News Feeds

The 19 most productive major economies in the world

20 hours 41 min ago  |  Clusterstock

LONDON – Productivity is one of the key drivers of economic success. The more productive a country's workers are, the more value they can bring to their employers and therefore their home nation's economy.

New research from business-to-business marketplace Expert Market has shed some light on where in the world people are the most productive.

Expert Market compared data from 35 of the world's biggest economies before compiling their ranking.

To do this, they looked at the GDP per capita of nations and divided that by the number of hours worked per person, giving a rough guide to which nations make the most money in the least amount of time, and are therefore the most productive.

Numbers quoted below are the amount of value each worker brings to their country's economy per hour worked. Check out the ranking underneath:

19. Israel: £15.95 — Fast gaining a reputation as a hub of innovation, Israeli workers are at work an average of 1889 hours per year.

18. Japan: £17.21 — Another country, another stuttering economy. Japan is undergoing an unprecedented experiment with negative interest rates and has the highest level of government debt of any country on earth compared to GDP. An aging population

17. United Kingdom: £17.37 — Britain's economy is already suffering some downside from the Brexit vote, with the falling pound pushing up inflation and squeezing salaries. In the same ranking last year, Brits were generating £18.64 per hour.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

10 things you need to know in markets today

21 hours 8 min ago  |  Clusterstock

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

1. Bakkavor, one of the biggest suppliers of ready meals to Marks & Spencer and Waitrose, is exploring plans for a stock market float that could value it at up to £1.5 billion, reports the Times. Founded and run by two Icelandic brothers, Bakkavor is working with its long-term adviser Rothschild on a London flotation this year or early in 2018, according to people familiar with the matter.

2. Asda is considering a move for discount chain B&M, in what would be the latest attempt by a major supermarket to diversify in the face of growing competition from cheaper rivals, the Guardian reports. A takeover of the budget retailer would be expected to cost more than £4 billion.

3. Asian stocks slipped on Monday as demand for riskier assets ebbed after recent strong gains, while the euro's near-two-year high on the European Central Bank's seeming lack of concern about its strength left the dollar languishing near a 13-month low, reports Reuters. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.1 % early on Monday, while Japan's Nikkei dropped 0.8% on a stronger yen.

4. Liam Fox has conceded Britain is likely to seek a transitional deal until 2022 after leaving the European Union, but said the arrangements should not "drag on" until after the next general election, the Guardian reports. The international trade secretary has previously said interim arrangements for trade, customs and immigrations should last no longer than "a few months" but said Brexiteers in the cabinet were now prepared for a longer transition.

5. At least 15 Conservative MPs have reportedly agreed to sign a letter of no confidence in Theresa May, says the Independent. It comes after the Prime Minister told plotting Tory MPs "it’s me or Jeremy Corbyn" as she insisted a leadership challenge would trigger another general election.

6. Grassroots members of the Conservative Party have called for Prime Minister Theresa May to quit by Christmas, reports the Independent. Dissenters are reportedly eyeing Brexit secretary David Davis as a possible replacement.

7. The exhibitions group which stages the Olympia Horse Show and World Counter-Terror Congress will be sold next week to one of the world's biggest buyout firms for nearly £600m, Sky News reports. Blackstone will announce on Monday that it has acquired Clarion Events from rival Providence Equity Partners, says Sky.

8. The top management at fintech firm Paysafe are in line for a £70 million shares-based windfall if the payment processor becomes the latest technology company to be sold to foreign bidders, the Times reports. Paysafe announced it had received a £2.9 billion approach from Blackstone and CVC, the big American private equity groups, on Friday, sending its shares to an all-time high.

9. Under-pressure mining group Acacia is facing a lawsuit in the UK from relatives of people who died at one of its mine sites, the Telegraph reports. ;The FTSE 250 gold miner could be hit with compensation claims from a group being represented by law firm Deighton Pierce Glynn.

10. The boss of the UK pensions lifeboat is to step down after a near-nine year tenure, reports Sky News. Alan Rubenstein will reportedly quit his role as chief executive of the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) early next year.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: HENRY BLODGET: This chart explains everything that's wrong with the economy today

Further reading

Sun, 07/23/2017 - 10:49pm  |  FT Alphaville

Buchheit and Gulati paper on how to restructure Venezuelan debt; Koning on dictionary money; Trump's missing infra plan; the Mooch steps up; brosectomies; "I'm glad that girl's lemonade stall got shut down"; other stuff.

Continue reading: Further reading

Citigroup is staffing up for a new center that will unleash robotics throughout the bank (C)

Sun, 07/23/2017 - 7:55pm  |  Clusterstock

Citigroup is staffing up for the robotic revolution.

The New York-based financial services giant has plastered online jobs boards advertising roles at a new automation center that will deploy new robotic technology throughout the bank.

Mark Costiglio, a Citi spokesperson, declined to comment on the matter.

The so-called Smart Automation Centre is looking for staff in at least five cities including Tampa, London, Singapore, New York and Budapest.

"The Smart Automation Centre will be responsible for partnering with our businesses and functions across Citi to ensure all the elements are in place for the rapid deployment of Robotics and other related technologies," according to one ad on the firm's talent search engine.

The bank is seeking talent spanning the seniority spectrum from junior engineers to senior vice presidents. The positions require varying levels of tech expertise, but the bank wants the center's employees to fit a very specific cultural mold. 

"Must be entrepreneurial, and thrive in environments with a blank canvas that will allow you to flex your intellectual muscle to contribute to building a strategy from the ground up," one job ad said. 

The firm is looking for at least two senior program managers to serve as a robotic "catalyst" who will partner with divisions across the bank to identify new technologies and lead their development from the use-case stage to full scale production. The senior program manager would also work with various groups within the bank to familiarize them with robotics and automation.

The bank is also looking for program engineers to support the "catalysts" in identifying automation opportunities.

A recent report by FIS, the global financial technology provider, identified automation as a critical growth lever for Wall Street firms.

"Driven by margin pressures and regulatory changes, institutions across the financial services industry have been working to deepen the automation of the transaction lifecycle for the last few years," the report said.

Business Insider's Oscar Williams-Grut recently visited UBS' London office where they are developing a software program that automates some "boring" aspects of trading.

"These are all tools that belong to 2017 and beyond," Beatriz Matin-Jimenez, chief operating officer of the UBS' investment bank and the UK region, told Business Insider."We believe this is the way banks are going to be more than ever."

JPMorgan, which is spending big on technology as it looks to cut costs and increase efficiency, last year launched a predictive recommendation engine to identify those clients which should issue or sell equity. And now, given the initial success of the engine, it's being rolled out to other areas.

And at an event in January, Goldman Sachs' deputy chief financial officer Marty Chavez said the bank was focused on automating investment banking tasks. He said that the bank has mapped out 146 distinct steps in the initial public offering process, and that many of these are "begging to be automated," according to MIT Technology Review.

SEE ALSO: JPMorgan launched a new tool to help fill 7,500 finance jobs in New York City

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Harvard Business School professor explains the most important problem we have in finance today and how to fix it

Goldman Sachs is on a hiring spree to become the Google of Wall Street (GS)

Sun, 07/23/2017 - 5:19pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Goldman Sachs is looking to fill over 20 positions for its Marquee platform, which is at the heart of its plan to become the Google of Wall Street. 
  • The Marquee platform offer clients access to Goldman's firmwide risk platform and pricing system SecDB. 

Goldman Sachs wants to become the Google of Wall Street, and now it is staffing up the unit that could help it achieve that goal.

The New York-based financial services giant is hiring for Marquee, a platform that provides clients access to the bank's analytics, data, content and execution capabilities via a browser or an API.

