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One of the most expensive restaurants in America could be using unsafe fish, according to the FDA

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

masa nyc

  • Masa is famously one of the most expensive restaurants in America, with a $595-a-person tasting menu.
  • One importer that supplies the fish for the restaurant was found to be in "serious violations" of seafood safety rules after an FDA inspection.
  • The restaurant says it is taking the allegation seriously and launching its own investigation.

 

A supplier to ultra-high-end sushi palace Masa has allegedly been playing dirty.

The restaurant was recently served with a letter from the FDA, which accused one if its importers of "serious violations" of food safety rules. Allegations include using fish "prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions," which the FDA apparently found during a recent investigation of one of the restaurant's suppliers.

 Skipjack tuna was one of the fish named as potentially compromised, according to Eater.

Masa is the most expensive restaurant in New York City — and one of the priciest in America — and it's run by famed chef Masa Takayama. Its tasting menu is offered for $595 a person. The FDA said that the fish from Masa's supplier could be "injurious to health."

A restaurant spokesperson told Business Insider in a statement: "We take FDA regulations very seriously and of course food safety is always a priority. We are working closely with our purveyors in Japan to get this resolved quickly."

Masa has 30 days to respond to the FDA, after which the agency will confiscate all its fish.

SEE ALSO: We went to Warren Buffett's favorite New York steakhouse and saw just how much Americans' attitudes towards fine dining have changed

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NOW WATCH: TOP STRATEGIST: Bitcoin will soar to $25,000 in 5 years

China Renaissance CEO: Blockchain More Important Than Bitcoin

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

The head of a Chinese investment bank says he believes bitcoin's underlying technology is more important than the cryptocurrency itself.

Trustlessness in Action: Particl's Model

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

Particl Thumb 5

“Trustlessness” is a term often quoted as a feature of blockchain technology but what does that mean and is absolute zero trust a myth or really true? Praised as one of the characteristics that make the blockchain so revolutionary, a trustless system is one where two peers can enter a virtual hand shake agreement, i.e.  smart contract, without relying on a trusted third party to facilitate.

 

Blockchains are good at being permissionless and having decentralized tasks that are recorded on an auditable ledger, yet not all blockchains are completely trustless, and achieving full trustlessness is challenging if not impossible. Even an open-source project like Bitcoin that is constantly being reviewed can have trust issues, not from the code but by the developers and reviewers of the code. So trustlessness is more of a term describing an ideal state on the blockchain where code is law with the caveat that humans write code and to err is human.

 

Before looking at how a fully trustless blockchain can be implemented by privacy advocates like Particl — an open-source project that is building a decentralized ecommerce application on the blockchain — let’s look at the obstacles standing in the way.

 

I Trust You, Until I Don’t

 

We’re conditioned to think of trust as a good thing. Traditionally, positive human relationships have required a level of trust. From an economic perspective, however, trust has significant downsides.

 

The greatest drawback is that trust can be broken. When you engage in a transaction with someone you believe to be trustworthy, but then they fail to deliver the promised goods or services, you suffer. In addition, trust is not efficient. It has to be cultivated and you have to invest time in evaluating how much another party can be trusted before you engage in a trade.

 

Blockchain technology can be leveraged to overcome the risks and inefficiencies that are associated with trust. With the right approach, it’s possible to make reliable transactions on the blockchain without knowing or trusting the person or group you are dealing with. That is because the blockchain can be used to enforce good behavior.

 

In Particl’s case, by creating a simple smart contract, you can ensure that if one party in a transaction fails to uphold their end of a deal, the blockchain can automatically cancel the transaction or punish the misbehaving party in another way. In effect, this feature makes it impossible for a malicious user to profit by taking advantage of the trust that another user places in them without inflicting harm on themselves as well.

 

The Trustless Challenge

 

If you buy or sell something using Bitcoin, you don’t automatically gain protection against being cheated: default Bitcoin transactions are non-reversible. The ability of the blockchain to enable transactions that are both trustless and reliable is difficult because it needs to be done without the intervention of a third party. In conventional trading contexts, transactions are typically policed by a central authority that evaluates claims about broken trust and responds accordingly. For example, if a seller cheats you on eBay, you can complain to eBay and request a refund. These authorities also charge fees or percentages of sales revenue whether they are used or not.

 

The downside to this approach is that it compromises privacy. In order to provide this protection against broken trust, a platform like eBay oversees transactions. It knows what buyers and sellers are doing. With a two-person trustless escrow, in contrast, reliable transactions can be implemented without the oversight of a third party. You don’t have to lose privacy to gain reliability.

 

The tricky thing about achieving true trustlessness on a privacy-focused blockchain is that it doesn’t happen by default. Although multiple times more efficient than building trust in public, smart contracts still need to be signed and the exchange of goods or services still needs to happen. The beauty is that an agreement can be made and successfully carried out even if one or both parties don’t fully trust each other.

 

A Trustless Solution

 

Particl leverages Bitcoin as the underlying blockchain protocol, but adds privacy enhancements that make it possible for users to perform transactions that are trustless, reliable and private. In an innovative development, PART transactions do not require users to write smart contracts themselves. Instead, this feature is built into the platform.

 

Central to Particl’s approach to trustless transactions is mutually assured destruction (MAD) escrow. MAD escrow is a special type of smart contract that prevents either party from profiting in the event that one cheats during a transaction.

 

In addition, because the smart contract is enforced automatically via the blockchain, Particl developers play no role in overseeing transactions. Their platform guarantees privacy while achieving trustlessness at the same time. Two people from anywhere in the world can enter into a binding agreement that is only finalized when both agree it is completed.

 

Blockchain technology’s promise is that users are no longer bound by the inefficiencies and risks associated with trust in order to make transactions. Most blockchains, however, do not yet implement truly trustless transactions. Particl is an exception, as it was developed with trustlessness at its core from the start. Particl developers aim to “square the circle” by delivering trustless ecommerce without compromising reliability or privacy.

The post Trustlessness in Action: Particl's Model appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Buffalo Wild Wings explodes higher after raising its earnings forecast (BWLD)

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

buffalo wild wings

  • Buffalo Wild Wings raised its full-year forecast for adjusted earnings per share, sending its stock flying in extended trading. 
  • The company had faced "historically high" chicken-wing costs, but killed one of its most popular promos to save costs. 

 

Buffalo Wild Wings shares on Wednesday surged nearly 22% in extended trading after the company raised its forecast for full-year earnings.  

The restaurant chain forecast adjusted earnings per share of $4.85 to $5.15, topping analysts' forecasts that ranged between $4.13 and $4.70 according to Bloomberg. Third-quarter adjusted EPS was $1.36, crushing the estimate for $0.79. 

The earnings release also showed that the company was working to save costs amid rising chicken-wing prices. It ended half-price wings Tuesday and replaced it with a "buy-one, get-one" offer for boneless wings.  

"The recent Tuesday promotion shift from traditional to boneless wings at company-owned restaurants will continue to improve cost of sales while traditional wing prices remain elevated," said Sally Smith, the CEO of Buffalo Wild Wings, in a statement. 

Chicken wings cost $2.16 per pound on average in the third quarter, up from $1.72 a year ago. 

Sales at stores open for at least one year fell in the third quarter by 2.3% at company-owned restaurants. 

The stock fell 34% this year through Wednesday's close.

Screen Shot 2017 10 25 at 4.27.08 PM

More to come ...

SEE ALSO: NFL ratings slump as Trump urges boycotts — and it could be terrible news for Buffalo Wild Wings

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NOW WATCH: $6 TRILLION INVESTMENT CHIEF: Bitcoin is a bubble

TokenFunder Wins Approval to First OSC Regulated ICO Launch

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

TokenFunder

In Canada, steps are being taken to bring Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) within the regulatory framework. TokenFunder, a Toronto-based startup that helps other startups launch and manage ICOs, is the first company to win approval for an ICO by the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC).

While some ICOs have come under regulatory scrutiny lately, TokenFunder CEO Alan Wunsche believes that ICOs can be done right, with built-in safeguards to avoid fraud.

Wunsche said in a press release issued to Bitcoin Magazine:

“TokenFunder has been working with the Ontario Securities Commission’s LaunchPad for the past year to define an innovative funding model for businesses. Our offering will give investors the comfort of knowing that they are purchasing a security that can stand up to the scrutiny of regulation.”

TokenFunder ICO Launches November 1

The OSC decision allows TokenFunder Inc. to launch their ICO November 1, selling FNDR tokens to retail investors who can then launch their own ICOs on TokenFunder’s platform which is being built on the Ethereum blockchain.

TokenFunder was given “relief” for a year from current regulations covering investors. This includes an exemption from registering as an investor and an exemption from a limit to the amount that can be raised in one offering.

Wunsche notes that many firms using ICOs to raise investment funding are not able to verify where the funds are coming from making it risky to raise money this way. He believes that there is a safe way to use ICOs and is offering the expertise to provide investor protection within a sound regulatory framework.

Like many jurisdictions around the world, the Ontario government is looking for ways to regulate ICOs without stifling innovation and driving startups to other jurisdictions.

To date, some startups are holding ICOs without regulatory approval saying that their tokens or coins are not securities.

What TokenFunder Is Selling

TokenFunder offers an ICO process that they claim will build trust in digital finance through the use of best practices, including smart contracts to build in legal compliance and regulatory compliance to ensure that investor’s rights are protected.

TokenFunder offers token launch advisory services and is designed to operate within applicable securities laws and de-risk offerings and purchases of coins for both issuers and purchasers by providing, among other things, a regulatory approved platform and related support.

TokenFunder co-founder Laura Pratt said in a press release:

“A unique feature of our FNDR token is that it lets investors share in the future success of the platform. TokenFunder has innovative KYC and AML compliance safeguards, which investors don’t receive with unregulated ICOs. After the completion of our ITO, our vision is to enable other companies to launch ITO’s using our platform. It is a myth that regulation is in the way... it’s the right way.”

LaunchPad Regulatory Sandbox

TokenFunder is a graduate of the OSC’s regulatory sandbox, part of the Canadian Securities Commission network of sandbox initiatives.

LaunchPad is the Ontario sandbox with largely provincial jurisdiction but is also part of the federal securities experimental program. Its goal is to help new fintech startups work outside the current regulatory system and navigate a financial terrain that is largely based on traditional systems that may not work for new cryptocurrency and blockchain startups.

The Blockchain Association of Canada (BAC) has been lobbying the province’s finance minister and others for more appropriate regulations for the new digital age.

Executive Director Kyle Kemper, on behalf of the BAC told Bitcoin Magazine:

"This is a first step in building a common understanding between all stakeholders around the potential, risks and opportunities of the token economy.

“This ruling demonstrates that the OSC is adapting to a changing landscape and recognizes the need to support entrepreneurs leveraging blockchain technology. The Blockchain Association of Canada looks forward to assisting in developing a regulatory environment that supports continued innovation. The BAC congratulates the TokenFunder team for achieving this impressive milestone.”

The post TokenFunder Wins Approval to First OSC Regulated ICO Launch appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Bitcoin Price Has No ‘Right or Wrong’ Value; Looks like a Bubble: BlackRock Strategist

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

[…]

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STOCKS FALL: Here's what you need to know

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

Chipotle Chorizo 6

Stocks fell from record highs ahead of key tech earnings from companies including Amazon, Microsoft, and Alphabet on Thursday.

Here's the scoreboard: 

  • Dow: 23,329.46, -112.30, (-0.48%)
  • S&P 500: 2,557.15, -11.98, (-0.47%)
  • Nasdaq: 6,563.89, -34.54, (-0.52%)
  1. Chipotle shares fell 15% to a five-year low after the company reported earnings that were weaker than expectedChipotle also lowered its outlook for the year. 
  2. AMD plunged 13% after the company beat on earnings but released weak guidance for the year. "For the fourth quarter of 2017, AMD expects revenue to decrease approximately 15 percent sequentially," the chipmaker said.  
  3. Gary Cohn is no longer being considered for Fed Chair, Bloomberg reports. He's set to leave the White House once tax reform is done, the report said. 
  4. President Donald Trump said including changes to 401(k)s and retirement accounts could be used as "negotiating" tools for the Republican tax reform bill. The comment comes amid reports Republicans could consider a cap on the amount Americans could contribute to a traditional, tax-deferred 401(k) or IRA as $2,400 a year.
  5. The Bank of Canada held its key interest rate at 1.00% on Wednesday, as expected. "This partly reflected "reflects concerns over NAFTA renegotiations and, to a lesser extent, the stronger Canadian dollar," David Madani, senior Canadian economist at Capital Economics, said. 

Additionally:

 GUNDLACH: The bond market's 'moment of truth has arrived'

Trump's plan to rip up NAFTA could cause a big setback in the housing market

Traders are betting that tech giants will crush earnings season

Congress just killed a rule that would have made it easier for consumers to sue banks — here's why people are so upset

 

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: THE BOTTOM LINE: A market warning, the big bitcoin debate and a deep dive on tech heavyweights

Warren Buffett has a simple explanation for how he invests — and it's easy to replicate (MOAT)

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

Warren Buffett

  • Warren Buffet's "economic moat" idea sparked its own index and ETF.
  • The fund is decided by committee and has performed well since it's inception.

 

In a 1999 interview with Fortune, legendary investor Warren Buffett coined the term "economic moats" to sum up the main pillar of his investing strategy. He described it like this:

"The key to investing is not assessing how much an industry is going to affect society, or how much it will grow, but rather determining the competitive advantage of any given company and, above all, the durability of that advantage. The products or services that have wide, sustainable moats around them are the ones that deliver rewards to investors."

