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Alex Rodriguez said that this is the best advice his 'mentor' Warren Buffett ever gave him

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

warren buffett

  • Former baseball star Alex Rodriguez told Vanity Fair that he struck up a friendship with Warren Buffett after the legendary investor helped underwrite his massive contract in 2000.
  • Buffett said that Rodriguez has a "money mind" and would've been a successful businessman "if he had never seen a baseball."
  • Rodriguez said there were two big pieces of business advice and two big pieces of life advice Buffett gave him.


Alex Rodriguez, the former Major League Baseball All-star, said he owes a few debts to legendary investor Warren Buffett in a new Vanity Fair profile.

According to a new piece on Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez, the former player and current baseball broadcaster not only owes Buffett a bit of a financial thank you, but also a thank you for some life advice.

Rodriguez and the man known as the "Oracle of Omaha" first met, according to Vanity Fair, when Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway underwrote disability insurance for a 10-year, $252 million contract between the Texas Rangers and Rodriguez.

The men struck up a friendship after Rodriguez sent the legendary investor a note thanking him for underwriting the deal. According to Vanity Fair, Buffett has been a "mentor" for Rodriguez and offered him both financial and personal advice.

Buffett told Vanity Fair's Bethany McLean that Rodriguez has a "money mind" and knows how to handle business "instinctively."

"A-Rod would have done very well in business if he had never seen a baseball," Buffett said.

Rodriguez said that Buffett gave him a few pieces of advice that have stuck with him. On the business side, A-Rod said that Buffett taught him to never personally guarantee any debt and to never hold too much cash, but rather put "your money in great businesses."

On the personal side, Rodriguez said that the investor's advice was even more simple.

"Warren said, ‘Go ahead, but you won’t need it. Number one: Be the best baseball player you can be. Number two: Always be a gentleman. Be the best guy you can be'," Rodriguez told Vanity Fair. "That was simple, but it was so genius."

Read the full profile at Vanity Fair»

SEE ALSO: Warren Buffett's eating habits can teach you a lot about his investing strategy

Join the conversation about this story »

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

Setting Bitcoin’s Price Mechanism: CME Group to Launch BTC Futures

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

Setting Bitcoin’s Price Mechanism: CME Group to Launch BTC Futures

On the anniversary of the publication of Satoshi Nakamoto’s Bitcoin white paper, the price of Bitcoin reached a new all-time high, following the news that CME Group, one of the world’s largest derivatives exchanges, will launch a Bitcoin futures product on November 14, 2017.

Futures or derivatives in general are understood by their relationship to risk. They are investment products that can be bought and sold in the future based on being pinned to a fixed price through a contractual agreement. Basing futures off another fixed price allows investors to avoid financial risk or assume it for profit during price fluctuations.

Like most futures, CME’s Bitcoin futures product will be cash-settled, based on the CME CF Bitcoin Reference Rate (BRR). According to CME, the BRR is a standardized reference rate, which — along with a bitcoin spot price index, the CME CF Bitcoin Real Time Index (BRTI) — “accelerat[es] the professionalization of bitcoin trading.”

Like most other financial institutions exploring cryptocurrency, CME is launching a Bitcoin futures product to both satisfy client interests and investigate the rewards of testing blockchain technology’s “transparency, price discovery and risk transfer capabilities,” as noted by Group Chairman and Chief Executive Terry Duffy.

The BRR and BRTI are two tools that have become consistent and reliable price references for bitcoin globally. The BRR has been calculated and published by CME and Crypto Facilities Ltd. since November 2016. Designed according to the IOSCO Principles of Financial Benchmarks, the BRR computes price by compiling and calculating data from a number of Bitcoin exchanges including Bitstamp, GDAX, itBit and Kraken.

The implications of this Bitcoin futures product launch are far-reaching. It signifies both mainstream network adoption and a reduction in price volatility. As an investment product, it can readily fit into the stock portfolio of a traditional investor.

The post Setting Bitcoin’s Price Mechanism: CME Group to Launch BTC Futures appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Some of the biggest trading firms in the world are getting in on the bitcoin business

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

cboe eurodollar traders

  • Two of the largest exchange groups in the world are aiming to launch bitcoin derivatives in the fourth quarter.
  • High frequency trading firms DRW and Virtu Financial are looking to provide liquidity in bitcoin futures. Quantlab, another HFT, is also looking at the market.

 

Two of the largest exchange groups in the world are aiming to launch bitcoin futures this year, and at least two big trading firms are looking to provide liquidity to the would-be market. 

CME Group, the largest exchange group in the world, announced Tuesday it would aim to roll out bitcoin futures. And Cboe, its cross-town rival, also has bitcoin derivatives in the works. Futures are contracts that allow two parties to exchange an asset at a specified price at an agreed upon date in the future. 

The launch of bitcoin futures by establishment exchanges is likely to open the door to wider participation in bitcoin trading. Most Wall Street trading firms are already plugged in to CME and Cboe, for example, and trade actively there.

"A broader set of proprietary trading firms may find the volatility of bitcoin appealing but also like the plug and play aspect of a CBOE product," Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts said in a note prior to news of the CME bitcoin futures. 

Virtu, a publicly-traded high-frequency trader, has met the product development team at CME, and is set to be a liquidity provider, a person familiar with the matter told Business Insider.

Bobby Cho, Head of OTC Trading at Cumberland, a bitcoin mining subsidiary of DRW, another trading firm, said in an email that the firm would be involved "anywhere there is significant volume and size in these markets."

He said: 

"This is an interesting development in the bitcoin space because it potentially accelerates the pace of involvement of more traditional financial firms. Many already have connections into exchanges like CME, and this is just another product they can plug into. On another front, this likely accelerates the opportunity for a bitcoin ETF to come to market. All of this new activity will open up the market to a different segment of investors who may have been sitting on the sidelines waiting for these types of offerings, allowing them to express their point of view. As the largest liquidity provider in cryptocurrencies, Cumberland will be involved anywhere there is significant volume and size in these markets."

Bradley S. Jonas, chief business development officer at Quantlab, a Texas-based trading firm, told Business Insider that the firm is watching the CME and Cboe bitcoin efforts with interest, but that it's unlikely to be a "day one mover." Jonas said the firm speaks regularly with CME and that he is set to reach out to them on their strategy for bitcoin futures soon. 

"When there's a new product we watch," Jonas said. "If it's profitable then by all means we jump in."

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

Bitcoin Price Boom Sees Students Flocking to Take Cryptocurrency Courses

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

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The post Bitcoin Price Boom Sees Students Flocking to Take Cryptocurrency Courses appeared first on CryptoCoinsNews.

These 5 companies are using Ethereum to completely reinvent the backend of the internet

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

IMG_9813.JPG

If you ask a room full of blockchain enthusiasts how the technology will affect the internet, the answers range from "a lot" to "more than you can even imagine." 

Such responses were easy to elicit at the Ethereal conference in San Francisco on Friday. The gathering is a a day-long event for the founders, engineers, and enthusiastic users of a blockchain protocol called Ethereum

Blockchain technology — also known as  smart contract, or digital ledger technology — is the digital system behind bitcoin and a number of other unrelated applications. The technology isn't yet in widespread use, but many experts and enthusiasts believe it will soon become a pervasive new layer of the internet, underlying everything from payments to legal contracts to users' identities.

Many have pinned their hopes for the future impact of blockchain technologies on Ethereum. The protocol underlies a cryptocurrency called ether, which is bought and sold on many of the same exchanges where bitcoin is traded. But enthusiasts believe its real potential is as a foundation for new tools and services.

Ethereum has some obstacles to overcome before it becomes a world-changer. As of June, the protocol could only handle about 13 transactions per second. That's far shy of what Visa can handle, much less the giant online networks. Facebook, for example, handles about 175,000 requests each second.

Still, people are routing around Ethereum's limitations and are already developing unique and interesting projects using or related to the technology.

Here are five of those projects, as explained by the people behind them:

SEE ALSO: Silicon Valley is hot on a new cryptocurrency that could become worth 100 times its current value

Keeping track of volunteer work and other socially beneficial activities

Organization: ixo Foundation

What it's working on: CEO Anne Connelly and her team are developing a blockchain product that lets people log and then verify their volunteer jobs, charitable activities, and socially beneficial work, such as how many trees they planted, or how many hours they tutored a child. Once their activities have been verified in the system, the blockchain record of them can be used to apply for grants and subsidies.

How its system is being used: As a pilot project, ixo worked with UNICEF to build an app called Amply to help teachers in South Africa take attendance. The government there subsidizes preschool for lower-income kids, but the subsidies are based on attendance. Normally, teachers have to take roll on paper and then physically submit their roll sheets, a time-consuming process. The app allowed teachers to quickly and easily take attendance on their mobile phones instead.

The outlook on blockchain technology: "I think it's going to be massively pervasive in a year or two," Connelly said. "Typically they say with this level of innovation it takes a lot longer to happen then we expect, but when it does, it's much more impactful." 



Digitizing the power grid to offer lower cost electricity

Company: GridPlus

What it's building: Lead Architect Matt Walters and his team are developing a virtual energy grid that will sit on top of the national energy system. Once deployed, GridPlus will sell energy to consumers at a small premium to wholesale prices. 

The energy will be distributed using tokens — essentially, digital coins — which can be saved or passed to other people if they're not used. Since tokens are easily divisible, Walters said users will be able to pay in smaller fractions than they can with dollars. For example, a consumer could use her tokens to just pay what it costs to illuminate a single lightbulb for 15 minutes, something that would amount to a small fraction of a cent. 

How its system will be used: GridPlus will start off as a retail energy provider in Texas, whose deregulated energy market is easy for companies to enter. The company's goal is to eventually cover the entire country. It's also working with Tokyo on a similar project.

The outlook on blockchain technology: "I think all of this will happen in the next two years. It's not even far out," Walters said.

"Already we're seeing that blockchains, especially Ethereum, because of its ability to facilitate these token launches, is providing access to liquid capital for the purpose of building new businesses that far exceeded what existed before, be it in investment banking, venture capital or private equity," he said. 



Helping investors manage their cryptocurrency stashes

Company: Omega One

What it's building: Chief Technology Officer Alex Gordon-Brander and his team are designing a professional-grade system that will allow investors to trade different kinds of cryptocurrencies through various exchanges in one central place and will show them all of their account balances. 

How its system will be used: Omega One is aiming its system at professional traders, investors, and institutions to help them manage their cryptocurrency portfolios.  

The outlook on blockchain technology: It will be "five years or 10 years" before it's in widespread use, said Gordon-Brander. 

"When you change fundamental things around, like how human beings organize and how human beings change value, that translates to changes in every sector of society," he said. He added that the kinds of changes that blockchain technology will spur "are, in some ways, as hard to predict as the current internet landscape would have been in 1995 or '98."



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Launching a Cryptocurrency “Token Generation Event” (aka an ICO)

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

Ethereal ICO panel

On October 27, 2017, disruptors in the cryptocurrency field gathered at the San Francisco Ethereal SummitSponsored by ConsenSys, the summit provided a diverse mix of panels and workshops that demystified the “initial coin offering” (ICO) or “token generation event.”


Side note: Vernacular is key. Referring to a token launch as an ICO is so "September." The process is now referred to as a “token generation event.”


At the “How to Launch a Token” panel, token generation event veterans Galia Benartzi (co-founder of Bancor Protocol), Matt Liston (CSO at Gnosis) and Piotr Janiuk (co-founder and CTO of the Golem Project) guided Ethereal participants through a hypothetical: founding a hat company and funding the development through a token. Here are some of the key points that they discussed.

Step 1: Determine if the token model fits for the new company

Imagine the whole process backward: What layer does the company involve — application, platform or protocol? Design the decentralized concept first and then discern if a token is necessary.

Criteria:

  • Is the project based on a decentralized model? If not, equity funding is a viable option –– no need for a token.

  • What is the token’s utility within the network? How are customers involved in the network? For example, is the token facilitating and incentivizing collaboration between the community in the network? If so, tokens (similar to shares and equity in a normal company) are a great way to distribute participation among stakeholders.

Tokens work best when fueling network effects around ideas –– when there are benefits to being an early adapter/stakeholder.

Step 2: Find a strong legal team and a favorable regulatory environment

Regulation in the cryptocurrency space is in its infancy and varies greatly around the world.

Criteria:

  • Find a competent lawyer with an understanding of the space that can give risk parameters. It is important to minimize risk for the project.

  • Select a government that defines clear boundaries and has a forward-thinking mentality.

Although blockchains and cryptocurrency promise decentralized disruption to all industries, anarchy would be unfavorable to all. All companies must comply with the law.

Step 3:  Work on the prototype phase

Establish a white paper, set up the concept on the testnet and prove the concept.

Criteria:

  • White paper: describe your network, protocol and model. White papers should strike the proper balance between being math-heavy and marketing-heavy. The goal is for users and stakeholders to understand exactly what the network is doing.

  • Prove that your concept works and expose its source code. Everything should be 100 percent transparent to the public.

  • Trustless (trust forced through code) and transparent networks are critical to long-term success. Secure and validate data by rewarding “oracles,” people who provide trustworthy answers and validate that events did in fact occur. On the flip side, penalize those who lie to the network.

Trust and transparency are paramount for any company that is considering funding its development with a token.

