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A former star investor at Steve Cohen's SAC Capital is having a killer year

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

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A Steve Cohen alum is having a monster year.

Gabe Plotkin's Melvin Capital is up 32.1% after fees this year through September, despite posting almost no gains last month, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Plotkin is known to have been one of the star money makers at Steve Cohen's SAC Capital, which has since become Point72 Asset Management after SAC shut down after pleading guilty to insider trading. Plotkin and his team at SAC previously managed a book of mostly consumer product stocks worth about $1.3 billion, The New York Times reported in 2014.

New York-based Melvin Capital, which is a long-short equity fund, now manages about $3.5 billion, according to the person familiar with the situation. The firm has been steadily growing in assets, managing $1.9 billion at the start of the year, according to the HFI Billion Dollar Club ranking. 

Representatives for Plotkin declined to comment.

Melvin's strong performance comes at a time when many funds are struggling to post the double-digit gains the industry was once known for. Through July this year, the industry gained 4.8%, according to data provider HFR.

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VW's SUV revolution is the key to its new-found success in the US

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

VW Atlas Weekender

Volkswagen's SUV revolution is taking hold.

The automaker said US sales rose 33.2% in September, over the same month in 2016, with the bulk of the growth attributed to the arrival of the new second-generation 2018 Tiguan and the all-new mid-size 2018 Atlas SUV.

According to Volkswagen, SUVs accounted for 26% of the brand's total volume in September. While that may seem relatively unimpressive for many brands, it's a major step in the right direction for VW.

So far in 2017, VW sales are up 9.2% with SUVs accounting for around 16.5% of the 252,456 vehicles the company has sold.

For more than a decade, the Volkswagen brand has failed to gain significant footing in the US. Even though VW has its fair share of loyalists, the company has never been able to become the high volume powerhouse it is in other parts of the world. In 2016, VW sold just 322,000 cars in the US, a mere fraction of the more than 2 million cars global rival Toyota moved during the same period.

Volkswagen Tiguan 1One of the major issues plaguing the German carmaker is its reliance on passenger cars to achieve volume. That strategy is a magnificent success in Europe, Asia, and South America, helping VW sell more than 10 million cars globally in 2016.

But in the US, it takes a competitive set of crossovers and SUVs to build real market share.

Even corporate cousin Porsche has gotten into the mix with a pair of hot-selling SUVs. The 911 might be the soul of the brand, but SUVs are paying the company's bills. So far this year, 63% of Porsche's US sales have been SUVs.

VW is certainly working to fix this problem. According to CEO Herbert Diess, VW's global lineup will soon feature as many as 19 different crossovers and SUVs that will account for 40% of its worldwide sales.

Volkswagen VW Tiguan Wolfsburg 2017In the US, VW finally has SUVs capable of competing against the best the market has to offer. The new Tiguan and Atlas deliver the size, technology, and value US consumer look for in a mass-market SUV.

The first generation Tiguan will remain on sale as the Tiguan Limited. At $30,000, the gen-one Tiguan couldn't compete, but a major price cut to the low $20k range will make it much more appetizing to buyers. Finally, VW put the Touareg out to pasture for 2018. The Touareg, a close relative of the Porsche Cayenne, was a wonderful SUV, but simply too expensive to be competitive.

SEE ALSO: Porsche turned its most controversial car into the finest sports sedan in the world

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JPMorgan Chase has taken the No.1 spot in a critical ranking for the first time in nearly 25 years (JPM, BAC, C)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Jamie DimonJPMorgan Chase dominates Wall Street investment banking. It's also the largest US bank by assets and market capitalization. 

Now, it can add top US bank by deposits to the mantle. 

For the first time in 23 years, JPMorgan leads US banks in total deposits, according to data released this week by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

The firm's deposits grew by $96 billion, or 7.9%, in the past year to reach $1.31 trillion as of June 30, 2017, according to the FDIC. That was enough to edge out Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which finished with $1.29 trillion. 

Wells Fargo ($1.26 trillion), Citigroup ($505 billion), and US Bancorp ($329 billion) round out the top-5. 

JPMorgan has lead the country in deposit growth each of the past five years, with customers and businesses adding $447 billion to the bank's ledger over that time, according to the company. 

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This brutal table spells bad news for Wall Street banks (GS, JPM, MS)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Credit Suisse has a new version of its CS Markets Index, which tracks trading revenues across Wall Street, and it is not a pretty sight for America's top investment banks.

In a note out October 3, research analyst Susan Roth Katzke and her team set out their expectations for third quarter trading revenues, with Katzke and company forecasting a 15% to 20% decline year-over-year. That echoes commentary from bank executives, with Citigroup CFO John Gerspach saying the bank was on pace for a 15% year-over-year decline in trading revenues. JPMorgan chief Jamie Dimon said the bank was on track for a 20% decline.

The scale of the decline in fixed income, currencies, and commodities revenues is pretty brutal. The biggest business in FICC, G10 rates, is forecast down down by as much as 50% versus the same period a year earlier. Ouch.

Screen Shot 2017 10 03 at 4.13.54 PM

The Credit Suisse team also set out their expectations for individual banks, forecasting a 23% decline in sales and trading revenues across FICC and equities at Goldman Sachs. It's now forecasting a $2 billion drop in trading revenues at Goldman Sachs from 2016 to 2017. 

Screen Shot 2017 10 03 at 4.22.46 PM

SEE ALSO: One graphic explains everything going on in money management right now

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SPANISH KING: Catalan authorities 'have placed themselves outside the law and democracy'

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

spain king felipe

Spain's King Felipe VI made a rare televised address to the country, criticizing the Catalan government after the region held an independence referendum on Sunday. 

Catalan authorities "have placed themselves outside the law and democracy, they have tried to break the unity of Spain and national sovereignty," he said, according to a translation by the Financial Times.

It was the "responsibility of the legitimate powers of the state to ensure the constitutional order," he added.

ABC News reported that he also said the bid by authorities in Catalonia to push ahead with independence has "undermined coexistence" in the region.

The king's comments follow protests that broke out Tuesday across Catalonia, a region in the country that includes Barcelona, over the crackdown by Spanish police during the vote over the weekend. The attempt to stop the vote came after Spain's Constitutional Court ruled that the referendum violated the country's constitution because it "does not recognize the right to self-determination and establishes that sovereignty resides with Spanish citizens collectively," according to the Washington Post.

According to data from BBC, nearly 900 people were hurt in the melee that followed. Still, turnout for the vote was 43%, and about 90% of voters were in favor of splitting from the rest of the country.

The Spanish government took a strong stance against the referendum ahead of the vote by raiding offices, shutting down pro-independence websites, and arresting officials. Some analysts argued that the recent crackdown only helped further unite the pro-independence groups in Catalonia.

Catalonia, which has its own language and culture, is one of Spain's economic powerhouses. It contributes nearly one-fifth of the country's total GDP and has an economy larger than that of Portugal.

SEE ALSO: The rise, fall, and comeback of the Chinese economy over the past 800 years

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NOW WATCH: THE BOTTOM LINE: The 'Trump trade' is back and Ray Dalio breaks down the bitcoin bubble

STOCKS TICK UP TO NEW HIGHS: Here's what you need to know

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

opera singer

Stocks once again ticked their way up to all-time highs.

First up, the scoreboard:

  • Dow: 22,641.67, +84.07, (+0.37%)
  • S&P 500: 2,534.58, +5.46, (+0.22%)
  • Nasdaq: 6,531.71, +15.00, (+0.16%)
  • US dollar index: 93.58 (+0.02%)
  • US 10-year yield: 2.323, -0.014

1.Warren Buffett said the GOP tax plan is "not a tax-reform act, it's a tax-cut act," and chances of it passing are "higher than most people think" in an interview with CNBC. Buffett has been an outspoken advocate for changes in the tax code, most famously for claiming that his secretary pays a higher tax rate than he does, despite his massive wealth.

2. Congress slammed the ex-CEO of Equifax during his hearing before the House Energy Committee"I worry that your job today is about damage control: to put a happy face on your firm's disgraceful actions and then depart with a golden parachute," said Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-NM, before Smith's opening remarks. "Unfortunately, if fraudsters destroy my constituents' savings and financial futures, there's no golden parachute awaiting them."

3. The Big 3 carmakers crushed sales expectations after a slowdown caused by Hurricane HarveyThe Detroit Big Three — FordGM, and Fiat Chrysler — topped analysts' forecasts, with Fiat Chrysler reporting a decline that was less than expected.

4. Speaking of GM, the company hit its highest price ever after going all in on electric cars. The stock was trading as high as $43.70 on Tuesday after the company announced it would be focusing all its efforts on electric cars. GM company hopes to be making 20 fully electric car models by 2023.

5. Traders are making record bets against AMDShort interest, or bets that the semiconductor manufacturer's stock price will fall, rose to an all-time high this week, according to the financial-analytics provider S3 Partners. The count of shares sold short rose to 159 million, or an estimated 18% of those available for trading.

6. Traders betting against Tesla are finally making millions. Through Monday, short selling investors had made $72 million over a two-week period as Tesla's stock plunged 11%, putting a dent in a massive year-to-date gain that totaled 80% at its peak, according to data compiled by the financial-analytics firm S3 Partners. Their mark-to-market profit is even bigger over the past month, totaling $160 million, according to the data.

7. Elizabeth Warren tells Wells Fargo's CEO, "You should be fired." Warren said during a hearing on Tuesday, in which current CEO Tim Sloan was in attendance, that despite former CEO John Stumpf stepping down, she did not think that the bank did enough to mitigate the practices regarding fake accounts and failed to make things right in the year since the scandal surfaced.

ADDITIONALLY:

Warren Buffett's new stake in truck stops adds another layer to his big bet on the US economy.

Whole Foods and Walmart are battling for one crucial set of customers — and it reveals a dark truth about the American middle class.

Oil could be hit by 3 major geopolitical risk that may be "coming to a head in October," says Wall Street's top oil watcher.

LARRY FINK: Cryptocurrencies are proof of "how much money laundering there is being down in the world."

Wall Street says a major fear about Trump's tax plan is overblown.

An economist explains how Trump's tax plan could be great for rich Americans, but not as good for the middle class.

SEE ALSO: There's a surprising winner from China's ban on North Korean coal

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NOW WATCH: THE BOTTOM LINE: The 'Trump trade' is back and Ray Dalio breaks down the bitcoin bubble

Goldman Sachs CEO: 'No Conclusion' on Bitcoin Yet

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein hasn't made up his mind about bitcoin, according to a new statement via Twitter.

Op Ed: How the Blockchain and Distributed Ledgers Will Transform the Real Estate Market

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Op Ed: How the Blockchain and Distributed Ledgers Will Transform the Real Estate Market

In its "Distributed Ledger Technology: Beyond Block Chain" report published in 2016, the U.K. Government Office for Science deemed the impact of blockchain and other distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) “probably as significant” as foundational events such as the creation of the Magna Carta and the steam engine.

In the real estate market, the introduction of blockchain technology will have a similarly significant impact, making transactions more transparent, more efficient and more accessible.

What Can the Blockchain Bring to the Real Estate Market?

Distributed ledger technologies would prove useful in almost all types of real estate activities, including money transfers, property registration and the conclusion of agreements.

Money Transfers

Purchasing property using cryptocurrency and without intermediaries such as banks is already happening. For instance, in 2014, houses in Bali and Kansas, each over $500,000 in value, as well as a house in California ($1.6 million), were sold for bitcoins. In the near future, the blockchain would be used not only in terms of payment in cryptocurrency, but also for transferring conventional (fiat) money and national digital currencies issued by central banks.

Property, Transaction and Title Ledgers

Information on real estate, transactions, title registration, property encumbrances and their condition can be entered into distributed ledgers that are accessible online and through mobile apps. Several countries have already launched pilot projects to test such systems. For instance, Sweden has been evaluating the potential of using blockchain technology in managing its land registry since 2016.

Each property would have its own blockchain ID with all its technical characteristics specified. Among other things, this would make property appraisal easier and quicker, as each transaction currently requires correspondent documents to be ordered anew and these Bureau of Technical Inventory (BTI) certificates are not always trustworthy. It is also likely for that there will be portals and MLS databases with properties that have blockchain IDs.

Smart Contracts

Smart contracts are transactions and other agreements concluded entirely digitally whose execution (i.e. transfer of ownership) is guaranteed by computer protocols with no human involvement. The same protocols automatically check the transaction possibility and legitimacy; they will not allow the agreement to be concluded if its terms do not meet established standards.

The idea of smart contracts dates back to the 1990s, but blockchain and similar technologies can make smart contracts safer and more reliable. Property sales and rental transactions can be realized through such contracts. In September 2016, Deloitte announced the launch of a pilot project for registering rental transactions via the blockchain in association with the City of Rotterdam and the Cambridge Innovation Center.

Escrow accounts are often used in buying and leasing real estate. For instance many landlords in the United States require their tenants to place a rental deposit in an escrow account, from which the money cannot be withdrawn without the landlord’s permission.

Today, escrow accounts are primarily held by notaries and banks, but distributed ledgers can change the situation. For instance, buyers can place their money in a blockchain escrow account. After commissioning the new build and the buyer getting the right of ownership, the money would automatically be released to the developer via a smart contract.

Voting

Owners of flats in apartment buildings often make decisions affecting shared infrastructure, such as major repairs or works on common areas, by voting. Distributed ledger technologies would guarantee reliable remote voting and give owners the certainty that their votes have been registered correctly. The blockchain would also prove useful in other situations, such as when real estate decisions are made by voting, for instance, in unitholder or stockholder voting.

Practical Benefits of Distributed Ledgers

With the adoption of the blockchain and other distributed ledger technologies, real estate activities would become easier, quicker and cheaper. The market would also be rid of unnecessary intermediaries, becoming safer, more transparent and, consequently, more liquid.

Lower Transaction Costs

According to British bank Barclays, the world’s first trade using blockchain technology took place in September 2016, when Barclays, Israeli startup Wave and Irish dairy producer Ornua carried out a $100,000 letter of credit transaction as collateral for exporting a parcel of Ornua cheese and butter to the Seychelles Trading Company. The transaction was completed in less than four hours instead of the 7 to 10 days it usually takes because of long document processing times.

Speed

Instead of weeks and months, the time needed for paperwork to close real estate transactions would be reduced to hours or even minutes. Cross-border fund transfers and conversions would be quicker and cheaper, and technical operating costs related to the transfer of ownership would be reduced. Transactions would also become cheaper. For instance, there would be no need to pay a notary or transaction registration fee, which now account for 1 percent to 2 percent of the property price.

Safety

To falsify an existing distributed ledger entry, one would need to hack every computer on which a copy of the ledger is stored, and this number can be enormous (e.g. the number of bitcoin users is estimated at several million). The entries cannot be deleted or modified post factum, which significantly reduces the opportunities for fraud and embezzlement.

Transparency and Liquidity

Using open blockchain-based ledgers, sellers and buyers would gain customisable access to all documents related to a transaction and be able to check the accuracy and authenticity of every one of them. This increase in transparency and liquidity would make real estate a more liquid investment vehicle and may lead to a stronger capital inflow.