The idea of an economic moat, with Buffett's endorsement, has picked up steam since the article. Morningstar, an investment research firm, created an index that tracks companies with a wide economic moat in order to see if Buffett's theory holds water. In 2012, VanEck, a money manager, created an exchange-traded fund called "MOAT" that would track Morning Star's economic moat index.

"Moats were built around castles to protect the castles from enemies, keep intruders out, and the same can be applied to business, where a moat can be built around a business to protect its profitability," Brandon Rakszawski, ETF Product Manager at VanEck told Business Insider in a phone interview. "[The MOAT ETF] essentially captures Morningstar’s core equity research produced by over 100 analysts and packages that research on a quarterly basis."

MOAT has performed well so far, with a year-to-date return of 22.31%. The S&P 500 has grown just 13.21% in comparison. Since the fund's inception in 2012, it has grown an average of 13.73% per year, while the S&P 500 has returned 12.02% per year in the same time period.

The fund is comprised of many household names like Wells Fargo, Lowes, Amazon and Starbucks. The fund readjusts its holding on a quarterly basis and weights those holdings based on Morningstar's moat ratings, which are decided in a sort of tribunal-like fashion.

house with moat

Morningstar analysts meet for a "moat committee" meeting at least once a week, according to Rakszawski. The committee is comprised of 20 senior analysts, some of which have sector specialties. Junior analysts present research on their companies to the committee, which either accepts the analyst's research or asks them to go back for further analysis.

The committee ultimate decides on a specific moat rating for the companies it reviews. Some companies are determined to have no moat and are mostly ignored for VanEck's ETF. Companies that are determined to have a moat are classified as having either a narrow or wide moat, depending on the length of time the company is expected to be able to maintain its advantage. The threshold for a wide moat rating is 20 years, according to Rakszawski.

Rakszawski says the process is very intensive and rigorous, which results in high-conviction, forward-looking ratings. It can also result in some pretty interesting results.

"Facebook was a good example. In the year or so since the IPO at Facebook, the company entered [the fund] at an attractive time, and subsequently did pretty well," Rakszawski said. It has since been in and out of the fund because of the fast-paced nature of its sector.

The fund currently sits at $1.3 billion, making it one of the largest 250 US Equity funds, according to data from Bloomberg.

Since the fund started, Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, where the CEO executes his own investment ideas, is up 17.04% per year. Compared to MOAT's 13.7% average annual return and the S&P 500's 12%, it would seem that investing with a moat mindset might only get you close to the legendary investor's returns.

moat etf

SEE ALSO: A fund betting on robots and AI is crushing it — and it's targeting millennial investors

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NOW WATCH: $6 TRILLION INVESTMENT CHIEF: Bitcoin is a bubble

JEFFERIES: People are overlooking Nintendo's chance to reach 1 billion users

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

nintendo switch console launch

  • Most people think about the Switch console when they think of modern-day Nintendo.
  • The company is placing a big priority on other platforms too, like mobile.
  • Mobile could be the next big driver of growth for the company.
  • Click here to get a live stock price for Nintendo.

 

Nintendo released its Switch console in March with just one major title, a new Zelda game.

The company has slowly been releasing new games for the console, adding new Rabbids and Mario Kart games since its launch, but that's just one aspect of Nintendo's multi-platform video game strategy.

"It is on mobile that Nintendo can reach billions of users,"Atul Goyal,, an analyst at Jefferies, said in a recent note to clients. "No other platform gives Nintendo that reach."

Goyal said that too many analysts are under-appreciating the large number of potential monetization platforms for Nintendo's popular characters. The Switch is getting most of the attention, but the company just announced its new Animal Crossing game for mobile.

Nintendo's mobile strategy has been refined over time, starting with the relatively poor performance of Super Mario Run, which was monetized with a one-time purchase. The company's Fire Emblem game did better with the popular "freemium" model, but lacked enough content to keep players engaged.

Goyal thinks that the upcoming "Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp" is an even further improvement over previous releases by the company and really demonstrates Nintendo's continued prioritization of all of its platforms. The timing of the new Animal Crossing game is another hint towards Nintendo's multi-platform strategy.

"It has staggered the IP launch at different times," Goyal said. "And before one IP is launched, it communicates the next IP launch," exactly as it has with "Super Mario Oddysey" and "Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp."

Goyal says that Nintendo's mobile games will continue to improve and grow in sales. The Switch will be the company's main driver of revenue for the next three to five years, but mobile could outpace the Switch in the long term.

"Nintendo is staggering its game pipeline across platforms, impressively," Goyal said. "Nintendo is not focusing on one platform or another. Nintendo will monetise its intellectual property treasure trove on various platforms."

Nintendo is up 80.31% so far this year.

Read more about Nintendo's mobile strategy here.

nintendo stock price

SEE ALSO: JEFFERIES: Nintendo's road to huge profits won't come from its console games

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Traders betting against Chipotle made $260 million in a single day on its earnings disaster (CMG)

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

Chipotle Test Kitchen 5

  • Chipotle totally whiffed on third-quarter earnings, while also cutting its full-year 2017 profit forecast.
  • Short sellers made more than $260 million as the company's stock dropped as much as 16%.

 

There was at least one winner following Chipotle's disastrous earnings report: traders betting against the company.

They raked in roughly $260 million in mark-to-market profit as the company's stock plunged as much as 16%, according to data compiled by the financial analytics firm S3 Partners.

The drop came after Chipotle not only whiffed on analyst estimates for third quarter earnings, but also slashed its full-year outlook, including a major cut to projected same-store sales growth. The Mexican fast-casual chain blamed four main reasons for its quarterly miss: hurricanes, store closures, hackers and "historically high avocado costs."

Short sellers have now made $303 million wagering on Chipotle stock price weakness this year, S3 data show. That means the company's earnings-day selloff has accounted for 86% of the traders' year-to-date windfall.

And it's safe to say Chipotle bears saw at least some stock damage coming ahead of time. They boosted their exposure by $238 million, or 16%, in the month of October.

Now Chipotle sits as the least popular company in the US restaurant sector, with a whopping $1.8 billion of short interest — or a measure of wagers that a share price will drop. Rounding out the top five most shorted restaurant stocks are Starbucks ($1.5 billion), McDonald's ($1.3 billion), Domino's Pizza ($987 million) and Darden Restaurant ($630 million), according to S3.

Screen Shot 2017 10 25 at 2.37.33 PM

SEE ALSO: Traders are betting that tech giants will crush earnings season

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NOW WATCH: $6 TRILLION INVESTMENT CHIEF: Bitcoin is a bubble

Coinbase Updates SegWit2x Stance; May Call Forked Chain ‘Bitcoin’

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

[…]

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Venture capitalists don't appear to be sold on the technology underlying bitcoin

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

 59dce99d6d80ade3758b48c6

  • Blockchain, the technology behind bitcoin, is getting a lot of attention, but that's not necessarily translating into money from investors. 
  • Only two of the blockchain investments in the last year were over $100 million, according to a Goldman Sachs report.
  • One of the top 10 investments didn't even come from venture capital — it came from a crowdsourced funding technique called an initial coin offering. 

 

Despite a lot of hype, the blockchain technology business is still a nascent industry — particularly when it comes to venture capital investments.

The blockchain is the technology underlying bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, which records each and every transaction made using them on a virtual ledger.

Although many see blockchain technology as a revolutionary innovation with a wide range of potential applications, globally only two blockchain startups raised $100 million during the 12 months that ended on September 30, according to a Goldman Sachs equity research report published Tuesday. One hundred million dollars is a relatively small amount when it comes to venture investments these days. 

Another sign of venture investors' seemingly tepid interest in blockchain technology: One of the companies that ranked in the top 10 among blockchain startups that raised the most money during that period didn't even get its money through venture investment.

Instead, Brave Software raised $35 million in 30 seconds through an initial coin offering (ICO), which is a crowdsourced token sale in which companies issue new currencies that can only be used within their networks. Brave offers a web browser that blocks ads, but pays websites for their content using a cryptocurrency.

Blockchain technology is gaining popularity as large enterprises and startups alike see a growing market for a range of applications beyond cryptocurrencies, including documenting legal contracts and tracking shipments. Both IBM and Oracle have announced commercial offerings of blockchain-related services this year.

In its report, Goldman Sachs classifies blockchain technology as being in Stage 1 of the investment cycle. That's an early stage, which is typically marked by rapid growth in the number of deals and the amounts invested.

But at this point investments in blockchain technology are still relatively small compared to other areas within the broader financial technology industry and are growing more slowly. The total amount invested in blockchain startups during the year that ended on September 30 grew by just 45% compared with the same period a year earlier. By contrast, the total amount invested in startups focusing on billing, expense management, and procurement grew by 165% over the same time period. 

Overall, venture capital investments in financial technology are growing slower than in other markets. The space only saw a 34% growth in global VC funding in the third quarter, compared to 65% growth across all global venture capital investments in the same period.

Here's the complete list of the largest deals in the blockchain industry during the year ending September 30, according to Goldman Sachs. Investment amounts are in the millions. Goldman_sachs_blockchain

SEE ALSO: IBM is using the technology behind bitcoin to help businesses in countries with weak banking systems

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NOW WATCH: The 5 best hidden features from the latest iPhone update

4 Trends That Show Bitcoin and Ethereum Are Getting Ready for the Mass Market

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

Cryptocurrency has seen a massive spike in all of its metrics during 2017.

Millennials are breaking the one big salary taboo — and it's changing how companies operate

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

millennials

  • Millennials are far more comfortable discussing how much they make than baby boomers, a new survey finds.
  • The findings hold across discussions between friends, family members, and coworkers.
  • Employers are taking their preferences to heart and making pay more transparent.


The talkative youngsters of the office are using their voices to make the workplace more equal.

According to a survey conducted by The Cashlorette, a personal finance site run by Bankrate, people 18 to 36 years old are far more comfortable discussing their salaries with coworkers, friends, and family than workers in older generations.

This preference for pay transparency has resulted in a number of companies amending their policies to encourage people to speak up when they think something is amiss in how they or others get paid.

The Cashlorette's survey found 30% of millennials feel comfortable discussing pay with their coworkers; meanwhile, just 8% of those aged 53 to 71 felt the same. Millennials also discussed pay more with their family and friends.

"Pay and promotions are not secretive topics anymore," Mary Ann Sardone, a consultant who deals with compensation issues at large employers, told The Wall Street Journal.

Unlike baby boomers who could generally afford to pay for college by working part-time jobs, many millennials are saddled with thousands, if not tens of thousands, in college loan debt. Roughly 70% of the 2014 graduating class left college with debt, one report showed, and the rates are growing.

The prevailing attitude among the age group seems to be less that pay should be competitive and more that it should be collaborative — people are often in the same boat, and feel compelled to help one another out.

"I share my salary with friends who I know make a similar salary, mostly to discuss how they make a budget work with this particular income," Meredith Hirt, a 26-year-old working in marketing, told The Cashlorette.

Employers have taken notice. As workforces have started to skew younger, a growing number of companies are deciding to make their pay transparent to all employees.

At SumAll, a marketing and analytics company, CEO Dane Atkinson decided after founding the company in 2012 that payroll information ought to be freely available. Employees can consult an internal Google Doc that lists everyone else's salary.

Atkinson has said the move levels the playing field in two ways: First, it helps people understand how their role fits into the company's priorities. Second, it lets people who think they're paid unfairly voice a concern that could result in a raise.

"It's kind of crazy that in America, which is founded on this capitalistic vision of meritocracy, that we've obfuscated one of the core components of it," Atkinson told Business Insider in May.

At the social media company Buffer, transparency is taken to an even greater extreme. Employee salaries are treated like those of public officials: Anyone in the world can look them up. The database also includes the formula Buffer uses to calculate people's pay, which incorporates factors like role, experience, loyalty to the company, and stock options.

On a legal level, too, pay transparency is gaining ground. New York and Massachusetts have new state laws that bar employers from asking job candidates about their salary history. Philadelphia and New Orleans have enacted similar laws on a city level. Legal experts say the laws will go a long way toward forcing companies to be forthright with what they can pay people, instead of basing a figure on someone's past income.

Along with casual dining and napkins, the salary discussion taboo could soon become the latest thing millennials have killed.

SEE ALSO: A 40-year study of teens finds Generation Z avoids sex, alcohol, and driving at record rates

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NOW WATCH: I spent a day trying to pay for things with bitcoin and a bar of gold

Bitcoin Is a Commodity Not a Currency, Says South Korean Central Bank Chief

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

The head of South Korea's central bank has ruled out classifying bitcoin as a currency, according to a new report.

Bitcoin Price Justified if it’s a Widely Used Currency: NYU’s ‘Dean of Valuation’

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

[…]

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Overstock Reveals Plans for Equity Token Exchange and ICO

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

OverstockICO

Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne believes that one day all company shares will be blockchain-based equity tokens classed as securities, and they will need a regulated exchange to trade on.

To raise funds to develop that exchange, the online retail giant is launching an initial coin offering (ICO) for T0.com (tZero), the company’s blockchain-focused subsidiary and trading platform that supports equity tokens.

Byrne announced details of the ICO at Money20/20 in Las Vegas on October 24, 2017.