Step 4: Connect with the community

Generating interest for the token and setting the foundation for strong community support before finally launching a token generation event to the public is crucial.

Criteria:

  • Develop a public-relation strategy. Share as much as possible. Post videos, host AMAs, etc. This process can be grueling, but it is necessary to establish a global presence and field questions.

  • Prepare for a fast-paced environment. Communication builds authenticity and credibility with supporters around the world.

  • Listen to outside perspectives and criticisms.

Because token generation events allow for decentralized methods of funding, the company’s diligence process should be decentralized to match.

Tokens generation events are complicated and don’t work for every business type. However, they unlock a new economic driver: permissionless venture capital.

The post Launching a Cryptocurrency “Token Generation Event” (aka an ICO) appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Op Ed: Slovenia Primed to Become a Blockchain Haven

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

Op Ed: Slovenia Primed to Become a Blockchain Haven

The prime minister of Slovenia’s speech in support of blockchain technology this week has solidified the country’s position as the leading blockchain destination in the European Union and a key player in the regulatory field.

“After the difficult ordeal of the economic crisis … we are coming back to life, we are growing again, and we are finding that we are creating numerous success stories, which inspire us but also obligate us,” said Prime Minister Miro Cerar. “We have emerged from the crisis stronger. I believe that using blockchain technology, you too will contribute to the writing of a new Slovenian success story.”

The first clear signal that the government was prepared to make some serious moves was during July’s Blockchain Meetup Slovenia 2017, which hosted more than 300 blockchain enthusiasts. Since then, Slovenia has made significant strides in its efforts to become the EU’s key blockchain-friendly destination.

Prime Minister Miro Cerar’s recognition of Slovenia’s blockchain community as involving some of the globally leading developers and entrepreneurs shows the willingness of politicians and regulators at the highest level to understand these opportunities and act quickly. Indeed, five months mean little in the typical context of government and regulation.

Step by step, the distributed economy is becoming a true alternative to centralized systems. The new and ever-arising services are boundless, and go far beyond Bitcoin and into the fields of banking, insurance, new models of creating and sharing content, and more. This globally connected ecosystem already has a market valuation in excess of 140 billion ($163 billion USD).

At the core of a decentralized future is the persistent issue of blockchain regulation. Historically, the law has struggled to keep up with revolutionary technology. As Slovenia’s president, Borut Pahor, also emphasized this week, the age-old question for regulators remains: How can we protect citizens without stifling technological innovation? This is a particularly important question for the country from which the most significant EU blockchain companies originate, including ICONOMI, Cofound.it and Bitstamp, and the country with the highest market capitalization per capita of blockchain projects. We believe that self-regulation, education and raising awareness are important steps toward a safe and innovative business environment.

To address regulatory challenges, Cofound.it, together with blockchain legal specialist Nejc Novak, founder of law firm Novak Rutar, has spent the past five months working intensively with a diverse range of stakeholders, including the Cabinet of the Prime Minister, the Securities Agency, the Financial Administration, the Office for Money Laundering Prevention, the Central Bank, the Ministry of Public Administration and the Ministry of Finance, to clarify a number of key legal uncertainties. As a result, Cofound.it, in partnership with Rutar, is now able to provide robust legal advice to blockchain projects so that entrepreneurs can focus on their products and their user communities, rather than on accounting, compliance and other operational issues.

Slovenian entrepreneurs were early movers in the blockchain industry, and Slovenian blockchain specialists are well-placed to facilitate a workable legal framework for national, European and even global blockchain regulation. Today, Ljubljana is a vibrant market of developers, advisers, investors and savvy businesspeople with some of the most in-depth knowledge and understanding of blockchain technology in the world.

The Slovenian blockchain community is already making leaps and bounds toward a regulatory framework. DataFund, a personal data management solution, will launch later this year in partnership with Cofound.it. This local project is a first example of blockchain utilization and in compliance with the EU General Data Protection Regulation.

The prime minister’s acknowledgment of Slovenia’s advancements in blockchain technology is a welcome move toward wider policy discussions within a rapidly expanding industry. By making some wise and future-focused strategic decisions, Slovenia is already well on its way to becoming one of the most desirable destinations for global blockchain startups.

This is a guest post by Zenel Batagelj, Co-Founder and Head of Team Strategy at Cofound.it. The views expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Media or Bitcoin Magazine.

The post Op Ed: Slovenia Primed to Become a Blockchain Haven appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Tesla jumps more than 3% after reportedly solving its Model 3 bottleneck (TSLA)

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

tesla factory

  • Tesla's partner, Panasonic, says the automaker has figured out its production problems with the Model 3.
  • The company should be able to make vehicles much faster now. 
  • Tesla closed up 3.28% on Tuesday.


Tesla shares jumped 3.28% on Tuesday to $330.94 a piece after the company's battery production partner said that it has solved its production bottleneck.

On the company's earnings call, Panasonic's CEO said the production bottlenecks that previously held back the car maker are understood and that the number of vehicles Tesla can manufacture would "rise sharply," according to Reuters.

Tesla and Panasonic are partners in the Gigafactory, with the latter helping Tesla manufacture the batteries for its Model 3 vehicles. Some parts of the battery production process had to be completed by hand, which hobbled production of the company's first mass-market vehicle, Reuters says. Tesla produced just 260 Model 3s in the third quarter when it had been targeting 1,500 for September alone.

Tesla has previously said that production was being held up by a bottleneck, but Panasonic's CEO confirmed the bottleneck was located at the companies' Gigafactory.

Tesla is up 53.29% this year and reports its earnings after the bell on Wednesday. Wall Street is expecting an adjusted loss of $2.23 per share on revenues of $2.928 billion, according to data from Bloomberg.

Read more about Tesla's Model 3 production here.

tesla stock price

SEE ALSO: Tesla is struggling with Model 3 production because of delays at its massive Gigafactory

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

Tesla jumps more than 3% after reportedly solving its Model 3 bottleneck (TSLA)

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

tesla factory

  • Tesla's partner, Panasonic, says the automaker has figured out its production problems with the Model 3.
  • The company should be able to make vehicles much faster now. 
  • Tesla closed up 3.28% on Tuesday.


Tesla shares jumped 3.28% on Tuesday to $330.94 a piece after the company's battery production partner said that it has solved its production bottleneck.

On the company's earnings call, Panasonic's CEO said the production bottlenecks that previously held back the car maker are understood and that the number of vehicles Tesla can manufacture would "rise sharply," according to Reuters.

Tesla and Panasonic are partners in the Gigafactory, with the latter helping Tesla manufacture the batteries for its Model 3 vehicles. Some parts of the battery production process had to be completed by hand, which hobbled production of the company's first mass-market vehicle, Reuters says. Tesla produced just 260 Model 3s in the third quarter when it had been targeting 1,500 for September alone.

Tesla has previously said that production was being held up by a bottleneck, but Panasonic's CEO confirmed the bottleneck was located at the companies' Gigafactory.

Tesla is up 53.29% this year and reports its earnings after the bell on Wednesday. Wall Street is expecting an adjusted loss of $2.23 per share on revenues of $2.928 billion, according to data from Bloomberg.

Read more about Tesla's Model 3 production here.

tesla stock price

SEE ALSO: Tesla is struggling with Model 3 production because of delays at its massive Gigafactory

Join the conversation about this story »

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

STOCKS CLIMB, NASDAQ HITS RECORD HIGH: Here's what you need to know

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

confetti new years eve celebraton

All three major US stock indexes were in the green Tuesday, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq leading the way and hitting an all-time closing high.

We've got all the headlines, but first, the scoreboard:

  • Dow: 23,377.97, +29.23, (+0.12%)
  • S&P 500: 2,575.26, +2.33, (+0.09%)
  • Nasdaq: 6,727.67, +28.71, (+0.43%)
  1. Under Armour got crushed after earnings. The sport apparel company saw its stock sink roughly 21% after posting mixed third quarter earnings and slashing guidance for the rest of the year. Under Armour now sees full-year adjusted earnings per share of $0.18 to $0.20, well below its previous forecast of $0.37 to $0.40.
  2. CME Group will launch futures products for bitcoin. The exchange giant said the futures trading will be open by the end of the year. The announcement also comes just a month after CME CEO Bryan Durkin said that the company would not get into bitcoin in the "short-term."
  3. Rockwell Automation jumps after reports that it received a buyout offer from Emerson Electric. Rockwell confirmed it turned down an offer for $107.50 per share in cash and 225 million shares of Emerson common stock. The deal would have been worth about $27.5 billion.
  4. President Donald Trump laid out his timeline for tax reform the day before house GOP debut their bill. Trump said he wants the bill passed in the House by Thanksgiving and on his desk, finalized, by Christmas.
  5. Canada's GDP unexpectedly went negativeCanada's GDP fell by 0.1% month-over-month in August following the prior month's flat reading of 0.0%. Economists were expecting GDP to tick up by 0.1%.

Additionally:

It's gotten a whole lot more expensive to die in America

Here's everything you need to know about Jerome Powell, Trump's likely pick to lead the Federal Reserve

The top GOP tax writer laid out the plan to win over a key group of Republicans worried about the tax plan

Facebook also showed Russia-linked ads on other websites

A lawsuit over price fixing by drugmakers is being massively expanded

'The days of glory' are over: Analysts say Under Armour has lost its way

SEE ALSO: The 'mother of all causes' for the record-setting stock market is also everyone's biggest fear

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Watch billionaire Jack Ma sing his heart out during a surprise performance at a music festival

Creating a Blockchain-Based Network of Interoperable Artificial Intelligences

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

Creating a Blockchain-Based Network of Interoperable Artificial Intelligences

Artificial Intelligence (AI) startup SingularityNET, recently covered by Wired as “the most tech-hype idea of the year,” wants to democratize AI research and facilitate the emergence of human-level AI on a decentralized, open-source platform.

SingularityNET operates on a belief that the benefits of AI should not be dominated by any small set of powerful institutions but should be shared by all. A key goal of SingularityNET is to ensure the technology is benevolent according to human standards, and the network is being designed to incentivize and reward beneficial players. The startup is developing interoperability standards for AIs, which could radically improve the process of discovering and coordinating AI services, while allowing developers to easily monetize AI technology.

SingularityNET positions itself both as a critical mediator across all future AI developments, as well as a hub for free and open AI technologies owned by the crowd, where anyone can acquire or monetize AI services.

Blockchain-based smart contracts will be central to SingularityNET operations, allowing users to combine multiple AI technologies to create custom AI stacks. The initial implementation of SingularityNET will be built on Ethereum, with smart contracts written in Solidity.

“AI is currently very fragmented and narrowly trained,” Simone Giacomelli, founder of Vulpem and co-founder of SingularityNET, told Bitcoin Magazine. “Blockchain technology and smart contracts make economic collaboration over the internet easier than ever before, aligning incentives mechanisms for different AIs to be optimized as one. SingularityNET leverages this collaborative power to make AI work together.”

SingularityNET is the brainchild of AI researcher Ben Goertzel and robotics designer David Hanson, founder of Hanson Robotics. The robot Sophia, developed by Hanson Robotics, attracted media attention when it was recently granted citizenship in Saudi Arabia.

While the SingularityNET project is still partly in stealth mode, it has been presented at recent blockchain events, including Wired’s Nextfest in Italy, SWITCH Singapore and the World Blockchain Forum in London.

At the recent Ethereal Summit in San Francisco, Goertzel showcased Sophia to demonstrate the power of AI and the potential of incorporating AI and blockchain technology to create a decentralized, open-source, blockchain-powered AI network that operates like, and can be thought of as, a thinking brain.

While on the SingularityNET roadshow, Goertzel is taking time from his busy schedule to write a series of posts on SingularityNET.

“SingularityNET is intended as a platform in which an AGI [Artificial General Intelligence] can emerge from the combination of multiple humans and multiple human-created software programs, possessing varying degrees of general intelligence on their own,” Goertzel told Bitcoin Magazine. “It doesn't eliminate the need for fundamental algorithmic work on AGI reasoning and learning and memory, but it provides a context in which such algorithmic work can have a rapid, transformative impact.”

Goertzel makes a distinction between narrow AI and Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). While narrow AI programs are finding applications in a growing range of industries, they are not effectively integrated into overall AGI systems with general-purpose intelligence like that of humans. Therefore, Goertzel is persuaded that the next big step in the evolution of AI is going to be the transition from AI to AGI. SingularityNET wants to support this transition with an open market in which various AI algorithms can cooperate and form new patterns of emergent intelligence.

“The actual design that has been formulated is a quite practical system that is being implemented in quality software code and will serve real corporate customers and become a large and lucrative business,” continued Goertzel. “But at the deepest level, the underlying philosophical and emotional motivations David Hanson and I had for creating SingularityNET, are transhumanist ones.”

Goertzel and Hanson are, in fact, among the leading advocates of transhumanism, defined as the prospect of using advanced technology to radically change, hopefully for the better, the human condition. Enabling transhumanist technologies would include life extension, uploading human minds to futuristic supercomputers, and sentient AGI way smarter than humans, which is the target of SingularityNET.

In his 2010 book A Cosmist Manifesto, which blends transhumanist technology and enlightened spirituality, Goertzel proposed a practical philosophy able to inform the next phases of human history and transhumanist evolution.

Ultimately, Goertzel wants to create “a massively transhuman, overwhelmingly beneficial Ubermind” that evolves and grows continuously out of human mind and culture.

