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Ford just revealed its all-new Explorer SUV, and it's the automaker's most important new vehicle since the redesigned F-150 pickup truck (F)

Wed, 01/09/2019 - 7:30pm

  • Ford revealed its all-new Explorer SUV in Detroit.
  • Ford has sold 8 million units of the iconic Explorer since 1991.
  • The sixth-generation Explorer isn't radically different on the outside from the fifth-generation SUV, but it's been substantially improved in terms of engineering, capabilities, and technology.

The Detroit Auto Show officially kicks off next week, but Ford grabbed the early spotlight by revealing its new Explorer SUV in Motown on Wednesday. 

Business Insider got a look in New York, where Ford brought an example of the iconic SUV, of which the automaker has sold 8 million units since 1991. The revamped 2020 Explorer isn't radically different from the outgoing SUV, but it has been updated in all the ways prospective buyers should expect, given that the previous generation had been around for nine years.

The three-row SUV is critical to Ford's future. US consumers have shifted away from passenger cars, and Ford has decided to stop investing in those vehicles. The strategy requires that pickup trucks, SUVs, and crossovers carry the sales burden. Ford redesigned the perennially bestselling F-Series pickups in 2015 and 2016. It also introduced — and reintroduced — new crossovers and pickups, such as the Bronco and the Ranger.

Read more: The Ford Explorer has been around for more than 25 years — but it's still a brilliant SUV

But the Explorer is special. It was the first large, profitable SUV to catch on with suburban families, ending the reign of the station wagon and bringing the utility vehicle out of the woods and onto city streets.

After a dip in the wake of the financial crisis, when gas prices spiked, the Explorer came roaring back. Sales of the aging vehicle slipped just 3% in 2018, and much of that could be chalked up to consumers waiting for the updated model. (I reviewed the Explorer in 2017 and thought that although it was getting on in years, it was still an excellent choice for a seven-passenger family hauler.)

Ford knows its Explorer owners well, so it asked them what they wanted in the new vehicle.

"More capability, more power, more space" was the answer, Hau Thai-Tang, Ford's head of product development and purchasing, said in a statement.

"They want more technology, not just for the driver, but for the whole family. And they want all of it with a beautifully sporty exterior. This new Explorer gives all of that, and more, helping make every journey more enjoyable."

The base Explorer's price will rise by $400, but the carmaker is compensating buyers by cramming the sixth-generation SUV with upgraded standard features. (The fifth-generation Explorer starts at $32,365, so the new one will start at about $32,765.)

"We obsessed about what Explorer customers need and want," Bill Gubing, the SUV's chief engineer, said in a statement.

"We met with customer groups, pored through internet forums, and dissected social media posts to determine what they love about today's Explorer and understand their pain points. Then we found ways to improve it across the board. Every enhancement on this all-new Explorer was inspired by our customers."

The design of the new SUV could be called a systematic improvement, rather than a total rethink. The fascia was reworked with a bold new grille, but the familiar blackout A-pillar remains, and nobody who owned or leased the previous-gen Explorer will think the 2020 model is anything other than ... a Ford Explorer.

But, as Ford noted, the SUV has been reengineered, built on a new rear-wheel-drive platform that hasn't changed the outward dimensions of the vehicle but has opened up interior space.

Under the hood, you can get everything but a V8. A 2.3-liter, twin-turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 300 horsepower with 310 pound-feet of torque is the base motor. A 3.0-liter, twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 is the next step up; it makes 365 horsepower with 380 pound-feet of torque. 

Towing has been massively improved. The properly outfitted Explorer with the 3.0-liter engine can pull 5,600 pounds, an increase over the top-level 3.5-liter motor in the outgoing SUV. The smaller 2.3-liter engine can now tug 5,000 pounds, while the current SUV with that engine manages just 3,000 pounds. The improvements come for an SUV that's also shed 200 pounds in overall weight.

Drop the third-row seats, and the new Explorer has 171 cubic feet of cargo area. With the third row deployed, children and most adults can ride in relative comfort, and getting in and out of the seating area is made easier thanks to what Ford calls "E-Z Entry" second-row seats.

The most noticeable changes to the Explorer aren't surprising: infotainment technology has been fully updated with Ford's latest SYNC 3 system, a 10.1-inch central touchscreen, and a fully digital instrument cluster; the old-school shifter has been replaced by a selector knob; and the SUV now has wireless-device charging, as well as 4G LTE wireless connectivity. A 980-watt, 14-speaker B&O premium audio system has also been dropped in.

The 2020 Explorer will also have numerous driver-assist technologies standard under Ford's Co-Pilot360 system. Drive modes will range from Eco to Sport, with setups available to showcase the new Explorer's off-road and foul-weather capabilities.

The 2020 Ford Explorer will hit dealerships in mid-2020, with a lineup consisting of "standard, XLT, Limited, Limited Hybrid, and Platinum models," the automaker said in a statement.

Beyond the base trim level's increase, Ford didn't disclose pricing. The company also said it would reveal a Ford Performance ST trim level of the Explorer, as well as a hybrid version, at the Detroit Auto Show next week.

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Bloomberg has reached $10 billion in annual revenue and some insiders are ecstatic about the special payout they're about to receive

Wed, 01/09/2019 - 6:04pm

  • Bloomberg LP has surpassed $10 billion in annual revenue for the first time.
  • Hitting this milestone means some employees will receive bonuses worth tens of thousands of dollars that are paid out in March.
  • Bloomberg, known for its terminals that are ubiquitous on Wall Street trading floors, has lately shifted its revenue mix to new sources like selling data. 

Bloomberg LP, the financial data and information company, brought in record revenue in 2018, surpassing $10 billion for the first time, according to insiders who were informed by senior management. 

While the milestone would be something in itself, it also means some employees are in line to receive an additional bonus thanks to an incentive plan set up years ago to entice staff to push for revenue gains. 

Bloomberg employees who joined the company before 2013 will receive an added bonus paid out in March, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. Staff who worked at the media company when it was first announced in 2008 are eligible for more than those who joined in the intervening years.

Nearly half of the almost 20,000 employees are eligible for some payout and were told last week, the person said. 

The payout could have been higher if Bloomberg had hit the $10 billion mark sooner. The NYPost reported in December 2010 that the firm told employees that the bonus, known as 10B, would equal 70% of their average pay (calculated over some time period) if it reached $10 billion in revenue by June 2014. Later than that, the bonus as a percentage of annual revenue gradually declined. At the time, 12-month trailing revenue was less than $7 billion.  

But by 2012, expectations for reaching $10 billion in revenue had run into the reality of the financial crisis and job cuts across Wall Street, which limited pricey terminals installs that run north of $24,000 a year. In a memo late that year, according to Politico, Bloomberg told employees it would pay them an interim bonus in 2014, with the remainder paid out whenever the firm reached $10 billion in revenue.

Bloomberg, known for its terminals that are ubiquitous on Wall Street trading floors, finally reached the milestone by diversifying away from those machines, Jennifer Milton, an analyst at Burton-Taylor International Consulting, wrote in a LinkedIn post earlier this week

Growth in Bloomberg's non-terminal revenue such as data and research tools outpaced the terminal revenue in 2018, and now accounts for 23% of total revenue, she wrote. The post also mentioned the $10 billion revenue figure, saying it was an estimate.

A Bloomberg spokesman declined to comment. 

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Even if Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos don't split his $137 billion fortune evenly, she still has a chance at becoming the world's richest woman

Wed, 01/09/2019 - 5:30pm

MacKenzie Bezos could be poised to become the world's richest woman. 

