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Report: Layoffs are decreasing as arts institutions prepare to reopen

ArtsFund President and CEO Michael Greer said the organization is encouraged that fewer of its organizations have staff furloughed or laid off compared with a few months ago — but the sector still expects a 30% decline in personnel expenditures......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsApr 15th, 2021

JPMorgan (JPM) Buys College Financial Planning Platform Frank

JPMorgan (JPM) acquires the college financial planning platform, Frank. JPMorgan JPM has acquired the college financial planning platform, Frank. The acquisition adds to the many deals entered by the bank over the past few months in a bid to compete with technology firms.The entire business of Frank, including its Easy FAFSA, Classfinder College Course Marketplace, Scholarships & Employment tools, and Financial Education and Careers content, is being acquired by the bank.Serving more than five million students at more than 6,000 higher education institutions, Frank’s simple online portal allows students to apply for financial aid in minutes and enroll in its catalog of affordable online college courses.Jennifer Piepszak, co-CEO of JPMorgan, stated, “We want to build lifelong relationships with our customers. Frank offers a unique opportunity for deeper engagement with students. Together, we’ll be able to expand our capabilities for students and their families, helping them financially prepare for college and other major moments in their future.”The founder and CEO of Frank, Charlie Javice, said, “We launched Frank to make college more accessible for students and their families, and have already helped millions across the nation. We look forward to joining the Chase family to further this mission. Together, we can multiply our impact to help more students and their families achieve their financial goals and education dreams.”The buyout is expected to accelerate JPMorgan’s strong foundation with students, including products, content and guidance for students of all ages, with branches and ATMs on or in close proximity to more than 300 college campuses across the country.Our TakeOf late, JPMorgan has been undertaking several strategic buyouts. The company has been on an expansion spree for a long time now. In a bid to expand into the dining business, recently, JPMorgan agreed to acquire the popular restaurant recommendation website, The Infatuation. Also, it signed a deal with Volkswagen AG’s VWAGY subsidiary, Volkswagen Financial Services, in a bid to enter the automotive industry and bolster digital payment competencies.A few other notable buyouts in recent months include that of OpenInvest, a 40% stake in Brazil's C6 Bank and 55ip. The deals are expected to help boost JPMorgan’s fee income.Further, as part of its plan of establishing a banking presence in the U.K., JPMorgan acquired one of the largest robo advisory firms of the U.K., Nutmeg. Also, it has recently launched its long-planned digital retail bank Chase in the region.While the bank’s expansion in the U.K. will help it in capitalizing on the acceleration of the digital banking boom, it is expected to face tough competition from the large traditional banks like HSBC Holdings HSBC and Barclays BCS, which are looking to expand digital offerings.So far this year, shares of JPMorgan have gained 20.4% compared with 23.8% growth recorded by the industry.2 Image Source: Zacks Investment Research Currently, the company carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here. Infrastructure Stock Boom to Sweep America A massive push to rebuild the crumbling U.S. infrastructure will soon be underway. It’s bipartisan, urgent, and inevitable. Trillions will be spent. Fortunes will be made. The only question is “Will you get into the right stocks early when their growth potential is greatest?” Zacks has released a Special Report to help you do just that, and today it’s free. Discover 7 special companies that look to gain the most from construction and repair to roads, bridges, and buildings, plus cargo hauling and energy transformation on an almost unimaginable scale.Download FREE: How to Profit from Trillions on Spending for Infrastructure >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM): Free Stock Analysis Report Barclays PLC (BCS): Free Stock Analysis Report HSBC Holdings plc (HSBC): Free Stock Analysis Report Volkswagen AG (VWAGY): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 22nd, 2021

Bear of the Day: JOANN (JOAN)

This fabric retailer was a pandemic winner but sales have slowed in 2021. JOANN Inc. JOAN was a pandemic winner but sales have slowed on the reopen. This Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell) is expected to see sales decline 12% this year.JOANN is the leader in sewing and fabrics, and also is a fast growing player in arts and crafts. It operates 855 stores across 49 states and an e-commerce business.A Miss in the Second QuarterOn Sep 2, JOANN reported its fiscal second quarter 2022 results and missed on the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 7 cents.Earnings were a loss of $0.20 compared to the Zacks Consensus of a loss of $0.13.Net sales fell by 29.8% to $496.9 million year-over-year as last year the company saw a surge of sales with people staying home during the pandemic.Comparable sales also fell 29.9% but on a 2-year stack, total comparable sales rose 8.1%.It's omni-channel net sales were up 115% to $53.5 million, on a two year basis and now represent about 11% of total second quarter sales versus about 5% pre-pandemic.Analysts Cut EstimatesLike every retailer, JOANN is experiencing supply chain challenges as it heads into its two busiest seasons, fall and the winter holidays.The analysts have gotten more cautious in the last month.4 estimates have been cut for Fiscal 2022 and Fiscal 2023 in the last 30 days.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Fiscal 2022 has fallen to $2.09 from $2.84 in the last month.Fiscal 2023 has also fallen to $2.16 from $3.03 during that time. That is just earnings growth of 3.5%.Shareholder FriendlyOn Sep 13, JOANN announced its board had authorized a share repurchase up to an aggregate of $20 million through Mar 9, 2022.The company also pays a dividend, currently yielding 3.6%.Shares are Dirt CheapJOANN only went public in March. The second quarter was its full quarter as a public company.Shares have taken a tumble in the last month, falling 11%.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchThey are dirt cheap on a P/E basis, with a forward P/E of 5.7.However, with the uncertainty around the earnings going forward, it might be best for investors to wait on the sidelines. 5 Stocks Set to Double Each was handpicked by a Zacks expert as the #1 favorite stock to gain +100% or more in 2021. Previous recommendations have soared +143.0%, +175.9%, +498.3% and +673.0%. Most of the stocks in this report are flying under Wall Street radar, which provides a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor.Today, See These 5 Potential Home Runs >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report JOANN Inc. (JOAN): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here......»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 21st, 2021

The essential steps as employers prepare to reopen workplaces

The current business climate is one of great stress and great uncertainty. Over the past two months, American life has been completely changed and going forward, both individuals and institutions will have to overcome challenges and incorporate new beha.....»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsMay 15th, 2020

Next wave of U.S. states prepare to reopen

An increasing number of U.S. states are preparing to lift coronavirus restrictions this week against the warnings of many public health experts. This report produced by Yahaira Jacquez......»»

Category: videoSource: reutersApr 26th, 2020

Central Bank Digital Currencies: A Future of Surveillance And Control

Central Bank Digital Currencies: A Future of Surveillance And Control Submitted by Ronan Manly, BullionStar.com One of the most potentially far-reaching trends in the financial landscape right now is the imminent roll-out of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs), and the parallel attacks which central bankers are waging on private digital currencies and tokens as they tee up the launch of their CBDCs. First some clarifications. While the majority of central bank issued currencies (fiat currencies) in existence around the world are already in digital form, a fiat currency held in digital form is not the same as a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). What is a CBDC? A CBDC generally refers to electronic or virtual central bank (fiat) money that is created in the form of digital tokens or account balances which are digital claims on the central bank. CBDCs will be issued by central banks and will be legal tender. Many CBDCs that are being researched and developed employ Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), with the recording of transactions on a blockchain.  However unlike private cryptocurrencies which use a permissionless and open design, CBDCs that use DLT will use permissioned variants (deciding who has access to the network and who can view and update records in the ledger). See here for a discussion of permissionless vs permissioned blockchains. CBDCs - The antithesis to decentralized private cryptocurrencies and tokens Critically, as the name suggests, CBDCs will be centralized and governed by the issuing authority (i.e. a central bank). So, in their design and structure, CBDCs can be viewed as the very antithesis to decentralized private cryptocurrencies and tokens. Central banks have already working on two types of CBDCs, ‘wholesale’ digital tokens that would have access restricted to banks and financial entities to be used for activities like interbank payments and wholesale market transactions, and ‘general purpose’ (retail) CBDC for the general public to be used in retail transactions. It is this ‘general purpose’ CBDC which most people are referring to when they discuss central bank digital currencies, and it is these ‘general purpose’ CBDCs that will be most important to watch when  central banks and governments begin to attempt their roll-outs to distribute CBDCs to billions of people across the world either through account-based CBDCs or ‘digital cash’ tokens. As you can guess, account-based CBDCs will be tied to user identities and Digital IDs, and straight off the bat they allow for total surveillance by the State and torpedo any chance of anonymity. For this reason, they are already a favourite among central banks. Given that CBDCs will be centralized ledgers and can be programmable, the ‘digital cash’ token option is not much better in terms of privacy and freedom. The Bank for International Settlements - The Dark Tower of Basel Many central banks will probably opt for a hybrid model of both account-based and token based digital cash. As an example, Canada, the one time liberal democracy, perhaps illustrates the account-based vs token based choices best, where Canada’s central bank, the Bank of Canada, in it’s design documentation for CBDCs shows that at the end of the day, it's about surveillance and control, saying that: “anonymous token-based options would be allowable for smaller payments, while account-based access would be required for larger purchases.” Central banks are also experimenting with various models for distribution of CBDCs to the masses, including using private commercial banks and payment providers who will intermediate on the central banks’ behalf, and also direct distribution of payments by a central bank to a population. Either way, you can see that CBDCs greatly facilitate the statists to advance their Orwellian plans for Universal Basic Income (UBI) and dependency on the state.    Accelerating rollout CBDCs are not just a buzzword or a hazy innovation that may appear sometime in the distant future. They are actively being developed now, and in widespread fashion. In January 2020, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) issued the results of a survey on CBDCs that it had conducted in the second half of 2019, and to which 66 central banks had responded. Strikingly, 10% of central bank respondents (which represented a fifth of the world’s population) said that they were likely to issue a ‘general purpose’ CBDC (for the general public) in the near future (within the next 3 years). Another 20% of central bank respondents said they would likely issue a ‘general purpose’ CBDC in the medium term (within 6 years). In August 2020, the BIS published a comprehensive working paper on CBDCs titled “Rise of the central bank digital currencies: drivers, approaches and technologies” one part of which analysed the BIS database of central banker speeches and found that between December 2013 and May 2020, there had been 138 central banker speeches mentioning CBDCs, with a dramatic increase in CBDC related speeches since 2016, a timeframe which coincided with central banks launching research projects on CBDCs. The same BIS report also highlighted that, (totally coincidentally) the Covid-19 'pandemic'  "accelerated work on CBDCs in some jurisdictions."  BIS slide on CBDC global project status - August 2021. Source. Fast forward to right now, and on the website of the globalist Atlantic Council (headquartered in Washington D.C.), there is an interesting Central Bank Digital Currency Tracker which lists all the countries that have either launched or piloted a CBDC or are developing or researching a CBDC. Here we find that 5 central banks have already launched a CBDC, 14 have a CBDC in pilot, 16 have a CBDC in development, and another 32 central banks are at the research stage with their CBDC. That makes 67 central banks (countries in total). While the 5 currency areas that have already launched a CBDC are all islands in the Caribbean, the central banks at the pilot stage include heavy weights such as China, South Korea, Thailand, Saudi Arabia and Sweden.   Those at the development stage include the central banks of Canada, Russia, Brazil, Turkey, France and Nigeria. Those at the research stage include the central banks of the US, UK, Australia, Norway, India, Pakistan and Indonesia. So as you can see, this is not some theoretical issue. Centrally controlled digital currencies are coming down the pipe in a big way, and some will be appearing, if not imminently, then very soon. And given the ease with which governments have imposed lockdowns and restrictions on their compliant populations during 2020 and 2021, it is not hard to envisage that these same pliable masses will be easily influenced to embrace CBDCs as being in their 'best interests'. BIS Switzerland - The Usual Suspect    In fact, one third of the entire BIS annual report 2021 is focused on CBDCs in a section titled “CBDCs: an opportunity for the monetary system”. Here, the BIS predictably trumpets the benefits of introducing central bank issued centralized digital currencies while at the same time attempting to undermine private cryptocurrencies. The BIS wording reveals the fact that central banks are in panic over the competitive threat of private cryptos and have accelerated the development of CBDCs partially due to this fear, with the BIS stating that: “Central bank interest in CBDCs comes at a critical time. Several recent developments have placed a number of potential innovations involving digital currencies high on the agenda. The first of these is the growing attention received by Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies; the second is the debate on stablecoins; and the third is the entry of large technology firms (big techs) into payment services and financial services more generally.” The BIS then attempts to dismiss each of these 3 threats: Cryptocurrencies, claims the BIS “are speculative assets rather than money, and in many cases are used to facilitate money laundering, ransomware attacks and other financial crimes”. Bitcoin comes in for some special mention with the BIS saying that “Bitcoin in particular has few redeeming public interest attributes when also considering its wasteful energy footprint’. Stablecoins, says the BIS “attempt to import credibility by being backed by real currencies” that are “ultimately only an appendage to the conventional monetary system and not a game changer.” The entry of large tech firms that dominate social networks, search, messaging, and e-commerce into the realm of financial services and payments provision infrastructure seems to especially bother the BIS, and it spins it’s criticism into the argument that although these platforms have large network affects, this creates “further concentration” in the market for payments. The irony is not lost on the fact that it’s the BIS, as the central bank of central banks and one of the most concentrated power centres in the world, that is criticizing others’ “concentration” of power.   Throughout this CBDC pitch, the BIS report refers at numerous points that digital currencies should be “in the public interest”, which really means that digital currencies should be controlled by the BIS and its central bank members, as well as perpetuate their centralized monetary power structure. The BIS even has the gall to claim that CBDCs should respect privacy rights, when in fact the whole architecture, rationale and design of central bank digital currencies will allow central banks and national authorities to invade totally on privacy rights.  But sometimes the BIS let's it's guard down, and reveals it's authoritarian plans for CBDCs. A case in point is a recent interview with Agustín Carstens general manager of the BIS, where he chillingly said:  "We don’t know who’s using a $100 bill today and we don’t know who’s using a 1,000 peso bill today. The key difference with the CBDC is the central bank will have absolute control on the rules and regulations that will determine the use of that expression of central bank liability, and also we will have the technology to enforce that.” See video segment below for Carstens' remarks: Singing from the Same Song Sheet With the BIS is Basel Switzerland as the conductor and orchestrator, it's not surprising that central bank governors and country heads are now singing from the same song sheet, the song being ‘private digital currencies bad, central bank digital currencies good’. Earlier this month (September 2021) at a banking conference in Stockholm, the governor of Sweden’s central bank (Riksbank), Stefan Ingves, commented that ‘private money usually collapses sooner or later’, while conveniently failing to mention the hundreds of government and central bank issued paper currencies that have collapsed throughout history due to overprinting, depreciation and hyperinflation. Nor did Ingves mention Voltaire’s famous quote that “Paper money eventually returns to its intrinsic value - zero”. Ingves, whose country is one of the leaders in promoting a cashless society, also took a derogatory swipe at Bitcoin saying “sure, you can get rich by trading in bitcoin, but it’s comparable to trading in stamps.” All the while the Riksbank is pushing ahead with it’s central bank digital currency, called the e-krona, a CBDC which uses distributed ledger technology, and which the Swedish central bank is currently testing in conjunction with Handelsbanken, one of Sweden’s largest retail banks. In the same week as Ingves’s comments in Sweden, the governor of Mexico’s central bank, Alejandro Diaz de Leon, was also taking a shot at private cryptocurrencies and for good measure he also put the boot into precious metals. Diaz de Leon said that Bitcoin is more like a method of barter than ‘evolved’ fiat money, and continued “in our times, money has evolved to be fiat money issued by central banks. Bitcoin is more like a dimension of precious metals than daily legal tender.” That comment, which attacks two birds with one stone (crypto and precious metals), will definitely please his central bank governor colleagues at thee BIS, and may even earn Diaz de Leon a nomination as the next BIS general manager, to succeed his fellow countryman Agustín Carstens.    Speaking of the BIS, Benoit Coeure, head of the BIS Innovation Hub, also gave a WEF style speech about CBDCs in early September, acknowledging the convenient catalyst of the covid 'pandemic', and the accelerated development of CBDCs by central banks:  "the world is not returning to the old normal. Payments are a case in point. The pandemic has accelerated a longer-running move to digital .... the world's central banks are stepping up efforts to prepare the ground for digital cash – central bank digital currency (CBDC): "A CBDC's goal is ultimately to preserve the best elements of our current systems while still allowing a safe space for tomorrow's innovation. To do so, central banks have to act while the current system is still in place – and to act now." Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, also recently joined in the attack on private digital currencies, while simultaneously promoting Turkey’s CBDC. At an event on 18 September, the Turkish president stated that:  “we have absolutely no intention of embracing cryptocurrencies” “on the contrary, we have a separate war, a separate fight against them. We would never lend support to [cryptocurrencies]. Because we will move forward with our own currency that has its own identity.” PBOC SAYS ALL CRYPTO-RELATED TRANSACTIONS ARE ILLEGAL So the digital yuan is a complete disaster eh? — zerohedge (@zerohedge) September 24, 2021 China: Digital Yuan - An Ominous Blueprint  A huge red flag over CBDCs and user privacy is that these central bank digital currencies are programmable, as details on China’s ‘Digital Yuan’ already show. For example, the Digital Yuan can be programmed to be activated on a certain date, programmed to expire on a certain date, programmed to be only valid for certain purchases, and ominously, programmed to be only available to citizens who meet certain pre-conditions. As a potential blueprint for other CBDCs, people across the world need to sit up and take notice, because the issuing authorities of these CBDCs coming down the pipe can therefore decide who gets access to CBDCs, what they can transact using those currencies, and how long the purchasing power remains valid. Central Banks can thus influence and control the behaviour of the recipients of this centralised digital cash,  as well as exclude those who they want to penalize or who don’t comply with the State's rules or parameters. And right on cue as this article was just published, Chinese authorities have now announced (on 24 September)  a total ban on all cryptocurrency transactions. Except of course, it's upcoming authoritarian Digital Yuan.    The future according to WEF's Klaus Schwab and his Elite private banker handlers Conclusion - Slavery or Monetary Freedom Although central banks will claim that they are introducing CBDCs for reasons such as improving payments efficiency, boosting financial inclusion for the unbanked and tackling illicit transactions, their real motivations, as always, are for surveillance and control. Surveillance of a population via complete visibility into financial transaction flow and user identities, and centralized control of the money supply within a cashless financial system. Think China’s social credit system on a global dystopian scale, where vax passes evolve into digital IDs and digital IDs link to CBDC issuance and use. In fact, the entire coercion around implementing vaccine passports and digital IDs looks to be a pre-planned stepping stone for the roll-out of central bank digital currencies and global social credit systems. The timing of the accelerated emergence of CBDCs may partially be an attempt by central banks to outflank the numerous private cryptocurrencies, tokens and decentralized finance ecosystems that have emerged and that are a threat to the power of the centralized banking system at whose apex sits the BIS. But it would be naïve to think that central banks that knew in advance about the initiation of a‘WEF’ global technocratic and corpocratic takeover that would begin in 2020, are not now orchestrating the rollout of CBDCs as part of a long-term global agenda, that agenda being the global socialist Agenda 2030, and a future in which, according to the Davos World Economic Forum (WEF) “You’ll own nothing. And you’ll be happy”. BIS and central bank attacks against private cryptocurrencies are to be expected. After all, the same central banks and the BIS have waged a very long war against physical gold and silver. And precious metals have been money since 4000 B.C.. With the launch of CBDCs by central banks and their elitist private banking controllers, that war looks set to intensify. So, do you want a future of monetary freedom, or a future of perpetual slavery to central banker CBDCs?  If you want monetary freedom, then ownership of physical precious metals and private and anonymous digital currencies are now some of the only ways to counter and protect against the ominous CBDC plans which the BIS and its central bank members are intent with imminently rolling out. *  *  * This article originally appeared on the BullionStar.com website under the same title "Central Bank Digital Currencies – A Future of Surveillance and Control" Tyler Durden Sun, 09/26/2021 - 15:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nyt10 hr. 22 min. ago