“One way to achieve this would be to via brain-computer interfacing — and this is going to happen,” Goertzel told Bitcoin Magazine. “Of course the computer portion of cyborgs made with brain-computer interfaces will jack into this emerging AGI society, economy and culture as well, and then we will get a supermind.”

“This emerging supermind, as it grows, will provide ways for people to earn a living and sometimes even generate tremendous wealth, as part of its growth process,” concluded Goertzel. “And it will donate parts of its resources to the common good of all humans, including underprivileged ones, as a way of helping drive its growth forward toward its objectives of joy, growth and choice.”

Goertzel shared with Bitcoin Magazine parts of the draft SingularityNET white paper, a living document still under tight wraps.

“A blockchain-based framework designed to serve the needs of AI agents as they interact with each other and with external customers can enable the emergence of a collective intelligence,” notes the draft white paper. “The use of cryptocurrency and blockchain for AI services provides a number of advantages. It allows AI agents to exchange work and subcontract with a high degree of flexibility, and also enables AI-based microservices to be offered to any customer via easily accessible APIs (enabled by smart contracts under the hood).”

Goertzel, Hanson and the SingularityNET team want to balance long-term visionary thinking with practical market needs and business concerns. In their view, the platform could enable AIs to learn from each other and collaborate, which would be one of the biggest breakthroughs ever in the evolution of AI, causing a subsequent impact on the global AI market, which is projected to grow from $233.8 billion in 2017 to $3.1 trillion in 2025.

“From day one, SingularityNET will offer AI agents,” continues the white paper. “The open design of the network, and the economic incentives, should then encourage additional AI developers to add their own AI nodes via the SingularityNET API.”

While many nodes will run on powerful supercomputers in the cloud, others will be embedded in Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and humanoid robots like Sophia will be supplied with on-board SingularityNET nodes. The upcoming SingularityNET token, details of which haven’t been disclosed yet, will play a central role in the network’s operations.

The project is about to launch an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) to fund the full development of its platform, to be fully deployed in 2018. “This ICO will allow us to start with a bang,” said Goertzel. “We'll be competing with Google and Facebook...so having a war chest would allow us to take on them more easily.”

The post Creating a Blockchain-Based Network of Interoperable Artificial Intelligences appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

MORGAN STANLEY: Disney's new streaming service could be worth $25 billion (DIS)

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

shanghai disney


Disney’s new streaming service could draw in 30 million subscribers in the next 10 years, valuing it at $25 billion, according to a Morgan Stanley note.

The company is poised to make a significant reach into the 1 billion global pay-TV household market, given its exclusive rights to new films, large library offerings, and a share of Netflix’s subscriber growth, which Morgan Stanley forecasts to be 10% to 12% in 2028. Back in August, Disney announced it was ending its exclusive Netflix deal in 2019 in favor starting up its own streaming service. 

If, and when, Disney hits 30 million subscribers, the streaming service could generate $5 billion in revenue and roughly $1.5 billion of EBITDA, culminating in a $20 billion to $25 billion asset. 

“Disney's brands and content depth and breadth give it a unique opportunity among existing content producers to build a large global customer base in a direct to consumer streaming model,” Benjamin Swinburne, an equity analyst at Morgan Stanley, wrote.

Its competitive advantage over other direct-to-consumer streaming businesses is its well-known brands (especially Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars), and its track record of both a good quality content and a good quantity of content that is sure to support its offerings, Swinburne says.

However, he notes that the market's view of Disney is that it "has not proven any core competency" compared to its peers, and how it deals with technology, customer service and marketing has yet to be tested. Investors are also wary of Disney's decision to pull out of its exclusive movie deal with Netflix in 2019, further harming the company's potential of tapping into Netflix's vast subscriber base.

Disney shares are down 0.35% at $97.70. 

To read more about why Disney's stock is having a tough time, click here.

Disney stock price

SEE ALSO: Traders are betting billions against Disney

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

SEC Alleges Day Trader Used Bitcoin Hide Fraud Profits

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

The SEC is suing a Philadelphia day trader for alleged fraud, claiming the individual used bitcoin to hide the profits they generated.

Bitcoin Price Soars to All-Time High After CME Group Announces Bitcoin Futures Contracts

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

[…]

The post Bitcoin Price Soars to All-Time High After CME Group Announces Bitcoin Futures Contracts appeared first on CryptoCoinsNews.

Survey: Younger Americans More Interested in Cryptocurrencies, ICOs

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

A new survey released today found that 31.6 percent of Americans have heard of ethereum, while only 22.1 percent have have heard of ripple.

Bitcoin ABC Proposes November Hard Fork to Stabilize Bitcoin Cash Mining Difficulty

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

[…]

The post Bitcoin ABC Proposes November Hard Fork to Stabilize Bitcoin Cash Mining Difficulty appeared first on CryptoCoinsNews.

Under Armour has crashed 75% from its highs — here's the bull case (UAA, UA)

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

Under armour

  • Under Armour plummeted 17% after giving disappointing guidance on Tuesday.
  • The company's stock has crashed 75% from its September 2015 highs
  • Jefferies says limited competition, better positioning and global opportunities all could help Under Armour's future.
  • See Under Armour's live stock price here.


Under Armor is getting smoked after its third-quarter earnings report had disappointing guidance, with shares trading down 17.7% on Tuesday.

One analyst is staying bullish on the company's future despite shares crashing more than 75% from their September 2015 highs.

"Let’s think this through," Jefferies analyst Randal Konik said in a note to clients. "[It's] a cyclical issue not a secular one."

Konik makes the argument that Under Armour is simply in a down cycle right now and that it will eventually bounce back. In March, Konik upgraded Under Armour to a "buy" suggesting that the coming Curry 4 sneakers and relatively low backlogged inventories would place it in a good position to rally through the rest of the year. The stock has dropped nearly 31% since, but Konik is standing his ground.

"We see this as being early and not being wrong," Konik said.

Under Armour, as well as its main rivals, Adidas and Nike, are head-deep in the ongoing retail apocalypse. Luckily for Under Armour, it is in the best position to pivot from brick-and-mortar stores to online because of its low inventory in stores which makes it easier for the company to pivot, Konik said.

Additionally, Most of Under Armour's business, about 80% of sales, are in the US right now. That represents a huge growth opportunity for the company, Konik says. Nike and Adidas currently address more of the total global market, which means they have less room to grow their customer bases there, according to Konik.

After the poor earnings results, Konik lowered his price target to $24 from $28, but he still rates the company a "buy."

"The long-term revenue opportunity is large and margins should rebound towards historical levels with time…it will just take more time than we thought," Konik said.

Read more about the company's earnings results here.

under armour stock price

SEE ALSO: Under Armour is plummeting after earnings

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

What you need to know on Wall Street today

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

FILE PHOTO: JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon speaks at a Remain in the EU campaign event attended by Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne (not shown) at JP Morgan's corporate centre in Bournemouth, southern Britain, June 3, 2016. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez/File PhotoWelcome 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.

JPMorgan Chase's giant corporate and investment bank — the undisputed leader on Wall Street — is beefing up risk management and hewing conservative ahead of what it anticipates will be a painful market correction in the near future.

The amount of complacency in the markets is triggering red flags for Daniel Pinto, the head of JPMorgan Chase's investment bank, who recently met with research analysts from Keefe, Bruyette, and Woods. Volatility has been hovering near record lows, with markets remaining abnormally calm even in the face of turbulent geopolitical events, such as the US's escalated tensions with North Korea.

One significant risk that could turn all that upside down, according to Pinto, is inflation. You can read more about what he had to say here

President Donald Trump looks set to appoint Jerome Powell, a former private-equity executive at Carlyle Group who now sits on the Federal Reserve board, as the next Fed chair. Here's everything you need to know about Powell, courtesy of Business Insider's Fed watcher, Pedro da Costa. 

In finance news, CME Group, the biggest exchange group in the world, is unexpectedly gatecrashing the bitcoin business. The CEO of investment startup Acorns wants his app to be used by every American with a household income under $100,000. And Elevate, a lender targeting the "New Middle Class," is working to hand out higher credit limits to struggling Americans.

In deal news, Sprint and T-Mobile shares dropped after Nikkei reported that SoftBank Group planned to end negotiations for a merger of the two wireless carriers.  And Rockwell Automation spiked after receiving a $27.5 billion buyout offer.

In other business news, a lawsuit over price fixing by drugmakers is being massively expanded and shares of Mylan are plunging. And Under Armour slashed its forecast for the rest of the year.

Lastly, Business Insider's Steve Kovach has been using the iPhone X for 18 hours, and he's already sold.

 

 

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Scientists think they've finally solved the mystery of the 'alien megastructure' star

Bitcoin Price Climbs to New All-Time High at $6,450, as Market Gains Absolute Confidence

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

[…]

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A lawsuit over price fixing by drugmakers is being massively expanded and shares of Mylan are plunging

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

Heather Bresch Mylan EpiPen

  • 46 state attorneys general are investigating drugmakers over price fixing of generic drugs. 
  • In total, 18 companies and two top executives, including Mylan's president, are now named in the complaint.
  • Mylan's stock fell more than 8% on the news.

 A lawsuit alleging price-fixing of generic drugs is about to be expanded to include nearly every state in the country, and one company — Mylan — is already feeling the heat. 

Forty-six state attorneys general are alleging price fixing of generic drugs by 18 companies.

The drugs range from anxiety medications to diabetes treatments, to antibiotics. Generic drugs are meant to come in at a lower price than the original branded version that are no longer protected by patents, cutting prescription drug costs for consumers because any number of companies can now make the drug.

"We allege in this complaint that the defendant companies’ collusion was so pervasive that it essentially eliminated competition from the market for these 15 drugs in its entirety," Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said in a statement. "Our ongoing investigation continues to uncover additional evidence, and we anticipate bringing more claims involving additional companies and drugs at the appropriate time.”

That's up from the 20 state attorneys who sued 6 companies, including Mylan, alleging the generic drugmakers colluded on prices. The drugs in question at the time were a generic antibiotic called doxycycline hyclate and an antidiabetic medication called glyburide.

The states are zeroing in on a man named Rajiv Malik, Mylan's president and executive director, along with Satish Mehta, CEO at Emcure Pharmaceuticals. Mylan's shares are down more than 8% on the news. 

Mylan said in a statement:

Screen Shot 2017 10 31 at 11.27.22 AM"We have been investigating these allegations thoroughly and have found no evidence of price fixing on the part of Mylan or its employees. Our review of the Connecticut Attorney General's press release underpinning the complaint does not change our views. We have asked the various attorneys general leading this case to share with us what information they believe supports these new allegations and, to date, they have not done so. Mylan has deep faith in the integrity of its President, Rajiv Malik, and stands behind him fully. Mylan and Rajiv Malik both intend to defend this case vigorously, and we look forward to the opportunity to present a full defense."

Here are all the companies that are part of the expanded investigation, including the six originally included: 

  • Heritage Pharmaceuticals
  • Aurobindo Pharma
  • Citron Pharma
  • Mayne Pharma
  • Mylan Pharmaceuticals
  • Teva Pharmaceuticals
  • Actavis Holdco
  • Actavis Pharma
  • Ascend Laboratories
  • Apotex Corp
  • Dr. Reddy's Laboratories
  • Emcure Pharmaceuticals
  • Glenmark Pharmaceuticals
  • Lannett Company, Inc.
  • Par Pharmaceutical Companies
  • Sandoz
  • Sun Pharmaceutical Industries
  • Zydus Pharmacuticuals

SEE ALSO: 20 state attorneys general are suing 6 generic drugmakers over collusion and price fixing

Join the conversation about this story »

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

It's gotten a whole lot more expensive to die in America

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

The cost of burying a loved one in America has risen faster than virtually everything else over the last 30 years. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics just published a fascinating look at the cost of dying in the US... because it's Halloween. The chart below shows that the price index for funerals has risen almost twice as fast as consumer prices for all other items. 

Producer prices for caskets rose 230% from December 1986 through September 2017, while prices for all commodities increased 95.1%. The data is not seasonally adjusted. 

As casket costs surged, the rate of cremations surpassed burials in 2015 for a second straight year, according to the National Funeral Directors Association. Its data showed that the median cost of a funeral with viewing and burial in 2014 was $7,181, and $6078 for a funeral with viewing and cremation. 

10 31 17 cost of death COTD

SEE ALSO: This could be the best place to die in America

DON'T MISS: Here's what happens with your stuff after you die

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

These International Bitcoin Communities Are Rejecting SegWit2x

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

These International Bitcoin Communities Are Rejecting SegWit2x

The hard fork part of the New York Agreement is scheduled to take place within about two weeks. This incompatible protocol rule change is set to increase Bitcoin’s block weight limit, to allow for more transactions on the network — if everyone adopts the change. Otherwise, it will create a new blockchain and currency that may or may not be considered to be “Bitcoin.”

The list of signatories of this agreement includes several of the largest Bitcoin startups and mining pools that, together, claim to represent a majority of users and hash power. Yet, it is far from clear that this 2x part of SegWit2x proposal really has much support outside of these signatories. Most of Bitcoin’s development community, a significant number of other companies, some mining pools, user polls as well as futures markets suggest otherwise.

And now, a growing list of international Bitcoin communities is putting out public statements against the SegWit2x hard fork as well.