The bank is looking for talent to fill positions in its New York office, spanning from associate developer to vice president.

The bank has posted eight job ads for roles relating to Marquee in New York in the past month or so, and has also recently advertised a further 12 roles in Bengalaru and four in Warsaw. 

One ad posted in mid-July said the bank is "looking for creative and talented engineers to build out our next generation client facing risk and execution platforms."

Another ad said the bank is "pursuing engineers across the stack, from those who are confident working with low latency processes through individuals passionate in implementing responsive user interfaces." 

Agility is a core requirement for a spot on the Marquee team. One junior engineer position, for instance, requires someone who can wear many hats. 

"At times you will be asked to step into the trading floor environment and at others you will be called upon to guide the decisions of leadership," the ad said. 

Tiffany Galvin, a Goldman Sachs spokeswoman, told Business Insider the firm is focused "on attracting top tech talent."

Marty Chavez, the chief financial officer of Goldman Sachs, has been the catalyst for a number of Silicon Valley-like initiatives at the firm, including Marquee.

He served as chief information officer from 2014 until May 2017. He joined Goldman in 1994 as an energy strat after he ended up on a headhunter's list of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs with Stanford PhDs. Recently, he has spearheaded efforts for Goldman Sachs to adopt an approach that is commonplace to business in the Valley.

The new model Chavez is proposing is based on APIs, which are the standard way for computer programs to "talk" to one another without human intervention. When you use your Facebook account to log in to Spotify, that's Spotify talking to the Facebook login API.

This model is based on taking in data, pushing it through analytics engines, then making it available to internal and external clients through Goldman Sachs' digital platform that Chavez has championed.

"Historically, the API has been human beings talking to other human beings over the telephone, and all the tools, the content, the analytics is on the internal platform only," Chavez said. "We are shifting this radically and shifting this fast, and we're packaging everything we do, and actually, we're redesigning the whole company, around APIs."

The idea is that giving clients access to Goldman Sachs data and analytics tools strengthens the bank's relationship with them, leading to additional business. 

"Our digital offerings, under the unified Marquee brand, directly correlate to market share and profitability," one job ad said.  

SEE ALSO: Citigroup is staffing up for a new center that will unleash robotics throughout the bank

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: These are the watches worn by some of the most powerful men in finance

The new era of payment processing will change everything

Sun, 07/23/2017 - 5:11pm  |  Clusterstock

The modern smartphone is a remarkable device. A single device that fits in your pocket can do all the tasks that once required cameras, camcorders, GPS devices, watches, alarm clocks, calculators, and even TVs.    

But the next change might be the most radical of all—it could eliminate the need to carry cash and credit cards.  

The growing importance of the smartphone as the go-to computing device for every digital activity is having a profound effect everywhere you look, but it’s only the biggest story among many exciting developments in the world of payments:   

  • Apple Pay was first out of the gate, but now mobile wallets are everywhere you look—Android Pay, Google Pay, Chase Pay and even Walmart Pay are making smartphones a real alternative to carrying credit cards. And the potential for mobile wallets to limit a merchant’s fraud liability could help them really take off in acceptance for small businesses.   
  • As consumers move more purchasing online, gateway vendors that can act as a front-end processor for online businesses are seeing explosive growth.   PayPal-owned Braintree grew 111% YoY in the number of cards on file in Q4 2015, while Stripe and Klarna now have multi-billion dollar valuations.
  • Mobile Point-Of-Sale (mPOS) startups like Square and ShopKeep have pioneered a whole new payments niche—accepting payments via tablets and smartphones.   Coupling their transactions capabilities with new apps can revolutionize a small business’ inventory management, marketing, loyalty and even payroll.   
  • Mobile Peer-to-Peer payments in the U.S. are forecast to grow from $5.6 billion in 2014 to nearly $175 billion by 2019 as consumers increasingly skip the hassle of writing a check or going to an ATM.   But smartphone vendors like Apple could cripple the dominant player of 2016 (Venmo) if they make a serious push to own the space.   

If your job or your company is involved in payment processing in any way, you know how complex this industry is. And you know that you simply can’t understand where the next big digital opportunities are unless you know the key players and roles in each step of the payments “supply chain:”   

  • Acquirers
  • Processors
  • Issuers
  • Card Networks
  • Independent sales organizations and merchant service providers
  • Gateways
  • Hardware and software providers

Fortunately, managing analyst John Heggestuen and research analyst Evan Bakker of BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, have compiled a detailed report that breaks down everything you need to know—whether you’re a payments industry veteran or a newcomer who is still getting a basic knowledge of this complex world.

Among the big picture insights you’ll get from this new report, titled The Payments Ecosystem Report: Everything You Need to Know About The Next Era of Payment Processing:

  • The 5 key events of 2015 that have set up 2016 as a watershed year for the entire payments ecosystem. 
  • The basics of traditional card processing from the start of the process through to the very end.    
  • Why new players and innovations like prepaid cards, store cards, and PIN debit transactions are gaining market share and creating new opportunities.   
  • The effects—good and bad—of the transition to new mobile payment methods.   New players and old have surprising threats and opportunities in areas as varied as carrier billing, remittances, wearables, and more.   

This exclusive report takes you inside these big issues to explore:

  • The critical steps in credit card transactions and how they are changing.
  • The six major types of organizations involved in the payments ecosystem.
  • The significant differences for industry players who operate closed-loop networks and offer prepaid cards.
  • The challenges and opportunities facing hardware and software providers for the payments sector.   
  • The 8 reasons why mobile wallets are growing so fast and how they will disrupt all aspects of the mobile ecosystem.    
  • The exciting possibilities ahead in fast-growing payments subsectors like remittances, connected devices and mobile P2P payments.   
  • And much more.

To get your copy of this invaluable guide, choose one of these options:

  1. Subscribe to an ALL-ACCESS Membership with BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report AND over 100 other expertly researched deep-dive reports, subscriptions to all of our daily newsletters, and much more. >> START A MEMBERSHIP
  2. Purchase the report and download it immediately from our research store. >> BUY THE REPORT

The choice is yours. But however you decide to acquire this report, you’ve given yourself a powerful advantage in your understanding of the payments ecosystem.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: HENRY BLODGET: Tech market is nowhere near the dotcom days

Republicans could solve a problem many of them don't believe in

Sun, 07/23/2017 - 5:00pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Americans overwhelmingly want to protect the environment, and while the political extremes can't agree on "climate change," they can still forge a path for the US to curb it.
  • Bipartisan solutions, like carbon pricing and renewable energy, do exist. And they could become reality in the next five years.
  • While the federal government might need to eventually enact sweeping climate-change policies, businesses and cities are already leading the way because market forces — and public opinion — support climate action.

DALLAS — It was the afternoon before Earth Day in April when an imposing Republican stood up and declared war.

John Walsh III had spent the past half-hour sitting in the front row listening to former Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark, who happens to be a retired four-star general, try to convince the crowd that climate change is a national-security issue.

Then Walsh took the microphone.

"This is a war, and we need to treat it like one," he said. "I'm on the other side of the aisle from you politically, but I'm right in the trench with you on this issue."

It was already a day of contrasts. A conservative had organized this Earth Day celebration. It attracted 100,000 people to Texas' state fairgrounds, including climate researchers from elite universities as far away as New York City, oil-company executives, and families.

In this polarized political environment, and at a time when many of the people running the government won't acknowledge the reality of climate change, this sounds like a remarkable moment of common ground. But 1,300 miles from Washington, DC, this kind of agreement is commonplace.

Sixty-eight percent of Americans accept the overwhelming scientific consensus that our climate is changing, and most say they worry about it. But Texas shows that it's when we talk about it that things seem to fall apart.

