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Shopping malls will be crowded these days, but for how long?

For retailers, the last two months of the year is the best chance for them to end the year with a profit. But is that enough anymore?.....»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsNov 25th, 2021

Some of the best hotels in Las Vegas aren"t on the Strip - here"s where to find a great stay starting at $30

Here's where to stay off the Strip in Las Vegas, including cheap and luxury hotels near Downtown, Fremont Street, Summerlin, Henderson, and Red Rocks. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. Tripadvisor The Las Vegas Strip draws millions, but locals know that's not the real heart of the city. Downtown Las Vegas, Fremont Street, and suburbs are more authentic with cheaper casinos and hotels. Some of the best Las Vegas hotels are off-Strip, from retro motels to luxury amid the Red Rocks. Table of Contents: Masthead StickyThe Las Vegas Strip is the city's glitzy, showy draw, luring millions of tourists each year. But it's hardly the sole attraction.As a Las Vegas local, I want you to know there's much more to this wonderful city than just what you'll find along Las Vegas Boulevard. And while you can (and should) enjoy time on the Strip, going off-Strip will show you a part of the city you've never experienced, one that's neighborhood-centric, artsy, outdoorsy, and filled with character.As such, the next time you're looking for a Las Vegas hotel, consider an off-Strip hotel. From historic Fremont Street hotels that lean into a vintage Vegas aesthetic to luxurious desert escapes with spas and pools, these off-Strip hotels also boast lower prices and gaming minimums than their Las Vegas Boulevard counterparts. Browse all the best off-Strip Las Vegas hotels below, or jump directly to a specific area:The best off-Strip hotels in Las VegasFAQ: Las Vegas hotelsHow we selected the best off-Strip hotels in Las VegasMore of the best places to stay in Las VegasThese are the best off-Strip hotels in Las Vegas, sorted by price from low to high. El Cortez Hotel & Casino This property dating back to 1941 is the longest continuously-running casino in Las Vegas. Tripadvisor Book El Cortez Hotel & CasinoCategory: BudgetNeighborhood: Downtown Typical starting/peak price: $30/$125Best for: Groups of friends, solo travelers, couplesOn-site amenities: 24-restaurant known for its shrimp cocktail and prime rib, bars with live entertainment, spa, beauty salon, old-school barbershop, casino, sportsbookPros: This is a very budget-friendly option in the heart of the trendy Fremont East District that will be enticing to history buffs. The 1941 era property is the longest continuously-running casino in Las Vegas.Cons: This is an older property that is showing its age. You will either find it charming or hopelessly dated. There's also no pool.Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the El Cortez and its pink neon cursive sign harken back to the early days of Las Vegas. The Spanish Colonial Revival style architecture stands out in a city increasingly defined by steel and glass.Step inside and find a dimly lit casino, a lobby bar with a live piano, and no-frills rooms. Amenities are limited. There's no pool and the retail space is just a small general store.Most people who appreciate the El Cortez do so because they either like the history or the low prices. For something more modern, book a room at the El Cortez Cabana Suites, the 64-room sister property across the street with tufted white headboards, green walls, marble bathrooms, and a fitness center.COVID-19 procedures are available here. Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino Vibrant, bright colors create a tropical look on the aptly named Citrus Pool Deck. Tripadvisor Book Downtown Grand Hotel & CasinoCategory: BudgetNeighborhood: DowntownTypical starting/peak price: $33/$217Best for: Couples, groups of friends, locals On-site amenities: Lively rooftop pool, bars, restaurants, live entertainment, meeting and event spacePros: The 3rd Street location gives easy access to stellar restaurants and the Mob Museum is just across the street. Also, the hotel's rooftop pool has dreamy views come sunset.Cons: The on-site Art Bar, which has paintings hanging from the ceiling, used to be an under-the-radar cocktail lounge, but in recent years, the resort has served continental breakfast there, which feels like a downgrade.Can't decide between the raucous Fremont Street Experience and the slightly more chill East Fremont District? Then try the Downtown Grand, which expertly straddles that line.The recently expanded property (the hotel's 495-room Gallery Tower opened in September 2020) still feels boutique despite the budget price tag. Rooms are simple but comfortable, with white walls, geometric accents, and floor-to-ceiling windows.The real highlight is the Citrus Grand Pool Deck, which was voted the best of Las Vegas' best Downtown hotel pool in 2020. When I first moved to Vegas, I whiled away many a desert afternoon at this rooftop oasis; I love the cocktail program and the city views. COVID-19 procedures are available here. Oasis at Gold Spike Known for its party scene, the pool at Gold Spike is a lively one. Booking.com Book Oasis at Gold SpikeCategory: BoutiqueNeighborhood: DowntownTypical starting/peak price: $35/$149Best for: Groups of friends, solo travelers, young professionalsOn-site amenities: Pool, bike rentals, restaurant, bar, coworking space, fitness center, backyard area with gamesPros: This hotel is vibrant and social. It's not just close to the party; this is the party. Plus, unique rooms include a solar-powered trailer and the penthouse where the 31st season of The Real World was filmed.Cons: This hotel can be very loud (especially on weekends) and rooms are small.Like a lot of things in Downtown Las Vegas, the Oasis at Gold Spike (formerly the Gold Spike Hotel & Casino) used to be a little bit seedy. Now, it's a millennial/Gen Z hangout with a vinyl soundtrack, a coworking space that turns into a house party at night, and 130 hotel rooms. Notably absent: a casino.Staying here is like staying at a deliberately cool hostel, minus the bunk beds. You'll have your own room, but it'll be small and basic, simply a place to crash after staying out all night. Then you'll wake up, grab a cocktail from the 24-hour bar, and hit the pool.The Oasis at Gold Spike is also steps from all of the bars and restaurants on Fremont Street, so there's much to explore within walking distance, although to be honest, on most nights, the best party is right here.COVID-19 procedures are available here. The Plaza Hotel & Casino An iconic mural keeps watch over the pool at this equally iconic hotel. Tripadvisor Book The Plaza Hotel & CasinoCategory: BudgetNeighborhood: DowntownTypical starting/peak price: $39/$145Best for: Groups of friends, couplesOn-site amenities: Rooftop pool with pickleball court, an outdoor equestrian center that hosts rodeos, bingo, bars, restaurants including a steakhouse that was seen in the movie "Casino"Pros: This budget-friendly hotel has a prime Fremont Street location with unique amenities (name another Downtown hotel that hosts the National Finals Rodeo; you can't) and great views.Cons: The Plaza opened in 1971 and despite a $35 million renovation in 2010, the property still shows signs of wear, particularly in guest hallways and rooms. Nearly every Las Vegas local (and many a visitor) has taken a photo beneath the twinkling gold lights at the entrance to The Plaza. This backdrop, like the hotel itself, is classic Las Vegas.The 995-room property excels by leaning into the 70's vintage vibe hard. From the banana-leaf wallpaper at the coffee shop to the retro Palm Springs-inspired rooftop pool lounge, The Plaza will feel like a Killers music video if you're a young traveler (Spoiler: It was actually in a Killers music video) and you will unironically enjoy the bingo, smoky casino, and showgirl-bespeckled carpet.In some places, The Plaza feels retro in all the right ways — the steakhouse overlooking Fremont Street, the colorful pool area — in other places, such as the 325-square-foot Deluxe rooms, it feels dated and spartan. Spring for a renovated room (especially one of the Pool Patio rooms which includes a private covered patio) or request one of the newer Luxe rooms, which come with voice-activated Amazon Echoes.COVID-19 procedures are available here. M Resort Spa & Casino The 100,000 square-foot pool complex has two infinity pools including a family-friendly pool and a separate day club pool that hosts parties. Tripadvisor Book M Resort Spa & CasinoCategory: Luxury Neighborhood: HendersonTypical starting/peak price: $78/$345Best for: Families, localsOn-site amenities: Pool with summer parties, spa, fitness center, restaurants including a steakhouse and artisan bakery, lounge with UFC viewing partiesPros: M Resort has a locally-loved pool and a location that is convenient for activities in the Henderson area. Rooms are quiet and have unique views.Cons: The surrounding area isn't much of a destination — think suburban sprawl.A staycation favorite among locals, M Resort has a 100,000 square-foot pool complex with two infinity pools. There's a family-friendly pool and a separate day club pool that hosts parties that allow guests to have the option of both a party environment and a more mellow one.Because the property is located south of the Strip in the Henderson area, rooms feature unique views. They're modern and luxe, outfitted with floor-to-ceiling windows, power blinds, and raw wooden decor. On-site restaurants are also a bright spot; find everything from a deli to a steakhouse, and a Raiders-themed bar and grill, which is a popular recent addition.The M Resort is not a place to stay if you want to be close to the action of the Strip and Downtown Las Vegas, but odds are if you're choosing this hotel, a respite from the mayhem is what you're seeking.COVID-19 procedures are available here. Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino The pool complex here is expansive, with restaurants, bars, and even a 200,000-gallon shark tank. Tripadvisor Book Golden Nugget Hotel & CasinoCategory: LuxuryNeighborhood: DowntownTypical starting/peak price: $79/$179Best for: Couples, familiesOn-site amenities: Expansive pool complex with a 200,000-gallon shark tank, wide selection of restaurants and bars, nightclub with patio overlooking Fremont Street, spa, salon, fitness center, retail shopsPros: Multiple fine dining options and comfortable rooms make this a great base, and it's also dog-friendly (not as common Downtown as it is on the Strip). Plus, the shark tank with a slide going through it in the pool area is a fun perk.Cons: Golden Nugget is not as budget-friendly as other Fremont Street hotels and the nightclub may not dazzle guests who are used to the Strip's more opulent ones.Before Circa, the Golden Nugget was the correct answer to, "where can I stay Downtown if I like the vibe of the Strip?" The property, which is in the center of the Fremont Street Experience, has marble floors, upscale restaurants, and a large casino.A large number of the rooms were recently renovated (the Carson Tower and Gold Tower rooms were renovated in 2018 and 2015 respectively) and feature neutral decor, comfortable mattresses, and lots of space. The Rush Tower rooms with California King beds and 439-square feet of space are an excellent value (expect to pay $109-$229 approximately). The pool complex is huge, and even has a shark tank with an adjacent water slide.COVID-19 procedures are available here. The Signature at MGM Grand Every room here is a suite with apartment-like features. Tripadvisor Book The Signature at MGM GrandCategory: Luxury Neighborhood: Near StripTypical starting/peak price: $99/$599Best for: Business travelers, couplesOn-site amenities: Pool, spa, fitness center, lounge, cafePros: All rooms are suites with balconies, which is a real rarity in Las Vegas. It's also slightly removed from the Strip while offering easy access to it.Cons: There are very limited on-site food and drink options unless you walk to the adjacent MGM Grand.If you want to be near the Strip without being directly on the Strip, the Signature at MGM Grand is one of the best options you'll find. This non-gaming property, which is less than a mile from the Strip, is connected to the massive playground that is the MGM Grand (you won't even have to go outside to walk to it) but still feels completely separate.The lobby is tranquil and elegant, and rooms come with kitchenettes, separate living room areas, and in some cases, balconies. Upgrade to a Deluxe Balcony Suite to secure one. They also have spacious spa bathrooms with a rainfall shower, a deep soaking tub, and a TV.While sunning on your balcony, don't be surprised if the view is of a rowdy pool party at the nearby Wet Republic Ultra Pool.COVID-19 procedures are available here. Green Valley Ranch Resort Spa and Casino This family-friendly resort is located in one of Las Vegas' most desirable suburbs. Tripadvisor Book Green Valley Ranch Resort Spa and CasinoCategory: LuxuryNeighborhood: HendersonTypical starting/peak price: $99/$500Best for: Families, locals, foodiesOn-site amenities: Pool, spa, salon, arcade, restaurants, bars, fitness center, concert, event spacePros: Family-friendly and Vegas don't always go hand-in-hand, so the kid-friendly amenities such as the Cyber Quest arcade are a nice touch. Also, locally-acclaimed restaurant Pizza Rock has a location here, which is not to be missed.Cons: Guests complain about long check-in times and long distances between parking areas and rooms. The Las Vegas neighborhood of Green Valley is attractive with locals due to its safety, proximity to the Strip (about a 15-20 minute drive), and The District at Green Valley Ranch, an open-air shopping and dining area. Travelers staying at Green Valley Ranch Resort Spa and Casino, which is just a five-minute walk from The District at Green Valley Ranch, will appreciate these same things.The well-manicured property feels as big as some Strip resorts and has a similar scope of amenities too, including high-end restaurants. Italian restaurant Bottiglia offers a lively brunch with bottomless mimosas, Borracha Mexican Cantina has fresh fish tacos, and Tides Oyster Bar has an outstanding fresh seafood selection.The rooms at Green Valley Ranch Resort Spa and Casino are nothing out of the ordinary, with beige and chocolate brown accents and flat-screen televisions, but they're a good value. Just expect to pay more on weekends.COVID-19 procedures are available here. Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, Curio Collection by Hilton Bright, bold rooms are stylish and new and suites are especially spacious. Virgin Hotels Book Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, Curio Collection by HiltonCategory: LuxuryNeighborhood: Near StripTypical starting/peak price: $111/$500Best for: Groups of friends, couples, Hilton loyalistsOn-site amenities: Live music venue, beach club, pool, spa, fitness center, meeting and event space, sportsbook with interactive games, bars, restaurantsPros: The aesthetic throughout the property aims to please, and rooms are bright and modern with just a bit of quirkiness.Cons: Near Strip is definitely not on-Strip. Expect a 25-minute walk to Las Vegas Boulevard if you dare to go on foot. The brand new Virgin Hotels Las Vegas emerged on former the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino site in 2021 and has made a strong case for a pilgrimage away from the Strip. Though, it is a solid mile away from Las Vegas Boulevard.The hotel is colorful and inviting with jewel-toned furniture and bold accent walls. Rooms are white with pops of color and interesting, modern light fixtures. The property also scores major points for embracing its desert location. You'll be greeted with cacti at the entrance, and once inside, you're met with an infusion of color.Dining and drinking feature venues from Todd English and Nobu Matsuhisa, and as long as you aren't counting on an easy stroll to the Strip, this property will impress. COVID-19 procedures are available here. Circa Resort & Casino The epic pool complex dubbed Stadium Swim is a sight to behold. Tripadvisor Book Circa Resort & CasinoCategory: Luxury Neighborhood: Downtown Las VegasTypical starting/peak price: $139/$639Best for: Groups of friends, couples, locals on staycationOn-site amenities: Year-round pool deck with a massive outdoor screen that broadcasts live sports games, swanky 60th-floor rooftop lounge, three-story sportsbook, the longest outdoor bar on Fremont Street, restaurantsPros: Circa opened in 2020 as the first newly-built hotel-casino in Downtown Las Vegas in 40 years, and it shows. Everything feels fresh, from the art installations in the parking garage (which the resort calls Garage Mahal) to sapphire and gold accents in guest rooms. This is a hotel for people who want a luxury Strip resort but in Downtown Las Vegas.Cons: This hotel still comes with a Strip resort price tag; Circa can be pricier than nearby Fremont Street properties.Located on the former site of the Las Vegas Club, Circa dominates the Downtown Las Vegas skyline with an angular design that looks distinctly modern compared to neighboring hotels.The property, owned by locally famous Derek Stevens who also runs the nearby The D Casino and Hotel, is flashy and upscale. For example, there's a display case containing 1,000 ounces of gold on the rooftop lounge and suites come with Balmain products in the bathroom.Instead of one rooftop pool, there are six spread across three levels. Dubbed Stadium Swim, it features six temperature-controlled pools, two swim-up bars, and a 143-foot diagonal, 14-million-megapixel LED screen, always playing the day's biggest sports games and events. Like most Vegas locals, I am partial to Vegas Vickie's, the casino bar that features Vegas Vickie herself, a beloved neon cowgirl who stood watch over Fremont Street for more than three decades. In a hotel that's so intensely modern, it's nice to see this nod to the neighborhood's past. COVID-19 procedures are available here. Red Rock Casino Resort Spa Red Rock's pool complex is serene and lush, lined with palms for ample shade. Hotels.com Book Red Rock Casino Resort SpaCategory: LuxuryNeighborhood: SummerlinTypical starting/peak price: $139/$600Best for: Couples, familiesOn-site amenities: lush pool, upscale restaurants, movie theater, bowling alley, spaPros: This hotel is a convenient jumping-off point for outdoor adventures in Red Rock Canyon, and is within walking distance from shops and restaurants in Downtown Summerlin. Plus, the pool is beautiful.Cons: Red Rock Resort is far from the Strip and Downtown Las Vegas. It can also be expensive.Red Rock Resort and Hotel is a true desert escape, located on the western edge of the city near the soaring cliffs of Red Rock Canyon. One could easily spend a day hiking, rock climbing, or mountain biking in the desert and then return to Red Rock for a spa treatment, a margarita by the palm-shaded pool, or fresh pasta from Osteria Fiorella.Conversely, this is also the kind of upscale hotel that makes it easy to spend an entire weekend without leaving the property. It has everything: great room service, cloud-like beds, views of the desert and the Strip, a nice selection of restaurants, and even a bowling alley and movie theater.The pool, in particular, is one of the best in the city and if you're looking for the opposite of a wild Strip pool party, this tranquil oasis is it. Should you feel inclined to wander, shops, restaurants, and even a weekly farmers market are steps away in Downtown Summerlin. COVID-19 procedures are available here. JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort & Spa The JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort & Spa offers a respite from the desert landscape with abundant greenery. Marriott Book JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort & SpaCategory: LuxuryNeighborhood: SummerlinTypical starting/peak price: $163/$311Best for: Couples, business travelers, golfersOn-site amenities: Pool, spa, fitness center, golf course, restaurants, business services, meeting spacePros: The Mediterranean-inspired landscaping with trees and waterfalls is beautiful and there is a shuttle to a nearby award-winning golf course.Cons: The on-site Rampart Casino feels notably shabby compared to the high-end feel of the resort.Every time I set foot in the JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort & Spa, it's an immediate escape from the harsh desert landscape. The greenery and water features are abundant, making the resort feel like a haven.I also love the restaurants, especially Jade Asian Kitchen which is great for sushi and cocktails, and Hawthorn Grill, which has an amazing waterside patio shrouded with trees.The rooms are simple and elegant with jetted tubs and large workspace areas, making this a good hotel for business travelers. The concierge can help arrange golf reservations and the surrounding Summerlin area is similarly upscale. The nearby Italian-inspired Tivoli Village offers open-air shopping and dining. Red Rock Canyon is also close. COVID-19 procedures are available here. FAQ: Las Vegas hotels What is the best time of year to visit Las Vegas?The shoulder seasons — fall and spring — bring perfect desert weather and are the best time to visit Las Vegas. Expect pleasant, sunny days with highs in the 80s and lows in the 60s. Of these two seasons, fall tends to be quieter, with spring bringing spring break crowds.Despite the very hot weather, summer is very busy and you may see higher room rates during this time. Winter is the least busy season in Las Vegas (except for New Year's Eve) and it can also be surprisingly chilly, so you might not get that pool day.Which off-Strip neighborhood should I choose?Stay Downtown or near the Strip if you want to still experience the casinos, restaurants, bars, and delightful mayhem that makes the city so special. Or choose Downtown if you want to experience historic Las Vegas, Fremont Street, and go where the locals go. Choose near-Strip if you want access to Las Vegas Boulevard without the noise and traffic.If you are traveling for business or with young children (or are sensitive to loud noise) consider the suburbs of Henderson or Summerlin. Henderson has outdoor shopping malls, big box stores, quiet neighborhoods, and nice city parks where families picnic. Summerlin will speak to you if you're the outdoorsy type, as Red Rock Canyon is just a stone's throw away. What is there to do off-Strip in Las Vegas?There's a whole world outside of the Las Vegas Strip (not to mention a couple of million people who call Clark County home). You can browse the shops at the Downtown Container Park, catch an intimate live concert at an East Fremont Street bar, or check out First Friday in the Arts District.Dine at a neighborhood restaurant that rivals the ones on the Strip and hit the trails at Red Rock Canyon, Mt. Charleston, Lake Mead, or Valley of Fire. From art galleries, museums, boutiques and craft cocktail bars to hiking, rock climbing, and kayaking, there's much to explore in Southern Nevada.Why should I stay off-Strip?If you've visited Las Vegas a million times and only ever experience one street, you owe it yourself to see another part of the city at least once. You might also find lower rates, though not at every property. Don't expect to pay less for a room at Red Rock Casino than you would for a room at a budget Strip property like Excalibur.You may also find fewer crowds, less vehicle traffic, less noise, and less price-gouging when you shop, eat, and drink. Whether it's your first or tenth time to Vegas, if any of that appeals to you, consider going off the beaten path.Staying off Strip also balances the experience of Las Vegas Boulevard.  Hike through the stark, wild beauty of the desert complemented by a fancy dinner at a sleek steakhouse. An intimate cocktail bar in the Arts District can serve as a prelude to a crowded evening at a nightclub. Is it worth staying off-Strip in Las Vegas?You can still find all of the classic Las Vegas amenities you love such as pools and poolside bars, spas, casinos, buffets, and sportsbooks, plus other surprising extras, like movie theaters, bowling alleys, kid-focused amenities, and community events.And if you miss the Strip, it's not hard to get there. You can be as close as a half-mile away if you stay near Strip, or as far as 12-15 miles away if you stay in Henderson or Summerlin.Do off-Strip hotels have resort fees?Sadly, you would be hard-pressed to find a hotel in Las Vegas without a resort fee. Every hotel on this list with the exception of Virgin Hotels Las Vegas charges one. Some properties may waive these fees for special promotions (M Resorts is currently offering a no resort fee stay to locals on staycation), but for the most part, you can expect to shell out an extra $20 to $40 on average per night. What are current Las Vegas COVID-19 travel restrictions and protocols? Las Vegas is open, without restrictions involving capacity limits and large gatherings.However, the State of Nevada has mandated that everyone, including fully vaccinated individuals, wear a mask in public indoor settings, including resorts and casinos, restaurants, bars, showrooms, and meeting spaces. Masks are also required on public transportation.Large indoor events also have masks, testing, and vaccination requirements so check before arriving both with local Las Vegas mandates, the Nevada Health Response updates, as well as your individual hotel and destination. How we selected the best off-Strip hotels in Las Vegas As a Las Vegas local travel writer, I'm personally familiar with every hotel on this list and stand behind all of these hotels. I have either stayed at the hotel or have spent significant time exploring the property and the surrounding neighborhood. Hotels are located in desirable Las Vegas neighborhoods, including near-Strip, Downtown, Summerlin, and Henderson. Each hotel holds a TripAdvisor rating of between 3 to 4.5 (the average rating on this list is 4 out of 5) with a high volume of recent honest, unbiased reviews.Rates range between $30 and $163 to start and do not include resort fees. Las Vegas room rates fluctuate based on the season and major events usually drive up prices. Las Vegas room rates tend to fluctuate wildly. On one night a room might be below a hundred dollars, on another night it might be approaching a thousand. This is why value is so key.Standard hotel rooms at each property are known to be comfortable with classic or unique Vegas views.    The hotel features must-have Vegas amenities, such as a pool, great on-site restaurants and bars, a casino, spa, fitness center, plus entertainment offerings, and events.You don't want to stay in a quiet, spa-like environment if you've come to Vegas to party, and you don't want to stay in the middle of a party if you're traveling with small kids. We've noted who we think would enjoy each hotel, such as solo travelers, groups of friends, couples, families, business travelers, and locals on staycations.The hotel keeps guests safe by instituting COVID-19 policies in accordance with the most recent CDC guidelines. More of the best places to stay in Las Vegas Prayitno/Flickr The best Las Vegas luxury hotels on or near the StripThe best cheap hotels in Las VegasThe most incredible hotel suites in Las Vegas for every budgetThe best Las Vegas Airbnbs Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 21st, 2021

England has reintroduced mask mandates as the Omicron variant spreads — and I felt safer than I have in months

People now have to wear face coverings in shops and on public transport in England, more than four months after the last mask mandate was scrapped. I went shopping in Leeds, a large city in northern England, on Tuesday – the day that the country reintroduced a mask mandate amid the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant.Grace Dean/Insider England reintroduced a mask mandate on Tuesday amid the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant. I went shopping and took three trains that day. It was great to see people wearing masks again. I felt safer than I had done in months. I went shopping in Leeds, a large city in northern England, on Tuesday – the day that the country reintroduced a mask mandate amid the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant.Leeds city center on the day England reintroduced a mask mandate.Grace Dean/InsiderAfter more than four months without a government-mandated mask requirement, people now have to wear masks in shops and shopping centres, in transport hubs, and on public transport, unless exempt.Leeds city center on the day England reintroduced a mask mandate.Grace Dean/InsiderSource: the UK GovernmentA large sign at Leeds train station reminded passengers that they needed to wear masks again.Leeds station on the day England reintroduced a mask mandate.Grace Dean/InsiderI had to take three trains that day, and a lot of people wore masks ...Leeds station on the day England reintroduced a mask mandate.Grace Dean/Insider... but it seemed like a a lot of people didn't realize that the mandate applied to the train station, too.Leeds station on the day England reintroduced a mask mandate.Grace Dean/InsiderThis could have partly been because the station is in a very large, open building, which made it feel well ventilated.Leeds station on the day England reintroduced a mask mandate.Grace Dean/InsiderSome shoppers walking round the city center wore masks, but most didn't.Leeds city center on the day England reintroduced a mask mandate.Grace Dean/InsiderThe same was true of the shopping center I went to.Leeds city center on the day England reintroduced a mask mandate.Grace Dean/InsiderAgain, this could have been because of the high ceilings which made the mall seem like it was open air. Aside from protection from the weather, you could barely tell that you were indoors.Leeds city center on the day England reintroduced a mask mandate.Grace Dean/InsiderSigns on a lot of the stores reminded shoppers to don their masks. At the Marks and Spencers I went to, a customer made a beeline straight for the checkouts to ask whether they had any disposable face masks available for free because she had forgotten that the mask mandate was being reintroduced.Leeds city center on the day England reintroduced a mask mandate.Grace Dean/InsiderAround half of the stores didn't have signs reminding customers about the new rules ...Leeds city center on the day England reintroduced a mask mandate.Grace Dean/Insider... while others just had signs telling people to stay home if they had any symptoms of the coronavirus.Leeds city center on the day England reintroduced a mask mandate.Grace Dean/InsiderSomewhat surprisingly, the government's new mask rules don't apply to venues like cinemas, libraries, and places of worship — and therefore, remain optional. This is despite the fact that people spend long periods there and often come into contact with others.A Cineworld in London.Matthew Chattle/Barcroft Media via Getty ImagesSource: the UK GovernmentThe government does, however, encourage people to wear masks in places "which are crowded and enclosed and where you may come into contact with people you do not normally meet," without requiring it.Shoppers wearing face masks on Regent Street, London.Pietro Recchia/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty ImagesThe government has kept changing England's mask, lockdown, and social-distancing rules during the pandemic. Because of this, they've been a headache for some people to follow.Leeds city center in August.Daniel Harvey Gonzalez/In Pictures via Getty ImagesThe government had removed England's mask mandate on July 19, meaning that people were no longer required to wear masks in stores and on public transport.Leeds station on the day England reintroduced a mask mandate.Grace Dean/InsiderSource: the UK GovernmentBut many individual transport providers set their own mask policies, and I always wore mine while travelling.Wearing a mask after getting off the train.Grace Dean/InsiderTransport for London, for example, has been mandating that people wear masks, including on the Tube.Commuters at Stratford underground station in east London on December 1, 2021.Daniel Leal/AFP via Getty ImagesSource: BBCAnd Nexus, which operates the Tyne and Wear Metro in North-East England, mandated face masks, though most passengers didn't wear them when I rode on its subways. I've travelled on trains frequently throughout the pandemic, and noticed less than a quarter of passengers on public transport wearing masks.Passengers on the Tyne and Wear Metro in September.Grace Dean/InsiderSource: InsiderThis included a train between Manchester and Leeds that I traveled on on Sunday, just two days before the mandate was reintroduced. The train was horrifically overcrowded due to an earlier cancellation, and we were rammed in like sardines, but very few passengers wore masks, even though the transport provider had asked people to wear them.I traveled on a horrifically overcrowded train, and very few passengers wore masks.Grace Dean/InsiderAfter the government lifted the mask mandate in July, many stores, meanwhile, replaced their signs mandating masks with ones instead saying things like: "Customers are still welcome to wear masks." Some did wear masks, but many didn't.Leeds city center on the day England reintroduced a mask mandate.Grace Dean/InsiderThis British grocer, for example, had signs encouraging shoppers to wear masks "if you can."A sign outside a Tesco asked that members of the public wear masks when shopping in their stores on July 28, 2021 in Leeds.Daniel Harvey Gonzalez/In Pictures via Getty ImagesBut England has brought back its mask mandate after the UK identified its first cases of the Omicron variant last week. It's also reintroducing testing mandates for international travelers.UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.ReutersSources: Insider, InsiderThe US has also restricted travel from some African countries and is moving to require all international travelers to produce negative COVID-19 tests. The head of the NIH has also recommended that people wear face masks amid fears of the Omicron variant.President Joe Biden.AP Photo/Evan VucciSources: Insider, InsiderIn comparison to lockdowns, curfews, and border closures, mask mandates have very few economic impacts. Businesses can stay open and people can behave largely as usual, but they just have to wear a mask.Woman wearing face mask holds up pink turtleneck sweater while clothes shopping.Steve Pfost/Newsday RM via Getty ImagesAnd wearing a face mask is one of the most effective ways of reducing the spread of the coronavirus.A Boyer's cashier scans a customers groceries in Womelsdorf, Pennsylvania.Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle/Getty ImagesSource: InsiderI was really relieved that the mask mandate was reintroduced, and when I went shopping in Leeds city center and rode on the train I felt safer than I have done in months.Leeds city center on the day England reintroduced a mask mandate.Grace Dean/InsiderLeeds city center on the day England reintroduced a mask mandate.Leeds city center on the day England reintroduced a mask mandate.Grace Dean/InsiderRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytDec 1st, 2021

