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The Wall Street Journal: McDonald’s tightens restaurant ownership rules as it looks for new franchisees

McDonald’s Corp. is planning to make some of the biggest changes in decades to the franchising system that underpins its U.S. operations, as it seeks to reinvigorate its base of restaurant owners......»»

Category: topSource: marketwatchJun 23rd, 2022

March On Vulture Funds: Activists Storm Paul Singer And Steven Tananbaum’s Notorious Vulture Hedge Funds

The march comes just as Sri Lanka faces the holdout problem and stalled restructuring negotiations from creditors. March On Vulture Funds New York, NY – This morning, activist and protestors stormed the lobby of Elliott Management, the infamous vulture fund owned by Paul Singer that has for decades used predatory practices to hold vulnerable nations hostage […] The march comes just as Sri Lanka faces the holdout problem and stalled restructuring negotiations from creditors. March On Vulture Funds New York, NY – This morning, activist and protestors stormed the lobby of Elliott Management, the infamous vulture fund owned by Paul Singer that has for decades used predatory practices to hold vulnerable nations hostage in order to fill their pockets. Activists and protestors from The Center for Popular Democracy, New York Communities for Change, Churches for United Housing, Strong Economy for All, and Hedge Clippers joined together outside of Elliott Management and marched towards GoldenTree Asset Management, whose multi-billionaire owner Steven Tananbaum is best known for the economic collapse of Puerto Rico. These ‘vulture capitalist’ hedge funds have exemplified the vulture fund playbook that contributed to the economic collapses of nations like Ecuador, Argentina, Peru, Vietnam, Puerto Rico, among others. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get Our Activist Investing Case Study! Get the entire 10-part series on our in-depth study on activist investing in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or print it out to read anywhere! Sign up below! (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q1 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more The action comes as restructuring guru Buchheit warns that Sri Lanka might be the next nation to face the holdout problem – a tactic used by vulture hedge funds that allow a minority of the bondholders to refuse fair negotiations during the debt restructuring process. The holdout problem is one of the issues that would be addressed by the bill packaged that is being proposed by the Not A Game coalition. The large coalition of activists and lawmakers that form the Not A Game, Its People campaign were joined by a traditional Afro-Puerto Rican drumming band and wielded a life-size vulture puppet. They chanted that these hedge funds must take, “Not a Penny More” from suffering nations, calling attention to the vile, predatory actions they have committed. Organizers called on New York State to utilize its power to change the rules by which these vulture funds operate in conjunction with a recent public comment from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director who agreed with the urgency in the matter. New York has long been known as a safe haven for a plethora of immigrant communities. However, New York State leadership has prioritized the interests of billionaires over those of communities whose home countries are being devastated by this predatory behavior. The “Not a Game” coalition’s New York legislative package, including the Model Law introduced by Senator Rivera and Assemblymember Davila and the Champerty Doctrine Reform, would create an orderly process for restructuring these countries’ unsustainable debt and show New York communities that their voices are being heard. Quotes And Media From The Event “New York is home to millions of immigrants, including Puerto Ricans and Ecuadorians who are directly impacted by vulture funds like Steven Tananbaum of GoldenTree Investment and Paul Singer of Elliott Management. Their vulture behavior is destroying the lives of our families and the wellbeing of our communities. This is not a game, we are people,” said Jesus Gonzalez, National Organizer at Center for Popular Democracy. “These vulture funds call themselves financial activists, but what that really means is that they are predators. They’re activists in closing schools all over the world, they’re activists in shutting down hospitals. They are vultures. The bottom feeders of capitalism,” said Alicé Nascimiento from New York Communities for Change. “Right now, Sri Lanka is in the biggest economic crisis since the 1940s. They have no fuel and no medicine. People are taking to the streets. This is when people like Paul Singer swoop in. Sri Lanka is coming forward to creditors trying to negotiate. Vultures like Paul Singer absolutely refuse, using the money that would feed their children to line his pockets. All of this is legal, because he has changed New York law to make it so. What we’re doing here is saying enough is enough.” “I want to be clear, this isn’t about attacking rich people just because they’re billionaires and we are not. This isn’t about people that have given back and care about humanity. This is about billionaires that have made their wealth through vulture hedge funds. These billionaires do not give a shit about human life. We’re asking other millionaires to be on the line with the people, to show that we have representation of wealthy people that do care about people. It’s about responsibility to humanity to allow people to live and let live,” said José “Dr. Drum” Ortiz from Bomba Yo. “From his palatial apartment on Park Avenue, Paul Singer works every day to kill poor people all around the world to make himself rich. The hedge funds in this building are attacking people all over the world, in Guatemala, in Puerto Rico, in Ecuador, to make themselves rich. This is what’s happening in this building right here,” said Michael Kink, Executive Director of Strong Economy for All. “They close our schools, they close our hospitals, they take the food from starving children to pay off their bonds and their hedge funds. That’s why we’re here to march on them and to change the laws of the state of New York.” “A few months ago I moved to Puerto Rico because, as a Puerto Rican woman, I thought I could not do justice to this campaign unless I experienced every single thing my people go through.  What I learned is that we are resilient. We hold our heads high. We help one another. People like Paul Singer, all of these wall street guys should feel ashamed that they have taken from an island that has never done anything to get things to where they all are now. I have nothing against billionaires, but I have a real problem with the way they’re going about it. This needs to stop,” said Gina de Jesus, representative from New York Communities for Change (NYCC). “They have the power to change the lives of the people, but they choose to have money in their pocket. They’re closing schools, they’re closing hospitals. There is no working stability in Puerto Rico. Working people should be able to survive, to put food on the table. These vulture funds are taking advantage of the misery of the countries and benefiting from it. We are coming together to prevent this from happening to other countries in the world,” said Maria, member of New York Communities for Change (NYCC).  About the “Not a Game” Campaign The “Not a Game” campaign was created by a coalition of New York and Puerto Rico-based organizations and groups in an effort to pass New York State legislation that holds vulture hedge funds accountable for their predatory practices. www.notagameitspeople.org. Updated on Jun 8, 2022, 5:27 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: valuewalkJun 8th, 2022

America Needs to End Its Love Affair With Single-Family Homes. One Town Is Discovering It’s a Tough Sell

The housing development Brown Ranch aims to provide affordable housing to a community that desperately needs it. Its road ahead is filled with challenges. The question came, as it always did, just as Jason Peasley finished making his case for Brown Ranch, a development that would grow the size of his city by one-third and finally provide some affordable housing for the hundreds of people doubled up in trailer parks and hotel rooms in the ski town. The development, as Peasley pitched it to the room of residents gathered under thick wooden beams in the local community center, would use density to solve the housing problem—mainly by building apartments and attached homes. “What about single family homes?” a woman standing in the back of the meeting room asked. “Because I would like to buy one someday.” [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Steamboat Springs, Colo.—where Peasley serves as the head of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority, providing affordable housing to all of Routt County—is a mountain town that draws people for its wide open vistas and outdoor space. The idea of living in an apartment on what is now green rolling hills jarred people with visions of their own porches and yards, who had seen their neighbors amass hundreds of thousands of dollars in equity just by owning a single family home during the pandemic. “Personally, I would take a very, very small house,” another resident said. “So would I,” the woman in the back said quickly, so as not to be left out. Peasley sighed. Nine months ago, he’d been given an opportunity that most urban planners dream of—an anonymous donation of 536 acres of land to build long-term affordable housing for people who live and work in Steamboat Springs. But it’s difficult to get buy-in to use hundreds of acres to build multifamily homes in Steamboat, which currently has 1,400 fewer housing units than are currently needed. Residents might support density in theory, but what they really want is a single-family home to call their own. How Steamboat solves this conundrum could have implications for communities across the country that are struggling with affordability as their populations grow. Home prices have soared in the past two years in cities like Austin and Phoenix as well as in ski towns like Truckee and Sun Valley. Adding more dense housing units would help keep prices affordable, because many of these places have natural boundaries like mountains or oceans that prevent developers from sprawling out. But proposals like Peasley’s are usually thwarted by neighbors who complain about their views being blocked or their parking becoming limited or their beloved town—which they themselves moved to years or decades before—getting too crowded. David Williams for TIMEJason Peasley, Exectutive Director of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority, stands on Brown Ranch just west of the city of Steamboat Springs, Colorado on May 16, 2022. Many communities like Steamboat are reaching a breaking point. Here, the need for more housing had been abundantly clear even before the pandemic, as investors turned condos and apartments that had once provided workforce housing into cash cows on Airbnb. Then, in 2020, remote workers flocked to Steamboat. For all the urban planners proclaiming density to be the solution to America’s housing needs, the majority of Americans still dreamed of a single-family home, with a yard, a tree, and room to grow, and the pandemic only whetted that appetite as families spent more time at home and looked for private outdoor space and extra rooms to double as offices. The median listing price of a single family home in Steamboat is now $829,000, up from $529,000 in 2019. Rents for a one-bedroom apartment are hovering around $2,100, about one-third higher than the national average. By July of 2021, 60 percent of Americans said they’d prefer to live in a place where the homes are large and farther apart, even if schools, stores, and restaurants were a few miles away, up from 53 percent before the pandemic, according to a Pew Research Center survey. In contrast, 39 percent preferred a community where homes are small and close to each other but where schools, stores, and restaurants were in walking distance, down from 47 percent in 2019. That’s even though half of Americans say that affordable housing is a major problem in their community. As Peasley has tried to explain time and again, affordability and density go hand in hand. Single family homes are much more expensive to build than attached homes or apartments, and they take up more room, and need more resources to maintain. Steamboat could build seven attached homes for the amount it would cost to build one single-family detached home, according to projections by Mithun, a consulting group helping with the project. Read More: Return to the Office? Not in This Housing Market “We have an opportunity that maybe no other community has to really thoughtfully address our housing issues in one massive development,” Peasley, a tall redheaded urban planning guru who could be mistaken for an Olympic skateboarder, told me recently. “This could really be a template for our 21st century live, work, and play.” Peasley is uniquely suited to helping convert Steamboat to pro-density. He was a city planner for Steamboat Springs for five years before taking over the Yampa Valley Housing Authority a decade ago; his tenure has created hundreds of units of affordable housing. His success in getting tax credits to build some affordable housing in Steamboat is what motivated anonymous donors to give him the money to buy Brown Ranch and build even more. Peasley hopes to build 2,300 units at Brown Ranch, which would meet the demand projected for the next two decades. But no matter how many times Peasley explains this all to the community, even the most self-aware residents of Steamboat are having a hard time letting go of their vision of a home and yard to call their own. “The disconnect we’re having is that everyone wants the American dream—a single-family home—and economists tell us it’s not possible,” Peasley says. The surest way to wealth in America has long been to stake claim to a plot of land and a home, but places like Steamboat are discovering that if they are dedicated to welcoming everyone who wants to live there, they’re going to have to pioneer another way. The problem with seeking more space In 1890, the U.S. Census Bureau declared the American frontier closed, meaning there was no land that settlers hadn’t claimed, nowhere further west to expand. Yet people have continued to move west, seeking better weather, more land, a different life, the growing population all competing for a limited set of homes, roads, and water. Since the turn of the 20th century, the American West—which is roughly the states from Colorado west, defined by the Census Bureau—has added 73 million people. Today, nearly one-quarter of the nation’s population lives in the 13 western states, up from just 7% in 1900. If new residents lived in the west the same way they lived in cities like New York and Philadelphia—in tall buildings with apartments stacked on top of one another—there might not be a housing affordability problem today. But in the westward expansion, Americans grabbed as much space as they could, sometimes given it for free by the federal government if they were willing to farm it. The West grew out rather than up. “There’s a certain independence that Westerners have, where folks don’t want to be regulated, they value independence and wide open spaces, and that manifests itself in the housing choices people make,” says Robert Parker, director of strategy at the University of Oregon’s Institute for Policy Research & Engagement, where he studies housing density. David Williams for TIMEBrown Ranch, a 536-acre property on the west side of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, which was gifted to the Yampa Valley Housing Authority in mid-August 2021 by an anonymous donor. Worried about sprawl, some cities started establishing urban growth boundaries in the 1950s, limiting development outside a certain area. The boundaries preserved the open space that drew people west, but also limited housing production. Today, in Steamboat Springs, development outside the urban growth boundary is restricted to one unit every 35 acres—or less. That puts even more pressure on building density where it is allowed; Brown Ranch is the largest plot of undeveloped land inside Steamboat’s urban growth boundary. When land seemed endless and cheap, the federal government encouraged families to spread out. It subsidized highways so that wealthier families could easily get between city centers and the suburbs, and provided tax incentives for home ownership. But Americans’ preference for single-family homes has also contributed to the housing undersupply that has sent prices soaring over the last two years. Between 1970 and 2020, 52 million single-family homes were built in America, accounting for three-quarters of all the housing built over that time, according to Census data. Over the same time, the population grew by 128 million. As a result, the median price of a home in the U.S. more than doubled over that time, even when adjusted for inflation. This is playing out across states in the American West. Colorado’s population doubled between 1980 and 2020, adding 2.8 million people, but the state only built 1.4 million units over the same period, 70% of them single-family homes. The median price for a single family home in 2020 was $434,000. Today, it’s around $600,000. The families committed to staying are crowding into housing as they wait for a solution. About one-quarter of all children now live in “doubled-up” households, where a nuclear family lives with additional family members. In places like Steamboat, doubled-up households are often in the smallest homes, which are trailers in the town’s handful of trailer parks. In doubled-up households, the use of drugs and alcohol rises, as does domestic violence, because the situation is so stressful, says Irene Avitia, who works with families at Integrated Communities, a Steamboat nonprofit that works with the Latino community. Read More: Marcia Fudge Is Trying to Decide Which Fire to Put Out First The housing troubles are also bad for the local economy. Banks are reducing their hours, and restaurants are closing a few days a week because they can’t find enough workers, because staff can’t afford to live nearby in Steamboat. The ski area cut off night service because it was so short-staffed. The local medical center struggles to recruit doctors and nurses because candidates hear about how hard it will be to find housing if they move there. One bartender, David Hughes, told me his rent for one room in a four bedroom house was going up to $1,500 per person, from $900, and he was probably going to have to leave town. “We can’t continue to exist here if employees don’t have secure housing,” says Andrew Beckler, the founder and CEO of Grass Sticks, a company that makes bamboo paddles and ski poles. That population growth outpaced the supply of single-family homes has been very good for the pocketbooks of people who have bought them in the last few decades. Homeowners collectively have $29 billion in real estate equity, three times what they did 20 years ago, according to the Federal Reserve. Investing in a home and making a big sum to retire on has become such an American rite of passage that it’s hard to ask Steamboat residents like Avitia, who lives in a trailer park with her husband and two daughters, to give up on the same dream. “I would love to own a single-family home in Steamboat, and Brown Ranch has created that hope for my family,” she says. Even people who live in apartments in Steamboat now say they’d prefer a single-family home. Lizzy Konen, 33, grew up in a single-family home in San Diego that she says her parents would never be able to afford today. She moved to Steamboat 12 years ago and wants to stay there, but the lease on the one-bedroom she rents is up in July, and the owner wants to demolish the building and construct a multimillion dollar home that he can sell for profit. Konen knows she’ll probably have to move to Oak Creek or Hayden, smaller towns that are 30-45 minutes away, because she can’t afford to buy a house or pay $2,100/month for an apartment. But when asked what her vision for Brown Ranch, she says: “I would love to own a single family home and have pets and children running around. I would rather not be in an apartment building. It doesn’t feel as homey.” David Williams for TIMETraffic passes through the downtown area of Steamboat Springs, Colorado on May 16, 2022. Selling people on apartments The big challenge for Peasley is balancing the wants of people like Avitia and Konen with the larger community’s need for affordable housing. He’s trying to learn from past missteps, like in 2010 when developers committed to building thousands of condos, the city council approved it, and then enraged voters worried about overcrowding put the project on the ballot and it was soundly defeated. This time around, Peasley is trying to get residents as involved as possible before any major decisions are made. The housing authority has held 200 community meetings where residents have spoken about what they want from Brown Ranch, and their suggestions include roof gardens, hiking trails, community composting, greenhouses, a school, a grocery store, a coffee shop, a walkable commercial area, and, of course, single-family homes. Peasley says more community engagement is what’s going to get people closer to accepting that how Brown Ranch will look will be different than their ideal vision. For example, attendees of Brown Ranch meetings often mention that they want the development to be Net Zero, which provides an opportunity for YVHA staff to explain that density is very sustainable—apartments or attached units require fewer resources to build and maintain than single-family homes. “By doing this transparent process, and having the community discuss it, we hope that while they might not agree, they at least understand,” says Cole Hewitt, the president of the board of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority. “Maybe there aren’t as many people that show up and say, ‘Well, I didn’t know this was going on.’ They can stand up and say, ‘I’m a part of it. I understand it. I get where you’re coming from. I still disagree with it.’ But that’s a lot better discussion than, ‘No, don’t do it.’” The community meetings have served to jump start a discussion about how Steamboat’s hopes and dreams match up with reality. “Everyone wants to live in a single family 5000 square foot mansion next to an ocean with a view of the mountains and is across the street from a school and within walking distance from the bar. That doesn’t exist,” Michael Fitz, a 29-year old local who owns a 600-square foot home in a trailer park, told Steamboat residents gathered to talk about the urban design of Brown Ranch. Read More: Millions of Tenants Behind on Rent, Small Landlords Struggling, Eviction Moratoriums Expiring Soon: Inside the Next Housing Crisis The people who led the opposition to the past development seem to be getting on board. Tim Rowse, who led the campaign that stopped development on Brown Ranch in 2009, told me recently that he thinks the housing authority is planning the development in the best possible way, and he supports it wholeheartedly. (He told me this from his mansion perched on acres of virgin land outside Steamboat.) Sheila Henderson, the Brown Ranch project manager who headed a local nonprofit for nearly a decade, says she recently had a good talk with a woman who wanted her own “cute little cottage” on Brown Ranch. When Henderson explained that such a home might take away space from families who were living in unsafe conditions, though, the woman relented and said she would be open to living in a multifamily home. Whether or not Brown Ranch gets built will likely depend on the persuasion powers of Peasley, an unabashed optimist who sometimes takes on the role of city coach. He says he wants to change people’s vision of what a vibrant American community can look like—it doesn’t have to have driveways and parking lots, for instance. “The only way we fail is to stop trying,” he said at a recent meeting. Besides, he says, for more than a century, people have given up creature comforts to move to Steamboat for the access to mountains and a life of beauty. That might have meant giving up plumbing or getting used to snow in May in the past; now, it might mean being OK living in a house that shares a wall with a neighbor. The reality of population growth Even if he does convince Steamboat to embrace density, Peasley still has a long road ahead to make Brown Ranch a reality. Consultants have estimated that infrastructure on the site will cost around $400 million, which includes improvements to the local highway, water treatment plant, and sewer system, and roads, and trails in the development. Once that’s complete, the housing authority can start building homes. The city isn’t even sure how it will affordably house all the workers who are going to be flocking to Steamboat to build this affordable housing. One idea is to have construction workers live in an old barn. Steamboat’s infrastructure is already straining under the weight of population growth. There’s only one main road through town, Highway 40, and at rush hour, long lines of pickup trucks get stuck at traffic lights as they make their way across town. After wildfire damage and rains created landslide dangers on Interstate 70, Colorado’s major east-west highway, traffic was rerouted onto Highway 40, causing more headaches for Steamboat residents. The electricity cooperative can only serve 15 homes at Brown Ranch before it runs out of capacity, and water is in short supply, as it is just about everywhere in the American West. Brown Ranch will, of course, add further strain. Peasley estimated that by the time Brown Ranch is finished, it will have almost 1,000 rental apartments and 400 to own, 218 single family-attached homes for rent and 266 to purchase, and 98 single-family detached homes for rent and 300 to purchase. The development will also include a K-8 school, a childcare center, office space, retail, and a grocery store. It’s enough to make old-timers argue against population growth in Steamboat. “Everybody’s moving here—I have to tell you, it would be nice if they wouldn’t,” Cindy Clark, a resident since 1988, told me, outside the crowded grocery store parking lot. But as the many doubled-up residents of Steamboat can attest, America has never been able to prevent people from moving west. Steamboat and popular communities across the country can convince the people who got there first to agree to accommodate the new residents by building more housing. Or residents can declare their cities and towns closed to new construction, new ways to live, and the new people who are seeking a place to live as they did months, years, or decades before......»»