Take away the charged language and start talking about clean water, clean air, and clean soil, and there's a lot of agreement. And a lot of opportunity.

You can find consensus in the war against climate change — as long as you don't call it "climate change."

Tree huggers

Walsh never had one specific moment when he accepted that the climate was changing.

His father taught him to respect the land growing up. And as a Christian, he learned to be a good steward of God's Earth.

He's the CEO and founder of a real-estate firm in headquartered in Frisco, Texas. And he's been a tree hugger for decades.

In 1984, Walsh's company, TIG, was starting to put up some high-end office buildings in Carrollton, Texas. The site had many old-growth trees, but instead of bulldozing them wholesale, as most developers would, he decided they were worth saving.

On signs in front of each tree, he wrote a message: "It took God 50 years to put this tree here. Don't even think about moving it."

Walsh personally signed each message so the workers would know who they'd have to answer to if they cut a tree down. By keeping all the trees, TIG actually ended up saving money on energy and new plantings.

Walsh says it's logical arguments like that people need to hear if everyone is going to get onboard to fight climate change. Wear your jeans three days instead of one, he recommended, and you'd be surprised how much energy, resources, and money you can save.

It's a modern day echo of Teddy Roosevelt-style Republicanism.

To Walsh and others in the movement, environmentalism has always been a conservative idea. They say Democrats stole the mantle.

"To conserve is conservative," Earth Day Texas founder and Republican Trammell S. Crow said in March, when he visited Business Insider's offices to try to persuade New York journalists to come to Earth Day Texas.

Yes, I'm a Republican. I'm also a huge environmentalist.

Ryan Sitton, the Texas Railroad Commissioner, agrees. An engineer by training, he was elected to the post overseeing the state's agency regulating the oil and gas industry (much to Sitton's chagrin, the job has nothing to do with railroads).

What Sitton finds most challenging is that because everything is so polarized these days, there's no dialogue.

"Yes, I'm a Republican. I'm also a huge environmentalist," he says.

"Parties are black and white. 'Oh, Republicans are the party of the economy and jobs, and Democrats are the party of the environment.' Yet all of us in this nation want a good economy, we all want good jobs, and we all want to protect our environment for future generations," he told a crowd of two-dozen constituents at a town-hall-style talk. "None of those are partisan issues."

A new message

If you want to understand how so many conservatives these days can be pro-environment and still deny climate change, meet Paul Braswell. He's a chemist turned computer consultant who raises Texas longhorns. And he's on the executive committee for the Republican Party of Texas.

He says there's a common misconception that farmers and Republican landowners are all for using resources at the expense of the environment. They're "good stewards," he said.

He wants to protect the land. But ask him about climate change and his tone changes.

"They're fudging their data," he said of climate scientists. "There are flaws in their global-warming theory. And instead of adjusting their hypothesis, they're adjusting their data."

Braswell says that he's more conservative than most Republicans in Texas. But his line of thinking echoes that of EPA Chief Scott Pruitt and President Trump. And it sounds a lot like what the president used as his justification for pulling the US out of the global Paris climate agreement.

Braswell is a scientist himself, of course, and when you talk with him, he's just as likely to start talking about Einstein's theory of relativity, or how farmers can use better chemicals for the earth.

That's partly why, for all he does personally to protect the environment on a small scale — buying a fuel-efficient truck and limiting the use of insecticides on his land — he doesn't believe climate change is happening. He says humans couldn't possibly cause that much warming, and if it is getting hotter, the earth will fix itself.

Scientists leading the fight against climate change see people like Braswell as a missed opportunity.

"Climate scientists failed to relate what we know to the public," Peter de Menocal, a renowned climate scientist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, told Business Insider.

"There's a big, angry mob out there. Those are very real feelings. I respect that. All I can do is tell people what I know about how the climate is changing."

Food, water, shelter, energy

Until recently, when experts tried to convince Americans to care about climate change, they'd often show them this chart:

Over hundreds of thousands of years, the climate has gone up and down in a fairly consistent cycle, and then at the very end, it's like a hockey stick: the amount of carbon in the atmosphere skyrockets.

It's compelling to look at, but for many, it's too abstract.

Former President Barack Obama can call climate change the greatest threat facing humanity, but if you can't see it in your own life, it's hard to really care.

That's why at a Columbia University event at Earth Day Texas, de Menocal said when he's trying to convince people to take climate action, he's started referencing tangible things everyone can get behind. These are humanity's basic needs: food, water, shelter, and energy.

In a sign of burgeoning common ground, at the town hall the next morning, Sitton was making the case that Texas could help developing nations climb out of poverty by showing them how to regulate their natural resources.

"When you look around the world and you say, what is the No. 1 thing when you talk about the basic elements of society — shelter, food, and water are the first three. When you look at society's needs, energy is a huge component of that."

This line is breaking through the partisanship in a way that talk of warming has not.

"The best way to communicate with those minds-made-up climate deniers is not to talk about climate change but air quality," Crow said. Improving food, water, shelter and energy also help reduce the amount of carbon emitted, and global warming.

"Temperature can take care of itself if you deal with air quality. That's a public-health issue; that's not an argument. Everybody believes in that."

A 2016 Pew survey found that 48% of Americans believed that the Earth was warming because of human activity, a belief that 69% of Democrats and 23% of Republicans share.

But concern is growing. A March 2017 Gallup poll found that 45% of Americans worried "a great deal" about global warming and 68% believed humans were causing it.

And three-quarters of Americans said in an Earth Day Pew survey that they were particularly concerned about protecting the environment, and 83% said they try to live in ways to help protect it all or some of the time in their daily lives.

So there is common ground. Now what can be done about it?

Smokestacks to carbon tax

Braswell remembers growing up on the Texas panhandle, when his dad worked at a factory that made carbon black, which went into black paint and tires. The smoke stacks spit out so much pollution that the white-faced cattle turned black.

As he got older the plant installed scrubbers and filters to clean up the air. The cows returned to their normal color.

We have made progress since Rachel Carson sparked the environmental movement with "Silent Spring" in 1962, and we can keep capitalizing on that momentum.

If you listen closely, the next logical step in this climate war we're waging is clear to liberal environmentalists — and to a growing number of Republicans.

Several conservatives, including former Secretaries of State James A. Baker III and George P. Shultz, have put forth a plan for a carbon tax.

And as a local organizer for the nonpartisan Citizen's Climate Lobby told Business Insider at the group's booth at Earth Day Texas, it looks a lot like plans that it's proposing along with Democrats. A carbon tax, or carbon fee as liberals prefer to call it, would put a price on carbon dioxide.

A similar cap-and-trade system limiting the amount of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide the US could emit per year is what stopped the acid-rain crisis and closed up the holes in the ozone layer surrounding Earth. And that was passed with Democratic majorities in Congress in 1990 and signed into law by Republican President George H.W. Bush, who ran for office as the "environmental president."

Made in America

While Braswell doesn't think humans burning fossil fuels that emit carbon dioxide is changing the global climate, he is willing to plan for the chance that scientists are right.

The answer, to conservative Republicans like Braswell, Pruitt, and Sitton, is never more government regulation like Obama enacted — it's innovation. You want to shut down a dirty power plant? Fine, they say, do it in a way that doesn't kill American businesses.

"If it's not a good idea, let's not build it again," Braswell said. "If there's something better, then we can do things smarter using technology."

His belief that American innovation can lead the way sounds just like what de Menocal of Columbia says convinces him there's momentum to vanquish climate change.