Her husband, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, is the richest person in the world, with a fortune of $137 billion, and she'll likely be walking away with a good chunk of that after their divorce, which they announced on Wednesday.

Given that Jeff founded Amazon after they got married, MacKenzie could be entitled to half of the fortune he made from Amazon.

Jeff and MacKenzie live in Washington state, one of nine US states where everything acquired throughout the marriage — from real estate to income — is considered joint property. That means their assets could be split 50-50, unlike in the other 41 states, where a marital estate is made up of assets acquired under each spouse's name and isn't considered joint property unless both names are on the deed, as Business Insider previously reported.

Read more: MacKenzie Bezos played a big role in the founding of Amazon and drove across the country with Jeff to start it

If MacKenzie walked away from the divorce settlement with exactly half of Jeff's fortune, that would make her worth an estimated $68.5 billion — and the richest woman in the world by nearly $23 billion.

But Melisse G. Burstein, a Miami certified public accountant who specializes in accounting in high stakes litigation, said it's not likely the billionaire couple will end up splitting assets 50-50.

"Because much of Jeff Bezos' net worth is tied up in Amazon stock, it would be difficult to figure out how to get the wife 50%," Burstein told Business Insider. "I believe dividing the shares in the company could result in Jeff Bezos' control of Amazon being diluted. This would be against MacKenzie Bezos' interest as it has the potential of devaluing the company and thus devaluing the amount the individual shares are worth."

If the couple signed a prenuptial or a postnuptial agreement, that would overrule state law, Michael Stutman, a New York divorce attorney, told Business Insider.

Given the couple's vast wealth and assets, it's likely they have some sort of marital financial agreement.

The billionaire couple owns a nearly 29,000-square-foot estate outside of Seattle, Washington, as well as two neighboring Beverly Hills mansions, a Texas ranch, the largest house in Washington, DC, and a set of four condos in New York City.

The richest woman in the world

It's unknown whether Jeff and Mackenzie Bezos signed a postnuptial agreement. But MacKenzie could walk away with significantly less than 50% of the $137 billion and still become the richest woman in the world. That title is held by Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, who controls 33% of L'Oreal, the world's largest cosmetics-maker, and who is worth $45.6 billion, according to Bloomberg.

If MacKenzie comes away with even 33.4% of her husband's $137 billion fortune, she would still be worth a staggering $45.7 billion, edging out Bettencourt Meyers.

However, if Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos end up dividing their assets, the business of two billionaires getting divorced is a complicated one. Super-wealthy couples often have to deal with complex and illiquid assets, company issues, and public perception, divorce attorneys say.

For this particular couple, the question of Amazon shares complicates matters even further.

The amount MacKenzie will walk away with will be "dependent on how the divorce terms are structured and whether it is feasible for Mackenzie to acquire Amazon shares without diluting Jeff's control of the company," Burstein said.

SEE ALSO: MacKenzie Bezos has been part of Amazon lore since before the company began, driving across the US with her husband Jeff as he wrote out his business plan in 1994

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BlackRock just promoted the head of its $1.9 trillion ETF business and it could mean he's a potential successor to CEO Larry Fink

Wed, 01/09/2019 - 5:21pm

  • BlackRock's Mark Wiedman was promoted to a new role overseeing the international business and corporate strategy. The move positions him as Larry Fink's 'heir apparent,' said one BlackRock analyst. 
  • His promotion led to two other management changes for the firm's hot exchange-traded funds platform and its US wealth advisory business. 
  • In a memo obtained by Business Insider, Fink hinted at more changes later this year. 

BlackRock chief executive Larry Fink stirred more speculation about his successor on Wednesday when he promoted Mark Wiedman, formerly head of one of the firm's fastest-growing businesses. 

Wiedman, who ran the firm's $1.9 trillion exchanged-traded-funds business and index investments known as iShares, is now the head of international and of corporate strategy, Fink said in a Wednesday employee memo obtained by Business Insider. In his new role, Wiedman will focus on "high-growth markets" in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia-Pacific. He'll also oversee marketing, which is led by former BuzzFeed chief marketing officer Frank Cooper, who will report to both Wiedman and Fink. 

See more: 'Bite-size, usable, and shareable': BlackRock's CMO explains the $6.4 trillion giant's digital rebrand

"The changes transforming our industry put a premium on strategy to drive growth, on unifying our focus on international markets, and on using our brand to drive our business," Fink wrote in the memo. 

Wiedman has overseen explosive growth in ETF platform iShares, which saw a record $44 billion in new money last month. He left a previous role overseeing corporate strategy in 2011 to lead iShares, which has expanded its assets by 14.8% annually on average. 

Fink has made no public statements about retiring, but Wiedman's promotion fueled talk of who could replace the BlackRock co-founder. Other potential successors include another two other Marks – head of active equities Mark Wiseman and head of Americas Mark McCombe – and two Robs, president Rob Kapito and chief operating officer Rob Goldstein. 

Rich Kushel, who runs the multi-asset strategies and global fixed income groups, is another potential contender to replace Fink. 

"If you think about the future – how they talk about the future of their company and where the growth is coming from, a lot of the technology initiatives they’ve been growing, like Aladdin for wealth [management] – it all seems to come back to iShares and how they sell it and use it in more creative ways," Patrick Davitt, an analyst at Autonomous Research, told Business Insider. "Through that lens, it feels like it makes sense to have the person who’s been building and running that business to be the heir apparent" to Fink. 

Salim Ramji, the firm's head of US wealth advisory, is replacing Wiedman as head of iShares and index investments. Martin Small, the US head of iShares, is taking over Ramji's role. 

In Wednesday's memo, Fink hinted at more changes "we'll make later this year" at the $6.4 trillion asset manager.  

Wiedman's move, along with references of more to come, comes as Wall Street has grappled with how to replace founders and longtime leaders. Blackstone, for example, elevated former real estate head Jon Gray to president last year after grooming multiple leaders to run the world's largest private equity firm. Goldman Sachs had two co-presidents under CEO Lloyd Blankfein, before one retired this spring, leaving David Solomon to replace Blankfein this fall.

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Canada's largest banks are betting big on weed

Wed, 01/09/2019 - 4:59pm

  • Two of Canada's biggest banks provided an $80 million loan to PharmHouse, a joint venture owned in part by Canopy Growth's venture arm. 
  • It's a sign that Canada's top banks are "open for business" in the marijuana industry, said Chuck Rich, a partner at the law firm Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP who advised PharmHouse on the deal.
  • Until recently, Canada's 'big five' banks have been reticent to pursue marijuana deals. 

Canada's biggest banks are jumping into the marijuana business.

The Bank of Montreal and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce provided an $80 million loan this week to PharmHouse Inc, a joint venture owned in part by Canopy Rivers, the venture investment arm of publicly traded Canadian marijuana cultivator Canopy Growth.

The deal marks the largest debt financing provided by top banks to a private marijuana company. 

"Having secured what we believe to be the largest bank debt to a private company in the cannabis industry, one that is supported by a syndicate of three Schedule I banks, PharmHouse has gained substantial momentum," said Canopy CEO Bruce Linton in a press release.

Though Canada legalized marijuana federally in October, most of the country's biggest banks have been reticent to enter the industry as they hold significant assets in the US, where marijuana remains illegal at the federal level.