Category: topSource: timeJun 2nd, 2022

‘Like Shooting a Moving Target.’ This Company Is Trying to Withdraw from Russia. It’s Getting Complicated

Announcing a departure and actually shutting down business in a modern G8 economy are quite different things In the early weeks of the war on Ukraine, an unprecedented number of firms announced they would cease operations in Russia as an act of protest against the invasion. But announcing a departure and actually shutting down business in a modern G8 economy are quite different animals. One of the companies that announced a withdrawal was TMF Group, which offers compliance and administrative services to corporations that want to do business internationally. It has 125 offices around the world, and provides services in Ukraine and Russia, where, among other things, it has helped foreign companies invest in Russian bonds. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] In February CEO Mark Weil announced that TMF Group be wrapping up any work with Russian clients, and would not take on any new clients who wanted to work in Russia but would continue to serve existing clients who were doing business in Russia. But it has been more complicated than he thought, partly because of the maneuvers companies have made to camouflage their Russian origins, partly because different nations have different rules about sanctions and ceasing operations and partly because it’s not always easy to find out who really owns a company. He spoke with TIME about how his firm is managing the process. (This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.) It has been about three months since you announced your exit from Russia. How’s it going? The sanction side is the easy bit because we have no choice; it’s a legal process. The much harder bit was the decision I took that if you’re a Russian UBO [Ultimate Beneficial Owner, the term for the entity who actually controls or derives the benefit from the company’s operations] we want to exit. Having now worked on it for the last month, the definition of who’s a Russian and who’s a UBO turn out to be not so clear. Each jurisdiction has different definitions of a UBO. Sometimes you get a German public company, which has a minority Russian shareholder, so it might have been their company, but they’re no longer technically the UBO. Or they’ve got lawyers advising them on how they transfer the ownership to friendly but non-Russian parties. That “derussification” process can be perfectly legitimate and the company no longer has much to do with Russia. It could also be a kind of smokescreen, not really affecting the UBO; it’s a technical maneuver with clever legal advice. We’re not a law firm, and to unpick that is quite complex. And then the ‘who’s a Russian?’ bit is also quite fraught. I believe the Dutch government is introducing a law about our industry not working with Russians, but they’ve said if they’ve got a dual passport, they’re not Russian anymore. I think it’s too simple a test. There’s the whole question of what do you do about somebody with multiple passports, or indeed, who no longer has a Russian passport, or may not even be Russian but made their money in the regime, or is a Russian but is a dissident. About 80% are pretty clear cut; we’re not going to hang around. Maybe 10% are sanction cases and that’s again clear, you have to freeze [their assets.]. And then about 10% we’re putting through a process, which I chair, where somebody in our firm locally can say I think this client deserves a fair hearing. It’s not an easy process. We’re not the Court of Human Rights. And we have to do it at some pace, and try and make decisions we can live with on the basis of the evidence we have, but it’s quite onerous. Read more: As Starbucks Exits Russia, Another Symbol of American Capitalism Fades Both my parents were refugees to the U.K. So saying, ‘Sorry, you’ve got a Russian passport, you’re done’ feels a little bit harsh. One of our clients was a reasonably high profile dissident and I wouldn’t feel terrific saying to that person, ‘You’re out.’ I think it was the right thing to do. In some ways, it’s a useful exercise. But I will say if lots of governments around the world started saying, ‘you mustn’t do business with clients who look like this or have this kind of passport,’ I hope they’ve thought it through because it’s really not easy to do it correctly and fairly and legitimately. Have you seen a lot of exits from Russia among your client base? No, and they may be making those decisions. It takes time. There’s often quite a slow process, if they did decide to unwind from Russia. There have been reports of the exodus of elite, educated Russians. I wondered if you’ve seen any? Yeah, we’ve seen some of that. One of the complications of the process is that nobody is standing still. They’re not stupid. Since [the Russian invasion of] Crimea in 2014, a lot of Russians saw what was coming and did things to act upon the sanctions that appeared at that point, and they’ve been acting on them since and have acted on them again with this impetus. So it’s like shooting a moving target. I say, ‘O.K., we’re exiting Russian [firms]’ and you say, ‘Well, wait a minute, they’re about to sell to a French or German or British concern or they’re winding down their shareholding.’ So do we exit or do we wait a few weeks to see whether they actually deliver on what they say? If you’re a big Russian conglomerate bank, there’s not so much you can do. If you’re Gazprom you’re Gazprom. But quite a lot have taken actions to no longer be deemed a Russian UBO. It’s obviously to do with access to banks and markets and whatever. That’s a very real thing. And we are trying to manage it by asking ‘O.K., if the client says they are taking legitimate action to no longer be part of a Russian enterprise, do we agree it’s legitimate? By when will it have happened? Are we willing to wait to confirm that they do it? And when’s the drop dead date?’ That’s what we’re running through. How do you tell if they have legitimately disinvested from Russia? If somebody’s clearly putting in place clever structures and intermediaries that aren’t Russian, and there’s a structure in the British Virgin Islands and so on, we would absolutely still want to exit. Unfortunately, every situation so far has been different. They have some quite clever, imaginative advisors helping them and part of our problem is to form a view in a sort of court of common sense: is that a fundamental ‘goodbye to Russia’ in their ownership structure? Or does it look more tactical, reversible, and just to get around sanctions? I don’t have a rulebook for that. There’s a small number, typically that middle tier of corporates who aren’t so obviously part of the Russian state, where we’re working hardest to stay on top of what they’re proposing and whether we think it passes the sniff test. What we’re trying to get at is who’s actually owning and controlling that business; who’s really making the decisions? And I could hire lawyers to figure it out, but then we’d still be here next year. Has it been a big financial impact on your firm? It’s bearable. We had to do something for our colleagues in Ukraine. Is it more costly than I thought it would be? Not really. I mean, there’s an opportunity cost because rather than spending my time working out how we serve our clients, better grow the business, invest in digital data, all the exciting stuff, I’m running a process on the negative to say, why shouldn’t we exit this client? We have 125 offices around the world or so. Each one could have a Russian client. Managing the process is not something I want to do regularly. Have there been anything unintended consequences, anything that you didn’t expect? One complexity is that obviously not everybody respects everyone else’s sanctions. We have a Russian client in Hong Kong. We say ‘Ah, they’re on the U.S. sanctions list.’ Well, Hong Kong doesn’t recognize U.S. sanctions so they don’t care. So we say ‘well, we kind of do.’ So we still exit but essentially for convenience. Read more: Why Sanctions on Russia Won’t Work So they’ll just find a local Hong Kong compliance firm? Actually, that’s an interesting point. My view is that we’re a regulated company, we have a pretty rigorous KYC [Know Your Customer standard]. If we’re rejecting a Russian client, how can they then just go somewhere else? There ought to be some policy that says if they’ve been rejected by one of you, that’s the kind of if not a red card, at least a yellow card. If we exit a Russian client in say, the Netherlands, the risk is they just end up setting up their own stall, looking after themselves in a rented office by the canals, and nothing much has been achieved. I think there’s a sort of bit of catch up required on the policy side. Do you think the sanctions are having any effect? In the area that we are dealing with, which is more to do with making life harder for those who got wealthy off the regime, I think it’s having some effect. Those are the people who are used to being wealthy and traveling the world and having all the benefits and services of Western economies can provide—we’re one of those—and my sense is taking that away might only be an irritant, but the accumulation of irritants is what leads to pressure. I understand that a number have gone to Dubai or wherever, so they’re just moving, and you could argue it’s tokenism. I think it goes a bit beyond that. Friends of mine who are Russian and in business are pretty caught up about the reputational impact of Russia and their standing in countries where they they’ve made their lives. Say I am a rich Russian. What have I not been able to since being sanctioned? You can’t do anything; your money or assets are frozen. And they’ve sanctioned plenty. I think that’s had a very dramatic effect. I wouldn’t want to miss that. The number that we’re monitoring is about 1,700 named parties. That’s quite a lot of wealthy Russians. Relative to the lifestyle those people are likely to have had, it is highly constraining. Now, whether they had backup plans, I wouldn’t know, but the impact on lifestyle, the ability to spend, to buy stuff, to use money, is greatly constrained. And we’re just going a step further and saying we think there are others who may not be sanctioned, but look a bit like people who are part of this because they’ve made their money [from the regime]. Our actions I think are not anything like as consequential if you believe they can just walk across the street to find another provider. But it’s not always that easy to do that because it takes time and we’re a regulated sector. So I would say it’s potentially a significant encumbrance to doing business. Read more: How Sanctions on Russia Will Hurt—and Help—the World’s Economies Of the ones that you have stopped doing business with, what have they done? It’s still quite early because there’s a formal contractual obligation to give notice. In some jurisdictions, we actually have a fiduciary duty to find a replacement. You can’t just walk away, you have to find a willing counterpart. So that really does blunt the impact of what you’re doing. I come back to the question of how more jurisdictions taking action is helpful because if the jurisdiction says we’re stopping it, then it is stopped. What I’m doing is more of a gesture. We have to give them a fair notice. We have a legal duty of care not to cause chaos contractually so there is a there’s a process we have to follow......»»

Category: topSource: timeJun 1st, 2022

Clayton, Dubilier & Rice Expands to 70,000 Square Feet and Extends Term at RFR’s Seagram Building

RFR announced today that private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) signed a lease to extend its term and expand its presence at the Seagram Building by leasing another full floor. The global private equity firm, which has been headquartered at Seagram for almost three decades, now occupies 70,000... The post Clayton, Dubilier & Rice Expands to 70,000 Square Feet and Extends Term at RFR’s Seagram Building appeared first on Real Estate Weekly. RFR announced today that private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) signed a lease to extend its term and expand its presence at the Seagram Building by leasing another full floor. The global private equity firm, which has been headquartered at Seagram for almost three decades, now occupies 70,000 square feet, controlling four full floors on a long-term basis in the building. In total, RFR recently signed six deals at Seagram comprising over 122,000 square feet. AJ Camhi and Paul Milunec of RFR represented ownership in the recent lease transactions. Andrew Sachs and Ben Shapiro of Newmark represented CD&R in the renewal and expansion. “The massive SEAGRAM PLAYGROUND complex offers a truly amazing experience and has been a strong driver of interest for new and existing tenants,” said AJ Camhi, RFR’s Executive Vice President and Director of Leasing. “No other building in New York boasts such a stand-out suite of amenities. Top-tier tenants understand the recruitment and retention value of having a one-of-a-kind amenity offering at their disposal as employees return to the office.” Driven in part by one-of-a-kind amenities, Seagram’s recent leasing activity has included firms renewing and expanding within the building as well as a new lease, with asking rents ranging from $155-200 per square foot: Sound Point Capital, an asset management firm (represented by Chris Corrinet, Ben Friedland and Silvio Petriello of CBRE), expanded by a full floor and extended its term on a long term basis for 30,728 square feet total.An institutional investment management firm renewed for 12,739 square feet.Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, a charity that supports arts, culture and education, renewed for 5,000 square feet of space.Pantera Capital, an institutional asset manager focused on blockchain (represented by Sheena Gohil and Jack Senske of Colliers), expanded and occupies 5,491 square feet.The Landis Group, a real estate owner and developer, signed a new lease at Seagram taking 2,381 square feet of space. The building is known for its classic modern design and distinctive amenity offering. The SEAGRAM PLAYGROUND and Conference Center, a 34,000-square-foot, multi-level complex will be unrivalled in New York upon completion in July 2022 and represents a wholistic approach to social and professional well-being:   Fitness, with a sports court for basketball, pickleball, floor hockey, volleyball and more; rock climbing wall; pilates fitness area; HIIT (high impact interval training) area; spin studio; strength training area; and cardiovascular exercise area.    Wellness, with a stretching area, core strengthening area; and locker rooms with showers.    Social collaboration, with a townhall featuring bleacher-style seating to accommodate 240 people; boardroom with seating to accommodate 40 people; flex room with dynamic seating configurations for symposiums, training, meetings and more; multipurpose room for music, art, wine tastings, and more; lounge area with coffee and juice bar; and private phone booths.  Access to the SEAGRAM PLAYGROUND is provided gratis to building tenants for their exclusive use, and complements the Seagram Building’s robust longstanding amenity offering, including the unmatched restaurant and event spaces in The Grill, The Pool, and the Lobster Club; the Seagram Outdoor Terrace & Lounge; in-building parking for motor vehicles and bicycles with direct elevator access to the lobby; and installation of contemporary fine art in common spaces on a rotating basis. Additionally, the Terrace Lounge on the 11th floor is accessible to select tenants via a private elevator. Staffed by a coordinator, it boasts a 5,000-square-foot outdoor terrace with a variety of seating options, a library with curated content and periodicals and a large-scale media screen for streaming content or presentations. “We have pioneered the blueprint for a next-gen office experience,” said Mr. Camhi. “While tenants have always been attracted to the allure of having space at Seagram, the current evolution shines a spotlight on the benefits of a forward-thinking approach to attracting and retaining high-end office users.” The Seagram Building is recognized as one of the world’s greatest architectural masterpieces. The landmarked building designed by the legendary architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is his only work in NYC and was completed in collaboration with Philip Johnson. The post Clayton, Dubilier & Rice Expands to 70,000 Square Feet and Extends Term at RFR’s Seagram Building appeared first on Real Estate Weekly......»»

Category: realestateSource: realestateweeklyMay 25th, 2022

Switzerland has a stunningly high rate of gun ownership — here"s why it doesn"t have mass shootings

Here's what the US can learn from Switzerland, which has nearly eliminated mass shootings while maintaining a high rate of gun ownership. Members of the Swiss federal army's honor guard in October 2012.REUTERS/Thomas Hodel Switzerland hasn't had a mass shooting in 21 years. In the US, there is almost one every day. The Swiss have strict rules for who can get a gun, and take firearm training very seriously.  Visit Insider's homepage for more stories. Switzerland hasn't had a mass shooting since 2001, when a man stormed the local parliament in Zug, killing 14 people and then himself.The country has about 2 million privately owned guns in a nation of 8.3 million people. In 2016, the country had 47 attempted homicides with firearms. The country's overall murder rate is near zero.The National Rifle Association often points to Switzerland to argue that more rules on gun ownership aren't necessary. In 2016, the NRA said on its blog that the European country had one of the lowest murder rates in the world while still having millions of privately owned guns and a few hunting weapons that don't even require a permit.But the Swiss have some specific rules and regulations for gun use.Insider took a look at the country's past with guns to see why it has lower rates of gun violence than the US, where gun death rates are now at their highest in more than 20 years, and the leading cause of death for children and adolescents.Switzerland is obsessed with getting shooting right. Every year, it holds a shooting contest for kids aged 13 to 17.Wikimedia Creative CommonsZurich's Knabenschiessen is a traditional annual festival that dates back to the 1600s.Though the word roughly translates to "boys shooting" and the competition used to be only boys, teenage girls have been allowed in since 1991.Kids in the country flock to the competition every September to compete in target shooting using Swiss army service rifles. They're proud to show off how well they can shoot.Accuracy is prized above all else, and a Schutzenkonig — a king or queen of marksmen — is crowned.Having an armed citizenry helped keep the Swiss neutral for more than 200 years.Alpine herdsmen in Toggenburg, Switzerland.Keystone/Getty ImagesThe Swiss stance is one of "armed neutrality."Switzerland hasn't taken part in any international armed conflict since 1815, but some Swiss soldiers help with peacekeeping missions around the world.Many Swiss see gun ownership as part of a patriotic duty to protect their homeland.Most Swiss men are required to learn how to use a gun.Swiss President Ueli Maurer pauses during a shooting-skills exercise — a several-hundred-year-old tradition — with the Foreign Diplomatic Corps in Switzerland on May 31, 2013.REUTERS/Denis BalibouseUnlike the US, Switzerland has mandatory military service for men.All men between the ages of 18 and 34 deemed "fit for service" are given a pistol or a rifle and trained.After they've finished their service, the men can typically buy and keep their service weapons, but they have to get a permit for them.In recent years, the Swiss government has voted to reduce the size of the country's armed forces.Switzerland is a bit like a well-designed fort.Arnd Wiegmann/ReutersSwitzerland's borders are basically designed to blow up on command, with at least 3,000 demolition points on bridges, roads, rails, and tunnels around the landlocked European country.John McPhee put it this way in his book "La Place de la Concorde Suisse":"Near the German border of Switzerland, every railroad and highway tunnel has been prepared to pinch shut explosively. Nearby mountains have been made so porous that whole divisions can fit inside them."Roughly a quarter of the gun-toting Swiss use their weapons for military or police duty.AP/Keyston, Lukas LehmannIn 2000, more than 25% of Swiss gun owners said they kept their weapon for military or police duty, while less than 5% of Americans said the same.In addition to the militia's arms, the country has about 2 million privately owned guns — a figure that has been plummeting over the past decade.Members of an honor guard of the Swiss army.REUTERS/Arnd WiegmannThe Swiss government has estimated that about half of the privately owned guns in the country are former service rifles. But there are signs the Swiss gun-to-human ratio is dwindling.In 2007, the Small Arms Survey found that Switzerland had the third-highest ratio of civilian firearms per 100 residents (46), outdone by only the US (89) and Yemen (55).But it seems that figure has dropped over the past decade. It's now estimated that there's about one civilian gun for every three Swiss people.Gun sellers follow strict licensing procedures.Daniel Wyss, the president of the Swiss weapons-dealers association, in a gun shop.REUTERS/Arnd WiegmannSwiss authorities decide on a local level whether to give people gun permits. They also keep a log of everyone who owns a gun in their region, known as a canton, though hunting rifles and some semiautomatic long arms are exempt from the permit requirement.But cantonal police don't take their duty dolling out gun licenses lightly. They might consult a psychiatrist or talk with authorities in other cantons where a prospective gun buyer has lived before to vet the person. Swiss laws are designed to prevent anyone who's violent or incompetent from owning a gun.Nina Christen of Switzerland at the Olympic Games in Rio in August 2016.Sam Greenwood/Getty ImagesPeople who've been convicted of a crime or have an alcohol or drug addiction aren't allowed to buy guns in Switzerland.The law also states that anyone who "expresses a violent or dangerous attitude" won't be permitted to own a gun.Gun owners who want to carry their weapon for "defensive purposes" also have to prove they can properly load, unload, and shoot their weapon and must pass a test to get a license.Switzerland is also one of the richest, healthiest, and, by some measures, happiest countries in the world.Laurence Griffiths/Getty ImagesSwitzerland was ranked sixth in the UN's 2019 World Happiness Report.The Swiss have been consistently near the top of this list. In 2017, when Switzerland was ranked fourth overall among nations, the report authors noted that the country tends to do well on "all the main factors found to support happiness: caring, freedom, generosity, honesty, health, income and good governance."Meanwhile, according to the report, happiness has taken a dive over the past decade in the US.The report authors cite "declining social support and increased corruption," as well as addiction and depression for the fall. But the Swiss aren't perfect when it comes to guns.Harold Cunningham/Getty ImagesSwitzerland still has one of the highest rates of gun violence in Europe, and most gun deaths in the country are suicides.Around the world, stronger gun laws have been linked to fewer gun deaths. That has been the case in Switzerland too.A police officer at Geneva's airport.REUTERS/Denis BalibouseAfter hundreds of years of letting local cantons determine gun rules, Switzerland passed its first federal regulations on guns in 1999, after the country's crime rate increased during the 1990s.Since then, more provisions have been added to keep the country on par with EU gun laws, and gun deaths, including suicides, have continued to drop.As of 2015, the Swiss estimated that only about 11% of citizens kept their military-issued gun at home.Most people aren't allowed to carry their guns around in Switzerland.Hunters at a market in central Switzerland offer their fox furs.REUTERSConcealed-carry permits are tough to get in Switzerland, and most people who aren't security workers or police officers don't have one."We have guns at home, but they are kept for peaceful purposes," Martin Killias, a professor of criminology at Zurich University, told the BBC in 2013. "There is no point taking the gun out of your home in Switzerland because it is illegal to carry a gun in the street."That's mostly true. Hunters and sports shooters are allowed to transport their guns only from their home to the firing range — they can't just stop off for coffee with their rifle.And guns cannot be loaded during transport to prevent them from accidentally firing in a place like Starbucks — something that has happened in the US at least twice.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 25th, 2022

Gun control really works. Science has shown time and again that it can prevent mass shootings and save lives.