I tried two of the most popular meditation apps, Headspace and Calm, for a week. One app was the clear winner for starting my workday with focus and mindfulness.

Between Headspace and Calm, one meditation app reigned supreme with greater variety, actionable insights, and more to start the day with mindfulness. Jens Kalaene/Picture Alliance via Getty Images Many people swear by meditation to start their days with a moment of mindfulness and clarity. I put the popular meditation apps Headspace and Calm to the test to see which worked better for me. Calm was the clear winner in giving me a better meditation experience to begin my day. Here's why. See more stories on Insider's business page. I've often heard people tout the benefits of meditation, but I'd never tried it myself. Having worked remotely for roughly a year and a half now, like millions of other people, I've settled into a pretty calcified morning routine at home.So I decided to finally give meditation a shot, both to change up my routine a bit and to see if it would give me more focus and clarity throughout the day, as so many people who meditate report feeling. I'd heard good things about Headspace and Calm, which are two of the most popular meditation apps on the market, so I put both apps to the test. After two weeks, one spent using each app, I found that Calm was better by a long shot. Here's how Headspace and Calm stacked up for me: On Day 1 of Headspace, I followed the default morning routine from the "Today" section of the app. Headspace It included three steps: a short breathing exercise, the morning video of the day, and a meditation. The breathing exercise was simple enough: Take a few deep breaths. Headspace Next up on the morning agenda was The Wake Up. Headspace This is Headspace's daily bite-sized video series. Then, I did the third and final step of the morning routine: the daily meditation. Headspace I've listened to several of Headspace's daily meditations since this one, and overall I found them kind of disappointing. Headspace meditations offered much less to keep your attention, so I found my mind frequently wandering off. For example, Headspace's daily meditations don't tend to have things like anecdotes, quotes, or action steps, unlike what Calm offers. (More on that later.)Because there is less variety across the daily meditations, they started to feel very repetitive and monotonous. I started to feel that if I'd done one, I'd done them all. One bright spot, though, was that the app lets you choose between teachers for many meditations, including this one. Headspace I didn't like one teacher over another, but having the option could be useful for those who find they do respond better to one particular teacher's style. You're also able to choose the duration of the daily meditation. This flexibility is probably one of my favorite parts of Headspace, but it doesn't entirely work as advertised. Headspace I expected the duration of the meditation would be exactly three, five, 10, 15, or 20 minutes, depending on what I chose. In the time I've used Headspace so far, though, I've found that the time a meditation actually takes almost never matches the duration you choose. For example, if you select three minutes, the meditation can really end up being nearly five minutes, which is the next duration option. This discrepancy never affected me, but it might affect a Headspace user on a really tight schedule. On Day 2 of Headspace, I checked out what was under the "Meditate" tab of the app. Headspace Even my cursory scroll through the "Beginning meditation" section gave me some valuable information about the different techniques common in many meditations, for example. Throughout the week, I increasingly found that one bright spot of using Headspace is that it's very beginner-friendly. Before long, I had wound up looking at Headspace's course library. Headspace I liked that you can filter your search based on emotions or areas of your life that you'd like to work on; I also appreciated the fact that Headspace has courses for such a wide variety of topics.  Headspace's library is also a great showcase of what I think is one of the app's strongest assets: its look. Headspace Headspace's visuals are clean, colorful, and fairly minimalist. After some digging around, I settled on one of the courses in the "Focus at Work" section: Productivity. Headspace Besides courses, the Focus at Work section also includes single meditations, music designed to promote focus, and animations showing techniques at work for Headspace's cute characters. There's also a small subsection here that's designed to help students. Overall, I was disappointed with the first lesson. Headspace I found that very little of the session was actually specific to productivity and, if you took out those few minutes, you could have easily believed the session was about any number of other topics. To Headspace's credit, I did feel slightly more focused after the session, and I only tried out one of the 10, so I certainly couldn't have expected a miracle from that alone. Also, Headspace often says one of the ways you can improve your meditation is to simply do it over and over again, so repetition is part of the process.Regardless, I found the first lesson nearly indistinguishable from many of the other Headspace courses I went on to try later. I skipped over the "Sleep" tab in the app because my main goal with my meditation experiment was to better start my days, not end them. Headspace However, a quick lookover of the tab shows a variety of options, including wind-down exercises, stories, sleep music tracks, and even soundscapes of things like forests and flowing water. The dark mode was also a nice touch to help prepare your eyes for rest. The following day, I detoured from strict meditations. Headspace At this point, the meditations I'd tried thus far were pretty stationary; you were meant to be sitting still while you followed them. On this day, however, I turned to the "Move" tab on the app to see if something a little more active would help me start my workday better.  I browsed some of Headspace's yoga classes designed to get you up and at it in the mornings. Headspace I ended up trying out a 10-minute class called "Rise and Shine." Headspace Unsurprisingly, this class gave me a bigger burst of energy for the day than did any of the stationary meditations from my previous two days on Headspace.There was also peaceful ambient music in the background that really added to the atmosphere of the video, which somehow succeeded in being both calming and energizing. By Day 4, I had reached the last of the app's tabs: Focus. Headspace I decided to try some of the music intended to promote focus. I should note here that these offerings, as well as some others on different tabs, have since changed in the app. Many of the listings are still there, just under different categories.  As a fan of several of Hans Zimmer's film scores, I decided to give his playlist a listen. Headspace I ended up breezing through the playlist and working the full 85 minutes uninterrupted. I was shocked to see that all that time had passed once the music stopped, and I definitely didn't feel as though I'd been working for as long as I had. Since then, I've come back to this playlist and a few others from the list several times, always to great effect. On my fifth and final day of using Headspace, I stayed on the Focus tab, this time browsing a series of exercises. Headspace I ended up trying a very fitting course aimed at helping you start the day while you're working from home. Headspace While the session was, again, quite repetitive of other meditations I'd previously done on Headspace, it was moderately effective for me in keeping distractions at bay.Overall, my experience with Headspace was decent. My biggest gripe with the app is that too many of its meditations were too similar. This sameness gave me little to look forward to when I opened the app each morning, and it definitely didn't help with keeping my mind on task.Ironically, my favorite parts of the meditation app were the ones that weren't meditation at all; I really enjoyed the active movement sessions and the focus music playlists. Despite its flaws, Headspace is a good place to start for those interested in meditation.  For Week 2 of my meditation experiment, I turned my attention to Calm. Calm When you first open Calm, it asks what goals you'd like to focus on while using the app. I ticked off all of the goals to get a fuller picture of everything the app has to offer. The onboarding also asks what type of clips you'd most like to see when using Calm. Calm Lastly, Calm asks about your level of familiarity with meditation. Calm I liked that the app asked this question, so it can make recommendations with your experience level in mind.  Once I answered these questions, I was shown the home page of the app. Calm The first thing that struck me was the sound in the background. By default, the app plays flowing water sounds while you're in it, though you can turn off the sounds in the settings. I found the sounds to be a really nice, calming addition that helped me start my experience with Calm on the right foot.Visually, I also really liked Calm's deep blue hue compared to Headspace's stark white color. The water sounds continued playing into the first meditation I tried, which was part of the app's everyday series, Daily Calm. Calm It seemed to me that there were longer silences in some of the Calm meditations than the Headspace ones, and I found that the water sounds helped me stay focused on the meditation during these silences rather than having my mind wander.I also liked that this meditation included an anecdote and a quote to illustrate a few points. Simple additions like these made Calm's meditations seem tailored to their themes, and they would have gone a long way in creating more variety among meditations on Headspace.  The next day, I listened to an episode in a different Calm series, the Daily Trip. Calm This installment focused on a message that Headspace and Calm often stress: When you're faced with distractions, it can sometimes be helpful to simply notice they're there, rather than engage or fixate on them. On Day 3, I looked through Calm's catalog of meditations and decided on a series called Mindfulness at Work. Calm The first lesson was called Productivity, just like the series I started on Day 2 of my Headspace week.As with Headspace, a lot of the lesson was spent in silence, focusing on deep breathing and paying attention to what you're feeling one moment at a time. But in the few minutes that the instructor talked about productivity at work, I think Calm won out. Calm's insights seemed to be more specific and more relatable, sending you away with more practicable takeaways for your workday.  On Day 4, I looked through Calm's movement-based sessions. Calm This is one arena where Headspace seems to have Calm beat — Headspace had a far greater variety of sessions focused on getting active. I followed a simple morning stretch exercise. Calm Again, Headspace seemed to edge out Calm in this department. In the Headspace yoga session I did, the instructor did the stretches alongside you. In this Calm session, there was no video component; the instructor verbally walked you through the stretches. On my last day on Calm, I looked through the series that were recommended to me based on the goals I selected when I first downloaded the app. Calm I decided to give the "Improve Focus" series a shot. Calm It included things like master classes, breathing exercises, music playlists, and soundscapes, as well as bite-sized conversations through a series called The Spark. In keeping with my choice on Headspace, I also listened to a few playlists designed to promote focus. Calm I felt just as focused listening to Calm's playlists as I did listening to Headspace's music. However, Calm has a bigger selection of music and a longer roster of big-name artists. Besides focus music, Calm's Sleep Remix series, for example, includes deconstructed, slowed versions of songs from musicians like Ariana Grande, Post Malone, Shawn Mendes, and Kacey Musgraves. Overall, Calm was the clear winner for me. Calm Calm had more variety across all of its offerings, as well as more relatable and actionable insights in its meditations.Even for the sessions I didn't test on either app, Calm seemed to take the cake. For sleep, for example, Calm has stories read by names like Regé-Jean Page, Matthew McConaughey, Laura Dern, and Harry Styles. Headspace was not without its perks, though. Its flexibility in allowing you to pick your teacher and your meditation duration, for example, was a plus. But when it really comes down to it, I'd go with Calm every time.  Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nyt18 hr. 6 min. ago

Rare Solar Superstorm Could Prompt ‘Internet Apocalypse’ Lasting Several Months: Study

Rare Solar Superstorm Could Prompt ‘Internet Apocalypse’ Lasting Several Months: Study Authored by Katabella Roberts via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), The “black swan” event of a solar superstorm directed at earth could prompt an “internet apocalypse” across the entire globe that could last for several months, new research (pdf) has warned. University of California Irvine assistant professor Sangeetha Abdu Jyothi presented the new research, titled “Solar Superstorms: Planning for an Internet Apocalypse,” last month during the Association for Computing Machinery’s annual conference for their Special Interest Group on Data Communication (SIGCOMM). “One of the greatest dangers facing the internet with the potential for global impact is a powerful solar superstorm,” Jyothi wrote in the new research paper. “Although humans are protected from these storms by the earth’s magnetic field and atmosphere, they can cause significant damage to man-made infrastructure. The scientific community is generally aware of this threat with modeling efforts and precautionary measures being taken, particularly in the context of power grids. However, the networking community has largely overlooked this risk during the design of the network topology and geo-distributed systems such as DNS and data centers,” he continued. A solar storm, also known as a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME), occurs when a large mass of plasma and highly magnetized particles violently eject from the sun. Large CME’s can contain up to a billion tons of matter and can get accelerated to large fractions of the speed of light. When the earth is in the direct path of a CME, these magnetized and charged solar particles interact with the earth’s magnetic field, producing geomagnetically induced currents (GIC) that can potentially disrupt communication satellites and long-distance cables that provide the world with the internet. According to Jyothi’s research, power grids, oil and gas pipelines, and networking cables are the most vulnerable to the impacts of GIC’s, while submarine cables, which span hundreds or thousands of kilometres, are even more vulnerable than land cables, due to their larger lengths. Owing to a lack of real world data on the impacts of GIC’s on these submarine cables, scientists still don’t know how long it would take to repair them if such an event were to occur, and—just like natural disasters such as earthquakes—CME’s are extremely difficult for scientists to predict. The research noted that the “distribution of internet infrastructure is skewed when compared to the distribution of internet users,” and high-latitude climates are more at risk if a solar storm were to occur. Artist’s rendering of a solar storm hitting Mars and stripping ions from the planet’s upper atmosphere. (NASA)Cables on servers at an internet data center in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany, on July 25, 2018. (Yann Sschreiber/AFP/Getty Images) “The U.S. is one of the most vulnerable locations with a high risk of disconnection from Europe during extreme solar events. Intra-continental connections in Europe are at a lower risk due to the presence of a large number of shorter land and submarine cables interconnecting the continent,” the report notes. Meanwhile, if a severe solar superstorm were to occur, Singapore would maintain good connectivity to neighboring countries, while cities in China would be more likely to lose connectivity than India because China connects to much longer cables. Australia, New Zealand, and other island countries in the region would be at high risk of losing most of their long-distance connections. The research warns that a collapse of the internet—even one lasting a few minutes—could cause devastating losses to service providers and damage cyber-physical systems. The economic impact of an internet disruption for a day in the United States is estimated to be over $7 billion. While the likelihood of a solar superstorm hitting earth is rare—with astrophysicists noting that the probability of extreme space weather events that directly impact earth occurring are between 1.6 percent to 12 percent per decade—they can still happen. In 1921, a solar storm, driven by a series of coronal mass ejections, triggered extensive power outages and caused damage to telephone and telegraph systems associated with railroad systems in New York City and across the state. Years later, in 1989, a solar storm bought an electrical power blackout to the entire province of Quebec, Canada. “Although we have sentinel spacecraft that can issue early warnings of CMEs providing at least 13 hours of lead time, our defenses against GIC are limited. Hence, we need to prepare the infrastructure for an eventual catastrophe to facilitate efficient disaster management,” Jyothi said. The research pointed to “increasing capacity in lower latitudes for improved resiliency during solar storms,” and having “mechanisms for electrically isolating cables connecting to higher latitudes from the rest” at submarine cable landing points to prevent large-scale failures. The paper has yet to appear in a peer-reviewed journal. Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States. Tyler Durden Sat, 09/25/2021 - 22:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytSep 25th, 2021

Why Is Gold Not Rising?