The ICO will take place from November 15–December 31 and will include the sale of 50 million tZero security tokens. Tokens will be sold in a type of presale known as a SAFT (simple agreement for future token), which limits participation to accredited investors.

tZero will incorporate profit sharing features of a security as well as utility features of an app token. For instance, token holders will be able to use the tokens to pay for exchange fees. They will also receive a percentage of tZero’s profits, distributed quarterly and paid into their tZero digital wallets.

Speaking to Bitcoin Magazine, Byrne said proceeds from the ICO will go to further developing an ecosystem around tZero.

He did not reveal how much Overstock hoped to raise or whether the sale would be capped or uncapped, but he said additional details would be made available around November 8.

Forward Thinking

Byrne has been thinking about a blockchain-based equity exchange for trading blockchain shares for some time now.

Right now, most tokens are utility tokens that play some role in the distributed app they were designed to work with. Equity tokens, on the other hand, are regulated by the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) and represent an actual share in a company.

Byrne thinks that, eventually, most of the tokens in blockchains today will convert to equity tokens. Taking that concept a step further, he believes all company traded stocks will ultimately be issued as blockchain share certificates.

Right now, however, no SEC approved exchange exists that can handle equity tokens, so Overstock is creating one.

In 2015, Overstock acquired SpeedRoute, a Wall Street trade routing securities firm already licensed by the SEC. Byrne felt that building an exchange from scratch was too risky. Instead, he wanted to buy something in Wall Street that was already pre-SEC approved.

SpeedRoute already had an alternative trading system (ATS) set up, so it only needed minor modifications to get it ready for selling blockchain shares. “We changed it and altered it so it could handle blockchain instruments,” he said. By doing so, Overstock turned the platform into what is now tZero.

To make sure the technology worked, Overstock issued its own blockchain securities last December, distributing more than 126,000 company shares via the platform. “We did it to sort of demonstrate this technology,” Byrne said.  

A Future of Securities

Byrne thinks regulations coming down the pipes are going to dramatically change how tokens are traded.

“If they count as securities, they need a place to trade; it has to be an SEC compliant exchange that can handle blockchain,” he said. “Well, there is exactly one in the world. It is tZero.”

Eventually, he said tZero will have market makers and large pools of capital supporting it to keep the trading liquid. “The markets are very bad now in this whole crypto world. They are very sticky and illiquid markets,” he said. “It is really going to be just what the world of crypto needs.”

But to fulfill that vision, Overstock.com will need to raise a substantial amount of capital through its tZero ICO. “It is going to take several tens of millions of dollars to build that out,” Byrne explained.

Overstock will likely expedite the process by purchasing some $50 million in custody and clearing firms to finish stitching together the ecosystem it needs.

“We actually will make a couple acquisitions that will short the whole thing; supersize it,” Byrne added.

It may take a few years, but eventually,  Byrne said, the idea is to make tZero the largest exchange in the world, and the tZero ICO is a part of that.

“We are thinking very big,” he said. “I’m not just talking crypto exchange; I’m talking exchange.”

The post Overstock Reveals Plans for Equity Token Exchange and ICO appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

FORMER US ETHICS CHIEF: Trump's web of conflicts poses a danger to democracy

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

Donald Trump golf

  • Trump's conflicts of interest are costing taxpayers millions of dollars, says Walter Shaub, a former head of the US Office of Government Ethics
  • The president's casual approach to ethics sets a terrible precedent that must become "an aberration rather than the new rule," he told Columbia Law School.

 

President Donald Trump made a bold claim after the US election: As president, he could not have any conflicts of interest.

"I could actually run my business," Trump stated shortly before his inauguration. "I could actually run my business and run government at the same time." 

Is that really true?

Not according to Walter Shaub, the former director of the US Office of Government Ethics, who resigned in July after publicly objecting to what he described as the Trump administration’s sloppy, dismissive approach to government ethics and avoiding conflicts of interest. 

"That’s just baloney," Shaub said of Trump's no-conflict claim during a recent talk at Columbia University Law School.

Common sense dictates that you can have a conflict of interest — it’s anytime you have two interests and they conflict. The difference is that the law does not assign criminal penalties "to the actions of a sitting president."

Shaub suggested the law stopped short of this because it did not envision a president doing such a thing. Trump has in fact not completely separated himself from his businesses, which are being run by his sons.

"Really what he’s saying is 'I could do stuff that everybody who works for me would go to jail for doing,'" said Shaub.  "That’s a pretty low standard to aspire to. Trump’s 'half blind trust' is totally bogus."

The president's ethical transgressions and blurring of lines are so extensive they are hard to fully document. Trump and his daughter Ivanka were granted key trademarks for their businesses in China just as the administration decided to take much softer tone on the country than it had suggested during the campaign.

He has spent much of his time in office at his own properties, giving them the sort of choice promotional advertising that’s hard to put a price tag on.

"One New Jersey club touted that if you booked a wedding Trump might pop in," said Shaub, now a senior director at the Campaign Legal Center in Washington. "Every one of these trips is an advertisement for his properties. I don’t think people really appreciate the extravagant costs of his trips."

Shaub said Trump’s disregard for ethics trickles down through his cabinet and staff, adding he’s not surprised by the string of scandals over private chartered flights and other luxuries normally reserved for corporate CEOs. "The tone was set at the top," he said.

What's the worst that could happen?

But here’s what really keeps Shaub up at night: precedent.

He’s worried that Trump is breaking so many ethical barriers and entrenching so many conflicts that future presidents and other politicians might be emboldened, sending the country down a corrupt path.

"I truly believe that government ethics is a nonpartisan issue," he said. "I have great things to say about the two administrations I worked for before this, under George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Both White Houses whatever you think of their policies were very supportive of ethics. Of course that ended abruptly this year.

"It’s important that this become an aberration rather than the new rule. And because I don’t think ethics belongs to either party, I think either party could be guilty of violating ethics, and my big fear is that somebody on the other side could say, 'well that guy got away with it so now I can and you can’t question me.' I think candidates from both parties need to hold themselves to an even higher standard for a period of time to make this is an aberration."

SEE ALSO: Wilbur Ross has links to Russia that he won't answer questions about

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NOW WATCH: Is bitcoin a bubble or the future of everything?

What you need to know on Wall Street today

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

jeff bezosWelcome 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.

Wall Street could be next to get Amazon'd.

That's the takeaway from a big report from McKinsey, which just published its annual global banking review, a 52-page tome on the future of the industry. It includes a stark warning: The threat from digital players is accelerating, and banks could be left with the least attractive bit of the banking business.

And to be clear, the digital companies McKinsey is talking about are not exclusively lean and fast-moving fintech startups, which have garnered so much attention over the past few years. Instead, McKinsey is talking about so-called platform companies, like Amazon, Alibaba, Tencent, and Rakuten. Here's our take on the report

In other news, Elliott Management, one of the world's most feared investors, is barely beating its competition. America's newest stock exchange just got the green light to go after Nasdaq and NYSE's marquee business. Goldman Sachs is looking to invest in high-growth startups outside of Silicon Valley.

And there has been a shake-up at the top of $170 billion fund giant Carlyle Group.

In markets news, the bond market's "moment of truth has arrived," according to Jeff Gundlach. And exchange-traded funds will attract $400 billion of investor demand in 2018, up 33% from this year, according to a Goldman Sachs forecast. 

In politics, Congress just killed a rule that would have made it easier for consumers to sue banks — here's why people are so upset

The Republican tax-writing chief just contradicted President Trump's vow to leave the way you save for retirement alone. And Trump asked GOP senators for a show of hands on who he should pick as the next Fed chair.

And in macro news, the Bank of Canada held its key interest rate at 1.00%, and said it's worried about NAFTA. In related news, Trump's plan to rip up NAFTA could cause a big setback in the housing market

In tech, SoftBank has made $3 billion from its $100 billion tech fund in five months. Traders are betting that tech giants will crush earnings season. Apple denied a report about issues with the iPhone X facial recognition camera.

Amazon is making smart cameras that let couriers deliver packages inside your home.

Lastly, Goldman Sachs sold a yacht it won in bankruptcy for $27.5 million.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Gary Shilling calls bitcoin a black box and says he doesn't invest in things he doesn't understand

Tesla is falling after Daimler front runs its electric semi (TSLA)

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

tesla semi possible

  • Tesla shares are down more than 3% on Wednesday.
  • Mitsubishi FUSO, a unit of Daimler, unveiled a new electric semi-truck concept that could rival Tesla's planned truck.

 Tesla shares are down 3.34% on Wednesday after Daimler showed off an electric heavy duty truck concept that could compete with Telsa's future semi truck.

The truck was unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show by Mitsubishi FUSO, a Daimler unit. The company did not provide details about a potential release date. 

The truck will have a range of 220 miles on a single charge and is fully electric. Tesla's new truck is expected to have a range of about 200-300 miles.

Tesla plans to announce its new semi-truck on November 16 after several delays. The company has had to focus on its production ramp up for its Model 3, which is way behind the company's expected production numbers.

Mitsubishi FUSO already has a smaller electric on the market which is capable of ranges up to 80 miles, called the FUSO eCanter.

Tesla is up 51.62% this year.

Read more about the new semi truck here...

tesla stock price

SEE ALSO: Daimler just unveiled an electric heavy-duty truck concept that could rival Tesla's semi

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CREDIT SUISSE: Disney needs to be rewarded for going after Netflix (DIS)

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

mickey minnie disney world

  • Disney plans to spend $1.2 billion in direct-to-consumer services.
  • Credit Suisse maintains its price targets though it plans to revisit stock in future.
  • Disney cable network subscribers likely to grow.

Disney will spend $1.2 billion in direct-to-consumer services in the next few years in a play to launch its own video streaming services, priming it against Netflix.

The company plans on investing hundreds of millions of dollars in a Disney-branded movie and TV service and an ESPN-branded service, a price tag that some investors fear is bound to grow. However, the investment will likely be reflected in the next one to two quarters, which "will remove one of the biggest overhangs on the stock," according to Credit Suisse.

"We also argue that Disney should be rewarded for aggressive investment, given the market opportunity in 5 years for the Disney-branded service is in excess of 20m homes, and successful DTC services should put the company in a substantially stronger strategic position as consumption of video content shifts to online platforms," Omar Sheikh, an analyst at Credit Suisse, wrote in a note.

Disney announced that it would pull its movies from Netflix to start its own stand-alone service in August. The company also plans to acquire a majority stake in the streaming service BAMTech with a cost plan of $570 million over the next two years.

Disney's cable network subscribers should see growth from September onwards with the inclusion of Hulu's live product and YouTube TV, Sheikh said. Ratings of ESPN's NFL games have performed better than its peers, which could bolster ad sales, he added.

Credit Suisse maintains its $120 price target, which is 22.5% above Disney's current price.

Disney shares are down about 6% this year. 

To read more about Disney's advantages in its streaming service bet, click here.

Disney stock price

SEE ALSO: UBS: Disney has one big advantage that'll make its streaming movie service succeed

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NOW WATCH: THE BOTTOM LINE: A market warning, the big bitcoin debate and a deep dive on tech heavyweights

Room for More? Bitcoin Cash Defends Price Amid Competition

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

The markets appear to be showing appetite for multiple forked versions of bitcoin, or so the bitcoin cash price would suggest.

Fool’s Gold? Bitcoin Gold Price Drops 62% in First Day of Trading

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

[…]

The post Fool’s Gold? Bitcoin Gold Price Drops 62% in First Day of Trading appeared first on CryptoCoinsNews.

IPOs Are Boring But You Must Keep an Eye on These 9 Initial Coin Offerings

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

The astonishing appreciation in the value of Bitcoin has made "initial coin offerings'' into a speculative frenzy

AMD's cryptocurrency boost may be nearing its end (AMD)

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

AMD

  • Cryptocurrencies have boosted demand for AMD's graphics chips in the past.
  • The company warned that crypto-related demand may be flattening.
  • Some analysts on Wall Street are skeptical the company will be able to compete in the long term.

 

AMD has been basking in the meteoric rise of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum. Demand for its graphics processing units has skyrocketed as cryptocurrency miners snap up the cards to speed up their mining operations.

But, the time for that boost may be nearing its end, the company warned.

"We [are] predicting that there will be some leveling-off of some of the cryptocurrency demand," CEO Lisa Su said in the company's earnings call on Tuesday. "As we look at it, it continues to be a factor, but we've seen restocking in the channels and stuff like that. So we're being a little bit conservative on the cryptocurrency side of the equation."

AMD released its third-quarter earnings report after Tuesday's market close, and shares plummeted nearly 11% after the company said it expects its fourth-quarter sales to drop about 15% from the third quarter. This is, in part, because of a slowing demand for the company's GPUs used to speed up some cryptocurrency mining operations.

The company said that it's hard to exactly quantify the boost its gotten from cryptocurrencies, as miners use the same cards that are made for PC gaming. AMD's computing and graphics segment reported a 24% quarter-over-quarter increase in revenue, it's largest of the year.

Mark Lipacis, an analyst at Jefferies, said he thinks that cryptocurrency demand contributed about $75 million to $100 million in revenue during the third quarter. Lipacis is notably bullish on the future of cryptocurrencies for AMD. After the earnings report, Lipacis restated his "buy" rating said that as long as cryptocurrencies continue to become more valuable, AMD will see a boost in its graphics cards sales.

Rick Schafer, an analyst at Oppenheimer, is decidedly less bullish on AMD's future. He said that cryptocurrencies were the biggest source of growth for the company and because AMD said it expects a slowdown in its crypto-related demand, the company's medium to long-term outlook isn't as strong as other analysts are predicting.