Read moreMarijuana companies are using a 'backdoor' strategy to tap the public markets — and it's fueling an M&A boom

In the past, the marijuana sector in Canada has been dominated by smaller investment banks, like Canaccord Genuity and GMP securities, who have led or co-led the most deals in the space. 

But bigger banks are starting to take notice. 

The Bank of Montreal advised Aurora Cannabis on its $2.3 all-stock merger with Medreleaf in May, among other smaller M&A transactions.

The Royal Bank of Canada also initiated coverage of the sector in December, and the bank's capital markets group said it would begin advising marijuana companies on stock sales and reverse takeovers.

"With two of the country's five biggest banks lending to the cannabis sector, the PharmHouse deal signals that the others aren't far behind," said Chuck Rich, a partner at the law firm Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP, who advised PharmHouse on the loan. "Canada's big banks are open for business."

Canopy Rivers, for its part, has been active this month. The firm took part in a $12.1 million Series A funding round for Headset, an analytics startup for the marijuana industry. 

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Scooter startup Bird is reportedly raising $300 million with assistance from financial giant Fidelity

Wed, 01/09/2019 - 4:28pm

  • Bird, the scooter startup, is raising a new $300 million funding round led by Fidelity, Axios reported Wednesday.
  • Last month, reports surfaced that Uber was working on a bid for either Bird or competitor Lime.
  • Any buyout proposals, if true, could be complicated by Bird's latest fundraising. 

Scooter startup Bird is raising $300 million in an extension of its previous fundraising round led by the financial giant Fidelity, Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva reported Wednesday. The company will likely keep its $2 billion valuation from the previous round. 

Throughout 2018, the scooter company expanded at breakneck speed across the United States and now operates in more than 100 cities in the US and Europe, according to its website. Sometimes, however, the company has showed up with little warning, dumping its scooters seemingly overnight on unaware cities, causing headaches for local officials. 

This was the case in Palm Springs, California, in December, when the city government ordered the company to cease and desist all operations. Other cities have had similar issues with Bird. 

Read more: E-scooters are sending dozens of people to emergency rooms — and the companies appear to have a double standard when it comes to safety

To date, Bird has raised $415 million across four funding rounds, according to CrunchBase.

Late last year, there were reports that Uber was working on a bid for Bird or its closest competitor, Lime. Those appear to have not panned out if Axios' report is true. Uber has previously invested in Lime

A Bird spokesperson declined to comment, saying the company does not comment on "rumors or speculation." A Fidelity spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Do you know anything about a Bird funding round? Got a tip? Contact this reporter at

SEE ALSO: E-scooters are sending dozens of people to emergency rooms — and the companies appear to have a double standard when it comes to safety

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Amazon is among JPMorgan's best ideas for 2019 — here's its big bull case (AMZN)

Wed, 01/09/2019 - 4:11pm

  • Amazon is among JPMorgan's best investment ideas for 2019, mostly due to its diversified revenue and profit sources.
  • The firm explained its bull case in a detailed report distributed Wednesday.
  • The stock rose 28% in 2018, handily outperforming the broader market during what turned out to be a brutal year for most assets. Still, it has fallen 19% from its all-time high of $2,050.50 in October.
  • Watch Amazon trade live.

Amazon is among JPMorgan's best investment ideas for the coming year, and the bank's analysts detailed their bull case in new report distributed Wednesday.

"AMZN is well positioned with the most diversified revenue & profit streams among large-cap Internets," a team of analysts led by Doug Anmuth told clients. "We believe this is a critical differentiator as sector growth moderates due to bigger bases & higher penetration levels."

The analysts broke their bull case down into several parts. Anmuth said the company's fastest-growing revenue streams are its most profitable, referring specifically to Amazon Web Services and advertising. Both represent around 17% of Amazon's total sales, by JPMorgan's estimates, and more than 85% of its operating profit this year.

Their rosy view of Amazon's advertising segment is in line with some other analysts. Brian Wieser, a research analyst at Pivotal Research Group, told clients this week that Amazon is particularly well-positioned in its advertising business.

"At around 10% of the global total in 2023, Amazon will easily be the 'third force' in digital advertising after Google and Facebook, although it will still be substantially smaller than the $215bn in annual revenue we expect Google to generate or the $59bn we expect to see from Facebook," Wieser said.

Read more: Amazon will soar more than 20% as it becomes a 'third force' in advertising behind Google and Facebook, analyst says

JPMorgan also pointed to growth opportunities in areas like grocery (with its Whole Foods acquisition), healthcare and pharmaceuticals (with its Pillpack acquisition), and smart-speaker technology.

The firm's $2,100 year-end price target implies a rally of nearly 27% from the stock's current levels. Even with that bullish of an outlook, it pales in comparison to Wall Street's most optimistic target — and most are optimistic.

Of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg, D.A. Davidson analyst Tom Forte is the most bullish, with a $2,450 price target. A full 94% of analysts call the stock a "buy," two have "hold" ratings and one says, "sell."

Amazon shares soared 28% in 2018, outperforming the broader market during what turned out to be a brutal year for most assets. Still, the stock has now fallen about 19% from its all-time high of $2,050.50 in October.

The stock was little changed Wednesday after Amazon's CEO, Jeff Bezos, said in a statement released on Twitter that he and his wife, MacKenzie, were divorcing. It is uncertain what will happen to Jeff Bezos' 16.12% stake in the company.

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Gawker's former president explains how she told 200 people the company was going bankrupt without making them hate her for it

Wed, 01/09/2019 - 3:13pm

  • Heather Dietrick is the CEO of The Daily Beast and the former president and legal counsel of media company Gawker.
  • At the end of its tenure, Gawker was engaged in a lawsuit with the former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan that ultimately led to its demise in 2016.
  • Dietrick said facing Gawker's staffers to tell them the company was filing for bankruptcy made her a better leader by teaching her how to lead with empathy.

In June 2016, Gawker founder Nick Denton decided he was going to declare bankruptcy and sell his media company. A Florida jury decided that Gawker's post of a sex tape featuring Terry Bollea, better known as the former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, was an invasion of privacy and caused emotional distress. Gawker was facing $140 million in damages.

Denton called an all-hands meeting of Gawker's roughly 200 employees, and decided that his president and general counsel Heather Dietrick would be the one to break the news and explain the legal reasoning behind the decision.

"Honestly, it was scary," Dietrick said in an episode of Business Insider's podcast "This Is Success." She told the room the news. She noted that the company's style of all-hands included plenty of audience participation, "and for the first time there was like utter, utter silence and mouths agape."

The ensuing meeting, she said, helped make her a better leader in Gawker's last days, as well as in her current role as the CEO of the media brand The Daily Beast. It taught her how to lead with empathy.

She was looking at the silent, shocked employees. "And so I — this is in slow motion for me at the time — but I'm thinking, how do I advance this conversation?"

She knew that underlying their silence was fear — and she was afraid, too — and that's why she then placed herself in their particular positions and began answering questions she imagined were running through their heads: "Like, what does this mean for me personally in this role? What does this mean for my family? What do I tell my spouse about this? Why would I stay? How do various parts of this bankruptcy work?"

This broke the ice, she remembered, and employees began asking follow-ups. Dietrick remembered the meeting lasting for hours. The meeting had become a conversation, "and by the end, smiles and everyone's full of energy and back to work," she said.

"And I knew that because of this mission that the company had built, everyone was standing shoulder to shoulder and this would work, that we would keep everyone there and working," she said. "And I couldn't say just, 'I hope you stay and do your job.' I needed to say, 'I need you to do your job better than you ever have before because we need to show this field of potential buyers that this did not get us down. We are still growing or putting out excellent stories.' And we did it. Probably three people left in the six months before we sold the company. And people were working harder than ever. And we were growing and it was really, really phenomenal."