"As long as we make enough progress in the right direction, it's all good," de Menocal said. "Let's repower the planet. Let's get miners back to work installing solar panels. If I can wave the American flag for a minute, this is the kind of challenge we respond best to. They can be the heroes of this story. From a purely conservative standpoint, fighting climate change allows us to create jobs, protect national security, and ensure American resilience.What good American doesn't want those things?"

From a purely conservative standpoint, fighting climate change allows us to create jobs, protect national security, and ensure American resilience.

One example is "carbon capture," which sucks up carbon emissions from power plants and sticks them in the ground so they don't enter the atmosphere.

At Earth Day Texas, Business Insider asked the new US Energy Secretary Rick Perry, the longest-serving governor of Texas, whether Americans could expect more carbon-capture projects under the Trump administration.

"The short answer is yes," he said, and he's particularly excited that American companies can sell such technologies to our allies so they can reduce their carbon footprints.

"We make it in America. You know, made in America, sold to our friends around the world. It makes a lot of sense. I think that's the president's, that's his mindset, as well, so you're going to see a lot of technologies. Not just on the carbon-capture side, but in a host of different ways," Perry said. "If we're going to really affect the world, it's going to be innovation that does that."

Coming to grips

Minutes before Trump announced his decision to exit the Paris accord on June 1, de Menocal called. His voice was soft. He sounded beat.

Rolling back Obama-era regulations that it deems stifling to the economy at a breakneck pace, the Trump administration is slowing the federal government's climate progress at a time when scientists say it's crucial to speed up more than ever.

But on the phone that day, de Menocal was feeling hopeful.

"I'm not that pessimistic. I'm devastated, of course, but I'm not that pessimistic," he said. "If you think about it, if the nation's largest cities maintain their commitments, then we can do it without the government."

Market forces, an appealing motivator to conservatives, can also help lead the way.

The world added more energy from renewable sources than from fossil fuels in 2015 and 2016, and the plummeting price of clean energy has allowed the US to decrease its carbon emissions over the last three years while the country's GDP has increased.

But eventually, agreeing on clean air, water, and land won't be enough, says Lynn Scarlett, who served as the deputy secretary and acting secretary in President George W. Bush's Department of the Interior. Now she's the managing director for public policy at the Nature Conservancy.

"You can drive forward a lot of solutions under the banners of clean energy, energy reliability, energy efficiency, and not have to grapple with 'climate change' as a word. You can do a whole lot," Scarlett told Business Insider.

"But at some point, to really come to grips and say we really need to address greenhouse-gas emissions, carbon-dioxide emissions. That requires understanding that those emissions are a pollutant. That requires understanding that those emissions are in fact responsible for a changing climate. That requires understanding that there is that linkage between human action and greenhouse-gas emissions and all these bad things we're seeing — melting permafrost, unpredictable storms, rising sea levels. At some point, one has to really actually embrace the problem."

At some point, one has to really actually embrace the problem.

Until then, there are Americans across the political spectrum clamoring for climate action. There are states making their own emissions reductions pledges, and cities making their own plans for sea level rise, and companies making their own clean-energy investments, and farmers installing wind turbines on their own land, and homeowners installing solar panels on their own rooftops.

And somewhere in Texas, there's a Republican real-estate developer doing his part to save one tree at a time. And he's telling us to join the war — before it's too late.

SEE ALSO: Scott Pruitt came to Earth Day Texas, and the whole thing was pretty weird

DON'T MISS: Texas hosts the largest Earth Day event in the world — here's what it was like

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: French president excoriates Trump in English over US withdrawal from climate deal

Google's been running a secret test to detect bogus ads — and its findings should make the industry nervous

Sun, 07/23/2017 - 4:38pm  |  Clusterstock

  • The ad industry is trying to root out fraudulent digital ads.
  • Google has quietly been running tests with media companies such as CBS to gauge how bad the problem is.
  • Industry leaders are banking on a new technical solution, ads.txt, to tackle the issue.

The digital-advertising industry is looking to stamp out bogus ad inventory, like websites that claim to be premium brands but are actually sites the average person hardly ever visits.

Google, with help from some media giants, is taking the lead. The company is pushing an industry initiative called ads.txt that's aimed at wiping out fraud that's dubbed 'spoofing' by the industry. Spoofing encompasses the variety of ways ad buyers can be tricked into paying for space they're not getting. For example, spoofers can buy cheap ad space, from a low-quality site, on an exchange and then falsely list it as space on a premium site — like, say,— at a higher price. The ad in question will never run on, though.

It's all enabled by the prevalence of programmatic ads, which are placed by algorithms and purchased on exchanges, rather than through direct negotiation with a publisher.

Yet spoofing is even starting to affect publishers that don't even sell ads via programmatic channels. Several publishers say they've been hearing from ad buyers that their ads are for sale on various ad exchanges, even though these companies didn't work with any ad exchanges to sell advertising.

The Google tests

To get a sense of the scope of this problem, Google has been quietly conducting tests with a handful of major media properties, including NBCU, CBS, and The New York Times, people familiar with the matter told Business Insider.

During these tests, Google and the partners shut off all of their programmatic ad inventory for brief periods, say, 10 to 15 minutes, and then scour the ad exchanges to see what's listed. Google and its partners found thousands if not millions of video and display ad spots still available on multiple ad exchanges, despite no ads actually being for sale at that time, the people said, asking not to be identified because the results haven't been publicly released.

These include Google's own AdEx exchange, as well as AppNexus, Oath's BrightRoll, and PubMatic. Google also discovered fraudsters claiming to be able to sell YouTube ad inventory on various exchanges, one of the people said.

Google's not alone in these findings. An ad-tech executive from a different company went looking for some spoofed ads on exchanges and said they easily found thousands of such misrepresented ads for sale, and below are the results of another search by the Marketing Science Consulting Group, a company that specializes in researching ad fraud.

Business Insider reached out to all the exchanges mentioned and included their comments below, if they responded.

The ad exchanges responded to details of the results by pointing to their efforts to stamp out the kind of fraud Google found.

"We’re unaware of major publishers running such tests and finding problematic selling on our marketplace," a representative for AppNexus said. "We do work proactively to avoid this type of problem. We are strong proponents of ads.txt, which we view as reinforcement of our longstanding policies and practices. We’ve created strong domain detection technology."

"Oath has invested in proprietary technology on our buying platforms, including BrightRoll and ONE by AOL, that aims to enforce supply transparency and prevent domain spoofing across the majority of supply partners," said a representative for Oath, which is owned by Verizon. "In fact, our technology blocks hundreds of millions of spoofed bid requests on a daily basis. Combined with our longtime partnership with the IAB, industry-leading third-party fraud measurement across our platforms and human review safeguards, we're fully committed to a safe, transparent supply chain for our advertiser partners."

"At PubMatic we work directly with our publisher clients to help them manage their digital inventory, and, as such, we are not aware of the issues," said PubMatic's chief marketing officer Jeff Hirsch.

The fake-Rolex problem

Marketers are expected to shell out $83 billion on digital ads in the US in 2017, according to eMarketer. And the more that advertisers spend, the bigger the opportunity for fraudsters. By some estimates, sophisticated ad-fraud perpetrators could cost the ad business over $16 billion globally this year.

There are lots of ways that ad fraud can happen. Often hackers from outside the US sell ads on fake websites using computer programs called "bots" that can mimic human behavior — making it look as though real people are visiting websites or clicking on ads.

Then, there's spoofing, which has been around for years. Companies like ESPN have frequently encountered people claiming to have their right to sell their ads when they don't. But as more big marketers push for better transparency in their digital-ad buying, following a string of recent reports of ads ending up in dicey corners of the web, there's more awareness of how common spoofing is.

