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Category: blogSource: crainsnewyorkNov 24th, 2021

A Tale Of Two Civilizations

A Tale Of Two Civilizations Authored by Alasdair Macleod via GoldMoney.com, In recent years, America’s unsuccessful attempts at containing China as a rival hegemon has only served to promote Chinese antipathy against American capitalism. China is now retreating into the comfort of her long-established moral values, best described as a mixture of Confucianism and Marxism, while despising American individualism, its careless regard for family values, and encouragement of get-rich-quick financial speculation. After America’s defeat in Afghanistan, the geopolitical issue is now Taiwan, where things are hotting up in the wake of the AUKUS agreement. Taiwan is important because it produces two-thirds of the world’s computer chips. Meanwhile, the large US banks are complacent concerning Taiwan, preferring to salivate at the money-making prospects of China’s $45 trillion financial services market. The outcome of the Taiwan issue is likely to be decided by the evolution of economic factors. China is protecting herself against a global credit crisis by restraining its creation, while America is going full MMT. The outcome is likely to be a combined financial market and dollar crisis for America, taking down its Western epigones as well. China has protected herself by cornering the market for physical gold and secretly accumulating as much as 20,000-30,000 tonnes in national reserves. If the dollar fails, which without a radical change in monetary policy it is set to do, with its gold-backing China expects to not only survive but be able to consolidate Taiwan into its territory with little or no opposition. Introduction On the one hand we have America and on the other we have China. As civilisations, America is discarding its moral values and social structures while China is determined to stick with its Confucian and Marxist roots. America is inclined to recognise no other civilisations as being civilised, while China’s leadership has seen America’s version and is rejecting it. Both forms of civilisation are being insular with respect to the other, and their need to peacefully cooperate in a multipolar world is increasingly hampered. Understanding another nation’s point of view is essential for peaceful harmony. This truism has been ignored by not just America, but by the Western alliance under American coercion. The Federal Government and its agencies are pursuing a propaganda effort against China’s exports and technology, while the average American appears less troubled. Perhaps we can put this down to a nation based on immigrants having a more cosmopolitan psyche than its predominantly Anglo-Saxon establishment. In Europe, it sometimes appears to be the other way round, with the politicians more prepared to tolerate China than their US counterparts. But then geography is involved, and the silk roads do not involve America, while rail links between China and Western Europe work efficiently, delivering vital trade between them. Economic interdependency is rarely considered. Nor are the potential consequences of diverging economic and monetary policies. While China has been squeezing domestic credit, the West has been issuing currency and credit like drunken sailors on shore leave. Being starved of extra credit, China’s economy has been deliberately stalled, and there is a real or imagined crisis developing in its property markets. Only now, it has become apparent that the West’s major economies are running into troubles of their own. Economic destabilisation heightens the risk of conflict, and perhaps the timing of the build-up of tensions in the South China Sea and over Taiwan is not accidental. On Wall Street there is an air of complacency, with the US investment community led by the big banks ignoring the developing risks of this dysfunction. In the context of deteriorating relations between China and America and with China’s growing contempt for US political resolve, Taiwan is becoming extremely important geopolitically. China’s plans for Taiwan Taiwan is in the world’s geopolitical crosshairs with President Xi insisting it returns to China. The West, which has failed to protect Taiwan from China’s claims of sovereignty in the past, thereby endorsing them, is only now belatedly coming to its aid with a new Pacific strategy. But the signals already sent to the Chinese are that the Western alliance is too divided, too weak to prevent a Chinese takeover. This surely is the reasoning behind China’s attempts to provoke an attack on its air force by invading Taiwan’s airspace. And all the West can do is indulge in finger-wagging by sailing aircraft carriers through the Taiwan Strait. Taiwan matters, being the source of two-thirds of the world supply of microchips. Faced with a pusillanimous west, this fact hands great power to China — which with Taiwan corners the market. Furthermore, the big Wall Street banks are salivating over the prospects of participating in China’s $45 trillion financial services market and are preparing for it. China has thereby ensured the US banking system has too much invested to support the US administration in any escalation of the Taiwan issue. The actual timing of China’s escalation of the Taiwan issue appears related to the AUKUS nuclear submarine deal. That being so, the posturing between China and the Western Alliance has just begun. There are four possible outcomes: China backs off and the tension subsides, America and the Western Alliance back off and China gets Taiwan, there is a negotiated settlement, or a military war against China ensues. In this context it is important to understand the civilisation issue, which increasingly divides China and America. There is little doubt that the hitherto normal relationship between America and China was disrupted by President Trump becoming nationalistic. His “make America great again” policy was a declaration of a trade war. That was accompanied by a political attack on Hong Kong, which provoked China into taking Hong Kong under direct mainland control. There followed a technology war, leading to the arrest of the daughter of Huawei’s founder in Canada. There appears to be little change in President Biden’s policy against China. Now that his administration has bedded in, China is beginning to test it over Taiwan. To give it context, we should understand the Chinese culture and why the state is so defensive of it, and how the leadership views America and its weaknesses. For that is what is behind its economic divergence from the West. China’s changing political culture Since becoming President, Xi has reformed China’s state machinery. After assuming power in 2012, he needed to clear out the corrupt and vested interests of the previous regime. He instigated Operation Fox Hunt against corrupt officials, who, it was estimated, had salted away the equivalent of over a trillion dollars abroad. By 2015 over 180 people had been returned to China from more than 40 countries. Former security chief Zhou Yongkang and former vice security minister Sun Lijun ended up in prison and Hu Jintao’s powerful Communist Youth League faction was marginalised. By dealing ruthlessly with corrupt officials Xi got rid of the vested interests that would have potentially undermined him. He consolidated both his public support and his iron grip on the Communist Party for the decade ahead. His public approval ratings remain extraordinarily high to this day. On the economic front Xi faced major challenges. Having become the world’s manufacturer, a sharp wealth divide opened between China’s concentrated manufacturing centres and rural China. Some 600 million people are still subsisting on a monthly income of less than 1,000 yuan ($156) a month. A rapidly increasing urban population has been denuding the rural economy of human resources and undermining the family culture. The wealth disparity between city and country has become an important political issue, which is why as well as refocusing resources towards agriculture Xi has clamped down on super-rich entrepreneurs and their record-breaking IPOs. In his Common Prosperity policy, Xi declared that he was not prepared to let the gap between rich and poor widen, and that common prosperity was not just an economic issue but “a major political issue related to the party’s governing foundations”. Following decades of communism under Mao, after China’s initial recovery and development Xi is now clamping down on unfettered capitalism. He and his advisers have observed the disintegration of family values in America and the rise of individualism at the expense of family life; and with popular culture how these trends are being adopted by China’s youth. The state has now shut down western-style social media, and erased celebrity culture. The social impact of cultural change is often overlooked, but it is at the forefront of China’s policy-makers’ consideration. For millennia, a state-controlled Chinese civilisation endured. Despite the Cultural Revolution, the post-war Mao Zedong years failed to erase it. Never sympathetic to free markets, statist thoughts have turned inwardly to Confucius and Marx to escape the obvious failings of American capitalism and its decline from familial values to individualism and rampant speculation. This is what Xi reflects in his presidency. His chief adviser, his éminence grise, is Wang Huning who operates in the political shadows. From all accounts, Wang is extremely clever, speaks French and English, spent a year in America and is a deep thinker who, having examined them, has rejected western values in favour of Chinese tradition. NS Lyons, an analyst and writer living in Washington, DC, has written an interesting article about Wang, published on Palladium Magazine — it is well worth reading. As we saw with the UK’s temporary éminence grise, Dominic Cummings, the power to influence possessed by such a person is considerable, but always in a statist context. The economics of free markets are not involved, except as a source of revenue to fund statist ambitions. The result is an assumption, an ignorance of economic affairs concealed by an automatic acceptance of the status quo. This is Wang’s weak point, and insofar as Xi relies on his advice, it is the President’s as well. Wang appears to be promoting a Confucian/Marxist hybrid civilisation which is intended to unify China’s many ethnic groups in a government-set culture, reverting to a morality of yesteryear. Comparing China’s future with that of American democracy and its moral degradation, the approach is understandable and enjoys popular support. But the consequences are that the state is drifting backwards towards its Marxist roots. The central command over the economy is exemplified in energy policy: power entities have been instructed to keep factories running without power outages, irrespective of coal and natural gas costs. In fact, the management of the economy was never relinquished by the state, which is now redoubling its efforts to retain control over economic outcomes. All one can say is that so far, the Chinese appear to have made considerably less of a mess managing their economy and currency compared with America’s Federal Government and its central bank. The political consequences are also important. By stemming the tide of Western moral decadence in her own territory China is insulating herself from the rest of the American-dominated world. This is being bolstered by steps to shift the emphasis from the export trade towards domestic consumption to improve living standards. In the process China will become more of an economic fortress, mainly interested in Africa and the Americas as sources of raw materials and commodities rather than as export markets to be fostered. China’s internationalism of the last four decades is increasingly redirected and confined to the Eurasian continent over which she exercises greater degrees of political and economic control. Which brings us back to the issues of Taiwan and the South China Sea, which China sees as consolidating her rightful political and cultural borders. However, the increasing autarky of both China and America is making the Taiwan issue more difficult to resolve peacefully. And we must also consider the opposing directions of drift for their two economies, which could decide the outcome. The US’s economic condition and outlook There is a mistaken assumption that the US’s economic troubles relate solely to the consequences of the covid lockdowns. Certainly, the Fed timed its funds rate cut to the zero bound and its current and unprecedented rate of quantitative easing of $120bn every month to March 2020, when lockdowns in Europe and the UK commenced. And it was becoming clear, despite President Trump’s prevarication, that the US would follow. But that ignores developments which preceded covid. Probably due to earlier tapering of QE in 2019, financial markets signalled a developing slump, with the S&P 500 falling 35% in 23 trading sessions to mid-March 2020 — eerily replicating the Wall Street Crash between end-September and late October 1929. It took the reduction of the Fed funds rate to the zero bound, and $120bn of monthly QE feeding into pension funds and insurance companies to turn markets higher. The yield on 10-year US Treasuries fell to 0.5% and equities markets soared on the back of a new basis of relative valuation. After the repo blow-up in September 2019, it became clear that bank balance sheets were too constrained to extend additional bank credit, and conventionally, that might have marked the turn of the bank credit cycle, which was why the comparison with late-1929 was so apt. Furthermore, the banks became less interested in extending credit to Main Street than to Wall Street after financial markets stabilised. The recovery in equities and their move into new high ground is simply asset inflation. Speculators have been quick to add to the Fed’s QE liquidity by drawing on bank and shadow bank credit to play the game. Figure 1 shows how margin loans have nearly doubled as the bull market in equities proceeded from late-March 2020. Never has so much leverage been seen in US securities markets. During covid lockdowns, beyond pure survival few in industry made judgements about the future. It was commonly assumed that when lockdowns ceased business would return to normal. But this made no allowance for the passage of time and the evolution of consumer needs and wants. Eighteen months later, we find that supply chains are still wrongfooted, disrupted by covid shutdowns and not supplying newly needed goods. Consumer demand patterns are not where they left off — they have radically changed. Buoyancy in the US economy is now proving short-lived. The flood of initial spending following lockdowns has receded and different factors are now at play. Supply bottlenecks due to lack of components, transport, and labour are forcing up prices at a pace not reflected in official statistics. In effect, GDP is insufficiently deflated by price rises on the high street to give a reasonable estimate of real GDP. With prices probably rising at over 15% annualised (Shadowstats.com estimated 13.5% three months ago and pressures on rising prices have increased significantly since) the US economy is in a slump which is beginning to replicate that of ninety years ago. The difference is that in 1930-33 the dollar was on a gold coin standard increasing its purchasing power as bank credit was withdrawn, while today it is pure fiat and declining at an increasing pace. Rising prices across the board are another way of saying that the currency’s purchasing power is declining, which given the Fed’s monetary policies of recent years is not surprising. Figure 2 shows the impact of the Fed’s monetary policy on commodity prices, which reflects the dollar’s weakness as a medium of exchange. Given that it takes anything between a few weeks and six months for energy and commodity prices to work through to consumer prices, the recent spurt in commodity prices strongly suggests that consumer prices are going to continue to rise into next year. Yet, only now are the Fed and other central banks beginning to accept that rising prices are not going to be as temporary as they first hoped. This is because it is not prices rising, but the dollar’s purchasing power falling. When they fully realise it, foreign holders of dollars, totalling $33 trillion held in securities, short-term instruments, and bank deposits will require higher interest compensation to persuade them to continue holding dollars. And this is where a conflicting problem arises. A rise in interest rates sufficient to compensate foreign holders of dollars for the currency’s loss of purchasing power will undermine the values of their US stock holdings, totalling $14 trillion, of which $12 trillion is held by private sector foreign investors. Furthermore, a further $12.5 trillion of foreign private sector funds are invested in long-term bonds which will also decline in value. Higher interest rates will certainly trigger private sector selling of these assets across the board. The fate of $6.6 trillion of foreign official holdings of long-term securities will be partly political, demonstrated by the most recent Treasury TIC figures which showed China selling $21bn of US Treasuries, and Japan and the UK buying $39bn between them. This is strongly suggestive of swap lines being drawn down to support the US Treasury bond market, while presumably the US, either through the Treasury, the Exchange Stabilisation Fund, or the Fed itself has bought JGBs and gilts as the quid pro quo. It is worth noting this point because it shows how low bond yields are perpetuated by cooperation between major central banks – along with the attendant monetary inflation. That being the case, private sector holders are misled by price stability while bonds are being wildly overvalued. Another way of looking at it is that if John Williams at Shadowstats is right about inflation statistics, then US Treasuries should be yielding as much as 10% along the whole yield curve. Perhaps the recent rise in the 10-year US Treasury yield in Figure 2 is indicating the start of the process of this discovery for foreign and domestic investors alike. The chart shows that once the 1.75% level is overcome, there is considerable upside in the yield, with a golden cross forming under the spot value. If yields rise from here, it will not be long before equity markets take note and enter a full-blown bear market. The first reaction from the Fed to these events will almost certainly be to claim that falling equities are a leading economic indicator, suggesting the economy faces a post-covid recession. Interest rates cannot be eased further, but QE can be stepped up to cap bond yields and encourage pension funds and insurance corporations to increase their investments. This would be a U-turn from the projected policy of reducing QE due to inflation concerns. But at that point the neo-Keynesian argument can be expected to claim that the developing recession more than negates prospective inflation concerns. Facing the same dynamics, the other leading central banks are certain to fall in line with the Fed’s new policy. But as John Law found in a similar situation in France in 1720, rigging a failing stock market (in his case the Mississippi venture) by currency and credit expansion ultimately fails and undermines the currency. Law destroyed the French economy, contrasting with the British South Sea Bubble, where the Bank of England was not involved and did not deploy its currency to ramp markets. Today, it appears that Law’s experiment is about to be repeated on a grander scale by the issuer of the world’s reserve currency. The other major western central banks will follow suite. The whole fiat money system is at risk of being driven into a similar failure as that which faced the French livre. So, where would that leave China? China’s economic and monetary outlook As noted above, China has followed a different monetary path from that of the Fed for some time — most pointedly since March 2020. Consequently, the yuan has risen against the dollar since then, illustrated in Figure 4. After some initial uncertainty, the yuan began to rise against the dollar and is now about 10% up on the late-March 2020 level. This is not significant yet, because the dollar’s trade-weighted index has fallen by a similar amount. But with China’s monetary policy of clamping down on shadow banking and excessive bank credit creation, compared against the Fed’s more expansionary monetary policies, we can expect the trend for a stronger yuan relative to the dollar to continue. In neo-Keynesian language, China is in a period of deflation, leading to falling prices relative to those measured in dollars. But that misses the point: China has been careful not to encourage speculation in financial assets, reflected in relative stock market performances, shown in Figure 5. While the Fed has been inflating stock prices through interest rate and monetary policies, the Chinese have discouraged speculation. The result is that financial assets in China should be less vulnerable to a general market downturn. It has been a deliberate policy to protect the Chinese economy from 2014 onwards, after the PLA’s chief strategist, Major-General Qiao Liang convinced Beijing that permitting unfettered speculation would leave markets vulnerable to a pump-and-dump attack by America. To the Chinese, excessive financial speculation aided and abetted by the Fed must look like a cover for underlying economic failure. Every thread of their analysis must point to economic disintegration from which China must protect herself. Rates of credit expansion must be restricted, and the yuan be permitted to rise on the foreign exchanges. The change in policy emphasis from export markets towards increasing domestic consumption should be accelerated. In any event, China is the world’s dominant manufacturer, so she has a good degree of control over prices in international trade for consumer goods anyway. The prices of imported commodities and raw materials matter more today and rising dollar prices for commodities and energy can be countered by a higher exchange rate for the yuan. The state’s policy of least risk is to quietly divorce the Chinese economy from the dollar’s influence. In switching some of its trade into the yuan and other currencies, it has been doing this since the Lehman failure, which was another seminal moment in Chinese thinking. The cultural analysis is that America is now destroying its own currency towards a terminal event, an outcome forecast by economics professors in China’s Marxist universities over fifty years ago. The post-Mao ride, piggybacking on American capitalistic methods, is no longer tenable. The golden backstop Like the Marxist professors in the universities, China’s thinkers, such as Wang Huning and President Xi himself, always believed America to be politically and morally rudderless and would destroy itself. Presumably the election of an unpredictable Trump followed by a President Biden who appears to be in a geriatric decline is seen in Beijing as evidence that American society is indeed rudderless and imploding. It was against this likely event that in 1983 far-sighted Chinese strategists began to accumulate gold and to corner the word market for bullion. It would have been obvious to them that one day, dancing with the capitalist devils would become too dangerous and China’s future would have to be secured at the outset long before a capitalist collapse. Accordingly, the Regulations on the Control of Gold and Silver were promulgated on 15 June that year, appointing the People’s Bank (PBOC) with sole responsibility for managing China’s gold and silver while private ownership remained banned. The PBOC then began to acquire gold from foreign markets, a task made easier by the 1980-2002 bear market. Meanwhile, the government threw substantial resources into developing gold mining, and became the largest gold producer in the world by a substantial margin, overtaking South Africa, Russia, and the United States. State owned refineries took in doré from abroad, adding to the accumulation. It was only after the PBOC had accumulated sufficient bullion from imports and domestic production that she set up the Shanghai Gold Exchange in 2002 and permitted Chinese citizens to acquire gold. The government even ran advertising campaigns encouraging the purchase of gold, and since then, over 19,000 tonnes have been delivered into private sector ownership from the SGE’s vaults. Together with the total ban on exports of Chinese refined gold, the pre-2002 ban on private ownership while the state acquired sufficient bullion for its purposes, coupled with the subsequent encouragement to the public to do the same, China clearly regarded gold as her most important strategic asset. It has still not shown its hand, but given the likely amounts involved, to do so would risk destabilising the dollar-centric fiat currency world. Until it happens, we should assume that the 20,000-30,000 tonnes likely to have been accumulated in various state accounts since 1983 is an insurance policy against the failure of American capitalism and the world’s reserve currency. This brings us back to the Taiwan question. For China, the re-absorption of Taiwan may become a simpler matter when the capitalistic Americans are economically at their weakest and the dollar is collapsing. Taiwan itself might face up to this reality. A few steps to push America on its way may be tempting, such as selling down their holdings of US Treasuries (already in process) or disclosing a significantly higher level of gold reserves. The latter may wait until a dollar crisis really develops, which is now surely only a matter of a little time. Tyler Durden Sat, 10/23/2021 - 22:30.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytOct 24th, 2021

Virgil Abloh, Off-White founder and artist director of Louis Vuitton is dead at 41. Here"s a look at the life of the luxury designer.

Virgil Abloh is one of modern fashion's most popular designers, known for his efforts revolutionizing luxury streetwear. Virgil Abloh was one of the most popular designers of today.Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images) Virgil Abloh, 41, was one of modern fashion's most popular designers. He was known for being Louis Vuitton's menswear artistic director and the founder of Off-White. He died on November 28 after a two-year battle with a rare form of heart cancer.  Virgil Abloh, 41, died on Sunday after a two-year battle with a rare form of cancer. Abloh was regarded as one of the pioneers of high-end street fashion, or what he called the "post-streetwear movement," with roots in the classic streetwear that originated in hip-hop and skating culture. When the lines between luxury and streetwear were torn down, Abloh's influence was everywhere, from Balenciaga selling puffer jackets to Dior collaborating with Nike on limited edition Air Jordans to Louis Vuitton partnering with Supreme to Gucci working with legendary Harlem designer Dapper Dan.As Business Insider previously reported, Louis Vuitton named Abloh its artistic director for menswear in 2018. This made him one of the few Black people to ever lead a top fashion house, and the first Black American to lead a French one. Aside from Louis Vuitton, Abloh's own line, Off-White, established a reputable name for itself. Through Off-White, Abloh launched collaborations with partners such as Nike, Ikea, and even McDonald's. Keep reading to learn more about one of the most popular — and controversial — figures in the fashion industry. Virgil Abloh was one of the most popular designers in the modern age. Known for his line, Off-White, he was also the artistic director of Louis Vuitton's menswear.hoto by Victor Boyko/Getty ImagesVirgil Abloh gained prominence in the last decade with the rise of luxury streetwear, with some noting him as being the trend's pioneer. He was the founder of Off-White, one of the top luxury streetwear brands in the world. Aside from its own collections, the brand and Abloh collaborated with furniture store Ikea, water company Evian, luggage brand Rimowa, Jimmy Choo, Sunglass Hut, and even McDonald's. Abloh had 6.9 million followers on Instagram and was good friends with his often-creative partner Kanye West. His designs have been seen on everyone from Rihanna, Beyonce, and model Hailey Baldwin. Who is Virgil Abloh?Bennett Raglin / Stringer / Getty ImagesAbloh was born in Rockford, Illinois, on September 30, 1980. His parents were immigrants from Ghana, and his mother was a seamstress, while his father was the manager of a paint company. According to a previous article by Friedman, it was Abloh's mother who taught him how to sew. He attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he earned a BS in civil engineering in 2002. He then went on to receive a master's in architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 2006.Matthew Sperzel / Contributor / Getty ImagesAccording to Vogue's Steff Yotka, the rumor is that, in 2002, on the day of Abloh's graduation from University of Wisconsin-Madison, he skipped his final critiques to meet with Kanye's then-manager John Monopoly. He told The Cut in 2017 that he didn't really know he could be a creative full-time. "I felt that a random Black kid from the suburbs of Chicago shouldn't be doing that," he said.In his senior year, he took his first art history class, in which he learned about the Renaissance and Italian painter Caravaggio. "It flipped my head backward," he continued. "I'd spent so much time thinking practical things."While finishing his master's degree at IIT, Abloh said, he saw a building that was under construction by renowned architect Rem Koolhaas. This helped spark his interest in fashion.Daniel Zuchnik/Getty ImagesIt was also during this time that he began to design his own clothes, and work on a blog known as The Brilliance. Source: The CutIn 2009, Abloh began a 6-month internship at Fendi in Rome alongside Kanye West.Kanye West (L) and Virgil Abloh (R)Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty ImagesLouis Vuitton CEO Michael Burke once told The New York Times that he was "impressed" with Abloh and West and how they "brought a whole new vibe to the studio and were disruptive in the best way."He then went on to say that Abloh brought in a "new vocabulary to describe something as old-school as Fendi." Burke added that he would be following Abloh's career.Source: The New York TimesIt was also around this time when Abloh and West began to be seen with the fashion crowds in Paris.Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty ImagesAbloh and West were seen outside of a Comme des Garçons show in Paris, photographed by Tommy Ton for Style.com.Abloh told W magazine in 2017 that, at the time, they were just "a generation that was interested in fashion and weren't supposed to be there" and that they "saw this as our chance to participate and make current culture. In a lot of ways, it felt like we were bringing more excitement than the industry was."Source: VogueIn 2009, Abloh married his high school sweetheart, Shannon Sundberg.Virgil Abloh (L) and his wife, Susan Sundberg (R)Photo by Pierre Suu/Getty Images)They lived in Chicago with their two children. Source: Inside WeddingsIn 2010, West appointed Abloh as creative director of his creative agency, Donda.Peter White / Contributor / Getty ImagesSource: VogueThe following year, Abloh earned a Grammy nomination for his art direction of Kanye and Jay-Z's album, "Watch the Throne."Jay Z (L) and Kanye West (R)GUILLAUME BAPTISTE/AFP/GettyImages)Source: VogueIn 2012, Abloh opened his first brand, Pyrex Vision.Photo by Francois Durand/Getty ImagesAs reported by Yotka at Vogue, Abloh had simply taken deadstock Ralph Lauren shirts, screen printed his company's name on it along with the number 23, and sold them for $550 each. Source: VogueIn 2013, Abloh closed Pyrex and opened Off-White. The company is based in Milan, and focuses primarily on streetwear. Abloh defined the brand as "the gray area between black and white as the color Off-White."Jeremy Moeller / Contributor / Getty ImagesOff-White is known for its quotation marks around words, as pictured above. In an interview with W magazine, Abloh said he "loved" the idea that Off-White "can be questioned" and said he knew that one day, someone would "critique that Off-White is un-inspirational."The brand is sold at Selfridges and Bergdorf Goodman, and has been sold at Barneys and Colette. He also had boutiques in Tokyo, Beijing, New York City, and Hong Kong. In 2014, Abloh launched a women's wear line for Off-White, and began to show its collections during Paris Fashion Week.Christian Vierig / Contributor / Getty Images"The end goal is to modernize fashion and steer a [fashion] house because I believe in the modernization of these storied brands," he said in a 2017 interview with The Cut. He went on to say at a lecture at Columbia that "[Off-White is] not a brand ... it's a faux-luxury product."In 2015, Off-White was named a finalist for the prestigious LVMH Prize, although it lost to fellow designers Marques'Almeida and Jacquemus, respectively.Bertrand Rindoff Petroff / Contributor / Getty Images"Fashion is kinda a joke," he said in a 2017 interview with The Cut. "I don't get too bogged down in the clothes. For me, it's one big art project, just a canvas to show that fashion should have a brand that has someone behind it who cares about different contexts. Social things."That same year, Beyoncé wore one of his sweatshirts in a music video with Nicki Minaj. The year 2017 was monumental for Abloh: He announced a collaborative exhibition with artist Takashi Murakami at the Gagosian, opened his first New York store, collaborated with Warby Parker and Jimmy Choo, and released a shoe with Nike.Victor Boyko/Getty ImagesHe has also collaborated with artist Jenny Holzer for a political collection inspired by refugees, immigration, and Planned Parenthood. The exhibition with Murakami opened in October 2018. "Young architects can change the world by not building buildings," he said at a lecture at Columbia in 2017. "You don't have to be a designer to be a designer," is his contradictory credo.Source: Vogue, VogueIn 2017, Abloh won the British Fashion Award for Urban Luxe Brand.Stephane Cardinale/Getty ImagesSource: New York TimesIn 2018, Virgil was appointed artistic director of Louis Vuitton's menswear. He was also listed as one of Time's 100 Most Influential People in the World.TPN / Contributor / Getty Images"It is an honor for me to accept this position," he said in a statement announcing his appointment. "I find the heritage and creative integrity of the house are key inspirations and will look to reference them both while drawing parallels to modern times." Abloh also designed the outfit Serena Williams wore to the 2018 U.S. Open. This outfit, along with the look he designed for Beyoncé as a choice to wear on the cover of Vogue, was chosen to be on exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.Source: GQ, Chicago Tribune, New York TimesIn 2019, Abloh was chosen to be on the board of the CFDA. He was also nominated for a CFDA Award for Menswear Designer of the Year, for his work with Off-White.Kristy Sparow / Contributor / Getty ImagesSource: CFDA, Footwear NewsThat same year, he gave an interview with Dazed magazine where he said that streetwear was "probably going to die soon."Matthew Sperzel/GC Images / Getty ImagesAs Business Insider previously reported, Abloh gave an interview with Dazed where he predicted that streetwear was going to die "soon.""In my mind, how many more T-shirts can we own," he told Dazed. "How many more hoodies, how many sneakers?"He then went on to say: "We're gonna hit this like, really awesome state of expressing your knowledge and personal style with vintage," he said. "There are so many clothes that are cool that are in vintage shops and it's just about wearing them."Abloh came under fire last year for only donating $50 dollars to help bail out protesters that were arrested during the George Floyd movement.Dominique Charriau/WireImage / Getty ImagesAbloh wrote on Instagram, "The Miami community ~ I'm crazy inspired. For kids in the streets that need a bail funds [sic] for George Floyd protests, ... If it heals your pain, you can have it."He then posted a screenshot of the $50 he donated to a bail fund. He made the donation after receiving backlash for attacking looters who broke into the store of one of his friends, designer Sean Wotherspoon. In a comment on Instagram regarding the looting, he said:"You see the passion blood sweat and tears Sean puts in for our culture. This disgusts me. to the kids that ransacked his store and RSVP DTLA, and all our stores in our scene just know, that product staring at you in your home/apartment right now is tainted and a reminder of a person I hope you aren't. We're apart of a culture together. Is this what you want?? When you walk past him in the future please have the dignity to not look him in the eye, hang your head in shame."However, Abloh's small donation sparked more backlash, as many people brought up the fact that $50 isn't even enough to buy a pair of socks from his brand Off White.It was also pointed out that the people were arrested for protesting police brutality against black men, such as Abloh. And he was then accused of not doing all he can to help out the Black community whose culture propelled him to fame. —jade bentil (@divanificent) June 1, 2020—Ourfa Zinali (@ourfazinali) June 1, 2020—Derek Guy (@dieworkwear) June 1, 2020 It was also noted that other celebrities, such as Chrissy Teigen, have donated as much as $200,000 to help protesters. In February 2020, New York Times Fashion Director Vanessa Friedman wrote an article asking if Abloh could be considered the "the Karl Lagerfeld for Millennials."New York Times Fashion Director Vanessa FriedmanSean Zanni / Contributor / Getty ImagesHigh-fashion Twitter quickly broke out into group discussions, and the conversation escalated once Abloh responded to Friedman, saying he would like to give a "lecture" on the article because "riffing online is far too low hanging fruit for such an easy and massive 'case & point."Freidman responded by simply saying, "Come do it at the Times Center."Abloh then sent Friedman an image from Joseph Beuys' 1974 art piece "I Like America and America Likes Me," in which the artist spent 8 hours with a coyote as a commentary on American society in the 1970s. Beuys said the coyote was America's spirit animal and that the piece commented on a nation divided along multiple lines, including the Vietnam War and relations between the majority and minority populations.Friedman's response: "Am I the coyote in this picture? Are you Beuys? Are these relevant questions?" Abloh did not directly respond to those questions of Friedman's. Friedman's question prompted a discussion and even a response from Abloh himself.Virgil Abloh was one of the most popular designers of today.Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)Friedman made a pretty compelling case as to why Abloh could at least, in some ways, be regarded as the "millennial" Karl Lagerfeld. Both, she wrote, made their marks "in part by embracing irony.""Like Mr. Lagerfeld he has made a community that can seem like a cult of personality around himself," she wrote. "Like Mr. Lagerfeld, he speaks in rolling sentences and is a pleasure to listen to, especially in a world where the most celebrated names often seem to be tying themselves up in knots at the prospect of answering a question." "Mr. Lagerfeld was criticized for doing too much, a lot of it not well enough, as is Mr. Abloh. So far, Mr. Abloh has proved himself best as a designer when building atop a foundation established by someone else," she continued. "His Vuitton is more interesting than his Off-White, which often seems like a pallid copy of other people's ideas, just as Mr. Lagerfeld's Chanel was more effective than his namesake label."Source: New York TimesStill, his influence on the industry cannot be denied.(L) Model Karlie Kloss, (C) Virgil Abloh, (R) Model Gigi HadidJulien M. Hekimian / Stringer / Getty ImagesAs Business Insider previously reported, many luxury houses followed in the streetwear foundation that Abloh helped build. Balenciaga was selling puffer jackets and chunky sneakers, while hoodies and oversized logos were everywhere.The "post-streetwear movement" saw Dior collaborating with Nike to make limited-edition Air Jordans, Louis Vuitton launching a collaboration with Supreme, and Gucci working with legendary Harlem designer Dapper Dan.The lines between streetwear and luxury were torn down; suddenly, they were one and the same. Aside from designing, Abloh was also a DJ, a creative and artistic director, and a social media influencer. He also had a collection of famous friends, and many people who aspire to dress, look, and be like him. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 29th, 2021

Black Friday Turns Red On "Terrible News" - Global Markets Crater On "Nu Variant" Panic

