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White House Is Quietly Modeling For $200 Oil "Shock"

White House Is Quietly Modeling For $200 Oil "Shock" While the Biden administration is hoping and praying that someone - anyone - will watch the comical "Jan 6" kangaroo hearsay court taking place in Congress and meant to somehow block Trump from running for president in 2024 while also making hundreds of millions of Americans forget that the current administration could very well be the worst in US history, it is quietly preparing for the worst. As none other than pro-Biden propaganda spinmaster CNN reports, when it comes to what really matters (at least according to Gallup), namely the economy, and specifically galloping gasoline prices, the White House is in a historic shambles. For an administration that ended last year forecasting a leveling off of 40-year high inflation and eager to tout a historically rapid recovery from the pandemic-driven economic crisis, there is a level of frustration that comes with an acutely perilous moment. Asked by CNN about progress on a seemingly intractable challenge, another senior White House official responded flatly: "Which one?" The suspects behind the historic implosion are well known: "soaring prices, teetering poll numbers and congressional majorities that appear to be on the brink have created no shortage of reasons for unease. Gas prices are hovering at or around $5 per gallon, plastered on signs and billboards across the country as a symbolic daily reminder of the reality -- one in which White House officials are extremely aware -- that the country's view of the economy is growing darker and taking Biden's political future with it." "You don't have to be a very sophisticated person to know how lines of presidential approval and gas prices go historically in the United States," a senior White House official told CNN. A CNN Poll of Polls average of ratings for Biden's handling of the presidency finds that 39% of Americans approve of the job he's doing. His numbers on the economy, gas prices and inflation specifically are even worse in recent polls. What CNN won't tell you is that Biden is now polling well below Trump at this time in his tenure. The CNN article then goes into a lengthy analysis of what is behind the current gasoline crisis (those with lots of time to kill can read it here) and also tries to explains, without actually saying it, that the only thing that can fix the problem is more supply, but - as we first explained - this can't and won't happen because green fanatics and socialist environmentalists will never agree to boosting output. Which brings us to the punchline: as CNN's Phil Mattingly writes, "instead of managing an economy in the midst of a natural rotation away from recovery and into a stable period of growth, economic officials are analyzing and modeling worst-case scenarios like what the shock of gas prices hitting $200 per barrel may mean for the economy." Well, in an article titled "Give us a plan or give us someone to blame", this seems like both a plan, and someone to blame. But unfortunately for Biden - and CNN which is hoping to reset expectations - it's only going to get worse, because as we noted moments ago, while nobody was paying attention, Cushing inventories dropped to just 1 million away from operational bottoms at roughly 20MM barrels. This means that the US is officially looking at tank bottoms. But wait, there's more... or rather, it's even worse, because as even Bloomberg's chief energy guru Javier Blas notes, over the last 2 weeks, the US gov has drained 13.7 million barrels from the SPR, "and yet, commercial oil stockpiles still fell 3 million barrels over the period." Just imagine, Blas asks rhetorically, "if the SPR wasn't there. Or what would happen post-Oct when sales end." OIL MARKET: Over the last 2 weeks, the US gov has injected 13.7 million barrels from the SPR into the market. And yet, commercial oil stockpiles still fell 3 million barrels over the period. Just imagine if the SPR wasn't there. Or what would happen post-Oct when sales end #OOTT — Javier Blas (@JavierBlas) June 29, 2022 And here is the punchline: at the current record pace of SPR drainage, one way or another the Biden admin will have to end its artificial attempts to keep the price of oil lower some time in October (or risk entering a war with China over Taiwan with virtually no oil reserve). This means that unless Putin ends his war some time in the next 5 months, there is a non-trivial chance that oil will hit a record price around $200 - precisely the price the White House is bracing for - a few days before the midterms. While translates into $10+ gasoline. And while one can speculate how much longer Democrats can continue the "Jan 6" dog and pony show as the entire economy implodes around them, how America will vote in November when gas is double digits should not be a mystery to anyone. Tyler Durden Wed, 06/29/2022 - 13:05.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 29th, 2022

Shinzo Abe assassination as it happened: Party of the former prime minister dominates parliamentary election following his assassination

Abe, who stepped down in 2020, was shot during a campaign attack on Friday, July 8, 2022. A 41-year-old man was arrested at the scene. Former Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.Pool/Getty Images Shinzo Abe, Japan's former leader, is dead after being shot during a campaign event Friday, July 8, 2022. The assassination has shocked Japan, a nation with one of the world's lowest gun-crime rates. The suspect is said to have worked in the Japanese navy and had gun training. Japan's right-wing Liberal Democratic Party dominates parliamentary election following the assassination of Shinzo Abe, who led the party for 8 consecutive yearsFumio Kishida, Japan's prime minister and president of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), places a rose on an LDP candidate's name, to indicate a victory in the upper house election, at the party's headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, on Sunday, July 10, 2022.Toru Hanai / Pool/Anadolu Agency via Getty ImagesJapan's right-wing Liberal Democratic Party dominated the country's parliamentary election just two days after  former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was assassinated. On July 8, Abe was killed in the Western city of Nara during a campaign speech by a man who used a homemade gun.During Sunday's House of Councillors election, Kyodo News reported the LDP and its coalition partner Komeito secured more than 75 seats, giving the parties a majority in the 248-member upper chamber of parliament.Read Full StoryPossible Moonies link to the assassination of Shinzo Abe. Suspect was motivated by anger towards a religious group he blamed for mother's bankruptcy, reports say.Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam's Kilo Pier on December 27, 2016 in Honolulu, Hawaii.Kent Nishimura/Getty ImagesThe man arrested on suspicion of fatally shooting former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday might have been motivated by anger towards the controversial religious group known as the Moonies, reports say.Suspect Yamagami Tetsuya, 41, told investigators he believed the Japanese leader was linked to a religious group that he blamed for his mother's financial problems, according to Japanese newspaper The Mainichi Shimbun.Read Full StoryShinzo Abe's body arrives in Tokyo after he was fatally shotA hearse transporting the body of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe arrives at his residence in Tokyo on July 9, 2022.Kazuhiro NOGI / AFPShinzo Abe's body was brought back to Tokyo on Saturday.The day prior, Abe was in Nara giving a campaign speech when he was shot by a former member of Japan's navy.Abe's body was carried in a black hearse as he arrived at his home in Shibuya where mourners lowered their heads as the vehicle passed. Killing shocks country unused to gun violenceThe assassination of a former prime minister is all the more shocking due to the rarity of gun violence in Japan."There could be some Japanese people who go their entire lives and never really handle a gun or see a gun in the open," Iain Overton, who runs Action on Armed Violence, a London-based research group that aims to reduce gun violence, told Insider."There is no fear of gun violence anywhere," Overton said. "There's no drive-by shootings, there's no road rage. There's no mass shootings in schools."In 2021, there was only one shooting death in the country.The man suspected of killing former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe used what appears to be a homemade gun. That's at least in part due to how difficult it is to legally own a gun in Japan, where a license requires testimonies from friends and family, as well as a background check and mental health exam.Read Full StoryBiden 'outraged' after Abe is assassinated at campaign eventPresident Joe BidenSTEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty ImagesPresident Joe Biden on Friday condemned the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.The US president said he is "stunned, outraged, and deeply saddened" by the 67-year-old's death during a campaign event in the western Japanese city of Nara."This is a tragedy for Japan and for all who knew him," Biden said in a statement. Read More Video shows the moment before Abe's assassinationStill from Japanese TV footage showing Shinzo Abe assassination suspect standing behind Abe moments before the shooting in Nara, western Japan, on July 8, 2022. Illustration by Insider.Nippon TV 24/InsiderVideos taken moments before Shinzo Abe's assassination show the shooting suspect standing closely behind the former Japanese leader with little visible security.The footage — which appeared to be from a bystander — showed a gunman walking slowly toward Abe, raising his gun and immediately firing two shots.Security guards tackled the man to the ground moments after the attack. He appeared to be wearing a grey shirt, cargo pants, and a white face mask.Police said the shooting suspect shot Abe from around 10 feet away using a homemade gun.Read Full StoryShinzo Abe assassination shocks Japan, which had one of the world's lowest rates of gun crimeFormer Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's assassination has shocked Japan, a country with one of the world's lowest rates of gun crime and strict laws around procuring firearms.This graph above shows Japan's firearm homicide rates between 1990 and 2019 compared to the US.People can't buy handguns in Japan, only shotguns and air rifles, as Insider previously reported.Procuring those weapons also requires a number of steps, including passing a mental-health evaluation and a background check that includes interviews with friends and family.Read Full StoryShinzo Abe assassination suspect spent 3 years in the Japanese navy and had trained with gunsScreenshot from social-media video shows the moment gunfire rings out during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's campaign speech in Nara, western Japan, on July 8, 2022.Takenobu Nakajima via ReutersJapanese police said they arrested a 41-year-old man on suspicion of attempted murder and seized a weapon, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported. NHK, citing defense-ministry sources, reported that the suspect worked for Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force — or the Japanese navy — for three years until 2005, during which he was trained with guns.Read Full StoryShinzo Abe was only confirmed as speaker one day before event where he was killed, deepening questions around assassinationAbe after arriving for his speech in Nara, Japan, on July 8, 2022.Twitter @makichanman37 via ReutersFormer Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's campaign visit on Friday morning was only confirmed late the night before, the BBC reported. That detail raises questions about how his killer was able to act so quickly.Abe was giving a speech near a train station in the western city of Nara at around 11:30 a.m. local time when he was shot twice from behind.Police arrested a 41-year-old man at the scene and seized a weapon, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper said. Officials did not immediately suggest a motive or comment on any planning around the attack.Read Full StoryPhoto shows seemingly home-made gun used to kill AbeA still showing the gun purportedly used to shoot former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on July 8, 2022.NHKImages of the gun purportedly used to shoot former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe show a rudimentary, seemingly home-made device that nonetheless was able to kill.Japan's public broadcaster NHK broadcast images of the weapon seen lying on the road near the site of the attack. Other close-up images of the gun have spread across Japanese social media. The gun appears to be homemade and rudimentary: two metal barrels attached to a wooden board with black tape. It is is extremely hard to obtain guns in Japan, with the country boasting some of Asia's strictest gun laws. Handguns are banned and citizens can only buy shotguns and air rifles, pending a stringent background check.Read Full StoryShinzo Abe dead at 67Shinzo Abe in August 28, 2020.Frank Robichon/Pool/AFP/Getty ImagesFormer Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has died after being shot on the campaign trail. He was 67.He was shot around 11:30 a.m. local time Friday while giving a speech in Nara, a western Japanese city 35 kilometers south of Kyoto. He was immediately airlifted to Nara Medical University Hospital without vital signs of life, hospital officials told a Friday news conference. Abe had lost a lot of blood, and medics attempted to resuscitate him and give him blood transfusions, the officials said, per The Washington Post.He was confirmed dead at 5:03 p.m., the hospital said.Read Full StoryPhotos and videos show chaos on the scene following the attackFormer Japan PM Shinzo AbePhoto by KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty ImagesPhotos and videos circulating on Twitter captured the chaotic scene that unfolded after former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot during a campaign trail speech on Friday.He had been campaigning for Sunday's upper house election in the city of Nara in western Japan.A Twitter video using footage from Japanese public broadcaster NHK depicted what appears to be the moment Abe was shot.In the video, Abe can be seen giving a speech before two loud gunshots ring out. Within seconds, officials can be seen tackling a man in a grey shirt to the ground. The video then zooms in on what appears to be two cylinders wrapped in black tape on the ground.Read Full StoryDoctors are working 'very hard' to save Abe, current prime minister saysJapanese Prime Minister Fumio KishidaBehrouz Mehri, Pool/Getty ImagesJapanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that doctors are working "very hard" to save former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's life after the latter was shot in Nara city on Friday.During a press conference, a visibly distraught Kishida said Abe was in "critical condition" and that he was praying for the former leader's survival."I would like to use the most extreme words available to condemn this act," Kishida added, describing the shooting as "barbaric."He said that all Japanese Cabinet members who were on the campaign trail ahead of Sunday's Upper House elections have been told to Tokyo.Read Full Story Political leaders from around the world shocked by the shooting, share reactionsFormer Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo AbePhoto by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty ImagesCurrent and past political leaders from around the world have reacted with shock to the news of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's shooting on Friday.US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel said he was "saddened" by the shooting and praised Abe for being "an unwavering ally" of the US. Meanwhile, Israeli Ambassador to Japan Gilad Cohen expressed his concern for Abe and commemorated the latter's commitment to building diplomacy between their nations. "One of Japan's leading leaders, Abe, was the driving force behind the building of today's friendly relations between Israel and Japan, and the strong bond between the two countries would not have been possible without his presence," Cohen tweeted.Former President Donald Trump also shared his thoughts on the incident, describing Abe as a "truly great man and leader.""He was a true friend of mine and, much more importantly, America. This is a tremendous blow to the wonderful people of Japan, who loved and admired him so much," said Trump in a post on his Truth Social platform.Insider took at some of the reactions from leaders worldwide to the incident.Read Full StoryFootage from scene shows security officers tackling man to the ground—BNO News (@BNONews) July 8, 2022Footage from NHK News showed security officers at the scene of Friday's shooting tackling a man to the ground.In the clip, two loud bangs can be heard before the officers are seen apprehending a man dressed in brown pants and a t-shirt. A zoomed-in shot also shows what appears to be a device comprised of two pipes wrapped in black tape lying on the road.According to local reports, a 41-year-old man was arrested at the scene over the incident.Read Full StoryAuthorities say Abe suffered a gunshot wound to his neck and has bleeding in his chestFormer Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe.Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty ImagesFormer Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe suffered a gunshot wound to the right side of his neck during Friday's attack, Kyodo News reported, citing information from Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.Abe, who was airlifted to a hospital in Nara, also has "subcutaneous bleeding in his left chest," per the outlet.The former Japanese leader was shot on Friday while delivering a speech in Nara. Authorities have arrested a 41-year-old man in connection with the incident.Read Full StoryVideo shows Abe being airlifted to a hospital in Nara—Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) July 8, 2022A video tweeted by Bloomberg following the shooting of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday showed medical personnel transporting him to a hospital in Nara via helicopter.Read Full StoryFormer Japanese PM Shinzo Abe shotFormer Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe collapsed while making a speech in the city of Nara, around one hour from Kyoto, according to local media reports.Japanese news outlet NHK reported that Abe was seen falling to the ground bleeding at around 11.30 a.m. local time. NHK reported that its reporter heard a gunshot going off in the vicinity while Abe was speaking. The former prime minister appeared to be showing no vital signs after the attack, Kyodo News reported, citing information from the Japanese authorities.NHK shared what appeared to be a video of the scene, which showed chaos and smoke, and what looked to be people surrounding a prone Abe. Read Full StoryRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJul 11th, 2022

Live updates: Party of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dominates parliamentary election following his assassination

Abe, who stepped down in 2020, was shot during a campaign attack on Friday. A 41-year-old man was arrested at the scene. Former Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.Pool/Getty Images Shinzo Abe, Japan's former leader, is dead after being shot during a campaign event Friday. The assassination has shocked Japan, a nation with one of the world's lowest gun-crime rates. The suspect is said to have worked in the Japanese navy and had gun training. Japan's right-wing Liberal Democratic Party dominates parliamentary election following the assassination of Shinzo Abe, who led the party for 8 consecutive yearsFumio Kishida, Japan's prime minister and president of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), places a rose on an LDP candidate's name, to indicate a victory in the upper house election, at the party's headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, on Sunday, July 10, 2022.Toru Hanai / Pool/Anadolu Agency via Getty ImagesJapan's right-wing Liberal Democratic Party dominated the country's parliamentary election just two days after  former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was assassinated. On July 8, Abe was killed in the Western city of Nara during a campaign speech by a man who used a homemade gun.During Sunday's House of Councillors election, Kyodo News reported the LDP and its coalition partner Komeito secured more than 75 seats, giving the parties a majority in the 248-member upper chamber of parliament.Read Full StoryPossible Moonies link to the assassination of Shinzo Abe. Suspect was motivated by anger towards a religious group he blamed for mother's bankruptcy, reports say.Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam's Kilo Pier on December 27, 2016 in Honolulu, Hawaii.Kent Nishimura/Getty ImagesThe man arrested on suspicion of fatally shooting former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday might have been motivated by anger towards the controversial religious group known as the Moonies, reports say.Suspect Yamagami Tetsuya, 41, told investigators he believed the Japanese leader was linked to a religious group that he blamed for his mother's financial problems, according to Japanese newspaper The Mainichi Shimbun.Read Full StoryShinzo Abe's body arrives in Tokyo after he was fatally shotA hearse transporting the body of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe arrives at his residence in Tokyo on July 9, 2022.Kazuhiro NOGI / AFPShinzo Abe's body was brought back to Tokyo on Saturday.The day prior, Abe was in Nara giving a campaign speech when he was shot by a former member of Japan's navy.Abe's body was carried in a black hearse as he arrived at his home in Shibuya where mourners lowered their heads as the vehicle passed. Killing shocks country unused to gun violenceThe assassination of a former prime minister is all the more shocking due to the rarity of gun violence in Japan."There could be some Japanese people who go their entire lives and never really handle a gun or see a gun in the open," Iain Overton, who runs Action on Armed Violence, a London-based research group that aims to reduce gun violence, told Insider."There is no fear of gun violence anywhere," Overton said. "There's no drive-by shootings, there's no road rage. There's no mass shootings in schools."In 2021, there was only one shooting death in the country.The man suspected of killing former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe used what appears to be a homemade gun. That's at least in part due to how difficult it is to legally own a gun in Japan, where a license requires testimonies from friends and family, as well as a background check and mental health exam.Read Full StoryBiden 'outraged' after Abe is assassinated at campaign eventPresident Joe BidenSTEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty ImagesPresident Joe Biden on Friday condemned the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.The US president said he is "stunned, outraged, and deeply saddened" by the 67-year-old's death during a campaign event in the western Japanese city of Nara."This is a tragedy for Japan and for all who knew him," Biden said in a statement. Read More Video shows the moment before Abe's assassinationStill from Japanese TV footage showing Shinzo Abe assassination suspect standing behind Abe moments before the shooting in Nara, western Japan, on July 8, 2022. Illustration by Insider.Nippon TV 24/InsiderVideos taken moments before Shinzo Abe's assassination show the shooting suspect standing closely behind the former Japanese leader with little visible security.The footage — which appeared to be from a bystander — showed a gunman walking slowly toward Abe, raising his gun and immediately firing two shots.Security guards tackled the man to the ground moments after the attack. He appeared to be wearing a grey shirt, cargo pants, and a white face mask.Police said the shooting suspect shot Abe from around 10 feet away using a homemade gun.Read Full StoryShinzo Abe assassination shocks Japan, which had one of the world's lowest rates of gun crimeFormer Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's assassination has shocked Japan, a country with one of the world's lowest rates of gun crime and strict laws around procuring firearms.This graph above shows Japan's firearm homicide rates between 1990 and 2019 compared to the US.People can't buy handguns in Japan, only shotguns and air rifles, as Insider previously reported.Procuring those weapons also requires a number of steps, including passing a mental-health evaluation and a background check that includes interviews with friends and family.Read Full StoryShinzo Abe assassination suspect spent 3 years in the Japanese navy and had trained with gunsScreenshot from social-media video shows the moment gunfire rings out during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's campaign speech in Nara, western Japan, on July 8, 2022.Takenobu Nakajima via ReutersJapanese police said they arrested a 41-year-old man on suspicion of attempted murder and seized a weapon, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported. NHK, citing defense-ministry sources, reported that the suspect worked for Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force — or the Japanese navy — for three years until 2005, during which he was trained with guns.Read Full StoryShinzo Abe was only confirmed as speaker one day before event where he was killed, deepening questions around assassinationAbe after arriving for his speech in Nara, Japan, on July 8, 2022.Twitter @makichanman37 via ReutersFormer Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's campaign visit on Friday morning was only confirmed late the night before, the BBC reported. That detail raises questions about how his killer was able to act so quickly.Abe was giving a speech near a train station in the western city of Nara at around 11:30 a.m. local time when he was shot twice from behind.Police arrested a 41-year-old man at the scene and seized a weapon, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper said. Officials did not immediately suggest a motive or comment on any planning around the attack.Read Full StoryPhoto shows seemingly home-made gun used to kill AbeA still showing the gun purportedly used to shoot former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on July 8, 2022.NHKImages of the gun purportedly used to shoot former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe show a rudimentary, seemingly home-made device that nonetheless was able to kill.Japan's public broadcaster NHK broadcast images of the weapon seen lying on the road near the site of the attack. Other close-up images of the gun have spread across Japanese social media. The gun appears to be homemade and rudimentary: two metal barrels attached to a wooden board with black tape. It is is extremely hard to obtain guns in Japan, with the country boasting some of Asia's strictest gun laws. Handguns are banned and citizens can only buy shotguns and air rifles, pending a stringent background check.Read Full StoryShinzo Abe dead at 67Shinzo Abe in August 28, 2020.Frank Robichon/Pool/AFP/Getty ImagesFormer Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has died after being shot on the campaign trail. He was 67.He was shot around 11:30 a.m. local time Friday while giving a speech in Nara, a western Japanese city 35 kilometers south of Kyoto. He was immediately airlifted to Nara Medical University Hospital without vital signs of life, hospital officials told a Friday news conference. Abe had lost a lot of blood, and medics attempted to resuscitate him and give him blood transfusions, the officials said, per The Washington Post.He was confirmed dead at 5:03 p.m., the hospital said.Read Full StoryPhotos and videos show chaos on the scene following the attackFormer Japan PM Shinzo AbePhoto by KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty ImagesPhotos and videos circulating on Twitter captured the chaotic scene that unfolded after former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot during a campaign trail speech on Friday.He had been campaigning for Sunday's upper house election in the city of Nara in western Japan.A Twitter video using footage from Japanese public broadcaster NHK depicted what appears to be the moment Abe was shot.In the video, Abe can be seen giving a speech before two loud gunshots ring out. Within seconds, officials can be seen tackling a man in a grey shirt to the ground. The video then zooms in on what appears to be two cylinders wrapped in black tape on the ground.Read Full StoryDoctors are working 'very hard' to save Abe, current prime minister saysJapanese Prime Minister Fumio KishidaBehrouz Mehri, Pool/Getty ImagesJapanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that doctors are working "very hard" to save former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's life after the latter was shot in Nara city on Friday.During a press conference, a visibly distraught Kishida said Abe was in "critical condition" and that he was praying for the former leader's survival."I would like to use the most extreme words available to condemn this act," Kishida added, describing the shooting as "barbaric."He said that all Japanese Cabinet members who were on the campaign trail ahead of Sunday's Upper House elections have been told to Tokyo.Read Full Story Political leaders from around the world shocked by the shooting, share reactionsFormer Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo AbePhoto by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty ImagesCurrent and past political leaders from around the world have reacted with shock to the news of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's shooting on Friday.US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel said he was "saddened" by the shooting and praised Abe for being "an unwavering ally" of the US. Meanwhile, Israeli Ambassador to Japan Gilad Cohen expressed his concern for Abe and commemorated the latter's commitment to building diplomacy between their nations. "One of Japan's leading leaders, Abe, was the driving force behind the building of today's friendly relations between Israel and Japan, and the strong bond between the two countries would not have been possible without his presence," Cohen tweeted.Former President Donald Trump also shared his thoughts on the incident, describing Abe as a "truly great man and leader.""He was a true friend of mine and, much more importantly, America. This is a tremendous blow to the wonderful people of Japan, who loved and admired him so much," said Trump in a post on his Truth Social platform.Insider took at some of the reactions from leaders worldwide to the incident.Read Full StoryFootage from scene shows security officers tackling man to the ground—BNO News (@BNONews) July 8, 2022Footage from NHK News showed security officers at the scene of Friday's shooting tackling a man to the ground.In the clip, two loud bangs can be heard before the officers are seen apprehending a man dressed in brown pants and a t-shirt. A zoomed-in shot also shows what appears to be a device comprised of two pipes wrapped in black tape lying on the road.According to local reports, a 41-year-old man was arrested at the scene over the incident.Read Full StoryAuthorities say Abe suffered a gunshot wound to his neck and has bleeding in his chestFormer Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe.Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty ImagesFormer Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe suffered a gunshot wound to the right side of his neck during Friday's attack, Kyodo News reported, citing information from Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.Abe, who was airlifted to a hospital in Nara, also has "subcutaneous bleeding in his left chest," per the outlet.The former Japanese leader was shot on Friday while delivering a speech in Nara. Authorities have arrested a 41-year-old man in connection with the incident.Read Full StoryVideo shows Abe being airlifted to a hospital in Nara—Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) July 8, 2022A video tweeted by Bloomberg following the shooting of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday showed medical personnel transporting him to a hospital in Nara via helicopter.Read Full StoryFormer Japanese PM Shinzo Abe shotFormer Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe collapsed while making a speech in the city of Nara, around one hour from Kyoto, according to local media reports.Japanese news outlet NHK reported that Abe was seen falling to the ground bleeding at around 11.30 a.m. local time. NHK reported that its reporter heard a gunshot going off in the vicinity while Abe was speaking. The former prime minister appeared to be showing no vital signs after the attack, Kyodo News reported, citing information from the Japanese authorities.NHK shared what appeared to be a video of the scene, which showed chaos and smoke, and what looked to be people surrounding a prone Abe. Read Full StoryRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJul 11th, 2022

Live updates: Body of assassinated former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives back in Tokyo

Abe, who stepped down in 2020, was shot during a campaign attack on Friday. A 41-year-old man was arrested at the scene. Former Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.Pool/Getty Images Shinzo Abe, Japan's former leader, is dead after being shot during a campaign event Friday. The assassination has shocked Japan, a nation with one of the world's lowest gun-crime rates. The suspect is said to have worked in the Japanese navy and had gun training. Shinzo Abe's body arrives in Tokyo after he was fatally shotA hearse transporting the body of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe arrives at his residence in Tokyo on July 9, 2022.Kazuhiro NOGI / AFPShinzo Abe's body was brought back to Tokyo on Saturday.The day prior, Abe was in Nara giving a campaign speech when he was shot by a former member of Japan's navy.The prime minister's body was carried in a black hearse as he arrived at his home in Shibuya where mourners lowered their heads as the vehicle passed. Killing shocks country unused to gun violenceThe assassination of a former prime minister is all the more shocking due to the rarity of gun violence in Japan."There could be some Japanese people who go their entire lives and never really handle a gun or see a gun in the open," Iain Overton, who runs Action on Armed Violence, a London-based research group that aims to reduce gun violence, told Insider."There is no fear of gun violence anywhere," Overton said. "There's no drive-by shootings, there's no road rage. There's no mass shootings in schools."In 2021, there was only one shooting death in the country.The man suspected of killing former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe used what appears to be a homemade gun. That's at least in part due to how difficult it is to legally own a gun in Japan, where a license requires testimonies from friends and family, as well as a background check and mental health exam.Read Full StoryBiden 'outraged' after Abe is assassinated at campaign eventPresident Joe BidenSTEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty ImagesPresident Joe Biden on Friday condemned the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.The US president said he is "stunned, outraged, and deeply saddened" by the 67-year-old's death during a campaign event in the western Japanese city of Nara."This is a tragedy for Japan and for all who knew him," Biden said in a statement. Read More Video shows the moment before Abe's assassinationStill from Japanese TV footage showing Shinzo Abe assassination suspect standing behind Abe moments before the shooting in Nara, western Japan, on July 8, 2022. Illustration by Insider.Nippon TV 24/InsiderVideos taken moments before Shinzo Abe's assassination show the shooting suspect standing closely behind the former Japanese leader with little visible security.The footage — which appeared to be from a bystander — showed a gunman walking slowly toward Abe, raising his gun and immediately firing two shots.Security guards tackled the man to the ground moments after the attack. He appeared to be wearing a grey shirt, cargo pants, and a white face mask.Police said the shooting suspect shot Abe from around 10 feet away using a homemade gun.Read Full StoryShinzo Abe assassination shocks Japan, which had one of the world's lowest rates of gun crimeFormer Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's assassination has shocked Japan, a country with one of the world's lowest rates of gun crime and strict laws around procuring firearms.This graph above shows Japan's firearm homicide rates between 1990 and 2019 compared to the US.People can't buy handguns in Japan, only shotguns and air rifles, as Insider previously reported.Procuring those weapons also requires a number of steps, including passing a mental-health evaluation and a background check that includes interviews with friends and family.Read Full StoryShinzo Abe assassination suspect spent 3 years in the Japanese navy and had trained with gunsScreenshot from social-media video shows the moment gunfire rings out during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's campaign speech in Nara, western Japan, on July 8, 2022.Takenobu Nakajima via ReutersJapanese police said they arrested a 41-year-old man on suspicion of attempted murder and seized a weapon, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported. NHK, citing defense-ministry sources, reported that the suspect worked for Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force — or the Japanese navy — for three years until 2005, during which he was trained with guns.Read Full StoryShinzo Abe was only confirmed as speaker one day before event where he was killed, deepening questions around assassinationAbe after arriving for his speech in Nara, Japan, on July 8, 2022.Twitter @makichanman37 via ReutersFormer Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's campaign visit on Friday morning was only confirmed late the night before, the BBC reported. That detail raises questions about how his killer was able to act so quickly.Abe was giving a speech near a train station in the western city of Nara at around 11:30 a.m. local time when he was shot twice from behind.Police arrested a 41-year-old man at the scene and seized a weapon, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper said. Officials did not immediately suggest a motive or comment on any planning around the attack.Read Full StoryPhoto shows seemingly home-made gun used to kill AbeA still showing the gun purportedly used to shoot former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on July 8, 2022.NHKImages of the gun purportedly used to shoot former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe show a rudimentary, seemingly home-made device that nonetheless was able to kill.Japan's public broadcaster NHK broadcast images of the weapon seen lying on the road near the site of the attack. Other close-up images of the gun have spread across Japanese social media. The gun appears to be homemade and rudimentary: two metal barrels attached to a wooden board with black tape. It is is extremely hard to obtain guns in Japan, with the country boasting some of Asia's strictest gun laws. Handguns are banned and citizens can only buy shotguns and air rifles, pending a stringent background check.Read Full StoryShinzo Abe dead at 67Shinzo Abe in August 28, 2020.Frank Robichon/Pool/AFP/Getty ImagesFormer Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has died after being shot on the campaign trail. He was 67.He was shot around 11:30 a.m. local time Friday while giving a speech in Nara, a western Japanese city 35 kilometers south of Kyoto. He was immediately airlifted to Nara Medical University Hospital without vital signs of life, hospital officials told a Friday news conference. Abe had lost a lot of blood, and medics attempted to resuscitate him and give him blood transfusions, the officials said, per The Washington Post.He was confirmed dead at 5:03 p.m., the hospital said.Read Full StoryPhotos and videos show chaos on the scene following the attackFormer Japan PM Shinzo AbePhoto by KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty ImagesPhotos and videos circulating on Twitter captured the chaotic scene that unfolded after former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot during a campaign trail speech on Friday.He had been campaigning for Sunday's upper house election in the city of Nara in western Japan.A Twitter video using footage from Japanese public broadcaster NHK depicted what appears to be the moment Abe was shot.In the video, Abe can be seen giving a speech before two loud gunshots ring out. Within seconds, officials can be seen tackling a man in a grey shirt to the ground. The video then zooms in on what appears to be two cylinders wrapped in black tape on the ground.Read Full StoryDoctors are working 'very hard' to save Abe, current prime minister saysJapanese Prime Minister Fumio KishidaBehrouz Mehri, Pool/Getty ImagesJapanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that doctors are working "very hard" to save former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's life after the latter was shot in Nara city on Friday.During a press conference, a visibly distraught Kishida said Abe was in "critical condition" and that he was praying for the former leader's survival."I would like to use the most extreme words available to condemn this act," Kishida added, describing the shooting as "barbaric."He said that all Japanese Cabinet members who were on the campaign trail ahead of Sunday's Upper House elections have been told to Tokyo.Read Full Story Political leaders from around the world shocked by the shooting, share reactionsFormer Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo AbePhoto by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty ImagesCurrent and past political leaders from around the world have reacted with shock to the news of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's shooting on Friday.US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel said he was "saddened" by the shooting and praised Abe for being "an unwavering ally" of the US. Meanwhile, Israeli Ambassador to Japan Gilad Cohen expressed his concern for Abe and commemorated the latter's commitment to building diplomacy between their nations. "One of Japan's leading leaders, Abe, was the driving force behind the building of today's friendly relations between Israel and Japan, and the strong bond between the two countries would not have been possible without his presence," Cohen tweeted.Former President Donald Trump also shared his thoughts on the incident, describing Abe as a "truly great man and leader.""He was a true friend of mine and, much more importantly, America. This is a tremendous blow to the wonderful people of Japan, who loved and admired him so much," said Trump in a post on his Truth Social platform.Insider took at some of the reactions from leaders worldwide to the incident.Read Full StoryFootage from scene shows security officers tackling man to the ground—BNO News (@BNONews) July 8, 2022Footage from NHK News showed security officers at the scene of Friday's shooting tackling a man to the ground.In the clip, two loud bangs can be heard before the officers are seen apprehending a man dressed in brown pants and a t-shirt. A zoomed-in shot also shows what appears to be a device comprised of two pipes wrapped in black tape lying on the road.According to local reports, a 41-year-old man was arrested at the scene over the incident.Read Full StoryAuthorities say Abe suffered a gunshot wound to his neck and has bleeding in his chestFormer Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe.Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty ImagesFormer Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe suffered a gunshot wound to the right side of his neck during Friday's attack, Kyodo News reported, citing information from Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.Abe, who was airlifted to a hospital in Nara, also has "subcutaneous bleeding in his left chest," per the outlet.The former Japanese leader was shot on Friday while delivering a speech in Nara. Authorities have arrested a 41-year-old man in connection with the incident.Read Full StoryVideo shows Abe being airlifted to a hospital in Nara—Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) July 8, 2022A video tweeted by Bloomberg following the shooting of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday showed medical personnel transporting him to a hospital in Nara via helicopter.Read Full StoryFormer Japanese PM Shinzo Abe shotFormer Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe collapsed while making a speech in the city of Nara, around one hour from Kyoto, according to local media reports.Japanese news outlet NHK reported that Abe was seen falling to the ground bleeding at around 11.30 a.m. local time. NHK reported that its reporter heard a gunshot going off in the vicinity while Abe was speaking. The former prime minister appeared to be showing no vital signs after the attack, Kyodo News reported, citing information from the Japanese authorities.NHK shared what appeared to be a video of the scene, which showed chaos and smoke, and what looked to be people surrounding a prone Abe. Read Full StoryRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJul 9th, 2022

Live updates: Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe assassinated with apparent homemade gun

Abe, who stepped down in 2020, was shot during a campaign attack on Friday. A 41-year-old man was arrested at the scene. Former Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.Pool/Getty Images Shinzo Abe, Japan's former leader, is dead after being shot during a campaign event Friday. The assassination has shocked Japan, a nation with one of the world's lowest gun-crime rates. The suspect is said to have worked in the Japanese navy and had gun training. Biden 'outraged' after Abe is assassinated at campaign eventPresident Joe BidenSTEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty ImagesPresident Joe Biden on Friday condemned the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.The US president said he is "stunned, outraged, and deeply saddened" by the 67-year-old's death during a campaign event in the western Japanese city of Nara."This is a tragedy for Japan and for all who knew him," Biden said in a statement. Read More Video shows the moment before Abe's assassinationStill from Japanese TV footage showing Shinzo Abe assassination suspect standing behind Abe moments before the shooting in Nara, western Japan, on July 8, 2022. Illustration by Insider.Nippon TV 24/InsiderVideos taken moments before Shinzo Abe's assassination show the shooting suspect standing closely behind the former Japanese leader with little visible security.The footage — which appeared to be from a bystander — showed a gunman walking slowly toward Abe, raising his gun and immediately firing two shots.Security guards tackled the man to the ground moments after the attack. He appeared to be wearing a grey shirt, cargo pants, and a white face mask.Police said the shooting suspect shot Abe from around 10 feet away using a homemade gun.Read Full StoryShinzo Abe assassination shocks Japan, which had one of the world's lowest rates of gun crimeFormer Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's assassination has shocked Japan, a country with one of the world's lowest rates of gun crime and strict laws around procuring firearms.This graph above shows Japan's firearm homicide rates between 1990 and 2019 compared to the US.People can't buy handguns in Japan, only shotguns and air rifles, as Insider previously reported.Procuring those weapons also requires a number of steps, including passing a mental-health evaluation and a background check that includes interviews with friends and family.Read Full StoryShinzo Abe assassination suspect spent 3 years in the Japanese navy and had trained with gunsScreenshot from social-media video shows the moment gunfire rings out during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's campaign speech in Nara, western Japan, on July 8, 2022.Takenobu Nakajima via ReutersJapanese police said they arrested a 41-year-old man on suspicion of attempted murder and seized a weapon, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported. NHK, citing defense-ministry sources, reported that the suspect worked for Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force — or the Japanese navy — for three years until 2005, during which he was trained with guns.Read Full StoryShinzo Abe was only confirmed as speaker one day before event where he was killed, deepening questions around assassinationAbe after arriving for his speech in Nara, Japan, on July 8, 2022.Twitter @makichanman37 via ReutersFormer Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's campaign visit on Friday morning was only confirmed late the night before, the BBC reported. That detail raises questions about how his killer was able to act so quickly.Abe was giving a speech near a train station in the western city of Nara at around 11:30 a.m. local time when he was shot twice from behind.Police arrested a 41-year-old man at the scene and seized a weapon, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper said. Officials did not immediately suggest a motive or comment on any planning around the attack.Read Full StoryPhoto shows seemingly home-made gun used to kill AbeA still showing the gun purportedly used to shoot former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on July 8, 2022.NHKImages of the gun purportedly used to shoot former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe show a rudimentary, seemingly home-made device that nonetheless was able to kill.Japan's public broadcaster NHK broadcast images of the weapon seen lying on the road near the site of the attack. Other close-up images of the gun have spread across Japanese social media. The gun appears to be homemade and rudimentar: two metal barrels attached to a wooden board with black tape. It is is extremely hard to obtain guns in Japan, with the country boasting some of Asia's strictest gun laws. Handguns are banned and citizens can only buy shotguns and air rifles, pending a stringent background check.Read Full StoryShinzo Abe dead at 67Shinzo Abe in August 28, 2020.Frank Robichon/Pool/AFP/Getty ImagesFormer Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has died after being shot on the campaign trail. He was 67.He was shot around 11:30 a.m. local time Friday while giving a speech in Nara, a western Japanese city 35 kilometers south of Kyoto. He was immediately airlifted to Nara Medical University Hospital without vital signs of life, hospital officials told a Friday news conference. Abe had lost a lot of blood, and medics attempted to resuscitate him and give him blood transfusions, the officials said, per The Washington Post.He was confirmed dead at 5:03 p.m., the hospital said.Read Full StoryPhotos and videos show chaos on the scene following the attackFormer Japan PM Shinzo AbePhoto by KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty ImagesPhotos and videos circulating on Twitter captured the chaotic scene that unfolded after former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot during a campaign trail speech on Friday.He had been campaigning for Sunday's upper house election in the city of Nara in western Japan.A Twitter video using footage from Japanese public broadcaster NHK depicted what appears to be the moment Abe was shot.In the video, Abe can be seen giving a speech before two loud gunshots ring out. Within seconds, officials can be seen tackling a man in a grey shirt to the ground. The video then zooms in on what appears to be two cylinders wrapped in black tape on the ground.Read Full StoryDoctors are working 'very hard' to save Abe, current prime minister saysJapanese Prime Minister Fumio KishidaBehrouz Mehri, Pool/Getty ImagesJapanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that doctors are working "very hard" to save former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's life after the latter was shot in Nara city on Friday.During a press conference, a visibly distraught Kishida said Abe was in "critical condition" and that he was praying for the former leader's survival."I would like to use the most extreme words available to condemn this act," Kishida added, describing the shooting as "barbaric."He said that all Japanese Cabinet members who were on the campaign trail ahead of Sunday's Upper House elections have been told to Tokyo.Read Full Story Political leaders from around the world shocked by the shooting, share reactionsFormer Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo AbePhoto by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty ImagesCurrent and past political leaders from around the world have reacted with shock to the news of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's shooting on Friday.US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel said he was "saddened" by the shooting and praised Abe for being "an unwavering ally" of the US. Meanwhile, Israeli Ambassador to Japan Gilad Cohen expressed his concern for Abe and commemorated the latter's commitment to building diplomacy between their nations. "One of Japan's leading leaders, Abe, was the driving force behind the building of today's friendly relations between Israel and Japan, and the strong bond between the two countries would not have been possible without his presence," Cohen tweeted.Former President Donald Trump also shared his thoughts on the incident, describing Abe as a "truly great man and leader.""He was a true friend of mine and, much more importantly, America. This is a tremendous blow to the wonderful people of Japan, who loved and admired him so much," said Trump in a post on his Truth Social platform.Insider took at some of the reactions from leaders worldwide to the incident.Read Full StoryFootage from scene shows security officers tackling man to the ground—BNO News (@BNONews) July 8, 2022Footage from NHK News showed security officers at the scene of Friday's shooting tackling a man to the ground.In the clip, two loud bangs can be heard before the officers are seen apprehending a man dressed in brown pants and a t-shirt. A zoomed-in shot also shows what appears to be a device comprised of two pipes wrapped in black tape lying on the road.According to local reports, a 41-year-old man was arrested at the scene over the incident.Read Full StoryAuthorities say Abe suffered a gunshot wound to his neck and has bleeding in his chestFormer Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe.Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty ImagesFormer Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe suffered a gunshot wound to the right side of his neck during Friday's attack, Kyodo News reported, citing information from Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.Abe, who was airlifted to a hospital in Nara, also has "subcutaneous bleeding in his left chest," per the outlet.The former Japanese leader was shot on Friday while delivering a speech in Nara. Authorities have arrested a 41-year-old man in connection with the incident.Read Full StoryVideo shows Abe being airlifted to a hospital in Nara—Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) July 8, 2022A video tweeted by Bloomberg following the shooting of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday showed medical personnel transporting him to a hospital in Nara via helicopter.Read Full StoryFormer Japanese PM Shinzo Abe shotFormer Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe collapsed while making a speech in the city of Nara, around one hour from Kyoto, according to local media reports.Japanese news outlet NHK reported that Abe was seen falling to the ground bleeding at around 11.30 a.m. local time. NHK reported that its reporter heard a gunshot going off in the vicinity while Abe was speaking. The former prime minister appeared to be showing no vital signs after the attack, Kyodo News reported, citing information from the Japanese authorities.NHK shared what appeared to be a video of the scene, which showed chaos and smoke, and what looked to be people surrounding a prone Abe. Read Full StoryRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJul 8th, 2022