"There’s quite a bit of mislabeling of traffic," said Mike Baker, CEO of the ad-tech firm DataXu. "It's become somewhat pervasive over the last few years. It could account for 20 to 30% of the traffic on some secondary and tertiary [ad exchanges]."

Ads.txt solution

Google has also hosted CEOs of several top ad-buying tech companies — "demand-side platforms" that act as major buyers on ad exchanges — including MediaMath CEO Joe Zawadzki, DataXu's Baker, and Trade Desk CEO Jeff Green. The meetings were said to be constructive as the industry looks to embrace ads.txt as a solution.

Ads.txt was borne out of the Interactive Advertising Bureau's Tech Lab with support from the trade group TAG (Trustworthy Accountability Group). It's a technical solution designed to protect web publishers from any unauthorized companies selling their ads via programmatic ad exchanges.

Here's how it works. By inserting a text file on their sites, web publishers can make it clear who is allowed to sell their ad space and who isn't. Assuming enough publishers implement the ads.txt solution — and enough ad buyers make an effort to purchase ads only from authorized sellers — this could go a long way toward weeding out spoofing.

"There’s always been spoofing in the market, and with video it is [more prevalent]," said Alanna Gombert, managing director and general manager of the IAB Tech Lab. "Now there is more scrutiny in the market. It wasn’t top of mind before. Now, everyone understands it; it's mainstream. And fraudsters are looking for known names that are on 'white lists' for advertisers. So this has opened up a conversation where ad buyers are telling sellers, 'I'm seeing you here,' and they are digging down and saying 'Oh crap.'"

Brands get woke

A number of major developments have combined to dial up the scrutiny on the online-advertising business, causing marketers to scrutinize where their ads run to how they pay for them and who gets a piece of every dollar they spend on the web. First, about a year ago, the Associations on National advertisers released a damning report detailing a glaring lack of transparency in the ad-buying world.

Over the past six months, Facebook has revealed a string of measurement screw-ups, while Google has faced multiple advertisers pulling out of YouTube after ads were found alongside hate videos.

And since the start of this year, Procter and Gamble's chief brand officer, Marc Pritchard, has been on a crusade, delivering a series of speeches in which he clamored for the ad industry to demand more clarity from digital media and the need to clean up the "crappy media supply chain," as CNBC reported.

All of this has brought the issue of ad fraud to the forefront. "Brands are woke," joked one ad-tech executive. "There's suddenly a lot of attention on supply-chain hygiene," he said. And hopefully ads.txt is the soap.

Some see the initiative as part of a larger set of antifraud tactics. Others are more bullish. "This will wipe spoofing out," said Andrew Casale, CEO of the ad-tech firm Index Exchange.

Who's responsible?

When it comes to supply-chain hygiene, there's plenty of blame laid on the ad-tech companies — especially since so many programmatic exchanges have made big public pledges to keep out bad sellers. But as one ad-tech insider said, big media companies often don't even know who is and isn't allowed to sell their ads on the web.

'They should take responsibility," he said. For example, one publisher said it was working with just three exchanges, but they were really running ads on 17.

So it's up to media companies to make the most out of ads.txt.

"Initially, this is putting the first implementation requirements on publishers," said Art Muldoon, co-CEO of the programmatic ad buying firm Amnet. "It's a burden and an opportunity."

Media sellers "are being directly harmed," said Mike Zaneis, president and CEO for TAG, the Trustworthy Accountability Group, an organization that was put together to tackle the ad-fraud problem.

"When there is twice as much inventory being sold out there than actually exists, that leads to deals you never get, bad prices, and the watering down of your brand," Zaneis said. "That has a direct financial impact."

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Here's how Google Maps knows when there is traffic

Canada's housing market is rolling over — and buyers are flocking to America

Sun, 07/23/2017 - 1:40pm  |  Clusterstock

Foreign buyers spent a record $153 billion on US housing in the year through March 2017, according to an annual report Tuesday from the National Association of Realtors. 

Although Chinese buyers were the biggest purchasers of American houses for a third straight year, the volume of sales from Canada surged the most among major foreign countries from a year earlier.

Canadians bought $19 billion worth of residential property, 113% more year-on-year.

Purchases surged amid already robust domestic demand and a shortage of affordable houses in the US.

Canada's house prices were also rising, but the pace of growth and sales have recently slowed as policymakers tightened access to credit on concern that some markets like Vancouver are in a bubble. Canadian home sales fell 6.2% in May, the fastest monthly drop since August 2012, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.  And, home prices in Toronto had their biggest three-month decline through June since 1988, according to Bloomberg

"Stronger economic growth and slower growth in house prices may have drawn in more resident Canadian buyers," the NAR said. The share of Canadian buyers who live outside the US fell from a year earlier partly because of the weaker Canadian dollar.

Most buyers from Canada use the properties as vacation homes, and so warm Florida was the top destination of their choosing, the NAR said. 

SEE ALSO: GOLDMAN SACHS: There's one big difference between Canada's crazy housing market and the US in 2007

DON'T MISS: America's biggest mortgage source is making it easier for millennials to buy their first home

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: An economist explains what could happen if Trump pulls the US out of NAFTA

A dean of MBA admissions explains how to decide between full-time or part-time business school

Sun, 07/23/2017 - 1:36pm  |  Clusterstock

Full-time professionals interested in continuing their education often face the same worry: Is the loss of income and two years spent out of the workforce worth getting a master of business administration (MBA) degree?

The answer depends on what you aim to get out of business school, according to Isser Gallogly, Associate Dean of MBA Admissions at New York University's Stern School of Business.

"If being fully immersed in your experience in business school is incredibly important to you, a full-time program obviously optimizes that," Gallogly told Business Insider.

"Business school is much more than the classroom experience. A huge part of the MBA program [is] the networking opportunities ... you're building a network for life."

There are trade-offs when thinking about pursuing a part-time or a full-time program. "With a full-time program, there's more investment in terms of the cost because you're forgoing income but you have more time to invest in the program," Gallogly said. "With part-time, you're obviously keeping your job, keeping your income, so there's less opportunity cost, but on the flip side, you have less time to go to business school and get engaged and involved."

Still, Stern's part-time program has four or five happy hours a week, and retreats away from campus to ensure students still have some of the same networking benefits.

However, "if networking and being fully involved is incredibly important and your job is somewhat limiting, full-time may be a better option in that case," according to Gallogly.

SEE ALSO: Here's what it takes to get into America's best business schools

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Facebook: These are the kinds of people we want to hire

Here's the biggest reason people aren't using meal kits like Blue Apron (APRN)

Sun, 07/23/2017 - 1:33pm  |  Clusterstock

Meal kit delivery companies like Blue Apron claim to help people save money on groceries, but potential and ex-customers are citing the cost of the services as a major concern.

According to a new poll by Morning Consult and Money Magazine, 49% of respondents who canceled a meal kit service cited the cost (starting at $8.99 per serving on Blue Apron) as the biggest reason for their cancellation. Additionally, cost was the biggest issue for 59% of respondents who have never tried a meal kit service.

The cost of the meal kit service was the number one factor for both potential and ex-customers by a wide margin. Not liking the recipes (13%) and unavailability in their area (15%) were the second biggest factors for those who canceled their service and those who have never tried a meal kit service.

When it comes to popularity, Blue Apron led the pack among meal kit companies with 43% of those who tried a meal kit service saying they used Blue Apron. That was followed by HelloFresh with 33% and Plated with 20%.

While this is seemingly good news for Blue Apron, the company is not only struggling with a disappointing initial public offering, but also customer-retention.

The leading meal kit delivery service is losing money on roughly 70% of the customers it attracts, according to analysis by Daniel McCarthy, an assistant professor of marketing at Emory University.