"We remain skeptical of AMD's ability to deliver a profitable long-term business model as the second horse in the secularly declining PC market," Schafer wrote in a note to clients. He sees Nvidia and Intel as better versions of AMD's GPU and CPU segments, and rates AMD a Neutral.

It's worth noting, that the company's total revenue forecasts for 2017 and 2018 are each higher than the previous year, even as the company suggests a slowdown in cryptocurrency-related demand for its graphics cards.

AMD is up 14.5% this year, even after its post-earnings decline.

Read more about AMD's earnings release here...

amd earnings stock price

SEE ALSO: AMD says its going to see a big drop in revenue, shares sink

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NOW WATCH: Debating the odds of a stock market correction

Billionaire Paul Singer's Elliott Management, one of the world's most feared investors, is barely beating its competition

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

paul singer

  • Elliott Management, the $34 billion investment firm led by Paul Singer, is barely beating its competition this year, according to a client update reviewed by Business Insider and industry indices.
  • Elliott deploys multiple investment strategies, ranging from real estate and private equity to distressed restructuring and activism.

 

Billionaire Paul Singer's Elliott Management, one of Wall Street's most feared activist investors and one of the largest hedge funds around, is barely beating its competition this year.

The Elliott Associates LP fund is up 6.8% after fees and the Elliott International Limited fund is up 6% after fees this year through the third quarter, according to a September 30 client update that was reviewed by Business Insider.

That's compared to the average event-driven hedge fund, which gained 5.9% over the same period, according to data tracker HFR.

Elliott deploys multiple investment strategies, ranging from real estate and private equity to distressed restructuring and activism. Tenacious, litigious and cut-throat are terms often used to describe the iconic firm, which has been involved in some of the biggest plays in recent memory – from the Argentine debt crisis to more recently, Arconic.

The $34 billion firm doesn't benchmark itself to any index, according to client notes previously reviewed by Business Insider. Nonetheless, we can get a sense of how other hedge funds deploying similar strategies have performed this year by looking at industry indices. Here's a roundup from HFR for performance this year through September 30:

  • Event Driven Activist Index: 4.8%
  • Event Driven Distressed Restructuring: 4.4%
  • Event Driven Multistrategy: 5.4%

To be sure, Elliott has one of the better, and longest running, track records in the industry. The Elliott Associates fund, which launched in February 1977, has posted annualized gains of 13.4%, after fees.

The bulk of Elliott's gains this year have come from its equity oriented strategy (+4.1% gain before fees) and distressed debt (+3.6% before fees), according to the client update.

The firm managed $34.2 billion as of the end of the third quarter – a billion more than it did at mid-year, according to the Absolute Return Billion Dollar Club ranking.

A spokesman for Elliott declined to comment.

SEE ALSO: BAUPOST'S KLARMAN: Investors are asking the wrong question about the stock market

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NOW WATCH: Gary Shilling calls bitcoin a black box and says he doesn't invest in things he doesn't understand

Financial Theorist William Bernstein: Bitcoin is Not a Bubble, but Remains ‘Suspicious’

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

[…]

The post Financial Theorist William Bernstein: Bitcoin is Not a Bubble, but Remains ‘Suspicious’ appeared first on CryptoCoinsNews.

Chipotle says it's seeing 'historically high' avocado prices (CMG)

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

chipotle guac serving scooping

  • Chipotle's third-quarter earnings missed analysts' expectations, sending the stock towards a five-year low. 
  • One of four main reasons was higher avocado prices. 
  • Chipotle plans to raise prices in some restaurants to pass on some of the higher food costs and shore up its margins. 

 

Chipotle had four main reasons why its third-quarter earnings missed big: hurricanes, store closures, hackers, and "historically high avocado costs." 

But it's not millennials' fault that guac was extra. Mexico and California, two suppliers of the main ingredient in guacamole, have had weaker harvests this year. Tropical Storm Lidia made landfall in Mexico early in September, delaying supply and causing a price increase. 

Chipotle said this coincided with the end of the growing season in Peru and California, when supplies were already expected to fall. 

Avocado was the biggest food expense for Chipotle in the quarter as overall food costs rose from Q2 by 90 basis points to 35% of revenue. 

During the earnings call on Tuesday, John Hartung, the chief financial officer at Chipotle, told analysts more on the impact of higher avocado costs:

"In a matter of weeks, our case costs nearly doubled, before beginning to ease in October. The harvest in Mexico is now shaping up nicely and expectations are for pricing to normalize. The impact for the full quarter was 40 basis points higher than Q2, even though we had actually expected relief in avocado prices from already high levels in the second quarter. This impacted EPS in the quarter by about $0.19. As a historical perspective, the avocado prices in the quarter are about 150 basis points higher than normal levels seen two years ago."

Hartung said the company expects avocado harvests to normalize next year. Chipotle said it would raise prices in some restaurants to pass on some of the costs of avocados and workers, who are also getting more expensive.  

SEE ALSO: Chipotle misses big on earnings, shares plunge towards 5-year low

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The Bank of Canada holds, says its worried about NAFTA

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

trump trudeau

The Bank of Canada held its key interest rate at 1.00% on Wednesday, as expected, and added that it's worried about the North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiations.

The central bank said in its accompanying statement that the global and Canadian economies are progressing as outlined earlier this year, and it continues to expect global growth to average around 3.5% over 2017-2019.

However, the bank cautioned that this outlook "remains subject to substantial uncertainty about geopolitical developments and fiscal and trade policies, notably the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement."

Last month, the central bank unexpectedly hiked rates by 25 basis points, citing stronger than expected data.

This story is developing...

SEE ALSO: BANK OF AMERICA: 2 charts show why ripping up NAFTA wouldn't solve Trump's big issues with the deal

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NOW WATCH: THE BOTTOM LINE: A market warning, the big bitcoin debate and a deep dive on tech heavyweights

Ethereum, Bitcoin Prices Lead $3 Billion Market Decline

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

[…]

The post Ethereum, Bitcoin Prices Lead $3 Billion Market Decline appeared first on CryptoCoinsNews.

Chipotle plunges to its lowest level since 2012 after missing big on earnings (CMG)

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

Chipotle Test Kitchen 5

  • Chipotle missed earnings and revenue expectations.
  • Shares were down as much as 12% pre-market, and trading at their lowest level since 2013.

 

Shares of Chipotle are set to open at their lowest point since 2013 after missing big on earnings.

The company reported adjusted earnings of $1.33 per share compared to the Wall Street estimate of $1.63. Chipotle brought in $1.13 billion in revenue, missing the consensus estimate of $1.14 billion.

Shares cratered on in after-hours trading on Tuesday following the release. They were down about 12% in early trading on Wednesday to $288.06 a piece.

The company lowered its guidance for the year, saying it expects same-store sales growth of 6.5%, down from the high single digits, and guided toward the low end of its previously announced new store range of 195-210.

Andy Barish, an analyst at Jefferies, said that the company suffered from a norovirus outbreak that affected a single store in northern Virginia, but was actually helped by its queso, which was lambasted on social media.

"In spite of mixed reviews, the product is mixing about 15% and driving what appears to be mid single-digit same store sales lift from check average increase and some traffic," Barish said in a note to clients.

Barish lowered his price target to $300 from $350 after earnings.

David Palmer, an analyst at RBC wasn't as optimistic, as he said new initiatives, like the queso, add volatility to the company's earnings. He believes the new offerings, like queso, won't be as impactful for the company's bottom line as the company had hoped.

Palmer lowered his price target by $10 to $320 after earnings.

Chipotle is down 23.43% this year.

Read more about Chipotle's earnings here... 

chipotle earnings stock price

SEE ALSO: Chipotle misses big on earnings, shares plunge towards 5-year low

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GOLDMAN SACHS: The fastest-growing investment product will see record demand next year — and that's good news for stocks

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

cme futures trader traders

  • Equity demand from ETFs will surge to a record in 2018, Goldman Sachs predicts.
  • Nonetheless, corporate demand for activities like buybacks will remain the biggest driver of stock demand next year.

 
Exchange-traded funds — which make up the most rapidly growing segment of the stock market — are showing no signs of slowing.

They'll attract $400 billion of investor demand in 2018, up 33% from this year, according to a Goldman Sachs forecast. To further boost the case for the so-called passive vehicles, Goldman estimates that actively-managed mutual funds will be net sellers of equities next year, shedding $125 billion of exposure.

Screen Shot 2017 10 25 at 8.34.32 AM

This divergence should come as no surprise to those following the meteoric rise of ETFs. The combined assets of US ETFs hit $3.1 trillion in August, increasing roughly $700 billion in a single year, according to Investment Company Institute data.

While ETFs will continue representing the biggest growth area in stocks, corporations will remain the biggest source of equity market demand. Share buybacks — a surefire way to drive stock appreciation even during lean times — will rise by 3% to $590 billion in 2018, Goldman predicts.

But won't expensive stock prices prohibit this? Goldman doesn't think it'll be a problem.

"Increased authorizations and high cash balances should more than offset headwinds to buybacks from high valuations," a group of strategists led by Arjun Menon wrote in a client note.

Foreign investors will also drive equity demand next year, to the tune of $100 billion, according to Goldman, which thinks it'll be driven by stable US GDP growth and a flat US dollar.

But that's not to say every possible source of stock demand will be as strong. In addition to mutual funds being net sellers, Goldman forecasts that pension funds will sell $250 billion of equities in 2018 due to a continued rise in US 10-year Treasury yields.

Screen Shot 2017 10 25 at 8.53.09 AM

Goldman's forecasts are, of course, sensitive to external factors, most notably whatever happens with President Donald Trump's proposed tax reform measures. In the event that key legislation passes, overall equity market demand should increase. The firm assigns a 65% probability of that happening.

A big part of that forecast is the massive windfall of cash that internationally exposed companies would enjoy in the event of a one-time repatriation tax holiday. An estimated $250 billion would give US corporations a bigger surplus of capital to use on demand-boosting activities like the aforementioned buybacks.

Tax reform would, however, lower foreign investor interest in US stocks, another piece of the equity demand puzzle, as outlined in the chart above. Whether that would be offset by a surge in buybacks remains to be seen.

Lastly, another important element of Goldman's overall forecast is the firm's lack of concern over an equity bear market — or decline to 20% from recent highs. They think such a pullback is unlikely, paving the way for another robust year of net equity demand.

SEE ALSO: http://www.businessinsider.com/tech-stock-earnings-traders-betting-on-strong-reports-2017-10

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The pound is climbing after UK GDP beats

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

british pound

The British pound climbed higher after data showed Britain's economy grew faster than expected in the third quarter.

Sterling was up by 0.9% at 1.3253 against the US dollar as of 8:55 a.m. ET.

Earlier, preliminary data from the Office for National Statistics said that GDP grew by 0.4% in the third quarter of 2017, above expectations of 0.3% growth.

The economy grew by 1.5% in year-over-year terms that quarter, above expectations of 1.4%.

The figures released were "ahead of market expectations and, more importantly, above what the Bank of England had anticipated," Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA, said in emailed comments.

"This is a very important point as the central bank had previously claimed that as long as the economy performs in line with expectations, it would likely raise interest rates at an upcoming meeting and today’s GDP data exceeded expectations, leaving the BoE with little reason not to proceed," he added.

As for the rest of the world, here was the scoreboard at 8:55 a.m. ET:

  • The Mexican peso was little changed at 19.2337 per dollar. Separately, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, speaking from the White House through Skype at a lunch sponsored by the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, once again spoke about NAFTA and the US-Mexico Trade deficit. "Before NAFTA came into effect, every year the US had a trade surplus with Mexico, generally ranging between $4 and 5 billion a year," he said. "Guess what our cumulative deficit with Mexico is post-NAFTA? [...] One trillion dollars — with a 'T.' One trillion dollars. That's way too much." Economists at Bank of America argued recently, however, that ripping up NAFTA wouldn't reduce the US' total trade deficit by that much.
  • The Australian dollar was down by 0.9% at .7707 against the US Dollar after disappointing CPI data. CPI climbed by 0.6% quarter-over-quarter in the third quarter, below expectations of a 0.8% advance. On a year-over-year basis, it climbed by 1.8%, below expectations of 2.0%.
  • The euro was up by 0.2% at 1.1782 against the dollar. The German Ifo Business Climate Index jumped to 116.7 in October, up from the prior month's 115.3, and above expectations of 115.2.
  • The US dollar index was little changed at 93.77 after core durable goods orders rose by 0.7% month-over-month in September, above expectations of 0.5%.
  • The Russian ruble was little changed at 57.5968 per dollar, while Brent crude oil, the international benchmark, was little changed at $58.38 per barrel.