Gawker Media ended up becoming the Gizmodo Media Group and was sold to Univision. Many of the former Gawker staffers stuck with Gizmodo brands. 

It was not an easy transition, or an easy final six months of the company, by any means. But Dietrick said the staff was able to stay as positive and focused as possible. Today, former Gawker staffers have gone on record saying how much they've admired her leadership.

She said she did her part by making herself available to talk through all concerns, "and if someone came and had a doubt, I would put everything completely aside and say, 'Yeah, let's talk through this. If it's five minutes or two hours and, you can trust in me that we're going to save all these jobs and get you to get this company to where it needs to be.' And we did that, luckily."

Subscribe to "This Is Success" on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you listen. You can find the full McChrystal episode below.

SEE ALSO: The Daily Beast CEO Heather Dietrick once had to tell 200 people that Gawker was going bankrupt, and she says that 'wartime' leadership style serves her just as well when everything is at peace

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AMD is sliding after unveiling its 7-nanometer gaming graphics card (AMD)

Wed, 01/09/2019 - 3:10pm

  • AMD on Wednesday unveiled Radeon VII, the first 7 -nanometer gaming graphics card available to consumers.
  • Shares were sliding following the product's release.
  • Earlier this week, rival Nvidia unveiled GeForce RTX 2060, the company's cheapest graphics card that can provide ray tracing.
  • Watch AMD trade live.

AMD fell 2.7% to $20.19 Wednesday after the company unveiled the first 7-nanometer gaming graphics card.

The chipmaker on Wednesday announced the Radeon VII, a 7 nm graphics processing unit (GPU), at the Global Stage for Innovation (CES) annual event. The new chip provides twice the memory and up to 36% higher performance on average in content creation applications compared to the current top-of-the-line AMD graphics cards, according to the chipmaker.

"AMD Radeon VII is the highest-performance gaming graphics card we ever created," management said in a press release. "It is designed for gamers, creators and enthusiasts who demand ultra-high quality visuals, uncompromising performance and immersive gaming experiences."

However, notably absent from the Radeon VII announcement was any mention of real-time ray tracing, a niche technology that rival Nvidia is touting in its GPUs. Ray tracing allows for more cinematic and realistic visuals.

Just two days ago, Nvidia unveiled a series of new products, including GeForce RTX 2060, its cheapest graphics card that can provide ray tracing. For comparison, Nvidia's RTX 2060 sports a starting price of $346 and AMD's Radeon VII will cost $700 when it's available February 7. But Radeon VII is at least $300 less than Nvidia's top GPU.

Later in the first quarter, AMD is widely expected to roll out its 7 nm central processing units (CPU). The market has hope that the high-end 7nm CPU can help AMD grab market share from Intel, which was contending with a production delay for its 10-nanometer chips last year, Christopher Rolland, a semiconductor analyst at Susquehanna International Group recently told Markets Insider.

AMD was up 72% in the past year.

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Bill Gates warns that nobody is paying attention to gene editing, a new technology that could make inequality even worse

Wed, 01/09/2019 - 3:01pm

  • Bill Gates recently described a cutting-edge scientific technique called gene editing as "the most important public debate we haven't been having widely enough."
  • Gene editing has been used in the US as a one-time treatment for disease, but a Chinese researcher recently said he helped create the first genetically edited babies.
  • Many more people should be paying attention to gene editing and what it could do, Gates said.

Gene editing is one of the most promising new approaches to treating human diseases today.

It also raises "enormous" ethical questions, Bill Gates recently warned, and "could make inequity worse, especially if it is available only for wealthy people."

"I am surprised that these issues haven't generated more attention from the general public," he said in a December blog post, adding that "this might be the most important public debate we haven't been having widely enough."

Gene editing allows scientists to make powerful, precise changes to a person's DNA, typically to fix a defective gene.

Ethical concerns about what the approach might be used for have long existed, but it came to a boil recently when a Chinese researcher said he had played a role in creating the first genetically edited babies.

Gene editing has already taken place in humans in the US as a one-time treatment for disease. But unlike those efforts, the Chinese scientist's work would allow genetic changes to be passed down to other generations. It quickly sparked backlash, with many researchers describing the project as concerning and unethical.

Gates' warning, released as part of the billionaire philanthropist's 2018 wrap-up, appears to have been prompted by that recent news.

"I agree with those who say this scientist went too far," Gates said. "But something good can come from his work if it encourages more people to learn and talk about gene editing."

Related: Bill Gates thinks a coming disease could kill 30 million people within 6 months — and says we should prepare for it as we do for war

Gates suggested those who are interested check out "The Gene," a nearly 600-page tome by the renowned cancer doctor Siddhartha Mukherjee that details the history of genetics. (Gates previously named "The Gene" one of his favorite books of 2016.)

"This story is one to follow, because big breakthroughs — some good, some worrisome — are coming," Gates said.

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A biotech is proposing a plan to pay for its pricey rare-disease treatment the same way you'd buy a TV or dishwasher. Here's the inside story.

Wed, 01/09/2019 - 2:59pm

  • Biotech company Bluebird Bio proposed a five-year installment plan for its pricey gene therapy at a major healthcare conference on Tuesday.
  • The company hasn't put out a price tag for the experimental product, which hasn't yet been approved, but capped it at $2.1 million a treatment.
  • Bluebird CEO Nick Leschly told Business Insider the inside story of how the plan came about and what challenges it could face.

Installment plans are used for big-ticket items like dishwashers and TVs — and now, for medical treatments?

That's exactly what the biotech Bluebird Bio is suggesting for its cutting-edge, experimental gene therapy, LentiGlobin, which is intended as a one-time treatment for the rare blood disorder beta thalassemia.

The idea works like this: Patients get the treatment, and their health insurer or employer will then pay Bluebird over five years. The company hasn't yet said how much the treatment will cost, but capped it at $2.1 million.

A key difference from other payment plans is that Bluebird will get paid in years two through five only if the treatment works for patients. Medicines are usually paid for as the patient takes them — whether or not the drug works.

It's a bold proposal, one that puts substantial financial risk on Bluebird itself, and there are still problems left to be ironed out, CEO Nick Leschly acknowledged in an interview late Tuesday with Business Insider.

But the decision was ultimately about the nearly 30-year-old Cambridge, Massachusetts-headquartered biotech's principles and its belief in doing the right thing, Leschly said. In that sense "the die was cast long ago," he said.

In developing the model, he told employees, "Don't limit yourself to what the system can't digest," Leschly said. "Do not feel that we should be penalized because we came up with something that provides value over time."

Metallica and caffeine

Leschly put the new pricing proposal out on Tuesday at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, the biggest industry event of the year.

Before presenting to a packed room, Leschly psyched himself up with four cups of coffee and by listening to Metallica, he told Business Insider.

LentiGlobin won't cost more than $2.1 million total, according to Bluebird — the amount of value that the biotech estimates its treatment should provide to patients by allowing them to live longer and with a better quality of life.

The plan has evolved significantly over time, Leschly said. The biotech originally considered a 10-year payment timeline, he said, but decided against it as because of the heavy administrative burden. In the current plan, health insurers can choose to distribute their payments over less than five years, he said.

Read more: From the gene therapy that spurred a $9 billion acquisition to a CBD medication for rare types of childhood epilepsy, here are the 12 promising drugs to watch in 2019

The plan will face serious challenges, including: What happens if a patient switches insurers? What if the individual becomes uninsured?