Black Friday reports show a drop in online sales, as in-store traffic rebounds from last year but fails to reach pre-pandemic levels

Reports show a mixed performance for the annual shopping holiday, as retailers struggled because of factors including the supply chain crisis and labor shortage. Black Friday shoppers at a mall in Toronto, Canada, on Nov. 26, 2021.Zou Zheng/Xinhua via Getty Images Online sales reached $8.9 billion on Black Friday, slightly below 2020 levels, according to data from Adobe Analytics. Meanwhile, physical store traffic rose significantly from last year, but was still well below pre-pandemic levels.  According to analysts, the mixed performance points to shifting consumer trends like buying earlier, particularly amid the supply chain crisis.  Another Black Friday has come to a close, and early reports show a mixed performance for the annual shopping holiday. While the impact of the coronavirus pandemic dampened 2020 sales, this year's Black Friday faced a number of unique hurdles of its own, including a national labor shortage, widespread supply chain constraints, and the emergence of a new COVID-19 variant.Though retailers made some gains — including in areas like in-store traffic and mobile sales — data shows the industry is still struggling to return to pre-pandemic levels. The findings also indicate a shift in consumer spending patterns, such as starting shopping earlier in the season and taking advantage of newer services like buy-now-pay-later. "Consumers have been shopping strategically this season: Buying early and taking advantage of deals retailers have been promoting since late October," Adobe Digital Insights Director Taylor Schreiner said in a statement on Friday. "Black Friday still remains a major online shopping day, but the surge in online shopping is coming from the less marketed days of the season."We took a closer look at the key findings from Black Friday, below.People line up to enter a store during Black Friday shopping at Fashion Outlets of Chicago in Rosemont of Greater Chicago Area, Illinois, the United States, on Nov. 26, 2021.Joel Lerner/Xinhua via Getty ImagesIn-store traffic rose, but failed to reach pre-pandemic levelsWhile some shoppers were met with traditional Black Friday scenes of lengthy lines and crowded malls, others reported sparsely populated and fairly quiet stores this year.This mixed bag was also reflected in the traffic numbers: According to data from RetailNext, traffic at brick-and-mortar stores increased by 61% on Black Friday compared to 2020 levels. And while the boost is a marked improvement from last year, in-store traffic was still 27% below pre-pandemic rates in 2019.Likewise, Sensormatic Solutions, a company that tracks physical store traffic, found that while there was a 48% gain over 2020, rates were still 28% lower than 2019. "While in-store shopping is still not back to 2019 levels, more shoppers felt comfortable visiting stores in person this Black Friday than in 2020," Brian Field, senior director of global retail consulting at Sensormatic Solutions, said in a press statement. "One driver of this increased traffic could be ongoing supply chain challenges and shipping delays."Online sales dipped  E-commerce sales reached $8.9 billion on Black Friday, slightly below 2020 levels of $9 billion, according to data from Adobe Analytics.The number was at the low end of Adobe's predicted range, and also came after disappointing flatline sales of $5.1 billion on Thanksgiving Day — marking the first time both days failed to boost year-over-year spending. The sales indicate "another sign that consumers started to shift their spending to earlier in the season, responding to promotions and deals from retailers that started in October," Adobe said.A view of the Afterpay register during Revolve's New York Fashion Week pop-up at Hudson Yards on September 09, 2021 in New York City.Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for REVOLVEBuy-now-pay-later usage surged Buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) services like Klarna and Afterpay have been on the rise, and in recent months several major retailers have opted to integrate the option into point-of-sales both in-store and online.Thanks in part to its newfound ubiquity, BNPL usage is on the rise this holiday season: Accordng to Adobe, total BNPL spending and volume of orders in November is up 422% and 438%, respectively, from 2019 levels. Smartphone browsing is on the riseMobile shopping comprised 44.4% of online sales on Black Friday, an increase of 10.6% year-over-year, according to Adobe.  However, a majority of consumers prefer to browse deals on their phone before making purchases on desktop, with smartphone visits accounting for 62.2% share compared to desktop, an increase of 2.2% from 2020, the data shows.Curbside pickup is still thrivingWhile some pandemic-era shopping habits have fallen away, one remains popular — curbside pickup. According to Adobe, curbside services were used in 20% of all online orders placed on Black Friday. For the month of November, curbside services were up 78% from pre-pandemic levels in 2019. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 28th, 2021

4 REITs Your Black Friday Shopping Cart Must Have

As consumers are expected to splurge this holiday season amid rising wages and considerable savings, don't forget to add some REIT stocks that house retailers or support e-retailing. Americans celebrated nature’s bounty on Thanksgiving Day. Now, Black Friday will kick off the annual holiday shopping season, giving retailers a chance to enjoy abundant sales.  And why not? With rising income backed by wage compensation and hefty savings accumulated during the pandemic, consumers are ready to splurge.According to the National Retail Federation (“NRF”) Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz, “The unusual and beneficial position we find ourselves in is that households have increased spending vigorously throughout most of 2021 and remain with plenty of holiday purchasing power.”In fact, the projections from NRF paint an encouraging picture, with holiday retail sales — excluding restaurants, automobile dealers and gasoline stations — anticipated to climb 8.5-10.5% from the prior year to a total of $843.4-$859 billion, suggesting the highest holiday retail sales on record. Online and other non-store sales are estimated to jump 11-15% to a total of $218.3-$226.2 billion, up from the $196.7 billion reported during the same period last year.Even though e-commerce is expected to remain a significant contributor, people are expected to opt for a more traditional holiday shopping experience this year and shift back to in-store shopping. In anticipation, the hiring for positions in bricks-and-mortar stores and warehouse and distribution centers have gained momentum.This optimism would translate into greater benefits for the real estate sector – particularly the REITs. Higher retail sales — whether online or at physical stores — bring huge profits for these REITs. Increased footfall at malls and shopping center would create further demand for space. Online sales too need real space for storage and efficient distribution.In addition, retailers are utilizing the last-mile stores as indispensable fulfillment and distribution centers to serve the dense population close by and outperforming pure e-commerce players on delivery times and cost efficiency. Also, curbside pick-up, combined with click-and-collect options, are likely to continue gaining attention in the present environment and even in the post-Covid era. And REITs making efforts along these lines are likely to add competitive advantage in current times.Stock PicksTo capitalize on this trend, we have handpicked four stocks for your Black Friday cart. Aside from having solid fundamentals, these better-ranked REITs have high chances of market outperformance over the next 1-3 months. These stocks are witnessing positive estimate revisions too, reflecting analysts’ upbeat view.We suggest investing in Simon Property Group SPG, which is a behemoth in the retail REIT industry and enjoys a portfolio of premium retail assets in the United States and abroad. The adoption of an omni-channel strategy and successful tie-ups with premium retailers have been aiding Simon Property Group. It is also tapping growth opportunities by assisting digital brands to enhance their brick-and-mortar presence, as well as capitalizing on buying recognized retail brands in bankruptcy.Additionally, Simon Property is exploring the mixed-use development option, which has gained immense popularity in recent years among those who prefer to live, work and play in the same area. Moreover, with a solid balance-sheet strength and available capital resources, SPG looks poised to ride this growth curve and bank on opportunities emanating from market dislocations.In the third quarter, Simon Property recorded increased leasing volumes, occupancy gains, shopper traffic and retail sales. Also, management raised the 2021 funds from operations (FFO) per share guidance to the $11.55-$11.65 range, up from the $10.70-$10.80 band projected earlier, suggesting an increase of 85 cents at the mid-point. Simon Property announced a 10% sequential hike in its fourth-quarter 2021 dividend. The company will now pay out $1.65 per share compared with the $1.50 paid out earlier. The increased dividend will be paid out on Dec 31 to its shareholders of record as of Dec 10, 2021.Simon Property Group currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Over the past month, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2021 FFO per share witnessed upward revision of 3.8% to $11.28, reflecting analysts’ bullish outlook.Another retail landlord is Federal Realty Investment Trust FRT, a North Bethesda, MD-based retail REIT boasting of a portfolio of premium retail assets — mainly situated in the major coastal markets from Washington, D.C. to Boston, San Francisco and Los Angeles — along with a diverse tenant base, both national and local.Federal Realty has strategically selected first-ring suburbs of nine major metropolitan markets. Due to the strong demographics and the infill nature of its properties, the company has been able to maintain a high occupancy level over the years. Moreover, its focus on open-air format and “The Pick-Up” concept has poised it well to lure tenants even amid the current health crisis. Furthermore, with the resumption of the economy, widespread vaccination and solid consumer spending, the retail REIT is poised to benefit from its superior assets in premium locations and experience improving leasing environment.Currently, FRT carries a Zacks Rank #2 and has a long-term growth rate of 8.4%. Moreover, for 2021, the stock has seen the Zacks Consensus Estimate for FFO per share being revised 4.9% upward to $ 5.36 over the past month. This also suggests an increase of 18.6% year over year.Our next pick is an industrial REIT stock — Rexford Industrial Realty, Inc. REXR — which is focused on the acquisition, ownership and operation of industrial properties situated in Southern California in-fill markets. Recently, Rexford announced shelling out $125.9 million to acquire five industrial properties in the prime in-fill Southern California submarkets.With these buyouts, Rexford’s 2021 acquisition activity has reached $1.4 billion. Also, more than $300 million of acquisitions are under contract or have accepted offer. Southern California is considered a highly valued industrial property market with supply constraints in the United States.Presently, Rexford carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the ongoing year’s FFO per share has been revised 2.5% upward over the last 30 days. This also indicates a projected increase of 23.5% year over year.The cart will be incomplete without another industrial REIT. A promising one on the shelf is Bellevue, WA-based Terreno Realty Corporation TRNO, which targets functional buildings at in-fill locations, which enjoy high-population densities and are located near high-volume distribution points.Terreno Realty recently shelled out $7.7 million to purchase an industrial property in Los Angeles, CA, as part of its acquisition-driven growth strategy. Backed by expansion efforts, TRNO is well poised to enhance its portfolio in the six major coastal U.S. markets — Los Angeles, Northern New Jersey/New York City, San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, Miami and Washington, DC — which display solid demographic trends and witness healthy demand for industrial real estate.Terreno Realty currently carries a Zacks Rank of 2. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the ongoing year’s FFO per share has been revised marginally upward to $1.72 over the last 30 days. This calls for an increase of 19.4% year over year.Here’s how the above stocks have performed in the past three months.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchNote: All EPS numbers presented in this write-up represent funds from operations (“FFO”) per share. FFO, a widely used metric to gauge the performance of REITs, is obtained after adding depreciation and amortization and other non-cash expenses to net income. Bitcoin, Like the Internet Itself, Could Change Everything Blockchain and cryptocurrency has sparked one of the most exciting discussion topics of a generation. Some call it the “Internet of Money” and predict it could change the way money works forever. If true, it could do to banks what Netflix did to Blockbuster and Amazon did to Sears. Experts agree we’re still in the early stages of this technology, and as it grows, it will create several investing opportunities. Zacks’ has just revealed 3 companies that can help investors capitalize on the explosive profit potential of Bitcoin and the other cryptocurrencies with significantly less volatility than buying them directly. See 3 crypto-related stocks now >>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 Simon Property Group, Inc. (SPG): Free Stock Analysis Report Federal Realty Investment Trust (FRT): Free Stock Analysis Report Terreno Realty Corporation (TRNO): Free Stock Analysis Report Rexford Industrial Realty, Inc. (REXR): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksNov 26th, 2021

Shopping malls will be crowded these days, but for how long?

For retailers, the last two months of the year is the best chance for them to end the year with a profit. But is that enough anymore?.....»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsNov 25th, 2021

