (+3.9bps) hit a post-2011 high. The biggest move was in the UK however, where the 10yr breakeven (+13.2bps) reached its highest level since 2008, which comes amidst a continued fuel shortage in the country, alongside another rise in UK natural gas futures, which were up +8.20% yesterday to £190/therm, exceeding the previous closing peak set a week earlier. We were waiting for the wind to blow in this country to get alternatives back on stream and boy did it blow yesterday but with no impact yet on gas prices. Lower real rates dampened the rise in yields across the continent, though yields on 10yr bunds (+0.5bps), OATs (+0.9bps), BTPs (+1.3bps) and gilts (+2.7bps) had all moved higher by the close of trade. Those spikes in commodity prices were evident more broadly yesterday, with energy prices in particular seeing a major increase. Brent crude oil prices were up +1.84% to $79.53/bbl, marking their highest closing level since late-2018, and this morning in trading they have now exceeded the $80/bbl mark with a further +0.94% increase. It was much the same story for WTI (+1.99%), which closed at $75.45/bbl, which was its own highest closing level since 2018 too. And those pressures in UK natural gas prices we mentioned above were seen across Europe more broadly, where futures were up +8.92%. With yields moving higher and inflationary pressures growing stronger, tech stocks struggled significantly yesterday, with the NASDAQ down -0.52%. The megacap tech FANG+ index fell -0.15% on the day, but was initially down as much as -1.7% in early trading. The NASDAQ underperformed the S&P 500, which was only down -0.28%, but that masked significant sectoral divergences, with interest-sensitive growth stocks struggling, just as cyclicals more broadly posted fresh gains. More specifically, energy (+3.43%), bank (+2.29%) and autos (+2.19%) led the S&P, while biotech (-1.65%) and software (-1.39%) shares were among the largest laggards. European equities were also pretty subdued, with the STOXX 600 down -0.19%, though the DAX was up +0.27% following the results of the German election, which removed the tail risk outcome of a more left-wing coalition featuring the SPD, the Greens and Die Linke. Staying on the political scene, we are now less than 72 hours away from a potential US government shutdown as it stands. As was expected, Republicans in the Senate blocked the House-passed measure to fund the government for another 2 months and raise the debt ceiling for 2 years. While Democrats have not put forward their alternative strategy if Republicans refuse to vote to lift the debt ceiling, their only option would be to attach it to the budget reconciliation plan that currently makes up much of the Biden economic agenda. In an effort to keep all party members on board, Speaker Pelosi moved the vote on the $550bn bipartisan infrastructure bill to Thursday in order to give all sides more time to finish the larger budget bill and pass both together. It is a going to be a very busy Thursday, since Congress will have to also pass the funding bill that day. Republicans and Democrats already agree on a funding bill to keep the government open that does not include the debt ceiling increase so it is just a matter of how exactly the debt ceiling provision goes through without a Republican Senate vote. Overnight in Asia, equity indices are seeing a mixed performance. On the one hand, most of the region including the Nikkei (-0.24%) and KOSPI (-0.80%) are trading lower as investors begin to price in tighter monetary policy from the Fed. However, the Hang Seng (+1.50%), Shanghai Composite (+0.53%) and CSI (0.38%) have all advanced after the People’s Bank of China said that they would ensure a “healthy property market”. Looking forward, US equity futures are pointing to little change, with those on the S&P 500 down just -0.05%, and 10yr Treasury yields have risen +1.9bps this morning to trade above 1.50% again. Back to the German election, where the aftermath yesterday saw various party leaders assess the results and stake their claims to participate in a new coalition. As a reminder, the SPD came in first place with 25.7%, but the CDU/CSU weren’t far behind on 24.1%, making it mathematically possible for either to form a government in a coalition with the Greens and the FDP. The SPD’s chancellor candidate, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, appealed for the Greens and FDP to join him in forming a government, and told the media that he wanted to form a coalition before Christmas. Meanwhile Green co-leader Robert Habeck said that “Of course there is a certain priority for talks with the SPD and the FDP”, but said that this didn’t mean they wouldn’t speak with the CDU/CSU either. As the SPD were calling for an alliance, the tone sounded more negative from the CDU’s leadership, even though Armin Laschet said that he had not given up on the idea of forming a government. Notably, Laschet said that no party was able to draw a clear mandate from the result, including the SPD, and this echoed remarks from the CSU leader Markus Söder, who said that the conservatives had no mandate to form a government, though they could “make an offer out of a sense of responsibility for the country.” Meanwhile, attention will turn to the FDP and the Greens to see which way they’re leaning when it comes to forming a government. FDP leader Lindner said that he would hold preliminary talks with the Greens, after which they would be open to invitations from either the SPD or the CDU/CSU for further discussions. Back on the UK, there was an interesting speech from BoE Governor Bailey yesterday, where he echoed the line from the MPC minutes last week, saying that “all of us believe that there will need to be some modest tightening of policy to be consistent with meeting the inflation target sustainable over the medium-term”. However, he also said that their view was that “the price pressures will be transient”, and that “monetary policy will not increase the supply of semi-conductor chips … nor will it produce more HGV drivers.” He then further added that tighter policy “could make things worse in this situation by putting more downward pressure on a weakening recovery of the economy”. So a bit of a mixed message of backing rate hike expectations but warning about its impact on growth. Over in the US we heard from a host of Fed speakers with Governor Brainard saying that while “employment is still a bit short of the mark” of “substantial further progress”, she expects that the labour market will recover enough to start tapering asset purchases soon. Separately on the inflation debate, Minneapolis Fed President Kashkari argued that this year’s pickup in US inflation has been a byproduct of the supply disruptions associated with Covid and that policy makers should not react to it just yet. He cited the need to get US employment back up as the Fed’s “highest priority”. New York Fed President Williams agreed with his colleague, saying that “this process of adjustment may take another year or so to complete as the pandemic-related swings in supply and demand gradually recede.” And Chicago Fed President Evans is even worried about downside inflation risks, as he is " more uneasy about us not generating enough inflation in 2023 and 2024 than the possibility that we will be living with too much.” Lastly, news came out yesterday that Boston Fed President Rosengren will retire this week due to health concerns. He was due to step down in June regardless as there is a mandatory retirement age of 65. Dallas Fed President Kaplan also announced his retirement yesterday, which will take effect October 8th. Both officials have drawn scrutiny in recent days stemming from their recent disclosure of trading activity over the last year, though the activity did not violate the Fed’s ethics code even as Fed Chair Powell announced an official review of those rules. The Boston Fed President will be a voting member on the FOMC next year, and the Dallas Fed President in 2023. Running through yesterday’s data, the preliminary reading for US durable goods orders in August showed growth of +1.8% (vs. +0.7% expected), and the previous month was also revised up to show growth of +0.5% (vs. -0.1% previously). Meanwhile core capital goods orders grew by +0.5% (vs. +0.4% expected), and the previous month’s growth was revised up two-tenths. Finally, the Dallas Fed’s manufacturing activity index for September came in at 4.6 (vs. 11.0 expected) – its lowest reading since July 2020. To the day ahead now, and one of the main highlights will be the appearance of Fed Chair Powell, and Treasury Secretary Yellen at the Senate Banking Committee. Otherwise, central bank speakers include ECB President Lagarde, Vice President de Guindos, and the ECB’s Schnabel, Panetta and Kazimir, along with the BoE’s Mann and the Fed’s Evans, Bowman and Bostic. US data highlights include the US Conference Board’s consumer confidence indicator for September and the FHFA house price index for July. Tyler Durden Tue, 09/28/2021 - 07:52.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 28th, 2021