Mass shootings in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas in recent days have once again put America's gun violence problem in the spotlight. Mourners take part in a vigil at El Paso High School after a mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, August 3, 2019.Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters On Tuesday, a gunman killed 21 people, including 19 children at a school in Uvalde, Texas. Data from the CDC shows that 39,773 people in the US die from firearms every year. Despite restrictions on gun control research, scientists evaluated how policies affect gun deaths. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. On Tuesday, an 18-year-old gunman opened fire at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, killing 21 people, including 19 children.Earlier this month, a different 18-year-old man dressed in tactical gear and livestreaming on Twitch, fatally shot 10 people in a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, in what authorities described as a racially motivated mass shooting.Already in 2022, the US has seen 27 school shootings and more than 200 mass shootings, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in a Wednesday press conference suggested that mental health concerns are in part, responsible for the rise in mass shootings over the past few decades, but scientific research doesn't support those claims. Experts have repeatedly shown that mental health issues are not predictive of violence.What science has demonstrated, however, is that the number of gun deaths in the US is much higher than in other nations with similar rates of gun ownership – like Switzerland – and that certain policies can help prevent these fatalities. Studies have linked stricter background checks, rules prohibiting domestic abusers from owning weapons, and secure locks on firearms in the home with decreased rates of gun-related deaths.Read More: Switzerland has a stunningly high rate of gun ownership — here's why it doesn't have mass shootingsHere's what the data shows.In 2017, 39,773 people in the US died from firearms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).Flowers and mementos are seen at a makeshift memorial outside Walmart, near the scene of a mass shooting that left at least 22 people dead, on August 4, 2019 in El Paso, Texas.Mario Tama/Getty ImagesMost of these firearm deaths are not from mass shootings, but from suicides and homicides, according to the CDC.There are close to as many guns in the US as there are people. There may be more, or there may be less, depending on which study you look at — there's no exact count, since there isn't a national database of gun purchases or firearm owners. Federal law does not require gun owners to get a license or permit.That's one of the many obstacles researchers face when trying to evaluate why so many people die from guns in the US and what might prevent those deaths.Gun violence is one the most poorly researched causes of death in America, according to a 2017 study.More than 80 family members and friends of people who were killed by gun violence gather for a news conference with Congressional Democrats to call for action on gun violence prevention, December 15, 2016 in Washington, DC.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images"In relation to mortality rates, gun-violence research was the least-researched cause of death and the second-least-funded cause of death," the authors of that study wrote.The study ascribed this paucity of research to a 1996 congressional appropriations bill called the Dickey Amendment, which stipulated that "none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control."Former President Donald Trump signed a bill in 2018 that weakened the Dickey Amendment — the new legal provision gives the CDC permission to research the causes of gun violence. But the amendment still maintains a ban on "using appropriated funding to advocate or promote gun control."Researchers do know, however, that the annual number of people who died from firearm injuries worldwide rose from 209,000 to 251,000 between 1990 and 2016.People gather in Juarez, Mexico on August 3, 2019 in a vigil for the three Mexican nationals who were killed in an El Paso shooting.Christian Chavez/Associated PressAccording to a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, six countries — Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Guatemala, and the US — accounted for 50.5% of the 251,000 global firearm deaths in 2016.More than 60% of worldwide firearm deaths that year were homicides, while 27% were firearm suicide deaths, and 9% were unintentional firearm deaths.The chart below shows an American's odds of dying in a gun assault or a mass shooting as of 2018, as compared to other causes of death.Accidental gun deaths and suicides using guns are not included in these numbers.Shayanne Gal/Business InsiderAn American's chance of dying from gun violence overall is more than 22 times greater than the lifetime risk of dying while riding inside a car, truck, or van (though that category excludes pedestrian, cyclist, and other deaths outside of a motor vehicle). It's also more than 10 times as high as dying from any force of nature, such as a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, or flood. In remarks following the El Paso and Dayton shootings, President Trump blamed "gruesome video games" and "mentally ill monsters" for the violence. A wealth of research contradicts both claims.President Trump departs after speaking about the shootings in El Paso and Dayton in the White House on August 5, 2019.Leah Millis/ReutersIn his comments after shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, Trump said "mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun." He called for improvements to mental health treatment and, "when necessary, involuntary confinement" of mentally ill people.Decades of research, however, have shown that mental illness is not a cause of violence; in fact, a person with mental illness is far more likely to be a victim of violence than a perpetrator. A 2016 study from the American Psychiatric Association found that "mass shootings by people with serious mental illness represent less than 1% of all yearly gun-related homicides," and that "the overall contribution of people with serious mental illness to violent crimes is only about 3%."A study published in 2019 supports those findings: Having a mental illness does not make a person more likely to commit gun violence. A better indicator was their access to firearms.Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesThe authors of the study, which published in the journal Preventative Medicine, found that individuals who had access to guns were over 18 times more likely to have threatened someone with a gun compared to people without such gun access."What we found is that the link between mental illness and gun violence is not there," one of the authors, Yu Lu, said in a press release. There is a link between reduced access to guns and lower rates of suicide.Gun safety and suicide prevention brochures on display next to guns for sale at a local retail gun store in Montrose, Colorado, February 23, 2016.Associated Press/Brennan LinsleyMore than 60% of the nearly 40,000 annual gun deaths in the US are suicides, according to the CDC; that's almost double the number of homicides. Data from other countries suggests there's a link between reduced availability of guns and fewer suicides. One study found that after the Israel Defense Forces stopped letting soldiers bring weapons home on the weekends, suicide rates dropped by 40%.Barring people convicted of domestic abuse from owning guns also decreases the number of gun deaths.A woman who has been beaten by her husband, holds her child in a shelter for women who suffered from domestic violence.Pavel Golovkin/APThe Lautenberg Amendment to the 1968 Gun Control Act disqualifies people with a misdemeanor conviction for domestic violence from buying or owning weapons.According to a 2017 study, gun murders of female intimate partners decreased by 17% as a result of that amendment. A 2018 report published by Everytown, a non-profit dedicated to reducing gun violence in the US, indicates that in at least 54% of mass shootings, the perpetrator also shot a current or former intimate partner or family member. After Congress let a 1994 ban on assault weapons expire in 2004, gun massacre deaths skyrocketed.A potential buyer looks at a gun at the Heckler & Koch booth at the Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, January 19, 2016.John Locher/APWhen people in the US were allowed to start buying military-style firearms with high-capacity magazines (which enable shooters to discharge many rounds of ammunition in a short amount of time), the number of people killed in gun massacres — defined as shootings in which at least six people die — shot up 239%.By contrast, after the 1994 ban on assault weapons went into effect, the number of gun massacre deaths decreased by 43%, as researcher Louis Klarevas reported in his book "Rampage Nation."There's still debate about whether assault-rifle regulation is effective at reducing overall firearm deaths, since most gun deaths in the US are suicides. But most of the deadliest mass shootings in recent US history involved a military-style weapon with a high-capacity magazine.If US law makers do make policy changes, banning high-capacity magazines and renewing the assault weapons ban should be at the top of their lists, one researcher said.A custom-made semi-automatic hunting rifle with a high-capacity detachable magazine is displayed at a gun store in Rockin, California, October 3, 2013.Associated Press/Rich Pedroncelli"Nearly every mass shooting illustrates that large-capacity magazines can increase the death toll and that forcing a shooter to reload more frequently can provide opportunities for counter-attack by those around," John Donohue, who researches mass shootings at Stanford University, previously told Business Insider.He added: "Accordingly, a ban on high-capacity magazines is absolutely essential if one wants to reduce the loss of life from active-shooter scenarios."There's a widening gap between the number of gun deaths in states with relaxed gun-control laws and states with more restrictive policies, according to a study published in 2019.Scott Olson/Getty ImagesFor the study, researchers assigned each of the 50 US states an aggregate "firearm laws score," ranging from 0 (completely restrictive) to 100 (completely permissive). These scores accounted for 13 factors, including gun permit requirements, if and where guns are allowed to be carried and kept, and whether state laws ensure a right to self-defense.The results suggested that a 10-unit increase in the permissiveness of state gun laws (according to the scoring system) was associated with an 11.5% higher rate of mass shootings.What's more, every state's score shifted towards greater permissiveness from 1998 to 2014.States that have stricter background-check laws for gun purchases have fewer school shootings.Mourners pray around a memorial in front of Santa Fe High School on May 21, 2018 in Santa Fe, Texas.Getty Images/Scott OlsonA 2018 study found that states with stricter background checks for weapon and ammunition purchases had fewer school shootings.States that spent more money on education and mental health care also had lower rates of school shootings.Though not the most common form of gun violence, school shootings have spiked in the US: There was an average of one per year from 1966 to 2008, but an average of one per week from 2013 to 2015, the same study found.In 2018, the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma called for gun policies that they say will make Americans safer, including removing firearms from domestic-violence perpetrators and regulating the sale of semi-automatic weapons.Dr. Faran Bokhari, head of the trauma department at Stroger Hospital in Chicago (second from right), and Dr. Jared Bernard, a lieutenant commander and trauma surgeon in the US Navy (third from left), work together during surgery of a gunshot victim, August 6, 2014.AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhIn a statement published in the journal Trauma Surgery & Acute Care Open on August 7, 2018, the Board of Managers for the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma issued 14 recommendations "in an attempt to stem the tide of deaths from firearm violence and support safe firearm ownership."The list also includes regulating the sale of high volume ammunition, bump stocks, and trigger actuators. The surgeons want mandatory reporting of all firearm sales as well.Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in 2019 pinpointed 10 policies that could reduce gun violence in the state of Illinois. Their recommendations are similar to the surgeons' list.Nortasha Stingiey (second from left) hold hands in a group prayer during a news conference by "Purpose over Pain," a group of mothers who lost children to gun violence in Chicago, Illinois, May 6, 2016.REUTERS/Jim YoungThe suggested policies include banning the sale of new assault weapons, denying concealed-carry licenses to some individuals, and prohibiting firearm sales to people convicted of multiple alcohol-related offenses. The most significant change the researchers recommended, however, would be to require gun purchasers to apply for a license in person with law enforcement and undergo safety training, rather than applying online or by mail without training.  These recommendations mirror some of Switzerland's gun policies. In that country, nearly one in four people legally owns a gun, but there hasn't been a mass shooting in almost two decades.Nina Christen of Switzerland shoots in a training session prior to the start of the 2016 Olympic Games, August 4, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.Sam Greenwood/Getty ImagesSwiss authorities keep a log of everyone who owns a gun in their region.They can also decide on a local level whether to give people gun permits, and police don't take that duty lightly. They might vet the person by consulting a psychiatrist or talking with authorities in other areas in which a prospective gun buyer has lived. People who've been convicted of a crime or have an alcohol or drug addiction aren't allowed to buy guns in Switzerland. The law also states that anyone who "expresses a violent or dangerous attitude" won't be allowed to buy a gun.Most Swiss citizens aren't allowed to carry their guns in public — getting a concealed-carry permit is difficult for people who don't work as security officers or police.A concealed carry holster is displayed for sale at the Guntoberfest gun show in Oaks, Pennsylvania, October 6, 2017.Joshua Roberts/ReutersIn the US, states that have right-to-carry (RTC) gun laws allow anyone who can own a gun and meet necessary conditions to get a concealed-carry permit. Four decades ago, only five states allowed the concealed carry of firearms. By 2014, all but eight states had reinstated RTC laws.One 2017 study found that concealed-carry laws increased the rate of firearm homicides by 9% when homicide rates were compared state by state. Research shows that states that require background checks on all gun sales had 35% fewer gun deaths per capita between 2009 and 2012.Bodies are removed from the scene of a mass shooting, August 4, 2019, in Dayton, Ohio.John Minchillo / Associated PressCurrently, US law only requires background checks when people buy guns from licensed firearms dealers. However, research from the nonpartisan Rand Corporation estimates that universal background checks could prevent 1,100 homicides per year.Seventeen US states and the District of Columbia also have "red-flag laws," which allow family members and law enforcement to file Extreme Risk Protection Orders that restrict or temporarily remove a person's access to firearms if their behavior suggests they pose a violent threat. Former President Trump endorsed those laws, saying, "we must make sure that those judged to pose a grave risk to public safety do not have access to firearms and that if they do, those firearms can be taken through rapid due process." Rates of accidental shootings are also higher when people — especially children — are around more guns.Police lead children away from Sandy Hook Elementary following a mass shooting on December 14, 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty-six people died in the attack.AP Photo/Newton Bee/Shannon HicksIn December 2012, a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The tragedy gave rise to calls for gun-control regulation, and that resulted in what's now a predictable phenomenon: People bought more guns.With more guns around in the months after the Sandy Hook shooting, the rate of accidental deaths related to firearms rose sharply, especially among children, according to a study published in the journal Science. The calculations showed that 40 adults and 20 children died as a result of those additional gun purchases.Many accidental gun deaths can be avoided, though, if gun owners lock up their firearms.Students from Centreville, Virginia wear targets on their chests at the March for Our Lives rally on March 24, 2018 in Washington, DC.Win McNamee/GettyIn 2015, 13 million US households with children contained firearms. Fewer than one in three of those households, however, followed the American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendations to store all household firearms locked and unloaded.A study published this year found that up to 32% of youth suicides and accidental firearm deaths (with youth defined as any person 19 years old or younger) could be prevented if the remainder of these households were to lock up their guns.Specifically, the researchers found that if 20% of households that keep at least one gun unlocked started locking up all their guns within a year, between 72 and 135 youth firearm fatalities could be prevented.Longer prison sentences for crimes involving a gun — like armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon — have also been shown to help reduce violent firearm use.AP/Gerry BroomeGun-robbery rates have gone down in states that approved longer sentences for assault or robbery with a gun. In the 1970s and 1980s, legislators passed 30 laws calling for additional prison time for people convicted of robbery or assault with a gun.A 40-year-analysis published in the journal Science found that gun-robbery rates dropped by  5% in the years after these longer sentencing laws were enacted.Replacing medium- and large-caliber weapons with small-caliber guns would dramatically reduce gun deaths as well, according to data from the Boston Police Department.A Boston Police car is seen before game six of the 2013 World Series on October 30, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts.Photo by Rob Carr/Getty ImagesIn a July 2018 study, researchers examined data from files of 511 gunshot victims kept by the Boston Police Department.They found that weapon caliber — which refers to the diameter of the firearm barrel and is an indication of the diameter of the bullet — played a big role in how fatal shootings were.People shot with medium-caliber weapons (.38, .380, and 9 mm) were more than twice as likely to die as those shot with small-caliber guns (.22, .25, and .32 mm). And victims shot with large caliber weapons (.357 magnum, .40, .44 magnum, .45, 10 mm, and 7.62 × 39 mm) were more than 4.5 times as likely to die as those shot with small-caliber firearms.Replacing all large- and medium-caliber guns with small ones would have reduced the homicide rate by 39.5%, the researchers found.Weapons buy-back programs have been successful in reducing mass shootings.David Gray/ReutersAfter at 1996 mass shooting left 35 people dead in Australia, the country's leaders enacted stricter gun-control legislation and set up a program for citizens to sell their weapons back to the government so they could be destroyed.The initiative appears to have been successful: Firearm suicides dropped by 65% and homicides by 59% over the decade following the 1996 legislation.While Australia saw 13 mass shootings (defined as five or more deaths) in the 18 years before the 1996 massacre, there have only been two in the 23 years since.The US has a higher rate of gun violence than any other similarly wealthy country.Mourners take part in a vigil near the border fence between Mexico and the U.S after a mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, August 3, 2019.Carlos Sanchez/ReutersThe US has far more mass shootings than just about any country in the world. Of countries with at least 10 million people, there are more mass shootings per capita in only Yemen, which has the second-highest per-capita rate of gun ownership (the US has the highest).The US is not inherently a more violent society, but its policies make guns easy to get. The data that we have indicates that some gun-control measures — like banning some types of weapons, improving background checks, and putting more restrictions on weapon access — could save lives.At the very least, gathering and analyzing data could help leaders determine what sort of changes might help prevent another Parkland, Sandy Hook, or Uvalde.Kevin Loria contributed to an earlier version of this story.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 25th, 2022

America"s Car-Mart Reports Diluted Earnings per Share of $4.01 on Record Revenues of $352 Million

ROGERS, Ark., May 23, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- America's Car-Mart, Inc. (NASDAQ:CRMT) today announced its operating results for the fourth quarter and full fiscal year 2022. "Revenue grew 26% to $352 million, including a 39% increase in interest income to $42 million, for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2022 compared to the prior year quarter. The average sales price increased 24% to $17,860 and unit sales volume dropped 1%. Our sales volume productivity of 35.6 units sold per dealership per month for the quarter was strong and, in the last 20+ years, second only to the prior year's fourth quarter of 36.5," said Jeff Williams, President and CEO. "We are increasing market share while facing challenges stemming from ongoing supply and demand imbalances in the used car market, inflation, and declining consumer confidence. We expect to see additional productivity improvements as we leverage our investments and competitive strengths." "Collections and credit results for both the quarter and the full year were strong. For the quarter, net charge-offs were 5.6%, well below the prior five-year and ten-year averages of 6.6% and 7.2%, respectively. For the full fiscal year, net charge-offs were 20.2% compared to five-year and ten-year averages of 25.5% and 26.5%, respectively. Collections per account per month for the quarter were up 5% to $586 over the prior year quarter and up 20% sequentially. When considering the effects of prior year stimulus payments and the current year term increase, our collections were up significantly during the quarter," said Mr. Williams. "While credit results will likely continue to normalize, we believe that net charge-off levels in the future will be closer to the lower end of our historical ranges. We anticipate that even with longer term contracts, our cash-on-cash returns will be attractive when measured by our historical results." "As previously communicated, we are continuing to invest in key areas of the business including Recruiting, Training and Retention, Inventory Procurement/Management, Customer Experience and Digital/Information Technology. Our most important opportunity is sourcing affordable, mechanically sound vehicles at sufficient quantities to support the high consumer demand for our offering. Our investments should enable dealerships to support an average of 1,000 or more active customers per dealership – currently, our dealerships average 618 customers each. This growth will be achieved primarily by improving sales volume productivity. At fiscal year-end, eleven individual dealerships had more than 1,000 active customers each," added Mr. Williams. "Over the last five years we have grown our customer count by an average of 7.3% per year, or 42%, while we have grown our store count by just 10%. If we experience that same growth rate over the next five years, we could be supporting over 135,000 customers; 150,000 customers in less than seven years. We have an obligation to serve more customers as we improve lives and reduce the stress of car ownership by keeping our customers on the road. While our primary focus is leveraging our existing dealership base, we anticipate acquisitions and new lot openings will also likely contribute materially to our future growth." "Rising interest rates and high overall inflation levels characterize the current operating environment. Because of its flexibility, historically, our business has performed well through both recessions and expansions, inflation and deflation, and when used car prices are both high and low. A conservative financial structure and disciplined focus on cash flows enable us to manage through a variety of environments, including higher interest rates and inflation, and provide us with significant competitive advantages. Our lower interest rate relative to competitors provides a benefit to our marketing efforts yet still affords us room to increase rates should conditions merit," said Mr. Williams. "We are mindful that inflation is a headwind for all of our customers; fortunately, significant increases in compensation for lower wage earners provide some offset. Our best weapon against inflationary operating cost pressures is a combination of higher volumes and greater efficiency. We believe that we would be selling a significantly greater number of vehicles if we had sufficient availability at lower price points." "At the end of April, we completed our inaugural $400 million non-recourse note offering and asset-backed securitization, secured at a 70% advance rate. We used the net proceeds of the offering to pay down our existing $600 million revolving line of credit," added Mr. Williams. "The asset-backed securities market both diversifies our funding and facilitates our growth by accessing a substantially larger pool of institutional credit. This market has provided a level of stability and consistency in times of economic stress which can provide us with the additional resources to grow our business at a healthy rate, in-line with the demand for our offering. In addition, our weighted average cost of capital can be lower as a function of a more efficient overall capital structure. A strong balance sheet can be both a wall against uncertainty and a weapon – total outstanding debt, net of cash, is 36.1% of receivables. Our financial structure and focus on cash flows provides the flexibility to both invest in our business and repurchase shares."   "We are pleased with our progress and the results given the current difficult operating environment with fourth quarter net income of $26.7 million, and diluted earnings per share of $4.01. The fourth quarter fiscal 2021 diluted earnings per share of $6.19 included an $11.5 million after-tax decrease to the allowance for credit losses or $1.65 diluted earnings per share increase. We also had nice leveraging of SG&A costs as a percentage of sales for both the quarter (at 13.2% compared to 14.5% for the comparable prior year quarter) and full fiscal year (at 14.7% compared to 16.2% for the prior year). This is especially impressive considering the increased costs in the current inflationary environment for most of our expenses, but especially the wage pressures," said Vickie Judy, CFO. "We are investing in and building for our future to support a growing number of associates and customers." "We repurchased 92,000 shares of our common stock during the quarter at an average price of approximately $89 for a total of $8.2 million. Since February 2010, we have repurchased 6.8 million shares (57.9% of our outstanding shares on January 31, 2010) at an average price of approximately $42. During fiscal 2022, we grew finance receivables by $292 million, increased inventory by $33 million, repurchased $35 million of our common stock and funded $21 million in capital expenditures, all while holding our debt, net of cash, to 36.1% of receivables." added Ms. Judy. "At April 30, 2022, approximately 90% of our debt was securitized non-recourse debt." Conference Call and Investor Presentation Management will be holding a conference call on Tuesday, May 24, 2022, at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time to discuss quarterly results. A live audio of the conference call will be accessible to the public by calling (877) 776-4031, conference ID #6579153. International callers dial (631) 291-4132. Callers should dial in approximately 10 minutes before the call begins. A conference call replay will be available two hours following the call for thirty days and can be accessed by calling (855) 859-2056 (domestic) or (404) 537-3406 (international), conference call ID #6579153. About America's Car-Mart America's Car-Mart, Inc. (the "Company") operates automotive dealerships in twelve states and is one of the largest publicly held automotive retailers in the United States focused exclusively on the "Integrated Auto Sales and Finance" segment of the used car market. The Company emphasizes superior customer service and the building of strong personal relationships with its customers. The Company operates its dealerships primarily in smaller cities throughout the South-Central United States selling quality used vehicles and providing financing for substantially all of its customers. For more information about America's Car-Mart, including investor presentations, please visit our website at www.car-mart.com. This press release contains "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements address the Company's future objectives, plans and goals, as well as the Company's intent, beliefs and current expectations regarding future operating performance and can generally be identified by words such as "may," "will," "should," "could," "believe," "expect," "anticipate," "intend," "plan," "foresee," and other similar words or phrases. Specific events addressed by these forward-looking statements may include, but are not limited to: operational infrastructure investments; same dealership sales and revenue growth; future revenue growth; receivables growth as related to revenue growth; customer growth; gross margin percentages; gross profit per retail unit sold; new dealership openings; performance of new dealerships; interest rates; future credit losses; the Company's collection results, including but not limited to collections during income tax refund periods; seasonality; technological investments and initiatives; and the Company's business, operating and growth strategies. These forward-looking statements are based on the Company's current estimates and assumptions and involve various risks and uncertainties. As a result, you are cautioned that these forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance, and that actual results could differ materially from those projected in these forward-looking statements. Factors that may cause actual results to differ materially from the Company's projections include, but are not limited to: general economic conditions in the markets in which the Company operates, including but not limited to fluctuations in gas prices, grocery prices and employment levels; business and economic disruptions and uncertainty that may result from any future outbreak or adverse developments with the COVID-19 pandemic and any efforts to mitigate the financial impact and health risks associated with such developments; the expiration of existing economic stimulus measures or other government assistance programs implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic or the adoption of further such stimulus measures or assistance programs; the availability of credit facilities and access to capital on terms acceptable to us to support the Company's business; the Company's ability to underwrite and collect its contracts effectively; competition; dependence on existing management; ability to attract, develop and retain qualified general managers; availability of quality vehicles at prices that will be affordable to customers; changes in consumer finance laws or regulations, including but not limited to rules and regulations that have recently been enacted or could be enacted by federal and state governments; ability to keep pace with technological advances and changes in consumer behavior affecting our business;                security breaches, cyber-attacks, or fraudulent activity; and the ability to successfully identify, complete and integrate new acquisitions. Additionally, risks and uncertainties that may affect future results include those described in the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended April 30, 2021, and those described from time to time in the Company's other SEC filings. The Company undertakes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. You are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the dates on which they are made. ____________________________Contacts:        Jeffrey A. Williams, President and CEO (479) 464-9944 or Vickie D. Judy, CFO (479) 464-9944  America's Car-Mart, Inc.     Consolidated Results of Operations     (Dollars in thousands)                                                                                                     % Change     As a % of Sales              Three Months Ended    2022     Three Months Ended              April 30,   vs.     April 30,                    2022       2021     2021   2022   2021   Operating Data:                               Retail units sold     16,426       16,555     (0.8 ) %                 Average number of stores in operation   154       151     2.0                     Average retail units sold per store per month   35.6       36.5     (2.5 )                   Average retail sales price   $ 17,860     $ 14,387     24.1                     Total gross profit per retail unit sold $ 6,887     $ 6,032     14.2                     Same store revenue growth     24.2 %     37.6 %                       Net charge-offs as a percent of average finance receivables   5.6 %     4.8 %                       Total collected (principal, interest and late fees) $ 166,604     $ 145,863     14.2                     Average total collected per active customer per month $ 586     $ 560     4.6                     Average percentage of finance receivables-current (excl. 1-2 day)   82.7 %     85.3 %                       Average down-payment percentage   7.0 %     8.7 %                                                           Period End Data:                               Stores open     154       151     2.0   %                 Accounts over 30 days past due   3.0 %     2.6 %                       Active customer count     95,107       88,092     8.0                     Finance receivables, gross   $ 1,101,497     $ 809,538     36.1                     Weighted average total contract term   42.9       37.3     15.0   %                                                     Statements of Operations:                               Revenues:                                 Sales   $ 309,570     $ 248,625     24.5   %   100.0 %   100.0 %     Interest income     42,267       30,454     38.8       13.7     12.2             Total     351,837       279,079     26.1       113.7     112.2                                             Costs and expenses:                                 Cost of sales     196,452       148,773     32.0       63.5     59.8         Selling, general and administrative   40,990       36,139     13.4       13.2     14.5         Provision for credit losses     75,305       36,077     108.7       24.3     14.5         Interest expense     3,480       1,738     100.2       1.1     0.7         Depreciation and amortization   1,210       947     27.8       0.4     0.4         Loss on disposal of property and equipment   61       2     -       -     -             Total     317,498       223,676     41.9       102.6     90.0                                                   Income before taxes     34,339       55,403    .....»»