SEE ALSO: BANK OF AMERICA: 2 charts show why ripping up NAFTA wouldn't solve Trump's big issues with the deal

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NOW WATCH: $6 TRILLION INVESTMENT CHIEF: Bitcoin is a bubble

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

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

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange July 28, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

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

Here's Lutz:

Morning!  US Futures are mixed, with Industrials continuing their climb, but Nasdaq in the red as AMD craters 10%.  Mixed Bag in Europe, where the DAX is up small.  Fins and Materials showing a bid, while Luxury Consumer doing well behind Kering – but Bevvy under pressure with Heineken.  In London, Lloyds weighed early, but a afternoon turnaround sees banks nearing unchanged - Miners getting hit hard as Antofagasta drops on #s.  FTSE is down 10bp – and Volumes are pacing erll, with most exchanges trading 30-40% above trend.   In Asia, Nikkei down 45bp, 1st loss in 17 sessions - Hang Seng up 50bp as staples and autos jumped - Shanghai up 20bp - KOSPI up small - Aussie up 20bp - Sensex up 1.4% as Banks ripped higher on the recap plan

The US 10YY is testing 2.45% as Bunds get sold.  German Yields approaching 50bp into the ECB’s tapering call tomorrow.  The DXY is on 3month highs as the “Dollar is in demand as Fed chair speculation takes hawkish turn” – Gains are reversing a bit, with DXY getting pushed away from 94 early as a Record IFO Print boosts Euro.   Sterling is bid on better GDP as hawks circle next week for a BoE Hike, while the A$ continues to get smoked, off nearly 1% on weaker CPI data.  Ore off small, bringing 3day losses to almost 4%, but all metals are down, with Copper down nearly 1% and Gold falling a further 40bp.   Energy complex is mixed, with WTI in the red slightly, but Gasoline buoyed by a huge draw overnight in API data.

Read about the 10 things you need to know today...

SEE ALSO: 10 things you need to know before the opening bell

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Back Above $5,500: Bitcoin Shrugs Off Fork with Price Rebound

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

The price of bitcoin is trending up after a fork yesterday – but where is it headed?

GUNDLACH: The bond market's 'moment of truth has arrived'

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

File photo: Jeffrey Gundlach, chief executive and chief investment officer of DoubleLine Capital,  speaks during the Sohn Investment Conference in New York May 4, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

  • DoubleLine CEO and founder Jeffrey Gundlach tweeted, "The moment of truth has arrived for secular bond bull market!"
  • On Wednesday, the US 10-year yield hit 2.45%, its highest in seven months. 
  • In January, Gundlach said the 10-year could hit 6% in the next five years. 

 

Bond guru Jeffrey Gundlach has been sounding the alarm on a Treasury market selloff for some time now. On Tuesday, the CEO and founder of DoubleLine Capital took his warning to a whole new level, after the US 10-year yield crossed the 2.40% level, putting in its highest print since May.

"The moment of truth has arrived for secular bond bull market!" Gundlach tweeted. "Need to start rallying effective immediately or obituaries need to be written." 

The end of the secular bond bull market would be a significant event. For more than three decades, bond investors have enjoyed massive returns as bond yields pressed lower and lower. Since 1981, the 10-year yield has fallen from near 16% to below 2%, luring in more and more investors along the way.  

If Wednesday's action is any indication, things could get ugly. That's because the 10-year yield ticked up another handful of basis points to 2.45%, its highest in seven months. The yield is now within 15 basis points of its 2017 highs.  

US 10year

Bond yields rallied sharply in the wake of President Donald Trump's election as traders priced in the possibility on speculation his policies would bring back growth and inflation to the US. The US 10-year yield surged about 80 basis points from early November into the end of 2016.

But, the 10-year stalled out near 2.60% as Trump has been unable to deliver on his campaign promises and US inflation has remained persistently low. It put in a low near 2.04% in early September, but has since rallied more than 40 basis points on the hope of tax reform and the announcement by the Fed that it plans to unwind its massive balance sheet

As for the scope of the selloff that could occur, Gundlach told the Baron's Roundtable in January that the 10-year could hit 6% in the next five years.

By that time many bond trader obituaries would be written.  

Gundlach did not immediately respond to a request from Business Insider for an update to his bond market call.

SEE ALSO: GOLDMAN SACHS: There are only 50 stocks in the world that are perfect for this environment

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Bitcoin Poses no Risks to Warrant Regulation: Singapore Central Bank Chief

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Wall Street could be next to get Amazon'd (AMZN)

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

jeff bezos amazon

  • McKinsey has published a report looking at the threat to Wall Street banks from so-called platform companies like Amazon, Alibaba, and Rakuten.
  • These companies could become the "front end" for big finance, taking a big slice of profits.
  • The worst-case scenario would put returns on a par with those in 2008, during the worst of the financial crisis.


Wall Street could be next to get Amazon'd.

That's the takeaway from a big report from McKinsey, which just published its annual global banking review, a 52-page tome on the future of the industry. It includes a stark warning: The threat from digital players is accelerating, and banks could be left with the least attractive bit of the banking business.

Here's McKinsey:

"As interest rates recover and other tailwinds come into play, the industry's ROE could reach 9.3 percent in 2025. But if retail and corporate customers switch their banking to digital companies at the same rate that people have adopted new technologies in the past, the industry's ROE, absent any mitigating actions, could fall by roughly 4 points, to 5.2 percent by 2025."

To put that into context, that worst-case scenario would put returns on a par with those in 2008, during the worst of the financial crisis. Except this time, it's not because of a financial crisis, but a competitive one.

And to be clear, the digital companies McKinsey is talking about are not exclusively lean and fast-moving fintech startups, which have garnered so much attention over the past few years. Instead, McKinsey is talking about so-called platform companies, like Amazon, Alibaba, Tencent, and Rakuten.

That's the real threat, according to the management consulting firm.

Screen Shot 2017 10 24 at 1.20.46 PM

"While we noted the presence of the platform companies lurking in the shadows in 2015, we thought that fintechs would provide the chief digital threat," McKinsey said. "Instead, banks have been able to parry many of the fintechs' moves and have joined forces with them in several cases — while the platform companies are emerging as a formidable force."

The report is full of management consulting language, with references to "digital pioneers" bridging "the value chains of various industries in order." But in essence, it's really about customer relationships.

Right now, it's the platform companies that have the strongest relationship with customers. One example cited in the report is Rakuten Ichiba, Japan's largest online retail marketplace. From the McKinsey report:

  • It provides loyalty points and e-money usable at hundreds of thousands of stores, virtual and real.
  • It issues credit cards to tens of millions of members.
  • It offers financial products and services that range from mortgages to securities brokerage.
  • And the company runs one of Japan's largest online travel portals.
  • Plus an instant-messaging app, Viber, which has some 800 million users worldwide.

How is a bank supposed to compete with that?

In the US, consider that millennials list Amazon as the app they can't live without, or that 73% of millennials say they would be more excited about a new financial services offering from Google, Amazon, Paypal, or Square than their bank. And for good reason. Think about how easy the Amazon app is to use. And then think about how easy your banking app is to use.

Asheet Mehta, co-leader of McKinsey's global banking practice, told Business Insider that as Amazon's stock price trades based on its growth, it needs to keep on moving into adjacent markets. Financial services is a huge revenue pool, and Amazon has already moved in on SME lending and factoring.

Now, McKinsey isn't suggesting that Amazon is going to start creating financial products or start taking deposits. But it does have the potential to take over the distribution of certain financial products. One banker told McKinsey:

"There might be a time in the future where I might turn to my two kids and say, 'Who are you banking with at the moment?' And they say money's with HSBC but I really like using the Amazon front end for this, that, and the other. Those are the kind of possibilities we might have to face."

The concern for traditional finance is that it's the origination and sales bit of the finance pie that's most profitable, generating 65% of global banking profits.

Here's McKinsey (emphasis added):

"We calculated the value at stake for global banking should platform companies successfully split banking in two (Exhibit 9), and found that “manufacturing” — the core businesses of financing and lending that pivot off the bank’s balance sheet — generated 53 percent of industry revenues, but only 35 percent of profits, with an ROE of 4.4 percent. “Distribution,” on the other hand — the origination and sales side of banking — produced 47 percent of revenues and 65 percent of profits, with an ROE of 20 percent. As platform companies extend their tentacles into banking, it is the rich returns of the distribution business they are targeting. And in many cases, they are better positioned for distribution than banks are."

Screen Shot 2017 10 24 at 1.20.14 PM

So what's a bank CEO to do? McKinsey presents a few options:

The ecosystem route

"Banks around the world have started to capitalize on their customers' trust and data to build distinctive, end-to-end customer experiences in which they offer both banking and other services," McKinsey said.

What does this mean? Think about a mortgage lender having a website with real-estate listings, a price-comparison tool, a mortgage calculator, and a tool to help you switch your Verizon subscription once you've moved.

The white-label approach

For some banks, it might make sense to partner with platform companies, and be a manufacturer of financial products that are then distributed by others.

"Today, many banks are considering this option," McKinsey said. "Pricing is a concern: If banks are cut out of the primary customer relationship, can they set prices high enough to make a return? In many cases, the answer is yes."

Specialize

There is also the option of zoning in on one product or market segment.

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NOW WATCH: I spent a day trying to pay for things with bitcoin and a bar of gold

Law firms are preemptively opening Bitcoin wallets to pay ransoms

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

FILE PHOTO: An attendant holds a bitcoin sign during the opening of Hong Kong's first bitcoin retail store February 28, 2014. REUTERS/Bobby Yip/File Photo

  • Law firms are preemptively opening Bitcoin wallets in order to pay ransoms to hackers when client data is stolen.
  • Opening wallets is just one contingency plan firms can make, and should be a "last resort."
  • The news comes as offshore firm Appleby admitted client data had been stolen in a cyber breach, and is now at risk of being leaked.

 

LONFON – Law firms are preemptively opening Bitcoin wallets to pay ransoms in case their data is hacked, according to a cyber-security expert.

Opening a Bitcoin wallet is just one contingency plan firms can make to prepare for cyber breaches in which client data is stolen, according to John Sweeney, president of IT and cyber security advisors LogicForce. This can be a useful "last resort" when the data is not backed up and cannot be restored unless a ransom is paid.

"The firms doing this are smarter," said Sweeney, and are looking to take "conscientious" proactive, rather than reactive, steps. Sweeney stressed he did not generally advocate paying ransoms, but said it "makes sense" for firms to have a Bitcoin wallet to hand. "I certainly don't see it as a bad move," he said.

Data breaches at law firms are a growing concern: confidential information, often sent in unencrypted emails, risks being stolen and ransomed back to firms, used for fraud or sold to third parties to be used in crimes such as insider trading.

On Tuesday, offshore law firm Appleby admitted client data had been stolen in a breach last year. The firm's super-rich clients are now bracing themselves for the possible exposure of their financial secrets.

Sweeney said firms must do more to enhance cyber security. He said the balance of risk and reward is "totally in the cyber criminals' favour," since the likelihood of a hacker being caught is slim, and the likelihood of being prosecuted is "infinitesimally smaller."

"We are predicting there are going to be more sophisticated attempts to intrude at firms that work with highly visible clients whose IP or business information is extremely valuable," he said.

However, paying a ransom is no guarantee of anything: according to Sweeney, it has taken firms two months and three ransom payments to recover data from hackers.

LogicForce is planning to open its own Bitcoin account within the next few weeks, in order to assist client "disaster recovery."

"This is new," said Sweeney — but in the long-run, "it could become a normal course of business." 

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NOW WATCH: Gary Shilling calls bitcoin a black box and says he doesn't invest in things he doesn't understand

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CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

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NYU's 'Dean of Valuations' Says Bitcoin Is a Currency, Not an Asset

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

Aswath Damodaran, a professor of finance at the NYU's Stern School of Business, has spelled out why he believes bitcoin is a currency, not an asset.

A hugely popular 'healthy' US ice cream brand is coming to Britain

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

Halo Top ice cream is pictured in a grocery store freezer in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., August 7, 2017.

  • 'Healthy' ice cream brand Halo Top is recruiting a marketing manager in the UK.
  • Launched in 2012, the brand is now the best selling ice cream in the US.


LONDON — Halo Top, a fastgrowing Los Angeles-based ice cream brand, is coming to the UK.

The ice cream maker, which markets itself as a healthier alternative to traditional ice cream, is advertising for a London-based marketing manager to "help Halo Top expand in the UK by managing the launch." The job listing was first reported by industry paper The Grocer.

The Grocer says the brand is targeting a January launch in the UK and has reportedly secured listing contracts with major supermarkets.

Launched in the US in 2012, Halo Top is one of the fastest-growing food companies in the world. Sales hit $132.4 million last year, and in August Halo Top surpassed Häagen-Dazs and Ben & Jerry's to become the best selling ice cream in the US.

The low-calorie, high-protein ice cream brand markets itself as a "healthier" alternative to traditional ice cream, using stevia instead of sugar. The company is a hit with health-conscious millennials and has used platforms such as Facebook and Instragram to propel its success, as well as off-beat TV adverts.

Halo Top's 17 flavours include Birthday Cake and Chocolate Mocha Chip, along with more traditional varieties such as vanilla and strawberry.

While the company markets itself as a healthier alternative to traditional ice cream, some nutritionists have questioned the claim.

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NOW WATCH: TOP STRATEGIST: Bitcoin will soar to $25,000 in 5 years

10 things you need to know before the opening bell (SPY, SPX, QQQ, DIA, T, CMG, AMD)

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

Chinese President Xi Jinping and former Chinese President Jiang Zemin

Here is what you need to know. 

The US 10-year hits a 7-month highThe benchmark yield is up 3 basis points at 2.45%, its highest since March.

UK GDP beatsThe UK's economy grew at a 0.4% clip in the third quarter, according to preliminary data released by the Office for National Statistics on Wednesday. That was ahead of the 0.3% growth that economists were expecting. 

A Chinese investor has reportedly built up a massive copper positionA private coal mining industry investor in China’s Shanxi province has reportedly built up a $2.8 billion long position in copper contracts set to expire in April, May, and June next year, Reuters says, citing an unnamed source.

Bitcoin forks againTuesday's fork created bitcoin gold, and caused bitcoin to slide by as much as 5%. It's little changed on Wednesday, trading near $5,625 a coin.