Transcript: Edwin Conway

   The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Edwin Conway, BlackRock Alternative Investors, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here. ~~~ BARRY RITHOLTZ, HOST, MASTERS IN BUSINESS:… Read More The post Transcript: Edwin Conway appeared first on The Big Picture.    The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Edwin Conway, BlackRock Alternative Investors, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here. ~~~ BARRY RITHOLTZ, HOST, MASTERS IN BUSINESS: This week on the podcast, man, I have an extra special guest. Edwin Conway runs all of alternatives for BlackRocks. His title is Global Head of Alternative Investors and he covers everything from structured credit to real estate hedge funds to you name it. The group runs over $300 billion and he has been a driving force into making this a substantial portion of Blackrock’s $9 trillion in total assets. The opportunity set that exists for alternatives even for a firm like Blackrock that specializes in public markets is potentially huge and Blackrock wants a big piece of it. I found this conversation to be absolutely fascinating and I think you will also. So with no further ado, my conversation with Blackrock’s Head of Alternatives, Edwin Conway. MALE VOICEOVER: This is Masters in Business with Barry Ritholtz on Bloomberg Radio. RITHOLTZ: My extra special guest this week is Edwin Conway. He is the Global Head of Blackrock’s Alternative Investors which runs about $300 billion in assets. He is a team of over 1,100 professionals to help him manage those assets. Blackrock’s Global alternatives include businesses that cover real estate infrastructure, hedge funds private equity, and credit. He is a senior managing director for BlackRock. Edwin Conway, welcome to Bloomberg. EDWIN CONWAY, GLOBAL HEAD OF ALTERNATIVE INVESTORS, BLACKROCK: Barry, thank you for having me. RITHOLTZ: So, you’ve been in the financial services industry for a long time. You were at Credit Suisse and Blackstone and now you’re at BlackRock. Tell us what the process was like breaking into the industry? CONWAY: It’s an interesting on, Barry. I grew up in a very small town in the middle of Ireland. And the breakthrough to the industry was one of more coincident as opposed to purpose. I enjoyed the game of rugby for many years and through an introduction while at the University, in University College Dublin in Ireland, had a chance to play rugby at a quite a – quite a decent level and get to know people that were across the industry. It was really through and internship and the suggestion, I’ve given my focus on business and financing things that the financial services sector may be a great place to traverse and get to know. And literally through rugby connections, been part of a good school, I had an opportunity to really understand what the service sector, in many respects, could provide to clients and became absolutely intrigued with it. And what – was it my primary ambition in life to be in the financial services sector? I can definitively say no, but through the circumstance of a game that I love to play and be part of, I was introduced to, through an internship, and actually fell in love with it. RITHOLTZ: Quite interesting. And alternative investments at Blackrock almost seems like a contradiction in terms. Most of us tend to think of Blackrock as the giant $9 trillion public markets firm best known for ETFs and indices. Alternatives seems to be one of the fastest-growing groups within the firm. This was $50 billion just a few years ago, it’s now over 300 billion. How has this become such a fast-growing part of BlackRock? CONWAY: When you look at the various facets which you introduced at the start, Barry, we’ve actually been an alternatives – will be of 30 years now. Now, the scale, as you know, which you can operate on the beta side of business, far surpasses that on the alpha side. For us, throughout the years, this was very much about how can we deliver investment excellence to our clients and performance? Therefore, going an opportunity somewhere else to explore an alpha opportunity in alternatives. And I think being so connected to our clients understanding, that this pivots was absolutely taking place at only 30 years ago but in a very pronounced way today, you know, we continue to invest in this business to support those ambitions. They’re clearly seeing this as the world of going through a tremendous amount of transformation and with some of the challenges, quite frankly, in the traditional asset classes, being able to leverage at BlackRock, the Blackrock muscle to really explore these alpha opportunities across the various alternative asset classes that in our mind wasn’t imperative. And the imperative, really, is from the firm’s perspective and if you look at our purpose, it’s to serve the client. So the need was coming from them. The necessity to have alternatives and their whole portfolio was very – was very much growing in prominence. And it’s taken us 30 years to build this journey and I think, Barry, quite frankly, we’re far from being done. As you look at the industry, the demand is going to continue to grow. So, I think you could expect to see from us a continued investment in the space because we don’t believe you can live without alternatives in today’s world. RITHOLTZ: That’s really – that’s really interesting. So let’s dive a little deeper into the product strategy for alternatives which you are responsible for at BlackRock. Our audiences is filled with potential investors. Tell them a little bit about what that strategy is. CONWAY: So we’re – I think as you mentioned, we’re in excess of 300 billion today and when we started this business, it was less about building a moat around private equity or real estate. I think Larry Fink’s and Rob Kapito’s vision was how do we build a platform to allow us to be relevant to our clients across the various alternative asset classes but also within the – within the confines of what they are permitted to do on a year-by-year basis. So, to always be relevant irrespective of where they are in their journey from respect of liabilities, demand for liquidity, demand for returns, so we took a different approach. I think, Barry, to most, it was around how do we scale into the business across, like you said, real estate equity and debt, infrastructure equity and debt. I mean, we think of that as the real assets platform of our business. Then you take our private equity capabilities both in primary investing, secondary et cetera, and then you have private credits and a very significant hedge fund platforms. So we think all of these have a real role and depending on clients liquidities and risk appetite, our goal was, to over the years, really build in to this to allow ourselves for this challenging needs that our clients have. I think as an industry, right, and over the many years alternatives have been in existence, this is been about return enhancement initially. I think, fundamentally, the changes around the receptivity to the role of alternatives in a client’s portfolio has really changed. So, we’ve watched it, Barry, from this is we’re in the pursuit of a very total return or absolute return type of an objective to now resilience in our portfolio, yield an income. And so things that probably weren’t perceived as valuable in the past because the traditional asset classes were playing a more profound role, alternatives have stepped up in – in many respects in the need to provide more than just total return. So, we’re taking the approach of how do you have a more holistic approach to this? How do we really build a global multi-alternatives capability and try to partner and I think that’s the important work for us. Try to partner with our clients in a way that we can deliver that outperformance but delivered in a way that probably our clients haven’t been used to in this industry before. Because unfortunately, as we know, it has had its challenges with regard to secrecy, transparency, and so many other aspects. We need to help the industry mature. And really that was our ambition. Put our client’s needs first, build around that and really be relevant in all aspects of what we’re doing or trying to accomplish on behalf of the people that they support and represent. RITHOLTZ: So, we’ll talk a little bit about transparency and secrecy and those sorts of things later. But right now, I have to ask what I guess is kind of an obvious question. This growth that you’ve achieved within Blackrock for nonpublic asset allocation within a portfolio, what is this coming at expense of? Are these dollars that are being moved from public assets into private assets or you just competing with other private investors? CONWAY: It’s really both. What – what you are seeing from our clients – if I take a step back, today, the institutional client community and you think about the – the retirement conundrum we’re all facing around the world. It’s such an awful challenge when you think how ill-prepared people are for that eventual stepping back from the workplace and then you know longevity is your friend, but can also be a very, very difficult thing to obviously live with if you’re not prepared for retirement. The typical pension plan today are allocating about 25 percent to 28 percent in alternatives. Predominantly private market. What they’re telling us is that’s increasing quite substantially going forward. But you know, the funding for that alpha pursue for that diversification and that yield is coming from fixed-income assets. It’s coming from equity assets. So there’s a real rebalancing that’s been taking place over the past number of years. And quite frankly, the evolution, and I think the innovation that’s taken place particularly in the past 10 years, alternatives has been really profound. So the days where you just invest in any global funds still exist. But now you can concentrate your efforts on sector exposure, industry exposures, geographic exposures, and I think the – the menu of things our clients can now have access to has just been so greatly enhanced at and the benefit is that but I think in some – in some respects, Barry, the next question is with all of those choices, how do you build the right portfolio for our client’s needs knowing that each one of our client’s needs are different? So, I would say it absolutely coming from the public side. We’re very thankful. Those that had a multiyear journey with us in the public side are now allocating capital to is now the private side to because I do think the – the industry given that change, given that it evolution and given the complexity of these private assets, our clients are looking to, quite frankly, do more with fewer managers because of the complexion of the industry and complexity that comes with it. RITHOLTZ: Quite – quite interesting. (UNKNOWN): And attention RIA’s. Are your clients asking for crypto? At interactive brokers, advisers can now offer crypto to their clients and you could trade stocks, options, futures currencies, bonds and more from the same platform. Commissions on crypto are just 12-18 basis points with no hidden spreads or markups and there are no ticket charges, custody fees, minimums platform or reporting fees. Learn more at IBKR.com/RIA crypto. RITHOLTZ: And I – it’s pretty easy to see why large institutions might be rotating away from things like treasuries or tips because there’s just no yield there. Are you seeing inflows coming in from the public equity side also? The markets put together a pretty good string of years. CONWAY: Yes. It absolutely has. And many respects, I think, we’ve had a multiyear where there was big questions around the alpha that can be generated, for example, from active equities? The question was active or passive? I think what we’ve all realized is that at times when volatility introduces itself which is frequent even independent of what’s been done from a fiscal and monetary standpoint, that these Alpha speaking strategies on the traditional side still make a lot of sense. And so, as we think about what – what’s happening here, the transition of assets from both passive and active strategies to alternative, it – it’s really to create better balance. It’s not that there’s – there’s a lack of relevance anymore in the public side. It’s just quite frankly the growth of the private asset base has grown so substantially. I moved, Barry, to the U.S. in 1998. And it’s interesting, when you look back at 1998 to today, you start to recognize the equity markets and what was available to invest in. The number of investable opportunities has shrunk by 40 plus percent which that compression is extraordinarily high. But yet you’ve seen, obviously, the equity markets grow in stature and significance and prominence but you’re having more concentration risk with some of the big public entities. The converse is true, though on the – on the private side. There’s this explosion of enterprise and innovation, employment creation, and then I believe opportunities has been real. So, I look at the public side, the investable universe is measured in the thousands and the private side is measured in the millions. RITHOLTZ: Wow. CONWAY: And I think part of the – part of the part of the thing our clients are not struggling with but what we’re really recognizing with – with enterprises staying private for longer, if not forever, and with his growth of the opportunities that open debt and equity in the private market side, you really can’t forgo this opportunity. It has to be part of your going forward concerns and asset allocation. And I think this is why we’re seeing that transformation. And it’s not because equities on fixed income just aren’t relevant anymore. They’re very relevant but they’re relevant now in a total portfolio or a whole portfolio context beside alternatives. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s discuss this opportunity set of alternatives where you guys at Blackrock scene demand what sectors and from what sorts of clients? Is this demand increasing? CONWAY: We’re very fortunate, Barry. Today, there isn’t a single piece of our business within – within Blackrock alternatives that isn’t growing. And quite frankly too, it’s really up to us to deliver on the investment objectives that are set forth for those clients. I think in the back of strong absolute and relative performance, thankfully, our clients look to us to – to help them as – as they think about what they’re doing and as they’re exploring more in the alternatives areas. So, as you know, certainly, the private equity and real estate allocations are quite mature in many of our client’s portfolios but they’ve been around for many decades. I think that the areas where we’re seeing – that’s called an outside demand and opportunity set, just but virtue of the small allocations on a relative basis that exist today is really around infrastructure, Barry, and its around private credits. So, to caveat that, I think all of the areas are certainly growing, and thankfully, for us that’s true. We’re looking at clients who we believe are underinvested, we believe they’re underinvested in those asset classes infrastructure both debt and equity and in private credit. And as you think about why that is, the attributes that they bring to our client is really important and in a world where your correlation and understanding those correlations is important that these are definitely diversifying assets. In a world where you’re seeing trillions of dollars, quite frankly, you’re providing little to no or even there’s negative yield. Those short falls are real and people need yield than need income. These assets tend to provide that. So the diversification, it comes from these assets. The yield can come from these assets and because of the immaturity of the asset classes, independence of the capital is flowing in, we still consider them relatively white space. You’re not crowded out. There’s much room for development in the market and with our client’s portfolios. And to us, that’s exciting because it presents opportunities. So, at the highest level, they’re the areas where I believe are most underdeveloped in our clients. RITHOLTZ: So let’s talk about both of those areas. We’ll talk about structured credit in a few minutes. I think everybody kind of understands what – what that is. What – when you see infrastructure as a sector, how does that show up as an investment are – and obviously, I have infrastructure on the brink because we’re recording this not too long after the giant infrastructure bill has been passed, tell us a little bit about what alternative investments in infrastructure looks like? CONWAY: Yes. It’s really in its infancy and what the underlying investments look like. I think traditionally, you would consider it as – and part of the bill that has just been announced, roads, bridges, airports. Some of these hard assets, some of the core infrastructure investments that have been around for actually some time. The interesting thing is the industry has evolved so much and put the need for infrastructure. It’s so great across both developed and emerging economies. It’s become something that if done the right way, the attributes we just spoke of can really have a very strong effect on our client’s portfolios. So, beyond the core that we just mentioned, well, we’ve seen a tremendous demand as a result of this energy transition. You’re really seeing a spike in activity and the necessity transition industry to cleaner technologies, a movement, not away completely from fossil fuel but integrating new types of clean energy. And as a result, you’ve seen a lot of demand on a global basis for wind and solar. And quite frankly, that’s why even us at BlackRock, albeit, 10-12 years ago, we really established a capability there to help with that transition to think about how do we use these technologies, solar panels, wind farms, to generate clean forms of energy for utilities where in some cases they’re mandated to procure this type of this type of – this type of power. And when you think about pre-contracting with utilities for long duration, that to me spells, Barry, good risk mitigation and management and ability to get access to clean forms of energy that throw off yield that can be very complementary to your traditional asset classes but for very long periods of time. And so, the benefits for us of these – these assets is that they are long in duration, they are yield enhancing, they’re definitely diversifying. And so, for us, where – we’ve got about, let’s call this 280 assets around the world that we’re managing that literally generate this – this clean electricity. I think to give the relevance of how much, I believe today, it’s enough to power the country of Spain. RITHOLTZ: Wow. CONWAY: And that’s really that’s really changing. So you’re seeing governments – so from a policy standpoint, you’re seeing governments really embracing new forms of energy, transitioning out of bunker fuels, for example, you know, burning diesels which really spew omissions into the – into the into the environment. But it’s really around modernizing for the future. So, developed and emerging economies alike, want to retain capital. They want to attract new capital and by having the proper infrastructure to support industry, it’s a really, really important thing. Now, on the back of that too, one things we’ve learned from COVID is that the necessity to really bring e-commerce into how you conduct your business is so important and I think from the theme of digitalization within infrastructure to is a huge part. So, it’s not just the energy transition that you’re seeing, it’s not just roads and bridges, but by allowing businesses to connect to a global consumer, allowing children be educated from home, allowing experiences that expand geographies and boundaries in a digital form is so important not just for commerce but in so many other aspects. And so, you think about cable, fiber optics, if you think about all the other things even outside of power, that enable us to conduct commerce to educate, there are many examples where, Barry, you can build resilience into your portfolio because that need is not measured in years. Actually, the shortfall of capital is measured in the trillions so which means this is – this is a multi-decade opportunity set from our vantage point and one of which our clients should really avail of. RITHOLTZ: Quite interesting. And I mentioned in passing, structured credit, tell us a little bit about what that opportunity looks like. I think of this as a space that is too big for local banks but too small for Wall Street to finance. Is that an oversimplification? What is going on in that space. CONWAY: I probably couldn’t have set it better, Barry. It’s – if we go back to just the even the investable universe, in the tens of thousands of companies, just if we take North America that are private, that have great leadership that really have strategic vision under – at the – in some cases, at the start of their growth lifecycles are even if they maintain, they have a very credible and viable business for the future they still need capital. And you’re absolutely right. With the retreat of the banks from the space to various regulations that have come after the global financial crisis, you’re seeing the asset managers in many respects working behalf of our clients both wealth and institutional becoming the new lenders of choice. And – and when we – when we think about that opportunity set, that is really understanding the client’s desire for risk or something maybe in a lower risk side from middle-market lending or midmarket enterprises where you can support that organization through its growth cycle all the way to some higher-yielding, obviously, with more risk assets on the opportunistic or even the special situations side. But it – it expands many things. And going back of the commentary around the evolution of the space, private credit today and what you can do has changed so profoundly, it expands the liquidity spectrum, it expands the risk spectrum. And the great news is, with the number of companies both here and abroad, the opportunities that is – it’s being enriched every single day. And were certainly seeing, particularly going back to the question are some of these assets coming from the traditional side, the public side. When we think of private credit, you are seeing private credit now been incorporated in fixed-income allocations. This is a – it’s a yelling asset. This is – these are debt instruments, these are structures that we’re creating. We’re trying to flexible and dynamic with these clients. But it really is an area where we think – it really is still at its – at its infancy relevant to where it can potentially be. RITHOLTZ: That’s really quite – quite interesting. (UNKNOWN): It’s Rob Riggle. I’m hosting Season 2 of the iHeart radio podcast, Veterans You Should Know. You may know me as the comedic actor from my work in the Hangover, Stepbrothers or 21 Jump Street. But before Hollywood, I was a United States Marine Corps officer for 23 years. For this Veterans Day, I’ll be sitting down with those who proudly served in the Armed Forces to hear about the lessons they’ve learned, the obstacles they’ve overcome, and the life-changing impact of their service. Through this four-part series, we’ll hear the inspiring journeys of these veterans and how they took those values during their time of service and apply them to transition out of the military and into civilian life. Listen to Veterans You Should Know on the iHeart radio app, Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcast. RITHOLTZ: Let’s stick with that concept of money rotating away from fixed income. I have to imagine clients are starved for yields. So what are the popular substitutes for this? Is it primarily structured credit? Is it real estate? How do you respond to an institution that says, hey, I’m not getting any sort of realistic coupon on my bonds, I need a substitute? CONWAY: Yes. It’s all of those in many respects. And I think to the role, even around now a time where people have questions around inflation, how do substitute this yield efficiency or certainly make up for that shortfall, how do you think about a world where increasingly seeing inflation, not of the transitory thing it feels certainly quasi-permanent. These are a lot of questions we’re getting. And certainly, real estate is an is important part of how they think about inflation protection, how client think about yield, but quite frankly too, we’ve – we’ve gone through something none of us really had thought about a global pandemic. And as I think about real estate, just how you allocate to the sector, what was very heavily influenced with retail assets, high street, our shopping behaviors and habits have changed. We all occupied offices for obviously many, many years pre the pandemic. The shape of how we operate and how we do that has changed. So, I think some of the underlying investment – investments have changed where you’ve seen heavily weighted towards office space to leisure, travel in the past. Actually, now using a rotation in some respects out of those, just given some of the uncertainties around what the future holds as we come – come through a really difficult time. But the great thing about this sector is between senior living, between student housing, between logistics and so many other parts, there are ways in real estate to capture where there’s – where there’s demand. So still a robust opportunity set and it – and we do think it can absolutely be yield enhancing. We mentioned infrastructure. Even if you think about – and we mention OECD and non-OECD, emerging and developed, when I think about Asia, in particular, just as a subset of the world in which we’re living in, that is a $2.6 trillion alternative market today growing at a 15 percent CAGR. And quite frankly, the old-growth is driven by the large economic growth in the region. So, even from a regional perspective, if we pivot, it houses 57 percent of the world’s population and yet delivers 47 percent of the world’s economic growth. So, think of that and then with regard to infrastructure and goes back to that, this is truly a global phenomenon. So if we just even take that sector, Barry, you’ll realize that the way to maintain that type of growth, to attract capital, to keep capital, it really requires an investment of significant amount of money to be able to sustain that. And when you have 42 million people in a APAC migrating to cities in the year going back to digitalization, that’s an important thing. So, when I say we’re so much at the infancy in infrastructure, I really mean it. It can be water, it can be sewer systems, it can be digital, it can be roads, there’s so much to this. And then even down to the regional perspective, it’s a – it’s a need that doesn’t just exist in the U.S. So, for these assets, this tend to be long in duration. There’s both equity and debt. And on the debt side, quite frankly, very few outside of our insurance clients and their general account are taking advantage of the debt opportunity. And – and as we both know, to finance these projects that are becoming more plentiful every single day, across the world, including like, I said, in APAC in scale, there’s an opportunity in both sides. And I think that’s where the acid mix change happen. It’s recognizing that the attributes of these assets can have a role, the attributes of these assets can potentially replace some of these traditional assets and I think you’re going to see it grow. So, infrastructure to us, it’s really equity and debt. And then on the credit side, like I mentioned, again, too, it’s a very, very big and growing market. And certainly, the biggest area today from our vantage point is middle-market lending from a scale opportunity standpoint. So, we think much more to come in all of those spaces. RITHOLTZ: Really interesting. And let’s just stay with the concept of public versus private. That line is kind of getting blurred and the secondary markets is liquidity coming to, for lack of a better phrase, pre-public equities, tells little bit about that space. Is that an area that is ripe for growth for BlackRock? CONWAY: Yes. We absolutely think it is and you’re absolutely correct. The secondary market is – has grown quite substantial. If you even look at just the private equity secondary market and what will transact this year, I think it will be potentially in excess of 100 billion. And that’s what were clear, not to mention what will be visible and what will be analyzed. And that speaks to me what’s really happening and the innovation that we mentioned earlier. It’s no longer about just primary exposure. It’s secondary exposure. When we see all sort of interest and co-investment opportunities as well, I think the available sources of alpha and the flexibility you can now have, albeit if directed and advised, I believe the right way, Barry, can be very helpful and in the portfolio. So, your pre-IPO, it is a big part of actually what we do and we think about growth equity. There is – it’s a significant amount of capital following that space. Now, from our vantage point, as one of the largest investors in the public equity market and now obviously one of the largest investors and they in the private side, the bridge between – between private to public – there’s a real need. IPOs are not going away. And I think smart, informed capital to help with this journey, this journey is really – is really a necessity and a need. RITHOLTZ: So let’s talk a little bit about this recent restructuring. You are first named Global Head of Blackrock Alternative Investors in April 2019, the entire alternatives business was restructured, tell us a little bit about how that restructuring is going? CONWAY: Continues to go really well, Barry. When you look at the flow of acid from our clients, I think, hopefully, that’s speaks to the performance we’ve been generating. I joined the firm, as you know, albeit, 11 years ago and being very close to the alternative franchise as a critical thing for me and running the institutional platform. To me, when you watched this migration of asset towards alternatives, it was obviously very evident for decades now that this is a critical leg of the stool as our clients are thinking about their portfolios. We’re continuing to innovate. We’re continuing to invest, and thankfully, we’re continuing to deliver strong performance. We’re growing at about high double digits on an annual basis but we’re trying to purposeful too around where that growth is coming from. I think the reality is when you look at the competitive universe, I think the last number I saw, it was about 38,000 alternative asset managers out there today, obviously, coming from hedge funds all the way to private credits and private equity. So, competition is real and I do think the outcomes for our clients are starting to really grow. Unfortunately, some – in some cases, obviously, very good, and in some cases, actually not great. So our focus, Barry, is really much on how can we deliver performance, how can we be a partner? And I think we been rewarded with a trust and the faith our clients have in us because they’re seeing something different, I think, from us. Now, the scale of the business that you mentioned earlier really gives us tentacles into the market that I believe allows us to access what I think is the new alpha which is in many respects, given the heft of competition sourcing and originating new investments is certainly harder but for us, sitting in or having alternative team, sitting in 50 offices around the world, really investing in the markets because that – the market they grew up with and have relationships within, I think this network value that we have is something that’s quite special. And I think in the world that’s becoming increasingly competitive, we’re going to continue to use and harness that network value to pursue opportunities. And thankfully, as a result of the partnership we’ve been pursuing with her clients, like, we’ve – we’re certainly looking for opportunities and investments in our funds. But because of the brand, I think because of the successes, opportunities seeks us as much as we seek opportunity and that has been something that we look at an ongoing basis and feel very privileged to actually have that inbound flow as well. RITHOLTZ: Really quite interesting. There was a quote of yours I found while doing some prep for this conversation that I have to have you expand on. Quote, “The relationship between Blackrock’s alternative capabilities and wealth firms marked a large opportunity for growth in the coming years.” This was back in 2019. So, the first part of the question is, was your expectations correct? Did you – did you see the sort of growth you were hoping for? And more broadly, how large of an opportunity is alternatives, not just for BlackRock but for the entire investment industry? CONWAY: Yes. It’s been very much an institutional opportunity set up until now. And there’s so much to be done, still, to really democratize alternatives and we certainly joke around making alternatives less alternative. Actually, even the nomenclature we use and how we describe it doesn’t kind of make sense anymore. It’s such a core – an important allocation to our clients, Barry, that just calling it alternative seems wrong. Just about the institutional clients. It ranges, I think, as I mentioned on our – some of our more conservative clients which would be pension plans which really have liquidity needs on a monthly basis because of the liabilities they have to think about. At about 25 plus percent in private markets, to endowments, foundations, family offices, going to 50 percent plus. So, it’s a really important part and has been for now many years the institutional client ph communities outcomes. I think the thing that we, as an industry, have to change is alternatives has to be for the many, not for the few. And quite frankly, it’s been for the few. And as we talked about some of the attributes and the important attributes of these asset classes to think that those who have been less fortunate in their careers can’t access, things they can enrich their future retirement outcomes, to me, is a failing. And we have to address that. That comes from regulation changes, it comes from structuring of new products, it comes from education and it comes from this knowledge transmission where clients in the wealth segment can understand the role of alternatives and the context of what can do as they invest in equities and fixed income too. And we think that’s a big shortfall. So, the journey today, just to give you a sense, as we look at her clients in Europe on the wealth side, on average, as you look from what we would call the credited investors all the way through to more ultra-high-net worth individuals, their allocation to alternatives, we believe, stands at around two to three percent of their total portfolio. In the U.S., we believe it stands at three to five. So, most of those intermediaries, we speak to our partners who were more supporting and serving the wealth channel. They have certainly an ambition to help their clients grow that to 20 percent and potentially beyond that. So, when I look at that gap of let’s call it two to three to 20 percent in a market that just given the explosion in wealth around the world, I think the last numbers I saw, this is a $65 trillion market. RITHOLTZ: Wow. CONWAY: That speaks to the shortfall relative to the ambition. And how’s it been going? We have a number of things and capabilities we’ve set up to allow for this market to experience, hopefully, private equity, hedge funds, credit, and an infrastructure in ways they haven’t in the past. We’ve done this in the U.S., we’re doing it now in Europe, but I will say, Barry, this is still very much at the start of the journey. Wealth is a really important part of our future given our business, quite, frankly is 90 plus percent institutional today, but we’re looking to change that by, hopefully, democratizing these asset classes and making it so much more accessible in that of the past. RITHOLTZ: So, we hinted at this before but I’m going to ask the question outright, how significant is interest rates to client’s risk appetites, how much of the current low rate environment are driving people to move chunks of their assets from fixed income to alternatives? CONWAY: It’s really significant, Barry. I think the transition of these portfolios is quite profound, So you – and I think the unfortunate thing in some respects as this transition happens that you’re introducing new variables and new risks. The reason I say it’s unfortunate and that I think as an industry, this goes back to the education around the assets you own, understanding the role, understanding the various outcomes. I think it’s so incredibly important and that this the time where complete transparency is needed. And quite frankly, we’re investing capital that’s not ours. As an industry, we’re investing our client’s assets and they need to know exactly the underlying investments. And in good and bad times, how would those assets behave? So certainly, interest rates are driving a flow of capital away from these traditional assets, fixed-income, and absolutely in towards real estate, infrastructure, private creditors, et cetera, in the pursuit of this – this yield. But I do – I do think one of the things that’s critically important for the institutional channel, not just the wealth which are newer entrants is this transmission of education, of data because that’s how I think you build a better balanced portfolio and that’s a – that’s a real conundrum, I think, that the industry is facing and certainly your clients too. RITHOLTZ: Quite interesting. So let’s talk a little bit about the differences between investing in the private side versus the public markets, the most obvious one has to be the illiquidity. When you buy stocks or bonds, you get a print every microsecond, every tick, but most of these investments are only marked quarterly or annually, what does this illiquidity do when you’re interacting with clients? How do you – how do you discuss this with them in and how do perceive some of the challenges of illiquid investments? CONWAY: Over the – over the past number of decades, I think our clients have largely held too much liquidity in their portfolios. Like, so what we are finding is the ability to take on illiquidity risk. And obviously, in pursuit of that premium above, the traditional markets, I mean, I think the sentiment they are is it an absolute right one. That transition towards private market exposure, we think is an important one just given the return objectives, the majority of our clients’ need but then also again, most importantly now, with geo policy, with uncertainty, with interest rate uncertainty, inflation uncertainty, I mean, the – going back to the resilience point, the characteristics now by introducing these assets into the mix is important. And I think that’s – that point is maybe what I’ll expand on. As were talking to clients, using the Aladdin systems, and as you know, we bought eFront technologies, albeit a couple of years ago, by allowing, I think, great data and technology to help our clients understand these assets and the context of how they should own them relative to other liquidity needs, their risk tolerances, and the return expectations are really trying to use tech and data to provide a better understanding and comprehension of the outcomes. And as we continue to introduce these concepts and these approaches, by the way, that there is, as you know, so used to in the traditional side, it – it gives them more comfort around what they should and can expect. And that, to me, is a really important part of what we’re doing. So, we’ve released recently new technology to the wealth sector because, quite frankly, we mentioned it before, the 60-40 portfolio is a thing of the past. And that introduction of about 20 percent into alternatives, we applaud our partners who are – who are suggesting that to their clients. We think it’s something they have to do. What we’re doing to support that is really bringing thought leadership, education, but also portfolio construction techniques and data to bear in that conversation. And this goes back to – it’s no longer an alternative, right? This is a core allocation so the comprehension of what it is you own, the behavior of the asset in good and bad times is so necessary. And that’s become a very big thing with regard to our activities, Barry, because your clients are looking to understand better when you’re talking about assets that are very complex in their nature. RITHOLTZ: So, 60-40 is now 50-30-20, something along those lines? CONWAY: Yes. RITHOLTZ: Really, really intriguing. So, what are clients really looking for these days? We talked about yield. Are they also looking for downside protection on the equity side or inflation hedges you hinted at? How broad are the demands of clients in the alternative space? CONWAY: Yes. It ranges the gamut. And even – we didn’t speak to even hedge funds, we’ve had differing levels of interest in the hedge fund world for years and I, quite frankly, think some degree of disappointment too, Barry, with regard to the alpha, the returns that were produced relevant to the cost. RITHOLTZ: It’s a tough space to say the very least exactly. CONWAY: Exactly right. But when you start to see volatility introducing itself, you can really see where skill plays a critical factor. So, we are absolutely seeing, in the hedge fund, a resurgence of interest and demand by virtue of those who really have honed in on their scale, who have demonstrated an up-and-down markets and ability to protect and preserve capital, but importantly, in a low uncorrelated way build attractive risk-adjusted returns. We’re starting to see more activity there again too. I think with an alternatives, you’ve really seen a predominant demand coming from privates. These private markets, like a set of growths so extraordinarily fast and the opportunities that is rich, the reality too on the public side which is where our hedge funds operate, they continue to, in large part, do a really good job. The issue with our industry now with these 38,000 managers is how do you distill all the information? How do you think about your needs as a client and pick a manager who can deliver the outcomes? And just to give you a sense, the difference now between a top-performing private equity manager, a top quartile versus the bottom quartile, the difference can be measured in tens of percent. RITHOLTZ: Wow. CONWAY: Whereas if you look at the public equity side, for example, a large cap manager, top quartile versus bottom quartile is measured in hundreds of basis points. So, there is definitely a world that has started where the outcomes our clients will experience can be great as they pursue yield, as they pursue diversification, inflation protection, et cetera. I think the caveat that I would say is outcomes can vary greatly. So manager underwriting and the importance of it now, I think, really is this something to pay attention to because if you do have that bottom performing at the bottom quartile manager, it will affect your outcomes, obviously. And that’s what we collectively have to face. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s talk a little bit about real estate. There are a couple of different areas of investment on the private side. Rent to own was a very large one and we’ve seen some lesser by the flip algo-driven approaches. Tell us what Blackrock is doing in the real estate space and how many different approaches are you bringing to bear on this? CONWAY: Yes, we think it’s both equity and debt. Again, no different to the infrastructure side, these projects need to be financed. But on the – as you think about the sectors in which you can avail of the opportunity, you’ve no doubt heard a lot and I mentioned earlier this demand for logistics facilities. The explosion of shopping online and having, until we obviously have the supply chain disruption, an ability to have nearly immediate satisfaction because the delivery of the good to your home has become so readily available. It’s a very different consumer experience. So the explosion and the need for logistics facilities to support this type of behavior of the consumer is really an area that will continue to be of great interest too. And then you think about the transformation of business and you think about the aging world. Unfortunately, you can look at various economies where our populations are decreasing. And quite frankly, we’re getting older. And so, were you’re thinking of the context of that senior living facilities, it becomes a really important part, not just as part of the healthcare solution that come with it, but also from living as well. So, single-family, multifamily, opportunities continue to be something that the world looks at because there is really the shortfall of available properties for people to live in. And as the communities evolve to support the growing age of the population, tremendous opportunity there too. But we won’t give up on office space. It really isn’t going away. Now, if you even think about our younger generation here in BlackRock, they love being in New York, they love being in London, they love being in Hong Kong. So, the shape and the footprint may change slightly. But the necessity to be in the major financial centers, it still exists. But how we weighed the risks has definitely changed, certainly, for the – for the short-term and medium-term future. But real estate continues to be, Barry, a critical part of how we express our thought around the investment opportunity set. But clients largely do this themselves too. The direct investing from the clients is quite significant because they too see this as still as a rich investment ground, albeit, one that has changed quite a bit as a result of COVID. RITHOLTZ: Well, I’m fascinated by the real estate issue especially having seen some massive construction take place in cities pre-pandemic, look over in Manhattan at Hudson Yards and look at what’s taking place in London, not just the center of London but all – but all around it and I’m forced to admit the future is going to look somewhat different than the past with some hybrid combination of collaborative work in the office and remote work from home when it’s convenient, that sort of suggests that we now have an excess of capacity in office space. Do you see it that way or is this just something that we’re going to grow into and just the nature of working in offices is changing but offices are not going away? CONWAY: Yes. I do think there’s – it’s a very valid point and that in certain cities, you will see access, in others we just don’t, Barry. And quite frankly, as a firm, too, as you know, we have adopted flexibility with our teams that were very fortunate. The technologies in which we created at BlackRock has just become such an amazing enabler, not just to help us as we mention manage the portfolios, help us a better portfolio construction, understand risks, but also to communicate with our clients. I think we’ve all witnessed and experienced a way to have connectivity that allows them to believe that commerce can exist beyond the boundaries of one building. However, I do look at our property portfolios and even the things that we’re doing. Rent collections still being extraordinarily high, occupancy now getting back up to pre-pandemic levels, not in all cities, but in many of the major ones that have reopened. And certainly, the demand for people to just socialize, that the demand for human connectivity is really high. It’s palpable, right? We see it here too. The smiles on people’s faces, they’re back in the office, conversing together, innovating together. When people were feeling unsafe, unquestionably, I think the question marks around the role of office space was really brought to bear. But as were coming through this, as you’ve seen vaccine rates change, as you’ve seen the infection rates fall, as you’ve seen confidence grow, the return to work is really happening and return to work to office work is really happening, albeit, now with degrees of flexibility. So, going back to the – I do believe in certain areas. You’re seeing a surplus. But in many areas you’re absolutely seeing a deficit and the reason I say that, Barry, is we are seeing occupancy in certain building at such a high level. And frankly, the demand for more space being so high, it’s uneven and this goes back to then where do you invest our client’s capital, making sense of those trends, predicting where you will see resilience versus stress and building that into the portfolio of consequences as you – as you better risk manage and mitigate. RITHOLTZ: Very interesting. And so, we are seeing this transition across a lot of different segments of investing, are you seeing any products that were or – or investing styles that was once thought of as primarily institutional that are sort of working their way towards the retail side of things? Meaning going from institutional to accredited to mom-and-pop investors? CONWAY: Well, certainly, in the past, private equity was really an asset class for institutional investors. And I think that’s – that has changed in a very profound way. I mentioned earlier are the regulation has become a more adaptive, but we also have heard, in many respects, in providing this access. And I think the perception of owning and be part of this illiquid investment opportunity set was hard to stomach because many didn’t understand the attributes and what it could bring and I think we’ve been trying to solve for that and what you’re seeing now with – with regulators, understanding that the difference between if we take it quite simply as DD versus DC, the differences between the options you as a participant in a retirement plan are so vastly different that – and I think there’s a broad recognition now that there needs to be more equity with regard to what happens there. And private equity been a really established part of the alternatives marketplace was once, I think, really believed to be an institutional asset class, but albeit now has become much more accessible to wealth. We’ve seen it by structuring activities in Europe working with the regulators. Now, we’re able to provide private equity exposure to clients across the continent and really getting access to what was historically very much an institutional asset class. And I do think the receptivity is extraordinarily high just throughout people’s careers, they have seen wealth been created as a result of engineering a great outcome with great management teams integrate business. And I do believe the receptivity towards private equity is high as an example. In the U.S., too, working with the various intermediaries and being able to wrap now private equity in a ’40 Act fund, for example, is possible. And by being able to deliver that to the many as opposed to the few, we think has been a very good success story. And I think, obviously, appreciated by our clients as well. So, I would look at that were seeing across private equity as well as private credit and quite frankly infrastructure accuracy. You’re seeing now regulation that’s becoming more appreciative of these asset classes, you’re seeing a more – a greater level of openness and willingness to allow for these assets to be part of many people’s experiences across their investment portfolio. And now, with innovation around structures, as an industry, were able to wrap these investments in a way that our clients can really access them. So, think across the board, it probably speaks the innovation that’s happening but I do think that accessibility has changed in a very significant way. But you’ve really seen it happen in private equity first and now that’s expanding across these various other asset classes. RITHOLTZ: Quite intriguing. I know I only have you for a relatively limited period of time, so let’s jump to our favorite questions that we ask all of our guests. Starting with tell us what you’ve been streaming these days. Give us your favorite Netflix or Amazon Prime shows. CONWAY: That is an interesting question, Barry. I don’t a hell of a lot of TV, I got to tell you. I am – I keep busy with three wonderful children and a beautiful wife and between the sports activities. When I do watch TV, I have to tell you I’m addicted to sports and having – I may have mentioned earlier, growing up playing rugby which is not the most common sport in the U.S., I stream nonstop the Six Nations that happens in Europe where Ireland is one of those six nations that compete against each other on an annual basis. Right now, they’re playing a lot of sites that are touring for the southern hemisphere. And to me, the free times I have is either enjoying golf or really enjoying rugby because I think it’s an extraordinary sport. Obviously, very physical, but very enjoyable to watch. And that, that truly is my passion outside of family. RITHOLTZ: Interesting stuff. Tell us a bit about your mentors, who helped to shape your early career? CONWAY: Well, it even goes back to some of the aspects of sports. Playing on a team and being on a field where you’re working together, there’s a strategy involved with that. Now, I used to really appreciate how we approach playing in the All-Ireland League. How we thought about our opponents, how we thought about the structure, how we thought about each individual with on the rugby field and the team having a role. They’re all different but your role. And actually, even starting from an early age, Barry, thinking about, I don’t know, it’s sports but how to build a great team with those various skills, perspective, that can be a really, really powerful combination when done well. And certainly, from an early age, that allowed me to appreciate that – actually, in the work environment, it’s not too different. You surround yourself with just really great people that have high integrity that are empathetic and have a degree of humility that when working together, good things can happen. And I will say, it really started at sports. But I think of today and even in BlackRock, how Larry Fink thinks about the world and I think Larry, truly, is a visionary. And then Rob Kapito who really helps lead the charge across our various businesses. Speaking and conversing with them on a daily basis, getting their perspectives, trying to get inside your head and thinking about the world from their vantage point. To me, it’s a huge thing about my ongoing personal career and development and I really enjoy those moments because I think what you recognize is independent of how much you think you know, there’s so much more to know. And this journey is an ever evolving one where you have to appreciate that you’ll never know everything and you need to be a student every single day. So, I’d probably cite those, Barry, as certainly the two most important mentors in my life today, professionally and personally quite frankly. RITHOLTZ: Really. Very interesting. Let’s talk about what you’re reading these days. Tell us about some of your favorite books and what you’re reading currently? CONWAY: Barry, what I love to read, I love to read history, believe it or not. From a very small country that seems to have exported many, many people, love to understand the history of Ireland. So, there’s so many books. And having three children that have been born in the U.S. and my wife is a New Yorker, trying to help them understand some of their history and what made them what they are. I love delving into Irish history and how the country had moments of greatness and moments of tremendous struggle. Outside of that, I really don’t enjoy science fiction or any of these books. I love reading, you name any paper and any magazine on a daily basis. Unfortunately, I wake at about 4:30, 5 o’clock every day. I spent my first two hours of the day just consuming as much information as possible. I enjoy it. But it’s all – it’s really investment-related magazines, not books. It’s every paper that you could possibly imagine, Barry, and I just – I have a great appreciation for certainly trying to be a student of the world because that’s what we’re operating in an I find it just a very interesting avenue to get an appreciation to for the, not just the opportunities, but the challenges we’re collectively facing as a society but also as a business. RITHOLTZ: I’m with you on that mass consumption of investing-related news. It sounds like you and I have the same a morning routine. Let’s talk about of what sort of advice you would give to a recent college graduate who was interested in a career of alternative investments? CONWAY: Well, the industry has – it’s just gone through such extraordinary growth and the difference, when I’ve started versus today, the career opportunity set has changed so much. And I think I try to remind anyone of our analysts who come into each one of our annual classes, right, as we bring in the new recruits. I think about how talented they are for us, Barry, and how privileged we all are to be in this industry and work for the clients that we do. It’s just such an honor to do that. But I kind of – I try to remind them of that. At the end of the day, whether you’re supporting an institution, that institution is the face of many people in the background and alternatives has really now become such an important part of their experience and we talked about earlier just this challenge of retirement, if we do a good job, these institutions that support the many, they can have, hopefully, a retirement that involves dignity and they can have an ability to do things they so wanted to do as they work so hard over their lives. Getting that that personal connection and allowing for those newbies to understand that that’s the effect that you can have, an alternatives whether it’s private equity, real estate, infrastructure, private credit, hedge funds, all of these now, with the scale at which they’re operating at can allow for a great career. But my advice to them is always don’t forget your career is supporting other people. And that comes directly to how we intersect with wealth channel, it comes indirectly as a result of the institutions. And it’s such a privilege to do that. I didn’t envision when I grew up, as I mentioned, my first job, milking cows and back in a small town in the middle of Ireland that I would be one day leading an alternatives business within BlackRock. I see that as a great privilege. So, for those who are joining afresh, hopefully, try to remind them that it is for all of us and show up with empathy, dignity, compassion, and do the best you can, and hopefully, these people be sure will serve them well. RITHOLTZ: And our final question, what you know about the world of alternative investing today you wish you knew 25 years or so ago when you were first getting started? CONWAY: I think if we had invested much more heavily as an industry in technology, we would not be in the position we are today. And I say that, Barry, from a number of aspects. I mentioned in this shortfall of information our clients are dealing with today. They’re making choices to divest from one asset class to invest in another. To do that and do that effectively, they need great transparency, they needed real-time in many respects, it can’t be just a quarterly line basis. And if we had been better prepared as an industry to provide the technology and the data to help our clients really appreciate what it is they own, how we’re managing the assets on their behalf, I think they would be so much better served. I think we’re very fortunate at this firm to have built a business on the back of technology for albeit 30 plus years and were investing over $1 billion a year in technology as I’m sure you know. But we need to see more of that in the industry. So, the client experience is so important, stop, let’s demystify alternatives. It’s not that alternative. Let’s provide education and data and it’s become so large relative to other asset classes, the need to support, to educate, and transmit information, not data, information, so our client understand it, is at a paramount now. And I think it certainly as an industry, things have to change there. If I knew how big the growth would have been and how prominent these asset classes were becoming, I would oppose so much harder on that front 30 years ago. RITHOLTZ: Thank you, Edwin, for being so generous with your time. We’ve been speaking with Edwin Conway. He is the head of Blackrock Investor Alternatives Group. If you enjoy this conversation, please check out all of our prior discussions. You can find those at iTunes, Spotify, wherever you get your podcast at. We love your comments, feedback and suggestions. Write to us at MIB podcast@Bloomberg.net. You can sign up for my daily reads at ritholtz.com. Check out my weekly column at Bloomberg.com/opinion. Follow me on Twitter, @ritholtz. I would be remiss if I did not thank the crack team that helps put these conversations together each week. Mohammed ph is my audio engineer. Paris Wald is my producer, Michael Batnick is my head of research, Atika Valbrun is our project manager. I’m Barry Ritholtz, you’ve been listening to Masters in Business on Bloomberg Radio.   ~~~   The post Transcript: Edwin Conway appeared first on The Big Picture......»»