Category: earningsSource: benzingaMay 23rd, 2022

DoorDash has opened its first virtual food hall and ghost kitchen in Brooklyn — see what it"s like to eat there

DoorDash Kitchens' new location in Downtown Brooklyn is the delivery platform's first ghost kitchen with seats for dine-in customers. Brittany Chang/Insider Doordash opened its first DoorDash Kitchens location in New York City in early May. The new location combines a virtual food hall with a ghost kitchen which will service parts of Brooklyn. It's Doordash's first "delivery-forward food hall," a concept its rivals have opened as well. Doordash has opened a third ghost kitchen, this time in New York City.Brittany Chang/InsiderSource: InsiderBut unlike its California-based predecessors, the delivery platform's latest Doordash Kitchens has a twist: it's half-ghost kitchen, half-public food hall.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe new location represents the next evolution of ghost kitchens by integrating dine-in seating areas, a strategy Kitchen United and Travis Kalanick's CloudKitchens' have employed as well.Brittany Chang/InsiderSource: InsiderBefore this, ghost kitchens — created to target the growing food delivery segment — often never saw their hungry customers.Brittany Chang/InsiderBut the cooking facilities no longer have to be a mysterious place where your meal gets magically prepared before being whisked away to your home.Brittany Chang/InsiderNow, ghost kitchens similar to Doordash's new location can be a place to work out of, grab a quick lunch, and eat with friends.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe company's new Brooklyn-based endeavor— which opened its doors in early May — is the third Doordash Kitchens location and its first outside of California.Brittany Chang/InsiderIt's also the first Doordash Kitchens with plenty of dine-in seats for hungry customers, creating a flexible "delivery forward food hall" for customers who want to order and eat on-site.Brittany Chang/InsiderSource: InsiderTo create this flexible space, Doordash partnered with New York-based commercial-kitchen company Nimbus, which leased the 9,500-square-foot Downtown Brooklyn space in May 2021.Brittany Chang/InsiderSource: InsiderDoordash manages the deliveries, pickups, and "relationships with restaurant partners," Ruth Isenstadt, Doordash Kitchens' senior director, told Insider in an email interview.Brittany Chang/InsiderNimbus then oversees the real estate and maintenance while supplying the kitchen facilities with adequate equipment ...Brittany Chang/Insider... while the restaurants manage their own cooking operations.Brittany Chang/InsiderIsenstadt predicts most of the orders going through the new Doordash Kitchens will be eaten off-site …Brittany Chang/Insider… as the new location was created to service surrounding Brooklyn neighborhoods like Gowanus, Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, Park Slope, and Dumbo.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe new Doordash Kitchens may be "delivery forward," but the dine-in space is still large enough to accommodate plenty of hungry people passing by.Brittany Chang/InsiderIf you haven't visited this virtual food hall, picture a long room with large windows, ample seating, and wall-mounted touchscreens that replace the presence of cashiers and food stalls.Brittany Chang/InsiderSource: InsiderUnlike a traditional food hall, the site doesn't have multiple food stands with large menus.Brittany Chang/InsiderInstead, the restaurants' footprints are all condensed into the three touchscreen kiosks. And the kitchens are hidden behind a wall so you'll never see your food being prepared in front of you.Brittany Chang/InsiderTo any unknowing visitor, the Brooklyn Doordash Kitchens may look like a large coffee shop.Brittany Chang/InsiderWhen you enter, you're immediately greeted by the three touchscreens in front of you and a coffee shop counter to your right.Brittany Chang/InsiderTo your left, you'll see a long room full of seating like a countertop with barstools and views of the street …Brittany Chang/Insider… a multi-seat communal table …Brittany Chang/Insider… and tables with booth-style seating.Brittany Chang/InsiderCreating and picking up your order is as seamless as any virtual food hall.Brittany Chang/InsiderBecause the location relies on self-serving kiosks, ordering and paying is done virtually.Brittany Chang/InsiderThere's no need to make small talk with a cashier or waitstaff.Brittany Chang/InsiderAll you have to do is select the restaurant and your order, pay using the payment pad …Brittany Chang/Insider… and wait until someone behind the counter calls your name to pick up your meal.Brittany Chang/InsiderYou can take a seat for a quick meal and a coffee or bring your takeout elsewhere.Brittany Chang/InsiderIf you're a picky eater, you're in luck. Several of the restaurants in operation at Doordash Kitchens are recognizable to any food-loving New Yorker.Brittany Chang/InsiderAnd the selection is somewhat diverse, giving even the finickiest dine-in visitor plenty of options.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe location currently houses Little Caesars, modern sushi restaurant Domodomo, popular Chinese-American spot Kings Co. Imperial …Brittany Chang/Insider… chicken-and-biscuit joint Pies 'n Thighs (shown below), Korean-American bowl concept Moonbowls …Brittany Chang/Insider… famed dessert store Milk Bar, pastries from Kado Patisri, and a Birch coffee shop.Brittany Chang/InsiderThese restaurants are "all highly regarded" in the city but several of them couldn't service the Downtown Brooklyn area from their previous locations in Manhattan or North Brooklyn, according to Isenstadt.Brittany Chang/InsiderBy using Doordash Kitchens' new facility, these restaurants can now serve more customers and test local demand without opening a new storefront.Brittany Chang/InsiderOf course, it wouldn't be a ghost kitchen without a robust delivery system.Brittany Chang/InsiderDoordash delivery workers, known as "Dashers," pick up their orders from a window in a separate space next to the food hall.Brittany Chang/InsiderSeparating the window from the dine-in half of Doordash Kitchens expedites the order pickup process, Isenstadt said …Brittany Chang/Insider… which is crucial for a space that'll likely see more delivery than dine-in orders.Brittany Chang/Insider"The community plays an important role in the success of Doordash Kitchens and we've been thrilled to see customers stopping by to support the restaurant partners operating in this location," Isenstadt said.Brittany Chang/InsiderRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 20th, 2022

The self-care habits of successful entrepreneurs who book 6 figures and raise millions in venture capital

More and more entrepreneurs are prioritizing self-care so they can keep up with their all-consuming, pressure-filled lifestyles. Nikkie Pryce is a self published author.Avalon Fotography Self-care is an important part of keeping up with the all-consuming lifestyle of an entrepreneur. A 2018 study found that entrepreneurs were more likely than others to self-report mental illnesses. Founders of six-figure companies told Insider how they prioritize themselves. Running a company often demands early mornings and late nights and doesn't leave much free time.Self-care is an important part of keeping up with the all-consuming, pressure-filled lifestyle of a founder. A study published in the journal Small Business Economics in 2018 found that entrepreneurs were more likely than a control group to self-report mental illnesses such as depression and bipolar disorder.Insider regularly talks with entrepreneurs about how they organize their days to balance their many responsibilities while making time for self-care. Here are the habits they've formed to unwind, boost their productivity, and stay physically and mentally healthy.Dominic-Madori Davis contributed to this article.Nikkie Pryce meditates and takes herself to a restaurantNikkie Pryce.Avalon FotographyNikkie Pryce is a self-published author and speaker in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, who coaches women to write their own books. In 2021 her company generated $124,000 in revenue.She previously told Insider that she uses meditation apps to calm her thoughts when she wakes up in the morning and before she goes to bed.She also puts her phone on "do not disturb" mode until 9 a.m. and won't answer messages or emails unless they're urgent. "My assistant knows I'm not taking calls, because I really need time to pour into myself before I pour into everybody else," she said.Pryce also likes to take herself to a restaurant or go shopping to unwind. "I will put on my AirPods and go to Target for detergent and walk out with a whole jogging suit and some wall decor," she said. "But it's so therapeutic for me."Jackie Nguyen likes a shopping trip to calm her mindJackie Nguyen.Courtesy of Jackie NguyenJackie Nguyen is the owner of Cafe Cà Phê, a Vietnamese coffee truck in Kansas City, Missouri. Her business had made more than $186,000 in sales by September.She previously told Insider that she's usually too busy to eat when she wakes up at 6 a.m. but that she'll sometimes grab a granola bar or banana.On Wednesdays she has an hour of therapy. Mondays and Tuesdays are her days off from work. One of her favorite things to do is walk around Target or TJ Maxx with her headphones in. She'll call a friend or listen to music and grab a smoothie."It's my little me time," she said. "If I sit at home, I'm tempted to work or clean."Sharmadean Reid manages burnout with nature and a bookSharmadean Reid.Sharmadean ReidSharmadean Reid is the founder of the women-centric financial publication The Stack World. She's raised nearly £4 million in funding and amassed almost 1,000 paying members since its launch last March.Reid previously told Insider that she manages burnout by driving to the English countryside to spend time in nature and read a book on philosophy."The main thing is reconnecting with my life's purpose," she said. "If you know you're doing something for something bigger than you, it helps you stay aligned and motivated."Jackie Dubois took time away from social media to focus on her mental healthJackie Dubois.Courtesy of DuboisJackie Dubois is a painter and former TikTok creator who's booked six figures' worth of sales by selling her paintings and prints online.She previously told Insider that she became overwhelmed by the pressure to post on social media and take strangers' feedback, so she stopped sharing for her well-being."Our brains are not meant to handle so much stimulation, input, and commentary from millions of strangers on the internet," Dubois said. "It can be really crushing to see this huge high, to have a good response, followed by a huge low."Olivia Landau starts her mornings by working out and watering her plantsOlivia Landau.The Clear CutOlivia Landau is the cofounder of The Clear Cut, an engagement-ring and diamond-jewelry business. In 2021 her company averaged $1 million in monthly sales.Every weekday morning Landau does a Peloton or Sculpt Society workout for 30 to 45 minutes. While she's cooling down she waters her plants on her apartment terrace.At night she likes to cook dinner, and in the summer she and her husband grill outside. "I'll try new recipes all the time because that's kind of my way of decompressing for the day," she previously told Insider.Ginni Saraswati practices gratitude and meditationGinni Saraswati.Courtesy of Ginni SaraswatiGinni Saraswati is the founder of Ginni Media, a podcasting company that made $500,000 in revenue in 2020.Saraswati told Insider that every morning she writes down what she's grateful for and meditates. Then she walks four blocks to the gym, where she does strength training and cardio for about 30 minutes. On Thursdays she does boxing.At night before bed she likes to light a candle, use a foot massager, put on a face mask, and read a book. Some nights she listens to her meditation app or a MasterClass. "I love learning, so I'll listen to an audiobook or podcast," she said.Ciara Imani May relaxes at night by checking in with loved ones and watching TVRebundle CoFounders, Danielle Washington (left) and Ciara Imani May (right)Curtis Taylor, Jr.Ciara Imani May is the cofounder of Rebundle, a company that sells plant-based synthetic braiding hair. Last year, May raised a $1.4 million pre-seed. May told Insider she finishes work around 5 p.m. and focuses on her personal life. She'll start by checking in with her friends and family before spending time with her dog. Then, before bed, she watches a drama show and sitcom to help keep her mind off work. "I enjoy the perfect balance of comedy and crime," she said.  Kelly O'Sullivan McKenna cooks dinner and takes nighttime walksKelly O'Sullivan McKenna.Kelly O'Sullivan McKennaKelly O'Sullivan McKenna has her own private therapy practice Sit With Kelly that she started in February 2021 after working in the mental-health industry for almost six years. Last year, her company booked $250,000 in revenue. She previously told Insider that she schedules her work days to best manage her anxiety, which has worked so far. She only sees clients on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays and handles adminstrative tasks on other two days. She prioritizes breaks while working, taking time out of her schedule to cook breakfast and lunch and go for an afternoon walk.McKenna also relaxes by cooking dinner with her husband after finishing work at 5 p.m. She says she loves to also go on a nighttake walk, or watch tv to wind down.There's always going to be more you can do. It's about recognizing that where you are right now is good enough, even if you want to grow," she said.  Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 18th, 2022

McDonald"s is quitting Russia after 32 years in the country, citing the "humanitarian crisis" caused by the Ukraine war

McDonald's said Monday it plans to "de-arch" all restaurants in Russia, meaning its name, branding, menu, and logo can't be used. A McDonald's restaurant in Tver, Russia.FotograFFF/Shutterstock McDonald's said Monday it's quitting Russia after more than 30 years in the country. The fast-food giant paused operations in Russia in March, shortly after the Ukraine invasion began. McDonald's said it would sell to a local buyer and "de-arch" all its restaurants in Russia. McDonald's announced Monday it's quitting Russia after 32 years in the country because its business there is "no longer tenable."The fast food giant said: "The humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Ukraine, and the precipitating unpredictable operating environment, have led McDonald's to conclude that continued ownership of the business in Russia is no longer tenable, nor is it consistent with McDonald's values."McDonald's opened its first restaurant in Russia in 1990, in Moscow. For many Russians, the opening of a McDonald's restaurant — synonymous with capitalism and American culture — symbolized the impending collapse of the Soviet Union.McDonald's said Monday it will sell its Russian business to a local buyer and will "de-arch" all its restaurants in the country, meaning that the company's name, branding, menu, and logo can't be used.Today, most McDonald's restaurants in Russia are company-operated, but more than 100 are owned by franchisees, and some have refused to close. It's a similar story with other Western fast-food chains, including Burger King, which said the operator of its 800 Russian restaurants "refused" to close them.McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski said Monday: "We have a long history of establishing deep, local roots wherever the arches shine. We're exceptionally proud of the 62,000 employees who work in our restaurants, along with the hundreds of Russian suppliers who support our business, and our local franchisees. Their dedication and loyalty to McDonald's make today's announcement extremely difficult."He added: "However, we have a commitment to our global community and must remain steadfast in our values. And our commitment to our values means that we can no longer keep the arches shining there."McDonald's said it expected to record a non-cash charge of between $1.2 billion and $1.4 billion as a result of its Russia exit. It reaffirmed its prior 2022 financial outlook.Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 and on March 8, McDonald's announced it was temporarily closing restaurants and pausing operations in Russia.The company said Monday it had initiated the process to sell its Russian operations and was "pursuing the sale of its entire portfolio of McDonald's restaurants in Russia to a local buyer."The company added it was "seeking to ensure the employees of McDonald's Russia continue to be paid until the close of any transaction" and that "employees have future employment with any potential buyer."In a message to Russian franchisees, seen by The New York Times, Kempczinski said leaving the country was "a complicated issue that's without precedent and with profound consequences."McDonald's said in April it had lost around $100 million in wasted inventory after shutting its restaurants in Russia and Ukraine.Russian news outlet RIA Novosti previously reported that a number of McDonald's restaurants that were owned by franchisees remained open despite the Ukraine war.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytMay 16th, 2022

McDonald"s is quitting Russia after more than 30 years in the country, citing the "humanitarian crisis" caused by the Ukraine war

McDonald's said Monday it plans to "de-arch" all restaurants in Russia, meaning its name, branding, menu, and logo can't be used. A McDonald's restaurant in Tver, Russia.FotograFFF/Shutterstock McDonald's said Monday it's quitting Russia after more than 30 years in the country. The fast-food giant paused operations in Russia in March, shortly after the Ukraine invasion began. McDonald's said it would sell to a local buyer and "de-arch" all its restaurants in Russia. McDonald's announced Monday it's quitting Russia after 32 years in the country because its business there is "no longer tenable."The fast food giant said: "The humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Ukraine, and the precipitating unpredictable operating environment, have led McDonald's to conclude that continued ownership of the business in Russia is no longer tenable, nor is it consistent with McDonald's values."McDonald's opened its first restaurant in Russia in 1990, in Moscow. For many Russians, the opening of a McDonald's restaurant — synonymous with capitalism and American culture — symbolized the impending collapse of the Soviet Union.McDonald's said Monday it will sell its Russian business to a local buyer and will "de-arch" all its restaurants in the country, meaning that the company's name, branding, menu, and logo can't be used.Today, most of McDonald's restaurants in Russia are company-operated, but more than 100 are owned by franchisees, and some have refused to close. It's a similar story with other Western fast-food chains, including Burger King, which said the operator of its 800 Russian restaurants "refused" to close them.CEO Chris Kempczinski said Monday: "We have a long history of establishing deep, local roots wherever the arches shine. We're exceptionally proud of the 62,000 employees who work in our restaurants, along with the hundreds of Russian suppliers who support our business, and our local franchisees. Their dedication and loyalty to McDonald's make today's announcement extremely difficult."He added: "However, we have a commitment to our global community and must remain steadfast in our values. And our commitment to our values means that we can no longer keep the arches shining there."McDonald's said it expected to record a non-cash charge of between $1.2 billion and $1.4 billion as a result of its Russia exit. It reaffirmed its prior 2022 financial outlook.Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 and on March 8, McDonald's announced it was temporarily closing restaurants and pausing operations in Russia.The company said Monday it had initiated the process to sell its Russian operations and was "pursuing the sale of its entire portfolio of McDonald's restaurants in Russia to a local buyer."The company added it was "seeking to ensure the employees of McDonald's Russia continue to be paid until the close of any transaction" and that "employees have future employment with any potential buyer."In a message to Russian franchisees, seen by The New York Times, Kempczinski said leaving the country was "a complicated issue that's without precedent and with profound consequences."McDonald's said in April it had lost around $100 million in wasted inventory after shutting its restaurants in Russia and Ukraine.Russian news outlet RIA Novosti previously reported that a number of McDonald's restaurants that were owned by franchisees remained open despite the Ukraine war.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytMay 16th, 2022

Gold Vs An Openly Failing/Changing World

Gold Vs An Openly Failing/Changing World Authored by Matthew Piepenburg via GoldSwitzerland.com, As central bankers play checkers on a global debt chessboard, we see below how policy hypocrisy, worsening monetary options, failed diplomacy, tanking bonds, rising rates, debt addiction, mismanaged sanctions, de-dollarization and a shift toward a disorderly re-set all spell immense pain for Main Street as well as Wall Street. In short, the world is in flux, the mess is everywhere and gold is already flexing. Faces of Hypocrisy Fed Vice Chair Lael Brainard, a former money-printing dove who helped pour trillions of liquidity into the biggest risk asset bubble and wealth transfer in US history, is suddenly realizing that perhaps she and the FOMC may have gone too far as their open stock market inflation now morphs into just plain everywhere-inflation (and an 8+% CPI). She is now puffing a Hawkish chest and citing the good ol’ days of Paul Volcker rate-hiking as the kind of tough restraint needed in 2022. But such a pivot is the equivalent of the Titanic’s captain ordering more lifeboats after the ship has already sunk. In short, if hypocrisy had a face, and if market comedy a punch-line, surely Brainard (along-side Kashkari, Powell, Yellen, Goldman Sachs and Bridgewater) would qualify for the top-10 list. The “Greatest Threat to the Economy”? Inflation or the Fed Itself? In a recent speech, Brainard reminded the audience of Volcker’s warning that runaway inflation “would be the greatest threat to the economy…and ultimately employment.” Fair enough. The irony, however, lies in the fact that the Fed (after years of expanding the broad money supply and mouse-click-creating trillions of dollars to buy otherwise unwanted US IOUs) is the very author of this inflation and, by extension, is itself, “the greatest threat to the economy.” Today, the inflationary hens hatched directly from years of DC’s own spend-and-print policies are now coming home to roost. As 1) defense and entitlement spending reaches all-time highs of 120% of record-high tax receipts and 2) the Fed balance sheet climbs >10X from a pre-08 number of $800B to a 2022 level of $9T, Fed-driven inflation has emerged not as a surprising or mysterious aberration but as an obvious, predictable and direct consequence of the Fed itself. In short, former doves like Brainard citing hawks like Volcker to solve their banking policies is akin to Lance Armstrong citing Mother Theresa to defend his biking policies. Brainless Bravado Rather than Honest Transparency But in a never-ending effort to signal form over substance and spin over facts, Brainard somehow thinks that the US, with 90T in combined household, corporate and public debt, needs to get “Volcker-tough” on combatting the very inflation she helped create. But we aren’t in the 1970’s anymore. Things, and debt levels, have changed. The obvious problem with Brainard’s brainless bravado is that the Federal debt when Volcker raised rates to 20% in 1980 was $908 B; today that national debt figure is over $30 T. Folks, when saddled by such unprecedented and unpayable debt levels, do you think Uncle Sam can afford to raise rates (i.e., the cost of that debt) without eventually mouse-clicking more debased dollars out of thin air to then pay for it? Well, the answer we’ll give you is far blunter and more accurate than Brainard’s. And it boils to this: Nope. It can’t be done—not without ushering a financial recession and market implosion or debasing the dollar with trillions of more fake liquidity. Period. Full stop. But if accuracy, candor and intelligent accountability is something you are hoping to find from so-called “experts” like Brainard, we’d remind you again to look elsewhere. As for Brainard’s expertise (and fork-tongued inaccuracies), it’s worth reminding that: 1) in 2020 she supported inflation “running hot;” 2) in early 2021, she said the Fed’s inflation expectations “were extremely well-anchored,” and then, 3) at the end of that same year, said “I expect inflation to decelerate.” Wrong every time. Yet just last week, in 2022, Brainard finally confessed that “inflation is too high”? Again, so much for trusting the “experts.” Candor vs. Fantasy As for us, we warned of the coming and persistent (rather than “transitory”) inflation long before the Fed-Heads would even discuss the inflation reality. In those same years, we also consistently declared that a cornered Fed can not raise rates and cut money printing to become net sellers (as opposed to former top buyers) of UST without causing formerly – “accommodated’ bonds to tank and hence yields (and thus interest rates) to spike. And precisely as forecasted, that’s what’s taking place now as rising rates, like rising shark fins, slowly approach the sinking ship that is the bankrupt US economy. Pivots, Confusion and Insanity The Fed has pivoted from being the largest buyer of Treasuries to a seller of Treasuries (i.e., Uncle Sam’s IOUs) at the very same time that Uncle Sam is issuing record amounts of those very same IOUs (i.e., borrowing like mad) during the worst inflationary period seen in 40 years. You literally can’t make this kind of insanity up: One part of DC is borrowing at record levels while across the Street, the Fed is tightening the cash spigot. Such open confusion, bi-polar policy swings, and exhaustion of any viable/remaining alternatives is going to end very badly for markets and the economy as yields spike and hence the USD, on a relative rather than inherent basis, gets stronger. By the way, a stronger USD just makes US goods less competitive overseas and worsens US trade deficits—thereby adding more insult to an already injured US GDP. In short, this perfect and Fed-made disaster is taking place in real time while double-speakers like Brainard stand with a chest puffed yet a back against a wall of their own making. Given the fatal debt timebombs which the Fed alone unleashed since the Greenspan era, it has cornered itself into a prisoner’s dilemma of either: A) runaway inflation if they don’t raise rates or B) a market implosion if they do. Sadly, we think the world is about to see both. The Fed’s Real Mandate Makes Them Easy to Predict As we have also transparently warned, the Fed’s real mandate is the markets not inflation or the man on the street. The Fed is already fattening its Standard Repo Facility (SRF) in order to bail out the unloved Treasury market whenever the emergency bell rings in the bond pits. In short, and despite talking hawkish, the SRF is open proof that the Fed is fully dovish when it comes to cooing over Mr. Market. In plain-speak, when push comes to shove, the FOMC favors Wall Street over Main Steet—always has, always will. Why? The Market is the Thing The Fed thinks a rising stock market will stimulate consumer spending, which is 70% of its GDP score as well as the core driver of Uncle Sam’s much needed tax receipts. After all, Net Capital Gains and IRA Distributions are the 200% wind beneath the wings of consumer spending’s annual growth. Stated even more simply (and mathematically), when markets tank, consumer spending tanks, and when consumer spending tanks, so too does Uncle Sam’s GDP as well as income from US tax receipts. Given that the US has off-shored its productivity to places like China, the fully bloated and grotesquely distorted stock market is about the only bragging right Uncle Sam has left. Hence, the Fed’s shadow mandate is to save that market, even at the expense of inflationary suffering on Main Street. But as we’ve also consistently warned, the Fed’s track record for going too far is long and distinguished, and despite all their twisted (and rigged) efforts, they always fail in preventing market implosions of their own making. Thus, Wall Street and Main Street can and will suffer together, and the Fed, like our markets, truly are Rigged to Fail. For now, the Fed is trying to prop the market in secret while simultaneously claiming to fight inflation in public. This behavior of inflating away debt in practice while publicly claiming to “combat” it is just another classic Fed ruse. More, rather than less, inflation is ahead—which is why gold (and miners) will rise despite a relatively stronger USD. Rising Dollar, Rising Gold But shouldn’t a stronger USD bode poorly for gold? That is, shouldn’t rapidly rising real yields be bad for gold, which, as we’ve argued for years, favors negative real real yields? Not necessarily, and not in this totally distorted new-abnormal. When the dollar is so fully debased, distrusted and set for a fall, and when rising yields bankrupt Uncle Sam, all the old rules change. The traditional correlations and inverse relationships mean nothing anymore for the simple reason that nothing is normal anymore—thanks to years of central bank folly, political (spending) decadence, record-breaking debt expansion and a global addiction to printed currencies. More Centralized Controls Are Inevitable And as for money printing, more is on the way because central banks in general, and the Fed in particular, have no choice but to eventually create more diluted dollars. Long-term gold investors have always known this. And the market now knows what double-speakers like Yellen, Powell, Brainard and others won’t confess, namely: That as soon as the economy and markets begin to tank in this raising yield/rate environment, the Fed (and other central banks) will be forced to print (i.e., debase) more inflationary money and impose Yield Curve Controls (YCC) to stem the financial bleeding that always follows a rate hike. In short, and as forewarned long ago, get ready for far more, rather than less, centralized controls over your money, economy, market and lives. Such inevitable bond market disasters, yield spikes and subsequent money printing and YCC is why gold is rising and gold miners like Newmont are seeing all-time highs despite a rising USD. A World in Flux Meanwhile, as Western central bankers try to manage the optics of their increasingly discredited and disastrous policies (i.e., blaming everything on a politicized pandemic and an avoidable war), the world is rapidly moving in a new direction. This direction is sailing away from the world reserve currency in general and western financial controls in particular, all of which we’ve warned would happen as the West shot itself in the foot with sanctions otherwise aimed at Russia’s chest. Poking the Bear As warned, Putin is moving closer toward the world he and China have otherwise been telegraphing for years—one in which the USD is no longer the only core player. Squeezed by SWIFT, SDR and FX Reserve sanctions, Russia is now demanding payments for its resources in RUB rather USD from a growing list of states “unfriendly” to Russia. In short, we poked a bear and now it’s biting us in the tail… Unlike the post-Nixon West, Putin is also flirting with what wiser economists have hoped other nations would do, namely partially link its currency to gold rather than thin air. Russia’s central bank has been buying gold at 5000 RUB per gram. Folks, this flirtation with a gold-currency cover represents a massive shift in history in general and global markets in particular. DO NOT underestimate its implications. As nations like Russia, China and India slowly move toward and consider a partial-cover of their currencies in gold, the gold price will rise in ways that not even the BIS or its minions in that thoroughly corrupted COMEX market can manipulate downwards. The West Is Trapped It seems the West, by failing to find a diplomatic solution in the Ukraine, has fallen straight into a Putin trap, which was so openly foreseeable. I mean honestly, did the West really think Putin would simply collapse under sanctions he was already prepared to weather and counter-punch? Unless the US can convince the EU to fully end its reliance on Russian energy (good luck with that), Putin, the chess player we’ve warned of, will have the checker-players in DC and Brussels bouncing off the walls. In the end, the West has no options going forward (full ban of Russian purchases [?], capital controls with Chinese/Indian consent [?] or admit defeat and end Russian sanctions [?]) that won’t financially cripple western citizens from Austria to Atlanta. As we’ve argued recently, the sanction genie can’t be put back into the bottle, and the world is now slowly marching toward a commodity-backed rather than “faith” backed currency system, which is running out of faith which each passing day. Got gold? You should. Tyler Durden Thu, 04/14/2022 - 06:30.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytApr 14th, 2022