Smart contracts may also stimulate the development of collective investments as they provide almost infinite opportunities for structuring property and investment project rights, which enable the construction of different crowdfunding formats. In addition, the active development of collective cross-border investments would be strengthened by voting mechanisms using blockchain-based identification, the reduction of capital structuring and transaction costs and the absence of governmental restrictions on the withdrawal of funds.

For example, Tranio is working on a crowdfunding project that will enable crypto capital owners to enter into club transactions along with conventional clients. Private investors will be able to realise the strategies of capital maintenance and earning on real estate, avoiding banks and their commissions by using the blockchain to conclude agreements, transfer money and, consequently, receive higher incomes.

Problems With the Blockchain and Digital Currencies

The distributed ledger industry is still at the start of its development, and its implementation in the real estate market is still problematic.

Absence of Regulation

The capabilities of the technology are ahead of governmental regulation, and no legal framework has yet been created to regulate the implementation of blockchain technology. Many advantages of distributed ledgers will only be able to materialize as soon as there is such a framework in place allowing for the defense of smart contracts and other blockchain operations in court.

High Costs of Converting Conventional (Fiat) Capital to Cryptocurrency and Vice Versa

The commissions charged on transferring to Mastercard or Visa range between 0.5 percent and 5 percent. This issue is likely to be resolved over time. However, this is likely to shrink over time. Several startups are already claiming they will be able to reduce the commission to zero.

Know-Your-Customer (KYC) Requirements

Crypto-capital owners are likely to be subject to standard, source of funds verification procedures, which are technically difficult to accomplish today. Banks, obliged to check the origin of funds by law, are not ready to work with cryptocurrency owners yet.

In the case of collective investments, the absence of bank regulation and compliance potentially allows developers and any fund recipients to collect money at a lower cost and not to be bound by obligations. However, this presents risks, in particular, dishonest developers.

High Volatility

The high volatility of cryptocurrencies would restrain investment in the real estate market for some time: development projects in good locations yield about 15 percent per annum (and rental projects yield even less — about 5 percent on average), while Bitcoin exchange rates surge by 100 to 200 percent over small periods of time.

At the same time, the constant growth leads to cryptocurrencies losing their stability, an important payment instrument characteristic. They begin to look something like stocks of a rapidly growing company. Few might want to sell stocks that rise in price today if tomorrow they are likely to rise even more.

However, in my opinion, some people earning on cryptocurrencies would soon want to partly invest their capital in a simpler, more real and reliable vehicle: real estate. This is the nature of human psychology. Those people who earn on growing markets want to invest some part of their money in more stable assets and vice versa.

Eventually, lower regulatory barriers and lower transaction costs will enable crypto capital to become a powerful driver for cross-border real estate investment transactions, allowing investors to increase their yields. Successful startups would then be able to compete with established real estate funds.

According to forecasts by consulting company Accenture, in 2018–2024, the blockchain will span many different types of assets, and by 2025 it will be a mass phenomenon and an indispensable part of global capital flows.

“It is already clear that, within this revolution, the advent of distributed ledger technologies is starting to disrupt many of the existing ways of doing business”, the company said in its report for the UK Government Office for Science.

This advent will surely result in positive transformations not only in the real estate market but in all sectors of the economy.

The post Op Ed: How the Blockchain and Distributed Ledgers Will Transform the Real Estate Market appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

US automakers record their best month of sales this year as Big Three crush expectations (F, FCAU, GM, NSANY)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

ford car dealership salesman

US automakers in September recorded their best month of sales in 2017, partly boosted by buyers replacing vehicles that were salvaged by Hurricane Harvey. 

Sales rose at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 18.57 million units according to Autodata, the first year-on-year increase in 2017 that topped analysts' forecast for 17.4 million units. 

The Detroit Big Three — Ford, GM, and Fiat Chrysler — topped forecasts for the month. Fiat Chrysler reported a decline that was less than expected. 

Here's the scoreboard: 

  • Ford: 8.9% (2.3% expected)
  • Fiat Chrysler: -9.7% (-13% expected)
  • GM: 11.9% (7.9% expected)
  • Toyota: 14.9%
  • Nissan: 9.5% (-8.7% expected) 
  • Honda: 6.8% (1.5% expected)
  • Mercedes-Benz: -1.7%

Sales rose less than forecast last month as Hurricane Harvey roiled Texas. But they'd already slowed during 2017 after setting records in the previous seven years.  

Analysts, however, saw improvement in the final quarter of the year. For one, several cars that were salvaged by the hurricanes will be replaced, and that should boost sales numbers after the initial slowdown. 

"We don't buy the idea that the vehicles sales would have kept falling absent the likely post-hurricane rebound," Pantheon Macroeconomics said in a preview. "In our view, the decline in sales this year is mostly a consequence of the unsustainable surge late last year, when a huge wave of incentive spending, led by Ford, drove sales up to a peak of 18.2M in December."

Screen Shot 2017 10 03 at 9.14.28 AM

SEE ALSO: September auto sales could reverse a negative trend troubling the industry

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Lloyd Blankfein says he's still studying bitcoin, people were also 'skeptical when paper money displaced gold'

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Goldman Sachs Lloyd Blankfein

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein has bitcoin on his mind, a day after reports broke that his firm was considering setting up a bitcoin trading operation. 

The billionaire banker tweeted on Tuesday that he wasn't completely sure about his stance on the red-hot cryptocurrency. 

Blankfein said he's "still thinking about bitcoin" and that he was not flat out endorsing or denouncing the digital currency. Here's the full tweet:

On Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Goldman Sachs is in the very early stages of potentially setting up a bitcoin trading operation.

"In response to client interest in digital currencies we are exploring how best to serve them in this space," a Goldman spokeswoman told The Journal.

If Goldman follows through, it will be the first blue-chip financial services firm to break into the cryptocurrency market, which this year has exploded in value by more than 720% to $145 billion.

Recently, a string of top Wall Streeters have weighed in on bitcoin, which is up 350% this year, and the broader cryptocurrency market. 

It all started when JPMorgan Jamie Dimon called bitcoin "a fraud" and said it was "worse than tulips bulbs" in the 1600s. Then, Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman took a more moderate position on bitcoin, saying it was "more than just a fad."

In a recent interview with Bloomberg News, Larry Fink, the head of BlackRock, the world's largest investor with $5.7 trillion under management, said he thinks the explosive growth of bitcoin points to nefarious behavior

"It just identifies how much money laundering there is being done in the world," Fink said. "How much people are trying to move currencies from one place to another."

SEE ALSO: Goldman Sachs is flirting with bitcoin trading

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FORMER TESLA EXEC: Elon Musk is 'just getting started' (TSLA)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Tesla Model 3

Shares of Tesla continued to rise Tuesday, trading up about 1.2%, despite the company missing its Model 3 production target for September by a wide margin.

It’s not the first time Tesla's stock has gained despite the electric auto maker missing its delivery projections. That’s because cars are only the beginning of a fully-connected Tesla ecosystem, says former Tesla Vice President George Blankenship.

"Elon's just getting started," Blankenship told Business Insider’s deputy executive editor Matt Turner in a recent interview. "Tesla's still in many ways in its infancy. It's the first successful US car company since the 1950s. Ford went public in 1956, so Tesla's the first US car company to be successful in 50 years."

Blankenship, who also served as VP of retail at Apple for six years before joining Tesla from 2010 to 2013, points to the full ecosystem that Tesla is building as proof of his point. Here's Blankenship:

"Elon announced the car a year ago, on March 31, and 115,000 people reserve a car before he even launched it; 325,000 people reserved the car in the first week. They delivered 30 of them on July 31. He tweeted out they were taking 1,800 reservations a day, for a car most people have never seen. Combine that with the battery factory in Reno, Nevada — 10 million square feet of battery production — and the Tesla power wall, with Solar City and Tesla becomes a get-you-off-the-grid company. It becomes a car company that's got different cars (and they'll have more coming), the battery company, battery technology being very important.

Now they've got the solar roof. There's going to come a point in time where the solar roof, to the battery, to the car, becomes affordable so that when you're replacing the roof on your house, your accountant will be the one telling you, instead of paying $60,000 to replace your roof, pay $60 to $70 and don't have an electric bill anymore — and go get an electric car while you're at it. The company is just in its infancy at this point on where it's actually capable of going."

Wall Street analysts, on the other hand, tend to be more cynical when evaluating Elon Musk's grand vision for Tesla, Solar City, and all its interconnecting product lines. 

Jeffries analyst Phillippe Honchos said last month that while the vision of full ecosystem that Blankenship discusses is impressive, "scalability is still the main challenge."

Goldman Sachs, one of the most outspoken Tesla bears, said in a note Tuesday that the Model 3 miss was merely the tip of the iceberg, and that shares could plunge another 40%.

Shares of Tesla are up 61.1% this year. 

Tesla TSLA stock price chart

SEE ALSO: Read our full interview with George Blankenship here

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General Motors hits its highest price ever after going all in on electric cars (GM)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

GM Chevy Bolt 20 New EVs by 2023

Shares of General Motors hit an all-time, intraday high on Tuesday.

The stock was trading as high as $43.70 on Tuesday after the company announced it would be focusing all its efforts on electric cars.

GM company hopes to be making 20 fully electric cars by 2023.

The gains followed a rally Monday, that came in part after a Deutsche Bank analyst also said a fully autonomous car from GM is closer than investors expect and that a spinoff of its tech-focused mobility unit could be in the cards.

GM rose 4.38% on Monday, closing at an all-time high of $42.15. It continued that rise on Tuesday and is on track to close at its highest-ever levels yet again.

In addition to its all-electric future, the company might be closed to releasing a fully autonomous car soon. According to Deutsche Bank, the company could release a self-driving car that could navigate complex urban areas without a backup driver in "quarters, not years." GM could use the self-driving tech to create a ride-hailing service with a natural monopoly, according to Deutsche Bank.

Morgan Stanley is bullish on the stock as well. Adam Jonas, an analyst at the bank, said his phone has been ringing more than normal with investors interested in GM. With a price target of $43 and a rating of buy, it looks like Tuesday's move has covered the remaining ground of Jonas' previously bullish call. He said multiples would have to expand for the price to continue higher as the company is maxing out its earnings potential in Jonas' view.

GM is up 23.2% this year.

Click here to watch General Motor's stock trade in real time...

gm stock price

SEE ALSO: DEUTSCHE BANK: GM could release a self driving car 'within quarters, not years'

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Wall Street says a major fear about Trump's tax plan is overblown

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

donald trump paper

  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch forecasts that far less repatriated capital will be used by corporations to buy back shares, relative to the last tax holiday in 2004.
  • HSBC says the influx of cash will boost the flexibility of multinational companies, making them less reliant on financial engineering.

The last time the US government issued a repatriation tax holiday, corporations took advantage by spending a huge portion of the overseas cash influx on share buybacks.

While that boosted share prices, it did so artificially, without providing much in the way of actual economic stimulus.

This time around, Wall Street is betting it'll be different.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch estimates that 50% of the $1.2 trillion in repatriated cash will be used on repurchases. That's a drastic decline from the roughly 80% rate back in 2004, the last time a tax holiday occurred.

One major headwind to buyback activity are stock valuations that are currently extended to near-record levels — something that makes it more expensive for companies to perform repurchases. Last month, BAML pointed out that market-wide buybacks have already started to slow, which can be interpreted by investors as companies conceding that their stock prices are too high.

BAML also highlights the fact that a repatriation tax policy translates more directly to tax savings, not a company's entire balance of cash held overseas.

Still, despite BAML's expectation that companies will be less reliant on buybacks for stock appreciation, the firm expects the tax holiday to boost S&P 500 earnings per share by $3.

So if corporations won't be using as much cash on buybacks on this go-around, where will they be deploying it? Ideally, they'll reinvest in core businesses, which the avenue policymakers would prefer, as it holds the most direct bearing on economic expansion.

Beyond that, BAML surmised earlier this year that companies would use the cash windfall to pay down existing debt. After all, with lending conditions being accommodative for so long, there's a lot of debt outstanding — and those are obligations that companies would rather shed now, rather than refinance them at higher rates once the Federal Reserve tightens further.

Elsewhere on Wall Street, HSBC expects the influx of cash to slow the roll of what they described as "shareholder-friendly activities," which would include buybacks. The thinking there is that — with easier access to cash — companies will be less likely to engage in the "financial engineering-inspired" issuance of corporate bonds.

HSBC sees the tax holiday improving the financial flexibility of companies, which will allow for the easier financing of mergers-and-acquisitions deals. Both of these developments will, however, be bad news for banks arranging debt offerings, who will have to contend with what HSBC's expectation of a reduced need for bond issuance.

Overall, regardless of how US companies will use the massive amounts of overseas capital that will be unlocked, one thing is certain: stock market traders are bullish on the idea.

This can be seen clearly in a Goldman Sachs index containing the stocks with the highest earnings reinvested overseas. After losing their post-election gains, they recovered before spiking in recent weeks as optimism mounted that a concrete tax plan would actually be proposed.

The chart below shows just how bullish investors have become.

overseas vs spx 9 22 17 (1)

SEE ALSO: Stocks are flashing a major sell signal

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Offices are getting more pleasant on the whole, but there's a toxic pattern starting to emerge

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

office enemies work fighting arguing mad angry women

When it comes to rudeness in the office, things aren't going to get better anytime soon.

While bullying bosses are falling out of fashion, technology may encourage people to adopt harsher, less empathetic communication styles, said Liz Dolan, a former exec at Nike, OWN, and the National Geographic Channels.

Dolan hosts the podcast I Hate My Boss with executive coach Larry Seal. As they've rolled out their first season, Dolan and Seal have received tons of feedback about terrible workplace experiences from listeners.

Dolan said some industries and companies seem to foster — and even reward — overt bullying and rudeness.

"It's like sports," Dolan told Business Insider. "There are some coaches that are very collaborative with their players. But there are plenty of coaches that think the screaming and yelling and the 'Bobby Knight throwing a chair' approach works. You can't say it never works. Sometimes it does work, unfortunately."

On average, however, she said workplaces are replacing authoritative, hierarchical command-control structures — in which workplace bullying can thrive — with more collaborative styles. As a result, while bad behavior at work will likely never entirely disappear, more collaborative environments tend to subdue classic bullying behaviors, like screaming, shaming, and undermining.

"There's just less accommodation of this kind of behavior," she said. "There's still plenty of it around, but there's much less than there was a generation ago where the definition of leadership included yelling and screaming and taking a parental voice with your employees."

That may sound like good news, but it's not the whole picture. While Dolan argues that certain aspects of office life are on the up and up, there's one development that threatens to set us all back when it comes to bad behavior in the workplace: the rise of indirect technological communications.

Relying on email and Slack may result in streamlined, effective communication, but all that indirect talk can take a toll on relationships, according to Stanford professor Robert Sutton.

"It makes it really hard for people to understand what boundaries are when they don't really get to know each other because all their communication is online," Dolan said. "We all know that it's true that there are things you would say in an email or a text message to someone that you would never in a million years say to their face."

What's worse, researchers at the University of Florida have found rudeness to be contagious. So just one heated email can have a truly toxic ripple effect throughout your team. Dolan said there's no quick fix for the issue, but establishing professional communication standards is a good first step.