White House Is Quietly Modeling For $200 Oil "Shock"

White House Is Quietly Modeling For $200 Oil "Shock" While the Biden administration is hoping and praying that someone - anyone - will watch the comical "Jan 6" kangaroo hearsay court taking place in Congress and meant to somehow block Trump from running for president in 2024 while also making hundreds of millions of Americans forget that the current administration could very well be the worst in US history, it is quietly preparing for the worst. As none other than pro-Biden propaganda spinmaster CNN reports, when it comes to what really matters (at least according to Gallup), namely the economy, and specifically galloping gasoline prices, the White House is in a historic shambles. For an administration that ended last year forecasting a leveling off of 40-year high inflation and eager to tout a historically rapid recovery from the pandemic-driven economic crisis, there is a level of frustration that comes with an acutely perilous moment. Asked by CNN about progress on a seemingly intractable challenge, another senior White House official responded flatly: "Which one?" The suspects behind the historic implosion are well known: "soaring prices, teetering poll numbers and congressional majorities that appear to be on the brink have created no shortage of reasons for unease. Gas prices are hovering at or around $5 per gallon, plastered on signs and billboards across the country as a symbolic daily reminder of the reality -- one in which White House officials are extremely aware -- that the country's view of the economy is growing darker and taking Biden's political future with it." "You don't have to be a very sophisticated person to know how lines of presidential approval and gas prices go historically in the United States," a senior White House official told CNN. A CNN Poll of Polls average of ratings for Biden's handling of the presidency finds that 39% of Americans approve of the job he's doing. His numbers on the economy, gas prices and inflation specifically are even worse in recent polls. What CNN won't tell you is that Biden is now polling well below Trump at this time in his tenure. The CNN article then goes into a lengthy analysis of what is behind the current gasoline crisis (those with lots of time to kill can read it here) and also tries to explains, without actually saying it, that the only thing that can fix the problem is more supply, but - as we first explained - this can't and won't happen because green fanatics and socialist environmentalists will never agree to boosting output. Which brings us to the punchline: as CNN's Phil Mattingly writes, "instead of managing an economy in the midst of a natural rotation away from recovery and into a stable period of growth, economic officials are analyzing and modeling worst-case scenarios like what the shock of gas prices hitting $200 per barrel may mean for the economy." Well, in an article titled "Give us a plan or give us someone to blame", this seems like both a plan, and someone to blame. But unfortunately for Biden - and CNN which is hoping to reset expectations - it's only going to get worse, because as we noted moments ago, while nobody was paying attention, Cushing inventories dropped to just 1 million away from operational bottoms at roughly 20MM barrels. This means that the US is officially looking at tank bottoms. But wait, there's more... or rather, it's even worse, because as even Bloomberg's chief energy guru Javier Blas notes, over the last 2 weeks, the US gov has drained 13.7 million barrels from the SPR, "and yet, commercial oil stockpiles still fell 3 million barrels over the period." Just imagine, Blas asks rhetorically, "if the SPR wasn't there. Or what would happen post-Oct when sales end." OIL MARKET: Over the last 2 weeks, the US gov has injected 13.7 million barrels from the SPR into the market. And yet, commercial oil stockpiles still fell 3 million barrels over the period. Just imagine if the SPR wasn't there. Or what would happen post-Oct when sales end #OOTT — Javier Blas (@JavierBlas) June 29, 2022 And here is the punchline: at the current record pace of SPR drainage, one way or another the Biden admin will have to end its artificial attempts to keep the price of oil lower some time in October (or risk entering a war with China over Taiwan with virtually no oil reserve). This means that unless Putin ends his war some time in the next 5 months, there is a non-trivial chance that oil will hit a record price around $200 - precisely the price the White House is bracing for - a few days before the midterms. While translates into $10+ gasoline. And while one can speculate how much longer Democrats can continue the "Jan 6" dog and pony show as the entire economy implodes around them, how America will vote in November when gas is double digits should not be a mystery to anyone. Tyler Durden Wed, 06/29/2022 - 13:05.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 29th, 2022

Britain, 2049

Britain, 2049 Authored by Sam Ashworth-Hayes via The Critic, You’ll own nothing, and you won’t be particularly happy about it... You wake to the headlines, overlaid on your vision by Neuralink. The High Speed 2 line between London and Luton has been delayed again, with the total cost now set to overtake the GDP of Angola. Polish politicians are complaining about the waves of British plumbers and builders undercutting wages on construction sites. An unskippable advert for a pyramid scheme. Commando raids in Morocco by heavily militarised donkey sanctuaries have freed two mules, leaving 16 locals dead. Ofcom has issued a Fatwa against the dangerous underground “Daily Mail” organisation for disinformation. It’s 6am on the 10th of June, 2049. You own nothing, and you’re not particularly happy about it.  Your day begins with a quick top-up to your calorie credits. You roll out of bed, stand on the pressure-sensitive mat, and turn on the large wall screen. The instructor, morbidly obese but officially healthy, waves cheerily to the millions of early risers across the nation, rolls of fat wobbling under her arm. As you follow the instructions, a camera mounted on your television tracks your movements and estimates your calories burned. Ten minutes later, you’re judged to have Done Your Bit for Our NHS. A cheery jingle plays to congratulate you, and your wrist buzzes as a small sum is added to your balance. You decide a shower isn’t worth the time or carbon credits.  Gulping down the government issue nutriguel, you check in with Transport for London. The “work from work” order is still in place, nominally due to the productivity spillovers generated by people bouncing off one another by the watercooler. Given that office work now takes place entirely in a virtual metaverse, you can’t help but feel that it has slightly more to do with the regular donations to the Conservative party from the landlords pressure group (Commercial Unit National Trust). The TfL AI cheerfully informs you that due to unforeseeable delays on the line, today’s commute is expected to last an hour longer than scheduled, as it did yesterday, the day before, the previous week, and indeed most of the previous five years. The tube driver union is still adamantly opposing automation, or indeed the hiring of a second driver, while the rail replacement bus service is being diverted around Slough for reasons best known to the planners. Walking it is. On the way into the office you stop for a coffee. The latte takes a chunk out of your calorie budget, but you figure the walk should offset part of that. As you pay, your triple balance flashes across your vision — calorie credits for food, carbon credits for energy, and of course bio credits for access to key services, all non-transferrable and locked to your unique ID card. The last of these is startlingly low, and you make a mental note to drop into the HMRC biobank to make your monthly PAYE deposit on the way home. You’ve already secured a discount on the Pod rent by paying blood into the landlord rejuvenation pool; the spinal fluid will be going towards your student loan repayments. You briefly consider what it might be like to pay for everything in cash, and shudder at the thought.  The triple credit system might not be “efficient” — more than a few economists found themselves on the wrong side of an NHS Euthanisation Order based on ill-judged comments when it was first instituted — but it is certainly fair. So long as you Do Your Bit with monthly donations you’re practically guaranteed somewhere to live. This is not to be sniffed at; ever since the Johnson administration passed a “street vetoes” policy giving homeowners the right to veto developments within a five mile radius, housebuilding has been quietly acknowledged as politically impossible. The greenbelt now covers half of England. In the remaining parts, NIMBY organisations conspire to scatter endangered newts over plots of land scheduled for planning inspection.  Between this policy and the influx of workers on high skill visas — care workers, fruit pickers, janitors and so on — asset prices have rocketed. This has been widely acknowledged as a political masterstroke, securing the prosperity of the Boomer majority and with it their votes. Admittedly, the hordes of dispossessed young people roaming the countryside in barbarian encampments raiding cities for supplies of food, fuel and avocados presents a temporary problem, but the Treasury is optimistic that the new Net Zero Child Tax will eventually cause this problem to resolve itself. Breaking from your reverie, you step respectfully aside as a Landlord’s litter makes its way down the street, carried aloft on the shoulders of his tenants. You’re surprised to see one in the city; the vast majority of the Boomers fled urban areas in response to Covid-23, snapping up countryside properties and fortifying them against potential insurrection. Your wrist buzzes again, and you hurriedly swallow your daily mix of supplements and medication with the dregs of the coffee. Your wrist buzzes as the chip inside each pill registers compliance with your personalised regime. By 2034, it was widely agreed that the increasing rates of depression and mental illness were due almost entirely to brains evolved for hooting at the monkey in the other tree being repurposed as homogeneous labour in hyperspecialised jobs. The idea of restructuring society to address this was briefly considered, until the effect on house prices was factored in. Antidepressants are now uniformly prescribed on the NHS as a tool of first recourse. As you arrive at work, your wrist buzzes one last time. A message in the corner of your vision informs you that you are just four years away from getting a new passport. The official explanation is that COVID-related backlogs are still working through the system, but you suspect the Treasury has vetoed supply in order to prevent the taxbase fleeing abroad. Inside, the office is almost blank: grey carpet, white tiled ceiling, windowless white walls, white cubicles, empty desks. You’ll be 40 next month. You are worried about being able to afford podrent without transfusion fees. You sit down and log into the company intranet, and the spreadsheets splash over your vision, wiping the world from existence. Tyler Durden Mon, 06/13/2022 - 05:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 13th, 2022

Violent Crime

Violence is a part of America’s culture. Violence is as American as cherry pie. – H. Rap Brown, Leader of the Student Nonviolent Organizing Committee, 1972 This observation of H. Rap Brown not only accurately depicted our nation’s violent culture, but it essentially forecast the mass shootings that were to come. Throughout our nation’s history, […] Violence is a part of America’s culture. Violence is as American as cherry pie. – H. Rap Brown, Leader of the Student Nonviolent Organizing Committee, 1972 This observation of H. Rap Brown not only accurately depicted our nation’s violent culture, but it essentially forecast the mass shootings that were to come. Throughout our nation’s history, most of that violence has been directed at Blacks. But in recent decades, even school children – many of them just first- and second-graders — have been targeted by madmen wielding AR-15 rifles, which they supposedly needed for “self-defense.” if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get Our Activist Investing Case Study! Get the entire 10-part series on our in-depth study on activist investing in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or print it out to read anywhere! Sign up below! (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q1 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Epidemic Levels Of Violent Crime Violent crime has been at epidemic levels for decades, but two recent mass shootings have certainly captured the nation’s attention. One shooter killed ten Black shoppers and employees in a grocery store in Buffalo, New York on May 16th. Then, on May 25th, another shooter killed nineteen children and two teachers in an elementary school located in Uvalde, a Texas town of 15,000 about 80 miles west of San Antonio. These were not isolated incidents. Mass shootings have become almost the norm to such a degree that they have lost much of their shock value. The shooter in Buffalo proudly proclaimed that he hoped to kill as many Black people as he possibly could. It is still unknown why the shooter in Uvalde wanted to kill young children and their teachers.The massacre at Uvalde echoed a similar mass murder of children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut in 2013. In both schools a demented young man opened fire on students and teachers, aiming to kill as many as possible. The Uvalde killings put even the National Rifle Association on the spot, especially since its annual convention was scheduled to be held just a few days later in Houston. But ex-president Donald Trump really came through for them. Politically correct to the core – a truly uncharacteristic stance for this man – he recited the names of each of the twenty-two victims. And miraculously, no one in the audience even booed. But Trump wanted to back up his words this time by proposing a very practical solution to the nagging problem of having folks with semi-automatic rifles showing up at schools and killing lots of students. Why not make every school in the nation a “hard target?” That would require posting armed guards at each unlocked door. Think about it! We acquiesce to having maniacs walking around with high-caliber rifles, while making every school into a well-protected fortress.  Wouldn’t it make a lot more sense to just take the weapons out of the hands of these aspiring killers? Enough Is Enough When will Americans finally declare: “Enough is enough!” and do whatever it takes to make our nation at least relatively safe again? The obvious solution would be to pass very stringent federal and state gun control laws. Those, of course, would be vociferously opposed by the National Rifle Association, arms manufacturers, gun-sellers, and, of course, the hunters and the tens of millions of other Americans who own guns for what they perceive as self-protection. After all, if most of the bad guys have guns, then why should the good guys be unarmed? Nearly all of our Trump-supporting super patriots, of course, very strongly support the Second Amendment to the Constitution: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of the State, the right to bear arms, shall not be infringed.” The Second Amendment pays homage to the local militias that bravely confronted the British invaders in Lexington and Concord at the outbreak of the American Revolution. They defended their villages with their own hunting rifles. Our Second Amendment rights provided a defense insurance policy just in case there was another British invasion. Indeed, there was another invasion during the War of 1812. Surely the founding fathers would not have approved of the Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys and the Three Percenters, who attacked the Capitol Police in an effort to disrupt Congress from certifying the presidential electoral vote count on January 6, 2021. And they would also have looked askance at the self-appointed vigilantes who take it upon themselves to patrol our border with Mexico or to harass Black men walking through white neighborhoods. Even most Americans today – let alone the Founding Fathers – would not have described these groups as “well-organized militias.” In fact, you can bet your bottom Continental Dollar that George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, as well as all their colleagues would have called them “rabble, human excrement or whatever term was used in the late eighteenth century for “complete schmucks.” The rationale for owning not just a pistol, but a wide array of high-caliber assault rifles, is ostensibly self-defense. With so many guns in circulation, some people feel unsafe without being armed themselves. So, the more people carrying around guns, the more others feel the need to buy guns to carry around to protect themselves. Now, let’s shift gears and look more closely at two especially disturbing developments of the mass shooting epidemic – the targeting of religious worshipers. Two fairly recent mass murders stand out. In each, the killer entered a house of worship and shot several people. In 2015, a young man killed ten Black people in a church in Charleston, South Carolina. And in 2018, another man shot and killed eleven Jewish worshipers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in a heavilyJewish neighborhood of Pittsburgh. On March 17, 2015, a twenty-one -year -old man walked into the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC, joined a bible study group, and then shot to death nine Black worshipers including the pastor. Dylann Roof, a very proud white supremacist. expressed his hatred of Blacks on his website. As he was aiming his gun, one of the congregants begged him not to pull the trigger and asked him why he was doing this. His reply: “I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.” Then, in 2018, forty-eight-year-old Robert Bowers entered the Tree Of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Armed with an assault rifle and three handguns, he killed eleven congregants for committing genocide against his people. Shot to death by a police officer, Bowers left behind social media posts filled with antisemitic slurs and references to Jewish conspiracy theories. Among them were, “Jews are the children of Satan,” and “It’s the Evil jews Bringing the Filthy muslims into the Country.” There would be one more killing at a synagogue in Southern California the following year, and then, perhaps because police patrol cars were often parked in front of synagogues across the nation during the Jewish sabbath each week, countless deaths may have been averted. Still, although Jews constitute less than three percent of our nation’s population, according to FBI data, fifty-five percent of all hate crimes are committed against Jews. What is especially interesting is how mass-murdering white supremacists have singled out Blacks and Jews for causing their perceived downfall of American whites. Some of them have been spouting this same old shit for decades, but increasingly, all of their suspicions have been combined into what has been termed “the great replacement theory.” This attempts to explain how and why our great white nation is being mongrelized by inferior population groups. Let’s save that for another time. Updated on May 31, 2022, 9:42 am (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkMay 31st, 2022

Hedge Fund CIO: In Markets, The Strongest Gravitational Force Is Produced By Stop-Losses Imposed By Leverage

Hedge Fund CIO: In Markets, The Strongest Gravitational Force Is Produced By Stop-Losses Imposed By Leverage By Eric Peters, CIO of One River Asset Management “We are peering into the curved spacetime near a supermassive black hole,” said Michael Johnson, researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, marveling at the image. “And it is teeming with activity, always burbling with turbulent energy and occasionally erupting into bright flares of emission,” added Johnson, standing tall on our little planet, 27,000 light years (159,300 trillion miles) from Sagittarius A*. At this vast distance, we travel through space at 140 miles per second, rotating around the supermassive black hole at our Milky Way’s center. Nearer objects move faster. Stars closest to Sagittarius A* travel at 141,000 miles per second. The plasma surrounding the black hole’s event horizon orbits at 190,000 miles per second, superheats to a trillion degrees, then disappears. Within our galaxy, gravity wins, eventually, always. Or so it seems. Time will tell. Unlike heavenly bodies, financial markets are our creation, and as such, they are just as much a part of nature as are we, which is to say indistinguishable. In financial markets, the strongest known gravitational force is produced by the presence of stop-losses imposed by leverage. The larger the stop, the greater the pull. The natural force at play is easy to understand. As the aggregate position size grows too large relative to its ability to withstand a capital loss, the market is drawn toward the price that forces liquidation. As prices approach that level, the process accelerates, the temperature rises. Along that path, the combination of counterparties demanding more margin, nervous longs liquidating, and short sellers pressing positions produces an outcome all but inevitable. We see this repeatedly. Long Term Capital Management was a victim of gravity. So too were VIX ETP volatility-sellers in Feb 2018. The Archegos unwind took two days in Apr 2021. This week a US dollar stablecoin called UST succumbed to gravity. A shockwave rippled across digital asset markets. And with temperatures this elevated, time accelerating, we are left to carefully examine the numerous large stops across the $200 trillion universe of traditional assets. * * * Stop: As a young pit trader in 1989, I was taught to understand where the big stop-loss orders were likely to be found. Markets in rough balance tend to oscillate, wander. But when there are traders with big leveraged positions, and they do not have the capital to sustain a large move against their exposures, they will eventually be forced to stop out either by choice or by creditors. As prices approach that stop-loss level, the trend accelerates. Sometimes such markets move as much in a minute as they otherwise do in a decade. Spacetime is bent around such stops. Stop II: Markets are mostly mean reverting. Their ups and downs are nature’s search for equilibrium. The damage to those on the wrong side of stops in such markets goes largely unnoticed in the broader financial system. But sometimes stops are existential. Hitting them precipitates a self-perpetuating move that is never reversed. Companies, currencies, and sovereigns – sometimes all at the same time – experience permanent shifts. And in times of great change, such as this turbulent decade, these are the stops to watch most carefully. Here are some: Putin: Russia is approaching a stop. Its slow-moving demographic collapse has been known for decades. Its weak economic engine will collapse beneath sanctions, depriving Russia of the capital to sustain itself and defend against domestic and foreign adversaries. NATO membership of Finland and Sweden is the kind of price action you see when nearing a stop. So too the accelerating pace of Kyiv visits by world leaders and nuclear saber rattling by Russian defense ministers. Were Russia not a great nuclear power, a stop would be hit imminently. But it has 1,500 nuclear warheads currently deployed. This is clearly the world’s greatest near-term risk. Famine: What appeared to be a trend of ever-expanding globalization allowed world governments and their respective economic systems to optimize for efficiency. But efficiency came at the cost of fragility, dependency. The current commodity price shock, and unfolding food shortage, will devastate most poor nations. This is only just getting started. Indonesia’s plan to limit palm oil exports, and India’s extraordinary decision to ban wheat exports, is what you see as governments approach stops. Hoarding has begun. This is the world’s greatest 2-3yr risk. Union: Europe is a project that exchanges the constraints of political union for the promise of an end to senseless war. It was not designed for economic efficiency, and it has so far avoided a complete monetary integration. It made an energy deal with Russia that left its economy dependent, vulnerable. It must now overcome an energy crisis, risking direct conflict with Russia. While common enemies tend to draw nations together, the continent has a long history of fracture, infighting. It has also tended to make moves toward greater integration only in times of acute market stress. The market hunts for such stops. The 10yr Germany/Italy spread is 190bps. America: There is no nation better positioned for a world that is deglobalizing than the US. It is the largest food producer, has enormous energy resources, innovators, capital markets, etc. Such advantages have been sold forward. Foreigners own $53.3trln US assets and the US owns $35.2trln foreign assets. The net external deficit has quietly increased nearly 10x since the start of the 2008 crisis. Our politicians have made entitlement promises that project government debt of more than 200% of GDP in the next thirty years, almost double the current share of GDP. Such vast imbalances will need to be resolved through default or devaluation (inflation). The latter is more likely. Unless the Fed contains inflation aggressively, the market will sniff the stop.   Anecdote: The Sun fuses 600 million tons of hydrogen into helium each second to produce the outward pressure required to offset its gravity. All stable stars live in this state of hydrostatic equilibrium. When their fuel is eventually expended, gravity prevails, and they collapse into themselves, achieving new equilibriums governed by quantum law. Small stars like our Sun become white dwarfs. Larger ones become neutron stars, the densest objects in the visible universe. The most massive stars overcome all know forces and disappear entirely – this collapse to a black hole occurs in less than a second. Spinning here on a little blue planet, 27,000 light years away from the invisible center of our galaxy, the scale and speed of such forces appears less extreme. Yet still, we observe all things around us struggling endlessly, mercilessly, for equilibrium. The weather constantly reminds us that complex systems move in volatile ways as they search for balance. This extends to all natural systems, creatures, companies, nations too. Throughout history our kingdoms, countries, and empires have had to produce sufficient outward pressure to maintain equilibrium and forestall collapse. The most prosperous ones have sustained balance through building vibrant economic systems. Such economies generate surpluses sufficient to sustain investment and finance a robust defense against those who threaten its existence. Some nations succeeded through conquest, confiscation, slavery, savagery. Others through capitalism. There are many models in between. When nations are growing more prosperous, their governments have relatively easy work. But when the economic engine falters, they must make difficult choices to sustain the outward pressure required to avoid collapse. Many governments fail; sustaining a healthy economic system is hard work, requiring foresight, investment, ingenuity, risk-taking. In their failure, such governments resort to coercion, confiscation, crackdowns. They pay their bills and bribe the citizenry with money borrowed against their nation’s future, leaving it diminished, eventually depleted. In a final attempt to defy gravity, and approaching their stop loss, governments print money. And this is why failing nations suffer currency collapse.  Tyler Durden Sun, 05/15/2022 - 19:45.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytMay 15th, 2022

16 memorable movies about moms and their children to stream on Mother"s Day, from "Roma" to "Turning Red"

From comedies to thrillers, these films all shine a spotlight on the joys and difficulties that come with motherhood. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.A24; Pixar; Elevation Pictures There are many memorable movies that highlight the joys and struggles of motherhood. From comedies to thrillers, these mom-centric films are perfect for streaming on Mother's Day. Mother's Day is just around the corner, and there are plenty of great movies you can watch at home that are perfect for celebrating the holiday with your mom. Many memorable films, both old and new, honor the joys and hardships that come with motherhood, and these flicks all offer a nice way to kick back and enjoy a movie night with your mom.To help you find the perfect film to watch, we selected 16 of the best mom-centric movies to stream on Mother's Day. All of our picks feature mothers or grandmothers in key roles, and they each tell stories that deal with relationships between moms and their children. All of the movies we selected are deemed "fresh" by the review-aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, with a rating of 60% or higher from critics. We also made sure to highlight films that cover a range of genres to suit all tastes, from dramas and comedies to musicals and even a couple horror flicks. Check out the 16 best movies about moms and their kids to watch on Mother's Day'Akeelah and the Bee'PeacockWatch "Akeelah and the Bee" on Peacock.This underdog story focuses on a young girl's journey to the National Spelling Bee in the face of socioeconomic obstacles. Keke Palmer plays Akeelah Anderson, the 11-year-old child of a widowed mother (Angela Bassett) in South Los Angeles with a poor record in school, but a penchant for spelling.Though they initially disagree about Akeelah's goals, the mother-daughter relationship evolves over the course of the movie. "Akeelah and the Bee" is an inspirational watch for kids and parents alike, with life lessons to be learned by viewers of all backgrounds.The movie earned an "85% Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It was well-received critically and praised for its deviation from typical African-American stereotypes in movies. 'A Quiet Place Part II'"A Quiet Place Part II"ParamountWatch "A Quiet Place Part II" on Paramount Plus or Amazon Prime Video.The sequel to "A Quiet Place" expands on the first movie's story about a family struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. Emily Blunt plays Evelyn Abbott, a mother who tries to protect her three children from dangerous creatures that can hear their every move. The eldest child, Regan, is written as a deaf character, and played by Millicent Simmonds, a deaf actress. Though a horror film may not be your first thought when picking a movie to watch on Mother's Day, "A Quiet Place Part II" details the lengths to which a mother will go to protect her kids in a dangerous world set on taking them away. "A Quiet Place Part II" received a "91% Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. John Krasinski returns to direct the sequel, and Cillian Murphy joins the cast as a new character. If you'd like to catch up on the first movie, you can also stream the original film on Paramount Plus.'Coco'PixarWatch "Coco" on Disney Plus.A 3D-animated film set in Santa Cecilia, Mexico, "Coco" follows Miguel, an aspiring young musician growing up in a family that hates music. On Día de Muertos, The Day of the Dead, he mistakenly enters the Land of the Dead. He then embarks on a journey that reveals new insights about his family, including his great-grandmother Mama Coco. More than just a good watch for grandmothers and moms with their kids, "Coco" delves into the Mexican family dynamic of aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and great grandparents all under one roof. It's an excellent film for the whole family, and it's even available to stream in Spanish. "Coco" won two Academy Awards and currently has a "97% Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It's directed by Lee Unkrich, co-director of "Monsters, Inc." and "Finding Nemo." The cast includes the voices of Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, and Alanna Ubach.'Crazy Rich Asians'Warner BrosWatch "Crazy Rich Asians" on HBO Max.A romantic comedy-drama based on Kevin Kwan's 2013 novel of the same name, "Crazy Rich Asians" dives into the world of the ridiculously wealthy in Singapore. We follow Rachel Chu (Constance Wu), an NYU professor on a trip overseas to meet her boyfriend's family. After she discovers his family is rich, and that his mother doesn't approve of her, turmoil ensues that puts their relationship to the test. It's a tale of a loving but stern mother who does anything to protect her son."Crazy Rich Asians" received a "91% Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. One of the first films to feature a majority Chinese cast in a modern setting since the early '90s, it stars Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Gemma Chan, Lisa Lu, Awkwafina, Ken Jeong, and Michelle Yeoh. 'Jojo Rabbit'Fox Searchlight PicturesRent or buy "Jojo Rabbit" on Amazon, Apple TV, or Vudu.A dark comedy set in Germany during WWII, "Jojo Rabbit" follows Johannes "Jojo" Betzler, a 10-year-old who discovers his mom's dangerous secret: she's hiding a Jewish girl in their attic. Jojo also has an imaginary best friend who just so happens to be a satirical version of Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi).  Despite his thorough Nazi upbringing, Jojo is forced to question his beliefs when he kindles a friendship with the Jewish girl, and realizes how deep his mother's anti-Nazi beliefs run. The film portrays a loving mother-son relationship that will make you laugh, cry, and everything in between."Jojo Rabbit" received an "80% Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Directed by Taika Waititi, the movie is adapted from Christine Leunen's novel "Caging Skies." The cast includes Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Taika Waititi, Scarlett Johansson, Rebel Wilson, and Sam Rockwell.'Lady Bird'Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf star in "Lady Bird."A24Watch "Lady Bird" on Netflix.Where comedy meets drama meets coming-of-age film is where you'll find "Lady Bird." Saoirse Ronan stars as Christine "Lady Bird" MacPherson, a strong-willed and ambitious teenager enrolled in a Catholic high school in Sacramento, California. The film details her big dreams of escape, how she acts on them, and how it affects the people close to her, including her outspoken mother (Laurie Metcalf).For anyone who went through, or still goes through, a rebellious phase, "Lady Bird" offers a relatable watch for mothers and daughters alike.It received a "99% Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, and Timothée Chalamet also star in the film.'Lion'Transmission Films.Watch "Lion" on Freevee (free with ads).A biographical drama based on the novel "A Long Way Home" by Saroo Brierley, "Lion" follows a young man searching for his biological family after spending decades with his adoptive parents. We watch Saroo's desperate search for home in India, 25 years after being separated from his birth mother and blood siblings. It's an emotional story that will move you to tears, while validating the motherhood of both adoptive and biological mothers alike. "Lion" received an "84% Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It stars Dev Patel as an adult Saroo Brierley, alongside Sunny Pawar, Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara, and David Wenham. 'Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again'Universal PicturesRent or buy "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again" on Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, or Vudu.As the title suggests, "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again" is the musical rom-com sequel to "Mamma Mia!," with many returning cast members and a few new additions. Set five years after the first film, Sophie Sheridan (Amanda Seyfried) is now grieving the loss of her adventurous and fun-loving mother, Donna (Meryl Streep). "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again" jumps between flashbacks and the present, detailing the adventures of a young Donna (Lily James) and the present struggles of Sophie as she grieves and tries to move on. It's a sentimental adventure set to Abba's hits, perfect for singing and dancing along while dabbing away tears."Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again" received a "79% Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. In addition to our leading ladies, the film also stars Dominic Cooper, Christine Baranski, Jessica Keenan Wynn, Julie Walters, Alexa Davies, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, and Stellan Skarsgård.'Roma'NetflixWatch "Roma" on Netflix."Roma" paints the struggles of two very different women living in the same middle-class home. Yalitza Aparicio plays Cleo Gutiérrez, an Indigenous live-in maid working for the household of Sofía, played by Marina de Tavira. Cleo is a soon-to-be single mother, while Marina is the mother of four stuck in a tumultuous marriage. Though the entirety of "Roma" is shot in black and white, it's not at the compromise of beauty; on the contrary, the film's panning shots and deliberate lighting result in alluring images that make you feel like you're peering directly into the daily lives of these mothers. A 10-time Academy Award nominee and three-time winner, "Roma" received no shortage of accolades — it's currently rated "96% Certified Fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes. Directed, produced, shot, and co-edited by Alfonso Cuarón, the film also stars Fernando Grediaga and Jorge Antonio Guerrero.'Room'Elevation PicturesWatch "Room" on Showtime."Room" is a drama about Joy (Brie Larson), a young woman living in captivity with her 5-year-old son Jack, both at the mercy of their kidnapper. After they pull off an elaborate escape, Joy and Jack find themselves tangled in a web of complex emotions. It's a heavy movie with moments of suspense, and it's a powerful mom-centric watch that tackles two generations of motherhood under great duress: Joy's and her mother's. The film received a "93% Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The award-winning movie also stars Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, William H. Macy, Sean Bridgers, and Tom McCamus.'The Babadook'IFC FilmsWatch  "The Babadook" on AMC Plus."The Babadook" is a psychological horror film that shows the lengths a mother will go to for her child. Essie Davis plays Amelia Vanek, the widowed mother of her behaviorally demanding son Sam. When Sam becomes fixated with a monster called the Babadook, Amelia is forced to step in and take action against the supernatural happenings in her house. Though it's a horror movie, the spooky story ends up painting a heartwarming depiction of Amelia's love for her son."The Babadook" received a "98% Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film is directed by Jennifer Kent. 'The Farewell'A24Watch "The Farewell" on Showtime.A film based on a real-life lie, "The Farewell" follows a scattered family that reunites under the guise of a wedding to say goodbye to their matriarch and grandmother, who does not know she is dying. Awkwafina plays Billi, a New York City native who yearns to reveal the secret of her grandma's terminal illness, but is strong-armed into silence by her entire family. A beautiful and poignant film that will move you to tears, "The Farewell" illustrates the clash of Western individualistic culture and Eastern collectivist culture in one family quietly suffering to keep their grandmother happy. More than just a story about mothers, it's a drama about family as a whole that can be enjoyed by all viewers, especially those with immigrant backgrounds."The Farewell" received a "97% Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The Academy Award nominee is directed by Lulu Wang and features emotional performances from Tzi Mai, Diana Lin, and Zhao Shu-zhen alongside Awkwafina.'The Kids Are All Right'Focus FeaturesRent or buy "The Kids Are All Right" on Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, or Vudu. "The Kids Are All Right" follows Nic and Jules, a same-sex couple, each with their own child conceived from the same sperm donor. When the kids bring their shared biological father into the picture, unexpected issues arise, and the family is thrown under pressure. The drama-comedy is a rare, well-rated LGBTQ film that focuses on motherhood and the common practice of artificial insemination. "The Kids Are All Right" received a handful of Academy Award nominations and holds a "92% Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The cast features Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska, and Josh Hutcherson.'The Sound of Music'Disney PlusWatch "The Sound of Music" on Disney Plus. An all-time classic, "The Sound of Music" is a 1965 musical following the von Trapps, an Austrian family of seven kids and a widowed father. When Maria, a Catholic postulant, is sent to join the family as their governess, she brings music and love back into the family's life. It's a beautiful, musical story perfect for blended families, and a great way to pay homage to stepmothers. "The Sound of Music" holds an "83% Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film was directed by Robert Wise and stars Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Richard Haydn, and Peggy Wood. 'Turning Red'"Turning Red."Walt Disney Studios Motion PicturesWatch "Turning Red" on Disney Plus.If you have yet to see Pixar's latest animated feature, there's no better time to watch "Turning Red" than on Mother's Day. A relatable story for anyone with an overbearing mom, the film follows Mei Lee, a 13-year-old girl in Canada with a love for boys, her friends, and pop music. This is all contrary to the obedient persona she displays in front of her mother, Ming. When a hereditary curse turns Mei into a giant red panda, she is pushed to decide who she wants to be: her fun-loving self, or the perfect daughter. "Turning Red" currently holds a "94% Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film features the voices of Rosalie Chang, Sandra Oh, Ava Morse, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, and Hyein Park.'Us'"Us"UniversalRent or buy "Us" on Amazon, Apple TV, or Vudu. One last horror movie to consider for Mother's Day is Jordan Peele's "Us." In the film's eerie story, the world's status quo is broken when silent doppelgangers clad in red jumpsuits start attacking people. Lupita Nyong'o plays Adelaide, the mother of two, and wife to Gabe (Winston Duke). She is put to the test to protect her children from violent forces wearing their own faces, and must fight tooth and nail to keep her family safe. Not only is "Us" a really interesting watch that diverts expectations, but it's also another good movie to put on for any horror-loving mom on Mother's Day. "Us" earned a "93% Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes and received many award nominations since its release. Other members of the cast include Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex, Elisabeth Moss, and Tim Heidecker.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 6th, 2022