Futures Rise As Earnings Season Begins

Futures Rise As Earnings Season Begins US index futures bounced, with Nasdaq 100 contracts halting a three-day drop, as investor attention turned to the start of corporate earnings season, which BofA dubbed the "Last big beat for a while" amid concerns over high inflation and slowing growth. Contracts on the Nasdaq 100 were up 0.4% as of 630 a.m. in New York, signaling a pause in the rout that wiped $1.6 trillion from the market value of technology behemoths in just over a week. S&P 500 futures and Dow futures gained 0.4%, with Asian stocks also rising even as Europe’s Stoxx 600 Index dropped; the selloff in U.S. Treasuries also eased with the 10Y yield flat at 2.72% while the US Dollar resumed its advance and the yen fell to a 20-year low as the growing gap between rising U.S. bond yields and perpetually low ones in Japan continued to pressure the currency. Oil rose after Russia vowed to continue the war in Ukraine and China partially eased Covid curbs. Bitcoin continued to trade on either side of $40K. A quick look around the world: U.K. inflation surged to a 30-year high, surging 7% above expectations of 6.7%, before the Bank of England’s next decision in May, while New Zealand’s central bank delivered a surprise 50bps rate hike (exp 25bps) its biggest interest-rate increase in 22 years. Meanwhile, markets continued to digest Tuesday’s U.S. inflation data which was viewed by many as a peak in CPI, which prompted traders to pare back expectations on how aggressively the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said U.S. monetary policy needs to be tightened to a point that it curtails economic growth or policy makers will end up risking their credibility (translation: he wants stocks 30% lower). He supports a half percentage point increase at the Fed’s policy meeting in May and says the rate should move up “sharply” after that. On the geopolitical front, the presidents of Poland and the three Baltic states are heading to Kyiv in a show of support that follows the visits of other leaders to the Ukrainian capital, including from Boris Johnson and European Union chiefs. The Biden administration is preparing a new military assistance package for Ukraine.  Here are some of the latest news out of Ukraine: Ukrainian President Zelensky proposed swapping pro-Russian politician Medvedchuk for Ukrainian prisoners of war, according to Reuters. Ukrainian Deputy PM says it is not possible to open humanitarian corridors on Wednesday; occupying forces have violated the ceasefire, via Reuters. Sweden's largest party Social Democrats favour applying to NATO at the June meeting in Spain, according to SvD. US President Biden said it will be up to lawyers to determine if Russia's actions in Ukraine qualify as genocide but added it seems like genocide to him and that the evidence is mounting, according to Reuters. US President Biden's administration is expected to announce at least USD 750mln in additional weapons for Ukraine and deliberations continue on a mix of weapons, which could evolve, according to Reuters. Ukrainian President Zelensky said it is not possible to draw 100% firm conclusions about whether Russia used chemical weapons in Mariupol and that it is not possible to conduct a full investigation in a besieged city, according to Reuters. Chechen leader Kadyrov said over 1,000 Ukrainian marines surrendered in Mariupol, according to Sputnik. US equities have been roiled again this month by the double whammy of soaring bond yields and concerns around a looming global recession. After data on Tuesday showed a smaller-than-expected increase in core inflation last month, focus this week will be on quarterly earnings starting with the big banks, which generally offer a window on the economy since they touch on everything from mortgages to general consumer behavior. “Despite the increased price pressure, analysts are still expecting profit margins of the S&P 500 to reach new all-time highs by the second quater, which seems optimistic in our view,” said Mathieu Racheter, head of equity strategy at Julius Baer. “We see a higher risks of negative earnings revision ahead, driven by the cyclicals sectors. We continue to recommend investors to remain defensively positioned within their equities allocation.” Among notable pre-market moves in the US, Sierra Oncology shares jumped 37% to $54.30 after GlaxoSmithKline agreed to buy the maker of therapies for rare forms of cancer for $55/shares in cash, or about $1.9 billion. Genius Group shares, on the other hand, tumbled 29% after a whopping 408% gain on their first day of trading yesterday. JPMorgan was little changed ahead of its first-quarter results due later in the morning. Here are some of the biggest U.S. movers today: Antares Pharma (ATRS US) surges 48% in premarket trading after Dow Jones reported that Halozyme Therapeutics (HALO US) is close to buying the maker of needle-free systems for $5.60 per share in cash, citing people familiar with the matter. The departure of PayPal (PYPL US) finance chief John Rainey to become CFO at Walmart (WMT US) was less concerning to some analysts than the absence of a guidance update with the announcement. PayPal stock falls 1.5% in premarket, Walmart +0.5%. Hillman Solutions (HLMN US) fell 8.9% postmarket Tuesday after holders offered 10m shares. Investors are now turning their attention to the earnings season, while awaiting the European Central Bank’s meeting on Thursday. Money managers are increasingly hedging the risk of stagflation, especially in Europe, amid concerns that high inflation and slowing growth will end up squeezing company profits. “It appears that the market is swinging quickly to try and price ‘peak inflation,’” Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at Oanda, wrote in a note. “Naturally, ‘peak inflation’ should be a reason to pile back into equities. However, it just isn’t that simple. The environment for equities remains challenging.” “We’re hopeful that this is where it’s going to peak,” Ann Miletti, head of active equity at Allspring Global Investments, said on Bloomberg Television, referring to U.S. inflation. But she added that markets continue to face a wall of worry, ranging from rising rates to the impact of China’s Covid lockdowns. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was down 0.4%, with travel and leisure sector leading declines as energy, miners and media are the strongest performing sectors. FTSE 100 outperforms, adding 0.3%; DAX lags, dropping 0.3%. LVMH erased early gains as it warned of a negative impact on demand because of lockdowns in China. Here are some of the biggest European movers today: Telecom Italia shares rise as much as 4.7% after a local press report that Apax and France’s Iliad are preparing a joint offer for its ConsumerCo business. Ted Baker shares rise as much as 5.7% after the high-street retailer said Sycamore will participate in formal sale process. Oxford Instruments gains as much as 9.4% after the firm said it expects its financial performance to be marginally ahead of expectations. Tesco shares slump as much as 7% after the U.K. grocer said profit may show little change or decline slightly this year amid the U.K.’s cost of living crisis. Analysts noted Tesco’s focus on providing customers with “compelling” value. Other U.K. grocery stocks including Ocado, Sainsbury and Marks & Spencer also fell Adidas shares declined as much as 4.1% after being downgraded to reduce from add and PT cut to Street-low EU190 at Baader Helvea based on rising headwinds and a “more cloudy” outlook for rest of the year. LVMH shares fall as much as 1.3%, reversing earlier gains, as worry over a Covid-19 resurgence in the key market of China remained at the forefront of investors mind even as the luxury conglomerate beat first-quarter expectations. Barry Callebaut shares fall as much as 5.4% amid worries the Swiss chocolate maker may be further affected by the war in Ukraine and its far- reaching consequences. The company said it’s taking an impairment for its financial assets in Russia. Earlier in the session, Asian equities rose for the first time in three days as U.S. Treasury yields retreated from multi-year highs, easing concerns over potential damage to corporate earnings. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed as much as 1.2%, rebounding from its lowest level since March 16. Tech hardware stocks drove gains after the 10-year Treasury yield slipped overnight following a smaller-than-expected jump in a key U.S. inflation gauge. TSMC was among the biggest contributors to gains in Asia ahead of its earnings release Thursday. “A pause in the yield rally at the current level may provide a breather for the equities market in the coming days, as attention will be shifted to the upcoming earnings season to drive sentiment,” said Jun Rong Yeap, a strategist at IG Asia. Benchmarks in Taiwan, Japan and South Korea led gains around the region. New Zealand’s main index fell after an unexpectedly large 50-basis-point hike by its central bank --its biggest in 22 years. Chinese stocks declined as a top virus expert stressed the importance of the nation’s dynamic zero strategy and data showed Chinese imports unexpectedly fell. China’s Imports Drop, Export Growth Slows on Covid Lockdowns Amid news of looser quarantines in some Chinese cities, investors are keenly awaiting formal relaxation of Beijing’s strict virus policies as its growth slowdown weighs on the region. Meanwhile, soaring prices in the U.S. and parts of Europe have finally reached Asia, deepening concerns about rising input costs for businesses Japanese equities gained, rebounding after two days of losses, following a smaller-than-expected rise in U.S. inflation and a drop in Treasury yields. Electronics and auto makers were the biggest boosts to the Topix, which rose 1.4%. Fast Retailing and Tokyo Electron were the biggest contributors to a 1.9% advance in the Nikkei 225. The yen extended losses against the dollar to a ninth day. The U.S. consumer price index increased 8.5% in March compared with a year earlier, less than economists expected. The 10-year Treasury yield slipped six basis points Tuesday following the inflation data. “Markets had been pricing in substantial negative impacts from higher U.S. interest and lockdowns in China, so stocks are rebounding somewhat today,” said Tomo Kinoshita, global market strategist at Invesco Asset Management. “There was a risk that if the U.S. CPI came in higher than market expectations that the Fed would turn more hawkish, but that didn’t happen.” In FX, the Bloomberg dollar spot index is near flat. CHF and EUR are the strongest performers in G-10 FX, NZD and JPY underperform. Yen drops to a 20-year low against the U.S. dollar, trading now at 126.15. In fixed income, bonds bounced ahead of Tuesday's new lows, but recovery remains weak rather than firm as Bunds hover above 155.00, Gilts just under 119.00 and T-note midway between 119-31/120-17 extremes. Lacklustre 10-year Bund auction in keeping with T-note sale last night, and with long bond supply still to come. Italy sees decent demand for multi-tranche offerings after recent heavier concession. In commodities, crude futures advanced with Brent extending on its torrid Tuesday gains and rising 2% back over $106. The International Energy Agency halved its estimate for a decline in Russian crude oil output for April as the nation has been able to find new customers even with global restrictions and self-sanctioning by traditional buyers. But top oil trader Vitol Group said it intends to completely stop trading Russia-origin crude and products by the end of this year. Most base metals trade in the green; LME zinc rises 2.8%, outperforming peers. LME copper lags, dropping 0.1%. Spot gold rises roughly $9 to trade at $1,976/oz. Spot silver gains 1.2% to ~$26. Looking at the day ahead now, data releases include US PPI for March, UK CPI for March and Italy’s industrial production for February. From central banks, we’ve got a policy decision from the Bank of Canada, as well as a speech from Bank of Japan Governor Kuroda. Finally, today’s earnings releases include JPMorgan Chase, BlackRock, Tesco and Delta Air Lines. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.6% to 4,418.25 MXAP up 0.7% to 173.79 MXAPJ up 0.7% to 577.71 Nikkei up 1.9% to 26,843.49 Topix up 1.4% to 1,890.06 Hang Seng Index up 0.3% to 21,374.37 Shanghai Composite down 0.8% to 3,186.82 Sensex down 0.3% to 58,425.03 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.3% to 7,479.02 Kospi up 1.9% to 2,716.49 STOXX Europe 600 little changed at 456.72 German 10Y yield little changed at 0.84% Euro little changed at $1.0832 Brent Futures up 0.2% to $104.89/bbl Gold spot up 0.4% to $1,975.13 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 100.37 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said U.S. monetary policy needs to be tightened to a point that it curtails economic growth or policy makers will end up risking their credibility The Biden administration is preparing a military assistance package of roughly $750 million for Ukraine in its battles against Russian invaders, people familiar with the matter said Tuesday night An immediate interruption in Russian energy supplies over the war in Ukraine could jeopardize 220 billion euros ($240 billion) of German output over the next two years, a report warned The yen’s drop to a two-decade low versus the dollar sets the tone in the options space, while overnight volatility in the euro rallies ahead of the ECB decision Thursday It’s the next big market call that could enrich traders across Wall Street: The raging global energy crisis and ever-more hawkish central banks knock key economies into 1970s- style stagflation French President Emmanuel Macron led his rival Marine Le Pen 53.2% to 46.8% ahead of the run-off presidential election set for April 24, according to a polling average calculated by Bloomberg on April 13. The gap between them has narrowed from the 8 percentage points recorded on April 11 A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asia-Pac stocks mostly shrugged off the weak lead from the US and rebounded from a two-day losing streak. ASX 200 was kept afloat by the commodity-related sectors including energy after WTI crude futures climbed back above USD 100/bbl landmark and with Australia's government providing funding for domestic refiners. Nikkei 225 outperformed currency weakness and with the index unfazed by disappointing Machinery Orders. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp lagged on COVID woes despite China testing an easing of quarantine rules in eight cities, as infections continued to spread with a fresh record of daily cases in Shanghai, while Sunac's missed coupon payment, further inclusions to the US HFCAA list and mixed trade data added to the cautious mood. Top Asian News Yen Falls to 20-Year Low as Policy, Yield Divergence Continues Japan Finance Minister Says Sudden FX Moves Problematic: Kyodo SMBC Nikko Ex-Deputy President Indicted Over Block Offers China’s Exports to Russia Slump After Ukraine Invasion European bourses are pressured across the board, Euro Stoxx 50 -0.7%, in what has been a somewhat choppy European morning with limited fresh macro drivers emerging. Sectors are similar to their initial cash open performance, as Energy and Basic Resources outperform while Travel, Retail and Personal Goods lag. US futures are firmer across the board, ES +0.3%, and while they have been directionally moving with Europe magnitudes are more limited; support following yesterday's CPI but ahead of PPI and JPM earnings. BlackRock Inc (BLK) Q1 2022 (USD): EPS 9.52 (exp. 8.95), Revenue 4.699bln (exp. 4.74bln). +0.3% in the premarket. Top European News Deutsche Telekom Edges Closer to T-Mobile Control With New Stake U.K. Inflation Jumps More Than Expected to 30-Year High of 7% European Gas Rises With Lower Flows Via Ukraine, Norway Outages U.K. Homebuilders Commit $2.6 Billion for Fire Safety Repairs FX: Kiwi knee jerks higher after bigger than generally expected 50 bp RBNZ hike before retreating abruptly on reflection of unchanged OCR outlook; NZD/USD sub-0.6800 vs peak just over big figure above. Yen flogged yet again as Japanese officials continue to fret about speed rather than size of moves and core machinery orders miss consensus; USD/JPY knocks down barriers at 126.00 to reach 126.31 and breach 2015 peak. DXY extends advance above 100.000 before waning ahead of May 2020 peak just over 100.500. Aussie retains 0.7400+ status vs Greenback before jobs data, but with assistance from sharp reversal in AUD /NZD cross flows - from circa 1.0833 to 1.0950. Euro keeps its head above 2022 low against Dollar, narrowly, and Pound rebounds after minor boost from strong UK inflation prints, EUR/USD down to 1.0811 or so vs 1.0806, Cable revisits 1.3000 vs 1.2972 at worst. Loonie immersed in technical levels awaiting BoC and guidance to accompany a widely forecast half point rate rise; USD/CAD near 1.2650 and flanked by 200, 100 and 50 DMAs. Fixed Income: Bonds bounce ahead of Tuesday's new lows, but recovery remains feline rather than firm as Bunds hover above 155.00, Gilts just under 119.00 and T-note midway between 119-31/120-17 extremes. Lacklustre 10-year Bund auction in keeping with T-note sale last night, and with long bond supply still to come. Italy sees decent demand for multi-tranche offerings after recent heavier concession. Commodities: WTI and are firmer in a continuation of the consolidation from the upside seen in yesterday's session amid Brent geopolitical tensions. Most recently, the benchmarks have eclipsed a circa. USD 2/bbl range that had been holding throughout the morning; current bests, USD 102.13/bbl and USD 106.45/bbl respectively. US Private Energy Inventory Data (bbls): Crude +7.8mln (exp. +0.9mln), Cushing +0.4mln, Gasoline -5.1mln (exp. -0.4mln), Distillate -5.0mln (exp. -0.5mln). IEA OMR: Lowers 2022 global oil demand estimate by 260k BPD on COVID in China and lower OECD demand. February global stocks 714mln/bbl below the end-2020 level, OECD accounts for 70% of the decline. Russian oil supply is expected to fall by 1.5mln BPD in April and by around 3mln BPD from May. CNOOC (883 HK) is said to be considering exiting operations in Britain, US and Canada amid tensions with the West, according to Reuters sources. Spot gold and are bid this morning, though the yellow metal is still shy of yesterday's USD 1978.21/oz silver peak. LME Zinc outperforms piggybacking the performance of its Shanghai peer overnight US Event Calendar 07:00: April MBA Mortgage Applications, prior -6.3% 08:30: March PPI Final Demand YoY, est. 10.6%, prior 10.0%; 08:30: PPI Final Demand MoM, est. 1.1%, prior 0.8% 08:30: March PPI Ex Food and Energy YoY, est. 8.4%, prior 8.4%; MoM, est. 0.5%, prior 0.2% 08:30: March PPI Ex Food, Energy, Trade YoY, est. 6.5%, prior 6.6%; MoM, est. 0.5%, prior 0.2% DB's Henry Allen concludes the overnight wrap After a succession of major bond selloffs this month, yesterday marked the first time so far in April that US Treasuries put in a positive performance. Given the US CPI report showed inflation hitting its highest rate since 1981 in March, with a year-on-year rate of +8.5%, that might seem counter-intuitive. But the monthly print of +1.2% was already expected by the consensus, even if it was the strongest since September 2005, whilst there was also a downside surprise in core inflation, which came in at +0.3% over the month (vs. +0.5% expected). In turn, that saw investors take out some of the expected monetary tightening they’d been pricing over the rest of the year, with the futures-implied policy rate by December’s meeting down by -10bps relative to the previous day. Looking at some of the details, higher gasoline prices were responsible for more than half of the headline monthly increase in CPI, having gone up by +18.3% in March. That’s their biggest monthly increase since June 2009, and follows the major spike in oil prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. On the other hand, used cars and trucks came down -3.8% over the month, which is their largest monthly decline since May 1969. In terms of housing inflation, rent of primary residence fell back to +0.43% (vs. +0.57% in Feb), though owners’ equivalent rent came in at +0.43%, in line with the narrow band of +0.41-0.45% in which it’s been rising since September. Against that backdrop, yields on 10yr Treasuries came down -5.9bps to 2.721%, marking their first daily decline so far this month, with trademark intraday volatility, as 10yrs were as much as +5.3bps higher in early morning trading, before trading -10.8bps lower during the New York lunch hour. 2yr yields had a larger on net decline (-9.2bps) that saw the 2s10s curve steepen up to 31.2bps, which is the steepest its been since the March FOMC meeting when the Fed embarked on their new hiking cycle. And although the total number of hikes priced for the year as a whole came down somewhat, the odds of a 50bp move at the next meeting in May actually ticked up to 93.5%, the highest to date. Overnight though, the 10yr yield has pared back some of its declines yesterday, moving up +2.3bps to 2.744%. While the CPI release may have triggered a bond rally, Fed communications remained just as hawkish, and yesterday we heard more from Governor Brainard, who is awaiting confirmation to her new post as Vice Chair. She expressed a preference to get the policy rate to neutral by the end of this year, echoing similar comments from Fed officials earlier in the week. She still thinks the Fed has room to engineer a soft landing and sustain the current economic expansion due to the historic strength of the labour market. Separately, in an interview released overnight with the FT, St Louis Fed President Bullard (who voted for a 50bps hike in March) said that it was a “fantasy” that the Fed could bring inflation down without going above neutral. Even as investors priced in a slightly shallower pace of Fed rate hikes over the coming year, US equities still managed to rollover after trading in the green for most of the day, with the S&P 500 down -0.34%. Financials (-1.07%) led the way lower with the decline in yields ahead of financials earnings kicking off today, while energy (+1.72%) was the clear outperformer on rebounding crude prices. Small-cap stocks put in a decent performance, with the Russell 2000 (+0.33%) ending a run of 5 consecutive declines. European equities also traded lower as well, with the STOXX 600 down -0.35%, along with other indices including the DAX (-0.48%), the CAC 40 (-0.28%) and the FTSE 100 (-0.55%). Turning to commodities, oil prices moved sharply higher yesterday, with Brent Crude (+6.26%) closing above $104/bbl for the first time in over a week. That came as Russian President Putin said that talk with Ukraine were “at a dead end”, and other haven assets including gold (+0.68%) also moved higher on the day. Over in the US meanwhile, President Biden accused Russia of “genocide”, standing by his comments and saying that “it has become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of being able to be Ukrainian”. Those further gains in oil prices meant that European inflation expectations rose to fresh highs, with the 10yr German breakeven up to 2.90%, its highest level yet in data going back to 2009, whilst the 10yr Italian breakeven rose to 2.69%, a level not seen since 2008. Importantly, measures of long-run inflation expectations, ostensibly beyond the influence of the current shock, have increased as well, with the 5y5y forward inflation swap for the Euro Area rising to +1.6bps to 2.38% yesterday, marking its highest level since 2013. In spite of those rises in European inflation expectations, sovereign bond yields in Europe moved lower along with US Treasuries, paring back an initial rise that saw the 10yr bund yield move to its highest intraday level since 2015, at 0.87%. By the close of day however, yields on 10yr bunds (-2.6bps), OATs (-1.9bps) and BTPs (-5.7bps) had all moved lower. Overnight in Asia, equity markets have bucked the trend seen in the US and Europe, with the Nikkei (+1.60%), the Kospi (+1.40%) and the Hang Seng (+0.29%) all moving higher. However, the Shanghai Composite (-0.44%) and CSI (-0.51%) are both lagging as the Covid-19 outbreak in China continues to weigh on investor sentiment. Looking forward, stock futures in the US are pointing to a decent start today, with contracts on the S&P 500 (+0.51%) and Nasdaq 100 (+0.69%) both higher. On the monetary policy front, we also heard from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand overnight, who hiked their official cash rate by +50bps to 1.50% as they seeks to tame inflation. This is the fourth consecutive interest rate hike by the central bank and its biggest hike since 2000. Turning to the French election, we’re now just 11 days away from the second round between President Macron and Marine Le Pen, and the polls continued to point to a fairly tight race, albeit with Macron in the lead. In terms of yesterday’s polls, Macron was ahead by 54-46 in Opinionway (down from 55-45 the previous day), whilst Ifop’s 52.5-47.5 margin was unchanged from the previous day. French assets performed basically in line with their European counterparts yesterday, with the spread of French 10yr yields over bunds moving up by just +0.6bps to 50.8bps. Running through yesterday’s other data, the UK employment report was somewhat softer than expected, with payrolled employees up by just +35k in March (vs. +125k expected). Nevertheless, the unemployment rate did fall back to the pre-pandemic low of 3.8% in the three months to February, in line with expectations. Elsewhere, Germany’s ZEW survey saw further declines in April, with the current situation reading down to an 11-month low of -30.8 (vs. -35.0 expected), and the expectations component fell to a 2-year low of -41.0 (vs. -48.5 expected), even if both were somewhat better than expected. Finally in the US, the NFIB’s small business optimism index fell to a 2-year low of 93.2 in March (vs. 95.0 expected). To the day ahead now, and data releases include US PPI for March, UK CPI for March and Italy’s industrial production for February. From central banks, we’ve got a policy decision from the Bank of Canada, as well as a speech from Bank of Japan Governor Kuroda. Finally, today’s earnings releases include JPMorgan Chase, BlackRock, Tesco and Delta Air Lines. Tyler Durden Wed, 04/13/2022 - 06:57.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeApr 13th, 2022