Why Is Gold Not Rising? Authored by Matthew Piepenburg via GoldSwitzerland.com, Many are asking why gold is not rising, as just about every other commodity makes new highs in the backdrop of inflationary tailwinds. That’s a very fair question. Some are even saying gold is dead, a silly and “barbarous” old relic of ancient times, ancient math and ancient common sense. Needless to say, we beg to differ, not because we are Swiss-based gold bugs, but simply…well… let’s explain. Current Price vs. Current and Future Roles For those who see history and math as guides rather than “barbarous” and outdated disciplines, their convictions regarding gold’s role, and even price trajectory, do not wane or rise simply due to the paper price of gold. To some extent, and despite Basel 3, gold remains openly manipulated by a handful of central and bullion banks who are terrified of gold’s shine for no other reason than it embarrasses currencies (and mad monetary experiments) falling deeper into discredit. But we track the movement of physical gold every day, and can say with blunt clarity that the paper trade in gold has zero to do with the those otherwise “barbarous” forces of the actual supply and demand of this precious metal. Zero. In short, the paper price of gold has become a fiction accepted as reality, which is not surprising in a financial landscape (i.e., historically over-valued stocks, negative yielding bonds and central bankers allergic to transparency) which defies every measure of honest price discovery or basic capitalism. As for the never-ending gold vs. BTC debate, it would be wrong to say Bitcoin hasn’t taken (or continue to take) some market share away from gold, but at less than $1 trillion, BTC is not going to destroy gold’s $10T market share. In short, the current gold price is a less important topic than its current and future role as historical insurance against mathematically-failing financial and economic systems around the globe. That said, we are not apologists for the falling gold prices, nor do we doubt that by the end of this decade, gold will price well above $4000 per ounce and greatly reward informed investors playing the long game rather than putting green. More on that later. Gold’s Three Roles For now, let’s consider gold’s historical role as a hedge against: 1) recession risk; 2) market volatility risk; and 3) inflation/currency risk. 1. Recession Hedging As for recessions, gold is like an emotional and mathematical barometer testing the temperature of over-heated monetary expansion. As such, it moves higher even before policy makers add more inevitable “stimulus” (i.e., mouse-click fiat currencies) into the system. By the time policy makers officially announce a recession, it’s far too late for most investors to react. Fortunately, gold acts more quickly, anticipating monetary expansion even before the money printers start churning. Long before the “COVID recession” of 2020, for example, the writing was already on the wall that markets and central bankers were getting desperate. By late 2019, debt levels were off the charts, liquidity was drying up, the repo markets were drinking hundreds of billions of Fed dollars per month and an un-official QE to the tune of $60 billion per month was in full-swing. Then came COVID in March. Markets and GDP were tanking and gold was already on course to see (in dollar terms) a 25% rise in 2020, after a 19% rise in 2019. In short, as a recession hedge, gold was ahead of the central bankers in protecting investors. By the way, the Fed’s record for calling recessions and warning investors is 0 for 10… 2. Hedging Market Volatility We all remember March of 2020, when markets puked and gold fell along with it, primarily sold-off as a liquidity source for players facing margin costs which they were forced to pay off with gold holdings. As in 2008 and 2009, gold initially followed the stock ship below the waterline—though not nearly as far as BTC… But as mentioned above, gold reacted quickly, anticipating the money printing (and hence dollar debasement) to come, rising steadily for the rest of that fiscal year. Of course, stocks rose as well, thanks to the unbelievable and historically unprecedented money creation witnessed in 2020—more QE in less than a year than all of the combined QE1-QE4 and “Operation Twist” which we saw from 2009-2015. But thankfully, gold doesn’t just follow stock markets, it hedges them, as the past shows and the future will once again confirm. Such monetary stimulus creates what von Mises would call a “crack-up boom,” and near-term such liquidity is just wonderful for stocks and bonds. As we’ve written elsewhere, COVID—and the policy measures which followed– literally saved the securities bubble and made this “boom” even bigger. But the “boom”-to-volatility to sequence to come from such risk assets reaching price levels which have absolutely nothing to do with valuation will be infinitely more painful (“crack-up”) down the road for those assets than for gold the moment when, not if, this horrific financial system implodes under its own and historically un-matched weight. In short, gold will zig when the markets zag. The anti-gold crowd, of course, will smirk and hug their bonds, reminding us all that gold is a yield-less relic while forgetting to confess that the “no yield” of gold is ironically preferrable to over $19 trillion worth of negative yielding sovereign bonds… 3. Hedging Inflation & Currency Risk Which brings us to the big question of the day, why is gold not rising when it should be ripping as a hedge against what is clearly an inflationary new normal? Fair question. We are asking this ourselves, as real rates (the ideal setting for gold) fall deeper into negative depths with each new day… …as inflation, as well as inflation expectations, are on the objective rise: Last year, for example, gold saw this inflation coming and thus its rising, double-digit price moves reflected the same. But this year, with real rates still diving and inflation rising, gold is showing single single-digit losses rather than gains. What gives? The Market Still Believes the “Transitory” Meme Our ultimate opinion boils down to this: We think the market still believes the central bank myth (i.e., propaganda) that the current inflation is indeed, only “transitory.” We’ve written ad nauseum as to why inflation is anything but “transitory,” yet we can nevertheless respect the deflationists’ argument. The Deflationists The deflation camp, for example, rightly argues that recessionary forces, if left alone, are inherently deflationist, and the signs of economic (rather than market) declines are everywhere. But the key mistake which such deflation (or dis-inflation) narratives make is that these natural forces have not, nor will be, “left alone.” In other words, deflationists are somehow ignoring the monetary and fiscal elephant in the room. That is, more, not less, unnatural monetary and fiscal liquidity is entering the system at historically unprecedented levels, levels that are more than enough to quash such otherwise natural deflationary forces. Stated even more plainly, moderation at the fiscal and monetary level died long ago. Simple Realism—Inflation as Necessity Rather than Debate Central banks are desperate to reach higher inflation to inflate their way out of debt without admitting the same. This is nothing new for fork-tongued policy makers who once “targeted” 2% inflation as a ceiling, but are now effectively “allowing” 2% inflation as the new floor. Just as Nixon said the closing of the gold window was “transitory” in 1971, or as Bernanke promised that QE would be transitory in 2009, the current lie from on high about “transitory inflation” is no less a lie in 2021 as those other lies were in 1971 or 2009. Again, we all just kina know this, right? Furthermore, we just need to be realists rather than dreamers to see the inflation reality now and ahead. Central bankers, for example, may be dishonest, but they aren’t entirely stupid, just desperate and realistic. In the U.S., for example, a staggering as well as openly embarrassing $28.5 trillion public (i.e., national) debt level quickly limits one’s options at the White House or the Eccles Building. Not Many Options Other than Inflation In this realistic light, let’s consider their options. Policy makers have four tools to address such debt, namely: raise taxes, cut spending, declare bankruptcy, or devalue their currencies through inflation. The first two are already in play in the U.S., namely political efforts to raise taxes and ‘talk’ of cutting spending, both politically difficult options. Taking bankruptcy off the table, leaves devaluing the U.S. Dollar as the favored option, which is achieved by deliberately taking real interest rates to extreme negative levels. Allowing inflation to run while keeping rates low reduces the number of dollars needed to repay the debt. This hurts regular folks, but as we’ve said so many times, the Fed is not interested in regular folks. In other words, by decreasing the value of the U.S. Dollar, the U.S. is effectively paying off its current debt with devalued money. There are no permission slips needed from Congress, nor taxpayers. Given such realism, let us be repeatedly blunt and clear: Unlike gold not rising, inflation is not, nor will it be, “transitory.” Instead, deliberate inflation is an inherently and deliberately necessary tool used by the same anti-heroes who put us in this debt hole. More Fed-Speak, Less Honesty This means the Fed will come up with whatever excuses, words, phrases and lies to justify being more dovish despite publicly flirting with hawkish talk about a Fed taper. Already, Powell is taking the Fed way beyond its mandate and talking about social and environmental activism, as these are nice phrases to justify, you guessed it: More money creation and more (not “transitory”) inflation. As for me, hearing Powell talk about “labor market inequality” after the Fed has spent years making the top 1% richer at the expense of an increasingly poorer bottom-90% is so rich in hypocrisy that it makes the eyes water. In this opaque light, the notion of “Fed independence” is a complete and utter fiction. Instead, the Fed is slowly crossing the line into becoming the direct financier to the entire nation—and the only way it can do this is via monetary expansion and deliberate (as well as much higher) inflation, which is a tax on the poor and bullet to the heart of the U.S. Dollar. Period. Full stop. It’s All About Debt Again, this all comes realistically back to debt. When there’s too much unpayable debt (be it at the zombified corporate level or the embarrassed national level), rising rates becomes fatal. The Fed has learned since 2018 that even a slight rise in rates kills the debt-saturated markets whose capital gains taxes are about all that Uncle Sam can declare as income in a nation whose GDP was sold to China years ago. And yet… and yet… the markets somehow wish to believe the fantasy (and Fed-speak) that inflation is only “transitory.” What’s Ahead? We strongly think differently. As blunt realists, we see the Fed perhaps raising rates nominally, but when adjusted by openly deliberate (yet openly denied) inflation, real rates will fall deeper as inflation rises higher. This is because the simple reality (and choice) of nations with their backs against a debt wall is always the pursuit of inflation by design, not deflation. As I recently wrote, nothing is real anymore, and all taboos are broken. The Fed, through QE and/or the Repurchase Program, will print more money as fiscal policy rises alongside—a veritable double-whammy for more “liquidity” to come. This, of course, is crazy and ends badly. The Fed, along with the White House, have tried since Greenspan to outlaw natural market forces and needed austerity in order to bloat markets, keep their jobs or win re-election. Since we can never grow or default (?) our way out of the greatest debt hole in our history, the realistic playbook ahead is negative real rates—i.e., inflation rising higher and faster than repressed Treasury yields. Once this becomes obvious rather than “debated,” gold will rise along side the money supply to levels well above it’s current, yet admittedly, low price. Slowly, but surely, the $19 trillion in negative-yielding sovereign bonds will see outflows from that discredited asset and hence inflows into the “barbarous” asset: Gold. For now, we are patient realists rather than apologists, as the market seemingly continues to price gold for only “transitory” inflation. But once inflationary reality rises above the current “transitory” fantasy, gold will not only surge in price, but serve its far more important role of hedging against undeniable inflation and the equally undeniable (i.e., destructive) impact such inflation will have on global currencies in general and the U.S. Dollar in particular. Gold: Biding Its Time Despite such signposts from math, history and Real Politik, gold is currently under attack for not “doing enough,” despite two years of double-digit rises. Gold investors, however, are not greedy, they are patient, and they hold this physical rather than paper asset for the long game, as previously described. And as for that long game, the inflation ahead, as well destruction of the currency in your pocket today and tomorrow, means today’s gold price is not nearly as relevant an issue as gold’s role in protecting far-sighted investors from what’s ahead. In the end, gold’s primary role is acting as insurance for a global financial and currency system already burning to the ground. But for those naturally asking about price, forecasting and models, as any who worked in a bank know, such models are as complex as they are useless. We keep things simpler and humbler. By just tracking monetary growth rates with certain regressions, a realistic price target for gold based upon inevitable monetary expansion suggests gold at well past $4000 by the end of this decade. That may or may not seem sexy enough for those chasing returns today, but when those returns convert into losses too hard to imagine as markets reach new highs, we must genuinely remind you that even with Fed “support,” all bubbles do the same thing: “Pop.” We are not here to tell you when, as no one can. We are simply suggesting you prepare, rather than react. Tyler Durden Sat, 09/25/2021 - 10:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 25th, 2021

How therapy dogs can help students cope with stress on college campuses

Therapy dog programs can help lessen students' anxiety, strengthen their sense of belonging, and better deal with being homesick and lonely. Therapy dogs are a great stress relief for many college students across the country. Hill Street Studios/Getty Images Christine Kivlen is a clinical professor of occupational therapy at Wayne State University. She says having therapy dogs on campus can be a great asset to improve students' mental health. These programs are both popular among college students and inexpensive for the school. See more stories on Insider's business page. At a private college in the Northeast, a first-year student said it was the highlight of her day whenever she would lie on the floor of her adviser's office and cuddle with a therapy dog, a Leonberger named Stella.At a large public university in the Midwest, a graduate student spoke of how a therapy dog there provided some much-needed relief."What stands out for me is how comforting it felt to pet the therapy dog, especially when I started to miss my family and my own dog at home," the student, who is in a demanding health professional program, told me for my study of therapy dog programs for graduate students. The student spent about 35 minutes a week with three other students who all got to spend time with the therapy dog, petting her and giving her treats.Another student in the same program said spending time with a therapy dog helped her prepare for high-stakes tests. "It was always really nice to spend time with the therapy dog before big exams," the student said. "I felt like it gave me time to relax before the stressful test."Such scenes are becoming more and more common at college campuses throughout the US as college students increasingly turn to therapy dogs for comfort and to cope with the challenges of student life - such as increasing workloads.And as the demand for mental health counseling on campuses continues to soar, colleges are using therapy animals as a way to improve student mental health. Therapy dog programs are provided to colleges and their students largely free of charge.As an expert on therapy dog programs - more formally known as canine-assisted interventions - I've studied how the programs can improve student well-being. Among other benefits, therapy dogs can help students achieve a stronger sense of belonging and better deal with being homesick and lonely, while also lessening their anxiety and stress.Some of this can be explained by how human bodies respond to pleasant interactions with therapy animals. A 2019 study found that college students who spent even just 10 minutes petting a dog or cat saw significantly decreased cortisol levels, which are known to indicate stress.Animals on campusIn 2017, a survey of over 150 institutions found that 62% of schools had an animal-assisted intervention program.Dog therapy programs tend to look different at each institution. Some programs may involve a few therapy dogs and their handlers casually visiting the library a few times throughout the semester.In this setting, students may approach the therapy dogs one on one or in small groups. The time students spend with the therapy dog can vary from a few minutes to 45 minutes.Other programs are more structured and involve scheduled times with a certain number of students being paired with an assigned therapy dog and handler.Inexpensive for dog ownersThe cost of having a dog registered as a therapy dog is relatively low for the owner.The programs are typically coordinated by college personnel or faculty members in various departments, such as occupational therapy, psychology, or counseling, or by an activities coordinator in student services. The dogs are typically pets with a good temperament and training. The handler pays any fees required for the dog-and-handler team to be registered through a company that provides therapy dog registration. The handlers pay the fees because they enjoy providing animal-assisted intervention.Through the company Pet Partners, a widely used animal-assisted intervention company, it costs the handler $15 to $30 for a dog/handler team to be evaluated, $95 to register the therapy dog team, and $70 to renew each subsequent year.Calming effectsIn my dissertation on animal-assisted interventions, I asked a series of open-ended questions of graduate students who were participating in therapy dog programs.Several students related how pleasant it was to have a scheduled break from schoolwork. "The experience forced me to take time out of my day and dedicate it to not studying," one student wrote."The therapy dog is so calm," another student wrote. "Her energy/mellowness helped me to calm down each session."Not only did the students enjoy their time with the therapy dogs, but the therapy dogs also seemed to enjoy spending time with the students as well. Many handlers told me about their dogs being much more excited on the morning of their designated day to go to the college. They also reported that their dogs were even more excited when they arrived on campus.Christine Kivlen, assistant professor (clinical) of occupational therapy, Wayne State University Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 25th, 2021

An Afghanistan restaurant"s sales dropped 80% after the Taliban takeover, leaving its owner fearing for its future