"Even though Blue Apron turns a profit on the remaining 30% of customers, the break-even point is moving farther away with every new cohort due to declining revenue and growing [customer acquisition cost] for newer customers," writes McCarthy.

Blue Apron acknowledged this issue in its IPO prospectus, saying, "If we fail to cost-effectively acquire new customers or retain our existing customers, our business could be materially adversely affected."

The company's IPO has not gone well either. Blue Apron shares are down 36% since their June 30 debut and news that Amazon is launching its own subscription meal-box kits certainly won't help the company going forward.

SEE ALSO: Amazon might be setting its sights on the restaurant industry

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: An economist explains what could happen if Trump pulls the US out of NAFTA

The $350,00 Ferrari GTC4 Lusso might be the most offbeat Ferrari a lot of money can buy (RACE)

Sun, 07/23/2017 - 1:24pm  |  Clusterstock

Ferrari makes two kinds of dream machines: sports cars and GT cars. The former rank is currently filled by the 488 GTB mid-engine supercar and the LaFerrari hypercar; the latter is occupied by the California T and the 812 Superfast.

Then there's the oddball of this aristocratic lineup: the GTC4 Lusso.

Ferrari will never, ever build an SUV. (It has its corporate cousins Maserati and Alfa Romeo to supply them.) Nor will it build a car with four doors. So for that buyer who wants a Ferrari but doesn't need a bonkers mid-mounted twin-turbo V-8 making well over 600 horsepower, and who would prefer that their ride sent power to all four wheels, there's the GTC4 Lusso.

The vehicle is part of a very narrow niche: the "shooting brake," a sort of station wagon coupe, based on hunting coaches from the 19th century.

The GTC4 is a new model of the car once known as the FF. We spent some time with the FF a few years ago, in proper East Coast winter weather: snow, slush, cold. What a car! More recently, Ferrari allowed us to spend a weekend checking out the new GTC4, which came in at $347,522.84. (The 84 cents was just because.)

What a car ... again? Here's what we thought.

Photos by Hollis Johnson unless otherwise indicated.

The GTC4 Lusso arrived in New York City wearing a "Blue Tour de France" paint job — a kind of luminous, deep royal blue that I think looks great on Ferraris that aren't red.

The GTC4 follows the FF, which was the all-wheel-drive Ferrari I sampled in the winter of 2015.

Read the review »

The car brought out my "I wanna be an Italian" side.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

You can’t understand the Fintech Revolution without this report

Sun, 07/23/2017 - 1:21pm  |  Clusterstock

This is a preview of a research report from BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about BI Intelligence, click here.

We’ve entered the most profound era of change for financial services companies since the 1970s brought us index mutual funds, discount brokers and ATMs.

No firm is immune from the coming disruption and every company must have a strategy to harness the powerful advantages of the new fintech revolution.

The battle already underway will create surprising winners and stunned losers among some of the most powerful names in the financial world: The most contentious conflicts (and partnerships) will be between startups that are completely reengineering decades-old practices, traditional power players who are furiously trying to adapt with their own innovations, and total disruption of established technology & processes:

  • Traditional Retail Banks vs. Online-Only Banks: Traditional retail banks provide a valuable service, but online-only banks can offer many of the same services with higher rates and lower fees

  • Traditional Lenders vs. Peer-to-Peer Marketplaces: P2P lending marketplaces are growing much faster than traditional lenders—only time will tell if the banks strategy of creating their own small loan networks will be successful

  • Traditional Asset Managers vs. Robo-Advisors: Robo-advisors like Betterment offer lower fees, lower minimums and solid returns to investors, but the much larger traditional asset managers are creating their own robo-products while providing the kind of handholding that high net worth clients are willing to pay handsomely for.

As you can see, this very fluid environment is creating winners and losers before your eyes…and it’s also creating the potential for new cost savings or growth opportunities for both you and your company.

After months of researching and reporting this important trend, Sarah Kocianski, senior research analyst for BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has put together an essential report on the fintech ecosystem that explains the new landscape, identifies the ripest areas for disruption, and highlights the some of the most exciting new companies. These new players have the potential to become the next Visa, Paypal or Charles Schwab because they have the potential to transform important areas of the financial services industry like:

  • Retail banking

  • Lending and Financing

  • Payments and Transfers
Wealth and Asset Management

  • Markets and Exchanges

  • Insurance

  • Blockchain Transactions

If you work in any of these sectors, it’s important for you to understand how the fintech revolution will change your business and possibly even your career. And if you’re employed in any part of the digital economy, you’ll want to know how you can exploit these new technologies to make your employer more efficient, flexible and profitable.

Among the big picture insights you'll get from The Fintech Ecosystem Report: Measuring the effects of technology on the entire financial services industry:

  • Fintech investment continues to grow. After landing at $19 billion in total in 2015, global fintech funding had already reached $15 billion by mid-August 2016.
  • The areas of fintech attracting media and investor attention are changing. Insurtech, robo-advisors, and digital-only banks are only a few of the segments making waves. B2B fintechs are also playing an increasingly prominent role in the ecosystem. 
  • It's not all good news for fintechs. Major hurdles, including customer acquisition and profitability, remain. As a result, many are becoming more willing to enter partnerships and adjust their business models. 
  • Incumbents are enacting strategies to ensure they remain relevant. Many financial firms have woken up to the threat posed by fintechs and are implementing innovation strategies to stave off disruption. The majority of these strategies involve some interaction with fintech firms. 
  • The relationship between incumbents and fintechs continues to evolve. Fintechs are no longer viewed exclusively as a threat, nor can they be ignored. They are increasingly viewed as partners, but that narrative alone is too simple — in reality, a more nuanced connection is taking hold. 

This exclusive report also:

  • Assesses the state of the fintech industry. 
  • Gives details on the drivers of its growth. 
  • Explains which areas of fintech are gaining traction. 
  • Outlines the range of current and potential models for fintech and incumbent interaction. 

The Fintech Ecosystem Report: Measuring the effects of technology on the entire financial services industry is how you get the full story on the fintech revolution.

To get your copy of this invaluable guide to the fintech revolution, choose one of these options:

  1. Subscribe to an ALL-ACCESS Membership with BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report AND over 100 other expertly researched deep-dive reports, subscriptions to all of our daily newsletters, and much more. >> START A MEMBERSHIP
  2. Purchase the report and download it immediately from our research store. >> BUY THE REPORT

The choice is yours. But however you decide to acquire this report, you’ve given yourself a powerful advantage in your understanding of the fast-moving world of financial technology.

Join the conversation about this story »

The 10 best business schools if you want to work on Wall Street

Sun, 07/23/2017 - 1:15pm  |  Clusterstock

Do you have visions of orchestrating mega-mergers, minting millions on bold stock bets, or managing billions of dollars in assets? Or, perhaps more realistically, playing with spreadsheets for hours on end? Wall Street might be calling your name. 

A job in finance can set you up for a lucrative career. And an MBA from a high-powered business school can help you leap a few rungs on the ladder and command a six-figure salary right off the bat. In fact, at the top-10 business schools for finance, the average graduate earns over $140,000 in their first year. 

That's according to the latest list of top business schools by U.S. News & World Report, which ranked 131 MBA programs based on criteria that includes job placement, starting salary, selectivity, and assessments by peers and recruiters. The schools were given a numerical score, with 100 representing the best possible result. Read a full breakdown of the methodology here.

In addition to its overall ranking, U.S. News ranked the best schools for various business professions, from accounting to supply chain logistics. And, of course, finance. For these career-specific rankings, U.S. News surveyed the deans and MBA program directors at various schools, who were asked to nominate up to 10 programs that excelled at the given career specializations.