But Leschly is confident that Bluebird can get through them. For one, beta thalassemia — which is caused by a genetic mutation and can require regular blood transfusions and lifelong medical care, according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders — affects about one in 100,000 individuals, a relatively small patient population.

Individuals with "very severe conditions like this have a tendency to not change payers as often," Leschly said.

Payers can also check in to see if the treatment is working by looking at their claims data to see if, say, the patient suddenly needed new blood transfusions, he said.

Another key part of the plan is that Bluebird won't make any price increases beyond a measure of inflation, an interesting commitment that comes at a time when pharmaceutical price increases have prompted controversy.

Read more: Trump may have shamed Pfizer for increasing drug prices, but that isn't stopping drugmakers from doing more of the same

Bluebird has been criticized for not yet disclosing its price tag.

Leschly told Business Insider that there's "more work to be done on what the price exactly ought to be."

LentiGlobin hasn't yet been approved. The company expects a decision in Europe this year and could get a decision in the US as early as next year.

Gene therapies challenge the health system

Gene therapies like LentiGlobin are challenging the status quo and the limits of what the medical system can and will pay for.

To large extent, that's because the sums talked about when it comes to gene therapy are astronomical.

Read more: Bill Gates warns that nobody is paying attention to gene editing, a new technology that could make inequality even worse

Drugmakers say that's because their products are for rare, often deadly conditions with few or no other options. Moreover, they say, gene therapies could have lifelong benefits for patients and are expected to save the medical system money on things like hospitalizations.

That hasn't lessened the sticker shock: Swiss drug giant Novartis' suggestion that its new gene therapy for a deadly, rare disease would be cost-effective at $4 million to $5 million per patient encountered substantial resistance last fall, for example.

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Nissan fixed the biggest problem with the Leaf EV, and now it's ready to take on Chevy and Tesla

Tue, 01/08/2019 - 8:15pm

  • The 2019 Nissan Leaf e+ EV made its world debut at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. 
  • The Leaf e+ can go 226 miles on a single thanks to a larger 62 kWh battery pack.
  • This puts its performance on par with rivals such as the Chevrolet Bolt and the Tesla Model 3.
  • The 2019 Nissan Leaf e+ arrives in US showrooms this spring. 

Nissan introduced the new Leaf e+ electric vehicle at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, in Las Vegas. 

The new Leaf e+ is an update of the second-generation Leaf that debuted in 2017 and remedies the EV's biggest flaw: its lack of range. 

In Business Insider's 2018 review of the Leaf, we noted:

"The new Leaf is a solid second effort from Nissan. However, there remains one glaring fault with the Leaf, and it's the range. At 151 miles, it's certainly a major improvement over the outgoing model. But range anxiety is still a problem, and anything less than 200 miles on a single charge is no longer competitive." 

The original Nissan Leaf launched back in 2010, and in the years since, it has become one of the most popular EVs in history, with more than 380,000 cars sold. 

But with long-range EVs such as the 238-mile Chevrolet Bolt and the 310-mile Tesla Model 3, the 151-mile second-generation Leaf is no longer at the forefront of the industry.

Enter the Leaf e+ and its 226 miles of range.

Read more: Mercedes-Benz just unveiled the stylish new CLA coupe to take on BMW and Audi.

To achieve this, Nissan replaced the current 40 kWh battery with a much larger 62 kWh pack. In addition, the existing 147 horsepower, 110 kW electric motor has been swapped out for a 160 kW unit that produces 215 horsepower and 250 pounds-feet of torque. According to Nissan, this results in a 13% improvement in the Leaf's 50 mph to 75 mph acceleration time. 

In addition to a new drivetrain, the Leaf e+ will get the latest in Nissan's ProPilot Assist semi-autonomous assistance technology. 

The 2019 Nissan Leaf e+ will go on sale in Japan this month, but it won't arrive in the US until this spring, and in Europe a couple of months after that. 

Nissan has not yet announced pricing for the Leaf e+. The current 151-mile Nissan Leaf starts at $29,990. 

SEE ALSO: 40 hot cars we can't wait to see in 2019

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Iconic hedge-fund billionaire Seth Klarman could have lost $400 million on an ill-timed bet on PG&E (PCG)

Tue, 01/08/2019 - 4:03pm

  • Iconic hedge-fund billionaire Seth Klarman's Baupost Group loaded up on 14.5 million shares of PG&E, California's biggest utility provider, in the third quarter. 
  • The utility has been under pressure since November, as it may be responsible for the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history.
  • It's unclear if Baupost sold any PG&E shares in the fourth quarter or the first quarter. If the firm held on to its entire position through Tuesday, it could have lost $400 million just from the holdings it added in the third quarter.
  • Watch PG&E trade live.

Iconic hedge-fund billionaire Seth Klarman could have taken a huge hit on an investment in PG&E — California's biggest utility provider — after the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history.

Soon after the wildfire broke out on November 8, the utility said it was having trouble with its transmission lines, and that it may be responsible. Since then, PG&E shares have plunged as much as 67%.

The stock recovered a bit after California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Picker told media in mid-November that he couldn't imagine letting the California utility declare bankruptcy even as it faces huge liabilities.

But PG&E has been under pressure again in the new year. Late Friday, a report said PG&E was considering filing for bankruptcy protection. And on Tuesday, S&P Global Ratings slashed PG&E's credit rating to junk, saying "negative public sentiment and the increased political pressure will challenge the regulators' willingness and ability to implement measures to protect credit quality over the near term." Shares have tanked nearly 30% this week.

Klarman's Baupost could be paying the price. Baupost loaded up 14,479,790 shares on PG&E in the third quarter, becoming the utility's sixth-largest shareholder with 18,979,790 shares, according to Bloomberg data.

The 14.5 million shares were trading at around $45 apiece in the third quarter, and only worth $17.50 as of Tuesday. It's unclear if Baupost sold any PG&E shares in the fourth quarter or so far this year. If the firm held its entire position through Tuesday, it could have lost $400 million over the past few months — not including the shares it owned before the third quarter.

On Monday, Baupost declined to comment on its investments. 

Baupost is not the only investment firm that recently increased its stake in the California utility. BlueMountain Capital Management, which manages $21 billion, told investors in a recent letter obtained by Business Insider it has doubled down on its investment into the utility as it believes the market has overreacted to the impact of the deadly Camp Fire.

Now read:


SEE ALSO: $21 billion hedge fund BlueMountain Capital has upped its bet on PG&E, the utility that's crashed 60% since the California wildfires. Here's why.

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NOW WATCH: The equity chief at $6.3 trillion BlackRock weighs in on the trade war, a possible recession, and offers her best investing advice for a tricky 2019 landscape

The 5 richest men in the US have a staggering combined wealth of more than $415 billion — otherwise known as more than 2% of America's GDP

Tue, 01/08/2019 - 3:43pm


The richest men in the US are worth a mind-boggling combined wealth of $415.4 billion. And all but one of them made their fortunes in the tech industry.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos tops the list with a net worth of $135 billion, followed by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates ($92 billion), investor and Berkshire Hathaway chairman Warren Buffett ($81 billion), Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg ($54.7 billion), and Google co-founder Larry Page ($52.7 billion), according to Bloomberg's Billionaires Index.

Their combined fortune comes out to more than 2% of the US GDP, which was $20.66 trillion in the third quarter of 2018. (Exactly 2% of $20.66 trillion would be $413.2 billion.)

