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The new Mac Pro is Apple's attempt to erase a design blunder that took it 6 years to fix (AAPL)

Mon, 06/03/2019 - 6:36pm

  • The new Mac Pro that Apple unveiled on Monday resembles its earlier professional desktop computers.
  • The design of the new machine is a tacit acknowledgement of the magnitude of one of Apple's biggest design mistakes in its history: the much-maligned "trash-can" Mac Pro computer.
  • The new model fixes the biggest problem of the trash-can version — its lack of expandability.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

On Monday, Apple CEO Tim Cook and company acknowledged just how big a blunder they made with the last version of the company's professional desktop computer.

The new Mac Pro that Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, unveiled at the company's annual developer conference in San Jose, California, looked awfully familiar to anyone who has followed the company's line of professional computers over the years. The computer's metal rectangular case, its handles, and its easy expandability are reminiscent of the professional desktop computers Apple sold for more than decade before debuting the model critics derided as a trash can in 2013. Even the new Mac Pro's cheese-grater-like air vents look like more of an iteration than a complete rethinking of those found in the earlier computers.

Read more: Apple ends a 6-year drought for the Mac Pro with a wildly powerful, redesigned new model that starts at $5,999

In other words, to finally bring its flagship Mac into the future, Apple went back to its past, tacitly admitting that its last design was a complete and utter dead end.

The admission has been a long time coming. When Apple unveiled the trash-can Mac Pro at its developer conference six years ago, Phil Schiller, the company's head of marketing, touted it as a prime example of how the company could still make breakthrough products despite a growing chorus of criticism that the iPhone maker was simply riding on its past success.

"Can't innovate, my ass," he declared to a delighted crowd.

Apple's trash can was a dead end

But the design eventually lost its luster. Year after year, Apple failed to update the computer. The model got long in the tooth — and then even longer in the tooth. More than two years ago, company officials admitted in a meeting with a select number of journalists that they'd made an error with the design and said they were working on a new model. Initially, they said it would be out last year, then pushed that back to this year.

Despite acknowledging the misstep, Apple officials did not offer any kind of preview of what the new Mac Pro would look like. They didn't give any sense of how different the new one would be or what direction they'd head in with the design. So it wasn't certain how big a mistake they thought they'd made.

That's crystal clear now.

With the new Mac Pro, Apple is seeking to address the biggest problem with the trash-can model — its lack of expandability. Owners of the new model will be able to easily open the computer's case and add in or swap out components.

The trash can model was built much like other Apple products — it was basically designed so that users couldn't get at its innards. Just like Apple designed the iPhone so that replacing the battery is difficult, it made the Mac Pro in such a way that users found it difficult to impossible to swap out its components. Instead, the company expected users to upgrade their Mac Pros by plugging in new hardware and accessories through the computers' high-speed Thunderbolt ports.

But that wasn't a great solution for the kinds of users that owned Mac Pros. Video producers and game designers need to be able to swap out graphics cards, augment their computers' memory, add bigger drives, and more in order to keep up with the increasingly data-intensive applications and content they work with.

Users couldn't upgrade the can, and Apple couldn't either

As one small example, editing a 4K movie — not to mention an 8K one — generally requires a lot more graphics processing power and memory than editing a regular high-definition one. Because of the way the Mac Pro was designed, though, video editors that used Mac Pros couldn't easily upgrade the computers' components. And they couldn't buy a new one because Apple itself hadn't upgraded it.

That fact is probably the most damning thing about that old design. It was so confining that Apple itself seems to have found it impossible to upgrade the computer. Instead, it abandoned the whole shape and went back to something that was tried and true.

If you're an Apple fan, that's actually a hopeful sign. For years, the company has staked its reputation on offering cutting-edge designs, repeatedly remaking the look and feel of its devices.

That philosophy has often served the company well. It's repeatedly come out with sleek devices that have set the standard for the industry. But occasionally — such as with the trash-can Mac Pro, the G4 Cube of earlier this century, and the easily damaged butterfly keyboard design of its latest laptops — it's taken wrong turns.

If Apple can trash the trash can, maybe it can one day free itself of the butterfly. Here's hoping anyway.

Got a tip about Apple or the tech industry? Contact this reporter via email at twolverton@businessinsider.com, message him on Twitter @troywolv, or send him a secure message through Signal at 415.515.5594. You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.

SEE ALSO: Apple's surprise defeat in the Supreme Court is bad news for Tim Cook's turnaround plan

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11 incredible facts about the $700 billion US trucking industry

Mon, 06/03/2019 - 6:18pm

  • The trucking industry in the United States is worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
  • The US trucking industry accounts for more than 5% of all the full-time jobs in America, even though truckers themselves earn a lower-than-average wage.
  • Here are 11 surprising facts about the US trucking industry.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The United States is hugely dependent on truckers.

Data show that trucking moves 71% of all the freight in America, and nearly 6% of all the full-time jobs in the country are in the trucking industry.

The industry employs millions of drivers and generates hundreds of billions of dollars in annual revenue. It serves as the vital lifeline between producers and consumers when it comes to everything from gasoline to gallons of milk.

While the trucking industry is now decades old, it remains dynamic, with constant demand from consumers keeping trucking as vital to the economy as ever.

Read on for 11 facts you might not know about the US trucking industry.

In 2017, the American trucking industry posted revenues higher than the GDP of more than 150 nations.

In 2017, the US trucking industry generated just over $700 billion. That was more than the entire GDP of Bangladesh, and slightly less than the GDP of Colombia, according to the CIA Factbook.

Were the industry a nation, it would have ranked 33rd in GDP that year.



Approximately 5.8% of all full-time jobs in America are related to trucking

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2018 there were about 129 million full-time jobs in America. That same year, approximately 7.4 million people were employed by the trucking industry. That means about 5.8% of all American full-time workers had a job thanks to trucking.

Read more: Here's an early glimpse into the autonomous trucking market — and how self-driving technology is disrupting the way goods are delivered



Walmart alone employs more than 8,600 truckers

In recent years, Walmart has been turning away from third-party contracts and employing its own truckers, including a hiring surge of more than 1,400 new drivers brought on in 2018 and hundreds more so far in 2019. Walmart truckers earn on average nearly $88,000 per year, CBS reported.



In 2017, trucks moved 10.8 billion tons of freight

According to American Trucking Associations, US trucks moved 10.8 billion tons of freight in 2017.

That equates to about 30 pounds worth of goods for every man, woman, and child in the country.



And trucks move more than 70% of all goods transported around the United States

Trucking accounts for the vast majority of freight in America, with trucks carrying almost 71% of the tonnage moved about the country. That far surpasses trains, boats, and air when it comes to moving cargo around the nation.



More than 40% of the jobs in the American trucking industry are held by minorities

Trucking is a surprisingly egalitarian industry, with 40.6% of all trucking jobs held by minorities. This far outpaces the national average when all jobs are compared — overall, minorities hold just 22% of jobs in this country, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.



Not one of the regulators charged with overseeing the trucking industry was ever a truck driver

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is charged with managing the laws and regulations that control trucking in America. But not one of its four administrators has ever held a commercial driver's license or had any background in the trucking industry.



Most grocery stores would run out of food in just three days if long-haul truckers stopped driving

It might seem like food supplies on supermarket shelves are boundless, always there when you need them. But in fact, experts predict that most grocery stores would start running out of food just three days after long-haul truckers stopped working.



Many experts think the trucking industry needs to hire 900,000 more drivers

In 2018, the American Trucking Associations released a statement saying the industry needed to hire almost 900,000 more drivers to meet the growing demands put on the industry.

However, not everyone is agreement with the state of the industry. A Bureau of Labor Statistics report published earlier this year said the apparent shortage of drivers may actually be overblown.



Truck drivers earn less than most Americans in terms of annual income

Despite all the chatter about the growing trucking industry and the need for drivers, it's not the most lucrative line of work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2018, the median income was about $46,800 per year, while median annual wage for truckers was $43,680.



The average professional long-haul trucker logs more than 100,000 miles per year

Given restrictions on how many hours a driver can log in a given day (and in a given week), most drivers will average about 2,000 and 3,000 miles a week. Over the course of the year, that a trucker's mileage total can easily exceed 100,000 miles.

For comparison, the average US motorist drives about 13,500 miles a year.



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9 mind-blowing facts about the US farming industry »



There are too many multimillion-dollar mansions for sale in Los Angeles, and real-estate agents are going to extreme lengths to get them off the market

Mon, 06/03/2019 - 6:16pm

Los Angeles has no shortage of multimillion-dollar mansions, but its growing inventory is becoming a headache for developers and real-estate agents.

The surplus of LA mansions sitting on the market, reported Katherine Clarke for The Wall Street Journal, began with "a couple of local megawatt deals" to foreign buyers in 2014 and 2015, which prompted the development of larger, more expensive homes exceeding $20 million. 

And there's more to come — 50 ultra high-end spec houses are currently being developed in the city, Clarke reported. These megamansions, not all of which are completed, can be expected to cost anywhere from $35.5 million to $500 million.

Private lenders and wealthy individuals have financed much of the spec homes, and real-estate agents and developers are employing extreme measures to get them off the market. Think themed parties instead of open houses or gimmicky amenities such as a secret room for growing and smoking weed and a candy room, according to Clarke.

They're also relisting plots of land and "hiring marketing experts to reimagine homes as individual brands with their own names, logos, and stories," wrote Clarke. That's not to mention employing steep price cuts by as much as $100 million: Just consider the Los Angeles megamansion listed at $250 million that recently received a price cut of $100 million because nobody wanted to buy it.

Read more: There are 2 major surprises in today's luxury real-estate market, according to a developer who's designed multimillion-dollar New York City penthouses

From LA to NYC, gimmicks and price cuts signal a slow luxury market 

Gimmicky tactics and slashed prices aren't unique to LA — they're indicative of a lingering luxury real-estate market in big cities nationwide. New York City, where "nothing's selling," according to Cary Tamarkin, New York City developer and architect of Tamarkin Co., in a Mansion Global interview, has its own luxury surplus problems.

Many of the city's penthouses have been sitting on the market for months, even years, and some eventually receive a drastic price cut or are carved into two smaller apartments, Business Insider's Katie Warren previously reported.

More than half of luxury homes in Manhattan — priced at $4 million or above — were sold at discounted prices in the first five months of 2018, Warren wrote, citing Mansion Global. And at 432 Park Avenue, New York City's tallest residential building, a 95th-floor penthouse listed for $82 million was split into two apartments, 95A and 95B, for $41.25 million and $40.75 million, respectively, after being on the market for two-plus years, Curbed reported.

In New York, an $85 million Hell's Kitchen condo comes with tickets to outer space and a couple of Rolls-Royces. In Miami, one luxury building provided its residents with Tesla-driving chauffeurs. And in Baltimore, 414 Light Street is also loaded with amenities, including an al fresco dining space, a yoga and meditation room, and a business lounge. 

It's part of a broader trend in which luxury apartment buildings are going to greater lengths to attract tenants by offering increasingly lavish amenities

SEE ALSO: A Palm Beach real-estate agent says she's surprised by the latest request from her multimillionaire clients

DON'T MISS: The New York City real estate market has gotten so bad that people are paying millions to live in the basement

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A crypto founder paid $4.6 million to have lunch with Warren Buffett, who called bitcoin 'rat poison squared'

Mon, 06/03/2019 - 6:13pm

  • The cryptocurrency founder Justin Sun tweeted that he won the annual charity auction for a lunch with Warren Buffett.
  • Sun founded the cryptocurrency "tron" and paid nearly $4.6 million for the luncheon.
  • Watch tron trade live.