The owner of Laziz Mahal Restaurant in Kabul, Afghanistan, told Insider his business has been dramatically affected since the Taliban took over last month. Laziz Mahal restaurant in Kabul, Afghanistan. Mojeburahman Musleh A Kabul restaurant owner says the Taliban takeover has left him feeling hopeless. Sales have dropped by 80% at Mojeburahman Musleh's establishment, Laziz Mahal restaurant. Afghanistan residents have reduced purchasing power and cannot afford to eat out, he told Insider. See more stories on Insider's business page. Until three months ago, sales were steadily increasing at Laziz Mahal, a newly renovated fast-food restaurant in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul.Then the Taliban took over the capital.The restaurant's owner, Mojeburahman Musleh, told Insider he is now struggling to keep his business up and running. He said the regime has made everything worse and that "everything looks gloomy" for people like him.Musleh is not alone. Since the Taliban assumed power over Kabul, many Afghans have been left distressed over their future. "Laziz Mahal Restaurant has been badly affected by [the] change of regime in Kabul, most of our potential customers have left the country and those who [are] left do not afford to eat at [the] restaurant," Musleh told Insider. He said he used to have regular customers who worked in government institutions and the private sector. Now they don't appear as much because offices in the capital are closed. His friends also used to eat at his restaurant every day and now they don't visit either. The restaurant has suffered an 80% reduction in sales and service, and Musleh is struggling to pay his employees and other minor costs as a result. According to Musleh, these struggles are the result of the diminished purchasing power of many Afghans, which has been significantly affected in recent weeks. Essentially, "less people will go out for eating," he said. Afghanistan's local economy has been left in a dire state as the Taliban move to set up a new government. At a recent event hosted by the Atlantic Council, Afghanistan's former central bank chief Ajmal Ahmady said: "I don't want to say economic collapse, but I think it's going to be [an] extremely challenging or difficult economic situation. He predicted that GDP would shrink by 10-20%. Banks are facing a cash shortage and may have to close to the public soon unless the Taliban releases more funds, Reuters reported.The cash shortage has been ongoing for weeks, with one month now passed since the Afghan government collapsed, the report said. Bankers fear the situation could lead to inflated food and electricity prices. Afghanistan's economy is cash-based, especially for local businesses. The country relies on money shipped by the US to Afghanistan's central bank but with roughly $9.5 billion in frozen assets in the country's central bank, the Taliban is likely to inherit increased hardships.Gargi Rao, Economic Research Analyst at GlobalData said: "With multilateral agencies including EU, the IMF and the World Bank halting funds, it will further deter the growth prospects amid the COVID-19 pandemic." Musleh said he purchases his raw materials in dollars and sells his service to customers in afghani currency. But in the last few weeks, Afghanistan's currency has slipped in value, falling about 10% versus the US dollar. In the week after the Taliban took control, it slipped from about 79 afghanis per dollar to 86 afghanis per dollar, Insider's Kevin Shalvey reported. When asked how Musleh how the weakened afghani will affect his restaurant, he said he will need to raise prices to get to a more balanced point. "Frankly, I don't see any hope for my business," Musleh added. "If this case continues in [the] very near future, my restaurant will be shut down and the result will be unemployment for all team members." Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 25th, 2021

DHS Touts Counter-Domestic Extremism Plan; Rights Groups Cite Threats To Civil Liberties

DHS Touts Counter-Domestic Extremism Plan; Rights Groups Cite Threats To Civil Liberties Authored by Ken Silva via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is touting a raft of new programs aimed to combat domestic extremism—many of which are raising red flags among interest groups across the political spectrum. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas testifies before a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing on terror threats to the United States in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington on Sept. 21, 2021. (Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool/Getty Images) The new DHS plans follow a March intelligence community report that deems white supremacy and violent domestic extremism as the most dangerous terror threat to the homeland. Mayorkas made similar statements at a Sept. 21 Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing on counterterrorism. “Today, U.S.-based lone actors and small groups, including homegrown violent extremists and domestic violent extremists—who are inspired by a broad range of ideological motivations—pose the most significant and persistent terrorism-related threat to our country,” he said. These “broad range of ideological motivations” include “racial bias, perceived government overreach, conspiracy theories promoting violence, and false narratives about unsubstantiated fraud in the 2020 presidential election,” He didn’t elaborate on what he meant by “perceived government overreach” or “conspiracy theories promoting violence.” He did, however, assure lawmakers that his department is working hard to combat these perceived threats. One of the major programs touted by Mayorkas is the newly branded DHS Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships (CP3), formerly known as the Office for Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention. In conjunction with that, the DHS is in the midst of a $77 million grant program aimed to provide state and local institutions with tools to counter extremism. The DHS first announced CP3 in May along with a new dedicated domestic terrorism branch within the Department’s Office of Intelligence & Analysis (I&A). Mayorkas told the Homeland Security panel that CP3 is helping expand the department’s ability to prevent terrorism and targeted violence “through the development of local prevention frameworks.” “Through CP3, we are leveraging community-based partnerships and evidence-based tools to address early-risk factors and ensure individuals receive help before they radicalize to violence,” he said. However, Mayorkas didn’t offer details about other elements of CP3—elements that various interest groups say pose a threat to liberty. Among the details that weren’t discussed are what CP3 says on its own site—that it “leverages behavioral threat assessment and management tools, and addresses early-risk factors that can lead to radicalization to violence.” According to human rights activist Ed Hasbrouck, consultant to the nonprofit Identity Project, this mission amounts to a pre-crime program. “CP3’s attempts to predict future crimes are to be based on behavioral patterns— i.e., profiling—and on encouraging members of the public to inform on their families, friends, and classmates,” Hasbrouck wrote when CP3 was first announced. “The problem, of course, is that the law does not permit prosecution based solely on patterns of lawful behavior,” he wrote. “With good reason: ‘precrime’ prediction is a figment of the imagination of the creators of a dystopian fantasy movie, ‘Minority Report.’” The Brennan Center for Justice has expressed similar concerns. Far from a conservative group, the Brennan Center agrees with the DHS and FBI that domestic extremism is a rising threat. “Over the past five years, from Charlottesville to Pittsburgh to El Paso, attacks by people who reject our multiracial democracy have shaken our country to its core and sparked conversation about how best to address far-right violence,” the group stated in a June report. “The Trump administration, which stoked the flames of white supremacy, ended with the ransacking of the U.S. Capitol as Congress was certifying Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.” But the Brennan Center said CP3 and the Biden administration’s overall approach to countering domestic extremism—enhanced surveillance, profiling, and the like—are the same draconian tactics government used against Muslims post-9/11. “At a time when jurisdictions around the country are considering how to reduce law enforcement involvement in mental health and social issues, CP3 prevention activities take the opposite approach. They create structures to bring a broad range of concerns about mental health and socioeconomic conditions to the attention of law enforcement as indicators of criminality without normal safeguards,” the Brennan Center stated in its June 69-page report on the issue. Not only are the DHS-Biden plans a threat to civil liberties; they’re also proven to be ineffective, the Brennan Center said. The Brennan Center report paid particular focus to DHS “fusion centers”—law enforcement compounds scattered throughout the United States that seek to integrate federal, state, and local intelligence. The goal of fusion centers is to create partnerships between varying agencies and the private sector to share intelligence on threats to public safety so law enforcement has the whole picture and can “connect the dots.” Citing congressional reports from 2012, the Brennan Center stated that these fusion centers have proven to be ineffective. Those reports found that the DHS spent $289 million to $1.4 billion in public funds to support state and local fusion centers since 2003, with little results to show. “Instead of looking for terrorist threats, fusion centers were monitoring lawful political and religious activity. That year, the Virginia Fusion Center described a Muslim get-out-the-vote campaign as ‘subversive,’” the Brennan Center stated in its June report. “In 2009, the North Central Texas Fusion Center identified lobbying by Muslim groups as a possible threat.” Seemingly little has improved since then. Earlier in September, NBC News revealed an investigation into fusion centers. The report starts with an anecdote of Mike Sena, the president of the National Fusion Center Association, bragging that the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center (NCRIC) helped stop a mall shooting attack in Santa Clara. NBC News found that Sena was apparently stretching the extent to which his fusion center helped. “We don’t have any information showing that NCRIC was involved,” said Steven Aponte, a San Jose Police Department spokesperson. The Brennan Center stated in its June report that the Biden administration is inappropriately involving law enforcement in social problems and should focus on “community investment, not criminalization.” “Communities around the United States should not need to sign up for a counterterrorism program to get resources for their schools, universities, places of worship, or social institutions,” the Brennan Center stated. “Government commitments should directly address these as social problems rather than treat those experiencing them as potential violent criminals, and should wall off programs addressing social ills from law enforcement across levels of government.” Tyler Durden Fri, 09/24/2021 - 18:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 24th, 2021

FT & McKinsey Announce Shortlist For 2021 Business Book Of The Year Award

The Financial Times and McKinsey & Company today publishes the shortlist for the 2021 Business Book of the Year Award. Now in its seventeenth year, the Award is an essential calendar fixture for authors, publishers and the global business community. Each year it recognizes a work which provides the ‘most compelling and enjoyable insight into […] The Financial Times and McKinsey & Company today publishes the shortlist for the 2021 Business Book of the Year Award. Now in its seventeenth year, the Award is an essential calendar fixture for authors, publishers and the global business community. Each year it recognizes a work which provides the ‘most compelling and enjoyable insight into modern business issues’. 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 This year’s shortlisted books, selected by the nine distinguished judges (see below) are: The World for Sale: Money, Power and the Traders Who Barter the Earth's Resources, by Javier Blas & Jack Farchy, Random House Business, Cornerstone (UK), Oxford University Press (US) Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty, by Patrick Radden Keefe, Picador/Pan Macmillan (UK), Doubleday (US) The Conversation: How Talking Honestly About Racism Can Transform Individuals and Organizations by Robert Livingston, Penguin Business (UK), Currency/Crown (US) The New Climate War: The Fight to Take Back Our Planet, by Michael E. Mann, Scribe (UK), PublicAffairs (US) This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends: The Cyberweapons Arms Race, by Nicole Perlroth, Bloomsbury Publishing (UK), Bloomsbury (US) The Aristocracy of Talent: How Meritocracy Made the Modern World, by Adrian Wooldridge, Allen Lane (UK), Skyhorse (US) Roula Khalaf, Editor of the Financial Times, said: “We had a fabulous longlist of compelling, deeply researched books to choose from this year. Many thanks to the judges for taking the time to read them and engaging in the debate that produced this excellent shortlist. It tackles many of the pressing issues facing business today, including climate change, cybersecurity, and racial discrimination.” Virginia Simmons, Managing Partner - UK, Ireland & Israel, McKinsey & Company, said: “While the continuing impact of the pandemic is reflected in the books that made the list, the breadth and richness of topics here underscores the forward-looking value of this annual book award.  These authors provide compelling and engaging insights into modern business, climate change conversations and our sustainable and inclusive future, setting up a compelling shortlist for the jury to then select a winner, by year-end.” The judging panel, chaired by Roula Khalaf, comprises: Mimi Alemayehou, Senior Vice President, Public–Private Partnerships, Humanitarian & Development Group, Mastercard Mitchell Baker, Chief Executive Officer, Mozilla Corporation, Chairwoman, Mozilla Foundation Mohamed El-Erian, President, Queens’ College, Cambridge University, Advisor to Allianz and Gramercy Herminia Ibarra, Charles Handy Professor of Organisational Behaviour, London Business School James Kondo, Chairman, International House of Japan Randall Kroszner, Norman R. Bobins Professor of Economics & Deputy Dean for Executive Programs, Booth School of Business, University of Chicago Raju Narisetti, Publisher, Global Publishing, McKinsey & Company Shriti Vadera, Chair, Prudential plc The Financial Times and McKinsey & Company winner of the 2021 Business Book of the Year Award will be announced on 1 December at an event co-hosted by Roula Khalaf, Editor of the Financial Times, and Magnus Tyreman, Managing Partner Europe, McKinsey & Company. The winner will receive £30,000 and the author(s) of each of the remaining shortlisted books will be awarded £10,000. The guest speaker will be Alison Rose, Chief Executive Officer, NatWest Group. Previous Business Book of the Year winners include: Sarah Frier for No Filter: The Inside Story of How Instagram Transformed Business, Celebrity and Our Culture (2020); Caroline Criado Perez for Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men (2019); John Carreyrou for Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup (2018); Amy Goldstein for Janesville: An American Story (2017); Sebastian Mallaby for The Man Who Knew: The Life and Times of Alan Greenspan (2016); Martin Ford for Rise of the Robots (2015); Thomas Piketty for Capital in the Twenty-First Century (2014); Brad Stone for The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon (2013); Steve Coll for Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power (2012); Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo for Poor Economics (2011); Raghuram Rajan for Fault Lines (2010); Liaquat Ahamed for The Lords of Finance (2009); Mohamed El-Erian for When Markets Collide (2008); William D. Cohan for The Last Tycoons (2007); James Kynge for China Shakes the World (2006); and Thomas Friedman, as the inaugural award winner in 2005, for The World is Flat. To learn more about the award, visit ft.com/bookaward and follow the conversation at #BBYA21. The Shortlist For The Financial Times And McKinsey 2021 Business Book Of The Year Award The World for Sale The World for Sale: Money, Power and the Traders Who Barter the Earth's Resources, by Javier Blas & Jack Farchy, Random House Business, Cornerstone (UK), Oxford University Press (US) In The World for Sale, two leading journalists lift the lid on one of the least scrutinised corners of the economy: the workings of the billionaire commodity traders who buy, hoard and sell the earth's resources. It is the story of how a handful of swashbuckling businessmen became indispensable cogs in global markets; enabling an enormous expansion in international trade, and connecting resource-rich countries – no matter how corrupt or war-torn - with the world's financial centres. And it is the story of how some traders acquired untold political power, right under the noses of Western regulators and politicians – helping Saddam Hussein to sell his oil, fuelling the Libyan rebel army during the Arab Spring, and funnelling cash to Vladimir Putin's Kremlin in spite of strict sanctions. The result is an eye-opening tour through the wildest frontiers of the global economy, as well as a revelatory guide to how capitalism really works. Empire Of Pain Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty, by Patrick Radden Keefe, Picador/Pan Macmillan (UK), Doubleday (US) The Sackler name adorns the walls of many storied institutions – Harvard; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Oxford; the Louvre. They are one of the richest families in the world, known for their lavish donations in the arts and the sciences. The source of the family fortune was vague, however, until it emerged that the Sacklers were responsible for making and marketing Oxycontin, a blockbuster painkiller that was a catalyst for the opioid crisis – an international epidemic of drug addiction which has killed nearly half a million people. In this masterpiece of narrative reporting and writing, Patrick Radden Keefe exhaustively documents the jaw-dropping and ferociously compelling reality. Empire of Pain is the story of a dynasty: a parable of 21st century greed. The Conversation The Conversation: How Talking Honestly About Racism Can Transform Individuals and Organizations by Robert Livingston, Penguin Business (UK), Currency/Crown (US) How can I become part of the solution? In the wake of the social unrest of 2020 and growing calls for racial justice, many business leaders and ordinary citizens are asking that very question. This book provides a compass for all those seeking to begin the work of anti-racism. In The Conversation, Robert Livingston addresses three simple but profound questions: What is racism? Why should everyone be more concerned about it? What can we do to eradicate it? For some, the existence of systemic racism against Black people is hard to accept because it violates the notion that the world is fair and just. But the rigid racial hierarchy created by slavery did not collapse after it was abolished, nor did it end with the civil rights era. Whether it’s the composition of a company’s leadership team or the composition of one’s neighborhood, these racial divides and disparities continue to show up in every facet of society. For Livingston, the difference between a solvable problem and a solved problem is knowledge, investment, and determination. And the goal of making organizations more diverse, equitable, and inclusive is within our capability. Livingston’s lifework is showing people how to turn difficult conversations about race into productive instances of real change. For decades he has translated science into practice for numerous organizations, including Airbnb, Deloitte, Microsoft, Under Armour, L’Oreal, and JPMorgan Chase. In The Conversation, Livingston distills this knowledge and experience into an eye-opening immersion in the science of racism and bias. Drawing on examples from pop culture and his own life experience, Livingston, with clarity and wit, explores the root causes of racism, the factors that explain why some people care about it and others do not, and the most promising paths toward profound and sustainable progress, all while inviting readers to challenge their assumptions. Social change requires social exchange. Founded on principles of psychology, sociology, management, and behavioral economics, The Conversation is a road map for uprooting entrenched biases and sharing candid, fact-based perspectives on race that will lead to increased awareness, empathy, and action. The New Climate War The New Climate War: The Fight to Take Back Our Planet, by Michael E. Mann, Scribe (UK), PublicAffairs (US) A renowned climate scientist shows how fossil fuel companies have waged a thirty-year campaign to deflect blame and responsibility and delay action on climate change, and offers a battle plan for how we can save the planet. Recycle. Fly less. Eat less meat. These are some of the ways that we've been told can slow climate change. But the inordinate emphasis on individual behavior is the result of a marketing campaign that has succeeded in placing the responsibility for fixing climate change squarely on the shoulders of individuals. Fossil fuel companies have followed the example of other industries deflecting blame (think "guns don't kill people, people kill people") or greenwashing (think of the beverage industry's "Crying Indian" commercials of the 1970s). Meanwhile, they've blocked efforts to regulate or price carbon emissions, run PR campaigns aimed at discrediting viable alternatives, and have abdicated their responsibility in fixing the problem they've created. The result has been disastrous for our planet. In The New Climate War, Mann argues that all is not lost. He draws the battle lines between the people and the polluters-fossil fuel companies, right-wing plutocrats, and petrostates. And he outlines a plan for forcing our governments and corporations to wake up and make real change, including: A common-sense, attainable approach to carbon pricing- and a revision of the well-intentioned but flawed currently proposed version of the Green New Deal Allowing renewable energy to compete fairly against fossil fuels Debunking the false narratives and arguments that have worked their way into the climate debate and driven a wedge between even those who support climate change solutions Combatting climate doomism and despair-mongering With immensely powerful vested interests aligned in defense of the fossil fuel status quo, the societal tipping point won't happen without the active participation of citizens everywhere aiding in the collective push forward. This book will reach, inform, and enable citizens everywhere to join this battle for our planet. This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends: The Cyberweapons Arms Race, by Nicole Perlroth, Bloomsbury Publishing (UK), Bloomsbury (US) Zero-day: a software bug that allows a hacker to break into your devices and move around undetected. One of the most coveted tools in a spy's arsenal, a zero-day has the power to silently spy on your iPhone, dismantle the safety controls at a chemical plant, alter an election, and shut down the electric grid (just ask Ukraine). For decades, under cover of classification levels and nondisclosure agreements, the United States government became the world's dominant hoarder of zero-days. U.S. government agents paid top dollar-first thousands, and later millions of dollars-to hackers willing to sell their lock-picking code and their silence. Then the United States lost control of its hoard and the market. Now those zero-days are in the hands of hostile nations and mercenaries who do not care if your vote goes missing, your clean water is contaminated, or our nuclear plants melt down. Filled with spies, hackers, arms dealers, and a few unsung heroes, written like a thriller and a reference, This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends is an astonishing feat of journalism. Based on years of reporting and hundreds of interviews, New York Times reporter Nicole Perlroth lifts the curtain on a market in shadow, revealing the urgent threat faced by us all if we cannot bring the global cyberarms race to heel. The Aristocracy Of Talent The Aristocracy of Talent: How Meritocracy Made the Modern World, by Adrian Wooldridge, Allen Lane (UK), Skyhorse (US) Meritocracy: the idea that people should be advanced according to their talents rather than their status at birth. For much of history this was a revolutionary thought, but by the end of the twentieth century it had become the world's ruling ideology. How did this happen, and why is meritocracy now under attack from both right and left? Adrian Wooldridge traces the history of meritocracy forged by the politicians and officials who introduced the revolutionary principle of open competition, the psychologists who devised methods for measuring natural mental abilities and the educationalists who built ladders of educational opportunity. He looks outside western cultures and shows what transformative effects it has had everywhere it has been adopted, especially once women were brought into the meritocractic system. Wooldridge also shows how meritocracy has now become corrupted and argues that the recent stalling of social mobility is the result of failure to complete the meritocratic revolution. Rather than abandoning meritocracy, he says, we should call for its renewal. About the Financial Times The Financial Times is one of the world’s leading business news organisations, recognised internationally for its authority, integrity and accuracy. The FT has a record paying readership of more than one million, three-quarters of which are digital subscriptions. It is part of Nikkei Inc., which provides a broad range of information, news and services for the global business community. www.ft.com About McKinsey & Company McKinsey & Company is a global management consulting firm committed to helping organisations create Change that Matters. In more than 130 cities and 65 countries, our teams help clients across the private, public and social sectors shape bold strategies and transform the way they work, embed technology where it unlocks value, and build capabilities to sustain the change. Not just any change, but Change that Matters – for their organisations, their people, and in turn society at large. www.mckinsey.com/thenextnormal Updated on Sep 24, 2021, 3:13 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: valuewalkSep 24th, 2021