Black Friday Turns Red On "Terrible News" - Global Markets Crater On "Nu Variant" Panic The Friday after thanksgiving is called black Friday because that's when retailers finally turn profitable for the year. Not so much for market, however, because this morning it's red as far as the eye can see. The culprit: the same one we discussed late last night - the emergence of a new coronavirus strain detected in South Africa, known as B.1.1.529, which reportedly carries an "extremely high number" of mutations and is “clearly very different” from previous incarnations, which may drive further waves of disease by evading the body’s defenses according to South African scientists, and soon, Anthony Fauci. British authorities think it is the most significant variant to date and have hurried to impose travel restrictions on southern Africa, as did Japan, the Czech Republic and Italy on Friday. The European Union also said it aimed to halt air travel from the region. "Markets have been quite complacent about the pandemic for a while, partly because economies have been able to withstand the impact of selective lockdown measures. But we can see from the new emergency brakes on air travel that there will be ramifications for the price of oil," said Chris Scicluna, head of economic research at Daiwa. As a result, what was initially just a 1% drop in US index futures, has since escalated to a plunge of as much as 2% with eminis dropping the most since September, at one point dropping below 4,600 after closing on Wednesday above 4,700 as a post-Thanksgiving selloff spread across global markets amid mounting concerns the new B.1.1.529 coronavirus variant - which today will be officially called by the Greek lettter Nu - could derail the global economic recovery.  Russell 2000 contracts sank as much as 5.4%. Technology shares may be caught in the net too as Nasdaq 100 futures slid. The VIX increased as much as 9.4 vols to 28, it's biggest jump since January. It was last seen up 7.4 points, or the biggest increase since February. Adding to the pain, there is nothing on today's macro calendar and the US market closes early which will reduce already dismal liquidity even more, exacerbating some of the moves throughout the session. Headlines are likely to center on various nations preventing travel from South Africa whilst potentially imposing more stringent COVID measures domestically, as well as which countries "find" the Nu variant. Amid the panicked flight to safety, 10Y TSY yields tumbled as traders slashed bets on monetary tightening by the Federal Reserve (just hours after Goldman predicted that the Fed would double the pace of its taper and hike 3 times in 2022, oops) ... ... as did oil amid fears new covid lockdowns will lead to a collapse in crude demand (they will also certainly force OPEC+ to put on pause their plans to keep hiking output by 400K every month). Paradoxically, even cryptos are tumbling, which is surprising since even the dumbest algos should realize by now that a new covid outbreak means more dovish central banks, no tightening, and if nothing else, more QE and more liquidity which is precisely what cryptos need to break out to new all time highs. Cruise ship operator Carnival slumped 9.1% in premarket trading and Boeing slid 5.8% as travel companies tumbled worldwide. Stay-at-home stocks such as Zoom Video rallied.  Didi Global shares fell after Chinese regulators reportedly asked the ride-hailing giant to delist from U.S. bourses. Here are some of the other big premarket movers: Airlines and other travel stocks slumped in premarket trading on growing concern about a new Covid-19 variant identified in southern Africa. The European Union is proposing to halt air travel from several countries in the area and the U.K. will temporarily ban flights from the region. United Airlines (UAL US) fell 8.9%, Delta Air (DAL US) -7.9%, American Airlines (AAL US) -6.7%; cruiseline-operator Carnival (CCL US) -12%; hotelier Marriott (MAR US) -6.1%; lodging company Airbnb (ABNB US) -6.9%. Stay-at-home stocks that benefit from higher demand in lockdowns rose in premarket, with Zoom Video (ZM US) gaining 8.5% and fitness equipment group Peloton (PTON US) +4.7%. Vaccine stocks surged in premarket, while Pfizer and BioNTech got an added boost after their coronavirus shot won European Union backing for expanded use in children. Moderna (MRNA US) rose 8.8%, Novavax (NVAX US) +6.2%, Pfizer (PFE US) +5.1%, BioNTech (BNTX US) +6.4%. Small biotech stocks gained in premarket as investors sought havens. Ocugen (OCGN US) added 22%, Vir Biotechnology (VIR US) +7.8%, Sorrento Therapeutics (SRNE US) +5%. Cryptocurrency-exposed stocks fell as Bitcoin dropped as investors dumped risk assets. Marathon Digital (MARA US) declined 9%, Riot Blockchain (RIOT US) -8.8%, Coinbase (COIN US) -4.6%. Didi Global (DIDI US) declined 6% in premarket after Chinese regulators were said to have asked the ride-hailing giant to delist from U.S. bourses. Selecta Biosciences (SELB US) dropped 13% in Wednesday’s postmarket ahead of Thursday’s Thanksgiving closure, after saying the U.S. FDA placed a clinical hold on a trial. Quotient Technology (QUOT US) gained 3.9% in Wednesday’s postmarket on news that a board member bought $150,000 of shares. What happens next will matter and so, all eyes are on the opening bell for the U.S. markets, set to return from the holiday for a shortened trading session. Tumbling futures and a soaring VIX signaled that the rout in Asia and Europe won’t spare New York equities, while lack of liquidity will only make the pain worse. The Japanese yen emerged as the main haven currency of the day, with the dollar languishing. “Every trader in New York will be rushing to the office now,” said Salm-Salm & Partner portfolio manager Frederik Hildner, adding that news of the new variant could mean the end of the inflation and tapering debate. The worsening pandemic poses a dilemma for central banks that are preparing to tighten monetary policy to curb elevated price pressures, according to Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote. “It’s terrible news,” Ipek Ozkardeskaya, a senior analyst at Swissquote, said in emailed comments. “The new Covid variant could hit the economic recovery, but this time, the central banks won’t have enough margin to act. They can’t fight inflation and boost growth at the same time. They have to choose.” “We now have a new Covid variant that’s ‘very’ different from the ones we knew so far, a rising inflation, and a market bubble,” she said.  “The only encouraging news is the easing oil prices, which could tame the inflationary pressures and give more time to the central banks before pulling back support.” In the meantime, the World Health Organization and scientists in South Africa were said to be working “at lightning speed” to ascertain how quickly the B.1.1.529 variant can spread and whether it’s resistant to vaccines. The new threat adds to the wall of worry investors are already contending with in the form of elevated inflation, monetary tightening and slowing growth. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 index headed for the biggest drop in 13 months plunging 2.7%; travel and banking industries led the Stoxx Europe 600 Index down as much as 3.7%, the biggest intraday drop since June 2020. Airbus slumped 8.6% in Paris and British Airways owner IAG tumbled 12% in London, while food-delivery stocks gained.  Here are some of the biggest European movers today: Stay-at-home stocks and Covid testing firms such as TeamViewer and DiaSorin are among the biggest gainers as worries over a new Covid variant send the Stoxx 600 tumbling on lockdown fears TeamViewer and DiaSorin rise as much as 6% and 7%, respectively On the down side, travel and leisure stocks plunge, with the likes of IAG, Lufthansa and Carnival posting double- digit falls IAG drops as much as 21% Software AG shares rise as much as 9.5% after Bloomberg reported that the firm is exploring strategic options, including a potential sale, with Morgan Stanley saying the company’s biggest headwinds are behind it. Evolution gains as much as 4.6%, recouping part of Thursday’s 16% plunge, with Bank of America saying the share price’s “crazy time” amounts to a good buying opportunity. Skistar rises as much as 3.7%, bucking steep declines for travel and leisure stocks, after Handelsbanken upgraded the stock, saying bookings for the Scandinavian ski resort operator are “set to surge.” Telecom Italia climbs as much as 2.8% following a Bloomberg report that private equity firms KKR and CVC are considering teaming up on a bid for the company. ING Groep falls as much as 11% after Goldman Sachs analyst Jean-Francois Neuez cut his recommendation to neutral from buy. Getlink drops as much as 6% as French fishermen start protests aimed at stepping up pressure on the U.K. in a post-Brexit fishing dispute. Earlier in the session, MSCI's index of Asian shares outside Japan fell 2.2%, its sharpest drop since August. Casino and beverage shares were hammered in Hong Kong, while travel stocks dropped in Sydney and Tokyo. Japan's Nikkei skidded 2.5% and S&P 500 futures were last down 1.8%. Giles Coghlan, chief currency analyst at HYCM, a brokerage, said the closure of the U.S. market for the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday had exacerbated moves. "We need to see how transmissible this variant is, is it able to evade the vaccines - this is crucial," Coghlan said. "I expect this story to drag on for a few days until scientists have a better understanding of it." Indian stocks plunged as the detection of a new coronavirus strain rattled investor sentiment globally, raising concerns over a likely setback to the nascent economic recovery.  The S&P BSE Sensex lost 2.9%, the most since mid-April, to 57,107.15 in Mumbai, taking its loss this week to 4.2%, the biggest weekly drop since January. The NSE Nifty 50 Index declined by a similar magnitude on Friday. Reliance Industries was the biggest drag on both measures and declined 3.2%.  “There is fear of this new variant spreading to other countries which might again derail the global economy,” said Hemang Jani, head of equity strategy at Motilal Oswal Financial Services Ltd.   Of the 30 shares in the Sensex index, 26 fell and 4 gained. All but one of 19 sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. retreated, led by a index of realty companies. The S&P BSE Healthcare index was the only sub-index to gain, surging 1.2%. While researchers are yet to determine whether the new virus variant is more transmissible or lethal than previous ones, authorities around the world have been quick to act. The European Union, U.K., Israel, and Singapore placed emergency curbs on passengers from South Africa and the surrounding region. Travel stocks were among the hardest hit. InterGlobe Aviation Ltd. fell 8.9%, Spicejet Ltd. slipped 6.7% and Indian Hotels Co. Ltd. plunged 11.2%, the most since March 2020.  “Nervousness on the new variant of coronavirus and expectations of the U.S. Fed increasing the pace of tapering have led to recent market weakness,” Amit Gupta, fund manager for portfolio management services at ICICI Securities Ltd. said. “This trend may take some time to recover as the WHO meeting on the new mutant variant impact and hospitalization rates in US and Europe will be watched by the market very closely.” Crude oil to emerging markets completed this picture of mayhem. In rates, fixed income was firmly bid as Treasuries extended their advance led by the belly of the curve, outperforming bunds, while money markets pared rate-hike bets amid fears that a new coronavirus strain may spread globally, slowing economic growth. Cash Treasuries outperformed, richening 12-14bps across the short end, with Thursday’s closure exacerbating the optics. As shown above, 10Y Treasury yields shed as much as 10 basis points while the Japanese yen jumped the most since investors’ March 2020 rush for safety. Yields across the curve are lower by more than 8bp at long end, 13bp-15bp out to the 7-year point, moves that if sustained would be the largest since at least March 2020 and in some cases since 2009. Short-term interest rate futures downgraded the odds of Fed rate increases. Gilts richened 10-11bps across the curve, outperforming bunds by 4-5bps. Peripheral and semi-core spreads widen. In FX, JPY and CHF top the G-10 scoreboard with havens typically bid. In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was little changed after earlier touching a fresh cycle high, and the greenback was mixed versus its Group-of-10 peers as the yen and the Swiss franc led gains while the Canadian dollar and Norwegian krone were the worst performers as commodity prices plunged. Traders pushed back the timing of a 25-basis-point rate increase by the Federal Reserve to July from June, with only one further hike expected for the remainder of 2022. It’s a similar story in the U.K. where the Bank of England is now expected to tighten policy in February instead of next month. Wagers that the ECB will raise its deposit rate by the end of next year have also been slashed, with only a six basis-point increase priced in, half of that seen earlier this week. The European Union is proposing to follow the U.K. in halting air travel from southern Africa after the new Covid-19 variant was identified there. The yen is at the epicenter of skyrocketing currency volatility as the new virus variant shakes markets. The cost of hedging against swings in the Japanese currency over the next week, which captures the release of the next U.S. payrolls report, is the most expensive in more than a year. In commodities, crude futures are hit hard. WTI drops over 7% before finding support near $73, Brent drops over 5% before recovering near $78. Spot gold grinds higher, adding $21 to trade near $1,809/oz. Base metals are sharply offered with much of the complex off as much as 3%. Looking at the otherwise quiet day ahead, data releases include French and Italian consumer confidence for November, as well as the Euro Area M3 money supply for October. Otherwise, central bank speakers include ECB President Lagarde, Vice President de Guindos, and the ECB’s Visco, Schnabel, Centeno, Panetta and Lane, and BoE chief economist Pill. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures down 1.9% to 4,607.50 STOXX Europe 600 down 2.8% to 468.04 MXAP down 1.8% to 193.33 MXAPJ down 2.2% to 628.97 Nikkei down 2.5% to 28,751.62 Topix down 2.0% to 1,984.98 Hang Seng Index down 2.7% to 24,080.52 Shanghai Composite down 0.6% to 3,564.09 Sensex down 2.7% to 57,234.83 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 1.7% to 7,279.35 Kospi down 1.5% to 2,936.44 Brent Futures down 5.8% to $77.46/bbl Gold spot up 0.9% to $1,805.13 U.S. Dollar Index down 0.33% to 96.46 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.31% Euro up 0.4% to $1.1259 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg The European Union is proposing to halt air travel from southern Africa over growing concern about a new Covid-19 variant that’s spreading there, as the U.K. said it will also temporarily ban flights from the region Those close to the Kremlin say the Russian president doesn’t want to start another war in Ukraine. Still, he must show he’s ready to fight if necessary in order to stop what he sees as an existential security threat: the creeping expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in a country that for centuries had been part of Russia Bitcoin tumbled 20% from record highs notched earlier this month as a new variant of the coronavirus spurred traders to dump risk assets across the globe Germany’s Greens tapped their two co- leaders to run the foreign ministry and take charge of an influential portfolio overseeing economy and climate protection in the country’s next government under Social Democrat Olaf Scholz A more detailed breakdown of global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asian equity markets declined and US equity futures were also on the backfoot on reopen from the prior day’s Thanksgiving lull with markets spooked by new COVID variant concerns related to the B.1.1.529 variant in South Africa that was first detected in Botswana. The new variant showed a high number of mutations and was said to be the most evolved strain ever which spurred fears it could be worse than Delta and is prompting both the UK and Israel to halt flights from several African nations. ASX 200 (-1.7%) was negative with heavy losses in energy and broad underperformance in cyclicals leading the downturn across all sectors, while the much better than expected Australian Retail Sales data was largely ignored. Nikkei 225 (-2.5%) underperformed and gave up the 29k status as selling was exacerbated by detrimental currency inflows and with SoftBank shares among the worst hit on reports that China is said to have asked Didi to delist from US exchanges on security fears, which doesn't bode well for SoftBank given that its Vision Fund is the top shareholder in the Chinese ride hailing group with a stake of more than 20%. Hang Seng (-2.5%) and Shanghai Comp. (-0.7%) conformed to the risk aversion with the mood not helped by ongoing geopolitical concerns after a Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson noted they are ready to crush Taiwan independence bid "at any time”, while China also said it opposes US sanctions on its companies and will take all necessary measures to firmly defend the rights of Chinese companies. Beijing interference further contributed to the headwinds amid the request by China for Didi to delist from US which reports stated regulators could backtrack on and with Tencent subdued after some Chinese state-run companies restricted the use of Tencent's messaging app. Top Asian News Stocks in Asia Set for Worst Day Since March on Virus Woes Mizuho CEO Steps Down After Regulator Hit on System Issues Meituan 3Q Revenue Meets Estimates Japan’s Kishida Delivers $316 billion Extra Budget for Recovery European equities are trading markedly lower (Stoxx 600 -2.9%) with losses in the Stoxx 600 extending to 3.8% WTD. Sentiment throughout the week has been hampered by various lockdown measures imposed across the region with the latest leg lower accelerated by new COVID variant concerns related to the B.1.1.529 variant in South Africa. The new variant has shown a high number of mutations and is said to be the most evolved strain so far. This has spurred fears it could be worse than Delta and has prompted multiple nations to halt flights from several African nations.The handover from the overnight session was an equally downbeat one with the Nikkei 225 (-2.5%) dealt a hammer blow by the risk environment and unfavourable currency flows. Stateside, futures are lower across the board with the RTY the clear laggard with losses of 4.2% compared to the ES -1.8%, whilst the tech-heavy NQ is faring better than peers but ultimately still lower on the session to the tune of 1.6%. Note, early closures in the US and subsequent liquidity conditions could exacerbate some of the moves throughout the session. With the macro calendar light, focus for the session is likely to centre on various nations preventing travel from South Africa whilst potentially imposing more stringent COVID measures domestically. Any further clarity on the spread of the variant and its potential to evade vaccines will be of great interest to the market and likely be the main driving force of price action today. Sectors in Europe are lower across the board with the Stoxx 600 Banking (-5.1%) sector bottom of the pile amid the declines seen in global bond yields as markets scale back expectations of central bank tightening (e.g. pricing now assigns a 63% chance of a 15bps hike by the BoE next month vs. 93% a week ago). Oil & Gas names (-4.8%) are suffering on account of the declines in the crude space with WTI crude in freefall with losses of 6.7% given the potential impact of travel restrictions on demand. Travel restrictions on South Africa (from UK, Israel, EU et al) and the potential for further announcements has crushed the Travel & Leisure sector (-5.7%) with airline names dealt a hammer blow; IAG (-13.5%), easyJet (-11%), Deutsche Lufthansa (-12%), Air France (-9.5%). Elsewhere, there are a whole raft of other laggards which are very much in-fitting with the March 2020 playbook but there are simply too many to list for the purpose of this report. Defensives and Tech are faring better than peers but ultimately still lower on the session to the tune of 1% and 1.9% respectively. Finally, for anyone wanting some positivity from today’s session, the potential for further lockdowns has proved to be beneficial for the likes of HelloFresh (+3.2%), Ocado (+2.1%) and Delivery Hero (+1.9%). Top European News Airlines Skid on South Africa Travel Bans Tied to Variant German Coalition Proposes a Combustion-Car Ban Without Saying So Putin Pushes Confrontation With NATO as Hardliners Prevail Siemens Is Said to Kick Off Sale of Postal Logistics Business In FX, the index has been under pressure in the risk-averse environment amid a slump in yields and gains in its basket components – namely the JPY, CHF, EUR (see below) – and with liquidity also thinned by Thanksgiving. From a technical perspective, the index has declined from its 96.787 overnight high, through the 96.500 mark, to a low of 96.332 – with the weekly trough at 96.035. Ahead, the US calendar is once again light, with the US also poised for an early Thanksgiving closure; thus, impulses will likely be derived from the macro environment. JPY, CHF, EUR - Haven FX JPY and CHF are the clear outperformers as a function of risk-related inflows. USD/JPY has retreated from a 115.37 peak and fell through its 21 DMA (114.15) to a base around 113.66 - with the current weekly low around 113.64. USD/CHF retreated from 0.9360 to 0.9260 – with the 50 and 100 DMAs seen at 0.9234 and 0.9219, respectively, ahead of 0.9200. EUR/USD meanwhile gains on what is seemingly an unwind of the carry trade amid a spike in volatility. EUR/USD found support near 1.1200 before rebounding to a current 1.1288 peak. AUD, NZD, CAD, GBP - The non-US Dollar risk currencies bear the brunt of the latest market downturn, with losses across industrial commodities not helping. The Loonie has taken the spot as the biggest G10 loser as hefty COVID-induced losses in the oil complex keep the currency suppressed. USD/CAD trades towards the top of a current 1.2647-2774 range. AUD is also weighed on by softer base metal prices – AUD/USD fell from a 0.7200 overnight high to a current low at 0.7110. On that note, Westpac sees AUD/USD pushed down to 0.7000 by Jun 2022 (prev. 0.7700) amid rate differentials with the US; Westpac made significant changes to its FOMC policy forecast and now expect consecutive increases in the fed funds rate in Jun, Sept, and Dec 2022. NZD/USD is slightly more cushioned amid smaller exposure to commodities, and as the AUD/NZD cross takes aim at 1.0450 to the downside. GBP, meanwhile, was initially among the losers amid its high-beta status but thereafter nursed losses in a move that coincided with EUR/GBP rejecting an upside breach of its 21 DMA at 0.8475. EM - The ZAR is the standout laggard given the new South African COVID variant - B.1.1.529 COVID-19 variant (expected to be named Nu) – which is said to be the most evolved strain so far and thus prompted several countries to halt travel to the country of origin. USD/ZAR currently trades within a 15.9375-16.3630 intraday band. Meanwhile, the downturn oil sees USD/RUB north of 75.00 and closer to 76.00 from a 74.2690 base. The Lira also feels some contagion despite the lower oil prices (Turkey being a large net oil importer) – USD/TRY is back on a 12.00 handle and within 11.92-1226 parameters at the time of writing. In commodities, the crude complex has been hit by compounding COVID fears which in turn triggered various travel restrictions and subsequently took its toll on global crude demand prospects. The new and more evolved South African variant prompted the UK, Singapore, and Israel to expand their travel red lists to include some African nations (Israel reported its first case of the new COVID-19 variant known as B.1.1.529). Japan also imposed tighter border restrictions. China’s Shanghai city see flights impacted by its own outbreak. Europe also tackles its surge in daily cases - German Green Party's Baerbock (incoming Foreign Minister) does not rule out a German lockdown, according to Spiegel. EU Commission President von der Leyen is also to propose activation of the emergency air brake, to halt travel from southern Africa due to the B.1.1.529 COVID-19 variant. Losses in oil have exacerbated - with WTI Jan and Brent Feb now under USD 74/bbl (vs high 78.65/bbl) and USD 77/bbl (vs high 80.42/bbl), -6.0% and -5.0% respectively. This comes ahead of the OPEC+ confab next week, whereby OPEC watchers have suggested that oil prices will be a large contributor to the final decision. It is difficult to see how OPEC+ will increase output to the levels the US et al. will be content with, with the latest COVID downturn building the case for a pause in planned output hikes. Elsewhere, haven demand sees spot gold extend on gains above USD 1,800/oz after topping the 100 DMA (1,792.95/oz), 200 DMA (1,791.38/oz), 50 DMA (1,790.13/oz) overnight. Base metals are softer across the board amid the risk aversion. LME copper posts losses of around 3% at the time of writing, as prices threaten a more convincing downside breach of USD 9,500/t. US Event Calendar Nothing major scheduled DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap Things have escalated on the covid front quite rapidly over the last 12 hours. Yesterday new covid variant B.1.1.529 was slowly starting to gather increasing attention but overnight it has begun to dominate markets and has caused a notable flight to quality with 10 year USTs -8bps lower. It was originally identified in Botswana and is starting to spread rapidly in Africa. The South African Health Minister has said it is "of serious concern". Almost 100 cases have already been identified in South Africa and the UK moved to put the country back (along with 5 other African nations) on a reinstated red travel list last night with others following this morning. The variant is said to be the most heavily mutated version yet and the WHO will meet today to decide if it is a variant of interest or a variant of concern. So a lot of eyes will be on how severe it is and whether it completely evades vaccines. At this stage very little is known. Mutations are often less severe so we shouldn’t jump to conclusions but there is clearly a lot of concern about this one. Also South Africa is one of the world leaders in sequencing so we are more likely to see this sort of news originate from there than many countries. Suffice to say at this stage no one in markets will have any idea which way this will go. Overnight in Asia all benchmarks are trading lower on the news with the Shanghai Composite (-0.50%), CSI (-0.64%), KOSPI (-1.27%), Hang Seng (-2.13%) and the Nikkei (-2.90%) all lower. Airlines and other travel stocks have obviously fallen heavily. Hong Kong has detected two confirmed cases of the new variant just as Hong Kong and China were considering quarantine-free travel. S&P 500 (-0.93%) and DAX (-1.82%) futures are also much weaker. Elsewhere, in Japan, CPI rose +0.5% year-on-year (+0.4% consensus and +0.1% previously), on the back of 16-month high fuel prices. With the US out on holiday for Thanksgiving, there wasn’t much going on yesterday after a very quiet day in markets. The variant news was only slowly creeping into the news flow so it hardly impacted trading. But in keeping with the theme of recent days, both inflation and the latest covid wave in Europe remained very much in the picture as jitters continue to increase that we could see further lockdowns as we move towards Christmas. Starting with the headline moves, European equities did actually show signs of stabilising yesterday, with the STOXX 600 up +0.42% thanks to a broad-based advance across the continent. In fact that’s actually the index’s best daily performance in over three weeks, although that’s not reflecting any particular strength, but instead the fact the index inched steadily but persistently towards a record high before selling off again a week ago. Other indices moved higher across the continent too, with the FTSE 100 (+0.33%), the CAC 40 (+0.48%) and the DAX (+0.25%) all posting similar advances. These will all likely reverse this morning. One piece of news we did get came from the ECB, who released the account of their monetary policy meeting for October. Something the minutes stressed was the importance that the Governing Council maintain optionality in their policy settings, with one part acknowledging the growing upside risks to inflation, but also saying “it was deemed important for the Governing Council to avoid an overreaction as well as unwarranted inaction, and to keep sufficient optionality in calibrating its monetary policy measures to address all inflation scenarios that might unfold.” Against this backdrop, 10yr bond yields moved lower across multiple countries, with those on bunds (-2.3ps), OATs (-2.3bps) and BTPs (-1.9bps) all declining. There was also a flattening in all 3 yield curves as well, with the 2s10s slope in Germany (-3.0bps), France (-3.7bps) and Italy (-2.8bps) shifting lower. And the moves also coincided with a continued widening in peripheral spreads, with both the Spanish and the Greek spreads over 10yr bund yields widening to their biggest levels in over a year. Of course, one of the biggest concerns in Europe right now remains the pandemic, and yesterday saw a number of fresh measures announced as policymakers seek to get a grip on the latest wave. In France, health minister Veran announced various measures, including the expansion of the booster rollout to all adults, and a reduction in the length of time between the initial vaccination and the booster shot to 5 months from 6. Meanwhile in the Czech Republic, the government declared a state of emergency and approved tighter social distancing measures, including the closure of restaurants and bars at 10pm. And in Finland, the government have said that bars and restaurants not using Covid certificates will not be able to serve alcohol after 5pm. All this came as the European Medicines Agency recommended that the Pfizer vaccine be approved for children aged 5-11, which follows the decision to approve the vaccine in the US. Their recommendation will now go to the European Commission for a final decision. There wasn’t much in the way of data at all yesterday, though German GDP growth in Q3 was revised down to show a +1.7% expansion (vs. +1.8% previous estimate). Looking at the details, private consumption was the only driver of growth (+6.2%), with government consumption (-2.2%), machinery and equipment (-3.7%) and construction (-2.3%) all declining over the quarter. To the day ahead now, and data releases include French and Italian consumer confidence for November, as well as the Euro Area M3 money supply for October. Otherwise, central bank speakers include ECB President Lagarde, Vice President de Guindos, and the ECB’s Visco, Schnabel, Centeno, Panetta and Lane, and BoE chief economist Pill. Tyler Durden Fri, 11/26/2021 - 08:12.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 26th, 2021

BlackRock – The Fed"s Wall Street Croupier

BlackRock – The Fed's Wall Street Croupier Authored by David Stockman, Central banks have not merely inflated the bejesus out of assets prices. They have also caused the very foundations of financial markets to metastasize, yielding an endless array of new products that have no real economic function except to facilitate new forms of pure wagering. Foremost among these are exchange traded funds (ETFs). If you are inclined to give the latter the benefit of the doubt, you might well ask why the world was so benighted as recently as 2003 that only $204 billion of these swell financial instruments existed – a figure which is just 2.6% of the $7.74 trillion currently outstanding. That is to say, if ETFs were the spawn of free markets and actually facilitated honest price discovery in primary and secondary capital markets, they would have been invented and institutionalized long ago; and upwards of 80% of outstandings would most certainly not have materialized just during the past eight years. Total Assets Of Outstanding ETFs, 2003-2020 Of course, what has also materialized during the span of time encompassed by the above chart is essentially free money from the central banks. Massive eruptions of it. Since 2003, their combined footings have risen from less than $4 trillion to more than $35 trillion, thereby water-logging the markets with excess liquidity and turning them into fecund incubators of new wagering devices. After all, if a real investment professional wanted exposure to the energy sector, for instance, he would undoubtedly investigate the relative merits and potential risks and rewards of all the significant players, including Exxon Mobil, Chevron Corp., Schlumberger, ConcoPhillips. Pioneer Natural Resources, Marathon, Williams Companies, Phillips 66, Kinder Morgan, Valero Energy, Occidental, Devon Energy, Hess, Halliburton, Baker Hughes, Diamondback Energy, APA Corp, ONEOK Inc., etc. But the last thing he would do is buy all of them, weighted by market cap or some other third-party scheme. Yet that’s what you get when you buy XLE, which is the Energy Select SPDR for the sector: It includes 40 energy companies ranging from the above referenced giant integrated producers like Exxon Mobil to refiners like Valero, to oilfield services companies like Halliburton, to small E&P companies like Newfield Exploration. The iShares equivalent is called IXC and it is even more diversified with 96 companies spread among an even greater diversity of sizes, specializations and geographies. Needless to say, no long-term investor would possibly believe that such a dog’s breakfast can be rationally analyzed or diligenced. After all, the whole point of competitive markets is to sort out the winners, losers and also-rans at the sector, industry and sub-industry level. So buying the entire industry amounts to embracing self-canceling financial noise and undoing all the hard work of Mr. Market at the operating performance level. That’s why exchange traded funds, at bottom, are a product of the financial casinos, not the free market. They offer traders and speculators the chance to “bet on black” for just hours, days or weeks at a time based on little more than headlines and momentum. Not surprisingly, the XLE has now completed a round trip to nowhere during the last 15 years as the oil bubble erupted, collapsed, re-erupted, collapsed and is now rising again – even as this ETF’s price is exactly equal to its September 2006 level. The argument that ETFs are a boon to homegamers who don’t have the time or skill to do the homework at the company level just doesn’t wash. In a world of honest money, they would put their savings in the bank to earn a solid rate of interest or would entrust their allocations to the equity markets to a professional with the skills and track record to pick winning stocks. By contrast, the very idea of “democratizing” the process of equity investment is a scam that has arisen from the financial casino. It’s a Wall Street invitation to naive homegamers to throw their money at a kaleidoscopic wall of ETFs from which asset gathers scalp a flow of fees off the top. Indeed, this fact alone tells you all you need to know: There are now more ETFs than actual single-company names traded on the stock markets! This is all by way of introducing the monster-of-the-ETF-midway, Blackrock (BLK). As of September it was by far the world’s largest asset manager with $9.6 trillion of AUM (assets under management). Accordingly, its asset base is larger than the GDP of every country in the world except the US and China. In this particular case we have some personal history – having been a founding partner at the Blackstone Group when Blackrock was formed in 1988 as a subsidiary. The next year we all crisscrossed the country trying to raise its first mutual fund based on a comparatively new class of fixed income securities called mortgage-backed bonds. As we recall, it was a hard sell and that original fund was only about $100 million. So Blackrock’s AUM has grown by a phenomenal 96,000X in the interim! Needless to say, its founder and current CEO, Larry Fink, is one of the great financial buccaneers of modern times. In addition to building the leading fund manager in what became the multi-trillion mortgage backed securities market, he also made several major acquisitions along the way, including two transformative deals around the time of the great financial crisis. These included its merger with Merrill Lynch’s asset management business in 2006, which greatly expanded its equities and institutional bond management operations and resulted in a combined AUM of $1 trillion; and then the purchase in 2009 of Barclay’s $1 trillion asset management business, including its iShares unit, the leading provider of the explosively growing exchange traded funds( ETFs). The latter especially caused Blackrock’s AUM to take off like a rocket, rising from $1 trillion in 2008 to the aforementioned $9.6 trillion at present. Indeed, the pink bars in the chart below are a wonder to behold: They indicate that Blackrock’s footings are equal to the AUM of the entire private equity and venture capital industries (blue bars) combined! Yet it wasn’t entrepreneurial genius or large-scale mergers alone which have accounted for Blackrock’s phenomenal growth. More than anything else it is the poster boy for the massive financial asset inflation of the last two decades, and especially the explosive growth of ETFs and other passive funds where it is the dominant player. As the central banks poured upwards of $30 trillion of fiat credit and liquidity into financial markets after the mid-1990s, asset gathers like BLK had a field day scooping up both fixed income and equity investments. Indeed, the upward march of the chart’s pink bars representing Blackrock’s AUM is virtually unprecedented in business history. Robin Wigglesworth on Twitter: Next week BlackRock will probably report that its assets under management have jumped to $10 trillion. That’s equal to the entire hedge fund, venture capital and private equity Needless to say, the upward march of the pink bars above did wonders for Blackrock’s financials, as well as the net worth of Larry Fink. Thus, in the LTM period ending in December 1999, BLK’s net income posted at a modest $59.4 million, which at a 18.5X PE multiple gave rise to a market cap of $1.1 billion. Back in the day, that was considered not bad for a 1988 startup. Fast forward to the September 2021 LTM period, however, and the numbers have taken on considerable girth. BlackRock’s LTM net income posted at $5.8 billion or 98X the 1999 figure, while the company’s PE multiple has expanded to 24X – thereby raising its market cap to $141 billion or by 128X the 1999 figure. Here’s the thing. Blackrock is huge in size, but extremely diminutive in value-added. On average it scraps about 30 basis points of management fees from its massive AUM – the overwhelming share of which is composed of ETFs and other passive and quasi-indexed funds. These thin margins are more than made up in volume, of course, but they are nevertheless thin because Blackrock essentially functions as a glorified croupier in today’s Wall Street casino. It spreads the cards and chips, and scoops up a tiny slice of the wagers. It goes without saying, of course, that honest capital and money markets would never employ a $9.6 trillion croupier. There wouldn’t be any demand for its services. Likewise, Wall Street’s current croupier wouldn’t have anything close to a $140 billion market cap, either. The financial sheeples who feed it fees would be collecting interest at their bank or modest returns from their equity fund managers, instead. The croupier holds poker cards in his hands at a table in a casino. To be sure, we don’t hold it against people like Larry Fink who have become billionaires in a world of rotten money. The central bankers who made this madness possible are the ones who should bear the everlasting rebuke. But like in the case of the left-wing billionaires of Silicon Valley, we do object mightily to the political abuse that these ill-gotten billions have enabled. In this case, Blackrock has been an active cheerleader for the utterly misbegotten policy of ESG (environmental, social, governance); and has been in the forefront of the Biden White House’s attempts to prod Big Business to enact climate-control measures and adopt other lefty shibboleths such as board diversity as part of their business models. Back on the campaign trail, Joe Biden made no secret of his support for more government intervention in the economy – the one thing he learned during his 49 years on the public teat. So now his Securities and Exchange Commission is no longer intent on merely the Nanny State job of protecting small investors from financial fraud. The SEC now wants to attack the global climate change hoax by imposing ESG standards on all public companies and mandate disclosure of their carbon footprint. As the indefatigable Charlie Gasparino of the New York Post recently noted, What’s different here is how big of a role people associated with Larry Fink’s BlackRock have taken in formulating national ESG policy, and how much the company stands to profit from it with barely a peep from that aforementioned gotcha crowd. His firm runs money for individuals, businesses and governments across the globe, also managing the Fed’s massive portfolio of debt off and on since the 2008 financial crisis. Fink is a billionaire, and his success enabled him to become a key player in the Democratic Party. And he hasn’t been bashful in deploying BlackRock’s clout to advance Democratic economic causes in ways that happen to support its bottom line. Last year, he famously wrote an open letter threatening to push for the removal of board members of companies BlackRock invests in if they refuse to toe the progressive line on climate change. More recently he has vowed to make ESG a centerpiece of BlackRock’s investing model. As Eleanor Terrett of Fox Business has reported, BlackRock now offers more than 150 mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (investment pools that trade like stocks) that adhere to ESG standards – more than any other firm on Wall Street. As it turns out, the Biden administration is stocked with former BlackRock people who are doing the same on a national regulatory level. Take Brian Deese, the current head of the National Economic Council. He was Fink’s global head of sustainable investing. Or take Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo. He was Fink’s former chief of staff and is one of the top advisers to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who is a key player in the national ESG push. There you have it. The Fed has wrecked the foundations of free market prosperity by turning the money and capital markets into raging gambling venues. The latter, in turn, have conferred trillions of ill-gotten gains on the small share of households which own most of the financial assets, and especially on industry insiders and founders who were in the right place at the right time. Now the Wall Street croupier who rode the Fed’s serial bubbles to unimagined heights wants to finish the job by hobbling what’s left of main street prosperity with the disastrous remedies of the Climate Howlers and other woke nonsense now at large in the Imperial City. That is to say, there is a lot more that is rotten about today’s central banking than the money itself. The latter is now fueling a class of bubble-billionaires who apparently feel they can powder the pig by embracing left-wing progressivism at the very time that the future of economic liberty and capitalist prosperity hangs in the balance. So, yes, scorn the bubble-billionaires for their political apostasy, but the everlasting damnation must go to the central bankers who fostered today’s financial and political madness in the first place. *  *  * PEAK TRUMP, IMPENDING CRISES, ESSENTIAL INFO & ACTION Reprinted with permission from David Stockman’s Contra Corner. Tyler Durden Mon, 11/22/2021 - 17:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 22nd, 2021

