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Bernard Arnault made $5.1 billion in the past 3 days. French billionaires have made more money this year than their counterparts in any other country, and they partially have China to thank

Fri, 10/11/2019 - 5:23pm

It's a good year to be a French billionaire.

Just look at LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault. A surge in LVMH share price grew Arnault's net worth by $5.1 billion between October 9 and 11, Forbes' Hayley Cuccinello reported. In March, Business Insider reported that Arnault overtook Warren Buffett as the world's third-richest person. And as of July 16, Bloomberg reported, Arnault overtook Bill Gates and now ranks as the world's second-richest person.

While Arnault has since returned to third place on Bloomberg's ranking, the shakeup marked the first time in history that Gates ranked lower than second place on Bloomberg's Billionaires Index. Arnault's net worth now stands at a reported $96.3 billion.

French billionaires got even richer in 2019

The personal fortunes of French billionaires have grown at more than twice the pace of the fortunes of their American and Chinese counterparts in 2019, Bloomberg found. The collective net worths of the 14 French billionaires on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index grew 35% between December 31 and July 17, while the net worths of American and Chinese billionaires grew 17% and 15% respectively. 

Chinese billionaires may not have enjoyed the success of their French counterparts, but they may have helped create it, according to Bloomberg. Three of the 14 French citizens listed in Bloomberg's list of the 500 wealthiest people in the world have made their fortunes from luxury cosmetics and goods. The sector is booming, largely thanks to increasing Chinese demand.

Shares of LVMH, the luxury conglomerate headed by Bernard Arnault, jumped 47% in the first half of 2019, Markets Insider data shows. Kering, the parent company of Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent led by Francois Pinault, has seen its shares rise 29% since the start of the year. And shares of L'Oréal, of which Francoise Bettencourt Meyers owns a third, are up 25% this year. As a result, Arnault, Pinault, and Bettencourt Meyers added $53 billion to their combined net worths in the first half 2019, Bloomberg reported.

Read more:Bernard Arnault made $5.1 billion in the past 3 days. These 5 mind-blowing facts show just how quickly the French billionaire's fortune is growing.

The success of France's billionaires follows a turbulent 2018. European billionaires ended the year $2.3 trillion poorer, a 7% drop in their collective net worth, according to Wealth-X's 2019 Billionaires Census. In 2018, billionaires in North America fared better than those on any other continent, seeing a 5.3% drop in their collective net worth.

SEE ALSO: Meet the 18 ultra-wealthy Americans begging for a wealth tax, from a Facebook cofounder to a Disney heiress

DON'T MISS: What George Soros' life is really like: How the former hedge-fund manager built his $8.3 billion fortune, purchased a sprawling network of New York homes, and became the topic of international conspiracy theories

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Bernard Arnault made $5.1 billion in the past 3 days. These 5 mind-blowing facts show just how quickly the French billionaire's fortune is growing.

Fri, 10/11/2019 - 5:08pm

Luxury conglomerate LVMH released an earnings report showing strong second-quarter sales on October 9. The ensuing stock surge earned CEO Bernard Arnault $5.1 billion in three days, according to Forbes.

The 70-year-old was the fourth-richest person alive at the start of 2019, according to Bloomberg. Since then, Arnault has made so much money that he displaced both Warren Buffett and Bill Gates to rank second, for a time, on both Bloomberg's Billionaires Index and Forbes Billionaires List. He has since returned to third place on the real-time Bloomberg ranking.

Most of Arnault's wealth comes from the 41% stake in LVMH he controls through his company Christian Dior, according to his profile in the Bloomberg's Billionaires Index. LVMH shares are up over 50% in 2019 so far, according to Forbes.

Read more: Bernard Arnault just overtook Bill Gates as the 2nd-richest person in the world. Here's how the French billionaire makes and spends his fortune

Here are five facts that put into perspective exactly how fast Arnault's fortune has grown.

SEE ALSO: Forever 21 just filed for bankruptcy — and the husband and wife duo who founded it have lost nearly $4 billion from their personal net worths since 2015

DON'T MISS: Wealth tax explainer: Why Elizabeth Warren and billionaires like George Soros alike are calling for a specialized tax on the ultra-wealthy

1. In January 2019, Arnault was ranked No. 4 on the lists of the world's richest people. Fast forward six months to mid-July and he had jumped two major spots, up to No. 2.

In January, Arnault was ranked fourth in both Bloomberg's Billionaires Index and Forbes Billionaires List, behind Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Jeff Bezos.

His net worth was $68.6 billion on January 1, according to Bloomberg.

Now, he's ranked third on the list and his net worth stands at $96.3 billion, according to Bloomberg.