Category: blogSource: TheBigPictureNov 22nd, 2021

Futures Tumble, Oil And Treasury Yields Plunge As Lockdowns Return

Futures Tumble, Oil And Treasury Yields Plunge As Lockdowns Return Having briefly touched new all time highs of 4,723.5 overnight, S&P futures tumbled shortly after Europe opened as a fourth wave of the pandemic in Europe resulted in a new lockdown in Austria and the prospect of similar action in Germany wiped out earlier gains and forced stock markets down close to 1% as it overshadowed optimism about corporate earnings and the economic recovery. Friday is also a major options-expiry day, which could trigger volatility in equities. Two progressive Democratic senators said they oppose the renomination of Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell to a second term, because he "refuses to recognize climate change" joining Elizabeth Warren in urging President Joe Biden to choose someone else. S&P and Dow futures fell tracking losses in banks, airlines, and other economically sensitive sectors. Uncertainty over rising inflation and the Federal Reserve's tightening also kept demand for value stocks low. At 745am Dow e-minis were down 218 points, or 0.609%. S&P 500 e-minis were down 12.25 points, or 0.26% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 68 points, or 0.41%. With the lockdown trade storming back, Nasdaq futures hit a record high on Friday as investors sought economically stable sectors after a small delay in voting on President Joe Biden's $1.75 trillion spending bill, while fears of Europe-wide lockdowns sent yields plunging. The U.S. House of Representatives early on Friday delayed an anticipated vote on passage of Biden's social programs and climate change investment bill, and will instead reconvene at 8 a.m. EST (1300 GMT) to complete the legislation “Everyone is holding his and her breath to find out who will be the next Fed Chair,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote. “More or less dovish, will it really matter? The one that will take or keep the helm of the Fed will need to hike rates at some point.” Among major premarket movers, Intuit Inc jumped 10.3% as brokerages raised their price targets on the income tax software company after it beat quarterly estimates and raised forecast. The stock was the top S&P 500 gainer in premarket trade. Chipmaker Nvidia also boosted Nasdaq futures, rising 1.7% in heavy trade after posting strong quarterly results late Wednesday. On the other end, Applied Materials dropped 5.7% after the chipmaker forecast first-quarter sales and profit below market estimates on supply chain woes. Oil firms Exxon and Chevron slipped 2.1% and 1.8% as crude prices sank, while big banks including JPMorgan and Bank of America were down between 0.9% and 1.1%, tracking a fall in U.S. Treasury yields. Carriers Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines and cruiseliners Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival Corp fell between 1.4% and 2.3%. Here are all the other notable movers: Farfetch (FTCH US) shares drop 23% after the online apparel retailer reported 3Q revenue that missed estimates and trimmed its FY forecast for digital platform gross merchandise value growth. Analysts see scope for the shares to stay in the “penalty box” in the near term, but recommend buying on weakness. Workday (WDAY US) analysts say that the software firm’s strong quarterly results and guidance were not quite enough to meet high expectations. The stock dropped as much as 11% in extended trading on Thursday. Intuit (INTU US) climbed 9.7% in premarket as analysts said the tax software company posted strong results that were ahead of expectations and raised its outlook. Several increased their price targets for the stock, including a new Street high at Barclays. Palo Alto Networks (PANW US) shares rise 2.8% in U.S. premarket trading after the cyber- security firm reports results and hikes full-year sales guidance, with RBC saying co. saw a strong quarter. Tesla (TSLA US) shares dip 0.5% in premarket trading. The EV maker’s price target is raised to a joint Street-high at Wedbush, with the broker saying that the EV “revolution” presents a $5t market opportunity over the next decade. Datadog (DDOG US) rises 1.8% after it is upgraded to outperform from sector perform at RBC, with the broker saying that it has more conviction on the software firm following its TMIT conference. Mammoth Energy (TUSK US) jumps as much as 34% in U.S. premarket trading after the energy-services company said a subsidiary has been awarded a contract by a major utility to help build electric-vehicle charging station infrastructure. Ross Stores (ROST US) shares dropped 2.2% in postmarket trading on Thursday after its profit outlook for fourth quarter missed the average analyst estimate. In Europe, banks and carmakers led the Stoxx Europe 600 Index down 0.3%, reversing early gains. Fears of fresh lockdowns have hit travel stocks, but boosted the delivery sector and other pandemic winners, with German meal-kit company HelloFresh jumping as much as 7.1% to a record. Stoxx Europe 600 index tumbled after Germany’s health minister said he couldn’t rule out a lockdown as infections surge relentlessly in the region’s largest economy. That came after Austria said it would enter a nationwide lockdown from Monday. Here are some of the biggest European movers today: Ocado shares jump as much as 8.4%, the most intraday since November 2020, after a Deutsche Bank note on joint venture partner Marks & Spencer highlighted scope for a potential transaction. VGP shares gain as much as 7.7% to a record after KBC raised its rating to accumulate from hold, based on a “strong” 10-month trading update. HelloFresh shares surge as much as 7.1% and other lockdown beneficiaries including Delivery Hero, Logitech and Zalando gain after the German health minister says a lockdown can’t be ruled out. Mall landlords Unibail and Klepierre and duty-free retailer Dufry drop. Truecaller shares rise as much as 14% after it received its first analyst initiations after last month’s IPO. Analysts highlighted the company’s potential for continued strong growth. JPMorgan called current growth momentum “unparalleled.” Hermes shares jump as much as 5.2% to a fresh record, rising for a seventh day, amid optimism that the stock may be added to the Euro Stoxx 50 Index as soon as next month. Shares also rise after bullish current- trading comments of peer Prada. Kingfisher shares drop as much as 5.8%, even after the home-improvement retailer said it expects profit to be toward the higher end of its forecast. Investor focus has probably shifted to 2022, and Friday’s update doesn’t have any guidance for next year, according to Berenberg. GB Group shares tumble as much as 18%, the most since October 2016, after the identity-verification software company raised about GBP300m in a placing of new shares at a discount. Mode Global shares sink as much as 19%, reversing most of this week’s gains, after it said some brands had withdrawn the company as an affiliate. In Fx, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index jumped at the London open and the greenback was higher versus all of its Group-of-10 fears apart from yen. Norway’s krone was the biggest loser as energy prices prices dropped after Austria announced a nationwide lockdown starting on Monday, while Germany’s health minister refused to rule out closures in the country.  The pound fell on the back of a stronger dollar; data showed U.K. retail sales rose for the first time in six months as consumers snapped up toys, sports equipment and clothing, while the cost of servicing U.K. government debt more than tripled in October from a year earlier due to surging inflation The euro plunged by 1% to a new YTD low of $1.1255 as the repricing in the front-end of euro options suggests the common currency is settling within a new range. The euro is also falling at the end of the week following the announcement that Austria will begin a 20-day full Covid-19 lockdown from Monday in response to surging case numbers which have far surpassed last year's peak. While fatalities remains well below the peak, they are accelerating and the government is clearly keen to arrest it before the situation potentially becomes much worse. With Germany seeing a similar trend, the question now becomes whether the regions largest economy will follow the same path. Its Health Minister, Jens Spahn, today suggested nothing can be ruled out and that they are in a national emergency. In rates, Treasury yields fell by around 4bps across the board and the bunds yield curve bull flattened, with money markets pushing back bets on a 10bps ECB rate hike further into 2023. Treasury 10-year yields richer by 4.5bp on the day at around 1.54% and toward lows of the weekly range -- bunds, gilts outperform Treasuries by 1bp and 1.5bp in the sector as traders reassess impact of future ECB rate hikes. Treasuries rally across the curve, following wider gains across EGB’s and gilts as investors weigh the impact of further European lockdowns amid a fourth wave of Covid-19. Flight-to-quality pushes Treasury yields lower by up to 5bp across front- and belly of the curve, which slightly outperform.  Bunds and Treasury swap spreads widen, while gilts move tighter as risk assets mostly trade to the downside and demand for havens increases on news regarding coronavirus restrictions. German 10-year swap spreads climbed above 50bps for the first time since March 2020. In commodities, spot gold is little changed around $1,860/oz, while base metals are in the green, with LME copper and aluminum leading peers. Oil tumbled with WTI and Brent contracts down well over 2%.  Brent crudes brief dip below $80 was short-lived on Thursday and prices were continuing to recover on the final trading day of the week until Austria announced its lockdown. Brent crude quickly reversed course and trades almost 2% lower on the day as it takes another run at $80. Oil has been declining over the last week as demand forecasts have been pared back, OPEC and the IEA have warned of oversupply in the coming months and the US has attempted to coordinate an SPR release with China and others. The market still remains fundamentally in a good position but lockdowns are now an obvious risk to this if other countries follow Austria's lead. A move below $80 could deepen the correction, perhaps pulling the price back towards the mid-$70 region. This looks more likely now than it did a day ago and if Germany announces similar measures, it could be the catalyst for such a move. Perhaps OPEC+ knows what it's talking about after all. Looking at To the day ahead now, there is no macro news; central bank speakers include ECB President Lagarde, Bundesbank President Weidmann, Fed Vice Chair Clarida, the Fed’s Waller and BoE Chief Economist Pill. Separately, data highlights include UK retail sales and German PPI for October. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures down 0.09% to 4,696.25 STOXX Europe 600 up 0.2% to 488.66 MXAP little changed at 199.11 MXAPJ down 0.2% to 648.18 Nikkei up 0.5% to 29,745.87 Topix up 0.4% to 2,044.53 Hang Seng Index down 1.1% to 25,049.97 Shanghai Composite up 1.1% to 3,560.37 Sensex down 0.6% to 59,636.01 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.2% to 7,396.55 Kospi up 0.8% to 2,971.02 Brent Futures little changed at $81.17/bbl Gold spot up 0.1% to $1,860.34 U.S. Dollar Index up 0.43% to 95.96 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.32% Euro down 0.6% to $1.1304 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Germany’s Covid crisis is about to go from bad to worse, setting the stage for a grim Christmas in Europe. With infections surging relentlessly and authorities slow to act amid a change in power, experts warn that serious cases and deaths will keep climbing Austria will enter a nationwide lockdown from Monday as a record spike in coronavirus cases threatens to overwhelm the country’s health care system The pundits are coming for the Fed and Chair Jerome Powell. Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic adviser to Allianz SE and a Bloomberg Opinion columnist, recently said the central bank has made one of the worst inflation calls in its history. Writing in the Financial Times, the economist Willem Buiter called on the Fed to abandon the more flexible inflation target it established last year Bitcoin continued its slide Thursday, falling for a fifth consecutive day as it slipped below $57,000 for the first time since October, in a retreat from record highs. The world’s largest cryptocurrency hasn’t slumped that long since the five days that ended May 16 House Democrats pushed expected passage of President Joe Biden’s $1.64 trillion economic agenda to Friday as Republican leader Kevin McCarthy delayed a vote with a lengthy floor speech that lasted into the early morning hours ECB President Christine Lagarde said policy makers “must not rush into a premature tightening when faced with passing or supply- driven inflation shocks” Markets are increasingly nervous about the common currency with the pandemic resurgent, geopolitical tensions rising and gas supply issues mounting A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asia-Pac stocks traded mostly positive after the mixed performance stateside where the S&P 500 and Nasdaq notched fresh record closes, but cyclicals lagged as comments from Senator Manchin cast some uncertainty on the Build Back Better bill. The ASX 200 (+0.2%) was rangebound with upside in healthcare and consumer stocks offset by weakness in tech and a lacklustre mining sector. Crown Resorts (CWN AT) was the stellar performer after it received an unsolicited, non-binding takeover proposal from Blackstone (BX) valued at AUD 12.50/shr which boosted its shares by around 16%, although gains in the broader market were limited as COVID-19 concerns lingered following a further jump of cases in Victoria state. The Nikkei 225 (+0.5%) benefitted from a mostly weaker currency and after PM Kishida confirmed the details of the incoming stimulus package valued at a total JPY 79tln including JPY 56tln in fiscal spending. The KOSPI (+0.8%) was also positive but with gains initially capped as South Korean wholesale inflation surged to a 13-year high and further added to the case for the BoK to hike rates for the second time this year at next week’s meeting. The Hang Seng (-1.1%) and Shanghai Comp. (+1.1%) were mixed with the mainland kept afloat amid press reports that China is considering measures to reduce taxes and fees by up to CNY 500bln, although the mainland was initially slow to start after another liquidity drain by the PBoC and with stocks in Hong Kong spooked amid substantial losses in Alibaba following a miss on its earnings and Country Garden Services suffered on reopening from the announcement of a 150mln-share placement. Finally, 10yr JGBs were rangebound with mild gains seen after the modest bull flattening stateside, but with upside restricted amid the gains in Japanese stocks and lack of BoJ purchases, as well as the incoming fiscal spending and extra budget from the Kishida government. Top Asian News Bitcoin Falls Almost 20% Since Record as Crypto Bulls Retreat Singapore’s Insignia Ventures Intensifies Push Into Healthtech Binance Chief Zhao Buys His First Home in ‘Pro-Crypto’ Dubai Property Stocks Surge; Land Sale Rules Eased: Evergrande Update The earlier positive sentiment in Europe dissipated amid a string of back-to-back downbeat COVID updates – with Austria now resorting to a full-scale lockdown and Germany sounding alarms over their domestic COVID situation and not ruling out its own lockdown. European bourses flipped from the mostly positive trade at the open to a negative picture (Euro Stoxx 50 -0.5%; Stoxx 600 Unch), with headlines also flagging the European stock market volatility gauge jumping to three-week highs. It is also worth noting the monthly option expiries for stocks today, with desks pointing to the second-largest expiry day on record. US equity futures have also seen headwinds from the pullback in Europe, but US futures are mixed with the NQ (+0.4%) benefitting from the slide in yields. Back to Europe, Austria’s ATX (-1.0%) sit as the laggard after the Austrian Chancellor said a full domestic COVID lockdown will be imposed as of Monday for a maximum of 20 days with compulsory vaccination from 1st February 2022. Switzerland’s SMI (+0.2%) owes its gains to the defensive flows into healthcare propping up heavyweights Novartis (+0.5%) and Roche (+0.7%). Sectors overall are mostly negative with Healthcare the current winner, whilst Tech benefits from the yield slump and Basic Resources recover from yesterday’s slide as base metals rebound. The downside sees Banks on yield dynamics, whilst Oil & Gas lost the ranks as crude prices were spooked by the COVID headlines emanating from Europe. In terms of individual movers, Ocado (+6%) resides at the top of the FTSE 100 – with some citing a Deutsche Bank note which suggested shareholder Marks & Spencer could be mulling a buyout, although the note is seemingly speculation as opposed to chatter. Top European News Ryanair Drops London Listing Over Brexit Compliance Hassles ECB Mustn’t Tighten Despite ‘Painful’ Inflation, Lagarde Says Austria to Lock Down, Impose Compulsory Covid Vaccinations German Covid Measures May Bolster ECB Stimulus Stance: El-Erian In FX, it remains to be seen whether the Dollar can continue to climb having descended from the summit, and with no obvious fundamental drivers on the agenda in terms of US data that has been instrumental, if not quite wholly responsible for the recent bull run. However, external and technical factors may provide the Greenback and index with enough momentum to rebound further, as the COVID-19 situation continues to deteriorate in certain parts of Europe especially. Meanwhile, the mere fact that the DXY bounced off a shallower low and appears to have formed a base above 95.500 is encouraging from a chart perspective, and only the Yen as a safer haven is arguably capping the index ahead of the aforementioned w-t-d peak within 95.554-96.090 extremes. Ahead, more Fed rhetoric and this time via Waller and Clarida. EUR - The Euro has been hit hardest by the Greenback revival, but also the latest pandemic waves that have forced Austria into total lockdown and are threatening to see Germany follow suit. Moreover, EGBs are front-running the latest squeeze amidst risk-off trade in stocks, oil and other commodities to widen spreads vs Treasuries and the divergence between the ECB/Fed and other more hawkishly or less dovishly positioned. Hence, Eur/Usd has reversed further from circa 1.1374 through 1.1350 and 1.1300, while Eur/Yen is eyeing 128.50 vs almost 130.00 at one stage and Eur/Chf is probing fresh multi-year lows around 1.0450. NZD/GBP/AUD/CAD - All catching contagion due to their high beta, cyclical or activity currency stature, with the Kiwi back under 0.7000, Pound hovering fractionally above 1.3400, Aussie beneath 0.7250 and Loonie striving to contain declines beyond 1.2650 pre-Canadian retail sales against the backdrop of collapsing crude prices. JPY/CHF - As noted above, the Yen is offering a bit more protection than its US counterpart and clearly benefiting from the weakness in global bond yields until JGBs catch up, with Usd/Jpy down from 114.50+ towards 113.80, but the Franc is showing its allure as a port in the storm via the Euro cross rather than vs the Buck as Usd/Chf holds above 0.9250. In commodities, WTI and Brent front month futures retreated with the trigger point being back-to-back COVID updates – with Austria confirming a full-scale lockdown from Monday and Germany not ruling out its own lockdown. Crude futures reacted to the prospect of a slowdown in activity translating to softer demand. That being said, COVID only represents one factor in the supply/demand equation. Oil consuming nations are ramping up rhetoric and are urging OPEC+ to release oil. The White House confirmed the US discussed a possible joint release of oil from reserves with China and other countries, while it reiterated that it has raised the need for available oil supply in the market with OPEC. Meanwhile, the Japanese Cabinet said it will urge oil-producing nations to increase output and work closely with the IEA amid risks from energy costs. Further, energy journalists have also been flagging jitters of Chinese crude demand amid the likelihood of another tax probe into independent refiners. All in all, a day of compounding bearish updates (thus far) has prompted the contracts to erase all of their APAC gains, with WTI Dec just above USD 76/bbl (76.06-79.33/bbl range) and Brent Jan back under USD 79/bbl (78.75-82.24/bbl range). Elsewhere, spot gold saw a pop higher around the flurry of European COVID updates and despite a firmer Buck – pointing to haven flows into the yellow metal – which is nonetheless struggling to convincingly sustain a breach its overnight highs around USD 1,860/oz and we are attentive to a key fib at USD 1876/oz. Base metals prices are relatively mixed but have waned off best levels amid the risk aversion that crept into the markets, but LME copper holds onto a USD 9,500+/t status. US Event Calendar Nothing major scheduled Central Banks 10:45am: Fed’s Waller Discusses the Economic Outlook 12:15pm: Fed’s Clarida Discusses Global Monetary Policy Coordination DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap It was another mixed session for markets yesterday, with equities and other assets continuing to trade around their recent highs even as a number of risk factors were increasingly piling up on the horizon. By the close of trade, the S&P 500 had advanced +0.34% to put the index at its all-time high, whilst oil prices pared back their losses from earlier in the day to move higher. That said, there was more of a risk-off tone in Europe as the latest Covid wave continues to gather pace, with the STOXX 600 (-0.46%) snapping a run of 6 successive gains and being up on 17 out of the previous 19 days as it fell back from its all-time high the previous day, as haven assets including sovereign bonds were the beneficiaries. Starting with those equity moves, it was difficult to characterise yesterday’s session in some ways, since although the S&P advanced +0.34%, it was driven by a relatively narrow group of sectors, with only a third of the index’s components actually moving higher on the day. Indeed, to find a bigger increase in the S&P 500 on fewer advancing companies, one needs to go back to March 2000 (though it came close one day in August 2020, when the index advanced +0.32% on 153 advancing companies). Consumer discretionary (+1.49%) and tech (+1.02%) stocks were the only sectors to materially advance. Nvidia (+8.25%), the world’s largest chipmaker, was a key outperformer, and posted very strong third quarter earnings and revised higher fourth quarter guidance. Following the strong day, Nvidia jumped into the top ten S&P 500 companies by market cap, ending yesterday at number eight. The S&P gain may have been so narrow due to some negative chatter about President Biden’s build back better package, with CNN’s Manu Raju tweeting that Senator Joe Manchin “just told me he has NOT decided on whether to vote to proceed to the Build Back Better bill.” Manchin’s position in a 50-50 senate has given him an enormous amount of influence, and separate comments created another set of headlines yesterday on the Fed Chair decision, after The Hill reported Manchin saying that he’s “looking very favourably” at supporting Chair Powell if he were re-nominated, following a chat between the two about inflation. Mr Manchin is seemingly one of the most powerful people in the world at the moment. While the Senate still presents a hurdle for the President’s build back better bill, House Democrats are close to voting on the bill but couldn’t last night due to a three hour speech by House Republican leader McCarthy. It will probably happen this morning. This follows the Congressional Budget Office’s ‘score’ of the bill, which suggested the deficit would increase by $367bn as a result of the bill, higher figures than the White House suggested, but low enough to garner support from moderate House Democrats. Over in Europe there was a much weaker session yesterday, with the major equity indices falling across the continent amidst mounting concern over the Covid-19 pandemic. Germany is making another forceful push to combat the recent increase in cases, including expanded vaccination efforts, encouraging work from home, and restricting public transportation for unvaccinated individuals. Elsewhere, the Czech Republic’s government said that certain activities will be limited to those who’ve been vaccinated or had the virus in the last six months, including access to restaurants and hairdressers. Slovakia also agreed a similar move to prevent the unvaccinated accessing shopping malls, whilst Hungary is expanding its mask mandate to indoor spaces from Monday. Greece imposed further restrictions for its unvaccinated population. So a theme of placing more of the restrictions in Europe on the unvaccinated at the moment and trying to protect the freedoms of those jabbed for as long as possible. That risk-off tone supported sovereign bonds in Europe, with yields on 10yr bunds (-3.0bps), OATs (-4.1bps) and BTPs (-5.5bps) all moving lower. That was a larger decline relative to the US, where yields on 10yr Treasuries were only down -0.3bps to 1.59%, with lower real yields driving the decline. One asset class with some pretty sizeable moves yesterday was FX, where a bunch of separate headlines led to various currencies hitting multi-year records. Among the G10 currencies, the Swiss Franc hit its strongest level against the euro in over 6 years yesterday on an intraday basis. That came as the Covid wave has strengthened demand for haven assets, though it went on to weaken later in the day to close down -0.15%. Meanwhile, the Norwegian Krone was the weakest G10 performer (-0.72% vs USD) after the Norges Bank said it would be stopping its daily foreign exchange sales on behalf of the government for the rest of the month. Finally in EM there were some even bigger shifts, with the Turkish Lira falling to a record low against the US dollar, which follows the central bank’s decision to cut interest rates by 100bps, in line with expectations. And then in South Africa, the Rand also fell to its weakest in over a year, in spite of the central bank’s decision to hike rates, after the decision was interpreted dovishly. Overnight in Asia stocks are trading mostly higher led by the Nikkei (+0.45%), KOSPI (+0.43%), Shanghai Composite (+0.34%) and CSI (+0.18%). The Hang Seng (-1.76%) is sharply lower and fairly broad based but is being especially dragged down by Alibaba which dived -11% after it downgraded its outlook for fiscal year 2022 and missed sales estimate for the second quarter. Elsewhere in Japan headline CPI for October came in at +0.1% year-on-year (+0.2% consensus & +0.2% previous) while core CPI matched expectations at +0.1% year-on-year. The numbers reflect plunging mobile phone fees offsetting a 21% surge in gas prices. If the low mobile phone costs are stripped out, core inflation would be at 1.7% according to a Bloomberg calculation. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is expected to deliver a bigger than expected stimulus package worth YEN 78.9 trillion ($690 bn) according to Bloomberg. We should know more tomorrow. Moving on futures are pointing to a positive start in US and Europe with S&P 500 (+0.42%) and DAX (+0.39%) futures both up. Turning to commodities, oil prices had been on track to move lower before paring back those losses, with Brent Crude (+1.20%) and WTI (+0.83%) both up by the close and edging up around half this amount again in Asia. That comes amidst continued chatter regarding strategic oil releases, and follows comments from a spokeswoman from China’s National Food and Strategic Reserves Administration, who Reuters reported as saying that they were releasing crude oil reserves. New York Fed President, and Vice Chair of the FOMC, John Williams, upgraded his assessment of inflation in public remarks yesterday. A heretofore stalwart member of team transitory, he noted that they wouldn’t want to see inflation expectations move much higher from here, and that recent price pressures have been broad-based, driving underlying inflation higher. Williams is one of the so-called core members of FOMC leadership, so his view carries some weight and is a useful barometer of momentum within the FOMC. Indeed, Chicago Fed President Evans, one of the most resolutely dovish Fed Presidents, expressed similar sentiment, recognising that rate hikes may need to come as early as 2022 given the circumstances. There wasn’t much in the way of data yesterday, though the weekly initial jobless claims from the US for the week through November 13 came in higher than expected at 268k (vs. 260k expected), and the previous week’s reading was also revised up +2k. That said, the 4-week moving average now stands at a post-pandemic low of 272.75k. Otherwise, the Philadelphia Fed’s manufacturing business outlook survey surprised to the upside at 39.0 in November (vs. 24.0 expected), the highest since April. That had signs of price pressures persisting, with prices paid up to 80.0, the highest since June, and prices received up to 62.9, the highest since June 1974. Finally, the Kansas City Fed’s manufacturing index for November fell to 24 (vs. 28 expected). To the day ahead now, and central bank speakers include ECB President Lagarde, Bundesbank President Weidmann, Fed Vice Chair Clarida, the Fed’s Waller and BoE Chief Economist Pill. Separately, data highlights include UK retail sales and German PPI for October. Tyler Durden Fri, 11/19/2021 - 08:11.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytNov 19th, 2021

The Metaverse - Much, Much Bigger Than Facebook

The Metaverse - Much, Much Bigger Than Facebook Authored by Bill Blain via MorningPorridge.com, “I’m serious. She could actually be a 300-pound dude who lives in his momma’s basement in suburban Detroit. And her name is Chuck.” Facebook is now Meta, and Meta wants to own the Metaverse. Just what is the Metaverse, what are the opportunities, and can Mark Zuckerberg repeat the success of Facebook by monetising a whole new way of doing business, or is it shaping up to be something much, much more? This morning’s Porridge is dedicated to my new colleague Diaa, who was foolish enough to ask what I thought about Facebook.. he will learn.. As a distraction from worrying about What Biden and Xi actually said to each other, the state of wage inflation across economies, UK vs Yoorp unpleasantness, and wondering what 100,000 armed-to-the-teeth Russians are doing on the Ukraine border (aside from being a classic maskirovka to distract us from what Putin is really doing..), I thought today I might continue my grand tradition of writing about stuff I know I know very little about… So, just what is the Metaverse? What kind of opportunity does it represent? Is it, as so many fantabulous things in this wonderful world are, yet another digital solution in search of a problem? Is it hype or a genuine new trend? Of course, my interest in the Metaverse was pricked 2 weeks ago when Facebook Inc changed its name to Meta. Since then the stock is up 7%, only down 8% from its September high before the recent whistleblower news. A few cynics have suggested the renaming was all about trying to distance and shut-off the recent sordid whistleblower accusations about Facebook. Zuckerberg has previous form as something of a congenital acquisitive hoarder of the future – and he clearly wants to own “the metaverse” with the intention of monetising it. The question, and future value of the firm, ultimately lies in how well he achieves that. The Metaverse concept was first described and named by Science Fiction writer Neal Stephenson – whom I’ve actually read! – right in the very early days of the internet revolution. Way back in 1992 he presented a vision of human avatars inter-reacting in a 3D digital space in the novel “Snow Crash”. He pretty much nailed it – establishing digital life alongside concepts like “proof of work” leading inevitably to the concept of digital currencies, the genesis of Bitcoin, the Blockchain and now Non-Fungible Tokens. Today, the Metaverse is being “imagined” as some kind of Internet version 2.1 – but it’s really describes how we will all integrate digitally. It will offer a more immersive world of deeper engagement into virtual and augmented reality – once the technology catches up with the promises. “Digital Visionaries” are talking about how natural it will become to do everything from shopping, business and living a social life online in the form of single or multiple digital avatars… It informs the world of “Ready Player One” and raises fears about a “Matrix” like future. The thing is – whatever Facebook would have us believe – it’s already happening and has been for some time. The global gaming sector is now infinitely larger than the film industry at over $100 bln per annum.  Fortnite, the game, has become a global sensation, and now includes virtual concerts given by smart artists who see the future potential. The amount of cash spent in-game purchases is over $50 bln, just in the US! My family hails from the Scottish City of Dundee, once famous for “Jam, Jute and Journalism”. In the 30-years post-war, it looked to be in terminal decline, but is now the heart of the UK’s exploding gaming sector and home to best-selling game ever: Grand Theft Auto. (Incidentally, the City’s recovery began in 1982 when the UK’s first commercial UK computer; the ZX Spectrum, was built in Dundee!) It’s a city reborn. Zuckerberg has a problem. His existing brands; Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp will remain essentially unchanged (for now) and are, essentially, advertising companies under competitive and evolutionary threat. They remain the dominant brands in social media advertising, but their user bases are not as sticky as once assumed, and they no longer have a monopoly as social media breaks and fragments into multiple players and themes. Let’s give Zuckerberg some credit for trying to derisk Facebook Meta by diversifying its earnings. The regulatory risks from privacy concerns and the charge its maximised advertising revenues to the detriment of users by targeting them with dangerous social media tosh are huge. How long before an American class action suite emerges for trillions alleging American youth have been mentally damaged by social media? Without Zuckerberg’s unique approach –  I suspect Facebook would be as unlamented as “Friends Reunited” in the social-media graveyard. He is painting the Metaverse he intends to own as a virtual environment where “you can be present with people in digital spaces”, an “embodied internet”, and how it’s going to “succeed the mobile internet”. It’s an opportunity for him to monetise Facebook’s investment in things like the Oculus VR set, and to diversify his earnings from pure (yet risky) advertising to actually selling hard and soft stuff in the Metaverse. Will he succeed in making Meta the dominant venue in the Metaverse? Don’t underestimate the potential for monetisation in the Metaverse. Earlier this year a 17 year old artist, Fewocious, sold 600 digital sneakers in NFT format through an on-line auction for…. $3.08 million. There is now a whole digital fashion universe selling unique NFT apparel gamers can wear on-line. As yet there isn’t a way of being able to dress across the net (enabling digital avatars to wear the same gear across multiple games and in multiple venues), but I’m assured it’s going to happen. There are now a host of earnest fashion designers exclusively focused on digital fashion. There clearly are also real and valuable applications for the metaverse in terms of virtual reality business and education. Effectively, Education when virtual last year when millions of school-kids zoomed an academic year because of Covid. Imagine a future where kids can attend any school they want as digital avatars – interesting, and horrific in terms of real social interaction, not to mention the health consequences of living on line. I’m intrigued by the business potential. Like every other firm we’re wondering just how much office space we really need. How often do clients actually visit the office? Do we all need to be there? Would we not be cheaper and more efficient to continue developing better on-line tools. Instead of one hour zoom calls, what about an on-line digital office open all day? The potential to design and innovate new ways of working in the metaverse are only limited by our imagination! Zuckerberg is a smart fellow who sees all that potential. He knows Facebook is a risk business – the declining numbers of young people using it isn’t compensated for by the ones using Instagram. The dominant younger generation platform is TikTok, which is now part China Government owned after it took an ownership stake in Bytedance. As the Facebook brand inevitably fades its advertising revenues will plummet. Therefore, he is staking the next stage of his brand’s development on his company’s 3D universe. He will find new ways to monetise whatever data Meta can find in its virtual and augmented reality universe – which is not without associated risks to consumers and therefore the company. And that’s where the jury is out – can he make Meta as much a monopoly as Facebook once was? If not, and I suspect its going to be a very crowded space, then Meta’s future is debatable long-term. One final thought – if the Metaverse takes off, then I suspect so does a currency to go with it. I am reassessing Ethereum. Tyler Durden Wed, 11/17/2021 - 19:40.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytNov 17th, 2021