Chipotle missed big on earningsThe fast-casual burrito chain earned an adjusted $1.33 a share, missing the Wall Street consensus of $1.63 by a wide margin. Shares plunges by as much as 10% in after-hours trading on Tuesday.

AMD is expecting a big drop in revenue"For the fourth quarter of 2017, AMD expects revenue to decrease approximately 15 percent sequentially," the company said in a press release accompanying its earnings. 

AT&T lost a record amount of pay-TV subscribersThe company said it lost 385,000 pay-TV subscribers during the third quarter of 2017 because of increased competition, stricter credit standards and "hurricane disruptions."

The Nikkei's 16-day winning streak is overJapan's Nikkei (-0.45%) snapped its 16-day winning streak, during which it gained about 7%. In Europe, France's CAC (+0.24%) is out front. The S&P 500 is set to open little changed near 2,567. 

Earnings reporting is heavyBoeing, Coca-Cola and Northrop Grumman are among the names reporting ahead of the opening bell. 

US economic data flowsDurable goods orders will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET before the FHFA House Price Index and new home sales cross the wires at 9 a.m. ET and 10 a.m. ET respectively. 

Join the conversation about this story »

10 things you need to know before the opening bell (SPY, SPX, QQQ, DIA, T, CMG, AMD)

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

Chinese President Xi Jinping and former Chinese President Jiang Zemin

Here is what you need to know.

The US 10-year hits a 7-month high. The benchmark yield is up 3 basis points at 2.45%, its highest since March.

UK GDP beats. The UK's economy grew at a 0.4% clip in the third quarter, according to preliminary data released by the Office for National Statistics on Wednesday. That was ahead of the 0.3% growth that economists were expecting.

A Chinese investor has reportedly built up a massive copper position. A private coal-mining-industry investor in China's Shanxi province has reportedly built up a $2.8 billion long position in copper contracts set to expire in April, May, and June next year, Reuters says, citing an unnamed source.

Bitcoin forks again. Tuesday's fork created bitcoin gold, and it caused bitcoin to slide by as much as 5%. It's little changed Wednesday, trading near $5,625 a coin.

Chipotle missed big on earnings. The fast-casual burrito chain earned an adjusted $1.33 a share, missing the Wall Street consensus of $1.63 by a wide margin. Shares plunges by as much as 10% in after-hours trading on Tuesday.

AMD is expecting a big drop in revenue. "For the fourth quarter of 2017, AMD expects revenue to decrease approximately 15 percent sequentially," the company said in a press release accompanying its earnings.

AT&T lost a record amount of pay-TV subscribers. The company said it lost 385,000 pay-TV subscribers during the third quarter of 2017 because of increased competition, stricter credit standards, and "hurricane disruptions."

The Nikkei's 16-day winning streak is over. Japan's Nikkei (-0.45%) ended its winning streak at 16 days, during which it gained about 7%. In Europe, France's CAC (+0.24%) is out front. The S&P 500 is set to open little changed near 2,567.

Earnings reporting is heavy. Boeing, Coca-Cola, and Northrop Grumman are among the names reporting ahead of the opening bell.

US economic data flows. Durable-goods orders will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET before the FHFA House Price Index and new-home sales cross the wires at 9 a.m. ET and 10 a.m. ET.

Join the conversation about this story »

Traders are betting that tech giants will crush earnings season

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

Jeff Bezos Bill Gates Tennis

  • A crucial stretch of tech earnings is coming up, with Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Apple set to report.
  • Despite shares sitting near record highs, traders are surprisingly light on downside hedges.

 

With tech stocks already trading near record highs, you'd think traders would be piling into hedges. You know, to protect against losses in the event of disappointing earnings... just in case.

Think again.

Rather than play it safe, investors are electing to enter a crucial period of tech earnings relatively unhedged. The upcoming stretch includes reports for Amazon, Google and Microsoft on October 26, followed by Facebook and Apple the following week.

The lack of downside protection being purchased is surprising when you consider how fully-valued the stock market looks to be, particularly from a tech perspective. The tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 index is up 25% year-to-date, having hit a new record last week, while its price-earnings ratio is the highest since the dotcom bubble.

It's possible that traders are simply so bullish on the prospect of strong tech earnings that they don't want to dilute their potential upside by paying for hedges that end up being unnecessary. After all, mega-cap tech stocks have made a habit out of spiking after strong earnings reports.

Traders are paying the lowest premium in almost five months to protect against a 10% decline in the PowerShares QQQ Trust ETF, relative to wagers on a 10% increase, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That's a bullish signal for the fund, which tracks the Nasdaq 100 and is one of the most heavily traded ETFs in the US market.

QQQ 3 month skew

A similar unhedged dynamic is in play in the SPDR Technology Select Sector ETF, which tracks technology companies in the S&P 500 index. The ratio of put contracts — frequently bought as a hedge against share losses — to bullish calls is the lowest since February, another bullish sign for tech stocks.

XLK put call ratio

To help you prepare for the tech-heavy portion of earnings season, here's a rundown of the recent stock performance for the companies set to report:

  • Amazon (October 26) — year-t0-date return: +30%
  • Google (October 26) — YTD return: +25%
  • Microsoft (October 26) — YTD return: +27%
  • Facebook (November 1) — YTD return: +49%
  • Apple (November 2) — YTD return: +36%

SEE ALSO: Here's how to protect yourself against a stock market 'fragility event'

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Trump's plan to rip up NAFTA could cause a big setback in the housing market

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

canada housing

  • President Donald Trump's administration is renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement and had threatened to withdraw from the agreement. 
  • This has led to a spike in the cost of lumber, a major Canadian export to the US, amid rising costs of land and construction workers.
  • According to Capital Economics, higher lumber prices could prompt homebuilders to focus on more expensive housing to protect their margins, even with a shortage of affordable housing relative to demand.

 

The North America Free Trade Agreement is intact, for now, following threats by President Donald Trump to withdraw from it. But the back-and-forth between the US and its neighbors is already shaking up a key component of the housing market, with more disruptions possible.

America is the largest importer of softwood lumber from Canada. Concerns that the US would withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement have contributed to a jump in lumber prices since early this year. The benchmark random-length lumber futures contract jumped last week to $440 per thousand square foot, the highest in four and a half years.  

"Given that lumber accounts for a relatively small share of overall construction costs, on its own that development will have a minimal impact on homebuilding activity," said Matthew Pointon, a property economist at Capital Economics, in a note on Tuesday.

"But, combined with labor and land shortages, it will only add to the pressure on builders to protect margins by focussing on the higher end of the housing market."

Screen Shot 2017 10 24 at 2.15.47 PMThe pressures from higher land and labor costs are encouraging builders to construct smaller single-family homes, Pointon said in a recent note. And prices are unlikely to shrink with home sizes because demand is hot in a strong economy.

Prioritizing more expensive homes could become another way to protect margins, Pointon said, even as more affordable housing remains in short supply, especially in larger cities. 

Pointon estimated that, based on a typical requirement of 20,000 sq. ft. of lumber for a new home, the price increase since November added $2,000 to the cost of construction. That's less than 1% of the median price of a home.

So higher lumber costs themselves are not the problem. But this price hike is being driven by fears of lower supply, not weaker demand, in an environment where other construction costs are rising and affordable housing is in limited supply.

That's the worrying combination that could slow down housing starts and tighten the non-luxury section of the market even more, Pointon said.

SEE ALSO: America's homes are shrinking

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NOW WATCH: $6 TRILLION INVESTMENT CHIEF: Bitcoin is a bubble

Panama Papers 2? The financial secrets of the super-rich may be about to be leaked after an offshore law firm was hacked

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

Horseshoe Bay Beach, Bermuda

  • Offshore law firm Appleby suffered a cyber attack last year in which client data was stolen.
  • Clients are now bracing themselves for what could be a second "Panama Papers" style leak.
  • The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has approached the firm with allegations of wrongdoing, which it strongly denies.

 

LONDON – Super-rich clients of offshore law firm Appleby are bracing themselves for the exposure of their financial secrets, after the firm admitted data had been stolen in a cyber attack last year.

The Bermuda-based law firm admitted it was "not infallible" and said some client data had been stolen in the hack, but denied any wrongdoing. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has since approached the firm with allegations of wrongdoing, after it was handed data obtained in the hack, which Appleby strongly refutes.

Appleby said in a statement it did not tolerate "illegal behaviour," and said the ICIJ's allegations were "unfounded and based on a lack of understanding of the legitimate and lawful structures used in the offshore sector." The firm said it had investigated the allegations "thoroughly and vigorously," and was satisfied there was no evidence of wrongdoing "either on the part of ourselves or our clients."

The ICIJ and its media partners are reportedly planning to publish a series of stories based on the allegations.

The news comes 18 months after the release of the so-called "Panama Papers" breach, in which 11.5 million documents were leaked from law firm Mossack Fonseca. The leak led to a series of high-profile scandals, including the resignation of the Prime Minister of Iceland after it was alleged he had hidden millions of dollars-worth of investments in an offshore shell company.

Appleby, which has branches in tax havens including the Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands, specialises in advising high-net worth individuals as well as public and private companies. Its clients are said to include FTSE 100 and Fortune 500 companies, and the individuals affected by the leak are reported to be among the richest in the UK.

Appleby also criticised the ICIJ for using data that had been "obtained illegally." The firm said it had reviewed its cyber security arrangements since last year's hack, and was now "confident that our data integrity is secure."

Data breaches at law firms are a growing concern, since emails — in which confidential documents tend to be sent — are frequently un encrypted. As well as being leaked, such information can be sold by hackers to third parties, to be used in crimes such as insider trading.

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NOW WATCH: I spent a day trying to pay for things with bitcoin and a bar of gold

Here comes Boeing ... (BA)

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

FILE PHOTO: Workers at South Carolina Boeing work on a 787 Dreamliner for Air India at the plant's final assembly building in North Charleston, South Carolina December 19, 2013. REUTERS/Randall Hill/File Photo

  • Boeing is scheduled to report third-quarter earnings before the bell on October 25.
  • Revenue and net income is expected to rise though its earnings-per-share is expected to fall.
  • Boeing may introduce Boeing Global services as a separate business division.

Boeing is due to report third-quarter earnings before the bell on October 25.

Wall Street is expecting Boeing's adjusted earnings per share to fall to $2.65 from $2.67 in the third quarter of 2016, according to a Bloomberg poll of analysts. 

The company is expected to deliver on cash flow and revenues mostly through its production of commercial airplanes. It's 737 and 787 lines have enjoyed a ramp with multi-billion dollar deals from Singapore, China, and Greece in the works.

Here are the key figures:

  • Revenue: Wall Street is expecting $23.96 billion, slightly higher than the $23.89 billion in the third quarter of 2016.
  • Net income: $1.79 billion expected, up from $1.66 billion in the third quarter of 2016.
  • Boeing Global Services: The service solutions unit for its commercial, defense and space customers, is expected to bring in around $50 billion in annual sales, according to the company.  
  • Delays in its KC-46 Tanker Production: Wall Street analysts are also wary of the delays to Boeing’s KC-46 tanker aircraft deliveries after the company was slapped with three “deficiency reports” by the US Air Force in September. The company may have to absorb costs from the delays, which could show up in its financial statements.
  • Competition: Boeing will still have to deal with competition down the line, analysts said. They are keeping a close eye on the deal between French-based airline manufacturer Airbus and Bombardier. The deal would pit Bombardier’s C series jet against Boeing in the global market for smaller single-aisle commercial jets.

Despite some challenges, the company has beat estimates in the past four quarters and more of the same is expected.

Boeing’s stock has closed at record levels, climbing 69.5% year-to-date, which makes it the best performing stock in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Boeing stocks closed at $266.44 on Tuesday.

Boeing stock price

SEE ALSO: Qatar Airways wants to buy a 10% stake in American Airlines

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NOW WATCH: $6 TRILLION INVESTMENT CHIEF: Bitcoin is a bubble

Britain's economy grows faster than expected in the 3rd quarter of 2017

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

union jack

  • Britain's economy grows 0.4% in the third quarter of 2017, preliminary ONS estimate shows.
  • Growth had been expected to be marginally lower at just 0.3%.
  • Expansion was driven by the dominant services sector, which accounts for almost 80% of GDP.

 

LONDON — Britain's economy grew faster than expected in the third quarter of 2017, according to a preliminary estimate released by the Office for National Statistics on Wednesday morning.

GDP grew by 0.4%, the ONS said, while annual growth was 1.5%.

Prior to the release economists had forecast 0.3% growth, in line with growth in the second quarter of the year, but the data shows a small acceleration from the previous quarter.

"Growth in the third quarter continued at a similar rate as seen in the first half of the year. Services, led by increases in IT, motor trades and retail, continued to drive GDP growth. Manufacturing also boosted the economy with an improved performance after a weak second quarter," Darren Morgan, the ONS' head of national accounts said in a statement.

"However, construction output fell for the second consecutive quarter, although it remains above its pre-downturn peak."

As Morgan notes, GDP's growth in the quarter was driven by the UK's services sector, which accounts for roughly 80% of national output. 

"The services aggregate was the main driver to the growth in GDP, contributing 0.29 percentage points," the ONS said.

Here's the ONS' chart, showing the quarter's GDP as part of the longer term trend:

Screen Shot 2017 10 25 at 09.35.18

It should be noted that these figures could still be revised higher or lower, and reflect a preliminary sample of all the data the ONS collects about the quarter.