2. In the first three months of 2019, Arnault added over $14 billion to his net worth — roughly the equivalent of drug lord El Chapo's entire empire.

By March, Arnault had already added over $14 billion to his net worth, pushing his net worth ahead of Buffett's according to Bloomberg.

Law enforcement estimates that El Chapo's entire drug empire is worth $14 billion, Business Insider previously reported.



3. Arnault is officially one of only six people to ever rank No. 2 on Forbes' list of the richest billionaires.

In July, Arnault overtook Bill Gates to become the second-richest person in the world, Business Insider reported.

Arnault is now one of only six people to ever hold one of the top two spots on Forbes' billionaires list, according to the magazine. The others are Bezos, Gates, Buffett, Zara cofounder Amancio Ortega, and Mexican telecom magnate Carlos Slim Helu.



4. Arnault has made more money in 2019 than anyone else listed in the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Bloomberg reported.

Arnault has made almost $28 billion so far in 2019, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Bill Gates, for comparison, who currently sits in spot No. 2, has made $16 billion so far in 2019. And Jeff Bezos, who holds onto his spot as No. 1, has lost about $1 billion, according to the Index.



5. Arnault's personal wealth gains in the first six months of 2019 are on par with Apple's App Store and Google Play combined revenue in the same time period.

Arnault's wealth increased by $39 billion in the first six months of 2019. That's equivalent to Apple's App Store and Google Play combined revenue in the first half of 2019, as reported by TechCrunch.



'We can shut down the Turkish economy if we need to': The Trump administration just threatened harsh new sanctions on Turkey

Fri, 10/11/2019 - 4:39pm

  • The Trump administration on Friday doubled down on its threat to impose crippling economic sanctions on Turkey in response to its military campaign against the Kurds in northern Syria.
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a White House briefing that the US had the power to stymie the Turkish economy, reiterating an unusual threat of economic war against an ally who's a member of the NATO alliance.
  • "We can shut down the Turkish economy if we need to," Mnuchin said.
  • However, the administration also clarified it wasn't implementing any new sanctions against Turkey.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The Trump administration doubled down on its threat to impose crippling economic sanctions on Turkey in response to its military campaign against the Kurds in northern Syria on Friday.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a White House briefing that the US had the power to "shut down" the Turkish economy, reiterating an unusual threat of economic war against an ally who's a member of the NATO alliance.

"We can shut down the Turkish economy if we need to," Mnuchin said.

However, the administration also clarified it wasn't implementing any new sanctions against Turkey.

Read more: Trump threatens to 'totally destroy and obliterate' Turkey's economy if it takes 'off-limits' actions in Syria

The New York Times reported that President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order empowering the Treasury Department to punish Turkish government officials if the country targets religious or ethnic minorities as it conducts military operations in Syria.

A senior State Department official told The Times any sanctions would likely be modeled on those imposed last year against two Turkish officials for detaining American pastor Andrew Brunson.

The president has faced withering criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike for greenlighting the Turkish military operation against the Kurds, who have played a critical role in the campaign against the Islamic State.

Trump issued a similar aggressive threat against the NATO ally on Monday. He tweeted that if Turkey engages in "off-limits" actions, he would "totally destroy and obliterate" its economy.

The Turkish economy is in the middle of a yearlong recession, with a battered currency and high inflation. Economists say the Turkish economy will contract 0.3% this year after a decade of strong growth. 

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The US and China reach a partial trade agreement, averting tariff hikes on thousands of products

Fri, 10/11/2019 - 4:21pm

  • The Trump administration has reportedly reached a partial trade agreement with China ahead of planned tariff escalations.
  • It was unclear if negotiators resolved issues at the heart of a dispute that has roiled the two largest economies.
  • China agreed to increase agricultural purchases and roll back some tariffs as part of the agreement, according to Bloomberg.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The US reached a limited trade agreement with China on Friday that would pave the way for resolutions on broader issues later in the year, temporarily defusing a bitter dispute that has roiled the world's largest economies.

"We've come to a very substantial phase-one deal," President Donald Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, adding that it had not yet been written. 

Following two days of negotiations, the Trump administration said it would hold off on scheduled escalations that would have raised tariff rates on Chinese products to as high as 30% next week. China pledged to increase American agricultural purchases and make changes to rules around its currency.

The agreement also included provisions directed to protect American intellectual property and technology. But it was not immediately clear whether it would address other Chinese practices identified in a Section 301 investigation, which would require major reforms to the way the communist government manages its economy. 