Wall Street analysts reveal why they remain "big believers" in Peloton despite its astonishing "fall from grace"

Peloton's stock price tumbled on Thursday after the high-tech at-home fitness giant reported weaker-than-expected first-quarter earnings results. Peloton Peloton's stock price tumbled on Thursday after it reported weaker-than-expected earnings results. But Wedbush analysts say they aren't losing confidence in the company just yet. At-home fitness is still a big trend and Peloton is a market leader, they said in a note to clients. Peloton's stock price tumbled after the high-tech at-home fitness giant reported weaker-than-expected first-quarter earnings on Thursday and cut its guidance for the year by up to $1 billion. Though some investors have clearly lost confidence, a group of analysts is still bullish about its potential for long-term growth."The fall from grace for Peloton in such a short period of time is fairly astonishing," Wedbush analysts wrote in a note to clients early Friday."Still, we continue to be big believers that the secular trend towards at-home fitness is undeniable and that Peloton is the best bet to be the category leader of this trend," they said.High-tech at-home fitness concepts were gaining ground in the years running up to the pandemic but when consumers found themselves trapped at home, these exploded in popularity and some die-hard gym-goers who were working out at home for the first time said they wouldn't go back to their old ways. Peloton, which is considered to be an early pioneer in the high-tech home fitness space, has led the way with its home exercise bike, treadmill, and virtual classes. The company was well-positioned to benefit from changing habits in the early days of the pandemic and saw sales soar because of this. But as the space has become more crowded, some investors have been skeptical as to whether the company can keep up this momentum.Peloton's earnings results on Thursday were also an indication of how challenging the market has become for home-fitness players post-pandemic as the world starts to go back to normal and people return to gyms. Revenue grew 6% to $805 million in the most recent quarter, compared to 232% growth in the same period a year earlier. Also in the most recent quarter, sales of connected fitness products, such as Bikes and Treads, fell 17% to $501 million. While subscription revenue grew 94% to $304 million, there are signs that subscribers are less engaged. They completed four fewer workouts per month in the quarter compared to a year earlier. But Peloton isn't taking any of this standing still, Wedbush analysts wrote, adding: "the company appears to be pulling every lever available to it."The company now has its work cut out for it in the run-up to the all-important holiday shopping season, these analysts said in an earlier note this week, stressing that it should double down on advertising to raise awareness about its products.That's especially true for its new lower-cost treadmill, they said, which hit the market in August and has so far seen an underwhelming response from customers.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 5th, 2021

Transcript: Sukhinder Singh Cassidy

     The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here. ~~~ BARRY RITHOLTZ, HOST, MASTERS IN BUSINESS: This… Read More The post Transcript: Sukhinder Singh Cassidy appeared first on The Big Picture.      The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here. ~~~ BARRY RITHOLTZ, HOST, MASTERS IN BUSINESS: This week on the podcast, I have an extra special guest. Her name is Sukhinder Singh Cassidy and she has had a fascinating career in technology, starting as an analyst in the investment banking group at Merrill Lynch before going west to join a company that ends up getting purchased by Amazon and she stays at Amazon for a while before leaving to join another startup then ends up doing well. She eventually takes a couple of roles at Google, Google Maps, and then running a couple of other projects, Google International Commerce. And from there, ends up launching a couple of more startups, all of which that have done very, very well. She talks about the process of risk-taking and decision-making and why you can’t think about the risk reward calculus in terms of one big win or lose choice. You have to think about a series of smaller incremental steps that all involve risk and eventually determine the path you take. It’s a good framework for both technology and finance. I thought this conversation was quite fascinating and I found her book to be intriguing as well, “Choose Possibility.” With no further ado, my conversation with Sukhinder Singh Cassidy. VOICEOVER: This is Masters in business with Barry Ritholtz on Bloomberg Radio. SUKHINDER SINGH CASSIDY, PRESIDENT, STUBHUB: My special guest this week is Sukhinder Singh Cassidy. She is a technology executive and serial entrepreneur. Previously, she was president of StubHub, her new book is “Choose Possibility: Take risks and Thrive (Even When You Fail). Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, welcome to Bloomberg. CASSIDY: Thank you so much for having me. Excited to be here. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s talk about your career which is really so interesting. It covers everything from finance and investing banking to technology. Let’s begin at the beginning. You started at Merrill Lynch in the early ’90s, a great time to start in investment banking. What motivated that decision to go into finance? CASSIDY: Well, a couple of things. Number one, I’d say the most more intelligently reason was because I wanted, sort of a base in financial literacy and financial analysis which I thought would be great for any career I had. And then the more emotional reason, honestly, I was at a top undergraduate business school in Canada and all my friends were doing it. RITHOLTZ: Right. CASSIDY: I was like, well, if they’re doing it, I should be doing it too. So, in some ways I call it — I call it a couple cat goal. I’m sure there are many ways I could’ve gotten financial literacy but I was bound and determined to keep pace with my rather competitive colleagues to get a job n Wall Street. RITHOLTZ: So, you head to New York, you start at Merrill Lynch. Any formative experiences stay with you years later, what do you most remember from that era? CASSIDY: Well, the first is, honestly, just the struggle to get the job, believe it or not. And I say that to people because often, when you look back on the careers of others, that they’re — they look so pretty from the outside. But from the inside, it took me a good year plus to get that job. I was rejected by a number of banks. Merrill didn’t even come to Canada to recruit. And they offered me one of those polite informational letters which said something like if you’re ever in New York City, we’d be happy to give you 15 — a 15-minute informational interview. And I remember saying to my father, I’m like, well, look at that. They just rejected me and he said, well, why don’t you take a train to get it, down to New York. You’ll never know. And I was at the end of my rope. I’d been searching for jobs for over a year. I said — as I said, determined to get this job and not successful and I took that train ride and 15 minutes turned into a three-hour interview. RITHOLTZ: Wow. CASSIDY: And then they accelerated me to the final process, which is for investment, it’s very competitive. I came down on a weekend and competed with all the sort of Ivy League American kids who had been through rounds of interviews, undoubtedly. And I got the job. So, it was a pretty sweet — it’s a pretty sweet success after a year and a half of trying. But it was very formative for me because it really informed and, I guess, my view of how often you have to choose keep choosing in order to get to the goal you want. RITHOLTZ: Keep banging away. So, what — what did you do for Merrill when you — when you get the job, what was it that they had you do? What were your responsibilities and what was the job like? CASSIDY: Well, and I think this is probably the second formative experience I had at Merrill. So, my role was financial analyst. Anybody who maybe has studied finance know that that’s really a job where you create pitchbooks. RITHOLTZ: Right. CASSIDY: The books with facts and details about different industries. I was in the financial services industry. And that was the entry (ph) that I was assigned to and you really create those books or what’s called managing directors who go out and pitch large companies on using their services, M&A services, IPO services, what have you. And so, the average analyst is spending, you know, days and nights, often through the night, toiling to create these perfect pitchbooks. So, I certainly had that experience but I ended up working for a pretty eclectic young managing director called Henry Michaels and Henry was, as detailed as they could get, pipe smoking, definitely capable of driving others crazy but he took a really deep and really interest in just teaching me about, believe it or not, the savings and loan industry. And I think he found me to be maybe a rough (ph) student and, I freely admit, after taking a year to get that job, I was bound and determined to be successful at it. So, I would, very inquisitive, very curious. And as a result, Henry kept stuffing me and putting me, I would say on the — on jobs with increasing responsibility. And so, pretty early on, I was going to meetings with CEOs that he would — he would set up and let me attend. Of course, I was carrying the pitchbook, but that didn’t really matter to me, the exposure did. And as a result, I ended up working on an IPO early, the Long Island Savings Bank. Henry kept giving me more and more responsibility. And in my second year, Merrill sent me to London which was unusual as well to send somebody that early and I got to go work on banking in the — in the European banking industry and had just an amazing experience. So, I give Henry Michaels a lot of credit. Henry, definitely, skipped a bunch of layers to teach me and I, as I said, maybe my best contribution was I was a rough (ph) student but the result was that, an experience where I’ve got a lot of exposure very quickly to kind of senior executive. RITHOLTZ: Really interesting. I have a specific recollection of the Long Island Savings Bank going IPO in the early, I want to say mid ’90s and eventually … CASSIDY: That was me. I was the analyst. RITHOLTZ: And eventually, it got acquired and then that company got acquired. And in a certain point, you just lose track. But this leads to an obvious question, all of your background is finance related, how did you transition to tech and what made you decide to leave the East Coast and the world of finance for the West Coast which has more of a technology bend? CASSIDY: Well, I — so, ironically, I made my way to the West Coast, not from the East Coast but via London because if you recall, Merrill sent me to London. And when I was in London, I had spent, maybe two years with the bank and its classic length of each program for two years and then they expect you, actually, to move on. So, analyst programs are two years in investment banks. So, I spent two years. They offered me a third and I really want to be, quote-unquote, “in industry.” Now, I had no idea what that meant but I wanted to work for one company. RITHOLTZ: Right. CASSIDY: And so, I was able to secure a role with the CFO at a company called British Sky Broadcasting, one of the biggest satellite broadcasters in the world. If you recall, this is part of the News Corporation, its kind of empire. And luckily, for me, I parted with my job in finance to a job in finance inside of a company at BSkyB and then I was promoted to working for the CEO and the COO there. So, actually, it’s probably a more dramatic story. I was promoted. I was working on the top floor for the — one of the two top bosses and I’d been there, I’ve been at BSkyB for only a year and I walked into my bosses’ office and I told them I quit. And he was shocked. And I said, two things are true, David. Number one, I have this epic promotion. I sit down the hallway from you, I get — I get lunch every day, I’m on the — I’m on the executive floor, I’m like but you don’t really use me. It’s true. My boss is very used to sort of operating like lone wolf as that as sort of effectively president of the company. And I said, number two, I think I want to head back to North America. I’ve been there for two and a half years and a girlfriend of mine, a very dear friend from Stanford Business School, I had visited her the year early — earlier and I fell in love with the weather in the Bay Area and this kind of sense of entrepreneurship. That’s true. I mean, for a girl who comes from Ontario, Canada, where it gets pretty darn cold, once you visit California, you sort of realize that it’s possible to live in good weather all year long. RITHOLTZ: Right. CASSIDY: But the other — but the other truth is I wanted to be an entrepreneur. My father, loves running some business. I had no idea how. I love the Bay Area for the weather and I sense that it was, that there were a lot of people starting companies. So I quit my job, I went skiing for three months and Whistler, and I moved to the — I moved to California and bought a car, drove up the coast from L.A. to San Francisco. Luckily, those friends of mine, their parents put me up at their very nice house in California until I found the job and I started over. RITHOLTZ: And how did you end up at Junglee? CASSIDY: If you can’t tell already, I was a fairly impatient young woman because, I moved a fair amount in that first six years of my career. I, as I said, I was looking for a job in the Valley. I found, what, unfortunately, the job I found was not nearly as positive experience as I’d hope. As you — as we just talked about, I actually had a really good experience with Merrill. I even had a good experience with BSkyB, if you look at the fact that I got responsibility, I was promoted. And I got to this, I found a startup end in Silicon Valley that was in interactive television which is we somewhat related to what I’ve just got in at Sky, which is a TV industry. And on second day on the job, my boss told me I was scaring the secretaries and I was like, what — what do you mean? RITHOLTZ: What does that mean? CASSIDY: What do you mean? Yes, what do you mean? I’m like I just come from two industries that are highly male dominated, nobody ever told me I was scary. And that began a rapid decline in our relationship. I felt like I wasn’t getting a lot of responsibility. He kept telling me I was the rookie that needed to be coached. And I quit six months later. Actually, fairly deflated, because I was, like, if this is what it means to be in Silicon Valley, I must be this meritocracy. I’m supposed to be having the time of my life. Maybe I’m not meant for this place. Luckily for me, I started thinking about getting another job and a recruiter called and pitched this idea of a company started by four Stanford Ph.Ds. in — who have this very cool technology. I took the interview I didn’t really understand fully the technology but I loved that. They were smart, they were thunderous. And so I switched, and luckily for me, I made the switch, Junglee ended up building a whole engine for shopping, for comparing prices across the Internet and Amazon bought the company six months later and that was the really the start of my career in Silicon Valley. Just a great experience. But following a very poor one. RITHOLTZ: Really — well, everything can’t all be wine and roses. Sometimes, they’re going to miss. Tell us a little bit about what it was like working for Amazon in ’98 and how closely did you work with Bezos back then? CASSIDY: Well, believe it or not, back then, it was a pretty small company. There was about 1,200 people. We were public. So, everybody got exposure to Jeff, myself included. And so, what are some of those early year — those early times like at Amazon? Well, first of all, as I said, everybody was — it was a small enough company that you could sit most of Amazon in one or two buildings, so we made a couple of moves where — we were all in the same building. Number two, we all had to work in the warehouse including like the very top executives at Amazon. Jeff and Rick Dalzell, like everybody had shifts over Christmas. You had no day job. You literally all had shifts in the warehouse which was a pretty amazing cultural feel. And by the way, that included, like overnight shifts. You work taking and packing books and music — books, CDs, and videos. That’s true. Jeff had bought the company because he, believe it or not, in 1998 still had this vision of a day where Amazon show you every product on the Internet whether or not they had it in stocks, so this early vision of marketplace. But Amazon at the time was just building out its own verticals. So, what was sit like? He was really the main champion of this acquisition of buying us for our technology. He used it to start version one of Amazon marketplace which he shut down several years later. So, he’s made many attempts at marketplace before he got the one that worked. And by the way, before the world was ready for it. So, it was pretty — it was a pretty neat look into how sort of visionary he was even early on, of course, not nearly as sort of daunting a presence as he might be now. Just like very accessible, pretty goofy, actually pretty quirky sense of humor. And I got to work with him specifically because I was one of the people selling new merchants, like people like Macy’s and others on the idea of putting their products on the Amazon’s website. So, I got to pitch a few different retailers with Jeff which was really cool (ph). VOICEOVER: ESG, it’s not quite as easy as ABC. Environmental, social, and governance factors now influence more than $20 trillion in assets. We’ll tell you how the ESG movement started and where it’s going on the OUTThinking Investor. A new podcast from PGIM. Listen today. RITHOLTZ: So, I know this is going to be a very fanboy question, but I have to ask because there’s a broader component about understanding or not the future, in the late ’90s, in the early 2000s, did you have any indication that Amazon would become the juggernaut that it became or was — that was early days. Hey, we think we’re going to be successful, we could be a real solid company, like, what was the view like from back then? CASSIDY: The view was not that we were going to become the juggernaut we are today as defined by Amazon’s not just a retailer but it’s like a dominant movie studio. It’s not just a movie studio, it owns a grocer. It’s not just a grocer, but it happens to own the largest infrastructure, backbone of the web called Amazon Web Services and other merchants, like no way was that obviously. As I said, like, literally, the days where we’re selling books, music, and video and launching new categories. And, Jeff, as I said, like, he was impressive but he was also a very accessible, funny, young, like, he’s only a few years older than I am, at best. And so no, I don’t, I mean, all the people that you think of now who’s quite famous, there was no indication. As I said, now, you might and I might say, wow, buying a company in 1998 to launch Amazon marketplace, certainly there were early inklings that he has a vision to sell a lot of stuff. As we say, hey, should I see this company becoming one of the larger retailers, sure? But it’s defined by what Amazon is today, yes, no way to connect it. RITHOLTZ: Quite fascinating. That’s quite fascinating. So, let’s talk about your transition from Amazon to your next venture, you co-founded a startup, tell us a little bit about Yodlee and what made you decide to say, well, this Amazon company is kind of fund, but let me see what I can build on my own. CASSIDY: Well, remember we were chatting about that rather restless and impatient young woman. I don’t think any of that dissolved when I was at Amazon, it was a great experience, by the way, and remember, I had never gone intending to be in Amazon, I had gone to a startup, right, which got buy — bought. And while Amazon was a great company, that’s in Seattle, it was now public and so there is me thinking, gosh, when am I going to get the chance to start my own company and I know many people listening to this podcast would be like, really, you left Amazon to start your own company? Is that a really smart decision? But in some ways, Amazon to me, still at the time, felt very big and I want to get there. So, I’m at Amazon, and remember, many of the founders of Junglee, you know, has made a lot of wealth. They’re certainly mentors of mine. They are even today. And they start angel investing in a number of companies in the valley. And knowing that I have this ambition, I’ve been at Amazon about a year and I get into the — I get a call one weekend that sort of said, hey, there’s this professor from UCSD who’s a computer science professor and he built this really cool technology that goes out of across the web and it gets all your financial information behind all of those sites with passwords and it puts them in one place. You can have an aggregated view of your financial life. And by the way, the technology is not the same as Junglee but it has some analogy. And they’re like, and they’re lucky for a business cofounder. They have all these engineers that they need someday to establish but there’s this model, raise the money. And so I got one of those inbound calls and through that network of angel investors who’s — who were the founders of Junglee. I flew down from Seattle to San Francisco for a weekend. I took one look at the technology and I’m suitably impressed. I was like, wow. You just grabbed all my credit balances and my bank balance and my brokerage balance in one place and gave me this aggregated view. Nobody can do that. It’s pretty revolutionary technology at the time. And they offered me the opportunity, at 29 years old, to become what’s called a cofounder of the company and the first business executive. And I just jumped at the chance. I love the technology, I love the fact that I would be with — they were engineers that this company do, again, very similar to Junglee but now, I was going to get a seat at the table as literally one of the executive team at such a young age and get to raise the money for venture capitalists, make the business plan. So, I said yes. RITHOLTZ: So they were really very early stage. CASSIDY: Yes. Yes, yes. I mean, it was 12 engineers in a room and as I said, I was the — I was effectively the first business leader to be hired at the company. RITHOLTZ: And so, I gave my notice at Amazon maybe a month later and moved right into Junglee and we raised $15 million from venture capitalists within a month of that and we were off to the raises. And thus, began kind of the six-year journey to build what today many would consider the pioneer in really aggregate your financial information. I’m really proud of the fact that Yodlee really did create a whole industry of companies that were able to access financial information using our services and our kind of technology backbone and build many of the financial outfit people use today. So, Yodlee, Yodlee had a 15-year run before it became public and I was there for the first five of those years. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s work our way through this chronology a little bit. You ended up at Junglee which gets acquired by Amazon in ’98. From ’98 to … CASSIDY: Ninety-nine, I’m at Amazon. RITHOLTZ: And then when do you leave ’90 — when do you leave Amazon … CASSIDY: Mid ’99. RITHOLTZ: So you were only — OK. Got you. CASSIDY: Yes. I was there a year, I mean. It was a year. RITHOLTZ: And you stayed — did you stay with Yodlee until they were acquired by Envestnet? CASSIDY: No. I stayed with Yodlee for five years and that time, I had every job under the son. I was predominantly responsible for the executives for not just raising the money, we’ve raised about a 100 million in the time I was there in several rounds of financing but I was — I was just responsible for sales and business development, selling our technology to all the banks and brokerage companies. And so, I stayed until in 2004. I (inaudible) our CEO at 2000 and he wasn’t going anywhere, by the way. So I always say the people tapped out of my own startup, like, literally I’d had every job. I’ve done sales, I’ve done marketing, I’ve done PR. I was our spokesperson, I raised money. And I — an in many ways, I was partnered very closed with the CEO and we had a great relationship. And in 2004, I was like, OK, now, what’s my next horizon? Like I’ve been here five years and I’ve done all of these roles but there’s like the company’s not growing fast enough to give me an entirely new career. RITHOLTZ: Right. CASSIDY: With set of challenges. And so that, I actually, for the first time, did what I call a more studied search, thinking I might start another company but also thinking that I wanted to find the right idea so I was pondering my next move, presuming I would start a company when I got the opportunity to start a new service at Google which, today we would call Local and Maps. RITHOLTZ: And let’s talk a little bit about Google Maps. It’s funny because it’s so ubiquitous today, we don’t even think twice about the miracle that is Google Maps. But back in the mid-2000s, did anybody have any idea of what a massive technological breakthrough G maps were? I remember playing with early versions of it and just head exploding, What was the thoughts like within Google about Google Maps? CASSIDY: Well, it’s — it’s a couple things. So, first of all, when I got the call, Google originally called me to come join them and I actually said no. And I said, gosh, you guys are also quite big. You’re 1,200 people. Remember in my work frame, Amazon is big at 1,2000 people, so is Google. And I says I’m going to start another company. RITHOLTZ: Hard pass. CASSIDY: I know. So funny. And Google called me back seven months later. They said — you said you wanted a startup opportunity. We have it. We have something greenfield called Maps and we said -they said, Yahoo! has a product called Yahoo! Maps, AOL has what they call MapQuest, Google has no product to help you search locally or find — navigate locally. Either you find goods or services locally or business — and navigate, right? Because Google Local is like search for business, Google Maps is search for a place. In fact, today, they’re very merged. Nobody thinks of them as different. RITHOLTZ: Right. CASSIDY: And I studied the landscape, I went into interview with Google and within two weeks, I said yes to the job because I was like, holy smokes, the yellow page industry, we have the time with those thick yellow books that everybody got to find places was a $23 billion industry in annual advertising. And I was like surely, if Yahoo! has a product and AOL has a product, Google should have a product and look at all the ad dollars available in those category and look at all the usage, it’s pretty antiquated. RITHOLTZ: Yes. CASSIDY: So, I said yes very quickly. And I do … RITHOLTZ: I have to point out that yellow books are $23 billion in revenue, the obvious answer is but not for long. CASSIDY: But not for long. I mean, look, digital really wiped that business over. By the way, there still yellow pages around the country and … RITHOLTZ: Right. CASSIDY: … around the globe but nobody would think of that as a juggernaut industry. So, yes, online really changed and transformed the face of local advertising fundamentally. But I would say I knew it would be big. I mean, that’s what lead me to go in that direction. I say what was unknown about Google service and you appreciate this, even by me, is I was paired with a product manager, I was the business person, meaning I had to go license the data for like, roads and businesses to put underneath inside of that service, right? All that data was not online. I had one product manager, Bret Taylor. Ironically, now the president of Salesforce. He was my — he’s my product manager and we had 10 engineers and the 12 of us build that product (ph) effectively. I did the business DLT, he guided the engineers. So, on one hand, the product could have been pretty straightforward like Yahoo!, AOL. But Google made two innovations that I think people will remember to this day. Number one, believe it or not, just putting the name of the road inside of the road, not on top of the road was one innovation. You’re like, the name of the road is like on the road. And visually, it’s just like a prettier experience and it’s — it’s like the map is less crowded that way. But the second innovation, and this I give a lot of credit to Sergei and Larry, early on, a guy named John Hanke showed Google, once we’ve launched local and maps, this cool technology that had satellite imagery called Keyhole and Larry and Sergei were like, we need to buy that. We’re going to overlay that on Maps. And that was the innovation, right? Overlaying satellite technology on top of maps, like hey, you can’t give me any credit as a business p person for seeing that, that was really product vision. And in that case, led by the founders. I mean, Bret like the product too but from what I recall, Larry and Sergei was really gung-ho on buying the compo and overlaying satellite technology on top of Maps. And that’s an example of sort of one of the things I admired about Google. They didn’t really care about how it would make money, it was just a very cool and differentiated in — it turns out, very useful feature to have Google Earth on top of Google Maps. But with no commercial application, just super cool, at least not then. RITHOLTZ: Well, eventually, right? Eventually. CASSIDY: Yes. But not — but like when we laid over — overlaid it, I was like, ok, I guess that this cool. I’m not going to (inaudible) to anybody but what a — what a great kind of product feature and like kind of great vision. So, those are some of the finer experiences about building Maps and then Local as well. RITHOLTZ: You mentioned the integration of Local with Google Maps. I have a suspicion that a lot of people don’t realize how tightly integrated it actually is. What — I was in pre-pandemic, I was in Paris, and we were looking for a specific restaurant and you just punched restaurant in and Google Maps knows where you are and it just shows you on the Maps, it populates all the restaurants of that type in that area. And it’s absolutely seamless and I’ve showed that the people who are much, much younger than me and they’re like, I didn’t know I could do that with Google Maps. It’s almost like a surprise feature, when really, it’s a core part of Google Maps. It’s on an Easter egg. CASSIDY: Yes. Absolutely. And to be honest, when we started the product local in maps with different things, you could type in to the Search Box, like movie theater near me and you would get literally a listing of results. Today, of course, they’ll show you the results on a Google Map as the preferred way for you to see those results. RITHOLTZ: Right. CASSIDY: I guess you could get a listing if you want but every Google search result has a map embedded and like you, I actually often do all my local searching on Google Maps. I don’t even go to the main Google website. I can, but I just go to, like, Google Maps, and I type in, like restaurants near me, and I get all of them with the reviews and the results. And so, look, very, very, very fun product to have launched into the system (ph). RITHOLTZ: So, what led you to leave Google to start Joyous? CASSIDY: Well, remember, I have one more big chapter at Google that’s probably ironically even bigger than my Local and Maps chapter because I’m — I’m at Google. We’ve launched Local and Maps and what’s happening is people are saying to me, well saying to my boss, he was the cheap business officer at Google, um, hey we have all these products that need us to license data, like we want to have — we want to have a library product, we want to have a solar product, we want to have a shopping product. By the way, we want to have a video product. So, I’ve ended up building a team that is all the licensing for all these other data, types of data that we want to put online. And so, I’m running that team, my team’s gone — I’ve gone from being individ.....»»