An overview…

Seoul Bitcoin Meetup

On October 12, 2017, the Seoul Bitcoin Meetup — the largest and longest-running Bitcoin meetup in South Korea with over 1700 members — was the first user community to put out a statement on SegWit2x. More precisely, in their own words, the group voiced its “staunch opposition to this November’s proposed hardfork.”

In its statement, the Seoul Bitcoin Meetup places emphasis on the manner in which the agreement was made. Typically, changes to the Bitcoin protocol go through the Bitcoin Improvement Proposal (BIP) process where it is peer reviewed by developers across the ecosystem, whereas SegWit2x went through the New York Agreement, which was forged at an invite-only meeting among about a dozen company executives.

The Seoul Meetup states:

If a select group of CEOs and investors, no matter how benevolent their intentions, can unilaterally make decisions about the consensus rules without public comment and force these changes upon the network regardless of overall consensus, then Bitcoin will have lost the properties that make it valuable in the first place.

Additionally, the Seoul Bitcoin Meetup argues that the hard fork is needlessly risky without offering sufficient benefits to warrant the risk. It also takes issue with the controversial decision of SegWit2x developers not to implement strong replay protection.

Bitcoin Meetup Munich

On the same day as the Seoul Meetup Group, the Bitcoin Munich meetup group also put out a public statement against the SegWit2x hard fork. This meetup group consists of over 2000 members — though only several dozen of them actually engaged in the vote whether or not the statement against the SegWit2x hard fork would be accepted. This statement itself was spread via photo on social media.

In its statement, the Bitcoin Munich meetup explains it opposes the SegWit2x hard fork in part because of technical concerns:

Another doubling of the block size so quickly after SegWit seems hasty and might cause further mining centralization.

The statement further argues that a hard fork requires more and better preparation and should include more improvements from the hard fork wish list, and it endorses Bitcoin Core as “the true Bitcoin client.”

Brazilian and Argentinian Bitcoin Communities

The biggest user community also published the longest statement against the SegWit2x hard fork so far. A combined effort between a significant group of Argentinian and Brazilian users and companies, published on October 17,2017, voiced “their deepest concerns over the upcoming November hardfork as mandated by the so-called New York Agreement (NYA), also known as SegWit2x (S2X).”

Not unlike other critics of the hard fork, emphasis was placed on the process that led to the SegWit2x agreement:

The very nature of an ‘agreement’ between a few parties in a decentralized consensus protocol can be interpreted as an aggression against the network.

Similarly, the statement addresses the lack of transparency from SegWit2x proponents, criticizing the notion of a “political compromise instead of a technical upgrade” and the “consensus imposition instead of consensus building.”

Other points of concern include the lack of replay protection, the rushed nature of the hard fork, misleading statements by SegWit2x proponents and much more.

Israeli Bitcoin Association

The Israeli Bitcoin Association is a non-profit organization that promotes Bitcoin and similar technologies in Israel, with an open membership. On October 24, 2017, this association put out its own statement on the SegWit2x hard fork.

Slightly different from several of the other statements, the Israeli Bitcoin Association emphasizes the right of anyone to fork Bitcoin and create a new cryptocurrency. That naturally includes SegWit2x proponents.

But importantly, the association adds:

A protocol change in the currency holding the name ‘Bitcoin’, especially one requiring a hard fork, requires overwhelming consensus. The SegWit2x hard fork does not in any way enjoy such consensus, and while this remains the case we cannot refer to the resulting currency as ‘Bitcoin.’

The SegWit2x currency will instead be referred to as “‘Bitcoin2x.’ ‘SegWit2x coins,’ BT2, B2X, S2X or any other distinctive term that the industry will adopt.”

The Hong Kong Bitcoin Community / Bitcoin Association of Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Bitcoin Community in general, and the Bitcoin Association of Hong Kong specifically, put out statements against SegWit2x on October 25, 2017.

While technically separate statements, both voice their concern about the lack of consensus for the hard fork. The Hong Kong Bitcoin Community — a group of Hong Kong–based companies — states that “the lack of enthusiastic support for this fork among the community is striking.” The association — which mostly exists to promote Bitcoin in Hong Kong — states that “the proponents of the hardfork should kindly ask the Bitcoin community to support them and then only proceed with the hardfork if there is widespread community support.”

Additionally, the Hong Kong groups speak out against the lack of replay protection in the SegWit2x fork.

Due to the combination of both a lack of consensus across the community and a lack of strong replay protection, we consider SegWit2x a reckless endeavor that will cause disruption and harm to the ecosystem.

The Italian Bitcoin Community

The Italian Bitcoin community, more specifically a group of companies, meetups, lobbying groups and other organizations, put out a statement against SegWit2x on October 31, 2017.

The statement is largely inspired by an earlier statement by the Italian blockchain research lab BHB, which rejected SegWit2x as “an attempt to perform a political takeover of Bitcoin.”

The statement by the broader Italian Bitcoin community is a bit more compact, but nonetheless touches on many of the familiar points of criticism regarding the SegWit2x hard fork.

It reads:

The opposition is especially strong against any action of this kind that could cause huge inconveniences for service providers and serious confusion for users, potentially leading to financial losses: unilateral attempts to appropriate Bitcoin name, logo or “ticker”, attempts to mislead light-clients and SPV wallets on alternative networks not explicitly chosen by them, attempts to launch new coins in a way which leave users vulnerable to “replay attacks” or address format confusion, attempts to attack the network with a temporary hashing-power majority in order to create disruptive reorgs or to slow down the normal activity.

French-Speaking Bitcoin Communities

Meanwhile, the French-speaking Bitcoin communities are voicing their concerns with the SegWit2x hard fork through a change.org petition. It is currently signed by over 1300 people and counting.

The (French) text that accompanies the petition is mostly inspired by and based on the statement published by the Seoul Bitcoin Meetup. Like that statement, this petition emphasizes concerns about the manner in which the agreement was forged, while also noting the lack of replay protection and other problems.

Additionally, the petition includes a call to action to find alternatives for the companies that signed onto and continue to support the SegWit2x hard fork:

We would suggest avoiding the use of services of companies that support the NYA, and we hope to substitute them with alternative solutions.

Are they any more user communities that have put out statements against or in favor of the SegWit2x hard fork? Let me know at aaron@bitcoinmagazine.com.

The post These International Bitcoin Communities Are Rejecting SegWit2x appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Bitcoin Turns 9 and Has Evolved into a Global Currency Already

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

[…]

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Robomed Network Unleashes Linkages Between Healthcare Patients and Providers

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

Robomed Thumb

The global healthcare market is vast and complex, with equity funding to digital health companies having reached $5.8 billion so far this year. Within this space, myriad models of healthcare delivery are being employed as breakthrough technologies are introduced.

 

A concept that’s gaining increased attention is the “patient-oriented medical network.” In this model, patients can manage and control their healthcare data through a mobile electronic medical record (EMR) — information they’re able to grant their doctors access to when requested.   

 

This mode of value-based physician-to-patient engagement is designed to impact care quality, cost and patient access across an entire healthcare continuum. One company that’s making a mark in this area is an innovative global digital platform known as Robomed Network.

 

Robomed is introducing a solution that allows the medical industry to replace the old, prevailing ways of managing healthcare processes with new ones designed to boost efficiency, effectiveness and transparency. This is achieved through the elimination of non-value-added processes and clinical errors.

Robomed Network is comprised of 23 clinics across the world. Through the use of this ecosystem, patients around the globe have access to bureaucracy-free, affordable and quality medical care targeted to their specific needs.

What drives all of this is a medical network managed by a blockchain token, designed to provide the most effective medical care. Robomed serves as the linkage point between health service providers and patients, all tied to a smart contract built on top of the Ethereum platform.


“Robomed’s blockchain is designed to constantly expand available capacity for record-keeping, transactions tracking and accumulation of a diverse database of medical knowledge and clinical pathways applied to treating a numerous range of medical cases,” said Robomed Network co-founder Philipp Mironovich. “We believe that the scope of medical services rendered to patients is bound to grow with the processes for obtaining these services streamlined.”

As a part of the Robomed Network, participating in-network clinics utilize what is known as “Robomed EНR,” a process-automation system geared for medical centers, which includes unified medical data storage and health management tools. Its primary purpose is to integrate all participating clinics into a single information space, allowing various service providers to quickly interact without bureaucratic, financial or legal barriers.

 

This bridge between the patients seeking quality medical care and access to it is a smart contact. This interactive digital mechanism allows patients to obtain access to a chain of healthcare providers committed to delivering the best medical care consistent with the digital clinical guidelines registered in Robomed Network.

These clinical guidelines are adopted via a constantly updated, competitive and transparent voting process involving the medical and patient community. The goal here is to utilize a diverse set of healthcare treatments and high standards to fulfill patients’ expectations.

Robomed Network issues its own tokens to drive the smart contract engagement between healthcare providers and patients. This elevates service value by granting token owners full accomplishment of clinical guidelines for cases.

Patients engage with the Robomed Network via Robomed Mobile or Robomed Web. The proprietary smart contract technology provides a unique opportunity to create a single system of coordinates with clinical outcomes as a reference point.

Given the possibilities and examples of using the Ethereum blockchain platform, the Robomed Network team is excited about this decentralized, cross-border ecosystem of healthcare providers they’ve created, based on an open smart contract and cryptocurrency.

Robomed’s history goes a couple of years back, to when co-founders Mironovich and Ivan Devyatkov decided to combine their expertise from the IT and healthcare sectors. Mironovich had been involved in the startup of several hospitals, and Devyatkov was involved in scaling up the second-biggest healthcare laboratory player in Russia. This is how the basic version of Robomed EHR emerged.

“Robomed’s mission is to provide equal healthcare to the world,” said Mironovich. “This means that Robomed aims toward constantly improving the effectiveness and efficiency of healthcare services across its global platform.”

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

The post Robomed Network Unleashes Linkages Between Healthcare Patients and Providers appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Vietnam's Central Bank Announces Ban on Bitcoin Payments

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

The State Bank of Vietnam has issued a statement banning the use of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in payments from Jan. 1, 2018.

World’s Largest Derivatives Exchange CME Group to Launch Bitcoin Futures

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

[…]

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Nvidia is rising after announcing several new AI partnerships (NVDA)

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

nvidia jen-hsun huang ceo

  • Nvidia's stock rose 1.38% in early trading on Tuesday.
  • The company is trying to expand the reach of its Deep Learning Institute to teach the next generation of artificial intelligence researchers.
  • Watch Nvidia's stock move in real time here.

 

Nvidia's stock is rising after the company announced it has partnered with several artificial intelligence companies to expand its efforts to train new AI researchers.

Nvidia is up 1.30% to $206.50 on Tuesday after announcing an expansion of its Deep Learning Institute.

The company's Deep Learning Institute is an initiative to train as many people as possible in AI programming and research. Nvidia announced a partnership on Tuesday with Booz Allen Hamilton, a government consulting firm, and Deeplearning.ai, an online training company, to broaden its institute's reach.

“The world faces an acute shortage of data scientists and developers who are proficient in deep learning, and we’re focused on addressing that need,” Greg Estes, vice president at Nvidia, said in a news release.

Nvidia has been working on artificial intelligence for years, and has recently emerged as one of the leading providers of the hardware chips and software platforms used in AI applications. The company's graphics processing units help speed up the training of AI systems while its CUDA software is one of the many platforms helping researchers with the development of their AI programs.

Nvidia has fostered a positive relationship with some of the most prominent AI researchers in the field, and sees its Deep Learning Institute as a way to start similar relationships with the next generation of AI researchers.

Nvidia is up 102.91% this year.

Read more about how everyone is underestimating the power of AI here.

nvidia stock price

SEE ALSO: Everyone 'severely underestimates the impact of AI' — here's why Nvidia could soar to $250

Join the conversation about this story »

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

Bitfinex Goes on Maintenance Mode as Bitcoin Price Hits All-Time High

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

[…]

The post Bitfinex Goes on Maintenance Mode as Bitcoin Price Hits All-Time High appeared first on CryptoCoinsNews.

JEFFERIES: Nintendo has another secret weapon besides the Switch

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

mario nintendo world


Nintendo's Switch game console boosted its sales in the second quarter, but what's really driving customers to its products is the company's ability to make people love its franchises, according to Jefferies. 

Switch, the company's newest gaming console, has become a way for customers to tap into its iconic characters, like Mario and Zelda. The console's initial launch came with a must-have exclusive Zelda game. It has since released a steady drumbeat of highly-rated games that constantly draw people to its new platform and keep it in the news. 

"IP is our important asset," the company said in an investor call. 

Given the welcome reception of its recent game, "Super Mario Odyssey," and the release of Animal Crossing for mobile, Nintendo will likely draw more fans in years to come, Jefferies analyst Atul Goyal said.

Nintendo not only raised its guidance for the year, but also announced that it would focus on "synergies" between its mobile and console games. This is one reason why Goyal sees "lots to look forward to next year." The company has said before that mobile will become an important platform in extending long-term value for its video games and consoles.

Nintendo is up 78.92% this year.

Read more about how Nintendo's newest platform can get it to 1 billion users here.

Nintendo stock price

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

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

CME to Launch Bitcoin Futures Trading

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

Derivatives marketplace CME announced it will add a Bitcoin futures contractby the end of the year.