The cryptocurrency founder Justin Sun announced in a tweet on Monday morning that he had secured a lunch with Warren Buffett after bidding a record $4,567,888 in a charity auction. Sun, who is based in Singapore, is originally from China, where the number "8" is known to signify good luck.

The lunch, which is presented by eBay and the Glide Foundation, will be held at the famed steakhouse Smith & Wollensky in New York City. The auction was hosted exclusively on eBay, with final bids due May 31. As in previous years, 100% of the proceeds were donated to the Glide Foundation, a San Francisco-based charity which provides local services to the homeless. 

Sun is the founder of  the cryptocurrency "tron," which is a top 10 "crypto network," according to Sun's LinkedIn profile. He has also founded Peiwo, a Chinese peer-to-peer communications app, and is a self-described "protégé" of Jack Ma, the famed billionaire and founder of Alibaba. Sun graduated from Hupan University, which was founded by Ma, and has reportedly made a donation of $1.5 million to his alma mater.

The cryptobull also tweeted that he would invite other blockchain industry leaders to meet with Buffett, with the hopes that the meeting would "benefit everyone." Buffett previously referred to bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency, as "rat poison squared.'

Sun hopes he can shift the billionaire's views on cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies. "It is very common in investment circles that people will change their minds," he told Bloomberg.

Buffett's business partner Charlie Munger has also strongly criticized digital currencies.

"I think the people who are professional traders that go into trading cryptocurrencies, it is just disgusting," Munger said. "It is like somebody else is trading turds and you decide 'I can't be left out.'"

Munger is not expected to attend the luncheon.

As of current trading, the $4.6 million bid is equivalent to 543.6 bitcoins and 119.3 million trons. There are more than 66 billion trons in circulation, with a total market cap of $2.6 billion at current prices, according to the industry website CoinMarketCap.com.

It is not clear how much tron Sun holds, but a third of the cryptocurrency, worth some $800 million, is not in circulation.

Tron is up more than 100% this year.

Join the conversation about this story »

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Wall Street's massive tech spend has reached an 'inflection point' as billions in investments are starting to pay off

Mon, 06/03/2019 - 4:38pm

  • Banks have been spending billions on technology in recent years. 
  • Bank executives made the rounds at financial conferences last week, and a unifying theme was how their monster tech budgets were resulting in meaningful savings. 
  • Investments in mobile channels, automation, and artificial intelligence are eliminating costs such as paper statements and deposited checks, as well as interactions with tellers and call centers.
  • JPMorgan Chase said its cost to serve customers has come down 15% since 2014. Bank of America's has declined by $1 billion a quarter.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Big bank executives made the rounds at financial conferences last week, and one theme came up over and over again: all the money they're saving as they see their massive investments in technology paying off. 

The big four American banks have been spending billions annually on tech projects and upgrades — something that's become a competitive requirement in the industry.

While the industry conversation is often dominated by the buzzy new capabilities being built — artificial-intelligence-powered chatbots, automated mortgages, sleek mobile-app experiences — bank executives this past week expounded on all the ways technology was stripping out costs and creating net savings.

The chorus coming from the financial-conference stages was in harmony: Yes, we're spending enormous sums on technology — but it's all worth it in the long run. 

JPMorgan Chase is the industry's biggest spender, dropping $10.8 billion on tech in 2018 and upping that budget to $11.5 billion this year. Like the rest of the banks, part of this budget goes toward investing in the future, and part of it is dedicated to running the ship more smoothly and efficiently.

At a conference last week, Gordon Smith, JPMorgan's president and consumer-banking chief, raved about the savings that were materializing within his division.

"In all of the years that I've been doing this, I've never seen the impact that technology is having on our business segment be so positive, be so sustainable and have such longevity," Smith said. "So I think the move to mobile and digital where we are investing exceptionally heavily is driving down our cost structure."

Read more: Here's a breakdown of how much US banks are spending on technology


JPMorgan's "pure cost to serve" its customers is down 15% from 2014, he added, explaining that replacing a quick customer-service call that costs the company $4 with a mobile interaction that costs a penny creates "enormous operating leverage" over time. 

It was the same story from Bank of America, the second-largest tech spender at $10 billion in 2018. The company's investments in digital and mobile platforms have resulted in a surge of customers who no longer use costly paper transactions at all.

"Close to 50% of our clients are completely paperless, meaning no paper, no statements, no checks, no cash, nothing, just completely paperless," Dean Athanasia, the head of the firm's consumer bank, said last week. "And as that number grows, it takes cost out of the system because it costs us to process check, it costs us to send them amount, it costs us to collect them."

Read more: A new study found JPMorgan and BofA are winning Wall Street's technological arms race — and smaller firms may have no choice but to merge to keep up

At a conference the next day, CEO Brian Moynihan gave some more concrete examples of how this pays off: Five years ago the bank handled some 175 million in deposited checks a quarter, now it processes 120 million. Millions more are deposited digitally, rather than via tellers.

That reduction is attributable in part to the instant peer-to-peer payments platform Zelle, which handled $44 billion in Bank of America customer transactions in 2018, a figure Moynihan said is growing at an 80 to 90% clip this year. There's a direct correlation between increased Zelle payments and a reduction in paper checks, he said.

"When you start to see that, that's when you know you're having an impact," Moynihan said. 

There are also the millions of simple questions ("What's my routing number?" for instance) call centers handle each year that are instead being gobbled up by the AI-backed chatbot Erica, which has had more than 7 million customers use it since it launched last year, according to the bank.  

These digitization efforts have in part helped drive down the costs of serving consumers by $1 billion a quarter, helping pay for wide-scale upgrades to ATMs and bank branches, Moynihan said. 

Read more: A top Bank of America executive explains how the bank is luring top talent from companies like Apple and Disney to fuel its $10 billion digital ambitions

Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat said his firm reached a turning point last year in which its $8 billion tech budget, part of which is used for streamlining its operations to "shrink the cost of running the bank," started to pay off in meaningful net savings.

"Last year, we crossed the inflection point of actually getting net savings on that," Corbat said, adding that this year they're expecting it to add up to some $500 million worth of savings.

For investors worried about these mammoth tech budgets, the commentary from bank executives seems like an assurance that capital isn't being wasted on boondoggles. 

Top-flight tech is crucial to banks staying competitive. The numbers are eye-popping, but banks are sending the message and providing evidence that the money is being well spent. 

"I think if you don't keep up in technology, you lose. I think it's just a matter of time," JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon said on stage last week. "But to me, it's not, can you do it? You have to do it. And if you don't do it well, you will lose."

Join the conversation about this story »

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Auto suppliers could be headed off a cliff if Trump's tariffs on all Mexican goods go into effect

Mon, 06/03/2019 - 4:22pm

  • Auto suppliers could encounter serious trouble if the Trump administration follows through on its threat to enact tariffs on all Mexican imports.
  • The Trump administration has vowed to place tariffs of 5% to 25% on all Mexican goods unless the country "swiftly" takes action to end the border crisis.
  • US auto suppliers, which import heavily from Mexico, could face a drop in earnings of 50% or more if President Donald Trumps enacts 25% tariffs.
  • Vist MarketsInsider.com for more stories.

The auto sector is at serious risk should President Donald Trump follow through on his threat to place tariffs on all Mexican imports. In an official White House statement released on Thursday, the Trump administration vowed to place tariffs of up to 25% on all Mexican imports if the country does not take action to stem the flow of migrants into the US.

"Mexico must step up and help solve this problem, the statement said. "We welcome people who come to the United States legally, but we cannot allow our laws to be broken and our borders to be violated.  For years, Mexico has not treated us fairly—but we are now asserting our rights as a sovereign Nation."

The tariffs, which are set to go into effect on June 10, will start at 5% and rise to 25% by October unless Mexico takes action to significantly slow the flow of migrants over the US's southern border. The tariffs could put the auto sector at serious risk given the level of Mexican imports utilized in the industry. General Motors and Ford fell sharply after Thursday's announcement.

In addition to the large US car manufacturers, US-based auto suppliers are also at significant risk. While less prominent than the manufacturers, US suppliers also import significantly from Mexico.

While most suppliers will face less than a 10% earnings drop if tariffs of 5% are enacted, the loss in earnings could top 50% or more for some companies if the full 25% tariffs go into effect.

RBC Capital Markets has estimated the import exposure and effect of the potential tariffs on earnings for the leading auto suppliers, which Markets Insider details below:

Veoneer

Ticker: VNE

Market cap: $1.8 billion

Mexican supplier exposure: $20 million

Direct costs of 5% tariffs: $1 million

Percentage of 2019E EBIT: 0.2%

Direct costs of 25% tariffs: $5 million

Percentage of 2019E EBIT: 1.2%

Share price move following tariff announcement (5/31): -3.7%

 

Source: RBC Capital Markets 

 

 

 



Tenneco Automotive

Ticker: TEN

Market cap: $616 million

Mexican supplier exposure: $400 million

Direct costs of 5% tariffs: $20 million

Percentage of 2019E EBIT: 2%

Direct costs of 25% tariffs: $100 million

Percentage of 2019E EBIT: 11%

Share price move following tariff announcement (5/31): -7.4%

 

Source: RBC Capital Markets 



BorgWarner

Ticker: BWA

Market cap: $7.7 billion

Mexican supplier exposure: $500 million

Direct costs of 5% tariffs: $25 million

Percentage of 2019E EBIT: 2%

Direct costs of 25% tariffs: $125 million

Percentage of 2019E EBIT: 10%

Share price move following tariff announcement (5/31): -3.1%

 

Source: RBC Capital Markets 



American Axle & Manufacturing

Ticker: AXL

Market cap: $1.2 billion

Mexican supplier exposure: $478 billion

Direct costs of 5% tariffs: $24 million

Percentage of 2019E EBIT: 4%

Direct costs of 25% tariffs: $119 million

Percentage of 2019E EBIT: 19%

Share price move following tariff announcement (5/31): -5.2%

 

Source: RBC Capital Markets 



Lear Corp.