26 of the best beach houses on Airbnb in the US where the sand is just steps away

These are the best Airbnb beach house rentals in the US, from an oceanfront Malibu home in California to a condo on the water with a pool in Florida. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. Airbnb Beach vacations are always top of mind for a relaxing, warm-weather getaway. Many Airbnbs are found along the best beaches in the US, with direct beachfront or private access. From Malibu to Cape Cod, these are the best beach homes on Airbnb, from $100 to $650 per night. Table of Contents: Masthead StickyAirbnbs with beachfront access continue to rank among the most searched for filters on the vacation rental platform.After all, who doesn't want to wake up to the sound of waves crashing right outside their back porch, or take a moonlit stroll along the sand after the sun goes down? Though, if you'd prefer to cool off in an Airbnb with a private pool instead, we have plenty of options for that, too. And if hotels are more your thing, here are the best beach hotels in the US.If a beach vacation is on your mind, from sea to shining blue sea there's no shortage of beautiful Airbnb beach houses across the US.Browse all Airbnb beach houses below, or jump to a specific area here:The best Airbnb beach houses in the NortheastThe best Airbnb beach houses in the SouthThe best Airbnb beach houses in the WestFAQ: Airbnb beach housesHow we selected the best beach houses on AirbnbFind more great beach house rentalsThese are the best Airbnb beach houses, sorted by region and price from low to high. BI Charming beachfront cottage on the Jersey Shore This cottage's private back deck leads straight to the beach. Airbnb Book this New Jersey beach home on AirbnbTypical starting price: $270Town: Cape MaySleeps: 2 guests/1 bedroomRating: 4.93Set along one of the Jersey Shore's most charming seaside towns, Cape May, this cozy bayfront cottage with one bedroom is best suited for couples and solo travelers, though it is also pet-friendly.It's important to note, this is a two-family home and while this space is completely private and uses a separate entrance, the other side of the house is occupied, which might not work for some guests. You are also required to bring your own linens to fit the Queen-sized bed.The location, however, is unparalleled and you'll love spending time on the private back deck, which includes a hammock and leads directly out to the beach. The front porch with chairs and an umbrella adds additional space for enjoying the sea breeze.Inside, the decor is simple but includes a red leather couch, an all-white kitchen with a dining table for two, and ocean photos in the bedroom.  Beach suite in Massachusetts This lovely beachfront suite includes beach passes and options for in-house massages and whale watching excursions. Airbnb Book this Massachusetts beach home on AirbnbTypical starting price: $299Town: GloucesterSleeps: 2 guests/1 bedroomRating: 4.98The charming seaside town of Gloucester, pronounced Glah-Sta, in coastal New England comes alive in the summertime. From long walks on a private beach to romantic dinners on the deck, this one-bedroom beachside retreat will make a great getaway for couples. Not only does the property come with a beachfront location, but beach passes are included, which would otherwise run between $25 to $30 per day. You may also book add-ons like in-house massages and whale watching expeditions directly with the host.While this is a separate guest suite with its own private entrance, the entire cottage consists of three units that are each rented separately. Though, you can combine listings to book the entire property.  Home by the sea in Maine Take in over 175 feet of mesmerizing oceanfront views from the roof deck. Airbnb Book this Maine beach house on AirbnbTypical starting price: $350Town: YorkSleeps: 4 guests/2 bedroomsRating: 4.94Just one hour north of Boston and one hour south of Portland, Maine, the Little Sea Star Castle is tucked away along Nubble Point in York Beach, Maine. One of 12 oceanside cottages within the LightHouse Village Colony, the house is set on nearly two acres with over 175 feet of oceanfront splendor with sunny, southern exposure and rugged rocky coastlines.The cottage offers plenty of space to lounge. A roof deck has panoramic views over the ocean, and the lawn has Adirondack chairs and a picnic table for outdoor dining. The kitchen has everything needed to make yourself at home, and beachy accents like starfish pillows and mini sailboats on the dressers keep the home on theme.The location is stellar, among scenic walking trails along the water. Bayfront oasis in Maryland Bayfront views are a captivating sight, and available throughout the home. Airbnb Book this Ocean City beach house on AirbnbTypical starting price: $395Town: Ocean CitySleeps: 5 guests/2 bedroomsRating: 4.92Offering uninterrupted bayfront views, this cozy townhome in Ocean City, Maryland is the ideal locale for your beach vacation. Sip morning coffee on the private balcony, enjoy steamed crabs on the large bayfront deck, or kick back with a cocktail and watch the sunset from the living room. The layout is an open-living concept with a master bedroom upstairs with a private balcony and a King-size bed. The second bedroom has a Queen bed and there's also a beige striped sectional couch that converts to a bed in the living room. Wicker furniture and deep blue quilts give this home a subtle beach vibe.Located on a corner lot of the bay, the owner is explicit that this is not meant for partiers or large group gatherings. If you're looking for a chill and relaxing beach getaway, this is the place for you. Beachfront home with bay views in Delaware Each room in this coastal home features scenic water views. Airbnb Book this Delaware beach home on AirbnbTypical starting price: $425Town: MiltonSleeps: 6 guests/4 bedroomsRating: 5.0Featuring both beachfront and bay views, this spacious four-bedroom, three-bathroom home in the quiet community of Broadkill Beach in Milton, Delaware offers unobstructed water views from almost every room. The home features a coastal design with plenty of natural light and soft tones. The well-equipped kitchen has unique tiling, a large island, and turquoise bar stools for grabbing a quick bite or enjoying a cup of coffee.One room includes bunk beds decked out in comforters with a cute whale pattern for kids. The location is peacefully quiet and primed to enjoy beautiful sunrises over the bay. Large oceanfront house with great views in Maine Luxury finishes couple with panoramic ocean views at this delightful property. Airbnb Book this Maine beach house on AirbnbTypical starting price: $613Town: SacoSleeps: 8 guests/2 bedroomsRating: 4.71If luxury finishes and panoramic views of the ocean sounds like your kind of vibe, then consider this oceanfront haunt in Saco, Maine. Enjoy coffee or wine from the upstairs balcony before taking a walk along Ferry Beach or Camp Ellis Pier.Ideal for bigger groups, the listing has two bedrooms and common spaces that sleep up to eight people. Though, the standout draw is no doubt the beachfront location and gorgeous water views, along with the surrounding quiet community. The home offers the chance to catch particularly stunning sunrises and sunsets.Other perks include a Smart TV with Netflix, beach chairs, and free parking included in the stay, as well as a digital guidebook handy for helping guests explore the area. Chic beachfront cottage in New York's North Fork of Long Island A minimalist interior style creates a tranquil ambiance. Airbnb Book this North Fork beach home on AirbnbTypical starting price: $650Town: RiverheadSleeps: 5 guests/2 bedroomsRating: 4.96Set on a secluded stretch of Long Island's illustrious North Fork, this two-bedroom beachfront cottage is a great place to hang by the beach or go wine tasting at one of the area's many charming vineyards.Wander along the private beach path or open up the floor-to-ceiling glass sliders that lead to a picturesque deck to dine at the picnic-style outdoor table, or relax on the plush lounger. An Airbnb Plus listing, the cottage's chic palette features crisp, minimalist whites and neutrals, creating a sense of serene seaside solitude for