Learning From James Dyson

When you look back in history at some of mankind’s greatest achievements, one of the things that stands out in almost every case is that those successes came with a lot of blood, sweat and tears and an incredible amount of persistence. Often what appeared on the surface to be an “overnight success’’ actually took […] When you look back in history at some of mankind’s greatest achievements, one of the things that stands out in almost every case is that those successes came with a lot of blood, sweat and tears and an incredible amount of persistence. Often what appeared on the surface to be an “overnight success’’ actually took years to achieve. Henry Ford and his self-propelled vehicle, Walt Disney and his animated pictures, Alexander Bell and his telephone and even the Wright Brothers and their aeroplane; all were examples of people who failed many, many times before they eventually succeeded, often facing distressing financial hardship along the way. 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 Icahn eBook! Get our entire 10-part series on Carl Icahn and other famous investors in PDF for free! Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet or print it! Sign up below. NO SPAM EVER (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more But if you were one of these people and were inventing something that could be potentially momentous and change things forever, at what point would you give up after encountering multiple failures? After 10 attempts? 50? What about 1,000? You’d have to think you were on a road to nowhere if you had failed that many times. So how about 5,127 times? How does that grab you? Incredibly, that’s the number of hand-made prototypes James Dyson built over a four year period before he finally achieved success with his cyclonic vacuum cleaner. Labouring through trial and error, Dyson overcame a brutal patent abuse, endless rejections from both venture capitalists and the world’s leading appliance manufacturers whilst managing an ever expanding overdraft he didn’t extinguish until the age of forty-eight. Contrast that with today, Sir James Dyson is the UK’s fourth richest resident with a net worth of c.US$9.7 billion. Dyson struck on the idea of a cyclonic vacuum from his experience manufacturing his first product, the ‘Ballbarrow.’ Applying paint to the metal frame created havoc in the factory - excess waste and mess. Seeking a solution, Dyson asked around the trade and eventually arrived at a cyclonic separator. He recalled, ‘I found the centrifuge dust extraction principle of the cyclonic separator utterly fascinating.’ James Dyson’s recently published memoir, ‘James Dyson - Invention: A Life,’ is a tale of constant innovation, incredible challenges overcome and the deep resilience required to create one of today’s leading technology companies. One of my favourite insights from the book relates to the opportunity set afforded Dyson by the vacuum industry’s incumbent players. Hamilton Helmer labelled this power ‘Counter-Positioning’ in his best-selling book on competitive strategy, ‘7 Powers.’ The opportunity arises when a newcomer adopts a new, superior business model which the incumbent doesn’t mimic due to anticipated damage to their existing business. In the case of vacuum cleaners, the incumbents were making billions selling replacement bags to their customers. Why create a product which puts at risk that perpetual revenue stream? If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about successful business founders, it’s that there is no straight line to success. Without perseverance and resilience beyond the scope of all but the rarest of people, these businesses would die on the vine. I’ve included some of my favourite extracts below. Failure and 'Trial & Error' “This might sound boring and tedious to the outsider. I get that. But when you have set yourself an objective that, if reached, might pioneer a better solution to existing technologies and products, you become engaged, hooked and even one-track-minded. Folklore depicts invention as a flash of brilliance. That eureka moment! But it rarely is, I’m afraid. It is more about failure than ultimate success. I even thought about calling this book ‘James Dyson: Failure’, but was talked out of it because it might give the wrong impression.” “The failures began to excite me. ‘Wait a minute, that should have worked, now why didn’t it?’” “Research is about conducting experiments, accepting and even enjoying failures, but going on and on, following a theory garnered from observing the science. Invention is often more about endurance and patient observation than brainwaves.” “Learning by trail and error, or experimentation, can be exciting, the lessons learned deeply ingrained. Learning by failure is a remarkably good way of gaining knowledge. Failure is to be welcomed, rather than avoided. It should not be feared by the engineer or scientist or indeed by anyone else.” “The Ballbarrow - my first consumer product, my first solo effort - was a failure but one from which I learned valuable lessons. There was a lesson about assigning patents, another about not having shareholders. I learned the importance of having absolute control of my company and not undervaluing it.” “One of the really important principles I learned to apply was changing only one thing at a time to see what difference that one change made. People think that a breakthrough is arrived by a spark of brilliance or even a eureka thought in the bath. I wish it were for me. Eureka moments are very rare. More usually, you start off by testing a particular set-up, and by making one change at a time you start to understand what works and what fails. By that empirical means you begin the journey towards making the breakthrough, which usually happens in an unexpected way.” “I worked on the [production] line for two weeks to understand how to make the vacuum cleaner more efficiently and have watched all of our lines ever since .. I learned which components were difficult to assemble and encouraged our engineers to visit lines frequently. Most importantly, this experience helped me look as all our subsequent products to understand where production inefficiencies fell.” “Of the 5,127 prototypes I made in the coach house of the cyclone technology for my first vacuum cleaner, all but the very last one were failures. And yet, as well as painstakingly solving a problem, I was also going through a process of self-education and learning. Each failure taught me something and was a step towards a working model. I have been questioning things and learning every day ever since.” “Learning by doing, Learning by trial and error. Learning by failing. These are all effective forms of education.” “When I was trying, unsuccessfully, to raise capital to start my vacuum cleaner business, all the venture capitalists turned me down, with one even saying that they might consider the opportunity if I had someone heading up the company from the domestic appliance industry. This was at a time when that industry was vanishing from Britain because, taken as a whole, its products were uncompetitive.” Life Lessons “Every day is a form of education.” “It was playing games, however, that taught me the need to train hard and to understand teamwork and tactics. The planning of surprise tactics, and the ability to adapt to circumstance, are vital life lessons. These virtues are unlikely to be learned from academic life and certainly not from learning by rote.” “Long-distance running taught me to overcome the pain barrier: when everyone else feels exhausted, that is the opportunity to accelerate, whatever the pain, and win the race. Stamina and determination along with creativity are needed in overcoming seemingly impossible difficulties in research and other life challenges.” “Doing things with my hands, often as an autodidact and with an almost absence of fear, became second nature. Learning by making things was as important as learning by the academic route. Visceral experience is a powerful teacher. Perhaps we should pay more attention to this form of learning. Not everyone learns in the same way.” Creativity & Invention “In order to stay ahead we need to focus increasingly on our creativity.” “At Dyson, we don’t particularly value experience. Experience tells you what you ought to do and what you’d do best to avoid. It tells you how things should be done when we are much more interested in how things shouldn’t be done. If you want to pioneer and invent new technology you need to step into the unknown and, in that realm, experience can be a hindrance.” “[You] need to listen to your customers, aiming to improve products wherever necessary and, if you are an inventor, simply for improvements sake. This is not to say we at Dyson ask our customers what they want and build it. That type of focus-group-led designing may work inn the very short term, but not for long.” “I still find myself saying and putting into practice some of the same things Jeremy Fry [an early mentor/employer] said and did when I worked for him half a century ago. As an inventor, engineer and entrepreneur, he believed in taking on young people with no experience because this way he employed those with curious, unsullied and open minds.” “The inventing mind knows instinctively that there are always further questions to be asked and new discoveries to be made.” “The Land Rover, the Swiss Army penknife, the Citroen 2CV, the Bell 47 helicopter and Alec Issigoni’s Mini - what I liked so much about these machines - and my affection for them remains undimmed - is their ingenuity and the fact that the power of invention invested in them made for designs that re-imagined and revolutionised their market sectors and even created wholly new markets. And yet, for all their functionality, each is a highly individual product with a character and charm of its own. What is equally interesting is that these radical machines made use of pre-existing ideas and components.” “A design might be considered ahead of its time and, sometimes because of this, even ridiculous. The hugely successful Sony Walkman was dismissed when first launched because who could possibly want a tape recorder that couldn’t record. And it was received knowledge, until Volkswagen and, later, Honda crossed the Atlantic with the Beetle and the Accord that Americans were wedded resolutely to big cars.” “The Sony Walkman is another fascinating success story because, at first, its design appeared to defy common sense. Priced at $150, the compact silver and blue Walkman wasn’t cheap, while within Sony it was controversial and brave because it was unable to record, and no one made a ‘tape recorder’ that wouldn’t do so before… With lightweight foam headphones and no function other than playback, the Walkman emerged. The press lampooned it. Even the name was ridiculous. The Japanese press was wrong, although the market hadn’t known it wanted a tiny personal stereo. When it saw the attractive little device, and heard it in action, it fell in love with it… By the mid-1980’s, the word had entered the Oxford English Dictionary. Sony’s Masura Ibuka - one of the Japanese company’s founders - hoped to sell 5,000 Walkmans a month. He sold 50,000 in the first two months. By the time production ended in Japan in 2010, more than 400 million had been sold worldwide.” “Without entrepreneurship, an inventor may not be able to bring their radical or revolutionary products to the marketplace or at least not under their own control. Without becoming an entrepreneur, they have to licence their technology, putting them at the mercy of other companies that may or may not have a long-term commitment to a particular new idea or way of thinking about the future.” “The idea [for the cyclonic vacuum cleaner] had been in my head since welding up the giant metal cyclone for the Ballbarrow factory. Now it made increasing sense. Here was a field - the vacuum cleaner industry - where there has been no innovation for years, so the market ought to be ripe for something new. And, because houses need cleaning throughout the year, a vacuum cleaner is not, like my Ballbarrow, a seasonal product. It is also recession proof. Every household needs one. It seemed to tick all the boxes. In any case, I’d used one since childhood and knew from experience that there had to be a better vacuum cleaner.” “If you believe you can achieve something - whether as a long distance runner or maker of a wholly new type of vacuum cleaner - then you have to give the project 100% of your creative energy. You have to believe that you’ll get there in the end. You need determination, patience and willpower.” “Bio-mimicry is clearly a powerful weapon in an engineer’s armoury.” “It’s a part of the Dyson story that I made 5,127 prototypes to get a model I could set about licensing. This is indeed the exact number. Testing and making one change after another was time-consuming. This, though, was necessary as I needed to follow up and prove or disprove every theory I had. And, however frustrating, I refused to be defeated by failure. All of the 5,126 I rejected - 5,126 so-called failures - were part of the process of discovery and improvement before getting it right on the 5,127th time. Failure, as I had already begun to learn with my experience with the Ballbarrow business is very important. I find it important to repeat that we do, or certainly should, learn from our mistakes and we should be free to make them.” “Every judgement in science stands on the edge of error and is personal… I have long had great admiration for engineers like Alec Issigonis [designed the Mini] and Andrew Lefebvre of Citroen .. they questioned orthodoxy, experimented, took calculated risks, stood on the edge of error and got things right. And when they got there, they continued to ask questions.” “One of the ways we made Dyson distinctive is by not allowing ourselves to rest on our laurels.” “A jet engine spins at 15,000 rpm, a Formula 1 engine at 19,000 rpm and a conventional vacuum cleaner motor at 30,000 rpm. Why go very much faster? Although at the time we were neither designers nor manufacturers of electric motors, we wanted to come up with a breakthrough in their design, creating a quantum leap in performance: many times faster, much lighter and smaller, brushless for a longer life and no emissions, more electrically efficient and above all controllable for speed, power and consumption.. The turbine speed we initially aimed for was 120,000 rpm.. Today, Dyson pioneers the world’s smallest high-speed motors. These have enabled us to reinvent the vacuum cleaner again with a pioneering new Dyson format. They have also allowed us to improve products in wholly new areas.” “People often ask if we would supply other companies with our motors. Although it might be profitable to do so, we supply no one other than ourselves. This is because I want Dyson engineers to be 100% focused on our next exciting motor development and not retrofitting our motors to someone else’s product.” “With each new motor we aimed to double its power output and halve it’s weight.” “We had been experimenting for some time with blades of air and working with sophisticated computational fluid-dynamics models for a project that remains secret… We had accidentally developed a new form of hand dryer. What’s more it didn’t need a heater… It has a carbon footprint six times smaller than that of paper towels… Despite our inroads, the paper towel industry retains 90% of the hand-drying market, worth billions of dollars each year. The big players want to defend a highly lucrative status quo.” “As often happens, our observations during the development of the Dyson Airblade hand dryer led us to the principles used in other products, like our Air Multiplier fans and, in turn, to heaters, humidifiers and air purifiers.” “For me, [the hairdryer] was another of those products, used frequently by hundreds of millions of people, stuck in a technological time warp. Existing hairdryers were heavy and uncomfortable to use.” “Ever since the Industrial Resolution, inventions had tended to compound inventions.” “It is hard for other people to understand or get excited about an entirely new idea. This requires self-reliance and faith on part of the inventor. I can also see that it is hard for an outsider to understand the challenge and thrill of inventing new technology, designing and manufacturing the product then selling it to the world.” “After the event, a revolutionary new idea can look so obvious - surely no one could possibly have doubted it? At their conception, though, new ideas are not blindingly obvious. They are fragile things in need of encouragement and nurturing against doubting Thomases, know-it-alls and so-called experts. Just as Frank Whittle discovered, it is easy for people to say ‘no,’ to dismiss new ideas and to be stick-in-the-muds, pessimists, or even cynics. It is much harder to see how something unexpected might be a success.” “We certainly have taken big risks, with the digital electric motors, the washing machine, the electric car and our research into solid-state batteries. Not all have been commercially successful. That is the point. By its very nature, pioneering will not always be successful, otherwise it would be all too easy. We don’t start these ventures with the inevitability of success - we are all to aware we may well fail.” Obliquity “Inventors rarely set out to make money per se, and if they do theirs is more often than not a pipe dream.” “I didn’t work on those 5,127 vacuum cleaner prototypes or even set up Dyson to make money. I did it because I had a burning desire to do so. And as do my thousands of colleagues, I find inventing, researching, testing, designing and manufacturing both highly creative and deeply satisfying.” Focus Groups & Experts “Just before the launch of the Mini car, Austin Morris did indeed consult a focus group, and nobody wanted this tiny car with small wheels. So they cut the production lines down to one. When the public saw it on the street, they were most enthusiastic for it. Austin Morris never caught up with demand, missing out on serious profits.” “The bestselling British car of all time is the Mini - If market research had ruled Alec Issigoni’s roost at BMC, it would never had existed… Alec’s view [was] that ‘market research is bunk’ and that one should ‘never copy the opposition.’” “I am cautious of experts .. Experts tend to be confident that they have all the answers and because of this trait, they can kill new ideas. But when you are trying to break new ground, you have no interest in getting stuck in engineering conventions or intellectual mud.” “Venture capitalists proved to be no help. [Six] venture capitals turned me down.” “I had been warned that at £200, or at least three times as expensive as most other vacuum cleaners, the DC01 would prove to be too expensive. It sold really well.” “The marketing team, who I listened to, said to me, ‘If you make it £200 cheaper you will sell a lot more [Dyson washing machines],’ and I believed them. We made it £200 cheaper and sold exactly the same number at £899.99 as we had a £1,089 and ended up losing even more money. I had made a classic mistake. This might sound counter-intuitive, but I should have increased the price. The Contrarotator was not meant to be a low cost washing machine.” “Although there is no guarantee of success, disruptive ideas can revolutionise a company and its finances through intuition, imagination and risk-taking as opposed to market research, business plans and strategic investment.” “Early on in our story, the [Dyson vacuum cleaner’s] clear bin was another ‘clear’ example of going our own way regardless. Trusting our own instincts, we decided to ignore the research and the retailers. Pete and I had been developing the vacuum cleaner and we loved seeing the dust and the dirt. We didn’t want to hide all the hard work the machine had done. Going against established ‘experts’ was a huge risk. No one could confirm that what we were doing was a good idea. Everyone, in fact, confirmed the reverse. The data were all against it. If, however, we had believed ‘the science’ and not trusted our instincts, we would have ended up following the path of dull conformity.” Innovation, Constant Improvement & Change “I greatly admire Soichiro Honda for his addiction to the continuous improvement of products. and Takeo Fujisawa. Their genius was to think against the grain while focusing on continuous improvement. The company [Honda] continues to invest a sizeable chunk of its income into R&D, aiming for constant improvement and innovation.” “Rather like the way some sharks have to keep moving to stay alive, innovative engineering-led manufacturers need continuous innovation to stay competitive. Striving for new and better products is often what defines such companies. At Dyson, we never stand still. In a quarter of a century, we have gone from making a revolutionary vacuum cleaner to prototypes of a radical electric car. Invention tends to compound invention and companies need to be set up for this.” “What was exciting is that, although our main focus was the vacuum cleaner, our thinking was that of a tech company. How else could we evolve cyclonic technology? What other uses could we put it to?” “Investment in new technologies requires many leaps of faith and huge financial commitment over long periods.” “I believe that it is critical to keep on improving and never to relax with a product that appears to be selling well. Permanently dissatisfied is how an engineer should feel.” “Our product development process is now truly a twenty-four hours a day process.” “What I can say is that if you came back to see what Dyson’s up to in five, ten, twenty or a hundred years from now, whether with our products or through our farms, things will be very different indeed. It’s all tremendously exciting and we should have cause for optimism.” “Every day is an adventure and a response to the unexpected. Even if things appear to be in some kind of stasis, a company must move on. It has to get better, evolve and improve in order to survive. There is no greater danger than satisfaction.” “What we do know is that companies always have to change to get better at what they do, plan to do and even dream of doing in the future. The adage that the only certainty is change is true, and this means not being afraid of change even if, for a company, it means dismantling what you have built in order to rebuild it stronger or killing your own successful product with a better one, as we did with our new format battery vacuum cleaners.” Counter-Positioning “Anyone watching me at work might reasonably have wondered why Electrolux and Hoover weren’t making and selling a vacuum cleaner like mine. With all their resources, surely they could have leaped ahead of me - one man and his dog, as it were, in a rural coach house - and cornered the market between them. There were though, at least three good reasons why they didn’t even think of pursuing a similar path to me. One, which went without saying, was that the ‘No Loss of Suction’ vacuum cleaner had yet to be invented. The second was that the vacuum cleaner bag replacement business was highly profitable. And the third, to my surprise, was that well established electrical goods companies seemed remarkably uninterested in new technology. With no outside challenges, they could afford to rest on their laurels. For the moment at least.” “I went to see Electrolux, Hotpoint, Miele, Siemens, Bosch, AEG, Philips - the lot - and was rejected by every one of them. Although frustrating, what I did learn is that none of them was interested in doing something new and different. They were, as I had already understood, more interested in defending the vacuum cleaner bag market, worth more than $500 million in Europe alone at the time. Here, though was an opportunity. Might consumers be persuaded to stop spending so much on replacement bags, which, by the way, are made of spun plastic and are not biodegradable, and opt for a bag-less vacuum cleaner that offered constant suction instead? If so, I might stand a chance against these established companies.” Multi-Disciplinary Approach “I loved my time at the Royal College of Art not least because of its lively and inventive cross-disciplinary approach. Here, as I progressed, I realised that art and science, inventing and making, thinking and doing could be one and the same thing. I dared to dream that I could be an engineer, designer and manufacturer at one and the same time.” Commerciality & The ‘Art of Selling’ “Inventions, though, no matter how ingenious and exciting, are of little use unless they can be translated through engineering and design into products that stimulate or meet a need and can sell.” “Even the most worthwhile and world changing inventions, from ballpoint pen to the Harrier Jump Jet, need to be a part of the process of making and selling to succeed.” “Selling goes with manufacturing as wheels do with a bicycle. It is far more than flogging second-hand cars or contraband wristwatches. Products do not walk off shelves and into people’s homes, And when a product is entirely new, the art of selling is needed to explain it. What it is. How it works. Why you might need and want it.” “Jeremy Fry taught me not to try to pressure people into buying but to ask them lots of questions about what they did, how they worked and what they might expect of a new product. Equally, I learned that most people don’t really know exactly what they want, or if they do it’s only from what they know , what is available or possible at the time. As Henry Ford said, famously if he asked American farmers what they wanted in terms of future transport, they would have answered ‘faster horses.’ You need to show them new possibilities, new ideas and new products and explain these as lucidly as possible. Dyson advertising focuses on how our products are engineered and how they work, rather than on gimmicks and snappy sales lines.” “Word of mouth and editorial remain the best way to tell people what you have done. It is far more believable than advertising and a real compliment when intelligent journalists want to go off and talk about your product on their own free will. If you have new technology and a new product, a journalist’s opinion and comment is far more important and believable than an advertisement.” “Within eighteen months, the DC01 vacuum cleaner was the biggest seller in the UK market. Our first sales were through hefty mail order catalogues. These devoted a few pages to vacuum cleaners. We were among the last pages, at the bottom, with a small, square picture of the DC01… Ours was the most expensive in these catalogues by some margin and they were not the sort of place you would expect expensive items to be sold. Both we and the buyers at the catalogue were, in fact, astonished that DC01 did so well through their pages, with repeat orders coming in. I have never, though, believed that someone’s income is a bar to them wanting to buy the best product and a vacuum cleaner is an important purchase.” “We decided to highlight the Achilles’ heel of other vacuums - the bag and its shortcomings.” “I love the fact we tackled prosaic products, making the vacuum cleaner into a high-performance machine.” “From the beginning we decided that we would create our own publicity materials and advertising. We would not use outside agencies. This is because we want to talk fearlessly about technology, which, of course is what had driven Dyson into being. Since we have developed the technology, we should know how to explain it to others.” “I didn’t want anyone to buy our vacuum cleaner through slick advertising. I wanted them to buy it because it performed. We could be straightforward in what we said, explaining things simply and clearly.” “I believe that trustworthiness and loyalty come from striving to develop and make high performing products and then looking after customers who have bought them. I am not a believer in the theory that great marketing campaigns can replace great products. What you say should be true to who you are.” Manufacturing “Experience taught me that, ideally, a manufacturer - Dyson certainly - should aim to source as little as possible from outside the company. Those of us who drove British cars made in the 1970’s know pretty much exactly why. Poor assembly aside, what often let these cars down were components sourced from poor-quality external suppliers. Electrical failures were legion.” “Obviously at Dyson we cannot make absolutely everything on own own, but we work with suppliers so that they are in tune with us, with our manufacturing standards and our values. Because what we’re doing is special and different, we can’t go to a company like Foxconn, for example. which makes well known American, Canadian, Chinese, Finnish & Japanese electronic products. Those products are mostly made from off-the-shelf components. We design our own components. We don’t buy them off the shelf.” “You can manufacture good-quality, pioneering technology much more readily when you sit side by side with your suppliers rather than 10,000 miles away in a different time zone.” “We build close relationships with owners of factories so we can build our machines in their premises. The tooling, assembly lines and test stations are ours and we control the purchasing and quality. We don’t approach a sub-contractor and say, ‘Make me a product of this or this design.’ We tend to go to outfits which have never made vacuum cleaners before or hairdryers, robots, fans and heaters or purifiers or lights, and we teach their people to make things using our production methods. It’s a heavily engaged and involved process of learning and improvement.” “We need other factories because, expanding at the rate of 25% each year, we simply couldn’t cope with the planning and building of new factories even in Singapore, Malaysia and the Philiipines.” Going Global “I knew that if Dyson was to be a successful technology company, rather than just a British vacuum cleaner manufacturer, we couldn’t be Little Englanders. We needed to become global, and quickly. England, and the rest of the United Kingdom, is simply not a big enough market on its own to sustain the constant and huge investment technology requires.” “In 2004, we took the DC12 cylinder vacuum to Japan, calling it the ‘Dyson City.’ It was engineered specifically for the tiny, perfectly formed homes of Japan. We were amazed by its success. Within three months it had captured 20% of the Japanese market.” “Dyson has become as much an Asian business as a British one: our products are sold in eighty-three countries around the world, so we are arguably a truly global company. Having started in Britain and consistently grown in Britain, we, for some time now, sell over 95% of our products in our global markets.” Acquisitions “We are not in the business of buying up other companies. It may be a quick way to acquire technology or a business that would augment a company, but it can be difficult to assimilate the people and their ways of doing things. Usually, I feel, it’s better to start your own research project or your own business, which, although slower to begin with, develops organically and is stronger for it.” Dyson Electric Car “Because of the shifting commercial sand, we made the decision to pull out of production [of our electric car] at the very last minute. N526 was a brilliant car. Very efficient motors. Very aerodynamic. Wonderful to drive and be driven in. We just couldn’t ever have made money from it, and for all our enthusiasm for the project we were not prepared to risk the rest of Dyson.” “Fortunately, we were able to stomach the £500 million cost and survive. We did, though, push ourselves to learn a great deal in areas including batteries, robotics, air treatment, and lighting. We also learned more about virtual engineering as a tool in the design process and how, we would be able to make products more quickly and less expensively. These were all valuable lessons for the future.” Private Company & Long Term Thinking “Today, Dyson is a global company. I own it, and this really matters to me. It remains a private company. Without shareholders to hold back, we are free to take long-term and radical decisions. I have no interest in going public with Dyson because I know that this would spell the end of the company’s freedom to innovate in the way it does.” “When you own the whole company, and especially if you are free of debt, from the early days and for better or worse, all decisions are your own. So you take these very seriously and follow your own view of risk balanced, hopefully, with reward. This certainly sharpens the mind.” “We’re one family-owned company following its interest and passions.” “The advantages of a family business are that they can think in the very long term, and invest in the long term, in ways public companies are unable to do. I also believe that family-owned enterprises have a spirit, conscience and philosophy often lacking in public companies.” Win-Win & ESG “In our first year in Currys [retailer], Mark Souhami, one of the bosses alongside the founder Stankley Kalms, invited me to lunch with them both. They explained that because of Dyson they were now making a profit in their vacuum cleaner section and he wanted more Dyson products.” “I have always loathed companies that use ‘greenwash’ as part of their marketing. I would rather reduce our environmental impact quietly and by action. We were, and remain, a company primarily of engineers and because of this we have sought from the outset to use as little energy or materials as possible to solve or complete one particular task. Lean engineering is good engineering.” “For me, as for all Dyson engineers, lightness - lean engineering and material efficiency - is a guiding principle. Using less material means using less energy in the process of making things. It also means lighter products that need less energy to power them and are easier to handle and so more pleasurable to use.” “Dyson has always focused on making long-lasting machines that use fewer resources while achieving higher performance. Lighter machines resulting from developing new technology and reinventing the format, consumer less energy and are not only better for the planet but also more pleasurable to use. Our cord-free vacuum cleaners, for instance, are a fraction of the weight and use a fraction of the electricity than their predecessors did. This has come about by taking an entirely different approach and developing new technology, motors and batteries, from the ground up.” “We must move ever closer to a culture whereby we minimise the use of materials through lean engineering along with the recycling of products at the end of their lives. It’s not just okay to politely offset our carbon footprint. We have to deal with it at source.” “As Dyson, we are trying at every turn to touch the ground lightly in everything we do, to make more from less and to create a circular system through which we aim to recycle everything we use.” Removing Middlemen “Over the past three years we had been striving to sell more products direct to our customers ourselves, either online or through Dyson Demo stores. By early 2021 we had 356 Dyson stores. We have been opening them around the world so that customers can try our Dyson products in the best possible way. There are two reasons for this. First, we like to have a direct relationship with our customers, who are buying our product for which we are responsible, and we want to know how we can help them. Secondly, retailers around the world are declining in numbers and sales. They are nothing like the force they were, due of course to the decline of the high street and the rise of internet shopping. If you want to buy from a website, why not buy from the Dyson website! Why not deal directly with the manufacturer?’” “When I started out with the vacuum cleaner business, wholesales and retailers made most of the money .. which is why today a lot of our sales at Dyson are direct.” “Cutting out the middleman, and those who add no value, ought to be a popular national campaign. It would mean a possibility of profit for risk takers and producers, and lower prices for consumers.” Listen to Customers “Listening to what our users say is gold dust and I really enjoy reading or hearing about complaints. We devised a system of reporting all remarks heard by customers in stores or by store salespeople from all over the world, so that everyone in the company can see this priceless intelligence.” Optimism “I have great faith that science and technology can solve problems, from more sustainable and efficient products to the production of more and better food, and a more sustainable world. It is technological and scientific breakthroughs, far more than messages of doom, that will lead to this world. We need to go forwards optimistically into the future as if into the light, and with bright new ideas rather than darkness and end to human ingenuity portrayed by doomsayers.” “The depressing thing is that harbingers of doom and gloom get far more attention than optimists and problem solvers. I feel very strongly that progress should be embraced and encouraged, and it is a duty of governments and companies to catalyse the ideas of the progressive and harness them to achieve good ends.” Summary Most people would consider someone who’d failed 5,126 times and succeeded just once, a failure. Yet, that’s exactly what James Dyson did. That one success was the acorn that grew into a $US10 billion dollar fortune (talk about asymmetric returns!) There’s a myriad of lessons for inventors, investors and entrepreneurs in the pages of this book. Many of the lessons are equally applicable to each endeavour; maintaining focus, taking a long term view, continuously learning, challenging conventional wisdom and adopting a multi-disciplinary mindset. As you delve into the story an investment case emerges and the pieces of the puzzle start to fit together. An inventive fanatic full of passion, tenacity, resilience and self-belief recognises a prosaic industry that’s been neglected by technology and ripe for disruption. The target market is huge and somewhat immune from the vagaries of the economic cycle. A kernel of inventive insight, a variant perception on consumers preparedness to pay more for quality products and constant iteration leads to the development of a revolutionary product. Driven by a purpose beyond wealth accumulation (obliquity), a ‘technology’ business emerges. Full control of the ecosystem and intellectual property become further competitive attributes difficult to challenge. As technology compounds (a’la Brian Arthur) the barriers to competition widen. The tone is set from the top - a culture of continuous innovation and rejecting the status quo flourishes. Risk taking on a scale where failure is tolerable (a’la Palchinsky principle) is encouraged, creating new possibilities. Private ownership and low debt affords a long term view - no one is watching the quarterly shot clock. While there is no spreadsheet or financial model, there is a full scale mental model, or theory, developing. The component mental models, together, shed light on the Dyson company’s extraordinary success. My contention is this latter model will prove more useful in determining whether Dyson will continue to prosper in the future. Let’s not forget however, that without James Dyson, there would be no Dyson. Like many of the great businesses we’ve studied, it started with a fanatic. Source: ‘James Dyson - Invention: A Life,’ James Dyson, Simon & Schuster, 2021. Further Learning: ‘James Dyson - Invention: A Life - Interactive Portal.’ Follow us on Twitter : @mastersinvest * NEW * Visit the Blog Archive Article by Investment Masters Class Updated on Nov 22, 2021, 3:44 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: valuewalkNov 22nd, 2021