Ticker: LEA

Market cap: $7.6 billion

Mexican supplier exposure: $1.3 Billion

Direct costs of 5% tariffs: $66 million

Percentage of 2019E EBIT: 4%

Direct costs of 25% tariffs: $328 million

Percentage of 2019E EBIT: 21%

Share price move following tariff announcement (5/31): -5.7%

 

Source: RBC Capital Markets 



Garrett Motion

Ticker: GTX

Market cap: $1.1 billion

Mexican supplier exposure: $518 million

Direct costs of 5% tariffs: $26 million

Percentage of 2019E EBIT: 5%

Direct costs of 25% tariffs: $130 million

Percentage of 2019E EBIT: 23%

Share price move following tariff announcement (5/31): -3.7%

 

Source: RBC Capital Markets 



Delphi Technologies

Ticker: DLPH

Market cap: $1.4 billion

Mexican supplier exposure: $500 million

Direct costs of 5% tariffs: $25 million

Percentage of 2019E EBIT: 6%

Direct costs of 25% tariffs: $125 million

Percentage of 2019E EBIT: 30%

Share price move following tariff announcement (5/31): -7.3%

 

Source: RBC Capital Markets 



Autoliv

Ticker: ALV

Market cap: $5.5 billion

Mexican supplier exposure: $1.1 billion

Direct costs of 5% tariffs: $55 million

Percentage of 2019E EBIT: 6%

Direct costs of 25% tariffs: $275 million

Percentage of 2019E EBIT: 32%

Share price move following tariff announcement (5/31): -4.2%

 

Source: RBC Capital Markets 



Aptiv

Ticker: APTV

Market cap: $17 billion

Mexican supplier exposure: $2.5 billion

Direct costs of 5% tariffs: $125 million

Percentage of 2019E EBIT: 8%

Direct costs of 25% tariffs: $625 million

Percentage of 2019E EBIT: 38%

Share price move following tariff announcement (5/31): -6.7%

 

Source: RBC Capital Markets 



Adient

Ticker: ADNT

Market cap: $1.7 billion

Mexican supplier exposure: $1 billion

Direct costs of 5% tariffs: $50 million

Percentage of 2019E EBIT: 10%

Direct costs of 25% tariffs: $250 million

Percentage of 2019E EBIT: 51%

Share price move following tariff announcement (5/31): -3.6%

 

Source: RBC Capital Markets 



Visteon

Ticker: VC

Market cap: $1.3 billion

Mexican supplier exposure: $500 million

Direct costs of 5% tariffs: $25 million

Percentage of 2019E EBIT: 16%

Direct costs of 25% tariffs: $125 million

Percentage of 2019E EBIT: 82%

Share price move following tariff announcement (5/31): -7.4%

 

Source: RBC Capital Markets 



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Tesla has made hundreds of millions of dollars selling tax credits to other automakers. Now we know who bought them. (TSLA)

Mon, 06/03/2019 - 4:08pm

  • New documents published by Bloomberg on Monday show that General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) have been among the purchasers of Tesla's zero-emissions regulatory credits.
  • Previously, the buyers of Tesla's emissions credits have been secret.
  • FCA said consumer demand for zero-emissions vehicles hasn't kept pace with regulatory requirements, hence the purchases.
  • GM, meanwhile, said the purchases were to help hedge against future regulatory changes.

Since 2012, Tesla has made more than $1.7 billion selling regulatory credits to other automakers.

The buyers of those credits, which purchase them to make up for shortfalls in their own zero-emissions vehicle sales, have previously been shrouded in secrecy. However, Bloomberg News reported on Monday that both General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) are two of the buyers, citing state filings in Delaware.

News of FCA's credit buying in the US follows reports that the company said it would also pay hundreds of millions of euros in order to count Tesla's electric vehicles among its own fleet, thus avoiding hefty fines from European Union regulators.

An FCA spokesperson told Bloomberg that government rules for emissions are being made stricter more quickly than consumer demand is turning in favor of electric vehicles.

GM spokesperson said its investment in the credits was a hedge against "future regulatory uncertainties."

For context, GM sold 5,226 Chevrolet Bolts, it's best-selling electric vehicle, in the first four months of 2019. In the same time, Tesla sold 32,475 Model 3s, according to sales data from InsideEV's.

Now read:

SEE ALSO: Elon Musk says Tesla's pickup truck will cost less than $50,000

Join the conversation about this story »

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The best credit card rewards, bonuses, and benefits of 2019

Mon, 06/03/2019 - 3:36pm

Business Insider may receive a commission from The Points Guy Affiliate Network if you apply for a credit card, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.

  • Credit cards with good rewards programs and great new member offers make it easier than ever to rack up a lot of points.
  • The best credit card in 2019 is the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the reigning champ since its release in 2016, because it has a great sign-up bonus and a travel rewards system that makes it easy to collect points.
  • Another option in the premium card space: the Platinum Card® from American Express, which has among the highest annual fees, but benefits, perks, and credits to make up for it — and that's before even considering rewards. 
  • Also worth considering: the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, which has a lower annual fee than the beefier Sapphire Reserve, but an even higher sign-up bonus — you can always earn the higher sign-up bonus, then convert it to a Reserve after your first year.
  • There are also limited-time offers available on certain airline credit cards.

Since the 2016 launch of the Sapphire Reserve credit card by J.P. Morgan Chase, rewards credit cards have exploded into a mainstream obsession. 

This was particularly evident among Millennials and Gen X-ers, as they jumped into the once-obscure world of credit card rewards and bonuses, drawn by the lure of high sign-up bonuses, special perks, and the opportunity to use points for free flights, hotel stays, and even first class tickets.

Now, more than two years after the debut of the Sapphire Reserve, what's the best move for someone seeking to boost their stock of credit card points and frequent flyer miles? Here are some of the top credit cards currently available, based on sign-up bonuses, rewards earned on everyday spending, benefits, and overall value.

But first, a word of warning: Credit cards play a big role in maintaining a healthy credit profile and score. Make sure you're aware of the impact that opening a new card can have, especially if you're planning to apply for a mortgage or finance a major purchase anytime soon.

It's also important to practice financial discipline when targeting credit card rewards — paying your balances off in full each month, making payments on time, and not spending more than you can afford to pay is the best course of action. After all, interest and late charges can cancel out the value you get from your rewards.

Here are the best credit card rewards and sign-up bonuses:

Updated on June 3, 2019 by David Slotnick: Added info on the best credit card rewards, promotions, and information, including on the Capital One Venture.

Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.

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DON'T MISS: The best women's wallets you can buy

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Why you'll love it: Chase Sapphire Reserve makes it easy to earn rewards for travel and more with a great sign-up bonus.

Sign-up Bonus: 50,000 points (after spending $4,000 in the first three months)

The huge introductory bonus might have made way for a smaller incentive, but the Chase Sapphire Reserve card is still a great card to keep in your wallet. Earning 3x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on dining and any travel, and 1x point per dollar on everything else, the Sapphire Reserve earns points quickly through your everyday spending, and it comes with a slew of perks. 

While there are a few different ways to use Chase points, there are usually two options to get the best value: Points are worth 1.5¢ each towards travel booked through Chase, but can also be transferred to a number of frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs — typically, this gets you the most value for your points.

Benefits include access to airport lounges through the Priority Pass network, trip delay coverage, purchase protection, a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit, and car rental primary coverage.

However, while the airport lounge access can be great, most Priority Pass lounges are in international terminals, which isn't helpful when you're flying domestically. If you find lounge access crucial, you should consider the Amex Platinum, which offers superior lounge access within the US.

The Sapphire Reserve's annual fee is a hefty $450, but that's offset by a $300 travel credit each year, good for things like taxis, subway fare, parking, tolls, and flights.

There aren't many downsides to this card — besides the up front annual fee. Chase has invested heavily in making the Ultimate Rewards program competitive. Booking flights by transferring points to frequent flyer partners is generally more lucrative — that's usually how people use points to fly in first and business class — but it can be complicated because you have to decipher award charts, find availability, and work around complicated airline rules. 

However, because the Sapphire Reserve allows you to get 1.5¢ for each point, if you use them to book travel through Chase's online or phone travel agent, there's a simpler and still-valuable option. 

Pros: Solid sign-up bonus, easy to earn points, points work with frequent flier and hotel loyalty programs, good airport benefits

Cons: High annual fee, Priority Pass lounges are typically in international terminals 

Click here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Reserve from Business Insider's partner, The Points Guy. Read more about the Chase Sapphire Reserve:



Platinum Card from American Express

Why you'll love it: The Platinum Card from American Express offers a big welcome offer and lots of perks for travelers.

Welcome offer: 60,000 points (after spending $5,000 in the first three months)

American Express has made some big moves recently in the credit cards rewards war, starting with a refresh of the venerable Platinum Card to strike against the Sapphire Reserve.

One big change: AmEx upped the Platinum Card's standard welcome offer. Previously, it was only 40,000 points, and now it's 60,000. AmEx is also offering 5x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on airfare directly with airlines and up to $200 in credits with Uber each year, broken into a monthly credit of $15 (which rises to $35 in December).

Like Chase Ultimate Rewards points, American Express Membership Rewards points can be used to purchase travel, gift cards, or products directly through from the issuer, or they can be transferred to certain airline and hotel loyalty programs. The best value comes from that latter use. If you redeem points by using them to book travel through AmEx, you'll get around 1¢ per point.

The Platinum Card includes access to the same lounges as the Sapphire Reserve, plus Delta Sky Clubs and the proprietary American Express Centurion Lounges — the additions make the card more useful overall. AmEx has also announced a number of new Centurion Lounges set to open next year, as well as improvements and expansions of current locations.

It carries a number of perks similar to its rival from Chase, including purchase protections and a $200 annual credit on incidental airline fees — think checked bags, drinks, and upgrades. Cardholders also earn elite status with major hotels before staying a single night, including Hilton, Starwood, and Marriott. That can help you stomach the $550 annual fee.

AmEx Platinum cardholders also get exclusive access to major events and experiences, including once-in-a-lifetime "By Invitation Only" events.

Of course, $550 is a lot to pay out each year. The $200 airline fee credit and $200 Uber credit certainly help, but the airline credit can be difficult to use if you aren't checking bags or buying drinks on flights. Some people have found that buying gift cards from the airline of your choice counts as a qualifying purchase.

The bonus spending categories on this card are less generous than on the Sapphire Reserve or the AmEx Gold, meaning it can take longer to earn points unless you book a lot of flights. The spending requirement in the first three months is higher than most other cards, and Membership Reward points are worth less than Chase's Ultimate Rewards points when used to book travel through the card issuer — only 1¢ per point. 

Even so, the card remains extremely valuable if you can make good use of the benefits. For example: In my first year with the card, I've gotten more than $2,000 worth of value, which is obviously more than enough to make up for the fee.

Pros: High welcome bonus, perks at airlines including extensive lounge access, points can go toward purchases, points are transferable to airline and hotel rewards programs, valuable benefits

Cons: High $550 annual fee, only 1¢ per point, high spending requirement, less generous earning rates than Chase Sapphire Reserve

Click here to learn more about the AmEx Platinum Card from Business Insider's partner, The Points Guy. Read more about the AmEx Platinum:



Chase Sapphire Preferred

Why you'll love it: Chase Sapphire Preferred has a higher sign-up bonus and lower annual fee than the Sapphire Reserve, and it's easy to rack up points.

Sign-up Bonus: 60,000 points (after spending $4,000 in the first three months)

The Reserve's older sibling, the Sapphire Preferred offers a number of similar features and a higher sign-up bonus for a lower annual fee. The card earns 2x Ultimate Rewards points instead of the Reserve's 3x points on dining and travel, and 1x point on everything else.

Points are worth a lower 1.25¢ on travel booked through Chase, but can still be transferred to frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs. There's no annual travel credit, but there's still car rental primary coverage, as well as slightly less-generous trip delay coverage and purchase protection. The annual fee is a more manageable $95.

While the Sapphire Preferred was the all-around best card for a long time, the Sapphire Reserve has made it a harder choice. Although the Preferred has a lower annual fee and higher initial bonus, it earns fewer points on bonus spending categories than the Reserve, and the value of the points on travel booked through Chase is less.