a quiet getaway. After a walk on the sand, rinse off in the outdoor shower while savoring water views. BI Cozy home on the North Carolina shore The nautical-themed living room has a picturesque balcony overlooking the ocean. Airbnb Book this North Carolina beach home on AirbnbTypical starting price: $100Town: North Topsail BeachSleeps: 6 guests/1 bedroomsRating: 4.91A cute condo directly on North Topsail Beach in North Carolina, this is a great option for couples or small families looking for a low-key beach getaway. The bedroom has a Queen bed and there are also Twin bunk beds built directly into the hallway.Completely renovated in 2020, the apartment has a nautical-beach theme with soft blue and yellow hues, and big living room windows frame beach views. You can also head out to the balcony for a closer look. Bright colors and floral decor give this home a warm, welcoming vibe, and a seashell bed quilt and striped bar stools at the eating nook add additional beach flair. Oceanfront condo with a pool in Florida Beachy accents like a mermaid statue and marine-inspired colors set a scene that creates a real sense of place. Airbnb Book this Florida beach home with a pool on AirbnbTypical starting price: $132Town: Cape CanaveralSleeps: 4 guests/1 bedroomRating: 4.95Serenity awaits at this casual oceanfront condo in Florida's Cape Canaveral. Set on a beautiful private beach, this Airbnb Plus stands out for its whimsical decor and thoughtful amenities, which include blues of every hue from the turquoise velvet armchair to the robin's egg backsplash in the kitchen. A mirror made out of oars, a mermaid statue, and an octopus painting over the couch are all fun touches for a beach home.This is also a great place to spend your time kayaking, paddle boarding, or enjoying some much-needed downtime just lounging on the beach or pool, which are both just a few steps away. Within minutes of downtown Port Canaveral and the iconic Cocoa Beach Pier, there's plenty to do right nearby. Ocean and bay view beach house in Texas The Bolivar Flats, Anahuac national wildlife refuge, and the Smith Oak sanctuary are all nearby and great for birdwatching. Airbnb Book this Texas beach home on AirbnbTypical starting price: $130Town: Bolivar PeninsulaSleeps: 6 guests/2 bedroomsRating: 4.97Located on the bayside of the Bolivar Peninsula on Texas' Gulf Coast, this home offers one bedroom and a lofted room, plus plenty of views of both the Gulf of Mexico and East Bay. It's also just a few miles away from popular bird-watching areas including Bolivar Flats, Anahuac national wildlife refuge, and the Smith Oak sanctuary.Bright and airy, this house is perched on stilts, and underneath, you'll have a grill and a private sitting area. However, the wraparound porch is likely where you'll spend the bulk of your time, soaking in the view from the wooden Adirondack chairs.Inside isn't bad either, with soaring pitched ceilings, a big blue sectional sofa, and marble countertops and bar stools in the kitchen. Waterfront beach bungalow in North Carolina This homey bungalow has its own private beach. Airbnb Book this North Carolina beach home on AirbnbTypical starting price: $145Town: JarvisburgSleeps: 4 guests/1 bedroomRating: 4.94Relax on your own private beach or hop in a kayak and explore miles of pristine, undeveloped beaches and cypress tree-filled coves from this bungalow in Jarvisburg, North Carolina set at the confluence of the North River and the Albemarle Sound.The home is pet-friendly, and the bedroom offers a Queen sized bed as well as a futon for extra guests if you don't mind the squeeze.While not exactly modern, the bungalow has a homey vibe with string lights along the ceiling, a bright desk and bookcase, and purple cushions on the futon. The location is tranquil and fun amenities include a charcoal grill and outdoor fire pit. The house is only 15-minutes away from unspoiled shorelines and the beaches of the Outer Banks. Home overlooking the sound in North Carolina The spacious home's dock makes it easy to get out on the water. Airbnb Book this North Carolina beach home on AirbnbTypical starting price: $157Town: HertfordSleeps: 10 guests/4 bedroomsRating: 4.69Step into the backyard of this spacious home on the Albemarle Sound and you'll find nothing but peace and tranquility. Located in a quiet neighborhood in Hertford, North Carolina, the house is nice for bigger families or groups of friends.Start and end your day on the dock, which comes with a bench to sit and watch the sunrise. Apart from the views directly overlooking the sound, highlights include the coffee bar in the kitchen, a gas log fireplace in the living room, and a fully covered and screened-in porch for enjoying home-cooked barbecue from the grill.The house also comes with a washer/dryer and high-speed Wi-Fi. Chesapeake Bay beach cabin in Virginia The decor is simple with a subtle ocean theme. Airbnb Book this Virginia beach home on AirbnbTypical starting price: $199Town: NorfolkSleeps: 6 guests/3 bedroomsRating: 4.95A brand new beach cabin on the Chesapeake Bay, this spacious home is steps from the beach.During the warm months, watch the sailing regattas from the balcony on Wednesday and Sunday evenings, or walk to nearby Ocean View Beach Park to listen to live music.The decor is simple but useful, with wicker furniture accents, ocean-themed artwork, wood floors, and a big kitchen. A plaid couch and floral armchair are comfy spots to relax, though they may feel a bit dated. A patio out back adds additional hangout space. A rustic cottage in Florida This cottage has a large outdoor deck with a fire pit and access to a secluded beach. Airbnb Book this Florida cottage on AirbnbTypical starting price: $275Town: St.Augustine Sleeps: 2 guests/1 bedroom Rating: 4.90The pinewood interior and absence of electronic appliances bring an old-fashioned feel to this cottage. The cottage was originally built in 1946, but each room has been remodeled since except for the corner kitchen. The master bedroom has a plush Queen-size bed where you can fall asleep to the sounds of nearby waves crashing. Although you won't find a TV or phone, there are various ways to indulge in this home's rustic charm. A large outdoor deck overlooks an uncrowded beach and has a fire pit for chilly nights. Visit in summer and you may catch a glimpse of the sea turtles that dwell by the deck. Waterfront nest cottage in Mississippi Lounge on the spacious front porch for stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico. Airbnb Book this Mississippi beach house on AirbnbTypical starting price: $279Town: Long BeachSleeps: 4 guests/2 bedroomsRating: 4.97Set on the Mississippi Gulf Coast on ever-popular Long Beach, this waterfront cottage features breathtaking views over the Gulf of Mexico from its spacious front porch and has direct beach access.The two bedrooms can easily accommodate up to six people and inviting outdoor wicker furniture is framed by idyllic views.Inside, modern interiors include a spacious kitchen with marble countertops, soaking tubs in the bathrooms, and living room couches that face the water.  Pet-friendly oceanfront condo with pool access in South Carolina Staying here comes with access to a community pool, beaches, and bike rentals. Airbnb Book this South Carolina beach home on AirbnbTypical starting price: $261Town: Saint Helena IslandSleeps: 6 guests/2 bedroomsRating: 4.97Watch dolphins from the private balcony, walk to the beach, or laze the day away by the pool —  this oceanfront condo in South Carolina offers it all.Located in a private community just a stone's throw from one of the state's most beguiling beaches at Hunting Island State Park, the area offers miles of unspoiled beaches and is frequented by birders and nature lovers for some of the best animal sightings in the area.This second-floor condo offers one Queen bedroom and a second bedroom with a Twin bed. Guests have access to the community pool, beach, and two bikes. The unit also comes with a washer and dryer and is great for families with pets looking for a low-country getaway. Oceanfront condo in South Carolina Enjoy access to a private fishing pier, a community pool, and a pretty South Carolina beach. Airbnb Book this South Carolina beach house on AirbnbTypical starting price: $291Town: Isle of PalmsSleeps: 4 guests/1 bedroomsRating: 4.98Watch the waves roll in as you enjoy your morning coffee on the private terrace from this modern Isle of Palms condo in South Carolina. Newly renovated, this third-floor condo is especially nice for families with young children since it offers a King-size bed in the master and a bunk bed in the hallway. The decor is tasteful but beachy with coral pillows, a gray sofa, velvet armchairs, and a modern kitchen has a funky blue stone backsplash.The building has easy access to the beach and a private fishing pier, as well as a community pool and coin laundry facility.  