UK GDP has now grown in 19 consecutive quarters. The last time UK GDP shrunk over a quarter was in Q4 of 2012 when the economy readjusted following a huge boost from the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

The pound jumped on the data beat, with sterling gaining around 0.3% against the dollar to trade at $1.3165, as the chart below shows:

Screen Shot 2017 10 25 at 09.46.01

Sterling's rise reflects the fact that better than forecast GDP should, in theory at least, make it more like that the Bank of England will increase interest rates at its November meeting next Thursday. The bank's decision is seen to on a knife edge, with some on its rate-setting Monetary Policy Committee in favour of an increase in rates from 0.25% to 0.5%, and others opposed.

"Today’s numbers seem to have increased the likelihood of an interest rate rise next week, with sterling gaining almost half a cent against the dollar," Ben Brettell, a senior economist at FTSE 100 investment firm Hargreaves Lansdown wrote in an email.

"Following recent hawkish comments from the MPC, markets were already regarding a return to 0.5% as a near-certainty."

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Global wine production is expected to fall to its lowest level since 1961

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

The queen drinking wine

  • Wine production is predicted to slump this year to its lowest level since 1961.
  • The wine producers' body blames "extreme weather" in key producing countries like Italy and France.
  • The British Wine and Spirit Trade Association has warned this will damage the UK's wine industry, which has already suffered from Brexit.

LONDON – Stock up your cellars while you still can — the Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV) has warned that global wine production is set to fall this year to its lowest level since 1961.

The OIV said it expected global wine production to fall 8% in 2017, blaming "extreme weather" in countries like Italy, Spain and France. This year's heat wave damaged vines, it said, and would reduce harvests.

"Following frost and drought across Europe, and wildfires across the USA, winemakers globally are facing a drastically reduced harvest this year," said Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA).

"As the bigger per capita importer of wine in an international market, the UK is bound to feel the effects of an increasingly challenging environment. Prices for consumers will inevitably rise," he said.

Italy's wine producers were worst hit by freakish weather this year — after temperatures rose to more than 40C in a heatwave nicknamed "Lucifer" — and output is predicted to slump 23%.

The fall in production is a "real concern" for UK wine businesses, the WSTA warned: huge containers of wine are shipped to the UK, bottled here and re-shipped around the world, it said, which generates 172,000 jobs and employs a further 105,000 people indirectly in the supply chain.

The UK wine industry has already suffered from the fall in the value of Sterling following the Brexit vote, rising inflation and political uncertainty. These challenges, the WSTA said, "come on top of the Chancellor's decision to impose a hefty 3.9% increase in alcohol duties earlier this year," which saw the average price of a bottle of wine rise 4% from last year, to £5.58.

The "last thing" the UK wine industry or British consumers need now, said Beale, is another rise in excise duty in the November Budget. The Chancellor should "take note and freeze duty," he said.

Screen Shot 2017 10 25 at 08.52.01

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S&P: Britain's £200 billion consumer debt boom is 'unsustainable' and raises 'red flags'

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

Volkswagen Golf parked cars

  • Standard and Poor's says double-digit growth in UK consumer debt this year should alarm British lenders.
  • UK consumer credit has passed £200 billion this year.
  • "The recent double-digit annual growth rate in U.K. consumer credit would be unsustainable if it continued at the same pace," S&P said.

LONDON — Double-digit growth in UK consumer debt this year should alarm British lenders, according to credit rating agency Standard and Poor's.

S&P said in a report on Tuesday that consumer credit — which constitutes borrowing like car finance and credit cards — has climbed over £200 billion this year in a low-interest rate market, and warned that losses from lenders could lead to ratings agencies downgrading UK lenders.

The agency added that while near-term credit risk remains low, "the recent double-digit annual growth rate in U.K. consumer credit would be unsustainable if it continued at the same pace."

The report also highlighted the Bank of England's concern over consumer credit levels, which have grown by 10% this year while household income growth has grown by only 2%.

"The Bank of England's recent assessment of stressed losses on consumer credit lending, brought forward as part of its annual stress test results, also indicates that the regulator is concerned that the resilience of these portfolios may be reducing," it said.

S&P Global Ratings credit analyst Joseph Godsmark said lenders had not been seriously tested on their ability to pull back lending since the 2008 financial crisis.

"Although we consider that near-term credit risk remains low, past experience shows that lenders find it hard to avoid inherent cyclicality in consumer credit, and the impact can be severe," he said.

"Furthermore, banks' discipline in constraining risk appetite for new underwriting and risk-based pricing in a hot market has not been seriously tested since the financial crisis."

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Former financial watchdog chief: Capitalism has 'gone wrong'

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

Adair Turner

  • The former head of the business lobby and financial regulator told the BBC that capitalism has "gone wrong."
  • Lord Adair Turner pointed to sluggish growth and productivity and said living standards.
  • He said the rise of technology was "paradoxically" leading to workers taking low paid, low tech jobs.

LONDON – Lord Adair Turner, the former chairman of the Financial Services Authority warned that capitalism is failing to produce higher living standards.

Lord Adair Turner, who also used to lead the Confederation of British Industry, said economic growth was not having a real positive impact on people's incomes and living standards in the UK, in advance of the release of third quarter growth figures on Wednesday.

"Everybody knows that capitalism is not egalitarian, but the broad promise has been that, over a ten year period, you can be pretty confident that a rising tide raises all boats and everybody feels somewhat better off, and that's gone wrong," he told BBC Radio 5 Live's Wake Up To Money programme.

In November last year, he told Business Insider he was "increasingly worried" that advances in technology were undermining capitalism and stopping the global economy recovering from its "post-crisis malaise."

Speaking on Wednesday, he pointed to a mixture of stagnant productivity, a fall in real wages and rising inequality as evidence of a system that is not working for many people.

"This is a big challenge for economists," he said, "Why, in a world of apparently extraordinary capabilities of technology, do we have these very low productivity growth rates?"

He also said a major problem caused by increasing automation, particularly in sectors such as manufacturing and retail, was workers being displaced by technology and being paid low wages in "gig economy" jobs as a result.

"I think paradoxically that we should expect to see in a world of huge automation the continued proliferation of low paid, low tech jobs," he said.

Lord Turner said slow growth was also in part a product of high levels of consumer and corporate debt, and hangover from the financial crisis.

On Wednesday morning the Office for National Statistics will release an estimate for UK GDP growth for July to September.

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'We've got 6 weeks left before we've lost the battle': The City's top official has a stark warning about the coming Brexit 'exodus' from London

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

Lord Mayor Andrew Parmley

  • Outgoing Lord Mayor of London Dr Andrew Parmley warns of upcoming Brexit "exodus" if government fails to secure a transition deal.
  • "We need clarity by Christmas. If we don't get that we will see exodus from London," he told BI in one of his final interviews as Lord Mayor.
  • Banks need at least a year, if not longer, to set up branches and subsidiaries in Europe so will start moving staff to coincide with Britain leaving the EU in March 2019.

 

LONDON — The government and the City of London have just six weeks before they lose "the battle" to stop major financial institutions from shifting staff out of the UK as a result of Brexit, the City's outgoing Lord Mayor has warned.

In an interview before the end of his one-year term as Lord Mayor, Dr Andrew Parmley told Business Insider that the government must work quicker to ensure that some form of transition deal with the EU is secured in the coming weeks and months, or risk seeing an "exodus" of talent from finance hubs like the City of London.

"I'm beating the drum as hard as I can. We need clarity by Christmas. If we don't get that we will see exodus from London. At the moment that has been tempered, next to nobody has actually left, though, as you know, everybody has made plans," Parmley told BI.

"All the big players have made their plans, and we will see those plans activated if we don't see some progress."

The government is listening to the concerns of the City, but is not acting quick enough, Parmley told BI.

"We had to work very hard to persuade parliamentarians that we are a bit different from the others, and we are the biggest industry, and make the biggest tax give.  I think government is paying attention."

Every month, the Lord Mayor holds a meeting of a group known as the Number One group, which contains major financial services bosses in the UK, and those leaders hold the same concerns as Parmley, he says.

"There's a strong feeling amongst the Number One representatives that when politicians fail, business has to take charge. We are being heard, but they're not responding quickly enough to what we're saying," he said at his office in the City's Mansion House.

"That's why my chairman of policy Catherine McGuinness is now really beginning to shout. I think we've got six weeks left before we've lost the battle."

"If I could have a leaving present [Parmley will leave his role as the Lord Mayor in November], it would be a transition deal."

Concern over securing a transition deal is driven by the fact that banks need to make final decisions about moving staff by the first quarter of next year at the latest. Banks need at least a year, if not longer, to set up fully functioning branches and subsidiaries in Europe to maintain uninterrupted EU activities.

Without some clarity over future arrangements, banks will look to their worst case contingency plans, which are generally believed to involve large scale staff moves. Banks, however, are somewhat unsure of what the worst case scenario is, according to Bertrand Lavayssière, the UK managing partner of financial services consultancy Zeb.

While most finance firms agree that jobs will have to move in a worst case scenario, Lavayssière said that contingency plans submitted by banks to the UK regulator show institutions have different ideas of what the worst outcome from Brexit could be.

Parmley's view is one that has been publicly echoed by other senior City figures. Earlier in October, for example, Sam Woods, the chief executive of the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) said in a speech that firms are likely to start leaving if we don't get a transition deal by Christmas.

"If we get to Christmas and the negotiations have not reached any agreement on this topic, diminishing marginal returns will kick in. Firms would start discounting the likelihood of a transition in the central case of their planning," Woods said.

One major fear within the City is that if firms do start to leave the UK and move staff to continental Europe, the continent's financial sector could fragment. Parmley, however, does not see any European financial centre benefitting hugely from any Brexit exodus. That's because cities like Frankfurt and Paris simply don't have the infrastructure in place to deal with any large scale staff moves.

"I think if we see fragmentation, I don't think we're going to see a great deal of movement into mainland Europe. I think if its going to go anywhere locally, it's going to go to Dublin for language reasons, but it's more likely to my mind to go to New York, Singapore or Hong Kong because they've got the infrastructure."

"Frankfurt [as well as other European cities] hasn't got the wherewithal to absorb a huge additional workforce," he said.

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Hedge fund giant Crispin Odey's assets under management have halved after a bad run

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

Crispin Odey

  • Odey Asset Management's assets under management fell from $11.7 billion at the start of 2015 to $5.5 billion.
  • Decline due to bearish bets on a financial crisis not paying off and client redemptions.


LONDON — One of the City of London's best-known hedge funds has seen its assets under management halve since 2015 due to bad bets and client outflows.

The Financial Times reported that Odey Asset Management's assets under management fell from $11.7 billion at the start of 2015 to $6 billion at the end of August, according to a client letter seen by the paper.

In fact, things appear even worse — Odey Asset Management's website states that assets under management are $5.5 billion as of 29 September 2017. The decline has been driven by a combination of poor performance and redemptions from clients.

Odey Asset Management was founded by Crispin Odey, an investor famed for his successful trading of the financial crisis. The firm's OEI Mac fund delivered 43.4% in 2008 as shorts against banks paid off.

Odey Asset Management did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.

However, the FT said Odey's recent performance has been hampered by similarly bearish bets. The hedge fund manager believes the world is heading for another crash, driven by loose monetary policy and Chinese debt, but his bets against bonds and assets inflated by recent loose monetary policy have so far failed to pay off.

Business Insider reported last year that Odey's flagship fund halved in value in 2016, its worst year on record, and the FT reported that the fund has slid a further 15% in the year to August. It means gains stretching back to 2007 have been wiped out.

Odey was a prominent supporter of the campaign to leave the European Union in last year's referendum. He was one of the founders of the "Vote Leave" group, which became the official Brexit campaign, and is donated just over £500,000 to the cause.

A fund manager at Odey Asset Management reportedly made £110 million betting against the pound in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote but Odey himself has been bearish on the vote's economic effects, warning clients last year of likely recession in Britain and a collapse in stock values.

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10 things you need to know in markets today

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

China's President Xi Jinping speaks during the opening session of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China October 18, 2017.  REUTERS/Aly Song

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

1. It's GDP day in the UK. The Office for National Statistics will later on Wednesday report its first estimate for the growth of the British economy in the third quarter of 2017. Analysts polled prior to the release forecast that the ONS' data will show Britain grew 0.3% in the quarter, matching growth for Q2. 

2. Breaking with decades of tradition, Chinese President Xi Jinping has not identified a successor for the end of his rule in 2022. In recent decades the Communist Party's most powerful group, the Politburo Standing Committee, has always included at least one potential successor. However, none of the members in the committee introduced to the press on Wednesday have the right pedigree — in experience and youth — to take over from Xi. The move is widely interpreted as an indication that Xi will seek a third term in 2022.

3. Bitcoin, the red-hot digital currency up more than 400% this year, lost ground on Tuesday and early Wednesday after the blockchain network underpinning the coin split again.  As reported by cryptocurrency watcher CoinDesk, bitcoin gold officially split from the bitcoin network Tuesday morning. The new cryptocurrency is a clone of the original bitcoin blockchain, but it will play by different rules than the original digital currency.

4. The Nikkei's record breaking winning streak looks to be coming to an end. By 6.50 a.m. BST (1.50 a.m. ET) Japan's benchmark share index is 0.46% lower on the day to trade at 21,705 points. Previously, the Nikkei had climbed for 16 consecutive days, but a record 17th day of positive trading looks out of reach.