"Maybe that means just being more explicit about what is professional communication and what isn't, whether it's in a formal or informal environment," she said.

SEE ALSO: A Stanford professor says, at the rate things are going, workplaces will only get more toxic in the future

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AMD is popping after releasing its newest low-power chip (AMD)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

AMD headquarters

AMD released a new embedded graphics processing unit on Tuesday, and the stock is trading 4.80% higher at $13.32 after the news.

The company announced on Tuesday that its newest chip based on the Polaris architecture will be launched later this month. The chip, the Embedded Radeon E9170 Series GPU, is designed for smaller, dedicated systems that need an added graphics kick.

Example uses for the new chipset include casino games, medical displays and retail signage, according to the company. The chip has the ability to drive five simultaneous 4k displays with relatively low power consumption, which could be helpful for applications like big retail displays.

The chip differs from the company's line of desktop graphics cards, as it is built to be embedded in specially designed systems rather than used for general purpose graphics computing.

Nvidia recently pushed its embedded series of chips at a conference held by the company. The company partnered with JD.com to work on delivery drones for rural areas of China. SunTrust said that Nvidia's move into the embedded market was a good move, and could "deliver significant revenue quickly." Nvidia promoted the AI capabilities of its embedded chip while AMD is focusing on the purpose-built systems its chip could be used for.

AMD is up 17.42% this year.

Click here to watch AMD's stock price trade in real time...

amd stock price

SEE ALSO: SUNTRUST: Nvidia's next big bet could deliver 'significant revenue' soon

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LARRY FINK: Cryptocurrencies are proof of 'how much money laundering there is being done in the world'

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

larry fink

Larry Fink sees huge potential in blockchain, the underpinning technology of digital currencies like bitcoin, but he's not on board with the cryptocurrency wave that's sweeping Wall Street. 

In a recent interview with Bloomberg News, the head of BlackRock, the world's largest investor with $5.7 trillion under management, said he thinks the explosive growth of bitcoin, which is up over 350% this year, points to nefarious behavior. 

"It just identifies how much money laundering there is being done in the world," Fink said. "How much people are trying to move currencies from one place to another."

That said, Fink is on board with a "true global digital currency."

"But let's be clear if we created a true global digital currency - I hate the word crypto - then you would not have money laundering anymore you would have everything understood, everything would be flowing through," he said. 

Fink is the latest in a string of top Wall Streeters to weigh in on the explosive growth of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. 

It all started when JPMorgan Jamie Dimon called bitcoin "a fraud" and said it was "worse than tulips bulbs" in the 1600s. Then, Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman took a more moderate position on bitcoin, saying it was "more than just a fad."

On Monday, the Wall Street Journal Reported that Goldman Sachs was flirting with the idea of setting up a bitcoin trading shop

When asked if BlackRock was close to hopping on crypto-bandwagon or was exploring products connected to bitcoin, Fink was clear.

"We are not hearing any demand from our clients," he said. "We are not hearing clients saying 'we want to use this as an asset class. No."

SEE ALSO: Goldman Sachs is flirting with bitcoin trading

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NOW WATCH: THE RAY DALIO INTERVIEW: The billionaire investor on Bridgewater’s 'radically transparent' culture and how to bet on the future

How Blockchain Technology is Helping to Clean the Niger River

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

How Blockchain Technology is Helping to Clean the Niger River

Ogoniland, situated off the coast of the Gulf of Guinea in southeastern Nigeria, is considered the most polluted region along the Niger Delta and among the worst in the world.

Even though the Niger Delta is rich in resources, poverty, pollution and unemployment are rife. One of its primary resources is oil, and consequently, many companies take advantage of the region. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the oil industry has been a key factor in Nigeria’s economy for 50 years. As a result of oil drilling and spills by Shell and other companies, however, the land has been devastated, the vegetation decimated, fish numbers depleted, and surrounding mangroves, swamps and creeks contaminated. Consequently, the livelihoods of many fishermen and farmers have been destroyed.

In 2011, the UNEP said that it could take up to 30 years for full environmental restoration to be achieved in Ogoniland; but a lack of accountability appears to have stalled progress as corruption and violence spread, and mistrust continues to grow between the people and the government.

Cleaning up the Niger Delta remains a key focal point for Chinyere Nnadi, founder and CEO of Sustainability International, a U.S.-based nonprofit that provides innovative solutions to complex sustainability and conservation issues in the developing world. Sustainability International’s current large-scale initiative hopes to revitalize the region through its Clean Up Niger Delta Project.

Speaking to Bitcoin Magazine, Nnadi, whose family comes from Nigeria, said that it’s important to understand the full scope of this Gordian knot before reaching a resolution, and to raise awareness around the effects caused by the oil pollution.

“Over the years, we’ve taken numerous meetings [with] local villages, government officials, and oil and gas companies to fully understand each stakeholder’s concerns and challenges,” he said. “During this process, the situation became more volatile and dangerous with rising ethnic tensions and youth violence.”

Nnadi explains that since Nigeria fell into recession a year and a half ago, violence and unrest have risen sharply in the region. Several militant groups comprising of disaffected youth with no job prospects were regularly bombing oil pipelines until a truce in September 2016. In one explosion alone, Shell lost $7 billion. The Nigerian federal government is estimated to have lost $100 million in oil revenue from the oil and gas pipeline bombings as it lost control over the Niger Delta region.

“The truce ended two weeks ago and the Nigerian army and navy have entered the region to protect the oil and gas assets and combat the militants,” explained Nnadi. “In the last two weeks there have been multiple killings and kidnappings.”

Nnadi says that there has never been a cleanup of the oil spills in the Niger Delta, culminating in 50 years of neglect and lack of accountability among oil and gas companies, wealthy elites and the government. Consequently, as sentiment is changing toward solving the problem, all the parties — the government, oil companies and the community — no longer trust each other, says Nnadi.

“This presented the opportunity to experiment with the blockchain at the community level,” he added. “We have their trust, and that is what is most important at the moment.”

As such, Sustainability International is planning to launch multiple controlled pilots in one village over the next year. Nnadi said they will conduct interviews with the villagers to determine the best design application for the people. They will then use their findings to develop the alpha version of mobile and desktop applications before executing cleanup number two, employing “wetware” — human know-how merged with advanced technology.

“Our pilots will begin with one farm, then expand the cleanups to multiple farms at a time by the third cleanup, using hardware and blockchain [technology] to efficiently execute multiple cleanups,” he said. “Using decentralization, we will enable distributed data collection and secure payments to villages, engineering accountability, economic inclusion and community engagement.”

Through the blockchain, Sustainability International will be able to micropay community members as they build credibility through its reputation system that rewards honest work. It’s hoped that this will rewire a society that is rampant with bribery and corruption. In turn, interaction with international NGOs that are seeking to engage with young entrepreneurs and community leaders in Africa’s largest country will be made easier.

Sustainability International has teamed up with the Blockchain for Social Impact Coalition (BSIC), an initiative started by ConsenSys.

Ben Siegel, impact policy manager at ConsenSys, told Bitcoin Magazine that the blockchain aspect of Sustainability International’s project creates an added level of trust in the platform.

“The individuals on the ground don’t need to trust each other; they just need to trust the platform/system,” he said. “It reduces the fear of corruption that can sometimes drive people away from integrity.”

Sustainability International and the blockchain coalition will use smart contracts to prevent corruption and return trust back to Ogoniland.

“With smart contracts and cryptocurrency, we can create ‘programmable money,’ which allows us to then ‘program’ human actions,” added Siegel. “If we incentivize people to continuously perform a series of tasks in order to receive a sustained flow of funds, we might be able to create a system in which the most likely ‘corrupt’ actors are incentivized for not being corrupt.”

This means that if Shell were to allocate a set amount of money to clean up an oil spill, the money wouldn’t be released to the contractor until the work has been verified as complete. Through smart contracts, the contractors and the community would monitor the cleanup, with each submitting data to show efficacy of work. The community would also be trained in International Sustainability standards, in which multiple factors of authentication are needed on the data submission to ensure secure data is used, Nnadi explained.

“We also run a sentiment tracker and smartphones in the entire community throughout the length of the project to have an extra level of confirmation and community engagement,” added Nnadi.

Nnadi expects the cleanup will be a massive development opportunity for local communities.

“The central thesis of this technology experiment is that the government and oil companies should pay the people to perform the cleanup,” he said. “We believe that instead of the money being spent on foreigners to come in intermittently to check on the cleanup, that local decentralized data collection will provide cheaper real-time monitoring for the oil companies and governments.”

The post How Blockchain Technology is Helping to Clean the Niger River appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

What you need to know on Wall Street today

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Warren BuffettWelcome to Finance Insider, Business Insider's summary of the top stories of the past 24 hours. Sign up here to get the best of Business Insider delivered direct to your inbox.

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway purchased a stake in Pilot Travel Centers, which owns the Pilot Flying J chain of truck stops. The billionaire investor's conglomerate said it will acquire 38.6% of Pilot Flying J, and plans to become its biggest shareholder over six years.

The stake adds to Berkshire Hathaway's bet on the US economy. Buffett already owns stakes in US airlines and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp., one of America's largest railroads, which would also benefit from an increase in trade and economic activity. 

"Whenever I hear people talk pessimistically about this country, I think they're out of their mind," Buffett said at an event last month

BDT & Company advised Pilot Flying J on the deal with its in-house finance arm, BDT Capital Partners, exiting its minority investment in the company. Not heard of BDT & Company? That's by design. Here's everything you need to know about Warren Buffett's favorite banker

In Wall Street news, Goldman Sachs has made a big hire in electronic trading, and is flirting with bitcoin trading. Elizabeth Warren told Wells Fargo's CEO: "You should be fired." And Congress slammed the ex-CEO of Equifax during his testimony.

Wall Street is unprepared for the magnitude of Europe's looming regulatory overhaul, according to UBS. And the COO at BlackRock told us why the $5.7 trillion investment giant is a "growth technology company." 

In fintech news, the CEO of "email killer" Symphony told employees to "buckle up" and apologized for driving colleagues "crazy." Bond trading startup Algomi says business is back on track after losses. And a popular stock picking game has launched a platform for users to buy real stocks.

In markets news, oil could be hit hard by three major geopolitical risks that may be "coming to a head in October." Traders are making record bets against AMD. Stocks are flashing a major sell signal.

We talked to a UBS behavioral finance specialist about how emotions get the best of even the most experienced investors.

Tesla Model 3 deliveries could be worse than expected in 2018. The company is struggling to be two different car companies at the same time, according to Business Insider's Matt DeBord. Traders betting against Tesla are finally making millions.

Lastly, take a look inside The Grill, the luxurious, revamped version of the NYC restaurant that invented the power lunch.

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Goldman Sachs has made a big hire in electronic trading (GS)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Screen Shot 2017 10 03 at 12.12.41 PM

Goldman Sachs is bringing on a technology veteran to help drive its electronic trading business. 

Mike Blum, the former chief technology officer at KCG Holdings, the high-frequency trading firm recently acquired by Virtu Financial, is joining Goldman as CTO for its electronic trading unit, according to a internal memo seen by Business Insider. Bloomberg News first reported the hire. 

He will join as a partner, making him a rare example of a partner-level hire at the firm. 

As part of his role, he will be responsible for setting standards for Securities Systematic Solutions, a newly created initiative that seeks to bring together all electronic trading efforts.

Blum will report to Konstantin Shakhnovich, Umesh Subramanian and Raj Mahajan, according to the memo. 

Goldman Sachs has made technology a key part of its trading strategy. Paul Russo, the global co-COO of the equities franchise in the securities division at the bank, said it was one of two key components of the bank's strategy in equities in a recent episode of "Exchanges at Goldman Sachs."

"We have spent the last three to four years heavily, heavily investing in technology, literally redoing most things," Russo said. 

Blum's role will touch the bank's trading operations across asset classes.  

As chief technology officer at KCG, Blum "oversaw the design and build-out of a new trading and research platform," according to Bloomberg. 

He also held top tech jobs at Teza Technologies and Getco, a now defunct HFT. 

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Why you get sick after a flight

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

  • flight attendantsPeople often get sick after taking flights.
  • Cabin air is cleaner than you expect.
  • But there are plenty of germy places on planes.
  • Jet lag can also compromise your immune system.

For many, coming down with a cold after a long flight is all but inevitable. 

But why is that? What do we get sick after taking a long flight?

The easy answer is that there are a couple of hundred people trapped in close proximity to one another inside a pressurized metal tube for hours on end,  making for a rich breeding ground for germs.

However, the reality is that things are a bit more complex than that.

Contrary to popular belief, airplane cabin air isn't as dirty as you think.

According to the International Air Transport Association, the risk of getting sick from flying is similar to that of other high-density activities like going to the movies or taking the train. IATA claims that in-cabin HEPA filters can get rid of 99.9995% of germs and microbes in the air. Plus, cabin air is only half recirculated air. The other half is fresh air pumped in from the outside. 

But that doesn't mean the cabin environment can't contribute to you getting sick.

If someone is sitting next to you has a cold, then all bets are off. And then there are the many germy surfaces on board an aircraft.

According to a study conducted by microbiologists hired by Travelmath, seat-back tray tables are a hotspot for bacteria. In the study, microbiologists found an average of 2,155 colony-forming units (CFU) per square inch on tray tables collected from four different planes

airplaneIn contrast, the study found an average of "just" 265 CFU a square inch on the lavatory flush button, which itself is far from clean

Drexel Medicine, the healthcare system affiliated with Philadelphia's Drexel University College of Medicine, called airplane bathrooms or lavatories, "One of the germiest places on a plane and a breeding ground for bacteria like E. coli," Drexel Medicine wrote on its website." In fact, the healthcare professionals advise against flyers directly touching anything in the lavatories with their hands. Instead, they suggest the use of paper towels when touching the faucet or toilet seat lid.

According to Drexel, another area to avoid touching on planes are the seatback pockets."From used tissues to fingernail clippings and dirty diapers, people stuff all kinds of germ-infested materials into airplane seat pockets," Drexel Medicine wrote.

That conclusion is backed up by an Auburn University study that found that bacteria can survive in seatback pockets for up to a week.

airplane bathroom lavatoryThis leads to the next area to avoid — in-flight magazines."While it may be tempting to pick up that issue of SkyMall, think about how many people have thumbed through those pages," Drexel wrote. The website reminds readers that the magazines are really only "cleaned" once every quarter when they are replaced.

It's not the flight, it's you

However, germs aside there are other reasons why travelers are susceptible to illness after a long flight. One of the benefits of long-haul flying is that it can take you halfway around the world in a matter of hours.  Unfortunately, it takes our bodies much longer to adjust to our new environments. Our inability to adjust results in a host of symptoms we refer to as jet lag.

"The fundamental basis of jet lag is the disruption of your body clock system," University of Sydney Professor Steve Simpson told Business Insider. "We have what's known as a circadian clock system that organizes everything about us."

"It's a very sophisticated clock system which resides in every cell and organ in our bodies and is controlled by a master control clock in our brain."

Each cycle of the circadian clock runs about 24 hours and is reset each day by a series of cues such as light, temperature cycles, and food.