Spacious beach house in South Carolina This expansive home is perched on half an acre on Port Royal Sound with private beach access. Airbnb Book this Hilton Head beach house on AirbnbTypical starting price: $332Town: Hilton HeadSleeps: 10 guests/3 bedroomsRating: 4.85Located on half an acre along Port Royal Sound, this three-bed, four-bath manse is capable of sleeping up to 10 people. Adjacent to a 40-acre nature preserve, staying here comes with direct views over the sound, plus private access to the beach. With an expansive, well-groomed yard for playing or relaxing under large oak trees covered in Spanish Moss, the house is also open to those looking to host a small, picture-perfect wedding or retreat with the beach and ocean as the backdrop.If this home is booked up, consider our other picks for the best vacation homes on Hilton Head Island. Beach house on a private island in South Carolina Escape to your very own private island off of Hilton Head with a beach all to yourself. Airbnb Book this private island beach house on AirbnbTypical starting price: $589Town: Hilton HeadSleeps: 6 guests/3 bedroomsRating: 4.94Instead of renting a regular old cottage on the beach, opt to claim your own private island here on Old House Cay. Accessible only by boat, this is as secluded and off-the-grid as it gets.Just a 10-minute ride away from neighboring Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, the home is part of a series of private islands that you'll have all to yourself over your stay. Experience everything from boating, fishing, and kayaking to simply lounging around the island and going for long beach walks. As far as getting around, the owners will take you and your guests back and forth from Hilton Head on their private boat as needed.Accommodations include a large, multi-story home with gorgeous wood floors, high ceilings, a modern kitchen, and a big blue dining table with room for the whole crew. All wood walls give it a hint of a cabin feel, while bright pillows and quilts add pops of color. A wooden deck with a fire pit out front is a lovely place to relax or make s'mores into the evening.  BI Beachfront condo in Southern California The beach is only a few steps away from this quaint second-floor condo. Airbnb Book this California beach house on AirbnbTypical starting price: $283Town: CarlsbadSleeps: 3 guests/1 bedroomRating: 4.90Open your door and step directly onto the sand at this charming beachfront condo in Carlsbad, California, near San Diego. Within walking distance to Carlsbad Village, this home is close to restaurants and boutiques, with a cozy set-up that is best suited to solo travelers and couples. The two-story condo unit is on the ground floor and features a brick fireplace, a small dining table and kitchen, a blue sofa with colorful pillows, and a private balcony with a table and chairs that overlook the ocean, which is just a few feet away. Beach house on a cove in Oregon A backyard trail leads to Shelter Cove where orcas often reside. Airbnb Book this Oregon beach house on AirbnbTypical starting price: $275Town: Port OrfordSleeps: 6 guests/3 bedroomsRating: 4.91Set on a cul-de-sac in the quiet neighborhood of Port Orford along the Oregon coast, this three-bedroom beach house is protected by old-growth forest and faces a cove where orcas are known to stay and take shelter.With gorgeous bay windows and total privacy within the neighborhood, along with private beach access and unobstructed views of the Lighthouse at Cape Blanco, it's tough to beat the spectacular setting. A private trail off the backyard takes you directly to Shelter Cove.The house itself offers big windows for a light and airy feel, with neutral colors of grays and creams, huge bedrooms, and a porch with a dining table, as well as a small fire pit in the yard. Cozy ocean view cabin in Northern California Breathe in the ocean air and spend time whale watching from this cliffside cabin. Airbnb Book this California beach house on AirbnbTypical starting price: $300Town: TrinidadSleeps: 5 guests/2 bedroomsRating: 4.97Tucked away in verdant Patrick Point State Park in northern California, this rustic two-bedroom cabin has incredible ocean views amid a lush forest. Top-rated features include the oversized hot tub, a picnic area overlooking the ocean, and a fire pit for roasting marshmallows after a long day. The yard offers ample space and lucky guests might even spot whales from the Adirondack chairs perched atop the lawn.The house is set on steep cliffs, which means you'll have phenomenal views, but won't be able to walk right out onto the beach. Instead, you will have to wind your way down to the shores below. Oceanview apartment in Northern California This cliffside home offers romantic views of the Pacific Ocean and Black Sands Beach. Airbnb Book this Northern California beach house on AirbnbTypical starting price: $348Town: WhitethornSleeps: 3 guests/1 bedroomRating: 4.92Overlooking the Pacific and Black Sands Beach, this one-bedroom cliffside home is lovely for a romantic trip.Inside, you'll find a private entrance and a wrap-around deck. The bedroom has a California King bed, plus a modern kitchen, bathroom, and a living room with a fireplace. There is even a private hot tub that directly faces the ocean.Take the trail from the home leading to the beach or walk or bike to any of the nearby beaches, restaurants, cafes, bars, and golf courses. The owner notes that you will need a car to get around and this home has a strict no pets policy and isn't suitable for young children. Posh beachfront apartment in Malibu This charming home has a sun-drenched interior, airy open-plan layout. Airbnb Book this Malibu beach home on AirbnbTypical starting price: $514Town: MalibuSleeps: 2 guests/1 bedroomRating: 4.99This sweet one-bedroom Airbnb Plus listing is well-placed on the iconic shores of Malibu for sweeping, dramatic views that feel plucked from a Nicholas Sparks novel.Light and airy, this seaside haven is impeccably decorated with pristine white fixtures that stand out against natural wood floors and beams. Unique details like a small, wire Eiffel Tower perched on an antique desk and old framed letters and clippings add whimsical charm.Fall asleep to the sound of ocean waves after enjoying drinks on the deck as you catch a sunset. Just know that this home is incredibly popular and tends to book almost a year in advance. Pacific Ocean beachfront home in Encinitas, California Pacific Ocean views abound from every room. Airbnb Book this Californian beach home on AirbnbTypical starting price: $516Town: EncinitasSleeps: 4 guests/2 bedroomsRating: 4.90This beach home wows right away with its stunning panoramic ocean views, available throughout the house. However, they're especially impressive from the open plan living room thanks to its arched beam ceilings that make the space feel airy and breezy.The unobstructed views are also sure to dazzle from the multiple patios, which come with a grill, lounge chairs, an outdoor shower, and a private stairway leading to the sand.The amenities are also nicely appointed, with a  fireplace, full kitchen with a wine fridge, and multiple bedrooms, some of which lead directly to the terrace.  