The 8 best fitness trackers and how to pick the one that fits you best

Wearing a fitness tracker can help you monitor your daily activity and even provide workout inspiration. Here are the 8 best we've tested. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.Amazon; Alyssa Powell/InsiderFitness trackers have come a long way since Fitbit introduced its first clip-on wearable in 2009, and are now like wearing full-on personal trainers on your wrist.The advanced utility native to modern fitness trackers has made them increasingly popular, too, even going so far as to replace some people's everyday watch. Because why not wear a single wearable that tracks everything aspect of your daily activity while still reliably telling time? But the real question people should ask themselves isn't whether they should wear one but rather, which they should wear. As the fitness editor for Insider Reviews, I'm no stranger to the world of fitness trackers and have spent years using them during every activity possible. To help you figure out which best fits your lifestyle, I've compiled my eight favorites below. I've also included answers to a few FAQs, as well as insight into how I test fitness trackers, at the end of this guide.Learn more about how Insider Reviews tests fitness products here.Here are the best fitness trackersBest overall: Suunto 7, $358.36 on AmazonThe Suunto 7 is a robust fitness tracker that offers support for more than 70 activities, has basic smartwatch features, and provides highly useful workout feedback. Best full-featured: Garmin Epix, $899.99 on GarminOutdoor enthusiasts will surely love Garmin's detail-oriented (and full featured) Epix, a robust fitness smartwatch that tracks, captures, and logs just about any activity you can think of (and then some). Best Fitbit: Fitbit Versa 3, $179.95 on Best BuyFitbit's Versa 3 combines the brand's excellent fitness tracking tech with in-depth smartwatch capability, unique sleep tracking, and a clean design reminiscent of the Apple WatchBest smartwatch: Apple Watch Series 7, $329 on Amazon The latest Apple Watch (the Series 7) continues the tech company's dominance in the smartwatch space, offering wearers a versatile fitness tracker that's full-featured, easy to use, and incredibly powerful.Best budget: Garmin Forerunner 35, from $127.99 on Amazon The Forerunner 35 utilizes so much of what makes Garmin one of the best fitness tracker brands on the market, including accurate GPS, reliable activity tracking, and a sleek, comfortable design.Best basic: Fitbit Charge 5, from $130 on AmazonIf exercising is part of your routine, you'll love being able to track your workout in real-time on the bright, easy-to-read screen of the Fitbit Charge 5. Best for feedback: Garmin Forerunner 745, $499.99 on GarminThe Forerunner 745 is the perfect representation of the power of Garmin's ecosystem, offering wearers fine-tuned workout recommendations and valuable fitness insight in an easy-to-use package.Best multisport: Coros Apex, $299 on AmazonThe Apex from Coros is a multisport athlete's dream: It offers in-depth support for a range of activities, it has excellent battery life and a comfortable fit that almost makes you forget you're wearing it.Best fitness tracker overallRick Stella/InsiderSuunto 7$341.66 FROM AMAZONOriginally $399.00 | Save 14%$348.99 FROM REIOriginally $400.00 | Save 13%The Suunto 7 is a robust fitness tracker that offers support for more than 70 activities, has basic smartwatch features, and provides highly useful workout feedback.  Pros: Activity tracking for over 70 activities, including everything from running and cycling to snowboarding and hiking, in-depth fitness tracking, offers workout feedback, accurate GPS, lets you download maps for offline useCons: App experience is clunky, expensiveThough Suunto isn't the first name to come to mind when talking about fitness trackers, its 7 smartwatch slash tracker is one of the most impressive wearables I've ever tested. Suunto only released the 7 in 2020 but it's spent almost that entire time on my wrist (when I'm not testing other trackers for this guide), and routinely impresses me and provides exactly what I want out of a fitness tracker: in-depth feedback, accurate activity tracking, and a wide variety of use cases. Not only am I able to track any run or bike ride I go on, but it also offers support for other activities like snowboarding, hiking, swimming, or even just walking (among literally so many others). The user's manual states that it covers more than 70 activities, but do take that with a grain of salt; some of the activities it tracks just account for length of activity and your heart rate. That means it's not actually tracking advanced stats for things like tennis or basketball.Even if you aren't a multisport athlete, the 7 still offers plenty to take advantage of. Its GPS function (even one year later) is highly accurate and reliable, both while I run through my neighborhood in Brooklyn or bike longer distances across the entire NYC area. It offers offline map support for those who like to ditch their smartphone and head into the backcountry (and make it out safe) and also has smartwatch capability by offering smartphone notification support. And although its price tag may shock at first glance ($400 is a lot to spend on a mere wearable), it more than makes up for that investment with everything it offers. Because it can be utilized and benefited from by such a wide range of active users makes it one of the most versatile fitness trackers available — and one I plan on continuing to wear for many years.Best full-featured fitness trackerRick Stella/InsiderGarmin Epix$999.99 FROM GARMINOutdoor enthusiasts will surely love Garmin's detail-oriented (and full featured) Epix, a robust fitness smartwatch that tracks, captures, and logs just about any activity you can think of (and then some). Pros: Tracks a wide variety of activities, offers on-wrist pulse oximeter readings, tracks stress levels, monitors sleep, suggests workouts — this watch does it allCons: ExpensiveGarmin's fenix line of fitness trackers has long been my go-to for a comprehensive wearable experience. I could run, bike, lift weights, snowboard, hike, or swim with it on and it'd be right there with me every step of the way; it did (and the current line still does) everything. So, when Garmin announced it was resurrecting its Epix line (the first generation debuted in 2015 while its second generation model released in 2022), I was unsure how it'd slot into the brand's lineup — it wasn't an exact fenix clone but I assumed it'd be close.After wearing the Epix for two months straight, I'm sold. It not only stands on its own away from the fenix but has proved it's more than capable of blazing its own trail (literally).And that's important for a smartwatch that costs upward of $900. Since its price puts it at the high end of the cost spectrum, it needs to offer wearers a far different experience than something like a $400 Apple Watch. Thankfully, it does and it's packed to the brim with features. There's wrist-based heart rate monitoring, sleep, step, stress, hydration, and respiration tracking, Garmin's patented Body Battery monitoring, and VO2 max readings. This is in addition to the endless list of available activities to track, unique coaching insights and workout tips, recovery time estimates, visual race time predictors, and custom workouts (the list goes on and on). But what's been most impressive about the watch is that it does each of these incredibly well and doesn't just seem like a bunch of features were lazily tacked on. I find myself using almost all of them in every facet of my day, too. I use the recovery time estimate to see what workout my body is ready for, the coaching insights for daily inspiration, the race time predictors to adjust my training schedule, and sleep tracking to see how well my body is resting.One of my favorite things to use is the digital bread crumb feature that comes in handy when hiking in areas with little to no service. With this, I'm always able to know the path back to a trailhead or major road, even if my phone dies or I'm not in an area with much cell service. And because of that laundry list of available features, and it's high price, it's meant more for anyone who's consistently active and who enjoys getting outside. Of course, anyone can buy one and use it but to get the most value out of it, you want to make sure you're using it — and with a battery that lasts up to about two weeks, you're going to get a lot of use out of it.Best Fitbit fitness trackerFitbitFitbit Versa 3$175.00 FROM WALMARTOriginally $229.95 | Save 24%$179.95 FROM AMAZONOriginally $229.95 | Save 22%$179.95 FROM BEST BUYOriginally $229.95 | Save 22%Fitbit's Versa 3 combines the brand's excellent fitness tracking tech with in-depth smartwatch capability, unique sleep tracking, and a clean design reminiscent of the Apple WatchPros: Automatic activity tracking, built-in GPS, in-depth sleep tracking and exercise data, great battery life, offers unique mindful minutes feature, and is water-resistant up to 50 metersCons: Doesn't always automatically syncFitbit's line of Versa watches ushered in the brand's first foray into smartwatch territory, and the resulting products (from the original Versa to today's Versa 3) have been a triumph. Each combines the in-depth and reliable fitness tracking Fitbit's built its name on with functional smartwatch features and a clean, stylish (and recognizable) design. Not only is the Versa 3 the latest in this new-ish product category for Fitbit, but it's also the brand's best. It has built-in (and accurate) GPS, is water-resistant up to 50 meters, and offers excellent battery life, meaning you won't have to worry about throwing it on its charger each night.That last part is an important distinction, too, as the Versa 3 provides wearers with in-depth sleep tracking, including how much REM sleep you get, how much you toss and turn, and when you're sleeping lightly. During my tests, I was amazed at how tumultuous my night of sleep can be — and the data allowed me to try to fix certain things about how I sleep, or when to start winding down to give myself the best chance for solid rest. Though this is starting to pop up on more fitness trackers today, I've found the Versa 3 to provide one of the better, more insightful experiences. From a tracking perspective, the Versa 3 shines. I really enjoyed the automatic tracking function, which allowed me to immediately start running after I put my shoes on instead of navigating a menu just to hit Start. This may seem a minor feature but I ended up using it far more than I thought I would.The other major component of the Versa 3 is its smartwatch capability. Though the features won't blow you away, I found that it did still function exactly as I needed, providing me quick glances at notifications without having to pull my phone out of my pocket (or locate it in my apartment). Android users get more features, like voice-to-text responses, but it still functioned well, albeit quite basic, with my iPhone. Best fitness tracker smartwatchoasisamuel/ShutterstockApple Watch Series 7$349.99 FROM AMAZONOriginally $399.00 | Save 12%$349.00 FROM WALMARTOriginally $399.00 | Save 13%$399.00 FROM APPLE$399.00 FROM BEST BUYThe latest Apple Watch (Series 7) continues the tech company's dominance in the smartwatch space, offering wearers a versatile fitness tracker that's full-featured, easy to use, and incredibly powerful.Pros: Wide range of accurate activity tracking, clean, stylish design, great for iPhone users, easy-to-read always-on touchscreen display, music integrationCons: Battery life isn't that great (you'll need to recharge it almost every day)You can't have a guide to the best fitness trackers without the appearance of the Apple Watch — it's that good. And aside from its quality, the Apple Watch is also one of the most important fitness wearables thanks to its ability to seamlessly blend fitness tracking and smartwatch capability. Other trackers in this guide offer something similar but Apple's wearable is by far and away the best to do it. From a fitness tracking perspective, it has a deep offering of trackable activities but excels with your basics like running, swimming, and cycling, as well as the company's new streaming service, Apple Fitness+. There's even a Nike version of the watch that comes with the Nike Run Club app pre-installed, so you know Apple intends for this to be on the wrist of a runner.It works really well in practice, too. The watch was always quite comfortable on my wrist, even on longer runs or bike rides, and the screen is really easy to read mid-activity. Its GPS isn't as quick as the Suunto 7 but it wasn't as fussy as my experience with Fitbit's Charge 4. When it does finally sync, it's quite accurate and routinely produced that same accuracy over days and weeks of testing. The Series 7 is rounded out by both its smartwatch offerings and advanced health analytics. There's sleep tracking, a blood oxygen sensor, an ECG reader, and even handwash tracking. I didn't find myself using everything all the time but it was nice knowing I had access to some of the more in-depth features whenever I wanted. Being able to respond to text messages and use it as a true smartwatch made it that much more valuable to me (especially as an iPhone user). Best budget fitness trackerGarminGarmin Forerunner 35$136.48 FROM AMAZONOriginally $169.99 | Save 20%The Forerunner 35 utilizes so much of what makes Garmin one of the best fitness tracker brands on the market, including accurate GPS, reliable activity tracking, and a sleek, comfortable design.Pros: Great battery life, plenty of functionality despite its basic design, lightweight, waterproof, built-in GPSCons: No swimming mode despite its waterproof design, GPS signal can be slow to lock onOften when you see the words "budget" and "fitness tracker" next to each other, you find a wearable offering the most basic of function and tracking capability. Then there's the Garmin Forerunner 35. Though vanilla in design, the Forerunner 35 is anything but "budget" in what it offers yet still has a very reasonable price tag of less than $100.If you've ever used a Garmin fitness tracker or smartwatch before, you know just how capable its ecosystem is — and the 35, though inexpensive, is no different. It features 24/7 heart rate monitoring, accurate GPS tracking, and compatibility with running and cycling (among a few others). What I liked best about the 35 during my tests was its attention to running features that more expensive watches just don't have, specifically its running cadence analysis and an interval training mode. With the run cadence feature, I was able to have a more in-depth look into my mechanics and could make more informed adjustments. For advanced runners, this data is invaluable. Navigation-wise, the Forerunner 35 is a breeze. Just a few buttons flank the bezel, each of which is straightforward in allowing you to access the watch's suite of features. It won't wow you in terms of design but this is one of the best bang-for-buck fitness trackers on the market. Best basic fitness trackerFitbitFitbit Charge 5$128.95 FROM AMAZONOriginally $179.95 | Save 28%$129.95 FROM TARGETOriginally $179.95 | Save 28%$129.95 FROM BEST BUYOriginally $179.95 | Save 28%If exercising is part of your routine, you'll love being able to track your workout in real-time on the bright, easy-to-read screen of the Fitbit Charge 5. Pros: Comfortable design, easy to read display, built-in heart rate monitor, in-depth sleep tracking, advanced workout features, real-time workout tracking on-screen, long battery life, user-friendly appCons: No music storage, basic black & white displayThe Fitbit Charge 5 supplants the Fitbit Charge 4 (our prior recommendation as the best budget fitness tracker), with a few new features that again make it one of the best values for any current fitness wearable.In addition to counting steps like any good fitness tracker should, the Charge 5 also measures stairs climbed, calories burned, resting, and active heart rate, and offers in-depth sleep tracking. It even shows which type of sleep you're in, be it light, deep, or REM. You can also see how your habits stack up against those of other people your age via the app. If you're feeling stressed, this tracker also offers breathing exercises to help you relax. And, diving into more of the workout features, the Charge 5 has dedicated functions for recording a wide range of activities, including running, cycling, cardio, and strength training. There's even a timer option for HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training).It also lets you pause and resume workouts, and if you do forget to tell it you're starting an activity or workout it can automatically detect a session and start monitoring it.Other new features like a stress management score provide unique insights into your health, and there's even a new daily readiness score that lets you know if you're body is rested enough for another workout or if you should focus on rehabbing for the day (this is only accessible via a Fitbit Premium membership, however).  Best fitness tracker for feedbackAdam Molina/InsiderGarmin Forerunner 745$499.99 FROM GARMINThe Forerunner 745 is the perfect representation of the power of Garmin's ecosystem, offering wearers fine-tuned workout recommendations and valuable fitness insight in an easy-to-use package.  Pros: Huge variety of trackable activities, built-in pulse oximeter, and accurate heart-rate monitor, motivating recommended workouts and detailed accuracy as you wear it more, offers valuable fitness insight, excellent battery lifeCons: The menu system can be clunky, expensiveGarmin's long-made highly advanced fitness trackers that have always done well to satiate the needs of hardcore athletes. With the Forerunner 745, it brings that in-depth approach to a wider audience, providing highly valuable fitness insight and feedback to anyone, regardless of how active they are. The beauty of this watch rests with the advanced data it provides. During workouts, the 745 displays everything from time active and heart rate to distance covered and pace. Each of which is highly useful in the moment if you're interval training or aiming for a certain time on a run or bike ride. It's also quite easy to customize this screen so you have exactly what you want when you want it. Though that in-the-moment date is great, it's what the watch offers after the activity (or between workouts) that's even better. This includes challenging workout recommendations that adapt to your output, the ideal amount of rest you need between activities (which is highly important), and customized training plans. Neither of these is just tacked-on, too, and I found myself gravitating toward them more and more as I tested the watch even though I've always preferred my own workouts to anything pre-written for me. Its tracking accuracy is also highly precise, and I found it to be similar to that of Suunto's 7 and the Apple Watch Series 6. It syncs with GPS rather quickly and would consistently produce very similar metrics (both in terms of distance and pace) no matter if I was cycling or running. If there was something to nitpick about the Forerunner 745, it'd be its clunky menu system. Like most Garmin watches, the OS isn't exactly intuitive, though it does get easier the more you use it (as would anything). It's not enough to be a dealbreaker, especially considering how much else this watch does that's superior to most fitness trackers currently available. Best multisport fitness trackerCorosCoros Apex$300.00 FROM REI$299.00 FROM AMAZONThe Apex from Coros is a multisport athlete's dream: It offers in-depth support for a range of activities, it has excellent battery life and a comfortable fit that almost makes you forget you're wearing it.Pros: Long battery life, even while using GPS, multisport functionality that goes beyond just tracking heart rate, comfortable design, great app experience, perfect for triathletes, built-in GPSCons: The screen can be too dim at times, easy to accidentally press the dials to change modesIf you spend much of your active time doing something different from the day before, then the Coros Apex is the fitness tracker you need. It's especially adept at tracking running, biking, and swimming, making it perfect for the budding or seasoned triathlete. But that's not only who the Apex is for; Coros consistently updates the watch's software to add new activities and modes, including sports like snowboarding, gym cardio, and hiking. This only adds to its versatility and the newly added modes do a good job of being accessible and easy to use as soon as they're available. The Apex truly proves its worth for ultrarunners. Thanks to excellent battery life, highly accurate GPS, and a dedicated trail running mode, it's the watch a grab for when I know I'm going to be out for a long run that won't just consist of running on the sidewalk or through my local park. Its comfortable design makes it easy to wear for long periods of time, too, without irritating my wrist or becoming a drag on my running form. Though these are its high points, the Apex does also offer basic fitness tracking capability in the form of heart rate, steps, calories, and so on, so it's not just for advanced athletes. Rather, it's great for anyone looking to spend more time running, biking, or cycling, and who has an inclination to try new activities.Its $300 price point puts it solidly in the middle in terms of other watches featured in this guide but its incredible capability makes it highly worth the expense. How I test fitness trackersAmazon; Alyssa Powell/InsiderEach of the fitness trackers included in this guide went through a series of tests to determine how well they performed across these four categories: Fit & comfort, tracking accuracy, added features, and value. Here's how we considered each category while testing:Fit & comfort: If a fitness tracker isn't comfortable or doesn't fit well, you'll be far less likely to want to wear it very often — and if you don't wear it often, what's the point? Tracker manufacturers also know this, for the most part, so many of the best active wearables feature bands that not only stay comfortable for long periods of time but don't chafe or become bothersome while you sweat. When testing, I looked at everything from how they felt the moment we put them on to whether we noticed any discomfort throughout short and long workout sessions. Tracking accuracy: Testing a fitness tracker's accuracy isn't always straightforward; you can literally wear two different watches and get different GPS readings, pace readings, and so on. So, instead of using a second tracker to test a wearable's accuracy, I would map out how far an exact mile was from my house before running it a few times wearing the same watch. The trackers that ultimately made the cut all produced results that were within no more than .1 miles off. Added features: Testing for this category was straightforward: Did the tracker have any supplemental features outside of just tracking steps, calories burned, or heart rate? This could be anything from extra activities it's capable of logging, the ability to act like a smartwatch and get smartphone notifications, etc. This wasn't a dealbreaker category, however, as trackers aren't defined by their added features — but it is still a nice touch and something that can separate a good tracker from a great one. Value: The value of a fitness tracker isn't just its sticker price but also how valuable it is from a function standpoint to the user. Does it have the features you need? Will it track and compile the data you want it to? Can it actually serve as something that benefits your fitness as opposed to detracting from it? These are all questions you want to consider when shopping to find a tracker's true value. This becomes more of a subjective category when viewed that way but when testing, I still was able to judge how well the tracker's held up across each of the above categories — and still considered how much they cost, as well. FAQsIs it worth getting a fitness tracker?Yes, so long as you actually use the tracker, and the data it collects, to inform your fitness goals. This means understanding what the fitness tracker you buy offers, and opting for one that offers insight into what you specifically need. For instance, if you just need something to motivate you to increase your daily activity, you shouldn't buy a full-featured watch like the Coros Apex or Suutno 7. Something like the Apple Watch or Fitbit's Versa 3 would be better suited to your lifestyle.And although there's nothing wrong with wearing a fitness tracker to only keep tabs on your daily steps or calories burned, that information it accrues can be vital for anyone who wants to develop a daily, weekly, or monthly fitness routine.The term "worth" as it applies to fitness wearables is relative to how exactly that information is used and who is using it. You first need to decide how you intend to use a fitness watch to truly determine how worthwhile it can be. What do fitness trackers do?Fitness trackers monitor and accrue a variety of activity data such as the number of steps a wearer takes each day, how many calories they've burned, and the flights of stairs they've climbed, among many others.Basic fitness trackers often offer tracking for just those listed above while more advanced wearables, and fitness smartwatches, provide a slew of advanced features such as workout tracking (running, cycling, weight lifting, etc.), heart beat monitoring, smartphone notifications, and more. Some trackers even have compatible smartphone apps that centralize the data it collects, allowing users to chart their progress over time via a dashboard or activity calendar. What are the pros and cons of fitness trackers?Deciding whether the pros of a fitness tracker outweigh its cons ultimately comes down to how you intend to use it. If you plan on being routinely active and using the data it collects to develop and maintain a fitness routine, then it can be extremely beneficial. However, if you don't ever look at the amassed data or buy a watch that has too many features you'll never use, then it will surely become an expensive digital timepiece that tracks fitness data for no reason. Fitness trackers are powerful tools that can offer deep insight into one's health profile — but they can also be quite expensive. This is why it's important to not only figure out how you want to use the watch before you buy one but to research which watch is best fit for your lifestyle and your goals. What should I look for in a fitness tracker?Those looking for a device dedicated to tracking daily activity, workouts, and sleep have a vast number of choices even without including members of the smartwatch family. Here's what to consider:Comfort and design: Since you'll wear the tracker daily (even to bed for sleep tracking), comfort is a high priority. If it's not comfortable, you won't want to wear it; plain and simple. The same goes for design. If you have a small wrist, you may want a tracker with a sleek, understated look. Fitness trackers come in all shapes and sizes, so you'll be able to find one that suits your style.Features: If you're looking for a no-frills fitness tracker, then one that only tracks steps and your sleep habits may suffice. However, if you work out often or want insight into how your activity impacts your overall health, a more advanced tracker with a heart rate monitor or built-in GPS may be the one for you.You should also consider the types of workouts you like to do. For example, if you're a swimmer, waterproofing is a must. If you're just starting a new fitness routine, then a device that coaches you and gives you goals to work towards may provide the extra motivation you need.App experience: Most fitness trackers are designed to work in tandem with your smartphone, syncing the data collected with a downloaded application. This allows you to gain even more insight into your health and save the information collected to track your progress over time.Unfortunately, not all companion apps are that effective and you may find there are some experiences you prefer over others. It's important to choose a fitness tracker that gives you a good app experience. Easy navigation and compatibility with your phone's operating system are a must.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 3rd, 2022

Transcript: Luana Lopes Lara

     Transcript: Luana Lopes Lara The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Luana Lopes Lara, Kalshi, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here. ~~~ RITHOLTZ: This… Read More The post Transcript: Luana Lopes Lara appeared first on The Big Picture.      Transcript: Luana Lopes Lara The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Luana Lopes Lara, Kalshi, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here. ~~~ RITHOLTZ: This week on the podcast, I have an extra special guest, Luana Lopes Lara is a co-founder of Kalshi. They are a derivatives trading marketplace, where you can go and trade event contracts on such disparate occurrences such as COVID-19, economic outcomes, interest rates, Federal Reserve, politics, climate and weather, culture, the Oscars, the Grammys, science and technology, all sorts of really fascinating places. They are the only such marketplace that has been approved for the sort of events trading by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the CFTC, which makes them both fascinating and — and unique. There’s nothing else like them. This provides a way for individuals and institutions to hedge all sorts of really interesting events. And as opposed to having think about, well, if this happens, what’s the ramification in gold, or oil, or inflation, or interest rates, you can actually bet on that exact event and hedge your business or your portfolio. It’s really quite fascinating. I thought this was really interesting conversation, and I think you will also. So with no further ado, my conversation with Kalshi Co-Founder, Luana Lopes Lara. ANNOUNCER: This is Masters in Business with Barry Ritholtz on Bloomberg Radio. RITHOLTZ: My special guest this week is Luana Lopes Lara. She is the co-founder of Kalshi, one of the only derivative trading marketplaces that allows the trading of event contracts in order to hedge against major business and political events. Kalshi is the only marketplace to receive approval from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, who regulates the trillion-dollar derivatives industry. Luana Lopes Lara, welcome to Bloomberg. LARA: Thank you so much. I’m very happy to be here. RITHOLTZ: So — so let’s start just with that unusual intro, you’re the only CFTC-approved way to trade on the outcome of events. Explain that a little bit. LARA: Right, exactly. Kalshi is a financial exchange that allows people to trade on the outcome of a lot of different events. So things from, will inflation keep going as high as it is right now, will the Fed raise rates to like, well, 2020 with the hottest year on record? And what really sets us apart is that we’re the only — the first and only ones regulated by the CFTC to do this in the United States. RITHOLTZ: So — so let’s talk about that because I love the story about you guys. You and your co-founder, you start calling attorneys, and one day, you end up calling like 60 or 70 lawyers in a single day. And pretty much every one of them said, “People have been trying to do this since the 1980s. It’s never been approved. Just forget about it, it’s not happening.” Tell us about that. LARA: Right. So we really wanted to build Kalshi the right way. So to view the exchange that is sustainable and — and can be a pillar of the financial world, we wanted to make this really big, get the right partners on board, and really try to build something that’s going to outlast CME. You know, like, CME is around there for like 150 years. RITHOLTZ: Right. LARA: And the way to do that, for us, was to build a proper financial exchange, to build this right. And we knew that getting regulated was the first step and like figuring out how to do it right. But obviously, me and my co-founder were both computer scientists, we knew nothing about regulation. So we sat down and put on a spreadsheet the names and — and emails of – of 65 different lawyers that we thought maybe could be related to this, and we called one by one. I think we split who was going to call who. And all of them were just like, “That’s not going to happen. The CFTC won’t allow this. It has already — they already said no to this in the past.” But because of a friend of a friend of a friend, we ended up getting to Jeff Bandman, who works with us till today. He’s an ex-official of the CFTC, and he really understood the Commission and – and helped us — started — helping us start navigating the entire situation. And yeah, it was two years of — of — of that entire engagement and iteration of the CFTC with all their core principles and concerns that they had, to address them and — and really ended up getting regulated in November 2020. RITHOLTZ: So it sounds like it wasn’t so much that the CFTC was against the idea of event contracts in order to hedge on these circumstances. They just didn’t like what was presented them previously, over the previous 40 years, or — or did something change that they suddenly said, “Oh, we used to think this was a bad idea. Now, we think it’s a good idea.” LARA: I think it was — it’s more of the first. I think it was about presenting to them why we thought event contracts were so important, and how they could really be used for hedging. And every day hedging like — like retail, and Americans every day can hedge things like inflation, like rates, risks that we see and read about like in the news or on TV every day. And it was really like presenting to them and getting them to comfort with how these markets work, how they weren’t easy to manipulate, how the rules could — could operate. So really getting them to comfort with how the exchange, the markets, and all of our contracts could — could operate, and that’s what took that long. It wasn’t — in my opinion, it was more like explaining what we wanted to do. They were fantastic from the beginning to really listening and working with us. It wasn’t that they were just like, “No, we’re never going to do this.” RITHOLTZ: I — I think it’s interesting that it took people from outside of the world of finance to bring an idea into finance from a technology perspective and say, “Whatever the logistical hurdles we have to meet in order to receive regulatory approval,” that wasn’t like an ideological problem. To you, it was a, “Well, this is a logistical problem that we have to solve. And once we solve it, we can get this going.” So how long did the back and forth with the CFTC take to get approval? LARA: Yeah. No, it was two years or two years and a half. RITHOLTZ: Wow. LARA: And yeah, we used to say it’s like we were climbing a very high mountain, and then as we started climbing more, we would see it’s actually twice as high and it would keep – and it would keep multiplying. Because the thing is we would go to them and — and they would have concerns and issues, so we would go back and solve the issues. A lot of it, as you mentioned, was related to technology. We did analysis on similar markets on what we could do, and viewed the surveillance systems and all of those things, and going back to them, and then they were like, “Okay, that’s fine.” But we have all these other issues now, and then we would go back and — and figure them out and — and — and do that one by one. It was like walking in the desert a little bit. We didn’t know where — where the end was. But it ended up working out. RITHOLTZ: So — so let’s talk a little bit about your platform. This is unlike futures and it’s unlike derivatives, and that when you are purchasing a contract, you are putting up the full dollar amount. It’s not like where you’re putting up 10 cents on the dollar, or one cent on the dollar. If you’re making a $1,000 bet, you are posting a $1,000. How much did that factor influenced the CFTC that this wasn’t just going to be reckless speculation and — and people fooling around, this was really hedging? LARA: Right. So we are fully cash collateralized. So every — as you said, every dollar that you can lose or every dollar that you — you trade, you have to have it with us before. And I think this really helps with the safety of the platform and it really started from us. We really want to start in a way that is very safe for everyone, and we can really understand the system before going like too far ahead. And we really see this as very important. So all the funds are fully cash collateralized. But obviously from — from the CFTC perspective, it adds to their comfort to the fact that there can’t be like leverage or margin or more risk added to the system, that all the money is collateralized, and the retail is protected because of that. RITHOLTZ: So equities, you can put up half the – the dollar amount, 2 to 1, futures or something like 10 to 1. Options, if you go out of — out of the money and far enough into the future, it’s — it’s a 100 to 1. Is there ever a plan to move away from the 1 to 1, dollar for dollar, maybe not option 100 to 1? But certainly, margin and equity market seems to be pretty reasonable at 2 to 1. LARA: At the moment, we’re really focused on retail and fully cash collateralization — fully cash — being fully cash collateralized. But at — in the future, I think our goal is to be like the New York Stock Exchange for events. So having — being really the — the central place of the ecosystem, and having like different brokers and institutions, hedge funds, market makers plugged into us, the exchange. At that point, it would make sense to start considering something like that. But right now, we’re completely focused on retail and having it fully cash collateralized as well. RITHOLTZ: Right. So once — once it becomes a big institutional exchange, then — then you can explore that. LARA: Right. RITHOLTZ: So since it’s retail, let’s talk a little bit about retail. Gamification is a real big issue. We’ve seen Robinhood do this. We’ve seen a number of other sports gambling platforms doing this. What are your thoughts about gamification when it comes to events trading? LARA: Yeah. I think the gamification question is a very interesting one, because I think it’s less about the asset class and more about the actual platform and the mechanics. So for example, you can trade equities on Robinhood, or Charles Schwab. The conversation about gamification is a lot more on Robinhood than on Charles Schwab, even though the underlying like is the same, you’re trading equities. So we really believe event contracts are — have a very big economic purpose and can be used for hedging and all of those things that we — we talked about. And the gamification would come only in the platform. But we’re very, very focused on building a platform that’s safe, easy to understand and to use, but not — not gamified. RITHOLTZ: So let’s go over some of the type of events that you guys trade. You could — you can make bets on COVID-19 and vaccination, on economics, inflation, mortgage rates, politics, climate and weather, world culture, science and technology. Let — let’s — let’s take some examples from this. I’d love the idea, will the 30-year fixed rate mortgage be above 3.9% on April 15? In other words, if I’m buying a house and closing on it, and concerned that rates might rise, I could take a trade against that and hedge that position. And I don’t have to be a billion-dollar hedge funds. I could just be someone buying a house. LARA: Exactly. I think all of our contracts have economics purpose, and they can really be used for hedging. For example, all of our COVID markets, during the Omicron wave, you could really see like even before the news started reporting it, the amount that it was taking up of. And then we’ve talked to the users, and they are, “Oh, wow, like I — I might not be able to go back to school. I want to hedge like that — that situation and all of that.” So a lot of the contracts I’m very interested in, for example, is the half point rate hike for — for March. I think it’s — it’s a market that went up a lot during, I think, one of the — there was some news that that it was going to go up … RITHOLTZ: Right. LARA: … by that. And then it went down again. And — and other ones are GDP and inflation, really just getting into the economic situation we have nowadays. RITHOLTZ: Number of Americans — so these are all “yes or no” contracts that — that’s … LARA: Right. RITHOLTZ: … pretty clearly determined. It’s black and white. Will 254 million Americans be vaccinated by May 1st? But I saw a contract, will America achieve herd immunity by September 1st? Who is the determiner of whether or not herd immunity — how do you define those terms? LARA: Yeah, that’s a great question. All of our markets are like legal binding documents. So they’re like 40 pages determining what the real rules are, to really make sure that there’s no room for indeterminacy or anything of the sort. So this market, specifically, I’m not exactly sure. I think it’s definitely the CDC or some number around there. But if you – like, all of our rules, if you go to our rulebook, it has very specifically defining where — which number we’re using, how we’re using, which target, if it has to be above or below a certain number, and it ends up being very determined. But for COVID markets, we’re using CDC numbers for — for some of our sources. RITHOLTZ: So I mentioned world culture, that’s kind of interesting. Is there a lot of activity in who’s going to win Best Picture or who’s going to be the Best Actress at the Oscars? How — is that a seasonal thing when — each year or how does that trade? LARA: Yeah. Launching the Oscar markets were – it was very important for us because they were the very – very first regulated derivatives, I guess, in the entertainment industry and Academy Awards. We have traded more than 150,000 contracts … Ryan Wyrtzen: Really? LARA: … in the Oscars so far. RITHOLTZ: Wow. LARA: … and it’s only been a couple of weeks. And we really expect the — the trading there to — to be a lot higher, closer to — to the ceremony … RITHOLTZ: Right. LARA: … or during the ceremony. But it’s interesting, a lot of people say that the Oscars are — are dead or irrelevant. But the movie industry is so big too nowadays, that there’s so much — so many people that are so impacted by the results of these awards, and things of that sort. And yeah, on the seasonality point, I think that the interesting thing about the entertainment industry is that you have awards, for example, like the Oscars or the Grammys, and we also have markets on. But you have weekly things, for example, album, sales numbers … RITHOLTZ: Right. LARA: … Billboard charts, and things like that, that we offer markets on every week and have a lot of room for like modeling and alpha, and things of that sort. RITHOLTZ: So — so I know studios spend a lot of money on marketing and promoting, leading up to the Oscars. Because if a — let’s say a small independent film wins Best Oscar, it seems a huge — it gets a huge uptick in subsequent box office and — and other sales or streaming rights. I’m wondering if part of their marketing plan is going to include hedging on Best Oscar. They can not only spend, you know, a million dollars on promotion, they could buy a contract that offsets not winning Best Oscar. LARA: Yeah, that’s our goal, is to get all of them to come and really hedge all this risk that they have. RITHOLTZ: So — so where’s the volume today? Where are you seeing the most amount of activity? Is it — is it inflation and Fed activity? Is it GDP? What — where — where’s all the money flowing in on your platform? LARA: Right. It’s actually interesting, because when we launched, we really expected it to be category specific or concentrated in specific categories or economics, entertainment, transportation, technology. But it really is about what — what the news are. So what’s top of the New York Times? What’s in the newspaper the whole day? And what’s in the news? And right now, as you mentioned, the Fed March meeting is — is very — is a very — it’s a market with a lot of … RITHOLTZ: It’s live. It’s hot. LARA: Right. It’s very hot. Yeah, for sure. But for us, we’ve — we’ve seen this, like news-based activity lot, like the Omicron wave, as I told you. When the infrastructure bill was passing, there was a lot of activity over there; or when Jay Powell was going to get renominated, there was a lot of activity in that market. So it’s really about what’s in the news and what people see their risks associated with, and where they think there’s most room to make money. And right now, the Fed rates, people are really disagreeing on that. And there’s a lot of volume and volatility on that market. RITHOLTZ: So — so you guys didn’t exist when Brexit had come up. That was before your time. But you have been around with Russia and Ukraine, and I noticed there’s not a lot of activity there. Why not do a futures contract on will Russia — it’s obviously too late today. But in January or December, you could have done a “Will Russia invade Ukraine by February 1st, March 1st, April 1st?” LARA: Right. We avoid any contract that’s related to war, terrorism, assassination or — or violence of any kind. We don’t want to have those — those markets on our platform. But we do have markets that are adjacent to that. So for example, markets on the price of ruble or — or the price of oil, natural gas in the U.S. and Europe. So we have markets that are adjacent. We just don’t want to have markets directly related to war, terrorism, assassination, or those things. RITHOLTZ: Makes sense. You don’t want to incentivize anybody to misbehave. LARA: Right. Exactly. RITHOLTZ: In the past, I’ve heard futures described as a marriage between hedgers and speculators. So if you’re an airline, you want to hedge the price of oil. But someone got to be on the other side of that trade, so incomes speculators. Are you seeing that same sort of relationship amongst Kalshi clients? LARA: Yeah. I think Kalshi is one of the most pure forms of exactly this hedging and speculation match. I think one – a very simple example to understand this, if you think of rain in New York City, right? Like, you can have like an ice cream truck buying – an ice cream truck will be really — really hit if — if it rains for like a lot of days, because people will buy less ice cream. So they can buy a “yes” contract to really hedge that offset that they have. On the other side, there can be someone that is going to speculate, and seeing there’s a forecast for 20% rain in the next couple of days and they are willing to take the — the “no” side because they think that there’s only a 20% chance it’s going to rain and — and it seems like they can make money. So then you can really have a match of like people that actually need to have a contract for hedging, almost like insurance, and people who – who because of forecasting and probability and — and what they think the fair value is, is going to take the other side. And then at the settlement, for example, if it does rain, it ends up being that everyone is happy because the speculator makes money, because they were correct. No. RITHOLTZ: Right. LARA: Right. RITHOLTZ: The — the hedger is protected against the event. LARA: Right. Yes. Right. RITHOLTZ: And the speculator won the trade. LARA: Right. Exactly. And exactly, you — you got it totally right. RITHOLTZ: So — so let – that raises a really interesting question. Who are your clients? Are they hedge funds and institutions? Are they retail investors, or is it a whole spectrum of people? LARA: We really focus now on — on retail. And our — our biggest amount of users right now is the traditional option trader, like informed retail options traders. But the way that we see this — this growing is we want to keep growing within the retail trading and options trading community. And then our next step is getting brokerages on board so that you can now go and trade on event contracts through your interactive brokers or e-trade account. And then after that, building enough liquidity to start bringing more prop shops in and — and smaller firms and then hedge funds and — and then institutions, and maybe we can have maybe a Burger King hedging, I don’t know, price of plastic straws or something like that. RITHOLTZ: So — so the platform eventually becomes an exchange? LARA: Exactly, exactly. I think we — we see it as a buildup of liquidity from — from retail that’s like smaller amounts, but — but — but higher velocity to — to hire bigger and bigger institutions, all the way to become like a full-fledged financial exchange like the New York Stock Exchange or CME. RITHOLTZ: So let’s talk a little bit about how you guys, you and your co-founder, created Kalshi. You kind of were the opposite of Facebook. You know, Mark Zuckerberg famously said, “Move fast and — and break things.” Companies like you and Coinbase and BlockFi spent a lot of time getting approval from the regulators. Tell us a bit about why you took that approach as opposed to moving fast and breaking things. LARA: Yeah. I think a lot of times people are making the short-term trade-off for speed. And in finance, I think it’s different. You can – obviously, you go to market faster if you choose the unregulated route. But with finance, there’s been like a lot of historical examples of unregulated platforms getting meaningful volume and then being shut down by regulators, because they weren’t properly regulated and doing things right from the start. We really think that the opportunity really shrinks if — if you don’t take regulation into account, because then you can’t get real money in the platform. You can’t get real good partners, as we just talked about brokers, market makers, hedge funds onboard. Sometimes you can’t even offer products to U.S. customers. It really boxes into something small, very quickly. And that’s — for us to be the New York Stock Exchange for events, because that’s our goal, the only way to do that was to do it right from the start, going through the regulated path, and — and eating on the cost of the two years and a half waiting, but — but making sure that we’re set for success. RITHOLTZ: So your — your co-founder, Tarek Mansour, he was an equity derivatives intern at Goldman Sachs in 2016. The same year you were a quantitative trader at Citadel Securities. So you guys both had a pretty bright career path. Had you not decided to go out and launch this whole new platform? Tell us what motivated you to say, “Goldman, Citadel, that looks too easy. Let’s — let’s launch a — a new startup.” LARA: Well, that — that’s funny because actually most of our MIT time, we were both very focused on just getting finance jobs and never even thought about starting a company. But yeah, we were both very interested in math, financial history, finance from — from the very start of — of our school years and — and we worked with various financial firms. As you mentioned, Tarek worked at Goldman. I worked at Bridgewater, Five Rings Capital, which is a small prop shop, and then Citadel Securities. At those internships, we really saw the behavior that we say is the Kalshi behavior over and over again. It’s like firms making trading decisions based on events. As we think the European Central Bank is going to raise rates, let’s take this massive position, or really find the structure to make that work. But the idea really crystallized in our heads when we were working, both together, at Five Rings. And there, we were playing this game almost the whole day. It’s called the “maker market” game that people — that everyone would be putting like bids and offers in the probability of something. And then the other person could only tighten the spread or — or trade against you. And there was a single — there was a day that we were just trading — playing this game the entire day. And then I — I don’t remember exactly what market it was, but I took a massive position on Trump doing something. I don’t remember exactly what it was. And everyone thought I was crazy and debated me a lot on that. But I ended up being right. And then when I was — we were walking back to — to where the interns were staying, it was stuck in my head, like why isn’t there a place for people to do this? Like, we love doing this? We do this the whole day. Like, we see in every place we work at, like very big positions, people are trading based on events. Like, why is there no place to do this? And then I sat down and started talking to Tarek about it. Like, why isn’t there — why don’t — why don’t we do it? And we stayed the whole night up talking about it. And it was just something we were so passionate about from the finance side, the product side, everything we always loved. And if there was going to be someone to figure it out, it was going to be us. It just then leaves us the idea for another six months, up until we were like, OK, like, this is a calling, we have to do it. RITHOLTZ: So — so when you say your desks are – and you guys are trading back in 2016, trading events, you couldn’t credibly bet any sort of volume on events like Kalshi does today. You had to go to secondary or tertiary markets. So you’re betting on gold if you’re thinking about inflation. LARA: Exactly. RITHOLTZ: You’re betting on oil if you’re concerned about war. It’s – it’s always once removed, which raises the issue. Even if you’re right, you may not express itself in a market the same way that the bet was supposed to go. LARA: Right. Exactly. I think that in the beginning of COVID, you had this exact thing happening with — with the economy and how you would think about the S&P. And the beauty about event contracts is that it’s direct exposure in what you think. There’s not like a lot of variables for you to keep track of or — or think about of things that can go wrong. That’s why we also think it’s very – it’s the most like natural way of investing, especially if you think for retail. They can’t like keep track or have full desks of people trying to understand what’s going on. It’s a lot easier to do when you have one opinion, and you have a very clear way to get exposure on what you believe in being right or wrong. RITHOLTZ: So — so you’ve spoken about the gambling industry and how incentives are somewhat cloudy. How does your platform correct for that? LARA: Right. The key part about gambling is that the house takes a position in the bets. So the house has an interest on the outcome of — of the bet or — or the market, if you want to call it that, but it’s more just the bet. We are just a financial exchange. So we — you can think of Kalshi a matching agent. We match people that believe something will happen with people that believe something will not happen. If they have equivalent prices, we match them. So we have no interest in whether the market will go away a certain way. We do have an affiliate trader that’s there to provide liquidity so that people can trade, especially as we start the exchange. But the exchange doesn’t take any positions ever. We’re simply matching other participant orders. So there’s no conflict of interest between us and our members. RITHOLTZ: So — so when you look at a racetrack and the odds are set on horses, those odds don’t quite add up and the shortfall is the house take. So it’s never quite 50/50. What does it cost to trade on this platform? What — what’s the — so in other words, if I’m betting a $100 that something is going to happen and I win, do I get $200 back or how — how does that work? LARA: Right? So — so the way that it works is that the “yes” and the “no” prices are from 1 to 99 cents, and whoever is right gets $1. So let’s say I’m buying a “yes” for 40 cents, it means there’s someone buying a “no” for 60 cents. And if I am correct, I make $1, which means I’m profiting 60 cents which is from my counterparty, RITHOLTZ: Right. What – what’s the cost of that trade? Meaning, how does Kalshi make money, and I assume since it’s fully collateralized, there’s a float. That’s going to be a good source of revenue over time. LARA: We don’t make money on float. All of our — our — all of them, user member funds are in a fully regulated CFTC Clearinghouse, which is FTX derivatives, the U.S. derivatives, they are clearinghouse. And we make money on a transaction fee. So we have a small transaction fee that varies on the price of the contract. RITHOLTZ: But what is it averaged ballpark? What does that cost? LARA: I think it’s less than 1%. RITHOLTZ: All right. So, we will have a conversation after we’re done, and I will show you that – I think it was Schwab. When they moved to free trading, their float became 57% of the revenue. So we’ll have a conversation. We’ll see if we can help raise your — your revenue target and – and we’ll go from there. Because especially — it’s one thing if you’re looking at events that are days and weeks out. But if you’re making bets on will 2020 be the hottest year in history, hey, you’re sitting with that money for 12, 11, 10 months. There’s a lot of top line to be gained from — from a little float. We’ll — we’ll work that out with the CFTC. That will be — that will be easy. You guys raised $36 million in a Series A. Sequoia Capital was the lead, probably the most storied venture capital firm in Silicon Valley. Charles Schwab, not the entity I was talking earlier about Charles Schwab in the float. But Mr. Charles Schwab was an investor. Henry Kravis is an investor. Silicon Valley Angel is one of the early investors. And were you with Y Combinator when you were first launching? LARA: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: So — so that’s quite an esteemed list of — of people who said, “Hey, there’s some value here.” Tell us a little bit about the experience at Y Combinator and then doing an A round with some really boldface names. LARA: Yeah. Our experience at Y Combinator was actually very different from most of the other startups. Like, we were measuring regulatory traction, and other startups are measuring user growth, or revenue or — or things — things of that sort. Yeah, and about the Series A, getting a DCM was — was a key part of — of that Series A. I think Kashi is really one of those asymmetric type of investments. We are going to face obviously a lot of challenges and — but we — if we execute against those challenges, we’re going to have massive outlier potential. And we were really trying to find partners and investors that really understood the long-term vision of the company, and share that obsession that we have with event contracts and — and building this entire trading ecosystem. So Alfred from Sequoia is one of those people. He — he did a PhD in these types of markets. He really, really understands it and sees the potential. And obviously, it’s — it’s a Sequoia Sequoia, as you said. RITHOLTZ: Right. LARA: So that was – that was definitely something we thought about. But — but Alfred, specifically, has historically invested in a lot of like paradigm shifting companies like Airbnb and DoorDash. So we really thought it was a good — it was a good fit. And then after Sequoia was our lead investor, we were really trying to fill the round of – with Wall Street investors that could really help us navigate this industry. So yeah, Tarek, my co-founder, he’s obsessed with barbarians at the gate. So — so when … RITHOLTZ: Hence, Henry Kravis. LARA: Right. So when — when one of our seed investors, Ali Partovi, said he could intro and — and we could talk to Henry, I think Tarek was just like absolutely fascinated. And they had a fantastic conversation. He was very interested from — from the very beginning. And with — with Charles Schwab, it was something similar. It was also Ali Partovi introing us to — to him, also very interested in from the start, and he actually told us that our early days at Kalshi looked very similar to his early days starting Charles Schwab. So that was very exciting. And — and yeah, they help us so much till today so it’s fantastic. RITHOLTZ: The funny thing about Schwab is people don’t realize the guy you see with the gray hair in commercials, that’s Charles Schwab. That’s not an actor. LARA: Right. RITHOLTZ: He really exists and has been running the company. Now, I think he’s chairman. But that was really him for — for a long time. So — so let’s talk a little bit about event hedging. And I like this quote, “These markets are a little like an aggregator of public opinion in real time.” So — so what are the implications of this? And is that the sort of stuff your lead investor at Sequoia was studying when he went to school? LARA: Right. Yeah, this is a very important part of our vision. Over time, we really want Kalshi to become the source of truth for forecasting these events that we have markets on. Because of the prices at Kalshi go from 1 to 99 cents, they directly translate to the probability of the event happening. So let’s say the market might be saying there’s a 20% chance there’s a recession this year. It means that 20 cents means that there’s a 20% chance that the market believes there’s a 20% chance … RITHOLTZ: Right. LARA: … that there will be a recession this year. And the amazing thing is that there’s a lot of theoretical and empirical evidence that they are the most effective and most accurate ways of forecasting the future. They’re way better than polls, way better than like pundits on — on the news, trying to say what’s going on. And it’s mainly for two reasons. I think the first one is because when people put money where their mouth is, they are more — more likely to say what they really think and actually do research and everything. And the second one is that markets really aggregate the wisdom of the crowds. You’re getting a lot of different people’s opinions, when they put money behind their opinion, and really aggregating data, and which makes this a very powerful tool. And I mean, any market lover understands what I’m saying. And yeah, making — and — and part of our — our vision and what we really want to do long — long term is make these forecasts core to people’s lives. It’s really part of our mission. With — with event contracts becoming more widespread, we really hope that people will use data in their lives to prepare better for the future, address uncertainty, inform themselves better, and like try to address a little bit of the very biased world and not very data-driven world that we live in nowadays. So we’re trying to get started with that. We’re really trying to get — we have market tickers like any other equity or things like that. We have tickers for all of our markets. So we’re trying to have tickers and prices to be used by news and things of that sort. So we really try to get this very important data, that we believe is very important data out there. But for Alfred specifically, I think he was doing more than like mathematical and like research. He was doing a stats PhD, so somewhat related to this, but not really on the — on the — on this side, but yeah. RITHOLTZ: So — so let’s — let’s talk a little bit about prediction markets that are out there. Historically, they’ve only done a so-so job, partly because they’re not very broad. They’re not that very deep, and the dollar amounts that are traded had been modest. I saw an overlay of about half a dozen different prediction markets before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. And you would think they would all be kind of similar, but they weren’t. They were all over the map. Do you have to get to a certain scale that will fix that problem of prediction markets being kind of thin and easily — I don’t want to say manipulated, but one big trade really has an impact on — on how those markets trade. LARA: Right. Exactly. I think we need a — a base level of liquidity and — and volume for — for the forecast to really work and be really useful. And a lot of these like other prediction markets out there, as — as we talked about, they’re unregulated. They have — they’re very new. They just pop up, especially the crypto ones every other day. And it’s hard to build liquidity and real proper volume like that. But we really think that prediction markets are the way to go to have these — these very good forecasts of — of events, but it needs liquidity and needs volume, and that’s what we’re working on. RITHOLTZ: Really kind of interesting, which raises the question, how are you going to scale this up? How are you going to get to 100 million and then a billion, and then who knows what from there? LARA: Right. We have a lot of ways to — to scale the exchange. It’s kind of what we talked about with — with building up liquidity. Right now, we’re really focused on retail. So getting — we have a lot of option traders, or like what we call informed retail traders in the platform, trying to go in more – deeper into different communities, and trying to get them in to test the platform, things of that sort. And then the next step for us is getting brokers in to offer our markets in their platform, so e-trade, interactive brokers, all of those. And then bringing up the volume, we can bring up like actual liquidity providers, prop shops, hedge funds, and then up until, I guess, insurance companies even offloading some risk or — or like actually big institutions, natural hedgers, bringing them in. So the way that we’re seeing it is really starting to build of retail with getting more and more of the current users that we have, which are option traders, and having more retail as we go to the — to the, I guess, brokers. RITHOLTZ: So — so how big can this get? I mean, is this ever a billion dollars a month? How — how large can this sort of event hedging scale up to? LARA: Right. So event contracts are a lot more like tangible, relatable and — and more direct, as we talked about, then all these other assets that — that preceded it. So we really think when we actually plug it in the financial ecosystem, it can properly scale. Obviously, it takes a lot of time to get there because we need to view the entire ecosystem around events. RITHOLTZ: Right. LARA: It’s a completely new thing. But once it’s properly plugged in the financial system, I can give you some numbers to give some idea, right? I think you mentioned that in the beginning of the CFTC regulating a trillion-dollar industry, like grain futures are $7 trillion industry. RITHOLTZ: Wow. LARA: Commodities, 20 trillion. Interest rate swaps are around, I think, $500 trillion. So not exactly how big the market is, but I think as we expand event contracts, it definitely has a potential to be one of these. RITHOLTZ: Right. Interest rate swaps are $500 billion or trillion? LARA: Trillion. RITHOLTZ: Really? LARA: Right. RITHOLTZ: That’s the notational, nothing is going to get offered? LARA: Right. Yes. You got that point. RITHOLTZ: That — that’s a giant amount of money. LARA: Right. RITHOLTZ: So — so really, startups have a tendency to have this defining moment in their lifespans, where they sort of either pivot or just a moment of clarity, and you could see the whole roadmap laid out. Did you guys have that sort of defining moment at Kalshi? LARA: I would say the biggest — the earliest defining moment we had was actually — before we really started the company, we went to a Y Combinator hackathon. Because before we were like fascinated by it, but we didn’t think it was like going to work. It’s like — it seems so complicated, and like, are we crazy? I think that was the big question in our head, like are we going crazy over here? Then we went to Y Combinator for a hackathon. And there were like these teams with like bunch of servers, crazy computers like — and it was just me and Tarek with our like Macbooks, like try to — to code like a demo of what we were talking about. And then we first presented to Michael then, the CEO of YC and he really didn’t like what we were saying from the beginning. He cut us. Like the first five seconds, he’s like that, like “This is illegal,” like, “What are you doing?” And then we will get very upset. We went in like we – I think we — Tarek even started drinking beer. He’s like, “There’s no way we’re going to be in the Top 10,” which had to present again. And we ended up being in the Top 10. We presented again, and then we ended up being in the Top 3, which were the winners of the hackathon. And I remember that night, when we were going back to — to our friend’s place where we were staying in San Francisco for the hackathon, we were like, “Wow, like maybe we aren’t crazy. Like, we should — like maybe like people believe in what we’re doing.” And it was a very like happy moment for us. And I think right after that, we actually got into the Y Combinator batch. And it was one of the happiest moments we’ve — we’ve had — we’ve had of the company. So that was really like motivating and encouraging, because as I told you, we never thought about being founders. We thought about being like he was going to be — we were both going to be traders full time. So it was like a big shift for us. So that was a very exciting moment. RITHOLTZ: Really interesting. Let me throw a couple of curveballs at you. You and your co-founder, Tarek, both were named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in — in the finance category. Tell us a little bit about that. What was that experience like? LARA: Yeah. No, it was very excited. We were very honored to be — to be — to be nominated, especially being like the head up of the — of the finance category. We were really excited after all the work we’ve done. And actually, a funny story is that because of the Forbes 30 Under 30, I went viral in Brazil for a little bit, because the Brazilian Forbes wrote a — wrote a piece about how a Brazilian was in the American Forbes 30 Under 30 and that — because it’s very rare to have Brazilians in the list here. So that was — that was — that was a funny story. But yeah, because of the Forbes 30 Under 30, we also ended up ringing the opening bell at the NASDAQ, which was very exciting. RITHOLTZ: Interesting. LARA: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: And one more — one more curveball. You were a ballet dancer with the Bolshoi. You studied ballet. Tell us about that. LARA: Right. So very different from what I do now, for sure. But I’m from Brazil, originally, and I just came to the U.S. for college. And most of my life before college, I was split between ballet and school. What — what I really loved about ballet was intensity of it all. It was extremely hard to get to the top. It’s extremely competitive. And there’s nowhere to hide, you need to be completely on, you need to give it your all. And yeah, and I — I studied at the Bolshoi Ballet School and it was extremely intense. And — and we had to be extremely disciplined, like measuring our food down to like a four puffs of strawberry before this rehearsal, to be able to get there. But that was –that was one part. And the other part, my — my parents are both engineers and have stem backgrounds. So I was surrounded by that outside of ballet, doing like Math Olympiad and all of that, I also had to get 100 on everything on the math and science side. So I used to do like normal school, I guess, from like 7:00 a.m. because Brazil school’s hours are different. so 7:00 a.m. to like 1:00 p.m., and then ballet from 1 – like 1:30 p.m. to like 9:00 – 10:00 p.m. And then I would actually go study. So that was a very intense part of my life, but I think it really set me up for — for being able to go to MIT and — and — and enjoy everything there. And it’s something that Tarek is very similar to me, he was actually a professional skier before going to college. And — and we have very similar backgrounds. And I think that level of intensity and — and discipline is really what helped us get through the regulatory process and be where we are today. So tough times, but it’s good now. RITHOLTZ: I — do the same thing. I measure my food input down to the quarter strawberry. And you could see it’s how I maintain my girls. So — so we only have certain amount of time left. Let me jump to my favorite questions that I asked all of our guests, starting with what kept you entertained during lockdown? What were you streaming, watching or — or listening to? LARA: Right. I listened to all and — and I’m very into American politics nowadays. So I’m finishing up the 10 American Presidents podcast. But on TV, I think I’m more mainstream. So I just love Succession, House of Cards, West Wing, and so on. RITHOLTZ: Let’s talk about your mentors who helped shape your career. LARA: Right. So I think at MIT, I had two professors that were very impactful in my career and to me. I think the first one was Patrick Winston. He was my advisor and professor, a lot of artificial intelligence classes. He really helped me navigate MIT and set me up to — and set my mindset to where I wanted to be, to like really psychology. And the other great mentor was Peter Kempthorne. He’s also professor of stats, and really, I started being interested in finance in his glasses. And funnily enough, he’s actually one of directors of — of Kalshi nowadays, because we kept very close contact. And we talk a lot to him about like the dynamics of markets and all the stuff we talked about. And since we started the company, I think our biggest mentors have been Michael, the CEO of YC. Up until today, he’s helped us so much. And Ali Partovi, who’s — who runs Neo, he’s one of our seed investors. And they have been really instrumental in like making us better founders, not just like making the company succeed, but better founders and how to like deal with employees, growing — like growing pains, negotiation, all of those things that, you know, like MIT nerds didn’t really know what to do. RITHOLTZ: So let’s talk about books. What are some of your favorites and what are you reading right now? LARA: Right. Some of my favorite – my favorite book is this book called “Americana,” but it’s not the novel. It’s actually the 400-year history of American capitalism. But whenever I say Americana, everyone thinks is the novel. And the other one is this book called predict — “Predictably Irrational,” which is … RITHOLTZ: Dan — Dan Ariely? LARA: Right. Yeah. And it’s — it’s very — some — it has a lot to do with what Kalshi does and I think it’s one of the early books I read on — on prediction markets and decision-making, and I thought it was a fantastic book. And at the moment, I’m finally — Tarek will be very happy to hear this. I’m finally reading “Barbarians at the Gate” after he told me for years that I should, but I barely started, so yeah. RITHOLTZ: And Americana is a Bhu Srinivasan, am I pronouncing it right? LARA: Right. He’s that. RITHOLTZ: He was a guest here a couple of years ago. I love that book. That book is just amazing. LARA: That’s book is fantastic. Yeah, it – yeah. RITHOLTZ: Those people think that, oh, all these companies were, you know, freestanding. It was a public private partnership … LARA: Right. RITHOLTZ: … for a long time. That — that is a fascinating book and I’m surprised someone, as young as you, has found it. It’s sort of off the beaten path. LARA: Yeah. No. It’s — it’s a fascinating book. It made me — especially not being American, I think it made me understand the country and how it works so well, I think, way better. RITHOLTZ: So — so this is the first time I’m going to ask this question of somebody who is so recently out of college, but you’re 25 now, is that right? LARA: Right. RITHOLTZ: So what sort of advice would you give to a college student or a recent college grad who is interested in a career in either startups and technology, or finance and derivative training? LARA: Right. I think the finance industry is very — there’s a very traditional path that people can take. And what really helped me and — and Tarek understand and — and really come up with the Kalshi idea and — and — and understand it and work on it was that we got a lot of exposure to a lot of different types of firms and a lot of different types of roles as well, like we did. I did more of the engineering side, then a little bit of the trading, then a bit of research. And Tarek did like all types of different trainings, because he also worked at Citadel, and Five Rings, and Goldman. And I think that giving yourself a lot of breadth, especially when you’re in college is very important to just understand the industry as a whole, understand when there are gaps, and — and seeing — like finding patterns, like how we found the Kalshi behavior. So I really think it’s about putting yourself out there, trying to learn different things, do different things and — and trying to get a global vision of — of what the industry is and why you want to do, and — and not be too tied to like the traditional path of like entering as like this level and then going up in a big firm and — and things like that. RITHOLTZ: And our final question, what do you know about the world of trading, and hedging, and investing today that you didn’t know, what do I say, four years ago when you guys were first starting out? You’ve been doing it since 2016, so let’s call it six years ago. LARA: Right. Yeah. So what we’re really doing is — is enabling trading and investing. But if I were an investor, what I think I would have liked to know a couple of years ago is that bold bets are — I would take a lot of bold bets. I think generally that’s – the bets that seem ridiculous at first and there’s a lot of debate, then there’s no way that it’s going to work, are usually the ones that are achieved, like the large outlier results. Definitely, I’m biased because Kashi is hopefully one — is going to be one of those bets for a lot of our investors. But I really think it’s about seeing what the world can be in the future and — and taking bold bets to get there. I think a couple years ago, I’ll be very — if I were an investor a couple years ago, I would be very scared to do that. But now, I would think that’s the way to go to really do meaningful investing. RITHOLTZ: Quite fascinating. We have been speaking to Luana Lopes Lara. She is the co-founder of derivatives trading marketplace, Kalshi. If you enjoy this conversation, be sure and check out any of our previous 400 interviews we’ve done over the past eight years. You can find those at iTunes, Spotify, wherever you get your podcast fix. We love your comments, feedback, and suggestions. Write to us at mibpodcast@bloomberg.net. You can sign up for my daily reads at ritholtz.com. Follow me on Twitter @ritholtz. I would be remiss if I did not thank the crack staff that helps put these conversations together each week. Sean Russo is my research assistant. Mohamad Rimawi is my audio engineer. Paris Wald is my producer. Atika Valbrun is our project manager. I’m Barry Ritholtz. You’ve been listening to Masters in Business on Bloomberg Radio.   ~~~   The post Transcript: Luana Lopes Lara appeared first on The Big Picture......»»