Read on to check out the 10 top business schools for a career on Wall Street. 

Note: Tuition figures reflect annual costs for out-of-state students.

SEE ALSO: The 20 best business schools in America

DON'T MISS: The 15 business schools where MBAs earn the highest salaries after graduation

10. University of California at Los Angeles — Anderson School of Management

Location: Los Angeles, California

Average starting salary: $140,457

Annual tuition and fees: $59,290

Overall score: 84

UCLA's Anderson School of Management prides itself on "looking to the future to discover and chart what will be." To that end, the school recently established an academic marketing partnership with Google to provide students with insight into Google's pioneering approach to marketing measurement and storytelling. Notable alumni include YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki and a number of Google executives.

9. University of Michigan — Ross School of Business

Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan

Average starting salary: $145,926

Annual tuition and fees: $64,678

Overall score: 89

The Ross School of Business strives to provide each student with opportunities to advance their career, and it facilitates a team of over 50 peer coaches to help them along the way. Hundreds of well-known companies visit the school to interview MBA candidates, and top recruiters for the class of 2016 included Amazon, Deloitte, Google, McKinsey & Co., and Microsoft.

8. Harvard University — Harvard Business School

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Average starting salary: $153,830

Annual tuition and fees: $75,353

Overall score: 100

The world's oldest — and most expensive — MBA program, Harvard Business School is also often considered the best for overall excellence. For a career in finance though, it currently lags behind a handful of other top-notch schools. 

The high average-starting salary its graduates command, the school's reputation with employers, and the HBS network of more than 46,000 living alumni make it one of the most coveted business schools for students. HBS's cadre of successful alumni — littered with politicians, CEOs, and billionaires — is unrivaled: Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former President George W. Bush, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman, and HP Chairman Meg Whitman all graduated from the institution.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

A mystery trader just made a massive bet that the stock market will go crazy by October

Sun, 07/23/2017 - 1:04pm  |  Clusterstock

50 Cent has some competition.

That's right, there's another volatility vigilante making bets on increased stock market price swings, and he's going bigger than the recently-unmasked 50 Cent ever has.

The mystery trader is making a massive bet that the CBOE Volatility Index — or VIX — will surge from its near-record low levels. If successful, it will yield a $262 million payout, according to a person familiar with the trade.

It's a risky wager. The so-called S&P 500 fear gauge has made a habit out of rebuffing bullish VIX traders in 2017, falling 24% year-to-date and staying locked near its lowest levels on record.

Let's unpack the trade:

  • In order to fund it, the investor sold 262,000 VIX puts expiring in October, with a strike price of 12.
  • The trader then used those proceeds to buy a VIX 1x2 call spread — which involves buying 262,000 October contracts with a strike price of 15, and selling 524,000 October contracts with a strike price of 25.
  • For reference, bullish call spreads are used when a moderate rise in the underlying asset is expected. Traders buy call options at a specific strike price, while also selling the same number of calls of the same asset and expiration date but at a higher strike.
  • In an absolutely perfect scenario, where the VIX hits but doesn't exceed 25 before October expiration, the trader would see a whopping $262 million payout.
  • Since the trader used a call spread, it is possible for the VIX to spike too much. If it increases beyond 35.2, then the investor will start to lose money, even though they got the direction of the trade correct.
  • For context, VIX October futures are currently trading at 13.6, while the spot index closed at 9.62 on Thursday.
  • All data from Bloomberg, and reviewed by a person familiar with the trade.

There are a couple potential explanations for the trade. The first is that the trader simply decided that the prolonged low-volatility environment will to end in the next two months. While it seems like it could stretch on forever, even the longest stretches of subdued price swings have eventually given way to fluctuations.

It's also possible that the investor is betting on volatility around some key upcoming events. The trade's October expiration will capture two Federal Reserve meetings, as well as the deadline for the government's debt ceiling decision. The central bank is expected to start unwinding its massive balance sheet by year-end.

The wager flies in the face of one of the market's most popular — not to mention crowded — trades: shorting volatility. Even a slight increase in the VIX could cause those investors holding volatility short to close their positions, which could push the gauge further in the mystery trader's favor.

Still, while hedge fund managers have bemoaned the risk the short-volatility trade presents to the market, especially since so many investors are using leveraged products, there's no denying it's been a good way to profit in a market that's been sitting essentially motionless.

Only time will tell if the trader ends up being correct. And regardless of what happens, you have to respect the person's willingness to shell out big bucks.

Eat your heart out, 50 Cent.

SEE ALSO: There are 'cracks emerging' in the calmest market in years

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: An economist explains the key issues that Trump needs to address to boost the economy

These 13 cities have the biggest scars from the housing crash

Sun, 07/23/2017 - 12:31pm  |  Clusterstock

Zillow, a leading real estate and rental marketplace, has put out a list of the top housing markets still showing scars from the housing crash.

"Roughly half of American wealth is held in home equity," wrote Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell in a press release. "Paying off the home mortgage is a key step toward retirement for most Americans, and it's clear from these results that Generation X is further from that goal than older generations because of the Great Recession.

The rankings are based on Zillow's home equity research of more than 50 million homeowners with a mortgage.

Here's the list of the cities still showing scars from the housing crash, ranked by percent of homes in negative equity:

13. Riverside, CA

Percent of Homes in Negative Equity, 2017 Q1: 10.1%

Loan-to-Value Ratio, All Mortgaged Homeowners: 62.4

Loan-to-Value Ratio, Mortgaged Gen X Homeowners: 68.4

Loan-to-Value Ratio, Mortgaged Millennial Homeowners: 71.2

Source: Zillow

12. Phoenix, AZ

Percent of Homes in Negative Equity, 2017 Q1: 10.6%

Loan-to-Value Ratio, All Mortgaged Homeowners: 65.8

Loan-to-Value Ratio, Mortgaged Gen X Homeowners: 72.2

Loan-to-Value Ratio, Mortgaged Millennial Homeowners: 73.8

Source: Zillow

11. Detroit, MI

Percent of Homes in Negative Equity, 2017 Q1: 11.4%

Loan-to-Value Ratio, All Mortgaged Homeowners: 60.5

Loan-to-Value Ratio, Mortgaged Gen X Homeowners: 67.1

Loan-to-Value Ratio, Mortgaged Millennial Homeowners: 65.3

Source: Zillow

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

A one-word change in Yellen's remarks could have big implications for interest rates

Sun, 07/23/2017 - 12:25pm  |  Clusterstock

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's increasing concern over low and falling inflation helped US stock markets hit record highs last week.

Yellen testified before Congress for two days, and Wall Street found enough concern that inflation might not in fact head back up toward the Fed's 2% target to justify renewed market bullishness.

Yellen, as she has in other statements recently, told lawmakers she expected low inflation to be transitory. "Temporary factors appear to be at work," she said. "It's premature to reach the judgment that we're not on the path to 2% inflation over the next couple of years."

Crucially for the market, however, she reiterated that "it's something we're watching very closely, considering risks around the inflation outlook."

Thomas Simons, an economist at Jefferies, thinks a single word shift in Yellen's description of inflation speaks volumes of her potential openness to a pause in interest-rate increases, which began in December 2015 and have brought the central bank's official interest rate target to a range of 1% to 1.25% following the latest hike, in June.

"Yellen's comments before Congress this past week were significantly more dovish about inflation and rate normalization than either her June 14 press conference or the text of the Monetary Policy Report released just a few days prior to her testimony," Simons said.