MBA: Impact of Climate Change on Housing

The Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Research Institute for Housing America (RIHA) recently released a report—”The Impact of Climate Change on Housing and Housing Finance“—which shows that climate change will be adding stress to “the complex system of allocating risks across housing and housing finance stakeholders. Key findings: – Climate change will place increasing stress on […] The post MBA: Impact of Climate Change on Housing appeared first on RISMedia. The Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Research Institute for Housing America (RIHA) recently released a report—”The Impact of Climate Change on Housing and Housing Finance“—which shows that climate change will be adding stress to “the complex system of allocating risks across housing and housing finance stakeholders. Key findings: – Climate change will place increasing stress on housing and housing finance’s sophisticated system of distributing risk across multiple stakeholders—including consumers, landlords, home builders, appraisers, originators, servicers, insurance companies, government agencies and the GSEs, and mortgage investors. – The Financial Stability Board’s (FSB) Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) recommends that firms divide climate-related risks into physical risks—adverse weather events and natural disasters, for example—and transition risks that firms face in a lower-carbon economy. Transition risks include policy and legal, technology, market and reputation risks. – Climate change may alter the nature of flood risk and exacerbate the current challenges of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). – Along with increased flood risk and residential property damage, climate change may increase mortgage default and prepayment risks, trigger adverse selection in the types of loans that are sold to the GSEs, increase the volatility of house prices, and even produce significant climate migration. – In addition to climate mitigation efforts to limit global warming, adaptation strategies are needed to make housing and housing finance more resilient. – These strategies include incorporating building modifications into new construction (easier) and existing buildings (more difficult and more expensive) and increasing the resiliency of communities through infrastructure improvements and standards. – Housing finance is likely to face increasing stress as the consequences of global warming mount and influence the behavior of portfolio lenders, the GSEs, the federal government’s FHA/VA programs and mortgage investors. – The costs of mitigation and adaptation strategies pose significant challenges to their adoption. – Firms in housing and housing finance face increased pressure to quantify the expected costs of future climate events, their climate change mitigation activities, and the burden of future regulations and laws. – The report identifies three obstacles to quantifying the risk of climate-induced mortgage defaults: the choice of climate scenario, the lack of a recognized measure of climate risk, and the lack of a sufficient historical record of available climate risk metrics. “The mortgage industry will not be spared by the growing impact climate change is having on the environment, governments and individuals. The physical destruction caused by flooding and other extreme weather events will continue to influence the behavior of portfolio lenders, the GSEs, the federal government’s FHA/VA programs and mortgage investors,” said Sean Becketti, author of the report and an industry veteran with over four decades of mortgage finance experience, in a statement. “Climate mitigation efforts are necessary to slow the adverse effects of global warming, and better and more standardized predictors of environmental risks are needed to make housing and housing finance more resilient.” Added Becketti, “Projecting future climate change and its impacts remains challenging primarily because the outcome depends crucially on the actions chosen by governments, industries and households. Given the uncertainty over those actions, the future path of climate change could continue to get much worse.” “RIHA’s study underscores the need for the mortgage industry to better address the growing impacts of climate change and prepare for increased reporting to regulators and investors on the quantitative estimates of climate-related risks,” said Edward Seiler, executive director, Research Institute for Housing America, and MBA’s associate vice president, Housing Economics, in a statement. Source: MBA The post MBA: Impact of Climate Change on Housing appeared first on RISMedia......»»

Category: realestateSource: rismediaSep 24th, 2021

Asheville boasts one of the longest foliage seasons in the US - these 10 central hotels offer striking views