The no-hassle travel credit on the Sapphire Reserve makes the annual fee on that card effectively $150 (accounting for the $300 you get back through the credit), so — depending on your spending habits — it can be worth paying more up front for the Sapphire Reserve

Pros: Good sign-up bonus, transferable points, travel perks, lower annual fee than the Sapphire Reserve card (and it's waived the first year)

Cons: Lower point value when purchasing travel through Chase, no annual travel credit, earns points more slowly than the Sapphire Reserve

Click here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred from Business Insider's partner, The Points Guy. Read more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred:



Capital One Venture Rewards

Why you'll love it: The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card has a low annual fee and makes it easy to earn miles for travel.

Sign-up Bonus: 50,000 miles (after spending $3,000 in the first three months)

Capital One's travel rewards program isn't necessarily as lucrative as what other banks offer. However, Capital One recently expanded the card's benefits, adding airline transfer partners, and launching transfer bonuses — the latest is a 20% bonus to Air France/KLM. While the transfer value isn't quite as good as with Chase or Amex, the flip side is that they're easy to earn and easy to use — and thanks to a new partnership, you can earn them quickly.

The Venture Rewards card earns 2x miles per dollar on all purchases. As a new benefit, added this year, the card earns a stunning 10x miles when you book prepaid hotel stays with Hotels.com (you just need to go through a special landing page: hotels.com/venture). Plus, you can earn through Hotels.com's own rewards program at the same time.

Miles can be redeemed as a statement credit to "erase" travel purchases. For example, if you buy a $500 plane ticket, you can apply 50,000 miles to cancel out that charge. The annual fee of $95 is waived the first year.

Capital One has added 15 airline transfer partners in December 2018 — 13 are at a 2:1.5 ratio, and three are 2:1 — meaning it's now possible to get outsized value from the card. This is especially the case when you consider that you can earn 10x Capital One miles on hotels, which translates to 5–7.5 airline miles per dollar, based on the transfer ratios.

Pros: Low annual fee, easy to earn miles, massive earning potential on hotel stays, decent sign-up bonus

Cons: Points transfer at a lower ratio than 1:1, partners aren't quite as strong as Chase's.

Click here to learn more about the Capital One Venture card from Business Insider's partner, The Points Guy. Read more about the Capital One Venture:



American Express Gold Card

Why you'll love it: The American Express Gold Card offers generous rewards on dining and groceries.

Welcome offer: 35,000 points (after spending $2,000 in the first three months)

This fall, American Express refreshed its old Premier Rewards Gold Card, rebranding it simply as the American Express Gold Card. It also totally overhauled the rewards and benefits on the new Gold Card, making it one of the most exciting — and valuable — cards of 2019.

The new Gold Card earns a massive 4x points at US restaurants and on up to $25,000 per year at US supermarkets (and 1x point after that), 3x points on flights booked directly through the airline, 2x points on hotels booked and prepaid through AmEx Travel, and 1x point on everything else.

Based on the fact that you can easily redeem Membership Rewards points for more than 1¢ of value each when you transfer them to frequent flyer partners, that makes this one of the highest-earning available cards for everything food-related.

The Gold Card offers up to $120 of dining credits per year, broken into chunks of $10 each month. Credits are good for purchases through food delivery services Seamless and GrubHub, and at The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Steak House, or participating Shake Shack locations.

Additionally, the card offers a $100 airline fee credit each calendar year, which is good for things like checked bags, on-board food and drinks, seat reservations, seat upgrades, lounge day passes, and more.

The two credits — together worth $220 — are almost enough to offset the card's $250 annual fee even before factoring in the value of the rewards you'll earn.

While it's difficult to assign an exact value to Membership Rewards points, since the value can vary significantly based on how you redeem them, travel website The Points Guy subjectively estimates each point as worth 1.9¢. That makes the welcome bonus worth $575 — $475 for the points, and up to $100 back from restaurants. Keep in mind some people may be targeted for a higher welcome offer.

Pros: Fantastic rewards on dining and groceries, statement credits and benefits to offset the annual fee.

Cons: You'll have to pay the $250 annual fee before you get the value back from the credits, smaller sign-up bonus, only 1¢ per point of value unless you transfer points to an airline.

Click here to learn more about the AmEx Gold Card from Business Insider's partner, The Points Guy. Read more about the AmEx Gold Card:



AmEx Blue Cash Preferred

Why you'll love it: The Blue Cash Preferred earns cash back quickly at a great rate.

Welcome offer: $250 statement credit (after spending $1,000 in the first three months)

If you're less excited about earning proprietary rewards points — which can be valuable, but also tricky to redeem — and want to stick with cash back, the Blue Cash Preferred is the best option, despite its $95 annual fee.

AmEx announced a major refresh to the card on May 9. Starting then, new and existing cardholders earn 6% cash back on US streaming services and 3% back on all transit. That's in addition to the existing categories of 6% cash back at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 in purchases per year (and 1% after that), 3% back at US gas stations, and 1% cash back on everything else.

The card previously offered 3% back at some US department stores. That won't be available for anyone who applies after May 9. For existing cardholders, it will stick around through the end of July.

As part of the refresh, the Blue Cash Preferred's welcome bonus was increased from $200 to $250 (after spending $1,000 in the first three months).

As an added bonus, the Blue Cash Preferred offers a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months, before switching to a variable 15.24-26.24% APR.

The Blue Cash Preferred comes with a handful of travel and purchase protections as well. Cash back comes in the form of a statement credit, so effectively you can use it to "erase" purchases.

Pros: Bonus cash-back on useful categories, easy to earn enough cash back to offset the annual fee, introductory APR

Cons: High annual fee for a cash-back card

Click here to learn more about the Blue Cash Preferred from Business Insider's partner, The Points Guy.



Chase Freedom Unlimited

Why you'll love it: Chase Freedom Unlimited helps you earn points for normal purchases and get cash back with no annual fee.

Sign-up Bonus: Double rewards for your first year: 3% cash back (or 3x points per dollar spent) for your first year with the card on up to $20,000 of spend

If you already have the Sapphire Reserve or Preferred and are saving your points for something, the Freedom Unlimited can give your balance a nice boost. While Chase markets the card as "cash back," it actually earns Ultimate Rewards points that you can redeem for cash (1 point = 1¢).

When you have a premium card like one of the Sapphires or an Ink Business card, you can pool your points from the two cards.

The Freedom Unlimited earns 1.5x points per dollar spent, so paired with a Sapphire Reserve, it's a great card to use for purchases that aren't made on travel expenses or dining.

The card used to offer a 15,000 point (or $150) sign-up bonus, but recently replaced that with something new. Now, for your first year, you'll earn double rewards on up to $20,000 of spend. If you spend more than $10,000 in those first 12 months, you'll come out on top compared to the old bonus.

Best of all, the card has no annual fee and often has an introductory 0% APR for the first 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. After that, there's a 17.24%-25.99% variable APR. If you have a major purchase ahead of you, that introductory offer can be useful.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a fantastic all-around card. However, to get the most value when it's time to spend your points, you need the Sapphire Reserve or Preferred card, too, so you can pool your points. Otherwise, points are only worth 1¢ each no matter how you use them and they can't be transferred to airline or hotel partners.

Pros: Decent sign-up bonus, earn points on regular purchases, no annual fee, zero percent APR for first 15 months (and a 17.24%-25.99% variable APR after that)

Cons: One point only equals one cent for cash back, to get a better value you'll need to pair it with a Sapphire card

Click here to learn more about the Chase Freedom Unlimited from Business Insider's partner, The Points Guy. Read more about the Chase Freedom Unlimited:



Airline Rewards Programs

Why you'll love it: Airlines often have decent rewards programs through major credit card providers that will help you travel more.

Sign-up Bonus: Varies (check out our airline credit card review for the latest)

If you often travel with the same airline or live in a major hub city, you might want to consider signing up for a co-branded airline credit card. American Express issues Delta's credit cards, Citibank offers American's, and Chase partners with United.

Sign-up bonuses often vary through the year, but they generally fall between 30,000 and 60,000 miles after spending around $3,000 in the first three months.

Occasionally, limited-time deals offer higher bonuses than normal. For instance, Delta's three main credit cards are currently offering as many as 80,000 bonus miles when you meet the minimum spending requirements — although this ends on July 2.

Perks vary by card and are often valuable even if you only fly a few times a year, generally including a form of early boarding, free checked bags, and extra miles earned on purchases from that airline.

While each airline offers a few cards, the most popular ones tend to come with annual fees of $95, which are waived the first year.

However, with these cards, there's no option to redeem your miles for cash or book travel hassle-free. Nor is there an option to choose which frequent flyer program offers the most value and flexibility for the trip you're planning.

Instead, you're stuck booking travel with one airline and dealing with whatever restrictions it might impose. If the airline chooses to devalue their frequent flyer program or raise costs for a particular type of award flight, you're stuck. 

The upside comes mainly with the perks like the free checked bag, and the fact that with a little bit of work, it can be possible to get an incredible value for your miles by booking an unforgettable trip in first or business class.

Pros: Airlines offer good deals, travel perks, low annual fees

Cons: There's still an annual fee, you're stuck with that airline and have less flexibility

Click here to learn more about the Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select card from Business Insider's partner, The Points Guy. Click here to learn more about the United Explorer card from Business Insider's partner, The Points Guy. Click here to learn more about the Gold Delta SkyMiles card from Business Insider's partner, The Points Guy.

 

This content is not provided by the card issuers. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed here are those of the authors' alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any issuer.



Health insurance startups like Bright and Oscar have raked in $3 billion in venture funding. They're using that war chest to plot out massive expansions across the US.

Mon, 06/03/2019 - 3:34pm

  • A crop of health insurance startups — Oscar Health, Devoted Health, Bright Health, and Clover Health —  have raised a combined $1.3 billion in the last year to use technology to build new kinds of health-insurance plans.
  • We took a look at expansion plans and first-quarter 2019 financials for the four startups.
  • The financial results were mixed, with some of the startups posting profits right off the bat and others posting losses, financial filings show.
  • The filings and other reporting by Business Insider shed light on the companies' plans to start selling their health insurance in more areas of the US.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Health insurance startups just came out with their first-quarter financial results for 2019.

The startups are taking on some of the biggest companies in the US, like UnitedHealth Group and CVS Health. They're trying to get a foothold in massive insurance markets, with the bet that technology can help them provide better care to their members.

Business Insider looked through regulatory filings of four startups — Oscar Health, Devoted Health, Bright Health, and Clover Health — to get a sense of how the startups fared. Devoted's results were the the first financials since the company launched health plans at the start of 2019 in Florida.

The results were mixed, with Oscar and Bright reporting profits and Devoted and Clover posting losses. Bright Health's enrollment more than doubled, while Oscar and Clover also increased their membership, but at a slower clip. The startups mainly sell health insurance to individuals in the Affordable Care Act's markets and to seniors in the form of Medicare Advantage health plans.

The filings also reveal the startups' plans to expand their geographic footprints in the coming years. 

The companies have been raising funds from investors to support their growth. In August, Oscar Health raised $375 million from Alphabet as it gears up to get into the Medicare Advantage market in 2020. Devoted Health in October raised $300 million in a round led by Andreessen Horowitz ahead of launching its first Medicare Advantage plans in Florida in 2019.