"The change in Yellen's description of the recent inflation deceleration from 'idiosyncratic' to ‘unusual' was both a preview to Friday's CPI data release and a signal that the inflation picture has been elevated from an annoyance to a source of concern that is making it difficult for policymakers to come to an agreement on the detail of the Fed’s normalization efforts."

The consumer price index held steady in June, and the annual rate slipped further below the Fed's target to just 1.6%. The Fed's preferred inflation measure, the personal consumption expenditures index, also recently fell to a six-month low of 1.4%.

"The combination of Yellen's focus and the dismal CPI data takes our expectation for a September rate hike off the table," Simons added. "A December rate hike is still on the table, but is also dependent upon the appearance of some stability on the inflation picture."

The Dallas Fed president, Robert Kaplan, seems to be edging closer to the view of Neel Kashkari, the Minneapolis Fed president who has dissented twice this year against Fed rate hikes, wanting to wait for further evidence of inflation and wage growth.

Kaplan is now saying the inflation outlook gives him pause about additional rate rises.

"I would like to see some greater evidence that we are making progress toward meeting our 2 percent inflation objective in the medium term," he said in an essay published Thursday. "Future removals of accommodation should be done in a gradual and patient manner."

SEE ALSO: The Fed just edged a step closer to recognizing a major policy misstep

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The inventor of Roomba has created a weed-slashing robot for your garden

Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg have each seen their fortunes swell by more than $20 billion this year (AMZN, FB)

Sun, 07/23/2017 - 12:05pm  |  Clusterstock

Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg, the founders and CEOs of and Facebook, respectively, have added a gob-smacking amount of money to their wealth in 2017 — more than $40 billion combined.

Bezos and Zuckerberg have each seen their fortunes swell by more than $20 billion this year as their companies' have thrived, according to data from the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. 

Amazon's chief executive has gained $22.6 billion year-to-date and is now the second-richest person in the world with a net worth of $87.9 billion, trailing only Bill Gates ($91.7 billion). 

Zuckerberg is up $20.1 billion on the year, and his $70.1 billion fortune makes him the fifth-richest person on earth.

The secret to their riches is pretty straightforward: Both of their net worths are tied heavily to tech giants they founded and run, each of which is having a strong performance in 2017. 

For Bezos, 93% of his net worth, or $81.7 billion, is tied up in Amazon stock, dwarfing other high profile investments like rocket company Blue Origin ($3 billion) and The Washington Post ($250 million), according to Bloomberg data. Amazon stock is up 36% year-to-date. 

Zuckerberg has nearly all of his fortune in Facebook stock as well — $67.6 billion, or 96%. The rest is comprised of cash, real estate, and other miscellaneous assets. Facebook stock is up 41% in 2017.


Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: JIM ROGERS: The Fed is clueless and is setting us up for disaster

Stock moves are 'downright insane' after earnings, and investors have to get it right

Sun, 07/23/2017 - 12:02pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Earnings season is growing in significance for money managers amid bigger price fluctuations and deeper risk to the downside.
  • Much of the blame is being assigned to the rise of exchange-traded funds.
  • Investors aren't yet effectively positioned to benefit from this new volatility regime.

If you want to make money in the stock market, you'd better nail earnings season. Or else.

The reason is simple: Quarterly results are exerting unprecedented influence over stock returns and, by extension, portfolio performance.

In recent quarters, reporting companies have seen their shares move four times the normal daily average, the most in the past 18 years, according to data compiled by Goldman Sachs. That's the type of volatility for which traders have been starved in a market that's been sapped of the price swings that normally create moneymaking opportunities.

But it doesn't end there. Amid all this talk of generating positive returns, the punishment for missing earnings is also the harshest in almost two years. In the first quarter of this year, companies that fell short dropped more than 2.5% in a single day, on average, according to Wells Fargo data.

And while there's no single reason for the rise of price swings during earnings season, the rise of passive investment vehicles such as exchange-traded funds and quant funds has absorbed much of the blame.

By trading large swaths of the equity market, rather than individual stocks, participating investors are diluting the effects of specific company fundamentals during nonearnings periods. Then, once earnings season rolls around, stock prices are spring-loaded to react more sharply to any new information.

This ETF effect is compounded by how price-insensitive the traders who use them can be — buying and selling based on what their models tell them and ignoring valuations that might otherwise raise red flags.

This isn't going unnoticed by large institutions that depend on beating market benchmarks to make money and attract new client capital. Dmitry Balyasny, the managing partner at the $12.6 billion hedge fund Balyasny Asset Management, finds that earnings have taken on renewed importance.

"Day-to-day action is very ETF-driven," he wrote in a recent investor letter. "Portfolio construction needs to be tight and tilts need to be very well managed to navigate these powerful flows. This makes catalysts, earnings, and other events extremely important to play — and play correctly — because that is when dispersion is most likely to occur."

It doesn't yet look as if investors have caught on. Despite the outsize earnings fluctuations occurring throughout the market, options are implying an average move of just 4.6% in either direction, near the lowest on record, according to Goldman data. To take advantage, the firm recommends placing strategic options bets designed to benefit from large price swings.

It's a suggestion that should be heeded, especially considering how important earnings results are for this market's hottest stocks. Goldman finds that the FAAMG group that has led the stock market's latest rally to new highs — consisting of Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Google — has been realizing more than 50% of its quarterly return during earnings week.

In addition, the tech, materials, and consumer discretionary sectors are also seeing more than 30% of their quarterly returns generated in the five days surrounding releases.

"Some of these reactions are downright insane," Robert Pavlik, the chief market strategist at Boston Private Wealth who helps oversee $9.1 billion, told Business Insider. "With hedge funds and high-frequency traders making these instantaneous moves, the average retail investor tries to match what the pros are doing. Earnings season only serves to facilitate this whole system of trading and making short-term decisions, and thus increases volatility."

Still, there are some drivers very specific to today’s macroeconomic environment that are boosting the importance of earnings, outside passive investment.

For one, equities are trading at or near record highs. So for active managers for whom price does matter, there's some trading potential in picking stocks viewed as overheated. Additionally, the Federal Reserve is unwinding its unprecedented monetary stimulus, which can have a polarizing effect on full sectors.

"Earnings are more important this cycle," Bruce Bittles, the chief investment strategist at the Milwaukee-based Robert W. Baird, told Business Insider. "That's given the high valuations and the fact that the Fed is now in tightening mode."

SEE ALSO: GOLDMAN SACHS: There's still a killing to be made this earnings season

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: An economist explains what could happen if Trump pulls the US out of NAFTA

America is hooked on credit cards — and it's pretty clear why (JPM, TSYS)

Sun, 07/23/2017 - 11:35am  |  Clusterstock

Americans have racked up $1.01 trillion in revolving debt — primarily credit card debt — according to the Federal Reserve. That's the highest tally since the financial crisis in 2008. 

The credit card is now the preferred method of payment among Americans, edging out debit cards and cash, according to the 2016 US Payment Study by payment processing company Total Systems Services, or TSYS.

It's the first time credit cards claimed the top spot in the six years TSYS has been conducting the study, which surveys 1,000 consumers who hold at least one debt card and one credit card (you can read more about their methodology on page four of the study).

Why have credit cards grown more popular? The study offers some insights as to why: 

Forty percent of respondents from the TSYS study picked credit cards as their favorite form of payment, followed by debit cards (35%), and cash (11%). Credit cards have been gaining on debit cards for several years now.

TSYS found that credit cards aren't universally loved, currying the most favor from older millennials.

Credit card love also skewed toward high-income households. The more money a household earns, the more they prefer credit cards.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

About Value News Network

Value is the only commonality in an increasingly complex, challenging and interdependent world.
Laurance Allen: Editor + Publisher

Connect with Us