Burger King says it wants to shut down its 800 restaurants in Russia but can"t

Burger King's franchising agreement means it does not have unilateral control of Russian operations. A Burger King store in St. Petersburg, Russia.Maksim Konstantinov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images. The president of Burger King's parent company says the chain wants to close its Russian locations. Burger King's franchising agreement means it doesn't have unilateral control. Papa John's has the same problem, with a rogue franchisee refusing to close. Burger King's parent company, Restaurant Brands International, wants to close its hundreds of Russian locations, but it can't, President David Shear told employees in a letter on Thursday."Would we like to suspend all Burger King operations immediately in Russia? Yes. Are we able to enforce a suspension of operations today? No," Shear wrote, citing a "complicated legal process."The company previously announced plans to suspend corporate support for Russian locations following the country's attacks on Ukraine, including stopping further financial investment, marketing, and supply chain.But closing the actual restaurants isn't so simple. Like many fast-food chains, Burger King doesn't solely own the majority of its restaurants. Instead, it uses franchise agreements. When Burger King entered Russia 15 years ago, it partnered with Russian entities. Now, RBI owns a 15% stake in the Russian business, so it can't unilaterally close all locations.Shear said attempting to enforce the contract and pull out completely would require cooperation from Russian authorities, which would "not practically happen anytime soon." McDonald's was the first major US fast-food chain to pull out of Russia on March 8, and other big chains quickly followed suit. McDonald's was in a better position to close all of its Russian locations because 84% were run and owned by the company. That means that for the vast majority of Russian locations, McDonald's didn't have to deal with franchisees that might not comply. That rate of ownership is unusually high — globally, 93% of McDonald's locations are owned by franchisees.Papa John's has faced a similar problem of a franchisee that doesn't want to close. Christopher Wynne, an American from Colorado, owns a company that operates 190 Papa Johns's locations in Russia, The New York Times reported. He had no plans to cease operations in his restaurants, despite Papa John's International suspending Russian business. He even planned to open 20 to 40 more locations, if the Russian government didn't make any retaliatory moves against American brands.Franchise agreements are the norm in fast food and can be profitable for companies while protecting them from liability in many cases, but they can also take some important decisions out of their hands, as Burger King and Papa John's are seeing in Russia today.Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at mmeisenzahl@businessinsider.com.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytMar 18th, 2022

Burger King says it wants to shut down its 800 restaurants in Russia but it can"t

Burger King's franchising agreement means it doesn't have unilateral control of Russian operations. A Burger King store in St. Petersburg, Russia.Maksim Konstantinov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images. Burger King parent company president David Shear says the chain wants to close its 800 Russian locations. Burger King's franchising agreement means it doesn't have unilateral control. Papa John's has the same problem, with a rogue franchisee refusing to close. Burger King's parent company, Restaurant Brands International, wants to close its hundreds of Russian locations, but it can't, President David Shear told employees in a letter on Thursday."Would we like to suspend all Burger King operations immediately in Russia? Yes. Are we able to enforce a suspension of operations today? No," Shear wrote, thanks to a "complicated legal process."The company previously announced plans to suspend corporate support for Russian locations following the country's attacks on Ukraine, including stopping further financial investment, marketing, and supply chain.Closing the actual restaurants isn't so simple, though. Like many fast-food chains, Burger King doesn't solely own the majority of its restaurants, instead using franchise agreements. When Burger King entered Russia 15 years ago, it partnered with Russian entities. Now, RBI only owns a 15% stake in the Russian business, so it can't unilaterally close all locations.Shear says that attempting to enforce the contract and pull out completely would require cooperation from Russian authorities, which "will not practically happen anytime soon." McDonald's was the first major US fast-food chain to pull out of Russia on March 8, and several other big chains quickly followed suit. McDonald's was in a better position to close all of its Russian locations because 84% were run and owned by the company. That means that for the vast majority of Russian locations, McDonald's didn't have to deal with franchisees who might not comply. That rate of ownership is unusually high — globally, 93% of McDonald's locations are owned by franchisees.Papa John's has faced a similar problem of a franchisee who doesn't want to close. Christopher Wynne, an American from Colorado, owns a company that operates 190 Papa Johns's locations in Russia, The New York Times reported. He has no plans to cease operations in his restaurants, despite Papa Johns International suspending Russian business. He even plans to open 20 to 40 more locations, if the Russian government doesn't make any retaliatory moves against American brands.Franchise agreements are the norm in fast food and can be profitable for companies while protecting them from liability in many cases, but they can also take some important decisions out of their hands, as Burger King and Papa John's are seeing in Russia today.Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at mmeisenzahl@businessinsider.com.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytMar 17th, 2022

Why Did Vladimir Putin Invade Ukraine?

Why Did Vladimir Putin Invade Ukraine? Authored by Soeren Kern via The Gatestone Institute, Nearly three weeks have passed since Russian President Vladimir Putin began his invasion of Ukraine, but it still is not clear why he did so and what he hopes to achieve. Western analysts, commentators and government officials have put forward more than a dozen theories to explain Putin's actions, motives, and objectives. Some analysts posit that Putin is motivated by a desire to rebuild the Russian Empire. Others say he is obsessed with bringing Ukraine back into Russia's sphere of influence. Some believe that Putin wants to control Ukraine's vast offshore energy resources. Still others speculate that Putin, an aging autocrat, is seeking to maintain his grip on power. While some argue that Putin has a long-term proactive strategy aimed at establishing Russian primacy in Europe, others believe he is a short-term reactionary seeking to preserve what remains of Russia's diminishing position on the world stage. Following is a compilation of eight differing but complementary theories that try to explain why Putin invaded Ukraine. 1. Empire Building The most common explanation for Russia's invasion of Ukraine is that Putin, burning with resentment over the demise of the Soviet Empire, is determined to reestablish Russia (generally considered a regional power) as a great power that can exert influence on a global scale. According to this theory, Putin aims to regain control over the 14 post-Soviet states — often referred to as Russia's "near abroad" — that became independent after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. This is part of greater plan to rebuild the Russian Empire, which territorially was even more expansive than the Soviet Empire. The Russian Empire theory holds that Putin's invasion of Georgia in 2008 and Crimea in 2014, as well as his 2015 decision to intervene militarily in Syria, were all parts of a strategy to restore Russia's geopolitical position — and erode the U.S.-led rules-based international order. Those who believe Putin is trying to reestablish Russia as a great power say that once he gains control over Ukraine, he will turn his focus to other former Soviet republics, including the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, and eventually Bulgaria, Romania and even Poland. Putin's ultimate objective, they say, is to drive the United States out of Europe, establish an exclusive great-power sphere of influence for Russia on the continent and dominate the European security order. Russian literature supports this view. In 1997, for instance, Russian strategist Aleksandr Dugin, a friend of Putin, published a highly influential book — "Foundation of Geopolitics: The Geopolitical Future of Russia" — which argued that Russia's long-term goal should be the creation, not of a Russian Empire, but of a Eurasian Empire. Dugin's book, which is required reading in Russian military academies, states that to make Russia great again, Georgia should be dismembered, Finland should be annexed and Ukraine should cease to exist: "Ukraine, as an independent state with certain territorial ambitions, represents an enormous danger for all of Eurasia." Dugin, who has been described as "Putin's Rasputin," added: "The Eurasian Empire will be constructed on the fundamental principle of the common enemy: the rejection of Atlanticism, the strategic control of the USA, and the refusal to allow liberal values to dominate us." In April 2005, Putin echoed this sentiment when, in his annual state of the nation address, he described the collapse of the Soviet empire as "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century." Since then, Putin has repeatedly criticized the U.S.-led world order, in which Russia has a subordinate position. In February 2007, during a speech to the Munich Conference on Security Policy, Putin attacked the idea of a "unipolar" world order in which the United States, as the sole superpower, was able to spread its liberal democratic values to other parts of the world, including Russia. In October 2014, in a speech to the Valdai Discussion Club, a high-profile Russian think tank close to the Kremlin, Putin criticized the post-World War II liberal international order, whose principles and norms — including adherence to the rule of law, respect for human rights and the promotion of liberal democracy, as well as preserving the sanctity of territorial sovereignty and existing boundaries — have regulated the conduct of international relations for nearly 80 years. Putin called for the creation of a new multipolar world order that is more friendly to the interests of an autocratic Russia. The late Zbigniew Brzezinski (former National Security Advisor to U.S. President Jimmy Carter), in his 1997 book "The Grand Chessboard," wrote that Ukraine is essential to Russian imperial ambitions: "Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire.... However, if Moscow regains control over Ukraine, with its 52 million people and major resources as well as its access to the Black Sea, Russia automatically again regains the wherewithal to become a powerful imperial state, spanning Europe and Asia." The German historian Jan Behrends tweeted: "Make no mistake: For #Putin it's not about EU or NATO, it is about his mission to restore Russian empire. No more, no less. #Ukraine is just a stage, NATO is just one irritant. But the ultimate goal is Russian hegemony in Europe." Ukraine expert Peter Dickinson, writing for the Atlantic Council, noted: "Putin's extreme animosity towards Ukraine is shaped by his imperialistic instincts. It is often suggested that Putin wishes to recreate the Soviet Union, but this is actually far from the case. In fact, he is a Russian imperialist who dreams of a revived Czarist Empire and blames the early Soviet authorities for handing over ancestral Russian lands to Ukraine and other Soviet republics." Bulgarian scholar Ivan Krastev agreed: "America and Europe aren't divided on what Mr. Putin wants. For all the speculation about motives, that much is clear: The Kremlin wants a symbolic break from the 1990s, burying the post-Cold War order. That would take the form of a new European security architecture that recognizes Russia's sphere of influence in the post-Soviet space and rejects the universality of Western values. Rather than the restoration of the Soviet Union, the goal is the recovery of what Mr. Putin regards as historic Russia." Transatlantic security analyst Andrew Michta added that Putin's invasion of Ukraine was: "The culmination of almost two decades of policy aimed at reconstructing the Russian empire and bringing Russia back into European politics as one of the principal players empowered to shape the Continent's future." Writing for the national security blog 1945, Michta elaborated: "From Moscow's perspective the Ukrainian war is in effect the final battle of the Cold War — for Russia a time to reclaim its place on the European chessboard as a great empire, empowered to shape the Continent's destiny going forward. The West needs to understand and accept that only once Russia is unequivocally defeated in Ukraine will a genuine post-Cold War settlement finally be possible." 2. Buffer Zone Many analysts attribute the Russian invasion of Ukraine to geopolitics, which attempts to explain the behavior of states through the lens of geography. Most of the western part of Russia sits on the Russian Plain, a vast mountain-free area that extends over 4,000,000 square kilometers (1.5 million square miles). Also called the East European Plain, the vast flatland presents Russia with an acute security problem: an enemy army invading from central or eastern Europe would encounter few geographical obstacles to reach the Russian heartland. In other words, Russia, due to its geography, is especially difficult to defend. The veteran geopolitical analyst Robert Kaplan wrote that geography is the starting point for understanding everything else about Russia: "Russia remains illiberal and autocratic because, unlike Britain and America, it is not an island nation, but a vast continent with few geographical features to protect it from invasion. Putin's aggression stems ultimately from this fundamental geographical insecurity." Russia's leaders historically have sought to obtain strategic depth by pushing outward to create buffer zones — territorial barriers that increase the distance and time invaders would encounter to reach Moscow. The Russian Empire included the Baltics, Finland and Poland, all of which served as buffers. The Soviet Union created the Warsaw Pact — which included Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland and Romania — as a vast buffer to protect against potential invaders. Most of the former Warsaw Pact countries are now members of NATO. That leaves Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine, strategically located between Russia and the West, as the only eastern European countries left to serve as Russian buffer states. Some analysts argue that Russia's perceived need for a buffer is the primary factor in Putin's decision to invade Ukraine. Mark Galeotti, a leading British scholar of Russian power politics, noted that the possession of a buffer zone is intrinsic to Russia's understanding of great-power status: "From Putin's point of view, he has built so much of his political identity around the notion of making Russia a great power and making it recognized as a great power. When he thinks of great power, he is essentially a 19th century geopolitician. It's not the power of economic connectivity, or technological innovation, let alone soft power. No. Great power, in good old-fashioned terms, has a sphere of influence, countries whose sovereignty is subordinate to your own." Others believe that the concept of buffer states is obsolete. International security expert Benjamin Denison, for instance, argued that Russia cannot legitimately justify the need for a buffer zone: "Once nuclear weapons were invented ... buffer states were no longer seen as necessary regardless of geography, as nuclear deterrence worked to ensure the territorial integrity of great powers with nuclear capabilities.... The utility of buffer states and the concerns of geography invariably changed following the nuclear revolution. Without the concern of quick invasions into the homeland of a rival great power, buffer states lose their utility regardless of the geography of the territory.... "Narrowly defining national interests to geography, and mandating that geography pushes states to replicate past actions throughout history, only fosters inaccurate thinking and forgives Russian land-grabs as natural." 3. Ukrainian Independence Closely intertwined with theories about empire-building and geopolitics is Putin's obsession with extinguishing Ukrainian sovereignty. Putin contends that Ukraine has been part of Russia for centuries, and that its independence in August 1991 was a historical mistake. Ukraine, he claims, does not have a right to exist. Putin has repeatedly downplayed or negated Ukraine's right to statehood and sovereignty: In 2008, Putin told William Burns, then the U.S. ambassador to Russia (now director of the CIA): "Don't you know that Ukraine is not even a real country? Part of it is really East European and part is really Russian." In July 2021, Putin penned a 7,000-word essay — "On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians" — in which he expressed contempt for Ukrainian statehood, questioned the legitimacy of Ukraine's borders and argued that modern-day Ukraine occupies "the lands of historical Russia." He concluded: "I am confident that true sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia." In February 2022, just three days before he launched his invasion, Putin asserted that Ukraine was a fake state created by Vladimir Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union: "Modern Ukraine was entirely created by Russia or, to be more precise, by Bolshevik, Communist Russia. This process started practically right after the 1917 revolution, and Lenin and his associates did it in a way that was extremely harsh on Russia — by separating, severing what is historically Russian land.... Soviet Ukraine is the result of the Bolsheviks' policy and can be rightfully called 'Vladimir Lenin's Ukraine.' He was its creator and architect." Russia scholar Mark Katz, in an essay — "Blame It on Lenin: What Putin Gets Wrong About Ukraine" — argued that Putin should draw lessons from Lenin's realization that a more accommodating approach toward Ukrainian nationalism would better serve Russia's long-term interests: "Putin cannot escape the problem that Lenin himself had to deal with of how to reconcile non-Russians to being ruled by Russia. The forceful imposition of Russian rule in part — much less all — of Ukraine will not bring about such a reconciliation. For even if Ukrainians cannot resist the forceful imposition of Russian rule over part or all of Ukraine now, Putin's success in imposing it is only likely to intensify feelings of Ukrainian nationalism and lead it to burst forth again whenever the opportunity arises." Ukraine's political independence has been accompanied by a long-running feud with Russia over religious allegiance. In January 2019, in what was described as "the biggest rift in Christianity in centuries," the Orthodox church in Ukraine gained independence (autocephaly) from the Russian church. The Ukrainian church had been under the jurisdiction of the Moscow patriarchate since 1686. Its autonomy dealt a blow to the Russian church, which lost around one-fifth of the 150 million Orthodox Christians under its authority. The Ukrainian government claimed that Moscow-backed churches in Ukraine were being used by the Kremlin to spread propaganda and to support Russian separatists in the eastern Donbas region. Putin wants the Ukrainian church to return to Moscow's orbit, and has warned of "a heavy dispute, if not bloodshed" over any attempts to transfer ownership of church property. The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, has declared that Kyiv, where the Orthodox religion began, is comparable in terms of its historic importance to Jerusalem: "Ukraine is not on the periphery of our church. We call Kiev 'the mother of all Russian cities'. For us Kiev is what Jerusalem is for many. Russian Orthodoxy began there, so under no circumstances can we abandon this historical and spiritual relationship. The whole unity of our Local Church is based on these spiritual ties." On March 6, Kirill — a former KGB agent who is known as "Putin's altar boy" due to his subservience to the Russian leader — publicly endorsed the invasion of Ukraine. In a sermon he repeated Putin's claims that the Ukrainian government was carrying out a "genocide" of Russians in Ukraine: "For eight years, the suppression, extermination of people has been underway in Donbass. Eight years of suffering and the entire world is silent." German geopolitical analyst Ulrich Speck wrote: "For Putin, destroying Ukraine's independence has become an obsession.... Putin has often said, and even written, that Ukraine is not a separate nation, and should not exist as a sovereign state. It is this fundamental denial that has led Putin to wage this totally senseless war that he cannot win. And that leads us to the problem of making peace: either Ukraine has the right to exist as a nation and a sovereign state, or it hasn't. Sovereignty is indivisible. Putin denies it, Ukraine defends it. How can you make a compromise about the existence of Ukraine as a sovereign state? Impossible. That's why both sides can only fight on until they win. "Normally wars that take place between states are about conflicts they have between them. Yet this is a war about the existence of one state, which is denied by the aggressor. That's why the usual concepts of peacemaking — finding a compromise — do not apply. If Ukraine continues to exist as a sovereign state, Putin will have lost. He is not interested in territorial gain as such — it's rather a burden for him. He is only interested in controlling the entire country. Everything else for him is defeat." Ukraine expert Taras Kuzio added: "The real cause of today's crisis is Putin's quest to return Ukraine to the Russian orbit. For the past eight years, he has used a combination of direct military intervention, cyber-attacks, disinformation campaigns, economic pressure, and coercive diplomacy to try and force Ukraine into abandoning its Euro-Atlantic ambitions.... "Putin's ultimate objective is Ukraine's capitulation and the country's absorption into the Russian sphere of influence. His obsessive pursuit of this goal has already plunged the world into a new Cold War.... "Nothing less than Ukraine's return to the Kremlin orbit will satisfy Putin or assuage his fears over the further breakup of Russia's imperial inheritance. He will not stop until he is stopped. In order to achieve this, the West must become far more robust in responding to Russian imperial aggression, while also expediting Ukraine's own Euro-Atlantic integration." 4. NATO This theory holds that Putin invaded Ukraine to prevent it from joining NATO. The Russian president has repeatedly demanded that the West "immediately" guarantee that Ukraine will not be allowed to join NATO or the European Union. A vocal proponent of this viewpoint is the American international relations theorist John Mearsheimer, who, in a controversial essay, "Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West's Fault," argued that the eastward expansion of NATO provoked Putin to act militarily against Ukraine: "The United States and its European allies share most of the responsibility for the crisis. The taproot of the trouble is NATO enlargement, the central element of a larger strategy to move Ukraine out of Russia's orbit and integrate it into the West.... "Since the mid-1990s, Russian leaders have adamantly opposed NATO enlargement, and in recent years, they have made it clear that they would not stand by while their strategically important neighbor turned into a Western bastion." In a recent interview with The New Yorker, Mearsheimer blamed the United States and its European allies for the current conflict: "I think all the trouble in this case really started in April 2008, at the NATO Summit in Bucharest, where afterward NATO issued a statement that said Ukraine and Georgia would become part of NATO." In fact, Putin has not always opposed NATO expansion. Several times he went so far as to say that the eastward expansion of NATO was none of Russia's concern. In March 2000, for instance, Putin, in an interview with the late BBC television presenter David Frost, was asked whether he viewed NATO as a potential partner, rival or enemy. Putin responded: "Russia is part of the European culture. And I cannot imagine my own country in isolation from Europe and what we often call the civilized world. So, it is hard for me to visualize NATO as an enemy." In November 2001, in an interview with National Public Radio, Putin was asked if he opposed the admission of the three Baltic states — Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia — into NATO. He replied: "We of course are not in a position to tell people what to do. We cannot forbid people to make certain choices if they want to increase the security of their nations in a particular way." In May 2002, Putin, when asked about the future of relations between NATO and Ukraine, said matter-of-factly that he did not care one way or the other: "I am absolutely convinced that Ukraine will not shy away from the processes of expanding interaction with NATO and the Western allies as a whole. Ukraine has its own relations with NATO; there is the Ukraine-NATO Council. At the end of the day the decision is to be taken by NATO and Ukraine. It is a matter for those two partners." Putin's position on NATO expansion radically changed after the 2004 Orange Revolution, which was triggered by Moscow's attempt to steal Ukraine's presidential election. A massive pro-democracy uprising ultimately led to the defeat of Putin's preferred candidate, Viktor Yanukovych, who eventually did become president of Ukraine in 2010 but was ousted in the 2014 Euromaidan Revolution. Former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, in a recent interview with Radio Free Europe, discussed how Putin's views about NATO have changed: "Mr. Putin has changed over the years. My first meeting took place in 2002...and he was very positive regarding cooperation between Russia and the West. Then, gradually, he changed his mind. And from around 2005 to 2006, he got increasingly negative toward the West. And in 2008, he attacked Georgia.... In 2014, he took Crimea, and now we have seen a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. So, he has really changed over the years. "I think the revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine in 2004 and 2005 contributed to his change of mind. We shouldn't forget that Vladimir Putin grew up in the KGB. So, his thinking is very much impacted by that past. I think he suffers from paranoia. And he thought that after color revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine, that the aim [of the West] was to initiate a regime change in the Kremlin — in Moscow — as well. And that's why he turned against the West. "I put the blame entirely on Putin and Russia. Russia is not a victim. We have reached out to Russia several times during history.... First, we approved the NATO Russia Founding Act in 1997.... Next time, it was in 2002, we reached out once again, established something very special, namely the NATO-Russia Council. And in 2010, we decided at a NATO-Russia summit that we would develop a strategic partnership between Russia and NATO. So, time and again, we reached out to Russia. "I think we should have done more to deter Putin. Back in 2008, he attacked Georgia, took de facto Abkhazia and South Ossetia. We could have reacted much more determinedly already in that time." In recent years, Putin repeatedly has claimed that the post-Cold War enlargement of NATO poses a threat to Russia, which has been left with no other choice than to defend itself. He also has accused the West of trying to encircle Russia. In fact, of the 14 countries that have borders with Russia, only five are NATO members. The borders of those five countries — Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Poland — are contiguous with only 5% of Russia's total borders. Putin has claimed that NATO broke solemn promises it made in the 1990s that the alliance would not expand to the east. "You promised us in the 1990s that NATO would not move an inch to the east. You brazenly cheated us," he said in during a press conference in December 2021. Mikhail Gorbachev, then president of the Soviet Union, countered that such promises were never made. Putin recently issued three wildly unrealistic demands: NATO must withdraw its forces to its 1997 borders; NATO must not offer membership to other countries, including Finland, Sweden, Moldova or Georgia; NATO must provide written guarantees that Ukraine will never join the alliance. Writing for Foreign Affairs, Russian historian Dmitri Trenin, in an essay — "What Putin Really Wants in Ukraine" — argued that Putin wants stop NATO expansion, not to annex more territory: "Putin's actions suggest that his true goal is not to conquer Ukraine and absorb it into Russia but to change the post-Cold War setup in Europe's east. That setup left Russia as a rule-taker without much say in European security, which was centered on NATO. If he manages to keep NATO out of Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova, and U.S. intermediate-range missiles out of Europe, he thinks he could repair part of the damage Russia's security sustained after the Cold War ended. Not coincidentally, that could serve as a useful record to run on in 2024, when Putin would be up for re-election." 5. Democracy This theory holds that Ukraine, a flourishing democracy, poses an existential threat to Putin's autocratic model of governance. The continued existence of a Western-aligned, sovereign, free and democratic Ukraine could inspire the Russian people to demand the same. Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul and Robert Person, a professor at the United States Military Academy, wrote that Putin is terrified of democracy in Ukraine: "Over the last thirty years, the salience of the issue [NATO expansion] has risen and fallen not primarily because of the waves of NATO expansion, but due instead to waves of democratic expansion in Eurasia. In a very clear pattern, Moscow's complaints about NATO spike after democratic breakthroughs.... "Because the primary threat to Putin and his autocratic regime is democracy, not NATO, that perceived threat would not magically disappear with a moratorium on NATO expansion. Putin would not stop seeking to undermine democracy and sovereignty in Ukraine, Georgia, or the region as a whole if NATO stopped expanding. As long as citizens in free countries exercise their democratic rights to elect their own leaders and set their own course in domestic and foreign politics, Putin will keep them in his crosshairs.... "The more serious cause of tensions has been a series of democratic breakthroughs and popular protests for freedom throughout the 2000s, what many refer to as the "Color Revolutions." Putin believes that Russian national interests have been threatened by what he portrays as U.S.-supported coups. After each of them — Serbia in 2000, Georgia in 2003, Ukraine in 2004, the Arab Spring in 2011, Russia in 2011-12, and Ukraine in 2013-14 — Putin has pivoted to more hostile policies toward the United States, and then invoked the NATO threat as justification for doing so.... "Ukrainians who rose up in defense of their freedom were, in Putin's own assessment, Slavic brethren with close historical, religious, and cultural ties to Russia. If it could happen in Kyiv, why not in Moscow?" Ukraine expert Taras Kuzio agrees: "Putin remains haunted by the wave of pro-democracy uprisings that swept Eastern Europe in the late 1980s, setting the stage for the subsequent Soviet collapse. He sees Ukraine's fledgling democracy as a direct challenge to his own authoritarian regime and recognizes that Ukraine's historical closeness to Russia makes this threat particularly acute." 6. Energy Ukraine holds the second-biggest known reserves — more than one trillion cubic meters — of natural gas in Europe after Russia. These reserves, under the Black Sea, are concentrated around the Crimean Peninsula. In addition, large deposits of shale gas have been discovered in eastern Ukraine, around Kharkiv and Donetsk. In January 2013, Ukraine signed a 50-year, $10 billion deal with Royal Dutch Shell to explore and drill for natural gas in eastern Ukraine. Later that year, Kyiv signed a 50-year, $10 billion shale gas production-sharing agreement with the American energy company Chevron. Shell and Chevron pulled out of those deals after Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula. Some analysts believe Putin annexed Crimea to prevent Ukraine from becoming a major oil and gas provider to Europe and thereby challenge Russia's energy supremacy. Russia, they argue, was also worried that as Europe's second-largest petrostate, Ukraine would have been granted fast-track membership to the EU and NATO. According to this theory, Russia's invasion of Ukraine is aimed at forcing Kyiv to officially acknowledge Crimea as Russian, and recognize the separatist republics of Donetsk and Lugansk as independent states, so that Moscow can legally secure control over the natural resources in these areas. 7. Water On February 24, the first day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russian troops restored water flow to a strategically important canal linking the Dnieper River to Russian-controlled Crimea. Ukraine blocked the Soviet-era North Crimean Canal, which supplies 85% of Crimea's water needs, after Russia annexed the peninsula in 2014. The water shortages resulted in a massive reduction in agricultural production on the peninsula and forced Russia to spend billions of rubles each year to supply water from the mainland to sustain the Crimean population. The water crisis was a major source of tension between Ukraine and Russia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky insisted that the water supply would not be restored until Russia returns the Crimean Peninsula. Security analyst Polina Vynogradova noted that any resumption of water supply would have amounted to a de facto recognition of Russian authority in Crimea and would have undermined Ukraine's claim to the peninsula. It would also have weakened Ukrainian leverage over negotiations on Donbas. Even if Russian troops eventually withdraw from Ukraine, Russia likely will maintain permanent control over the entire 400-kilometer North Crimean Canal to ensure there are no more disruptions to Crimea's water supply. 8. Regime Survival This theory holds that the 69-year-old Putin, who has been in power since 2000, seeks perpetual military conflict as a way of remaining popular with the Russian public. Some analysts believe that after public uprisings in Belarus and Kazakhstan, Putin decided to invade Ukraine due to a fear of losing his grip on power. In an interview with Politico, Bill Browder, the American businessman who heads up the Global Magnitsky Justice Campaign, said that Putin feels the need to look strong at all times: "I don't think that this war is about NATO; I don't think this war is about Ukrainian people or the EU or even about Ukraine; this war is about starting a war in order to stay in power. Putin is a dictator, and he's a dictator whose intention is to stay in power until the end of his natural life. He said to himself that the writing's on the wall for him unless he does something dramatic. Putin is just thinking short-term ... 'how do I stay in power from this week to the next? And then next week to the next?'" Anders Åslund, a leading specialist on economic policy in Russia and Ukraine, agreed: "How to understand Putin's war in Ukraine. It is not about NATO, EU, USSR or even Ukraine. Putin needs a war to justify his rule & his swiftly increasing domestic repression.... It is really all about Putin, not about neo-imperialism, Russian nationalism or even the KGB." Russia expert Anna Borshchevskaya wrote that the invasion of Ukraine could be the beginning of the end for Putin: "Though he is not democratically elected, he worries about public opinion and protests at home, seeing them as threats to retaining his grip on power.... While Putin may have hoped that invading Ukraine would quickly expand Russian territory and help restore the grandeur of the former Russian empire, it could do the opposite." Tyler Durden Tue, 03/15/2022 - 02:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMar 15th, 2022