A Business Insider analysis found that for a billionaire, buying a vacation to Bali is the equivalent of a typical American buying a candy bar. And that's based on a net worth of just $2 billion, the median fortune of a Forbes list billionaire

While these five men are the richest in the US, they are not top five the richest in the world. Bernard Arnault, the French businessman who controls LVMH and is worth $69 billion, Amancio Ortega, who controls the world's largest clothing retailer that includes Zara, worth $60.1 billion, and Carlos Slim of Mexico, worth $57.1 billion, are all currently wealthier than both Zuckerberg and Page.

While many of the world's richest billionaires live in the US, Hong Kong overtook the US in 2018 to become the city with the most super-rich people — individuals worth at least $30 million — people in the world. 

SEE ALSO: To a billionaire, the cost of a trip to Bali is like buying a candy bar — here's what spending looks like when you're that rich

DON'T MISS: 21 quotes from self-made billionaires that will change your outlook on money

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One of the world's largest law firms poached a senior partner to build out a marijuana practice — and he's hiring

Tue, 01/08/2019 - 3:29pm

  • Dentons, one of the world's largest law firms, poached a senior partner from Jones Day to build a dedicated marijuana practice. 
  • The partner, Eric P. Berlin, told Business Insider that he's "really looking to be the number one firm" in the cannabis industry.
  • Berlin worked on the four-way merger that became TILT last year, and was instrumental in crafting Illinois' medical marijuana law. 

One of the world's largest law firms poached a senior partner to build out a dedicated marijuana practice, Business Insider has learned.

Eric P. Berlin, formerly a partner at Jones Day, joined Dentons in January as a partner in the Chicago office. As part of his new role, Berlin will spearhead the firm's work with cannabis industry clients, along with Kathryn Ashton, the chair of Dentons' healthcare practice, and Kelly Fair, a member of Dentons' litigation practice in San Francisco.

Read more: Big law firms are building out specialized pot practices to chase down a red-hot market for weed deals

"Dentons was interested in building what would be widely regarded as the number one practice for the more sophisticated clients in, or impacted by, the cannabis industry," Berlin told Business Insider in an interview. "There was a synergy there — I was interested in being able to do that."

Berlin said he knew Ashton from working with cannabis clients in the Chicago area. After a period of "courtship," Berlin said Dentons' sold him on building out the new practice group.

A tangled web of regulations 

Berlin first started taking a serious look at marijuana after he read research that showed how patients suffering from myriad digestive issues — as well as multiple sclerosis — had used the drug for palliative relief.

As the president of the University of Chicago's GI Research Foundation, Berlin started to take on pro bono work to help craft Illinois' medical marijuana law roughly a decade ago.

After that legislation passed, he started to take on some clients who were applying for medical marijuana licenses. Starting in 2014, as Colorado legalized marijuana for adult use, Berlin said he "saw where the industry was going."

Read moreMarijuana companies are using a 'backdoor' strategy to tap the public markets — and it's fueling an M&A boom

"I knew there was going to be a building demand for sophisticated legal services, the kinds of normal legal services we to provide to all sorts of clients," Berlin said. And besides the business opportunity, he found the ever-shifting, tangled web of regulations around marijuana intellectually fascinating. 

As part of his work at his former firm, Jones Day, Berlin worked on the four-way merger between Briteside Holdings, Sea Hunter Therapeutics, Santé Veritas Holdings, and Baker Technologies — which became TILT — a publicly traded company, among other M&A transactions.

He's also helped counsel clients both within, and impacted by, the marijuana industry, including the California-based vape company Hmbldt "work through the maze of federal uncertainty."

Getting prepared 'well ahead of the market'

Berlin has big goals for his new role — even though, as he admits, he's still getting settled in. 

"What we're forming is a truly comprehensive group, where we'll provide all the legal expertise that is needed in the industry globally," said Berlin. "We'll have the personnel in place to provide all of that."

He'll have his work cut out for him. A number of top law firms, including AmLaw 100 firms Duane Morris and Baker Botts, have established cannabis practices to chase down an opportunity that could hit $80 billion in the next decade, according to analysts from investment bank Cowen. 

But what will set the new practice apart, said Berlin, is that it will be composed of lawyers with specific cannabis industry expertise.

"This is not cannabis criminal lawyers trying to become commercial lawyers. This isn't commercial lawyers who know nothing about the cannabis industry, trying to be cannabis lawyers. We have the expertise all the way around," said Berlin. 

Read more: A cannabis CEO who led turnarounds at FAO Schwarz and Patagonia explains why he's looking to poach 'nimble' people from small companies — rather than big-name execs

On that note, Berlin said one his first tasks this year will be to do some hiring from outside the firm. 

Berlin's location in Chicago could prove to be fruitful as well, as Illinois' new governor, J.B. Pritzker, has said marijuana legalization would be one of his top priorities for his first year in office

"Right now there are very few firms that provide the really high-level counseling and transactional work cannabis companies need," Berlin said. "That's complicated, layered M&A, reverse takeovers into Canada, going public, and all the banking that has to do with that. We want to be able to provide all of that for our clients." 

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These execs are leaving behind careers at companies like Coke and Victoria's Secret to tap into the $194 billion marijuana industry

Tue, 01/08/2019 - 3:24pm

  • Executives from big retail brands and consumer-packaged-goods companies are pouring into the rapidly maturing cannabis industry.
  • The financial opportunity is massive — analysts say the cannabis industry could skyrocket to $194 billion if other countries follow Canada's lead and legalize the drug.
  • Expect to see more high-profile executives taking positions in cannabis companies as more markets open up.

When Ed Schmults, a veteran retail executive, received an out-of-the-blue phone call from a headhunter in July, he had no idea that in just a few short months he'd end up as the CEO of a cannabis company.

"She was working hard to put the hook in — about the size of the opportunity and the 'clean slate,' if you will," Schmults told Business Insider. She didn't initially tell Schmults that she was recruiting for a cannabis company.

"I was like, 'Huh, cannabis? I'll have to think about that,'" he said. "At the end of the day, I really liked the investors."

Schmults, now the new CEO of Calyx Peak Capital, a firm based in Massachusetts that invests in cannabis retail licenses in several states, is just one of numerous consumer veterans who have moved into the nascent industry.

Executives like Schmults see an opportunity to use their experience to help build brands, cut deals, and create the complex distribution and supply-chain networks the cannabis industry needs in order to mature.

Getting in early may also be a windfall. According to the Bank of Montreal, the cannabis industry could become a $194 billion global market if more countries follow Canada's lead and legalize the drug.

From a 'radical notion' to 'how can I get in on the action?'

To Schmults, cannabis is a "rare opportunity" to take part in creating an industry from the ground up.

After a stint at Goldman Sachs, Schmults was the chief operating officer of Patagonia and the CEO of the storied toy retailer FAO Schwarz.

While some of his former colleagues ribbed him over his "sharp career turn," Schmults said that when he described the size of the opportunity, their jokes turned to questions of how and when they could invest.

Other executives came into the cannabis industry through different paths.

Chris Burggraeve, the former chief marketing officer of Budweiser's parent company, AB InBev, found his way into the cannabis industry after MBA students at a class he was teaching at New York University submitted proposals for cannabis startups as their final projects.

Read more: A cannabis CEO who led turnarounds at FAO Schwarz and Patagonia explains why he's looking to poach 'nimble' people from small companies — rather than big-name execs

"It piqued my interest," Burggraeve said in a recent interview with Business Insider. In 2016, Burggraeve took the plunge and founded Toast, a cannabis brand geared toward upscale consumers.