According to Prof. Simpson, who is the academic director of the University's interdisciplinary Charles Perkins Centre that's dedicated to improving global health, our circadian clock regulates a slew of body functions including sleep, alertness, activity periods, metabolic cycles, and digestion.

Qantas First classA recent Cambridge University study has also shown that a disruption to a person's circadian rhythm can compromise their immune system, making people with disrupted circadian rhythms more susceptible to infections. 

Since your internal body clock can adjust no more than an hour to an hour and a half every day, passengers on long-haul international flights will endure days of circadian rhythm disruption on every trip. 

As a result, Prof. Simpson recommends passenger traveling on long flights begin shifting their circadian rhythm ahead of any planned travel. A few days before your trip, gradually shift your eating, sleeping, and activity patterns along with your light exposure to match that of your destination, Simpson said.

SEE ALSO: Why you shouldn't panic when an airliner loses an engine

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GoldMint Partnership Signals Strategic Advancement

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

GoldMint Header

 

GoldMint, a blockchain-based startup that helps gold owners profit from digital assets backed 100 percent by physical gold, recently announced an innovative collaboration with the mineral production company Eurasia Mining.

GoldMint’s board of directors and nominated advisors demonstrate significant experience in the rapidly developing world of blockchain technology. Their creative vision is to redefine the architecture of the physical gold market by fostering the necessary infrastructure for physical gold to be traded faster, more efficiently and more transparently. Over time, they expect this will usher in a paradigm shift for the entire gold industry.

In Q1 of 2017, GoldMint officially opened its digital doors with the objective of introducing a new digital gold model. This project is primarily directed toward delivering gold ownership solutions for cryptocurrency investors and enthusiasts worldwide.
 
The GoldMint project is based on the basic belief that physical gold is a stable method of payment and wealth preservation, predicated on the qualities of value and scarcity. Gold ownership, however, requires expensive security, safekeeping and insurance. GoldMint’s innovative approach seeks to address these inherent issues with gold ownership.
 
The GoldMint ICO, which launched on September 20, will offer a new means of exchange for gold: transactions are managed over a blockchain-based platform, and are backed 100 percent by physical gold. This platform will access the private and individual gold trading market — and potentially the larger physical stocks, such as those in central banks. It will also provide an electronic payment solution backed by physical gold, as well as a system for gold-backed peer-to-peer lending.

Through this agreement, GoldMint is establishing a method for applying blockchain-based technology to the development of resource industry projects.

Based in the U.K. and Russia, Eurasia Mining is a platinum, palladium, iridium, rhodium and gold production company with a long-standing history in mineral exploration. It has a fully operational mine in Russia’s Ural Mountains, as well as the exclusive rights to participate in up to 67 percent of the Semenovsky Gold Tailings Project, a project demonstrating significant near-term gold production potential.

With its roster of projects under development, Eurasia is now seeking a fresh set of solutions for bringing these projects to market. The company has a proven track record in successfully developing mineral exploration projects through innovative means. Currently, Eurasia is following ongoing advancements in the worlds of crowdfunding and blockchain technology to assess how these trends can be applied to the world of gold production, exploration and resource development.

These efforts align favorably with GoldMint’s strategic intent of aligning blockchain technologies with the resource industry in order to create greater fluidity among transactions backed by physical gold.

Co-founders Dmitry Pluschevsky, who was a co-founder of LOT-ZOLOTO, and Konstantin Romanov later realized that blockchain technology could be applied to the business dealings of international gold markets, making transactions in physical gold more accessible, efficient and transparent.

In addition, GoldMint will deliver an automated machinery solution called Custody Bot for the immediate tokenization and sale of physical gold at high street locations.

Pluschevsky said that several emerging trends are currently influencing GoldMint's strategic direction. These include the expansion and hyper-volatility of the cryptocurrency markets, the instability of fiat money and world financial uncertainty.

“We plan to build a global peer-to-peer system of crediting secured by gold so that some people would be able to help others regardless of politics and without risk for both sides,” noted Pluschevsky.

The strategic partnership between GoldMint and Eurasia, then, is one that promises to bring advantages to both sides.

“While the final Eurasia/Goldmint, blockchain-based solution applied to the mineral exploration and resource extraction industry has yet to be fully determined, the potential upside is high in terms of being able to partly replicate the royalty streaming business already proven to be very effective in the mining industry,” Pluschevsky concluded.

For more about GoldMint, review the white paper.

Note: Trading and investing in digital assets is speculative. Based on the shifting business and regulatory environment of such a new industry, this content should not be considered investment or legal advice.

The post GoldMint Partnership Signals Strategic Advancement appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Op Ed: Where Pseudonymous Cryptocurrency Transactions Meet AML Reporting Requirements

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Op Ed: AML Reporting Regulations

Two months ago, the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”), working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California (“USAO”), assessed a civil money penalty of over $110 million against BTC-e (aka Canton Business Corporation) for willfully violating U.S. anti-money laundering (AML) laws. Alexander Vinnik, a Russian national who was one of the operators of BTC-e, was arrested abroad and indicted for conspiracy and money laundering in connection with facilitating more than $4 billion in ransomware payouts and other related financial crimes focused on individuals who engage in activities ranging from computer hacking to drug trafficking.

The prosecution of BTC-e by FinCEN and Vinnik by the USAO should be no surprise. BTC-e was an alleged hub of criminal activity. Businesses operating in the digital currency space may look at these prosecutions and find them insignificant because the alleged conduct is not conduct in which they are engaged, and they are good corporate citizens who do not facilitate criminal activity. But these prosecutions remind us that the advent of Bitcoin and other digital currencies (sometimes referred to as virtual currencies, cryptocurrencies, altcoins or tokens) raises a serious issue: When do businesses in the digital currency space become “financial institutions” that must collect and retain information about their customers and share that information with FinCEN in accordance with the federal Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”)?

Real lessons can be learned from re-examining FinCEN’s 2013 guidance, entitled “Application of FinCEN’s Regulations to Persons Administering, Exchanging, or Using Virtual Currencies,” and revisiting the prosecution of Ripple Labs, Inc., (“Ripple”) by FinCEN in coordination with the USAO, which Ripple settled in 2015. FinCEN’s action against Ripple was the first civil enforcement action against a virtual currency exchange for failing to implement an effective AML program and failing to report suspicious activity related to certain financial transactions. FinCEN’s recent action against BTC-e was the first time FinCEN prosecuted a foreign entity operating as a “money services business” as defined under the BSA. FinCEN asserted jurisdiction over BTC-e because BTC-e processed nearly $300 million in transactions involving U.S. customers.

Compliance with the BSA is a particularly sensitive topic in the digital currency industry because digital currency transactions are recorded on a blockchain, a distributed electronic ledger, which contains no personally identifiable information (“PII”), and thus digital identities are concealed. The BSA mandates record-keeping and reporting requirements for certain transactions, including the identity of an individual engaged in the transaction, by financial institutions through the use of Currency Transaction Reports (“CTRs”), Suspicious Activity Reports (“SARs”), Currency or Monetary Instrument Reports (“CMIRs”) and Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts Reports (“FBARs”). After the September 11, 2001, attacks, the Patriot Act amended the BSA by adding know-your-customer (“KYC”) reporting requirements that include enhanced due-diligence policies, procedures and controls that are reasonably designed to detect and report instances of money laundering or terrorist financing.

The BSA applies to “financial institutions” (as defined in the statute), and most digital currency businesses fall into the “money transmitter” (“MT”) or “money services business” (“MSB”) categories of financial institutions regulated under the BSA. In 2013, FinCEN issued guidance and statements that it would enforce AML requirements against MTs and MSBs operating in the digital currency space, particularly with respect to exchanges on which virtual currencies trade, and on systems providing services for such exchanges. Individual investors need not fear — an individual (or company) can invest in digital currency and sell those currencies for profit without complying with the BSA. However, a company that helps others buy, sell or send digital currency by “accepting and transmitting” digital currency must comply with the BSA.

“Accepting and transmitting” means that a company receives digital currency from one customer and sends it on their behalf to another person. Merely giving digital currency to someone or accepting digital currency from someone — for example, as a method of payment — does not mean you are a “financial institution” under the BSA. In addition, those who develop and distribute software to facilitate the sale of digital currency do not need to comply with the BSA. But, an exchanger who “buys and sells [digital currency] ... for any reason,” such as providing a brokerage or exchange service for customers, is subject to the BSA.

In addition, given the wave of recent initial coin offerings (“ICOs”) in which digital currencies used for various purposes are offered to the public for sale, it is important to note that a digital currency need not be used like fiat currency in order to be subject to the BSA — it simply needs to be used as “value” that “substitutes for currency.”

There is conflicting guidance on whether the offerers of digital currency who sell their own tokens to U.S. citizens are subject to the BSA. However, FinCEN has advised that a company selling digital currency from its own account is not subject to BSA reporting requirements.

Notwithstanding that guidance, in FinCEN’s 2015 settlement with Ripple, it alleged that Ripple’s mere sale of XRP, its own digital currency, rendered Ripple an MSB that violated the BSA by failing to register with FinCEN, and by failing to implement and maintain an adequate AML program. Of course, Ripple is a currency exchange that would ordinarily be subject to the BSA, but the fact that FinCEN’s settlement with Ripple specifically alleges that Ripple’s sale of XRP violated the BSA raises issues of risk and uncertainty from a legal standpoint for digital currency offerers with respect to compliance with the BSA.

In conclusion, companies that operate or are considering operating in the digital currency space should conduct a thorough analysis of anti-money laundering regulations to understand potential registration requirements with FinCEN and whether they are required to implement AML policies and procedures to comply with the BSA.

The post Op Ed: Where Pseudonymous Cryptocurrency Transactions Meet AML Reporting Requirements appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Op Ed: Where Pseudonymous Cryptocurrency Transactions Meet AML Reporting Requirements

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Op Ed: AML Reporting Regulations

Two months ago, the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”), working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California (“USAO”), assessed a civil money penalty of over $110 million against BTC-e (aka Canton Business Corporation) for willfully violating U.S. anti-money laundering (AML) laws. Alexander Vinnik, a Russian national who was one of the operators of BTC-e, was arrested abroad and indicted for conspiracy and money laundering in connection with facilitating more than $4 billion in ransomware payouts and other related financial crimes focused on individuals who engage in activities ranging from computer hacking to drug trafficking.

The prosecution of BTC-e by FinCEN and Vinnik by the USAO should be no surprise. BTC-e was an alleged hub of criminal activity. Businesses operating in the digital currency space may look at these prosecutions and find them insignificant because the alleged conduct is not conduct in which they are engaged, and they are good corporate citizens who do not facilitate criminal activity. But these prosecutions remind us that the advent of Bitcoin and other digital currencies (sometimes referred to as virtual currencies, cryptocurrencies, altcoins or tokens) raises a serious issue: When do businesses in the digital currency space become “financial institutions” that must collect and retain information about their customers and share that information with FinCEN in accordance with the federal Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”)?

Real lessons can be learned from re-examining FinCEN’s 2013 guidance, entitled “Application of FinCEN’s Regulations to Persons Administering, Exchanging, or Using Virtual Currencies,” and revisiting the prosecution of Ripple Labs, Inc., (“Ripple”) by FinCEN in coordination with the USAO, which Ripple settled in 2015. FinCEN’s action against Ripple was the first civil enforcement action against a virtual currency exchange for failing to implement an effective AML program and failing to report suspicious activity related to certain financial transactions. FinCEN’s recent action against BTC-e was the first time FinCEN prosecuted a foreign entity operating as a “money services business” as defined under the BSA. FinCEN asserted jurisdiction over BTC-e because BTC-e processed nearly $300 million in transactions involving U.S. customers.

Compliance with the BSA is a particularly sensitive topic in the digital currency industry because digital currency transactions are recorded on a blockchain, a distributed electronic ledger, which contains no personally identifiable information (“PII”), and thus digital identities are concealed. The BSA mandates record-keeping and reporting requirements for certain transactions, including the identity of an individual engaged in the transaction, by financial institutions through the use of Currency Transaction Reports (“CTRs”), Suspicious Activity Reports (“SARs”), Currency or Monetary Instrument Reports (“CMIRs”) and Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts Reports (“FBARs”). After the September 11, 2001, attacks, the Patriot Act amended the BSA by adding know-your-customer (“KYC”) reporting requirements that include enhanced due-diligence policies, procedures and controls that are reasonably designed to detect and report instances of money laundering or terrorist financing.

The BSA applies to “financial institutions” (as defined in the statute), and most digital currency businesses fall into the “money transmitter” (“MT”) or “money services business” (“MSB”) categories of financial institutions regulated under the BSA. In 2013, FinCEN issued guidance and statements that it would enforce AML requirements against MTs and MSBs operating in the digital currency space, particularly with respect to exchanges on which virtual currencies trade, and on systems providing services for such exchanges. Individual investors need not fear — an individual (or company) can invest in digital currency and sell those currencies for profit without complying with the BSA. However, a company that helps others buy, sell or send digital currency by “accepting and transmitting” digital currency must comply with the BSA.

“Accepting and transmitting” means that a company receives digital currency from one customer and sends it on their behalf to another person. Merely giving digital currency to someone or accepting digital currency from someone — for example, as a method of payment — does not mean you are a “financial institution” under the BSA. In addition, those who develop and distribute software to facilitate the sale of digital currency do not need to comply with the BSA. But, an exchanger who “buys and sells [digital currency] ... for any reason,” such as providing a brokerage or exchange service for customers, is subject to the BSA.

In addition, given the wave of recent initial coin offerings (“ICOs”) in which digital currencies used for various purposes are offered to the public for sale, it is important to note that a digital currency need not be used like fiat currency in order to be subject to the BSA — it simply needs to be used as “value” that “substitutes for currency.”

There is conflicting guidance on whether the offerers of digital currency who sell their own tokens to U.S. citizens are subject to the BSA. However, FinCEN has advised that a company selling digital currency from its own account is not subject to BSA reporting requirements.

Notwithstanding that guidance, in FinCEN’s 2015 settlement with Ripple, it alleged that Ripple’s mere sale of XRP, its own digital currency, rendered Ripple an MSB that violated the BSA by failing to register with FinCEN, and by failing to implement and maintain an adequate AML program. Of course, Ripple is a currency exchange that would ordinarily be subject to the BSA, but the fact that FinCEN’s settlement with Ripple specifically alleges that Ripple’s sale of XRP violated the BSA raises issues of risk and uncertainty from a legal standpoint for digital currency offerers with respect to compliance with the BSA.

In conclusion, companies that operate or are considering operating in the digital currency space should conduct a thorough analysis of anti-money laundering regulations to understand potential registration requirements with FinCEN and whether they are required to implement AML policies and procedures to comply with the BSA.

The post Op Ed: Where Pseudonymous Cryptocurrency Transactions Meet AML Reporting Requirements appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Op Ed: Where Pseudonymous Cryptocurrency Transactions Meet AML Reporting Requirements

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Op Ed: AML Reporting Regulations

Two months ago, the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”), working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California (“USAO”), assessed a civil money penalty of over $110 million against BTC-e (aka Canton Business Corporation) for willfully violating U.S. anti-money laundering (AML) laws. Alexander Vinnik, a Russian national who was one of the operators of BTC-e, was arrested abroad and indicted for conspiracy and money laundering in connection with facilitating more than $4 billion in ransomware payouts and other related financial crimes focused on individuals who engage in activities ranging from computer hacking to drug trafficking.