Facebook, now Meta, just got hit with its first major lawsuit since a whistleblower exposed a trove of internal documents

The attorney general's lawsuit alleges that Meta cost investors and Ohio's largest pension fund $100 billion since its bad practices first surfaced. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.REUTERS/Erin Scott/File Photo Ohio's Attorney General is suing Meta, alleging it misled the public and cost investors billions. The suit says the company violated federal securities laws by failing to disclose its harm to young users. Lawsuits like this remain a bigger risk for Meta than potential regulation from Congress.  Ohio's Attorney General filed a lawsuit against Meta, formerly known as Facebook, on Monday, accusing the company of violating federal securities law by failing to disclose internal research about its platforms' harmful effects on children to investors. The case was filed on behalf of the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System and Facebook investors, who collectively lost more than $100 billion in market share since employee-turned whistleblower Frances Haugen first leaked internal documents to the Wall Street Journal, AG David Yost said."Facebook said it was looking out for our children and weeding out online trolls, but in reality was creating misery and divisiveness for profit," Yost said in a press release. "We are not people to Mark Zuckerberg, we are the product and we are being used against each other out of greed."Yost said in the press release that he hopes to recover the pension fund's losses with the lawsuit as well as ensure that the company "makes significant reforms" to avoid misleading the public again.A Facebook representative said: "This suit is without merit and we will defend ourselves vigorously." Monday's filing is likely the first major lawsuit against the company since Haugen first leaked thousands of internal discussions, memos, and research to federal regulators and the media. Among the trove of materials are instances when Facebook knew its products were unhealthy and potentially dangerous for teen users but undermined efforts to counteract that harm.Haugen testified before Congress that the company chooses " profits over safety."The company has maintained that the documents do not paint a complete picture of Meta and its safety efforts. Its share price has fallen roughly 9% since the first "Facebook Papers" reports began to publish in September. Monday's lawsuit is also among the first in what experts say is likely to be a flurry of legal action against Meta. Analyst Blair Levin told Insider in October that class action lawsuits — like the handful that have already been filed —  and investigations led by state attorneys general like Yost could be more dire threats than any new federal regulation from Congress. That's because the court could force Meta to make more internal documents public,  which could "yield even more problematic evidence for Facebook," Levin said.Yost was previously one of 40 state attorneys general who in May wrote a letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg pleading for the company to ax plans to roll out an Instagram version for kids. Instagram contended that the kids-centric app would allow parents to better supervise and control their children's experiences. But, citing the backlash, Instagram said in September that it was halting plans for it.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytNov 15th, 2021

Get Ready For Your "Woke" 401(k)

Get Ready For Your 'Woke' 401(k) Authored by Simon Black via SovereignMan.com, Here’s our weekend roll-up of the most ridiculous stories from around the world that are threats to your liberty, risks to your prosperity… and on occasion, inspiring poetic justice. Woke 401(k) rule quietly moves forward Almost exactly one year ago, the US Department of Labor issued a regulation requiring that employers and their financial advisers choose employee investment plans based solely on financial factors… and nothing else. Even more specifically, the regulation prevents employers from choosing a mutual fund or ETF whose main objectives are anything other than financial, i.e. mutual funds which place social or environmental justice above investment returns. The rule effectively stopped employers from injecting their personal beliefs into their employees retirement plans. Yet earlier this year, new Labor Department under the administration of Hunter Biden’s dad announced that they would no longer enforce this rule. Three weeks ago they went a step further and created a new regulation called “Financial Factors in Selecting Plan Investments”. This new rule proposes to formally reverse the old regulation by expressly allowing businesses to “make investment decisions that reflect climate change and other environmental, social, or governance (“ESG”) considerations. . .” The proposed regulation goes on for THIRTY THREE PAGES and outlines every possible woke investment initiative imaginable. For example, the rule allows employers to invest your savings in a stock based solely on that company’s “progress on workforce diversity [and] inclusion. . .” as opposed to, you know, profit and growth potential. But there’s something even more striking about this regulation. Normally whenever the federal government proposes new rules and regulations, they give the public an opportunity to comment on the proposal… and these comments are made public. In this case the comments are, in fact, NOT public. The rule even claims that all comments will be made available on www.regulations.gov and www.dol.gov/agencies/ebsa Yet public comments to this regulation are available at neither website. Moreover, the rule also states that public comments will be made available to anyone who physically visits the Employee Benefits Security Administration’s (EBSA) office in Washington DC. Yet according to the EBSA website, they have “temporarily moved to telephone and website contact only” because of COVID-1984. So, at the moment, all public comments for this new regulation are being quietly buried as the deadline for its passage (December 13th) quickly approaches. Click here to read the proposed rule. *  *  * A US Court Declares Colombian Hippos People The hippopotamus is not native to Colombia. But drug lord Pablo Escobar imported four hippos to his private estate back in the 1980s. When he was killed in a 1993 shootout with police, the hippos were simply abandoned in the wild. Now there are upwards of 100 hippos living in the Magdalena River in Colombia, and a debate has erupted over what to do with them. Some people want them sterilized, while others say they should be killed to prevent environmental damage or threats to humans. But a handful of animal activists decided to file a lawsuit… in the United States. What’s even more ridiculous is that the Federal Court for the Southern District of Ohio actually took the case, even though this situation has nothing to do with the US, let alone the Southern District of Ohio. But as a final absurdity, the judge actually ruled that the hippopotamuses should be seen as “interested persons” with full legal rights to representation. Click here to read the full story. *  *  * Australia Prepares to Confiscate Property for Unpaid COVID Fines Many Australian serfs broke the law last year when they left home to exercise, sit on the beach alone, or attend a public protest to demand basic human rights. The government issued these political dissidents excessive fines—sometimes thousands of dollars for a single offense—for their extremist, borderline terrorist behavior: leaving home without permission from the government. The state of Queensland, in particular, is dealing with 3,046 unpaid fines worth a total of $5.2 million. That accounts for over 43% of the fines it issued to individuals and businesses for breaking COVID rules. Now the government has started to freeze bank accounts, garnish wages, suspend driver’s licenses, and register charges on property which could lead to confiscation of the property if the fines are still not paid. Click here to read the full story. *  *  * Spain Rules COVID Fines Were Illegal— Will Return the Money Meanwhile, in the civilized world where human rights still exist, the Spanish Constitutional Court declared Spain’s first lockdown, confining people to their homes, illegal. That also means the fines it issued were illegal. So now the Spanish government is starting to return that money to the people it fined. The Court is also considering declaring subsequent lockdowns illegal as well. Click here to read the full story. *  *  * On another note… We think gold could DOUBLE and silver could increase by up to 5 TIMES in the next few years. That's why we published a new, 50-page long Ultimate Guide on Gold & Silver that you can download here. Tyler Durden Sun, 11/07/2021 - 18:00.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytNov 7th, 2021

The curious afterlife of the Lord of the Skies

Conspiracy theories about the death of Amado Carrillo Fuentes, Lord of the Skies, have lingered for years, most recently among fans of Narcos: Mexico. The casket with Amado Carrillo Fuentes' remains at his mother's ranch in northwestern Mexico on July 11, 1997. Reuters When Mexico's most powerful drug lord died an unbelievable death, a team of federal agents raced against the clock to identify his body. Conspiracy theories about his demise have lingered for years, even getting a wink in Netflix's Narcos: Mexico. Speaking publicly for the first time, DEA agents who helped confirm his death give the full story behind one of the strangest chapters in the annals of Mexico's drug war. The departed smiled up at the ceiling, his lips pulled back to reveal a row of bright white teeth.The skin on the man's hideously distended hands shone a sickening gray-green color of rot, and his long, puffy face was heavily bruised, with deep, dark circles ringing his eyes and nostrils. Mottled patches of discoloration spread up his high forehead and across his cheeks.Under the harsh glare and buzz of fluorescent lights, the body of one of Mexico's most powerful men lay in state, nestled within the plush white confines of a metal casket. The body was clad in a dark suit and a blue-and-red polka dot tie, his deformed hands deliberately forced together at his waist to mimic a state of repose, a hideous parody of an open-casket funeral.In the place of mourners, photojournalists pressed up to the edge of the casket, inches away from a man who just days before could have, with a wave of his hand, ordered unspeakable violence against anyone insane enough to have treated him with such disrespect.Along one wall, a row of men, some in white lab coats, others in drab, police-issue suits, stood with grim discomfort written across their faces as shutters clicked.This ghastly wake in a government building in Mexico City on July 8, 1997 was the first glimpse of a man whose name much of the country knew but few dared to utter. Amado Carrillo Fuentes, the Lord of the Skies, the boss of Ciudad Juárez, and arguably the most powerful criminal kingpin in the nation's history was dead and his rotting corpse was displayed for all to see. Amado's body was displayed on July 8, 1997, at the Judicial Police morgue in Mexico City. A group of police pathologists look on. Reuters It was perhaps one of the most macabre press scrums in history, and a bitterly ironic fate for a man who had so carefully seen to it that so few photos of his likeness existed.News of Amado's death had begun to filter out days before. According to the Mexican Attorney General's office - known by its Spanish acronym as the PGR - Amado had died on the operating table while undergoing plastic surgery, to alter his appearance, and liposuction.Amado's family soon confirmed the story, lipo and all, telling reporters that he'd suffered a heart attack while under anesthesia. But for many Mexicans, the story was almost too bizarre to believe. The PGR had invited reporters to see the body in hopes of dispelling any rumors or suspicion about Amado's fate. It didn't work. The idea of Amado faking his death and vanishing into retirement flourished in Mexico's bustling rumor mills. One doubter, a barber cutting the hair of a Los Angeles Times reporter, insisted that the key to the coverup lay in the corpse's decaying limbs."Those aren't his hands," the barber said. "Those are the hands of a classical pianist.""Some poor unfortunate person"In the nearly quarter-century that has elapsed, a host of rumors and conspiracy theories have, unlike Amado, stubbornly refused to die - even in the archives of the wire service Agence Press Press, which listed a photo of Amado's "alleged" body.In 2015, the idea found new life thanks to an article published on the English-language site of the Venezuelan state-sponsored news network Telesur. According to the report, which relied mostly on the extremely dubious word of a supposed cousin of Amado, Sergio Carrillo, the drug lord was doing just fine."He is alive," Carrillo said, according to Telesur. "He had surgery and also had surgery practiced on some poor unfortunate person to make everybody believe it was him, including the authorities."This claim would be easily dismissed were it not for the larger constellation of conspiracies surrounding Amado's death. Instead, it's taken on a life of its own in a string of tabloid stories that have repeated Sergio Carrillo's claim.(Attempts by Insider to verify Carrillo's existence or reach him for comment were unsuccessful.)The persistence of such stories has also been helped along thanks to the popularity of the Netflix series Narcos: Mexico, which stars a heavily fictionalized - and rather sympathetic - version of Amado. In the third and final season, which became available on Friday, Amado takes center stage as the show follows a greatest-hits summary of his empire building and eventual fall from grace. Eduardo Gonzalez Matta, a general director of the Mexican Attorney General's office, points to evidence charts at a July 10, 1997 press conference aimed at convincing the public of Amado's death. OMAR TORRES/AFP via Getty Images In one of the final scenes, a moody Amado is shown prowling around the empty operating room prior to his surgery, and the narrator says outright that Amado has died. But then the show slyly drops an easter egg to superfans in the form of a final post-credits scene: As Amado's girlfriend wanders about in a seaside mansion, the camera cuts to a shot of a toy airplane that her lover had given her.The myth has resonated for a reason in Mexico, where a toxic mix of authoritarian governance, pervasive corruption, a powerful criminal underground protected by the state and shrouded in lies and half truths has fueled a highly justified skepticism of any official narrative.Here, for the first time, is the most complete account of one of the strangest chapters in the annals of Mexico's drug war. Speaking publicly about the episode in detail for the first time, agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration who helped identify the body and confirm his death have laid out the full story behind one of the strangest incidents in the annals of the war on drugs.Lord of the SkiesLike virtually every major drug trafficker of his generation - Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán Loera, Benjamín and Ramón Arellano-Félix, Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada García - Amado was a native of the northwestern state of Sinaloa, that long, thin state in Mexico's northwest whose western borders greet the waves of the Gulf of Cortez and whose eastern borders end in the highlands of the Sierra Madre Occidental.It's a rugged, hardscrabble region populated by ranchers with weather-beaten faces and farmers who for the better part of a century represented the bottom rung of the marijuana and opium trade in the Western Hemisphere. Amado and his 10 siblings grew up in a tiny settlement in the scrubland just north of Navalato, a tough little bread-basket town surrounded by fields of sugarcane, maize, and wheat.Also like many of his fellow future kingpins, Amado's family had been involved in the drug business in one way or another since who-knows-when. It was a more humble business back then, small-time farmers selling opium and weed to small-time traffickers who brought the stuff north to the border. But thanks to the booming demand for marijuana in the late 1960s, and the shutdown in 1972 of the main pipeline for Turkish heroin from Europe to New York, Sinaloa's illicit economy became turbocharged. An undated photo of Amado Carrillo Fuentes. Reuters So it helped that Amado's uncle was one of those traffickers. A murderous brute of a man, Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo, better known as Don Neto, was by the 1980s a key partner in the trafficking network often referred to as the Guadalajara Cartel.It was the advent of the cocaine boom, when Mexican traffickers began to branch out from weed and dope and made use of their existing smuggling routes to move Colombian cocaine, and the cash flowing back south twisted and perverted every facet of society.Amado was an innovator in his own right, and is often credited as a pioneer of moving drugs by airplane, overseeing ever larger fleets of ever larger planes groaning under the weight of ever larger shipments of Colombian coke. This vocation earned him the nickname "el señor de los cielos," or the Lord of the Skies, and made him fantastically wealthy, with money to buy as many cops, judges, generals, and politicians as he needed to stay on the right side of things.As the criminal landscape in Mexico shifted in the late 1980s following the breakup of the old guard in Guadalajara, Amado had relocated to Ciudad Juárez, a sprawling desert city just across the Río Grande from El Paso, Texas.With its bustling border crossing that sees billions of dollars in cargo cross each way every year - an economic engine that leapt into overdrive with the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement - Juárez was the crown jewel in the constellation of smuggling routes into the United States.The local capos who controlled the Juárez smuggling route, or "plaza," soon began to display a curious habit of dying, one after another. Amado, for his part, showed a talent for stepping out from the wings to claim their turf. Vehicles crossing from Ciudad Juarez towards El Paso, Texas. Ivan Pierre Aguirre/AP Photo Amado was a skilled smuggler. He was also a brilliant manager with a head for politics, and he built a vast network of street enforcers, informants in every agency of Mexican law enforcement and military, and connections to powerful friends capable of easily quashing the political will to arrest him.While other traffickers fought bloody turf battles and moved coke, weed, and heroin across remote border crossings in the desert, Amado was consolidating power and largely keeping the peace in Juárez, where he proved a reliable colleague to corrupt officials turned off by the ostentatious violence of his competitors. In a few short years, he had become the most influential drug trafficker in Mexico.But even for a guy with the political savvy that Amado had in spades, remaining atop the tangled web of shifting alliances and competing priorities that dictate the status quo in Mexico was a deadly game, and any number of brand-name narcos who came before him had enjoyed that sweet spot for a time before they attracted too much attention and with it their own expiration date.By the mid-1990s, Amado had become the most powerful drug lord in the country."A guy of absolute, unquestioned integrity"Early in 1997, the balance that Amado had so skillfully maintained was thrown into a tailspin with the arrest of General Jesús Héctor Gutierrez Rebollo, Mexico's top drug warrior. He had worked closely with agents of the DEA to pursue trafficking networks and had the endorsement of many in Washington.President Ernesto Zedillo had appointed the general to lead the fight against drugs as part of an effort to cut out the notoriously corrupt alphabet soup of police agencies in favor of the military, which despite its own legacy of corruption and human-rights abuses enjoyed a level of trust and respect that most other branches of the government had long ago squandered. Washington had enthusiastically supported the appointment, and General Barry McCaffrey, President Bill Clinton's drug czar, had praised the general as "a guy of absolute, unquestioned integrity" as recently as in December of 1996.So the DEA and their higher ups in D.C. were shocked when, on Feb. 17, 1997, the general was suddenly dismissed, and even more so a day later when Mexican officials announced that Gutierrez Rebollo had been arrested for receiving payoffs from one Amado Carrillo Fuentes. Amado (L) is seen at a party in an undated photo. Reuters As winter turned into spring, Guttierez Rebollo was sitting in irons, and Washington was sporting a deeply embarrassing black eye. At a hearing in March, DEA chief Thomas A. Constantine mused that major traffickers in Mexico "seem to be operating with impunity," and a congressional subcommittee convened soon thereafter to discuss slamming shut the faucet of foreign aid to Mexico.The Mexican government has never reacted well to its frenemies in the drug trade catching the undivided attention of the U.S. government, as a long line of Amado's former compatriots found out the hard way.And now the high-beams were focused on Amado. As one of the key public faces of drug trafficking in Mexico - and as the man whose bribes were the stated reason for the general's arrest - Amado found himself suddenly, dangerously exposed, and desperate to disappear, according to Ralph Villaruel, a retired DEA agent who was stationed in Guadalajara at the time."We were hearing he was in Russia, that he was in Chile," Villaruel told me in an interview. "We heard that he wanted to pay [the government] to be left alone, that he didn't want nothing to do with drug trafficking no more."Amado was a wreck. Overweight and reportedly strung out on his own personal stash carved off the tens of thousands of kilos his men continued to smuggle north, he seems to have opted for a radical solution: he would alter his appearance with plastic surgery.So on July 3, 1997, he used a false name to check into a hospital in a ritzy neighborhood of Mexico, and, in a heavily guarded operating room, the lord of the skies succumbed to a lethal dose of anesthesia and sedatives."We think Amado Carrillo Fuentes is dead"Mauricio Fernandez wasn't getting much sleep in those days.Fernandez, newly married, had been working at the Mexico City office of the DEA for about a year. He'd joined the agency in 1991 after serving in the Marines, and threw himself into his new vocation with a zeal inspired in part by the ravages of drug addiction he'd witnessed back home growing up in the Bronx.A dedicated posting to the resident office in Mexico City should have brought a bit of stability to his life after having spent the past few years working in an elite unit with special-forces training, bushwhacking coca fields in the high Andes of Bolivia, raiding drug labs in the lush mountain valleys of Peru, and chasing down a Colombian rival of Pablo Escobar whose brilliance earned him the nickname "the Chessmaster." A gun that once belonged to Amado Carrillo Fuentes is displayed in the Drugs Museum at the headquarters of the Ministry of Defense in Mexico City. Henry Romero/Reuters But when he arrived in Mexico City, he was soon stunned by the level to which drug traffickers were entangled with the state at every level, from local cops on up to judges, military officers, and members of the political and business elite. It was hard to know who to trust. He was getting death threats."The deception was more sophisticated in Mexico," he told me in an interview. "The level of deception was so embedded that even for people you thought were vetted, even them you could not trust. There was no such thing as safe partnership."Cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico on anti-drug policy was then and is now deeply fraught, riven with well-earned mutual distrust. But Fernandez and his fellow DEA agents had worked hard to build relationships with a few key members of Mexican anti-drug units, and it was starting to pay dividends. Through a contact in the Attorney General's office, or PGR, Fernandez and his partner had extensive access to sensitive information, and did their best to share intel with their counterparts. Fernandez and his partner were the lead case agents on investigations into some of Mexico's most notorious drug traffickers, and they routinely pulled 80-hour weeks, living and breathing their work, sleeping at the office. They were investigating a handful of different drug-trafficking networks, but one man stood above the rest: Amado Carrillo Fuentes. A photograph that includes this caption: "Mexico City, Mexico. Hospital Santa Monica, where ''drug lord'' Amado Carrillo Fuentes died whilst having plastic surgery to change his identity to help him evade police." Getty Images Most roads led to Amado in some way or another, or they led as close as the DEA could get anyway. Any time they thought they might be getting close, witnesses had a way of turning up dead, warning had a way of finding itself to their query, and Amado cruised along as always.As he played the delicate game of political maneuvering necessary to survive in the underworld of Mexican organized crime, Amado was building a business empire of global proportions.Even now, decades later, Fernandez still speaks of Amado with the grudging respect of a guy who knows the folly of underestimating one's enemies."It was a slap in the face to say that Amado was simply a drug trafficker," Fernandez told me. "His span was incredible. He touched Asia, he touched Europe, all parts of the world, and that's when you start to understand the vastness of his enterprise."With a query like that, no, Fernandez wasn't sleeping much.So when July 4, 1997 rolled around, Fernandez was looking forward to a bit of R&R, a chance to spend some time with his wife and shoot the shit with his colleagues and their families at the annual Independence Day bash at the ambassador's residence in Lomas de Chapultepec, a lavish neighborhood of rolling hills and the gated mansions of the Mexican elite.But work found him anyway, as it often did, in the form of a call from a high-ranking Mexican law-enforcement official. It was one of the men with whom he'd spent the past year building up a cautious but increasingly strong rapport. The ramifications of the news that came through the phone are still playing out today."We think Amado Carrillo Fuentes is dead," the official told him."All kinds of rumors are going to spring up"The details were sketchy, no one knew for sure what to believe, but Fernandez' source told him what he could: the Lord of the Skies had the day before slunk into a private clinic in Mexico City for some kind of operation, maybe liposuction, maybe plastic surgery, and had died on the operating table. Whether it was negligence or homicidal intent was unclear. ut word was, Amado was dead.Those words hit Fernandez like a thunderclap. After hanging up, he sidled over to his boss and his boss's boss, who were standing about chatting and soaking up the unique glory of a Mexico City summer day. Fernandez pulled the two more senior agents aside and told him what he had just heard.Before long, the news rippled out through the crowd and the DEA agents in attendance huddled up to figure out what do do next.In the middle of that scrum was Larry Villalobos, a DEA intelligence analyst who'd arrived in Mexico the year prior after a stint in El Paso building dossiers on the major drug traffickers operating in Mexico. He knew everybody. To this day, Villalobos has the uncanny ability to summon up the names of men long dead and recall the bit-part roles they played in the larger action. Mexican special forces police guard the morgue in Mexico City where the remains of Amado Carrillo Fuentes were held after his death. Reuters At the ambassador's residence the party continued. But for Fernandez, Villalobos, and the rest of the DEA crew in attendance that day, there was work to do. They had a window in which they could confirm that Amado was dead and that window was already closing rapidly, Villalobos recalled."We knew from working in Mexico that if you wait any goddamn longer than that all kinds of rumors are going to spring up," Villalobos told me.A fingerprint matchAs they hustled away from the ambassador's residence, Fernandez, Villalobos, and the other DEA agents knew that the first thing they had to do was find the body.According to the law-enforcement source Fernandez, by the time the DEA agents hightailed it away from their aborted Fourth of July party, the body was already on a plane en route to Sinaloa. But by the time it landed, a team of agents with the Attorney General's office were waiting.They seized the casket and immediately put it on a plane back to Mexico City. According to an Associated Press report a few days later, the agents had to forcibly part Amado's mother from the casket that she clearly believed held the remains of her son. Amado's mother, Aurora Fuentes (L), arrived at the morgue to collect the body of her son on July 10, 1997. Reuters Some of the field agents began to press all their sources for information. But for Villalobos, who had worked as a fingerprint technician with the FBI before joining the DEA, it all came down to the body. And suddenly, he recalled an astonishing fact: the U.S. was in possession of Amado's fingerprints, taken by Border Patrol agents in Presidio, Texas way back in 1985 and later unearthed from the files of the Immigration and Naturalization service.He got on the phone with his old intelligence office in El Paso, and had them overnight a set of the prints to Mexico City while a Mexican technician did his best to harvest a set from the corpse, which had long since gone stiff with rigor mortis. As the body decomposes after death, the quality of the available prints start to degrade, but after comparing the prints on file with those taken from the corpse, Villalobos was certain.His boss wanted to know how certain he was that this was, in fact, Amado Carrillo Fuentes. Ever precise, Villalobos clarified the issue."I didn't say that it was Amado. What I said was that the fingerprints that were taken from a young man who resembles the Amado that we all know, and was fingerprinted as an illegal alien 20 years ago, is the same person as this corpse," Villalobos recalled telling the senior DEA attache in Mexico City. Amado's sister, Alicia Carrillo Fuentes (L), and other family members mourn Amado's death at the home of his mother. Huge wreaths were delivered, including some by other alleged drug barons. Reuters "Whether it's Amado or not, that's a different matter, but it would have had to been some type of conspiracy over 20 years that some guy was gonna die and they were gonna substitute the body of the guy who was in Presidio, Texas 20 years ago."In other words, it was Amado.The positive ID on the fingerprints that Villalobos made came no more than 72 hours after Amado died in surgery, but already speculation was buzzing about the possible death of the kingpin of Juárez.While Villalobos had been doing his thing, other agents like Mauricio Fernandez had been working their sources and keeping in constant contact with trusted Mexican officials doing the same, and they were starting to get indications from the underworld that the big guy really was gone.Meanwhile, in Mexico City, a forensics expert from Mexico's Attorney General's office held a press conference where he presented the fingerprint evidence."It would have made for a wonderful story"After the confirmation from DEA, after the confirmation from the Mexican government, after the body was returned to Amado's family and buried in his hometown of Guamuchilito, Sinaloa, the myth of Amado's survival began to grow, and it has never really gone away. Even now, Fernandez said he understands why the myth of Amado has clung on for so long."There was a lot of folklore around Amado and who he was, and I think for a lot of people, they wanted to keep that thought alive," Fernandez said. "It would have made for a wonderful story, but the fact is that that wasn't the case. It just was not the case." Chilean authorities identified this home as one of the eleven houses that Amado Carrillo Fuentes bought in Santiago several months before his death. Reuters Regardless of where one stands on the fact that Amado Carrillo Fuentes died in July 1997, no one disputes the fact that his death was a turning point, one of the periodic tectonic shifts throughout the history of the war on drugs in Mexico. Amado's younger brother Vicente took the reins, but he didn't have it in him, and people didn't respect him the way they had Amado. The alliances that Amado held together soon started to fray, and that breakdown helped contribute to the staggering wave of violence that washed over Mexico a decade later and has yet to truly recede.This dynamic within Amado's network may have played a part in the myths that sprung up so soon after his death. With a weak leader like Vicente running the ship and its increasingly mutinous crew aground, the idea of a vengeful Amado out there, maybe coming back some day, might have been useful for keeping people in line, according to Jesús Esquivel, a veteran Mexican journalist who was one of the first reporters to break the news of Amado's death. Amado Carrillo Fuentes's home in the Alvaro Obregon municipality of Mexico City. It was raffled off by Mexico's National Lottery in September 2021. XAVIER MARTINEZ/AFP via Getty Images "Vicente was weak, and the local criminals knew, and they said 'this is our time,'" Esquivel told me. "So they were playing with Amado's shadow."Larry Villalobos, for his part, still hears the old conspiracy theories from time to time, occasionally from unlikely sources."I had an FBI agent come up to me less than 10 years ago and he says to me 'what if I told you Amado was still alive?'" Villalobos told Insider. "I was like 'get the fuck outta here, I don't wanna hear that shit. I saw the fingerprints, I made the identification, what are you talking about?"According to Villalobos, the FBI agent was insistent, telling him that a trusted source had recently claimed to have spotted Amado in his old stomping grounds of Ojinga, just over the border from Texas. Even better, the source claimed to know where exactly they could find him.Villalobos was not moved."I hope the FBI didn't pay too much for that tip," Villalobos said.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 6th, 2021

The Controlled Demolition Of The EU

The Controlled Demolition Of The EU Authored by Marco Rocco via The Strategic Culture Foundation, Draghi represents the forced continuity wanted by the Paris-Berlin axis for the EU: the Italians wanted to leave in 2020, the solution was the former head of the ECB as Prime Minister. How long will it last, with galloping inflation and Poland as anti-EU? The EU is under attack, 360 degrees, from a variety of fronts. From the west, with the Brexit. From the south, with the Euro-weak countries in which people dream of leaving the euro, clearly crippled – perhaps I should say “looted” – by the so-called “expansive austerity” (an oxymoron) of Franco-German matrix. And now also from the northeast, with Poland put in check and fined by the EU for the sole fault of wanting to continue to “be Poland”. Above all, the galloping inflation, exogenous in origin, which in a few months will no longer be able to be contained even in Latin countries, which today are still silently experiencing governmental manipulation of consumer price indexes (I imagine that social peace will not last long; see the report on prices for September 2021 published by the MISE/Italian Ministry of Economic Development, with prices in general vertical ascent – very often even in double digits – but with inflation “only” at 2.9%, totally absurd). The above clearly points to an ongoing paradigm shift. That is, the EU engineered to live on devaluation with the Euro (much weaker than the hypothetical German mark), or with the hidden aim of transferring wealth from the Europeripheral countries to the center of the Empire, is finally in the priority need – on the core Europe side – to tame inflation before being able to export thanks to an artificially devalued currency. It is in fact clear that a country, or rather a “political continent”, without raw materials like Old Europe, is obliged to contain first of all the costs of production if it wants to hope to survive without destroying the social base on which its power is based, e.g. when inflation bites. That is to say, being tempted – on the German side – to mimic, today, with a new mark yet to come, the wise Switzerland and its franc, which has been rising steadily for months precisely in order to counter international inflationary pressures. And therefore, prospectively leaving the EU to its rubble, rubble on which Paris will certainly throw itself like a vulture, first of all on the Italian ones. All the more so if, in this context, the USA and the FED are anticipating – as is clearly happening – the events by making the dollar rise in an anti-inflationary capacity (but also having abundant raw materials in place, above all oil, a situation not unlike the times of the attack on Nixon, see De Gaulle’s provocation on the convertibility of dollars into gold and the subsequent Watergate scandal, ed.) Now then, in addition to the centrifugal drives within the EU, i.e. having as a driver the national interests of Southern Europe, mainly Italy, perfectly legitimate interests, a macro-economic context is also generating that will lead us to the epilogue expected to the title, due to inflation and related monetary policies: the controlled demolition of the EU based on the euro. It should be remembered, for example, that Rome has seen in recent years a massive reduction in its own welfare (e.g. in terms of wages); to this is added – TODAY – interest from the center of the Empire in a paradigm shift, the first time in almost 25 years. In addition, here is Poland’s recent response to the diktats of Brussels aimed at ceding superfunds (i.e. its own welfare) to EU interference; Poland clearly supported by the USA, see the so-called “Trump Base”, i.e. the US military installation in Poland recently inaugurated by the States on Polish soil. A brutal response to say the least: in this context the Polish government has announced that the largest fine imposed by the EU to a country that gravitates in its sphere of continental influence, will not be paid anyway. On the contrary Warsaw foresees a progressive enlargement of its armed forces, always with American support, a constant Anglo-Polish collaboration since the times of Brezinsky, Sikorsky and marriages in the heart of the US corporate with Polish soul (J&J above all). * * * In all this we must not underestimate the reaction of Berlin, as always upset when its plans do not follow the expected trajectory: although it has not been properly emphasized by the EU media always too pro-German, as to the Reich themes, the German move that will lead to chaos (come) is materializing before our eyes, see the incredible announcement of the German Defense Minister of military intervention in the Baltic even with the nuclear threat as anti-Russian, ie with weapons that Germans theoretically would not have (…). This exudes desperation (never forget that the German system, then survived in various ways the post WWII purges, is the same that laid the foundations for the atomic military industry 80 years ago, ed). Clearly, the US power factor remains in the background, ready to be activated if necessary to defend the stars and stripes interests. To date, however, the situation remains extremely fluid. We can however fix some stakes, as of now, to understand how we arrived to such a EUrocentric debacle, that is where we are today. And perhaps try to hypothesize some future developments. First of all, Draghi represents the real factor of continuity wanted by the EU to dampen the centrifugal pressures aimed at leaving this EU: too many people forget that only a few months ago, in 2020, the majority of Italians publicly expressed their support for an exit from the Union, as reported not without a vein of ill-concealed terror by the website german-foreign-policy.com only last year. Accomplice to the fall of Trump, instead, Draghi arrived to stop the Italian diaspora, after the media canonization of Draghi at the Rimini meeting last year, preparatory to his landing at Palazzo Chigi, thanks to the activism of the leader of the Milanese “Compagnia delle Opere” (the German Bernhard Scholz), a religious-ethical entity contiguous to Communion and Liberation and perhaps even reminiscent of the activism in German protection of Cardinal Ildefonso Schuster 75 years ago. Clearly an attempt to postpone the plan to deflagrate the EU via dollarization of Italian debt, as winked at by Giuseppe Conte in last year’s Eurogroup, behind US impetus (“…if we don’t go it alone,” said the Italian prime minister at the time, making Angela Merkel’s entourage excited). * * * In this context, it is essential to understand the genesis of Mario Draghi, a character who is grafted in a groove that is Anglo but intrinsically pro-EU. Noting that we are dealing with the area that we can roughly define as the “Cameronian world”, i.e. that pro-EU British elite that is behind the genesis, in the Peninsula, of both the 5 Star Movement and the Regeni case (no small detail, the wife of the former British Prime Minister – a Countess Astor – had a primary Christian education, ed). That is, Draghi is supported by a political-elitist area of Anglo matrix that has always been close in its interests to Paris, as German containment (to represent less summarily the address of this, let’s say, pro-European current based in the Perfect Albion, one could go back to the “Scots Guards” of Mary Stuart in the French capital, who were also in defense of Joan of Arc, ed.) Hence the natural closeness of the world that orbits around the current Italian Prime Minister towards what France represents, today especially given the expected turn of Berlin towards a more German set-up (Goethe himself depicted the printing of money as mephistophelian, diabolical, as it created inflation). Unfortunately, the above does not augur well for future Franco-Italian relations, which will certainly be to Rome’s disadvantage; a relationship that the two neighboring countries will necessarily develop from here on, that is, during the period of German meditation on what to do with the current EU, thanks to the subjugation of the Roman political class to interests that are more French than Italian. Hence the expectation of a new Franco-Italian strategic macro-agreement signed by Draghi soon, I repeat, to French advantage. Wages on EU, from 1990 to 2020: “Italy is the only European country where wages have decreased compared to 1990” – Openpolis on OECD data – at LINK In this context, with inflation now out of control, with economic growth actually close to recession if netted with the correct GDP deflator, Italian BTPs fell below a very important technical level, 150 points, only last Friday. At the end of the game, however, it will always be the Peninsula to act as a watershed in the fate of the EU, with its expected collapse of public finances, in the long term, i.e. with the markets very skeptical about the possibility of repaying the huge debt in euro (…): for your information, today the Italian GDP without undeclared activity exceeds 180% of GDP. And with a number of pensions paid by the State equal to about the same of the employees: it is not a question of Italian implosion by remaining in the euro, only of when. Finally, here creeps the Green agenda, always with Italy as center of gravity, to be saved with money borrowed from the same Italian citizens but in the name of the EU (the Recovery Fund is in lagrghissima part a loan, guaranteed in fact by the assets of Italian families), that is the total value of the PNRR of about 200 billion euros – paid in 3-4 years – of which the Recovery Fund, only about 30 billion euros are lost! In addition to the madness of mass vaccinations in Italy, now with a target of 90% vaccinated and with the de facto obligation of universal vaccination, under penalty of the impossibility of working. Even in this context we simply observe that there is a huge and obvious correlation now between vaccination madness in selected countries and technical failure, in fact, of their local pension systems (on all, Italy, France, Israel, Austria with its minimum retirement age still below 60 years on average, ed). * * * In conclusion, it is easy to expect a controlled demolition of the EU, starting with German and pro-German drives aimed at shielding themselves from international inflationary pressures by returning to a surrogate of the new mark, stronger than the euro. At the same time, the centrifugal drives within the EU, undeniable e.g. on the Italian side if you want to ensure a minimum of future prosperity to their people, will be concentrated in the Europeripheral countries, i.e. where the state welfare institutions are practically bankrupt. Only to end in an inevitable contingency of, let’s say, reduced monetary union, in which Paris – once Germany crosses the Rubicon of the return to a stronger currency – will play the card of a “Euro-CFA” with Italy as a wingman; or rather, a Euro Med (or better yet, French Euro) in which the African countries of the CFA franc are replaced by Italy and perhaps Greece. In this context, the only addendum that does not add up are the 100 US military bases in Italy, of which at least 4-5 are nuclear, together with the largest US weapons depot outside the US borders. It is not to be excluded, therefore, a renewed next American activism aimed – encore – to neutralize threats to its strategic interests; we believe that this effort will not be too dissimilar from what was the American intervention in Indochina or more properly in the Suez Canal (these facts led to an implosion of the residual French and veteran-European colonial network in the world, ed). Tyler Durden Fri, 11/05/2021 - 02:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 5th, 2021