Bright Health, a Minneapolis startup that provides individual and Medicare Advantage plans, in November raised $200 million. Clover Health in January raised $500 million in a round led by Greenoaks Capital.

The slides below have more information about each company's funding, financials, and expansion plans.

Bright Health is planning a major expansion into 5 new states.

Minnesota-based Bright Health is showing no signs of slowing down.

Founded in 2016, Bright Health provides health plans for individuals under the Affordable Care Act and to seniors in Medicare Advantage.

The insurer is currently in its third year of offering plans.The company had made its way into six states as of 2019 and is laying plans to operate in five more as soon as next year, according to job listings and regulatory filings reviewed by Business Insider.

The new states are: Illinois, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, and Nebraska. 

In the first-quarter of 2019, Bright Health generated a net gain of $15.3 million. The company made $66 million in revenue and recorded $39.6 million of medical claims. 

Its membership more than doubled between 2018 and 2019. As of the end of the first quarter, it had 65,886 members, the majority of which were in the company's ACA health plans for individuals and families. 

Read more: Venture-backed health-insurance startup Bright Health is plotting a major expansion into 5 new states



Clover Health saw its financial losses narrow.

For the first quarter of 2019, Clover's financial losses narrowed.

Clover lost $9.3 million, according to state insurance filings reviewed by Business Insider, down from the $14.7 million the company lost in the first quarter of 2018. The company sells private health-insurance plans for seniors, a market known as Medicare Advantage.

Clover generated $115 million in revenue across its health plans in seven states.  The company paid out $109 million in medical expenses for its customers over the quarter, or about 95% of the premium revenue it took in, similar to its results from 2018.

The company recruited more members in 2019. Clover had 40,137 Medicare Advantage members at the end of the first quarter, up from 32,425 at the end of 2018.

It's already been a big year for Clover. In March, the company said it was laying off 25% of its workforce, or about 140 employees, as part of a restructuring. That came on the heels of Clover raising $500 million in January, bring the total funds the company has raised to $925 million.

Clover got its start selling Medicare Advantage plans in New Jersey, which remains the company's main market. The company also operates in Pennsylvania, Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, and Arizona. It's still unclear whether Clover will enter new markets in 2020 and a spokesman for the company declined to comment.

Read more: We took a look at the latest financial results for health insurer Clover Health, which raised $500 million in January and laid off 25% of its staff in March



Oscar Health is looking to get into Philadelphia, as well as Illinois and Georgia.

Oscar Health has been offering health plans since 2014, amassing a national presence and hundreds of thousands of members. The company mainly sells health insurance to individuals in the markets created by the Affordable Care Act.

For 2019, Oscar offered health-insurance plans in nine states: Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas, and Tennessee.

Documents reveal the company plans to operate in Philadelphia and nearby Delaware county in Pennsylvania next year. Oscar has also filed to be an insurer in Illinois and Georgia.

Oscar has said that it's planning to offer a new type of health insurance as well. In 2020, Oscar will start offering Medicare Advantage plans. The company hasn't yet said where it will sell those plans.

Oscar in May provided reporters with a summary of its financial results for the first quarter of 2019. The company said it took in $354 million in gross premium revenue, and that it generated a gross underwriting profit of $82 million. The company said it spent about 70% of its members premium dollars on medical care.

The figures that Oscar provides are adjusted to account for a reinsurance agreement with insurance giant Axa.

According to the filings reviewed by Business Insider, Oscar posted a net profit of $24 million in the first quarter of 2019.

Read more: We got our hands on filings that show $3.2 billion health-insurance startup Oscar Health is plotting an expansion into another city



Devoted Health is already plotting an expansion only a few months in to offering health plans.

Devoted Health is already plotting a geographic expansion beyond Florida, its first state.

State insurance filings reviewed by Business Insider show that Devoted has registered as an insurer in Texas, suggesting the company might start offering plans there. Devoted has previously declined to comment on its plans.

Devoted was founded to sell Medicare Advantage plans, or private health insurance to US seniors, a market that's growing rapidly. The company was valued at $1.8 billion, before it began covering a single customer.

For the first three months of 2019, the company posted a net loss of $1.5 million for its plans in Florida, according to the filings. 

Devoted covered about 2,489 people at the end of March. In the first quarter, the company took in $8 million in premium revenue and spent more than that, an estimated $8.2 million, on medical care in the first quarter. Health insurers generate profits by spending less on medical care than they receive in premiums.

Read more: We just got our first look at $1.8 billion startup Devoted Health's financials since the health insurer began signing up customers



The market for health insurance plans is competitive.

Aside from massive funding rounds, among all four startups, there's one unifying factor: They all offer or plan to offer Medicare Advantage plans.

Both Oscar and Bright also have a presence on the individual exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act. For 2019, 11.4 million people signed up for a plan on the exchanges nationally.

The market for Medicare Advantage plans his competitive. About a third of people on Medicare are enrolled in private Medicare Advantage health plans. People can typically choose to enroll in Traditional Medicare or Medicare Advantage plans when they turn 65. Either way, their health needs are largely funded by the US government.

As of last year, more than 20 million Americans were enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans. It's a growing market that insurers from startups — including these four — are interested in getting a piece of, alongside entrenched rivals like Humana, UnitedHealth Group, and CVS Health are in.

It remains to be seen how sizeable of a presence these newer entrants can amass through expansions within existing states and how key geographic expansions will be to their strategies as well. 



THE TECH COLD WAR: Everything that's happened in the new China-US tech conflict involving Google, Huawei, Apple, and Trump (GOOG, GOOGL, AAPL)

Mon, 06/03/2019 - 3:34pm

  • From tariffs and levies to the Huawei ban, the global tech industry is at the center of an escalating cold war between the US and China.
  • This clash affects giant tech companies with global supply chains, like Apple, Intel and Qualcomm. And Chinese tech giants like Huawei that want to do business with US companies. 
  • Among the causes for the standoff are accusations of unfair trade practices, economic espionage and military links. It's involved everyone from government officials and tech execs to ordinary consumers.
  • Business Insider has covered all of the drama, and we've pulled together all our latest reporting on the key areas of conflict in this trans-Pacific showdown. Here's everything you need to know.

 

Google Android and the Huawei ban

3 tech execs who tried to create new smartphone and PC operating systems explain why Huawei's plan to build an Android replacement will be almost impossible

A Wall Street firm figured out how much money Google will sacrifice by cutting off Huawei

A longtime industry expert explains why Trump's attack on Huawei could end up hurting Google and other US tech giants

Huawei developed a 'plan B' operating system for smartphones in case it was banned by the US government from using Google products. Here's what we know about it so far.

Google has more control over Android than we realize, and right now, companies like Huawei have no other choice but to accept that

Huawei and 5G

Huawei slams Trump's 'unreasonable' ban, saying that the move will only harm US interests in its own 5G rollout

President Trump's national emergency likely won't stop you from buying a Huawei phone, much less an iPhone. Here's what it means for you.

Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei says the company is 'fully prepared' for a conflict with the US

Everything you need to know about Huawei, the Chinese tech giant accused of spying that the US just banned from doing business in America

Trump is being mocked on Chinese social media for giving Huawei free publicity

Here's why it's so hard to buy Huawei devices in the US

 

Apple and China

Chinese patriotism will halve Apple's sales in China, analysts warn

Trump's Huawei ban could spark a tit-for-tat fight with Beijing that puts Apple in the crossfire

Trump's Huawei ban may have dire implications for Apple — but investors shouldn't 'jump to conclusions' just yet, analyst says

Wall Street is worried that the US-China trade war could drive up iPhone prices, which is the last thing Apple needs right now

Huawei, the Chinese tech giant embroiled in controversy, just overtook Apple to become the second-largest smartphone maker

 

Artificial Intelligence, chips and enterprise software

As a tech Cold War looms, this veteran Silicon Valley patent attorney says that China's push to win the AI processor market is a serious threat to American tech

Trump's blacklist of Huawei has serious implications for Red Hat, Oracle, VMware, and other huge US software companies

We spent a day with China's rock star of AI, whose new book says China's machine learning superiority will subjugate Americans to 'technological colonization'

Google's former China boss says the search company won't stand a chance against today's Chinese 'gladiator' entrepreneurs

 

Spies, surveillance, trade secrets, and arrests

The US just warned that drones made in China could be used as a way to spy, but not in the way you think

The founder of Chinese tech giant Huawei reportedly expects his daughter, Huawei's CFO, to go to jail, but he's 'not worried about her future'

'My inner self has never felt so colorful and vast': Huawei's CFO wrote a heartfelt email to staff in a show of defiance to the US

Explosive report claims Europe's biggest phone company found 'backdoors' in Huawei equipment

Huawei's CFO was carrying a whole bunch of Apple products when she was arrested

Huawei's security boss says the company would sooner 'shut down' than spy for China

Huawei is accused of attempting to copycat a T-Mobile robot, and the charges read like a comical spy movie

Join the conversation about this story »

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We asked top VCs to pick 22 cannabis startups they think will blow up, raise fresh rounds, or IPO this year. Check out our exclusive lists here.

Mon, 06/03/2019 - 3:22pm

Investors are pouring money into cannabis startups. Venture firms invested $881 million into cannabis startups in 2018, over double the amount raised a year prior, according to the data provider PitchBook.

That money has gone into two larger buckets: first, are consumer cannabis startups. These are companies that sell and distribute THC and CBD-containing products, like oils, skincare products, edibles, and even pre-rolled joints.

Second, are cannabis tech startups that provide the software and hardware to support the rapidly growing industry.

While the cannabis industry is still nascent — THC, the main psychoactive component of the plant isn't federally legal in the US — startups are jockeying for market share in an attempt to dominate the early innings of what some Wall Street analysts say could be a $194 billion global industry by 2030.

To help get a sense of what the landscape looks like for startups in the very early innings of the cannabis industry, Business Insider asked 12 of the top cannabis VCs which startups to watch out for.

Subscribe to Business Insider Prime below to read the exclusive lists: 

While you're here, read more of Business Insider's cannabis industry coverage:

Join the conversation about this story »

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Venture-backed health-insurance startup Bright Health is plotting a major expansion into 5 new states

Mon, 06/03/2019 - 3:18pm

  • Bright Health, the Minneapolis-based health-insurance startup that provides health plans for individuals and families and to seniors has big plans for a major expansion. 
  • As soon as 2020, the company could newly offer coverage in Illinois, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, and Nebraska, according to job listings and insurance filings reviewed by Business Insider. It currently operates in six states.
  • Bright Health made $66 million in revenue and recorded $39.6 million in medical costs in the first quarter of 2019. The company more than doubled its enrollment compared to 2018 and had more than 65,000 members as of the first quarter. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Health insurer Bright Health is gearing up for a big expansion. 

Bright Health provides health plans for individuals under the Affordable Care Act and to seniors in Medicare Advantage.

In the first quarter of 2019, Bright Health generated $66 million in revenue and accumulated $39.6 million of medical claims. The company posted a profit of $15.3 million for the period.

The company had made its way into six states as of 2019 and is laying plans to operate in five more as soon as next year, according to job listings and regulatory filings reviewed by Business Insider. The new states are: Illinois, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, and Nebraska. 

A spokesperson for Minneapolis-based Bright Health declined to comment.