The prosecution of BTC-e by FinCEN and Vinnik by the USAO should be no surprise. BTC-e was an alleged hub of criminal activity. Businesses operating in the digital currency space may look at these prosecutions and find them insignificant because the alleged conduct is not conduct in which they are engaged, and they are good corporate citizens who do not facilitate criminal activity. But these prosecutions remind us that the advent of Bitcoin and other digital currencies (sometimes referred to as virtual currencies, cryptocurrencies, altcoins or tokens) raises a serious issue: When do businesses in the digital currency space become “financial institutions” that must collect and retain information about their customers and share that information with FinCEN in accordance with the federal Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”)?

Real lessons can be learned from re-examining FinCEN’s 2013 guidance, entitled “Application of FinCEN’s Regulations to Persons Administering, Exchanging, or Using Virtual Currencies,” and revisiting the prosecution of Ripple Labs, Inc., (“Ripple”) by FinCEN in coordination with the USAO, which Ripple settled in 2015. FinCEN’s action against Ripple was the first civil enforcement action against a virtual currency exchange for failing to implement an effective AML program and failing to report suspicious activity related to certain financial transactions. FinCEN’s recent action against BTC-e was the first time FinCEN prosecuted a foreign entity operating as a “money services business” as defined under the BSA. FinCEN asserted jurisdiction over BTC-e because BTC-e processed nearly $300 million in transactions involving U.S. customers.

Compliance with the BSA is a particularly sensitive topic in the digital currency industry because digital currency transactions are recorded on a blockchain, a distributed electronic ledger, which contains no personally identifiable information (“PII”), and thus digital identities are concealed. The BSA mandates record-keeping and reporting requirements for certain transactions, including the identity of an individual engaged in the transaction, by financial institutions through the use of Currency Transaction Reports (“CTRs”), Suspicious Activity Reports (“SARs”), Currency or Monetary Instrument Reports (“CMIRs”) and Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts Reports (“FBARs”). After the September 11, 2001, attacks, the Patriot Act amended the BSA by adding know-your-customer (“KYC”) reporting requirements that include enhanced due-diligence policies, procedures and controls that are reasonably designed to detect and report instances of money laundering or terrorist financing.

The BSA applies to “financial institutions” (as defined in the statute), and most digital currency businesses fall into the “money transmitter” (“MT”) or “money services business” (“MSB”) categories of financial institutions regulated under the BSA. In 2013, FinCEN issued guidance and statements that it would enforce AML requirements against MTs and MSBs operating in the digital currency space, particularly with respect to exchanges on which virtual currencies trade, and on systems providing services for such exchanges. Individual investors need not fear — an individual (or company) can invest in digital currency and sell those currencies for profit without complying with the BSA. However, a company that helps others buy, sell or send digital currency by “accepting and transmitting” digital currency must comply with the BSA.

“Accepting and transmitting” means that a company receives digital currency from one customer and sends it on their behalf to another person. Merely giving digital currency to someone or accepting digital currency from someone — for example, as a method of payment — does not mean you are a “financial institution” under the BSA. In addition, those who develop and distribute software to facilitate the sale of digital currency do not need to comply with the BSA. But, an exchanger who “buys and sells [digital currency] ... for any reason,” such as providing a brokerage or exchange service for customers, is subject to the BSA.

In addition, given the wave of recent initial coin offerings (“ICOs”) in which digital currencies used for various purposes are offered to the public for sale, it is important to note that a digital currency need not be used like fiat currency in order to be subject to the BSA — it simply needs to be used as “value” that “substitutes for currency.”

There is conflicting guidance on whether the offerers of digital currency who sell their own tokens to U.S. citizens are subject to the BSA. However, FinCEN has advised that a company selling digital currency from its own account is not subject to BSA reporting requirements.

Notwithstanding that guidance, in FinCEN’s 2015 settlement with Ripple, it alleged that Ripple’s mere sale of XRP, its own digital currency, rendered Ripple an MSB that violated the BSA by failing to register with FinCEN, and by failing to implement and maintain an adequate AML program. Of course, Ripple is a currency exchange that would ordinarily be subject to the BSA, but the fact that FinCEN’s settlement with Ripple specifically alleges that Ripple’s sale of XRP violated the BSA raises issues of risk and uncertainty from a legal standpoint for digital currency offerers with respect to compliance with the BSA.

In conclusion, companies that operate or are considering operating in the digital currency space should conduct a thorough analysis of anti-money laundering regulations to understand potential registration requirements with FinCEN and whether they are required to implement AML policies and procedures to comply with the BSA.

The post Op Ed: Where Pseudonymous Cryptocurrency Transactions Meet AML Reporting Requirements appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

UBS: Wall Street is unprepared for the magnitude of Europe's looming regulatory overhaul (UBS)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

storm clouds over nyc

UBS is cutting earnings estimates for Wall Street firms, saying the industry is unprepared for impending European regulatory changes.

The sweeping market regulatory reforms in Europe known as MiFID II (Markets in Financial Instruments Directive) are set to go live at the start of 2018, and uncertainty is lingering across the financial world regarding the extent of the impact. 

In a research note, UBS says many firms are downplaying the potential pressure on earnings over the next couple years, adding that firms "seem unprepared given the magnitude of change presented by the rule" and that the impact "is not likely reflected in consensus estimates or valuations at this point."

UBS flags asset managers and investment banks as especially susceptible to absorbing unforeseen costs, cutting earnings-per-share estimates for these firms by slightly less than 1% and 1.2% on average, respectively.

These are the broad-strokes changes under MiFID II, from the note:

"MIFID II is large and complex, but basically it is a push to improve transparency and eliminate conflicts by implementing best execution standards, shifting trading to lit venues, improving post-trade transparency, and requiring research to be paid separately from commissions."

As a result of these changes, UBS anticipates many asset managers will have to start funding research internally in Europe and beyond, and investment banks' already-battered trading operations could suffer more pressure from the enhanced transparency and shift to exchange-trading. 

That said, UBS expects some firms to fair better than others. Here are the firms they expect to be most and least impacted by the rule:

UBS MiFID impacted firms

And here's a breakdown of UBS' estimate revisions:

UBS MiFID eps impact

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Elizabeth Warren tells Wells Fargo's CEO: 'You should be fired' (WFC)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

elizabeth warren

It's been one year since the Wells Fargo fake accounts scandal came to light, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren doesn't think the bank has done enough to make up for the damage.

As a refresher, it was initially found that Wells Fargo employees opened more than 2 million customer accounts  without their knowledge from 2011 and 2015. The scope of the scandal has since increased with the possibility of more fraudulent accounts opened over a longer period of time.

Warren said during a hearing on Monday, in which current CEO Tim Sloan was in attendance, that despite former CEO John Stumpf stepping down, she did not think that the bank did enough to mitigate the practices regarding fake accounts and failed to make things right in the year since the scandal surfaced.

"Wells Fargo cheated millions of people for years," Warren said. "The Federal Reserve should remove all of the current board members who've served during the fake accounts scandal sam. And Mr. Sloan you say you've been making changes at Wells Fargo for 30 years but you enabled this fake accounts scam, you got rich off it, and you tried to cover it up. At best you were incompetent, at worst you were complicit, either way you should be fired."

Sloan retorted that the board of directors made significant changes and held executives and employees of the bank accountable for the scandal.

This isn't the first time Warren, a strident critic of Wall Street, has gone after a Wells Fargo CEO. During Stumpf's testimony last September, Warren lit into the bank and its executives for failing customers.

Warren dinged Sloan for being at the bank for nearly three decades, saying that his insider status was detrimental to creating real change at the bank. The Massachusetts senator pointed to quarterly earnings calls, which she said showed Sloan — who was then chief financial officer — aggressively promoted Wells Fargo's ability to open new accounts for customers.

"I've read through them, and on these calls no one — not even John Stumpf who was CEO at the time — bragged more about Wells Fargo's ability and commitment to opening new accounts for existing customers" Warren said, going on to quote Sloan from one of the calls.

Warren also pointed to other statements in which Sloan defended the sales practices and culture of Wells Fargo as proof that the CEO was not credible as an agent of change for the bank.

Sloan pushed back on those suggestions.

"Our job is to satisfy our customers financial needs and to help them succeed financially... since I've become CEO, I've made fundamental changes to address the issues we're talking about today" Sloan said.

SEE ALSO: BUFFETT: GOP tax plan is 'not a tax reform act, it's a tax cut act,' and chances of it passing are 'higher than most people think'

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Warren Buffett's new stake in truck stops adds another layer to his big bet on the US economy

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

RTR2DC3RWarren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway purchased a stake in Pilot Travel Centers, which owns the Pilot Flying J chain of truck stops.

The billionaire investor's conglomerate said it will acquire 38.6% of Pilot Flying J, and plans to become its biggest shareholder over six years, it said in a release on Tuesday.

The stake adds to Berkshire Hathaway's bet on the U.S. economy. Buffett already owns stakes in U.S. airlines and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp., one of America's largest railroads, which would also benefit from an increase in trade and economic activity. 

"Whenever I hear people talk pessimistically about this country, I think they're out of their mind," Buffett said at an event last month

Pilot Flying J is the largest operator of travel centers in North America, with more than 27,000 employees, 750 locations across the US and Canada, and more than $20 billion in annual revenue.

For the time being, Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam's family will remain as the majority shareholder, while Haslam will stay as CEO. Additionally, the Maggelet family will keep 11.3% ownership until 2023, at which point Berkshire will take over the majority stake.

"Pilot Flying J is built on a longstanding tradition of excellence and an unrivaled commitment to serving North America's drivers," Buffett, the chairman, president, and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, said in the release. "Jimmy Haslam and his team have created an industry leader and a key enabler of the nation's economy. The company has a smart growth strategy in place, and we look forward to a partnership that supports the trucking industry for years to come."

BDT & Company advised Pilot Flying J, and as part of the deal, BDT Capital Partners exited its minority investment in it.

"Given the impeccable reputation of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, and our shared vision and values, we decided this was an ideal opportunity," Haslam said in a public statement. "As a family business that has evolved and prospered over the last six decades, we knew that any potential partner would need to share our commitment and have a proven track record as a long-term investor."

It has been a slow year on the acquisition front by Buffett's standards, though he has done some deals, including the extension of a $1.5 billion line of credit to the Canadian lender Home Capital Group. Buffett's firm also sunk $377 million into the real-estate investment trust Store Capital. In June, Berkshire became Bank of America's biggest shareholder after exercising warrants to buy 700 million common shares.

Buffett has run into a few roadblocks this year, getting outbid for the energy company Oncor in August. In February, the Buffett-backed conglomerate Kraft Heinz called off plans to merge with Unilever, a deal valued at $143 billion.

SEE ALSO: Traders betting against Tesla are finally making millions

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Oil could be hit hard by 3 major geopolitical risks that may be 'coming to a head in October'

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Venezuela PDVSA Oil Oilfield Worker

Wall Street's top oil watcher says there are three geopolitical headwinds that might be "coming to a head in October" — and they could have implications for oil markets.

The three risks come from uncertainty surrounding Iraq's Kurdish region, the nuclear deal with Iran, and the ongoing crisis in Venezuela, according to RBC Capital Markets' Helima Croft.

Here's an outline of her arguments why those three regions are something oil watchers should keep an eye on:

  1. The Kurdistan region: Last week residents of the Kurdistan region in Iraq voted in a non-binding referendum on independence. It was "met with harsh rhetorical responses from opponents and is sparking fears of a substantial supply shut in," according to Croft.
  2. The nuclear deal with Iran: US President Donald Trump called the Iran deal "one of the worst deals ever negotiated" and repeatedly vowed to rip up the agreement. "President Trump will have the opportunity to make good on his pledge to decertify Iran on October 15, a decision that could set in motion a process that could lead to Congress reinstating the extra-territorial sanctions that prohibited investment in Iran's upstream sector and compelled countries to reduce their Iranian crude imports," Croft said. "Even if Trump has an 11th hour change of heart, new sanctions for non-nuclear transgressions are likely looming and they could deep-six the deal."
  3. Venezuela: The White House has previously said it could up economic pressure on Maduro's government. "New US sanctions will undoubtedly make it more difficult for the national oil company, PDVSA, to maintain current levels and meet its debt obligations," said Croft.

In short, geopolitical risks look like they might be coming back for some oil producers. And even if they manage to avoid "full-blown crises," Croft argues they will continue to "face considerable turbulence."

SEE ALSO: There's a surprising winner from China's ban on North Korean coal

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'It has broken me': Tesco accounting scandal 'compromised' staff and sparked resignations

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Former Tesco executives John Scouler, Carl Rogberg and Christopher Bush

  • Three former Tesco executives on trial for fraud over £250 million accounting black hole in 2014.
  • Jury hears that two staff members resigned over what they saw as dishonest accounting practices at the time.
  • The defendants have pleaded not guilty. The case is expected to run for 10 to 12 weeks.

LONDON — The toxic environment at the top of Tesco during 2014's accounting scandal led to "compromised" staff, nervous breakdowns, and resignations, a court heard on Tuesday.

Opening the prosecution's case for a third day, Sasha Wass QC told a jury at Southwark Crown Court that two staff in Tesco's commercial finance team "felt so compromised by the misrecording of profits that they did resign rather than engage in what they considered to be practices that were unlawful."

Wass said that Richard Parsons, formerly a member of Tesco's commercial finance team, emailed his line manager in August 2014 — days before the scandal broke.

The current environment has broken me

In the message, which was read out in court, he wrote: "I'm afraid I won't be in the office today. The stress and worry has got to me [...] Please pass on my apologies. Urgent personal matters is the public reason I'd prefer to give at this point."

He added: "The current environment has broken me."

Wass said Parsons "felt so compromised that he didn't feel able to actually share what he was going through with his own wife."

Three former Tesco executives are standing trial for fraud by false accounting and fraud by abuse of position. They were charged last year after Tesco was found to have inflated its profits by nearly £250 million ($331 million) in 2014.

'This was the biggest kept secret in Tesco'

The jury heard on Tuesday that Parsons arranged a meeting with Tesco's human resources team to share his concerns about the improper recording of accounts. At the meeting, Parsons said other employees were "too scared to speak out because they're worried about losing their jobs and paying their mortgages."

The HR representative reported that Parsons said: "This was the biggest kept secret in Tesco, and if this was to get out it wouldn't be good for Tesco," according to Wass. Parsons resigned in August 2014, shortly before the scandal broke.

A company logo is pictured outside a Tesco supermarket in Altrincham northern England, April 16, 2016.

Wass said another Tesco employee at the time, Aysen Nadiri, also resigned shortly before the scandal broke over concerns relating to "illegitimate" accounting practices.

Nadiri became aware that the term "pull-forward" was being used to refer to income being registered early, which she perceived as an "illegitimate interpretation" of the accounting practice.

The court heard that Nadiri "became increasingly concerned about the message from senior management," as they refused to accept that targets couldn't be met and "had a disregard for proper accounting principles."

On August 26, shortly before the scandal broke, the court heard that Nadiri resigned, feeling "nervous about things going wrong" and "compromised" as a financial professional.