"The structural issues were never appropriate for bilateral talks, and these should be moved to a broader arena," Mary Lovely, a trade scholar at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said. "US trade barriers alone cannot stop the effect on world prices stemming from Chinese subsidies and oversupply."

US stock indexes soared on the news. The two sides have taken tit-for-tat punitive measures against each other over the past year and a half, including through a nearly steady stream of steep duties on thousands of products.

With American businesses and consumers caught in the middle of the trade dispute, bipartisan lawmakers were likely to criticize any deal seen as weak. The consequences of tariffs have grown increasingly evident across the country, raising costs and disrupting supply chains in agriculture and manufacturing. 

Trump has long argued that any economic pain from protectionism would be worth it to win concessions on rules on structural issues, including intellectual-property theft, large-scale subsidies, and the forced transfer of foreign technology. 

"The Trump administration has made a huge deal about IP theft and tech transfers," Judith Alison Lee, an international-trade lawyer at Gibson Dunn, said. "So if the agreement says nothing about that, it would be hard for the administration to spin it into something big."

The apparent truce with China came as concerns continued to mount over a recently launched impeachment inquiry into Trump. The president has repeatedly asserted that a strong economy could undermine any complaints that he used his office to solicit foreign assistance for his own political gains.

"How do you impeach a President who has created the greatest Economy in the history of our Country?" he wrote on Twitter late last month. 

This story is developing. Please check back for updates. 

Read more: Nobel laureate Robert Shiller forewarned investors about the dot-com and housing bubbles. Now he tells us which irrational market behaviors have him most worried.

SEE ALSO: The White House eyes new economic penalties against China as trade talks kick off

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5 signs you're better off with the Amex Platinum and not the Chase Sapphire Reserve

Fri, 10/11/2019 - 4:11pm

When it comes to the top travel credit cards available to American consumers, two specific cards tend to fight for the top spot: the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Platinum Card from American Express.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve wows cardholders with 3x points on travel and dining (plus 1 point per dollar on other purchases) and benefits like a $300 annual travel credit, a Priority Pass Select membership, and 50% more travel when you book with points through the Chase travel portal. You also get a credit for a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership and other perks, although a $450 annual fee applies each year.

Read more: Chase Sapphire Reserve review

The American Express Platinum card, on the other hand, comes with a $550 annual fee yet a wider range of perks. Not only do you get up to a $200 annual airline fee credit, but you also get up to $200 in Uber credits each year. You also get airport lounge access and a credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. On the earning side of the equation, you'll earn 5x points on flights booked with airlines or through AmexTravel.com and on prepaid hotels booked through AmexTravel.com. Like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, this card gives you 1 point per dollar on non-bonus spending.

Read more: Amex Platinum card review

Which card is best for you? While you could easily get both, not everyone wants multiple travel credit cards with a high annual fee. The Chase Sapphire Reserve is an easy sell thanks to its lower annual fee, but there are plenty of reasons the Platinum Card from American Express could be a better pick

Read more: Chase Sapphire Reserve vs American Express Platinum: Which premium credit card is right for you?

Keep in mind that we're focusing on the rewards and perks that make these credit cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which can far outweigh the value of any rewards.

When you're working to earn credit card rewards, it's important to practice financial discipline, like paying your balances off in full each month, making payments on time, and not spending more than you can afford to pay back. Basically, treat your credit card like a debit card.

Here are the biggest signs the Platinum Card is your best bet You can easily use the Amex Platinum airline fee credit

Where the travel credit from the Chase Sapphire Reserve card applies to any travel purchase you make, you need to be more intentional if you want to use the airline fee credit from the American Express Platinum card. This credit only works for one airline you select ahead of time for starters, but it also only applies to certain travel incidentals such as checked bags and in-flight refreshments.

If you frequently check baggage and pay for upgraded meals and drinks with the same airline each year, then you could easily utilize this credit. If not, you'll either need to figure out ways to use it to your advantage or consider other travel credit cards with annual credits that have fewer restrictions.

Read more: My Amex Platinum costs me $550 a year, but I cut the fee nearly in half by taking advantage of a hugely valuable perk 

You need to have access to a broader selection of airport lounges

While the Chase Sapphire Reserve offers a Priority Pass Select membership, the Platinum Card from American Express takes airport lounge access a step further. Not only do you get the standard Priority Pass Select membership with access to over 1,300 airport lounges worldwide, but you also get to enter Delta Sky Clubs when you're flying Delta.

You also get access to a network of luxurious Centurion lounges in destinations like Dallas, Hong Kong, Las Vegas, and Miami. Plenty more Centurion lounges are also in the works in destinations like Phoenix, Charlotte, and London. If you fly into or out of an airport with a Centurion lounge often, the Amex Platinum can easily become the better deal.