Pet-friendly beach cottage with amazing views in Oregon This contemporary home has an outdoor shower, a gas fireplace, and a great balcony. Airbnb Book this Oregon beach cottage on AirbnbTypical starting price: $599Town: Cannon BeachSleeps: 5 guests/2 bedroomsRating: 4.98This modern beachfront home in beautiful, iconic Cannon Beach, Oregon has easy beach access just 100 feet from the front door. Inside, large picture windows offer unobstructed ocean views and a gas fireplace makes for a cozy spot. The outdoor shower is a nice way to rinse away sand after a beach day and the outdoor balcony is a great place to savor the sweeping views. At night, have a bonfire with s'mores in the yard.The pet-friendly home is located on a quiet residential street with free street parking and is within easy access of plenty of shops, grocery stores, and restaurants. FAQ: Airbnb beach houses Where is the best place to rent a beach house?The best place to rent a beach house depends on the type of beach and vacation you prefer. For year-round warm weather, look to places like Florida or Southern California.For the classic New England look of windswept beach grass, large dunes, and shingled cottages, you'll find great homes in places like Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and the Jersey Shore. For something posh, try the Hamptons.Bluer waters and warmer temps of course will be found within the South or West Coast, and the West Coast offers stunning scenery from California up to Oregon and Washington.How do I search for a beach house on Airbnb?You can specifically search for a beach house on Airbnb. First, input your preferred location and dates, then select More Filters, and refine results to only show beachfront homes by selecting the box that says Beachfront under Amenities.What should I look for in an Airbnb?Sorting through the vast array of homes available on Airbnb can be tough. Consider using criteria similar to what we use, which includes looking at the average rating, as well as reading up on recent reviews to ensure the home is still in top shape. Look for Superhosts and consider sorting by Airbnb Plus or Airbnb Luxe if you want a higher-end stay that's been vetted for exceptional amenities, decor, and hosting. Of course, for a beach getaway, location will be key. Be sure to look on the map and ensure before booking that the home is actually close to the beach. You don't want to arrive only to find out you actually need to take a 30-minute car ride before your toes can hit the sand. Is Airbnb safe?We strongly encourage following guidelines and advice from leading health organizations including the CDC and following local and state laws before planning a vacation of any kind. You should also be proactive when it comes to wearing a mask, washing your hands frequently, and maintaining social distancing no matter where you go.However, the CDC now recommends domestic travel as safe for fully vaccinated individuals.Experts also say that booking an entire home rental is one of the safest options for travelers right now because they eliminate encounters with others outside your traveling party, and because Airbnb mandates Enhanced Clean protocols that all hosts must now follow. What is Airbnb's cancellation policy?Cancellation policies on Airbnb differ from home to home and are set by each individual host. You can find a full breakdown of Airbnb's cancellation policies here. How we selected the best beach houses on Airbnb Every Airbnb listing is for the entire home, per current expert recommendation.All Airbnb homes are highly-rated listings with a rating of 4.7 or higher.All beach houses are located right on, or next to the beach.All take part in Airbnb's Enhanced Clean protocol program for added peace of mind.The homes offer strong value in terms of price, offerings, amenities, and location and are priced between $100 and $650 per night to start.Homes are available to book in the coming weeks and months, as of publishing. However, some homes are quite popular and book fast. Consider booking for a future vacation in a few months or next year. Find more great beach house rentals Airbnb The best Airbnbs on the Jersey ShoreThe best Airbnbs in the HamptonsThe best Airbnbs in Cape CodThe best Airbnbs in Hilton HeadThe best Airbnbs in FloridaThe best Airbnbs in Myrtle Beach The best Airbnbs in Virginia BeachThe best vacation rentals in the Outer BanksThe best vacation rentals in Ocean City  Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytSep 23rd, 2021

The Three Types of US-Led Regime Change

The Three Types of US-Led Regime Change Authored by Joe Lauria via Consortium News, Throughout the long, documented history of the United States illegally overthrowing governments of foreign lands to build a global empire there has emerged three ways Washington broadly carries out "regime change." From Above. If the targeted leader has been democratically elected and enjoys popular support, the CIA has worked with elite groups, such as the military, to overthrow him (sometimes through assassination).  Among several examples is the first CIA-backed coup d’état, on March 30, 1949,  just 18 months after the agency’s founding, when Syrian Army Colonel Husni al-Za’im overthrew the elected president, Shukri al-Quwatli.  The CIA in 1954 toppled the elected President Jacobo Árbenz of Guatemala, who was replaced with a military dictator. In 1961, just three days before the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy, who favored his release, Congolese President Patrice Lumumba was assassinated with CIA assistance, bringing military strongman Mobutu Sese Seko to power.  In 1973, the US backed Chilean General Augusto Pinochet to overthrow and kill the democratically-elected, socialist President Salvador Allende, setting up a military dictatorship, one of many U.S.-installed military dictatorships of that era in Latin America under Operation Condor.  Chilean presidential palace during U.S.-backed coup, Sept. 11, 1973. (Library of the Chilean National Congress/Wikipedia) From Below. If the targeted government faces genuine popular unrest, the U.S. will foment and organize it to topple the leader, elected or otherwise. 1958-59 anti-communist protests in Kerala, India, locally supported by the Congress Party and the Catholic Church, were funded by the CIA, leading to the removal of the elected communist government. The 1953 coup in Iran that overthrew the democratically-elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh was a combination of bottom-up CIA (and MI-6)-backed street protests, and top-down conservative clergy and military to destroy democracy and return a monarch to the throne. The US-backed Ukrainian coup of 2014 is the latest example of the US working with genuine popular dissent to help organize and steer the overthrow, in this case, of an OSCE-certified elected president.  Through Military Intervention.  If a coup is not feasible, the US turns to indirect or direct military intervention. One of earliest examples was the US expeditionary force that invaded Russia in 1918 during the civil war in an attempt to help overthrow the new Bolshevik government.  More recently, in 1983 the U.S. military invaded Grenada to overthrow a Marxist president; in 1989 the U.S. invaded Panama to overthrow former CIA asset Manuela Noriega. Another hybrid operation was the US bombing of Serbia in 1999 and the State Department funding of the opposition group Otpor!, which led to the ouster of Slobodan Milosevic. The most prominent recent examples of direct military invasion to overthrow governments are the U.S.-led invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003. Indirect military intervention through proxies to overthrow governments happened in the 1980s Contra war against Nicaragua; and the 2011 to present jihadist war to overthrow the Syrian government.  Tanks in the streets of Teheran, 1953. (Public domain/Wikipedia.) Not From Thin Air Economic sanctions are commonly imposed by the US in advance to "soften up" the target. In non-military interventions, the US does not create regime change out of whole cloth:  it works with pre-existing dissent, whether in the population or in the military or another elite group. It will harness it, fund it, train it and organize it, but not create it.   In other words, in regime change that doesn’t involve invasion and occupation, it is not a question of either US involvement or genuine dissent. It is almost always both. And sometimes a cigar is just a cigar: there are legitimate revolts that are not taken over by the US because the uprisings are against US clients’ and Washington’s interests: for instance, the 2010 uprising in Bahrain. In such cases the US will support crushing dissent (as it is ready to do at home as well).  Kazakhstan Last week, Consortium News ran two pieces on the uprisings in Kazakhstan. The first, by Craig Murray, made the argument that the CIA was not involved and that the uprising was genuine, given the country’s economic inequality and increases in fuel prices that were quickly reversed. Murray is a former British ambassador to neighboring Uzbekistan and knows Central Asia. There is no doubt that inequality, the fuel price hikes and decades of authoritarian rule fueled the protests. But by its very covert nature, it is close to impossible to know what the CIA is up to anywhere in the world until declassification of documents usually decades later, or if a whistleblower or leak emerges earlier.  Anyway, the CIA did not need to be directly involved. It’s been known since at least a 1991 Washington Post article that the CIA is ostensibly no longer required for regime change. After the 1975 Church Committee revelations of its crimes and corruption, the CIA, facing a public backlash, resorted to new methods. The establishment of the U.S. National Endowment of Democracy in 1983 does openly what the CIA once did secretly, the Post argued. "The old era of [CIA] covert action is dead," Post columnist David Ignatius declared.  "The world doesn’t run in secret anymore. We are now living in the Age of Overt Action. … the triumph of overt action [is] a network of overt operatives who during the last 10 years have quietly been changing the rules of international politics. They have been doing in public what the CIA used to do in private — providing money and moral support for pro-democracy groups, training resistance fighters, working to subvert communist rule. And, in contrast to many of the CIA’s superannuated Cold Warriors, who tended to get tangled in their webs of secrecy, these overt operatives have been immensely successful." But as CN founder Robert Parry explained in an 2015 article republished today on Consortium News, the CIA had a direct hand in the establishment of the NED, even in the writing of the Congressional legislation that authorized the U.S. Agency for International Development to fund it with U.S. government money. The continued hand of the CIA was to be hidden in the "Age of Overt Action."  The NED in Kazakhstan Since Kazakhstan’s independence in 1990 after the breakup of the Soviet Union the country has been run by one man, Nursultan Nazarbayev. Though he formally stepped down in 2019 in favor of his hand-picked successor, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Nazarbayev is still the power behind the throne. Nursultan, the new capital city, was named after him in 2019. Protestors setting up a yurt in Aktobe on Jan. 4. (Esetok/Wikipedia) Kazakhstan’s political system has few democratic features. Not that that matters much to the United States. In its long history of overthrowing governments abroad, the US has toppled dictators just as readily as elected democrats. It is immaterial. What matters is whether leaders are furthering or standing in the way of US interests. The lack of democracy was of no interest either to former President Bill Clinton and former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who both cozied up to Nazarbayev for lucrative paydays. London and other Western centers have little problem taking investments from undemocratic Kazakh elites. The lack of democracy in Kazakhstan could be useful to Washington. The population’s rage at being suppressed politically and economically is the kind of raw material needed to drive a coup from the bottom up.  In 2020, the NED spent $1,082,991 on 20 programs in Kazakhstan.  One was $50,000 to "promote freedom of peaceful assembly" through "strategic litigation to support activists facing repression." Another, for $65,000 was to "promote civic engagement among youth in Kazakhstan." Genuine Kazakh Revolt This money was poured into a country with pre-existing tensions that exploded from Jan. 2 to Jan. 11, leaving 227 people dead, 9,900 arrested and vast sections of city centers looted and destroyed. At the start the government tried to quell the protests by again capping fuel prices, the government resigned and Nazarbayev stepped down as chairman of the national security council. It didn’t work. Shoot to kill orders were issued against the rioters.  Ultimately, Russian troops as part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization mission restored order. In a news analysis on Jan. 6, The New York Times Eastern Europe bureau chief made an unattributed, editorial comment: "And once Russian troops arrive, they seldom, if ever, go home."  Normally the corporate media are fed such lines by unnamed US officials. In this case the US government line seemed to work in reverse. The next day U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, "One lesson of recent history is that once Russians are in your house, it’s sometimes very difficult to get them to leave." Moscow reacted furiously, pointing out that the US should examine its history of the invasions of Vietnam and Iraq. "If Antony Blinken loves history lessons so much, then he should take the following into account: when Americans are in your house, it can be difficult to stay alive and not be robbed or raped," the foreign ministry said. The Russian and other CSTO troops left Kazakhstan on Wednesday.  US Interests in Kazakhstan  Installing a government hostile to Russia and China, which both border Kazakhstan, would be advantageous to the US It could disrupt China’s Silk Roads initiative through the country and the U.S. could put a military base in Kazakhstan. Since April the US has been trying to find a Central Asian country for a base to further the encircling pressure on Russia. There are also oil and gas deposits beckoning. Despite these interests, the second article that Consortium News ran last week advised the U.S. stay out of Kazakhstan.  Saying there was no evidence of U.S. involvement with the protests, Anatol Lieven wrote:  "If the Kazakh government collapses or is gravely weakened, it would be very surprising if hard line elements in Washington did not see this as an opportunity to use Kazakhstan as a base to undermine Chinese rule in Sinkiang — even if (as in Syria) this led them into de facto alliance with Islamist extremist forces. For America to use Kazakhstan in this way would be both a crime and a blunder, that would recall the worst aspects of U.S. policy in Africa, Asia, and Central America during the Cold War. It would in fact cast America in the role in which American commentators like to cast Russia — that of a cynical troublemaker, absolutely indifferent to the consequences of its actions for unfortunate populations on the ground." Circumstantial Evidence of the Causes  Was in fact the US not involved in the uprising, as Lieven maintains? According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, "The events in Kazakhstan are not the first and far from the last attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of our states from the outside." He told other CSTO leaders on Jan. 10: "The measures taken by the CSTO made it clear that we would not let anyone destabilize the situation at our home and implement so-called 'color revolution' scenarios." Putin speaking with other CSTO leaders, Jan. 10. (Kremlin pool) Putin also said, "Elements of force and information support of protests were actively used, and well-organized and well-controlled groups of militants were also used … including those who had obviously been trained in terrorist camps abroad." The possible presence of jihadists followed reports that a Kazakh policemen had been beheaded. The Kazakh government had a slightly different take, according to long-time Moscow correspondent Fred Weir, writing in the Christian Science Monitor:  "Kazakh leaders have offered a different explanation, pointing to high-ranking internal traitors who utilized the pretext of price increases to trigger protests, then unleashed specially trained armed units in an attempt to stage a coup d’état. At least one top former official, the recently dismissed head of the security services, Karim Masimov, has been arrested and charged with plotting against the state. Other experts note that no movement has claimed responsibility for the uprising, and no set of unified demands or discernible leaders have emerged from the turmoil. That highly unusual circumstance is hard to square with an organized rebellion, Galym Ageleulov, head of the independent human rights group Liberty, told the Monitor from Almaty on Monday. ‘I think what happened was that a peaceful civil meeting of people who are tired of authoritarian government got used by elites in their internal struggles,’ he says. ‘It was a spontaneous upsurge without leaders because there is no permitted legal opposition, and civil activism is not able to grow.’ … ‘All the elements are there: socioeconomic tensions, elements of outside interference, and a half-completed transfer of power’ from the aging autocrat Mr. Nazarbayev to his chosen successor, Mr. Tokayev, [Fyodor Lukyanov, a leading Russian foreign policy analyst] says. “’It is well known that some groups behind Nazarbayev were not happy with his choice. There is a feeling among many observers that it was not a purely spontaneous outburst.’" Normally in regime change operations, the US has a leader in exile ready to be installed. Mukhtar Ablyazov, leader of the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan, is in exile in Paris. He says he has not accepted Western money, asked for Western sanctions, which have not come, and egged on what he called the revolution unfolding in his country. He claimed Russia was "occupying" Kazakhstan, only to see the uprising end and Russian troops leave.  