Category: blogSource: TheBigPictureOct 25th, 2021

10 hotels in South Florida with gorgeous rooftop pools and lively bars

These are the best hotels with rooftop pools and restaurants in South Florida, including Miami, Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and more. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. Tripadvisor South Florida's warm, tropical climate makes it a top vacation destination. From West Palm Beach to Miami, South Florida hotels have incredible rooftops to soak up the sun. Some hotel rooftop bars, restaurants, and pools are open to the public in addition to guests. Table of Contents: Masthead StickySouth Florida is known for its dazzling beaches but also its lively nightlife. And because the region stays warm when the sun goes down, many hotels have in-demand rooftops with outdoor restaurants, bars, and pools that draw visitors day and night.Few things top an afternoon laying out by a pool perched in the sky, enjoying happy hour with views of the Atlantic Ocean in the background, or watching a sunset while savoring a delicious meal. Living in South Florida has given me the opportunity to frequent some of the best hotels, and the following list of hotels all have incredible rooftops that make it easy to savor all the best parts of visiting the Sunshine State.Browse all the best hotels with rooftop pools and restaurants below, or jump directly to a specific area here:The best hotel rooftops in South FloridaFAQ: South Florida hotelsHow we selected the best South Florida hotels with rooftopsMore of the best hotels in FloridaThese are the best hotel rooftops with pools and restaurants in South Florida, sorted by price from low to high. Courtyard Fort Lauderdale Downtown The Easton rooftop combines a pool, restaurant, bar, and nightclub. Marriott Book Courtyard Fort Lauderdale DowntownCategory: Budget Town: Fort Lauderdale Typical starting/peak prices: $152/$365Best for: Friends, solo travelers, Marriott loyalists On-site amenities: 24-hour fitness center, library, business center, pet-friendly rooms, pool, restaurant, barPros: The rooms are well priced, and the rooftop bar is a hot nightlife destination with a DJ and bottle service on the weekends. Cons: On the flip side, the rooftop bar can get crowded, and noise can carry into the guest rooms late into the night.The Courtyard Fort Lauderdale Downtown recently opened in March 2021, nestled in the hip Fort Lauderdale Arts District, just a few miles from Fort Lauderdale Beach and Las Olas Boulevard, the main dining and entertainment strip. Rooms start under $200, which is well priced for a new hotel in such a great location. Most of the 137 guest rooms and suites have views of the Fort Lauderdale city skyline and are outfitted with modern wallpaper, soft carpeting, orange leather armchairs, and sofa beds in some rooms. The hotel is also home to The Easton, a ninth-story rooftop with a restaurant, bar, pool, and plush outdoor seating.  The Easton fills up quickly, especially during weekday Golden Happy Hour, and on the weekends, the rooftop transforms into a nightclub from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. with visitors lining up for live music and bottle service. COVID-19 procedures are available here. Canopy by Hilton West Palm Beach Downtown Ban.ter Treehouse, the 13th-floor rooftop bar and restaurant has seating spread around a sparkling infinity pool. Tripadvisor Book Canopy by Hilton West Palm Beach DowntownCategory: Mid-rangeTown: West Palm Beach Typical starting/peak prices: $174/$423 Best for: Friends, Hilton loyalists, travelers with pets  On-site amenities: Pet-friendly rooms, complimentary evening wine and beer tastings, complimentary bicycle rentals, restaurant, bar, poolPros: The hotel is close to the airport in a great central location for exploring trendy downtown West Palm Beach. Cons: While the views on the rooftop are great, the seating is limited.Canopy by Hilton West Palm Beach opened in 2020 and is the only Hilton Canopy in Florida, a new boutique lifestyle concept from the brand. Canopy hotels pride themselves on creating a locally-driven by connecting guests to events, music, and restaurants in the surrounding area. The 150 room hotel is less than three miles from Palm Beach International Airport and about a mile from the beach. Rooms are brand new and have been outfitted with gray bedding, oversized artwork, and a dedicated workspace. Standard rooms are spacious at almost 400 square feet, and Deluxe Rooms have city and ocean views. Ban.ter, the lobby restaurant, serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and Ban.ter Treehouse, the 13th-floor rooftop bar and restaurant serves small plates and cocktails. The indoor/outdoor flow of the latter rooftop restaurant is lush with lots of plants and palm trees and seating is a mix of bartop and four-person tables spread around a sparkling infinity pool. On weekends, a poolside DJ plays high-energy music. COVID-19 procedures are available here. Kimpton Angler's South Beach The hotel is just two blocks from the beach. Tripadvisor Book Kimpton Angler's South BeachCategory: Boutique Town: South Beach, Miami Typical starting/peak prices: $228/$483Best for: Couples, families, IHG Kimpton reward members, travelers with pets   On-site amenities: Evening wine hours, complimentary morning coffee, Orange Theory fitness classes, in-room spa treatments, pool, restaurant, bar, beach accessPros: The Kimpton Angler is just two blocks from the beach and accommodations are large, with options for two and three-story lofts and bungalows.Cons: There's no fitness center, but the hotel has a partnership with OrangeTheory fitness, and classes are included in your stay. Also, there's a charge for Wi-Fi if you're not an IHG Kimpton rewards member.Kimpton hotels are known for their well-designed boutique properties, the Kimpton Angler's South Beach is no exception. Located on the south end of Miami Beach, it's also minutes from the nightlife on Ocean DriveThere's a cohesive nautical theme carried throughout, with sand-colored loveseats, wicker lamps, and navy patterned lounge chairs and curtains in the 132 guest rooms and suites. Standard rooms are 400 square feet with King or Queen sized beds, ample closet space, and oversized walk-in showers with separate tubs. Most rooms also have balconies that overlook either Washington Ave or the hotel's courtyard Mermaid Pool. The sixth-floor rooftop pool and sun deck is a standout feature, with chic black and white lounge chairs framed by panoramic views of the Miami skyline. Large potted plants add privacy to lounge areas, and the pool deck is quiet enough for those who want to catch up on reading. After a dip, order drinks like the photogenic watermelon margarita from the Minnow Bar. COVID-19 procedures are available here. Conrad Miami The sleek pool terrace is one of multiple rooftop lounge areas at the Conrad Miami. Tripadvisor Book Conrad MiamiCategory: LuxuryTown: Brickell, MiamiTypical starting/peak prices: $275/$574Best for: Couples, Hilton loyalists   On-site amenities: Spa, hot tub, rooftop tennis courts, restaurant, pool, barPros: In addition to the great views, the hotel is in a walkable neighborhood and the customer service is top-notch. Cons: Part of the hotel is commercial real estate, and floors 4-15 are business offices, which may take away from the luxury hotel feel. Also, the lobby is located on the 25th floor, which can be confusing.Conrad Miami is in the heart of Brickell, Miami's business district near upscale, art, and dining. This hotel has multiple great outdoor spaces, but chief among them is Nativo Kitchen and Bar on the 25th floor with views of Virginia Key Beach, Key Biscayne, and Biscayne Bay.There is also the 13th-floor rooftop pool with sleek cabanas and the adjacent Sky Pool Bar, serving a casual menu of burgers and chicken wings, local and imported beers, and frozen cocktails.  When not sunning yourself on one of these terraces, retreat to guest rooms with a clean, minimalist style and light wood furniture, gold fixtures, and baby blue accent chairs. Standard rooms have a separate bathtub and shower, complimentary bathrobes, and 50-inch televisions, and all rooms come with wide windows that offer city or ocean views.COVID-19 procedures are available here. The Dalmar, Tribute Portfolio A saltwater pool is flanked by a sleek bar. Tripadvisor Book The Dalmar, Tribute PortfolioCategory: Luxury Town: Fort Lauderdale Typical starting/peak prices: $284/$455 Best for: FriendsOn-site amenities: Yoga classes, restaurants, pool, bar, coffee shopPros: The rooftop restaurant, Sparrow, is great for adults-only celebrations and has exceptional views of Fort Lauderdale. Cons: Past guests have noted that food and drink prices are steep. The Dalmar is located in downtown Fort Lauderdale, only two miles from Fort Lauderdale beach. From framed art by the Lobby Bar restaurant to the living plant wall adorning Rose's Coffee shop near the hotel's entrance, fun design features prominently.There are two great rooftop venues on the 6th floor of the hotel. Sparrow is an indoor/outdoor restaurant and bar, and after 9 p.m., the venue turns into a 21+ lounge. There's a strict dress code (no athletic gear or beachwear) and a DJ that spins late into the night.The other rooftop venue is the saltwater pool reserved for hotel guests, but the poolside bar and grill, Sip and Dip, is open to everyone from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.Inside, guest rooms have midcentury flair with pastel furniture, pleated curtains, and brass lamps. The rooms also have premium Sferra sheets, spacious bathrooms with rainfall showers, and tablets for ordering in-room services. Most rooms have floor-to-ceiling views of either Fort Lauderdale or the Intracoastal and select rooms have balconies. COVID-19 procedures are available here. The Ben, Autograph Collection Spruzzo serves coastal Italian cuisine on the rooftop. Tripadvisor Book The Ben, Autograph CollectionCategory: Luxury Town: West Palm Beach Typical starting/peak prices: $286/$483Best for: Couples, Marriott loyalists, travelers with pets  On-site amenities: Rooftop fire pit, hotel library, in-room dining, pet-friendly rooms, restaurant, poolPros: In addition to the great downtown location and views of the waterfront, Spruzzo, the hotel's Italian rooftop restaurant, has a delicious menu and extensive imported wines. Cons: Spruzzo doesn't take reservations, but instead operates on a first-come, first-served policy. One of the newest additions to downtown West Palm Beach is the waterfront hotel, The Ben. The Marriott-owned luxury boutique hotel commands a great location within walking distance of Clematis Street, West Palm Beach's lively district filled with restaurants and bars, and Rosemary Square, an upscale shopping and dining destination. Guest rooms are polished, with sleek wood floors, leather pleated headboards, and luxe Turkish linens. A standard Interior Double Queen is a comfortable 343 square feet, and many guest rooms have views of Palm Harbor Marina or Palm Beach Island. The hotel's 7th-floor rooftop restaurant and bar, Spruzzo, is quite popular, especially on weekends, serving coastal Italian cuisine. It's quickly become a local hangout for young professionals. During the day, hotel guests may reserve one of the cabanas next to the heated saltwater pool, and at night, enjoy watching the sunset over the Palm Beach Intracoastal from the fire pit with a cocktail in hand. COVID-19 procedures are available here. Moxy Miami South Beach There are six different hotel restaurants including a swanky rooftop lounge. Marriott Book Moxy Miami South BeachCategory: BoutiqueTown: South Beach, MiamiTypical starting/peak prices: $289/$489Best for: Friends, Marriott loyalists Onsite amenities: 6 dining and drinking venues, pet-friendly rooms, complimentary beach chairs, complimentary rooftop fitness classes, complimentary morning coffee, poolPros: The Upside rooftop level has incredible views of the South Beach oceanfront along with plenty of seating. Each guestroom also have two beach chairs on South Beach included. Cons: Although there's plenty of places to sunbathe, The Upside rooftop only has a shallow wading pool.Newly opened Moxy Miami South Beach is the first resort-style property for the Moxy brand.Only two blocks from the bustling nightlife of South Beach, the hotel gets lively, especially on the weekends and caters to a young crowd. The purposeful design features lots of Instagrammable details like neon wall signs and fun pool floats.Standard guestrooms are a cozy 224 square feet but maximize the space with retro details like rotary phones and custom artwork by local Miami artists. Walk-in rain showers and Egyptian cotton linens add a sumptuous touch.There are six different hotel restaurants including a lobby bar, Bar Moxy, and Serena, an elevated Mexican restaurant in a lush garden setting adjacent to the hotel's main 72-foot pool. The hotel's 8th story rooftop, The Upside is reserved for hotel guests and has a shallow pool, lounge chairs, and plenty of daybeds. The Upside has great views of South Beach, and a DJ spins house and hip-hop tunes throughout the afternoon and evening. The hotel also offers complimentary bikes (helmets included) to explore the neighborhood. COVID-19 procedures are available here. The Betsy South Beach The oceanfront deck offers a front-row view of the Atlantic Ocean. Tripadvisor Book The Betsy South BeachCategory: BoutiqueTown: South Beach, MiamiTypical starting/peak prices: $289/$609Best for: Couples, travelers with pets On-site amenities: Spa, library, fitness center, restaurants, bars, arts and cultural programming, beach access, poolPros: With only 130 rooms, the hotel offers a peaceful, intimate South Beach stay and all the arts programming is a boon for culture enthusiasts. Cons: Restaurant menu items are expensive and come with an automatic 20% gratuity fee, but that's on par with most hotels on Ocean Drive.The Betsy Hotel is a landmark hotel on South Beach located on Miami's main strip, Ocean Drive, but is tucked away from the noise of the nightclubs and late-night revelry. Arts programming features heavily here, drawing a sophisticated crowd of well-heeled creative types who book posh, albeit sometimes small, rooms with walnut floors, velvet armchairs, and cream-colored curtains that frame floor-to-ceiling windows. The 250-square-foot standard Classic King is cozy but comes with a marble bathroom, a large walk-in shower, luxe Sferra linens, and is pet-friendly, welcoming dogs under 40 pounds. There are two pools: a courtyard pool and a fourth-floor rooftop infinity pool with chaise lounges and 360-degree views of Miami. The bar serves poolside drinks, and food may be brought up from the hotel's restaurant, LT Steak & Seafood. After a swim, catch a sunset from the rooftop's Skyline Deck, a patio overlooking the ocean with unobstructed water views.COVID-19 procedures are available here. East Miami An expansive rooftop pool deck has stellar views over the city and multiple areas to swim. Tripadvisor Book East MiamiCategory: Luxury Town: Brickell, MiamiTypical starting/peak prices: $305/$529Best for: Couples, business travelersOn-site amenities: 24-hour fitness center with classes, complimentary bicycles, restaurants, 4 pools, barsPros: Sugar, the bar on the 40th floor, has one of the best views of downtown Miami and some of the best cocktails I've had in Miami. Cons: The food and cocktails at Sugar are great, but even with a reservation, the wait is long and service can be slow. East Miami is centrally located in downtown Brickell and Sugar, the hotel's rooftop restaurant and bar on the 40th floor has arguably the best view of the entire Miami skyline.The restaurant is 21+ after 6 p.m. and there's a strict dress code (nightlife attire is enforced after sunset). Equally impressive are the four pools (a lap pool, spa pool, plunge pool, and hot tub) on the hotel's fifth-floor deck. So many offerings mean you won't have to worry about waiting for a sun lounger.Standard guest rooms start at 300 square feet, though there are also has large one, two, and three-bedroom residences. All 352 rooms come with a private balcony, floor-to-ceiling windows, and contemporary decor that includes cream-colored furniture, teal wallpaper, and orange throw pillows. COVID-19 procedures are available here. 1 Hotel South Beach Four distinct pool decks offer incredible views. 1 Hotel South Beach/TripAdvisor Book 1 Hotel South BeachCategory: Luxury Town: South Beach, MiamiTypical starting/peak prices: $425/$899Best for: Couples, friends, familiesOn-site amenities: Spa, fitness classes, salon, pet-friendly rooms, coffee and juice bar, beach club, restaurants, bars, multiple poolsPros: There are four different dazzling pool areas, one of which has stunning views from the hotel's 18th-story rooftop. Food, rooms, and customer service are all outstanding at this hotel. Cons: Prices can more than double during the winter high season, and the hotel's 18 story rooftop pool is restricted to adults 21+.Considered one of the best hotels on South Beach, 1 Hotel South Beach takes up an entire block and sits on 600 feet of Miami's prime beachfront. The hotel is pricey but worth the splurge for its sophisticated boho beach vibes, impeccable service, outstanding food, and airy rooms.The lobby makes a remarkable first impression with soaring ceilings and crisp seating around glass-topped wooden coffee tables, but it's the multiple pool decks that really dazzle.There are four different pools: the beachfront South pool, the third floor Cabana Pool, the enormous 30,000 square foot Center Pool, and the gorgeous 18th-story rooftop pool, Watr at the 1 Hotel Rooftop, which is Miami's largest rooftop pool and lounge. Inside, the 426 guest rooms are a celebration of nature and sustainability, sourcing most items from reclaimed materials. A coastal-inspired color palette and large windows make them feel airy and light alongside beachy accents featuring driftwood, tree stumps, and custom wood plank headboards. COVID-19 procedures are available here. FAQ: South Florida hotels When is the best time to visit South Florida?While South Florida experiences nearly year-round sunshine, the best time to visit is from February to May. During those months, temperatures are cooler, and crowds tend to taper off, although there is a spike of visitors during spring break.During the summer months, the temperature and humidity soar, and daily afternoon thunderstorms are common. Florida's hurricane season starts June 1 and lasts until the end of November with August and September being the most active hurricane months.Weather-wise, November through January is also a good time to visit. The temperatures hover around 75 degrees, although it's not uncommon to experience a few sub 50 degree days when a cold front comes through. But keep in mind that hotel prices tend to peak during the November to January holiday months. Do I have to book a room to visit a hotel rooftop?Many of the hotels included in this list have rooftop bars and restaurants open to the public that do not require an overnight hotel reservation, but most of the rooftop pools are reserved for hotel guests. Some hotels offer daytime cabana rentals or a day pass through Resort Pass that includes access to the hotel's pool, spa, or other amenities. Availability changes often, so always call ahead and ask. How do I get around South Florida?South Florida is a large area that encompasses three counties: Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe, though most locals consider southern cities in Palm Beach County like West Palm Beach as part of South Florida.Touring South Florida requires a car and some planning as traffic can get congested, especially during morning and evening rush hours. While the public transportation system is mostly reliable in downtown areas, renting a car is the best way to explore all of South Florida. If you're flying into Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach and staying close to your hotel, you can use taxis or rideshare apps to get around. How do I find a hotel with a rooftop?Most hotels with a rooftop will list it on their hotel website, and third-party booking sites like Booking.com and Hotels.com will usually include a  rooftop in the hotel description or on the list of hotel amenities. Also, the third-party booking site Kayak has a search filter to only pull up properties with rooftops. Do hotel guests receive priority on rooftops?It depends on the property. Most of the hotels restrict the pool areas to hotel guests or guests with day passes. Rooftops with a combined pool and restaurant area do take outside reservations, so it's advised to make restaurant reservations when checking in. How we selected the best South Florida hotels with rooftops I'm a South Florida-based travel writer and have personally visited almost every hotel on this list. All of the hotel rooftops have an excellent bar or restaurant, a picturesque pool, and sensational city or ocean views.Every hotel is located in a popular neighborhood in West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, or Miami. Some of the hotels have downtown locations close to shopping, museums, and restaurants. Others are beachfront or within walking distance to the beach.Besides the great rooftops, many of the properties include perks like a nightly hosted wine hour, complimentary bicycles, and pet-friendly guest rooms.All of the properties have excellent recent reviews on third-party travel sites like Tripadvisor or Booking.com.Because of the location and amenities of the properties, most of the hotels are in the luxury category, but booking during low season can lock in reasonable rates.We've indicated which hotels are ideal for couples, friends, families, or solo travelers, and have included a mix of all kinds of properties.Each hotel promotes COVID safe practices and has updated its COVID practices to include enhanced cleaning procedures. More of the best hotels in Florida Trip Advisor The best hotels in FloridaThe best beach hotels in FloridaThe best hotels in South BeachThe best hotels in MiamiThe best hotels in Key WestThe best hotels in Fort LauderdaleThe best hotels in Orlando and KissimmeeThe best hotels in Walt Disney WorldThe best hotels in Destin Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 23rd, 2021

Avoid AMC Entertainment; Metaverse Real Estate Selling Like Hotcakes

Whitney Tilson’s email to investors suggesting to avoid AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc (NYSE:AMC); investors snap up metaverse real estate in a virtual land boom; Scott Galloway: Inflated. Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Avoid AMC Entertainment 1) The 25 stocks in my “Short Squeeze Bubble Basket” that I identified in my January 27 […] Whitney Tilson’s email to investors suggesting to avoid AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc (NYSE:AMC); investors snap up metaverse real estate in a virtual land boom; Scott Galloway: Inflated. 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); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Avoid AMC Entertainment 1) The 25 stocks in my "Short Squeeze Bubble Basket" that I identified in my January 27 e-mail have declined by an average of 34%, while the S&P 500 Index has risen by 22% – 56 points of underperformance. However, one notable exception is the largest movie theater operator in the world, AMC Entertainment (AMC), which is up 52% since then. So am I throwing in the towel and admitting a mistake? Heck no! This article is a good summary of why AMC continues to be among my least favorite stocks: Movie theaters must 'urgently' rethink the experience, a study says. Excerpt: About 49% of pre-pandemic moviegoers are no longer buying tickets. Some of them, roughly 8%, have likely been lost forever. To win back the rest, multiplex owners must "urgently" rethink pricing and customer perks in addition to focusing on coronavirus safety. Those were some of the takeaways from a new study on the state of the American movie theater business, which was troubled before the pandemic – attendance declining, streaming services proliferating – and has struggled to rebound from coronavirus-forced closings in 2020. Over the weekend, ticket sales in the United States and Canada stood at roughly $96 million, compared to $181 million over the same period in 2019. I, for one, have yet to return to a movie theater, even as pretty much every other aspect of my life has gone back to normal (sporting events, Broadway shows, etc.). I was actually planning to see the new movie about Venus and Serena Williams' father, King Richard, but then saw it was released simultaneously on HBO Max, so my wife and I just watched it at home (and loved it). This new development is very bad news for AMC... Investors Snap Up Metaverse Real Estate 2) I'm no longer in the short-selling business (thank goodness!), but if I were, I'd feel perfectly comfortable shorting AMC, especially now that it's already been pumped to the moon by the Reddit speculators and subsequently crashed (it's down nearly 60% from its all-time high on June 2). While, as we've seen, it could trade anywhere in the short term. At the end of the day, its stock will ultimately be valued on the performance of the underlying business, which I believe will be dreadful relative to the expectations built into its current $15 billion market cap and $24 billion enterprise value. I don't even think the company is worth $9 billion in net debt, meaning the stock will eventually be worthless. But as an old-school value guy, I take zero comfort in evaluating things like cryptocurrencies, non-fungible tokens ("NFTs"), and the latest craze, buying real estate in the metaverse. I'm not making this up – here are two recent in-depth articles about it in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, respectively: a) Metaverse Real Estate Piles Up Record Sales in Sandbox and Other Virtual Realms. Excerpt: The latest hot real estate market isn't on the scenic coasts or in balmy Sunbelt cities. It's in the metaverse, where gamers are flocking, and digital property sales are setting new records. A growing number of investment firms are acquiring digital land in worlds such as the Sandbox and Decentraland, where players simulate real-life pursuits, from shopping to attending a concert. They are betting that individuals and companies will spend money to use virtual homes and retail space and that the value of properties will increase as more people join the worlds. b) Investors Snap Up Metaverse Real Estate in a Virtual Land Boom. Excerpt: Investors were watching, too. Preparing for a digital land boom that appears just months away, they are snapping up concert venues, shopping malls, and other properties in the metaverse. Interest in this digital universe skyrocketed last month when Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would be known as Meta, an effort to capitalize on the digital frontier. The global market for goods and services in the metaverse will soon be worth $1 trillion, according to the digital currency investor Grayscale. My knee-jerk, old-school-value-guy reaction is that this is an obvious and ridiculous bubble, but I've been humbled too many times to have any conviction in that judgment. So I'm just going to defer to my colleagues Enrique Abeyta and Gabe Marshank, who have already done a deep dive into the metaverse. In fact, they recommended one of the leading companies in the space, Roblox Corp (NYSE:RBLX), to their Empire Elite Growth subscribers in September, and it's already up 38%. (Click here for a free trial to Empire Elite Growth.) Scott Galloway On Inflation 3) Run, don't walk, to read NYU professor Scott Galloway's latest column, Inflated. It's the essay of the year, I think. It should be required reading for everyone interested in our higher education system, starting with college administrators. Excerpts: In 1980 a gallon of gasoline cost $1.19. Today it's $3.41, a 2.7% annual increase. But undergraduate tuition has risen nearly 3 times as fast: 6.7% a year at public colleges, for an increase of nearly 1,400%. The greatest assault on middle-class America's prosperity may be the relentless, four-decade-long inflation in higher education. Student loan debt ($1.7 trillion) is now greater than credit card debt. And that doesn't account for the busted 401(k)s, second mortgages, and general financial oppression [that] me and my colleagues have levied on lower- and middle-income households. The number of Americans who have more than $100,000 in student debt is greater than the population of Utah. This sustained inflation has been devastating for lower- and middle-income households. Higher education's ability to soak America is a function of limiting the supply of freshman seats at our best universities in concert with the continued fetishization of their brands. We can scale Salesforce (NYSE:CRM), Facebook (NASDAQ:AAPL), and Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) by 25% to 60% per annum, but we can't seem to bust above 1% per year at our great public universities. The top 200 schools in America educate only 10% of college attendees. And these universities raise prices in perfect lockstep, miraculously, resulting in millions of kids who get arbitraged to mediocre universities but pay an elite price. It's a cartel enforced by the accreditation organizations, institutions who are as corrupt as the NCAA... minus the charm. Acceptance rates have plummeted, turning senior spring from a time of optimism and opportunity to one of anguish and sacrifice. Kids are still getting into college (total enrollment has kept pace with the growth in graduating seniors), but more and more are shuffled down to lower-tier schools that charge a top-tier price for a credential worth far less. College deans boast about low admissions rates. But if you accept five of every 100 applications, that's not a 5% admission rate. It's a 95% rejection rate. This is un-American. Rejectionism is cloaked in progressive policies. It's true that the student body at these institutions is more diverse than it was 40 years ago. And that's great. But it's not an excuse for maintaining a rejectionist posture. The mission is to expand opportunity, not reallocate elites. Bigotry is prejudice against a person or people on the basis of their membership in a particular group. Haven't we in higher education become bigoted against unremarkable kids from lower- and middle-income households? I love his personal story at the end – it was a similar story for my mom, the daughter of a Seattle fireman, who graduated from the University of Washington in 1962: The best things in my life – kids who made the head's list this semester, a supportive mate, and financial security that (generally) enables me to do whatever I want, whenever I want – are a function of one thing: 74. Specifically, in the 80s, UCLA had an acceptance rate of 74%. I (no joke) had to apply twice. I was the first person on either side of my family to graduate from high school, much less get to attend amazing institutions for undergraduate and graduate degrees. The cost? $7,000 (total) in tuition for a BA and an MBA. In addition, I was presented this opportunity as a function of being good, not great... much less remarkable. Higher ed catalyzed an upward spiral of prosperity for me and my family that's been good for the commonwealth – we love America and are good citizens. Today the acceptance rate at UCLA is 12%. Since I graduated, the number of graduating high school seniors in California has grown nearly twice as fast as the number of undergraduate seats at UCLA. To its credit, the UC system has announced plans to add 20,000 more seats to the system by 2030. At night, alone with the dogs, I hear voices. (No shit.) Not strange voices like the dogs telling me to head to Kroger's in my underwear. But the voices of millions of kids who have one question: "Boss, you got yours, where is mine? When do I get my shot?" America is not about making the children of rich people and the remarkable billionaires but giving everyone a shot at being a millionaire and/or making a contribution. American higher ed has become un-American. We need to fall back in love with the unremarkables and return to America. Best regards, Whitney P.S. I welcome your feedback at WTDfeedback@empirefinancialresearch.com. Updated on Dec 3, 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: valuewalk2 hr. 7 min. ago

Labor Shortages And Inflation Are Affecting Everyone – But In Different Ways Than You May Think

It’s no secret that jobs have been hard to fill and that an employee shortage is having a significant impact on the economy. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted public health and created economic disorder on a global scale. Because of this, businesses worldwide are experiencing supply chain disruptions and labor shortages, while consumers are […] It’s no secret that jobs have been hard to fill and that an employee shortage is having a significant impact on the economy. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted public health and created economic disorder on a global scale. Because of this, businesses worldwide are experiencing supply chain disruptions and labor shortages, while consumers are dealing with the aftermath of inflation. 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); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more There are 8.6 million potential employable workers and 10 million job openings in the U.S. today, reflecting the strong decrease in workforce participation that contributes to the ongoing supply chain disruptions impacting many industries, including suppliers, distributors, and consumers, with the most significant impact on consumers and the economic growth. For example, American Airlines canceled more than 460 flights earlier in November due to staffing shortages that led to travel disruptions for tens of thousands of people. Unfortunately, the labor shortages and supply chain issues also impact inflation and will only worsen before it gets better. These labor shortages and supply chain disruptions have created a destructive cyclical effect. Fewer employees result in fewer goods produced. As fewer goods are available with higher demand, prices rise, which has caused inflation to hit a 31-year high with no signs of abating anytime soon. While it's easy to think that these realities impact everyone similarly, some companies persevere through these times, and consumers notice. At the same time, many other companies struggle to adapt, and the volume of social and media activity around these issues demonstrates consumer frustrations. So, which companies are performing well, and which aren't? And how can you quantify the difference? Using AI And NLP To Analyze Data And Calculate Sentiment Using artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP), financial services firms can quickly pull data from several sources, like news, social media reports, financial reports, and third-party data providers. AI and NLP can analyze the information gathered from these sources and rank the sentiment of the data with either a negative, neutral or positive sentiment score. At Accern, we’ve created a no-code AI platform that allows financial organizations to extract sentiment and insights from textual data for better risk and investment decisions. We recently analyzed the impact of labor shortages and inflation on companies and consumers. After gathering data on the companies most impacted, we analyzed the human emotion behind the news and issued a sentiment score for each piece of information pulled. Insights On Labor Shortages There are a few companies experiencing outsized negative sentiment among consumers, including Yum! Brands, Spirit Airlines, American Airlines, Ulta Beauty, Foot Locker, and Delta Airlines, to name a few. The most significant issues impacting these companies include airline labor shortages, food shortages, truck driver shortages, and supply chain disruptions. Additionally, restaurant employees and drivers are speaking out against low wages and harsh working conditions. To put things in perspective, roughly half of the news activity around these companies embodies a negative sentiment. Considering the lack of truck drivers, more drivers are voicing negative points of view around uncomfortable working conditions and resigning as shown in the snippets pulled from the dashboard above. The shortage of drivers has created a rift within the global economy and exacerbated the supply chain crisis as stores do not receive their goods in time to fill the empty shelves and meet shoppers' demands. Especially with holiday shopping, panicked consumers are experiencing the impact of the supply chain disruption and labor shortages. Stores like Ulta and Foot Locker, which have not fully adapted to the supply chain problems, are not only reporting lower earnings but are dealing with negative sentiment from the media, investors, and consumers. Although Ulta and Foot Locker expected higher growth once physical stores reopened, investors were disappointed to see the earnings for each store drop. As consumers have stuck to the pandemic habits of online shopping, they now look for convenience and digital experiences more than ever. Although Ulta and Foot Locker are doing their best to ensure that these digital experiences are available to consumers as fast as possible, there is still a long way to go. Conversely, companies like Anheuser Busch, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, and JetBlue are seeing outsized positive attention despite the same labor shortages and supply chain disruption trends. The difference lies in increasing employee benefits and providing better digital experiences to consumers, leading to higher earnings reports. For example, PepsiCo’s response to the supply chain crisis was to digitize the supply chain and invest in technological innovation at scale to ensure that consumers all across the globe receive their products. Pepsi's response has generated positive sentiment from the news and consumers around the world. Consumers are happiest when brands meet their demands, act ethically, and innovate their services and products. Innovation is critical in keeping consumers interested in products as it shows that companies are adapting to new technologies to meet their consumers' needs. Insights On Inflation The supply chain and labor shortage crises are driving inflation. In the most recent CPI report, inflation came in at 6.2 percent, marking the highest increase in over 30 years. But companies that have navigated well around supply chain disruptions and labor shortages have also proven their ability to minimize the impact of inflation. Our recent analysis shows that companies like Discover, Peloton, Nike, and Capital One are receiving negative sentiment from consumers, while JB Hunt, American Express, Starbucks, and Costco are not drawing the ire of their customers. Nike is one company that has used digital acceleration to adapt during the pandemic and saw consumer demand rise as profits rose 16 percent in the last year. Despite its revenue growth, supply chain issues also inflate cotton prices and disrupt the flow of products to stores. As a result, Nike announced that it anticipates increasing prices in the second half of 2022 to offset supply chain-related costs. Contrarily, Costco is navigating higher labor and freight costs, transportation demand, and container shortages. Still, they manage to keep their prices low and membership fees the same while meeting the needs of consumers. Additionally, Costco acquired a logistic network to enable the company to deliver large items within days instead of weeks and has gone digital with e-commerce platforms like Instacart. These AI-generated insights demonstrate how certain companies are effectively navigating the most prominent issues affecting our economy today. Accern's AI and NLP analysis reveals that companies proactively innovating their products and services can meet consumers' demands without significantly cutting employee salaries or raising costs. These companies are the ones that are also driving positive sentiment from the media and consumers. With the amount of structured and unstructured data available today, AI and NLP are crucial in understanding the relative health of companies and how different players in the economy are handling challenges – and staying afloat. Article By Kumesh Aroomoogan, co-founder and CEO, Accern About Kumesh Aroomoogan Kumesh Aroomoogan is the co-founder and CEO of Accern, a New York-based, venture-backed AI startup. Founded in 2014, Accern accelerates AI workflows for financial enterprises with a no-code development platform and has raised $16m to date. In 2018 Kumesh was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 Enterprise Technology list. Previously, he was the co-founder and CEO of BrandingScholars, an advertising agency, a General Accountant at the Ford Foundation, an Executive Board Member, Chairman of Public Relations at ALPFA, Equity Researcher at Citigroup, and a Financial Analyst at SIFMA. Updated on Dec 3, 2021, 3:34 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: valuewalk2 hr. 7 min. ago