Read more: We got a look at the 2019 plans for venture-backed health-insurance startup Bright Health, which says it doubled its membership again

Founded in 2016, the company has raised $441.7 million and has a valuation of $950 million, according to PitchBook.

Bright partners with one health system in each market to help set up its insurance plan. For instance, in New York, it's working with Mount Sinai Health System. Bright typically offers these plans to individuals, families, and seniors. The idea is that if Bright can work directly with one health system in a region rather than contract with every health provider there, it can make its members' care better and less expensive.

For the first three months of 2019, Bright spent about 60% of the premiums it took in from members on their medical care, otherwise known as a medical loss ratio. That frees up more of its premium revenue to invest in other aspects of the business.

Bright Health CEO Bob Sheehy said earlier this year that the company anticipated premium revenue to jump to about $400 million in 2019. Its membership more than doubled between 2018 and 2019. As of the end of the first quarter, it had 65,886 members, the majority of which were in the company's individual and family plans. 

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You can fly to Hawaii for about $12 by opening a single credit card

Mon, 06/03/2019 - 3:14pm

Business Insider may receive a commission from The Points Guy Affiliate Network if you apply for a credit card, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.

  • Hawaiian Airlines' frequent flyer program might not be of interest to you unless you live in Hawaii.
  • However, if you have any interest in a tropical Hawaiian vacation, you might want to look into signing up for an account and opening the airline's credit card, the Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard, from Barclays.
  • That's because the card offers new members 60,000 bonus miles when they spend $2,000 in the first 90 days —  enough for a free round-trip ticket from anywhere in the US.
  • By opening the credit card and meeting that spending requirement, you can fly to Hawaii for just $12 in taxes.

Hawaiian Airlines' frequent flyer program — and its credit card — are, naturally, a bit niche. Unless you're one of the Aloha State's 1.4 million residents, or you travel to the islands frequently for work or to visit friends or family, getting a Hawaiian Airlines credit card might seem totally pointless.

However, if you're hoping to take a trip to the Hawaiian islands anytime soon, you might want to consider opening that card — even if you don't plan to keep it for very long.

That's because, starting Thursday, but only for a limited time, Hawaiian Airlines' credit card is offering a massive 60,000 miles when you open a new card and spend $2,000 in the first 90 days.

To put that in perspective, Hawaiian's award chart lays out how many miles a particular flight would cost. Flights between the US East Coast and Hawaii start at 26,250 each way at the bottom range, although they can increase significantly depending on availability and at peak times.

In practice, sample searches show plentiful availability on flights from New York for 30,000 miles one-way, or 60,000 miles round-trip.

Flights from the West Coast are even cheaper, routinely going for just 40,000 miles round-trip.

That means that opening the Hawaiian card and spending $1,000 on it could get you a free round-trip flight for a Hawaiian vacation (you'll have to pay about $12 in taxes and fees). That's an excellent way to cut down on expenses for a trip — especially if your travel companion also opens the card, earns the bonus, and uses the points to book their ticket.

This is an especially good value considering that the card's $99 annual fee is waived for the first year.

From there, you'll just need to focus on paying for a hotel or an Airbnb. Fortunately, there are a few fantastic points-accepting hotels and resorts on the islands, and using a hotel credit card can help get at least a few of your nights for free. Check out our guide to planning a (mostly) free Hawaiian vacation for more.

Click here to learn more about the Hawaiian Airlines Mastercard from Business Insider's partner, The Points Guy.

SEE ALSO: The best credit card rewards, bonuses, and benefits of 2019

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The 25 most popular cities for vacation homes in the US, ranked

Sun, 06/02/2019 - 11:30am

There are three main reasons why people consider buying a vacation home, according to Jean Chatzky, financial editor of NBC's "Today" Show, in her latest book, " Women with Money:" They frequent a certain area, they're planning to retire, or they want rental income.

These all have one underlying factor: location. Do you visit often? Does the place fit your lifestyle? Is it a popular area where tourists will want to rent?

So, we teamed up with Zillow to find the most popular US cities for vacation homes. To determine this, Zillow used 2017 US census data to see the share of homes classified as a second home in cities with a population over 65,000. The percentage of vacation homes refers to the amount of vacation homes out of all total homes in the city.

Florida cities are the most popular for vacation homes, as well as cities surrounding Las Vegas, Nevada, and Phoenix, Arizona. See the 25 most popular places for vacation homes below, ranked in descending order.

All population sizes are based on US Census Bureau data.

SEE ALSO: Rich millennials are buying vacation homes before starter homes. There are 3 things you should consider before buying one, says a financial expert.

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25. Henderson, Nevada, located to the southeast of Las Vegas, has a population of 320,390.

Percentage of vacation homes: 5.45%

Number of vacation homes: 7,234

Number of total homes: 132,788



24. Portland, Maine, has a population of 66,417.

Percentage of vacation homes: 5.49%

Number of vacation homes: 1,923

Number of total homes: 35,010



23. Yuma, Arizona, borders Arizona and Mexico and is three hours west of Tucson. Yuma County has a population of 212,128.

Percentage of vacation homes: 5.76%

Number of vacation homes: 2,353

Number of total homes: 40,828



22. The county of Honolulu, Hawaii, has a population of 980,080.

Percentage of vacation homes: 6.43%

Number of vacation homes: 9,746

Number of total homes: 151,619



21. About four hours south of San Antonio, Mission, Texas, is at the tip of the state and has a population of 84,827.

Percentage of vacation homes: 6.94%

Number of vacation homes:  2,092

Number of total homes: 30,123



20. Enterprise, Nevada, located near Las Vegas, has a population of 108,481.

Percentage of vacation homes: 7.04%

Number of vacation homes: 4,508

Number of total homes: 64,069



19. Surprise, Arizona, northwest of Phoenix, has a population of 138,161.

Percentage of vacation homes: 7.12%

Number of vacation homes: 4,156

Number of total homes: 58,397



18. Daytona Beach, Florida, has a population of 68,866.

Percentage of vacation homes: 7.71%

Number of vacation homes: 2,522

Number of total homes: 32,727



17. Paradise, Nevada, just south of Las Vegas, has a population of 223,167.

Percentage of vacation homes: 7.87%

Number of vacation homes: 9,085

Number of total homes: 115,426



16. Mesa, Arizona, just east of Phoenix, has a population of 508,958.

Percentage of vacation homes: 7.89%

Number of vacation homes: 16,444

Number of total homes: 208,391



15. Lakeland, Florida, an hour east of Tampa, has a population of 110,516.

Percentage of vacation homes: 8.64%

Number of vacation homes: 4,398

Number of total homes: 50,917



14. Newport Beach, California, has a population of 85,326.

Percentage of vacation homes: 9.53%

Number of vacation homes: 4,405

Number of total homes: 46,237



13. Scottsdale, Arizona, just northeast of Phoenix, has a population of 255,310.

Percentage of vacation homes: 10.55%

Number of vacation homes: 14,120

Number of total homes: 133,883



12. San Tan Valley, Arizona, located within the Phoenix metro area, has a population of 81,321.

Percentage of vacation homes: 10.58%

Number of vacation homes: 3,802

Number of total homes: 35,949



11. West Palm Beach, Florida, has a population of 111,398.

Percentage of vacation homes: 11.65%

Number of vacation homes: 6,020

Number of total homes: 51,684



10. Boynton Beach, Florida, situated between West Palm Beach and Boca Raton, has a population of 78,050.

Percentage of vacation homes: 11.7%

Number of vacation homes: 4,113

Number of total homes: 35,142



9. Clearwater, Florida, which sits on the Tampa Bay, has a population of 116,478.

Percentage of vacation homes: 12.24%

Number of vacation homes: 7,072

Number of total homes: 57,763



8. Largo, Florida, just south of Clearwater, has a population of 84,996.

Percentage of vacation homes: 12.32%

Number of vacation homes: 5,640

Number of total homes: 45,788



7. Hollywood, Florida, south of Fort Lauderdale, has a population of 154,823.

Percentage of vacation homes: 12.32%

Number of vacation homes: 8,416

Number of total homes: 68,321



6. Boca Raton, Florida, has a population of 99,244.

Percentage of vacation homes: 13.1%

Number of vacation homes: 7,122

Number of total homes: 54,380



5. Fort Myers, Florida, about two hours south of Tampa, has a population of 82,254.

Percentage of vacation homes: 13.23%

Number of vacation homes: 5,205

Number of total homes: 39,355



4. Cape Coral, Florida, adjacent to Fort Myers, has a population of 189,343.

Percentage of vacation homes: 15.82%

Number of vacation homes: 13,627

Number of total homes: 86,155



3. Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has a population of 182,595.

Percentage of vacation homes: 16.15%

Number of vacation homes: 15,170

Number of total homes: 93,917



2. Pompano Beach, Florida, just north of Fort Lauderdale, has a population of 111,954.

Percentage of vacation homes: 18.72%

Number of vacation homes: 10,794

Number of total homes: 57,675



1. Miami Beach, Florida, has a population of 11,510.

Percentage of vacation homes: 24.89%

Number of vacation homes: 17,509

Number of total homes: 70,349



'Godzilla: King of the Monsters' wins the weekend box office but performs below expectations

Sun, 06/02/2019 - 11:28am

  • Warner Bros.' "Godzilla: King of the Monsters" won the domestic weekend box office with an estimated $49 million, knocking Disney's "Aladdin" from the top spot.
  • However, it performed below expectations and was a softer opening than 2014's "Godzilla" ($93.1 million) and WB's fellow "MonsterVerse" release "Kong: Skull Island" ($61 million).
  • "King of the Monsters" also was part of a crowded new release slate this weekend, with "Rocketman" opening with a healthy $25 million opening and the $5 million-budgeted Blumhouse release "Ma" earning $18.3 million.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Warner Bros. needed a giant monster to vanquish Disney.

Its "Godzilla: King of the Monsters" knocked off "Aladdin" from the top of the domestic box office over the weekend by bringing in an estimated $49 million. Disney's live-action remake of its animated classic took in $42.3 million in its second weekend (it now has a global total of $446 million).

But WB was originally hoping for a little more from Godzilla, as its projected opening was between $50 million and $55 million. It also didn't open as strong as 2014's "Godzilla," which brought in $93.1 million, or the other big monster franchise WB has in its stable, 2017's "Kong: Skull Island," which had a $61 million opening.

The studio can only hope that fans of both Godzilla and King Kong will show up when they finally go face-to-face in "Godzilla vs. Kong" next year.

Read more: "Good Omens" author and showrunner Neil Gaiman explains why TV's fantasy and sci-fi "gold rush" is just getting started

Another obstacle facing "King of the Monsters" was that it was a very competitive weekend, as two other wide releases opened. Paramount had "Rocketman," the Elton John biopic, and Universal had its latest release from Blumhouse, "Ma," starring Octavia Spencer.

"Rocketman" took in a strong $25 million, while "Ma" brought in $18.3 million. The Blumhouse playbook was in full effect with "Ma," as it's a $5 million-budgeted thriller fueled from a modest Rotten Tomatoes score of 61% and the pedigree of the Blumhouse label. It resulted in the latest Blumhouse title that made a profit before its opening weekend even ended. "Rocketman" has more of a challenge than last year's hit rock biopic, "Bohemian Rhapsody," as that title opened in November while the Elton John movie is right in the summer season blockbuster fray. But word-of-mouth can hopefully keep that title in the top 10 of the domestic box office in the coming weeks.