Alliant Energy Announces Third Quarter 2021 Results

Third quarter GAAP earnings per share was $1.02 in 2021 compared to $0.98 in 2020 With strong year-to-date results, increased and narrowed 2021 earnings guidance range to $2.61 - $2.67 Provided 2022 earnings guidance range of $2.65 - $2.79 and 2022 annual common stock dividend target of $1.71 Increased forecasted 2021 - 2025 net capital expenditures to $7 billion in aggregate MADISON, Wis., Nov. 04, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Alliant Energy Corporation (NASDAQ:LNT) today announced U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and non-GAAP consolidated unaudited earnings per share (EPS) for the three months ended September 30 as follows:   GAAP EPS   Non-GAAP EPS     2021     2020     2021     2020 Utilities and Corporate Services $1.01       $0.89     $1.01       $0.89   American Transmission Company (ATC) Holdings   0.03         0.03       0.03         0.03   Non-utility and Parent   (0.02 )       0.06       (0.02 )       0.02   Alliant Energy Consolidated $1.02       $0.98     $1.02       $0.94   "We are excited to deliver another quarter of consistent results, including several highlights such as being recognized for the third year in a row as a Top Utility in Economic Development by Site Selection magazine," said John Larsen, Alliant Energy Chair, President and CEO. "We narrowed and raised our 2021 earnings guidance to a range of $2.61 - $2.67 per share. I am also pleased to share that our Board of Directors has approved a 6% increase in our annual common stock dividend target, raising it to $1.71 per share for 2022." Utilities and Corporate Services - Alliant Energy's Utilities and Alliant Energy Corporate Services, Inc. (Corporate Services) operations generated $1.01 per share of GAAP EPS in the third quarter of 2021, which was $0.12 per share higher than the third quarter of 2020. The primary drivers of higher EPS were higher earnings resulting from IPL's and WPL's increasing rate base, as well as higher sales due in part to the derecho windstorm in Iowa and COVID-19 sales impacts in the third quarter of 2020. These items were partially offset by higher depreciation expense and lower allowance for funds used during construction (AFUDC). Non-utility and Parent - Alliant Energy's Non-utility and Parent operations generated ($0.02) per share of GAAP EPS in the third quarter of 2021, which was an $0.08 per share earnings decrease compared to the third quarter of 2020. The lower EPS was primarily driven by an adjustment in 2020 to the credit loss liability related to legacy guarantees associated with an affiliate of Whiting Petroleum Corporation (Whiting Petroleum) and timing of income taxes. Earnings Adjustments - Non-GAAP EPS for the three months ended September 30, 2020 excludes $0.04 per share related to the credit loss adjustment described above for Alliant Energy's Non-utility and Parent. Non-GAAP adjustments, which relate to material charges or income that are not normally associated with ongoing operations, are provided as a supplement to results reported in accordance with GAAP. Estimated Temperature Impacts to Non-GAAP EPS - The estimated year-to-date impact of temperatures on EPS compared to normaltemperatures, is an $0.08 per share gain in 2021. The midpoint of the temperature normalized non-GAAP EPS guidance for the fullyear 2021 is $2.57. Details regarding GAAP EPS variances between the third quarters of 2021 and 2020 for Alliant Energy are as follows:   Variance Higher revenue requirements primarily due to increasing rate base $0.07     Higher depreciation expense   (0.03 )   Lower allowance for funds used during construction   (0.02 )   Credit loss adjustment on guarantee for affiliate of Whiting Petroleum in 2020   (0.04 )   Other (includes higher sales due to the Derecho and COVID-19 in 2020)   0.06     Total $0.04     Higher revenue requirements primarily due to increasing rate base - In 2020, IPL received a final order from the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) to increase annual rates for its Iowa retail electric customers based on a 2020 forward-looking Test Period. Effective with the implementation of final rates covering the 2020 forward-looking Test Period on February 26, 2020, IPL began recovering a return of, as well as earning a return on, its new wind generation placed in service in 2019 and 2020 from its retail electric customers through a renewable energy rider. Other applicable costs and tax benefits associated with the new wind generation, excluding operation and maintenance expenses, are also included in the rider. The renewable energy rider factor is updated on an annual basis using forecasted rate base and costs for the current year. The 2021 renewable energy rider factor includes the impact of the wind expansion completed in 2020, resulting in increased earnings for 2021. IPL recognized a $0.02 per share increase in the third quarter of 2021 due to the higher revenue requirements from increasing rate base related to the wind generation placed in service during 2020. This increasing rate base at IPL also resulted in higher depreciation expense and lower AFUDC in the third quarter of 2021. In December 2020, the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin issued an order authorizing WPL to maintain its current retail electric and gas base rates, authorized return on equity, regulatory capital structure and earnings sharing mechanism through the end of 2021. WPL began to utilize anticipated fuel-related cost savings and excess deferred income tax benefits in 2021 to offset the revenue requirement impacts of increasing electric and gas rate base. WPL recognized a $0.05 per share increase in the third quarter of 2021 due to higher revenue requirements from increasing electric and gas rate base. This increasing rate base at WPL was primarily attributable to its Kossuth wind farm, which was placed in service in October 2020, and the expansion of its gas distribution system in Western Wisconsin, which was placed in service in November 2020. This increasing rate base at WPL also resulted in higher depreciation expense and lower AFUDC in the third quarter of 2021. Credit loss adjustment on guarantee for affiliate of Whiting Petroleum in 2020 - A wholly-owned subsidiary of Alliant Energy continues to guarantee the partnership obligations of an affiliate of Whiting Petroleum under multiple general partnership agreements. The partnership obligations include costs associated with the future abandonment of certain facilities owned by the partnerships. Whiting Petroleum completed its bankruptcy proceedings in the third quarter of 2020. Alliant Energy estimated a decrease in the current expected credit loss related to the guarantees and recognized $0.04 per share of earnings in the third quarter of 2020. This was a non-recurring increase to earnings in the third quarter of 2020. 2021 Earnings Guidance Alliant Energy is updating its EPS guidance for 2021 as follows. The midpoint of the 2021 EPS guidance was increased by $0.07 per share primarily due to favorable temperature impacts on retail electric and gas sales through the third quarter.   Revised   Previous Alliant Energy Consolidated $2.61 - $2.67   $2.50 - $2.64 Drivers for Alliant Energy's 2021 earnings guidance include, but are not limited to: Ability of IPL and WPL to earn their authorized rates of return Stable economy and resulting implications on utility sales Normal temperatures in its utility service territories for the rest of the year Execution of cost controls Execution of capital expenditure and financing plans Consolidated effective tax rate of (13%) The 2021 earnings guidance does not include the impacts of any material non-cash valuation adjustments, regulatory-related charges or credits, reorganizations or restructurings, future changes in laws, regulations or regulatory policies, adjustments made to deferred tax assets and liabilities from valuation allowances, changes in credit loss liabilities related to guarantees, settlement charges related to employee benefit plans, pending lawsuits and disputes, federal and state income tax audits and other Internal Revenue Service proceedings, future changes in laws or regulations including potential tax reform, or changes in GAAP and tax methods of accounting that may impact the reported results of Alliant Energy. 2022 Earnings Guidance Alliant Energy is issuing EPS guidance for 2022 of $2.65 - $2.79. Drivers for Alliant Energy's 2022 earnings guidance include, but are not limited to: Ability of IPL and WPL to earn their authorized rates of return Stable economy and resulting implications on utility sales Normal temperatures in its utility service territories Execution of cost controls Execution of capital expenditure and financing plans Consolidated effective tax rate of 6% The 2022 earnings guidance does not include the impacts of any material non-cash valuation adjustments, regulatory-related charges or credits, reorganizations or restructurings, future changes in laws, regulations or regulatory policies, adjustments made to deferred tax assets and liabilities from valuation allowances, changes in credit loss liabilities related to guarantees, pending lawsuits and disputes, federal and state income tax audits and other Internal Revenue Service proceedings, or changes in GAAP and tax methods of accounting that may impact the reported results of Alliant Energy. "We will continue to execute on our purpose-driven plan in 2022, continuing construction on many of our planned solar projects that will provide the reliable, affordable and clean energy our customers want and deserve. Our 12-year track record of 5% to 7% long-term growth continues with our 2022 earnings guidance of $2.65 - $2.79 per share," said Larsen 2022 Annual Common Stock Dividend Target Alliant Energy's Board of Directors approved a 6% increase, or $0.10 per share, to its 2022 expected annual common stock dividend target of $1.71 per share from the current annual common stock dividend target of $1.61 per share. Payment of the 2022 quarterly dividend is subject to the actual dividend declaration by the Board of Directors each quarter, which is expected in January 2022 for the first quarter dividend. Projected Capital Expenditures Alliant Energy has updated its projected net capital expenditures for 2021 through 2025, which total $7 billion, as follows (in millions). The projected capital expenditures exclude AFUDC and capitalized interest, if applicable. Cost estimates represent Alliant Energy's estimated portion of total construction expenditures.     2021     2022     2023     2024     2025 Generation:                   Renewable projects $385     $550       $520       $1,270       $675     Other   90       105         185         190         90     Distribution:                   Electric systems   490       445         560         605         625     Gas systems   70       70         80         70         75     Other   165       185         185         185         205     Gross Capital Expenditures   1,200       1,355         1,530         2,320         1,670     Solar Project Tax Equity   —       (190 )       (125 )       (580 )       (170 )   Net Capital Expenditures $1,200     $1,165       $1,405       $1,740       $1,500                                                     Earnings Conference Call A conference call to review the third quarter 2021 results is scheduled for Friday, November 5 at 9:00 a.m. central time. Alliant Energy Chair, President and Chief Executive Officer John Larsen, and Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Robert Durian will host the call. The conference call is open to the public and can be accessed in two ways. Interested parties may listen to the call by dialing 888-394-8218 (United States or Canada) or 323-794-2149 (International), passcode 4175543. Interested parties may also listen to a webcast at www.alliantenergy.com/investors. In conjunction with the information in this earnings announcement and the conference call, Alliant Energy posted supplemental materials on its website. A replay of the call will be available through November 12, 2021, at 888-203-1112 (United States or Canada) or 719-457-0820 (International), passcode 4175543. An archive of the webcast will be available on the Company's Web site at www.alliantenergy.com/investors for 12 months. About Alliant Energy Corporation Alliant Energy is the parent company of two public utility companies - Interstate Power and Light Company and Wisconsin Power and Light Company - and of Alliant Energy Finance, LLC, the parent company of Alliant Energy's non-utility operations. Alliant Energy is an energy-services provider with utility subsidiaries serving approximately 975,000 electric and 420,000 natural gas customers. Providing its customers in the Midwest with regulated electricity and natural gas service is the Company's primary focus. Alliant Energy, headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin, is a component of the S&P 500 and is traded on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol LNT. For more information, visit the Company's Web site at www.alliantenergy.com. Forward-Looking Statements This press release includes forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements can be identified by words such as "forecast," "expect," "guidance," or other words of similar import. Similarly, statements that describe future financial performance or plans or strategies are forward-looking statements. Such forward looking statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in, or implied by, such statements. Actual results could be materially affected by the following factors, among others: the direct or indirect effects resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, including vaccine mandates and testing requirements, on sales volumes, margins, operations, employees, contractors, vendors, the ability to complete construction projects, supply chains, customers' inability to pay bills, suspension of disconnects, the market value of the assets that fund pension plans and the potential for additional funding requirements, the ability of counterparties to meet their obligations, compliance with regulatory requirements, the ability to implement regulatory plans, economic conditions and access to capital markets; the impact of pending COVID-19 vaccine mandates on workforce availability; the impact of penalties or third-party claims related to, or in connection with, a failure to maintain the security of personally identifiable information, including associated costs to notify affected persons and to mitigate their information security concerns; the direct or indirect effects resulting from terrorist incidents, including physical attacks and cyber attacks, or responses to such incidents; the impact of customer- and third party-owned generation, including alternative electric suppliers, in IPL's and WPL's service territories on system reliability, operating expenses and customers' demand for electricity; the impact of energy efficiency, franchise retention and customer disconnects on sales volumes and margins; the impact that price changes may have on IPL's and WPL's customers' demand for electric, gas and steam services and their ability to pay their bills; IPL's and WPL's ability to obtain adequate and timely rate relief to allow for, among other things, the recovery of and/or the return on costs, including fuel costs, operating costs, transmission costs, deferred expenditures, deferred tax assets, tax expense, capital expenditures, and remaining costs related to electric generating units (EGUs) that may be permanently closed and certain other retired assets, decreases in sales volumes, earning their authorized rates of return, and the payments to their parent of expected levels of dividends; federal and state regulatory or governmental actions, including the impact of legislation, and regulatory agency orders; the ability to utilize tax credits and net operating losses generated to date, and those that may be generated in the future, before they expire; the impacts of changes in the tax code, including tax rates, minimum tax rates, and adjustments made to deferred tax assets and liabilities; employee workforce factors, including changes in key executives, ability to hire and retain employees with specialized skills, ability to create desired corporate culture, collective bargaining agreements and negotiations, work stoppages or restructurings; any material post-closing payments related to any past asset divestitures, including the sale of Whiting Petroleum, which could result from, among other things, indemnification agreements, warranties, guarantees or litigation; weather effects on results of utility operations; issues associated with environmental remediation and environmental compliance, including compliance with all environmental and emissions permits, the Coal Combustion Residuals rule, future changes in environmental laws and regulations, including federal, state or local regulations for carbon dioxide emissions reductions from new and existing fossil-fueled EGUs, and litigation associated with environmental requirements; increased pressure from customers, investors and other stakeholders to more rapidly reduce carbon dioxide emissions; the ability to defend against environmental claims brought by state and federal agencies, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, state natural resources agencies or third parties, such as the Sierra Club, and the impact on operating expenses of defending and resolving such claims; continued access to the capital markets on competitive terms and rates, and the actions of credit rating agencies; inflation and interest rates; the ability to complete construction of solar generation projects within the cost targets set by regulators due to cost increases of materials, equipment and commodities including due to tariffs, labor issues or supply shortages, the ability to achieve the expected level of tax benefits based on tax guidelines and project costs, and the ability to efficiently utilize the solar generation project tax benefits for the benefit of customers; disruptions to the supply of materials, equipment and commodities needed to construct solar generation projects, including due to shortages, labor issues or transportation issues, which may impact the ability to meet capacity requirements and result in increased capacity expense; changes in the price of delivered natural gas, transmission, purchased electricity and coal due to shifts in supply and demand caused by market conditions and regulations; disruptions in the supply and delivery of natural gas, purchased electricity and coal; the direct or indirect effects resulting from breakdown or failure of equipment in the operation of electric and gas distribution systems, such as mechanical problems and explosions or fires, and compliance with electric and gas transmission and distribution safety regulations, including regulations promulgated by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration; issues related to the availability and operations of EGUs, including start-up risks, breakdown or failure of equipment, performance below expected or contracted levels of output or efficiency, operator error, employee safety, transmission constraints, compliance with mandatory reliability standards and risks related to recovery of resulting incremental costs through rates; impacts that excessive heat, excessive cold, storms or natural disasters may have on Alliant Energy's, IPL's and WPL's operations and recovery of costs associated with restoration activities or on the operations of Alliant Energy's investments; Alliant Energy's ability to sustain its dividend payout ratio goal; changes to costs of providing benefits and related funding requirements of pension and other postretirement benefits plans due to the market value of the assets that fund the plans, economic conditions, financial market performance, interest rates, timing and form of benefits payments, life expectancies and demographics; material changes in employee-related benefit and compensation costs; risks associated with operation and ownership of non-utility holdings; changes in technology that alter the channels through which customers buy or utilize Alliant Energy's, IPL's or WPL's products and services; impacts on equity income from unconsolidated investments from valuations and potential changes to ATC LLC's authorized return on equity; impacts of IPL's future tax benefits from Iowa rate-making practices, including deductions for repairs expenditures, allocation of mixed service costs and state depreciation, and recoverability of the associated regulatory assets from customers, when the differences reverse in future periods; changes to the creditworthiness of counterparties with which Alliant Energy, IPL and WPL have contractual arrangements, including participants in the energy markets and fuel suppliers and transporters; current or future litigation, regulatory investigations, proceedings or inquiries; reputational damage from negative publicity, protests, fines, penalties and other negative consequences resulting in regulatory and/or legal actions; the effect of accounting standards issued periodically by standard-setting bodies; the ability to successfully complete tax audits and changes in tax accounting methods with no material impact on earnings and cash flows; and other factors listed in the "2021 Earnings Guidance" and "2022 Earnings Guidance" sections of this press release. For more information about potential factors that could affect Alliant Energy's business and financial results, refer to Alliant Energy's most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC"), including the sections therein titled "Risk Factors," and its other filings with the SEC. Without limitation, the expectations with respect to 2021 and 2022 earnings guidance, 2022 annual common stock dividend target and 2021-2025 capital expenditures guidance in this press release are forward-looking statements and are based in part on certain assumptions made by Alliant Energy, some of which are referred to in the forward-looking statements. Alliant Energy cannot provide any assurance that the assumptions referred to in the forward-looking statements or otherwise are accurate or will prove to be correct. Any assumptions that are inaccurate or do not prove to be correct could have a material adverse effect on Alliant Energy's ability to achieve the estimates or other targets included in the forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements included herein are made as of the date hereof and, except as required by law, Alliant Energy undertakes no obligation to update publicly such statements to reflect subsequent events or circumstances. Use of Non-GAAP Financial Measures To provide investors with additional information regarding Alliant Energy's financial results, this press release includes reference to certain non-GAAP financial measures. These measures include income and EPS for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2020 excluding a credit loss adjustment on guarantees for an affiliate of Whiting Petroleum. Alliant Energy believes this non-GAAP financial measure is useful to investors because it provides an alternate measure to better understand and compare across periods the operating performance of Alliant Energy without the distortion of items that management believes are not normally associated with ongoing operations, and also provides additional information about Alliant Energy's operations on a basis consistent with the measures that management uses to manage its operations and evaluate its performance. Alliant Energy's management also uses income, as adjusted, to determine performance-based compensation. In addition, Alliant Energy included in this press release IPL; WPL; Corporate Services; Utilities and Corporate Services; ATC Holdings; and Non-utility and Parent EPS for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2021 and 2020. Alliant Energy believes these non-GAAP financial measures are useful to investors because they facilitate an understanding of segment performance and trends, and provide additional information about Alliant Energy's operations on a basis consistent with the measures that management uses to manage its operations and evaluate its performance. This press release references year-over-year variances in utility electric margins and utility gas margins. Utility electric margins and utility gas margins are non-GAAP financial measures that will be reported and reconciled to the most directly comparable GAAP measure, operating income, in our third quarter 2021 Form 10-Q. The tax impact adjustment represents the impact of the tax effect of the pre-tax non-GAAP adjustment excluded from non-GAAP net income. The tax impact of the non-GAAP adjustment is calculated based on the estimated consolidated statutory tax rate. This press release also includes temperature-normalized non-GAAP EPS guidance for the year ended December 31, 2021. Alliant Energy believes this non-GAAP guidance measure is useful to investors because the measure facilitates period-to-period comparison of Alliant Energy's operating performance and provides investors with information on a basis consistent with measures thatmanagement uses to assess Alliant Energy's earnings growth rate. Reconciliations of the non-GAAP financial measures included in this press release to the most directly comparable GAAP financial measures are included in the earnings summaries that follow and in the case of temperature normalized non-GAAP EPS guidance, in the press release above. Note: Unless otherwise noted, all "per share" references in this release refer to earnings per diluted share. ALLIANT ENERGY CORPORATIONEARNINGS SUMMARY (Unaudited) The following tables provide a summary of Alliant Energy's results for the three months ended September 30: EPS: Three Months   GAAP EPS   Adjustments   Non-GAAP EPS     2021     2020     2021     2020     2021     2020 IPL $0.63       $0.59     $ —      $ —       $0.63       $0.59   WPL   0.37         0.29       —        —         0.37         0.29   Corporate Services   0.01         0.01       —        —         0.01         0.01   Subtotal for Utilities and Corporate Services   1.01         0.89       —        —         1.01         0.89   ATC Holdings   0.03         0.03       —        —         0.03         0.03   Non-utility and Parent   (0.02 )       0.06       —        (0.04 )       (0.02 )       0.02   Alliant Energy Consolidated $1.02       $0.98     $ —      ($ 0.04 )     $1.02       $0.94                                                         Earnings (in millions): Three Months   GAAP Income (Loss)   Adjustments   Non-GAAP Income (Loss)     2021     2020     2021     2020     2021.....»»

Category: earningsSource: benzingaNov 4th, 2021

Predators With Badges: The Sex Traffickers On America"s Police Forces

Predators With Badges: The Sex Traffickers On America's Police Forces Authored by John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute, “Sexual predation by police officers happens far more often than people in the business are willing to admit.” - Former Seattle police chief Norm Stamper We are a nation on the brink of a nervous breakdown. Undeniably, the blowback from COVID-19 lockdowns and mandates continues to reverberate around the country, impacting the nation’s struggling workplaces, choking the economy and justifying all manner of authoritarian tyrannies being inflicted on the populace by state and federal governments. Yet while it is easy to be distracted by political theater, distressed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and divided over authoritarian lockdowns and mandates, there are still darker forces afoot that cannot—should not—must not be ignored. Here’s a news flash for you: there are sexual predators on America’s police forces. Indeed, when it comes to sex trafficking—the buying and selling of young girls, boys and women for sex—police have become both predators and pimps. As the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, “Hundreds of police officers across the country have turned from protectors to predators, using the power of their badge to extort sex.” Victims of sex trafficking report that police are among those “buying” young girls and women for sex. Incredibly, this COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in even greater numbers of children being preyed upon by sex traffickers. Unfortunately, rather than being part of the solution, America’s police forces—riddled with corruption, brutality, sexual misconduct and drug abuse—have largely become part of the problem. In New York, for instance, seven NYPD cops—three sergeants, two detectives and two officers—were accused of running brothels that sold 15-minute sexual encounters, raking in more than $2 million over the course of 13 months. In California, a police sergeant—a 16-year veteran of the police force—was arrested for raping a 16-year-old girl who was being held captive and sold for sex in a home in an upscale neighborhood. A week-long sting in Florida ended with 277 arrests of individuals accused of sex trafficking, including doctors, pharmacists and police officers. Sex trafficking victims in Hawaii described “cops asking for sexual favors to more coercive situations like I'll let you go if you do X, Y, or Z for me.” One study found that “over 14 percent of sex workers said that they had been threatened with arrest unless they had sex with a police officer.” In many states, it’s actually legal for police to have sex with prostitutes during the course of sting operations. While the problem of cops engaged in sex trafficking is part of the American police state’s seedy underbelly that doesn’t get addressed enough, equally alarming is the number of cops who commit sex crimes against those they encounter as part of their job duties, a largely underreported number given the “blue wall of silence” that shields police misconduct. Former Seattle police chief Norm Stamper describes cases in which cops fondled prisoners, made false traffic stops of attractive women, traded sexual favors for freedom, had sex with teenagers and raped children. Young girls are particularly vulnerable to these predators in blue. Former police officer Phil Stinson estimates that half of the victims of police sex crimes are minors under the age of eighteen. According to The Washington Post, a national study found that 40 percent of reported cases of police sexual misconduct involved teens. One young woman was assaulted during a "ride along" with an officer, who said in a taped confession: “The badge gets you the p---y and the p---y gets your badge, you know?” For example, a Pennsylvania police chief and his friend were arrested for allegedly raping a young girl hundreds of times—orally, vaginally, and anally several times a week—over the course of seven years, starting when she was 4 years old. In 2017, two NYPD cops were accused of arresting a teenager, handcuffing her, and driving her in an unmarked van to a nearby parking lot, where they raped her and forced her to perform oral sex on them, then dropped her off on a nearby street corner. The New York Times reports that “a sheriff’s deputy in San Antonio was charged with sexually assaulting the 4-year-old daughter of an undocumented Guatemalan woman and threatening to have her deported if she reported the abuse.” One young girl, J.E., was kidnapped by a Border Patrol agent when she was 14 years old, taken to his apartment and raped. “In the apartment, there were two beds on top of the other, children’s bunk beds, and ropes there, too. They were shoelaces. For my wrists and my feet. My mind was blank,” recalls J.E. “I was trying to understand everything. I didn’t know what to do. My feet were tied up. I would look at him and he had a gun. And that frightened me. I asked him why, and he answered me that he was doing this to me because I was the prettiest one of the three.” Two teenage girls accused a Customs and Border Protection officer of forcing them to strip, fondling them, then trying to get them to stop crying by offering chocolates, potato chips and a blanket. The government settled the case for $125,000. (Mind you, this is the same government that separated immigrant children from their parents and locked them up in detention centers, where they were easy prey for sexual predators. At one point, the government had received more than 4500 complaints about sexual abuse at those child detention facilities.) The police state’s sexual assaults of children are sickening enough, but when you add sex crimes against grown women into the mix, the picture becomes even more sordid. According to The Washington Post, “research on ‘police sexual misconduct’—a term used to describe actions from sexual harassment and extortion to forcible rape by officers—overwhelmingly concludes that it is a systemic problem.” Investigative journalist Andrea Ritchie has tracked national patterns of sexual violence by police officers during traffic stops, in addition to heightened risk from minor offenses, drug arrests and police interactions with teenagers. Victims of domestic abuse, women of color, transgender women, women who use drugs or alcohol, and women involved in the sex trade are particularly vulnerable to sexual assault by police. One Oklahoma City police officer allegedly sexually assaulted at least seven women while on duty over the course of four months, including a 57-year-old grandmother who says she was forced to give the cop oral sex after he pulled her over. A Philadelphia state trooper, eventually convicted of assaulting six women and teenagers, once visited the hospital bedside of a pregnant woman who had attempted suicide, and groped her breasts and masturbated. These aren’t isolated incidents. According to research from Bowling Green State University, police officers in the U.S. were charged with more than 400 rapes over a 9-year period. During that same time period, 600 police officers were arrested for forcible fondling; 219 were charged with forcible sodomy; 186 were arrested for statutory rape; 58 for sexual assault with an object; and 98 with indecent exposure. Sexual assault is believed to be the second-most reported form of misconduct against police officers after the use of excessive force, making up more than 9% of all complaints. Even so, these crimes are believed to be largely underreported so much so that sex crimes may in fact be the number one form of misconduct among police officers. So why are the numbers underreported? “The women are terrified. Who are they going to call? It's the police who are abusing them,” said Penny Harrington, the former police chief of Portland, Ore. One Philadelphia cop threatened to arrest a teenager for carjacking unless she had sex with him. “He had all the power. I had no choice,” testified the girl. “Who was I? He had his badge.” This is the danger of a police state that invests its henchmen with so much power that they don’t even need to use handcuffs or a gun to get what they want. Making matters worse, most police departments do little to identify the offenders, and even less to stop them. “Unlike other types of police misconduct, the abuse of police power to coerce sex is little addressed in training, and rarely tracked by police disciplinary systems,” conclude Nancy Phillips and Craig R. McCoy writing for the Philadelphia Inquirer. “This official neglect makes it easier for predators to escape punishment and find new victims.” Unfortunately, this is a problem that is hiding in plain sight, covered up by government agencies that are failing in their constitutional duties to serve and protect “we the people.” That thin blue line of knee-jerk adulation and absolute loyalty to police above and beyond what the law requires is creating a menace to society that cannot be ignored. As researcher Jonathan Blanks notes, “The system is rigged to protect police officers from outside accountability. The worst cops are going to get the most protection.” Hyped up on the power of the badge and their weaponry, protected from charges of wrongdoing by police unions and government agencies, and empowered by rapidly advancing tools—technological and otherwise—that make it all too easy to identify, track and take advantage of vulnerable members of society, predators on the nation’s police forces are growing in number. “It can start with a police officer punching a woman's license plate into a police computer - not to see whether a car is stolen, but to check out her picture,” warns investigative journalists Nancy Phillips and Craig R. McCoy. “If they are not caught, or left unpunished, the abusers tend to keep going, and get worse, experts say.” So where does this leave us? The courts, by allowing the government’s desire for unregulated, unaccountable, expansive power to trump justice and the rule of law, have turned away from this menace. Politicians, eager for the support of the powerful police unions, have turned away from this menace. Police unions, which have been at the forefront of the effort to shield sexual misconduct by cops, have exacerbated this menace. Yet for the sake of the most vulnerable among us, we as a nation must stop turning away from this menace in our midst. For starters, police should not be expected—or allowed—to police themselves. Misconduct by local police has become a national problem. Therefore, the response to this national problem must start at the local level. This is no longer a matter of a few bad apples. As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, the entire system has become corrupted and must be reformed. Greater oversight is needed, yes, but also greater accountability and more significant consequences for assaults. Andrea Ritchie’s piece in The Washington Post provides some practical suggestions for reform ranging from small steps to structural changes (greater surveillance of police movements, heightened scrutiny of police interactions and traffic stops, and more civilian oversight boards), but as she acknowledges, these efforts still don’t strike at the root of the problem: a criminal justice system that protects abusers and encourages abuse. It’s difficult to say whether modern-day policing with its deep-seated corruption, immunity from accountability, and authoritarian approach to law enforcement attracts this kind of deviant behavior or cultivates it, but empowering police to view themselves as the best, or even the only, solution to the public’s problems, while failing to hold them accountable for misconduct, will only deepen the policing crisis that grows deadlier and more menacing by the day. Tyler Durden Wed, 11/03/2021 - 23:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 3rd, 2021