BBQ Holdings, Inc. Reports Results for Fourth Quarter and Fiscal Year 2021; Announces Acquisition of Barrio Queen, Corporate Name Change and Provides 2022 Guidance

MINNEAPOLIS, March 14, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- BBQ Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:BBQ) (the "Company"), an innovating global franchisor, owner and operator of restaurants, today reported financial results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year ended January 2, 2022. Fourth Quarter Highlights:                               Fourth Quarter (dollars in thousands, except per share data)     2021       2020         2019     Total revenue   $ 68,395     $ 34,258       $ 23,613     Net income (loss)   $ 2,602     $ (2,836 )     $ (1,788 )   Earnings (loss) per diluted share   $ 0.25     $ (0.31 )     $ (0.20 )   Adjusted net income (loss)   $ 2,820     $ (1,538 )     $ (1,210 )   Adjusted earnings (loss) per diluted share   $ 0.27     $ (0.17 )     $ (0.13 )   Cash EBITDA   $ 4,550     $ 85       $ (692 )   Restaurant-level margins     7.6 %     2.1   %     (3.0 ) % Prime costs     62.3 %     63.6   %     67.9   % Free cash flow   $ 3,140     $ (743 )     $ (3,655 )                 Fourth Quarter Same Store Sales   2021 vs. 2020     2021 vs. 2019   Famous Dave's Company-owned 22.8 %   15.5   % Famous Dave's Franchise-operated* 26.5 %   18.8   % Granite City** 63.8 %   (2.4 ) % Village Inn Company-owned** 54.5 %   (9.2 ) % Village Inn Franchise-operated* 51.7 %   NA   % Bakers Square** 50.4 %   (12.7 ) % Clark Crew 17.0 %   NA   % Real Urban BBQ** 8.9 %   2.7   %             * as reported by franchisees           ** includes sales under prior ownership           Fiscal Year Highlights:                               Fiscal Year (dollars in thousands, except per share data)     2021       2020         2019     Total revenue   $ 206,442     $ 121,237       $ 83,555     Net income (loss)   $ 24,021     $ 4,947       $ (649 )   Earnings (loss) per diluted share   $ 2.42     $ 0.54       $ (0.07 )   Adjusted net income (loss)   $ 7,033     $ (2,616 )     $ 647     Adjusted earnings (loss) per diluted share   $ 0.71     $ (0.29 )     $ 0.07     Cash EBITDA   $ 17,450     $ 948       $ 3,423     Restaurant-level margins     9.3 %     1.3   %     (0.1 ) % Prime costs     61.4 %     64.9   %     67.2   % Free cash flow   $ 13,624     $ (2,551 )     $ (3,332 )                 Fiscal Year Same Store Sales   2021 vs. 2020     2021 vs. 2019   Famous Dave's Company-owned 23.7 %   13.7   % Famous Dave's Franchise-operated* 25.9 %   6.6   % Granite City** 50.0 %   (8.6 ) % Village Inn Company-owned** 42.0 %   (13.0 ) % Village Inn Franchise-operated* 49.1 %   NA   % Bakers Square** 29.9 %   (21.5 ) % Clark Crew 17.3 %   NA   % Real Urban BBQ** 11.5 %   0.8   %             * as reported by franchisees **includes sales under prior ownership           Subsequent Events: On March 10, 2022, we executed an Asset Purchase Agreement for substantially all the assets related to the fast-growing Barrio Queen restaurant group, and we expect to close the transaction within 45 days. Barrio Queen is known for their authentic Mexican fine dining in Phoenix, Arizona. There are currently seven operating restaurants and a lease signed for an eighth with a target opening date of December 2022. The purchase price of $28.0 million will be funded with cash and debt.   Further details of the transaction will be made public upon closing. On March 11, 2022, we closed the purchase of three bar-centric locations. The purchase price of $4.5 million was funded with cash at a multiple of 3.25 times 2021 store-level EBITDA. Current and Projected ("PF") Portfolio:                                             FAMOUS DAVE'S VILLAGE INN GRANITE CITY BAKERS SQUARE REAL URBAN BBQ CLARK CREW BBQ TAHOE JOE'S BARRIO QUEEN BAR CONCEPTS TOTAL   2021 2022 PF 2021 2022 PF 2021 2022 PF 2021 2022 PF 2021 2022 PF 2021 2022 PF 2021 2022 PF 2021 2022 PF 2021 2022 PF 2021 2022 PF Corporate Locations 39 41 21 22 18 18 14 14 2 2 1 1 5 4   8   3 100 113 Brick & Mortar 30 31 21 21 18 17 11 11 2 2 1 1 5 4   8   3 88 98 Dual Concept 1 1   1   1                         1 3 Ghost Kitchens 8 9         3 3                     11 12 Franchise/License Locations 104 107 108 111     4 4           1         216 223 Brick & Mortar 85 87 108 111                             193 198 Dual Concept   1                       1         0 2 Ghost Kitchens 19 19         4 4                     23 23 Total Locations 143 148 129 133 18 18 18 18 2 2 1 1 5 5   8   3 316 336 Growth Plan New line serve / drive thru and Ghost locations New trendy breakfast prototype Dual concept with new breakfast brand Sell pies in retail, kiosk and other restaurants New line serve locations and CPGs CPGs Dual Concept with FDs Franchise and Corporate Corporate   # Opening in 2022   Q1: 3   Q1: 1   n/a   n/a   n/a   n/a   Q1: -   Q1: -   n/a Total: 13     Q2: 1   Q2: 1                   Q2: -   Q2: -             Q3: 1   Q3: 1            .....»»

Category: earningsSource: benzingaMar 14th, 2022

Sperry: Ukraine Worked With Democrats Against Trump In 2016 To Stop Putin -- And It Backfired Badly