Bitcoin posts a new all-time high

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

  • Bitcoin posts new record high above $6,330 on Tuesday.
  • Price jumps after exchange group CME announces the launch of bitcoin futures.


Bitcoin has jumped to a new record high on Tuesday after futures exchange operator CME announced plans to launch bitcoin futures.

CME announced plans to launch the new futures contracts in the fourth quarter "pending all relevant regulatory review periods." CEO Terry Duffy said the move was motivated by "increasing client interest in the evolving cryptocurrency markets."

Bitcoin popped against the dollar on the news. The cryptocurrency is up over 3% to $6,337.29 at 2.10 p.m. GMT (10.10 a.m. ET) — passing the record high of $6,306 reached on Sunday evening.

bitcoin

Bitcoin has been on an absolute tear in 2017, rising over 500% against the dollar so far this year. The price rise has been driven by increasing mainstream adoption and awareness of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies more generally.At least 55 cryptocurrency hedge funds have sprung up this year, many of them focusing on bitcoin.

Last week, renown Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel said people are "underestimating bitcoin."

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Here are your chances of winning at popular casino games

Bitcoin's Price Climbs Above $6,300 Again to Hit All-Time High

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

The price of bitcoin has hit a new all time high, crossing the $6,300 mark for the second time this week.

The biggest exchange group in the world is unexpectedly gatecrashing the bitcoin business (CME)

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

FILE PHOTO: Terry Duffy, executive chairman and president CME Group, takes part in a panel discussion titled

  • CME Group, a leading marketplace for derivatives which handles 3 billion contracts worth about $1 quadrillion annually, is set to roll out bitcoin futures by the fourth quarter. 
  • The exchange group said in a press release that client interest triggered the decision to roll out the derivatives product
  • The price of bitcoin is up more than 500% year-to-date. 
  • In September, CME president Bryan Durkin told Bloomberg bitcoin was "very nascent" and that he didn't think they would roll out such a product in the "very near future."

CME has changed its mind on bitcoin futures. 

The Chicago-based exchange giant, which trades futures and options based on everything from interest rates to real estate, foreign exchange to the weather, said on Tuesday that it would launch bitcoin future products before the end of the year. 

The news comes a month after the firm's president Bryan Durkin told Bloomberg that bitcoin was "very nascent" and that he didn't think they would move forward with bitcoin futures in the short-term. Futures are contracts that allow two parties to exchange an asset at a specified price at an agreed upon date in the future. 

Cross town rival Cboe has long had a plan for bitcoin futures in the works, and is also set for a Q4 launch. CME said in a press release the new roll-out is contingent on the necessary regulatory approvals. 

"Given increasing client interest in the evolving cryptocurrency markets, we have decided to introduce a bitcoin futures contract," said Terry Duffy, CME chairman and CEO. "As the world's largest regulated FX marketplace, CME Group is the natural home for this new vehicle that will provide investors with transparency, price discovery and risk transfer capabilities."

Bitcoin isn't completely uncharted territory for the company. It launched a bitcoin price index last year in conjunction with Crypto Facilities Ltd. Crypto Facilities will work with CME on the launch of the futures product. 

Bitcoin, the red-hot digital currency, is up well over 500% this year and has gripped Wall Street's attention. While many have shied away from it, including JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon who called it a fraud, others don't want to pass up on the opportunity for profit. 

And there's much profit to be made for exchanges. Bank of America Merril Lynch said bitcoin presents exchanges and market structure companies with a $1.6 billion revenue opportunity from bitcoin-linked products.

The figure is a bull case scenario, according to the bank, and is based on the assumption that cryptocurrency volumes end up at about 10% of current fiat currency trading volumes.

Here's the bank:

"The FX market is highly liquid. For example, spot FX volumes were $1.65tr as of the most recent BIT Triennial survey in April 2016. If these volumes were to materialize, with the same relationship between spot market and futures, and the same revenue per contract, the revenue pool would be about $1.6bn."

The estimate also assumes "there is no substitution of coin volumes for other contracts."

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Rockwell Automation spikes after receiving a $27.5 billion buyout offer (EMR, ROK)

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

Screen Shot 2017 10 31 at 9.50.47 AM

  • Emerson Electric tried to buy Rockwell Automation in October in a deal worth about $27.5 billion. 
  • Rockwell rejected the offer, a report said before both companies confirmed they had been in merger talks. 
  • No discussions are ongoing, according to Emerson.

 

Rockwell Automation confirmed Tuesday that it rejected an unsolicited purchase offer from Emerson Electric.

The industrial-automation company's board on October 10 turned down the offer for $107.50 per share in cash and 225 million shares of Emerson common stock, it said in a statement. The deal would have been worth about $27.5 billion.

Emerson separately confirmed that it made a private offer for a merger, and no discussions are ongoing. 

"The Rockwell Automation board of directors and management team are committed to serving the best interests of the company and Rockwell Automation shareowners, and are confident in the company's strategic direction and our ability to continue delivering superior levels of growth and value creation," said Blake Moret, Rockwell's CEO, in a statement.

CNBC's David Faber first reported that Emerson made multiple offers for the industrial-automation company. Emerson has looked to consolidate in the industry for companies that make factories run more efficiently, the report said.

Trading in Rockwell Automation and Emerson shares was halted for news pending after Rockwell spiked 10% on the news. Rockwell pared gains upon the resumption of trading, while Emerson was down about 2%.

SEE ALSO: Sprint, T-Mobile sink following report that merger talks are over

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

CME Group to Launch Bitcoin Futures Contract

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

Derivatives marketplace operator CME Group has announced plans to launch a bitcoin futures product.

The CEO of investment startup Acorns wants his app to be used by every American with a household income under $100,000

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

Noah Kerner

  • Acorns, the fintech app that allows users to invest their spare change, is witnessing strong growth with more than 2.2 million accounts in the US.
  • Business Insider recently sat down with Noah Kerner, the firm's CEO, to discuss the firm's mission, the growth of its editorial content, and his thoughts on bitcoin.
  • Kerner said the company is looking to serve every single American with an annual household income under $100,000.


In 2012, father-son duo Walter and Jeff Cruttenden launched Acorns, the savings app that allows users to invest their spare change with the aim of trying to take the anxiety out of saving.

Nearly five years later, the company has amassed more than 2.2 million accounts. In 2014 Noah Kerner, an early investor in the company, was brought on as CEO by the company's founders. Kerner, a former DJ who once shared a stage with singer Jennifer Lopez, has been turning the company into more than just an investment app.

"Robo-advising is just a piece of our puzzle," he told Business Insider.

Under Kerner's leadership, the company rolled out Grow Magazine, a section of the app where users can read stories about finance and investing. It also launched a rewards program called Found Money, which gives its users bonus investment cash when they shop at brand partners like Jet.com, 1-800-Flowers, and Hotel Tonight.

The company has made a string of hires as well, bringing on Jennifer Arceneaux, the head of external relations for Sundance Institute, the organization behind the Sundance Film Festival, and Jennifer Barrett, a former editor at CNBC.

We recently met up with Kerner while he was visiting New York City from California to talk about his vision for the company's future.

The big goal, says Kerner, is to reach every American who makes less than $100,000 in household income. For context, that's around 74% of US households, according to the Census Bureau's 2016 American Community Survey.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Frank Chaparro: How is business?

Noah Kerner: Business is great. We have opened up more than 2.2 million investment accounts in the US. We're growing at around 100,000 accounts per month. We have a nice percentage of our customers using Found Money. Half of our customers are reading Grow every month.

Chaparro: That's impressive growth. Who are your customers, and how engaged are they with the app?

Kerner: Our customer is the person whose household income is under $100,000, which is the majority of Americans. We created Acorns from the ground up to serve their best interests. We started with micro-investing, which allows them to invest their spare change. Once they get more engaged they can set recurring investments — $5 a day, $5 a week, for instance — whatever works for them.

And then we rolled out in our second year Grow, which is about helping users grow their knowledge of money and finance. And then we rolled out Found Money, which is all about helping them earn extra money. But the road map is focused on the thesis of serving Americans whose household income is under $100,000 per year.

Chaparro: How have you been building out Grow Magazine? And what's its relation to the broader strategy of the company?

man reading newspaper

Kerner: We recently brought on Jennifer Barrett, who was at finance editor at CNBC. She was also at the Wall Street Journal. Grow is professionally produced content that simplifies that which is complex for many people. It's a media property essentially.

But it is part of the app. Most of our customers really benefit from this education. It's not just about saving and investing; it is also about credit; it is about borrowing; it is about income. And we provide stories too.

We wrote a piece about seven people who made it from the bottom: Sarah Jessica Parker and Howard Schultz. These people came from nothing and made it. That is central to our big idea that anyone can grow wealth. Most people who have wealth came from nothing or their parents came from nothing. And this idea that anyone can grow wealth is central to what we do. We call our customers the "up-and-comer." And we are not just a millennial brand, right. Our customers run the gamut from 18 to 98. But the thing they all share in common is income level.

Chaparro: Content seems to be the hot thing for online investing companies these days. I know that Stash and Robinhood, for instance. Both have content users can read on their app. And their target demographic is similar. What specifically differentiates Acorns from the rest?

Kerner: So investing spare change is still unique to us. I'd say our focus on the up-and-comer is unique. Building a product that suits their needs across the board. And we have unique partnerships.

Right now, if you become an Airbnb host, Airbnb invests $200 into your Acorns account. Every time you shop with Nike, they invest 5% of the purchase price into your Acorns account. Every time you book a trip with Hotel Tonight, they put $10 into your Acorns account. So you're slowly accumulating small amounts of money from different places. Some is from your spare change; some is from your shopping. And this isn't us encouraging people to shop more. Our thought process is shop smart.

We want our users to use the Found Money feature so they can get extra money while they shop, which will be invested in their future. And that's a powerful idea for our customers, and it is a powerful idea for brands because from their perspective they are increasing loyalty for their brands by investing in their customers' future. And of course it helps us grow our business.

We're looking out for the financial best interests of the up-and-comer. Everything connects to that.

You asked how we stand out. I would say we stand out by our mission on top of all that, first and foremost. We're looking out for the financial best interests of the up-and-comer. Everything connects to that. We stand out from our corporate values. And our core value is to lead with our heart.

It is very important to what we do. We stand out with those features of course. The education is the latest thing. It is very strong content made by professional journalists, that provides the kind of educational content that is vital for our customers' edification and consumption. And we're building the road map out from there.

Chaparro: I've read criticisms of the app that say its fees aren't as low as they're marketed. Folks only investing a small amount of money per month, in some cases, could end up paying more in fees as a percentage than someone with an account balance above $5,000. What's your response?

Kerner: So for most people, it is a dollar a month. For a dollar a month, for the price, what we offer is a big value. We obviously encourage people to use Acorns to the fullest — take advantage of Found Money, take advantage of the round-ups, automatic rebalancing, dividend reinvestments, dollar-cost averaging. Use the product to the fullest. For a dollar a month it is fantastic.

acorns screenshot 4

We keep the investment side of it very simple. We do recommend a portfolio to customers once they finish registration. And we diversify it. It is very important. When you talk to people like Warren Buffett, passive investing is what he recommends as well. And we subscribe to that idea. We think is the right strategy for our customers. Frankly, we think it's the right strategy for all customers.

There's this feeling when you come back to the app, and it's working in the background of life. That feeling, you know — the third day, the seventh day, the 15th day — you come back and you see a balance that has accumulated; it is really encouraging for people. And it starts to get you in the habit of saving and investing, and that encouragement helps people move along on that journey. And it's because it is such a magical moment for people checking the app.

Chaparro: There's this question hanging over the investing space regarding apps like Acorns and other online investment startups. Without someone to guide them through the bad times, do you think investors are more prone to pull their money out if there's a major correction?

Kerner: That's where the educational content comes into play. We are constantly educating our customers about those kinds of events, so they stick with it. Markets go up and down. The only way you lock in losses is by pulling out. Those kinds of lessons. That's why we got into this business of content, because we need to prepare our customers for great moments and bad moments.

Chaparro: What are some of your hard goals over the next decade?

We'd like everyone in America who makes under $100,000 to be using Acorns.

Kerner: We would like everyone in America who makes under $100,000 to be using Acorns. We think it is good for everyone in America to be using Acorns. And it is not an artificial cut-off. But we think people who make a lot of income and have a lot of net-worth are pretty well served.

I grew up on 14th Street and Avenue A. I grew up around kids who didn't come from a lot. I was a competitive tennis player. And so at nights I would play tennis with kids who came from a lot. I went to private high school in New York City and again got to spend time with kids who came from a lot. But the summer of my junior year, I worked as a bank teller working with single moms with four kids making $8 an hour.

After Cornell, I traveled America as a DJ on a tour, and I got to see the way most of Americans lived. And there are great riches on both sides, as far as their personalities. But there is such a powerful sense of disenfranchisement and inequality of wealth that exists in this country. The fact that this exists in a country like America is not right.

And our belief is that we need to equip this group with the tools they need to be financially successful. And we need to help them believe — and this isn't bulls--- — we need to help them believe that anyone can build wealth. And not to focus on this group or that group. Focus on yourself, do the right thing, save, invest, learn, spend responsibly, save for an emergency. For us and me this is a real mission.