Category: blogSource: TheBigPictureApr 19th, 2022

Sunday Collum: 2021 Year In Review, Part 3 - From "Insurrection" To Authoritarianism

Sunday Collum: 2021 Year In Review, Part 3 - From 'Insurrection' To Authoritarianism Authored by David B. Collum, Betty R. Miller Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology - Cornell University (Email: dbc6@cornell.edu, Twitter: @DavidBCollum), I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness. The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance. ~  Carl Sagan, 1995, apparently having invented a time machine Every year, David Collum writes a detailed “Year in Review” synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year’s is no exception. Read Part 1 - Crisis Of Authority & The Age Of Narratives here... Read Part 2 - Heart Of Darkness & The Rise Of Centralized Healthcare here... So, here we are at the third and final part of the 2021 Year in Review and it’s no longer 2021. Sorry about that pfuck-up. Think of it as not in 2021 but from 2021. You may have noticed that the first 200 pages (parts 1 and 2) were laced with a recurring catchphrase, “WTF is happening?” It was a literary device for noting that the events ceased to make sense within a conventional worldview, suggesting it is time to torch the old model and start anew. Our response to a disease that was killing a very small slice of the population was to sequester and vaccinate the entire population with an experimental drug of real but unquantified fatality rate. The apparent scientific illiteracy was not some mass psychosis. Y’all just got suckered by America’s Most Trusted Psychopathic Mass Murderer assisted by an epic media blitz sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry that had a distinct authoritarian quality. Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth. ~ Albert Einstein During the brief period after uploading part 2 while grinding on this last portion, the Supreme Court took on the vaccine mandate issue, ruling that the only people forfeiting control of their own healthcare are the healthcare workersref 2 The court also illustrated their profound ignorance of the pandemic and what they were even charged to assess—the Constitutionality of mandates, not the efficacy.ref 3 The CEO of a major insurer reported a 40% spike in fatalities within the 18–65 age bracket that was not from Covid.ref 4 He said 10% would be a 3-sigma, once-every-200-year event: 40% is unheard of. Although he refrained from identifying a cause—deaths of despair, neglected healthcare, or a toxic vaccine—he knows precisely what did them in. They have been studying this stuff for centuries. I suspect his real message was that the insurance industry is about to contribute to inflation with rising premiums. Meanwhile, the pathological liars running the covid grift decided after two years the masks you’ve been wearing served no medical purpose and that the vaccines don’t work either. Wait: who said the masks and vaccines don’t work? We have known for many months that COVID-19 is airborne and therefore, a simple cloth mask is not going to cut it…Cloth masks are little more than facial decorations. ~ Leana Wen, MD, CNN medical expert with no admitted ties to the CCPref 5 Two doses of the vaccine offers very limited protection, if any. Three doses with a booster offer reasonable protection against hospitalization and deaths. Less protection against infection. ~ Albert Bourla, Pfizer CEOref 6 Here is my most heartfelt response to them: You psychopathic lying sacks of shit. You had us wear rags across our faces and put rags across the kids’ faces when clinical studies that could be read by people with half your IQs showed they were worthless. Suicide rates and other deaths of despair soared while you petty tyrants played your little games and generated billions of dollars of profits while destroying the middle class. You have maimed or killed an unknown number of gullible victims with your lockdowns, vaccines, remdesivir, and oppression of Ivermectin. You jammed a vaccine that bypassed animal trials into the fetuses of pregnant women, assuring them it was safe. If we spoke up, we got muzzled. If we refused the vaccine, we got fired. You should all hang from your necks until dead. I will piss on your graves. I feel better already. Very refreshing. Meanwhile, many of my friends and colleagues look at the same data and say, “Oh. I guess I better get the booster and a KN95 mask.” You have got to unfuck yourselves. You’ve been duped. It will get worse. The tactics used to oppress us would have made Stalin smirk. Australia was a beta test for what is to come in the rest of the west if we don’t wake up soon. They are gonna keep coming for one simple reason: we accepted it. We got bent over and squealed like pigs. What normalization does is transform the morally extraordinary into the ordinary. It makes us able to tolerate what was once intolerable by making it seem as if this is the way things have always been. ~ Jason Stanley, How Fascism Works A person is considered ‘ordinary’ or ‘normal’ by the community simply because he accepts most of its social standards and behavioral patterns; which means, in fact, that he is susceptible to suggestion and has been persuaded to go with the majority on most ordinary or extraordinary occasions. ~ William Sargant, in Battle of the Mind Meanwhile, the financial world became even more dominated by central bankers who haven’t the slightest understanding of free-market capitalism. These twits or criminals—maybe both—have blown the most colossal bubble in history if you account for both price and breadth across the spectrum of asset classes. For the layperson, that means they have set us up for a colossal failure. Go back and re-read Valuations if you cannot picture the epic financial carnage lying dead ahead. The gap between the Fed funds rate and headline inflation has never been this large. These pinheads believe that if the markets do not coincide with their world views, the markets must be wrong. I am not an economist, but it appears that none of them are either. The notion that a dozen nitwits should set the most important price of them all—the price of capital—rather than letting the markets set it through price discovery is financial authoritarianism or what some call State Capitalism. I am angry in case it doesn’t show. Meanwhile, in 2020–21 the Fed contributed to destroying upwards of a half-million mom ’n’ pop businesses—they gutted the middle class—while giving BlackRock credit at 0.15% interest rates to buy up all their houses. Here is my advice to those day trading criminals: look both ways as you enter crosswalks. What I believe the response of society to a severe downturn given the current political climate will be epic. Big downturns come after euphorias. We have never entered a downturn with society at large this grumpy. We are in the early stages of The Fourth Turning.ref 7 The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded. ~ Charles-Louis De Secondat When a State has mortgaged all of its future revenues the State, by necessity, lapses into tranquility, langor, and impotence. ~ David Hume, 1752 So, WTF is going on here? In this final part, I address geopolitics. It begins with a relatively benign analysis of Biden’s first year in office, culminating with what I think Afghanistan is really about. The second section addresses my view of what may prove to be the most important day in US History—January 6, 2021. Although it is my best shot—Dave’s Narrative—I will not attempt to nor will I inadvertently spread the love to both sides of the political spectrum. It is a right-wing view that most right-wing politicians and pundits are too cowardly to state in polite company. The final section addresses the Rise of Global Authoritarianism. For a topic covered by thousands of treatises to call my knowledge skeletal is a reach. I have merely created an intellectual foundation—a chalk outline—to ponder why authoritarianism is here and what could stop it. (Plot spoiler: I do not believe it can be stopped.) They know where we are, they know our names, they know from our iPhones if we’re on our way to the grocery store or not. But they haven’t acted on that to put people in camps yet. They could do it. We could be East Germany in weeks, in a month. Huge concentration camps and so forth. ~ Daniel Ellsberg (@DanielEllsberg), author of The Pentagon Papers and Secrets Before moving on, let me give a plug for a book.ref 8 I have not even finished it yet, but it will change your worldview. Look at those ratings! I can guarantee none of those readers enjoyed it. Kennedy will curdle your bone marrow describing 35 years of atrocities commited by America’s Most Trusted Madman. It is emblematic of a much larger problem. Evil is powerless if good men are unafraid – Americans don’t realize what they have to lose. ~ Ronald Reagan The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. ~ H. L. Mencken Biden – Freshman Year Scorecard Let’s go, Brandon! ~ Cheers across America Most presidents begin their reign with a calling. Reagan raised our national self-esteem after a period of economic and political malaise. Bush Sr. took on the Gulf War, for better or worse. Clinton oversaw the economic boom and bank deregulation, again for better or worse. Bush Jr. was handed 9/11 and, in my opinion, boned it badly. Obama had to wrestle with the Great Financial Crisis. Trump was charged with disturbing the peace—drain the swamp if you will. Biden undeniably needed to begin healing the social discord that, regardless of its source, left the country wounded and divided. Maybe that was not Biden’s calling, but I wanted to see him become the president of all the people. This is not revisionist history of my failing memory: Biden’s the last of the Old Guard, which is probably why he was slipped into the office by the DNC old guard. I am guessing there will be no Supreme Court stacking; that was just rhetoric (I hope). There will be wars just like every president (except Trump, who brought troops home.) Congress is more balanced again and, at the time of this writing, the Senate is still in Republican hands. Hopefully, the gridlock will usher in some garden-variety dysfunction. I have subtle concerns about a Harris presidency. Admittedly, my opinion is based on precious few facts, but Harris displays a concerning shallowness of character, a lack of a moral compass, and the potential to slide to the left of Bernie. (I sometimes reflect on what it must have been like raising the teenaged Kamala.) I am trying to reserve judgment because first impressions scavenged from the digital world are sketchy if not worthless. ~ 2020 Year in Review By this description, Biden tanked his GPA. He ushered in a Crusade to erase the Trump era and its supporters. The weaponizing of social media and censorship against one’s opponents was probably unavoidable, but the downside will be revealed when the wind changes. Team Biden took banishing of political opponents on social media to new levels by, as noted by Jen Psaki, flagging “problematic posts” and the “spread of disinformation” for censorship. NY Timeslapdog Kevin Roose called for a “reality Czar,” not noticing the Russian metaphor problem. The War on Domestic Terror may prove to be a turning point in American history, one that risks extinguishing the flame of the Great American Experiment. Significant erosions of Constitutionally granted civil liberties discussed throughout the rest of this document may not have been Biden’s fault, but they occurred on his watch. If you see an injustice and remain silent, you own it. I can’t remain silent. Biden is the epitome of the empty, amoral creature produced by our system of legalized bribery. His long political career in Congress was defined by representing the interests of big business, especially the credit card companies based in Delaware. He was nicknamed Senator Credit Card. He has always glibly told the public what it wants to hear and then sold them out. ~ Chris Hedges, right-wing hatchet man Team Biden. Books have been written about Trump’s fumbles in the first months (or four years) of his presidency. See Josh Rogin’s Chaos Under Heaven in Books or Michael Lewis’ less balanced The Fifth Risk reviewed in last year’s YIR. The Cracker Jack team assembled for Joe reveals a glob of feisty alt-left activists and omnipresent neocons. According to Rickards, two dozen players on Biden’s roster were recruited from the consulting firm WestExec Advisors (including Psaki and Blinken.)ref 1 That’s power and groupthink. David Axelrod: You must ask yourself, ‘Why are we allowing him to roll around in the hallways doing impromptu interviews?’ Jen Psaki: That is not something we recommend. In fact, a lot of times we say ‘don’t take questions.’ Young black entrepreneurs are just as capable of succeeding given the chance as white entrepreneurs are, but they don’t have lawyers; they don’t have accountants. ~ Joe Biden Joe Biden, President – Joe is the Big Guy. In an odd sense, he is immunized from criticism because he is visibly losing his marbles. His cognitive decline is on full display; this 52 seconds of gibberish about inflation is emblematic.ref 2 He’s 80 years old, for Cripes sake. I read a book this year entitled, When the Air Hits Your Brain, which derives from a neurosurgical aphorism that finishes with “you ain’t never the same.” Wanna guess who had two brain aneurysms (one rupturing) years ago leading to a miraculous recovery?ref 3 You’re the most famous African-American baseball player. ~ Joe Biden to the Pope, context unknown (possibly even a deep fake)ref 4 I am neither reveling in Joe’s problems nor do I believe he is calling the shots. Claims that the puppet master is Harris are, no offense, on the low side of clueless. Obama seems like a better guess but Barrack was a front man too. Having an impaired leader of a superpower, however, is disquieting and potentially destabilizing, especially with Taiwan in play. Biden’s energy policy that clamped down on fossil fuel production only to ask OPEC to open the spigots is one for the ages. The covid policies bridging both administrations were catastrophic, but throwing workers out of jobs into the teeth of unprecedented labor shortages makes zero sense. The nouveau inflation—Bidenflation—may stick to him like it stuck to Jimmy Carter, but that is unfair to both presidents. Look to the Fed in both cases for blame. Troubles at the southern border and the Afghanistan pullout are a couple of serious logs for a raging inferno that represents Biden’s first year in office. As discussed in a later section, demonizing “white supremacists”—not just political opponents but opponents labeled by their race—will not be viewed well by historians unless history is at a serious fork and Joe is ultimately protrayed as the founder of some new Fatherland. Kamala Harris, Vice President – Whenever situations heat up, Harris is off like a prom dress. During the crisis at the border that she was charged with overseeing, she took off to Europe, cackling about never even visiting the border. Kamala endorsed and claimed credit for the Kabul evacuation.ref 5,6 Realizing she had pulled yet another boner she pulled out before they renamed it Kamalabad. (Hey: At least I had the decency to pass on the Kamalatoe joke.) In a moment of surreal comedy, Harris hosted a public chat with Bill Clinton on “empowering women.”ref 7 She can even serve up semi-reasonable ideas with dollops of cringe. If the Democrats nominate her in 2024, may God have mercy on their souls—she is unelectable—or maybe on our souls—I could be wrong. Jen Psaki, Press Secretary – The role of any press secretary is to calm the press down with nuggets of insight—to feed the birds. When that fails, lie your ass off, all with a cold, calculating sociopathy. I would say she did the best job imaginable given the hand she was dealt. Disagree? I’ll just have to circle back with you on that. Ron Klain, Whitehouse Chief of Staff – This guy might be the rainmaker, but I haven’t quite figured him out. He has the durability of Andrei Gromyko, maintaining a central role through three democratic administrations. Keep an eye on him. Janet Yellen, Secretary of the Treasury – We have yet to find out Yellen’s role because she has not been pressed into service by a crisis. To resolve the minor “meme stock” bruhaha, which did not call for a resolution, she needed an ethics waiver owing to the soft corruption of her bank-sponsored million-dollar speaking tour. My expectations of her are quite low, and I imagine she will meet them. Antony Blinken, Secretary of State – He has a good resume. Like Psaki, he is forced to play a weak hand. He lacks Psaki’s skills. Jennifer Mulhern Granholm, US Energy Secretary – In a press conference she was asked how many barrels of oil a day the US consumes and said, “I do not have those numbers in front of me.” ‘Nuff said. Get her out of there. Merrick Garland, Attorney General – The press will tear anybody a new one so snippets with bad optics are always dangerous. I would say, however, ordering the FBI to investigate parents who get irate at school boards—even those who seem rather threatening—is over the top. Leave that to the local and state police. His role in the January 6th event and push into domestic terrorism is potentially sinister and moves him onto my shitlist. Saule Omarova, nominee for Comptroller of the Currency – This one blows my circuits. She is what in the vernacular is called “a commie” straight from Kazakhstan with a thesis on Marxism—a devout believer that the State should run the show. She also hails from Cornell Law School. (Yeah. I know. STFU.) Matthew Continetti of the National Review noted she is, “an activist intellectual who is—and I say this in the kindest way possible—a nut.”ref 8 There will be no more private bank deposit accounts and all of the deposit accounts will be held directly at the Fed. ~ Saule Omarova, Cornell Law Professor   We want them to go bankrupt if we want to tackle climate change. ~ Saule Omarova, on oil and gas companies For those who have seen the horror movie The Ring, Cornell tried to exorcise the demon by sending “the VHS tape” to Washington, D.C., but it came back stamped “Return to Sender.” She withdrew. Hey Team Biden: you could want to snatch up MIT’s Venezuelan-derived president who is already on the board of the World Economic Forum and was instrumental in pushing Aaron Swartz to off himself.ref 9 John Kerry, Climate Czar – Don’t we have enough Czars? John is charged with flying around the world in his private jet, setting the stage for a 30-year $150 trillion push to make many bank accounts much My disdain for the climate movement catches Kerry in the splash zone. Pete Buttegieg, Transportation Secretary – I must confess to liking Mayor Pete and would have been happier if he had gotten the crash course in the oval office rather than Joe. The one criticism I would make is that taking two months of paternity leave during the nation’s greatest transportation crisis seemed odd. I think when you are in such an important position you find a way. Get a nanny. Bring the twins to your office. Leave them with your spouse. For Pete’s sake (sorry), stay at your post. For the record, after my youngest son was born my wife had health problems. I used to bring him to work and lecture with him in a Snugly and changed a shitload of diapers. You could have done it too, Pete. Samantha Power, Head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) – Sam is a garden-variety neocon, having served as ambassador to the UN and on the National Security Council, both under Obama. She was central to the planning behind destabilizing Libya,ref 10 which sure looks like a bad idea unless destabilizing the Middle East is our foreign policy. Please just don’t fuck up too much. Cass Sunstein, Homeland Security employee. This is not really an appointment, per se. Cass is the Harvard-employed husband of neocon Samantha Powers. In his 2008 book, Conspiracy Theories, Cass declared “the existence of both domestic and foreign conspiracy theories” to be our greatest threat, outlining five possible solutions, and I quote, “(1) Government might ban conspiracy theorizing. (2) Government might impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories. (3) Government might engage in counter-speech, marshaling arguments to discredit conspiracy theories. (4) Government might formally hire credible private parties to engage in counter-speech. (5) Government might engage in informal communication with such parties, encouraging them to help.” Guys like Cass who come out of Harvard’s CIA training camps are menaces to society. Marvelous hire, Joe. Victoria Nuland, Undersecretary for Political Affairs – She is famous for her hot mic “Fuck the EU” comment and for engineering the coup in Ukraine—a Wonder Bread neocon. William J. Burns, Head of the CIA – I’ve got nothing on Bill, not even a fingerprint. It would be difficult for me to grade him poorly on a curve with the likes of John Brennan, William Casey, and Alan Dulles. (I once had dinner with a former CIA head John Deutch. What a dick.) Christopher Wray, Head of the FBI – As the FBI increasingly looks like the Praetorian Guard for the power elite (both in and out of public office), Wray has followed in the footsteps of his predecessors like J. Edgar Hoover and James Comie to be both top cop and dubious scoundrel. Wray’s fate might be dictated by the ongoing Durham investigation, but I have not seen any heads roll inside the Beltway since Watergate a half-century ago. Tony Fauci, Director of NIAID – That bipartisan, power-hungry authoritarian—The Most Trusted Madman in America—is a recurring theme. He doesn’t know any science. He is a political hack—a chameleon—who survived 35 years multiple administrations by being able slither out of anybody’s claws and regrow his tail. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the CDC – She got serious attention in part 2. I am horrified by her sociopathy. I think she is evil. Amy Gutmann, Ambassador to Germany – Guttman was given the job after giving the Big Guy more than $900,000 in speaking fees and an honorary degree from UPenn when she was the University’s president. I am sure every ambassador pays market rates for the job.  Cathy Russell, Biden’s Director of Presidential Personnel–She is married to Tom Donlin, Chairman of the gargantuan multinational investment firm, BlackRock. Their daughter made it into the Whitehouse National Security Council. A talented family enjoying the political respect accorded to billionaires. Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, Head of the Office of Science – Despite scientific chops as a climate-change-supporting agronomist, she has no administrative experience and is inexperienced in the scientific programs that she is overseeing. Of course, everything is now about the $150 trillion climate grift, so she’s our girl. Jared Bernstein, Whitehouse Economic Advisor – He is highly educated, with a bachelor’s degree in music, master’s degrees in social work and philosophy, and a Ph.D. in social welfare. His greatest strength may be his complete lack of training in economics. Shalanda Baker, Deputy Director for Energy Justice in the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity at the Department of Energy – Is that a salaried position? ‘Nuff said. General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – Mark transitioned from the Trump administration. It caused a stir when he went more “woke” than Chelsea Manning. We will no longer defeat our enemy but assign them pronouns and include them. This was followed by a scandal outlined in Bob Woodward’s book in which he instructed military leaders in a secret meeting to bypass Trump on important military decisions.ref 11 He then unilaterally told his peer in the Chinese military that he would drop a dime if there was an impending military conflict. He tried to hang it on the Secretary of Defense, but the Secretary spit the bit fast.ref 12 My theory is that the sudden wokeness was to commandeer allies on the far left knowing that scandal was coming. It worked. He looks like he is right out of Dr. Strangelove without the lip gloss and eye shadow. Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services. He refuses to acknowledge the merits of natural Covid-19 immunity. That puts him near the top of my shitlist. Becerra has no medical or scientific training. He’s a lawyer, but at least he is from an underrepresented group. Rachel Levine, Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services – I know little about her. She might be the most qualified candidate, certainly more so than her boss Becerra. Call me skeptical of a purely merit-based appointment. Hunter Biden. I was going to place Hunter in the bullets and call him Head of the DEA and National Association of the Arts, but I had reservations. There are sad, heartwarming, and troubling roles played by Hunter Biden. His addiction is a highly personal problem that is difficult for the first family to deal with, especially given other tragedies in their lives. Joe Rogan succinctly explained Hunter’s remarkably odd behavior: “he is a crackhead.” They are part and parcel of being dopesick. Leaked emails from the laptop show Dad to be a compassionate and loving father struggling to save his son. Ironically, old footage surfaced of Joe ranting about how we have to deal with crackheads severely no matter whom they know.ref 13 It did not age well. It is clear that Hunter Biden was selling access and influence. It appears that Joe Biden was aware of that effort. That is very serious. If these emails are false, this is a major story. If they are true, this is a major scandal. ~ Jonathan Turley Before you start blubbering, however, recall that Hunter’s laptop revealed that he was playing critical roles in Russian and Chinese dealings for the Biden family. The Kleenex gets tossed and the gloves now come off. Hunter’s business partner stepped forward admitting nefarious deals were made with Joe involved. Joe denied knowing the clown, but a then photo of the two surfaced.ref 14 This year Hunter also began selling his artwork for up to $500,000 a pop behind a “Chinese Wall”—a veil that ensures we cannot find out who bought the art.ref 15,16,17 The money might literally be from behind a Chinese wall. That buys a lot of crack even after the Big Guy’s 10% cut. Figure 1 shows two paintings, one by a Hunter and the other by two elephants. (No joke, elephants have been painting brilliant pictures free-trunk for decades.) Figure 1. Biden art (left) brought $500,000. The elephant painting (shown being painted) brought $39,000. We are a democracy…there are things you can’t do by executive order unless you are a dictator. ~ Joe Biden, several years ago Executive Orders. Before the first week of his presidency was over, Biden had signed 37 of those beauties. Some, such as the order extending rent moratoria, were overtly unconstitutional. Some merely unwound Trump’s orders that had unwound Obama’s orders. This is dodge ball. While Yale was battling a civil rights case for discriminatory admissions practices, the Biden DOJ dismissed it without comment.ref 18 Yale is said to have promptly destroyed the evidence, which shows they have good lawyers. Transgender athletes were reinstated in women’s sports, ensuring that longstanding records will be shattered.ref 19 It got surreal when UPenn’s transgender swimmer was beaten by Yale’s transgender swimmer.ref 19a An executive order giving the IRS direct access to our bank accounts seems both sinister and inevitable…death and taxes as they say.ref 20 There are a lot of Republicans out there giving speeches about how outraged they are about the situation at the border. Not many who are putting forward solutions. ~ Jen Psaki, forgetting about the wall idea Crisis at the Border. The mainstream press covered this one exhaustively. There are parallels here with the North Africans crossing into Europe several years back. It looks intentional, but why? Don’t tell me about building a democratic base. That is too far in the future and too simplistic. It is far easier to control the elections at the server level. Baffling details include the administration’s suggestion that border agents should be empowered to authorize the immigration of “climate migrants.”ref 21 That could boost a few agents salaries. Rumors of US military planes transporting illegals into the US suggests somebody could punk the elite: load up a boat and drop a couple hundred on Martha’s Vineyard. On further thought, rather than offering Vineyardians more gardeners, drop off some Afghans.ref 22Whoever is calling the shots, this is neither about civil rights nor climate change. Attorney General Merrick Garland clarified the immigration challenge: Today marks a step forward in our effort to make the asylum process fairer and more expeditious. This rule will both reduce the caseload in our immigration courts and protect the rights of those fleeing persecution and violence. If you do that, that will set off a mass migration that’s like nothing that we have ever seen in this country because the entire world will then come on through to get their asylum, essentially legalizing illegal immigration, in a very clever way. ~ Attorney General Merrick Garland WTF did Garland just say? Both his meaning and intent are unclear. The immigrants, of course, were all unvaccinated, which would have been OK by me had the administration not gone Third Reich to vaccinate US citizens. The administration also wanted to offer $450,000 to every immigrant family separated from their loved ones: why?ref 23They seemed to walk that third-trimester idea back and then walked it forward again. A half-billion-dollar, no-bid contract to manage the immigrants went to friends of the administration.ref 24 Your tax dollars at work. At least we are back to business as usual. By the way, where is Border Czar Kamala Harris while all this is going on? Making creepy videos.ref 25,26 People who like quotes love meaningless generalizations. ~ Graham Greene Miscellaneous issues surfaced that either went away or are still festering quietly. On the positive side, stacking the Supreme Court—increasing the number of justices to get a left-leaning majority—seems to have been only a political football. Granting Washington DC statehood, while to a plebe like me doesn’t seem nuts, has the trappings of a massive powershift to the left in national elections. Joe invaded the legal process by declaring Chauvin guilty and Kyle Rittenhouse a white supremacist. Would Obama have done this? I don’t think so. Rittenhouse may get his “10% for the Young Guy” in defamation suits against Joe and every media outlet on the planet. Joe checking his watch five times at the funeral of dead marines didn’t play well,ref 27 but if you put a camera on me I wouldn’t make it to lunchtime without serving up Jim Acosta fresh meat. The main drama of Biden’s first year, however, played out in a distant land.   Afghanistan—where empires go to die. ~ Mike Malloy Afghanistan. I’ve been groping for nomenclature — Afghazi, Afghazistan, Benghanistan, Benghazistan, Saigonistan, Clusterfuckistan, and Bidenistan—to describe this odd moment in history. That 20-year skirmish cost an estimated $2.3 trillion.ref 28 The idea that it was only a few thousand troops with no fatalities in the last year or two makes me question my wisdom, but I can’t start revising history. Whether for right or wrong, I was glad we were getting out. The ensuing Crisis in Kabul looked like the graveyard of a presidency—a combination of the Bay of Pigs and the Iran Hostage Crisis that would dog us for years. They are chanting “Death to America”, but they seemed friendly at the same time. ~ CNN reporter wearing a burka looking for a husband Even before the evacuation started we were hearing about huge caches of weapons that would be abandoned.ref 29 In an eat-and-dash that would make an IHOP waiter wince, we bugged out at 2:00 AM without telling anybody.ref 30Jalalabad Joe had assured us repeatedly the 300,000-strong Afghan army would hang tough. They were defeated in time to chow down on some goat stew for dinner. Images of desperate Afghan’s clinging to transport planes brought up images of the Saigon Embassy rooftop. We left service dogs in cages.ref 31 Marines would never do that. Stranded Americans and Afghan collaborators were begging for help to get to the airport and even to get into the airport.ref 32The administration used a drone to strike on some kids and their dads loading water into a truck to change the news cycle briefly.ref 33 The Afghan who is credited with saving Joe Biden and John Kerry in a disastrous excursion to Afghanistan years earlier got left behind pleading for help:ref 34 Hello Mr. President: Save me and my family. Don’t forget me here. Mercenaries like Blackwater’s Erik Prince tried to prevent Americans from taking The Final Exit,ref 35 only to get stonewalled by the Whitehouse. Meanwhile, the top commander and four-star Wokie, Mark Milley, was too mired in scandal.ref 36 Retired generals were calling for the active-duty generals to resign.ref 37 The withdrawal could not be botched worse if you tried. The populace are now facing a winter of profound famine.ref 38 Rural Afghanistan has been rocked by climate change. The past three decades have brought floods and drought that have destroyed crops and left people hungry. And the Taliban — likely without knowing climate change was the cause — has taken advantage of that pain. ~ CBS News, sticking it like a Russian gymnast This vexing story was from the Theater of the Absurd. Starting with the caches of military equipment left behind, I have two simple solutions that a group of teenagers could have concocted: Announce Blow Shit Up Friday (BSUF). Provide the military personnel with some grenade launchers and a few kegs of beer, grill up some goat burgers, and start blowing shit up. That would be a blast. If that is too unprofessional, you gather all armaments and anything of else of value into an open space. Once the wheels go up on the last troop transport, drop a MOAB—Mother of All Bombs.ref 39 Tough luck for those who were trying to hotwire the stuff when the MOAB arrives. It will take a year to get them out…If you use those billions of dollars of weapons behind I promise they’ll be using them against your grandchildren and mine someday. ~ Joe Biden, Presidential Candidate, 2007ref 40 The collapse of the Afghan Army also couldn’t have come as a surprise. The military and CIA certainly knew that those troops wouldn’t withstand a West Side Story-level brawl.ref 41 The soldiers were paid by the US for their service COD, and there was no C left. Shockingly, most of the payroll booty had long-since been snarfed up by the politicians and top military brass from the only swamp in Afghanistan.ref 42 Whocouldanode? Taliban can murder as many people as they want. But if they keep trolling Biden like this they’re gonna get kicked off of social media. ~ Jesse Kelley, noting the Taliban has an active Twitter feed Here is a script playing out in my noggin. The Crisis in Kabul was an arms deal—Fast and Furious 2.0. One of our top diplomats called the Taliban and said, “We are pulling out in a month. We’ll leave the keys in the ignition and pallets of $100 billsref 43 to help pay for upkeep. If you guys let us sneak out unmolested, you can party like it’s 999—an authentic Taliban-themed fraternity party. We will leave you guns, money, nice facilities, and even a few wives. If you fuck this up, however, we will be right back here.” The Whitehouse also lent a legitimizing tone to the regime when speaking about “working with the Taliban” as part of the deal. In return, the State Department called on the Taliban to form an “inclusive and representative government,”ref 44 so there’s that bit of risible nonsense. Neville Chamberlain couldn’t have done any better. The bottom line: 90% of Americans who wanted to leave Afghanistan were able to leave Afghanistan. ~ Jalalabad Joe Biden That might be a great poll number or inflated final exam grade at a college Joe erroneously claimed to attend, but I am not sure “90%” is impressive in this context. The actual evacuation was ineptly executed from the get-go. Mr. Rogers, with the help of his viewing audience of toddlers, could have Kabuled together a better plan based on the simple precept, “pull out the civilians then the military.” Baffling claims the Whitehouse was obstructing evacuations of charter flights containing Americans was not right-wing propaganda: Where are they going to land? A number of these planes have a handful of Americans, but they may have several hundred individuals who do not have proper documentation of identity….we don’t have manifests for them, we don’t know what the security protocols are for them, we don’t know what their documentation is…hard choices you face in government. ~ Jen Psaki, press conference WTF actually happened? When nothing makes sense your model is wrong. Glenn Greenwald got the scent that withdrawal was intentionally mishandled, suggesting this is “fully within the character of the deep-state operatives.”ref 45We also forgot to destroy our sophisticated FBI-derived software and a complete database containing the biometrics of Friends of the USA,ref 46,47,48 enabling the Taliban to find potential detractors for an attitude correction. Think of it as Afghanistan’s high-tech War on Domestic Terror. The stonewalling of help from other countries also makes no sense using a conventional model.ref 49 Biden’s CIA Director met with Taliban leadership covertly—so covertly we all knew about it—to concoct a “deal”, but what kind of deal?ref 50 During the evacuation, we gave the Taliban names of American citizens, green card holders, and Afghan allies supposedly to let them pass through the militant-controlled perimeter of the city’s airport.ref 51 They would never abuse this list, right? A large number of Afghan refugees—possibly as many as 100,000 according to Tucker Carlson—entering the US are consistent with our open border policy along the Mexican border, but what is that all about? Afghans, by the way, are reputed to be always recalcitrant to assimilate in Europe just in case you’re thinking of renting out your basement as an Airbnb.ref 52 What happened in Afghanistan is not incompetence. We are not that incompetent. ~ General George Flynn The goal is to use Afghanistan to wash money out of the tax bases of the US and Europe through Afghanistan and back into the hands of a transnational security elite. The goal is an endless war, not a successful war. ~ Julian Assange, 2011ref y I have no doubt that blood was shed after we left. More than a few US sympathizers surely lost their heads. As to the stranded Americans, why were they still there? China had evacuated their citizens months earlier.ref 53(Hmmm…Chinese citizens were there?) Two dozen students from the Cajon Valley Union School District and 16 parents there for an enriching summer trip were stranded.ref 54 How did they get visas? That field trip will generate a few college essays that will beat any written about dead grandparents, although Kabul State College may be their only option. This is now on-track, Peter, to be the largest airlift in U.S. history. I would not say that is anything but a success. ~ Jen Psaki to Peter Doucy The media can create, steer, or smother narratives at will. I have a question: Where are all the dead Americans—thousands of them—said to be left behind? Horror stories should be surfacing daily, but they’re not. We shit a mudbrick when One Dead Kashoggi (ODK) got fed to the camels in Saudi Arabia. Three thousand fatalities on 9/11 got us into Afghanistan in the first place. We supposedly left behind “thousands of Americans” but without generating a single headline? So much for that Bay of Pigs­–Iran Hostage Crisis analogy. So here are my next questions and I am deadly serious: Did we get duped? Was the whole thing more sham than farce? There is no such thing as a true account of anything. ~ Gore Vidal Here is Dave’s Narrative. We installed the Taliban as the rulers of Afghanistan as the best of many bad options. The winners are the Taliban and China. The two are inking deals for mineral rights as I type. The chaos was intentional. But why accept such a profound humiliation and dashed hopes of future alliances in global hotspots? I think that the Taliban winning the war in Afghanistan, and then the way our exit happened, has absolutely inspired jihadists all over the world. The Taliban is saying, we just didn’t defeat the United States, we defeated NATO. We defeated the world’s greatest military power, ever. I think, not only will the jihadists be inspired, but a lot of them are going to come to Afghanistan to be part of the celebration, to be part of jihadist central. We are more at risk, without a doubt. ~ Michael Morell, former CIA Director under Obama Maybe China has way more than just Hunter’s laptop to blackmail us and is about to take possession of Taiwan soon. While we await the next Kyle Rittenhouse trial to preoccupy ourselves, take a peek at this video. Skip over the election stuff since we all have rock-hard opinions on that and go to minute 55:30. Xi Jinping’s right-hand man, Di Dongsheng, publicly explained the extent Beijing controls US politics:ref 55 There is nothing in the world that money can’t fix, right? If one wad of cash can’t handle it, then I’ll have two wads. (laughter) Of course this is how I do things. In fact, to be a bit blunt, in the past 30 years or past 40 years, we manipulated the core power circle in the United States, right? I mentioned earlier that Wall Street started to have a very strong influence on U.S. domestic and foreign affairs in the 1970s. So we figured out our path and those we could be dependent on. But the problem is that Wall Street’s status has declined after 2008. More importantly, starting in 2016 Wall Street has no influence on Trump. Why? It is awkward. Trump had a soft breach of contract on Wall Street once, so the two sides had conflicts. They tried to help during the Sino-US trade war. As far as I know, friends from the U.S. told me that they tried to help, but they were too weak. But now we see that Biden has come to power. (crowd laughs) The traditional elites, political elites, and the establishment have a very close relationship with Wall Street. You all see it: Trump talked about Biden’s son, “You have investment funds around the world.” Who helped him build the funds? You understand? There are transactions involved. (laughter) So at this point in time, we use an appropriate way to express a certain kind of goodwill. (applause) ~Di Dongsheng, Vice Director and Secretary of the Center for Foreign Strategic Studies of Chinaref 55 January 6th Capitol Insurrection Alec Baldwin killed more people in 2021 than did the January 6th insurrectionists. Anybody reading this far knows that the January 6th riots stemmed from the right-wing voters who doubted the veracity of the 2020 election. Twitter polls show that view is not as partisan or as rare as the media would lead you to believe. I happen to doubt U.S. election integrity but have for quite a few election cycles. ref 1 Hacked Stratfor emails show the democrats rigged the vote in ’08 ref 2 and Republicans rigged it in ’04.ref 3 It is bipartisan Capture the Flag with red and blue pinnies.ref 4 In any event, Trump’s Green Goblin strategy was to beckon the MAGA faithful to the Capitol to protest the Electoral College signing off on the results. It was not so different than the mobs outside the courthouses trying to subvert the Rittenhouse and Chauvin trials, but the scale of January 6th was much larger and the optics were Biblical. It got out of hand and, at times, even a little Helter Skelter. Mob psychology elicits dramatic changes in brain chemistry and has been the topic of many laboratory studies.”ref 5 Temporary insanity is not a crazy defense. My Tweet got some hysterically hateful responses from the Right who missed the sarcasm and the Left who did not. I think I squandered more of my valuable time left on this planet burrowing through the January 6th story than on the Covid-Vaccine combo platter. I should preface this section by noting that I was praised by a thoughtful long-time reader for being “balanced and measured and carefully worded, even on edgy topics.” I may be on the cusp of disappointing him. It’s impossible to peer at the The Great Insurrection through a non-partisan lens. Both sides may find common ground in the belief that January 6th is a profound fork in the road of the American Experiment. The sock-starching Left will celebrate it as a national holiday every year while the bed-wetting Right will try to ignore it. Both are wrong. Look at that photo and pause to ponder its implications. Put a funny caption to it. Let’s hear from some Republicans first: We must also know what happened every minute of that day in the White House — every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to, during, and after the attack. ~ Liz Cheney I think Lizard nailed it. We’re on the same page. Let’s keep going… January 6 was worse than 9/11, because it’s continued to rip our country apart and get permission for people to pursue autocratic means, and so I think we’re in a much worse place than we’ve been. I think we’re in the most perilous point in time since 1861 in the advent of the Civil War. ~ Michael Dowd, former Bush strategist I would like to see January 6th burned into the American mind as firmly as 9/11 because it was that scale of a shock to the system. ~ George Will, syndicated columnist Mike and George are as unhinged as I am but on different hinges. I think they are delusional and offensive. Edging forward… The 1/6 attack for the future of the country was a profoundly more dangerous event than the 9/11 attacks. And in the end, the 1/6 attacks are likely to kill a lot more Americans than were killed in the 9/11 attacks, which will include the casualties of the wars that lasted 20 years following. ~ Steve Smith, Lincoln Project co-founder Now I’m getting the heebie-jeebies if for no other reason than the Lincoln Project is filled with Democratic operatives (or at least neocons) pretending to be Republicans—as authentic as the Indians at the Boston Tea Party or stepmoms on PornHub. We have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders but from violence that gathers within…There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home… But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit. ~ George W. Bush, a thinly veiled allusion to January 6 George got some serious guff from more than a few of the 80 million Fox-watching extremists including the Grand Wizard: So interesting to watch former President Bush, who is responsible for getting us into the quicksand of the Middle East (and then not winning!), as he lectures us that terrorists on the ‘right’ are a bigger problem than those from foreign countries that hate America. ~ Donald Trump He nailed it. I have stated previously that Bush committed war crimes. Of course, the National Security Machine chimed in… The No. 1 national security threat I’ve ever seen in my life to this country’s democracy is the party that I’m in — the Republican Party. It is the No. 1 national security threat to the United States of America. ~ Miles Taylor, a former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official Dude! You just tarred about 80 million asses with that brushstroke. Let’s move further left to find some middle ground: They swooned for him on 9/11 because he gave them what they most crave: the view that Al Qaeda is comparable to those who protested at the Capitol on 1/6. ~ Glenn Greenwald, on George Bush’s comments Glenn is part of a growing cadre of liberals including Matt Taibbi, Tim Pool, Bill Maher, The Weinstein Brothers, and Joe Rogan who are unafraid to extend olive branches across The Great Partisan Divide at risk of being labled white supremacists and Nazis, but they are hardly emblematic of the Left. From the elite Left… I think we also had very real security concerns. We still don’t yet feel safe around other members of Congress.  ~ AOC AOC’s comment prompted one pundit to tell her to “get a therapist”, which seems correct given her moment of maximum drama was when a security guard was screaming outside her door, “Are you OK, Ma’am?” #AlexandriaOcasioSmollett began trending on social media when it was disclosed that she was not even in the building when Ragnar and his buddies showed up.ref 6 They will have to decide if Donald J. Trump incited the erection…the insurrection. ~ Chuck Schumerref 7 What ya thinking about Chuckie? We are facing the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War. That’s not hyperbole. Since the Civil War. The Confederates back then never breached the Capitol as insurrectionists did on Jan. 6. ~ Joe Biden Joe may be on the A-Team, but he hasn’t found his way out of the locker room. The blue-check-marked liberals did not mince words… The 9/11 terrorists and Osama bin Laden never threatened the heart of the American experiment. The 1/6 terrorists and Donald Trump absolutely did exactly that. Trump continues that effort today. ~ S.V. Dáte, Huffington Post’s senior White House correspondent The only effective way for the government to respond to an act of war by domestic terrorists is to be prepared to meet them with machine guns and flamethrowers and mow them down. Not one of those terrorists who broke through police lines should have escaped alive. ~ a Washington Post commenter Moving as far left as you can by tuning into the most cunning commie who can outfox any Western leader… Do you know that 450 individuals were arrested after entering the Congress? They came there with political demands. ~ Vladimir Putin The Cast of this Drama. This Kafkaesque narrative will be scrutinized by historians and democratic operatives for years to come. The Left will cast this event as a truly unique moment in US history, but it was precedented. I see parallels with the 1920’s Bonus Army in which World War I veterans were pissed off about unpaid post-war benefits.ref 8 In the saddest of ironies, many were killed by Army regulars. Some authorities, including a young Dwight Eisenhower, thought it was a benign protest while others thought it was an assault on America. Grumpy crowds appear at the Capitol only on days of the week that end in “y.” Recently, f.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeFeb 6th, 2022