These are the best hotels in Asheville, NC including Grand Bohemian, the Biltmore, Cambria, the Renaissance, Kimpton, and Omni Grove Park Inn. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. Omni Hotels Asheville is a big city with a small-town feel in North Carolina. Asheville is near national parks and is known for vibrant dining, breweries, art, and music. Asheville's best hotels are also varied, from boutique inns to B&Bs and brand name luxury. Table of Contents: Masthead StickyWith unbelievable mountain views, a thriving food and drink scene, an emphasis on nature, and a penchant for the arts, Asheville is a must-visit destination. Sitting on "America's Prettiest Drive," the Blue Ridge Parkway, it has mild seasons year-round and one of the longest, most vibrant fall foliage seaons in the US.I've been visiting Asheville for the past decade, and throughout the pandemic, it made it my go-to road trip for its accessible location, outdoor activities, and how safely it's handled COVID-19. Follow my lead and plan a trip to Asheville with a stay at one of the following standout hotels that range from cozy bed and breakfast in a historic neighborhood to trendy downtown high rise, and the lap of luxury at a five-star spa hotel. Browse the best Asheville hotels below, or jump directly to a specific area here:The best hotels in AshevilleFAQ: Asheville, NC hotelsHow we selected the best hotels in AshevilleMore of the best hotels on the East CoastThese are the best hotels in Asheville, sorted by price from low to high. Cambria Downtown Ashville Floor-to-ceiling windows offer direct views of Pisgah Mountain. Booking.com Book Cambria Downtown AshevilleCategory: BudgetNeighborhood: DowntownTypical starting/peak prices: $128/$515Best for: Couples, friends, families, solo travelers, business travelers On-site amenities: Restaurant, bar, fitness room, convenience store, meeting roomsPros: Every room is thoughtfully designed with wide foyers, Bluetooth mirrors in the bathroom, and desks and beds facing floor-to-ceiling windows with mountain views.Cons: TVs only have a few channels and don't connect to streaming services, so don't count on a lot of in-room entertainment.Located next to historic Grove Arcade, the Cambria Downtown Asheville places you in an ideal location to explore Downtown's revered restaurants, bars, breweries, and galleries on foot.The rooms are loft-style, with floor-to-ceiling windows offering direct views of Pisgah Mountain and more space to spread out than most standard hotel rooms. As you walk in, a foyer gradually widens, opening up to a space marked by crisp white beds, a desk, plenty of electrical outlets and USB ports, wood floors, and exposed red brick walls with eye-catching splashes of blue. The bathroom is spacious with a large vanity, walk-in showers, bathtubs in some rooms, and the coolest part, Bluetooth mirrors that can play your music while you get ready.A sundry in the lobby is packed with healthy meals to prepare in your in-room microwave, or head to Hemingway's, a Cuban restaurant and bar on the fourth-floor with a terrace and fire pits. Locals pack this rooftop on weekend nights, so make a reservation to grab a seat. COVID-19 procedures are available here. Renaissance Asheville Hotel Rooms are comfortable, clean, and have mountain views. Marriott Book Renaissance Asheville HotelCategory: Mid-rangeNeighborhood: DowntownTypical starting/peak prices: $131/$512Best for: Couples, solo travelers, business travelers, Marriott loyalistsOn-site amenities: Restaurant, fitness room, pool, meeting rooms, marketPros: This Renaissance has the largest Junior Olympic saltwater swimming pool in Asheville.Cons: The restaurant is only open for breakfast, and the only other food served at the hotel are the snacks and packaged meals available at the on-site market. When you need a nice, but moderate Downtown Asheville hotel with a full list of modern amenities from a trusted brand, choose the Renaissance.I stayed here on a whim as I was passing through Asheville in the height of COVID-19 in 2020, and wanted a hotel brand I knew I could trust to handle the pandemic safely. The Renaissance, a Marriott Bonvoy property, did this exceptionally well and impressed me with their levels of safety and cleanliness.The Renaissance is on the edge of Downtown Asheville and every room has floor-to-ceiling windows that allow you to wake up to see the sunrise over the Blue Ridge Mountains. Rooms are spacious and comfortable with plush beds, textured black headboards, a desk, and a sitting area.Asheville was nicknamed "Bee City USA" in 2012 for its honey bee population and commitment to educating the public about how important bees are for the environment. Staying true to this oath, this hotel houses "bee boxes" from the Bee Institute on its roof to promote sustainability.COVID-19 procedures are available here. 1900 Inn on Montford The lavish, spa-like Cloisters Suite is a top pick for romance and relaxation. Booking.com Book 1900 Inn On MontfordCategory: BoutiqueNeighborhood: Montford Historic DistrictTypical starting/peak prices: $145/$605Best for: Couples, luxury travelers, solo travelers, foodiesOn-site amenities: Dining room, daily breakfast and social hour, live music, games, all-day snacksPros: Book the luxurious 1,300-square-foot Cloisters suite, which has a private garden and a large spa room with a two-person Whirlpool, shiatsu massage, air bath, and walk-in shower.Cons: This hotel is not great for families as children under the age of 12 are not permitted.Perched on a hill in a historic residential neighborhood, just eight blocks from the edge of Downtown Asheville, the Inn on Montford is charming, cozy, and well-placed.This Arts and Crafts style bed and breakfast has eight rooms, each with King beds, gas fireplaces, bathrooms with fiber-optic starry floors, Roman baths, and color-changing, LED-lit vanities.Don't miss the daily cookie selection; one of the innkeepers, Shawnie, makes them herself and prepares a mix of mouthwatering flavors like salted chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, or chocolate-orange.If you're on vacation with your special someone, make it extra romantic and book the Cloisters suite, in the Carriage House, which has 1,300 square feet of space, a private garden, a huge living room, a kitchenette, a bar, a fireplace, and a luxurious 68-square-foot spa room with a two-person Whirlpool tub, shiatsu massage, air bath, and a huge walk-in shower. COVID-19 procedures are available here. Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville, Autograph Collection Art and design feature prominently, with statement decor in guest rooms. Marriott Book Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville, Autograph CollectionCategory: LuxuryNeighborhood: Biltmore VillageTypical starting/peak prices: $158 /$600Best for: Couples, families, solo travelers, business travelers, Marriott loyalistsOn-site amenities: Restaurant, bar, art gallery, spa, fitness room, meeting roomsPros: Grand Bohemian Asheville is located directly across the street from the entrance to the famed Biltmore Estate, and the on-site art gallery has local and regional art and jewelry for sale.Cons: In some room categories, the bathroom is separated from the bedroom by a thin curtain rather than an actual door, which isn't ideal for privacy or modesty. Request one with a door if you're traveling with mixed company.This art-driven hotel is the best hotel in Biltmore Village, directly across the street from the entrance to famous Biltmore Estate, known as "America's Largest Home," which was built by George Vanderbilt in 1889 and has a world-class winery, historic gardens, popular restaurants, a farm and over 20 miles of nature trails.Like all Kessler boutique properties, this hotel is innately luxurious, but with a vibe that's creative, relaxing, and comfortable enough to make you feel at home. Art also features prominently, with an on-site art gallery filled with paintings, sculptures, glass art, and jewelry by local artists that are also available for sale.As such, the atmosphere is rich and enticing, with an entrance flanked by a Tudor-style driveway, dramatic candelabras, and heavy burgundy drapes.Inside, stylish, but quirky rooms and common areas juxtapose oil and contemporary paintings and historic busts with surprising sculptures, like a wild hog wearing a tacky tourist hat, and bright purple low lighting that matches velvet chairs alongside fixtures that look like antlers. The rooms are big and enticing, with tufted teal headboards, lamps with tree branch bases, brown and teal-patterned carpeting, and sleek bathrooms with views of the Blue Ridge Mountains from the soaking tub.COVID-19 procedures are available here.Read our full hotel review of Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville Village Hotel Village Hotel is one of three accommodation options housed within the 8,000-acre Biltmore Estate. Booking.com Book Village HotelCategory: Mid-RangeNeighborhood: Biltmore VillageTypical starting/peak prices: $170 /$705Best for: Families, couples, solo travelersOn-site amenities: Restaurants, bars, pool, spa, fitness room, meeting roomsPros: Village Hotel is located in Antler Hill Village, on Biltmore Estate, right next to a slew of family-friendly restaurants, activities, a petting zoo, a winery, and over 20 miles of nature trails. Cons: Transportation around the estate is currently unavailable due to COVID-19, so guests will need to factor a rental car into the cost of their trip.Village Hotel is one of three accommodation options housed within the 8,000-acre Biltmore Estate, and it's the best pick for families. Located in Antler Hill Village, just steps from the winery, the famed Cedric's Tavern (named after the Vanderbilt family dog), a petting zoo, the outdoor adventure center, and over 20 miles of nature trails, the hotel offers tons to do.The entry-level Village Double Rooms are simple, without fancy bells and whistles, but are modern and spacious with a minimalist black, white and gray color scheme, comfortable double beds, a walk-in shower, and a charming window seat for a vantage point over the beautiful grounds.In addition to all of the aforementioned perks of staying at Biltmore Estate, guests can also dine at Village Social for kid-friendly breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus, or go to The Creamery for "Winky Bar sundaes," which is a waffle cone filled with black cherry ice cream, whipped cream, and a cherry.COVID-19 procedures are available here. Kimpton Hotel Arras Kimpton Hotel Arras has a prime downtown location and impressive perks, especially for pets. Booking.com Book Kimpton Hotel Arras Category: Boutique Neighborhood: DowntownTypical starting/peak prices: $171/$760Best for: Couples, solo travelers, business travelers, travelers with pets, IHG loyalistsOn-site amenities: Restaurant, bar, meeting rooms, fitness center, seasonal book program, free essential toiletriesPros: This hotel boasts a super central location in downtown Asheville, right on Pack Square. Animals may stay at no extra charge and receive special pet amenities.Cons: With its prime downtown location and resident and local foot traffic, this hotel can be loud and crowded.When in Downtown Asheville, look up and you'll spot the Kimpton Hotel Arras; it's the tallest building in all of Asheville.The 128 rooms, suites, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom luxury condos are bright, airy, and filled with natural woods, white and neutral fabrics, textured walls, art by local Asheville artist Catherine Murphy, a desk, and floor-to-ceiling windows facing Downtown Asheville and the Blue Ridge Mountains.In even the most basic Queen Room, the vanity and bathroom area feels luxurious with a huge walk-in glass shower, marble accents, warm lighting, a dark wood vanity, a large mirror, and a separate toilet.Indulge in drinks and a Mediterranean meal at District 42, and when the sun goes down on a pretty evening, grab a seat by the glass fire pits on the terrace and watch life in Downtown Asheville buzz by. All Kimpton hotels are pet-friendly, too, so bring your dog, cat, bird, iguana or any other animal for no charge. All pet companions are also pampered with perks like stylish feeding bowls, pet beds, treat bags, a ball, and more for free.COVID-19 procedures are available here. The Foundry Hotel Asheville Exposed brick and contemporary furnishings give off an industrial-chic vibe. Hilton Book The Foundry Hotel AshevilleCategory: BoutiqueNeighborhood: DowntownTypical starting/peak prices: $182/$684Best for: Couples, luxury travelers, solo travelers, families, Hilton loyalistsOn-site amenities: Restaurant, bar, fitness room, meeting rooms, courtyard with fire pitsPros: It's just two blocks walking distance from the heart of downtown Asheville, and offers Tesla car service and a Southern soul food restaurant by a six-time James Beard Award nominee.Cons: The internet connection was unreliable when I visited, which is hard for business travelers or those who like to be overly connected.Once the foundry and warehouse that forged steel for Asheville's famous Biltmore Estate, The Foundry Hotel Asheville is now a luxury boutique Hilton property next to Pack Square Park.An ode to the city's Black history, it's located in a historical enclave called "The Block," that was once a hub of African American community and business in the late 19th and 20th centuries.After sipping a glass of Champagne at check-in, make your way up to your room, which feels industrially luxe with exposed brick walls, all-white beds with cream tufted leather headboards, floor-to-ceiling mountain views, and eclectic wall art featuring period paintings and newspaper clippings in mixed oval and rectangular frames.Paying homage to its Black heritage, the on-site Benne on Eagle is a Southern soul food restaurant led by six-time James Beard Award nominee John Fleer. The hotel is just a five-minute walk from Downtown Asheville, but if you'd rather drive, The Foundry's Tesla car service can drop you off. COVID-19 procedures are available here. Abbington Green This charming B&B feels plucked from the English countryside. Booking.com Book Abbington GreenCategory: BoutiqueNeighborhood: Montford Historic DistrictTypical starting/peak prices: $229/$469Best for: Couples, luxury travelers, solo travelers, foodiesOn-site amenities: Dining room, spa, English gardens, daily breakfast and social hour, games, all-day snacksPros: Every room has a King bed (which is unique for most historic bed and breakfasts in Asheville) and TVs you can watch from the bathtub.Cons: Children under the age of 12 are not permitted, which isn't ideal for young families.The English-inspired Abbington Green is an award-winning bed and breakfast, sitting atop a hill with whimsical landscaping and prize-winning manicured gardens.The property has both a main and carriage house, seven rooms, one two-bedroom suite, a spa room, a dining room, and a living room with games, a piano, and a guitar.Every guest room has a King bed, which is unique for historic homes like these, as well as towel warmers, a fireplace, and luxury bathtubs with a view of the TV — perfect for a bubble bath with a glass of wine and your favorite movie.There's an on-site charging station for electric cars, daily breakfast, a social hour, and a beautiful veranda where you can watch the sunset over the Blue Ridge mountains. The warmth of innkeepers Dean and Cherie brings it all together, as they love to talk to their guests, swap travel stories, and make everyone feel right at home.For COVID-19 procedures, call (828) 251-2454. Sourwood Inn The owners spent more than 25 years in the wine industry, and their knowledge filters down to the overall experience of staying here. Booking.com Book Sourwood InnCategory: BoutiqueNeighborhood: Greater AshevilleTypical starting/peak prices: $235/$390Best for: Couples, luxury travelers, solo travelers, nature lovers, foodies, oenophilesOn-site amenities: Dining room, library, loop trails, wine and flower packages, gamesPros: The owners spent more than 25 years in the wine industry and brought that culinary experience to the hotel, giving guests farm-to-table dining, curated wine lists, in-room wine programs, and pairing dinners.Cons: The inn is a 20-minute drive from downtown Asheville on remote mountain roads, so you'll have to factor a rental car into your trip.This romantic bed and breakfast is a true hidden gem that sits largely under the radar in Asheville. Located right off the famous Blue Ridge Parkway, it's just 20 minutes from downtown, positioned on 100 acres of hilly landscapes that make it feel as if you're staying in a national park.There are 12 guest rooms in the cedar and stone-trimmed main house, with a separate Sassafras Cabin, all of which underwent a recent head-to-toe renovation. Rooms are airy and bright, welcoming sunlight through tall windows, plus light-colored walls, wood-burning fireplaces, balconies overlooking Reems Creek Valley, and soaking tubs with scenic Bullhead Mountain views.The owners spent a combined 25+ years in the wine industry, and brought that culinary knowledge to the inn through well-executed farm-to-table cuisine, curated wine lists, food pairings, as well as wine of the month and wine and dine packages that add value for serious oenophiles. COVID-19 procedures are available here. The Omni Grove Park Inn Sprawling grounds feel regal and are exceedingly beautiful. Tripadvisor Book The Omni Grove Park InnCategory: LuxuryNeighborhood: Grove ParkTypical starting/peak prices: $239/$1,049Best for: Couples, luxury travelers, business travelers, families On-site amenities: Restaurants, bars, fitness room, pools, spa, meeting rooms, sports complex, outdoor center, golf course, tennis courts, food foraging experiencesPros: Perfect for a honeymoon or couples getaway, this romantic hotel guarantees five-star service, a renowned subterranean spa, and an iconic view of the Blue Ridge Mountains at sunset from its restaurant, Sunset Terrace.Cons: As this is a luxury property, expect to pay premium prices for everything.Few resorts can say they've hosted 10 US presidents and every celebrity you can think of, from Gene Hackman and Helen Carter to Nick Carter and Barack Obama, but The Omni Grove Park Inn is one of them. Additionally, this historic resort, which opened in 1913 is famous for being a World War II internment camp for German diplomats, and served as the hotel and inspiration of choice for author F. Scott Fitzgerald over the course of two summers. Five-star service is unparalleled, with an exterior resembling a majestic stone palace that appears as if it's built right into the mountains. Overlooking 300 acres of hills, woodlands, and the Blue Ridge Mountains, the hotel also sits on a Donald Ross-designed championship golf course.From its famous terrace viewpoint, wander down the stone steps to the subterranean spa (it's so popular that you have to book six or eight weeks in advance to get an appointment) and discover hidden waterfalls along the way. Be sure to drink a glass of wine by one of two huge lobby fireplaces, and look up to see original light fixtures from the first day it opened.You'll likely pinch yourself watching the sunset over the mountains from dinner at Sunset Terrace. It's such an iconic view that, whether you stay at the Omni or not, everyone will ask if you saw it.COVID-19 procedures are available here. FAQ: Asheville, NC hotels What is the best area to stay in Asheville?Asheville is a revered food and drink destination and staying in downtown Asheville puts you within walking distance from many award-winning restaurants and breweries.If you're only in town to visit Biltmore Estate, you could stay in Biltmore Village, which is right across the street from the estate entrance, or at the Biltmore itself. Biltmore Village and Downtown Asheville are the two main attraction areas in Asheville and, luckily for visitors, they are only a 10-minute drive apart.Don't worry about not having a car; Uber and Lyft are everywhere in Asheville's popular areas, and it's easy to catch one to get to and from each. When is the best time of year to visit Asheville?Ask the locals, and they'll tell you there's no such thing as a "low season" in Asheville anymore. As such, the best time of year to visit Asheville is anytime. The award-winning restaurant and brewery scene is always available and the famous Biltmore Estate is a top attraction.If you're planning a fall visit, Asheville's 100+ deciduous trees give it one of the nation's longest fall foliage seaons, making it truly spectacular to visit in September and October. At this time of year, the leaves start to change along the iconic Blue Ridge Parkway, apple-picking season is in full swing, and temperatures drop to the 40s and 50s.Prices get slightly cheaper in January and February when snow and ice make driving in the mountains less appealing, and in March when it's cold and rainy. What are COVID-19 protocols in Asheville?Asheville has been very proactive about COVID-19 risk since the beginning of the pandemic, and stores, restaurants, and businesses strictly enforce local mandates. Currently, there are no restrictions on capacity and social distancing in restaurants, bars, and meeting spaces. Masks are required in all indoor locations in Buncombe County based on advice from medical experts and scientists. What is the best hotel in Asheville?I believe that The Omni Grove Park Inn is by far the best hotel in Asheville. It feels like staying in a palace built into the mountain, right on a championship golf course, with five-star service, a subterranean spa, and unbelievable views of 300+ acres of rolling green hills and the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance. Staying here is the ultimate getaway, whether you're on your honeymoon, planning a girls spa weekend, or looking for a memorable place to spend the holidays. But with rooms hitting peak prices at $1,049 a night, it might not be an option for everyone. However, Asheville is filled with a range of wonderful boutique properties and larger hotels. For the best boutique hotel in Asheville, stay at the Abbington Green, an England-inspired bed and breakfast in the Montford Historic District with large and modern King rooms, daily breakfast, social hours, and beautiful English gardens.For the best hotels in downtown Asheville, the Kimpton Hotel Arras is a dog-friendly hotel right on Pack Square with beautiful and spacious rooms. And across from Grove Arcade, the Cambria Hotel Downtown Asheville offers stylish loft-style rooms with panoramic mountain views, Bluetooth bathroom mirrors, and a terrific terrace restaurant serving authentic Cuban food. What is better in Asheville—a boutique inn or bed and breakfast, or a larger hotel or resort?Both options are wonderful, and the one you choose depends on what your group needs or prefers. Boutique inns or bed and breakfasts are usually in historic residential neighborhoods and offer a cozy and comfortable feel of staying in someone's house. They typically have between six and 16 rooms, so if you're traveling with a small or mid-sized group, you could even rent the entire property.A larger hotel comes with more amenities and usually a more central location within walking distance of great restaurants, bars, breweries, shopping, and entertainment. There are also no age restrictions at larger hotels in Asheville, while most bed and breakfasts don't allow children under the age of 12 so as not to disturb other guests. What is the most romantic hotel in Asheville?With its beautiful stone building, iconic views, luxury service, and intimate feel, there is nowhere more romantic in Asheville than The Omni Grove Park Inn. Make your honeymoon extra special by booking a couples massage at the spa, ordering a tasty steak dinner and a bottle of wine at Sunset Terrace, book a Premium Club Floor Room on the adults-only Club Floor, and end each night with a drink by the lobby fireplace. What is the best hotel for families in Asheville?Village Hotel in Biltmore Estate's Antler Hill Village is great for families. Its basic Village Room starts at $170 and comes with two double beds. If you need more room, upgrade to the Village Double with Living Room, which starts at $320 per night and comes with a bedroom with two double beds, a separate living room with a couch, two twin sleeper sofas, and two full bathrooms.The location is also a huge benefit for families as it is steps away from family-friendly restaurants, the Farmyard petting zoo, 20+ miles of easy nature trails, falconry, and the Biltmore Gardens Railway, which has model trains that kids will love.How cheap or expensive is it to plan a trip to Asheville?Asheville is definitely a top tourist destination in the United States, so prices are constantly rising. That said, there is so much to do and see in Asheville, from hiking, biking, and kayaking to award-winning restaurants, breweries, and the Biltmore. These activities run from free or cheap to quite expensive. Hotels and resorts also run the gamut from $128 to $1,049 per night, and there are also tons of Airbnbs at a variety of price points. If you'd prefer one, we rounded up the best vacation rentals in Asheville as well. How we selected the best hotels in Asheville I chose the properties on this list based on my own deep knowledge of Asheville, supplemented by the research points listed below. I extensively researched and visited each hotel and selected properties with excellent recent reviews and ratings of 4 or higher on trusted traveler sites like Tripadvisor or Booking.com.All properties offer a variety of accommodation types, from boutique bed and breakfasts to brand-name hotels and luxury resorts.They range in starting price from $128 to $1,049 per night to suit a range of budgets. Hotels are located in Asheville's top neighborhoods and historic districts, and are near popular restaurants, breweries, shops, and attractions.All hotels offer COVID-19 safety policies, which we've linked for each property, or provided contact information where you can find out more. More of the best hotels on the East Coast Tripadvisor The best hotels in BostonThe best hotels in New York CityThe best hotels in PhiladelphiaThe best hotels in Washington, DCThe best hotels in Ocean City, MarylandThe best hotels on Hilton Head IslandThe best hotels in Myrtle BeachThe best hotels in CharlestonThe best hotels in SavannahThe best hotels on Tybee IslandThe best hotels in Florida Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytSep 24th, 2021

AstraZeneca (AZN) Inks Deal to Enter Novel RNA Therapeutic Space

AstraZeneca (AZN) inks a deal to gain the rights to the self-amplifying RNA platform developed by the Imperial College London. AstraZeneca AZN signed a strategic, long-term research collaboration agreement with VaxEquity, a startup founded by the Imperial College London and Morningside last year, to diversify its pipeline into the novel RNA-based therapeutic space.Per the deal, the former will gain a license to discover, develop and commercialize therapies using the latter’s proprietary self-amplifying RNA (saRNA) therapeutics platform developed at the Imperial College London. The deal provides AstraZeneca with an option to collaborate with VaxEquity for up to 26 drug targets.AstraZeneca will disburse VaxEquity up to $195 million of several milestone payments per program, if it chooses to advance any of the research studies into its pipeline. AstraZeneca will also pay royalties on the sales of any successful therapy developed under the agreement. It will also invest in VaxEquity for further development of the saRNA platform.Although pharma/biotech companies and academic institutions across the globe have been researching on RNA-based therapeutics for the past three decades, the technology came into the limelight following the ubiquitous success of mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna MRNA and Pfizer PFE/BioNTech BNTX.An RNA-based approach provides the option to quickly design a therapy based on genetic mutation and may lend an opportunity to aim at those genes that cannot be targeted by conventional small molecules, thus leading to better therapeutic options. Moreover, the production of RNA-based therapies is likely to be easy and cheap compared to available conventional therapies.The recent agreement signed by AstraZeneca also reflects the company’s faith in the strong potential of RNA-based therapies.This year so far, shares of AstraZeneca have rallied 19% compared with the industry’s increase of 8.6%.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchAlthough the mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines were developed by encoding instructions into RNAs, the saRNA technology seems to have an advantage over mRNA-technology. For example, a saRNA-based vaccine will not only encode instructions into RNAs like mRNA-based vaccines but will also help making multiple copies of RNA, containing instructions. This factor can contribute towards making smaller doses of a vaccine, which may also lower the vaccine price as well as accelerate its production.Successful development of therapies based on the saRNA platform will likely aid AstraZeneca to grab a significant opportunity for improving its business performance with novel therapies. However, the RNA space is a novel technology with a few pharma/biotechs already engaged in developing therapies/vaccines using it. Several new players will likely enter the space attracted by the huge success of the mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines.GlaxoSmithKline and two U.S.-based private companies are already using the saRNA technology to develop vaccines targeting different indications including rabies, COVID-19 and cancers.New entrants will definitely increase competition in the space. However, the early adopters like AstraZeneca and Moderna are likely to gain the most going forward.AstraZeneca PLC Price AstraZeneca PLC price | AstraZeneca PLC QuoteZacks RankAstraZeneca is currently a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stock. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here. Time to Invest in Legal Marijuana If you’re looking for big gains, there couldn’t be a better time to get in on a young industry primed to skyrocket from $17.7 billion back in 2019 to an expected $73.6 billion by 2027. After a clean sweep of 6 election referendums in 5 states, pot is now legal in 36 states plus D.C. Federal legalization is expected soon and that could be a still greater bonanza for investors. Even before the latest wave of legalization, Zacks Investment Research has recommended pot stocks that have shot up as high as +285.9%. You’re invited to check out Zacks’ Marijuana Moneymakers: An Investor’s Guide. It features a timely Watch List of pot stocks and ETFs with exceptional growth potential.Today, Download Marijuana Moneymakers FREE >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report AstraZeneca PLC (AZN): Free Stock Analysis Report Pfizer Inc. (PFE): Free Stock Analysis Report Moderna, Inc. (MRNA): Free Stock Analysis Report BioNTech SE Sponsored ADR (BNTX): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 24th, 2021