Greenhaven Road Capital 3Q21 Commentary: Digital Turbine

Greenhaven Road Capital commentary for the third quarter ended September, 2021, discussing their largest position, Digital Turbine Inc (NASDAQ:APPS). Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Dear Fellow Investors, On the first page of every recent letter, I have noted that we will have down months, quarters, and years. Well, we just had a […] Greenhaven Road Capital commentary for the third quarter ended September, 2021, discussing their largest position, Digital Turbine Inc (NASDAQ:APPS). if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Henry Singleton Series in PDF Get the entire 4-part series on Henry Singleton in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Dear Fellow Investors, On the first page of every recent letter, I have noted that we will have down months, quarters, and years. Well, we just had a down quarter. The funds returned approximately -6% net for the third quarter, bringing YTD returns to approximately +14%. Please check your statements for actual numbers as they may vary by entity, investment date, and class. This may be of little solace to those like my Italian cousin who just joined the partnership, but since the Q1 2020 depths of the pandemic, we have had five straight quarters of positive performance returning well in excess of 250% over the past 15 months. We remain focused on the long term. Declines along the way are inevitable and sometimes offer buying opportunities. We are not trying to time the market; we are trying to generate attractive risk-adjusted returns over a multi-year period. Summer Of APPS When a top five holding starts the quarter at $76 and drops to $48 in a virtual straight line, questions should be asked. This was my July and August with Digital Turbine Inc (NASDAQ:APPS). If I liked the stock enough at $76 for it to be a top five holding, I should love it at $48, but Mr. Market was clearly flashing warning signs. While some of you may have enjoyed a carefree summer, I dove back into Digital Turbine to try and figure out what I might be missing and what the market might be missing. I did the best I could to parse every word and action of CEO Bill Stone, connected with dozens of investors, looked at every sell side report and model I could find, studied competitors, and spoke with former employees. There was such a wide gap between my perception of the company and the daily drubbing of its share price, and I was eager to understand if I was missing something or if there was actually a compelling buying opportunity in front of me. I went deep into the weeds, looking at what was said as well as what was unsaid. Over the summer and into the fall, a more detailed mosaic emerged, and I reached three conclusions. The first is that, after making four acquisitions in a little more than a year, the company has many more moving parts and is very difficult to model at a granular level. Nobody has a robust multi-year model that they have any certainty in. This includes yours truly, who (via the funds) has a large percentage of his family’s net worth invested in APPS, as well as sell-side analysts and even firms that specialize in building financial models for public companies. Digital Turbine’s model has gone from requiring three inputs – phone activations, revenue per phone, and percentage of revenue shared with carriers – to requiring dozens in order to achieve any real detail. The acquisitions each have different drivers, and the company’s new complexity is compounded by the fact that the most recent acquisition closed in Q2. As a result, Digital Turbine has not yet issued one full quarter of reporting with all of the acquired companies included. As best as I can tell, very few investors are letting themselves imagine what the economics will look like if there actually is an industrial logic to these acquisitions – if the companies truly are better combined than as stand-alone entities. To be fair, management was not spoon-feeding investors and was cautious with their public statements, spending months restricting their comments/guidance to saying that operating margins will improve over time. They finally opened up a crack in September, acknowledging that they were tracking 13 areas of potential revenue synergies. The combination of complexity and management conservatism created uncertainty, and many investors sell uncertainty and ask questions later. There was plenty of selling this summer. The second conclusion I reached is that Digital Turbine’s underlying business is extremely healthy. The core app discovery business was profitable last quarter and had organic revenue growth over 90%. The companies they acquired are growing revenue quickly, e.g. AdColony at +46% and Fyber at +198%. Even excluding the opportunities presented by the acquisition discussed below, there is the possibility of substantial future growth from increased penetration. Digital Turbine’s software is still on only 700 million phones, so there is a long runway for international growth with both carriers and manufacturers. Further, the company’s Mobile Posse division (a Q1 2020 acquisition) will be rolling out a new offering to Verizon and AT&T Android customers, and Samsung will be rolling out SingleTap on all devices worldwide. Despite what the share price was implying during Q3, I don’t believe the growth story is impaired. The third conclusion that I reached was that the acquisitions were done to control the advertising transaction from end to end, allowing Digital Turbine to capitalize on both a distribution advantage and a data advantage. They bought AdColony for its relationships with large advertisers and Fyber for its inventory of ads, effectively adding demand and supply, respectively, to their digital advertising platform. Digital Turbine’s distribution advantage is derived from a new offering called SingleTap, which allows an Android phone user to click on an app’s ad and download it in the background without being taken into the Google Play store. This patented offering leads to 2X-5X improved advertising efficiency. In the app world, this is massive, lowering the cost per install by 50% to 80% just by running ads with SingleTap embedded. What started as a $1M/quarter business is quickly approaching a $100M/year business. On an October investor call for Oppenheimer clients, management revealed that this $100M run-rate had been achieved with only 12 clients. A number of “last mile” technical issues have slowed growth and are being addressed, but the logic of taking the SingleTap technology and introducing it to AdColony clients to purchase ads served on Fyber’s networks is very interesting. Controlling the transaction and technology from end to end can yield superior outcomes for all parties. To date, none of the reported numbers reflect the opportunities presented by owning AdColony or Fyber, and there are reasons to believe that a technology that lowers acquisition costs by 50% will be used by more than 12 clients. The second reason that Digital Turbine wants to control the digital advertising from end to end is to take fuller advantage of their data advantage in the marketplace. They do not publicly emphasize their data advantages, but because Digital Turbine software is on the phone and operates under the carrier or OEM’s user agreement, they have access to a lot of data that other digital advertisers lack. How much data and how they can use it is determined, in part, by each carrier or hardware manufacturer, but at a high level, they know the model of phone and when it was activated, the demographics of the owner, what apps are installed, and which and when they have been opened. In a marketplace where advertisers are paying for app installs and activations, these data advantages can yield significantly lower cost per activation and drive advertising dollars towards the Digital Turbine ecosystem. It will take time to integrate the data advantages into campaigns and sell those campaigns to AdColony clients to be run on Fyber ad networks, but the combination of SingleTap and a measurable data advantage for a growing client base could yield lollapalooza results. It is easy to look and feel smart by being pessimistic and snarky, but optimism is usually more profitable. Buying more shares of a company that is up over 10X from the start of 2020 is not easy, but we did. I think Digital Turbine is in an enviable position with sound strategic rationale for controlling the digital advertising from end to end, pairing significant supply with significant demand, and layering in distribution and data advantages in a massive mobile advertising market where their overall market share is still small. On the left tail of negative outcomes, there are execution risk as well as risks associated with Google’s control of Android. At the same time, there are also massively positive potential outcomes such as the possibility that Digital Turbine eventually runs Verizon- or AT&T-branded app stores for the carriers. SingleTap could also be licensed to Snap or other large platforms. Again, SingleTap currently has only 12 clients. What will their revenue be with 100? When you layer in a below-market multiple with potentially dramatic sustained growth, the set-up is attractive. APPS’ price has rebounded from the lows of the summer, but I don’t think my summer was wasted. I now have a different (and potentially more informed) view of Digital Turbine’s distribution and data advantages than many in the market and believe that the market will gain a greater appreciation for the magnitude of the opportunity after the company’s analyst day in November. I think that the summer of 2021 will wind up being a lot more financially rewarding than the summers I cleaned pools. Here is a link to a brief slide deck on APPS that I presented at VALUEx Vail. Given the limited time window to present, it does not get into the details of data, but I think it will still be informative. Top 5 Holdings Our top five holdings should be familiar to limited partners, as we have owned them all prior to this quarter. The largest position is Digital Turbine Inc (NASDAQ:APPS) – discussed at length above. Below are brief updates on the remaining four: PAR Technology (PAR) PAR Technology Corporation (NYSE:PAR) continues to make progress towards moving quick-service restaurant chains to a cloud-based point of sale (POS) system, positioning itself to take advantage of all the opportunities that creates, such as integrating payments, inventory management, and loyalty program apps. The company raised capital during the quarter, which some may view as a negative, but I thought was incrementally quite positive. CEO Savneet Singh’s excellent capital allocation decisions are core to our PAR thesis. So far, every time that he has raised capital, he has made an acquisition. I look forward to seeing what he buys. The other positive development in Q3 was the announcement that PAR’s defense business won a large contract that they had been waiting on. This non-core, non-strategic asset greatly muddles company reporting, and I believe the announcement increases the likelihood that the defense business will be sold, simplifying the story and giving Savneet more capital to invest. KKR (KKR) KKR & Co Inc (NYSE:KKR) remains an extremely resilient business with an A+ team enjoying the secular tailwinds of the migration of investable dollars toward alternative assets, where large allocators like the returns and love the muted volatility. Elastic Software (ESTC) Share prices are up more than threefold since our first purchases of Elastic Software. Elastic NV (NYSE:ESTC) continues to report best-in-class net revenue retention (amount generated from existing customers) of 130%. With recent acquisitions, they are continuing their expansion into security. This is the company with the highest product velocity and largest addressable markets in our portfolio. With a massive base of customers using freemium/opensource products, there are fertile hunting grounds for growth. MarketWise (MKTW) During Q3, MarketWise Inc (NASDAQ:MKTW) reported their first quarter of earnings as a public company. I think it is fair to say that the market was underwhelmed. As of the writing of this letter, shares are down approximately 30% from our purchase price, which I thought was a fair one. As a reminder, MarketWise sells subscriptions to financial newsletters and related products. It is one of a very small handful of businesses that I know of that has grown to $500M+ in annual revenue with only $50,000 invested in the business to date. Gross margins are higher than most software companies at 86%, the company has been profitable all 20 years of operation, and revenue has grown for 18 of the 20 years. In the second quarter, they grew revenues 71%, generated over $50M in cash flow from operations, grew paid subscribers 45%, and grew free subscribers 75%. MarketWise has many attributes we seek from the businesses that we own, including: High Insider Ownership: 92% of outstanding shares are owned by insiders Recurring Revenue: 90%+ customer retention Operating Leverage: Incremental subscriber additions are highly profitable Long Runway for Growth with No Additional Capital: Customers are added at less than 1/5 of their lifetime value and marketing spend is paid back in less than 9 months. By most measures, this is an extremely healthy business, so why the decline? One can never be certain on this question, but my supposition is that the main driver has been the fact that MarketWise does not have a long history in the public markets or any publicly traded peers. Their forward guidance indicated a softening of demand as consumers focused elsewhere with the economy, recreational opportunities, and travel opening back up. These facts – combined with the market’s lack of familiarity with the business, its lack of publicly traded peers, the general apathy for SPACs, and overall uncertainty – led MarketWise to join a very long list of SPACs trading below their $10 IPO price. My working theory is that the company will get better at communicating and the market will get more comfortable with the inputs of the business and the strength of its operating model. There is a large list of free subscribers to convert and a history of growth and operating profits. If growth and profits continue, there is little room for multiples to compress further, and thus we believe the price should rise over time. Shorts The partnership remained short major indices and no individual companies. We have identified a couple of SPAC-related shorts that were not actionable; in one case there was no borrow available, and in another it was at the rate of 200% per year. While we continue to look for diamonds in the rough, rest assured, SPACs are still a fertile hunting ground for shorts. Outlook I generally believe that if we own good businesses run by great management teams, we will do well over time. I tend to discount many of the macro themes of the day. For instance, in 2015 when Greece’s issues were roiling global financial markets, I took some solace in the fact that the GDP of Greece was one-quarter that of the state of Ohio and represented far less than 1% of revenue for any of the companies that we owned. As I look at the wall of worry that is facing investors today, most items, such as supply chain issues, seem temporary and isolated to specific industries. The one worry that is more insidious than supply chains and has a far broader reach than a country-specific issue is inflation. Could the hangover of printing trillions and trillions of dollars include inflation? Yes, there are certainly indications that it could. When I look at our portfolio, I take some solace in the fact that most of the businesses that we own should be able to navigate an inflationary period well. KKR and Digital Turbine are not apparent beneficiaries of inflation, but they should be able to bear the environment as they operate with high margins, have no debt, don’t suffer from major labor costs, and lack long-term contracts where increases cannot be passed on. I also believe that my being right or wrong about my variant perceptions related to core holdings will have a larger impact than the CPI index movements. Thus, I am not building a bunker and we are not going to pivot immediately to gold, but of the thousands of variables out there in the cacophony of worry, inflation is the one I am focused on the most and it may influence our portfolio over time. Just as I have ended many of our letters... as volatility arises, I will attempt to take advantage of the opportunities it creates. We will continue to invest with a long-time horizon, and we will continue to invest like it is our own money – because it is. Thank you for the opportunity to grow your family capital alongside mine. Sincerely, Scott Miller Updated on Nov 2, 2021, 5:09 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: valuewalkNov 2nd, 2021

Babies are increasingly dying of syphilis in the US - but it"s 100% preventable

Babies with syphilis may have deformed bones, damaged brains, and struggle to hear, see, or breathe. A newborn baby rests at the Ana Betancourt de Mora Hospital in Camaguey, Cuba, on June 19, 2015. Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters The number of US babies born with syphilis quadrupled from 2015 to 2019. Babies with syphilis may have deformed bones, damaged brains, and struggle to hear, see, or breathe. Routine testing and penicillin shots for pregnant women could prevent these cases. This story was originally published by ProPublica, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom, in collaboration with NPR News. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.When Mai Yang is looking for a patient, she travels light. She dresses deliberately - not too formal, so she won't be mistaken for a police officer; not too casual, so people will look past her tiny 4-foot-10 stature and youthful face and trust her with sensitive health information. Always, she wears closed-toed shoes, "just in case I need to run."Yang carries a stack of cards issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that show what happens when the Treponema pallidum bacteria invades a patient's body. There's a photo of an angry red sore on a penis. There's one of a tongue, marred by mucus-lined lesions. And there's one of a newborn baby, its belly, torso and thighs dotted in a rash, its mouth open, as if caught midcry.It was because of the prospect of one such baby that Yang found herself walking through a homeless encampment on a blazing July day in Huron, California, an hour's drive southwest of her office at the Fresno County Department of Public Health. She was looking for a pregnant woman named Angelica, whose visit to a community clinic had triggered a report to the health department's sexually transmitted disease program. Angelica had tested positive for syphilis. If she was not treated, her baby could end up like the one in the picture or worse - there was a 40% chance the baby would die.Yang knew, though, that if she helped Angelica get treated with three weekly shots of penicillin at least 30 days before she gave birth, it was likely that the infection would be wiped out and her baby would be born without any symptoms at all. Every case of congenital syphilis, when a baby is born with the disease, is avoidable. Each is considered a "sentinel event," a warning that the public health system is failing.The alarms are now clamoring. In the United States, more than 129,800 syphilis cases were recorded in 2019, double the case count of five years prior. In the same time period, cases of congenital syphilis quadrupled: 1,870 babies were born with the disease; 128 died. Case counts from 2020 are still being finalized, but the CDC has said that reported cases of congenital syphilis have already exceeded the prior year. Black, Hispanic, and Native American babies are disproportionately at risk.There was a time, not too long ago, when CDC officials thought they could eliminate the centuries-old scourge from the United States, for adults and babies. But the effort lost steam and cases soon crept up again. Syphilis is not an outlier. The United States goes through what former CDC director Tom Frieden calls "a deadly cycle of panic and neglect" in which emergencies propel officials to scramble and throw money at a problem - whether that's Ebola, Zika, or COVID-19. Then, as fear ebbs, so does the attention and motivation to finish the task.The last fraction of cases can be the hardest to solve, whether that's eradicating a bug or getting vaccines into arms, yet too often, that's exactly when political attention gets diverted to the next alarm. The result: The hardest to reach and most vulnerable populations are the ones left suffering, after everyone else looks away.Yang first received Angelica's lab report on June 17. The address listed was a P.O. box, and the phone number belonged to her sister, who said Angelica was living in Huron. That was a piece of luck: Huron is tiny; the city spans just 1.6 square miles. On her first visit, a worker at the Alamo Motel said she knew Angelica and directed Yang to a nearby homeless encampment. Angelica wasn't there, so Yang returned a second time, bringing one of the health department nurses who could serve as an interpreter.They made their way to the barren patch of land behind Huron Valley Foods, the local grocery store, where people took shelter in makeshift lean-tos composed of cardboard boxes, scrap wood, and scavenged furniture, draped with sheets that served as ceilings and curtains. Yang stopped outside one of the structures, calling a greeting."Hi, I'm from the health department, I'm looking for Angelica."The nurse echoed her in Spanish.Angelica emerged, squinting in the sunlight. Yang couldn't tell if she was visibly pregnant yet, as her body was obscured by an oversized shirt. The two women were about the same age: Yang 26 and Angelica 27. Yang led her away from the tent, so they could speak privately. Angelica seemed reticent, surprised by the sudden appearance of the two health officers. "You're not in trouble," Yang said, before revealing the results of her blood test.Angelica had never heard of syphilis."Have you been to prenatal care?"Angelica shook her head. The local clinic had referred her to an obstetrician in Hanford, a 30-minute drive away. She had no car. She also mentioned that she didn't intend to raise her baby; her two oldest children lived with her mother, and this one likely would, too.Yang pulled out the CDC cards, showing them to Angelica and asking if she had experienced any of the symptoms illustrated. No, Angelica said, her lips pursed with disgust."Right now you still feel healthy, but this bacteria is still in your body," Yang pressed. "You need to get the infection treated to prevent further health complications to yourself and your baby."The community clinic was just across the street. "Can we walk you over to the clinic and make sure you get seen so we can get this taken care of?"Angelica demurred. She said she hadn't showered for a week and wanted to wash up first. She said she'd go later.Yang tried once more to extract a promise: "What time do you think you'll go?""Today, for sure."The CDC tried and failed to eradicate syphilis - twiceSyphilis is called The Great Imitator: It can look like any number of diseases. In its first stage, the only evidence of infection is a painless sore at the bacteria's point of entry. Weeks later, as the bacteria multiplies, skin rashes bloom on the palms of the hands and bottoms of the feet. Other traits of this stage include fever, headaches, muscle aches, sore throat, and fatigue. These symptoms eventually disappear and the patient progresses into the latent phase, which betrays no external signs. But if left untreated, after a decade or more, syphilis will reemerge in up to 30% of patients, capable of wreaking horror on a wide range of organ systems. Marion Sims, president of the American Medical Association in 1876, called it a "terrible scourge, which begins with lamb-like mildness and ends with lion-like rage that ruthlessly destroys everything in its way."The corkscrew-shaped bacteria can infiltrate the nervous system at any stage of the infection. Yang is haunted by her memory of interviewing a young man whose dementia was so severe that he didn't know why he was in the hospital or how old he was. And regardless of symptoms or stage, the bacteria can penetrate the placenta to infect a fetus. Even in these cases the infection is unpredictable: Many babies are born with normal physical features, but others can have deformed bones or damaged brains, and they can struggle to hear, see, or breathe.From its earliest days, syphilis has been shrouded in stigma. The first recorded outbreak was in the late 15th century, when Charles VIII led the French army to invade Naples. Italian physicians described French soldiers covered with pustules, dying from a sexually transmitted disease. As the affliction spread, Italians called it the French Disease. The French blamed the Neopolitans. It was also called the German, Polish, or Spanish disease, depending on which neighbor one wanted to blame. Even its name bears the taint of divine judgement: It comes from a 16th-century poem that tells of a shepherd, Syphilus, who offended the god Apollo and was punished with a hideous disease.By 1937 in America, when former Surgeon General Thomas Parran wrote the book "Shadow on the Land," he estimated some 680,000 people were under treatment for syphilis; about 60,000 babies were being born annually with congenital syphilis. There was no cure, and the stigma was so strong that public-health officials feared even properly documenting cases.Thanks to Parran's ardent advocacy, Congress in 1938 passed the National Venereal Disease Control Act, which created grants for states to set up clinics and support testing and treatment. Other than a short-lived funding effort during World War I, this was the first coordinated federal push to respond to the disease.Around the same time, the Public Health Service launched an effort to record the natural history of syphilis. Situated in Tuskegee, Alabama, the infamous study recruited 600 black men. By the early 1940s, penicillin became widely available and was found to be a reliable cure, but the treatment was withheld from the study participants. Outrage over the ethical violations would cast a stain across syphilis research for decades to come and fuel generations of mistrust in the medical system among Black Americans that continues to this day. People attend a ceremony near Tuskegee, Alabama, on April 3, 2017, to commemorate the roughly 600 men who were subjects in the Tuskegee syphilis study. Jay Reeves/AP Photo With the introduction of penicillin, cases began to plummet. Twice, the CDC has announced efforts to wipe out the disease - once in the 1960s and again in 1999.In the latest effort, the CDC announced that the United States had "a unique opportunity to eliminate syphilis within its borders," thanks to historically low rates, with 80% of counties reporting zero cases. The concentration of cases in the South "identifies communities in which there is a fundamental failure of public health capacity," the agency noted, adding that elimination - which it defined as fewer than 1,000 cases a year - would "decrease one of our most glaring racial disparities in health."Two years after the campaign began, cases started climbing, first among gay men and, later, heterosexuals. Cases in women started accelerating in 2013, followed shortly by increasing numbers of babies born with syphilis. The reasons for failure are complex: People relaxed safer sex practices after the advent of potent HIV combination therapies, increased methamphetamine use drove riskier behavior, and an explosion of online dating made it hard to track and test sexual partners, according to Ina Park, medical director of the California Prevention Training Center at the University of California San Francisco.But federal and state public-health efforts were hamstrung from the get-go. In 1999, the CDC said it would need about $35 million to $39 million in new federal funds annually for at least five years to eliminate syphilis. The agency got less than half of what it asked for, according to Jo Valentine, former program coordinator of the CDC's Syphilis Elimination Effort. As cases rose, the CDC modified its goals in 2006 from 0.4 primary and secondary syphilis cases per 100,000 in population to 2.2 cases per 100,000. By 2013, as elimination seemed less and less viable, the CDC changed its focus to ending congenital syphilis only.Since then, funding has remained anemic. From 2015 to 2020, the CDC's budget for preventing sexually transmitted infections grew by 2.2%. Taking inflation into account, that's a 7.4% reduction in purchasing power. In the same period, cases of syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia - the three STDs that have federally funded control programs - increased by nearly 30%."We have a long history of nearly eradicating something, then changing our attention, and seeing a resurgence in numbers," David Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, said. "We have more congenital syphilis cases today in America than we ever had pediatric AIDS at the height of the AIDS epidemic. It's heartbreaking."Adriane Casalotti, chief of government and public affairs at the National Association of County and City Health Officials, warns that the US should not be surprised to see case counts continue to climb."The bugs don't go away," she said. "They're just waiting for the next opportunity, when you're not paying attention."Syphilis has fewer poster children than HIV or cancerYang waited until the end of the day, then called the clinic to see if Angelica had gone for her shot. She had not. Yang would have to block off another half day to visit Huron again, but she had three dozen other cases to deal with.States in the South and West have seen the highest syphilis rates in recent years. In 2017, 64 babies in Fresno County were born with syphilis at a rate of 440 babies per 100,000 live births - about 19 times the national rate. While the county had managed to lower case counts in the two years that followed, the pandemic threatened to unravel that progress, forcing STD staffers to do COVID-19 contact tracing, pausing field visits to find infected people, and scaring patients from seeking care. Yang's colleague handled three cases of stillbirth in 2020; in each, the woman was never diagnosed with syphilis because she feared catching the coronavirus and skipped prenatal care.Yang, whose caseload peaked at 70 during a COVID-19 surge, knew she would not be able handle them all as thoroughly as she'd like to."When I was being mentored by another investigator, he said: 'You're not a superhero. You can't save everybody,'" she said.She prioritizes men who have sex with men, because there's a higher prevalence of syphilis in that population, and pregnant people, because of the horrific consequences for babies.The job of a disease intervention specialist isn't for everyone: It means meeting patients whenever and wherever they are available - in the mop closet of a bus station, in a quiet parking lot - to inform them about the disease, to extract names of sex partners, and to encourage treatment. Patients are often reluctant to talk. They can get belligerent, upset that "the government" has their personal information, or shattered at the thought that a partner is likely cheating on them. Salaries typically start in the low $40,000s.Jena Adams, Yang's supervisor, has eight investigators working on HIV and syphilis. In the middle of 2020, she lost two and replaced them only recently."It's been exhausting," Adams said.She has only one specialist who is trained to take blood samples in the field, crucial for guaranteeing that the partners of those who test positive for syphilis also get tested. Adams wants to get phlebotomy training for the rest of her staff, but it's $2,000 per person. The department also doesn't have anyone who can administer penicillin injections in the field; that would have been key when Yang met Angelica. For a while, a nurse who worked in the tuberculosis program would ride along to give penicillin shots on a volunteer basis. Then he, too, left the health department.Much of the resources in public health trickle down from the CDC, which distributes money to states, which then parcel it out to counties. The CDC gets its budget from Congress, which tells the agency, by line item, exactly how much money it can spend to fight a disease or virus, in an uncommonly specific manner not seen in many other agencies. The decisions are often politically driven and can be detached from actual health needs.When the House and Senate appropriations committees meet to decide how much the CDC will get for each line item, they are barraged by lobbyists for individual disease interests. Stephanie Arnold Pang, senior director of policy and government relations at the National Coalition of STD Directors, can pick out the groups by sight: breast cancer wears pink, Alzheimer's goes in purple, multiple sclerosis comes in orange, HIV in red. STD prevention advocates, like herself, don a green ribbon, but they're far outnumbered.And unlike diseases that might already be familiar to lawmakers, or have patient and family spokespeople who can tell their own powerful stories, syphilis doesn't have many willing poster children. Breast Cancer survivors hold up a check for the amount raised at The Congressional Womens Softball Game at Watkins Recreation Center in Capitol Hill on June 20, 2018. Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call "Congressmen don't wake up one day and say, 'Oh hey, there's congenital syphilis in my jurisdiction.' You have to raise awareness," Arnold Pang said. It can be hard jockeying for a meeting. "Some offices might say, 'I don't have time for you because we've just seen HIV.' ... Sometimes, it feels like you're talking into a void."The consequences of the political nature of public-health funding have become more obvious during the coronavirus pandemic. The 2014 Ebola epidemic was seen as a "global wakeup call" that the world wasn't prepared for a major pandemic, yet in 2018, the CDC scaled back its epidemic prevention work as money ran out."If you've got to choose between Alzheimer's research and stopping an outbreak that may not happen? Stopping an outbreak that might not happen doesn't do well," Frieden, the former CDC director, said. "The CDC needs to have more money and more flexible money. Otherwise, we're going to be in this situation long term."In May 2021, President Joe Biden's administration announced it would set aside $7.4 billion over the next five years to hire and train public health workers, including $1.1 billion for more disease intervention specialists like Yang. Public health officials are thrilled to have the chance to expand their workforce, but some worry the time horizon may be too short."We've seen this movie before, right?" Frieden said. "Everyone gets concerned when there's an outbreak, and when that outbreak stops, the headlines stop, and an economic downturn happens, the budget gets cut."Fresno's STD clinic was shuttered in 2010 amid the Great Recession. Many others have vanished since the passage of the Affordable Care Act.Health leaders thought "by magically beefing up the primary care system, that we would do a better job of catching STIs and treating them," Harvey, the executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, said.That hasn't worked out; people want access to anonymous services, and primary care doctors often don't have STDs top of mind. The coalition is lobbying Congress for funding to support STD clinical services, proposing a three-year demonstration project funded at $600 million.It's one of Adams' dreams to see Fresno's STD clinic restored as it was."You could come in for an HIV test and get other STDs checked," she said. "And if a patient is positive, you can give a first injection on the spot."'I've seen people's families ripped apart and I've seen beautiful babies die'On August 12, Yang set out for Huron again, speeding past groves of almond trees and fields of grapes in the department's white Chevy Cruze. She brought along a colleague, Jorge Sevilla, who had recently transferred to the STD program from COVID-19 contact tracing. Yang was anxious to find Angelica again."She's probably in her second trimester now," she said.They found her outside of a pale yellow house a few blocks from the homeless encampment; the owner was letting her stay in a shed tucked in the corner of the dirt yard. This time, it was evident that she was pregnant. Yang noted that Angelica was wearing a wig; hair loss is a symptom of syphilis."Do you remember me?" Yang asked.Angelica nodded. She didn't seem surprised to see Yang again. (I came along, and Sevilla explained who I was and that I was writing about syphilis and the people affected by it. Angelica signed a release for me to report about her case, and she said she had no problem with me writing about her or even using her full name. ProPublica chose to only print her first name.)"How are you doing? How's the baby?""Bien.""So the last time we talked, we were going to have you go to United Healthcare Center to get treatment. Have you gone since?"Angelica shook her head."We brought some gift cards..." Sevilla started in Spanish. The department uses them as incentives for completing injections. But Angelica was already shaking her head. The nearest Walmart was the next town over.Yang turned to her partner. "Tell her: So the reason why we're coming out here again is because we really need her to go in for treatment. [...] We really are concerned for the baby's health especially since she's had the infection for quite a while."Angelica listened while Sevilla interpreted, her eyes on the ground. Then she looked up. "Orita?" she asked. Right now?"I'll walk with you," Yang offered. Angelica shook her head."She said she wants to shower first before she goes over there," Sevilla said.Yang made a face. "She said that to me last time." Yang offered to wait, but Angelica didn't want the health officers to linger by the house. She said she would meet them by the clinic in 15 minutes.Yang was reluctant to let her go but again had no other option. She and Sevilla drove to the clinic, then stood on the corner of the parking lot, staring down the road.Talk to the pediatricians, obstetricians, and families on the front lines of the congenital syphilis surge and it becomes clear why Yang and others are trying so desperately to prevent cases. J.B. Cantey, associate professor in pediatrics at UT Health San Antonio, remembers a baby girl born at 25 weeks gestation who weighed a pound and a half. Syphilis had spread through her bones and lungs. She spent five months in the neonatal intensive care unit, breathing through a ventilator, and was still eating through a tube when she was discharged.Then, there are the miscarriages, the stillbirths, and the inconsolable parents. Irene Stafford, an associate professor and maternal-fetal medicine specialist at UT Health in Houston, cannot forget a patient who came in at 36 weeks for a routine checkup, pregnant with her first child. Stafford realized that there was no heartbeat."She could see on my face that something was really wrong," Stafford recalled. She had to let the patient know that syphilis had killed her baby."She was hysterical, just bawling," Stafford said. "I've seen people's families ripped apart and I've seen beautiful babies die." Fewer than 10% of patients who experience a stillbirth are tested for syphilis, suggesting that cases are underdiagnosed.A Texas grandmother named Solidad Odunuga offers a glimpse into what the future could hold for Angelica's mother, who may wind up raising her baby.In February of last year, Odunuga got a call from the Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital in Houston. A nurse told her that her daughter was about to give birth and that child protective services had been called. Odunuga had lost contact with her daughter, who struggled with homelessness and substance abuse. She arrived in time to see her grandson delivered, premature at 30 weeks old, weighing 2.7 pounds. He tested positive for syphilis.When a child protective worker asked Odunuga to take custody of the infant, she felt a wave of dread."I was in denial," she recalled. "I did not plan to be a mom again." The baby's medical problems were daunting: "Global developmental delays [...] concerns for visual impairments [...] high risk of cerebral palsy," read a note from the doctor at the time.Still, Odunuga visited her grandson every day for three months, driving to the NICU from her job at the University of Houston. "I'd put him in my shirt to keep him warm and hold him there." She fell in love. She named him Emmanuel.Once Emmanuel was discharged, Odunuga realized she had no choice but to quit her job. While Medicaid covered the costs of Emmanuel's treatment, it was on her to care for him. From infancy, Emmanuel's life has been a whirlwind of constant therapy. Today, at 20 months old, Odunuga brings him to physical, occupational, speech, and developmental therapy, each a different appointment on a different day of the week.Emmanuel has thrived beyond what his doctors predicted, toddling so fast that Odunuga can't look away for a minute and beaming as he waves his favorite toy phone. Yet he still suffers from gagging issues, which means Odunuga can't feed him any solid foods. Liquid gets into his lungs when he aspirates; it has led to pneumonia three times. Emmanuel has a special stroller that helps keep his head in a position that won't aggravate his persistent reflux, but Odunuga said she still has to pull over on the side of the road sometimes when she hears him projectile vomiting from the backseat.The days are endless. Once she puts Emmanuel to bed, Odunuga starts planning the next day's appointments."I've had to cry alone, scream out alone," she said. "Sometimes I wake up and think, 'Is this real?' And then I hear him in the next room."There's no vaccine for syphilis A health worker tests a migrant from Haiti for HIV and syphilis to in Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, on September 25, 2021. Daniel Becerril/Reuters Putting aside the challenge of eliminating syphilis entirely, everyone agrees it's both doable and necessary to prevent newborn cases."There was a crisis in perinatal HIV almost 30 years ago and people stood up and said this is not OK - it's not acceptable for babies to be born in that condition. [...We] brought it down from 1,700 babies born each year with perinatal HIV to less than 40 per year today," Virginia Bowen, an epidemiologist at the CDC, said. "Now here we are with a slightly different condition. We can also stand up and say, 'This is not acceptable.'" Belarus, Bermuda, Cuba, Malaysia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka are among countries recognized by the World Health Organization for eliminating congenital syphilis.Success starts with filling gaps across the health care system.For almost a century, public health experts have advocated for testing pregnant patients more than once for syphilis in order to catch the infection. But policies nationwide still don't reflect this best practice. Six states have no prenatal screening requirement at all. Even in states that require three tests, public-health officials say that many physicians aren't aware of the requirements. Stafford, the maternal-fetal medicine specialist in Houston, says she's tired of hearing her own peers in medicine tell her, "Oh, syphilis is a problem?"It costs public health departments less than 25 cents a dose to buy penicillin, but for a private practice, it's more than $1,000, according to Park of the University of California San Francisco."There's no incentive for a private physician to stock a dose that could expire before it's used, so they often don't have it," she said. "So a woman comes in, they say, 'We'll send you to the emergency department or health department to get it,' then [the patients] don't show up."A vaccine would be invaluable for preventing spread among people at high risk for reinfection. But there is none. Scientists only recently figured out how to grow the bacteria in the lab, prompting grants from the National Institutes of Health to fund research into a vaccine. Justin Radolf, a researcher at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, said he hopes his team will have a vaccine candidate by the end of its five-year grant. But it'll likely take years more to find a manufacturer and run human trials.Public-health agencies also need to recognize that many of the hurdles to getting pregnant people treated involve access to care, economic stability, safe housing, and transportation. In Fresno, Adams has been working on ways her department can collaborate with mental health services. Recently, one of her disease intervention specialists managed to get a pregnant woman treated with penicillin shots and, at the patient's request, connected her with an addiction treatment center.Gaining a patient's cooperation means seeing them as complex humans instead of just a case to solve."There may be past traumas with the healthcare system," Cynthia Deverson, project manager of the Houston Fetal Infant Morbidity Review, said. "There's the fear of being discovered if she's doing something illegal to survive. [...] She may need to be in a certain place at a certain time so she can get something to eat, or maybe it's the only time of the day that's safe for her to sleep. They're not going to tell you that. Yes, they understand there's a problem, but it's not an immediate threat, maybe they don't feel bad yet, so obviously this is not urgent.""What helps to gain trust is consistency," she added. "Literally, it's seeing that [disease specialist] constantly, daily. [...] The woman can see that you're not going to harm her, you're saying, 'I'm here at this time if you need me.'"Yang stood outside the clinic, waiting for Angelica to show up, baking in the 90-degree heat. Her feelings ranged from irritation - Why didn't she just go? I'd have more energy for other cases - to an appreciation for the parts of Angelica's story that she didn't know - She's in survival mode. I need to be more patient.Fifteen minutes ticked by, then 20."OK," Yang announced. "We're going back."She asked Sevilla if he would be OK if they drove Angelica to the clinic; they technically weren't supposed to because of coronavirus precautions, but Yang wasn't sure she could convince Angelica to walk. Sevilla gave her the thumbs up.When they pulled up, they saw Angelica sitting in the backyard, chatting with a friend. She now wore a fresh T-shirt and had shoes on her feet. Angelica sat silently in the back seat as Yang drove to the clinic. A few minutes later, they pulled up to the parking lot.Finally, Yang thought. We got her here.The clinic was packed with people waiting for COVID-19 tests and vaccinations. A worker there had previously told Yang that a walk-in would be fine, but a receptionist now said they were too busy to treat Angelica. She would have to return.Yang felt a surge of frustration, sensing that her hard-fought opportunity was slipping away. She tried to talk to the nurse supervisor, but he wasn't available. She tried to leave the gift cards at the office to reward Angelica if she came, but the receptionist said she couldn't hold them. While Yang negotiated, Sevilla sat with Angelica in the car, waiting.Finally, Yang accepted this was yet another thing she couldn't control.She drove Angelica back to the yellow house. As they arrived, she tried once more to impress on her just how important it was to get treated, asking Sevilla to interpret. "We don't want it to get any more serious, because she can go blind, she could go deaf, she could lose her baby."Angelica already had the door halfway open."So on a scale from one to 10, how important is this to get treated?" Yang asked."Ten," Angelica said. Yang reminded her of the appointment that afternoon. Then Angelica stepped out and returned to the dusty yard.Yang lingered for a moment, watching Angelica go. Then she turned the car back onto the highway and set off toward Fresno, knowing, already, that she'd be back.Postscript: A reporter visited Huron twice more in the months that followed, including once independently to try to interview Angelica, but she wasn't in town. Yang has visited Huron twice more as well - six times in total thus far. In October, a couple of men at the yellow house said Angelica was still in town, still pregnant. Yang and Sevilla spent an hour driving around, talking to residents, hoping to catch Angelica. But she was nowhere to be found.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytNov 2nd, 2021