When Burggraeve launched Toast, he said that leaving the traditional consumer-packaged-goods world (he held positions at Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola before AB InBev) for cannabis was a "radical notion."

Now Burggraeve says nearly all former colleagues he speaks with have one question: How do I get in on the action?

Peter Horvath, who led the shoe retailer DSW's initial public offering in 2005 as the company's president — along with serving in C-suite positions at American Eagle and Victoria's Secret — said that jumping into the cannabis industry was a matter of "skating to where the puck is going."

Horvath said he expected cannabis products to pop up on the radars of boardrooms everywhere, from beauty startups like Glossier to retail behemoths like Amazon.

He's now the CEO of Green Growth Brands, an Ohio-based cannabis retailer backed by the billionaire Schottenstein family. The company went public on Tuesday via a reverse merger with Xanthic Biopharma on the Canadian Securities Exchange and plans to use its stock to buy dispensary licenses in new state markets like Massachusetts.

"We're going to apply what we know to a brand-new business, and the upside is tremendous," Horvath said.

Read more: Coca-Cola is eyeing a deal in the marijuana industry, and insiders say it's a sign that other beverage giants may soon dive in

There are other high-profile execs in cannabis as well.

Beau Wrigley Jr., the heir to the Wrigley fortune and former CEO of the eponymous gum company, was just named the CEO of Surterra Wellness, a medical cannabis company based in Florida.

And the publicly traded cannabis company Green Thumb Industries — whose CEO, Ben Kovler, is an heir to the Jim Beam whiskey fortune — on Wednesday closed a $290 million acquisition of three new dispensary licenses in Las Vegas; the firm is also backed by the hedge fund billionaire Leon Cooperman.

MedMen, a chain of retail cannabis dispensaries, hired Ben Cook, a former vice president at Sam's Club, as its new COO in October.

And Jakob Ripshtein, who spent 10 years at the alcohol giant Diageo, is now the president of Aphria, a publicly traded Canadian cannabis cultivator.

In August, reports surfaced that Diageo was looking at pursuing a deal with a Canadian cannabis company — and Aphria was at top of the list.

"We are seeing high-profile companies, in addition to institutional investors, waking up to opportunities in the space," Kovler said.

Read more:

SEE ALSO: 'The new avocado toast': A former Coca-Cola and AB InBev executive reveals why every food and beverage boardroom needs to be talking about cannabis

AND MORE: A cannabis CEO who led turnarounds at FAO Schwarz and Patagonia explains why he's looking to poach 'nimble' people from small companies — rather than big-name execs

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The US and China are negotiating a trade war. But during the shutdown, Washington won't reveal how much impact it’s had.

Tue, 01/08/2019 - 3:07pm

  • A partial government shutdown is nearing its third full week. 
  • Key economic data, including the trade balance, won't be reported during that time.
  • The lapse in data comes as the US and China negotiate a trade war, a situation that economists say makes the trade balance increasingly important.

Want to know how much the US and China are shipping to one another as the two countries negotiate a trade war?

Too bad.

International trade data for the month of November was withheld due to the government shutdown on Tuesday, the same day mid-level trade negotiations between Washington and Beijing were set to wrap up. Parts of the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Census Bureau won’t operate until funding is restored, according to department websites.

That means the trade balance is unavailable at the same time that it has become increasingly important, said Brad Setser, a White House and Treasury Department economist in the Obama administration.

“The trade data right now is both interesting and important, because it’s an easy way of measuring and evaluating the impact of Trump’s trade policies,” he said. “It’s missed.”

The US’s trade deficit rose to $55.5 billion in October, the last release showed, marking its highest level since 2008. China continued to ship significantly more to the US than vice versa, with that deficit reaching a record peak at $43.1 billion. It was expected to continue to widen in November.

President Donald Trump sees the trade balance as a scorecard of sorts in his trade war with China — which has led to hundreds of billions of dollars worth of tariffs between the two largest economies — even though trade balances are determined by an assortment of factors.

Those include foreign exchange rates, the strength of an economy, and how much a country borrows from abroad. Recent widening of the US trade deficit has been in part due to tax cuts, according to Mary Lovely, an expert on trade at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

“However, President Trump clearly watches the trade deficit and the fact that it is widening, even with the tariffs he has already imposed on almost half of all imports from China, implies that tariffs are ineffective way to address the imbalance,” she said.

Economists said missing the monthly trade balance for November probably won’t have critical consequences yet, since they can extrapolate estimates from past data. But as the shutdown continues, that could change.

“What will matter politically and to the US-China talks are the full-year data due in February, in advance of the March 1 deadline,” said Derek Scissors, a China expert at the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute. “In general, one month doesn’t make a difference unless a sharp change is expected. We have January-October data and we have November 2017  — we can figure out November of last year.”

As Washington and Beijing race to forge a compromise before an agreed upon March deadline, after which further trade escalations are set to take place, progress remains elusive. According to the New York Times, trade hawks within the Trump administration have so far not been satisfied with offers from China.

For Americans, the outlook doesn't look much more promising at home. The partial government shutdown was nearing its third full week on Tuesday, with a dispute among Trump and lawmakers over border security only intensifying in recent days.

In the meantime, it could be more difficult to understand business conditions in the country. 

“[Without data], we have less of a sense of exactly how the US is weathering the trade disruptions,” said Josh Wright, chief economist at iCIMS.

SEE ALSO: Here's what happens to Social Security and disability benefits during a government shutdown

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An author who surveyed over 10,000 millionaires found the qualities that make them successful hinge on a distinct behavior

Tue, 01/08/2019 - 2:50pm

  • Millionaires tend to have five characteristics in common, according to Chris Hogan, an author who studied more than 10,000 millionaires.
  • They take personal responsibility, practice intentionality, are goal-oriented, and work hard in order to build wealth.
  • Consistency in each of these areas, Hogan wrote, is what ties everything together.

Millionaires have more than just seven-figure net worths in common — they also tend to share several of the same habits and attributes.

Many used resilience and perseverance to build their wealth, and once they got there, forewent a budget.

But millionaires also tend to share five of the same characteristics, according Chris Hogan, author of "Everyday Millionaires: How Ordinary People Built Extraordinary Wealth — and How You Can Too." Along with the Dave Ramsey research team, Hogan studied 10,000 American millionaires (defined as those with a net worth of at least $1 million) for seven months, and he found certain attributes kept resurfacing.

"When you see these five attributes working in high gear, you'll get a clear picture of what financial independence really looks like — and what it could look like for you," Hogan wrote.

Here's a closer look at each.

1. Millionaires take personal responsibility

Average millionaires take control of their money decisions, according to Hogan. "They know their success is up to them, and they own it," he wrote.

Two millionaires he interviewed, Mike and Stephanie, particularly exemplified this — they diligently saved, avoided debt, worked with an investing professional, and committed to improving themselves and their earning potential. They're now retired and have a net worth of $2.6 million.

The majority of millionaires in Hogan's study deemed themselves optimistic and willing to try difficult things for new results — and more than 90% will quickly admit when they're wrong and actively integrate feedback from other people.

"[Millionaires] don't count on anyone else to make them rich, and they don't blame anyone else if they fall short," Hogan wrote. "They focus on things they can control and align their daily habits to the goals they've set for themselves."