Here"s Why Investors Should Hold EMCOR (EME) Stock Right Now

Solid construction services demand and focus on aggressive buyouts to drive EMCOR Group (EME) amid challenges associated with the U.S. Industrial Services unit. EMCOR Group, Inc.’s EME focus on acquisitions to broaden its footprint and solid demand for its services have been encouraging. Also, upbeat guidance for 2021 bodes well.Backed by these tailwinds, shares of this leading electrical and mechanical construction and facilities service provider have climbed 29.4% year to date, outperforming the Zacks Building Products - Heavy Construction industry’s 15.1% rally. The price performance was also backed by the company’s robust earnings surprise history, having surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate in 13 of the trailing 14 quarters. Earnings estimates for 2021 have moved up 4% over the past 30 days, depicting analysts’ optimism over its prospects.However, the negative impact of macroeconomic conditions within the oil and gas and related industrial markets is a concern.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchLet’s delve deeper into the major growth drivers of this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.Inorganic DriveEMCOR has a penchant for acquisitions and strategic alliances for bolstering inorganic growth as well as expanding market share. During the first six months of 2021, the company spent $57 million on the acquisition of three companies. EMCOR took over one company that provides mechanical services within the Southern region of the United States and another company that provides electrical construction services to a broad array of customers in the Midwestern region of the United States. The third buyout is that of a company that provides mobile mechanical services across North Texas, whose results of operations have been included under the U.S. building services segment. EMCOR’s second-quarter 2021 results include $53.8 million of revenues attributable to businesses acquired.These buyouts strengthened its overall results by adding new markets, opportunities and capabilities. The company plans to acquire more such companies in the future.Robust Demand For ServicesEMCOR’s domestic construction segments have been registering gains, given solid demand for its services. The company’s domestic construction segments experienced strong project growth in second-quarter 2021, with total Remaining Performance Obligations or RPOs having increased $301 million since Jun 30, 2020. EMCOR continues to see demand for electrical mechanical systems, both in new construction and retrofit projects. Throughout the second quarter of 2021, it experienced strong year-over-year growth in all sectors served, except hospitality.For second-quarter 2021, the U.S. Construction segment’s operating margins improved 20 basis points (bps) year over year to 8.4%, driven by broad-based business growth across trade offerings, end-market sectors and a vast geographic footprint. Despite being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the company sustains its stability on robust performance, accretive acquisitions and demand for services.Upbeat ViewBacked by strong first and second-quarter results, the company lifted its view for 2021. The company now expects earnings per share within $6.65-$7.05 versus 6.35-$6.75 projected earlier. EMCOR raised its revenue guidance to nearly $9.5 billion for 2021 from the prior range of $9.2-$9.4 billion.Superior ROEEMCOR has a very strong return on equity (ROE) that is indicative of growth potential. The company’s ROE currently stands at 18.5%. This compares favorably with ROE of 12.9% for the industry it belongs to. This indicates efficiency in using shareholders’ funds and its ability to generate profit with minimum capital usage.HeadwindsCoronavirus-Related WoesThe company’s U.S. Industrial Services unit — which focuses on downstream, petrochemical, and oil and gas refining — has been facing maximum COVID-related woes over time. Its Industrial Services segment had a tough 2020, with U.S. Industrial Services revenues decreasing 26.7%. For second-quarter 2021 too, U.S. Industrial Services revenues declined 2.5% year over year owing to depressed demand for its service offerings within the oil and gas and related industrial markets, given the negative impact of macroeconomic conditions in the markets served by the company. For the second quarter, the segment incurred an operating loss of $0.2 million against an income of $3.3 million a year ago.Key PicksSome better-ranked stocks in the broader Construction sector include Altair Engineering Inc. ALTR, Quanta Services, Inc. PWR and KBR, Inc. KBR. While Altair sports a Zacks Rank #1, the other two stocks carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).Altair, Quanta Services, and KBR’s earnings for 2021 are expected to rise 64.5%, 19.9%, and 24.9%, respectively. Time to Invest in Legal Marijuana If you’re looking for big gains, there couldn’t be a better time to get in on a young industry primed to skyrocket from $17.7 billion back in 2019 to an expected $73.6 billion by 2027. After a clean sweep of 6 election referendums in 5 states, pot is now legal in 36 states plus D.C. Federal legalization is expected soon and that could be a still greater bonanza for investors. Even before the latest wave of legalization, Zacks Investment Research has recommended pot stocks that have shot up as high as +285.9%. You’re invited to check out Zacks’ Marijuana Moneymakers: An Investor’s Guide. It features a timely Watch List of pot stocks and ETFs with exceptional growth potential.Today, Download Marijuana Moneymakers FREE >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Quanta Services, Inc. (PWR): Free Stock Analysis Report Altair Engineering Inc. (ALTR): Free Stock Analysis Report KBR, Inc. (KBR): Free Stock Analysis Report EMCOR Group, Inc. (EME): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 24th, 2021

Why MDU Resources (MDU) is a Great Dividend Stock Right Now

Dividends are one of the best benefits to being a shareholder, but finding a great dividend stock is no easy task. Does MDU Resources (MDU) have what it takes? Let's find out. Getting big returns from financial portfolios, whether through stocks, bonds, ETFs, other securities, or a combination of all, is an investor's dream. But for income investors, generating consistent cash flow from each of your liquid investments is your primary focus.Cash flow can come from bond interest, interest from other types of investments, and of course, dividends. A dividend is that coveted distribution of a company's earnings paid out to shareholders, and investors often view it by its dividend yield, a metric that measures the dividend as a percent of the current stock price. Many academic studies show that dividends make up large portions of long-term returns, and in many cases, dividend contributions surpass one-third of total returns.MDU Resources in FocusBased in Bismarck, MDU Resources (MDU) is in the Utilities sector, and so far this year, shares have seen a price change of 11.92%. Currently paying a dividend of $0.21 per share, the company has a dividend yield of 2.88%. In comparison, the Utility - Gas Distribution industry's yield is 3.03%, while the S&P 500's yield is 1.41%.Taking a look at the company's dividend growth, its current annualized dividend of $0.85 is up 1.8% from last year. In the past five-year period, MDU Resources has increased its dividend 5 times on a year-over-year basis for an average annual increase of 2.54%. Any future dividend growth will depend on both earnings growth and the company's payout ratio; a payout ratio is the proportion of a firm's annual earnings per share that it pays out as a dividend. MDU Resources's current payout ratio is 41%. This means it paid out 41% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.Looking at this fiscal year, MDU expects solid earnings growth. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2021 is $2.12 per share, which represents a year-over-year growth rate of 8.72%.Bottom LineInvestors like dividends for a variety of different reasons, from tax advantages and decreasing overall portfolio risk to considerably improving stock investing profits. However, not all companies offer a quarterly payout.High-growth firms or tech start-ups, for example, rarely provide their shareholders a dividend, while larger, more established companies that have more secure profits are often seen as the best dividend options. Income investors must be conscious of the fact that high-yielding stocks tend to struggle during periods of rising interest rates. With that in mind, MDU is a compelling investment opportunity. Not only is it a strong dividend play, but the stock currently sits at a Zacks Rank of 3 (Hold). Time to Invest in Legal Marijuana If you’re looking for big gains, there couldn’t be a better time to get in on a young industry primed to skyrocket from $17.7 billion back in 2019 to an expected $73.6 billion by 2027. After a clean sweep of 6 election referendums in 5 states, pot is now legal in 36 states plus D.C. Federal legalization is expected soon and that could be a still greater bonanza for investors. Even before the latest wave of legalization, Zacks Investment Research has recommended pot stocks that have shot up as high as +285.9%. You’re invited to check out Zacks’ Marijuana Moneymakers: An Investor’s Guide. It features a timely Watch List of pot stocks and ETFs with exceptional growth potential.Today, Download Marijuana Moneymakers FREE >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report MDU Resources Group, Inc. (MDU): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here......»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 24th, 2021

Are You Looking for a High-Growth Dividend Stock? Caterpillar (CAT) Could Be a Great Choice

Dividends are one of the best benefits to being a shareholder, but finding a great dividend stock is no easy task. Does Caterpillar (CAT) have what it takes? Let's find out. All investors love getting big returns from their portfolio, whether it's through stocks, bonds, ETFs, or other types of securities. But when you're an income investor, your primary focus is generating consistent cash flow from each of your liquid investments.While cash flow can come from bond interest or interest from other types of investments, income investors hone in on dividends. A dividend is that coveted distribution of a company's earnings paid out to shareholders, and investors often view it by its dividend yield, a metric that measures the dividend as a percent of the current stock price. Many academic studies show that dividends make up large portions of long-term returns, and in many cases, dividend contributions surpass one-third of total returns.Caterpillar in FocusCaterpillar (CAT) is headquartered in Deerfield, and is in the Industrial Products sector. The stock has seen a price change of 8.02% since the start of the year. Currently paying a dividend of $1.11 per share, the company has a dividend yield of 2.26%. In comparison, the Manufacturing - Construction and Mining industry's yield is 0.93%, while the S&P 500's yield is 1.41%.Taking a look at the company's dividend growth, its current annualized dividend of $4.44 is up 7.8% from last year. Caterpillar has increased its dividend 3 times on a year-over-year basis over the last 5 years for an average annual increase of 8.63%. Any future dividend growth will depend on both earnings growth and the company's payout ratio; a payout ratio is the proportion of a firm's annual earnings per share that it pays out as a dividend. Caterpillar's current payout ratio is 46%. This means it paid out 46% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.CAT is expecting earnings to expand this fiscal year as well. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2021 is $10.08 per share, with earnings expected to increase 53.66% from the year ago period.Bottom LineInvestors like dividends for a variety of different reasons, from tax advantages and decreasing overall portfolio risk to considerably improving stock investing profits. But, not every company offers a quarterly payout.For instance, it's a rare occurrence when a tech start-up or big growth business offers their shareholders a dividend. It's more common to see larger companies with more established profits give out dividends. During periods of rising interest rates, income investors must be mindful that high-yielding stocks tend to struggle. With that in mind, CAT is a compelling investment opportunity. Not only is it a strong dividend play, but the stock currently sits at a Zacks Rank of 3 (Hold). Time to Invest in Legal Marijuana If you’re looking for big gains, there couldn’t be a better time to get in on a young industry primed to skyrocket from $17.7 billion back in 2019 to an expected $73.6 billion by 2027. After a clean sweep of 6 election referendums in 5 states, pot is now legal in 36 states plus D.C. Federal legalization is expected soon and that could be a still greater bonanza for investors. Even before the latest wave of legalization, Zacks Investment Research has recommended pot stocks that have shot up as high as +285.9%. You’re invited to check out Zacks’ Marijuana Moneymakers: An Investor’s Guide. It features a timely Watch List of pot stocks and ETFs with exceptional growth potential.Today, Download Marijuana Moneymakers FREE >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Caterpillar Inc. (CAT): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here......»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 24th, 2021