69 gifts under $50 perfect for any occasion or holiday

We found great gift ideas under $50 that prove you don't have to spend a fortune to get just the right gift for any occasion. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.Hollis Johnson/Crystal Cox/Alyssa Powell/Business Insider You don't need to spend a fortune to find a thoughtful gift they'll love.  We found 69 of the best gifts under $50 to suit the interests and tastes of everyone on your list. Still looking for a gift? Check out our list of the All-Time Best products we've ever tested. With best friends' birthdays, anniversaries with your significant other (or Valentine's Day), celebratory moments with coworkers, or even just to tell a loved one you're thinking about them,  it's easy for your gifting list to fill up quickly. But you don't have to spend a fortune to get everyone on your list a gift that feels made for them. There are plenty of great gift ideas under $50 to be found if you know where to look.We've done the hard work for you and sifted through hundreds of options to find affordable gifts to suit a wide range of tastes and interests.Our picks for the best gifts under $50 still feel unique and personal. And whether these gifts are complements to a bigger present or are the star of the show, we know your recipient will love them.Keep reading for 69 gifts under $50 that work for anyone on your list.This list includes a Sponsored Product that has been suggested by Under Armour. It also meets our editorial criteria in terms of quality and value.*A bluetooth microphone to make events more funAmazonBonaok Bluetooth Karaoke Microphone, available at Amazon, $30.99This Bluetooth karaoke microphone is the perfect accessory to gift the one who's the life of the party. They can sing along to their favorite songs with this gift that offers premium sound and noise reduction. A cozy knit beanieAsosStormlock Rip Knit Cap, available at Jack Wolfskin, $29.95Cold-weather accessories make a great gift for anyone braving the cold this winter and the Jack Wolfskin's Stormlock Rip Knit Cap is exactly what they need. Built of a blend of wool and acrylic, this beanie also features Stormlock fleece which just about guarantees a warm noggin. It's even available in two different colors to match a variety of outfits.  A set of spa-worthy shower bombsAmazonEuka Wellness Shower Bombs 6-Pack, available at Amazon, $18No bathtub? No problem. With these shower bombs, anyone can transform their bathroom into a makeshift spa, and they don't even need a bathtub to do it. These come in a variety of options including Calm, Detox, Breathe, and Happy (and come 6 in a pack). A sampler box of wineVineboxBe Mine... Wine, available at Vinebox, $45Who doesn't love a sample pack of wine? With the Be Mine... Wine box from Vinebox, you can gift the special person in your life a selection of wine that'll tickle their tastebuds. The box includes three different tubes of wine, two reds and one white, each from a vineyard in Europe. A tracker for lost itemsAppleAirTag, available at Apple, from $29Whether you lose track of your keys or a bag, Apple's AirTag is a sure way to find any lost item. This water-resistant tracker plays a sound or uses its precise distance findings to lead you straight to the item regardless of the distance on the Find My app.An at-home tie dye kitNordstromRit x Thompson Street Studio Dye at Home Upcycling Kit, available at Nordstrom, $11.4oInstead of buying something new, this dye kit can refurbish old clothes from your wardrobe with playful prints. The Dye-at-home kit includes power dyes rubber bands gloves, and an instruction booklet to begin making your closet more sustainable.A pair of stylish wearable weightsBandierBala Bangles, available at Amazon, from $49Incorporate fitness into your daily life with these wearable weights that fit on your wrist or ankles. At one to two pounds, these stylish weights intensify any movement and build strength whether it's a workout or running errands.A hatch decanter to sophisticatedly store alcoholCrate & BarrelHatch Decanter, available at Crate & Barrel, $44.95If their barware collection bares a sophisticated flair, they'll appreciate this elegant hatch decanter. This 32oz decanter is a more affordable price than others thanks to its beautiful molded diamond pattern that resembles cut crystal.A spice and herb kit packed with international flavorsUncommon GoodsGourmet Oil Dipping Spice Kit, available at Uncommon Goods, $42Whether it's a dash of Italian oregano or za'atar from the Middle East, any cook will appreciate this international spice kit that lets them cook with various tastes of the world. A skincare set for combination and oily skin typesSephoraClinique Great Skin, Great Deal Set, available at Sephora, $32.50This Clinique set for combination and oily skin types is a great addition to any skincare routine. This three-step regimen includes a facial soap, an exfoliating lotion, and a moisturizing gel make this three-step routine an easy and quick way for a fresh face.A DIY recipe bookAmazonMy Recipes Cookbook, available at Amazon, $8.99Whether they're a huge foodie or want to preserve a favorite family meal, this DIY cookbook offers 120 blank pages to fill with their favorite recipes. The notebook's table of contents and additional note space at the end will help keep them extra organized.Taking the time to add in your own savory vodka sauce pasta dish or having their loved ones fill in grandma's homemade sweets recipe will make this gift feel extra special.Snacks for movie nightKnackPopcorn Snack Medley, available at Knack, $40.99Help them take their next Netflix marathon to the next level with this popcorn mix set. The mix includes two microwavable Pop on The Cob popcorn cobs, toffee pretzels, dark chocolate-covered cherries, and Virginia peanuts. If they have a particular favorite treat, each snack can also be added in extra quantities at an additional cost.A carafe that helps preserve wineGrommetGlass Wine Saver Carafe, available at Grommet, $42.95Wine lovers will surely appreciate this elegant gift that will allow them to savor and sip their favorite bottle for longer. This glass carafe preserves non-sparkling wine in the refrigerator for up to one week. Simply, pour wine into the carafe, insert the float at an angle, then seal it with the top and serve.Farm-to-skin lip balmsEtsyBeekman 1802 Ten Piece Lip Balm Set, available at Uncommon Goods, $48This farm-to-skin lip balm set is just right for the green beauty obsessive. All 10 lip balms are made from natural goat's milk and essential oils. Beautifully packaged and scented, the fragrances include Ylang Ylang and Tuberose, Orange Blossom, Fig Leaf, Sweet Grass, Grapefruit, Oak Moss, Apricot and Honey, Vanilla, and an unscented balm.A monogrammed clutchMark & GrahamPalm Leaf Rounded Clutch, available at Mark and Graham, from $34.99You can get your giftees initials embroidered on this cute roll-up clutch for a personal touch. The bag is woven from natural palm leaves for a beachy vibe, and the blue and white striped interior adds to the fun coastal feel.A sand-free, quick-dry towelSand CloudSand Cloud towel, available at Sand Cloud, from $28Not only are these thin towels easy to roll up and throw in your beach bag or picnic basket, but they also easily shake off sand and dry three times faster than classic beach and pool towels. Choose from a wide array of vibrant patterns and colors, from a navy blue whale shark print to tie-dye options.An easy way to make their own bubble teaUncommon GoodsBubble Tea Kit, available at Uncommon Goods, $40For the bubble tea lover in your life, this kit comes with two flavors of loose-leaf tea, tapioca pearls, and two reusable stainless steel straws. All they'll have to do is add a little milk (if they like!) and sip on this delicious brew.A personalized video message from their favorite celebrityCameoCameo video, available on Cameo, from $1Whether they have a favorite musician, reality TV star, comedian, or actor, there's a good chance their favorite celebrity is on Cameo. You can even choose from pre-recorded video messages with a personal shoutout, or opt to give them a super special one-on-one video call. Of course, the price will depend on who the star is.Notepads chock full of affirmationsAmazonKnock Knock Notepads, available at Amazon, from $5.25Whether you want to give them a quick pep talk or celebrate them just because, these notepads from Knock Knock provide a creative and encouraging way of doing so. Each comes with 50 sheets, so they'll make plenty of use of these witty notes.A small but mighty smart assistantGoogleGoogle Nest Mini (2nd Generation), available at Best Buy, $24.99Give the gift of a virtual helper. Currently on sale for under $25, the Google Nest Mini offers a compact, affordable smart speaker with Google Assistant built-in. Friends and family members will love being able to dim lights, control the volume on their TV, check the weather, and more, all with just the sound of their voice.Read our full review of the Google Nest Mini here.A face mask designed for working outUnder ArmourUA Sportmask, available at Under Armour, $25Under Armour's Sportmask was designed with athletes in mind, as reflected in its breathability, water resistance, and UPF 50+ sun protection. Thanks to the Sportsmask, they won't have to sacrifice their workout routine or their comfort.*Sponsored by Under ArmourA 52-piece art kitAmazon51-Piece Watercolor Art Set, available at Amazon, $21.98Encourage them to pick up a new hobby (or take advantage of an existing one) with this watercolor set that's built for both beginners and experts. The set includes various cakes and paints, watercolor pencils, paintbrushes, a paint palette, an eraser, and a pencil sharpener — all within a pre-packaged case that can save you the pain of gift wrapping. A streaming stick that turns any TV into a smart oneAmazonRoku Streaming Stick +, available at Amazon, $34.99Upgrade their Netflix binge marathons without actually buying them a whole new TV. The Roku Streaming Stick + offers 4K, HD, and HDR streaming in a portable package and affordable price. A meal kit from their favorite restaurantGoldbelly/FacebookGoldbelly Restaurant Meal Kits, available at Goldbelly, from $25Bring a bit of their favorite restaurant right to their door. From bagels to barbeque, Goldbelly ships food gifts nationwide from iconic eateries in major cities. A Disney+ subscriptionAlyssa Powell/Business InsiderOne-year gift subscription to Disney Plus, $79.99It gives them unlimited access to movies and shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, and 20th Century Fox, and costs just $7.99 a month or $79.99 a year after a free seven-day trial. Read everything there is to know about Disney+ over here.And if you need some binge-spiration, here are all the new movies available to stream.A set of loose-leaf teas that even Oprah lovesAmazonVadham Chai Tea Reserve Set, available at Amazon, $24.99This classy set of loose-leaf teas made it into Oprah's Favorite Things back in 2018. It's filled with three variations of chai tea that any tea lover will appreciate. A smooth olive oil that'll instantly elevate any dishBrightlandAlive Olive Oil, available at Brightland, $37If they spend a lot of time in the kitchen, they probably already know the merits of high-quality olive oil. A drizzle of Alive from Brightland adds a vibrant, zesty flavor to any dish, plus the beautiful bottle will look great on display in their kitchen. An affordable electric toothbrush subscriptionQuipToothbrush Starter Set, available at Quip, from $25Help them upgrade their oral care routine with a Quip toothbrush. Not only is it a great electric toothbrush at a reasonable price, but Quip will send them a refill every three months with a new brush head and toothbrush. Delicious mini cupcakesBaked by Melissa FacebookCupcake Gift Boxes, available at Baked by Melissa, from $32Who doesn't love getting a sweet surprise? With delicious flavors ranging from Cookie Dough to Pink Frosted Donut, these bite-size treats are sure to please. You can also add a special gift box to complete the gift. A head-to-toe mini care kitSephoraDrunk Elephant The Littles Head to Toe, available at Sephora, $49Give this mini set for head-to-toe care they can take on the road or just to test out some new products. The set is packed with Drunk Elephant minis, including a glossing shampoo, cream conditioner, scalp scrub, detangler, body cleanser, lotion, deodorant, and a comb. It also comes neatly packaged in a fun, neon bag.An at-home spa kitUncommon GoodsEucalyptus Spa Gift Set, available at Uncommon Goods, $40Let's face it, 2020 has been a hard year. Give them the gift of soothing relaxation with this at-home kit that includes pampering botanical bath salts and natural jute body scrubber. The recipient will also be able to grow their own eucalyptus in the bamboo pot so they can continue to breathe deep and say ahh.A set of magnets that are fun to play with and can boost concentrationSpeksSpeks Magnet Balls, available at Speks, $34.95Almost everyone on the Insider Reviews team has a set of Speks at their desk. The little magnetic balls can be mashed, molded, and built into fun shapes and are a fun fidget toy that even adults will love. A personalized pillow of their favorite fur babyaurespaces/EtsyCustom Pet Pillow, available at Etsy, from $29.99If there's nothing they love more than their cat or dog, this pillow — featuring a blown-up picture of their pet — is sure to make them smile. A cute kitchen gadget that makes breakfast in a flashAmazonDash Mini Waffle Maker, available at Target, $10This compact waffle maker makes a great addition to any college dorm or small kitchen. All they have to do is plug it in and they can make their favorite breakfast treat in a flash.A sugary and fun snackNeiman MarcusSugarfina Champagne Bears, available at Neiman Marcus, $20Elevate their next sugar fix with these fun champagne gummy bears. Don't worry if they're under 21, despite the name and flavor, these gummies are non-alcoholic. They also have rosé options too.    A taste of Japan by way of snacksBokksuBokksu Tasting Gift, 3-month box, available at Bokksu, $44.95Adventurous foodies will love the chance to taste test a curated box of gourmet Japanese snacks. In this Bokksu box, they can expect to find between 10-14 snacks, a tea pairing, and an in-depth guide that details every product included.A best-selling face mask for clear skinAztec SecretAztec Secret Indian Healing Mask, available at Target, $9.99Anyone in on the latest skincare trends will know about this mask. Many claim it has helped clear their skin, and it has over 12,000 five-star reviews on Amazon. The best part is that this powerful facial is just $10.A soft pair of socks made from sustainable fabricUnited by BlueSoftHemp Socks 2 Pack, available at United by Blue, $30With cold weather approaching, there's nothing better than slipping on cozy socks. Made from soft, sustainable hemp fabric, these are sure to do the trick (and why not get them two pairs?).A luxurious exfoliator to keep skin smoothNecessaireNecessaire The Body Exfoliator, available at Sephora, $30Necessaire's clean beauty products come in beautiful, minimalist packaging that looks as good in their bathroom as it feels on their skin. This gentle exfoliator will help them slough off dry winter skin for good.Cruelty-free nail polish in a range of fun colorsSmith & CultNail Polish, available at Smith & Cult, $18Smith & Cult's polish is vegan, cruelty-free, and chip-resistant. With 46 fun colors to choose from, you're sure to find one (or two, or three) they'll love. A sheet mask that'll hydrate dry, stressed skinSephoraDr. Jart+ Soothing Hydra Solution, available at Sephora, $6Fall and winter skin tends to be dry and dull. While you can't change the weather, you can throw on a hydrating face mask to stay moisturized. This one will add lots of soothing hydration to their skin to keep it feeling fresh.Makeup towels that make washing their face less of a choreWeezieMakeup Towels, available at Weezie, $40If they've never thought of washcloths as anything special, Weezie towels will change their minds. The adorable towels are embroidered with either hearts, winky eyelids, or the words "stain me." Plus, the dark navy blue color will conceal makeup stains.A silky-smooth sleep mask to block lightNordstromSlip Pink Marble Sleep Mask, available at Nordstrom, $50If there's nothing they appreciate more than a good night's sleep, they'll love Slip's silk sleep mask. It's made from 100% pure Mulberry silk for a luxe, light feel on their skin. A lip gloss that has all the benefits of a balmSephoraTower28 Beauty Jelly Lip Gloss, available at Sephora, $14This clean-beauty favorite delivers the glossy sheen they'd expect from a lip gloss, but it's loaded with nourishing oils to keep lips hydrated, too. A beautiful way to store olive oilUncommon GoodsHandblown Glass Olive Oil Pourer, available at Uncommon Goods, $45These stunning handmade jars can hold up to 12 ounces of olive oil or vinegar. Plus, they look beautiful sitting out on the kitchen counter.Useful cable clipsAmazonShintop Cable Clips (six-pack), available at Amazon, $5.59Whether their phone charger is always falling under their desk or they simply have too many cables to keep track of, these affordable and efficient clips will allow them to simplify their workspace. Plus, the pink, orange, and green shades contribute a fun pop of color.A bold lip color that'll last all day longSephoraLancome L'Absolu Rouge Lipstick, available at Sephora, $32Whether it's a pale peach or a deep-red look they crave, they'll love this long-lasting lipstick with its saturated colors and hydrating formula.A set of playing cards inspired by music's greatsAmazonMusic Genius Playing Cards, available at Uncommon Goods, $10Whether they love game night, music, or are equal fans of both, they'll surely get a kick out of these playing cards. The pack features illustrations of all the big names in pop, rock, country, and R&B.A spray that any sneakerhead needs in their collectionAmazonJason Markk Repel, available at Amazon, $17If they love shoes, they should have the right products to take care of their favorite footwear. This spray protects shoes from stains caused by water and oil, and there are multiple people on our team who swear by it for every new pair of shoes they get.A set of colorful silicone straws that reduce plastic wasteFood52Five Two Silicone Straws Single Pack, available at Food52, $25Bendable, sustainable, and portable (thanks to the set of carrying cases), these fun straws are the accessory any eco-conscious person should have.A book subscriptionBook of the MonthBook of the Month 3-month plan, available at Book of the Month, $49.99A subscription box that sends them an exciting new read catered to their tastes each month is the perfect gift for a bookworm.A unique case that protects their phoneCasetifyCasetify phone case, available at Casetify, starting from $40Our phones are our lifelines these days and if you know someone who's always glued to theirs, consider giving them a unique case that's as protective as it is pretty thanks to being drop-tested and shock-absorbent. They have options ranging from watercolor forest scenes to cute sayings to cuddly animals. You can even do a customized option and put their initials on it.  A coffee mug that keeps their drinks hot or cold for hoursAmazonHydro Flask Travel Coffee Mug, available at Hydro Flask, $24.95Hydro Flask's Travel Coffee Mug is a team favorite. It combines the classic shape of a mug with Hydro Flask's TempShield insulation to keep beverages hot, or cold, for hours— a great gift for the coffee or tea lover who's always on the move. Unisex House SlippersEtsyUnisex Comfy Linen Slippers Slides, available at Etsy, $27.46Clean space enthusiasts who enjoy a no outdoor shoe policy at their homes will appreciate these unisex house slippers. The waffle cloth pattern, platform bottom, and cushioned sole makes for a cute and cozy fit. These snug slippers are available in yellow, pink, gray, or green colors. A cute reusable tote that can fit tons of stuffBAGGUStandard Baggu, available at Baggu, $12It's no wonder these bags are bestsellers — they can hold up to 50 pounds of stuff and come in a range of fun colors and patterns. Plus, at just $12, they're a great deal. A portable straw that makes water drinkableAmazonLifeStraw Personal Water Filter, available at Amazon, $12.99This portable, personal water filter was one of the bestselling products on Prime Day. It filters water from creeks and rivers, making it perfect for hiking, camping, and travel.A classy carrying case to stash chargersMark & GrahamLeather Charger Roll-Up, available at Mark & Graham, from $39After they fill the three pockets with cables and chargers, all they have do is roll everything up and they're good to go. The soft, supple leather comes in a variety of fun colors and patterns. A cult-favorite cast-iron skilletAmazonLodge 12-inch Cast-Iron Skillet and Handle Holder, available at Amazon, $29.99Every cook needs a cast-iron skillet in their kitchen. Lodge makes some of the best out there, but at prices that won't break the bank. A fitting vehicle for their post-run brewsUncommon GoodsEtched Marathon Pint Glass, available at Uncommon Goods, $20If they like to celebrate a long run with a big pint, they'll appreciate these pint glasses etched with famous marathon routes. A candle that reminds them of their favorite placeAmazonHomesick Scented Candle, available at Amazon, $34This is a great gift that's sure to make anyone sentimental. Whether it's their hometown, college town, or favorite spot to vacation, a Homesick candle, with scents inspired by all sorts of locations, will bring them back to that favorite place. A cold brew coffee maker to keep up with their iced coffee habitAmazonTakeya Cold Brew Coffee Maker, available at Amazon, $19.99If their morning ritual includes a cup of cold brew, they'll appreciate this convenient cold brew maker. All they have to do is fill it with their favorite coffee grinds, add water, let it sit, and they've got a glass of delicious cold brew on the way. A rocks glass etched with a city mapUncommon GoodsUrban Map Glass, available at Uncommon Goods, $18Whether you want to bring back fond memories of a place you visited together or just want a gift that highlights their favorite stomping grounds, you can cheers to these rocks glasses intricately etched with a city map and interspersed street names. Over 30 major US cities are available to choose from.To really up the ante, consider pairing the glass with a nice bottle of bourbon. A dainty pair of gold hoops that go with everythingMejuriMidi Hoops, available at Mejuri, $50Jewelry always makes a great gift, though it's typically pricey. These dainty hoops from Mejuri are the perfect pair for every day, and they're only $50.An apron loaded with plenty of clever featuresFood52Five Two Ultimate Apron, available at Food52, from $25Anyone who spends a good amount of time in the kitchen will appreciate this durable apron with its sturdy fabric, clever pockets made to hold the essentials, and pot-holders built right in. A lifetime of perks with an REI membershipREIREI Membership, available at REI, $20A one-time, $20 payment will get them lifetime access to REI's membership program. The outdoorsy types in your life will appreciate the special offers, 10% back on purchases, member-pricing on REI classes and events, and the host of other membership perks. Learn more about the REI membership program here. A simple and elegant photo calendarArtifact UprisingWalnut Desktop Photo Calendar, available at Artifact Uprising, from $35All of Artifact Uprising's customized photo gifts are simple, beautiful, and made from eco-friendly materials. This simple calendar is an easy choice for anyone on your list. Just pick 12 photos (one for each month) of the people and places they love most to add a special sentiment to their desk setup.A simple necklace that reminds them of their intentionsBandoGood Intentions Necklace, available at Amazon, $38A sweet necklace with an even sweeter mission. Choose from a selection of positive intentions like "optimism," "strength," or "gratitude," which they can carry with them throughout the day. For every necklace sold, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the non-profit Girls Inc.A cult-favorite candleOtherlandOtherland Candles, available at Otherland, $36We love Otherland's candles, whether seasonally inspired or from the classic collection. Notable scent combinations such as champagne, saffron, and leather, gorgeous packaging, and a 55 hour burn time have deemed Otherland's candles as a foolproof gift among the Insider Reviews team.An elevated hand sanitizer that fends off germsTouchlandPower Mist Hand Sanitizer, available at Touchland, $9A lightweight, spray formula and refreshing scents make Touchland's hand sanitizer one they'll actually want to use. It dries quickly and doesn't leave residue or stickiness behind.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 21st, 2022

Sunday Collum: 2021 Year In Review, Part 1 - Crisis Of Authority & The Age Of Narratives