"Staggering 1-Day Moves": Nomura Warns The Market "Remains Shockingly Dysfunctional"

"Staggering 1-Day Moves": Nomura Warns The Market "Remains Shockingly Dysfunctional" Earlier today we observed that amid the market turmoil of the past month, hedge funds have been unwinding net exposure at a furious pace and selling (or shorting) to retail investors, who paradoxically have been buying at the fastest pace on record. We got some incremental data this morning from Goldman, which noted that the bank's prime book (hedge fund-facing) was heavily net sold to start December (largest 1-day $ net selling since September, -2.5 SDs vs. the average daily net flow of the past year), driven by continued short sales and to a much lesser extent long sales (9 to 1). The frenzied shorting, which occurred in the context of sharp net deleveraging... ... probably explains why stocks are surging today as the crowd is now scrambling to cover. What about recent developments in the arcane world of Greeks? Well, despite the furious melt-up short squeeze, Nomura's Charlie McElligott warns that there remains risk of further systematic de-leveraging as previously dormant realized vol finally “crashed-up” to stress already well-flagged by previously discussed spikes in Skew, Put Skew, rVol : iVol, Term Structure, etc. Meanwhile, according to McElligott's calculations, one potential driver for lower prices, Vol Control funds, have reduced US equity exposure by -$46.5B over the past 1w, and will be selling -$2.1B on another 1% daily change, or -$8.9B on another 1.5% daily change Just as notable, Nomura's CTA Trend model is nearing a “flip” trigger level in the legacy “+100% Long” signal in S&P futures to “Short” - although for that to happen, the S&P would need to close below today’s trigger of 4496, something which won't happen thanks to today's furious squeeze. That said, selling under 4496 would see the “long” sold and flip “-42% Short” across the aggregate signal. So today's oversold bounce notwithstanding - and with the VIX at 28 it is likely the market will reverse downward again tomorrow - McElligott warns that the environment remains shockingly dysfunctional, with Nomura's John Pierce noting that with VVIX (‘vol of vol’) closing at 155 yday, the second-highest closing level YTD - which notably was only previously exceeded in 2021 by the massive pain felt during the Meme stock / HF Short Book blow-up in January - and speaking of…. The Equities gross-down culminated into the cash close yesterday, although surprising to some, it was already well under-way even when the broad index was on early highs, with “HF Crowding Factor” down all session and finishing on the lows by the close The US Equities 1d Factor moves were staggering, with 36 of our 39 Factor pairs and legs in the Nomura + Wolfe universe experience greater than 1 z-score moves, while of the 26 individual Factor legs, the median move was -1.9 z-score (lower) on impulse de-risking into year-end illiquidity As McElligott further notes, the dynamic repricing lower of “(expensive) Growth”/“High Vol”/“High Leverage (balance sheet)” has continued to be the thematic story - as these make up much of the “short legs” which have fueled the stellar quarter-to-date performance behind “Quality” (+14.5% QTD), “Defensive Value” (+8.6%) and “Low Risk” (+8.2%) Why?  The same reason we discussed on Monday in "The Most Crowded Hedge Fund Stocks Just Had Their Worst Month In History" - here Nomura adds that “crowding” has yet-again been an issue, which is simply another form of “shadow leverage” (on top of what had been mid / upper 90%ile Nets and Grosses up into last month). Shockingly Nomura calculates that crowded Hedge Fund Longs are -11.5% over the past 16 sessions (a -2.1 sigma move since 2006), and YTD, “HF Crowded Longs” are underperforming Nasdaq 100 by -12.1% and S&P 500 by -9.5%, but stunningly, with all of that underperformance coming since early- / mid- November, after what had been outperformance for the majority of the year! For the best example of how most crowded trades have imploded, look no further than the components of the infamous ARKK ETF, 42 of 43 names are in the red over the past month, 36 of those 42 “red” names are down > -10% over the past 1m, 26 are > -20% and 9 are > -30% And as many of the above (formerly) “high flyers” were a “retail” story (“Wolfe Retail Red Alert” -9.3% in past 5d), this dynamic was most clearly on “shock” display by the 1d return yesterday in the Bloomberg “US Pure Trading Activity” Factor, registering a -5.5 z-score move (10Y lookback), the 2nd worst 1d return for the Factor over the past decade. Indeed, the collapse of many of the high flyers, most of which are also among the retail "favorite" stocks, is why the dramatic outperformance of the "retail favorite basket" saw striking losses in the past few days... ... even if we have yet to see retail traders putting their insatiable buying of everything sold by hedge funds even on "transitory" hold. Tyler Durden Thu, 12/02/2021 - 15:29.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytDec 2nd, 2021

The 4 best comforters we tested in 2021

The best comforters for your bed in 2021 come from Brooklinen, Room Essentials, The Company Store, and Lands' End. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.Connie Chen/Insider A comforter should be soft and breathable, making you feel like you're wrapped in a warm cloud. Brooklinen's All-Season Down Comforter is best for most people and seasons. With a 700 fill power, it's very airy, fluffy, and compressible. The sateen shell is soft and quiet. Find out more about how Insider Reviews tests and reviews home products. Along with soft sheets, a fluffy pillow, and a supportive mattress, a warm comforter is essential for a comfortable night's sleep. An important feature to consider while shopping for comforters is fill power. The higher the fill power, the lighter and fluffier the comforter is, and, somewhat counterintuitively, the warmer it is. So if you tend to sleep hot, you want a product with a lower fill power. It won't have as much of a light and fluffy cloud feel, but it'll be less insulating. It's also a good idea to switch comforters based on the season unless you live somewhere with mild weather year-round. Another essential feature: corner loops or tabs. These let you attach your comforter to a duvet cover so it won't slide around inside. Although comforters have fabric shells so you can technically sleep with one directly on top of you, we recommend protecting it with a duvet cover. Learn how to quickly put on a duvet cover, as well as other product features to look out for in the FAQs section.In a major overhaul of this guide, we tested down and down alternative comforters and narrowed them down to the top four. These picks cover a range of body temperatures, budgets, and materials. To help answer questions about shopping for a comforter, I consulted with experts in hospitality and bedding. Note: All testing notes and price information refer to a full/queen size.Note: Our down-alternative pick from The Company Store is currently back-ordered until May 2022. If you don't want to wait, our budget pick, the Room Essentials Down-Alternative Comforter, is also made from a down alternative.Here are the best comforters you can buy in 2021Best comforter overall: Brooklinen All-Season Down Comforter Best comforter on a budget: Room Essentials Down-Alternative Comforter  Best down alternative comforter: The Company Store Conscious Down-Alternative ComforterBest comforter for hot sleepers: Lands' End Essential Down ComforterBest comforter overallConnie Chen/InsiderThe Brooklinen All-Season Down Comforter is a soft, light, and comfortable choice that's airy and warm but remains breathable, so you can use it any time of the year.Material: Duck down filling with a cotton sateen shellSizes and dimensions: Twin/twin XL (90" x 64"), full/queen (90" x 90"), king/CA king (90" x 106")Fill power: 700Corner loops: Yes Return policy: 1 year Warranty: 1 year Care instructions: Spot clean with gentle soap and dry on air fluff, or hang it outside on a dry day.Pros: Light and airy feel, smooth sateen shell, comes in three weights Cons: Has a slight down smell, may be too warm for sleepers who run hot The Brooklinen comforter gives the true wrapped-in-a-cloud feeling. It's light and compressible, and the down inside stays evenly distributed thanks to the baffle box construction (more on that in the FAQs). Out of all the contenders, Brooklinen's comforter felt the most luxurious and comfortable. The outer shell is soft and stays quiet as you move in bed. And while the comforter may compress quickly depending on how you're sleeping on it, it re-fluffs easily if you give it a shake. On the downside, it had the most noticeable down smell. I had to fluff it in the dryer a few times for the smell to subside. Because of the high fill power, it may be too warm for some sleepers. One of my testers, who normally sleeps with a thin silk blanket, thought it was too warm and liked the Lands' End option better. Overall, the Brooklinen comforter is still a versatile pick for many sleepers, especially if you don't want to bother with switching blankets every season. In case it's not the best fit for you, Brooklinen also has Lightweight and Ultra-Warm options you can try.$305.14 FROM BROOKLINENOriginally $359.00 | Save 15%Best comforter on a budgetConnie Chen/InsiderThe sub-$50 Room Essentials Down-Alternative Comforter impresses with its substantial, cushioned construction and super soft outer shell, a clear step up from thin and flat competitors in the same price range.Material: Polyester filling with a cotton percale shellSizes and dimensions: Twin/twin XL (94" x 68"), full/queen (94" x 90"), king (94" x 108") Fill power: N/A for down-alternative productsCorner loops: Yes Return policy: 1 year Warranty: N/A Care instructions: Machine wash on cold and tumble dry on low.Pros: Very soft shell, filling stays evenly distributedCons: Less airy and fluffy than down products, may not be warm enough for winterThe comforter from Target's budget-minded Room Essentials brand is made from polyester with a brushed percale cotton shell. Many down alternative fill comforters with a similar construction tend to be thin and flat. Still, this model surprised me with its moderate thickness and fluffiness, rivaling more expensive comforters. It's not as airy or compressive as down, but it's undoubtedly cushiony and comfortable. The shell is exceptionally soft — the softest of all the products in this guide. While it's still best to use a duvet cover to preserve the longevity of a comforter, Target's is the only one I'd consider sleeping under without a cover because of how soft and cozy it feels. Though it's marketed as a mid-weight, all-season comforter, I think it works best for warm or mild seasons. It provided comfortable, breathable insulation for spring nights in California, but I don't see it being warm enough for a winter's night in the Midwest. We'll continue to monitor this model for long-term durability to see whether the quality matches the price. So far, I'm impressed with how well it performs for the price.$30.00 FROM TARGETBest down-alternative comforterConnie Chen/Insider The Company Store Conscious Down Alternative Comforter is made from environmentally friendly materials like recycled bottles and Tencel lyocell, yet it feels nearly identical to a regular down comforter. (Note: This comforter is back-ordered until May 2022.)Material: Polyester and Tencel lyocell filling with a cotton-Tencel lyocell sateen shellSizes and dimensions: Twin (90" x 70"), full (90" x 84"), queen (96" x 90"), and king/CA king (96" x 108") Fill power: N/A for down-alternative products Corner loops: YesReturn policy: 90 daysWarranty: N/A Care instructions: Machine wash cold on gentle with a mild detergent. Tumble dry low.Pros: Eco-friendly, more affordable than down comforter but has a similar feelCons: Shell is a little crinklyThe Company Store's comforter is thoughtfully constructed from a mix of traditional and environmentally conscious materials, resulting in a piece of bedding that's both comfortable and ethical. The fill is made from polyester spun from recycled plastic bottles plus Tencel lyocell, a naturally breathable and cool material made from wood fibers. Meanwhile, the shell is half cotton, half Tencel lyocell that's been woven into a smooth, silky sateen weave.The comforter has a box construction, which keeps the fill in place throughout the night. It's a good middle-of-the-road option that's neither too warm nor cool. Overall, the comforter feels very similar to down: fluffy, soft, and compressible. The main difference I noticed is that the shell is a little stiffer and crinkly. Another significant difference is there's no down smell. Whether you prefer not to buy animal products or want to be more environmentally friendly, this comforter lets you shop with your values without compromising comfort and warmth.$259.00 FROM THE COMPANY STOREBest comforter for hot sleepersConnie Chen/InsiderIf you tend to overheat at night, the Lands' End Essential Down Comforter, which has a lower fill power than average, offers temperature regulation that will keep you cozy and comfortable without sweating.Material: Duck down filling with a cotton sateen shellSizes and dimensions: Twin (86" x 66"), full/queen (96" x 88"), king (96" x 107") Fill power: 550 Corner loops: Yes  Return policy: 90 daysWarranty: N/ACare instructions: Spot clean with gentle soap and dry on air fluff, or hang it outside on a dry day.Pros: Responsible Down Standard certified, still has some fluff and compression to itCons: Less luxurious, cloud-like feel than comforters with a higher fill powerThose who sleep hot should look for a comforter with a lower fill power. The Lands' End comforter has a fill power of 550, which makes it less insulating. At the same time, it's cushiony and fluffy enough that you won't miss out on the luxury of sleeping with a down comforter. It also compresses well, but again, less so than a product with a high fill power. Of all the down models I tested, the Lands' End has the least down smell. That's because the down and feather filling is washed a couple of times to get rid of odor and dust. It's labeled "hypoallergenic" by the International Down and Feather Lab. My testers who regularly sleep hot found this lightweight comforter the least stifling of all the contenders. It acts as a soft cover-up layer, but it doesn't trap heat. In addition to being a great year-round option for warm sleepers, it's suitable to put on your summer bedding rotation (along with a set of airy linen sheets).$137.97 FROM LAND'S ENDOriginally $229.95 | Save 40%What else we testedConnie Chen/InsiderWhat else we recommend and whyRiley All-Season Down Comforter: A high-quality goose-down comforter, this model felt as fluffy and airy as Brooklinen's. For the same feel, Brooklinen's is more affordable, which is why it ultimately won out. But if you prefer goose down, which also has a lighter smell than duck down, you might like Riley's more. Riley also has a better warranty period of five years. Equinox All-Season Down Alternative Comforter: This Amazon favorite made of synthetic filling is as affordable as the Target Room Essentials but not as soft. It's lightweight, warm, and slightly plush. Read our full review here. Buffy Breeze Comforter: The Breeze has unique qualities, including a eucalyptus fiber construction and a wavy stitched pattern. A baffle box construction — like that found in three out of four of our top picks — ultimately offers better filling distribution, and the Breeze isn't as fluffy as our top picks, but the comfort and softness are still there.What we don't recommend and why The Company Store LaCrosse Down Comforter (Light): The brand's most popular comforter comes in many eye-catching colors, and we loved the look of the deep, rusty Russet color. Sadly, the shell is loud and stiff. I'm not a particularly light sleeper, but the constant crinkling was a disturbance I couldn't ignore.Our comforter testing methodologyConnie Chen/InsiderI spoke to the following experts to learn more about the most important features of a comforter: Chelsea Nightengale, the general manager of The Restoration Hotel; Dale Fox, the founder and CEO of Foxden Hospitality; Sarah Abitbol, the CEO of bedding brand Riley; and Katie Elks, the Director of Design and Product Development at Brooklinen. I evaluated each of our seven comforter contenders on the following criteria:Performance: I slept with each contender in the same duvet cover (Casper's Hyperlite Duvet Cover) for a minimum of three nights, noting the comfort and feel, breathability, sizing, whether the inside material shifted during the night, whether it had corner loops, and any other special features. I also had family members test each product for a minimum of one night. I'll continue rotating through the comforters to note any changes in comfort and breathability. Cleaning and durability: I washed and dried each product according to brand instructions and noted whether the filling bunched up or fell out and if there were any loose threads. We didn't consider any dry-clean-only products since we believe you can get a great comforter that is machine washable. Return policy: Outside of comfort and durability, I looked at the return policies of each brand and only considered products with a minimum 30-day return policy. Since bedding purchases are very personal, you must have the freedom to return your comforter if it doesn't fit your expectations.Comforter FAQsConnie Chen/InsiderWhat's the difference between a comforter and a duvet? A comforter and duvet are similar, and the terms are used interchangeably today. Technically speaking, a duvet is just the insert and doesn't have a fabric shell over it. It requires a duvet cover for both protection and aesthetic purposes. A comforter contains both the insert and a fabric shell, so you can lay it directly on your body if you want.Can you use a duvet cover on your comforter? Yes, and we recommend it! Most comforters these days also come with corner loops or tabs so you can put a duvet cover over it. A duvet cover protects your comforter from your body oils and is easier to wash.What's the best comforter for couples? Couples may want a king-sized comforter, even if you sleep on a smaller bed. A king-sized comforter offers ample coverage for two people and limits blanket hogging throughout the night. If blanket hogging remains an issue, or if you and your partner have vastly different sleeping temperatures, we recommend getting two separate and smaller comforters so each person can sleep exactly how'd they like.How do you wash a comforter? It depends on the material. If it's made from a synthetic material, it's OK to wash it in the machine with a gentle detergent. If it's made from down, it's best to only air dry or put it in the dryer on air fluff.How do you put a duvet cover on your comforter? We recommend the "burrito" method: Turn your duvet cover inside out, then lay your comforter on top of it. Fasten the duvet cover ties to the comforter's corner tabs. Roll the duvet cover and comforter together like a burrito towards the zipper or buttoned opening of the duvet cover. Fold the duvet cover opening around each corner and close it with the zippers or buttons. Unroll the burrito bundle back towards the opposite end. Another method: Start with the same steps of turning your duvet cover inside out, then lay your comforter on top of it. Fasten the duvet cover ties to the comforter's corner tabs. Reach into the opening, grab the farthest corner on either side, and pull it out of the opening. Repeat this step with the other side.What is down? Down is the soft, light, and fluffy clusters of fiber from the underbelly of a duck or goose. It's highly insulating, breathable, and lightweight, which is why it's used to make bedding like comforters and pillows, as well as outdoor clothing. According to the American Down & Feather Council, a comforter must contain at least 75% down cluster to be labeled as a down product. The remainder of the bedding usually has feathers, and you can check the label of your comforter to find the exact percentage breakdown of down and feather.Is goose or duck down better?Duck and goose down are equally insulating and durable, but duck down is generally cheaper and less fluffy. Because geese are larger birds than ducks, they have larger down clusters, which loft more, take up more space, and compress to a smaller size. Goose down also doesn't smell as much as duck down. If you want the lightest, fluffiest, and warmest comforter — and you don't mind paying a little more — look for goose down. Still, duck down is an effective option that we also love and recommend.Is down ethical? Since down comes from birds that are already being raised for food, it is a sustainable byproduct. As we mention in our guide to the best down pillows, you can look for the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) logo on down products.The certification ensures that the Five Freedoms of animal welfare (which include access to fresh water and food, comfortable shelter, and freedom of movement) are followed; prohibits live-plucking and force-feeding; and evaluates the entire process from farm to final product.What's the difference between down and down alternative? Down is natural, while down alternative is made from synthetic materials like polyester. Down alternative mimics the feel and insulation of natural down and is ideal if you don't want to spend as much money or if you avoid animal products.GlossaryConnie Chen/InsiderBaffle box construction: A design that separates the top and bottom layers of the comforter with a vertical fabric layer. This maintains an even fill distribution and consistent fluffiness.Sewn-through construction: A design that sews the top and bottom layers of the comforter directly together, with no middle layer of separation. This can lead to uneven distribution of filling and cold spots, which is why baffle box is generally the preferred design. Down: The fluffy fibers underneath the feather layer of a duck's or goose's underbelly. It's used in bedding like pillows and comforters as well as clothing and outdoor equipment like sleeping bags. It's insulating, breathable, and soft. Down alternative: The animal-friendly alternative to down. It's usually made from synthetic fibers and is made to mimic the properties of natural down. Fill power: The amount of space, measured in cubic inches, that one ounce of down occupies (e.g., a 700-fill power pillow takes up 700 cubic inches of space). The larger the down cluster, the higher the fill power, quality, and warmth.  RDS: Stands for Responsible Down Standard, a certification that ensures the sourcing, manufacturing, and final down product are ethical and humane. Percale: A type of cotton weave that feels matte, crisp, airy, and breathable. One thread is woven with another thread into a tight grid pattern. Sateen: A type of cotton weave that feels smooth and silky. It's less breathable and also tends to snag more easily. Three or four threads are woven over one thread into a looser grid pattern.Check out more bedding guidesConnie Chen/InsiderThe best down pillowsThe best pillowsThe best sheetsThe best mattress toppersThe best mattressesThe best duvet coversThe best weighted blanketsRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 1st, 2021

Here"s Why You Need to Bet on Big Tech ETFs Right Now

The technology sector was a great beneficiary of the COVID-led stay-at-home trend. Hence, the fears of Omicron strain of COVID-19 will be helpful for tech stocks. The technology sector was a great beneficiary of the COVID-led stay-at-home trend. Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLK) has advanced 88.3% past year against the 50% return offered by the S&P 500. But the tech rally had slackened lately due to rising rate worries emanating from the gradual reopening of the economy. In fact, the ETF XLK has advanced just 4.2% in the past month in comparison to the S&P 500’s 3.3% rally.But tech stocks should sizzle again in the coming days. ETFs like Invesco Dynamic Semiconductors ETF PSI, First Trust NASDAQ-100 Technology Sector Index Fund QTEC and ProShares S&P Technology Dividend Aristocrats ETF TDV could be the future winners. Let’s delve a little deeper.Fears of Omicron Variant of COVID-19The highly infectious strain of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been found in several countries. Europe has already enacted lockdown to curb rising cases. Lockdowns are likely in other regions as well. Fears of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 may lead to higher demand for the tech stocks as these are the winning ones amid the stay-at-home trend.Plus, the sector has solid long-term potential. “New normal” trends like work-and-learn-from-home and online shopping, increasing digital payments and growing video streaming are sure to stay here for long. The growing adoption of cloud computing, and the ongoing infusion of AI, machine learning and IoT are the other winning areas.Will Fed Raise Rates Later Than Expected?Earlier this month, the Fed's policy-setting committee announced that it would start scaling back its purchases of agency mortgage-backed securities and U.S. Treasuries, which it had been absorbing at a clip of about $120 billion a month since the depths of the pandemic.Many expected a hike in rates in mid-2022. However, those chances have been quelled a bit now. Per CME group data, chances of a 50-bp rate hike in June 2022 is 44.1% at the time of writing, down from a 46.7% probability recorded a week ago. This means that the rates are likely to remain low in the coming days due to the safe-haven rally and a dovish Fed, which in turn should work well for the high-growth tech stocks.Big Tech Resistant to Inflation?Cramer explained that big-tech names like Google-parent Alphabet (GOOGL) and Microsoft’s (MSFT) business model are not that responsive to the changes in inflation, including the rise in prices for raw materials, chemicals and commodities like gas, plastics, packaging and so on. Higher transportation charges due to supply chain issues are also less likely to bother the operations of big-tech companies.Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives believes that Apple (AAPL) and Microsoft (MSFT) are great picks now, as quoted on the street.com. 5G could be a boom time for Apple as many will upgrade their phones while carriers expand their coverage of the new faster networks. Microsoft will gain out of this Omicron scenario with the help of its cloud business.  So, don’t shy away from the tech sector altogether. Rather bet on the ones that are cash rich and scrape through the volatility. Against this backdrop, we highlight a few top-ranked tech ETFs that could be bought right now.ETFs to Buy on the Recent SelloffWe highlight below a few tech ETFs that sport a have a top rank and relatively lower P/E ratios in the space.Invesco Dynamic Semiconductors ETF PSI – Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) – 28.07XTechnology Select Sector SPDR Fund XLK – Zacks Rank #1 – 27.53XFirst Trust NASDAQ-100 Technology Sector Index Fund QTEC – Zacks Rank #1 – 29.22XProShares S&P Technology Dividend Aristocrats ETF TDV – Zacks Rank #1 – 30.98X Want key ETF info delivered straight to your inbox? Zacks’ free Fund Newsletter will brief you on top news and analysis, as well as top-performing ETFs, each week.Get it 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 Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK): ETF Research Reports Invesco Dynamic Semiconductors ETF (PSI): ETF Research Reports First Trust NASDAQ100Technology Sector ETF (QTEC): ETF Research Reports ProShares S&P Technology Dividend Aristocrats ETF (TDV): ETF Research Reports To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksNov 30th, 2021