 

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Even though I could afford a $2 million home, my house costs a fraction that much because I've embraced a truth most people don't understand

Sun, 06/02/2019 - 11:00am

  • Author Holly Johnson lives in Central Indiana with her family, in a home she and her husband bought for $187,500.
  • When she runs their information through mortgage and housing affordability calculators, she's told she can afford a $2 million home.
  • Instead of leaping at the chance to upgrade, Johnson stays in her current home because she's embraced a truth many people don't: What the bank tells you is affordable and what's actually affordable for the life you want to live are two different things. 
  • Only you know how much you can "afford" to spend on a home, she writes, no matter what a mortgage calculator or banker says.

When my husband and I began searching for our "forever home" in 2014, we weren't looking for a starter castle or a "dream home." We hoped to purchase a modest home with three or four bedrooms in a neighborhood with plenty of kids. But what we really wanted was to spend less than $250,000, which is a reasonable expectation considering we live in Central Indiana.

Fortunately, we found exactly what we were looking for — a four-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath home in a great neighborhood with a big fenced yard. The list price was also around $190,000, which we were able to negotiate down to $187,500.

This was a lot less than we could afford at the time, but we wanted some extra wiggle room to make our home our own. This also meant that, between 2014 and 2019, we were able to spend around $100,000 adding a new family room addition, a new patio, and landscaping.

What would a house cost you? Find out with these offers from our partners:

Where mortgage affordability calculators go wrong

My husband and I have been pretty conservative about money since our late 20's, and that is part of the reason we spent less than we could technically "afford." Housing affordability calculators have always told us we could spend double, triple, or more than we did on a home, but we have always ignored them and forged our own path.

We also earn considerably more now than we did when we purchased our home — so much, in fact, that Zillow says we could spend $2 million on a primary residence. This is based partly on our income but also on the fact we don't have any debts.

But to us, that's absolutely insane.

Mortgage calculators get it wrong because they only consider your basic financial information — factors like your gross income, your debts, and your liabilities. They don't consider other important factors like your personal comfort with debt and your long-term financial goals.

Mortgage calculators also fail to consider how much house you want to take care of and the additional costs for cleaning, maintenance, and upkeep on a larger home. Obviously, larger homes with more square footage lead to higher costs when you need to replace a roof or pay for new flooring.

Most mortgage calculators also assume you're going to want a 30-year mortgage, which stretches out your payments longer and affords you a larger loan amount. But not everyone wants to pay their home mortgage for three decades, right?

Why we spend less on housing than we can afford

No matter what Zillow (or even your mortgage company) says, only you know how much you can afford to spend on a home. And that's why my husband and I haven't gone out to buy a giant, fancy home. First, we don't need more space than we already have. On top of that, we are painfully aware of what we would be giving up!

With a huge mortgage and larger-than-life mortgage payment, we would have a lot less money to save and invest each month toward early retirement. We would also have to drastically curb our annual travel budget, which is typically high since we travel at least four months of the year.

With higher monthly expenses, we might also have to cut back on activities for our kids, and perhaps not save quite as much for their college education. We would also have to have a much larger emergency savings to account for pricier repair bills and the higher costs of replacing a larger roof and a bigger HVAC system in the future.

Even more importantly, I think we would have to get used to not sleeping quite as well at night. Any time you add to your monthly liabilities, you have to worry about what would happen if you were to get sick or see your income drop overnight. With a larger monthly mortgage payment that might last up to 30 years, we would constantly be stuck wondering what we would do if we could no longer keep up.

The bottom line

When you're ready to shop for a home and start playing around with a mortgage calculator or speaking to a lender about how much you can afford to borrow, remember that banks are in the business of loaning money. They may understand how much you earn and what your liabilities are, but it's not their job to understand your lifestyle, your hopes, or your dreams.

Only you can decide how much you want to spend and how you want to live, so don't let a calculator or a big bank make the decision for you.

Would you be able to afford your dream home? Find out with this calculator from our partners:

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China has made its trade war demands ahead of the G20 summit: tariffs have not 'made America great again'

Sun, 06/02/2019 - 10:42am

On Sunday, a senior Chinese official made a series of statements outlining the Chinese government's terms for negotiation and pushed back on the United States' use of pressure to force concessions, according to multiple reports.

Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen, who led the working-level team in earlier negotiations, said on Sunday that the US bears responsibility for the collapse of trade talks, and noted that any deal must include "balanced" language between the two countries, according to a Bloomberg report.

"We're willing to adopt a cooperative approach to find a solution," Wang said, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

According to an Associated Press report, Wang added: "During the consultations, China has overcome many difficulties and put forward pragmatic solutions. However, the U.S. has backtracked, and when you give them an inch, they want a yard."

Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe reinforced Wang's comments during a defense forum in Singapore on Sunday, according to the AP report.

"If the U.S. wants to talk, we will keep the door open. If they want a fight, we will fight till the end," Wei said.

Washington raised tariffs to 25% from 10% on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods on May 10, and Beijing retaliated three days later by announcing raised tariffs on $60 billion worth of American goods that went into effect Saturday. In May, the US made a list of prospective tariffs on another $300 billion worth of goods that have yet to go into effect.

Read More: THE TECH COLD WAR: Everything that's happened in the new China-US tech conflict involving Google, Huawei, Apple, and Trump

According to a white paper released by the Chinese government alongside Wang's public comments, the trade war has not "made America great again," and has instead had negative impacts across the US economy.

The white paper also outlined requirements for a trade deal between the two countries: the United States remove all additional tariffs, China's purchases of US goods should be "realistic," and there should be a clearly defined "balance" in the agreement's text.

The statements come ahead of the G20 summit, where it is unclear whether negotiators will meet. According to a Wall Street Journal report, the paper and the timing of its release is a way for China to make its position clear going into the international summit.

This all comes as trade tensions between the United States and China continue to escalate in what is feared to become a tech Cold War. Washington's blacklisting of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei is still a major pain point in negotiations, and has led to Chinese retaliation against US tech companies. On Wednesday, China hinted it may restrict rare earth exports to the US, which could cripple US tech, defense, and manufacturing industries.

SEE ALSO: Loot Crate, once America's fastest-growing company, says that it's laying off 150 workers as it moves away from operating its own warehouses

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I was 20 years old when the Great Recession struck. Here's what I wish I'd known about money back then.

Sun, 06/02/2019 - 10:30am

  • The author, Brynne Conroy, was 20 years old when the Great Recession started.
  • If she could go back and give her 20-year-old self some advice about money, the first piece would be not to panic about the stock market — if you play the long game, things will eventually recover.
  • She'd also tell herself not to cash out her retirement account, and to get used to freelancing, because it will become the new norm.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

When I was 20 years old, the floor fell out from under the stock market.

I was following my first husband around the country. I had saved up a healthy emergency fund ahead of our impending move because I knew there was a decent chance I wouldn't have a job when we pulled into town.

I wasn't a cocky person, but I was confident in my financial wherewithal. Granted, for a 20-year-old, I was fairly money savvy. But as is the case with every 20-year-old, I had no idea how much I had yet to learn.

If I could go back and have a little financial chat with my overly confident 20-year-old self, here are a handful of things I'd want to tell her:

The economy's going to keep falling — don't freak out

This is the worst recession since the Great Depression. You're going to know people who lose their homes, their jobs or even their opportunity to work upon graduation.

It's going to feel scary. But you don't have any money invested in the stock market yet. You have no real estate, and the career field you're working in is heavily skills-based. The fact that you're young and have low expectations as far as income goes will also work in your favor.

You're going to hear people freaking out in the lunch room. It's going to prompt you to make a trip to the ATM every day to withdraw your savings in cash. It's going to scare you away from investing.

You'd be wise to calm down. There aren't going to be any problems with FDIC-insured funds. The economy will slowly but steadily recover. Rather than being afraid of the stock market, now is the time to run towards it.

Eventually things will recover; if you play the long game, the investments you make right now could really pay off.

Don't give up hope

You're going to be riding quite the financial roller coaster in the coming years. At times, it's going to feel like the ride only goes down with no chance of ever again ascending into the sky.

Don't give up hope. I promise that if you keep at it, your hard work will pay off. You'll be privileged enough to have financial opportunities come your way, but only after you've put in some serious time and effort. You know how to work hard. You just need to learn some patience.

Learn about retirement account rollovers

Over the next few years, you're going to sporadically be required to make mandated pension contributions. One of those pensions will force you to take your money out eventually, since you're not vested. You'll think this is fine and dandy because in that moment, you'll really need the money.

Don't do that. Let the money grow and serve you more prolifically in retirement. Learn about retirement account rollovers and your different options. You can move your money into a separate tax-advantaged account independent of an employer, dodging penalties, fees, and taxes for early withdrawals.

Get used to the freelancing thing

About a decade out, the public will start recognizing that America's workplaces have severely slowed their hiring of W-2 employees in favor of 1099 contractors. This is happening largely so employers don't have to take on the additional costs, legal responsibilities, and liabilities involved with hiring a W-2 employee.

You've freelanced before. You'll do it again. You're lucky in that the freedom of freelancing suits your personality, regardless of the career field you find yourself pursuing. But I know it also stresses you out because you were born with a preexisting condition and cannot get medical insurance save through employee benefits.

Within a few years, a federal healthcare bill will pass that protects you and enables you to purchase health insurance without being asked about preexisting conditions. Things are going to be okay on that front — at least for the next umpteen years. I can't see any further into the future.

Stop being so self-righteous about credit

Yes, you're debt-free now. You will be for quite some time. But that will not always be the case.

You do not have it all figured out yet. You are strong and admirable with a good head on your shoulders. But remember not to judge experiences you have not lived. Often, it will come back to bite you.

How much could your savings grow when you start putting money away? Find out with this calculator from our partners:

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How to get a student loan for college or grad school

Sun, 06/02/2019 - 10:00am

Personal Finance Insider writes about products, strategies, and tips to help you make smart decisions with your money. We may receive a small commission from our partners, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.

  • Student loans may seem complicated, but a step-by-step guide can help demystify the process.
  • The first step to getting a federal student loan is filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which uses income information to determine how much a student or their family can afford to contribute to college.
  • Up to 10 schools will receive a student's FAFSA and determine whether there is a need for financial aid. Aid award letters are sent out in the spring alongside college acceptance letters.
  • If a student doesn't qualify for need-based federal loans or needs more money than the government is able to provide, they may supplement the cost with private student loans.
  • The US Department of Education recommends accepting any free government money (scholarships, grants, and work-study opportunities) before taking on a federal student loan or private student loan.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Student loans are a complicated beast.

Considering some 44 million American borrowers carry over $1.5 trillion in student-loan debt, one may assume it's easy to get a student loan, but the reality is quite contrary.

Securing a student loan is a lengthy process that often begins before a college acceptance letter even lands in the mailbox. Keep reading for the step-by-step process.

How to get a student loan 1. Understand the types of student loans

The specifics around student loans can be complex, but the first thing to understand is that there are two main types: federal and private. Federal student loans are offered by the US government, while private student loans are issued by a bank or other financial institution.

Federal student loans typically offer better terms than private student loans, and are either subsidized (these include a "grace period" where interest doesn't accrue) or unsubsidized. If you're expecting to need financial aid to pay for college, it's best to start by applying at the federal level.