Wass claimed that defendant Carl Rogberg was made aware of staff departures. "His reaction was: 'Fine. Go and hire more people'," Wass told the jury.

Former Tesco UK managing director Christopher Bush, former UK finance director Carl Rogberg, and former food commercial director John Scouler are each standing trial for fraud by false accounting and of fraud by abuse of position.

The trio were formally charged by the Senior Fraud Office last year. Lawyers acting for the trio have already pleaded not guilty. Bush, Rogberg, and Scouler were part of the so-called "Cheshunt Eight," a group of senior Tesco employees who all left the company following the 2014 scandal.

The trial is expected to last between 10 and 12 weeks.

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Traders are making record bets against AMD (AMD)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

AMD

Betting against AMD this year has been unprofitable, but that's not stopping investors from jumping on the trade. 

Short interest, or bets that the semiconductor manufacturer's stock price will fall, rose to an all-time high this week, according to the financial-analytics provider S3 Partners. The shares sold short rose to 159 million shares, or an estimated 18% of those available for trading.

That leaves plenty of room for those who still want to jump on the bearish trade, despite the trade losing 6.6% this year, or about $110.3 million.

AMD gained 10% this year through Monday's market close, and an incredible 84% over the previous year. The growing popularity of cryptocurrencies including bitcoin has boosted demand for its graphics chips used for mining.

But because cryptocurrency prices are very volatile, they are not a reliable source of revenue for AMD, according to Barclays. The company itself acknowledged in July that cryptocurrencies were not a long-term driver of growth.  

This makes it important for AMD to gain market share from its competitors, particularly Intel and Nvidia.

Among the three companies which have increased in market value this year, only Nvidia's short interest fell as its share price rose, S3 said. Short sellers are down 58% on the bet against Nvidia this year.

Screen Shot 2017 10 03 at 9.30.53 AM

SEE ALSO: Tesla is reportedly working with AMD to develop AI chips for self-driving cars

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Golden Crossover: Bitcoin Charts Suggest Price Ready for Bump

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

The weekend rally in bitcoin's price may have come to a halt at $4,470 on Monday, but bullish signals hint at further gains.

The CEO of 'email killer' Symphony tells employees to 'buckle up' and apologizes for driving colleagues 'crazy'

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

David Gurle Symphony

Just before its third-year anniversary, the CEO of Symphony, the company heralded as the "Bloomberg killer," is telling his employees to "buckle up" for a "thrilling" next two years.

David Gurle, CEO of the secured-message platform backed by some of Wall Street's most powerful players, sent out a memo to the company's more than 200 employees Monday. In the note, seen by Business Insider, Gurle highlighted some of the company's recent milestones and his vision for its future. 

"We are kicking Slack, Skype for Business and Teams out of every account where we compete with them," Gurle wrote. "If we can achieve all this with just 3 years’ worth of innovation, just imagine where will we be 2 years from now, when we will celebrate only our fifth year anniversary?"

As such, he told folks to "buckle up tight as the ride is going to be fun and turbulent with lots of thrills and also fears."

Symphony is like Slack for banks. It allows traders and other people working in highly regulated environments to benefit from enterprise encryption and security while they chat online, either through text or voice.

Symphony in May announced a $63 million fundraise, which brought the total amount the company has raised to $234 million. It counts Google, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan, and a number of other Wall Street firms as its backers.  The company is valued at more than $1 billion. 

Since January 17 the company has witnessed its active usage rate grow more than 270%, according to the memo. Symphony defines active users as anyone who sends and reads at least one message on the app in a month, according to a person familiar with the matter.

In total, Symphony has 230,000 users across 200 firms, according to the memo.

In a way Symphony replicates the messaging feature of a Bloomberg terminal, one of the service's most popular features, and combines it with elements of social media. Many of its backers, including Goldman Sachs, got behind the company to put pressure on the monopoly of Bloomberg, which charges its users more than $20,000 per year for a subscription to its signature terminal. Hence, the nickname "Bloomberg killer."

But Gurle doesn't see Symphony as just being a tool Wall Streeters can use. As such, he prefers the nickname "email killer."

In the memo, Gurle said the company will be a big player in chat alongside Microsoft and Slack, serving an array of industries. Here's Gurle on his vision for the future (emphasis added):

"While I can’t predict the future, from what I know today, I foresee that there will be 3 players in the market: Teams will dominate the market thanks Microsoft’s push of O365 to their more than 85M user base. Slack, with its yearlong head start and broad prosumer business model will be next as they will mature and start winning enterprise wide deals and Symphony, which will be the market leader in all regulated and information sensitive markets.

As for the company's short-term position, Gurle said "Symphony had reached the inflection point."

"This is the point from which our opportunities will only grow deeper, broader and bigger," he said.

Parts of Gurle's note got personal. He admitted to not being perfect, and named some employees whom he drives "crazy." Here's Gurle (emphasis ours):

"I do make mistakes here and there, nor do I know everything I should know, and there are times I really get angry with myself and have a hard time recovering from it. How do I cope with this? I always ask myself the question of what I can improve in me, in my management team, in the company, etc… I know I drive Kim, Thomas, JC, Eran, Derek, Leah, Koray, Andrea, Bryan, Mike, Sarp, Queenie and many others crazy (consider yourself lucky if your name isn’t here) at times by this relentless push for improvement and adaptation to our ever changing ecosystem. If we can do better and we chose not to then we sacrifice the gift of life, this is my philosophy.

A spokeswoman for Symphony declined to comment.

SEE ALSO: A manager at a $6 billion quant fund gives the best intro to cryptocurrencies we've heard

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NOW WATCH: RAY DALIO: Bitcoin is a speculative bubble

BUFFETT: GOP tax plan is 'not a tax reform act, it's a tax cut act,' and chances of it passing are 'higher than most people think'

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

buffett

Republican desperation for a legislative win means a tax reform package has a better chance of making it through Congress, Warren Buffett said during a television interview.

But calling it "reform" is disingenuous, the billionaire investor said during an appearance on CNBC Tuesday. It's not a "not a tax reform act, it's a tax cut act," he said.

The new framework for a tax overhaul released by President Donald Trump and Republican leaders last year, calls for changes including a cut in the top corporate tax rate to 20% (from 35%), and lowering the rate for high-earning Americans to 35% from 39.6%. 

Buffett has been an outspoken advocate for changes in the tax code, most famously for claiming that his secretary pays a lower tax rate than he does, despite his massive wealth. He was giving the interview, on CNBC Tuesday, to discuss his new investment in Pilot Flying J truck stops.

Investors will know soon though if the tax changes are going to happen Buffett predicts, saying it will be determined  "within three months, actually less than that."

Trump and GOP leaders repeatedly targeted the end of 2017 to get the tax plan through Congress and are trying to get through the initial steps to make that possible including passing a budget, hammering out the details of the legislation, and winning over interest groups and the American public.

'A terrible mistake to start with'

Despite these challenges, Buffett said it's "a real possibility" that Congress will pass a bill and the chances are "higher than most people think."

"Any politician that can't pass a tax cut is probably in the wrong line of work," Buffett said.

Buffett also said that he would wait and see how the tax push played out before doing any significant selling of Berkshire Hathaway stock in order to avoid paying unnecessary taxes on his gains.

"I would feel kind of silly if I realized $1 billion worth of gains and paid $350 million in tax on it if I just waited a few months and would have paid $250 million," Buffett said.

In terms of the actual details of the plan, Buffett did not appear as sold on the proposal.

For one thing, he disagrees with the idea of eliminating the estate tax— which is paid by people inheriting more than $5.7 million in assets. Buffett said that eliminating the tax would reinforce a "dynastic" system that ran counter to American values.

"That's not good for capitalism, it's not good for the children, and I sure don't think it's good for society where there's already a ton of inequality to start with," Buffett said, referring to the heirs of large estates. "I think that's a terrible mistake to start with."

Buffett has already committed to the Giving Pledge, which means he will give away at least half of his wealth during his life and after death.

Additionally, while Buffett agrees that lowering the federal corporate tax rate to 20% from the current 35% would be beneficial to Berkshire shareholders and corporate profits, he doesn't think taxes are holding American businesses back.

"We have a lot of businesses, 60 or 70, and I don't think any of them are non-competitive in the world because of the corporate tax rate," Buffett said.

Watch Buffett's comments via CNBC:

 

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The COO at BlackRock explains why the $5.7 trillion investment giant is a 'growth technology company' (BK)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Goldstein_Rob_cropped

Rob Goldstein is the chief operating officer of BlackRock, the world's largest asset-management firm with $5.7 trillion under management.

He heads BlackRock Solutions, the unit responsible for Aladdin, the firm's signature operating system combining risk analytics, portfolio management, and trading.

Goldstein also leads the firm's fintech effort, overseeing several recent acquisitions and investments.

They include:

  • BlackRock's acquisition of Cachematrix, which simplifies the cash-management process for banks and their corporate clients.
  • A minority stake in Scalable Capital, a Europe-based digital investment manager.
  • A partnership with UBS on Aladdin Risk for Wealth Management, an adaptation of BlackRock’s institutional Aladdin platform.
  • An investment in iCapital, a fintech platform providing access alternative investments for high-net-worth investors and their financial advisers.
  • The acquisition of FutureAdvisor, a digital investment manager.

BlackRock is also a huge player in developing passive investment products – funds like ETFs that passively track benchmarks at a much lower cost than actively managed funds.

Business Insider recently met up with Goldstein in his Manhattan offices at BlackRock headquarters to get a sense of where he thinks fintech and passive investing are headed.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Rachael Levy: Do you think that the robo advice, or wealth-management space, in terms of using these new tools for risk management and transparency — do you think that it's becoming crowded at all?

Rob Goldstein: No. Just so you know, I've never been asked that question before. I don't believe it's becoming crowded at all. I believe that — I don't think we should underestimate how much opportunity there is.

The way I look at it, if you think about, who's the best in the world at something? In today's world, if you just said, who's the best in the world at building portfolios? At managing money? The reality is, it will likely be institutions and the opportunity to democratize tools, democratize data, democratize capabilities; that's what technology is all about. I think we're in the bottom of the first inning or the top of the second.

When you look at these cycles, there are a lot of companies that get flushed out in every inning, but I don't think it's at all crowded relative to the opportunity — forget about the financial opportunity — just the opportunity to help really bridge that gap. It's tremendous.

Levy: The reason I ask that is I know there are several that come across my radar. You know, there is Personal Capital trying to expand into that space; Ellevest is specializing in targeting women. There are others I could rattle off, but that's why I wonder on the consumer side if there's ever maybe confusion with "What are all these new brands coming to market?" and "Why should I choose FutureAdvisor versus Ellevest, which I saw on TV?"

Goldstein: I answered, "Is it crowded from a business perspective?" If I said from a consumer perspective, it's confusing from a consumer perspective, and I believe the winners will be people who have both established brands and have other services.

It's confusing from a consumer perspective, and I believe the winners will be people who have both established brands and other services.

And we shouldn't underestimate the importance of, if you are managing your investment portfolio, it's sort of helpful to get a checkbook type of thing as opposed to each of these are stand-alone.

The reality is, from a consumer perspective, this is all one thing, which is, this is your money and how do you leverage your money to both live and achieve certain outcomes you are striving for? And I think that the more the various elements of that can be brought together, the greater the value proposition from a consumer perspective.

Levy: How does active management fit into this? If more people — you know, mom and pop, Main Street, however you want to call them — have access to better tools now, is there any role for an active mutual fund or a bond fund and how is it going to play out for active money managers essentially?

Goldstein: I actually believe better tools make it better for both funds that are trying to generate alpha as well as people who are trying to use index products to try to generate alpha.

Risk transparency doesn't favor one investment strategy. It's a concept that extends across all investment strategies. What's interesting is that, in many regards, if you look at something like an ETF, it is a technology to just give you very efficient, cost-effective exposures. But even the way that people use ETFs are in the context of making active decisions.

And as we look at these capabilities, we think it helps to build portfolios blending the two because we believe very strongly it's not a one-size-fits-all model in sort of one direction or another. We actually believe that it's a fund debate, but it's not a portfolio-construction debate.

Levy: So this doesn't necessarily change money flowing to one type of strategy over another necessarily?

Goldstein: I don't believe so. I think that the nature of risk transparency and technology, what it should do — and this is a point in time statement — if you look at this unprecedented liquidity, the numbers are staggering. Seventy trillion dollars. I don't know what the most recent number is, but the last I've heard is sort of $70 trillion in sort of cash. It helps people migrate that savings to investment and, again, it's very hard to achieve most financial outcomes through keeping your money in cash.

lehman brothersAnd if anything, if you look at the period from the financial crisis, and you know next year will be the 10th anniversary, for example, of Lehman Brothers, if you look at those that put their money on cash for that period or those who kept in their investments, I'm not saying the risk taker who bought a bank the next day. I mean, just if you kept at it recognizing investments are a long-term game, and particularly for retirement savings, longevity in terms of being able to invest, being able to save and invest over a long period of time is your greatest asset. The people who stuck with it relative to the people who didn't have dramatically different outcomes.

Levy: And all the losses they would've remade and more, right? If you look at 2008 forward.

Goldstein: But even if they wouldn't have had such a good outcome, you know the outcome has been extraordinary, but it still would've been — over a 10-year period — it still would've been greater than keeping it in cash. So I picked a good 10-year period because it's the most recent 10-year period, but at the same time, just relative to keeping it in cash, over a long period of time through a cycle, that's the right thing to do.

Levy: Can you speak to how BlackRock views active versus passive more broadly?

Goldstein: Sure. It's incredibly simple in terms of how we view it in that our goal is to construct portfolios that achieve our planned outcomes. And we believe that often, in building those portfolios, you're blending active management and you're blending index product. We actually believe one of the greatest misnomers is this word "passive" because we don't believe any investment decision is a passive decision. You could buy an index fund but you're not doing that passively. You are making a judgment about asset allocation and other things that impact your portfolio. So when we look at it, we look at it really from, "What is the objective the client is striving for and how do you build the most efficient portfolio to get him or her or the institution to achieve that objective?" Most of the time, you see a role for both active product as well as index product in constructing that portfolio.

traderLevy: So you don't think there's going to be a "death of active" necessarily?

Goldstein: Not only do we believe there's not going to be a "death of active" but I think quite strongly, we've been investing in our active businesses and we've been quite transparent and vocal about some of the investments that we've made.

Levy: In the sense of expanding them?

Goldstein: So for example, we've been very focused on how we could leverage — funnily enough, this could be its own technology discussion — but we've been very focused on how we can leverage technology, big data, and other concepts to generate more alpha in portfolios. That's been a huge thrust of what we've been focused on.

Levy: In actively managed portfolios?

Goldstein: In actively managed portfolios, and obviously technology has changed so many things. I mean, look, you're recording this on your phone. The whole thing is amazing, where the world is. If I would've told you 10 years ago you would have a device that does all those things, you would've thought I was crazy. And the irony is that when you look at the devices on "Star Trek," what you have is actually cooler than many of the devices on "Star Trek."

When you look at one of the major changes, it is this combination of the data that's now available, the technologies that are available to analyze the data, and access to computing power at the price points that you can access computing power and put them together, the opportunities that creates to identify themes, trends, market paradigms is just — it's limitless.