Sunday Collum: 2021 Year In Review, Part 1 - Crisis Of Authority & The Age Of Narratives Authored by David B. Collum, Betty R. Miller Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology - Cornell University (Email: dbc6@cornell.edu, Twitter: @DavidBCollum), Dave: You do lack self control, but I learned and laughed making my way thru this. ~ Larry Summers (@LHSummers), former Secretary of the Treasury Every year, David Collum writes a detailed “Year in Review” synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year’s is no exception. Introduction I’ve been trying to reach you about your car’s extended warranty. What began more than a dozen years ago as a synopsis of the year’s events in markets and finance for a few friends morphed beyond my control into a Year in Review (YIR)—an attempt to chronicle human folly and world events for the entire year. It captures key moments before they slip into the brain fog. The process of trying to write a coherent narrative helps me better understand WTF just happened and seminal moments that catch my eye. By far my favorite end-of-year recap for the last ten years. Finished it yesterday. Once again David hasn’t disappointed. He’s on my I want to go to dinner with list. ~ Jim Pallotta (@jimpallotta13), money manager and former owner of Boston Celtics I’m game, Jim, even if it’s just a pretzel, nachos, and a brewski. The title, “Crisis of Authorities,” is a double entendre. On the one hand, previously trusted authorities that we relied on to better understand the world are long gone. Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, and Tim Russert have been replaced with Chris Cuomo, Don Lemon, and Brian Stelter. Oops. Scratch Chris Cuomo. Ponder the following: which acronymed organization do you still trust? FBI? CIA? FEMA? DOJ? CBS? ABC? Fox? CNN? At one point I would have comfortably offered up the CDC, FDA, and NIH. Portions of those three should be razed. Social media offered up one acceptable answer: KFC. The second, more deeply disturbing meaning is that smoldering socialism has veered toward authoritarianism, a seismic shift that is global and quite possibly unstoppable. 2021: The year liberals threw eggs at black politicians, republicans pushed to legalize pot, conservatives declared “my body, my choice”, and libertarians muttered, “just shoot me now.” I am suffering future shock—the struggle to adapt to an abruptly changing world. Topics that seemed farcical not long ago are less entertaining now. Silly events in public schools and college campuses loosely defined as political correctness have morphed into religious wars. Progress was made in the Cancel Culture Wars. They tried to get Joe Rogan and couldn’t put a glove on him. The populace and the workers at Netflix went after Dave Chappelle and learned that not everybody kowtows: If this is what being canceled is like, I love it… To the transgender community, I am more than willing to give you an audience, but you will not summon me. I am not bending to anybody’s demands. ~ Dave Chappelle, wisdom Politicians groping for their vig—10% for the Big Guy—have mutated into total MAC (Mutually Assured Corruption). Social contagions are more virulent than biological pathogens. Attempts to stem the movements are emblematic of proto-authoritarianism of the past. I am unable to keep up—unable to even catch my breath on some days. Following up after listening to a widely distributed QTR podcast, a friend and long-time YIR reader asked, “Are you OK?” I said I was fine, but on further reflection realized I was not so sure. You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks. ~ Winston Churchill (@DeadGuy) I have lost friends and made new ones all because of the Great Partisan Divide. (Please excuse the caps throughout; everything now seems to demand a proper name and acronym.) My colleagues have put to rest doubts about whether I am nuts, noting that I am contrarian on all topics. Of course, they don’t hear about the ones for which I have no gripe, but their assertions are not entirely wrong. Friends let me be me, but there is something isolating about it. By contrast, I have many friends in the digital world for which the Venn Diagram of Ideas has a much greater overlap. You can have friends without ever seeing them in the flesh, but these digital pals become bucket-listers for me to meet. Some accept my invitation to have dinner on my deck overseeing Cayuga Lake. Try explaining to your wife that you are having dinner with some guy you met on the internet. This has included famous people like David Einhorn, Tony Deden, Cate Long, and Doug Noland as well as walk-ins whom I knew nothing about until they showed up with a bottle of wine. They have, without fail, brought rewarding evenings of lively chat. Disclaimer: Opinions and ideas expressed herein are not my own. I also don’t use asterisks, so you are just going to have to grow a f*cking pair. If this message is lost because you have sh*t for brains, my advice is to stop reading now. Philosophy. I have let go of the belief that I know truth, because I am relentlessly doubting the veracity of the data from which my narrative derives. In the Age of Narratives, all I can offer is Dave’s Narrative. There is also no topic in the Year of Our Lord 2021 in which my opinion is non-partisan because all opinions are now partisan. Consequently, I may come off as a right-wing white supremacist who moonlights as a Russian operative while serving up nostrums characteristic of an anti-war ex-hippie. This guy is so left wing that he doesn’t even understand his own bias. ~ Rich Weatherford, commenter on a podcast   The surest way to make a monkey of a man is to quote him. ~ Richard Benchley My attempt to create a Unified Theory of Everything is very much like building a jumbo jet in mid-flight. In science, when your model is right, it starts playing like the tail end of a game of Solitaire or a jigsaw puzzle—the cards and pieces naturally fall into place. If the nothing makes sense no matter how hard you try, it may be time to tear down that Rube Goldberg structure and start from a fresh perspective. My greatest strength and weakness are an ability to entertain almost any idea—entertain conspiracy theories and scamper down rabbit holes—until I hit paydirt or hardpan. Feel free to call me a conspiracy theorist; it helps me identify narrow-minded boneheads. What baffles me is why “conspiracy” is so pejorative. Men and women of wealth and power conspire. Anybody who cannot concede that point is an intellectual dingleberry (or works for the Deep State!) Alex Jones got more right than CNN. ~ Dave Smith, comic and possible presidential candidate   Conspiracy theorists of the world, believers in the hidden hands of the Rothschilds and the Masons and the Illuminati, we skeptics owe you an apology. You were right. The players may be a little different, but your basic premise is correct: The world is a rigged game. ~ Matt Taibbi I am an openly white, right-leaning, closeted hand-sexual male with audacious opinions. I promise, however, that I will sling barbs without regard to race, creed, or color. If I think you are a douche bag, I will say so. When anger consumes me, however, it gives way to angst because somebody may have suckered me into playing a role in some higher authority’s master plan to disrupt the American Dream. As we are being dazzled by the Harlem Globe Trotters, recognize that we are the Washington Generals. Remember the olden days when the wealthy and powerful nefariously assaulted the unsuspecting populace? If caught, scandal followed, heads rolled, and we moved on, leaving us plebes with the sense that justice was served. Since the government was small relative to GDP, the systemic corruption represented a few percent of the system. It’s now growing like a tumor and devoid of consequences for the powerful. In the Age of Narratives, we snarf down platters of propaganda served by powerful media empires. This bread and circuses is free but leaves us marinating in ignorance. It’s a trap Mickey: the cheese is not free! The Western media is now the arm of the State, no better than Pravda. Failed business model led the media into the oldest profession. How many narratives have we fallen for? How many have you fallen for? I think you owe it to yourselves to replay the tape from years past and ask whether you were duped. Malcolm Gladwell’s latest (see Books) suggests we are hard-wired to trust. As social animals, we cannot function if we don’t. It’s difficult to push back but push back we must. The more highly politicized the topic—climate change, pandemics, vaccines, elections, central banking, foreign wars—the greater the urgency to repel. I offer up one of several quotes from Gore Vidal, a thought-leader canted profoundly left whom I have come to view as the intellectuals’ George Carlin: Our rulers for more than half a century have made sure that we are never to be told the truth about anything that our government has done to other people, not to mention our own. ~ Gore Vidal Sources and Social Media. I am a Twitter long hauler with 70,000 followers but haven’t yet figured out how to monetize the micro-fame enough to buy a mocha Frappuccino. I do, however, find it a useful sounding board. One tweeter—probably a Twitter bot—captured the essence: If you need something researched for free and you don’t feel like doing it just post a tweet about it that’s mildly incorrect and wait. ~ @InternetHippo My Twitter long hauling has occasionally been interrupted by Twitter time-outs. They range from 12 hours to ponder the err in my ways for posting an inappropriate link to Bichute or The Lancet, to a full week for calling Tony Fauci “a skanky whore.” A permanent ban would (will) be painful because I have old and new friends there—Rudy: I love ya man!—who enrich my life with their wisdom. New posse members joining the already eclectic mix include @JonNajarian (getting me closer to winning CNBC Twitter Bingo), scholar and author @BretWeinstein (see Books), actor @AdamBaldwin, polymath rapper @ZubyMusic, and waves of bitcoin hodlers. Favorite news sources include podcasts—I am an audiophile—as well as blogs and newsletters by Tony Greer, James Grant, Jesse Felder, Bill Fleckenstein, Automatic Earth, Grant Williams, Ron Griess of The Chart Store, Chris Martenson, emails from a woman named Denise, and the 500 lb. gorilla of the internet—Zerohedge. I know I’ve missed many more. Apologies. The trouble is, you think you have time. ~ Buddha Figure 1. Toddler hacks the US Strategic Air Command; nuclear war was averted. Topics Untouched. As usual, I am up to my ass in debris on the cutting room floor writing this beast. Some topics simply proved unworthy; others were not ready yet. One of the great merits of blogging is that blogs stand alone; write them when you wish. A once-a-year narrative, by contrast, demands some sort of theme or glue, and, frankly, you can’t write The Wealth of Nations in November. By December the tank read “Empty”, but there were topics I had to finish. I actually started getting minor migraines. What follows are thumbnail sketches of a few stories that were left largely untold. There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen. ~ Vladimir Lenin By late 2020, it was clear that I had overlooked China as the global provocateur. They are Orwell’s hole in the air—the blurry schlieren in the jungle as the Predator arrives to tear out Arnie’s organs. The Chinese have infiltrated all aspects of the West’s geopolitical and economic system. Josh Rogin’s Chaos Under Heaven (see Books) is an excellent primer. I’ve heard second hand that the military top brass believes we are already at war but just don’t realize it yet. I regret punting the most important story, but they invented the punt for a reason. I’ve taken a pass on campus politics, cancel culture, and all things politically correct. I know how much joy it brought many of you to find out how much you wasted sending your children to college, but this was an off-year. Cancel culture may be fading because, to put it bluntly, nobody likes a bunch of clueless douche bags. Critical race theory (CRT) with its deeply Marxist underpinnings and intentions is a bad idea whose time has come. In a law school, there are scholarly components. As it seeps into the K–12 zone it becomes a steaming load of crap. If you have kids, you should go to school board meetings and get arrested for speaking up or, what is now called, being a domestic terrorist. It masquerades as objective science but was written as—all right, I’ll use the word—propaganda. ~ Steven Koonin (@SteveKoonin), former Cal Tech physicist, Obama Science Advisor, and author of Unsettled? The 2019 YIR tackled climate change.ref 1 I thought I might be augmenting it this year, but I will simply leave it by noting a few high-water marks. Steve Koonin, former Cal Tech physicist, expert modeler of complex systems, and Obama chief science advisor wrote the book Settled?. (See Books.) Like many other “climate deniers” his creds are beyond reproach. Steve had chaired the American Physical Society’s committee of 12 elite scientists that examined the state of climate science. After paying some lip service to Mankind’s contributions, Steve eviscerated the models and absurdities comprising the Climate Change Narrative. This, of course, caused a seismic shift in the scientific community’s view of our global climate initiatives. Just kidding. Nobody gave a shit because trillions of dollars have already been spent on it and an estimated $150 trillion more will be handed out to anybody willing to feign belief in the Scriptures. I also had a long talk with a Stanford University psychologist and media expert who went down that rabbit hole and became a denier. Nothing will get in the way of this $150-trillion-dollar juggernaut. All hail Greta! By the way, Michael Moore’s Planet of the Humans appears to have snuck back on YouTube after being banned for truthiness. It is a good documentary.ref 2 Despite numerous podcasts with Holy Rolling Bitcoin Hodlers with their Scriptures under arm trying to sell me currency warranties, I remain on the sidelines (a no-coiner, pejoratively speaking). I cannot add much to this heated debate except to congratulate them for riding Metcalf’s Law to riches. I suspect their next test will be a Tether insolvency or a good ol’ fashioned credit crunch, prefacing the final Battle of the Bastards pitting the Hodlers versus The State unwilling to forfeit control of the money supply. All of this presumes cryptos aren’t just a fad. I wish you laser-eyed crazies well. Dude –you deserve a Pulitzer for your coverage of the George Floyd Story, and I’m going to tweet that out. ~ Tony Greer (@TgMacro), TGMacro In the 2020 YIR I wrote extensively on why Chauvin would be a tricky conviction.ref 3 At least two of us thought it worthy. The trial went off without a hitch. The media’s minor lipservice given to why angry mobs in the street would make it hard for the jury to remain unbiased while obsessing over why he should be convicted no matter what. The jury did their job. The part that was missed was the witness nullification. I must confess to not watching much, but nobody—as in not a single person in court—wanted to provide the testimony that got Chauvin acquitted. You could hear witnesses choose their words carefully. I’m not even sure the defense team wanted the win. Oh well, I wouldn’t underwrite Derek’s life insurance policy. Prosecutor: But you decided you needed to run because of the fire of [inaudible]: why? What was so urgent? Kyle Rittenhouse: There was a fire. Enter the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. In shades of the Covington Scandal, even the President of the United States fondled the scales of justice to ensure the right outcome. The talking heads served up narratives that were fact-free clickbait to pay the bills. The prosecution was so comically bad—moments of great levityref 4a,b,c—that I began to wonder if they were tossing the case intentionally. Both the judge and the prosecution appeared to be intentionally setting up a mistrial. Kyle is gonna have a college essay to die for. Good luck getting it past all but Liberty University’s admissions committee.ref 5 In a related story, Nick Sandmann of Covington fame got his third quarter of a billion dollar settlement for defamation of character. Early negotiations are rumored to involve a 50:50 split of CNN by Sandmann and Rittenhouse. Figure 2. Judge David Collum and Kyle Rittenhouse playing Call of Duty-Modern Warfare. And now to bullet a few drive-by shootings: The Epstein story could have been resurrected from the 2019 YIRref 6 with the arrest of Head Pimp, Gishlaine “Gizz” Maxwell, caught hiding in a New Hampshire mansion already surveilled by the FBI, but it is just starting. I’m guessing she will be convicted of a 1997 minor traffic(king) violation, punished with time served, and retire comfortably on the MPP (Mossad Pension Plan) to live out her days in seclusion with her manly girlfriend, Jessica Schlepstein. Durham’s investigation of the Steele Dossier could heat up but hasn’t yet. Indictments are working their way from the bottom up. I won’t believe that plot has legs till I see it running. Nobody in power ever pays for their misdeeds. The Pandora Papers showed galaxy-class criminality of the global elite socking over $11 trillion dollars away in off-shore accounts, but prominent Americans were notably absent.ref 7 The media assured us that there are no crooks of such sociopathy in America.ref 8 The story had the shelf life of a souffle. John McAfee offed himself (or not). There were rumors that he had a kill switch that would hew vast stands of powerful people including voter fraudsters.ref 9 Well, McDeadGuy, we’re waiting. It won’t matter anyway because…oh never mind. Major Themes of 2021. Enough already: what are you going to talk about? I cover the usual topics on the economy and investing and take a bat to market valuations again. Broken Markets are a prominent because they’ve never been more broken. Covid-19 and the vaccine get serious facetime as the opening act of a much bigger drama. The events at the January Insurrection offers more plot thickener as one of the most important single days in American history. That anagnorisis arrives when the voice says, “The call is coming from inside the house!” The final scene will be the rise of global authoritarianism—total global domination—and you squeal… I did nazi that coming. WTF just happened? Figure 3. Change comes with little warning. Contents Part 1  Introduction My Year Investing – Gold, Energy, and Materials  Gold and Silver The Economy Inflation The Fed Valuations Broken Markets Part 2 (Coming Soon) Covid-19 – The Disease Covid-19 – The Response Vaccine – The Risks Vaccine – The Rollout Part 3 (Coming Soon) Biden – Freshman Year One Scorecard Capitol Insurrection Rising Authoritarianism Conclusion Acknowledgment Books My Year This report, by its very length, defends itself against the risk of being read. ~ Winston Churchill I read a book on narcissism. Although I flunked yet another test having checked a paucity of the boxes, there were a couple of categories demanding a big Sharpie. Narcissistic tendencies underly all achievement so there’s that too. This section is where I wander through the last calendar year of my life looking for college-essay material. It can be skipped by all but the most loyal readers (three at last count). That isn’t writing at all, it’s typing. ~ Truman Capote Self-Improvement. OK. Let’s call it attenuated personal decay. I had dropped 26 pounds of comorbidity in 2020 and another 10 pounds in 2021. I am by no means emaciated yet. I was pestered by London money manager Mitch Feierstein into playing a seminal round of golf after decades of neglect and was hooked. While watching the final hole of the FedEx Open, Cantalay hits a 371-yard drive, a 217-yard 6 iron 10 ft from the cup and two-putts for a birdie and $15 million. I’m thinkin’, “Hey: I can birdie a par 5 with a few Mulligans!” .....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytJan 3rd, 2022

2021 Greatest Hits: The Most Popular Articles Of The Past Year And A Look Ahead

2021 Greatest Hits: The Most Popular Articles Of The Past Year And A Look Ahead One year ago, when looking at the 20 most popular stories of 2020, we said that the year would be a very tough act to follow as there "could not have been more regime shifts, volatility moments, and memes than 2020." And yet despite the exceedingly high bar for 2021, the year did not disappoint and proved to be a successful contender, and if judging by the sheer breadth of narratives, stories, surprises, plot twists and unexpected developments, 2021 was even more memorable and event-filled than 2020. Where does one start? While covid was the story of 2020, the pandemic that emerged out of a (Fauci-funded) genetic lab team in Wuhan, China dominated newsflow, politics and capital markets for the second year in a row. And while the biggest plot twist of 2020 was Biden's victory over Trump in the presidential election (it took the pandemic lockdowns and mail-in ballots to hand the outcome to Biden), largely thanks to Covid, Biden failed to hold to his biggest presidential promise of defeating covid, and not only did he admit in late 2021 that there is "no Federal solution" to covid waving a white flag of surrender less than a year into his presidency, but following the recent emergence of the Xi, pardon Omicron variant, the number of covid cases in the US has just shattered all records. The silver lining is not only that deaths and hospitalizations have failed to follow the number of cases, but that the scaremongering narrative itself is starting to melt in response to growing grassroots discontent with vaccine after vaccine and booster after booster, which by now it is clear, do nothing to contain the pandemic. And now that it is clear that omicron is about as mild as a moderate case of the flu, the hope has finally emerged that this latest strain will finally kill off the pandemic as it becomes the dominant, rapidly-spreading variant, leading to worldwide herd immunity thanks to the immune system's natural response. Yes, it may mean billions less in revenue for Pfizer and Moderna, but it will be a colossal victory for the entire world. The second biggest story of 2021 was undoubtedly the scourge of soaring inflation, which contrary to macrotourist predictions that it would prove "transitory", refused to do so and kept rising, and rising, and rising, until it hit levels not seen since the Volcker galloping inflation days of the 1980s. The only difference of course is that back then, the Fed Funds rate hit 20%. Now it is at 0%, and any attempts to hike aggressively will lead to a horrific market crash, something the Fed knows very well. Whether this was due to supply-chain blockages and a lack of goods and services pushing prices higher, or due to massive stimulus pushing demand for goods - and also prices - higher, or simply the result of a record injection of central bank liquidity into the system, is irrelevant but what does matter is that it got so bad that even Biden, facing a mauling for his Democratic party in next year's midterm elections, freaked out about soaring prices and pushed hard to lower the price of gasoline, ordering releases from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve and vowing to punish energy companies that dare to make a profit, while ordering Powell to contain the surge in prices even if means the market is hit. Unfortunately for Biden, the market will be hit even as inflation still remain red hot for much of the coming year. And speaking of markets, while 2022 may be a year when the piper finally gets paid, 2021 was yet another blockbuster year for risk assets, largely on the back of the continued global response to the 2020 covid pandemic, when as we wrote last year, we saw "the official arrival of global Helicopter Money, tens of trillions in fiscal and monetary stimulus, an overhaul of the global economy punctuated by an unprecedented explosion in world debt, an Orwellian crackdown on civil liberties by governments everywhere, and ultimately set the scene for what even the World Economic Forum called simply "The Great Reset." Yes, the staggering liquidity injections that started in 2020, continued throughout 2021 and the final tally is that after $3 trillion in emergency liquidity injections in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic to stabilize the world, the Fed injected almost $2 trillion in the subsequent period, of which $1.5 trillion in 2021, a year where economists were "puzzled" why inflation was soaring. This, of course, excludes the tens of trillions of monetary stimulus injected by other central banks as well as the boundless fiscal stimulus that was greenlighted with the launch of helicopter money (i.e., MMT) in 2020. It's also why with inflation running red hot and real rates the lowest they have ever been, everyone was forced to rush into the "safety" of stocks (or stonks as they came to be known among GenZ), and why after last year's torrid stock market returns, the S&P rose another 27% in 2021 and up a staggering 114% from the March 2020 lows, in the process trouncing all previous mega-rallies (including those in 1929, 1938, 1974 and 2009)... ... making this the third consecutive year of double-digit returns. This reminds us of something we said last year: "it's almost as if the world's richest asset owners requested the covid pandemic." A year later, we got confirmation for this rhetorical statement, when we calculated that in the 18 months since the covid pandemic, the richest 1% of US society have seen their net worth increase by over $30 trillion. As a result, the US is now officially a banana republic where the middle 60% of US households by income - a measure economists use as a definition of the middle class - saw their combined assets drop from 26.7% to 26.6% of national wealth as of June, the lowest in Federal Reserve data, while for the first time the super rich had a bigger share, at 27%. Yes, the 1% now own more wealth than the entire US middle class, a definition traditionally reserve for kleptocracies and despotic African banana republics. It wasn't just the rich, however: politicians the world over would benefit from the transition from QE to outright helicopter money and MMT which made the over monetization of deficits widely accepted in the blink of an eye. The common theme here is simple: no matter what happens, capital markets can never again be allowed to drop, regardless of the cost or how much more debt has to be incurred. Indeed, as we look back at the news barrage over the past year, and past decade for that matter, the one thing that becomes especially clear amid the constant din of markets, of politics, of social upheaval and geopolitical strife - and now pandemics -  in fact a world that is so flooded with constant conflicting newsflow and changing storylines that many now say it has become virtually impossible to even try to predict the future, is that despite the people's desire for change, for something original and untried, the world's established forces will not allow it and will fight to preserve the broken status quo at any price - even global coordinated shutdowns - which is perhaps why it always boils down to one thing - capital markets, that bedrock of Western capitalism and the "modern way of life", where control, even if it means central planning the likes of which have not been seen since the days of the USSR, and an upward trajectory must be preserved at all costs, as the alternative is a global, socio-economic collapse. And since it is the daily gyrations of stocks that sway popular moods the interplay between capital markets and politics has never been more profound or more consequential. The more powerful message here is the implicit realization and admission by politicians, not just Trump who had a penchant of tweeting about the S&P every time it rose, but also his peers on both sides of the aisle, that the stock market is now seen as the consummate barometer of one's political achievements and approval. Which is also why capital markets are now, more than ever, a political tool whose purpose is no longer to distribute capital efficiently and discount the future, but to manipulate voter sentiments far more efficiently than any fake Russian election interference attempt ever could. Which brings us back to 2021 and the past decade, which was best summarized by a recent Bill Blain article who said that "the last 10-years has been a story of massive central banking distortion to address the 2008 crisis. Now central banks face the consequences and are trapped. The distortion can’t go uncorrected indefinitely." He is right: the distortion will eventually collapse especially if the Fed follows through with its attempt rate hikes some time in mid-2020, but so far the establishment and the "top 1%" have been successful - perhaps the correct word is lucky - in preserving the value of risk assets: on the back of the Fed's firehose of liquidity the S&P500 returned an impressive 27% in 2021, following a 15.5% return in 2020 and 28.50% in 2019. It did so by staging the greatest rally off all time from the March lows, surpassing all of the 4 greatest rallies off the lows of the past century (1929,1938, 1974, and 2009). Yet this continued can-kicking by the establishment - all of which was made possible by the covid pandemic and lockdowns which served as an all too convenient scapegoat for the unprecedented response that served to propel risk assets (and fiat alternatives such as gold and bitcoin) to all time highs - has come with a price... and an increasingly higher price in fact. As even Bank of America CIO Michael Hartnett admits, Fed's response to the the pandemic "worsened inequality" as the value of financial assets - Wall Street -  relative to economy - Main Street - hit all-time high of 6.3x. And while the Fed was the dynamo that has propelled markets higher ever since the Lehman collapse, last year certainly had its share of breakout moments. Here is a sampling. Gamestop and the emergence of meme stonks and the daytrading apes: In January markets were hypnotized by the massive trading volumes, rolling short squeezes and surging share prices of unremarkable established companies such as consoles retailer GameStop and cinema chain AMC and various other micro and midcap names. What began as a discussion on untapped value at GameStop on Reddit months earlier by Keith Gill, better known as Roaring Kitty, morphed into a hedge fund-orchestrated, crowdsourced effort to squeeze out the short position held by a hedge fund, Melvin Capital. The momentum flooded through the retail market, where daytraders shunned stocks and bought massive out of the money calls, sparking rampant "gamma squeezes" in the process forcing some brokers to curb trading. Robinhood, a popular broker for day traders and Citadel's most lucrative "subsidiary", required a cash injection to withstand the demands placed on it by its clearing house. The company IPOed later in the year only to see its shares collapse as it emerged its business model was disappointing hollow absent constant retail euphoria. Ultimately, the market received a crash course in the power of retail investors on a mission. Ultimately, "retail favorite" stocks ended the year on a subdued note as the trading frenzy from earlier in the year petered out, but despite underperforming the S&P500, retail traders still outperformed hedge funds by more than 100%. Failed seven-year Treasury auction:  Whereas auctions of seven-year US government debt generally spark interest only among specialists, on on February 25 2021, one such typically boring event sparked shockwaves across financial markets, as the weakest demand on record hit prices across the whole spectrum of Treasury bonds. The five-, seven- and 10-year notes all fell sharply in price. Researchers at the Federal Reserve called it a “flash event”; we called it a "catastrophic, tailing" auction, the closest thing the US has had to a failed Trasury auction. The flare-up, as the FT put it, reflects one of the most pressing investor concerns of the year: inflation. At the time, fund managers were just starting to realize that consumer price rises were back with a vengeance — a huge threat to the bond market which still remembers the dire days of the Volcker Fed when inflation was about as high as it is today but the 30Y was trading around 15%. The February auaction also illustrated that the world’s most important market was far less liquid and not as structurally robust as investors had hoped. It was an extreme example of a long-running issue: since the financial crisis the traditional providers of liquidity, a group of 24 Wall Street banks, have pulled back because of higher costs associated with post-2008 capital requirements, while leaving liquidity provision to the Fed. Those banks, in their reduced role, as well as the hedge funds and high-frequency traders that have stepped into their place, have tended to withdraw in moments of market volatility. Needless to say, with the Fed now tapering its record QE, we expect many more such "flash" episodes in the bond market in the year ahead. The arch ego of Archegos: In March 2021 several banks received a brutal reminder that some of family offices, which manage some $6 trillion in wealth of successful billionaires and entrepreneurs and which have minimal reporting requirements, take risks that would make the most serrated hedge fund manager wince, when Bill Hwang’s Archegos Capital Management imploded in spectacular style. As we learned in late March when several high-flying stocks suddenly collapsed, Hwang - a former protege of fabled hedge fund group Tiger Management - had built up a vast pile of leverage using opaque Total Return Swaps with a handful of banks to boost bets on a small number of stocks (the same banks were quite happy to help despite Hwang’s having been barred from US markets in 2013 over allegations of an insider-trading scheme, as he paid generously for the privilege of borrowing the banks' balance sheet). When one of Archegos more recent bets, ViacomCBS, suddenly tumbled it set off a liquidation cascade that left banks including Credit Suisse and Nomura with billions of dollars in losses. Conveniently, as the FT noted, the damage was contained to the banks rather than leaking across financial markets, but the episode sparked a rethink among banks over how to treat these clients and how much leverage to extend. The second coming of cryptos: After hitting an all time high in late 2017 and subsequently slumping into a "crypto winter", cryptocurrencies enjoyed a huge rebound in early 2021 which sent their prices soaring amid fears of galloping inflation (as shown below, and contrary to some financial speculation, the crypto space has traditionally been a hedge either to too much liquidity or a hedge to too much inflation). As a result, Bitcoin rose to a series of new record highs that culminated at just below $62,000, nearly three times higher than their previous all time high. But the smooth ride came to a halt in May when China’s crackdown on the cryptocurrency and its production, or “mining”, sparked the first serious crash of 2021. The price of bitcoin then collapsed as much as 30% on May 19, hitting a low of $30,000 amid a liquidation of levered positions in chaotic trading conditions following a warning from Chinese authorities of tighter curbs ahead. A public acceptance by Tesla chief and crypto cheerleader Elon Musk of the industry’s environmental impact added to the declines. However, as with all previous crypto crashes, this one too proved transitory, and prices resumed their upward trajectory in late September when investors started to price in the launch of futures-based bitcoin exchange traded funds in the US. The launch of these contracts subsequently pushed bitcoin to a new all-time high in early November before prices stumbled again in early December, this time due to a rise in institutional ownership when an overall drop in the market dragged down cryptos as well. That demonstrated the growing linkage between Wall Street and cryptocurrencies, due to the growing sway of large investors in digital markets. China's common prosperity crash: China’s education and tech sectors were one of the perennial Wall Street darlings. Companies such as New Oriental, TAL Education as well as Alibaba and Didi had come to be worth billions of dollars after highly publicized US stock market flotations. So when Beijing effectively outlawed swaths of the country’s for-profit education industry in July 2021, followed by draconian anti-trust regulations on the country's fintech names (where Xi Jinping also meant to teach the country's billionaire class a lesson who is truly in charge), the short-term market impact was brutal. Beijing’s initial measures emerged as part of a wider effort to make education more affordable as part of president Xi Jinping’s drive for "common prosperity" but that quickly raised questions over whether growth prospects across corporate China are countered by the capacity of the government to overhaul entire business models overnight. Sure enough, volatility stemming from the education sector was soon overshadowed by another set of government reforms related to common prosperity, a crackdown on leverage across the real estate sector where the biggest casualty was Evergrande, the world’s most indebted developer. The company, whose boss was not long ago China's 2nd richest man, was engulfed by a liquidity crisis in the summer that eventually resulted in a default in early December. Still, as the FT notes, China continues to draw in huge amounts of foreign capital, pushing the Chinese yuan to end 2021 at the strongest level since May 2018, a major hurdle to China's attempts to kickstart its slowing economy, and surely a precursor to even more monetary easing. Natgas hyperinflation: Natural gas supplanted crude oil as the world’s most important commodity in October and December as prices exploded to unprecedented levels and the world scrambled for scarce supplies amid the developed world's catastrophic transition to "green" energy. The crunch was particularly acute in Europe, which has become increasingly reliant on imports. Futures linked to TTF, the region’s wholesale gas price, hit a record €137 per megawatt hour in early October, rising more than 75%. In Asia, spot liquefied natural gas prices briefly passed the equivalent of more than $320 a barrel of oil in October. (At the time, Brent crude was trading at $80). A number of factors contributed, including rising demand as pandemic restrictions eased, supply disruptions in the LNG market and weather-induced shortfalls in renewable energy. In Europe, this was aggravated by plunging export volumes from Gazprom, Russia’s state-backed monopoly pipeline supplier, amid a bitter political fight over the launch of the Nordstream 2 pipeline. And with delays to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, analysts say the European gas market - where storage is only 66% full - a cold snap or supply disruption away from another price spike Turkey's (latest) currency crisis:  As the FT's Jonathan Wheatley writes, Recep Tayyip Erdogan was once a source of strength for the Turkish lira, and in his first five years in power from 2003, the currency rallied from TL1.6 per US dollar to near parity at TL1.2. But those days are long gone, as Erdogan's bizarre fascination with unorthodox economics, namely the theory that lower rates lead to lower inflation also known as "Erdoganomics", has sparked a historic collapse in the: having traded at about TL7 to the dollar in February, it has since fallen beyond TL17, making it the worst performing currency of 2021. The lira’s defining moment in 2021 came on November 18 when the central bank, in spite of soaring inflation, cut its policy rate for the third time since September, at Erdogan’s behest (any central banker in Turkey who disagrees with "Erdoganomics" is promptly fired and replaced with an ideological puppet). The lira recovered some of its losses in late December when Erdogan came up with the "brilliant" idea of erecting the infamous "doom loop" which ties Turkey's balance sheet to its currency. It has worked for now (the lira surged from TL18 against the dollar to TL12, but this particular band aid solution will only last so long). The lira’s problems are not only Erdogan’s doing. A strengthening dollar, rising oil prices, the relentless covid pandemic and weak growth in developing economies have been bad for other emerging market currencies, too, but as long as Erdogan is in charge, shorting the lira remains the best trade entering 2022. While these, and many more, stories provided a diversion from the boring existence of centrally-planned markets, we are confident that the trends observed in recent years will continue: coming years will be marked by even bigger government (because only more government can "fix" problems created by government), higher stock prices and dollar debasement (because only more Fed intervention can "fix" the problems created by the Fed), and a policy flip from monetary and QE to fiscal & MMT, all of which will keep inflation at scorching levels, much to the persistent confusion of economists everywhere. Of course, we said much of this last year as well, but while we got most trends right, we were wrong about one thing: we were confident that China's aggressive roll out of the digital yuan would be a bang - or as we put it "it is very likely that while 2020 was an insane year, it may prove to be just an appetizer to the shockwaves that will be unleashed in 2021 when we see the first stage of the most historic overhaul of the fiat payment system in history" - however it turned out to be a whimper. A big reason for that was that the initial reception of the "revolutionary" currency was nothing short of disastrous, with Chinese admitting they were "not at all excited" about the prospect of yet one more surveillance mechanism for Beijing, because that's really what digital currencies are: a way for central banks everywhere to micromanage and scrutinize every single transaction, allowing the powers that be to demonetize any one person - or whole groups - with the flick of a switch. Then again, while digital money may not have made its triumphant arrival in 2021, we are confident that the launch date has merely been pushed back to 2022 when the rollout of the next monetary revolution is expected to begin in earnest. Here we should again note one thing: in a world undergoing historic transformations, any free press must be throttled and controlled, and over the past year we have seen unprecedented efforts by legacy media and its corporate owners, as well as the new "social media" overlords do everything in their power to stifle independent thought. For us it had been especially "personal" on more than one occasions. Last January, Twitter suspended our account because we dared to challenge the conventional narrative about the source of the Wuhan virus. It was only six months later that Twitter apologized, and set us free, admitting it had made a mistake. Yet barely had twitter readmitted us, when something even more unprecedented happened: for the first time ever (to our knowledge) Google - the world's largest online ad provider and monopoly - demonetized our website not because of any complaints about our writing but because of the contents of our comment section. It then held us hostage until we agreed to implement some prerequisite screening and moderation of the comments section. Google's action was followed by the likes of PayPal, Amazon, and many other financial and ad platforms, who rushed to demonetize and suspend us simply because they disagreed with what we had to say. This was a stark lesson in how quickly an ad-funded business can disintegrate in this world which resembles the dystopia of 1984 more and more each day, and we have since taken measures. One year ago, for the first time in our 13 year history, we launched a paid version of our website, which is entirely ad and moderation free, and offers readers a variety of premium content. It wasn't our intention to make this transformation but unfortunately we know which way the wind is blowing and it is only a matter of time before the gatekeepers of online ad spending block us again. As such, if we are to have any hope in continuing it will come directly from you, our readers. We will keep the free website running for as long as possible, but we are certain that it is only a matter of time before the hammer falls as the censorship bandwagon rolls out much more aggressively in the coming year. That said, whether the story of 2022, and the next decade for that matter, is one of helicopter or digital money, of (hyper)inflation or deflation: what is key, and what we learned in the past decade, is that the status quo will throw anything at the problem to kick the can, it will certainly not let any crisis go to waste... even the deadliest pandemic in over a century. And while many already knew that, the events of 2021 made it clear to a fault that not even a modest market correction can be tolerated going forward. After all, if central banks aim to punish all selling, then the logical outcome is to buy everything, and investors, traders and speculators did just that armed with the clearest backstop guarantee from the Fed, which in the deapths of the covid crash crossed the Rubicon when it formally nationalized the bond market as it started buying both investment grade bonds and junk bond ETFs in the open market. As such it is no longer even a debatable issue if the Fed will buy stocks after the next crash - the only question is when. Meanwhile, for all those lamenting the relentless coverage of politics in a financial blog, why finance appears to have taken a secondary role, and why the political "narrative" has taken a dominant role for financial analysts, the past year showed vividly why that is the case: in a world where markets gyrated, and "rotated" from value stocks to growth and vice versa, purely on speculation of how big the next stimulus out of Washington will be, the narrative over Biden's trillions proved to be one of the biggest market moving events for much of the year. And with the Biden stimulus plan off the table for now, the Fed will find it very difficult to tighten financial conditions, especially if it does so just as the economy is slowing. Here we like to remind readers of one of our favorite charts: every financial crisis is the result of Fed tightening. As for predictions about the future, as the past two years so vividly showed, when it comes to actual surprises and all true "black swans", it won't be what anyone had expected. And so while many themes, both in the political and financial realm, did get some accelerated closure courtesy of China's covid pandemic, dramatic changes in 2021 persisted, and will continue to manifest themselves in often violent and unexpected ways - from the ongoing record polarization in the US political arena, to "populist" upheavals around the developed world, to the gradual transition to a global Universal Basic (i.e., socialized) Income regime, to China's ongoing fight with preserving stability in its gargantuan financial system which is now two and a half times the size of the US. As always, we thank all of our readers for making this website - which has never seen one dollar of outside funding (and despite amusing recurring allegations, has certainly never seen a ruble from the KGB either, although now that the entire Russian hysteria episode is over, those allegations have finally quieted down), and has never spent one dollar on marketing - a small (or not so small) part of your daily routine. Which also brings us to another critical topic: that of fake news, and something we - and others who do not comply with the established narrative - have been accused of. While we find the narrative of fake news laughable, after all every single article in this website is backed by facts and links to outside sources, it is clearly a dangerous development, and a very slippery slope that the entire developed world is pushing for what is, when stripped of fancy jargon, internet censorship under the guise of protecting the average person from "dangerous, fake information." It's also why we are preparing for the next onslaught against independent thought and why we had no choice but to roll out a premium version of this website. In addition to the other themes noted above, we expect the crackdown on free speech to accelerate in the coming year when key midterm elections will be held, especially as the following list of Top 20 articles for 2021 reveals, many of the most popular articles in the past year were precisely those which the conventional media would not touch out of fear of repercussions, which in turn allowed the alternative media to continue to flourish in an orchestrated information vacuum and take significant market share from the established outlets by covering topics which the public relations arm of established media outlets refused to do, in the process earning itself the derogatory "fake news" condemnation. We are grateful that our readers - who hit a new record high in 2021 - have realized it is incumbent upon them to decide what is, and isn't "fake news." * * * And so, before we get into the details of what has now become an annual tradition for the last day of the year, those who wish to jog down memory lane, can refresh our most popular articles for every year during our no longer that brief, almost 11-year existence, starting with 2009 and continuing with 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. So without further ado, here are the articles that you, our readers, found to be the most engaging, interesting and popular based on the number of hits, during the past year. In 20th spot with 600,000 reads, was an article that touched on one of the most defining features of the market: the reflation theme the sparked a massive rally at the start of the year courtesy of the surprise outcome in the Georgia Senate race, where Democrats ended up wining both seats up for grabs, effectively giving the Dems a majority in both the House and the Senate, where despite the even, 50-seat split, Kamala Harris would cast the winning tie-breaker vote to pursue a historic fiscal stimulus. And sure enough, as we described in "Bitcoin Surges To Record High, Stocks & Bonds Battered As Dems Look Set To Take Both Georgia Senate Seats", with trillions in "stimmies" flooding both the economy and the market, not only did retail traders enjoy unprecedented returns when trading meme "stonks" and forcing short squeezes that crippled numerous hedge funds, but expectations of sharply higher inflation also helped push bitcoin and the entire crypto sector to new all time highs, which in turn legitimized the product across institutional investors and helped it reach a market cap north of $3 trillion.  In 19th spot, over 613,000 readers were thrilled to read at the start of September that "Biden Unveils Most Severe COVID Actions Yet: Mandates Vax For All Federal Workers, Contractors, & Large Private Companies." Of course, just a few weeks later much of Biden's mandate would be struck down in courts, where it is now headed to a decision by SCOTUS, while the constantly shifting "scientific" goal posts mean that just a few months later the latest set of CDC regulations have seen regulators and officials reverse the constant drone of fearmongering and are now even seeking to cut back on the duration of quarantine and other lockdown measures amid a public mood that is growing increasingly hostile to the government response. One of the defining political events of 2021 was the so-called "Jan 6 Insurrection", which the for America's conservatives was blown wildly out of proportion yet which the leftist media and Democrats in Congress have been periodically trying to push to the front pages in hopes of distracting from the growing list of failures of the Obama admin. Yet as we asked back in January, "Why Was Founder Of Far-Left BLM Group Filming Inside Capitol As Police Shot Protester?" No less than 614,000 readers found this question worthy of a response. Since then many more questions have emerged surrounding this event, many of which focus on what role the FBI had in organizing and encouraging this event, including the use of various informants and instigators. For now, a response will have to wait at least until the mid-term elections of 2022 when Republicans are expected to sweep one if not both chambers. Linked to the above, the 17th most read article of 2021 with 617,000 views, was an article we published on the very same day, which detailed that "Armed Protesters Begin To Arrive At State Capitols Around The Nation." At the end of the day, it was much ado about nothing and all protests concluded peacefully and without incident: perhaps the FBI was simply spread too thin? 2021 was a year defined by various waves of the covid pandemic which hammered poor Americans forced to hunker down at home and missing on pay, and crippled countless small mom and pop businesses. And yet, it was also a bonanza for a handful of pharma companies such as Pfizer and Moderna which made billions from the sale of "vaccines" which we now know do little if anything to halt the spread of the virus, and are instead now being pitched as palliatives, preventing a far worse clinical outcome. The same pharma companies also benefited from an unconditional indemnity, which surely would come in useful when the full side-effects of their mRNA-based therapies became apparent. One such condition to emerge was myocarditis among a subset of the vaxxed. And while the vaccines continue to be broadly rolled out across most developed nations, one place that said enough was Sweden. As over 620,000 readers found out in "Sweden Suspends Moderna Shot Indefinitely After Vaxxed Patients Develop Crippling Heart Condition", not every country was willing to use its citizens as experimental guniea pigs. This was enough to make the article the 16th most read on these pages, but perhaps in light of the (lack of) debate over the pros and cons of the covid vaccines, this should have been the most read article this year? Moving on to the 15th most popular article, 628,000 readers were shocked to learn that "Chase Bank Cancels General Mike Flynn's Credit Cards." The action, which was taken by the largest US bank due to "reputational risk" echoed a broad push by tech giants to deplatform and silence dissenting voices by literally freezing them out of the financial system. In the end, following widespread blowback from millions of Americans, JPMorgan reversed, and reactivated Flynn's cards saying the action was made in error, but unfortunately this is just one example of how those in power can lock out any dissenters with the flick of a switch. And while democrats cheer such deplatforming today, the political winds are fickle, and we doubt they will be as excited once they find themselves on the receiving end of such actions. And speaking of censorship and media blackouts, few terms sparked greater response from those in power than the term Ivermectin. Viewed by millions as a cheap, effective alternative to offerings from the pharmaceutical complex, social networks did everything in their power to silence any mention of a drug which the Journal of Antibiotics said in 2017 was an "enigmatic multifaceted ‘wonder’ drug which continues to surprise and exceed expectations." Nowhere was this more obvious than in the discussion of how widespread use of Ivermectin beat Covid in India, the topic of the 14th most popular article of 2021 "India's Ivermectin Blackout" which was read by over 653,000 readers. Unfortunately, while vaccines continue to fail upward and now some countries are now pushing with a 4th, 5th and even 6th vaccine, Ivermectin remains a dirty word. There was more covid coverage in the 13th most popular article of 2021, "Surprise Surprise - Fauci Lied Again": Rand Paul Reacts To Wuhan Bombshell" which was viewed no less than 725,000 times. Paul's reaction came following a report which revealed that Anthony Fauci's NIAID and its parent, the NIH, funded Gain-of-Function research in Wuhan, China, strongly hinting that the emergence of covid was the result of illicit US funding. Not that long ago, Fauci had called Paul a 'liar' for accusing him of funding the risky research, in which viruses are genetically modified or otherwise altered to make them more transmissible to humans. And while we could say that Paul got the last laugh, Fauci still remains Biden's top covid advisor, which may explain why one year after Biden vowed he would shut down the pandemic, the number of new cases just hit a new all time high. One hope we have for 2022 is that people will finally open their eyes... 2021 was not just about covid - soaring prices and relentless inflation were one of the most poignant topics. It got so bad that Biden's approval rating - and that of Democrats in general - tumbled toward the end of the year, putting their mid-term ambitions in jeopardy, as the public mood soured dramatically in response to the explosion in prices. And while one can debate whether it was due to supply-issues, such as the collapse in trans-pacific supply chains and the chronic lack of labor to grow the US infrastructure, or due to roaring demand sparked by trillions in fiscal stimulus, but when the "Big Short" Michael Burry warned that hyperinflation is coming, the people listened, and with over 731,000 reads, the 12th most popular article of 2021 was "Michael Burry Warns Weimar Hyperinflation Is Coming."  Of course, Burry did not say anything we haven't warned about for the past 12 years, but at least he got the people's attention, and even mainstream names such as Twitter founder Jack Dorsey agreed with him, predicting that bitcoin will be what is left after the dollar has collapsed. While hyperinflation may will be the endgame, the question remains: when. For the 11th most read article of 2021, we go back to a topic touched upon moments ago when we addressed the full-blown media campaign seeking to discredit Ivermectin, in this case via the D-grade liberal tabloid Rolling Stone (whose modern incarnation is sadly a pale shadow of the legend that house Hunter S. Thompson's unforgettable dispatches) which published the very definition of fake news when it called Ivermectin a "horse dewormer" and claimed that, according to a hospital employee, people were overdosing on it. Just a few hours later, the article was retracted as we explained in "Rolling Stone Issues 'Update' After Horse Dewormer Hit-Piece Debunked" and over 812,000 readers found out that pretty much everything had been a fabrication. But of course, by then it was too late, and the reputation of Ivermectin as a potential covid cure had been further tarnished, much to the relief of the pharma giants who had a carte blanche to sell their experimental wares. The 10th most popular article of 2021 brings us to another issue that had split America down the middle, namely the story surrounding Kyle Rittenhouse and the full-blown media campaign that declared the teenager guilty, even when eventually proven innocent. Just days before the dramatic acquittal, we learned that "FBI Sat On Bombshell Footage From Kyle Rittenhouse Shooting", which was read by over 822,000 readers. It was unfortunate to learn that once again the scandal-plagued FBI stood at the center of yet another attempt at mass misinformation, and we can only hope that one day this "deep state" agency will be overhauled from its core, or better yet, shut down completely. As for Kyle, he will have the last laugh: according to unconfirmed rumors, his numerous legal settlements with various media outlets will be in the tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars.  And from the great US social schism, we again go back to Covid for the 9th most popular article of 2021, which described the terrifying details of one of the most draconian responses to covid in the entire world: that of Australia. Over 900,000 readers were stunned to read that the "Australian Army Begins Transferring COVID-Positive Cases, Contacts To Quarantine Camps." Alas, the latest surge in Australian cases to nosebleed, record highs merely confirms that this unprecedented government lockdown - including masks and vaccines - is nothing more than an exercise in how far government can treat its population as a herd of sheep without provoking a violent response.  The 8th most popular article of 2021 looks at the market insanity of early 2021 when, at the end of January, we saw some of the most-shorted, "meme" stocks explode higher as the Reddit daytrading horde fixed their sights on a handful of hedge funds and spent billions in stimmies in an attempt to force unprecedented ramps. That was the case with "GME Soars 75% After-Hours, Erases Losses After Liquidity-Constrained Robinhood Lifts Trading Ban", which profiled the daytrading craze that gave an entire generation the feeling that it too could win in these manipulated capital markets. Then again, judging by the waning retail interest, it is possible that the excitement of the daytrading army is fading as rapidly as it first emerged, and that absent more "stimmies" markets will remain the playground of the rich and central banks. Kyle Rittenhouse may soon be a very rich man after the ordeal he went through, but the media's mission of further polarizing US society succeeded, and millions of Americans will never accept that the teenager was innocent. It's also why with just over 1 million reads, the 7th most read article on Zero Hedge this year was that "Portland Rittenhouse Protest Escalates Into Riot." Luckily, this is not a mid-term election year and there were no moneyed interests seeking to prolong this particular riot, unlike what happened in the summer of 2020... and what we are very much afraid will again happen next year when very critical elections are on deck.  With just over 1.03 million views, the 6th most popular post focused on a viral Twitter thread on Friday from Dr Robert Laone, which laid out a disturbing trend; the most-vaccinated countries in the world are experiencing  a surge in COVID-19 cases, while the least-vaccinated countries were not. As we originally discussed in ""This Is Worrying Me Quite A Bit": mRNA Vaccine Inventor Shares Viral Thread Showing COVID Surge In Most-Vaxxed Countries", this trend has only accelerated in recent weeks with the emergence of the Omicron strain. Unfortunately, instead of engaging in a constructive discussion to see why the science keeps failing again and again, Twitter's response was chilling: with just days left in 2021, it suspended the account of Dr. Malone, one of the inventors of mRNA technology. Which brings to mind something Aaron Rogers said: "If science can't be questioned it's not science anymore it's propaganda & that's the truth." In a year that was marked a flurry of domestic fiascoes by the Biden administration, it is easy to forget that the aged president was also responsible for the biggest US foreign policy disaster since Vietnam, when the botched evacuation of Afghanistan made the US laughing stock of the world after 12 US servicemembers were killed. So it's probably not surprising that over 1.1 million readers were stunned to watch what happened next, which we profiled in the 5th most popular post of 2021, where in response to the Afghan trajedy, "Biden Delivers Surreal Press Conference, Vows To Hunt Down Isis, Blames Trump." One person watching the Biden presser was Xi Jinping, who may have once harbored doubts about reclaiming Taiwan but certainly does not any more. The 4th most popular article of 2021 again has to do with with covid, and specifically the increasingly bizarre clinical response to the disease. As we detailed in "Something Really Strange Is Happening At Hospitals All Over America" while emergency rooms were overflowing, it certainly wasn't from covid cases. Even more curiously, one of the primary ailments leading to an onslaught on ERs across the nation was heart-related issues, whether arrhytmia, cardiac incidents or general heart conditions. We hope that one day there will be a candid discussion on this topic, but until then it remains one of the topics seen as taboo by the mainstream media and the deplatforming overlords, so we'll just leave it at that. We previously discussed the anti-Ivermectin narrative that dominated the mainstream press throughout 2021 and the 3rd most popular article of the year may hold clues as to why: in late September, pharma giant Pfizer and one of the two companies to peddle an mRNA based vaccine, announced that it's launching an accelerated Phase 2/3 trial for a COVID prophylactic pill designed to ward off COVID in those may have come in contact with the disease. And, as we described in "Pfizer Launches Final Study For COVID Drug That's Suspiciously Similar To 'Horse Paste'," 1.75 million readers learned that Pfizer's drug shared at least one mechanism of action as Ivermectin - an anti-parasitic used in humans for decades, which functions as a protease inhibitor against Covid-19, which researchers speculate "could be the biophysical basis behind its antiviral efficiency." Surely, this too was just another huge coincidence. In the second most popular article of 2021, almost 2 million readers discovered (to their "shock") that Fauci and the rest of Biden's COVID advisors were proven wrong about "the science" of COVID vaccines yet again. After telling Americans that vaccines offer better protection than natural infection, a new study out of Israel suggested the opposite is true: natural infection offers a much better shield against the delta variant than vaccines, something we profiled in "This Ends The Debate' - Israeli Study Shows Natural Immunity 13x More Effective Than Vaccines At Stopping Delta." We were right about one thing: anyone who dared to suggest that natural immunity was indeed more effective than vaccines was promptly canceled and censored, and all debate almost instantly ended. Since then we have had tens of millions of "breakout" cases where vaccinated people catch covid again, while any discussion why those with natural immunity do much better remains under lock and key. It may come as a surprise to many that the most read article of 2021 was not about covid, or Biden, or inflation, or China, or even the extremely polarized US congress (and/or society), but was about one of the most long-suffering topics on these pages: precious metals and their prices. Yes, back in February the retail mania briefly targeted silver and as millions of reddit daytraders piled in in hopes of squeezing the precious metal higher, the price of silver surged higher only to tumble just as quickly as it has risen as the seller(s) once again proved more powerful than the buyers. We described this in "Silver Futures Soar 8%, Rise Above $29 As Reddit Hordes Pile In", an article which some 2.4 million gold and silver bugs read with hope, only to see their favorite precious metals slump for much of the rest of the year. And yes, the fact that both gold and silver ended the year sharply lower than where they started even though inflation hit the highest level in 40 years, remains one of the great mysteries of 2021. With all that behind us, and as we wave goodbye to another bizarre, exciting, surreal year, what lies in store for 2022, and the next decade? We don't know: as frequent and not so frequent readers are aware, we do not pretend to be able to predict the future and we don't try despite endless allegations that we constantly predict the collapse of civilization: we leave the predicting to the "smartest people in the room" who year after year have been consistently wrong about everything, and never more so than in 2021 (even the Fed admitted it is clueless when Powell said it was time to retire the term "transitory"), which destroyed the reputation of central banks, of economists, of conventional media and the professional "polling" and "strategist" class forever, not to mention all those "scientists" who made a mockery of the "expertise class" with their bungled response to the covid pandemic. We merely observe, find what is unexpected, entertaining, amusing, surprising or grotesque in an increasingly bizarre, sad, and increasingly crazy world, and then just write about it. We do know, however, that after a record $30 trillion in stimulus was conjured out of thin air by the world's central banks and politicians in the past two years, the attempt to reverse this monetary and fiscal firehose in a world addicted to trillions in newly created liquidity now that central banks are freaking out after finally getting ot the inflation they were hoping to create for so long, will end in tears. We are confident, however, that in the end it will be the very final backstoppers of the status quo regime, the central banking emperors of the New Normal, who will eventually be revealed as fully naked. When that happens and what happens after is anyone's guess. But, as we have promised - and delivered - every year for the past 13, we will be there to document every aspect of it. Finally, and as always, we wish all our readers the best of luck in 2022, with much success in trading and every other avenue of life. We bid farewell to 2021 with our traditional and unwavering year-end promise: Zero Hedge will be there each and every day - usually with a cynical smile - helping readers expose, unravel and comprehend the fallacy, fiction, fraud and farce that defines every aspect of our increasingly broken system. Tyler Durden Sun, 01/02/2022 - 03:44.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytJan 2nd, 2022