46 work-appropriate gifts for your boss that"ll make you stand out from the team

From desk accessories and food deliveries to adult coloring books, these gifts will make your boss feel appreciated. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. If you're looking for great work-appropriate gifts, we've listed dozens of good work gift options below, from high-quality olive oil to home office upgrades. Thomas Northcut/Getty Images Show a great boss your appreciation with a thoughtful (but office-friendly) gift. Below, we rounded up some of our favorite work-appropriate gifts, from tech to coloring books. Looking for more gifts from Insider Reviews? Shop gift ideas for everyone in your life here. Whether virtually or in person, you likely spend the majority of your day with your coworkers. If you like them enough, you might even plan on getting them a gift as a thank you for all the good times in and out of the office. Giving a gift to a great boss, someone who makes a big difference in how you approach daily work activities and helps you grow professionally can feel a little trickier. Since they're your manager, it's important that your gift maintains professionalism - but still gets the message across that you appreciate their hard work. Below, we've rounded up 46 great gifts for your boss, from useful desk accessories to beautiful notebooks.The 46 best affordable, work-appropriate gifts for your boss:This list includes a Sponsored Product that has been suggested by Crowd Cow. It also meets our editorial criteria in terms of quality and value.* A three-month subscription that delivers the best teas or coffees from around the world to their door Atlas Tea Club Atlas Tea Club, Three-Month Subscription, from $60, available at Atlas Tea ClubAtlas Coffee Club, Three-Month Subscription, from $60, available at Atlas Coffee ClubThis subscription sends them delicious, unique single-origin teas or coffees from the best regions in the world for three months. It'll make each day just a little more pleasant. The best socks they'll ever wear Bombas Women's Solids Ankle Sock 4-Pack, from $47.50, available at BombasMen's Solids Ankle 4-Pack, from $47.50, available at BombasBombas makes the best socks in our closets. We've been vocal supporters of the brand for years thanks to its durability, comfort, and superior materials.Another part of Bombas' appeal is that the company donates a specifically designed pair of socks to a homeless shelter for every pair purchased. If you're not sold on those, we also like these $20 tube socks from the Parks Project — which helps fund projects in national parks.  A handmade, plantable card Etsy Plantable Seed Cards With Envelopes, $20, available at EtsySometimes the most thoughtful and appropriate gift is a handwritten card that they know you didn't just pick up in a rush. These beautiful handmade cards on Etsy support a small business and are made of seed paper, so they can plant their card and watch wildflowers grow.If you want to add something extra to show your appreciation, a Starbucks gift card is as safe as it gets.  A towel designed like their favorite city or hometown West Elm Claudia Pearson City Tea Towels, $20, available at West ElmIf they're a big fan of their current home or the town they grew up in, you can pay homage to that aspect of them with a cool, functional, and sentimental tea towel illustrated with city maps.  A small plant or bouquet for their desk The Sill Calathea Vittata, $43, available at The SillEarth & Sky Small Bouquet, $39, available at The Sill  If they've expressed an appreciation for greenery, a small plant for their workspace could help brighten a bit of each day. (Note: If they have pets, you may want to steer towards pet-friendly options).If they're less into caring for plants, The Sill also carries beautiful, unique bouquets.  A beautiful frame for their desk Framebridge The Little Gift, available at Framebridge, from $45Whether it adorns their desk in the office or their WFH station, a small frame filled with an image of their favorite memory, place, people, or pets is always appreciated. If you'd rather let them personalize it — and choose their own photo — go with a gift card. A comfortable travel-sized pillow Casper Nap Pillow, $17.50, available at CasperNot that we're encouraging sleeping on the job, but this mini pillow does make spontaneous naps very tempting. It's the smaller but equally comfortable and supportive version of one of our favorite pillows and even has its own pillowcase and travel bag.  A non-pretentious field guide to good wine Amazon The New Wine Rules: A Genuinely Helpful Guide to Everything You Need to Know, available on Amazon, $14.99If your boss enjoys the finer things (like a nice glass of wine) they'll probably like this book. In lieu of complicated or stuffy tips, "The New Wine Rules" by Jon Bonné is full of beautiful illustrations and useful, digestible tips — like a wine's expensive price tag not necessarily being indicative of its quality. Trendy olive oil that elevates any meal Brightland Alive Olive Oil, $37, available at BrightlandIf they spend a lot of time in the kitchen, they probably already know the merits of high-quality olive oil. A drizzle of Alive from Brightland adds a vibrant, zesty flavor to any dish. Plus, the beautiful bottle will look great on display in their kitchen. A relaxing adult coloring book Amazon The Art of Mandala, $4.99, available at AmazonStudies focused on the benefits of adult coloring books often reveal mandalas are the most effective designs for relaxation and induction of a meditative state. Their complex geometric patterns can be traced back to both ancient Buddhist and Hindu traditions.This affordable book contains 50 mandalas that vary in complexity and detail, so they can slowly work their way up to the most challenging patterns or work on a simple design when time is limited.  A fun desk toy Speks Speks Magnet Balls, $29.95, available at SpeksThe makers of our favorite magnetic desk toy have a new way to reduce stress and keep your boss entertained. These tiny magnetic balls make for a good mental break as well as help us stay concentrate in meetings.  A virtual helper Walmart Google Nest Mini, from $39, available at WalmartThe Google Nest Mini offers a compact, affordable smart speaker with Google Assistant built-in. They'll love being able to dim lights, control the volume on their TV, check the weather, and more, all with just the sound of their voice. Read our full review of the Google nest Mini here.This option is best for people who prefer Google's tech ecosystem. You may also want to consider the Amazon Echo Dot for Amazon users. A debut cookbook from a Michelin-starred chef Amazon "My Korea" by Hooni Kim, $22.49, at AmazonMichelin-starred chef Hooni Kim's debut cookbook is a crash course in the essentials of Korean cuisine. The book's tagline of "traditional flavors, modern recipes" is exactly what you should expect — from its take on Dolsot Bibimbap to Budae Jjigae to Hanjan's Spicy Rice Cakes.  A personalized video message from their favorite celebrity Cameo/Facebook Cameo video, from $1, available on CameoIf your workplace is less formal, you could get them a personalized message from their favorite celebrity. Whether they love a certain musician, reality TV star, comedian, or actor in a show you've both bonded over, there's a good chance you can find them on Cameo. The price will depend on the star, but there are plenty of options. A desk-friendly succulent garden The Sill/Facebook Hoya Heart Plant, $32, available at The SillThis heart-shaped succulent provides the perfect touch of greenery to any space. The miniature plant is pet-friendly and thrives in bright direct light.  Comfortable house slippers Everlane The ReNew Slipper, $65, available at EverlaneMost of us are spending a lot more time at home these days. And it's more enjoyable to do that when you're wearing some of the most comfortable slippers on the planet. We are big fans of the ReNew Slippers from Everlane — and they're relatively inexpensive. A face mask they can work out in Under Armour UA Sportmask, $30, available at Under ArmourUnder Armour's Sportmask was designed with athletes in mind, as reflected in its breathability, water resistance, and UPF 50+ sun protection. Thanks to the Sportsmask, they won't have to sacrifice their workout routine or their comfort. The best pens for their office Amazon Muji Gel Ink Ball Point Pens, $5.98, available at AmazonMuji's fine 0.38mm tip pen is a cult favorite — including among our teammates. According to the company, the water-based ink enables smooth writing, minimal bleeding, and a mechanism that helps keep the ink from drying out. If they write handwritten notes for work, they may have an outsized appreciation for this small but impactful upgrade. They're sold out on Muji, but you can still find them on Amazon. A set of notebooks with a bullet journaling system Amazon Word. 3 Pack Lined Pocket Notebooks, $12.99, available at AmazonThese small books are the perfect size for jotting down quick notes and to-do lists. Each page is printed with circles to help them set up an efficient, organized bullet journal.  A custom book embosser Etsy Custom Stamp, from $15, available at EtsyThis unique, thoughtful gift embosses books with "from the library of [their name]" by pressing down on it like a hole-puncher — it's the kind of thing most people would never buy themselves but will genuinely cherish if they receive it as a gift. They can use it on books as well as envelopes.  Three months of great hardcover books delivered to their door Book of the Month A Book of the Month subscription, from $49.99, available at Book of the MonthBook of the Month has been around for more than 90 years — and it's credited with hand-selecting and helping popularize books that range from Ernest Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises" to J.D. Salinger's "Catcher in the Rye." With your gift, your boss will get to choose between five new hardcover options the book club suggests every month. Their favorite food from across the US Goldbelly A meal from Goldbelly, prices varyNo matter where they've spent the year, you can send them their favorite foods from across the US by using Goldbelly — the company will deliver everything from Junior's cheesecake to Lou Malnati pizza to their doorstep. Or, give them a gift card so they can pick out a treat for themselves. A kit built for the work-from-home lifestyle Macy's Pinch Provisions Work From Home Survival Kit, $20, available at Bloomingdale'sIf they're getting tired of their office being in their living room, they'll appreciate this kit that takes a bit of the strain out of working from home. A conference call bingo card, desk yoga guide, and fidget cube are just a few of the quirky (yet useful) items they'll find in this set. A desk sign with a hint of humor Uncommon Goods Desk Name Plates, from $14.99, available at EtsyIf you and your boss have a humorous rapport going, they could get a kick out of this witty take on the everyday office signage. Plus, the sleek wooden and gold design let the sign speak for itself without appearing as overly kitschy.  A healthy snack subscription Love With Food/Instagram Gift a Love With Food subscription, from $7.99/monthLove with Food delivers organic, all-natural, or gluten-free snacks that serial snackers won't feel guilty about eating. The better-for-you chips, candy, and bars come from new and trending food brands, so they'll always be excited to fuel their work day.  A leather business card holder Leatherology Business Card Case, $45, available at LeatherologyFirst impressions matter, which is why they should be pulling out business cards from a handsome leather case. It has a no-fuss, invisible magnetic closure and can hold up to 20 cards. Choose from pebbled or smooth leathers in a variety of colors, or upgrade to premium leather. You can also add a monogram for an additional $10.  A soft throw to fight freezing office temperatures Amazon Eddie Bauer Sherpa Throw, $26.24 available at Kohl'sOwners of this large, cozy throw only have good things to say about it. It's plush and warm, with one side made of micro-fleece and the other made of sherpa fleece. A gift card to a popular women's workwear shop MM.LaFleur Gift Card, from $50, available at MM.LaFleurPopular women's workwear brand MM.LaFleur makes excellent pants and blazers that are definitely an investment, but totally worth the price. Its Bento Box contains these stylish and comfortable wardrobe staples to take the headache out of getting dressed in the morning.  A phone dock that also holds flowers UncommonGoods Bedside Smartphone Vase, $32, available at Uncommon GoodsIt's a pretty vase that pulls double-duty, holding both the fresh bouquet that brightens their day and the electronics that keeps them productive. There's a groove at the bottom of the stand to keep unsightly charging cords out of the way, too.  A lightweight portable keyboard Best Buy Logitech K480 Bluetooth Multidevice Keyboard, $34.99, available at Best BuyWith a slim Bluetooth keyboard, your boss can leave the laptop at home and still get work done while traveling. We like this one because it's quiet and comfortable to type on.  Their new favorite way to make delicious cold brew Blue Bottle Hario Cold Brew Bottle, $35, available at Blue BottleIf there's anything that can power them through a long workday, it's cold brew. Just combine water and ground coffee (not included), and stick the bottle in the fridge for a refreshing caffeinated treat.  A box of Korean sheet masks Facetory/Instagram Seven Lux 1 Month Gift Subscription, $19.90, available at FaceToryThe Korean sheet masks in this box are sure to bring some much-needed relief to any stressed-out boss. The brands, which often use out-of-the-ordinary ingredients, are usually difficult to find outside of Korea, but FaceTory makes them both accessible and affordable.  A delicious and unique food gift Harry & David/Instagram Make-Your-Own Four Preserve and Butter Sampler, $31.99, available at Harry & DavidMix and match jars of fig preserves, triple berry preserves, apple butter, pumpkin butter, and more to create a sweet breakfast starter kit. The size is also perfect for their desk if they ever want a small and sweet afternoon pick-me-up.  A key cable they can bring anywhere Amazon Native Union Key Cable, from $29.99, available at AmazonThis portable cable charges up Apple devices quickly and claims to be six times stronger than the standard lightning cable, boasting a 10,000-bend lifespan. The knotted cable also looks great and makes it easy to fish out the charger from their bag.  A versatile toiletry bag to bring on their travels Dagne Dover Small Hunter Toiletry Bag, $40, available at Dagne DoverDagne Dover's durable and quick-drying neoprene is most notably featured in the brand's popular backpacks and gym bags, but it's also well-suited for this small bag that organizes your boss's life on the go. It includes a removable air mesh pouch and is available in a range of dusky colors and camo patterns.  A durable suitcase Away The Mini, from $45, available at AwayAway's highly popular mini versions of its internet-famous suitcase are back. The light and stylish polycarbonate accessory can store and protect your boss' essentials like jewelry and accessories — and it's nowhere near as expensive as a real suitcase.  A beautiful vase West Elm Barro Vases, available at West Elm, from $36A vase is a pretty foolproof gift — it's just as good for the recently engaged (or recently promoted) person as it is for someone who would always prefer a practical gift over a knick-knack.And if you're looking for something more minimalist, we recommend this version.  Enjoyable, sustainable seafood and meat Crowd Cow Check out Crowd Cow's gift bundlesCrowd Cow specializes in environmentally conscious seafood and meat that doesn't sacrifice quality, all the way down to its 100% carbon-neutral packaging. If you're not sure which gift bundle is best based on your boss' dietary preferences, stocking stuffers like jerky and rubs also make great choices.*Sponsored by Crowd Cow Desk cable clips that keep cords neat and organized Amazon Shintop 6-Piece Cable Clips Set, $4.99, available on AmazonThis small but practical gift will sort out their jumble of cords for good. If you're worried that the set doesn't look significant enough, you can pair a few of these cable clips with a nice card and some candy.  An insulated tumbler Amazon Hydro Flask 32-Ounce Travel Tumbler Cup, $34.95, available at Hydro FlaskThe ergonomic comfort of a classic tall cup plus Hydro Flask's signature double-wall vacuum insulation makes this a coffee or tea vessel they'll always keep on hand. It keeps their beverage hot for up to six hours and includes a press-in lid to prevent spills.  A luxurious candle Otherland Otherland Candles, $36, available at OtherlandWith its beautiful packaging, unique scents, and special matchbox messages, Otherland turns the otherwise ordinary candle into a cherished gift. Take advantage of its limited-edition scents while they last, or find a suitable match in its diverse Core Collection.  A way to celebrate the end of Q1 Harry & David Moose Munch Premium Popcorn Classic Tin, $44.99, available at Harry & DavidSend them this assortment of sweet and savory popcorn to get the new quarter started. This particular edition contains four decadent flavors of Moose Munch: classic caramel, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and milk chocolate s'mores.  A decorative trinket tray Bloomingdale's Jonathan Adler Hollywood Tray, $58, available at Bloomingdale'sA sturdy and stylish stoneware tray from Jonathan Adler comes in handy for holding jewelry, accessories, and stray trinkets.  A protective cover for their AirPods case Amazon PodSkinz AirPods Case Protective Silicone Cover, $4.95, available at AmazonApple AirPods: incredibly convenient, but also incredibly easy to lose and scratch up. A silicone cover is a cheap and attractive way to protect the case protecting their beloved earbuds.  The newest smart home device Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen), $34.99, available at TargetAmazon's newest version of its bestselling smart speaker has an improved sound and look. Whether they want to coordinate a smooth-sailing smart home experience or enjoy music out loud, the Echo Dot can keep up.  A reusable utensil kit that helps them cut down on waste United by Blue Utensil Kit, $24, available at United by BlueWhen they leave the office to grab lunch (or if they're into camping and hiking), they can use these stainless steel utensils instead of plastic or paper options. It folds up conveniently so it can go with them anywhere.  Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 28th, 2021

Online Estate Agencies Like PurpleBricks and YOPA To Be Sued By Former Workers

‘Class Action’ Against Purplebricks and YOPA Launched By Major Claims Firm Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Purplebricks and YOPA To Be Sued By Former Workers A leading claims firm has announced its intention to commence proceedings against online estate agency companies such as Purplebricks and YOPA on behalf of thousands of formerly […] ‘Class Action’ Against Purplebricks and YOPA Launched By Major Claims Firm 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); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Purplebricks and YOPA To Be Sued By Former Workers A leading claims firm has announced its intention to commence proceedings against online estate agency companies such as Purplebricks and YOPA on behalf of thousands of formerly self-employed Local Property Experts (LPEs), Local Agents and Territory Owners (TOs) and on a no win-no fee basis. Contractors For Justice (C4J) are a firm that seeks remedies for workers that have been disadvantaged by companies that have opted to engage their workers on a self-employed basis despite, in reality, directing them day to day as actual employees would be. In other sectors, this approach has often been proven to fall foul of HMRC IR35 regulations including food delivery and taxis. C4J have hired leading property sector PR agency ProperPR as its media and communications partner. Whilst the term ‘class action’ is a description for actions involving multiple claimants which hails from the United States, in the UK these proceedings are known as Group Litigation Orders (GLOs) and it’s this mechanism that C4J intend to apply to the courts for authority for in order to incept their legal action. Purplebricks, as an example, state that they have 600 Local Property Experts. Their rate of churn is estimated to be 50% per annum. This could mean that since its launch in 2014 some 2700 ‘LPE’s have worked with that particular organisation plus many more TOs. Most will have previously been designated as self-employed and, based on C4J’s claim, are potentially in line for a pay-out of thousands of pounds each if the claim is successful. Non-Payment Of Holiday Pay The initial basis of the action centres upon the non-payment of holiday pay which C4J say previous and current workers may be due if it is proven that they were in fact employed for the purposes of the legal definition. The claim will also seek to recover the workplace pension contributions that potentially should have been made by the ‘employer’. The quantum of just these two elements is 12.07% of each year’s earnings for the former and up to 8% for the latter, plus interest. The total quantum of the claim could therefore amount to tens of millions of pounds if current and former self-employed agents and territory owners are, in fact, deemed by the courts to have been workers despite their self-employed label. Former and current self-employed PurpleBricks and YOPA agents and those from estate agencies running similar business models can find out more information and can register their expression of interest in pursuing a joint claim via the C4J website here. C4J stress that their action on behalf of agent individuals relates to business models that directed their agents ‘as if they were employed’. Hybrid agencies that merely support self-employed agents such as Keller Williams, eXp, Nested and the like are deemed to operate a significantly ‘hands-off’ model and are likely to sit outside of any such claim. Self-Employed Contractors Are In Fact Workers Peter Fletcher, spokesperson on behalf of Contractors for Justice Limited says “HMRC and the courts are clear that just designating your staff as self-employed does not mean that you may operate those workers as employees in all but name just to save the company from paying holiday pay, statutory pension contributions and so on. In recent cases involving Amazon and Uber, it’s been found that self-employed contractors were in fact workers in the eyes of the law.’ ‘Our action against online estate agencies, that may have designated their workers as self-employed when in fact they may not have been, is being commenced in a similar vein to these other well-known outcomes and therefore we are very confident of our success in reclaiming in some cases many thousands of pounds for the individuals concerned.’ ‘I’d urge anyone that believes they may have been financially disadvantaged by their employment status, to register themselves at the C4J website as soon as possible.” Russell Quirk, Co-Founder of ProperPR adds “We’ve been selected as C4J’s media and communications partner due to our in-depth knowledge of the property industry and our large number of contacts within it.’ ‘Clearly, this proposed action is just that, an action, and no one is as yet pre-empting the outcome or presupposing that any specific online estate agent will be proven culpable. Our job is simply to raise awareness of this issue so that individual agents that may have a claim are able to put that claim to the test formally and in the knowledge that they sit with hundreds of like-minded agents that might each be owed a substantial sum of money.” Updates on the progress of this case will be provided at regular intervals. An article that Russell Quirk wrote on this subject in June 2018 can be seen here. Updated on Oct 21, 2021, 11:23 am (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkOct 21st, 2021

Digital Cancer – Will Facebook Go The Way Of Big Tobacco?

Digital Cancer – Will Facebook Go The Way Of Big Tobacco? Authored by Bill Blain via MorningPorridge.com, “There is something rotten in the state of Denmark…” The market has apparently shrugged off the platform outages and whistleblower testimony on Facebook’s prioritisation of profits over people. Or is Facebook mortally wounded and a regulatory quietus inevitable? Can the social media genie be put back in the bottle? The big story this week should be Facebook. Whistleblower Frances Haugen was in the papers earlier this week saying she didn’t want to kill Facebook, but make it safer… Then she did a pretty brutal hatchet job on the firm in her US Senate testimony – describing a corporate culture that won’t change unless it is forced to. She blamed founder (and Global Business Personality most likely to be an actual Bond Villain), Mark Zuckerberg by name, accusing him of “profits over people”. Her comments about the company increasingly caught in a negative feedback loop of employee dis-satisfaction and client disengagement were fascinating in themselves – and speak of a company we should be worried about – although the main threat is regulatory. But, take a look at the following day’s stock price action and you wouldn’t know there was a problem. The market is ignoring the existential threat to Facebook – shrugging off any doubt. Instead the stock climbed from its low after Monday’s 6 hour unexplained platform outage – which itself is another reason to wonder what the devil is really going on in Menlo Park. But first… a digression on corporate failure: The one thing we can say for certain about being caught up in the death-throes of a corporate is its never anyone else’s fault. Sometimes – very rarely – it’s a single “no-see-um” unpredictable event that causes a company to spiral into oblivion. As hard as I tried, I could only think of one: Barings Bank in the 1990s, brought down by the actions of a single rogue trader. Every single other corporate collapse leaves a trail of forensic clues as to why its end became inevitable. More often than not it’s something fundamentally mistaken or rotten at the failing firm’s core that investors should have noticed, analysed, understood and sold out on. It might be accounting fraud like Enron and Wirecard– the first of which ultimately brought down their accountants Arthur Andersen for failing in their duties, and the second of which has made German regulatory oversight a laughing stock! (Both of which are lessons: don’t trust professionals like bean counters, bureaucrats and especially not rating agencies. Key mantra: you’ve naebody to blame but yourself if you don’t keep doing the diligence.) Or it might be recognising a brilliantly performing investment is actually a Ponzi scheme like Madoff – before it unravels. It may be sniffing out bad actors like Robert Maxwell raiding the pension fund, or Asil Nasir stealing Polly Peck’s company assets. It might be recognising overexpansion and bubbles – like Evergrande. It might be understanding dangerous politics – again Evergrande. It might be spotting the outright lies spouted by the Theranos pair. It might be not being sucked in by bluff and bluster about massive riches just over the horizon – a common factor since the South Sea bubble, encompassing Gold Mines that never hit the motherload, and all the way to dot.coms with no profit potential. It might be that greedy management that cause company values to collapse – like has happened to Boeing, although it hasn’t gone bust yet. Occasionally I get it right… I called the implausibility of WeWork’s profit expectations spot on. I called Tesla wrong – I expected it would fail, swamped by debt. Instead, it’s equity rose so high it was able to refinance itself. Bubbles fuel bubbles. I remain unconvinced on the viability of many disruptive firms to ever achieve meaningful profits, and believe the “adoption” of cryptocurrencies is fuelled entirely by the desperate hopes of get-rich-quick speculators praying someone else will ultimately buy them. (Which is why the con artists behind them keep reminding the greater fools to HODL while they exit…) So…. What about Facebook? There is something rotten in the state of Menlo Park, and I’m trying to work out what it might be…. The charge is it fosters, enables and disseminates false information that causes actual damage and hurt to platform users. The testimony suggests it’s a proven case. I am trying to work out if Facebook’s deathblow might have already been delivered in Washington – or will it continue to dodge regulatory bullets? If its a proven social ill it is doomed. If so, then Facebook’s approaching quietus is going to be very, very different from all the cases I’ve listed above. It will likely be a judicial killing, but you can bet the stock price will have shattered long before the long-drop trapdoor opens. It begs a host of questions, including: can you hang a concept? The concept in question is Facebook’s dominance in the field of being able to sell our digital selves to the highest bidder.. If Facebook isn’t doing it – someone else likely will. At its heart is privacy and who owns our digital selves? I’m not pleased to think Zuckerberg owns mine… This morning I’ve tried to unthink everything I previously thought about Facebook, its revenues, the model and its personalities to work out the essentials of what Facebook has actually become. I started from the basic proposition – no one gives anything valuable away for free. That’s been implicit with Facebook since its inception. In return for free access, they get your valuable data. We perceived the model as 2 headed, the essentially harmless Dr Jekyll and the somewhat evil Mr Hyde: It’s a “harmless” addictive social pastime. Who can resist pretty kitten pictures, checking your messages and seeing what your chums are doing on FB? The money comes from monetising these platforms – they are designed to categorise, profile and sell us. It’s a money making machine that works out what we are, our needs and desires and then sells these to whomever will pay the most for access. Now we are beginning to understand the social harms and distortions from the addiction and the information it feeds us. Now we recognise the unintended consequences of digital access – fake news fed to the most likely believers. The whistleblower revelations expose the platforms for what Facebook has allowed them to become: digital cancer. Simply put, Facebook is guilty of peddling addictive social platforms in the pursuit of profit over the protection of the public. It struck me its broadly similar to the Tobacco Companies. For all the tobacco firms once told us how manly, how medically proven cigarettes were – we now realise they were peddling poison. They have rightly been cracked down upon. The algorithmic addictions Facebook feeds its money making machine are no different from a tar-laden cigarette. It was 1962 when the Royal College of Physicians finally exposed the Tobacco industry lie that cigarettes were good. It then took years for advertising bans to be enforced. “Voluntary agreements” with the tobacco Barrons proved hollow shams. It took 10 years to put health warnings on packets. Lunch cancer deaths continued to rise for decades. 20 years after the news smoking was bad broke, players were still wearing tobacco logos at Wimbledon. Can we now close the door on Facebook, and the explosion in social media has opened to targeted fake news, advertising, digital coercion and other social ills? Can we ever control the way in which conspiracy is marketed and sold across Facebook and its clones? Or lessen the anxieties it creates? I suspect that genie is out the bottle and is not going back in. But, the market will wake up and listen… Facebook now looks a proven social ill – any firm that claims it’s an ESG focused investor should be carefully considering whether Facebook meets their ethical investment parameters. Any firm advertising on Facebook should be taking a long hard look at it… and do it before government does it for them. Tyler Durden Fri, 10/08/2021 - 11:30.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytOct 8th, 2021

America"s bus-driver "shortage" isn"t new: It"s due to years of underfunding, and it"s putting kids at risk.