“The Housing Market Is Almost Frozen" - An Even Bigger Problem Emerges For China

“The Housing Market Is Almost Frozen" - An Even Bigger Problem Emerges For China With Wall Street's fascination with risk associated with Evergrande's default fading fast, and the sellside pumping out charts such as this one showing that the contagion in China junk bond market is unlikely to spillover globally... ... the smartest men in the room are once again missing the forest for the trees because as we explained in detail over the weekend, and again reminded earlier this week... Remember: for China this is not about Evergrande, it's about preserving confidence in the property sector — zerohedge (@zerohedge) September 22, 2021 ... for Beijing the real risk is not whether foreign creditors are impacted - in fact Evergrande's willingness to default on offshore bondholders while preserving operational cash flow and continuing to build homes shows just how much China "cares" about Blackrock's P&L - but how an Evergrande crisis could impact China's massive, $60 trillion, property sector, something which CCB International, the Chinese investment bank, touched on in a recent research note in which it said that Evergrande "contagion risk has spread from financing to land sales, property sales, project deliveries and home prices." And indeed, as the FT reports this morning, some very ominous cracks in China's property market - which according to Goldman is the largest asset class globally - are starting to emerge. In a letter to the Shaoxing municipal government in eastern Zhejiang province, the local office of developer Sunac China appealed for “policy assistance” as it was struggling through what it called a "turning point in China’s real estate industry." "We have never experienced such a radical change in the external environment," Sunac’s Shaoxing office said, pointing to a 60% year-on-year fall in home sales over the summer. "The market is almost frozen," it added in the letter, which was first reported by the Financial Times. “The radical change in policy and environment has seriously disrupted our business and made it very difficult to maintain normal operations.” The sudden, sharp collapse in China's property market is shown in the charts below which reveal that the amount of actual land transactions was not only well below the land supply in recent weeks, an unprecedented divergence, but that volumes were 65% below year-ago levels as potential buyers are suddenly terrified of investing in real estate as the Evergrande fate remains in limbo, with some worried that some of the 65 million empty apartments could hit the market and lead to a crash in property values. While the plunge in transactions is demand-induced, there are also concerns that an Evergrande insolvency and eventual collapse could lead to a supply crunch. As reported earlier, in July a Chinese city halted sales at two Evergrande projects alleging the troubled developer misappropriated funds by only depositing a portion of the proceeds from housing sales into the escrow accounts, according to a local government statement.  To ensure Evergrande doesn’t divert these funds, the housing bureau in Nansha district created an escrow account under its own name this month to take in proceeds from Evergrande homebuyers, cutting off the developer’s direct access to the money. A lack of funds has already led to a construction halt on some unfinished housing properties, sparking social unrest among buyers. In Guangzhou, buyers surrounded a local housing bureau earlier this month to demand Evergrande restart construction. As we discussed over the weekend, one of the most troubling downstream consequences from chaos in the property sector would be social unrest, and as we noted, maintaining social order has always been a key priority for the Communist Party, which has no tolerance for protests of any kind. In Guangzhou, homebuyers surrounded a local housing bureau last week to demand Evergrande restart stalled construction. Disgruntled retail investors have gathered at the companys Shenzhen headquarters for at least three straight days this week, and videos of protests against the developer in other parts of China have been shared widely online. Without a social safety net and with limited places to put their money, Chinese savers have for years been encouraged to buy homes whose prices were only ever supposed to go up (similar to the US before 2007 when even idiots like Ben Bernanke said that the US housing market never goes down). Today, buying a house (or two) is a cultural touchstone. And while housing affordability has become a hot topic in the West, many Chinese are more likely to protest falling home prices than spiking ones. Which brings us to a must read report from Goldman's Kinger Lau published overnight and focusing entirely on China's property sector - instead of just Evergrande - where it addresses a glaring dilemma: Beijing's desire to regulate and deleverage the housing sector even as it keeps property prices rising, a dynamic we summarized concisely earlier this week inside a tweet: Markets used to focus on China's "impossible trinity" but it's time to shift to China's "impossible dilemma": you can't have deleveraging/tightening/"3 red lines" AND rising home prices at the same time. China wants both, will have to pick one — zerohedge (@zerohedge) September 22, 2021 In his must read report (available for professional subscribers in the usual place) Goldman's Lau explains that what is going on with Evergrande, and in fact the turmoil gripping China's broader property sector is largely self-inflicted as "regulatory actions in China Internet have resulted in more than US$1tn market cap loss on the tech sector since mid-Feb, but in the past two weeks, investor focus has shifted to the US$60tn China property market which is linked to ~20% of Chinese GDP and represents 62% of household wealth." Specifically, Goldman notes that more than 400 new property regulations (shown in the appendix) that are largely tightening in nature have been announced ytd to restrain housing market activity, spanning supply, demand, funding, leverage, to price control measures. It is these measures that have contributed to a 14% year-on-year fall in property sales and $90 billion of market-cap losses among developer stocks in 3Q alone. In his attempt to summarize the critical linkages between China's all-important property sector and the broader economy (something we first tried to do back in 2017 in "Why The Fate Of The World Economy Is In The Hands Of China's Housing Bubble"), Goldman first focuses on the immediate catalyst behind the current crisis, which according to the bank has to do with the unprecedented regulatory tightening "in the largest asset class globally." Or, as Goldman puts it succinctly, "Property is everywhere in China" Some explanatory notes on the chart above: The regulatory cycle keeps evolving: The ongoing regulatory tightening cycle, which is unprecedented in terms of its duration, intensity, scope, and velocity (of new regulation announcement) as suggested by our POE regulation proxy, has so far provoked significant concerns among investors in and have resulted in more than US$1tn market cap loss on China Tech. From Tech to Social Sector, and then to Property: According to Centaline, more than 400 new property regulations have been unveiled ytd across the central and local governments to address the issues of rising property prices and imbalanced supply/demand in certain areas, over-reliance on property for economic growth and fiscal revenues, and potential speculation in the real estate market where 22% of property could be vacant and ~60% of recent-year purchases were driven by investment demand. Property market tightening isn’t a new feature in the Chinese policy cycle over the past decade, but the severity of the measures, the scope of tightening, and the determination of policy implementation (e.g. the 3 Red Lines) are arguably unprecedented. China property is big: Almost two years ago, Goldman took a deep dive into the US$40tn Chinese residential housing market and analyzed its impacts on macro and asset markets. Since then, the market has grown to US$60tn in notional value including inventory, likely the largest asset class in the world on current prices. It has also registered Rmb26tn (US$4tn) of home sales with more than 3bn sqm of GFA being sold, almost 3x the size of HK SAR. Additionally, it is well-documented that Chinese households have a strong investment and allocation bias towards real assets for different economic and cultural reasons—as of Aug 2021, property accounted for around 62% of household assets in both the total and net terms, vs. 23% in the US and 36% in Japan, where stocks are the dominant household assets. Property is ubiquitous in China, fundamentally and financially: Goldman economists estimate that the housing sector contributes to around 20% of GDP via direct and indirect channels such as property FAI, property construction supply chain, consumption, and wealth effect. In the financial markets, 15% of aggregate market earnings (i.e. ~US$150bn out of US$1tn in 2020) could be exposed to ‘property demand’ in the extended housing construction-to-sale cycle which typically spans over three years, and that property-related loans (developer loans, mortgages, shadow banking)/ developer bonds represent 35%/23% of banks’ loan books/the outstanding balance of the offshore USD credit (IG + HY) market,respectively. And visually: While a full-blown property crisis would impact virtually every aspect of the Chinese economy, starting with capital markets, shadow banks, and social stability, the most immediate one for global investors is of course, the equity market. Here are Goldman's key observations on this topic: The regulation headwinds have resulted in a noticeable slowdown in property activities in recent months: nationwide property sales have fallen 14% yoy in3Q21 alongside stable prices in the primary market but large declines of transactions in the secondary market; property FAI and new starts have fallend rastically, although completion growth momentum has remained strong largely on favorable base effects. At the macro level, Goldman economists have laid out 3 scenarios to model the contagion impacts from reduced property impulse on macro growth. Overall, they see 2022 GDP growth hit ranging from 1.4% to 4.1% depending on the magnitude/severity of the property market slowdown and the tightening of financial conditions domestically, although their scenario analysis does not take into consideration potential monetary and fiscal policy easing in response to the property market declines. While listed developers only account for 4% of earnings in the aggregate listed universe, the housing market could be linked, directly and indirectly, to ~15% of corporate earnings, and every 10pp growth deceleration in housing activity could reduce profit growth of the housing market by ~2pp, all else equal. Broadly, Goldman lists five key transmission mechanisms along the extended property market food chain: Property developers and management companies (4% of equity market earnings): Developers’ earnings are highly sensitive to the property market fundamentals. However, given the time lag between transaction (pre-sales) and revenue recognition (accrual-based accounting), reported earnings usually lag sales by around 2 years, meaning that their current- and next-year earnings may not fully reflect the latest situation in the physical market. For property management companies, their near-term earnings profile is more sensitive to completions than sales but slowing property sales could dampen their future growth prospect. Financial institutions (54% of equity market earnings): Developer loans and mortgage loans account for 35% of commercial banks’ aggregate loan book. Goldman's banks analysts see the potential for mortgage NPLs to rise (at 0.3% now, 1% increase in mortgage NPL ratio translates into 18.7% drop in net profits per their bear case) although their risk exposures to property-related WMPs have fallen substantially since 2016. For insurers, Goldman's team believes the listed insurers’ exposure to the property sector is low, but the potential indirect wealth effect could pose a bigger fundamental challenge. While not directly linked to the housing market, equity brokers’ earnings cycles have been negatively correlated with property sales, likely reflecting the asset allocation decisions/flows from Chinese households between the two asset classes. Construction (2% of equity market earnings): From new property FAI start to completion, the construction cycle for commodity housing typically lasts 20-30 months in China. It drives demand for construction materials (China is the largest consumer of copper, iron ore and steel), although the focus of materials and their consumption intensity varies in different parts of the cycle. The process also directly impacts construction-related equipment, with excavators, heavy-duty trucks, bulldozers, cranes, and loaders all exhibiting reasonably high demand correlation with land sales. Consumption: (3% of equity market earnings): Whether property purchase is considered consumption (at least for first time buyer) remains an open-ended debate, but the housing market is undoubtedly a key demand driver for a wide range of consumption items, including white goods,consumer durables like furniture equipment, and certain electronic products(e.g. Audio devices and air conditioners). Goldman's study shows that housing completion usually leads the sales and earnings in these sectors by 6-9months. Wealth effect (1% of equity market earnings): At the micro level, capital appreciation (or depreciation) in the housing market could have short-term material impact on discretionary spending given the potential wealth creation from the US$60tn asset market, especially considering the relatively high investment ratios there. Industries that are sensitive to this channel encompass the Autos (luxury), Macau gaming, HK retailers and travel-related companies (before the pandemic), which tend to lag property sales by around two quarters, although these relationships may be also reflective of the broader macro dynamics including liquidity easing. A snapshot of the various top-down impact of the Chinese property cycle on corporate earnings is shown below: In sum, mapping Goldman' base case assumptions on GDP growth and property activities for 2022 onto corporate earnings via these channels,the bank lowers its 2022E EPS growth for MSCI China from 13% to 7%, but as the bank warns "the earnings downside (delta) could be much more significant (-28pp) if their bear cases prevail." And should more companies warn that "the market is almost frozen" as a result of the Evergrande crisis, the bear case is virtually assured. We conclude with Goldman's observations on the contagion risks which according to the bank - and contrary to the market - "are building", even if systemic risks can still be avoided. While the restrictive policies have cooled the market, it has put highly-geared developers, notably Evergrande, in the spotlight as their deleveraging path becomes increasingly challenging. On one hand, Goldman agrees with us, and says that on a standalone basis, Evergrande should not be a serious systemic threat given that its total liability of Rmb1.9tn accounts for 0.6% of China’s outstanding TSF, its bank loans of Rmb572bn represent 0.3% of systemwide loan book, and its market share in nationwide commodity housing sales stood at 4% by 1H21. However, the real risks emerges in the context of the slowing property market: indeed, as in other systemic/crisis episodes, investors are concerned about specific weak links which could spread to the broader system via fundamental and financial channels in the case of disorderly default, and therefore the financial condition tightening risk could be much more significant than the Rmb1.9tn liability would suggest, according to Goldman. How much risk is priced in? This is a popular question from investors but also a difficult one to answer given the fluidity of the situation. However, the following analyses lead Goldman to believe that the market may have priced in some degrees of degradation in macro/corporate fundamentals and possibly policy response from the authorities (i.e. a “muddle-through” scenario), but not a harsh scenario that is systemic and global in nature Episodic analysis: Historical physical property market downturns were short-lived and shallow, but if we focus on episodes where developer equities traded at depressed valuations to proxy for property-related concerns (eg.2H11, early 2015, and late 2018), prevailing NAV discounts of listed developers(-60%) are roughly in-line with those difficult times. At the index level, MSCI China bottomed at around 10-11x fwd P/E and 10% ERP in those periods, vs. 13xand 9% at present respectively. Fair PE targets: The MSCI China index is currently trading on 13x fP/E, having already de-rated from 19.6x at the peak in mid-Feb. Applying Goldman's three scenarios to its top-down macro PE model, the bank estimates that the index fair PE could fall to 12.5x in the base case, and 11.0x in their most bearish case. Correlation analysis: Intra- and inter-sector, and cross-asset correlations with regard to Chinese stocks or developer equities have all risen in the past weeks, albeit from a low base. However, compared with previous cases where concerns related to China regulations or trade relations had spooked global markets (e.g. 2015 FX reform, 2018 US-China trade war), the absolute correlation levels are more benign at present, suggesting a global contagious impact is not fully priced in. In light of all this, the good news is that in Goldman's view systemic risks could still be avoided considering: broad liquidity and risk-appetite indicators such as 7d repo, the onshore funding stress index, as well as the A-share market performance/ turnover suggest that the imminent "minsky moment" remains a narrative but far from a reality; the effective leverage (LTV) for the housing market is low, around 40% to 50% per our Banks team’s estimate; the institutional setup in China where the government has strong control over its banking system makes a market-driven collapse less likely to happen than would otherwise be the case; Losses will be realized by stakeholders associated with highly-geared developers, but the liabilities are relatively transparent and are less widely socialized in the financial markets than in previous global financial crises; the potential economic, social, and financial impacts have been well publicized and discussed, and it appears that the authorities are assessing the situation and starting to take actions; and, economists believe there is potential for the authorities to ease policy to prevent a disorderly default of Evergrande from developing into a crisis leading up to the Sixth Plenum in November. Ultimately, timing will be key to a happy ending: Given the outsized market value of China property, and its intricate linkages to the real economy and the financial markets, deleveraging the property market and improving financial stability - two contradictory concepts - could raise systemic concern if policy actions are pursued too aggressively, or without clear coordination among regulators and communication with the market. Importantly, as market concerns over tail risk and spillovers start to build, there is increasing focus on the narrowing window for policymakers to provide the necessary circuit breakers to ring-fence the (collateral) damages and stop the downward spirals. A key risk from continued delayed action would be a bigger snowball effect and more damage on markets and investor (already strained) confidence in Chinese assets. As such, Goldman expects the market to focus on potential actions that could be pursued, such as a combination of debt restructuring (bank loans, WMP, credits), conditional government involvement in working capital bridges and unfinished property projects, and a coordinated plan to divest and cash in assets. Finally, as promised earlier, here is a summary of the key loosing (green) and tightening (red) policies in China's property market.   Tyler Durden Fri, 09/24/2021 - 13:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 24th, 2021

Five Economic Benefits From Bank And Fintech Firm Partnerships

While banking clientele have never been more frustrated than now, the global industry faces a unique opportunity to flip the current system upside down. Q2 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more In fact, Capgemini’s World FinTech Report of 2021 details how banks can leverage the new competitive market in depth. Just as we watched […] While banking clientele have never been more frustrated than now, the global industry faces a unique opportunity to flip the current system upside down. 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 Our Activist Investing Case Study! Get the entire 10-part series on our in-depth study on activist investing in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or print it out to read anywhere! Sign up below! (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 In fact, Capgemini’s World FinTech Report of 2021 details how banks can leverage the new competitive market in depth. Just as we watched large and small businesses alike drastically adapt to the digital demands of Covid in 2020, banks are facing the same reality this year. The competitive threats no longer urge, but rather require, banks to implement a digital-only approach to subsidiaries in order to stay afloat during the dawn of FinTech. Traditional banks are taking to collaboration versus competition in order to boost engagement and interaction with innovative, forward-thinking FinTech firms. The Benefits Of The Partnership Between Banks And FinTech Companies No one can deny the value of both entities, however, they’re also stronger together than apart. That’s what we’re looking at here, and the union is mutually beneficial. Here’s how. Increase In Trust From Modern Customers The connection between banks and FinTech companies means heightened trust backed by better tech, stronger security and less room for errors as a result of automation. This should be welcome for any customer in need of reliable and secure financial banking services, and especially in an age where people are uneasy about the state of their finances. According to a recent survey conducted by CreditDonkey, for instance, only a third of people under the age of 40 expressed a high level of confidence in their financial future. Another survey from April 2020 showed that just 14% of consumers sought their bank’s council when in need of financial direction following a major life event. This has definitely not been great news for the banking industry. However, it also isn’t shocking. Consumers often do not seek guidance from traditional financial sectors due to a lack of trust. This could very well be due to the 2008 recession, where 41% of the population that were surveyed stated that they were scared, and 53% were mad. Client confidence in banks has grown over the years but still, today, only equates to nearly one-third of clientele. On the other hand, trust in tech companies is a starkly different story. According to The Verge Tech Survey 2020, Americans hail Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Netflix, and YouTube as leaders in positively affecting society. Specifically, 75% of survey respondents trust Microsoft, with Amazon following at 73% and Facebook at 41%. Tech Makes Banking Accessible, Safer, Smarter And More Efficient Combining tech with banking means more ease of use with user’s smartphones. GSMA real-time intelligence data shows that there are 5.28 billion people using mobile devices in the world as of September 2021. Making banking mobile-friendly is a no brainer and boosts connection with clientele. People just don’t want to drive to their bank or ATM anymore. They want instant mobile access and complete visibility from the comfort of their homes. Users are looking for smarter ways to handle business and finances. That means being able to seamlessly switch between desktop, mobile device or tablets. Fortunately, the cloud solves this completely. Banking customers can get to their banking accounts from virtually anywhere and access their updated information in real time. The cloud has paved the way for quicker transactions, greater visibility and increased accuracy. Stronger Brand Reputation As A Result Of Partnership Partnering with a highly regarded FinTech company looks very good for a lesser known bank. More users are going to be interested in downloading a mobile app from a reputable tech company. A credible partnership gives customers more faith that their interests are held at the highest priority. To further the first point of mobile access, even greater than that is the consumer's ability to complete multiple actions digitally that just years ago they would have had to drive to the bank for. This includes, but is not limited to, money transfers, financial planning, transaction tracking, investments, check deposits, special perks and banking fee management. FinTech companies help users have an abundance of options and services right at their fingertips. This, in turn, creates greater business for banks. Security Remember when we mentioned trust earlier? Security plays a massive role in this. FinTech companies lend banks the know-how and resources to protect customers’ data from vulnerabilities. Specific steps include relying on SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) networks, utilizing AI-based fraud detection systems and, as mentioned previously, storing customer data on the cloud rather than with on-premise databases. Customers want to know that their life savings are going to be there when they wake up. Can you blame them? And it’s worth noting while customers should feel safe knowing their funds are held securely with fintech services, none of this is to say that they shouldn’t be investing in other financial safeguards as well. Building up a diversified investment and retirement portfolio, setting aside at least three months worth of expenses into an emergency fund, and investing into a comprehensive insurance policy to help cover their financial assets in the event of the family’s income provider becoming deceased or disabled are all wise strategies anyone should take to prepare for the worst. Scalability FinTech and bank partnerships can be quickly scaled up or down in order to tailor to customer response and needs. These consumer “pain points” present themselves uniquely over the course of the journey and collaboration grants both sectors more solutions to offer. Scalability is the key to sustainability. Together, FinTech and banks can wreak widespread disruption to the market. Providing the best possible products together in an ascendable way helps both teams cut through the noise of the financial industry. Conclusion At the end of the day, it’s not enough for banks to just do things the way they’ve always done with excellence. Banks must remain futuristic with tech-forward, collaborative thinking in order to serve their customers best. Banks and financial institutions alike must together keep their efficiency radars going twenty four hours a day, seven days a week in order to stay on top of new trends, startup activity, new developments, and integration opportunities. Updated on Sep 24, 2021, 12:41 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: valuewalkSep 24th, 2021