Finding Strength Along A Post-COVID Fury Road

Finding Strength Along A Post-COVID Fury Road Authored by Tom Luongo via Gold, Goats, 'n Guns blog, The COVID-9/11 pandemic is over. With the failure of Omicron to capture the imaginations of only the most unimaginative midwits, the question now is how do we move forward from here. While we can rejoice that the threat to life and limb from COVID-9/11 may be effectively over, there is still the threat in its name to our liberty and sanity from those who profit most from the fear of the virus. The aftershocks from COVID-9/11 will be with us for the foreseeable future. An entire generation has been scarred by this manufactured apocalypse and there will be no going back to the way things were. We’d been warned by so many for so long. From investigative journalists, to the rare honest politician to the film-makers and artists who crafted stories for us to contemplate the lurking dangers in our deteriorating society. Conditions were ripe for those in power to take maximal advantage of the fear from COVID-9/11. And they did so, enthusiastically. The warnings were clear. There are toxic people out there who would rather destroy the world to hold onto their power rather than admit defeat. Looking at where we are now reminds me, funnily enough, of 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road. A brilliant fever dream of a movie that portrayed a world in a post-rational, post-civilizational state. At it’s core Fury Road’s conflict is asking the question, “Who broke the world?” History had been erased to the point where the people living in this hell couldn’t even form the question into an indictment beyond the most base and reductionist caricature of gender roles. Those who think this is the movie’s perspective have read it all wrong, unfortunately. It’s easy to do given the elevation of Furiosa to near leading lady status. Many have remarked that Mad Max is a bystander in his own movie. They, again, are wrong. Max, in all of the sequels to the original, has been this mythic figure who wanders into a deeply disturbed existential crisis for some outpost in the Wasteland. That’s the setup for these films. And in this one he is brought into the most out-of-balance one yet, where every destructive tendency of men and masculinity runs rampant and has strangled the people and the last outpost of life nearly to death. Bear with me, this stuff is really important. Man? Woman? I’m the Guy With the Microphone Back to the ‘real world.’ Thankfully in our post-COVID world we still have some sense of our history, though those in charge have decided to only allow a version of it that is even more cartoonish than the world of Fury Road in an attempt to erase it. Every instance where someone tries to frame a counter-argument to this cartoon is met with ever more strident claims of gender oppression and white supremacy. We’ve reached a point where those with any dissenting point of view are systematically shut down, censored, silenced or worse. Words are violence in the new Woke West, dontcha’ know? But by taking the position that the ‘other side’ isn’t allowed to speak, they speak volumes about the fragility of their grasp on power. Ideas that cannot be challenged, that cannot bear even the slightest scrutiny, are ideas that can’t evolve. It doesn’t matter whether they are right or wrong. They are static, mechanical and ultimately devoid of life itself. This is our world today in the hands of the Woke Left, a world where the destructive and vindictive feminine has been elevated to the point of unimpeachable rightness. But this isn’t any kind of healthy feminine. It’s a Furiosa-like feminine, devoid of nurturing, all implied violence, all sexuality suppressed to the point of masculinity. Look at Furiosa and tell me it isn’t asking another vital question, “In a dying world, is there any room for fertility while clinging like moss for survival?” In our world feminism has robbed women of their greatest attribute, the ability to gestate and nurture life itself. Hollywood has spent two generations giving us female action heroes who are ultimately nothing more than Doods with Boobs. It’s the ultimate power fantasy of Third Wave feminism. It’s not as destructive an archetype as the sluts on Sex in the City, mind you, because at least it can be tied in some ways back to motherhood, i.e. Ripley in James Cameron’s Aliens, but it’s still damaging to the cause of the healthy feminine nonetheless. Furiosa is what happens when gender roles are maximally out of balance. This claiming of the microphone, this flooding the airwaves with anti-white/anti-male propaganda is itself a very dangerous strategy. First, because it’s disgusting and hateful but second, because it will spark a pendulum swing that will shock everyone. By not allowing people to speak and work through what is bad AND good about the state of the world, it robs people of more than their voice. It robs them, ultimately, of their identity. Which brings me back to Fury Road. The Man With No Name Max never refers to himself as Max in Fury Road until the very end. Even in the unfortunate Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome he’s some other persona — “Raggedy Man,” “The Man With No Name,” or the reincarnation of “Captain Walker.” He’s lost everything, including his sense of self. He’s purely a survivor now. There is no Max anymore. The Wasteland has stripped him of this. Multiple times in Fury Road he’s asked his name. Every time he doesn’t answer. This is the key to reading Fury Road as a Mad Max movie, not a Furiosa movie, as the woke propagandists who masquerade as film critics and commentators would have you believe. Furiosa knows what she is, she’s looking for redemption for her sins, which are she abandoned her fertility to serve a literal blood god who farms women for their breast milk and given his Warboys purpose only through their sacrifice to him if only to be ‘witnessed’ doing so. There is no life for the Warboys in this world, since they can’t reproduce, so their initiation into manhood is becoming ‘shiny and chrome,’ worshipping their cars — the only recognizable technology left from the old world, except for guns. They worship the mechanical, the cold, the lifeless. Cars don’t bring life. But all that repressed energy gets turned into the grotesque creations they drive (insanely) across the Wasteland. They are the ultimate symbol of the static masculine. The only things this economy produces is food, guns, and gas. Since Immortan Joe hordes everything, especially the water and the food, he can maintain the stranglehold on life itself, the only women capable of giving birth. Into this nightmare a healthy Max is a resource, a literal blood bank, who gets caught up in Furiosa’s plans to escape with the only symbols of fertility left in this world, the concubines. From here Fury Road is that redemption plot we all know so well. But they don’t find redemption in the Wasteland, only the seeds to rebuilding the world. It is Max who realizes the only life left is back where they came from. And it quite literally says, there is no ‘better world’ out there than the one we live in. To begin unbreaking the world you have to go back to the one you have and fix it. You can’t run away. Clean your room, if I can invoke Dr. Peterson here. It is on this leg of the Fury Road that Max and Furiosa fully work together to bring down the charnal house that Joe built. It’s only then when he freely gives up some of himself, his blood, to save Furiosa at the end that he offers her his name, regaining his identity for the first time since the Toecutter’s gang ran down his wife and daughter when the world was only damaged, not broken. And it is with that simple act of kindness, that Fury Road asserts itself as Max’s movie. But Max still sins that he can’t wash away. He will forever be the gargoyle that guards the gates of the cathedral. It’s not because men aren’t welcome there. Furiosa knows now what good men look like. The balance between men and women can begin again but not with Max. He knows what he is and knows salvation isn’t for men like him. This is why he can’t ascend to the Promised Land at the end of the film, just like each previous film in the series. It has zero to do with the film being woke or dismissive of men in any symbolic sense. Healing the Gender Divide Unfortunately, our divided world has destroyed our ability to recognize any balance in this conversation. As I’ve previously argued about the Disney Star Wars films, the deep divisions between men and women, the inversion of gender roles in our society, clouds our judgment of them because so many are afraid of the answers they offer. YouTube has empowered an entire sub-culture of MGTOW’s, itself the ultimate expression of male weakness in the face of toxic femininity, to obsess about these things and drive ad revenue to them. Their hate has made them powerful. They hold sway over a whole rotten sub-culture wallowing in their hate. We have a toxic femininity problem. Retreating into masculine safe spaces looks attractive, a kind of ‘Going Galt’ until women get less crazy. But it’s the wrong response. Because those same women who say the most hateful things about men, are really pleading for us to step up and be protectors, like Max becomes to Furiosa and the other women. Saying any of that doesn’t mean we didn’t or don’t have a toxic masculinity problem. But the way to female strength is not denying men or white people or binaries or whatever the fuck they’re labeling us with today access to the microphone. That way madness lies. That way leads to Immortan Joe and a broken world where the reality of male physical superiority is left unchecked by the tempering presence of the divine feminine and their ability to bring life into the world. Unfortunately, we live in a world ruled by Communists who spend every waking hour undermining these basic truths about humanity in their Quixotic quest for power and control. The chaos of COVID-9/11 while we’re all anxious about our failing economic system, a creation of rent-seeking oligarchs, erecting this Citadel of Exclusion is now condoned by previously normal people gripped by a madness that is far deeper than we want to admit to ourselves. Friends and family, storeowners and co-workers have been transformed into self-hating monstrosities willing to reduce everything that represents a challenge to their worldview into a symbol of oppression that further proves their loyalty to the nascent medical-industrial complex. COVID-9/11 drove far too many to this state. They reject the basics of virology, immunology and common sense to support their need for order. As the world broke they sunk further into madness, unable to cope anymore with the basic risks of living in the real world. I’d go off on a rant about how destroying risk assessment in capital markets and the creation of new money through debt and financialization feeding the solipsism that we’d conquered the scarcity problem in modern society, but why bring up facts in an era where people have become allergic to them? Getting off the Shining Path This fear of living is what drives people to become cheerleaders for tyranny. To love their muzzles, proudly display their vax cards and fetishize their subservience to an authority just two years ago most would have distrusted to their core. The same people who marched on D.C. in support of ‘gender equality’ in the name of a women’s right to choose to murder their unborn children now want to deny the unvaxxed a seat at the civilizational table. Got news for you, folks, there’s a barbarian in this room, and it ain’t the unvaxxed. Now a false sense of shared purpose to fight the illusion of a pandemic energizes their fear, amplifies it into anger for those that disbelieve this illusion and turns it into self-righteous resentment for lengthening their agony. Just get the clot shot, they argue and come on board for the big win over COVID, they screech from behind their shiny grills. If it wasn’t so despicable and naïve, it would almost be tragic. Because we, like the people of the world of Fury Road, are all in agony, even those that support what little societal order there is left. This is the post-COVID world Davos has planned for us, worshipping the images of ourselves on our screens. Shaking our asses nihilistically on Tik-Tok or OnlyFans, if only to be ‘witnessed’ in our debasement for a few minutes. Trading our dignity for a dopamine hit and our principles for a paycheck. The push now is to take from the heretics to the COVID-9/11 Death Cult all that is left of the old world. The Immortan Joes of Davos will hoard their part of the shrinking pile of assets and send out their diseased and maniacal Warboys (and girls) to enforce this new Utopia. Arguing with conviction the unvaxxed should be left in the cold, unable to leave their homes, take a walk in the sun, share a meal with their loved ones or have access to medical care. Unlike Fury Road we know who broke the world. They did. But they blame those still willing to face the risk of living in the real world from partaking in it, lest we make a mockery of their selfishness and unquenchable envy. That’s what scares them the most. And that’s where we find the strength to stare them down and build our own ways forward. Because if we don’t start doing that now, if we don’t stop pining for the world that was and accept the world that is, there is no hope of fixing anything. *  *  * Join My Patreon if you like fixing things BTC: 3GSkAe8PhENyMWQb7orjtnJK9VX8mMf7Zf BCH: qq9pvwq26d8fjfk0f6k5mmnn09vzkmeh3sffxd6ryt DCR: DsV2x4kJ4gWCPSpHmS4czbLz2fJNqms78oE LTC: MWWdCHbMmn1yuyMSZX55ENJnQo8DXCFg5k DASH: XjWQKXJuxYzaNV6WMC4zhuQ43uBw8mN4Va WAVES: 3PF58yzAghxPJad5rM44ZpH5fUZJug4kBSa ETH: 0x1dd2e6cddb02e3839700b33e9dd45859344c9edc DGB: SXygreEdaAWESbgW6mG15dgfH6qVUE5FSE Tyler Durden Sun, 12/19/2021 - 07:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 19th, 2021

Seven Reasons Democrats Lost Virginia

Seven Reasons Democrats Lost Virginia Authored by Carl. M. Cannon via RealClear Politics (emphasis ours), When Terry McAuliffe kicked off his third gubernatorial candidacy last December, some leading Virginia Democrats had mixed emotions. On one hand, party activists believed that in Jennifer Carroll Foy and Jennifer McClellan — two female African American lawmakers in the state legislature — they had credible candidates waiting in the wings to make history. The worry, which turned out to be accurate, was that the presence of a former governor with a famous fundraising prowess would squeeze them out. (AP Photo/Steve Helber) At the same time, party elders figured that McAuliffe’s candidacy would prevent the worst-case scenario: namely, that Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who was accused of forcing himself sexually on two women, would somehow win the Democratic primary. So Democrats consoled themselves. “Terry” had been a popular governor the first time around, they told themselves, and was always an energetic campaigner. “Certainly, he comes into the race in a very formidable position,” veteran Virginia political scholar Bob Holsworth said at the time. “He’s a popular former governor. He has tons of resources. And he loves to campaign. At the same time, the open question in this campaign is whether he is the person for the moment.” The answer turned out to be no. On Tuesday, after a rolling election that lasted two full months, none of those assets was enough. McAuliffe lost a close election to Republican neophyte Glenn Youngkin. The tally, with 94% of the vote counted, is 50.7% to 48.6%. Meanwhile, in a potentially shocking upset in New Jersey, Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli holds a 1,200-vote edge over incumbent Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy with 97% of the total counted. If Ciattarelli holds on for victory, the result will defy the pre-election polling — and leave Democrats stunned and Republicans counting the days until the 2022 midterms. In Virginia, a large and diverse state, a close election hinges on many factors. Here are seven. Reason 1: McAuliffe’s previous tenure in office wasn’t an advantage. Because Old Dominion governors cannot succeed themselves, McAuliffe was hampered from running on his record in the traditional way, i.e., boasting how well the state’s economy is doing, for instance, because someone else currently occupies the governor’s mansion. At the same time, McAuliffe was an old familiar warhorse who ran in 2009 (when he lost the primary) and 2013 (when he won the general election), and who was a top Clinton fundraiser and foot soldier and Democratic Party leader for decades. By contrast, Glenn Youngkin was a fresh face in a year in which the electorate in Virginia, as elsewhere, is in a sour and restive mood and incumbency itself — as Gov. Murphy may have learned in New Jersey — is its own liability.  Also, McAuliffe’s tenure in Richmond seems like a long time ago in U.S. politics, even though it really wasn’t. Since he left office, Americans have endured a lethal and disruptive pandemic, the turbulence of the Donald Trump years, and a spike in the culture wars. And the Virginia campaign was sucked into the vortex of all of it.  Reason 2: Terry McAuliffe rarely said why he wanted to be governor again. Did he want to be in a position to run for president in 2024, a goal he hinted at in 2018? Was he bored? Is he simply addicted to competitive politics? On the rare occasions when McAuliffe engaged this subject, his utterances were anodyne. “This pandemic is a turning point in our lives, and our goal can’t be just to go back to where we were before,” he said as he began his campaign. “We need to think big and act bold to take Virginia to the next level. And the one thing that has the opportunity to lift up all Virginians is education.”  In one sense, this boilerplate rhetoric proved prescient: Education — specifically, how and who should run the commonwealth’s public schools — was the issue that probably decided the outcome, albeit not in a way Democrats foresaw. Reason 3: It’s the parents, stupid. On Sept. 29, a day when the RealClearPolitics polling average showed McAuliffe leading with 46.9% support (to Youngkin’s 43.4%), the candidates squared off in a debate. That night, Youngkin made two points that resonated with many voters with school-age children. The first was a broad, pandemic-era complaint: “What we’ve seen over the course of the past 20 months is school systems refusing to engage with parents.”  To illustrate this claim, Youngkin invoked an issue usually associated with cultural conservatives: a bill Gov. McAuliffe vetoed that would have given parents more agency over sexually explicit books in school libraries. “I believe parents should be in charge of their kids’ education,” Youngkin added. McAuliffe took the bait — and then some. He began his rebuttal by scoffing at Youngkin for being “clueless” because he’d never held elective office. “I’m not going to let parents come into schools and actually take books out and make their own decisions,” McAuliffe added. That would have been sustainable, possibly even deft. But for some reason, he punctuated that thought with these 12 fateful words: “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”  The Youngkin campaign promptly ran ads consisting simply of a video clip of the exchange. By Election Day, Youngkin pressed his advantage repeatedly. “This is no longer a campaign,” he said. “It is a movement where we are … standing up and saying we have a fundamental right to be engaged in our kids’ education.”  Youngkin may have been a political novice, as McAuliffe pointed out snidely, but his instincts were better than those of an opponent who’d been in politics all his adult life. McAuliffe, with controversial teachers’ union president Randi Weingarten at his side, managed to galvanize thousands of tiger moms in opposition. Dads, too. Exit polling showed that 53% of voters said that parents should have “a lot of say” in their children’s education.  “That was a disaster for him,” veteran political strategist David Axelrod said Tuesday night as the votes rolled in. “I think the context was a little skewed … but it clearly galvanized voters.”  Reason 4: As the race tightened, McAuliffe doubled down on his approach to education. In the homestretch, he sounded less like the moderate middle-aged swing state Democrat who won the governorship eight years ago and more like a Gen-Z social justice warrior angling for a sinecure in a teachers’ union local. Critical race theory? Not taught anywhere in Virginia, McAuliffe maintained repeatedly — and inaccurately. Merely mentioning CRT, he sneered, is “a racist dog whistle.” McAuliffe also accused Glenn Youngkin of plotting to make abortion illegal in Virginia — which is not a power the governor possesses — and did so without feeling constrained by the facts.  By the last days of the campaign, McAuliffe was in full-on identity politics mode, asserting that minority students are made uneasy by the mere presence of white teachers. “In Virginia schools, K-12, 50% are students of color and yet 80% of teachers are white,” he said. “We all know what we have to do in a school to make everybody feel comfortable in school, so let’s diversify.”  What was the strategy here? To pump up the African American and Hispanic vote, one assumes, by making race a central component of the campaign. It may have backfired. At the least, it didn’t galvanize enough minority voters. Nor did the presence on the stump of Barack Obama and Vice President Kamala Harris change the equation. President Biden campaigned in Virginia, too, echoing all of McAuliffe’s negative talking points, most especially the one that ultimately became the Democrats’ whole ballgame: trying to morph Glenn Youngkin into Donald Trump’s clone.  [ZH]: Turns out telling parents that they have no say in their kids education and their kid is also a racist was a bad campaign strategy — Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) November 3, 2021 Reason 5: For his part, Youngkin threaded the needle nicely on Trump. When this race began last summer, Glenn Youngkin was unknown in Virginia politics. Those who did know his name remembered him as a high school basketball star in the Tidewater area whose father played hoops at Duke. Youngkin himself played collegiately at Rice before going into business. With wealth accrued as a partner in a private equity firm, Youngkin was able to self-fund a Republican primary campaign in which he dispatched with not one, but two, Trump disciples. But he managed to do so without alienating the former president. Trump might have preferred one of the others, especially when Youngkin quietly rebuffed his offer to come campaign. But Trump clearly appreciated that Youngkin never bad-mouthed him, and the 45th president responded accordingly: He told his supporters to flood to the polls. Successfully negotiating the mine field of Trump’s prickly ego not only helped Youngkin win on Tuesday. It also illuminated the path for future GOP candidates competing in states and districts that aren’t deep Republican red. Reason 6: Virginia gubernatorial elections are traditionally tough for the party in the White House. Of the last 12 Virginia governors going back to 1977, when Republican John Dalton won office during Jimmy Carter’s first year in the Oval Office, 11 of them belonged to a different party than the president. This phenomenon can’t be blamed on Joe Biden any more than it can be blamed on Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, the Bushes, Barack Obama — or Donald Trump. In some years, the Virginia results portend a sea change, as was the case in 1993 when George Allen’s victory was an early sign of the “Republican Revolution” that gave the GOP control of both houses on Capitol Hill just one year later. Other times, such as in 1997, it foreshadowed nothing. One historical footnote: The only time in the past 44 years that a Virginia gubernatorial candidate belonging to the same party as the president won was in 2013 when Barack Obama was president (and Joe Biden was vice president). That candidate? None other than Terry McAuliffe. It was asking a lot of him to repeat that feat. As it happened, it was asking too much. Reason 7: Something was afoot Tuesday night, not just in the Virginia governor’s race — and not just in Virginia. In the Old Dominion, Republicans also picked up the lieutenant governorship — electing the first black woman to win statewide in Virginia history — while ousting a Democratic attorney general. In Minneapolis, voters overwhelmingly rejected a change in the city charter that would have restructured the much-maligned local police department. In Buffalo, a socialist who had won the Democratic primary for mayor was defeated by a write-in vote that went overwhelmingly to the incumbent. New York City’s new mayor is an ex-police officer who favors gun rights. Across the river in New Jersey — in the shock of the night —Ciattarelli has the incumbent Murphy on the ropes. This, in a state Joe Biden carried by 16 percentage points just one year ago. Is President Biden a disappointment to voters, a drag on down-ticket Democrats? Perhaps, but that seems too tidy an explanation. It’s true that after a healthy honeymoon with voters, Biden’s job approval rating has plummeted amid continued spikes in violent crime, the debacle in Afghanistan, chaos at the border, the continuing coronavirus pandemic, inflation in food and energy prices, and economic uncertainty propelled by a novel problem — employers can’t find enough workers to fill the jobs they have. And though it’s also true that Republicans are giddy this morning about finishing what they started come next year’s midterms, one plausible conclusion from Tuesday’s vote is that a majority of voters want Biden to be the president he promised to be. He was the moderate who defeated a slew of presidential contenders to his left — the one who vowed to work for all Americans, not just those who supported him. Yet he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi somehow find themselves under the thumb of the left wing of their own party. This nation’s electorate rejected the excesses of Trumpism. Tuesday was another corrective, a reminder to the Democratic Party that although few moderates remain in Washington, tens of millions of them live outside the Beltway. They are paying attention and they vote. Carl M. Cannon is the Washington bureau chief for RealClearPolitics. Reach him on Twitter @CarlCannon. Tyler Durden Wed, 11/03/2021 - 20:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 3rd, 2021

We Could Be Staring Down The Barrel of A Catastrophic NASDAQ Crash And Not Even Know It

We Could Be Staring Down The Barrel of A Catastrophic NASDAQ Crash And Not Even Know It Submitted by Quoth the Raven at QTR's Fringe Finance It would certainly take a special confluence of factors for us to be staring down the barrel of a an unprecedented crash in tech stocks without noticing it’s coming. But I’m starting to entertain the idea that that is exactly where we are, we may not know how much pain we are truly in for - and we might not fathom how quickly it could come on and surprise us. While I've already talked about the folly of money printing and how it could destroy the U.S., its residual effects in markets are also worth paying close attention to.  For a little while now my friend on Twitter @rosemontseneca has been quietly pontificating that we are living 1999 all over again, we just don't notice it yet. I'm starting to seriously agree with him and I have been thinking to myself over the past week: “Why aren’t other people making this comparison yet? Stocks are extremely overvalued. What’s ‘different this time’?” Indeed, I believe the next crash is going to come as a breakneck-style surprise. If I had a chance to publish this piece before Halloween, I was going to make the analogy of somebody sneaking in the back door of the house and waiting around the corner in the kitchen to hack us to death when we went to make our “stoned-in-our-underwear at 2AM” bologna sandwich. But instead I wound up going with the gun analogy for the title because I was too lazy to get this article out in the month of October. But analogies aside, the point is still the same: the next big market plunge could be any day now, and will likely be led by tech. Let me explain my reasoning. A couple of things need to happen in order for a major crash to be around the corner without us knowing it, in my opinion. The first thing that needs to happen is that the bubble needs to be more dangerous than prior crashes - nobody would panic at the nominal size of the 1999 bubble anymore and it would hardly be enough to scare today’s investors. They’d probably look at it as a “dip” to buy. The second thing that needs to happen is we need to be flying totally blind and distracted to the market’s insane valuation somehow. This is where the “surprise” factor - also known as the “oh shit” moment - comes in. The third thing that needs to happen is a catalyst that will shock and wake everybody up all at once. So let’s talk about why this bubble could be more dangerous than previous ones. The NASDAQ is literally the 1999 tech bubble on steroids. It’s not going to come as any surprise to my readers that I want to point out that a significant amount of call buying that was done purposely back in 2020 is what sets us apart from 1999’s market. People are weaponizing options, something that wasn’t being done in 1999. In 1999, it was just plain hysteria that drove stocks higher. Between March 2020 and now, there have been multiple documented examples - Goldman Sachs, Softbank, Bill Hwang, whatever the fuck is going on in Tesla - that the NASDAQ may not have a real bid underneath it and may be may have started its pre-hysteria run at a much higher “foundational” level thanks to planned gamma squeezes. This was from September 2020, on the Financial Times: SoftBank is the “Nasdaq whale” that has bought billions of dollars’ worth of US equity derivatives in a series of trades that stoked the fevered rally in big tech stocks before a sharp pullback on Thursday and Friday, according to people familiar with the matter. The Japanese conglomerate had been snapping up options in tech stocks during the past month in huge amounts, fuelling the largest ever trading volumes in contracts linked to individual companies, these people said. One banker described it as a “dangerous” bet. This was also from September 2020, on Zerohedge: According to IFR Reuters, the investment bank made about $100 million trading Tesla alone over the last several months. The bank was engaged in trades that included "stock options, providing financing secured against Tesla’s shares, and buying and selling its convertible bonds," according to Bloomberg. This means that when we start to fall, a crash could wind up running into an air pocket where bids normally would be and accelerate quicker. It also means that we may have distorted the market for hire far quicker than any other time in history. And, of course, there were massive option bets in highly shorted names like GSX and IQ that Bill Hwang owned, before his fund, Archegos, blew up. The weaponization of options helped the NASDAQ double in nearly 18 months. This is not normal for an individual equity, let alone an index. But if this run higher was 1999 all over again, many would argue that we would notice it. We would learn from our mistakes, right? Of course, that statement is great for a laugh: we never learn from our mistakes. So how could we not notice things getting out of control? Has there been anything that has distracted us lately? Photo: NBC Between the 2020 election, dealing with the pandemic and then investing the time necessary to sift through the mainstream media news to try and figure out which 5% of the narrative they are telling us is actually true, it’s no surprise we literally haven’t been able to pull our collective heads out of our asses. Put simply: we really haven’t had time to give a shit about markets. Do you remember years ago, when markets were about 50% lower than where they are now and Janet Yellen and Carl Icahn were sounding alarm bells? Yellen said that assets appeared overvalued while Fed Chair and Icahn put a video up on his website warning about valuations. That seems like ancient history now. And hey: if they thought the markets were grossly overvalued then, what do they think now? That silence you hear is the sound of nobody speaking up anymore. It’s a combination of groupthink buy-in, overestimating the Fed’s grip on things and people being too distraction trying to figure out how we’re gonna deal with our new lives in the age of a pandemic.Additionally, and especially when it comes to tech stocks, bullshit begets more bullshit. What I mean by this is that when asset managers are successful thanks to the tech stock market being in an uber-bubble, they need to come up with excuses for why they’re actually outperforming markets, even if they don’t have a clue how they’re doing it. Tune into CNBC on any given day and you’ll see this: it’s why we hear asset managers like Cathie Wood alluding to things like valuations not mattering anymore. This type of toxic bilge then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and leads more sheep to the slaughter…I mean NASDAQ. Finally, we need a catalyst that will set the market off lower. The easy pick for catalyst is rates and tapering. The “outside” picks are things like crypto crashing or other catalysts we may not have even fathomed yet (think Evergrande, but with another larger, unexpected company). My readers know that I have talked extensively about crypto potentially becoming a pin that picks the bubble. You can listen to more of my argument about that here. On top of my “fringe” theses, we also have high profile asset managers like Bill Ackman coming out and begging the Fed to taper and raise rates. Inflation is starting to get to a point where it is becoming a major political issue and the rest of the country is starting to notice how quickly prices are rising. This is doing things like pulling demand forward, as consumers anticipate continued price hikes and supply chain issues. These types of unnatural behaviors by the consumer, coupled with Wall Street realizing that a lack of action from the Fed could be catastrophic, could wind up being a perfect storm that catalyzes a deleveraging from growth stocks. If rates do begin to rise - even slightly - it will be a tiny incentive for a few investors to get out of the market and seek yield elsewhere. Even the slightest of rate moves and the slightest of tech market selling could catalyze massive aftershocks in equity markets - especially if it catches people bit by surprise and the aforementioned bid under tech stocks rests on the air pocket that I think it does.The point of the matter is we could be closer to a tech stock crash than we think. Finally, many people would probably hypothesize that we would never have two crashes in such a short period of time. After all, we just “got over” a crash in March 2020; ergo, people expect the bull market to go on for decades now. The average investor has forgotten that recessions and crashes don’t care when the last bull market was and don’t care when the last bear market was. We are fooling ourselves with cognitive dissonance when we tell ourselves that another crash isn’t possible because one just happened. An easy way to accept this fact is to realize we never truly “recovered” from the post-Covid rally - we simply papered over the problem. And while this thesis of mine is relatively simple I ask you to consider these three things when you take a step back and try to objectively examine whether a crash could take place any day now: Is this tech bubble larger and more dangerous than 1999? Have we been distracted to the point where we may not have noticed how deep the water is that we are treading in? Is there any lack of potential catalysts on the horizon for a market crash? My answers to these questions point me right back to my title: we really could be staring down the barrel of the next crash. * * * I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments on my blog: Leave a comment You can access this full article and all my archives by subscribing. Zerohedge readers get 10% off an annual subscription to my blog by using this special link here. Tyler Durden Tue, 11/02/2021 - 06:30.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytNov 2nd, 2021

85 gifts under $100 for everyone in your life - thoughtful and affordable gift ideas