Sperry: Ukraine Worked With Democrats Against Trump In 2016 To Stop Putin -- And It Backfired Badly Authored by Paul Sperry via RealClearInvestigations, Six years ago, before Russia’s full-scale invasion of their country, the Ukrainians bet that a Hillary Clinton presidency would offer better protection from Russian President Vladimir Putin, even though he had invaded Crimea during the Obama-Biden administration, whose Russian policies Clinton vowed to continue. Working with both the Obama administration and the Clinton campaign, Ukrainian government officials intervened in the 2016 race to help Clinton and hurt  Donald Trump in a sweeping and systematic foreign influence operation that's been largely ignored by the press. The improper, if not illegal, operation was run chiefly out of the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, where officials worked hand-in-glove with a Ukrainian-American activist and Clinton campaign operative to attack the Trump campaign. The Obama White House was also deeply involved in an effort to groom their own favored leader in Ukraine and then work with his government to dig up dirt on – and even investigate -- their political rival. Ukrainian and Democratic operatives also huddled with American journalists to spread damaging information on Trump and his advisers – including allegations of illicit Russian-tied payments that, though later proved false, forced the resignation of his campaign manager Paul Manafort. The embassy actually weighed a plan to get Congress to investigate Manafort and Trump and stage hearings in the run-up to the election. As it worked behind the scenes to undermine Trump, Ukraine also tried to kneecap him publicly. Ukraine's ambassador took the extraordinary step of attacking Trump in an Op-Ed article published in The Hill, an influential U.S. Capitol newspaper, while other top Ukrainian officials slammed the GOP candidate on social media. Ukraine's ambassador to the U.S. attacked Trump in an Op-Ed weeks before the 2016 election. At first glance, it was a bad bet as Trump upset Clinton. But by the end of his first year in office, Trump had supplied Ukrainians what the Obama administration refused to give them: tank-busting Javelin missiles and other lethal weapons to defend themselves against Russian incursions. Putin never invaded on Trump's watch. Instead, he launched an all-out invasion during another Democratic administration – one now led by President Biden, Barack Obama's former Vice President, whose Secretary of State last year alarmed Putin by testifying, “We support Ukraine's membership in NATO.” Biden boasted he’d go “toe to toe” with Putin, but that didn't happen as the autocrat amassed tanks along Ukraine’s border in response to the NATO overtures. The Ukrainian mischief is part of Special Counsel John Durham’s broader inquiry – now a full-blown criminal investigation with grand jury indictments – into efforts to falsely target Trump as a Kremlin conspirator in 2016 and beyond. Sources say Durham has interviewed several Ukrainians, but it’s not likely the public will find out exactly what he's learned about the extent of Ukraine’s meddling in the election until he releases his final report, which sources say could be several months away. In the meantime, a comprehensive account of documented Ukrainian collusion – including efforts to assist the FBI in its 2016 probe of Manafort – is pieced together here for the first time. It draws from an archive of previously unreported records generated from a secret Federal Election Commission investigation of the Democratic National Committee that includes never-before-reviewed sworn affidavits, depositions, contracts, emails, text messages, legal findings and other documents from the case. RealClearInvestigations also examined diplomatic call transcripts, White House visitor logs, lobbying disclosure forms, congressional reports and closed-door congressional testimony, as well as information revealed by Ukrainian and Democratic officials in social media postings, podcasts and books. 2014: Prelude to Collusion U.S. envoys Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt helped bring to power Ukraine's Petro Poroshenko, right. (AP) The coordination between Ukrainian and Democratic officials can be traced back at least to January 2014. It was then when top Obama diplomats – many of whom now hold top posts in the Biden administration – began engineering regime change in Kiev, eventually installing a Ukrainian leader they could control. On Jan. 27, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt phoned Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland at her home in Washington to discuss picking opposition leaders to check the power of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, whom they believed was too cozy with Putin. “We’ve got to do something to make it stick together,” Pyatt said of a planned coalition government, adding that they needed “somebody with an international personality to come out here and help to midwife this thing.” Nuland responded that Biden’s security adviser Jake Sullivan had just told her that the vice president – who was acting as Obama’s point man in Ukraine – would give his blessing to the deal. “Biden’s willing,” she said. But they agreed they had to “move fast” and bypass the European Union. “Fuck the EU,” Nuland told the ambassador, according to a leaked transcript of their call. Hunter Biden: His father helped engineer the rise of an amenable Ukrainian leader who would later fire a prosecutor investigating the son.   Nuland’s role in the political maneuvering was not limited to phone calls. She traveled to Kiev and helped organize street demonstrations against Yanukovych, even handing out sandwiches to protesters. In effect, Obama officials greased a revolution. Within months, Yanukovych was exiled and replaced by Petro Poroshenko, who would later do Biden’s bidding – including firing a prosecutor investigating his son Hunter. Poroshenko would also later support Clinton's White House bid after Biden decided not to run, citing the death of his older son Beau. The U.S. meddling resulted in the installation of an anti-Putin government next door to Russia. A furious Putin viewed the interference as an attempted coup and soon marched into Crimea. Nuland is now Biden’s undersecretary of state and Sullivan serves as his national security adviser. Whispering in their ear at the time was a fiery pro-Ukraine activist and old Clinton hand, Alexandra “Ali” Chalupa. A daughter of Ukrainian immigrants, Chalupa informally advised the State Department and White House in early 2014. She organized multiple meetings between Ukraine experts and the National Security Council to push for Yanukovych’s ouster and economic sanctions against Putin. In the NSC briefings, Chalupa also agitated against longtime attorney-lobbyist Manafort, who at the time was an American consultant for Yanukovych's Party of Regions, which she viewed as a cat’s paw of Putin. She warned that Manafort worked for Putin’s interests and posed a national security threat. At the same time, Chalupa worked closely with then-Vice President Biden’s team, setting up conference calls with his staff and Ukrainians. Another influential adviser at the time was former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, who provided Nuland with written reports on the Ukrainian crisis and Russia that echoed Chalupa’s warnings. Nuland treated them as classified intelligence, and between the spring of 2014 and early 2016, she received some 120 reports on Ukraine and Russia from Steele. 2015: The Move Against Manafort Commences Paul Manafort: Targeted by Chalupa over work for the ousted Ukrainian president and ties to Trump. (AP) In April 2015, the DNC hired Chalupa as a $5,000-a-month consultant, according to a copy of her contract, which ran through the 2016 election cycle. (Years earlier, Chalupa had worked full-time for the DNC as part of the senior leadership team advising Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.) After Trump threw his hat in the ring in June 2015, Chalupa grew concerned that Manafort was or would be involved with his campaign since Manafort had known Trump for decades and lived in Trump Tower. She expressed her concerns to top DNC officials and “the DNC asked me to do a hit on Trump,” according to a transcript of a 2019 interview on her sister’s podcast. (Andrea Chalupa, who describes herself as a journalist, boasted in a November 2016 tweet: “My sister led Trump/Russia research at DNC.”) Chalupa began encouraging journalists both in America and Ukraine to dig into Manafort’s dealings in Ukraine and expose his alleged Russian connections. She fed unsubstantiated rumors, tips and leads to the Washington Post and New York Times, as well as CNN, speaking to reporters on background so a DNC operative wouldn’t be sourced. “I spent many, many hours working with reporters on background, directing them to contacts and sources, and giving them information,” Chalupa said. But no reporter worked closer with her than Yahoo News correspondent Michael Isikoff. He even accompanied her to the Ukrainian Embassy, where they brainstormed attacks on Manafort and Trump, according to FEC case files. Chalupa was also sounding alarm bells in the White House. In November 2015, for example, she set up a White House meeting between a Ukrainian delegation including Ukraine Ambassador Valeriy Chaly and NSC advisers – among them Eric Ciaramella, a young CIA analyst on loan to the White House who later would play a significant role as anonymous "whistleblower" in Trump’s first impeachment. In addition to Putin’s aggression, the group discussed the alleged security threat from Manafort. Chalupa was back in the White House in December. All told, she would visit the Obama White House at least 27 times, Secret Service logs show, including attending at least one event with the president in 2016. Eric Ciaramella (middle right) across from Ukrainians in a June 2015 meeting at the White House, flanked by Biden security adviser Michael Carpenter and Ciaramella's NSC colleague Liz Zentos. (unknownukraine.com) January 2016: High-Level Meetings With Ukrainians in the White House On Jan. 12, 2016 – almost a month before the first GOP primary – Chalupa told top DNC official Lindsey Reynolds she was seeing strong indications that Putin was trying to steal the 2016 election for Trump. Emails also show that she promised to lead an effort to expose Manafort – whom Trump would not officially hire as his campaign chairman until May – and link him and Trump to the Russian government. That same day, Chalupa visited the White House. A week later, Obama officials gathered with Ukrainian officials traveling from Kiev in the White House for a series of senior-level meetings to, among other things, discuss reviving a long-closed investigation into payments to American consultants working for the Party of Regions, according to Senate documents. The FBI had investigated Manafort in 2014 but no charges resulted. One of the attendees, Ukrainian Embassy political officer Andrii Telizhenko, recalled Justice Department officials asking investigators with Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau, or NABU, if they could help find fresh evidence of party payments to such U.S. figures. (Three years later, Democrats would impeach Trump for allegedly asking Ukraine to dig up dirt on a political rival, Joe Biden.) The Obama administration’s enforcement agencies leaned on their Ukrainian counterparts to investigate Manafort, shifting resources from an investigation of a corrupt Ukrainian energy oligarch who paid Biden’s son hundreds of thousands of dollars through his gas company, Burisma. “Obama’s NSC hosted Ukrainian officials and told them to stop investigating Hunter Biden and start investigating Paul Manafort,” said a former senior NSC official who has seen notes and emails generated from the meetings and spoke on the condition of anonymity. Suddenly, the FBI reopened its Manafort investigation. “In January 2016, the FBI initiated a money laundering and tax evasion investigation of Manafort predicated on his activities as a political consultant to members of the Ukrainian government and Ukrainian politicians,” according to a report by the Justice Department’s watchdog. The White House summit with Ukrainian officials ran for three days, ending on Jan. 21, according to a copy of the agenda stamped with the Justice Department logo. It was organized and hosted by Ciaramella and his colleague Liz Zentos from the NSC. Other U.S. officials included Justice prosecutors and FBI agents, as well as State Department diplomats. The Ukrainian delegation included Artem Sytnyk, the head of NABU, and other Ukrainian prosecutors. Ciaramella was a CIA detailee to the White House occupying the NSC’s Ukraine desk in 2015 and 2016. In that role, Ciaramella met face-to-face with top Ukrainian officials and provided policy advice to Biden through the then-vice president's security adviser Michael Carpenter. He also worked with Nuland and Chalupa.Ciaramella was carried over to the Trump White House. As RealClearInvestigations first reported, he would later anonymously blow the whistle on Trump asking Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to help “get to the bottom of” Ukrainian meddling in the 2016 election, a phone call that triggered Trump’s first impeachment by a Democrat-controlled House. Ciaramella’s former NSC colleague Alexander Vindman leaked the call to him. Vindman, a Ukrainian-American, is also aligned with Chalupa. (Vindman is now back in the news for his demands that the United States provide more active military support to Ukraine and his insistence that Trump shares great blame for the war.) As Manafort drew closer to Trump, Obama officials zeroed in, and the FBI reopened a closed 2014 probe. (Justice Department Office of the Inspector General) February 2016: Obama White House-Ukraine Coordination Intensifies On Feb. 2, two weeks after the White House meetings, Secret Service logs reveal that Ciaramella met in the White House with officials from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, known as FinCEN, which would later provide the FBI highly sensitive bank records on Manafort. (In addition, a senior FinCEN adviser illegally leaked thousands of the confidential Manafort records to the media.) On Feb. 9, less than a month after the White House summit, Telizhenko, who worked for the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, met with Zentos of the NSC at a Cosi sandwich shop in Washington, according to emails obtained by the Senate. It's not known what they discussed. In addition, on Feb. 23, the two emailed about setting up another meeting the following day. “OK if I bring my colleague Eric, who works on Ukraine with me?” Zentos asked Telizhenko, apparently referring to Ciaramella. In the emails, they discussed the U.S. primary elections, among other things. NSC's Zentos and Ukraine's Telizhenko would meet and correspond numerous times during 2016. (HSGAC-Finance Committee Hunter Biden Report) Telizhenko would later testify that Ambassador Chaly had ordered him then to “start an investigation [into the Trump campaign] within the embassy just on my own to find out with my contacts if there’s any Russian connection that we can report back.” He suspects the Ambassador delivered that report to Chalupa and the DNC. Chalupa visited the White House on Feb. 22, entrance records show, just days before the second meeting Telizhenko had planned with Zentos. March 2016: Chalupa Engineers Manafort Messaging Assault With Ukrainians After Manafort was named Trump campaign chair, the campaign against him went into overdrive. New York Times On March 3, Zentos and Telizhenko planned to meet again, this time at a Washington bar called The Exchange. According to their email, Zentos wrote, “I’ll see if my colleague Eric is up for joining.” The pair also met the next day at Swing’s coffee house in Washington. After the meeting, Telizhenko emailed Zentos seeking a meeting with senior Obama NSC official Charlie Kupchan, an old Clinton hand who was Ciaramella’s boss on the Russia/Ukraine desk. Kupchan is an outspoken critic of Trump who has made remarks suggesting what countries “can do to stop him” and “protect the international institutions we’ve built .” Zentos and Telizhenko also met on March 10, patronizing the Cosi coffee shop again. On March 24, 2016, four days before the Trump campaign announced that it had hired Manafort, Chalupa met at the Ukrainian Embassy with Ambassador Chaly and his political counselor Oksana Shulyar, where they shared their concerns about Manafort, according to Politico. When news broke on March 28 that Manafort was joining the Trump campaign, Chalupa could hardly contain herself. “This is huge,” she texted senior DNC officials. “This is everything to take out Trump.” She immediately began circulating anti-Manafort memos, warning the DNC of the “threat” he posed of Russian influence. The next day, March 29, she briefed the DNC communications team about Manafort. They, in turn, hatched a plan to reach out to the Ukrainian Embassy to get President Porochenko to make an on-camera denouncement of Manafort and feed the footage to ABC News, where former Clinton aide George Stephanopoulos works as a top anchor. On March 30, Chalupa fired off an email to Shulyar, her contact at the Ukrainian Embassy: "There is a very good chance that President Poroshenko may receive a question from the press during his visit about the recent New York Times article saying that Donald Trump hired Paul Manafort as an adviser to his campaign and whether President Poroshenko is concerned about this considering Trump is the likely Republican nominee and given Paul Manafort’s meddling in Ukraine over the past couple of decades,” Chalupa wrote. "It is important President Poroshenko is prepared to address this question should it come up. In a manner that exposes Paul Manafort for the problems he continues to cause Ukraine." Within minutes of sending the email, Chalupa wrote the DNC’s communications director Luis Miranda, “The ambassador has the messaging.” Then she reached out to a friend in Congress, Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, about holding hearings to paint Manafort as a pro-Kremlin villain. April 2016: Chalupa Solicits Ukrainian Dirt on Trump, His Campaign, and Manafort Though accounts differ, Chalupa discussed Trump dirt with Ukrainian representatives. Federal Election Commission American presidential campaigns aren't supposed to work with foreign governments to dig up dirt on their political opponents. Geneva Convention rules bar diplomats from becoming entangled in their host country’s political affairs, particularly elections. There are also federal laws banning foreign nationals from engaging in operations to influence or interfere with U.S. political and electoral processes. In 2018, Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russian nationals on charges of conspiring to defraud the U.S. government for that purpose. But just weeks after Manafort was hired by the Trump campaign, the Ukrainian Embassy appeared to be working with the Clinton campaign to torpedo him and the campaign. Emails reveal that Chalupa and Shulyar, a top aide to Ambassador Chaly, agreed to meet for coffee on April 7, 2016, at Kafe Leopold, a restaurant near the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington. (Chalupa had paid a visit to the White House just three days earlier.) One of the purposes of the meeting, according to FEC case files, was to discuss Manafort and the danger he allegedly posed. They were joined at the café by Telizhenko, who said he was working on a “big story” on Manafort and Trump with the Wall Street Journal. In a sworn 2019 deposition taken by the FEC, Telizhenko alleged that Chalupa solicited “dirt” on Trump, Manafort, and the Trump campaign during the meeting. Telizhenko also testified that Chalupa told him that her goal was “basically [to] use this information and have a committee hearing under Marcy Kaptur, congresswoman from Ohio, in Congress in September and take him off the elections." Telizhenko later approached Ambassador Chaly about the DNC representative's overtures and he responded: “Yes. And I know that this is happening. You should work with her." After speaking with Chaly, Telizhenko claims that he went back to Shulyar who instructed him to help Chalupa. “I went to Oksana and said, ‘Like what are we doing?’” he testified. " And she told me, ‘You have to work with Chalupa. And any information you have, you give it to me, I’ll give it to her, then we’ll pass it on later to anybody else we are coordinating with.’” Less than a week later, on April 13, Telizhenko met again with White House official Zentos, email records reveal. Telizhenko said he resigned the next month because of concerns regarding his embassy’s work with Chalupa and the Clinton team. In her sworn account of the meeting, Chalupa acknowledged discussing Manafort and the “national security problem” he allegedly presented, but denied asking the embassy for help researching him. She allowed that she “could have mentioned the congressional investigation … that I had talked to Marcy Kaptur,” but maintained she couldn't recall trying to enlist the embassy in the effort. Shulyar, however, clearly recalls that Chalupa sought the embassy’s help warning the public about Manafort – including pitching stories to the press and lobbying Congress, according to a 2020 written statement to the FEC. An “idea floated by Alexandra Chalupa was that we approach a co-chair of the Congressional Ukraine Caucus to initiate a congressional hearing on Paul Manafort,” Shulyar said, though she denied the embassy acted on the idea. Around the same time, two Ukrainian lawmakers – Olga Bielkova and Pavlo Rizanenko – visited the U.S. and met with journalists, as well as a former State Department official with close ties to Sen. John McCain – David Kramer of the McCain Institute. Kramer would later leak the entire Steele dossier to the media. The meeting was arranged by major Clinton Foundation donor Victor Pinchuk, a Ukrainian oligarch who lobbied Clinton when she was Obama’s secretary of state. Bielkova was also connected to the Clinton Foundation, having once managed a Clinton Global Initiative program for Ukrainian college students. While Clinton was at Foggy Bottom from 2009 to 2013, Ukrainians gave more money – at least $10 million, including more than $8 million from Pinchuk – to the Clinton Foundation than any other nationality including Saudi Arabians. Pinchuk's donation was a down payment on an astounding $29 million pledge. On April 12, 2016, Bielkova also attended a meeting with Ciaramella and his NSC colleague Zentos, head of the Eastern Europe desk, according to lobbying disclosure records. In late April, Chalupa helped organize a Ukrainian-American protest against Manafort in his Connecticut hometown. Activists shouted for Trump to fire Manafort, whom they called “Putin’s Trojan Horse,” while holding signs that read: “Shame on Putin, Shame on Manafort, Shame on Trump” and “Putin, Hands Off the U.S. Election.” Chalupa also organized social media campaigns against Manafort and Trump, including one that encouraged activists to share the Twitter hashtags: “#TrumpPutin” and "#Treasonous Trump." Also that month, Chalupa reached out to Yahoo News reporter Isikoff to pitch a hit piece on Manafort. She connected him with a delegation of Ukrainian journalists visiting D.C. Isikoff would later be used by Steele to spread falsehoods from his dossier. May-June 2016: Manafort Dirt Spreads In a May 3 email, Chalupa alerted DNC communications director Luis Miranda and DNC opposition research director Lauren Dillion that there was “a lot more [dirt on Manafort] coming down the pipe[sic].” Chalupa told them the dirt has “a big Trump component” and would “hit in the next few weeks.” It’s not clear if she was referring to the notorious "black ledger” smear against Manafort, who was promoted to campaign chairman on May 19, but a story about it was brewing at the time. On May 30, Nellie Ohr, an opposition researcher for the Clinton-retained firm Fusion GPS, emailed her husband, Bruce Ohr, a top official at the Justice Department who would become a prime disseminator of the Steele dossier within the government, and two federal prosecutors to alert them to an article indicating NABU had suddenly discovered documents allegedly showing Manafort receiving illicit payments. Amid the flurry of anti-Manafort activity, Zentos met again with Telizhenko on May 4, records show. And Chalupa visited the White House for a meeting on May 13. Chalupa paid another visit to the White House on June 14, Secret Service logs show. On June 17, Ciaramella held a White House meeting with Nuland and Pyatt of the State Department to discuss undisclosed Ukrainian matters. In late June, the FBI signed an evidence-sharing agreement with NABU, less than two months before the Ukrainian anti-corruption agency released what it claimed was explosive new evidence on Manafort. July 2016: Ukrainian Officials Attack Trump Publicly Chalupa continued to pow-wow with the Ukrainian Embassy and got so cozy with officials there that they offered her a position, which she declined, as an “embedded consultant” in the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. That same month, high-ranking Ukrainian officials openly insulted Trump on social media in an unusual departure from normal diplomacy. For instance, Ukraine Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov tweeted that Trump was a “clown” who was “an even bigger danger to the U.S. than terrorism.” In another July post, he called Trump “dangerous for Ukraine.” And on Facebook, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk warned that Trump had “challenged the very values of the free world." (After Trump upset Clinton, Avakov and other officials tried to delete their statements from their social network accounts, saying that they had been wrong and had rushed to conclusions.) “It was clear that they were supporting Hillary Clinton’s candidacy,” Ukrainian lawmaker Andriy Artemenko told Politico. “They did everything from organizing meetings with the Clinton team to publicly supporting her to criticizing Trump." While attending the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, Chalupa spread the scurrilous rumor that Manafort was the mastermind behind the alleged Russian hacking of the DNC and that he “stole" her and other Democrats’ emails. She later told her sister’s podcast that she had reported her conspiracy theory to the FBI, eventually sitting down and meeting with agents in September to spin her tale of supposed espionage (the Senate has asked the FBI for copies of her interview summaries, known as FD-302s). Chalupa also prepared a report for the FBI, as well as members of Congress, detailing her Russiagate conspiracy theories, which Mueller later found no evidence to support. In addition, Chalupa helped spread a false narrative that Trump removed a reference to providing arms to Kiev from the Republican platform at the party's convention earlier that month. Internal platform committee documents show the Ukraine plank could not have been weakened as claimed, because the “lethal” weapons language had never been part of the GOP platform. The final language actually strengthened the platform by pledging direct assistance not just to the country of Ukraine, but to its military in its struggle against Russian-backed forces. August-September 2016: The Phony Manafort Ledger Leaks  A page released by Ukrainian authorities from the fake Manafort ledger. New York Times/NABU In another attempt to influence the 2016 election, Ukrainian lawmaker Serhiy Leshchenko leaked to the U.S. media what he claimed was evidence of a secret handwritten ledger showing Manafort had received millions in cash from Yanukovych’s party under the table. He claimed that 22 pages of the alleged ledger, which contained line items written by hand, had mysteriously appeared in his parliament mailbox earlier that year. Leshchenko would not identify the sender. A fuller copy of the same document showed up later on the doorstep of a Ukrainian intelligence official who passed it to NABU, which shared it with FBI agents stationed in Kiev. Leshchenko and NABU officials held press conferences declaring the document was “proof" of Manafort corruption and demanding he be “interrogated.” The Clinton campaign seized on the story. In an Aug. 14 statement, campaign manager Robby Mook stated: “We have learned of more troubling connections between Donald Trump's team and pro-Kremlin elements in Ukraine.” He demanded Trump "disclose campaign chair Paul Manafort's and all other campaign employees' and advisers' ties to Russian or pro-Kremlin entities." But there was a big hole in the story. Though Manafort was a consultant to Yanukovych's party, he was paid by wire, not in cash, casting serious doubt on the ledger’s authenticity. Another problem: the ledger was alleged to have been kept at party headquarters, but rioters had destroyed the building in a 2014 fire. Leshchenko admitted that he had a political agenda. He told The Financial Times at the time that he went public with the ledger because “a Trump presidency would change the pro-Ukrainian agenda in American foreign policy.” He added that most of Ukraine’s politicians are “on Hillary Clinton’s side." Leshchenko also happened to be "a source for Fusion GPS,” as Nellie Ohr confirmed under questioning during a 2019 closed-door House hearing, according to a declassified transcript. Fusion was a paid agent of the Clinton campaign, which gave the private opposition-research firm more than $1 million to gin up connections between Trump and Russia. Fusion hired Steele to compile a series of “intelligence” memos known as the dossier. As a former MI6 operative, Steele gave the allegations a sheen of credibility. FBI counterintelligence veteran Mark Wauck said the dossier and the black ledger both appear to have originated with Fusion GPS, which laundered it through foreigners who hated Trump – Steele and Leshchenko. "The ledger and the dossier are both Fusion hit jobs,” Wauck said. “The two items shared a common origin: the Hillary campaign’s oppo research shop." In an August 2016 memo written for Fusion GPS, “The Demise of Trump’s Campaign Manager Paul Manafort,” Steele claimed he had corroborated Leshchenko’s charges through his anonymous Kremlin sources, who turned out to be nothing more than beer buddies of his primary source collector, Igor Danchenko, a Russian immigrant with a string of arrests in the U.S. for public intoxication, as RealClearInvestigations first reported. Danchenko had worked for the Brookings Institution, a Democratic think tank in Washington that Durham has subpoenaed in connection to its own role in Russiagate. Danchenko was indicted last year by Special Counsel Durham for lying about his sources, including one he completely made up, as RCI reported. “YANUKOVYCH had confided in PUTIN that he did authorize and order substantial kick-back payments to MANAFORT as alleged,” Steele claimed in the unsubstantiated report, citing “a well-placed Russian figure” with knowledge of a "meeting between PUTIN and YANUKOVYCH” allegedly “held in secret” on Aug. 15. As a paid informant, Steele had long reported to the FBI about alleged corruption involving Yanukovych. The FBI used his Clinton-funded dossier as a basis to obtain warrants to spy on former Trump adviser Carter Page, including the false claim that Page acted as an intermediary between Russian leadership and Manafort in a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” that included sidelining Russian intervention in Ukraine as a campaign issue. Steele also falsely claimed that Page had helped draft the RNC platform statement to be more sympathetic to Russia’s interests by eliminating language about providing weapons to Ukraine, according to a report by the Department of Justice's watchdog. In fact, Page was not involved in the GOP platform. The misinformation came from Danchenko’s fictional source. Fusion co-founder Glenn Simpson worked closely with the New York Times on the Manafort ledger story. In his book, “Crime in Progress,” Simpson boasts of introducing Leshchenko to the Times as a source, who ended up providing the paper some of the dubious ledger records. On Aug. 19, Manafort stepped down from the Trump campaign the day after the Times reported what it had been fed by the anti-Trump operatives. In effect, Ukrainian government officials tried to help Clinton and undermine Trump by disseminating documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and telling the American media they were investigating the matter. In 2018, a Ukrainian court ruled that Leshchenko and NABU’s Sytnyk illegally interfered in the 2016 U.S. election by publicizing the black ledger. Among the evidence was a recording of Sytnyk saying the agency released the ledger to help Clinton’s campaign – “I helped her,” Sytnyk is recorded boasting. But the damage was done. The Ukrainians, along with Chalupa and the Clinton camp, achieved their goal of undermining the Trump campaign by prompting Manafort’s ouster though they never proved he was colluding with the Russians. Neither did Special Counsel Mueller. In fact, Mueller did not use the ledger to prosecute Manafort after a key witness for the prosecution told him it was fabricated. “Mueller ended up dropping it like a hot potato,” Wauck said.  Ukraine’s neutrality in the election was also called into further question that September, when Porochenko met with Clinton during a stop in New York. He never met with Trump, who appeared to get the cold shoulder from the Ukrainian leader. In statements following Trump’s surprise victory over Clinton in November, Ukraine’s embassy has denied interfering in the election and insisted that Chalupa was acting on her own. Epilogue After Trump won the election in spite of her efforts to sabotage him, Chalupa predicted: “Under President Trump, the Kremlin could likely invade U.S. allies in Europe without U.S. opposition.” Not only did Russia not invade Europe “under Trump,” it didn’t even invade Ukraine. Rather, the invasion came under Biden, whose campaign Chalupa supported. Yet she continues to blame Trump. Recent tweets show a still-obsessed Chalupa has not dialed back her extremist views about Trump or Manafort, whom she believes should be prosecuted for “treason." In a Feb. 28 post on Twitter, for example, Chalupa claimed that Putin installed “a puppet regime in the U.S. with the help of Paul Manafort.” The previous day, she tweeted, “We had a Putin installed Trump presidency.” A day before that, she wrote: “Now would be a good time to release the Putin-Trump treason calls.” And on Feb. 25, Chalupa tweeted another wild conspiracy theory: "It’s important to note that Putin’s imperial aspirations are of a global criminal empire, as we saw when he installed Donald J. Trump president and tried to turn the U.S. into a Russian satellite state." Tyler Durden Fri, 03/11/2022 - 19:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytMar 11th, 2022

Internationally Acclaimed Restaurant, Beefbar, to Open at 105 Hudson Street, Former Home of Original Nobu Restaurant

Lee & Associates NYC announced today that it has represented the landlord in TriBeCa Hospitality Group’s new lease at 105 Hudson Street. TriBeCa Hospitality will be opening its first venture in New York City, Beefbar, an upscale restaurant concept based on exclusive meats selection. Beefbar opened in Monte Carlo in 2005... The post Internationally Acclaimed Restaurant, Beefbar, to Open at 105 Hudson Street, Former Home of Original Nobu Restaurant appeared first on Real Estate Weekly. Lee & Associates NYC announced today that it has represented the landlord in TriBeCa Hospitality Group’s new lease at 105 Hudson Street. TriBeCa Hospitality will be opening its first venture in New York City, Beefbar, an upscale restaurant concept based on exclusive meats selection. Beefbar opened in Monte Carlo in 2005 and has since expanded to several cities worldwide including Paris, Hong Kong (One Michelin Star), Rome, Saint-Tropez, and more. The 6,420 square foot Tribeca space will be the restaurant’s first location in the US and is the former home of the original Nobu restaurant. A Lee & Associates team of Peter Braus, Paul Popkin, and Morris Dweck represented the landlord, Fine Arts Housing, Inc. in the transaction. Richard Skulnik and Sam Martorella of RIPCO Real Estate, LLC, represented TriBeCa Hospitality Group LLC, New York, the sponsor of Beefbar Restaurant. “With the flight to quality in the market, our vision to reinvigorate 105 Hudson Street and better position the asset helped to draw strong interest in the building, and we’re excited that it stood out to Beefbar and will be home to their first US location,” said Peter Braus, Managing Principal and Cofounder of Lee & Associates NYC. “Together with ownership, we developed and executed a strategy to make 105 Hudson Street stand out amongst a glut of vacancy in the retail corridor. The team identified opportunities to upgrade the asset and ‘white box’ the space before reintroducing it back to the market, which helped us receive the results we set out to achieve.” Created by renowned restaurateur, Riccardo Giraudi of Monaco, Beefbar’s menu is a reflection of cosmopolitan culture and is divided into three main axes: international street food, great meat cuts sourced around the world and iconic fare ranging from various sides, main dishes and signature soufflés. “We set out to find a flagship restaurant space to introduce this global brand to New York City and the US,” said Sam Martorella, Associate at RIPCO Real Estate LLC. “This iconic location in the heart of Tribeca provided just that.” 105 Hudson Street is centrally located in proximity to Pier 25 at Hudson River Park, The Greenwich Hotel, and other fine dining options including Mr. Chow, Locanda Verde and many more. The location offers easy access to several public transportation options and the Holland Tunnel. The post Internationally Acclaimed Restaurant, Beefbar, to Open at 105 Hudson Street, Former Home of Original Nobu Restaurant appeared first on Real Estate Weekly......»»

Category: realestateSource: realestateweeklyFeb 24th, 2022

Martinique Hotel in Midtown Reopening; New Architect of Record

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

Category: realestateSource: realestateweeklyJan 21st, 2022