My sales pitch is very simple: BlackRock is a growth company. BlackRock is a growth technology company and we're growing our technology functions. We have a very ambitious plan that we call "Tech 2020." And as part of that, we are looking to extend the 2,000-plus technologists we already have within BlackRock. And we're really excited about the opportunity to take a company like BlackRock, which is already, I'd say, at the forefront of technology in its industry, and, if anything, keep expanding that.

Levy: Do you anticipate buying more wealth-management-type startups? How do you see that being implemented?

Goldstein: It's a great question. I see it implemented in a variety of ways. First is, hiring and building the current capabilities that we have. Engineers, analytics, financial modeling. The second is we will continue to look at opportunities to expand our technologies through acquisition. And lastly, we have actually taken, made investments in firms that we believe have interesting technologies that we think the notion of having some sort of partnership with can accelerate client outcomes.

Levy: Are these asset-management firms?

Goldstein: No, these would be — I'm in fintech land — so, for example, we've taken an investment in a company called iCapital, which is trying to democratize access to alternative investments. We've taken an investment, we've made an investment in Scalable Capital, which is the leading digital advice platform by far in Europe, so leveraging all three of those capabilities or tools, I guess, leveraging all three of those tools in terms of continuing to accelerate our technology capabilities.

When we see interesting capabilities that we think we could help the capability and they could help us, that's what's exciting to us.

When we see interesting capabilities that we think we could help the capability and they could help us, that's what's exciting to us.

Funny enough, I wouldn't call it diversifying. I would call it extending our capabilities.

Levy: And would the common thread be that they all somehow cater to the Main Street investors versus the institutional? Cash Matrix is institutional, but the other three?

Goldstein: The other three, yes. The other three would be more on the wealth-management side.

I would just say that the starting point on the wealth-management side is such that there's so much more opportunity to help relative to the institutional side. I think they're in very different parts in terms of what the starting technology point is.

Levy: And that's just because historically retail clients have been underserved?

Goldstein: No, I don't think it's so much underserved. I always had this saying, which is, in my career, I saw on the institutional side risk go from a nice-to-have to a must-have to a must-have-the-best. I saw that cycle on the institutional side. I think that on the wealth-management side, risk, they're sort of in that middle bucket. It went from a nice-to-have to now it's becoming a must-have.

And to be clear, it's a harder problem in many ways on the wealth-management side because there are many more objectives that people are trying to fulfill. There are many more portfolios. There are many more constraints that you have within the portfolios. So it's just a harder problem. I believe the new technologies that have emerged over the past two or three years — you know, the ability to access compute power at different price points — just a variety of new technologies have really unlocked the opportunity to do it at scale in a whole new way. It's just a different scale factor.

With assistance from Raul Hernandez.

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Hungary is pushing a 'conspiracy' that billionaire George Soros wants to bring millions of refugees to Europe

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

George Soros Posters

  • Hungarian government launches "national consultation" about billionaire George Soros.
  • The government accuses Soros of wanting to dismantle border fences and open borders to refugees and funding EU campaign to get his way.
  • Eight million Hungarians will be sent a questionnaire about Soros' views.

The Hungarian government is attacking billionaire financier George Soros for what it claims are his efforts to bring millions of refugees into Europe.

Hungary-born Soros, a Jewish Holocaust survivor, says the national attack amounts to a "conspiracy" against him.

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban has repeatedly attacked what he sees as the EU's pro-refugee stance. He and his party have dubbed efforts to settle refugees within the bloc the "Soros plan," as he believes the billionaire has pulled strings behind the scenes to orchestrate it.

Soros is the subject of a "national consultation" in his native Hungary, which alleges that he is conspiring with the European Commission to bring one million refugees a year into Europe. Eight million Hungarian citizens will be sent a questionnaire including questions about Soros' alleged plot.

According to the Financial Times, which has seen the document, the paper contains seven accusations against Soros, including that he supports "dismantling border fences and opening borders, ensuring milder criminal sentences for immigrants" as well as saying he wants to publicly attack and punish countries that oppose immigration.

George Soros posters

The Times reports that the leaflet says: "The goal of the Soros plan is to diminish the importance of the language and culture of European countries in order to make the integration of illegal immigrants happen sooner."

Charity Human Rights Watch, which is funded by Soros’s Open Society Foundations, said these claims are "incendiary and false."

"In advance of the April 2018 elections, the consultation serves to divert the public’s attention from pressing domestic issues, including challenges facing the education and healthcare systems," the charity says.

Adverts promoting the campaign have appeared on Hungarian TV and billboards bearing Soros' face, alongside the slogan "Don't let Soros have the last laugh," have appeared around the country over the last few months.

Soros has been an advocate of allowing the resettlement of refugees in Europe since the beginning of the European migrant crisis in 2015. In a 2016 article for his charity, the George Soros Foundation, Soros said: "The EU must take in a substantial number of refugees directly from front-line countries in a secure and orderly manner."

The article, titled "Saving Refugees to Save Europe," argued that the European Union should also make "a commitment to admit even a mere 300,000 refugees annually."

However, Soros has denied doing anything more than publically advocate for refugee rights. A spokesperson said:

"There is no such thing as a global conspiracy against Hungary orchestrated by George Soros. We regret that the government is spending over $3 million of public money to play on instincts of fear and hatred to manipulate Hungarian voters six months ahead of the parliamentary election."

Soros, who is worth around $25 billion, has been at the centre of conspiracy theories since he first rose to the top echelons of hedge fund managers in the 1990s.

He is best known in the UK as "The Man who broke the Bank of England" after he bet big against the pound during the Black Wednesday crisis of 1992 when Britain dropped out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM). Soros made more than $1 billion during the crisis after the value of the pound dropped 15%.

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Here's a super-quick guide to what traders are talking about right now

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

NYSE traders

Dave Lutz, head of ETFs at JonesTrading, has an overview of today's markets.

Here's Lutz:

Morning!  US Futures are acting well, with Dow, S&P 500, Nasdaq, Russell 2000 all adding to record closes as we await US Auto Sales and single-stock headers from the SOHN conference in Tel Aviv.   Quiet in Europe, with Frankfurt closed celebrating German reunification, while Spain’s IBEX continues to show some weakness, dropping 60bp.  Euro STOXX is off small, but volumes are decent, running 30% above trend. London is adding 10bp, With rallies in Fins and Miners being offset by weakness in Consumer.  Pretty much a rip higher in Asia, where the TOPIX was up 70bp to 2Y highs – and Hang Seng Ripped over 4% higher before calming down, closing 2.3% higher as Fins and Autos ripped higher in very heavy volume on the Chinese RRR cut.  KOSPI up 90bp in thin trade, while Aussie retreated 50bp as Fins were hit

US 10YY continues to hover around 2.35%, and Fed Funds holding near 77% for December.  Spains yields tighter to Bunds are tightening slightly, while Germany’s 10YY is up 3bp.   DXY weaker as Euro just off 6week lows as the pop in Producer Prices sparked covering, but the A$ off small as RBA holds rates and MS says “go short” and Sterling getting hit on weaker PMI in the Construction Sector.  Metals mixed, with Industrials climbing as Nickel 3% higher after LME data, but Gold continues to break lower despite the dollar drop.  Headers of higher OPEC output continue to weigh on WTI, which barely held $50 yesterday.   Will be interesting to see action in Energy Stocks, which broadly outperformed the commodities yesterday

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What brought down Monarch, the UK's biggest ever airline collapse

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Monarch

  • Monarch collapsed on Monday after years of financial difficulty;
  • Terrorism, the fall in the pound, and Brexit uncertainty all blamed for problems;
  • Efforts to compete with low-cost rivals also failed, pushing Monarch into difficulty.

LONDON — When Monarch Airlines collapsed on Monday, the company became the biggest airline failure in the history of British aviation and left approximately 110,000 travellers stranded abroad.

What went wrong?

Speculation that the 50-year-old company was close to collapse first surfaced in September last year but the airline strongly denied it was in trouble at the time. Monarch received a funding injection from private equity business Greybull Capital shortly after. It later emerged that Monarch lost £291 million in the year to October 2016.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph on Tuesday, Greybull Capital's founder Marc Meyohas said a "bloody hurricane" of problems led to the airline's eventual collapse, adding that the European short-haul flight market is a "bloodbath."

Terror and Brexit hit the industry

Marc Meyohas told the Telegraph that the combination of a weak pound since the Brexit referendum, the increase in terrorist attacks in the Middle East and Europe, and ongoing Brexit uncertainty proved to be "pretty large headwinds" that Monarch couldn't cope with because of its relatively small size.

Airport staff speak by empty Monarch Airlines check-in desks after the airline ceased trading at Birmingham Airport, Britain October 2, 2017.Weaker sterling has been an issue for all British airlines since the Brexit vote — the slump in the pound has cost easyJet £90 million — and Monarch was no different. The weak pound both lowered the number of people able to afford a holiday and increased the airline's fuel costs.

Terrorism and the rise of ISIS have also been an issue for the industry. Tim Symes, a leading insolvency lawyer with DMH Stallard, said on Monday: "A higher terrorism threat has proved to be difficult for trading conditions; Egypt and Turkey provided a key chunk of revenue for [Monarch] and subsequent terror attacks left the airline deprived from the resulting weaker demand."

But terrorism and the fall in the pound affected the entire aviation industry — why has Monarch suffered more than others?

'Lost its way'

"Monarch had somewhat lost its way in recent years, trying to reinvent itself as a low-cost carrier but in a market already well supplied by dominant players like Ryanair and easyJet," John Strickland, an aviation consultant, told the FT on Monday.

Symes said: "The airline adopted the low-cost model in 2004 to keep pace with rivals EasyJet, but this was the beginning of its demise. Flights at some destinations were dropped due to low demand and leased planes were quickly returned."

The airline was the fifth largest in the UK, behind British Airways, easyJet, FlyBe, and Jet2, and Monarch struggled to compete with its bigger competitors in a cut-throat business.

Neil Wilson, a senior analyst at ETX Capital, said on Tuesday: "Monarch carried 14% more passengers last year but for £100 million less revenue.

"Airlines continue to cut fares to grow market share and this is coming at the expense of profit margins. The problem of over-capacity and overly-aggressive pricing is not going away until we see more consolidation."

A Monarch Airlines passenger aircraft prepares for take off from Gatwick Airport in southern England, Britain, October 9, 2016. Gerald Khoo, an analyst with investment bank Liberum, said Monarch was "widely considered to be financially doomed" for many years, according to the Financial Times.

Symes said: "The Brexit vote seemingly provided the final nail in the coffin, as the weak pound impacted on handling charges."

"Monarch was basically in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was sub-scale and failed to adapt to changes in a tough market," Khoo concluded.

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said in an email to BI: "Airlines were always seen as a notoriously tricky business and with good reason.

"Demand can be very cyclical, varying according to how well consumers feel they and the economy are doing and customers show little brand loyalty, preferring to focus on cost and value for money. At the same time, the price of oil can move around a lot, even allowing for any short-term hedging that an airline can do to cope with sudden cost increases."

Monarch's collapse has kicked off the biggest repatriation of British citizens since the Second World War and sent shares in other British airlines higher as investors saw opportunities for growth.

It is believed that the airline owes Greybull Capital as much as £150 million, with the firm set to lose a total of £250 million, which it considers to be "close to a total write-off."

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Traders betting against Tesla are finally making millions

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Elon Musk

Betting against Tesla this year has been an exercise in futility, as short sellers have repeatedly been burned by one of the market's hottest stocks.

Their patience is finally paying off.

Those investors have made $72 million over the past two weeks as Tesla's stock has plunged 11%, putting a dent in a massive year-to-date gain that totaled 80% at its 2017 peak, according to data compiled by financial analytics firm S3 Partners. Their mark-to-market profit is even bigger over the past month, totaling $160 million, the data show.

As a result, the amount of Tesla stock being held short has fallen by roughly $1.8 billion. The decline isn't surprising, considering many short sellers likely jumped at the chance to close positions and pocket some profits after a long, arduous streak of losses.

Interestingly, the paring of bets against Tesla has come at a time when short interest is climbing throughout the rest of the automotive sector — and costing bearish speculators money. That increase has mirrored gains in the industry, which stemmed from strong August auto sales and speculation around a government-backed shift toward electric cars, according to S3.

In fact, the price divergence in returns over the past month has made Tesla the sector's most profitable short over the period, as bets against other major auto manufacturers have lost $1.5 billion, S3 data show.

However, Tesla skeptics are still holding a whopping $9.6 billion of Tesla stock short, showing that while bearish sentiment is waning slightly, it's not going away.

"Tesla shorts have proven that they have an iron will and are standing by their short thesis," Ihor Dusaniwsky, managing director of predictive analytics at S3, wrote in a client note.

Another explanation is that investors are no longer shorting Tesla as a proxy for a hedge against declines in the broader stock market — a practice that was in full swing as of late July.

Now that US equities have proven that they can hit new record highs without mega-cap tech stocks leading the way, it's possible that the trading playbook is being changed on the fly, with Tesla no longer bearing as much of the brunt of investor uncertainty.

Screen Shot 2017 10 02 at 4.27.58 PM

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Bank of England: 'Significant risks' if EU moves €930 billion clearing business out of London post-Brexit

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney speaks at an event to unveil central bank's new ten pound note, featuring British author Jane Austen at Winchester Cathedral on July 18, 2017 in Winchester, England. Two hundred years after Jane Austen's death, Britain is celebrating one of its best-loved authors, who combined romance with biting social commentary that still speaks to fans around the world. Austen is buried in the cathedral in Winchester, where she died. (Photo by )

LONDON — The Bank of England continues to warn about possible post-Brexit risks to the stability of the UK's economy.

The bank published the record of its latest Financial Policy Committee meeting on Tuesday and both clearing and Brexit were high on the agenda.

The FPC — which is tasked with ensuring financial stability in the UK — said that there are "significant risks from disruption to cross-border clearing activity between the UK and EU."

"The United Kingdom was an important global hub for central clearing activity and there remained significant risks from disruption to cross-border clearing activity between the UK and EU," the report notes. "Central counterparties (CCPs) located in the United Kingdom provided important services to EU clients across a range of markets."

Clearing houses such as LCH and ICE Clear Europe in London manage credit risk, acting as a middle-man in swaps and derivatives trades to guarantee the contract in the event that one of the parties involved in the trade goes bust. They have grown in importance since the financial crisis as they are meant to limit systematic risk. Around 70% of euro-denominated trades worth €930 billion (£820 billion) a day pass through London, according to a House of Lords report.

The location of euro-denominated trade clearing has been a hot topic since the euro first entered circulation in the late 1990s. European policymakers have argued that euro clearing should take place within the euro area. Britain has repeatedly had to defend its right to clear euro trades, given that it does not have the euro. Years of disputes culminated in a legal battle in 2015, which the UK ultimately won.

However, Brexit has provided fresh impetus for those seeking to move clearing out of London. The ECB proposed a change to its statutes that would give it "a clear legal competence in the area of central clearing," back in June.

Those proposals, the Bank of England's FPC noted, "could be used to deny EU firms access to ‘substantially systemically important CCPs' unless they were located within the EU." This would be worrying news for both Britain and the EU, the bank noted.