Victim Hopes For Justice In Ghislaine Maxwell Trial

Victim Hopes For Justice In Ghislaine Maxwell Trial Authored by Charlotte Cuthbertson via The Epoch Times, Jeffrey Epstein molested her and she didn’t tell a soul for 17 years. Teresa Helm was 22, and she had already patched her life back together after being sexually abused by a close family member, starting at age 8. “I really suffered in silence,” Helm told The Epoch Times’ “Insight” magazine. As a child, she had told her mother about the abuse in the hope that she’d make it stop. Instead, her mother told her not to tell anyone, and it continued for 3 1/2 years. “I just didn’t get help, even though I kept asking for it. And so after what happened with Jeffrey, I suffered in silence, just like I had always kind of done,” she said. In 2002, Helm had moved to California from Ohio and was attending a massage therapy school, positive of a bright future. It became even more exciting when a fellow student, a year ahead of her, approached her about an opportunity for a traveling massage therapist job. Helm was interested and was connected with another young woman, whom she subsequently met at Santa Monica to discuss the potential job. “We looked similar, we were at a similar age, so I connected with her,” Helm said. “I never felt like anything she was saying to me wasn’t legitimate, or I never felt fearful.” Teresa Helm at age 21. (Courtesy of Teresa Helm) Helm said the woman painted a phenomenal picture of what life would be like as “Miss Maxwell’s” personal traveling massage therapist—private jets, top chefs, access to the best education all over the world. “So I’d say that she did her job very well. Because in an hour or so of walking around the boardwalk, I was like, ‘Wow. This is really great. I’m so lucky, this is meant to be.'” Wanting to grasp the incredible opportunity, Helm told the woman she was interested, and was informed that she’d need to fly to New York City and meet Maxwell for the final interview. Two weeks later, Helm’s travel to New York City had been arranged—flights, driver, an Upper East Side apartment to stay in, a gift basket waiting. “I go meet with Miss Maxwell. I was expecting to give a massage because that’s what the interview was pertaining to. And everything with Ghislaine Maxwell was legitimate and pleasant, and she was very polite. Her home was stunning,” Helm said. “I was super impressed with her because she’s this very well-spoken woman, and she’s clearly successful because of her beautiful home, and she has photos on the wall of ex-president Bill Clinton. And I’m thinking: ‘Wow, she’s really something special, she’s worked hard. She’s accomplished a lot in her life.'” Helm spent a couple of hours in the home before Maxwell told her she was next going to meet up with Maxwell’s partner, Jeffrey. It was the first time Helm had heard of a partner, but nothing had indicated she should feel alarmed or that she was in any kind of danger. Any red flags, she realized in hindsight, had been easily normalized and explained away. Even when Maxwell told her to “give Jeffrey whatever he wants” during his massage because he “always gets what he wants,” Helm thought Maxwell clearly must mean, “Do a good job, because he’s had a lot of professional massages.” “Because of my trust with [Maxwell]—she was able to create that trusting bond within me in a matter of hours—I literally walked myself to the man of the house who was going to assault me,” Helm said. “I took myself there, because those three women did their job perfectly well and I didn’t suspect a darn thing. When I look back at the fact that three women set me up to be assaulted, it’s just disgusting. It’s a different level of betrayal.” Helm said Epstein sexually assaulted her in his office during the interview and threatened her as she ran out of the house, her world shaking and head spinning. Shocked to the core and full of shame, Helm returned to California the following day. (Photo and illustration by The Epoch Times) “The shame was overwhelming, it was paralyzing,” she recalled. “I was just so ashamed to say anything.” Her life spiraled down, and three months later she broke her lease, dropped out of school, and returned to Ohio. For the next five years, Helm fell into a destructive pattern. But just weeks before her 28th birthday, she found out she was pregnant, and life shifted again—this time toward the positive. “That’s what really saved my life and turned my life around,” she said. “It was the first time I really valued myself. It was like that sense of purpose. And knowing that I was going to protect my child the way that I was never protected. “Then after having him, I was so honored to be his mom. And then it really actually dug up, it was like, almost hatred toward my mom and Jeffrey. That first year of my son’s life was a lot of emotional processing for me. And I just wanted to kind of remove myself from the world and just be a mom. And that’s what I did.” Helm’s son has just turned 14, and she also has a daughter who is 7. She is the full-time caregiver for both. ‘The World Shifted’ Helm, who had moved to Florida, was folding laundry one Thursday evening in July 2019 when she went online and saw a headline about Epstein after he’d been arrested for sex trafficking. She clicked the link to open the article and came face-to-face with her abuser. In that instant, she realized “Jeffrey” was Epstein. Stunned, she sat down and googled Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein. “It was life changing, just in that moment. It was like retraumatization, No. 1. No. 2, it was like the world shifted and changed all over again. It’s been different ever since that moment, like the world changed yet again, in that moment and it has not gone back. Nor will it,” Helm said. “Because I didn’t know there were others. I didn’t know that this was this huge thing with these people.” The following day, after a regular yoga class, Helm sat in her car and sobbed as the emotions swirled. She decided it was time to break her silence. The opportunity to speak out presented itself quickly. Epstein was found dead in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center on Aug. 10, 2019, one month after his arrest. A medical examiner ruled it a suicide by hanging nine days later. The New York judge, Richard Berman, would be forced to dismiss the charges against Epstein—which included the sex trafficking of dozens of minors from as early as 1995—but not before he allowed survivors to speak. Twenty-three women spoke in the courthouse on Aug. 27 about being sexually abused by Epstein, either in person or through a lawyer. “I’m coming forward because it is time to bring light to that darkness, and it’s time to replace that darkness with light,” Helm said that day. She had only decided that morning to speak out and use her name publicly. Another survivor, “Jane Doe 9,” said she was 15 when she met Epstein, in 2004. “I flew on Jeffrey Epstein’s plane to Zorro Ranch, where I was sexually molested by him for many hours.” she said through a lawyer. “What I remember most vividly was him explaining to me how beneficial the experience was for me and how much he was helping me to grow. Yikes.” Epstein’s Zorro Ranch is in New Mexico. He also owned multimillion dollar properties in New York, Florida, and France, and his own islands in the Caribbean, Little St. James Island and Great St. James Island. Epstein has been linked with a veritable who’s who of the fashion and political worlds. Attorney Gloria Allred (R) and her client Teala Davies, who claims to have been a victim of sexual abuse by Jeffrey Epstein when she was a minor, at a press conference to announce a lawsuit against Epstein’s estate, in New York on Nov. 21, 2019. (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images) Chauntae Davies also spoke in the courtroom. She said she was recruited by Maxwell while doing a massage apprenticeship. “Upon my first meeting her, I wouldn’t know I had been recruited until many years later, when I would read it in a headline,” Davies said. She said Maxwell and Epstein took her in, sent her to school, and gave her a job. “They flew me around the world, introduced me to a world I had only dreamt of and made me feel as though I had become a part of their family—another thing I was desperately searching for,” Davies said. “But on my third or fourth time meeting them, they brought me to Jeffrey’s island for the first time.” Davies said a knock on her door late at night indicated that Epstein was ready for another massage, so she hesitantly went to his villa. As Epstein began his assault on her, Davies said she told him, “No, please stop.” “But that just seemed to excite him more. He continued to rape me, and when he was finished, he hopped off and went to the shower.” Davies said she ran out of the villa, cried herself to sleep, and then spent two weeks in a Los Angeles hospital throwing up from a neurological disorder that manifests into violent vomiting attacks, largely triggered by stress. “Jeffrey’s abuse would continue for the next three years, and I allowed it to continue because I had been taken advantage of my entire life and had been conditioned to just accept it.” A protestor holds up a sign of Jeffrey Epstein in front of the federal courthouse in New York City on July 8, 2019. (Stephanie Keith/Getty Images) Maxwell on Trial Helm had finally broken her silence, and it was a watershed moment. She didn’t get to see Epstein face his charges, but she’s eager to be in court to see Maxwell face hers. FBI agents arrested Maxwell at her New Hampshire estate on July 2, 2020. She has been in a Brooklyn jail since. Bail has been denied several times, with Judge Alison Nathan ruling that she is a flight risk. The trial was originally set for July, but was delayed until Nov. 29 and is expected to last six weeks. Jury selection began on Nov. 16. Maxwell is charged with sex trafficking children, perjury, and the enticement of minors while she was a close associate of Epstein, according to a superseding indictment filed in the Southern District of New York on March 29. “In particular, from at least in or about 1994, up to and including at least in or about 2004, Maxwell assisted, facilitated, and contributed to Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse of minor girls by, among other things, helping Epstein to recruit, groom, and ultimately abuse victims known to Maxwell and Epstein to be under the age of 18,” the indictment alleges. “Moreover, in an effort to conceal her crimes, Maxwell repeatedly lied when questioned about her conduct, including in relation to some of the minor victims described herein, when providing testimony under oath in 2016.” Virginia Giuffre (formerly Virginia Roberts), one of Epstein’s most well-known accusers, claimed in a 2016 deposition that she was directed by Maxwell to have sex with a number of rich and powerful men, including “foreign presidents,” a “well-known” prime minister, and “other world leaders.” None of the men Giuffre named in the documents have been charged, and all have denied the claims. A court officer stands outside a Manhattan courthouse where media have gathered for the arraignment hearing of Ghislaine Maxwell in New York City on July 14, 2020. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images) Maxwell, often described as a British socialite, maintains her innocence on all charges and in a 2016 deposition claimed she had no idea Epstein abused young girls. During the deposition, Maxwell was asked: “Did Jeffrey Epstein have a scheme to recruit underage girls for sexual massages? If you know.” She replied: “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” according to the transcript. “I never saw any inappropriate underage activities with Jeffrey ever.” Maxwell acknowledged that former President Bill Clinton traveled on Epstein’s plane, but denied introducing Britain’s Prince Andrew to underage sex partners. “I’m ready for this trial to start,” Helm said. “I really aim to be there and look at her right in her face, and equally as important is for her to see me.” Helm isn’t named in the indictment and won’t be testifying, but that doesn’t matter. “I’m hopeful that there will be justice in this, that she will finally be held accountable and finally be sentenced for crimes that she has committed and for the lives that she has just willingly stepped in and ruined. This is a woman that changed the entire trajectory of my life and not for the better.” Helm said she hopes Maxwell is found guilty on all charges and receives the maximum penalties. “I don’t think for a moment that she deserves to be on the outside of a jail cell,” she said. “I and other girls, we’re on the outside of these bars, and yet we haven’t fully regained our freedom back. So I hope she gets the maximum sentence. She doesn’t deserve any less than that.” Helm said she often gets asked if she thinks Epstein’s death means Maxwell is now a scapegoat and is being punished for his crimes. “No, I do not. She knew what she was doing. She didn’t think twice about doing it. She did it countless times. She did it … very masterfully, very successfully,” she said. “You don’t help facilitate and run and orchestrate one of the largest sex trafficking rings on this globe, on this earth, without knowing what you’re doing and intentionally doing it.” An exterior view of the Metropolitan Detention Center in New York City on July 14, 2020. (Arturo Holmes/Getty Images) The indictment alleges that Maxwell befriended some of Epstein’s minor victims prior to their abuse, including by asking the victims about their lives, their schools, and their families. Other times, Maxwell and Epstein would take the victim shopping or to the movies, or pay travel or education expenses. “Having developed a rapport with a victim, Maxwell would try to normalize sexual abuse for a minor victim by, among other things, discussing sexual topics, undressing in front of the victim, being present when a minor victim was undressed, and/or being present for sex acts involving the minor victim and Epstein,” the court document states. The indictment goes on to say that in order to “maintain and increase his supply of victims,” Epstein, Maxwell, and other Epstein employees also paid certain victims to recruit additional girls to be similarly abused by Epstein. Helm said she has tried to understand what would cause a woman such as Ghislaine to intentionally set girls up to be forever traumatized. She said she has read how Ghislaine lost her father, whom she was very close to, and met Epstein not long afterwards. Helm said she lost her own father unexpectedly almost seven years ago. “I still to this very day miss him incredibly, and I am not out there hurting people,” she said. “There’s no grievance, or there’s no tragedy that justifies you turning around becoming literally a monster.” Maxwell’s lawyers didn’t respond to a request for comment by Insight. Epstein avoided criminal charges for years, raising questions about being protected by the rich and powerful. In September 2007, he entered into a nonprosecution agreement that gave him immunity against prosecution for numerous federal sex crimes in the Southern District of Florida. As part of the deal, in 2008, Epstein ultimately pled guilty to state charges of procuring a minor for prostitution and was registered as a sex offender. He spent 13 months in jail but was granted work release for 12 hours a day, six days a week. The Grooming Process Grooming and recruitment are critical steps in the sex trafficking industry. “If you don’t have a successful grooming process, you don’t have the abuse, because it just doesn’t make it that far,” Helm said. Jennifer Hill, assistant executive director of the Children’s Assessment Center in Houston, said her organization sees 5,000 children a year who’ve been sexually abused, both by family members or through trafficking. And that’s just the children who have spoken up. “I think most people never, ever tell. And that’s what’s tragic,” she said. Hill said it’s hard to discern how many children don’t report abuse, but statistics show that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before they’re 18. Common events—the divorce of parents, a breakup, bullying, or the death of a family member—can all make a child vulnerable. Many trafficked children come from the foster care system. But sexual abuse is the most common source of vulnerability for sex-trafficked children—70 to 90 percent of these children have a history of sexual abuse, according to anti-trafficking organization Path2Freedom. Hill said the grooming and recruitment process takes different forms, but involves getting access to the intended victim and gaining their trust so that eventually they’ll be willing to listen to that person, and that person has some control over their behavior. For children, it can include buying gifts, listening to their problems, or helping them in some way. These days, a lot of grooming occurs online through messaging apps or social media and gaming platforms. Post-abuse, children can be threatened to stay silent. Hill said she hopes the Maxwell trial will spur other victims of trafficking and sexual abuse to come forward. As a former prosecutor of child sex abuse cases, she said a lot of abusers are teachers or trusted adults in the community, which can be intimidating for victims. Her organization conducts awareness trainings for law enforcement, medical professionals, mental health professionals, teachers, and the community on recognizing and reporting trafficking. Helm said so many lessons can be taken from the Maxwell case, “like the fact that it can be a woman.” “That woman groomed me precisely well, beautifully. And that grooming process is so crucial for parents to identify that this is what’s happening to their children. Or for a child to think I think this might be happening to me. Because that grooming process is such a transfer of power [and] a gatekeeper to the abuse.” During 2019, the National Human Trafficking hotline received reports of 11,500 human trafficking cases, representing more than 22,000 victims. California, Texas, and Florida are identified as the worst three states for human trafficking. In Texas alone, more than 79,000 children are being trafficked for sex, according to a study by the University of Texas at Austin. “There’s not one single zip code in this nation, not one that is exempt from trafficking,” Helm said. “It happens in the wealthiest of the wealthiest, to the most impoverished, and everything in between. It has exploded online.” A residence belonging to Jeffrey Epstein on East 71st St. on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in New York City on July 8, 2019. (Kevin Hagen/Getty Images) The Threat Online Fifty-five percent of domestic sex-trafficking survivors who entered the life in 2015 or later met their trafficker for the first time using a mobile app, website, or text, said Tammy Toney-Butler, an anti-human trafficking consultant for Path2Freedom. Predators ramped up their sexual enticement of minors and the posting of child sexual abuse material as schools closed and kids worked online from home in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). The number of reports of online child sexual abuse materials reported to the NCMEC during the first six months of 2020 surged 90 percent to more than 12 million, the center reported. Reports of predators enticing minors went up 93 percent to more than 13,200. Facebook was used for most (59 percent) of the online recruitment in active sex trafficking cases in 2020, according to the Human Trafficking Institute’s annual trafficking report. That makes Facebook “by far the most frequently referenced website or app in public sources connected with these prosecutions, which was also true in 2019,” the report found. In June, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that Facebook could be held liable if sex traffickers use the platform to prey on children, arguing the social media website isn’t a “lawless no-man’s-land.” The ruling was made following three Houston-area lawsuits involving teenage trafficking victims who alleged that they met their abusers through Facebook’s messaging service. Prosecutors also said that Facebook was negligent by not doing more to block sex traffickers from using the site. The court said the victims can move forward with their lawsuits against Facebook. They claimed that the company violated the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, which was approved in 2009. Toney-Butler said the income traffickers can make from one victim can be close to $400,000 a year, and survivors have reported being forced to have sex more than 20 times a day while being six to seven months pregnant. And once a woman is over 18, she’s often seen by society as “a drug-addicted prostitute” rather than a victim of sex trafficking, she said. A child, after being pulled into sex trafficking, “only lives for seven years before they succumb to the environment,” Toney-Butler said. Suicide, drug overdose, and violence are often the killers. Teresa Helm (R) with three other sex-trafficking survivors, (L–R) Cathy Hoffman, Sabrina Lopez, and Nissi Hamilton, in Houston on April 24. (Kathleen O. Ryan) The Future Now 41, Helm is hopeful. Aside from looking after her children, she’s a fierce advocate and mentor to other survivors and a consultant to organizations and politicians to ensure laws and programs are victim-centered. “Helping others is the ultimate payback. That I didn’t completely break forever. I’ve been broken and I have repaired myself stronger,” she said. She referred to the old Japanese art form called kintsukuroi, or “to repair with gold,” which is the practice of repairing broken ceramics with gold, making them stronger and more beautiful than before. “And I definitely kind of view myself as that, in the fact that I can turn around and leverage this pain into purpose and help others—that’s the ultimate thing for me, to be able to be strong enough to go out and help others, help them change their lives, help them recover their lives and recover their power.” For Help The National Human Trafficking Hotline is confidential, toll-free, and available 24/7 in more than 200 languages. Call: 1-888-373-7888 Text: “Help” or “Info” to 233733 Chat: humantraffickinghotline.org Tyler Durden Mon, 11/29/2021 - 23:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 30th, 2021

Buy These 2 Stocks Before December Earnings?

Investors likely want to remain on the hunt for strong stocks as we enter the final month of 2021. Here are two modern retail stocks that investors might want to consider buying... Stocks bounced back on Monday following Friday’s big Omicron variant-focused selloff. The quick pullback was driven by real fears and lower holiday volume. Investors began pouring back into the markets to start the week as Wall Street appeared to determine that the new covid strain likely won’t have as significant of an impact as initially feared.Covid and new strains are likely here to stay and investors and consumers have largely proven they are willing to focus on signs of progress in favor of fears. It is also worth constantly remembering that selling is a healthy aspect of all well-functioning markets, especially one that’s soared for over a year and a half.Looking back, investors helped wash away all of the losses from the September and early October downturn in a matter of weeks. And the bulls appear to be in control, at least for now, with the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq both trading well above their 50-day moving averages despite Friday’s big drops.There could certainly be more selling and profit-taking in December. Luckily, the positive backdrop for stocks remains in place even in the face of continued supply chain bottlenecks, rising prices, and difficulty filling millions of open jobs.First off, interest rates will remain historically low for the foreseeable future no matter when the Fed starts to lift its core rate. Secondly, the S&P 500 earnings picture remains strong. And U.S. consumer spending was solid in October, which is a great sign for the entire pivotal holiday shopping period.With this in mind, investors likely want to remain on the hunt for strong stocks as we enter the final month of 2021. Here are two modern retail stocks that investors might want to consider buying…Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchLululemon LULU– (Q3 Financial Results Due Out Thursday, December 9)Lululemon has transformed from a small high-end yoga clothing maker 20 years ago into a global apparel powerhouse. The company currently sells an array of athletic apparel for women and men, alongside clothing that can be worn to work, dates, the golf course, and beyond. LULU has also rolled out self-care items, more outwear such as coats, and other accessory-style products.The athletic retailer expanded beyond clothing and apparel last year when it bought digital-focused at-home fitness company Mirror. The purchase has already outperformed LULU’s expectations and it’s adding additional live and on-demand digital workout content and putting more Mirror ‘shop-in-shops’ within Lululemon locations—200 excepted by the holiday season.Lululemon closed last quarter with 534 total company-operated stores, up from 506 in the prior-year period. LULU is focused on expanding in Asia and Europe, while continuing to improve its digital offerings. The company topped our Q2 estimates and raised its guidance, with e-commerce accounting for 42% of revenue.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchLooking ahead, Zacks estimates call for fiscal 2021 revenue to surge 42% to $6.26 billion, with FY22 projected to come in another 17% higher to hit $7.33 billion. This growth, which is driven in part by Mirror, follows 11% top-line expansion last year and FY19’s 21%. Meanwhile, its adjusted earnings are projected to soar 60% and 21%, respectively during this stretch.Lululemon has beaten our EPS estimates by an average of 25% in the trailing four periods, including a 36% beat last quarter. The company’s consensus earnings estimates have climbed recently and its Most Accurate estimates (or the newest) are higher. This bottom-line positivity helps LULU land a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) right now. Plus, 15 of the 21 broker recommendations we have for Lululemon are “Strong Buys,” with none below a “Hold.” The athleisure firm also boasts a strong balance sheet and its Textile-Apparel space sits in the top 20% of over 250 Zacks industries.LULU hit records in mid-November, with shares up 45% in the last six months. This run helped end an up-and-down stretch that saw the stock move roughly sideways for nearly a year. Longer-term, Lululemon stock has skyrocketed over 700% in the last five years to crush its industry’s 75% and the S&P 500’s 120%. Despite sitting near its records, LULU trades at a 20% discount against its own year-long highs in terms of forward earnings and sales. And the recent market pullback has it near neutral RSI levels at 56, which could give it room to run if it’s able to impress Wall Street next week.Chewy CHWY – (Q3 Financial Results Due Out Thursday, December 9)Chewy is an e-commerce pet store that went public in 2019. The company has expanded rapidly as consumers gravitate toward convenience in the form of delivery and beyond. CHWY sells pet food, supplies, treats, medications, and more for a variety of animals. Chewy has found success by adding loyal pet owners to its ranks, with roughly 70% of sales coming from its Autoship business that allows people to have food and more delivered at regular intervals.Chewy posted a banner year in 2020 on the back of the pandemic. The firm added 43% more users in 2020 to close the year with 19.2 million. The company, which has been in business for over a decade, has also moved far beyond food and toys. Its offerings include a telehealth service called Connect with a Vet and a beefed-up pet pharmacy platform.Unfortunately for Chewy, the near-perfect backdrop to succeed in business and on Wall Street is over as people return to their normal lives. The firm fell short of revenue estimates last quarter—which it rarely does—and it reported a larger-than-projected quarterly loss. Chewy did close Q2 with 20.1 million customers, up 21% from the year-ago quarter and its revenue climbed 27%. But Wall Street has continued to dump the stock amid rising costs and slowing growth.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchZacks estimates call for CHWY’s FY21 revenue to climb 25% to $8.95 billion and then pop 19% higher in 2022. These estimates would follow a 47% climb last year and 37% expansion in FY19. Meanwhile, its adjusted earnings are projected to slip 11% this year to $0.08 a share, with its FY22 figure expected to skyrocket 320% to $0.33 a share.Chewy’s overall consensus earnings estimates have trended lower since its last report to help it grab a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) at the moment. And it’s part of a group that’s in the bottom 11% of all Zacks industries. That said, nine of the 15 brokerage recommendations Zacks has are “Strong Buys” and it operates a business that isn’t going out of style anytime soon, even though its days of huge 40% growth might be over.CHEWY shares dipped on Monday as the market climbed and it has now fallen over 20% this year, including a 23% drop since its Q2 release. Taking a step back, Chewy is still up 190% in the last two years and its current Zacks consensus price target of $98.33 a share represents 45% upside to Monday’s levels.The pullback has Chewy trading at over a 50% discount to its own year-long highs at 2.8X forward 12-month sales. And the nearby chart shows CHWY attempting to return to its 50-day moving average. That said, some investors might want to wait for more signs of a comeback, especially given that Wall Street is currently betting somewhat heavily against the stock—short interest at roughly 20% of the float. Investor Alert: Legal Marijuana Looking for big gains? Now is the time to get in on a young industry primed to skyrocket from $13.5 billion in 2021 to an expected $70.6 billion by 2028. 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 kick start an even greater bonanza for investors. Zacks Investment Research has recently closed pot stocks that have shot up as high as +147.0% You’re invited to immediately 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 lululemon athletica inc. (LULU): Free Stock Analysis Report Chewy (CHWY): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksNov 29th, 2021

ETF Areas to Gain/Lose on Fear of Omicron Strain of Coronavirus

The emergence of a new coronavirus strain, namely Omicron, has caused a massacre on Wall Street on Friday. These ETFs could gain/lose in the coming days if Omicron cases continue to rise. The emergence of a new coronavirus strain, namely Omicron, is found to have a much bigger impact on Wall Street than anticipated. Europe enacted lockdown last week due to rising virus cases that started unnerving global investors. The World Health Organization called the new variant “highly transmissible.”As a result, Wall Street had a bloodbath on Nov 26,with the Dow Jones Industrial Index losing 2.53% in its worst post-Thanksgiving Day performance since 1931. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite posted their worst-ever returns post-Thanksgiving Day. The Russell 2000 lost 3.67% on Nov 26. Crude oil retreated 13% on that day, leaving investors scratching their heads to find a green corner in Wall Street on Black Friday.Cases of the new variant were found in Hong Kong, Belgium as well as in major South African cities like Johannesburg. Flights between South Africa and Europe were being subject to quarantine or shut down altogether. Airline stocks have been battered already. All these raised worries regarding the sustainability of economic recovery from the pandemic-led slump. The flight to safety brought down the U.S. treasury yield to 1.48% on Nov 26 from 1.64% the day before.Against this backdrop, below we highlight a few ETFs that will likely gain/lose on the fear of ‘Omicron’ fear of coronavirus. As such, people will again choose to stay indoors, which in turn would boost demand for cloud computing, gaming, e-sports, streaming services as well as online shopping. Additionally, investors will continue to pile up software shares, which are apparently more insulated from the impacts of the virus. On the other hand, ETFs that depend on economic reopening will likely dive.WinnersPharma/ BiotechiShares U.S. Pharmaceuticals ETF IHE has about 20% exposure to Pfizer PFE and VanEck Biotech ETF BBH has about 8.7% focus on Moderna MRNA. Both companies are known for the meaningful success of COVID-19 vaccine. With the spread of COVID-19 resuming all over again, all focus will now shift to the vaccination and booster shots. Hence, pharma and biotech ETFs will grab attention.Technology & Video GamingFears of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 may cause higher demand for the tech stocks as these are the winning ones amid the stay-at-home trend. Plus, the sector has solid long-term potential. Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund XLK is a good pick here.ETFMG Video Game Tech ETF GAMR has also been a COVID-19 winner as the stay-at-home trend boosted the demand for video gaming. For nine months, total consumer spending on gaming rose 12% year over year to $42.28 billion. It is impressive to observe that the video gaming industry is witnessing strong sales growth despite tough year-over-year comparisons, highlighting the strength in the space.Work-From-Home ETFDirexion Work From Home ETF WFH was another winner in the previous waves of COVID-19 infections. The new restrictions are likely to goad the trend of work from home all over again.LosersCrudeUnited States Oil Fund LP USO has advanced 69.3% this year, but dropped more than 11% on Nov 26. Crude ETF USO has lost 12.8% past month and retreated 9.1% last week. Notably, oil prices has made a comeback this year on widespread vaccination, the influx of more antiviral therapies and the resultant economic reopening. But rising virus cases globally has once again capped the demand for oil and punished the liquid commodity (read: Sector ETFs to Win or Lose on Oil Slump).Travel & TourismAreas that deal with economic reopening will likely get a blow. Travel stocks are likely to be wavering in the coming sessions. ETFMG Travel Tech ETF AWAY, U.S. Global Jets ETF (JETS) and ALPS Global Travel Beneficiaries ETF (JRNY) are some of the ETFs that are likely to remain stressed in the coming days. Want key ETF info delivered straight to your inbox? Zacks’ free Fund Newsletter will brief you on top news and analysis, as well as top-performing ETFs, each week.Get it 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 Pfizer Inc. (PFE): Free Stock Analysis Report Moderna, Inc. (MRNA): Free Stock Analysis Report ETFMG Travel Tech ETF (AWAY): ETF Research Reports Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK): ETF Research Reports United States Oil ETF (USO): ETF Research Reports iShares U.S. Pharmaceuticals ETF (IHE): ETF Research Reports VanEck Biotech ETF (BBH): ETF Research Reports Wedbush ETFMG Video Game Tech ETF (GAMR): ETF Research Reports Direxion Work From Home ETF (WFH): ETF Research Reports To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksNov 29th, 2021

4 Funds to Buy as the Omicron COVID-19 Variant Rattles Markets

The rise in new COVID-19 cases, restrictions and various measures taken to curtail the spread might impact economic recovery again. The new omicron variant of COVID 19 has rattled markets, hampering Black Friday sales across the globe. Omicron, now a “variant of concern” according to the World Health Organization (WHO), was first detected in South Africa and is responsible for the recent spike in cases across Europe. As this highly mutated variant rampaged the reopening and economic recovery efforts, investors should invest in mutual funds that incorporate vaccine makers, gold, real estate and utilities for safety. Fidelity Select Utilities Portfolio FSUTX, Fidelity Select Health Care Portfolio FSPHX, Franklin Gold and Precious Metals Fund Class A FKRCX and Fidelity Real Estate Investment Portfolio FRESX are the funds to add to your list now.The Dow, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite declined at least 2% in the three-hour-less trading day of Nov 26. Black Friday, a day when consumers are typically shopping for bargains, marks the beginning of the holiday season. However, sales took a hit on the alarming news from public health officials. The B.1.1.529 variant, symbolized by the Greek letter omicron, has undergone numerous mutations (more than 30) to the spike protein. The WHO has already issued warnings across Europe and Central Asia. Among the European companies, Austria has imposed at least a 10-day-long national lockdown to fight the resurgence. The Czech Republic has declared a 30-day emergency and announced several new restrictions. The United Kingdom has also banned flights from South Africa and five neighboring countries like Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Botswana. Japan and Israel have closed their borders for foreigners, while Australia will review its plans to reopen borders to skilled migrants and students from Dec 1.Among the rise in new COVID-19 cases, the WHO has informed that it could take "days to several weeks" to understand the severity of the variant and countries have to impose restrictions to prevent the spread. Restrictions and various measures taken to curtail the spread might impact economic recovery again. Hence, investors can limit investment to healthcare, gold, real estate and utilities mutual funds for now.4 Mutual Fund PicksGiven the dreary scenario, we have shortlisted four funds from the utility, healthcare, gold and consumer staples sectors that are considered safe bets. These mutual funds carry a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank #1 (Strong Buy) and the minimum initial investment for these funds is within $5,000.We expect these funds to outperform peers in the future. Remember, the goal of the Zacks Mutual Fund Rank is to guide investors to identify potential winners and losers. Unlike most fund-rating systems, the Zacks Mutual Fund Rank is not just focused on past performance but also the likely future success of the fund.The question here is why should investors consider mutual funds? Reduced transaction costs and portfolio diversification without several commission charges associated with stock purchases are primarily why one should be parking money in mutual funds (read more: Mutual Funds: Advantages, Disadvantages, and How They Make Investors Money).Fidelity Select Utilities Portfolio aims for capital appreciation. This non-diversified fund invests a majority of assets in common stocks of companies primarily engaged in the utilities industry and companies generating most of their revenues from utility operations.This Zacks Sector – Utilities has a history of positive total returns for more than 10 years. Specifically, Fidelity Select Utilities Portfolio has returned 9.9% and 11.4% in the past three and five-year period, respectively. To see how this fund performed compared to its category, and other 1 and 2 Ranked Mutual Funds, please click here.Fidelity Select Utilities Portfolio has an annual expense ratio of 0.76%, which is below the category average of 0.94%.Fidelity Select Health Care Portfolio fund aims for capital appreciation. This non-diversified fund invests a majority of assets in common stocks of companies principally engaged in the design, manufacture or sale of products or services used for or in connection with health care or medicine.This Zacks sector – Health product has a history of positive total returns for more than 10 years. Specifically, the fund has returned 20.2% and 19.9% over the past three and five-year period, respectively. To see how this fund performed compared in its category, and other 1 and 2 Ranked Mutual Funds, please click here.Fidelity Select Health Care Portfolio has an annual expense ratio of 0.69% versus the category average of 1.03%.Franklin Gold and Precious Metals Fund Class A aims for capital appreciation and current income is a secondary consideration. This non-diversified fund invests most assets in securities of gold and precious metals operation companies located globally.This Zacks sector - Precious Metal product has a history of positive total returns for more than 10 years. Specifically, Franklin Gold and Precious Metals Fund Class A has returned 30.1% and 7% over the past three and five-year periods, respectively. To see how this fund performed compared in its category, and other 1 and 2 Ranked Mutual Funds, please click here.Franklin Gold and Precious Metals Fund Class A has an annual expense ratio of 0.93%, below the category average of 1.17%.Fidelity Real Estate Investment Portfolio fund aims for above-average income and long-term capital growth, consistent with reasonable investment risk. This non-diversified fund invests primarily in common stocks. The majority of FRESX’s assets are invested in securities of companies principally engaged in the real estate industry and other real estate-related investments.This Zacks sector – Real Estate product has a history of positive total returns for more than 10 years. Specifically, Fidelity Real Estate Investment Portfolio has returned 13.1% and 9.2% over the past three and five years, respectively. To see how this fund performed compared to its category, and other 1 and 2 Ranked Mutual Funds, please click here.Fidelity Real Estate Investment Portfolio has an annual expense ratio of 0.74% versus the category average of 1.08%.Want key mutual fund info delivered straight to your inbox?Zacks’ free Fund Newsletter will brief you on top news and analysis, as well as top-performing mutual funds, each week. Get it free >> Investor Alert: Legal Marijuana Looking for big gains? Now is the time to get in on a young industry primed to skyrocket from $13.5 billion in 2021 to an expected $70.6 billion by 2028. 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 kick start an even greater bonanza for investors. Zacks Investment Research has recently closed pot stocks that have shot up as high as +147.0% You’re invited to immediately 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 Get Your Free (FSPHX): Fund Analysis Report Get Your Free (FRESX): Fund Analysis Report Get Your Free (FKRCX): Fund Analysis Report Get Your Free (FSUTX): Fund Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research 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.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksNov 29th, 2021