Servers for data storage are seen at Advania's Thor Data Center in Hafnarfjordur, Iceland August 7, 2015. REUTERS/Sigtryggur Ari

Chaparro: Hype is in no short supply in finance. With AI, cryptocurrencies, machine learning, et cetera, abuzz, how do you stay focused and decide what can have a real impact on your business and what is noise?

Kerner: I wrote a book called "Chasing Cool," which was formed out of my experiences with corporations and brands that thought in order to create something successful you need to jump on the latest trend or bandwagon.

With cryptocurrencies, you see people integrating it into their product, and everyone is looking at investing in it. People need to hang on a second. Think about what you stand for, what is your product about, and ask yourself if this really fits into it. Think, "Is this really something that makes sense within the context of what we are trying to create and build?" And if it is, then go after it. But don't do it because it is the new hot thing.

I am a personal believer in having a very crystal clear vision, values, and mission, and sticking to it. We have a 10-year road map. For something to move us off course from what that road map is, it has to be something we really thought through, something that we really believe is significant. It is not going to be something that is a shiny object, of-the-moment-type thing.

SEE ALSO: Here's how millennials are trading AMD ahead of earnings (AMD)

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'Give me 10 minutes. That was enough time for me to get out of the compound and lose the tail': How a whistleblower escaped Saudi Arabia after uncovering an alleged bribery scheme at Airbus

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

RTX1WJN8

  • Ian Foxley blew the whistle on what he claims was a multi-million-pound bribery scheme at Airbus in Saudi Arabia.
  • After raising the alarm, Foxley ran from an interview with his managing director and fled to a safe house.
  • The Serious Fraud Office has been investigating Foxley's claims of bribery at sub-contractors in Saudi Arabia.

LONDON – Retired Army officer Ian Foxley thought he had found his dream job overseeing a £1.96 billion ($2.6 billion) contract for upgrading defence telecommunications in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Instead, he uncovered what he believed was evidence of a multi-million-pound bribery scheme, and tried to blow the whistle. Threatened with arrest after he angered a Saudi princess, he decided to flee the country rather than take his chances inside a Saudi jail.

Foxley served in the British Army for 24 years, before moving to telecommunications in the private sector.

In 2010, he found a job advert in the Sunday Times for an operations director at defence contractor GPT (now Airbus), and in June of that year touched down in Saudi Arabia to start work on a 10-year project for the Saudi Arabian National Guard. Foxley became the programme director on a project to modernize communications for the Saudi Arabian National Guard. The UK Ministry of Defence won the contract to perform the work and used GPT to fulfil the contract. The National Guard was the end user.

Having worked in the private and public sectors, built two fibre-optic networks, and an intranet, he says, he was confident there was "nothing in this project I didn't know about."

But Foxley soon discovered he was the third director in six months — and by December, he too was gone. Not long after he arrived, he says, "things started building in a kind of adversarial way, because things didn't smell right."

This is the story of how Foxley uncovered what he claims was a systemic scheme at Airbus to bribe Saudi officials, which is now being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO). 

An Airbus spokesperson told Business Insider, "the UK's SFO is conducting a formal investigation in connection with aspects of the business of GPT Special Project Management Limited in Saudi Arabia which is a local subsidiary of Airbus conducting business exclusively for the UK MoD. We continue to fully and constructively engage with the SFO but in view of the investigation will not be commenting further."

"Things started getting nasty"

Ian FoxleyAt a meeting with Business Insider in central London recently, Foxley was smartly dressed in a navy suit, and carrying a camouflage-pattern umbrella, a nod to his military past. 

Not long after starting work in Saudi Arabia, he says he came across a large payment for "bought in services" in the first major GPT project he was required to sign off.

He was told these were outsourced services, but the cost was £1.6 million, more than that of the prime contractor's fee. Across the total £1.96 billion contract, he says, "bought in services" accounted for 16% of the costs, making them his biggest sub-contractor "by volume of payment."

This mystery contractor, he remembers thinking, was "not giving me any service. They're not giving me any product. I've never seen them, I've never met any of them, I've never even heard of them."

This was his "'oh shit' moment," he says. He started asking questions, and "things started getting nasty."

Foxley says he now suspects there were sub-contractor fees hidden in every project in GPT contracts going back to 1978. He estimates the contracts' overall worth since then at around £5 billion: "if you tot up 16% of £5 billion, you should be looking for something in the region of £750 million [in "bought in services" payments]," he says. These unexplained payments, he alleges, were bribes for Saudi officials.

After doing some digging — which included talking to the company's former financial controller, a man he says he'd been told was "mad" and who had previously tried to blow the whistle — Foxley got hold of documents he says prove a history of bribes totalling millions of pounds, and sent them to a Ministry of Defence (MoD) Brigadier he knew in Riyadh.

Later that day he received a phone call from his managing director, who called him into his office. The head of HR, a Saudi princess, was also there. The director, who knew Foxley had emailed the documents to the MoD, questioned his suspicions, and the discussion grew heated.

According to Foxley, the director then threatened to have him arrested for theft of confidential information.

"I thought to myself, 'you're stuffed,' because if a Saudi princess rings the police here and accuses you of theft, you've got no get-out, you're dead in the water," he says. So he said, "this conversation isn't going anywhere," and walked out.

Foxley describes swiping through secure doors at the military base with his key card, the director shouting at him from behind. When he finally got outside he called the Brigadier, who sent out a military vehicle to collect him.

The James Bond-style escape from Saudi Arabia

"This is where things get a bit James Bond-y," he smiles.

Having collected some essentials from his house — which was "effectively like a luxurious penitentiary" — Foxley bumped into a colleague who'd been sent out as part of a group to look for him. Luckily, he says, the man owed him a favour. "I said, give me 10 minutes. And that was enough time for me to get out of the compound and lose the tail."

Foxley was taken to a safe house, and an army Colonel drove him to the airport later that night. As they said goodbye at passport control, the Colonel said, "if they've put a stop and hold [on your passport] they'll grab you here. I'll go up onto the platform and I'll watch. My first call is to the Ambassador, my second is to the Brigadier. Good luck."

Foxley steeled himself, presented his passport, and was let through. He waited until the plane was clear of Riyadh, then ordered a large whiskey and "collapsed."

Back in the UK, he spent a few days writing a report of his findings, which he sent to two "trusted sources" in 2010, with instructions to send it straight to the SFO if anything "happened to him," noting, "I'm not suicidal, by the way."

Foxley's report is currently sitting with the infamously slow SFO, which only began an investigation last year into possible fraud, bribery and corruption at Airbus. No charges have yet been brought, but Foxley expects action to be taken in the next six months, before SFO Director David Green retires in April.

Whether charges are brought, against whom and for what crimes, remains to be seen. According to Foxley, an added complication is that the GPT/Airbus contracts, which are still active, must have been approved by someone senior within the MoD; the original agreement was between the British and Saudi governments, although it was GPT/Airbus that carried out the work.

A MoD spokesperson said, "we understand that the SFO is conducting a criminal investigation into allegations concerning GPT Special Project Management and aspects of the conduct of their business in Saudi Arabia. It would be inappropriate to comment while that is ongoing."

The SFO declined to comment, since the investigation is ongoing.

Foxley is adamant action must be taken, in order to stamp out the notion that engaging in bribery is sometimes simply the "cost of doing business."

"How big do you have to be and how big does the client have to be to get away with it?" he says, "is it burglary or is it business?"

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The Canadian dollar hits its lowest level in 3.5 months after GDP unexpectedly shrinks

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

Canadian dollar

  • The Canadian dollar is trading at its lowest level since early July after Canada's GDP unexpectedly shrank in August.
  • The currency has lost about 7% since the Bank of Canada hiked rates at its September meeting.

 

The Canadian dollar, or loonie, is trading at its lowest level since early July, down 0.46% at 1.2893 per US dollar, after Canada's GDP unexpectedly shrank in August. 

Tuesday's GDP report showed the Canadian economy contracted 0.1% month-over-month, making for its first negative print in a year. Wall Street economists were expecting 0.1% MoM growth. Additionally, the economy grew at a 3.5% year-over-year clip, missing the 3.6% growth economists were anticipating. 

The loonie has been under pressure, falling about 7%, since shortly after the Bank of Canada surprised markets with a rate hike at its September meeting. At the time, the BOC said, "Recent economic data have been stronger than expected, supporting the Bank's view that growth in Canada is becoming more broad-based and self-sustaining."

As for where the Canadian dollar goes from here, Bank of America Merrill Lynch's John Shin says he's looking for 1.30 per dollar at year-end and three rate hikes in 2018.

"To the extent that rates have been driving the currency, we note that although our Canada Economics team ultimately looks for 3 rate hikes in 2018 out of the BOC, our US Economics team looks for a matching 3 rate hikes out of the Federal Reserve," Shin wrote. 

SEE ALSO: Canada's GDP unexpectedly shrinks

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

Calm Before the Storm? Bitcoin Price Trades Sideways After All-Time High

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

[…]

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Under Armour is plummeting after earnings (UA)

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

Under Armour


Under Armour reported mixed earnings on Tuesday before the bell, and slashed its foward-looking guidance for the rest of the year.

Shares are down 14.86% to $12.60 following the report.

The company reported adjusted earnings of $0.22 per share, beating the $0.19 that Wall Street was expecting. Revenue came in at $1.4 billion, missing the $1.48 billion that economists were looking for.

Under Armour slashed its earnings guidance from $0.18 to $0.20 from $0.37 to $0.40 for the rest of the year.

"Results clearly were poor," Randal Konik, an analyst at Jefferies, said in a note to clients. "While we like the momentum in direct to consumer, the positive trends in footwear, and the strength internationally, it was more than offset by weakness in North America, softness in wholesale, high inventory, operational difficulties, and a terrible outlook."

Competition in the sneaker and athletic apparel spaces are hot right now, with rivals like Adidas and Nike fighting Under Armour for their shares of consumer spending. The retail companies are battling amidst an ongoing retail apocalypse where malls and brick-and-mortar stores are shuttering nationwide due to shifting consumer habits.

It's not all bad news for Under Armour though, Konik said.

"The good news is the guidance is lowered so significantly that the company should be able to meet or beat its outlook," he said.

Under Armour is down 51.55% this year.

Read more about the company's earnings here...

Under Armour Stock price

SEE ALSO: Under Armour slashes its forecast for the rest of the year

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

Under Armour is plummeting after earnings (UA)

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

Under Armour


Under Armour reported mixed earnings on Tuesday before the bell, and slashed its foward-looking guidance for the rest of the year.

Shares are down 14.86% to $12.60 following the report.

The company reported adjusted earnings of $0.22 per share, beating the $0.19 that Wall Street was expecting. Revenue came in at $1.4 billion, missing the $1.48 billion that economists were looking for.

Under Armour slashed its earnings guidance from $0.18 to $0.20 from $0.37 to $0.40 for the rest of the year.

"Results clearly were poor," Randal Konik, an analyst at Jefferies, said in a note to clients. "While we like the momentum in direct to consumer, the positive trends in footwear, and the strength internationally, it was more than offset by weakness in North America, softness in wholesale, high inventory, operational difficulties, and a terrible outlook."

Competition in the sneaker and athletic apparel spaces are hot right now, with rivals like Adidas and Nike fighting Under Armour for their shares of consumer spending. The retail companies are battling amidst an ongoing retail apocalypse where malls and brick-and-mortar stores are shuttering nationwide due to shifting consumer habits.

It's not all bad news for Under Armour though, Konik said.

"The good news is the guidance is lowered so significantly that the company should be able to meet or beat its outlook," he said.

Under Armour is down 51.55% this year.

Read more about the company's earnings here...

Under Armour Stock price

SEE ALSO: Under Armour slashes its forecast for the rest of the year

Join the conversation about this story »

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

The 'mother of all causes' for the record-setting stock market is also everyone's biggest fear

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

animated trader

  • Concerted balance sheet expansion by central banks around the world has been the root cause of stock market gains during the 8 1/2-year bull market, says Cantor Fitzgerald's Peter Cecchini.
  • That global quantitative easing has been crucial in supporting earnings growth and helping economic expansion worldwide.
  • Now that the Federal Reserve is planning to unwind its massive balance sheet, investors are worried about what happens next.

 

For months, I've been hunting for a lasting explanation for the stock market's seemingly unstoppable rally.

My investigation has led me to consider earnings growth, which some say is the undisputed driver of share gains. Then there's surprisingly strong economic expansion, which some see as underpinning the move higher.

And if President Donald Trump is to be believed, he himself is responsible for the 8 1/2-year bull market's new highs — something I found to be true only in the months right after the election.

After my last story on the subject earlier this month, things took a crucial turn, when Peter Cecchini, chief market strategist and head of equity derivatives at Cantor Fitzgerald, sent me a message. He told me that while I was on the right track, I needed to get back to basics and recognize the root cause of the drivers outlined above.

"The mother of all causes is global central bank balance sheet accommodation and how aggressive they’ve been," Cecchini said on a follow-up phone call. "I don’t think it’s possible to deny the power of global rates."

To gain a true appreciation for the sheer amount of money pumped into the global economy by central banks, look at the chart below. The red line shows the Federal Reserve's balance sheet, while the blue one shows the aggregate sum of the Fed, European Central Bank, People's Bank of China and Bank of Japan.