2. Gather documents you'll need for the FAFSA

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is your first step to getting a federal student loan, grant, scholarship, or work-study opportunity. Whether you're a prospective or current undergraduate or graduate student, the application must be filled out each year in which you're applying for aid.

The application to get financial aid for the 2019-2020 school year opened on October 1, 2018 and closes on June 30, 2019. To complete the application, you'll need your Social Security number and/or driver's license number, plus a whole bunch of bank statements, tax returns, and income information.

Gathering all the necessary information ahead of time can speed up the actual application process, which takes about 30 minutes, on average. Nerdwallet has a handy list of every document you'll need.

An online platform called Frank can also help streamline the process. The startup works with students to complete the FAFSA in as little as four minutes, for free. There's also a $19.90-a-month membership option that provides a financial support team and access to a cash advance before your loan kicks in.

3. Make a list of schools

If it's your first time filling out the FAFSA as a prospective student, make a list of up to 10 schools that you want to receive your FAFSA application. If you're applying online, you can search for the school codes through the application.

Paper applicants can send their FAFSA to up to four schools. School codes are available on the federal student aid website.

4. Check if any of the schools require a separate financial aid application

Some colleges have their own financial aid applications, so be sure to check with each school on your list and follow any additional instructions for applying for aid.

5. Submit your FAFSA and review your Student Aid Report

Within three weeks of submitting your FAFSA, you'll receive a report by email or paper mail detailing what you provided on your application. Check the Student Aid Report to make sure all the information is correct. If there any mistakes, log in to your account using the Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID you created during the application process and fix them as soon as possible.

The Student Aid Report will also list your "expected family contribution" — the government's estimation of how much money your family can be expected to pay toward college based on the income data provided in the application. This will help colleges determine your eligibility for need-based financial aid.

6. Start researching private student loans

The amount a student can borrow through federal student loans is limited depending on the type of loan, year in school, and dependency status.

The total lifetime maximum amount of federal loans a dependent undergraduate student can take on is $31,000, but no more than $23,000 can be subsidized. The maximum amount an independent undergrad can take on is $57,500, with the same $23,000 cap on subsidized loans. Graduate and professional students can take on a lifetime total of $138,500 in federal student loans, but no more than $65,500 can be subsidized.

Most students won't receive the full possible amount of federal loans and turn to private lenders to fill the gaps. Unlike government student loans, private loans require credit history or a co-signer to obtain. You can use a site like LendingTree to find out which loans you may qualify for and compare different lenders, or go directly to online lenders like SoFi .

7. Look for financial aid award letters in the spring

Financial aid award letters start arriving in the spring alongside college acceptance letters and outline exactly which scholarships, grants, work-study programs, and federal student loans a student has qualified for and how much it's worth.

8. Accept any free money before the loan

The rule of thumb from the US Department of Education's Federal Student Aid office is to first accept any free aid you're offered, including scholarships and grants, and work-study opportunities.

After that, it's best practice to accept an offer for a subsidized student loan before an unsubsidized loan. A subsidized loan gives the borrower a grace period to repay the loan, usually lasting until they're out of school, and doesn't accrue interest during this time.

If the amount offered from the federal lenders won't make up for the gap in what you can afford out-of-pocket, it may be time to consider a lower-cost college or a private student loan. 

9. Sign a promissory note

The aid offer letter will detail exactly how to accept the federal loan you've been offered, and you can even accept a partial amount if you want.

If you're getting a direct loan from the US Department of Education, you'll have to sign a contract called the master promissory note, which also includes information about how interest is calculated, when it's charged, available repayment plans, and deferment and cancellation rules.

10. Complete entrance counseling

If it's your first time accepting a federal student loan, you'll be required to complete entrance counseling to prove your understanding of the loan terms and process, what other financial aid options are available to you, and your rights and responsibilities as a borrower.

The school may direct you to the Federal Student Aid office's entrance counseling class, which takes about 30 minutes to complete, or offer their own in-person or online program.

11. Receive your loan

The school will be in charge of applying your loan money to tuition, books and supplies, and room and board through a process called disbursement. Each time the school disburses funds from your loan, you'll be notified.

Once your obligatory costs are covered, any loan money left over will be credited to you by the school's financial aid office. If you find you're able to pay out-of-pocket at any point and don't need the loan money, you can cancel the loan amount within 120 days with no interest charges or fees.

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We took a 4-hour flight on the new Delta Airbus jet that Boeing tried to keep out of the US. Here's what it was like. (DAL)

Sun, 06/02/2019 - 9:14am

  • The Airbus A220 is one of the most advanced and fuel-efficient airliners in the world. 
  • The Canadian-built jet, formerly known as the Bombardier C Series, entered commercial service in the US with Delta Air Lines earlier this year. 
  • Recently, we flew from New York to Dallas, Texas on a Delta Airbus A220 to see what the plane is like on a longer flight.
  • We were impressed by the wide economy class seats, quiet cabin, plentiful overhead storage space, and broad in-flight entertainment options. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The Airbus A220 was one of the most hotly anticipated airliners in recent memory to reach the US. The Quebec-built jet, formerly known as the Bombardier C Series, was the subject of a heated US-Canadian trade dispute in 2017. 

In April of that year, Boeing filed a complaint with US Commerce Department and the US International Trade Commission alleging that Delta's 2016 order for C Series jets was made possible only by abnormally low prices supported by Canadian government subsidies.

Read more: Delta is the first US airline to fly the new Airbus A220 jetliner. Here are its coolest features.

The US International Trade Commission agreed and in September of that year recommended a 219.63% tariff. A week later, the Commerce Department added a 79.82% tariff.

Bombardier and Delta both argued that Boeing's business couldn't have been hurt by the deal because Boeing didn't have a product in its lineup similar in capacity to the C Series.

In total, Bombardier and Delta faced a 299.45% tariff on any Canadian-built C Series plane exported to the US.

Facing the possibility of losing the most important order in the C Series program's history, Bombardier turned to Boeing's greatest foe, Airbus.

Less than a month after the tariff was announced, Bombardier handed 50.01% of its prized airliner program to Airbus with zero up-front cash investment coming from the European aviation giant.

In the summer of 2018, the Bombardier C Series was officially rebranded as the Airbus A220.

Even though the A220 entered service with Swiss in 2016, it didn't commence commercial flights in the US until earlier this year. Business Insider had the chance to check out the state-of-the-art carbon composite jetliner when Delta launched its inaugural A220 flights in February. We experienced the aircraft's first and economy class cabins on a round trip between New York's LaGuardia Airport and Boston Logan Airport. Unfortunately, those flights only lasted about an hour. Since the A220's extraordinary range and fuel efficiency allows it to operate flights as long as six or seven hours, we wanted to see what it was like on one of these longer journeys. 

Hence our decision to fly a Delta Airbus A220 from LaGuardia to Dallas Ft. Worth International Airport, a flight that should take around four hours. 

Here's how it went: 

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Arrived at LaGuardia Airport's Terminal C at 11:20 am, one hour and 40 minutes ahead of my 1 pm flight. The terminal was not terribly busy on a Thursday afternoon. I was able to check my suitcase and go through the TSA PreCheck security line in less than 15 minutes.

I stopped to grab a bottle of water and a snack before making my way to Gate C18. We were expected to board at 12:20 pm.

However, our flight wound up being delayed by more than an hour and a half to 2:33 pm. The delay also necessitated a gate change to Terminal D which required a trek through the walkway connecting the two facilities.

From the walkway, I could see our plane on the tarmac.

Here's our plane pulling into the gate.

This is the Airbus A220-100 that operated our flight is N110DU. It was delivered brand new on March 29, 2019 and was the ninth A220 to enter the Delta fleet.

Finally, at around 2:20 pm, we boarded the flight.

At the boarding door, there were a couple of remnants of its Bombardier past including this information car and...

... A C Series welcome mat.

The Airbus A220 features five seats per row in 3-2 configuration. Delta's A220-100s have a total of 109 seats on board with 12 in First Class, 15 in Comfort Plus, and 82 in Main Cabin or economy.

Economy class seats have 30 to 32 inches of seat pitch, the amount of space between two rows of seats.

The A220 also boasts remarkably large overhead storage bins that look like something you'd find on a wide-body jumbo.

Here's my seat,16E.

Delta's A220s boasts some of the roomiest economy-class seats in the business at 18.6 inches wide. That's roughly two inches wider than the seats on some of Delta's MD-88s.



Seat 16E has more legroom than any other seat on the plane. That's because it's in an emergency exit row and missing the seat in front of it. You can really stretch out in this seat.

Here come our checked bags! Unfortunately, our flight had been delayed once again. The pilots announce over the intercom that the mechanics are attempting to fix a valve of some sort.

In the meantime, I admire the Delta Embraer E-Jet parked one gate over.

I miss these old Ford Rangers.

To pass the time, I decide to check out Delta's in-flight entertainment system. Seat 16E uses a screen that folds out from the armrest instead of a seat back unit.

Each screen also boasts a headphone jack and a USB plug. There are power sockets on each row.

The system offers a good variety of movies, ...

... TV series, ...

... live satellite TV, and...

... music options.

There's also information on the flight.

As well as a map that will simulate the flight route.

An hour and a half after boarding our flight we are still at the gate. The Embraer has departed and an Airbus A320 is now occupying the nearby gate. With that said, the Delta crew remained in communication during the delay with frequent updates on the maintenance situation.

We have pushback! Finally, we leave the gate a few minutes before 4:00 pm. Three hours after our original departure time.

As we taxi to the runway, we pass a Bombardier regional jet. Delta still operates CRJ900 regional jets on flights between New York and Dallas.

Welcome to New York!

Time for takeoff!

The A220's pair of Pratt & Whitney PW1500G geared turbofan engines quickly spooled up and off we went. The GTF engines proved to be remarkably quiet, even at full throttle.

We got a great view of Lower Manhattan as we turned south.

As we climbed through the clouds, the gray was replaced by blue skies and fluffy clouds.

According to our schedule, the flight should take around 3 hours and 45 minutes.

After takeoff, I turn my attention back to the entertainment screen. I settle in to watch the film "Vice."

Alas, the system glitched and would not allow me to watch beyond the first few minutes.

So. "Aquaman" it is.

Half an hour or so into the flight, the crew commenced food and drinks service. The IFE screen also features a built-in menu of available food and drink.

Seat 16E also get a special fold-out tray table that's stored in the right armrest.

I went for a diet coke.

I also purchased a snack box which included cheese, crackers, salami, and cookies. Not the healthiest thing under the sun, but it was good.

During our flight, the cabin was bathed in blue mood lighting.

After the drinks service concluded, I walked around the cabin to stretch my legs. I stopped by the Captain's side bathroom at the back of the plane. It's one of the few airplane lavatories with a window. The A220's other two bathrooms do not have windows.

We landed in Dallas at around 7:30 pm local time.

Here's one final look at the Delta Airbus A220 at DFW Airport. Overall, we were impressed by the wide economy class seats, quiet cabin, plentiful overhead storage space, and broad in-flight entertainment options. I'm usually not a big fan of long flights on narrow-body airliners. They tend to feel cramped and uncomfortable. The A220 didn't feel that way. I look forward to my next flight on the Airbus A220.



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