5. Goldman Sachs is ramping up its private-equity investments and going after smaller, high-growth targets as part of a broad plan to offset recent trading declines, three people familiar with the effort told Reuters. Goldman's investment bank, which typically focuses on advising large companies on mergers and raising capital, is now looking to use Goldman's own funds to finance a handful of small, promising companies in the near-term

6. T-Mobile US and Sprint Corp are laying the groundwork for special committees of their board of directors to decide on a merger between the third and fourth largest U.S. wireless carriers, according to Reuters. Both T-Mobile and Sprint have formed committees comprising independent board directors to decide on whether the deal should be signed once the merger agreement has been finalized, which is currently expected in the next three weeks, the sources said.

7. The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Tuesday rose to a record high after Caterpillar and 3M crushed third-quarter earnings estimates. Caterpillar beat  Wall Street's profit and sales estimates, driven by strong demand for its construction equipment in North America and China. It also raised its full-year forecasts.

8. Elsewhere on Wall Street, fast casual dining chain Chipotle on Tuesday reported third-quarter earnings that missed the lowest forecast from Wall Street analysts. The fast-casual chain reported earnings per share of $0.69 and adjusted EPS of $1.33, missing analysts' consensus forecast for $1.63 according to Bloomberg. Revenue totaled $1.13 billion, missing the estimate for $1.14 billion. Sales at stores open for at least one year rose 1% (1.2% forecast.)

9. South Korea's LG Display said third-quarter operating profit surged 81 percent from a year earlier on the back of a recovery in panel prices. Operating profit for July-September came in at 586 billion won ($519 million), up from 323 billion won in the same period a year ago.

10. At least three bidders are expected to be shortlisted for the second round of an auction for Unilever's margarine and spreads business while two other private equity groups are no longer in the fray, sources told Reuters. Buyout funds Blackstone and CVC Capital Partners, who were teaming up on a joint offer, are no longer in the running for the business which could be worth more than $7 billion, the sources said on Tuesday.

And finally ... Business Insider is looking for nominations for the hottest young talents in British finance right now. If you, or anyone you know, is making waves in the City of London (or anywhere else in the UK) and is under 31, we'd love to hear from you. Get in touch on social media, or email: wmartin@businessinsider.com.

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The City's Brexit planning problem: Banks don't know what the worst case scenario is

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

A demonstrator wears a mask during the anti-Brexit 'People's March for Europe', as it heads towards Parliament Square, in central London, Britain September 9, 2017.

  • Finance firms "preparing for the worst but hoping for the best" on Brexit.
  • Lack of clarity on what "the worst" is, amid reports that contingency plans submitted to the PRA differ on what they're preparing for.
  • Germany's finance watchdog says firms must prepare for "a so-called cliff-edge."

 

LONDON — Finance firms are "preparing for the worst but hoping for the best" when it comes to Brexit, according to Bertrand Lavayssière, the UK managing partner of financial services consultancy Zeb.

There's only one problem: they don't know what the worst-case scenario is.

While most finance firms agree that jobs will have to move in a worst case scenario, Lavayssière said that contingency plans submitted by banks to the UK regulator show institutions have different ideas of what the worst outcome from Brexit could be.

The Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), the Bank of England's body for regulating banks, building societies, and investment firms, asked all regulated entities to submit a Brexit contingency plan by July of this year. It received over 400 submissions.

Speaking at an event organised Zeb in London on Tuesday, Lavayssière said he has heard there were two key takeaways from the exercise:

  1. There are differing views of what the worst case scenario could be for firms;
  2. Whatever the worst outcome is, it will require an "absurd" amount of capital to implement contingency plans.

Lavayssière didn't elaborate on what the variation in planning and worst case scenarios looks like but it suggests an additional layer of complexity for both companies and regulators in dealing with the post-Brexit financial services landscape.

The Association of Financial Markets in Europe (AFME) estimated in June that a "hard" Brexit could cost UK banks €15 billion (£13.1 billion) and add €40 billion (£35 billion) to tier one capital requirements.

The PRA declined to comment.

Business leaders have repeatedly called for more clarity from the government over what Brexit will look like, warning that uncertainty will force many to relocate jobs out of the UK. RBS chairman Sir Howard Davies told Sky News at the start of this month that jobs will begin to move unless details of a Brexit deal are known within months.

Felix Hufeld, President of Germany's Federal Financial Supervisory Authority BaFin (Bundesanstalt fuer Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht) visits Thomson Reuters office in Frankfurt, Germany, September 22, 2016.Lavayssière made his comments while introducing a speech from Felix Hufeld, the President of Germany's top finance regulator BaFin.

Hufeld said that firms operating across both the EU and UK post-Brexit have many regulatory options — a branch could be converted to a subsidiary or a headquarters moved to a new location, for example — which creates a headache for regulators and firms alike.

Sam Woods, the head of the PRA, told Reuters last month that it expects 130 European firms to apply for regulation in Britain to ensure uninterrupted services to UK clients post-Brexit.

Hufeld said that all parties "have to assume" that the UK is heading for "a so-called cliff-edge" Brexit because of the lack of progress on negotiations.

"Since, like everybody else, we regulators don’t know what the situation will be in April 2019, we have to think in terms of scenarios and hope for the best and prepare for the worst," Hufeld said.

Four of Britain's five biggest lobby groups wrote to the government over the weekend to demand more clarity over Brexit, warning of "wide-reaching and damaging consequences for investment and trade" unless a transition deal is agreed imminently.

Firms are expected to begin executing contingency plans early next year and Hufeld said: "Have we hit the point of no return? I don't think so. But we're getting closer. I think somewhere around early next year."

Asked after his speech about the PRA rumours, Hufeld said he had "heard the same thing" but said it was "premature" to estimate how much capital banks would need for Brexit.

Hufeld's speech highlighted just where the costs may come from, as he said: "Banks that are planning a comprehensive division of work between offices in London and the EU need to transplant and split up their ecosystem established over the years. That means IT infrastructure, knowledge, process, people, and a lot of other things."

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Bitcoin and Gold Exchange Vaultoro Withdraws from New York Agreement

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

[…]

The post Bitcoin and Gold Exchange Vaultoro Withdraws from New York Agreement appeared first on CryptoCoinsNews.

DEA Report: Bitcoin Used for Trade-Based Money Laundering

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

The Drug Enforcement Agency said bitcoin is helping criminal organizations launder money to China in its latest threat assessment report.

Tesla pro-union leaders march into the company's Fremont factory demanding some fired workers be rehired (TSLA)

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

Tesla pro-union demonstration October 24

  • Leaders seeking to unionize Tesla employees held a rally at the company's Fremont, California, factory on Tuesday.
  • The group denounced recent firings at Tesla and accused the company of targeting workers who previously complained about working conditions at the factory.
  • A Tesla spokesperson rejected the union supporters' claims but said the company "respects their right" to protest.
  • A number of Tesla employees were fired earlier this month after a round of performance reviews, as the company struggles to ramp up Model 3 production.

Leaders seeking to unionize Tesla workers demonstrated at Tesla's factory in Fremont, California, on Tuesday afternoon in protest of recent firings at the company.

The group, which included some fired workers and community leaders, delivered a letter to Tesla denouncing the firings, accusing the company of targeting employees who complained about working conditions at the factory, and asking that those employees be reinstated.

"We see Tesla as an important company for our regional economy, employing thousands of workers in the extended Bay Area who are proud to be building a zero-emission electric car," the pro-union letter reads in part. "Given its importance, we expect Tesla to be a responsible employer that leads with fair treatment of its workers."

The letter goes on to cite a formal complaint the National Labor Relations Board filed against Tesla in August that alleged the company violated workers' rights by discouraging efforts to unionize.

Here's video of Tuesday's pro-union demonstration:

A Tesla spokesperson responded to the demonstrations Tuesday night in an email to Business Insider, saying in part: "At Tesla, we strive to be a fair and just company, the only kind worth being. No one at Tesla has ever or will ever have any action taken against them based on their feelings on unionization."

"Some employees recently left Tesla, but what has not been reported is that a much larger number — 17% of our employees — were promoted, and almost half of those promotions were within our factory in Fremont."

Earlier this month, scores of Tesla employees were fired after a round of performance reviews, the company said. The timing of the firings raised alarms because Tesla missed its September production goals for the newly released Model 3, Tesla's first mass-market electric car. The company produced just 260 Model 3s in September, falling far short of its stated goal to crank out 1,500 that month.

Tesla said it wants to ramp up to 20,000 Model 3s per month by December, a goal that seemed unlikely as the company struggled with "production bottlenecks" related to the new entry level car.

Read the pro-union group's full letter to Tesla below:

"We write you as members of the communities of the Bay Area to express deep concerns about the firings of hundreds of Tesla employees in recent weeks.

We see Tesla as an important company for our regional economy, employing thousands of workers in the extended Bay Area who are proud to be building a zero-emission electric car. Given its importance, we expect Tesla to be a responsible employer that leads with fair treatment of its workers. Among the fired workers are people who have raised their voices with concerns about health and safety risks, fair pay and the right to organize free from intimidation, and we are concerned that these workers may have been unjustly fired for doing so. We are calling for reinstatement of these workers and fair treatment for all employees.

Our concerns about the mass firings are deepened knowing that the National Labor Relations Board has alleged that Tesla has hindered workers in the exercise of their right to organize and speak out. Moreover, we find the mass firings surprising given that Tesla is in “production hell” and has fallen behind its stated goals for producing the Model 3.

We want to help Tesla succeed in building the cars of the future. We believe the best way to achieve that goal is to collaborate with its workers and the broader community in ensuring good, safe jobs where workers can fulfill their potential without intimidation."

Read Tesla's full statement below:

"At Tesla, we strive to be a fair and just company, the only kind worth being. No one at Tesla has ever or will ever have any action taken against them based on their feelings on unionization. Some employees recently left Tesla, but what has not been reported is that a much larger number — 17% of our employees — were promoted, and almost half of those promotions were within our factory in Fremont. We are a company where people can be promoted as quickly as their talents and work allow. It is not unexpected that union supporters would protest any decision we make, including this one, and we respect their right to do so."

SEE ALSO: Scores of Tesla employees fired just as the Model 3 ramp-up gets underway

DON'T MISS Tesla strikes another deal that shows it's about to turn the car insurance world upside down

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One of the biggest cannabis tech companies is such a mess dispensaries had to suspend business and record sales by hand

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

Cannabis dispensary

  • MJ Freeway, a seed-to-sale tracking software platform, suffered an outage this weekend forcing many Pennsylvania businesses to suspend operations
  • Washington's cannabis regulator also announced that MJ Freeway wouldn't meet an October 31 deadline, and Nevada dropped them 2 years into a 5 year contract
  • MJ Freeway was hacked multiple times earlier this year, and some speculate that the company's code is publicly available on The Pirate Bay 

 

MJ Freeway, a seed-to-sale tracking software platform for the cannabis industry, has struggled in recent months with hacks and outages, forcing some dispensaries to record sales by hand.

The company — which was offered a $10.4 million contract from the Pennsylvania government in April — suffered major disruptions on Saturday and Monday, forcing Pennsylvania's medical marijuana dispensaries to suspend business, and others to record sales and customer data by hand, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. 

Seed-to-sale reporting is an important step for bringing legitimacy to the nascent cannabis industry, as well as helping businesses navigate the often byzantine regulations on a state-by-state basis.

Cannabis is legal in some form in 29 states, and each state has its own specific rules about what data businesses need to report to regulators. 

This week's outage was hardly MJ Freeway's first misstep.

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board announced that MJ Freeway will fail to meet an October 31 deadline to run the state's cannabis tracking software. And, in September, Nevada — where recreational marijuana was recently legalized and business is booming — canceled its contract with MJ Freeway just two years into a five-year deal, and handed the state's business to Metrc, a rival seed-to-sale tracking firm. 

Jeannette Ward, a vice-president at MJ Freeway, told Business Insider in an email that the outages impacted their GramTracker inventory management product, and that the company took the sites offline to resolve the issue. MJ Freeway's enterprise product platform, which handles payroll and other human resources issues for businesses, wasn't impacted, Ward said.

Ward provided the following statement to Business Insider:

"On Saturday afternoon and Monday afternoon, we observed performance issues with our legacy Tracker software product. All client sites were taken offline for a period of time on Saturday evening and Monday afternoon to resolve the issues as quickly as possible. On both days, service was restored within a few hours, and client sites are currently live."

"MJ Freeway engineers made caching system changes to prevent a recurring caching issue, in addition to other changes to address performance and prevent this from recurring. Clients have been communicated with via phone and email with updates. There was no impact to MJ Platform, the recently launched enterprise technology."

Many of MJ Freeway's issues can be sourced to an ongoing series of hacks to the software. 

In June, the company's source code was stolen and published on Reddit. And, in January, MJ Freeway was the target of a hack that caused the company's software to crash and businesses to lose valuable customer data, according to the Cannabis Industry Journal, a business-to-business publication.

MJ Freeway was the target of a sophisticated phishing scheme in September that offered private information about their Washington clients' businesses. 

Users on active subreddit, R/WeedBiz, speculated that MJ Freeway's stolen source code was posted on The Pirate Bay, a torrent site, exposing the company to a risk of getting continually hacked. Business Insider raised this question to MJ Freeway but has not yet received a response. 

SEE ALSO: A massive deal in the cannabis industry just imploded after a CEO was fired

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NOW WATCH: Gary Shilling calls bitcoin a black box and says he doesn't invest in things he doesn't understand

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