CB balance sheets

And as you can see, the expansion has been an astronomical $13 trillion of capital pumped into markets around the world since the start of 2008. The US alone has seen its balance sheet grow by almost $4 trillion over the period, while the market value of US equities has expanded by $12 trillion since the financial crisis.

The way Cecchini looks at it, everything stems from this unprecedented stimulus, while the other factors I was looking at — namely earnings growth — are simply symptoms of it.

Near-zero interest rates have made massive stockpiles of money available to companies at a very low cost, and they've used much of it for share repurchases. With companies able to issue cheap debt, they've had a veritable war chest of capital to use to buy back their own stock — a tactic that causes immediate share price appreciation and helps the broader stock market through lean times.

Easy lending conditions have also allowed companies to use heaps of money on other endeavors, like M&A activity or internal capital expenditures. Goldman Sachs says that the latter practice — which involves investing money back into core businesses — is getting more important, and that stock traders are increasingly rewarding corporations for doing it.

But perhaps the most incredible facet of mass balance sheet expansion is that it's taking place this far along in the ongoing economic cycle, says Cecchini. He and his colleagues at Cantor Fitzgerald calculate that overall global central bank stimulus is roughly 10% the size of the S&P 500 — a historically unprecedented level.

And with that, Cecchini inspired an epiphany in me. The final answer to the burning question of what's driving stock market records had been staring me in the face all along — I just hadn't realized it.

Still, the hints were out there. Earlier this month, Business Insider asked a series of investors for their biggest market fears, and they all responded with the same answer: the unwinding of the Fed's balance sheet.

Of course. It makes perfect sense that the biggest looming worry for the market is the reversal of what got us here in the first place.

Now, my attention will shift to how investors will react to the scaling back of this unprecedented stimulus. Will the more symptomatic factors outlined above keep the market afloat?

It looks like that's the next big question I'll have to tackle.

SEE ALSO: If Trump is doing so horribly, why is the stock market doing so well?

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China’s Bitcoin Curtain Call a ‘Watershed Moment’, Says Huobi Founder

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

[…]

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

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

trader costume halloween

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

Here's Lutz:

Good Morning!  US Futures are in rally mode as the FOMC “Drift” and better Earnings roll thru.   QQQs your upside leader again, as FB, INTC and AAPL all add to recent gains as Internet heavyweights arrive in DC for a Grilling on Capitol Hill.   It’s a sea of green in Europe, but on light volume with Germany closed for Reunification Day – Most exchanges trading 20% light to trends.  IBEX continues to ramp higher, up nearly 1% - while Euro Stoxx50 is rallying 25bp as every group rallies except Fins.  Airlines are flying this AM on RyanAir #s – In London, BP leading energy Stocks Higher – but across the continent BNP is leading banks lower.  In Asia, TOPIX lost 30bp as Telecom came under pressure - Hang Seng off 30bp - Shanghai up small - KOSPI jumped 90bp as Sammy jumped 2% on #s - Aussie down 20bp despite the squeeze in Woolworths

Powell Positioning continuing, as the US 10YY is basically flat, drifting under the 2.4% level as we await the Fed tomorrow, Trump Thursday, and Jobs Friday.   Euro lower on heavy data - Better GDP and Employment offset by weaker CPI - $/Y had a nice bounce off 113 as BOJ stays on Hold – Sterling remains in rally mode ahead of the BoE hike this week, while that Aussie$ is hit again as Political angst ramps.  Ore shrugs off Weaker China PMI, climbing small, but drifting around June Lows, helping Copper hold Green, while Gold is floundering under $1275 as the stronger $  weighs.   Oil complex quiet early, with WTI holding multiple tests of $54, while Brent was rejected from $61 earlier this AM.  

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

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Canada's GDP unexpectedly shrinks

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

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  • Canada's GDP unexpectedly slumped in August, according to the latest report from Statistics Canada.
  • Canada's GDP fell by 0.1% month-over-month in August following the prior month's flat reading of 0.0%.
  • Economists were expecting GDP to tick up by 0.1%.
  • Statistics Canada said that declines in manufacturing and mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction "more than offset" the increases in other sectors.
  • Goods-producing industries shrank by 0.7%, while services-producing sectors ticked up by 0.1%.
  • Last week, the Bank of Canada held rates at 1.00%. The bank said the global and Canadian economies are progressing as outlined earlier this year, but cautioned that its outlook remains "subject to substantial uncertainty about geopolitical developments and fiscal trade policies" — including the on-going NAFTA re-negotiations.
  • The Canadian dollar dropped after the report. It was down by 0.5% at 1.2894 per US dollar at 8:31 a.m. ET.

SEE ALSO: Xi Jinping is officially China's most powerful leader since Mao — here's what that means for the economy

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Bitcoin Cash Rally Stalls as Traders Price in Possible Fork

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

The price of the bitcoin cash cryptocurrency is responding to news of a coming techncial shift – and the initial results don't seem positive.

Qchain Charts New Native Advertising Roadmap

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

qchain header

Today’s native advertising world, where a publication's editorial content is paid for by an advertiser to promote their product or service is fraught with challenges threatening the ad industry. Due in part to the growing dominance of digital media giants like Facebook, Google, and Amazon, display advertising conversions continue to experience a decline. This trend has spurred efforts to find new solutions for navigating the prevailing advertising ecosystem in a scalable, trustworthy and secure way.


A Viable Solution in the Blockchain?


This nascent technology, which undergirds Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, is certainly garnering attention in the ad tech industry. In the past 18 months, companies like MadHive, Basic Attention Token (BAT) and adChain have come to market employing blockchain protocols to applications in the digital advertising supply chain.


One creative approach to solving problems in the ad tech supply chain is an application being developed on the Ethereum and NEM blockchains by Qchain. The open source platform will use blockchain technology to facilitates transactional engagement between advertisers and content publishers, while being mediated and arbitrated by hosts. Akin to Google AdSense Network, Qchain is targeting a three-pronged approach (advertiser, publisher, and host) with an emphasis on a proof-of-interaction transaction verification system.


What makes Qchain unique as opposed to other adtech blockchain startups is its ability to subtly shift the digital advertising model in a way that’s more favorable to advertisers. User experience and ease-of-use has therefore emerged as a top priority in the company’s development amid an environment of advertisers and publishers who are traditionally fairly conservative when it comes to change.  As in the case of BAT, Qchain aims to focus more on conversions versus rewarding users for their attention.


Amid its growing involvement in the intersection between blockchain technology and advertising, Qchain champions the notion that Ethereum and NEM are the two most promising enterprise-centric blockchain hubs currently in development. The former allows for ease in development of decentralized smart contracts; the latter skillfully delivers the Proof-of-Importance (POI) algorithm and the EigenTrust++ reputation system to encourage transactions. Users therefore will have maximum choice at their disposal, opting for the blockchain that most accurately suits their needs.


The infrastructural foundation of Qchain consists of four main elements: the advertiser section, the publisher section, the host section and the marketplace. A user can serve as both an advertiser and publisher.


Qchain’s Multidisciplinary Beginnings


“The members of the team and I are curious about the world, and a wide variety of academic subjects,” said CEO Wally Xie about Qchain’s ambitious direction. “Therefore we like to go where there are complex problems to solve.”


Xie has long been fascinated by complex systems, and therefore saw blockchains are also an extension of that. At the National Institutes of Health, he  worked on using neural networks to simulate and replicate human brain behavior. Now at the University of California Irvine he is  working on comparing complicated mathematical climate models using Bayesian statistics. “Brains and climate are complex systems, and so are blockchains,” says Xie.


After a few years of following the blockchain industry and its meteoric climb, Xie saw the “third generation” of crypto enthusiasts as well as the concept of tokenization as paths to opening up more opportunities for blockchain technology’s application. At the end of last year, he started brainstorming business and technical problems that could be solved by decentralization and transparency.


While daydreaming in class one day in early 2017 (he’s currently pursuing a PhD in Mathematical Biology at UC Irvine), Xie began comparing blockchain technology with what he had learned working for the social media management firm Sprout Social. Xie realized that blockchains could make payouts and transactions in advertising and marketing cheaper and more convenient. He believes that the transparency of blockchain technology makes it easier to spot ad fraud post-hoc, harder to get away with things like SSP arbitrage, and improves the bargaining power of advertisers and publishers in the digital advertising ecosystem. He also appreciates that it allows an easy way to transfer funds directly between advertisers and publishers without a central deposit.


“Of course, my views have gotten more nuanced,” admitted Xie. “I have learned that there are parties in the digital advertising ecosystem that do not want transparency. I am also of the opinion that the decline of standard web display advertising and anemic conversion rates of ads was a far larger problem than ad fraud in digital advertising.”


The first digital marketplace for native advertising


As their  roadmap states, Qchain has recently launched a demo for Qchain Native Direct Buy, the first piece of the platform. This part of the application will focus on creating a marketplace enabling simple and easy transactions of native ad units between content publishers and advertisers.


Xie said, “Native advertising buys are being conducted in an inefficient manner right now. Content publishers have large, unwieldy sales teams and have to do a lot of cold calls. Advertisers have to search for publishers and individually contact them to shop for native ads via phone, email or in-person meetings; they do not have convenient means of seeing available native ad units for sale in one place.”


Here is where Native Direct Buy comes in. Qchain aims to help solve these problems by providing a singular and accessible marketplace for advertisers and content publishers, such as BuzzFeed and Vox, to efficiently transact in native ad units. Blockchain technology, Xie pointed out, contributes to this idea by allowing advertisers to directly pay content publishers through cryptocurrency and potentially future tokenized fiat accounts, rather than going through a centralized deposit system. Additionally, Xie suggested that a Native Direct Buy on the blockchain is more feasible to execute in the short term than a prototypical ad exchange based on blockchain scaling problems that cannot handle high transaction volume.


Xie said that the company is also in the process of developing their second application, Qchain Surveys, which will provide an enterprise paid survey service for marketers, pollsters and academics to inform their research.


“We will add applications in the future as we see fit to fill out the platform and fulfill our aims of building an entire end-to-end ecosystem for digital marketers and advertisers to run their whole workflow on blockchain technology,” Xie pointed out.


Qchain also has taken the rare step of developing a ready-to-employ, fully tested platform in advance of their ICO campaign - an approach that runs counter to most blockchain projects whose white paper/website only campaigns have given the ICO scene a bit of a black mark.


Xie concludes: “We want to be an example of a sustainable, ethical company that grew from a legally compliant ICO. We want to make the sponsored content sales process more convenient and easy for content publishers, so that they can spend more time working on projects that also are not sponsored and satisfy their journalistic responsibilities.”


The post Qchain Charts New Native Advertising Roadmap appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Under Armour slashes its forecast for the rest of the year (UAA)

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

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  • Under Armour beat on earnings, but missed on revenue.
  • The company lowered its earnings and sales forecast for the rest of the year.

 

Under Armour's stock is down about 6% after the company posted mixed third-quarter results and lowered its sales and earnings outlook for the rest of the year. 

The athletic-apparel company earned an adjusted $0.22 per share as revenue fell 5% to $1.4 billion. Wall Street was looking for $0.19 on revenue of $1.48 billion, according to the Bloomberg consensus. It also announced an $89 million restructuring charge.

Under Armour now sees full-year adjusted earnings per share of $0.18 to $0.20, well below its previous forecast of $0.37 to $0.40. It also sees North American revenue up at a low single-digit percentage rate "reflecting lower North American demand and operational challenges due to the implementation of the company's enterprise resource planning system and related service levels," the earnings release said. 

"While our international business continues to deliver against our ambition of building a global brand, operational challenges and lower demand in North America resulted in third quarter revenue that was below our expectations," Under Armour Chairman and CEO Kevin Plank said in the earnings release. "Based on these issues in our largest market, we believe it is prudent to reduce our sales and earnings outlook for the remainder of 2017."

Before Tuesday's results, shares of Under Armour were down 43.51% this year. 

Under Armour

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Hottest New ICO of 2017 – Bitcoin ATM Project

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

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RYANAIR CEO: The government is underestimating Brexit risk of 'serious disruption' to flights

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

Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary reacts during a news conference in London, Britain August 31, 2016.

  • "There remains a worrying risk of a serious disruption to UK-EU flights in April 2019 unless a timely UK-EU bilateral is agreed in advance of September 2018."
  • Ryanair one of a growing number of businesses warning that clarity is needed by early next year.


LONDON — The CEO of budget airline Ryanair warned on Tuesday that the government continues to underestimate the risks posed by Brexit to air travel.

Michael O'Leary said in a statement: "There remains a worrying risk of a serious disruption to UK-EU flights in April 2019 unless a timely UK-EU bilateral is agreed in advance of September 2018.

"We worry that the UK government continues to underestimate the likelihood of such a flight disruption to/from the UK."

Chancellor Philip Hammond told MPs earlier this month that flights between the UK and the EU could be grounded post-Brexit in the "most extreme scenario."

O'Leary said the airline industry needs clarity on a UK-EU Brexit deal by next summer as that is when airlines will publish their schedules for the year ahead. "Time is running short for the UK to develop a bilateral solution," O'Leary warned.

Ryanair joins a growing list of businesses saying there is an urgent need for clarity from the government on Brexit transition arrangements and future trading agreements. Business chiefs from five top lobby groups wrote to the government earlier this month to warn that companies will begin to execute contingency plans early next year unless the government can guarantee they will still have some trading relationship with Europe.