"In the event of access restrictions in those markets, EU firms would therefore have to move their activity to another CCP, which was likely to be difficult to achieve before the point of EU withdrawal. So there remained a substantial risk of disruption of cross-border clearing activity."

Disrupting cross-border clearing would be "in no one's economic interests," BoE Governor Mark Carney said in a speech earlier in the year.

"Fragmentation of such global markets by jurisdiction or currency would reduce the benefits of central clearing," Carney said at the City of London's Mansion House in June.

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12,000 stranded Monarch customers flown home in the first 24 hours of huge rescue operation

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Airport staff speak by empty Monarch Airlines check-in desks after the airline ceased trading at Birmingham Airport, Britain October 2, 2017.

LONDON — The emergency rescue operation to bring home holidaymakers stranded by the collapse of Monarch Airlines has already flown 11,843 people home.

The UK's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) confirmed on Tuesday that it flew 61 flights back to the UK on Monday, following Monarch's collapse into administration early on Monday morning.

Around 98,000 Monarch customers still remain abroad. Over 50,000 are expected to be flown home this week, with over half currently in Spain or the Spanish islands. The first two flights put on by the CAA came from Ibiza.

Monarch is the largest ever UK airline to go bust and the government ordered the CAA to organise the emergency rescue of all customers left stranded overseas.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling called the operation "the country’s biggest ever peacetime repatriation," while CAA CEO Andrew Haines said the rescue operation was like "putting together, at very short notice and for a period of two weeks, what is effectively one of the UK's largest airlines to manage this task." The Daily Mirror on Tuesday compared the effort to the rescue of troops from Dunkirk during World War Two.

The BBC reports that the effort will cost the CAA an estimated £60 million. The CAA has already chartered jets from Qatar Airways, Canada's Air Transat, and easyJet, according to the Independent. 30 planes have been chartered in total.

The collapse of Monarch has led to estimated job losses of 1,900, with close to 250 staff kept on to help the CAA with repatriation efforts.

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Ex-Tesco executives 'connived and manipulated figures' to cover up £250 million accounting black hole, court told

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

  • 3 charged with fraud by false accounting and of fraud by abuse of position following a £250 million Tesco accounting scandal in 2014;
  • Prosecutors alleges trio told staff to "pull forward" projected income from future accounting periods to cover up holes and meet unrealistic targets;
  • "The defendants carried on conniving and manipulating the figures by incorrectly encouraging others to pull forward income," said a prosecuting lawyer.

Former Tesco executives John Scouler, Carl Rogberg and Christopher Bush

LONDON — Three former Tesco executives allegedly "connived and manipulated figures" to cover up a £250 million black hole in the supermarket's accounts, a court heard on Monday.

Former Tesco UK managing director Christopher Bush, former UK finance director Carl Rogberg, and former food commercial director John Scouler are standing trial for fraud by false accounting and of fraud by abuse of position at Southwark Crown Court in London.

They were charged last year after Tesco was found to have inflated its profits by nearly £250 million in 2014, a revelation which the court heard on Monday sent "shock waves" through the stock market and wiped billions from the firm's value.

Opening the case for the prosecution on the second day of proceeding, Serious Fraud Office (SFO) lawyer Sasha Wass QC told Southwark Crown Court that the three former executives told staff to "pull forward" projected income from future accounting periods to cover up accounting holes and meet financial targets.

Wass said the "pull forward" technique was intended "to make it look like you were hitting the targets, whereas in reality you were not."

“Terms such as 'pull forward' [...] were Tesco’s internal jargon, used by those in the know to describe the falsification of figures," Wass said.

The jury was told that the "pull forward" practice was "contrary to proper accounting standards and principles."

"The defendants must have been fully aware of the damage this practice was having on the finances of the company, and more particularly on shareholders," Wass said.

The court heard that attempts by colleagues to persuade the defendants to lower financial targets "had been unsuccessful."

"The defendants carried on conniving and manipulating the figures by incorrectly encouraging others to pull forward income," Wass said.

The case opened on Friday. Prosecuting lawyer Sasha Wass QC said the three men were "jointly responsible for falsifying figures," according to Sky News. The prosecution alleged on Friday that the trio "bullied and coerced" people they managed at Tesco.

The trio were formally charged by the SFO last year. Lawyers acting for the trio have already pleaded not guilty.

Bush, Rogberg, and Scouler were part of the so-called "Cheshunt Eight," a group of senior Tesco employees who all left the company following the 2014 scandal.

The trial is expected to last between 10 and 12 weeks. Former Tesco chairman Richard Broadbent is expected to give evidence.

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App-only bank Atom nears £1 billion in deposits

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Atom Bank anthony thomson

LONDON — Startup, app-only bank Atom has passed £900 million in deposits less than two years after launching its first savings product.

Atom confirmed to Business Insider on Monday that it has attracted over £900 million in deposits since July 2016 when it first launched its savings accounts.

A spokesperson told BI: "Responsible and sustainable growth of our business has always been a priority for Atom, passing on the benefit of our low-cost model to UK consumers in the form of competitive rates.

"Our savings deposits have now grown to over £900 million, with our mortgage and business lending following a similar trajectory. We’re the fastest growing challenger bank in the UK, with cost and efficiency driving our ambition to deliver great value for customers and investors.” 

The disclosure comes as Atom's annual accounts show that the startup had £538 million in deposits from over 17,000 customers at the end of March. It means the app-only bank has attracted around £400 million in four months.

Founded in 2014, Atom is one of a number of so-called "neobanks" — startups trying to build app-only banks. Others include Monzo and Starling. Atom was founded by former Metro Bank chairman Anthony Thomson and former First Direct CEO Mark Mullen.

Thomson, Atom's chairman, writes in Atom's 2017 accounts: "Whilst there was considerable research to support our strategy, we – like many others – had no idea how quickly mobile banking would come to dominate."

The bank's accounts, filed with Companies House this week, show Atom has received over £300 million of small business loan applications and lent out close to £100 million in loans and mortgages by March this year.

Atom had a net interest loss of £1 million for the year, due to paying out interest on its 1.95% and 2.5% fixed savings accounts, at the time market-leading interest rates, before the launch of its lending products.

The bank lost £42 million last year, up from £23 million in 2015, due to "staff and operating costs as we continued to build products for launch and scaled-up teams to run a fully operational bank." Atom raised £113 million in funding during the year and ended the year with £103 million of equity capital left.

In total, Atom has raised over £200 million in equity funding from investors including Spanish banking giant BBVA and City fund manager Woodford Asset Management.

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Bond trading startup Algomi says business back on track after losses

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Usman Khan, Algomi.

LONDON – Fintech startup Algomi says it is in a strong position thanks to tie-ups with Euronext, AllianceBernstein, and S&P Global, as accounts show the business was in a tough spot financially at the end of last year.

UK-headquartered Algomi lost £15.5 million last year and ended 2016 with net liabilities of £6.2 million. Revenues in the year to December 2016 were £9.3 million but the business was pushed to a loss by administrative expenses of £22 million.

Management says in the accounts that the business will likely need to raise money to pay bills due in the year and auditors placed an "emphasis of concern" on the business' going concern basis, meaning it was worried the business may not last another 12 months.

However, a spokesperson told Business Insider that tie-ups reached in 2017 have helped secure the company's future, including a $10 million investment and partnership with Euronext earlier this year.

The spokesperson said: "The significant growth in the Algomi network during 2016 has been rewarded with strategic partnerships, investments and 10-year deals in 2017, with firms such as Euronext, AllianceBernstein and S&P Global.

"The imminent launch of Euronext Synapse and Algomi ALFA are two such examples of this groundwork now coming to fruition."

Algomi runs the Honeycomb Network, a platform that lets investors see which dealer is best placed to make corporate bond trades happen. Bank dealers enter potential trades into a secure network, which then matches those trades and suggests similar bond trades if the ones desired are unavailable. The startup was set up by former UBS bankers in 2012.

Algomi's spokesperson said: "We are undergoing an exciting stage of development at Algomi, growing our global network of fixed income traders and expanding our product portfolio to offer a full suite of solutions to our clients. We’ve made significant investments in both product development and scaling our liquidity network, bringing this up to 250 buy-side firms and 20 banks.

"Our priority is to continue to on-board new institutions, while working closely with our strategic partners to deliver a number of new initiatives to market."

Algomi has over 140 staff across the UK and US.

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10 things you need to know in markets today

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

lloyd blankfein

Good Morning! Here's what you need to know on Tuesday.

1. At least 59 people have died in a mass shooting in Las Vegas at a country music festival Sunday night, and details are slowly emerging about the victims. One was an off-duty police officer from Bakersfield, according to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD). His name has not yet been released while police notify his family.

2. Shares of major gun manufacturers rose in trading on Monday following the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history. Gun stocks tend to rally after mass shootings. Heightened conversation about potential gun-control legislation raises speculation that people would want to buy firearms sooner rather than later before any regulations could be tightened.

3. The collapse Monarch Airlines on Monday could be great news for Britain's other major airlines, analysts say, with budget carrier easyJet likely to be the big winner. "We note that easyJet and Ryanair have the highest capacity overlap with Monarch and in the event of an exit could be the biggest potential beneficiaries," a Goldman Sachs note circulated on Monday said.

4. Goldman Sachs is flirting with the idea of setting up a bitcoin trading shop. The Wall Street powerhouse is reportedly in the very early stages of potentially setting up a bitcoin trading operation. "In response to client interest in digital currencies we are exploring how best to serve them in this space," a Goldman spokeswoman told The Wall Street Journal.

5, Wall Street analysts showed "extreme bullishness" on stocks at the end of September, based on a monthly survey conducted by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. BAML points out that it's historically been a bearish signal when Wall Street gets extremely bullish. Described by the firm as a "reliable contrarian indicator," the sell-side gauge helps bolster the long-standing argument from stock market pessimists that US stocks are overheating.

6, Gazprom dethroned ExxonMobil as the top energy company in the world, according to the 2017 S&P Global Platts Top 250 Global Energy Company Rankings. For 12 years, ExxonMobil was second to none. But that changed this year – Exxon was ejected from the top spot, and fell all the way to ninth place.

7. Japanese stocks hit fresh two-year highs on Tuesday morning, tracking a Wall Street rally as data pointed to underlying strength in the U.S. economy, while a weaker yen also helped overall sentiment. The Nikkei rose 1.1% to 20,620 in late afternoon trade, the highest level since August 2015.

8. Jo Bertram, the top Uber executive in London, has quit. "While I would like to have announced my move in smoother circumstances, I’m proud of the team we’ve built here and am very confident in their abilities to lead the business into the next chapter," she wrote in an email to staff. "I’ll work with you in the coming weeks on the best possible transition."

9. The British government will immediately agree 40 free trade deals with other non-EU countries the minute Britain leaves the European Union in 2019, Liam Fox promised. The Secretary of State for International Trade insisted the UK would easily be able to copy and paste all 40 of the EU's external trade deals "the second after midnight" on Brexit day in March 2019.

10. Saul Klein, the cofounder of LoveFilm and several other startups, has formally announced his latest venture: Zinc. Zinc is a "company builder" in the same way that established London companies like Entrepreneur First, Founders Factory, and Seedcamp (also cofounded by Klein) are company builders.

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Stocks are flashing a major sell signal

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Sentiment on the US stock market may be too positive for its own good.

Wall Street analysts showed "extreme bullishness" on stocks at the end of September, based on a monthly survey conducted by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. As such, the firm's proprietary "Sell Side Indicator" — which monitors investor exuberance — is now nearly two standard deviations above its four-year average.

BAML points out that it's historically been a bearish signal when Wall Street gets extremely bullish. Described by the firm as a "reliable contrarian indicator," the sell-side gauge helps bolster the long-standing argument from stock market pessimists that US stocks are overheating.

On prior occasions in which the indicator has been one standard deviation above the four-year rolling average, the S&P 500 has returned less than 1% over the following 12 months, and it has actually declined almost half of the time.

The chart shows that the last time the BAML indicator (blue line) has been that far above its four-year rolling average (red line) was the financial crisis.

10 2 17 sell side indicator COTD

"Relative to the last four years, sentiment levels are now at relative levels that have historically indicated weak returns over the next 12 months," a group of BAML equity and quantitative strategists led by Savita Subramanian wrote in a client note. "It has historically been a bullish signal when Wall Street was extremely bearish, and vice versa."

Screen Shot 2017 10 02 at 9.24.07 AM

BAML's contrarian indicator is certainly living up to its name, bucking bullish signs that have suggested the 8-1/2-year equity bull market will stay alive and well.

Take, for instance, the S&P 500's recent resilience in the face of weakness in tech stocks — previously viewed as an indispensable pillar of continued stock gains. Instead of selling off, the benchmark index hit a series of new highs as investors rotated into previously unfavored energy and telecom stocks.

More than anything, these conflicting signals show that no one truly knows what's ahead for the US stock market. There's ample evidence on either side of the bull/bear debate. So in the meantime, the best possible advice is probably just to keep buying, but stay hedged against an unexpected shock.

SEE ALSO: Hedge funds are 'dancing on the rim of a volcano'

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Monarch and Ryanair's woes are good news for easyJet

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

EasyJet

LONDON — The collapse Monarch Airlines on Monday could be great news for Britain's other major airlines, analysts say, with budget carrier easyJet likely to be the big winner.

Monarch, Britain's fifth largest airline, collapsed after a long period of financial difficulty and leaves behind a hole in the UK's aviation market. Analysts believe the collapse, which has led to the cancellation of 300,000 bookings, could boost rivals.

"We note that easyJet and Ryanair have the highest capacity overlap with Monarch and in the event of an exit could be the biggest potential beneficiaries," a Goldman Sachs note circulated on Monday said.

Shares in easyJet rose close to 5% on Monday, while Ryanair's share price rose over 3%.

Monarch had just 3% of the total short-haul market in the UK but that small overall percentage could allow significant expansion for other airlines, particularly easyJet given the state of rival Ryanair.

Irish carrier Ryanair was forced to cancel thousands of booking this winter after a rostering error caused a backlog of staff holiday days due at the end of the year. The cancellations are set to impact as many as 700,000 passengers and have caused a major PR crisis for the company.

Meanwhile, easyJet is controversy-free. The airline "should benefit this winter from the struggles of four key competitors, which may be helpful for pricing in the U.K., Germany and Italy," Credit Suisse's airline team wrote in a note circulated on Monday.

"Monarch has now stopped flying, Air Berlin is being broken up, Alitalia is also in administration and awaiting a buyer, and Ryanair pilot issues have prompted flight cancellations and a large media focus."

"Absorbing all of Monarch and a targeted 30 aircraft from Air Berlin could add up to 10% to earnings in each case, with limited capital investment," the bank's aviation analysts wrote.

"It remains to be seen how Monarch’s administrator runs the process, and we see complementary with easyJet’s network as positioning easyJet strongly should the administrator look to achieve a sale of the business as a whole - however we also expect easyJet to look to absorb slots vacated by Monarch directly from airports, perhaps as lessors reclaim aircraft."

Monarch had a 5-6% share of flight slots at London Gatwick, London Luton, and Manchester slots.

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