Underfunding schools hasn't only led to a "shortage" of US bus drivers. It also means some kids are riding on buses without modern safety equipment. OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images The current school year brought national stories about bus-driver "shortages." But as economists would argue: When employers raise wages, industry shortages disappear. After years of underfunding education and school transportation, that's what states need to do. This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author. Dr. Stephen Owens is a senior policy analyst at the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute. See more stories on Insider's business page. The beginning of the current school year brought several national stories of purported school-bus driver shortages. Economists generally take issue with this verbiage because when employers raise wages, industry shortages disappear. School-bus drivers and monitors have long operated for low pay in difficult working conditions - transporting minors with whom they may not have a relationship during strange hours that make it difficult to take on additional part-time jobs. School districts were mostly able to achieve full employment with these conditions before the pandemic, but the problem has been evident for years and longtime concerns are now coming to fruition. It is incumbent on school districts to raise wages, and for this to happen, states need to increase school funding. Associated Press At the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, where I work as a senior policy analyst, we wrote about the coming crisis well before the pandemic. As in states across the country, the state of Georgia holds the constitutional responsibility to pay for public education. Although in practice, Georgia shares the cost burden with local property taxes and federal funding, the onus sits in the state capital, which helps explain why 53 cents of every dollar spent in public education comes from the state. As a policy analyst at a non-profit, non-partisan budget and policy analysis organization, I've watched state funding stagnate for more than two decades. To wit: Georgia paid $139 million for pupil transportation in Fiscal Year (FY) 2002, $4 million more than the amount allotted for the program in the current year (FY 2022). While state money languished, the public-school system gained 250,000 students and prices increased for fuel, vehicles, and labor.To add insult to injury: In the wake of the Great Recession, state lawmakers pushed the burden of paying for bus-driver health insurance to local school districts, a change that was never rectified in the years of economic expansion that followed. Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images Budgets for school districts can only be stretched so far, and the last two decades have seen additional budget cuts to public education in Georgia every year, save two. Wages, benefits and working conditions suffered as a result. The added pressure of issues such as mask enforcement for 70 children on each bus (or safety concerns if students are not required to wear them), on top of a typical schedule of two three-hour shifts broken up by four hours of "time off," makes for a difficult sell to many potential employees. But the damage of underfunding school transportation goes beyond the staff - children's safety is increasingly at risk. The waning state investment has created a situation where as recently as 2018, one out of every four buses in service was at least 15 years old. That same year, 39 school buses on a daily route in Georgia were 30 years or older, meaning as many as 2,600 students rode to school each day on a bus that was made before the first website was created. Older buses lack the safety upgrades that newer models have, such as anti-lock brakes or rear motorist alert signs. Since the late 1990s, the federal government has required all new school buses of a certain size to include anti-lock brakes due to their ability to stop in the shortest distance and decrease the likelihood of skidding. Buses lined up outside of a New York school. Barrie Fanton/Universal Images Group via Getty Images It's reasonable to ask why state support hasn't kept pace with school needs in this area. The fight for school-bus funding has few open enemies other than apathy. When counter-arguments are presented, they fall in two general categories: whether drivers deserve higher wages and, related to the first, how states should pay for any proposed solutions. As to the former, setting aside the value of safely transporting 30 to 70 children daily, the job vacancies themselves make the case for higher pay. If supply doesn't meet demand for a necessary task (by law, public schools must offer pupil transportation in Georgia), then costs rise. Benefits are part of this equation as well. Georgia's bus drivers and monitors are not eligible to join the pension that teachers and school leaders enjoy. These school employees instead have a supplemental pension with a significantly lower benefit - working for 30 years earns a bus monitor a mere $472 per month. A row of school buses in Pennsylvania. Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images Those who might argue bus drivers shouldn't be on the same pension as teachers should consider both the shortage and the fact that most of Georgia's neighboring states do not segregate school employees into different pensions based on role. The term "segregate" is apt because while the teaching profession is majority white, non-certified employees in maintenance, transportation, and custodial work are more likely to be people of color. This makes any increase in wages for these positions a potential tool for racial economic justice. As for how states can pay for all of this, the answer is much simpler. School districts have had to borrow from other educational programs for years to cover transportation costs, and it is beyond time to adequately fund education through increased state investment. Raising state revenue (because, spoiler alert, taxes pay for necessary services) can bolster student transportation programs and alleviate strain on the rest of the school. The only way our schools can compete for bus drivers or other employees with other industries that might have raised wages to meet the current need, including trucking, is if the principal financer (i.e., states) provides additional funds. Until then, the shortage will continue - but it's not a shortage of drivers, it's a shortage of adequate state public-education funding.Dr. Stephen Owens is a senior policy analyst at the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, where he focuses on state policies and research that affect public K-12 education in Georgia. Stephen graduated from the University of Georgia, where he holds a doctorate with a focus on education policy. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 7th, 2021

58 thoughtful gifts to give your friends under $100

Buying gifts for friends is a thoughtful way to show them how much you care. Here are 58 gift ideas for your friend, all for less than $100. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. Getty Images Whether it's your friend's birthday or you simply want to say thank you, they deserve the best. We rounded up 58 gifts, each under $100, that your special friend will treasure. Still looking for gift ideas? Check out all Insider Reviews gift guides here. Table of Contents: Masthead StickyFriends are the ones you rely upon, confide in, and plague with everything from menu choices to whether or not you should move across the country for a new job. So when those gifting occasions roll around, it can be difficult to find something adequately thoughtful to give to that important person - especially within the relatively affordable under-$100 range.To make things easier for you, we put together a list of unique, thoughtful gifts that your friend would love to receive - all for less than $100.Below are 58 gifts under $100 that your friend will actually want: A set of friendship lights Urban Outfitters Brookstone Friendship Lamp Set, available at Urban Outfitters, $89.95If your close friend lives far away, let them know you're always thinking of them with this friendship light. Your friend will know you haven't forgotten them by tapping your light to instantly activate their twin light. A luxurious lavender scent perfume Nordstrom Yves Saint Laurent Libre Fragrance, available at Nordstrom, from $25.50A designer perfume like this Saint Laurent fragrance is a fitting gift for a friend who enjoys luxurious items. The floral fragrance's bold lavender scent appeals to the confident friend who's daring and always lives true to herself. A gold bracelet with her favorite football team Baublebar NFL x Baublebar Gold Pisa Bracelet, available at Baublebar, $30Even if you don't share in friend's enthusiasm for sports, this sports team bracelet shows you get them. Match the bracelet with their favorite team to help her be prepared for the next game day outfit. A relaxing weighted blanket Amazon Luna Weight Blanket, available at Amazon, $76.99For the friend who's constantly working or just needs a chance to unwind, a weighted blanket can make all the difference. We love this one because it's wallet-friendly but still made from quality materials like Oeko-Tex-certified cotton and natural glass beads.  A scent tied to a favorite place Amazon Homesick candle, available at Uncommon Goods, $34For your old college roommate or your friend who's taken a job across the country, this candle is a sweet reminder of home. A planner to help them stay organized Rifle Paper Co. 2022 17-Month Large Planner, available at Rifle Paper Co., $36Your Type A friend will thank you for this planner and its neat, detailed layout. The 17-month design means they can finish out this year and be set for the new year. Plus, two pages of colorful stickers can help liven up the notes, weekly, and monthly planning pages. A neoprene makeup bag from a cool startup they'll love Dagne Dover Hunter Toiletry Bag, available at Dagne Dover, from $40Dagne Dover is one of our all-time favorite handbag companies, and most of that has to do with quality, style, and unmatched attention to detail. The Hunter bag comes in six colors of water-resistant neoprene. It has helpful features like elastic lip gloss loops, slip pockets and a removable zipper pouch for compacts and shadows, and a smooth lining that's easily cleaned. Zipper tabs can be unsnapped to adjust the shape, too.  A playful earbud pouch for that one forgetful friend Baggu Puffy Earbuds Case, available at Baggu, $14If you have a friend who tends to lose their AirPods or earbuds all too often, this unique case attaches straight onto their keyring. Plus, it's quilted, padded, and machine washable. The pouch fastens with velcro and comes in fun colors and patterns like leopard print and stripe. A phone case and wallet all-in-one Nomad Rugged Folio, available at Nomad, $69.95You might have a friend who doesn't like carrying around bulky wallets and would rather keep it simple and sleek. This leather folio case sports three card slots and one cash slot, and also has a new internal shock absorption bumper that protects against 10-foot drops. Best of all, it's made of Horween leather, which ages and appears more rugged as time passes.  A Fitbit for the activity tracker newcomer Fitbit Fitbit Inspire 2, available at Walmart, $87.99If they're contemplating joining the Fitbit bandwagon, they'll appreciate this uncomplicated activity tracker that monitors their exercise, sleep, and heart rate. It's slimmer than its counterparts, but still lasts for 10 days, has 20+ different exercise modes, and receives basic smartphone notifications. A high-tech towel that's better for their hair AQUIS Aquis Lisse Luxe Long Hair Towel, available at Anthropologie, $30Aquis' cult-favorite hair towels have inspired a slew of rave reviews online, including one from our own team of reviewers.The towels are made from a proprietary fabric called Aquitex that's composed of ultra-fine fibers (finer than silk) that work to reduce the amount of friction the hair experiences while in its weakest state. It also prevents hygral fatigue — the stretching and swelling of wet hair that makes it vulnerable to frizz and damage — by cutting the hair's drying time by 50%. Their favorite specialty food straight from the source Goldbelly/Instagram Order their favorite specialty foods using Goldbelly, from $28Goldbelly makes it possible to satisfy their most specific and nostalgic cravings no matter where they live in the US — a cheesecake from Junior's, deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati, and more. Browse the iconic gifts section for inspiration.  A book of witty, quirky postcards Amazon/Business Insider 'Friendship Maintenance: 30 Postcards to Say How Much You Freaking Care,' available at Amazon, $8.34"Friendship Maintenance" adds a more personal touch to the frequent check-ins you're probably already having with one another. The witty postcards weave in themes of friendship in a hilariously relatable way. A tie-dye kit Amazon/Business Insider Just My Style Tie Dye Kit, available at Amazon, $7.03Tie-dye has made a resurgence: It's a socially distant (or virtual) activity that friends can enjoy together. They'll appreciate this affordable tie-dye kit that will provide them with enough dye for up to 12 projects. A gift card to a popular wine subscription club Winc Gift Card, available at Winc, from $60Winc is a personalized wine club — and we think the best one you can belong to overall. Members take a wine palate profile quiz and then choose from the personalized wine suggestions. Each bottle has extensive tasting notes and serving recommendations online, and makes it easy to discover similar bottles. Gift her a Winc gift card, and she can take a wine palate profile quiz and get started with her own customized suggestions.  A custom note with a surprise inside Greetabl/Business Insider Greetabl Gift Box, available at Greetabl, from $14Greetabl is one of the Insider Reviews team's favorite modes of checking in on those we love. The customizable box includes a fun print, a spot for a personal message, and the selection of a small gift like Sugarfina treats or quirky pins.  An upgrade to the classic travel pillow Amazon/Business Insider Trtl Pillow Super Soft Neck Support Travel Pillow, available at Amazon, $29.99One of the best gifts for frequent travelers is a genuinely supportive neck pillow. The super-soft fleece of the Trtl holds the neck and head in an ergonomic position during flight, and it's lightweight — weighing only about a half a pound — so it won't weigh them down too much. Read our full review of the pillow here. There's also a newer, slightly more expensive version that we like too.  A hilarious collection of Tinder exchanges that, altogether, become one modern horror story Amazon/Business Insider "Tinder Nightmares," available on Amazon, $14.95"Tinder Nightmares" is a modern horror story of Tinder exchanges organized by theme, with chapters such as Bad English, Broetry, Strange Requests, Sneak Attacks, and more. The Instagram account of the same name has nearly 2 million followers. But beware — like Tinder, this book is not for the faint of heart.  A set of the best socks they'll ever wear Bombas Women's Ankle Sock, 4-Pair Box, available at Bombas, $47.50Men's Original Ankle Sock, 4-Pair Box, available at Bombas, from $47.50Bombas' ankle socks have extra blister tabs to prevent chafing, a honeycomb arch-support system to cradle the foot's arch, and a seamless toe that gets rid of the annoying bump that runs across the toes of most socks.  A three-month subscription to the book club that put "Gone with the Wind" on the map Book of the Month Three Month Subscription, available at Book of the Month, $49.99This subscription gift was handcrafted for bookworms. Book of the Month has been around since 1926, and it's credited with the discovery of titles like "Gone with the Wind" and "Catcher in the Rye." A team of experts and celebrity guest judges curate must-read books — usually new releases, hot topics, and debut authors — and send them to the subscriber's doorstep.If they're more into audiobooks or e-reading, check out a gift subscription to Scribd (full review here). A makeup and skincare subscription Birchbox Three Month Subscription, available at Birchbox, $30-$45Birchbox is a skincare and makeup subscription that sends tons of samples of new and cult-favorite products so subscribers can find products they love without committing to buying full-sized anything in the meantime. It's also a monthly excuse for them to treat themselves. An insulated stainless steel water bottle that keeps drinks cold for up to 24 hours and hot for up to 6 hours Amazon Double Wall Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Travel Mug (12 oz), available at Amazon, from $24.44This double-wall, vacuum insulated stainless steel mug is especially perfect for commuters who would rather drink hot coffee than room-temperature for the 45 minutes on the subway — or any other time. We're big fans, and it does a pretty incredible job of keeping cold drinks cold for up to 24 hours and hot for up to six hours.  A gimmicky-seeming nail polish holder they'll actually wind up using Amazon/Business Insider Tweexy Wearable Nail Polish Holder, available on Amazon, $9.99Finding a convenient spot to place an open bottle of sticky, vibrant, and fast-drying liquid while you paint your nails is not easy. This $10 nail polish holder looks gimmicky, but it's actually pretty useful.  A funny adult coloring book Amazon Wine Life: A Snarky Adult Coloring Book, available at Amazon, $6.99Adult coloring has had a resurgence in recent years as a great de-stressor (even Kate Middleton is a fan). It turns out, though, that adult coloring is even more fun with adult beverages. Here's one that combines both.  A brass and wood display box that's a bit cooler than the average picture frame Artifact Uprising Brass & Wood Display Box, available at Artifact Uprising, $55Artifact Uprising's brass and hardwood Display Box is a bit more aesthetically pleasing than the traditional picture frame. They can showcase their favorite picture by sliding it into the front of the box, and the box itself can hold up to 50 five-inch by five-inch Square Prints inside.If you're just looking for prints, you can find those starting at $9 here. A silk pillowcase for smoother hair and less breakage Amazon Celestial Silk 100% Silk Pillowcase, available at Amazon, $40.99This Celestial Silk pillowcase is one of the internet's hidden gems. It's nearly $40 on Amazon, but it gives you more silk per square inch than options twice the price at Sephora. It's made out of 100% Mulberry silk — one of the highest quality silks you can buy — and comes in more than 25 colors and three sizes: standard, queen, and king. It's the one I personally own, and it makes a big difference for frizzy hair.  A poetry book that has become a phenomenon Urban Outfitters/Business Insider Milk and Honey, available at Target, from $7.38Rupi Kaur's "Milk and Honey" is a New York Times bestseller and a small cultural phenomenon. It's a collection of poetry and prose dealing with love, loss, femininity, and survival. If they already have this, you may want to look into Cleo Wade's "Where to Begin" here. A yoga mat towel with skid-less technology made by a trusted company Amazon Manduka Yogitoes Yoga Mat Towel, available at Amazon, from $45.39Manduka consistently makes some of the best yoga gear on the market, and their cult-favorite Yogitoes mat towels aren't an exception — they'd probably be the main response if you asked around yoga studios for a mat towel recommendation. They have patented skid-less technology that uses 100% silicone nubs, and it makes a big difference. Each Yogitoes towel is also made from at least eight recycled plastic water bottles, and the dyes used to make it are free of azo, lead, or heavy metal. A vitamin C serum developed by MIT scientists that keeps selling out Maelove Glow Maker, available at Maelove, $27.95Maelove is a skincare company founded by a team of MIT grads (skincare obsessives, brain and cancer researchers, and chemical engineers) to make affordable, high-quality skincare accessible. The entire under-$30 line is supposedly great, but this $28 vitamin C serum (which people have likened to the multi-award-winning $166 C E Ferulic Serum) is the real showstopper — and it keeps selling out. I've tried it, and it does a great job of reducing hyperpigmentation, hydrating, and adding a "glow" to the skin.Read our full Maelove review here.  A monogrammed leather passport case Leatherology Standard Passport Cover, available at Leatherology, from $50For the world traveler, adventure companion, or person who has a lot of places left to see before they're satisfied, this leather passport cover is one of the best mixes of quality for price you're bound to find. You can also personalize your gift further with a monogram (starting as an extra $10). Every time they use it, they'll think of you.  A design service that can help them figure out their decor or new apartment layout Modsy Premium Package, available at Modsy, $159Whether they're moving, always talking about redecorating, or would love a gallery wall but don't want to expend the necessary brain power, they'll appreciate a Modsy gift. The service makes an exact 3D, digital replica of their room and fills it with actual pieces of furniture from well-known brands that they can buy on the spot. A super soft $75 cashmere sweater from a sustainable startup Naadam The Essential Cashmere Sweater, available at Naadam, $75This $75 cashmere sweater is one of the best I've worn, and it took me by surprise for $75. You can get it in either crew-neck or v-neck styles, unisex sizing, and 20 colors. In person, the cashmere is one of the softest I've felt.Plus, Naadam is a sustainable startup. They avoid toxic chemicals, invest in sustainable grazing practices, fund better vaccination programs for healthier goats, and use 100% clean energy to power production facilities. By cutting out middlemen, they pay nomadic herders about 50% more and charge about 50% less to customers without changing quality. A new book by the co-creator of "Broad City" Amazon/Business Insider I Might Regret This: Essays, Drawings, Vulnerabilities, and Other Stuff, available at Amazon, $10.64This book by Abbi Jacobson, co-creator of "Broad City", deals with love, loss, work, comedy, and identity.  A soft, durable pair of slippers they'll want to live in Nordstrom UGG Ansley Water Resistant Slipper, available at Nordstrom, from $99.95They're not a new name, but UGG slippers have stuck around for a very good reason: they're incredibly soft, durable, and made really well. The sole is sturdy enough to withstand walks to the mailbox, and the water-resistant material can take a little gross winter slush on the way there.If you're looking for a cheaper alternative, check out Minnetonka — we're big fans of their mix of price and quality, too. An award-winning at-home facial Sephora Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial, available at Sephora, $80This now-legendary AHA and BHA at-home "facial" gently resurfaces the skin to remove built-up dead skin cells and reveal brighter, more even skin underneath. It's also won multiple notable beauty awards, including a Best of Beauty from Allure and Reader's Choice from InStyle in 2017. For more skincare products, check out the best luxury skincare on Amazon and best gifts from Sephora here. Popular leggings they can wear anywhere Outdoor Voices Outdoor Voices Core 3/4 Leggings, available at Outdoor Voices, $88It seems like everyone and their best friend is talking about Outdoor Voices leggings, and these are the company's most sweat-friendly option.  A card game to play with other friends to rehash favorite stories and learn some new ones Amazon/Business Insider The Voting Game Adult Card Game, available at Target, $19.99The Voting Game is basically a card game that gives you a funny prompt and invites you to anonymously answer "Who's the most likely to..." out of your friends. It's a great way to rehash your favorite memories and learn new stories. A vase and smartphone stand handmade from glazed stoneware Uncommon Goods Bedside Smartphone Vase, available at Uncommon Goods, $32These smartphone stands are handmade out of glazed stoneware, and they double as vases so their owner can have the benefit of convenience without totally giving into the sterility of tons of tech devices. A mug with a "coffee reading" tarot-inspired theme Society6/Business Insider Coffee Reading, available at Society6, $13.59Perfect for the avid coffee drinker or casual fan of the occult, this ceramic mug made by the independent artists of Society6 is a fun — and useful — gift. They've also got pretty much every mug pattern you could want. A cocktail recipe book that pairs music with good drinks Amazon/Business Insider Booze & Vinyl: A Spirited Guide to Great Music and Mixed Drinks, available at Amazon, $21.99Have a friend that loves music and a nice cocktail? This pairs both for a perfect combination every time. The guide includes music from 70 albums, ranging from the '50s to the '00s, with an accompanying A-side and B-side cocktail for each — all organized by mood.  A tiny waffle maker Amazon/Business Insider Dash Mini Waffle Maker, available at Target, $12.99This mini waffle maker may seem more gimmick than substance, but it didn't garner 1,800+ reviews just for being pretty cute. It's compact for small kitchens and people who only want to make three waffles rather than buffet quantities, and it's really easy to clean. A screw-on top that turns a wine bottle into a glass Amazon/Business Insider Guzzle Buddy Wine Bottle Glass, available on Amazon, $15.06If they're more of a "one bottle per person" vino drinker, why not cut out the middleman with this twist-on bottle-to-glass helper?  The personal diary of icon Frida Kahlo Amazon "The Diary of Friday Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait", available at Amazon, $21.94In the last 10 years of her life, Friday Kahlo kept a journal full of thoughts, poems, illustrations, and dreams. This is it, and it's a particularly perfect gift for an artistic or feminist friend.  Machine-washable sneakers they'll wear all the time Allbirds Wool Runners, available at Allbirds, $98Soft, lightweight, breathable shoes that wick away moisture and can be tossed in a machine washer when they get dirty — what's not to love?  A guard to keep away hot, messy splatter Amazon/Business Insider Frywall 10 Splatter Guard, available at Sur La Table, $13.99A splatter guard gives you the benefit of an uncovered pan, minus the countertop cleaning and dodging of hot, popping oil. An elegant, unobtrusive diffuser that smells great Snowe Diffuser, available at Snowe, $40Snowe's Diffuser has the advantage of looking more like home decor than a diffuser, but it also fills the room with a wonderful smell. Plus, the bottles of scent tend to last for months. Pick it up for a friend in five scent options that range from Speak Easy (leather, bitters, burnt cedar) to Pillow Talk (sandalwood, ginger, lavender).  A beautiful candle that smells amazing Otherland Manor House Weekend Candle, available at Otherland, $36Otherland is a candle company started by Ralph Lauren's former art buyer, Abigail Cook Stone. If you want to give your friend a candle that burns for 55 hours, looks beautiful, and comes from an up-and-coming startup that they've probably seen (or coveted) before, this is a great option.Read our full Otherland review here. A Tile with a replaceable battery to help them find missing keys and wallets Amazon Tile Pro with Replaceable Battery, 2 Pack, available at Target, $59.99Few gifts are going to be as useful as a Tile Pro with a replaceable battery. It'll help them find missing items like keys and wallets. An app on their phone can trigger the Tile to ring out so they can locate where they accidentally left their belongings.  A rechargeable battery Amazon Anker PowerCore 10000, available at Amazon, $31.99Anker's PowerCore is a powerful, compact external battery that can provide nearly three and a half iPhone 8 charges or two and a half Galaxy S8 charges.  Luxurious bodycare products Necessarie Nécessaire The Body Wash, available at Sephora, $25Nécessaire is a new line of bodycare products that use vitamins and plant-based oils. It was founded by Randi Christiansen, a former Estée Lauder vice president, and Nick Axelrod, a co-founder of Into the Gloss, the editorial site that preceded Glossier. Read our full Nécessaire review here. A cute plant in a ceramic pot delivered to their door The Sill Shop plants and accessories at The Sill, from $5A plant from The Sill will come in a small ceramic pot with a drainage hole and its own saucer. It comes potted in the company's potting mix and will be delivered to their doorstep.  A renewing honey mask that warms up while it's on their face Sephora Honey Potion Renewing Antioxidant Hydration Mask, available at Sephora, from $38This intensely hydrating mask from beauty brand Farmacy is infused with antioxidants to leave the skin looking glowy and plump. It also physically warms up while on the face, so the self care feels a bit more tangible.  A subscription to K-beauty sheet masks Facetory/Instagram/Business Insider Facetory Gift Subscription Plan, available at Facetory, from $19.90Facetory is an affordable monthly subscription to various K-beauty sheet masks. You can opt to pay for one, three, six, nine, or 12 months at a time.  A cult-favorite sleeping lip mask Sephora Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask, available at Sephora, $22Laneige's hyper-popular overnight lip mask smooths and moisturizes with vitamin C and antioxidants. Currently, it has over 13,000 reviews and a rating of 4.4-stars on Sephora.  A pretty leather wrap for taking chargers and cables on the go Mark & Graham Leather Charger Roll Up, available at Mark & Graham, from $22.99Mark & Graham's Leather Charger Roll Up is made from soft, supple leather and has three separate pockets to stash cables and chargers on the go. Get it monogrammed for free. A box of gourmet artisan milk and dark chocolate Amazon Chuao Chocolatier Share the Love 36-Piece Gift Set, available at Amazon, $39.95A box stuffed full of chocolate needs no introduction, but this one is a pretty good deal. The box comes with 36 mini bars of gourmet artisan milk and dark chocolate, all made in small batches and free of artificial flavors. The 14 flavors range from sweet to savory, and each bar is only 60 calories.  A ClassPass gift card Class Pass Gift Card, available at ClassPass, choose your amountStart heading to more (virtual or socially distant) boutique fitness classes with your friend by making them easier and cheaper to attend. ClassPass lets you drop in to different specialized studios for $15 or less per class. A class or experience for you to take together Airbnb Experiences Check out local Airbnb ExperiencesCheck out local GrouponsOnce it's safe to do so, book an experience like a pasta-making class, brewery tour, or local tour that the two of you can enjoy together. Plus, you can buy this gift as last-minute as you like. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 6th, 2021

Pulling Back The Curtain On Private Equity

Excerpted from The Myth of Private Equity: An Inside Look at Wall Street’s Transformative Investments by Jeffrey C. Hooke. Copyright (c) 2021 Jeffrey Hooke. Used by arrangement with Columbia Business School Publishing. All rights reserved. Q2 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more When a publisher receives a book proposal, it is not unusual for the publisher […] Excerpted from The Myth of Private Equity: An Inside Look at Wall Street’s Transformative Investments by Jeffrey C. Hooke. Copyright (c) 2021 Jeffrey Hooke. Used by arrangement with Columbia Business School Publishing. All rights reserved. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Walter Schloss Series in PDF Get the entire 10-part series on Walter Schloss in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues. (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q2 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more When a publisher receives a book proposal, it is not unusual for the publisher to ask outside authors, experts, and academics to review the proposal and to make comments on the book’s content and marketability. This book outlines the mediocre performance of leveraged buyout funds, as well as the funds’ continuing ability to cloud this fact. One reviewer for a prospective publisher of the book had this to say: Mr. Hooke can’t be right about the leveraged buyout industry. If he were, the participants in this part of the capital markets would be suffering from a mass hallucination! This reviewer’s opinion is simply wrong. The buyout phenomenon, which has taken hold of numerous educated and experienced businesspeople, is not a hallucination. Rather, it is a manifestation of the irrationality that grips Wall Street from time to time. The Private Equity Industry Is Not The Same As It Was Before The buyout business is not what it was twenty years ago, and it is living off a reputation for high returns that is now undeserved. This conclusion contradicts accepted Wall Street wisdom—but as one bond trader said about commonly held beliefs in financial markets, “It’s the accepted wisdom, until it isn’t.” Such became the case with the abrupt endings to the mortgage-backed-securities and dot-com stock crazes. For now, despite any number of statistical studies that show buyout funds do not perform as advertised, the industry still has positive buzz. Over the last eighteen months, for example, six new $10 billion-plus funds have opened, and 2020 was the best year ever for buyout fundraising. Last year, Calpers, the $400 billion California pension plan that is the bell cow for hundreds of institutions, announced that it will increase its allocation to private equity funds to get a better yield. Yet the plan’s total-value-to paid-in ratio for private equity investments over thirty-five years is only a modest 1.5x, which puts the plan’s PE portfolio in neutral territory compared to stocks. How has the industry’s mystique gone unchallenged for these many years, enjoying a lifespan that is two to three times longer than other investment fads? In part, the secrecy of the industry and the complexity of its data have blocked the most intrepid doubting Thomas from confirming suspicions. The mortgage-backed-securities and dot-com investments were publicly traded, and, over time, skeptics were able to point repeatedly at adverse information to build up credibility. In contrast, the rates of return, fees, and diversification attributes of the buyout asset class are shrouded in a numbers fog. An investigation surrounding the last fifteen years’ of performance remains dependent on what the industry says its unsold companies are worth, even as the high proportion of unsold investments—56 percent at last count—suggests that few portfolio firms have willing buyers at reasonable prices. Otherwise, the funds would have sold the investments and moved on. A Self-Perpetuating Feedback Loop Meanwhile, a self-perpetuating feedback loop allows the industry to operate in a parallel universe where the laws of financial physics do not apply. To illustrate, buyout managers sell their product as a way to beat the stock market; however, for the last fifteen years, the average fund underperformed the S&P 500. The managers say the product has less risk than the stock market and low correlation to it, but both assertions are refuted by the proven impact of leverage on corporate value movements. The established relationship between debt and equity is based on sixty years of classical finance theory and is endorsed by Nobel laureates such as William Sharpe, Harry Markowitz, and Merton Miller. Special accounting rules, approved by the appropriate authorities, permit PE managers to mark-to-market their own portfolios with minimal oversight and empower institutional investors to ignore expensive carried interest fees. Compounding this oddity is that the carried interest can kick in even when a fund underperforms the stock market. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” becomes the institutional refrain with respect to such elevated fees. A lack of regulatory standards provides the funds with the latitude to choose among multiple yardsticks for performance assessment and top-quartile ranking. The reliance on easily manipulated internal-rate-of-return (IRR) measurements, instead of the more neutral total-value-to-paid-in ratio, distorts actual economic returns at a time when investors need accuracy. The industry’s principal customers—state and municipal pension plans, university endowments, fund-of-funds, and nonprofit foundations—have administrators who commit their employers to private equity for career preservation, since the logical investment choice—a low-cost public stock index fund—obviates the need for their own jobs. Regulatory agencies, such as the IRS, SEC, and Department of Labor are noticeably absent. And thus, the feedback loop that perpetuates the business is complete. The longevity of the feedback loop rests on a key underpinning, according to one observer: “Everyone makes money except the beneficiaries (of the institutional investors), so the system lives on.” Private equity managers, investment consultants, and institutional executives make good livings at the expense of state and municipal retirees, university students, fund-of-funds clients, and foundation grantees, so no one wants to blow the whistle. Updated on Oct 1, 2021, 2:39 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkOct 1st, 2021

Will China’s Evergrande Be A “Lehman Moment”

In his Daily Market Notes report to investors, while commenting on Evergrande being a “Lehman Moment”, Louis Navellier wrote: Q2 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Fed Credibility Going into this week’s FOMC meeting, the cooling of these inflation numbers gives the Fed credibility regarding its “transitory inflation” prediction. Overall, the August CPI was […] In his Daily Market Notes report to investors, while commenting on Evergrande being a “Lehman Moment”, Louis Navellier wrote: .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Ray Dalio Series in PDF Get the entire 10-part series on Ray Dalio in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q2 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Fed Credibility Going into this week’s FOMC meeting, the cooling of these inflation numbers gives the Fed credibility regarding its “transitory inflation” prediction. Overall, the August CPI was a very pleasant surprise! The Labor Department also announced that import prices declined 0.3% in August, evidence that inflation may be “transitory,” as the Fed has implied. Export prices rose 0.4% in August, but that was the smallest monthly increase in 10 months, so there is some hope that inflationary forces are cooling. The big surprise last week was that the Commerce Department announced on Thursday that retail sales rose 0.7% in August.  Another example of inflation boosting retail sales is that gasoline sales rose by 2%. Another trend reversal came Thursday when the Labor Department said weekly unemployment claims rose to 332,000.  Despite rising Covid cases last month, the consumer was clearly in the mood to spend money, since online sales rose 5.3%, furniture sales rose 3.7% and general merchandise sales rose 3.5%. In the past 12 months, retail sales have risen by an impressive 15.1%. You can’t keep the American consumer down! Evergrand: A Lehman Moment Will China’s Evergrande Property Services Group Ltd (HKG:6666) be a “Lehman moment” if Beijing allows for what could be a default on over $300 billion in debt payments? Evergrande’s business accounts for about 2% of China’s GDP, and the stock of the company has lost roughly 90% of its value. Hence, at this point, it seems that the worst-case scenario would be a controlled crash – a bankruptcy and break-up of the company by the state, with assets absorbed by western markets. There is more evidence of a global economic slowdown brewing. On Wednesday, China’s National Bureau of Statistics announced that retail sales rose only 2.5% (annualized) in August, a major drop from an 8.5% annual pace in July. Real estate investment in China this year slowed to a 10.9% annual pace.  When China’s property market cools, consumer spending tends to also cool off. Due to China’s domestic woes and recent slowdown, the U.S. will continue to lead global GDP growth. IWM Set Up Favorable While the trend for equities is likely lower, markets are forward-looking and have likely priced in most of the pessimism brought about by these noted risks. Assuming there is progress on current headwinds, inflation, Fed policy, covid, it might behoove investors to take a hard look at going long the Russell 2000, where the majority of stocks are smaller domestic companies. This might be the most under-owned sector with the most room to run. What’s good about this investment setup is that the downside risk is very well-defined by looking at the year-to-date chart of the Russell 2000 iShares ETF (IWM), which has been consolidating in a 20-point range for the past eight months. The Russell 2000 has missed out on this year’s rally. As of last Friday’s close, the S&P 500 is up 18% and the Nasdaq is ahead by 16.7%, but the Russell 2000 is up only 13.3% Considering the fact that the small- to mid-cap stocks hold the greatest amount of investment risk, to see this tier of the market in the midst of so much hand wringing is not only counterintuitive, it is starting to look very compelling. Heard & Notable: The EU branch of Amazon was fined $885.9 million for "non-compliance with general data processing principles." The regulatory framework of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU aims to give users more control over their own data – and lays the groundwork for fining companies offering their services in the EU for breaching its articles. Source: Statista Updated on Sep 22, 2021, 9:16 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkSep 22nd, 2021