From a personalized photo book to an educational cooking class, here are 85 gift ideas under $100 for every type of giftee. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. Hollis Johnson/Crystal Cox/Alyssa Powell/Business Insider With a $100 budget, you can buy anything from a smart speaker to a fun cooking class. These 80+ gift ideas cover a wide range of interests and needs and are also unique. If your budget changes or you don't have a budget at all, we have guides that hit all price points. Table of Contents: Masthead StickyAlthough gift-giving is a fun way to show the people you care about love and appreciation, it can easily become expensive. Fortunately, with a budget of $100 you can purchase the latest tech accessories; useful kitchen tools; luxury beauty and skincare products; and quirky, just-for-fun goodies. These 80+ gift ideas cover everything your giftee will need and also includes thoughtful, unique finds. We've tested, purchased, and gifted many of these items ourselves, which means they're sure to impress no matter the occasion.We also have guides for gifts under $25 and gifts under $50. If you're not shopping by budget we have gift guides that cover many price points and interests. Shop the 85 best under-$100 gift ideas below:This list includes a Sponsored Product that has been suggested by Casper. It meets our editorial criteria in terms of quality and value.* An artistic swatch collab with MoMA MoMA Design Store Swatch x MoMa watch, available at Moma Design Store, from $80What better way to show off their love for art than a watch inspired by famous paintings. Swatch collaborates with New York's Museum of Modern Art to create these unique watches that resemble artworks from MoMa's collection. A travel photo album Artifacts Uprising Hardcover Travel Photo Book, available at Artifact Uprising, from $72This customizable photo book takes you back to every travel adventure so you'll never forget it. Whether it's a week trip or an extended stay, the travel photo album captures every excursion with charming designs on up to 210 pages. A fresh flower bouquet Urban Stems Urban Stems bouquets, available at Urban Stems from $45If you don't know what to gift, flowers are always appreciated. A beautiful bouquet delivered right to them is the kindest way to say congrats and show you're thinking of them. A set of multipurpose starter seasonings Omsom The Best Seller Set, available at Omsom, $45Spice up their summer with this fun set of four seasoning starters that can be used on everything from barbecue to savory tofu and chicken. The perfect pillow for side sleepers Casper Original Casper Pillow, available at Casper, $65The Original Casper Pillow will help your favorite side sleeper align their neck with their spine while sleeping. We named this pillow the best for side sleepers in our guide to the best pillows. You can customize the pillow even more by choosing its size and height.*Sponsored by Casper A grow it yourself garden kit Uncommon Goods Vegetable Grow Kit & Garden Cookbook, available at Uncommon Goods, $35With this vegetable grow kit, they'll be able to grow their meals right in their backyard. The kit includes a cookbook, step-by-step gardening instructions, and the seeds to grow 11 different vegetables. A mini fireplace Food52 Personal Concrete Fireplace, available at Food52, $99Keep them warm and entertained this summer with this small personal fireplace, which is safe for use indoors and for cooking fun treats like s'mores.  A gift card from Bookshop Bookshop Bookshop gift card, available at Bookshop, from $10Bookshop allows readers to support small bookstores online. The retailer sells gift cards that your recipient will be able to use to shop online from their favorite indie bookstore. The gift cards never expire and can be bought in increments from $10 to $1000. An interactive pottery kit Sculpd Sculpd Pottery Kit, available at Sculpd, $65This pottery kit offers a unique activity to do with your loved ones. Each kit comes with enough supplies for two people, with add-on supplies also available for purchase so that more can participate. The kit also includes a step-by-step instructional booklet. A set of cocktail mixers that taste like summer Williams Sonoma Casamigos Cocktail Gift Set, available at Williams Sonoma, $49.95Co-founded by actor George Clooney, Casamigos is a favorite brand of many tequila lovers. The company's newest addition is a cocktail gift set of uniquely flavored mixers and rimmers. The mixers are exclusively available at Williams Sonoma and include blackberry basil and citrus flavors. A gift card from Hello Fresh Hello Fresh Gift Card, available at Hello Fresh, from $70The best gifts are for items or services your recipient wouldn't think to purchase for themselves. A gift card from Hello Fresh checks all of these boxes, as it offers a welcome reprieve from grocery shopping and meal planning. Choose from four amounts based on your recipient's household size and needs. We also wrote a full guide to Hello Fresh that includes a breakdown of its special features, how to get started with an account, and more. A bag made for hosting mini picnics Amazon Picnic at Ascot Insulated Wine and Cheese Cooler Bag, available at Amazon, $58Our pick for best picnic basket for carrying bottles, this insulated bag is a great gift for those who want to have a small picnic complete with their favorite drinks and small snacks. A set of sustainable coasters Joanna Buchanan Ruffle Edge Straw Coasters, available at Joanna Buchanan, $48Add a pop of color to their indoor and outdoor eating spaces with these colorful straw coasters. The coasters come in a set of four, are handwoven in the Philippines, and are made of sustainable materials. A savory seasoning starter pack Momofuku Pantry Starter Pack, available at Momofuku, $55Spice up their pantry with this flavorful seasoning set. The starter pack includes spicy seasoned salts, restaurant-grade soy and tamari sauces, and chili crunch. Momofuku's site also includes several recipes to make using the ingredients from the set. A mini travel kit Away The Travel Wellness Kit, available at Away, $55Keep them well stocked with travel essentials by gifting them Away's Travel Wellness Kit. The set comes inside of The Mini which is a smaller version of their popular suitcase and is available in multiple colors. Accompanying The Mini is a hand sanitizer, anti-bacterial hand wipes, dissolvable soap leaves, and a mask with five replacement filters. A pair of cozy slippers Zappos Scuffette II Slippers, available at Zappos, $89.95Help them keep their feet warm while working from home with these fuzzy slippers. These high quality slippers are made of suede and have a sheepskin collar, and are a very useful gift that your recipient may not think to purchase for themselves. A wine gift set Amazon Wine Lovers Set with Opener and Preserver, available at Amazon, $49.99Help elevate your recipient's wine experience by gifting this wine lover's set. The included wine preserver is a great gift for those that live alone or like to take their time with their wines. The sleek charging base and modern design make this a gift your recipient will be proud to display on their kitchen counter. A sturdy wallet Amazon Bellroy Low Slim Leather Wallet, available at Amazon, $75Replace their tired and tattered wallet with this slim leather billfold from Insider Reviews' favorite wallet brand Bellroy. It's made with ethically sourced leather that will age wonderfully and last many years. A Disney+ subscription Alyssa Powell/Business Insider Subscription, available at Disney+, $7.99/month or $79.99/yearIt gives you unlimited access to movies and shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, and 20th Century Fox, and costs just $7.99 a month or $79.99 a year after a free seven-day trial. Read everything there is to know about Disney+ over here.And if you need some binge-spiration, here are all the new movies available to stream. A sleek fitness tracker that includes heart rate monitoring Fitbit Fitbit Inspire 2, available at Best Buy, $99.95Fitbit's affordable Inspire 2 tracker has no shortage of useful features to keep them informed about their physical activity. The heart rate monitor lets them be more strategic about their workouts by tracking calorie burn, resting heart rate, and heart rate zones. A hair towel that cuts drying time in half Amazon Aquis Original Microfiber Hair Turban, available at Amazon, $20.49Aquis' cult-favorite hair towels have inspired a slew of rave reviews online, including one from our own team of product reviewers.The towels are made from a proprietary fabric called Aquitex that's composed of ultra-fine fibers (finer than silk) that work to reduce the amount of friction the hair experiences while in its weakest state.  A memorable date night option Eatwith/Instagram Gift Card, available at Eatwith, from $30Eatwith offers cool dining experiences that bring together delicious menus, professional chefs, and interesting guests. Typically held in person, in major cities like New York, Paris, and London, Eatwith is now offering online classes you can take from anywhere that bring unique cooking experiences right into your kitchen. In addition to experiences led by professional chefs from around the world, Eatwith has recently added classes taught by MasterChef contestants. A pair of comfortable wool shoes Allbirds Wool Runners, available at Allbirds, $98While Allbirds has hinted that it's on track to become more than just a shoe brand, we'll always be partial to its original sneakers made from merino wool. We've been wearing and loving the comfortable style for more than two years, and you can't go wrong gifting a pair of these shoes.  Coffee from a different country, delivered every month Atlas Coffee Club/Instagram 3-Month Gift Subscription, available at Atlas Coffee Club, $60It's a worldwide coffee tour without the expense of airplane tickets. Atlas Coffee Club delivers single origin coffee and always includes a postcard from the country, brewing tips, and flavor notes with each month's shipment.  A small skincare tool that removes 99.5% of dirt, oil, and makeup residue Amazon Foreo Luna Facial Cleansing Brush, available at Amazon, $99Our team swears by these gentle yet effective cleaning brushes. They have hygienic silicone bristles and come in five different models for different skin types. The Luna is small enough to bring on the go, so your recipient can maintain their skincare routine no matter where they are. A digital photo frame Amazon NIX 8-Inch USB Digital Photo Frame, available at Amazon, $69.99Include a USB stick of your favorite photo memories together with this gift. The high-tech photo frame will shuffle through and display crisp photos and videos, and it can also be mounted on a wall. If you can stretch your budget, the more popular WiFi version is the same idea but more convenient to use because it works right from your phone's gallery.  An easy-to-use trimmer Philips Norelco Philips Norelco OneBlade Face + Body Trimmer, available on Amazon, $39.95What separates the Philips Norelco OneBlade from other trimmers and shavers is the unique blade. It uses a fast-moving OneBlade cutter with a protection system on both sides of the blade to prevent knicks. The base of the blade will contour to his face, allowing for a comfortable shave or trim without irritation — and it works for wet or dry shaving. A convenient wireless charging pad Amazon Anker PowerWave Wireless Charging Pad, available on Amazon, $13.99A wireless charger is a great gift for anyone with a glass-backed smartphone that supports the feature. Our reviewer called this one "the perfect wireless charging pad." It charges quickly, looks nice, and can even accommodate thick phone cases. Membership to a popular nationwide book club Book of the Month 6-Month Subscription, available at Book of the Month, $89.99If they prefer the incomparable feel of a hardcover book, set them up with a Book of the Month membership. It offers five curated titles, mainly from up-and-coming authors, to choose from every month.  A solution to their back pain Amazon Upright Go Posture Trainer, available at Best Buy, $79.99This gift is for anyone who is always complaining about their back pain or poor posture. Upright Go is an innovative and discreet device that sticks to the top of their back and helps them improve their posture, day by day.  A fan-favorite cookbook with original illustrations Amazon "Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat" by Samin Nosrat, available at Amazon, $16.67This is the perfect cookbook for those just getting into cooking. Chef and New York Times columnist Samin Nosrat outlines the foundations of cooking and presents it in a fun, engaging way alongside original illustrations.  Their favorite specialty meals, no matter where they are Goldbelly Meals, available at Goldbelly, from $25Goldbelly makes it possible to satisfy their most specific and nostalgic cravings no matter where they live in the US — a cheesecake from Junior's, deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati, and more. Browse the iconic gifts section for inspiration. Smart bulbs to deck out their home with the best ambiance Amazon Philips Hue White Smart Light Bulb Starter Kit, available at Amazon, $99.99Gift this to a friend who wants to equip a full room or apartment with smart lights. This kit includes four white bulbs, which you can control with Alexa, Google Assistant, and HomeKit, and a Philips Hue Bridge that connects them to your router. You can automate the bulbs with timers and schedules, and create gorgeous lighting effects. With the Philips Hue Sync feature, they can even sync up with the audio of your music, movies, or games. A book about their favorite burger spot Amazon Shake Shack: Recipes & Stories, available at Amazon, $22.03While this book doesn't contain the actual recipes for the burger or the famous sauce, it will get your burger-loving recipient pretty close to the real deal. They can make delicious burgers, fries, and shakes at home, then conduct the classic Shake Shack vs. In-n-Out comparison.  A stylish accessory with a hidden charger Mark & Graham Power Up Lightning to USB Tassel Keychain, available at Mark & Graham, from $44.99The leather keychain is as functional as it is attractive: it has an iPhone lightning input and USB stick so they can charge their phone in their bag. Some colors include free monogramming while others have a $10 monogram fee.  A reusable bag featuring a fun print Baggu Standard Baggu, available on Baggu, $16There are plenty of reusable nylon shopping bag options out there, but where Baggu really stands out from the crowd is its variety of quirky and colorful prints. These useful bags are the perfect gift for everyone in your life. A fun and educational online cooking class Cozymeal/Instagram Gift Card, available at Cozymeal, from $50Gifting experiences is on the rise. With a Cozymeal class, they'll learn how to make anything from fresh pasta to beautiful charcuterie boards. In addition to cooking classes, Cozymeal offers online mixology classes and virtual wine tastings. A set of trackers for the absent-minded Amazon Tile Pro (2-Pack), available at Amazon, $59.99When they can't find their phone, all they have to do is click their Tile button to make their phone ring, even if it's on silent.  An electric toothbrush that you won't want to hide away Goby Moonstone Electric Toothbrush, available at Goby, $85In addition to its sleek design, the Goby Toothbrush stands out for its soft brush head, normal and sensitive brushing speeds, and convenient USB charging shell.  Ready-to-prepare meals that save them time Daily Harvest The 9-Item Gift Card, available at Daily Harvest, $75Your recipient will be able to fill a box with smoothies (including protein smoothies for gym rats), harvest bowls, soup, and more meals that are ready to take on the go. Daily Harvest's healthy offerings are perfect for the busy, wellness-minded people in your life.  A case that sanitizes dirty phones Phone Soap PhoneSoap Smartphone Sanitizer, available at PhoneSoap, $79.95Most of us carry our phones with us everywhere — and we mean, everywhere. PhoneSoap kills 99.9% of common household germs, including bacteria that lead to E.Coli, Salmonella, Staph, the flu, and the common cold. Especially with the pandemic, your recipient will love knowing that their phone is squeaky clean.  A pretty leather wrap for taking chargers and cables on the go Mark & Graham Leather Charger Roll Up, available on Mark & Graham, from $22.99Mark & Graham's Leather Charger Roll Up is made from soft, supple leather and has three separate pockets to stash cables and chargers on the go. Get it monogrammed for free. A delicious and unique hot sauce Truff/Instagram Truff White Truffle Hot Sauce, available at Amazon, $31.49The limited-edition hot sauce is infused with white truffle, packing a sweet heat you'll want to add to burritos, pizza, wings, or any other dish you want to make a little more interesting.  Membership to a huge outdoor co-op Connie Chen/Business Insider REI Membership, available at REI, $20An REI membership offers a lifetime of benefits for a one-time purchase. That includes 10%-back dividends, special offers, access to in-store REI Garage sales, and special pricing on REI classes and events. Find out more here. Extremely comfortable, flattering lounge pants MeUndies MeUndies, Lounge Pants, available at MeUndies, $68These are some of the best lounge pants we've ever tried. If they're spending more time in casual wear, they'll spend an inordinate amount of time in these. We also appreciate that the silky MicroModal and sleek cut make them perfectly acceptable for wearing in public to grab the mail. A bike horn that can go as loud as a car Priority Bicycles Priority High Power Horn, available at Priority Bicycles, $29.99Born out of a research project between Priority Bicycles and Toyota, this bike horn can get as loud as the one in a car. This is an excellent safety accessory for bikers. A silky hand cream La Mer/Instagram La Mer Hand Treatment, available at Nordstrom, $90Of all La Mer's premium skincare products, the Hand Treatment is a brand favorite. This creamy formula is the perfect texture to help heal dry hands. The internet's favorite olive oil Brightland/Instagram Awake Olive Oil, available at Brightland, $37Brightland's olive oils make great gifts for cooks and anyone who loves to entertain. The white bottles protect the EVOO from light damage and look nice displayed on a countertop.  A cool and smooth pajama shirt Ettitude/Instagram Bamboo Lyocell Sleep Shirt, available at Ettitude, from $64.40Luxury sheets will break your budget, but the next best thing to get them a good night's sleep is this comfortable and attractive PJ shirt. It's made from organic bamboo lyocell, which is breathable and moisture-wicking, not to mention more sustainable to produce than traditional cotton.  Premium distilled whiskey Uncle Nearest Whiskey Uncle Nearest Whiskey, available at ReserveBar, starting at $49Founded in Tennessee, Uncle Nearest is an award-winning, Black-owned whiskey brand that was inspired by the first known African-American master distiller, Nathan "Nearest" Green. If you're shopping for someone who enjoys a quality glass of whiskey or a whiskey-based cocktail every now and then, a bottle of Uncle Nearest won't disappoint. A sleek knife block Material Kitchen The Stand, available at Material Kitchen, $90We're big fans of Material Kitchen's minimalist approach to kitchen essentials — like this magnetic, angled knife block made from heavy-duty wood.  Soft and environmentally friendly socks made from hemp United by Blue SoftHemp Sock, available at United by Blue, $16The cozy socks are also sustainably made and made from a hemp yarn that's four times more durable than cotton, a win-win all around.  A simple but luxurious body wash Necessaire Necessaire The Body Wash, available at Sephora, $25New startup Necessaire formulates its body care products with vitamins A, B3, C, E, and omega-6 and omega-9. The subtly scented Body Wash will leave their skin feeling clean, soft, and nourished.  An indoor plant The Nice Plant Blooming Energy Box, available at The Nice Plant, $45.99Indoor plants are much more than an extra responsibility. They help purify the air, have been proven to reduce stress, and look good aesthetically. The Nice Plant's Blooming Energy Box includes a small plant and a few other useful things, like a sage smudge stick, palo santo bundle, and room spray, to make their home more peaceful and relaxing.  A high-quality leather band for an Apple Watch Amazon Bullstrap Full-Grain Italian Leather Watch Band, available at Amazon, $89Bullstrap's Italian Leather Watch Bands are the perfect way to add some elegance to an Apple Watch. They come in several colors of leather and are compatible with all generations of the Apple Watch. A pair of sparkly hoops Mejuri Sapphire Hoops, available at Mejuri, $60Traditional hoops get an embellishment of white sapphire in this affordable piece from Mejuri.  Premium underwear that's worth every penny Tommy John Tommy John Men's Second Skin Boxer Brief 3-Pack, available at Tommy John, $97It's not an exaggeration to say Tommy John could be the most comfortable boxers your recipient has ever worn. The Second Skin, in particular, is a standout — smooth, soft, stretchy, and breathable.  A cool drink accessory worth celebrating Brumate BrüMate 12oz Insulated Champagne Flute, available at BrüMate, from $22.99Brumate's insulated flute prevents the disappointment of bubbly that has gone warm and flat. It holds almost half a bottle of champagne and comes in 30 pretty colors.   A whimsical candle from a new brand Otherland/Instagram 3-Candle Set, available at Otherland, $89As our candle-loving editor points out, "Does the world really need another fancy candle brand?" Otherland's candles are so creative and interesting that you won't be able to resist gifting at least a few.  A travel-friendly vanity case Paravel Mini See All Vanity Case, available at Paravel, $65They can stop using unsightly and wasteful Ziploc bags once they have this stylish and structured case in their possession. The exterior material is resistant to water and stains, and the clear window lets them easily identify the case's contents.  A gold bracelet that displays their zodiac sign Aurate Zodiac Bracelet, available at Aurate, $90The delicate gold vermeil bracelet is a piece they'll want to wear every day. Aurate's beautiful gold jewelry is not only more affordable than traditional fine jewelry, but it's also ethically sourced, representing a new wave of jewelry brands to know about.  A mini duffel crossbody with a distinctive look Dagne Dover Extra Small Landon Carryall, available at Dagne Dover, $110Dagne Dover excels at making functional and versatile bags like work totes and this extra small version of its popular neoprene duffel. Inside, they'll find a compartment just large enough for the day's essentials, pockets to keep them organized, and a detachable key leash.  A streaming stick that gives them access to more than 500,000 movies and TV episodes Amazon Roku Streaming Stick +, available at Amazon, $44.99Roku's Streaming Stick+ is exceptional for its 4K, HDR, and HD streaming, and long-range wireless receiver. Installing it is an easy process and starts by plugging the stick into the TV.  Sweet treats they won't be able to stop eating Milk Bar The Chocolatey Classic, available at Milk Bar, $75Instead of the usual box of chocolates, gift some of the best-known and most delicious treats from NYC institution Milk Bar. The set contains 12 soft and chewy cake truffles, six assorted and an adorable mini birthday cake.  A box that lets them explore the exciting world of sake Tippsy Sake Gift Box, available at Tippsy, $59While online wine clubs abound, Tippsy is quietly cultivating a community of sake lovers. It offers an abundance of knowledge and premium sake options to anyone who's interested in exploring this underrated alcohol further.   A compact and lightweight hand mixer Amazon Kitchenaid 5-Speed Ultra Power Hand Mixer, available at Target, $49.99Not all baking tasks require a full stand mixer. KitchenAid's hand mixer doesn't take up a lot of space but gets a variety of jobs done by offering five-speed options. You'll also have fun picking out a unique color for your recipient.  A game that tests their penchant for puns Amazon Pun Intended Game, available at Amazon, $24.99It's a battle of who can devise the most clever puns in this family-friendly card game that requires a quick mind and even faster writing skills. Game on.  A custom map of a special location Grafomap Custom Map Poster, available at Grafomap, $49Grafomap is the site where you can commemorate important places, be it their hometown, college town, or the city where you two met. The custom design function is easy to use and you can choose to get the final map poster framed or printed on canvas.  A waterproof outdoor speaker Amazon Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Speaker, available at Amazon, from $99.99The surprisingly powerful speaker fits in the palm of their hand and can go swimming with them in the pool or ocean. It's also dustproof and therefore suitable for hikes and other outdoor adventures.  A sleep mask made with high-quality mulberry silk Nordstrom Slip Slipsilk Sleep Mask, available at Nordstrom, $50Few things are more luxurious than sleeping with a silk mask. Thanks to its all silk construction, your recipient's face will feel cool all night long.  A plush bathrobe Parachute Classic Bathrobe, available at Parachute, $99It's all too tempting to stay wrapped up in this Turkish cotton bathrobe long after they've stepped out of the shower. The thick robe is our pick for the best bathrobe you can buy.  A chai sampler Amazon Vadham Chai Tea Reserve Set, available at Amazon, $29.99This set of loose-leaf teas made it into Oprah's Favorite Things back in 2018. It's filled with three variations of chai that any tea lover will appreciate.  A cult-favorite fragrance Le Labo/Instagram Le Labo AnOther 13 Eau de Parfum, available at Nordstrom, from $86Le Labo is famous for its distinctive packaging and subtle yet inviting scents. The AnOther is musky and woodsy, but it's balanced out with ingredients like jasmine petals.  The outdoor game you see everyone playing at the park Amazon Spikeball Game Set, available at Dick's Sporting Goods, $69.99It's a gorgeous day out and you can't help but notice a few groups having fun while playing some kind of new ball game. Chances are it's Spikeball, the volleyball-esque game that your recipient can set up in any large outdoor space. It takes just 10 minutes to learn the rules.  A pair of blue light-blocking glasses that look good enough to wear outside of the house MVMT Ingram Crystal Everscroll Glasses, available at MVMT, $62.40Help them protect their eyes from harsh screens with a pair of blue-light-blocking glasses. Their eyes won't feel as strained, and they might be able to drift off to sleep more quickly.  A set of monogrammed hand towels Weezie Stitched Edge Hand Towels, available at Weezie, $30The extra time and thought put into a personalized gift are worth it. You can add custom embroidery (+$15 per towel) to Weezie's fluffy and absorbent towels.  Smart plugs that let them control their appliances with their phone Amazon Kasa Smart WiFi Plug, available at Amazon, $17.68Through the corresponding app, they can schedule when their lights turn on and off, or use voice commands with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Cortana. It's a suitable entry-level smart plug for someone looking to get into home automation.  A personalized photo book Artifact Uprising Color Series Photo Book, available at Artifact Uprising, from $22Photo books are a great gift for anyone in your life and can be used to commemorate vacations, weddings, special events, or even just everyday life. With three book sizes, multiple color and theme options, and the opportunity to choose a cover image, this gift is sure to make your recipient feel special. A flavorful seasoning collection Spicewalla The Grill & Roast Collection, available at Spicewalla, $18.99With grill and BBQ season slowly approaching, a set of tasty seasonings is key to making delicious foods. They can use the spices in this collection to add flavor to meats, seafood, vegetables, and even rice. The coziest moccasins we've ever worn L.L.Bean Women's Wicked Good Moccasins, available at L.L.Bean, $79Can you practically feel the soft fluffiness of these slippers through your screen? L.L.Bean supposedly sells a pair of these cushioned sheepskin shoes every seven seconds during December, proving that they are worth the purchase. An everyday stainless steel frying pan that professional cooks love Made In Frying Pan, available at Made In, $65Pros like Tom Colicchio trust Made In's cookware to perform in some of the country's top kitchens, so rest assured it's good enough for your recipient. The quickly growing startup is behind a couple of our favorite pieces of cookware.  A gorgeous coffee table book that helps cure their travel bug Amazon 1,000 Places to See Before You Die (Deluxe Edition): The World as You've Never Seen It Before, available at Barnes & Noble, $50.99Patricia Schultz's original "1,000 Places" captured imaginations with its compelling curation of experiences all over the world. The newly released deluxe edition features a beautiful gold-embellished cover and more than 1,000 new photographs.  A fun, cult-favorite board game Amazon Settlers of Catan Board Game, available at Walmart, $35.20The Settlers of Catan relies upon strategy and sometimes luck to build civilizations — and it can last for hours.  A beautiful piece of handmade drinkware JFR Glass Antique Silver Glass, available at JFR Glass, $45Each hand blown glass from JFR Glass is unique. The glasses aren't just pretty — they're also functional and sturdy. They're dishwasher-safe and UV-resistant, so your recipient can enjoy the pieces forever.  An interactive state park map UncommonGoods State Parks Explorer Map, available at UncommonGoods, $28This state park map is sure to come in handy this spring and summer as many of us will be venturing into the outdoors. Choose from ten maps that each list over 30 parks in states such as New York, California, and Connecticut. The map includes a sheet of gold stickers so you can mark your progress after each park visit. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 25th, 2021

Apis Flagship Fund 3Q21: “The Great SPAC-ulation”

Apis Flagship Fund commentary for the third quarter ended September 2021. Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Dear Partners, Our Flagship Fund was down 1.3% net in Q3 2021. During the past quarter, our longs detracted 4.5% (gross), while our shorts contributed 3.6% (gross). At the end of September, the Fund was approximately […] Apis Flagship Fund commentary for the third quarter ended September 2021. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Henry Singleton Series in PDF Get the entire 4-part series on Henry Singleton in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Dear Partners, Our Flagship Fund was down 1.3% net in Q3 2021. During the past quarter, our longs detracted 4.5% (gross), while our shorts contributed 3.6% (gross). At the end of September, the Fund was approximately 51% net long with the portfolio 87% long and 36% short. Performance Overview (Gross Returns) Strong relative performance in September brought overall performance in-line with global indices for the quarter. Long performance was hindered by relative underperformance in smaller capitalization stocks and some underperformance in value relative to growth. Offsetting weakness on the long side, short performance was excellent, aided by the aforementioned small-cap trends and several highly speculative names that have begun to receive scrutiny. Asia was awash with robust performance in Japan, counteracting weakness in the rest of the region. Elsewhere, upside in North America was driven by strong short performance. Still, again this was more than offset in Europe where a couple stock-specific issues and weak markets generally hit our longs there. Shorts were positive across all sectors, especially Consumer names while longs struggled, particularly in the Consumer and Financial sectors. Three of the top 4 long contributors came from Asia with Hansol Chemical adding almost 1% in the quarter, in addition to some Japanese names – BayCurrent Consulting and West Holdings – adding about 75 bps each. BayCurrent has experienced 20%+ growth for several years, with recent years accelerating as companies spend on so-called DX or “digital transformation” projects. Supported in many cases by tax incentives, companies are investing in sorely needed I.T. and BayCurrent provides specialized consulting in this area. Detractors in the quarter include Kambi (noted in our August letter), where we took our medicine. Another name dragging on performance was Cornerstone Building, a U.S. name that has meaningful share in several building products. While sales are not the issue and pricing power is high, Q2 profits proved disappointing as cost inflation could not be passed along to consumers fast enough. Generally, over the last 30 years, we’ve seen price improvements in cyclical areas such as housing provide a boost to margins. However, today’s cost inflation seems more complex than previous cycles, and managers are struggling to raise prices fast enough to keep pace. Short alpha was excellent, with our average short declining more than 10% in the quarter and many stocks falling 30% or more. One fertile area for shorting (no surprise) has been the hundreds of special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs). History suggests most of these companies will do very poorly. Given the unprecedented size and scope of this cycle, we firmly believe this era too will be remarkably bad. We highlight below a few names where the disconnect between value and reality is exceptional. Portfolio Outlook And Positioning Over the quarter, we have reduced net in the Fund roughly 10%, gradually taking exposure down through the quarter. This reflects both what’s working (shorts more than longs) and a recognition that there are macro issues percolating that argue for more caution. Commodity/energy prices are booming (see discussion below), supply chains are a mess, unemployment versus job openings data is difficult to understand, political tensions and dysfunction continue to rise, along with debt/deficits – future economists and social scientists will have some fascinating work to do explaining this period in our history! One simple economic axiom we subscribe to is, “you can’t have inflation without wage inflation.” Previous cyclical upticks in pricing proved fleeting as wages weren’t growing, but this cycle looks different as wage inflation appears everywhere. Quantitative easing is hard to justify, given high inflation and low unemployment but the U.S. Federal Reserve has excused this by saying inflation is “transitory” (would you expect them to admit otherwise?). We’re growing more skeptical as the burden of proof is shifting and can’t help but feel a Jimmy Carter sense of déjà vu. Tapering may be a catalyst, but eventually a Paul Volker-type will be needed to sort this mess out. As always, we remain pragmatic and know to stay in our “stock-picking” lane. Inflation beneficiaries are incredibly cheap and will see some incremental investment while overall gross and net exposures remain on the more modest side of our long-term ranges. Commodity/Energy Supply Constraints and Price Inflation The current commodity spike started a decade ago after prices collapsed following a raging China-led bull market. Everything from copper to coal was in sudden oversupply after significant overinvestment in the early 2000’s. In the decade following 2010, investors sold off their holdings and turned towards far more interesting opportunities, particularly in technology whose index rose 4x while energy was flat. Companies in the commodity markets were starved of capital and, punished with falling stock prices, they shifted their focus to cash flow with religious fervor. Capital for exploration plummeted, exemplified by copper, where 223 discoveries were made between 1990 and 2015, but only one since 2015. Examples like this abound across all the major and minor commodities. But for a few episodes of intermittent shortages, general commodity supply was sufficient pre-2020, and no one noticed the fading reserves as the decade progressed. Then came COVID-19 and the subsequent economic stimulus and recovery. The limited maintenance investment that was made turned to virtually nothing as prices for commodities went from bad to- in the case of oil- negative in 2020. Piling on to this was an intense focus on decarbonization & ESG, which meant that commodities were essentially uninvestable for vast swaths of the investment community. For example, Norway’s $1.4 trillion sovereign wealth fund, ironically built on the back of oil riches from the North Sea, declared it would sell its stock holdings in traditional energy. It is one of just many that have made similar policy changes. At the company level, bankruptcies were already happening pre-COVID, but the negative oil price was the final straw for many more. Drilling activity went from bad to non-existent in the U.S. as companies tried to minimize their cash burn. Similar stories can be told in the coal, gas and metals markets, fertilizers, food crops, and so on. None of this was a particular shock as warnings of shortages have been made for years. Those who tried to warn were met with a shrug and directed to look at the market price for the said commodity, which inevitably was plumbing new lows. Then came the economic recovery in late 2020, and suddenly the commodities needed were no longer available. Today, we see record-high prices, in many cases above the levels reached during the height of China’s import binge a decade+ ago. The potential implications are very, very big. Critically, there are broad macro and geopolitical issues if this price spike sustains or worsens. Look no further than the level of inflation or E.U.-Russia relations. Speculative stocks with long-duration cash flows are already struggling as investors contemplate higher discount rates and slower growth. The critical question is: how long does this last? A few points are worth making – This is global. Consider a supposedly local market like electric power. Prices are spiking by hundreds of percent in China, Japan, Korea, the U.K., the U.S., etc. Coal and natural gas shortages are being reported in India, Brazil, Europe, China, and many other countries. Calls for government intervention abound and will likely further retard these markets. Iron ore from Australia and Brazil cannot meet Chinese demand – remember the mine dam collapse in Brazil; who would want one of these in their country? The global nature of this shortage is evidence that runs counter to the argument that this is simply the result of a governmental policy error. This is happening across all kinds of commodities – we don’t have a shortage in just one thing. The causes vary but range from the closure of nuclear & coal in Europe & Japan, the reckless embrace of renewables, to a new government in Chile that has discouraged copper investment, and near-total closure of access to debt and equity financing. With EV adoption the average home will need a 25-50% increase in electric power which will result in copper shortages (and plenty of other commodities) for the next decade. This breadth of shortage historically only happened during decade-long episodes of price volatility and reordering of investment leadership. This leads us to the final observation – the market is acting like this episode is temporary. Commodity price spikes and crashes happen all the time, and company valuations knowingly incorporate this by appearing cheap when prices are exuberant and expensive when commodity prices crash. This is the market’s way of looking past temporary swings to something more balanced in the future. What is potentially unique about this cycle is the degree to which the market is “looking past this” and the possibility that this lasts a while. On the first point, look no further than the free cash flow yields, which in energy, for example, start at 20% and go up from there. In most cases, this figure is simply based on prices that could be achieved using the futures curve (e.g., companies could lock this return in for years, right now). In coal, there are companies on 50-100% cash flow yields, where the market is indicating to us that this shortage will resolve in months. As for the duration, as always, it’s complicated. While things like shipping congestion, weather disruptions, post-COVID restocking of inventories, etc., are probably transitory, there are other more permanent factors. These include management’s focus on cash flow, ESG hurdles such as permitting, decarbonization, the loss of access to financing, and the transition to renewables. These long-term hurdles are not likely to change. In a recent conversation with a sell-side analyst, we heard story after story of trillion-dollar investment managers, former clients of this analyst, who have formally abandoned energy. With Tesla accounting for 1.7% of the S&P and the entire energy sector, including companies like Exxon and Chevron, at just 2.6%, it could take a while to normalize the imbalance. Investment Highlights - Imdex Limited (ASX:IMD) (Australia – $780mm market cap) One investment that plays upon the commodity price phenomena is IMDEX, which offers products for the mineral drilling value chain. We came across this company through our work on the actual contract drilling companies like Major Drilling and Boart Longyear, which we’ve been familiar with for years. IMDEX provides consumables, tools, and technology to these contract drilling companies, as well as directly to the large miners. It is a “picks and shovels” play on increased metals exploration & development spend, with its products present on 70% of mineral drilling projects globally. These include drilling fluids, drilling and rig alignment technologies, downhole sensors, geological data interpretation software, and in-field sampling and analysis tools. 80% of its revenue is related to exploration spend versus only 20% related to mining production. As we mentioned earlier, exploration spend for many commodities has plummeted in recent years and is just now starting to tick back up to make up for years of underinvestment, in addition to structural growth in certain EV-related metals like cobalt, copper, and lithium. In fact, a recent report from Morgan Stanley shows that mining capex is expected to grow by 26% this year, the strongest growth since 2012. This is bolstered by junior miner equity raisings that are tracking 50-100% above pre-COVID levels, per a Jefferies analysis. IMDEX is well placed not only to benefit from increased mining exploration spend, but it also has some company-specific factors that will drive growth beyond just the cyclical upswing in its end markets. Its revenue from tool rentals and software has increased as a percent of total revenues, which bodes well for margins. Tool rental and software revenue rose to 57% of the total in the fiscal year ended this June, up from 44% four years ago. In turn, gross margins have risen by over 400 basis points, and EBIT margins have increased by almost 700 basis points over the same period. There is still plenty of room to grow the software portion of the business, as only approximately 60% of the top 100 clients are using the cloud-connected platform currently. As more customers use the cloud platform, they will upgrade to rent cloud-connected tools, which provides a revenue (and margin) uplift to IMDEX. The company has also been complementing its organic research & development efforts with selective M&A to expand its offerings. For example, it recently acquired a geological data modeling and 3D visualization software provider. We believe the few analysts that cover IMDEX are underestimating its growth potential. Revenue growth is forecasted at approximately 20% this fiscal year, which looks conservative. The company already reported 41% revenue growth in the first quarter, and activity in specific geographies remains hindered by COVID-19 related restrictions. Growth is forecasted to slow to high single digits next year, which seems too low given the metals supply and demand dynamics noted earlier in our letter, as well as the fact that even after 20-25% growth in 2021, exploration spend will remain nearly 50% below the prior peak seen in 2012. The company has a strong, net cash balance sheet which will enable it to continue to invest in new product development and M&A. We think the current valuation is reasonable at roughly 20x our forecasted FY 6/22 EPS, which is in-line with many capital-intensive heavy mining equipment providers, despite IMDEX having roughly double the margins. If we look at where the stock traded around the prior peak in its end markets in 2011/2012, we see potential for 70-80% upside. "The Great SPAC-ulation" As noted earlier, we feature a sampling of SPACs currently held on the short side. This opportunity has presented itself after a spectacular bubble formed in 2020, as illustrated in the chart below: SPAC #1 This SPAC focuses on auto insurance charged by the mile. As consumers, we certainly see the virtue in this approach. The reality, however, is that the market for this insurance is quite narrow and, more concerning, this SPAC’s competitors are far better financed and distributed. That has been reflected in the significant losses (simply put, their premiums don’t cover their losses) and meaningful reduction in company-guided financial targets. After running from $10 to $20 in Q4 2020 and Q1 2021, the threat of endless losses and capital raises has brought the shares down to just $3. The euphoria that levitated these shares late last year is now replaced by the fear that this may not be an ongoing business. SPAC #2 This $3bn market cap company offers a platform that integrates with mobile games, allowing players to compete for real money. The way it works is that players deposit cash into an account and then bet against each other in the various games that are integrated with the platform. The company typically keeps 15-20% of the total bet, which it shares with game developers, while the winning player receives the rest. In theory, this is an attractive proposition for mobile game developers as it offers an alternative means of monetization beyond the traditional methods such as advertising and in-app purchases. However, a deeper look at the company’s financials reveals a business model with questionable unit economics. At a high level, the company effectively spends $1.15 (and growing) in marketing costs for every $1 it generates in revenue. Nearly half of these marketing costs are in the form of “engagement marketing” which is a fancy way of saying free bonus cash. Furthermore, the company recognizes a portion of this bonus cash as revenue when players eventually bet with it, in effect paying themselves. These expenses as a percentage of revenue have only continued to grow in the business’s brief history as a publicly traded company. While the current cash position should enable the company to keep the treadmill going for several years, we believe this is clearly an unsustainable business model. SPAC #3 This $1.7bn market cap company was originally attempting to build a subscription-based “transportation as a service” using a fleet of stripped-down electric vehicles. But the Founder and CEO quit four months after the SPAC deal closed, followed quickly by the entire management team (CFO, Head of Strategy, Chief Legal Officer, Head of Development, etc.). The SEC opened an investigation the following month and, if this wasn’t enough, the new CEO immediately pivoted strategies from a capital-light, outsourced manufacturing model to a capital-intensive one, bringing manufacturing in-house. They significantly ramped up the expected cash burn and pulled all guidance, which had just been issued a few months prior. There are more than enough red flags to assume this SPAC won’t survive long. SPAC #4 This $1.2bn market cap company is a manufacturer of “Smart Glass” which is an electrified window that can adjust tint to darken or lighten. The theory is that it can reduce building electricity costs (the company claims 10% savings), but the reality is that those savings require 10x the upfront investment. Despite $2bn sunk costs and 15 years of R&D, gross margins remain negative(!) 150%, and cash continues to bleed out at a $200-300 million/year clip, leaving them about 18 months of runway. The SPAC itself removed a problem for Softbank, which had been stuck for years, adding to its ownership in several “down rounds” where V.C. investors add capital at lower and lower valuations. If that’s not enough, the company has delayed filing financial reports and is in violation of exchange rules as the auditing committee investigates disputed warranty accruals. We think this company is unviable and will eventually be worthless. SPAC #5 This $3.4bn market cap company bills themselves as a next-generation Medicare Advantage insurer by leveraging their machine learning platform to improve care and reduce costs, driving profitability and what they have coined their “virtuous growth cycle.” The reality is that this growth comes at the literal cost of the Medical Care Ratio (MCR), the percent of revenue they payout for enrollee care, which ballooned to 107.5% and 111% in the first two quarters of 2021, respectively. Behind the tarnished façade of a company losing more money by virtue of their growth (maybe that’s what they meant?) is a backdrop of alleged related-party transactions to boost sales, failure to disclose a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into inappropriate marketing practices, and an algorithm that seems more geared to find upcoding opportunities (to get a larger payout from CMS per patient) than optimizing patient care. Instead of a business on the path to profitability with a noble ethos, we expect this company to continue to lose money at a rate of $500-$700mm a year well into the future, requiring additional raises and increasingly diluting value to shareholders. As always, we encourage your questions and comments, so please do not hesitate to call our team here at Apis or Will Dombrowski at +1.203.409.6301. Sincerely, Daniel Barker Portfolio Manager & Managing Member Eric Almeraz Director of Research & Managing Member Updated on Oct 19, 2021, 4:03 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkOct 19th, 2021