Read more: Most people believe 6 myths about millionaires, and it can keep them from building their own wealth

2. Millionaires practice intentionality

Hogan found that many millionaires live on less than they make and exercise discipline when it comes to budgeting. More than half of the millionaires he studied believed the main reason people don't become millionaires is because they lack financial discipline.

"Millionaires don't accidentally live on less than they make," Hogan wrote. "They do it on purpose, because they have a plan. They're deciding. Living without a budget, though, is the very definition of sliding into misfortune."

This finding aligns with research by Sarah Stanley Fallaw, author and director of research for the Affluent Market Institute who also studied millionaires — her subjects stressed to her the freedom that comes with spending below their means.

According to Thomas C. Corley's "Rich Habits" study, living off of 80% of your income or less "will leave you with an excess you can use to build wealth," he wrote in a post for Business Insider.

3. Millionaires are goal-oriented

"They think ahead and refuse to be swept away by the current of life," Hogan wrote. He found that 92% of the millionaires surveyed develop a long-term plan for their money, and 97% almost always achieve the goals they set for themselves.

They put in a long-term plan for financial independence, which "helps them avoid distractions and the 'shiny object syndrome' the general population suffers from because millionaires aren't focused on what might make them happy today; they're focused on their long-term wealth-building plan."

Consider JP Livingston, who retired early at age 28 with a $2 million-plus nest egg. She lived frugally, tucking away 70% of her take-home pay — 40% in investments, 60% in savings. Even as her income increased each year, she didn't succumb to lifestyle inflation. Instead, she stuck to her long-term plan and saved even more money.

Read more: An early retiree who interviewed 100 millionaires discovered nearly all of them got rich using the same 3-step strategy

4. Millionaires are hard workers

"They do what it takes even when what it takes isn't easy," he wrote. Of the millionaires Hogan studied, 93% said they became millionaires because of their hard work, rather than big salaries.

"Millionaires constantly work to better themselves," he wrote. "They don't settle for what they have and who they are today; instead they work to increase their education and their skill set to build more for tomorrow."

And when it comes to work, rich people often take on jobs that they love — doing what they love and getting paid for it is what self-made millionaire Steve Siebold calls a smart strategy.

5. Millionaires know building wealth takes consistency

Consistency, Hogan wrote, is what ties everything together.

"You can take responsibility, you can be intentional, you can set goals, and you can work hard," he wrote. "But, if you don't do these things repeatedly — year after year, decade after decade — then you'll never get the results you want."

He added: "They know from experience that wealth-building is a long-term frame, and they've seen that sticking to the plan over decades leads to millions at retirement." 

But being consistent requires two things, according to Hogan: Patience for a long-term view to help you stay focused through the years, and passion to find ways to get the job done.

SEE ALSO: 2 men who studied millionaires for over 20 years developed a formula that classifies Americans in 3 different categories of wealth

DON'T MISS: A researcher who studied over 600 millionaires found they do 3 things to forge a clear path to financial independence

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One of BlackRock's fastest-growing businesses brought in record new cash last month

Tue, 01/08/2019 - 2:41pm

  • BlackRock pulled in record money for its exchange-traded-funds platform two months in a row, with $44 billion in December. 
  • The world's largest asset manager captured about a third of all the money that went to ETFs last year. 
  • BlackRock's iShares business, already the world's biggest ETF provider, is a major growth area for the firm.

BlackRock set records two months in a row for its dominant exchange-traded-funds business, iShares. 

The world's largest asset manager notched its a record first in November, bringing in more than $29 billion, before eclipsing that figure a month later with $44 billion, BlackRock said Tuesday. 

In late December, iShares' US head Martin Small told Business Insider that the markets were operating "in stark contrast" to those in 2017, "where everything around the world was going up."

"What is obvious about this year is that investors are embracing the versatility of ETFs to take tactical exposures, hedge risk and build resilient long-term portfolios," he said. "It’s clear that the growth of ETFs is not dependent simply on rising markets.”

Overall, BlackRock captured about one-third of the $515 billion in money globally that went to ETF strategies last year. 

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In October, BlackRock chief executive officer Larry Fink said the $4.7 trillion ETF market could jump to $12 trillion in the next five years

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'I have been wrongly accused and unfairly detained': Ousted Nissan exec Carlos Ghosn makes his first public remarks on financial misconduct allegations in Tokyo court

Mon, 01/07/2019 - 9:00pm

  • Carlos Ghosn, the ousted Nissan chairman, who is facing multiple allegations of financial misconduct, spoke publicly for the first time since he was arrested in Japan on November 19.
  • "I have acted honorably, legally, and with the knowledge and approval of the appropriate executives inside the company," Ghosn said Tuesday inside a Tokyo courthouse according to The Wall Street Journal.
  • The longtime Nissan executive is accused of underreporting his income and transferring more than $16 million in personal investment losses to the automaker.
  • Ghosn's arrest reverberated throughout the automotive world. He is admired for helping save Nissan from bankruptcy in the late 1990s.

Carlos Ghosn appeared in a Tokyo courtroom on Tuesday and spoke publicly for first time since he was arrested on multiple financial misconduct allegations on November 19.

The longtime Nissan executive is accused of underreporting his income and transferring more than $16 million in personal investment losses to the automaker.

Arriving to court in a dark suit, white shirt, and handcuffs, Ghosn said, "I have acted honorably, legally, and with the knowledge and approval of the appropriate executives inside the company," according to The Wall Street Journal.

He made several more declarations, insisting he was "wrongly accused and unfairly detained." Speaking to the accusation of underreporting his compensation at Nissan, Ghosn claimed that all of his income from his work for the Japanese automaker had been properly disclosed, adding: "nor did I ever enter into any binding contract with Nissan to be paid a fixed amount that was not disclosed."

Ghosn has been detained for nearly two months. Judge Yuichi Tada who is overseeing Ghosn's case said he is considered a flight risk.

Hours ahead of his appearance, photographers in Tokyo captured long lines of people vying to get inside the courtroom. Reuters reported more than 1,100 people showed up for a chance to grab one of the 14 gallery seats inside the courtroom. A police bus believed to be carrying Ghosn was seen parked outside.

Read more: Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn jetted around the world on a series of $60 million Gulfstream private jets

Ghosn's arrest in November reverberated throughout the automotive world.

He had been admired for helping save Nissan from the brink of bankruptcy in the late 1990s, which included a strategic partnership with the French automaker Renault in 1999. Mitsubishi joined the group in 2016, and two years later, the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance under Ghosn's leadership became the world's largest automaker by sales.

Both Nissan and Mitsubishi booted Ghosn after the financial misconduct allegations came down. Nissan CEO and president Hiroto Saikawa publicly rebuked Ghosn.

So far, Renault has been less aggressive. It named an acting CEO and chairman shortly after Ghosn's arrest, but it has not officially severed ties.

In court on Tuesday, Ghosn praised Nissan, recounting how he worked "day and night, on the Earth and in the air" to ensure the Japanese automaker's success, according to Bloomberg.

Other Nissan executives affected

Ghosn's mounting legal troubles have touched other executives in the Nissan ecosystem.

Former Nissan executive Greg Kelly was arrested alongside Ghosn in November. Arun Bajaj, Nissan's head of human resources, has taken leave from the company, but is said to be cooperating with Japanese authorities, the Financial Times reported.

And Nissan's chief performance officer Jose Munoz is also on leave to focus on "special tasks arising from recent events," a matter that Bloomberg reports is directly related to Ghosn.

SEE ALSO: Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn jetted around the world on a series of $60 million Gulfstream private jets

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