The beheadings, the organized nature of the uprising, the seizing of the airport, the NED funding, and the leader in exile are all circumstantial evidence of possible U.S. involvement. Many commenters on social media and on this site took the view that if it walks like a duck, it must be a U.S.-backed coup.  But journalism needs to be held to a higher standard of proof. CN rightly criticizes corporate media for repeating unnamed U.S. intelligence officials without skepticism. Skepticism must also be applied when the US is accused of being involved in a coup. Circumstantial evidence is not enough.  Even in an "Age of Overt Action" a smoking gun is needed, usually arriving with the declassification of documents that has proved the history of U.S. regime change.      In 2014 in Ukraine, there was also the circumstantial evidence of NED involvement. Then U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland told the U.S.-Ukrainian Foundation on Dec. 13, 2013, that Washington had spent $5 billion over a decade to support Ukraine’s "European aspirations," in other words to pull it away from Russia. But there was also a smoking gun. It came in the form of the leaked telephone call between Nuland and the then US ambassador to Ukraine in which they discussed who the new Ukrainian leader would be, weeks before the coup occurred. In Kazakhstan, despite the circumstantial evidence, there is no smoking gun so far. Therefore the question of whether there was direct and decisive U.S. involvement in the Kazakh uprising must remain inconclusive. Tyler Durden Sat, 01/22/2022 - 15:30.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytJan 22nd, 2022

An abortion or a job? Companies and investors are forced to weigh in on the Roe v. Wade debate.

Saturday is the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and some companies have realized if they don't take a stand, they'll lose out on workers. Lush Cosmetics' "Don't Ban Equality" campaign outside a storefront.Lush Cosmetics Saturday will mark the 49th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. With abortion rights being considered in the US Supreme Court, some companies have taken a stand. Lush and Yelp have reconsidered their healthcare plans and messaging to customers. Saturday will mark the 49th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion in the US. Yet at least 26 states are poised to ban abortion if the US Supreme Court upholds a Mississippi law that seeks to ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Meanwhile, a Texas law that allows private individuals to sue abortion providers and anyone who aids in an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy was sent to the state supreme court this week.With both these cases in limbo and the US Supreme Court ruling not expected before June, some companies are beginning to recognize that access to reproductive healthcare and abortion is an economic issue, and that providing it should be part of their DEI efforts."Access to reproductive health is an equality issue," Miriam Warren, Yelp's chief diversity officer and chair of the Yelp Foundation, told Insider. "If women can't decide whether and when to extend their family, that makes other decisions difficult." Miriam Warren.Courtesy of Miriam WarrenReproductive healthcare services, including contraception and abortion, are used by nearly all women — 99% have used contraception and 25% have had an abortion by age 45, according to "Hidden Value: The Business Case for Reproductive Health," a report by Rhia Ventures, which invests in reproductive and maternal-health solutions.Abortion restrictions impact the labor forceAbortion restrictions fall the hardest on women that already face obstacles accessing healthcare and economic opportunities — including Black women, Hispanic women, and LGBTQ+ individuals, according to a report by the Institute for Women's Policy Research. State-level abortion restrictions cost state economies $105 billion per year by reducing workforce participation and earnings and increasing turnover and time off from work among women ages 15 to 44 years, the IWPR report also found. If a woman can't get an abortion, she might be forced to quit her job, Shelley Alpern, director of corporate engagement at Rhia Ventures, said. "But an abortion is so taboo that the employee will never tell her employer that was the reason why," she said. "These state restrictions will create a lot more turnover that will add to the Great Resignation."Last year, states enacted more than 100 restrictions on abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights. These restrictions don't just impact women, some experts said. "Regardless of gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or marital status, inclusive reproductive health benefits should provide family-forming options to all employees," Annette Alexander, chief people officer at WP Engine, a WordPress technology company based in Austin, said. Annette Alexander.Courtesy of Annette AlexanderThe LGBTQ+ community also has a strong need for supportive and tailored sexual and reproductive care because historically, they've been overlooked for this type of health benefit, she added.In fact, most employees agree that access to reproductive healthcare is an equity issue. Roughly seven in 10 respondents said access to reproductive healthcare, including abortion, should be part of the issues companies address when it comes to gender issues in the workplace, according to a national survey by nonpartisan research firm PerryUndem. Some companies are taking a stand After the Texas law was passed, a number of companies made headlines with their plans to support employees. Salesforce promised to helping employees relocate if they have concerns about access to reproductive healthcare, and Lyft and Uber said it would pay legal fees of drivers sued under the Texas abortion law.Several other companies are responding to the Texas law by reevaluating their benefits. Although Lush Handmade Cosmetics is based in Vancouver, a majority of its stores and workforce are US-based, so the company is reviewing its healthcare coverage to make sure all US staff has access to abortion services, said Carleen Pickard, Lush's ethical campaigns specialist. Carleen Pickard.Courtesy of Carleen PickardLush has 213 US shops and 1,200 US employees, including 124 stores in Texas. Although the company's healthcare plan provides access to abortion, employees in Texas can no longer obtain these services. The company is working on ways to provide equal coverage, she said. "We actually have women and women-identifying staff in Texas that don't have the same rights as their colleagues in Washington State, and that is a real conundrum for us," Pickard said. Yelp is also looking into ways to provide equal access to reproductive healthcare for all its employees, Warren said. "If someone is residing in a state where abortion is banned and needs to go to another state for healthcare, we want to ensure that will be covered," she said. Both these companies are also helping to educate consumers on this issue.Yelp is using its social-media platform to help consumers tell the difference between crisis pregnancy centers, which offer counseling services, and centers that provide reproductive healthcare services, Warren said. Since 2019, the company has reviewed approximately 8,000 businesses and updated 2,000 listings, she said.Yelp took this step after its CEO Jeremy Stoppelman saw an episode of "Last Week Tonight" with John Oliver that explained the dangers of this type of mischaracterization, Warren said. "Someone might want to go to a crisis pregnancy center, but consumers have a right to know the difference," she added.Meanwhile, Lush is using its store windows and employees in select states to educate customers about the need for comprehensive reproductive healthcare, including abortion. Lush began talking to Texas customers last year and using messages from the Don't Ban Equality campaign, which explains the economic impact of restricting access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare. Staff members were trained to speak about the issue and encourage customers to take action by contacting their local state representatives, Pickard said. On Saturday, Lush employees at its 12 stores in Florida and six stores in Ohio, where state legislators have introduced bills similar to Texas's law, will begin the same customer education campaign through February 14. "We will move to other states in quick succession," Pickard added.Investors also play a roleSome investors are also taking a more critical look at companies' political donations. In the past, companies have given equally to both Republicans and Democrats in their state and haven't considered the long-term impacts, Rachel J. Robasciotti, founder