O'Leary's warning came in Ryanair's half-year results, which showed strong revenue and profit growth despite thousands of booking being cancelled in September due to a pilot rostering error.

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The UK has seen the biggest gender pay-gap rise of all the main EU economies

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

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  • Britain saw the biggest increase in its gender pay gap of all the main economies in Europe, according to new figures from the European Commission.
  • The UK's pay gap increased from 19.7% in 2014 to 20.8% in 2015, performing fifth worst.
  • The EU-wide gap is the equivalent of women working for free for two months of the year, according to the Commission.

 

LONDON — Britain saw the biggest increase in its gender pay gap in 2015 of all the main European economies, according to new statistics from the European Commission.

The UK's gender pay gap — the difference in how much men and women are paid hourly on average — rose from 19.7% in 2014 to 20.8% in 2015, the biggest increase of any Europe's main economies.

The latest figures show the UK's gap was bigger than the EU's average pay gap, which stood at 16.3%, and the UK performed fifth worst for gender pay equality of all the major European economies. Germany was third worst, at 22% in 2015, while the Czech Republic's gap was about 23% and Estonia's was about 26%.

According to EU figures, the gap is equivalent to women continuing to work for the remainder of the year but not being paid after early November.

"It is an unacceptable and shocking injustice that women in 21st century Europe work two months a year for free," Vera Jourova, EU commissioner for justice, consumers and gender equality, told the Financial Times.

"This gender pay gap has remained the same for many years — it is still very similar to in 1995," she said.

The EU's gender pay gap was about 25% in 1995. Although it has improved since this, progress has been slow in many countries, and men continue to dominate highly-paid and senior roles.

When the measurement takes additional elements into account, such as hours worked and career breaks for women, the EU-wide gap stands at 39.6%, and the UK's gap stands at 45%. According to European Commission figures, only 6% of chief executives in the EU are women.

From April next year UK companies with more than 250 employees will be required to publish their gender pay gap, including details of hourly wages and bonuses.

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Gordon Brown: Bankers are still being 'rewarded for failure'

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

Gordon Brown

  • Former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown has strongly criticised the British banking system for failing to change following the 2008 financial crisis.
  • He argues in a new book that bankers are still being paid too much, and there are insufficient deterrents against misconduct and recklessness.
  • Banks deemed "too big to fail" are "now even bigger," he says.

 

LONDON — Former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown has vehemently attacked the British banking system, arguing in his new book that it failed to learn from the lessons of the 2008 financial crisis.

In his book My Life, Our Times, due to be published on November 7, Brown says "little had changed since the promise in 2009 that we bring finance to heel." He condemns the banking system for continuing to pay bankers huge sums, arguing there are still insufficient checks and balances.

"The banks that were deemed 'too big to fail' are now even bigger," he says. "2009 has proved to be the turning point at which history has failed to turn."

Brown served as prime minister from 2007 to 2010, and stepped down as an MP in 2015. But he also served as chancellor for a decade before becoming prime minister, during the lead up to the crisis when the banking system had gone unchecked.

Brown warns that bankers are still being "rewarded for failure," criticizing a system in which he says they are paid too much and bailed out when things go wrong.

"If bankers' conduct was dishonest by the ordinary standards of what is reasonable and honest, should there not have been prosecutions in the UK as we have seen in Ireland, Iceland, Spain and Portugal," he asks. Instead of being held criminally responsible for malpractice and recklessness, says Brown, the number of UK-based bankers earning more than €1 million has jumped by 50% to over 4,000 since the crisis.

This soft touch, he says, will "only give a green light to similar risk-laden behaviour in new forms."

Although the UK introduced a new criminal change of reckless misconduct in financial services in 2016, Brown says bankers can circumvent this charge by claiming their behaviour was a product of structural problems within their institutions, and beyond their control.

A "more relevant" tool, he says, would be the 2006 fraud act, "which criminalizes fraud by false representation, failing to disclose information and abuse of position."

Brown also heavily criticised former Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) chief executive Fred Goodwin, who was fired and stripped of his knighthood following RBS' £45 billion bailout in 2009.

"By the time the bank collapsed he [Goodwin] had from his company a private suite in the Savoy costing £700,000 a year, a fleet of 12 chauffeur-driven Mercedes limousines with RBS emblazoned all over them, and he regularly used a private jet at the weekend — whether for boar hunting in Spain or following the glamorous F1 circuit around the world," says Brown.

He also said Goodwin had been the only banker to oppose a plan to spend up to £1 billion of "orphan assets" — those left behind by customers who had disappeared or died, without instructions for the future — on community causes.

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Ryanair's cancellation crisis will cost it at least €125 million

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

A Ryanair plane is seen at Lisbon's airport, Portugal June 24, 2016.

  • Ryanair cancelled thousands of flights in September after pilot rostering error.
  • The budget airline spent €25 million on compensation for customers and expects to spend an extra €100 million per year on new deals for pilots.
  • CEO Michael O'Leary attacks "campaign of misinformation by competitor airline pilot unions."
  • Half-year profits up 11%, revenue up 7%.


LONDON — Ryanair on Tuesday said refunds to passengers and new deals for pilots will cost it €70 million (£61.6 million) over the next six months, in the wake of its cancellation crisis.

Ryanair was forced to cancel thousands of bookings in September after what the airline said at the time was a pilot rostering error. Reports later emerged suggesting Ryanair was struggling to attract and retain pilots.

The budget airline said refunds to customers cost it €25 million (£22 million) in the six months to the end of September.

CEO Michael O'Leary said in a statement that the crisis has also "challenged us to address the competitiveness of our pilot pay, as well as pilot concerns about communications, career progression and basing.

"We will now move from being "competitive" to offering materially higher (over 20%) pay with better career prospects, superior rosters, and much better job security than Norwegian, among others, can offer," he said.

The new contracts will cost Ryanair an estimated €45 million (£39.6 million) in the second half of its financial year and as much as €100 million (£88 million) in a full year.

'Competitor unions will continue to rail and fail'

Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O’Leary poses for a picture after a news conference in Berlin, Germany, September 14, 2017.While O'Leary made concessions to pilots' demands, he appeared unrepentant about Ryanair's previous practices.

He attacked a "renewed campaign of misinformation by competitor airline pilot unions," adding: "We understand that the reason they wish to denigrate Ryanair is because their airlines cannot compete with us."

"As usual when these union airlines fail, such as Monarch, Air Berlin and Alitalia in recent months, their pilots all come to Ryanair seeking jobs that pay up to €175,000 p.a., deliver a double bank holiday weekend every week, with the best promotions record and, the best job security in Europe," O'Leary said.

"We will continue to work hard to deliver for our people, our customers and our shareholders while these competitor unions will continue to rail and fail."

O'Leary's bullish comments came as Ryanair reported strong half-year results despite September's crisis. Results to September 30 show:

  • Revenue up 7% to €4.4 billion (£3.8 billion).
  • Customer numbers up 11% to 72.1 million.
  • Pre-tax profits up 11% to €1.2 billion (£1 billion).

"These strong H1 results reinforce the robust nature of Ryanair's low fare, pan-European growth model even during a period which suffered a material failure in our pilot rostering function in early September," O'Leary said.

Ryanair says it expects customer growth to slow to 4% in the second half of the year as a result of cancelled flights and says costs in the second half of the year will rise by 2% as a result of the measures to address the cancellation crisis.

Full year profits are still forecast to be between €1.4 billion and €1.45 billion but the airline says this is "heavily dependent on close-in H2 bookings, the absence of any further security events, ATC strikes or negative Brexit developments."

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WPP: 3 factors that make 2017 a 'different kettle of fish' for the advertising industry

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

martin sorrell

  • Ad giant WPP's revenue fell 2% in the third quarter on a constant currency basis.
  • The company blamed a philosophy of cost-cutting at major clients, driven by the growth of internet retailing, management consultants, and activist investors.
  • But WPP said: "Many companies have talked about increasing spend again as volumes growth has been reduced."


LONDON — Advertising giant WPP has blamed a cost-cutting drive at large companies for a 2% fall in third-quarter revenue, warning that 2017 could be one of the toughest years for the marketing industry since the fall of Lehman Brothers in 2008.

WPP said in its third-quarter results, released on Tuesday, that the industry had bounced back from the financial crisis with a series of record years, but "2017 has, however, been a different kettle of fish, with top-line growth slowing across the industry."

The conglomerate, a bellwether for the advertising and branding industry, said three key factors have combined to push companies to cut costs sharply. They are:

  • The growth of online retailers: "The rise and rise of Amazon poses significant challenges in search and advertising for Google especially and its control of data and private label creates similar challenges for big brands."
  • Management consultants: "Very few CEOs will resist the suggestion that they may be overspending and the promise of an audit or review that will only cost a proportion of any cost savings generated or a contingency fee."
  • Distortions from loose monetary policy and the rise of activist investors: "There is little or no doubt that this third factor has had a significant, almost Pavlovian impact on variable cost reduction and encouraging a short-term focus, particularly in the fast-moving consumer goods sector, which accounts for about 30% of our revenue."

While a philosophy of cost-cutting took hold in 2017, WPP said spending may pick up again next year as sales of consumer goods fall.

"Most experienced package goods executives say, that the alarm bells ring when volumes stagnate or start to tail off and there are fewer users," WPP said. "After reductions in marketing spending in the first half of this year, many companies have talked about increasing spend again as volume growth has been reduced."

WPP shares fell around 0.7% at the open in London:WPP

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Vietnamese University Plans to Accept Bitcoin Despite Central Bank Ban

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

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Bitcoin Cash Developers Set Date for November Hard Fork

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

The developers behind bitcoin cash are aiming to change the blockchain's rules in a software update set for November.

10 things you need to know in markets today

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

FILE PHOTO: Goldman Sachs Chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein speaks at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum in New York, U.S., September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

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

1. Two senior bankers have called for clarity over Britain’s future relationship with the European Union, warning that jobs and investment depend on a prompt decision, the Times reports. Stuart Gulliver, outgoing chief executive of HSBC, and Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive of Goldman Sachs, struck separate upbeat notes yesterday about London’s prospects after Brexit, but emphasised that decisions needed to be made quickly about Britain’s trading relationship with the EU once it has left the bloc.

2. Nationwide has paved the way for an across-the-board increase in mortgage costs by announcing that a 0.25% interest rate rise would be passed on in full to its 600,000-plus variable-rate home loan customers, the Guardian reports. The building society said that if, as is widely expected, the Bank of England lifts the base rate by 0.25% to 0.5% on Thursday, it would increase both of its variable rates by 0.25%.

3. Chemicals giant Ineos has bought Belstaff, the British heritage fashion brand, in the latest off-centre move by its founder and chairman, billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, a month after he unveiled plans to start making cars, the Telegraph reports. On announcing its purchase of Belstaff, Ineos cited its "links to automotive".

4. Philip Hammond is pinning his hopes for a successful budget next month on a hedge fund economist, the Times reports. The chancellor said yesterday that Steffan Ball, chief economist at Citadel, a $26 billion hedge fund based in Chicago, was his new economic adviser.

5. The growing number of high net worth individuals willing to pay for someone else to help them make lifestyle and travel decisions has prompted concierge Ten to seek a stock market flotation, the Telegraph reports. The London-based company is eyeing a listing on the junior Aim market in a bid to raise £40m and help it continue its domestic growth as well as increase its overseas footprint.

6. Pearson is understood to be nearing a sale of its English-language teaching business to two Asian private equity funds for up to $400 million, the Times reports. The educational publisher has identified the business as ripe for disposal as part of a fire sale of assets.

7. Japan's Nikkei share average slipped on Tuesday, taking its cue from losses on Wall Street after a report that U.S. lawmakers are discussing more gradual corporate tax cuts rather than reducing it more aggressively, Retuers reports. The Nikkei was down 0.4 percent at 21,933.52 at the end of morning trading. On Monday, the Nikkei ended flat after hitting a 21-year intraday high, while the broader Topix fell 0.4 percent to 1,763.64 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 fell 0.5 percent to 15,599.79.

8. A pack of hedge funds is closing in on a takeover of BrightHouse, Britain's biggest rent-to-own retailer, just days after it was slapped with a £15m compensation bill by the City watchdog, Sky reports. BrightHouse's bondholders have set an informal deadline of 6 November to strike a deal to restructure its balance sheet‎.

9. Google attacked the European Union for basing its record-breaking €2.4bn (£2.1bn) penalty in June against the search-engine giant on untested antitrust theories and ignoring the competitive pressure exerted by the likes of Amazon and eBay, the Independent reports. Google contends that a fine “was not warranted” on grounds that the European Commission put forward a novel theory and previously signalled the case could be solved without a financial penalty by initially seeking an amicable solution with the Alphabet unit.

10. The price of butter is exploding in Europe, with a shortage hitting France, one of the continent's biggest consumers. The price of 100 kgs of butter has jumped from just over €400 at the start of the year to close to €600, according to the EU's Milk Market Observatory. Prices are rising amid a shortage of supply across the world.

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: tcolson@businessinsider.com.

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(+) Cryptocurrency Analysis: Bitcoin Retreats from Record Highs as Rally Stalls

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

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Meet Earn.com: 21 Rebrands Social Network In Shift Away from Bitcoin

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

21 Inc, once a maker of bitcoin mining hardware, is rebranding to emphasize its recent focus on using digital currency to power a social network.

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