and CEO of Adasina Social Capital, a San Francisco-based investment firm that focuses on social justice, said.When Adasina learned that one of its portfolio companies, UnitedHealth Group, was a major contributor to Texas lawmakers supporting SB8, it called on the company to review its political spending or be excluded from the Adasina Social Justice Index. "We're seeing that companies are very open to engaging in these discussions," Robasciotti said.Investors are also engaging with corporations about reproductive rights by filing shareholder resolutions. Trillium Asset Management  in Portland, Oregon, filed a shareholder resolution with TJX Companies, which owns TJ Maxx, Home Goods, and Marshalls and employs thousands of employees in all 50 states. "If Roe is overturned, that will affect 40% of their stores and employees," Jonas Kron, chief advocacy officer for Trillium, said. More than half the employees are people of color and 75% are women, he added. The resolution is asking TJX to issue a report on how it'll manage its risk if Roe v. Wade is overturned, what it'll do about employees in states where abortion is banned, and how it'll think about executive recruitment and its ability to staff stores in those states. How other companies can get involvedBefore taking a stand, it's important to take a deep look at company values and talk with your employees, Warren said. "While this has historically been a topic that people don't talk about at the dinner table, if it is consistent with your values to consider the issue of equality and how important it is for every person in your company to have solvency over their own bodies, start to think about how you can get involved," she said. One step is to sign the Don't Ban Equality Letter.  "I believe companies have a responsibility to be good to the people who they employ," Pickard said. While there are many ways to support your staff, Pickard added that companies should speak out in a way that's sensitive to their brand. "Then you are stepping out into a world where your staff feels supported and customers feel like they are in safe spaces," she said.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 21st, 2022

Biden"s monthly payments to families were a "godsend." Now that they"ve ended, parents are "a little bit terrified" about what comes next.

The payments helped millions of families stay afloat. One mother said, It was "huge to just know that we're not going to lose our house." Catherine Falls Commercial/Getty Images Over 36 million families were sent the final advance monthly child-tax-credit payment in December. Parents told Insider how the monthly payments have been helpful, such as for mortgage payments. One said the payments meant she could keep working amid the pandemic and its effect on schools. Meghan Hullinger is a single mother with four children living in West Virginia, and the monthly payments parents received from the government from July to December were a lifeline for her family.Thinking back to the first payment in July, Hullinger told Insider that "it was just the relief of knowing" that she wouldn't have to "play the bill lottery.""It was basically, I had just enough to pay all of my bills and have a decent sitter that I trusted to watch my kids so I could work," Hullinger said. "It was the absolute relief of having enough."But that relief Hullinger and others have felt from receiving the payments has evaporated. Parents who were getting used to receiving monthly checks from the federal government won't see any fresh deposits for the time being, and it could make it harder to pay bills and support their families. Since July, households had received up to $300 per child each month under the expanded child tax credit passed last year as part of the government's response to the ongoing pandemic. The last payment before the program was set to expire was sent on December 15 to over 36 million families, the IRS said. Democrats don't have a clear shot at reviving it anytime soon. They sought to extend it for another year as part of their $2 trillion Build Back Better plan. But it's languishing in the Senate because of opposition from Sen. Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat from West Virginia — Hullinger's home state — who wants to add a work requirement to the benefit.The advance monthly payments have helped households in a variety of ways. It has helped some make their mortgage payments or pay for rent, food, school supplies, or other school expenses. Some have put it away in savings or used it to pay down debt. Insider spoke with two moms who are also MomsRising members. The two moms had relied on the child-tax-credit payments and were now worried about what comes next.Without another monthly payment, one mom said she was "a little bit terrified.""The monthly payment is significantly more helpful for everyday people who kind of are living paycheck to paycheck and really have to figure stuff out," said Stacy Niemann, a mother of two who received payments of $550 per month.Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, a cofounder and the executive director and CEO of MomsRising, called the expanded child tax credit transformational for families. She said it helped lift children out of poverty and helped working parents afford care, which kept them in their jobs.Rowe-Finkbeiner said the expanded child tax credit benefited not only the millions of families receiving the payments but also the US economy."We can't forget that parents, and moms in particular, are the primary people making consumer purchasing decisions in our consumer-fueled economy," she added.One parent said the payments helped her family 'just be a little bit more comfortable'Hullinger said the monthly payments helped her in multiple ways. For one, knowing that the payments would start in July, she was able to get a used car in May that she said was much safer than the one she already had.The expanded tax credit also helped her keep working. With the pandemic still raging, Hullinger and her family have faced multiple school closures and quarantines. She said that without the payments, such disruptions would have meant taking time off work. Instead, she was able to get a sitter.Hullinger said the last advance monthly payment was a godsend as she was able to buy kerosene to heat her apartment and also get Christmas gifts for her four children.Niemann's experience with the monthly payments differed from Hullinger's. She said her husband's income was the family's primary income."But with my husband being self-employed, our income is variable and kind of unpredictable," Niemann said. "So that's the biggest thing that the child tax credit has helped us with — to know that every month, for sure, we have at least one bill that's going to be paid by getting the child tax credit."Trying to maintain a small business amid the pandemic has been hard for Niemann and her husband. She said they lost a lot of business. She and her husband also both needed surgery and were now paying thousands of dollars in medical debt.She said the monthly payments helped them "in some months to be able to just be a little bit more comfortable."In particular, the monthly disbursements helped with their mortgage payments."That's honestly been huge to just know that we're not going to lose our house," Niemann said.She added that she was able to use the money on fun activities for her two children, such as buying pumpkins or a Christmas tree."None of us are going on extravagant vacations and living our best lives on this money," Hullinger said. "A lot of times it gives us just enough to where we can sleep at night."No more payments could mean negative consequences for some familiesOther parents spoke with Insider's Erin Snodgrass about what the end of the payments meant for their families. "Without these payments, I won't eat so my kids can," one parent told Snodgrass.Congressional Democrats want to extend the program for another year through their social- and climate-policy bill. But resistance from Manchin means they can't muscle it through the Senate and sidestep Republicans anytime soon. The Biden administration has floated retroactive payments for eligible families if the plan clears the 50-50 Senate."The temporary child-tax-credit expansion that we have had in place for the past several months is proof of concept that a permanent child-tax-credit expansion is needed into the future in our nation," Rowe-Finkbeiner told Insider in December.Put simply, Rowe-Finkbeiner said the expanded child tax credit "definitely must continue," and Niemann called it "really just a huge help."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytJan 15th, 2022