You ride with Uber all the time

The Uber credits of up to $200 per year with the Platinum card are doled out on a monthly basis, meaning you can't use the credit all at once. For that reason, this perk is best for consumers who use ridesharing services at least a few times per month already.

If you're a frequent Uber customer, you'll easily get a ton of value out of this perk. If not, it may go to waste.

You fly on a lot of international airlines

Also make sure to consider transfer partners before you choose between a Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards credit card. While Chase Ultimate Rewards has a wide range of transfer partners, the program has a smaller selection of international airline partners. American Express Membership Rewards, on the other hand, lets you transfer points to the following partners:

Aeromexico
Air Canada
Air France KLM (Flying Blue)
Alitalia (Millemiglia)
All Nippon Airways
Cathay Pacific
British Airways
Delta Air Lines
El Al Israel Airlines
Emirates
Etihad
Hawaiian Airlines
Iberia Plus
JetBlue
Singapore Airlines
Virgin America
Virgin Atlantic Airways

You book a lot of flights directly with airlines

Finally, don't forget to consider how much further ahead the Platinum Card from American Express might leave you if you book a lot of flights with airlines or pay for a lot of prepaid hotels. You'll earn 5x points on your Platinum card with these purchases, whereas the Chase Sapphire Reserve only doles out 3 points per dollar spent on all travel and dining spending.

Read more: If you only want to pay $450+ for one premium credit card, which should you choose?

The bottom line

If you can't decide between two rewards or travel credit cards, take the time to assess each card's benefits and how easily you'll be able to use them. Many times, one card winds up as the better pick because its perks are better tailored to your lifestyle or travel goals.

That's definitely the case when it comes to comparing the Chase Sapphire Reserve to the Platinum Card from American Express, although there are some other cards that stack up well against these two. Make sure to compare all your credit card options in terms of their benefits, earning structure, and fees before you decide.

Click here to learn more about the Platinum Card from American Express.

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Facebook's cryptocurrency project suffers massive blow as MasterCard, Visa, eBay, and others withdraw from Libra (FB)

Fri, 10/11/2019 - 4:08pm

  • MasterCard, Visa, eBay, Mercado Pago, and Stripe are exiting Facebook's planned cryptocurrency project, Libra.
  • PayPal also dropped out of talks to work with Facebook on Libra last week.
  • Facebook's deteriorating relationships with Libra partners, combined with intense scrutiny from lawmakers, leaves the future of the initiative uncertain.
  • Facebook's exec leading Libra, David Marcus, thanked Visa and MasterCard "for sticking it out until the 11th hour," and cautioned against "reading the fate of Libra into this update."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The future of Facebook's cryptocurrency project is in jeopardy as many of the companies initially attached to Libra have jumped ship.

Mastercard, Visa, eBay, Stripe, and Mercado Pago will all no longer participate in the Libra Association, the group working to launch Facebook's proposed cryptocurrency, the Financial Times and Bloomberg first reported on Friday. Facebook confirmed the departures to Business Insider.

PayPal on October 4 was the first major partner to withdraw from the organization.

The exits, combined with intense scrutiny from lawmakers, represent a huge blow to the initiative and leave its future uncertain.

Former PayPal President David Marcus is the chief executive behind the Libra initiative, and he tweeted out thanks to MasterCard and Visa for sticking with the project as long as they did.

I would caution against reading the fate of Libra into this update. Of course, it’s not great news in the short term, but in a way it’s liberating. Stay tuned for more very soon. Change of this magnitude is hard. You know you’re on to something when so much pressure builds up.

— David Marcus (@davidmarcus) October 11, 2019

 

"We highly respect the vision of the Libra Association; however, eBay has made the decision to not move forward as a founding member. At this time, we are focused on rolling out eBay's managed payments experience for our customers," an eBay spokesperson told Business Insider in a statement.

"Visa has decided not to join the Libra Association at this time," a spokesperson told Business Insider. "We will continue to evaluate and our ultimate decision will be determined by a number of factors, including the Association's ability to fully satisfy all requisite regulatory expectations. Visa's continued interest in Libra stems from our belief that well-regulated blockchain-based networks could extend the value of secure digital payments to a greater number of people and places, particularly in emerging and developing markets."

In a separate statement, Stripe said it would consider rejoining the association in the future.

"Stripe is supportive of projects that aim to make online commerce more accessible for people around the world," a spokesperson told Business Insider. "Libra has this potential. We will follow its progress closely and remain open to working with the Libra Association at a later stage."

A spokesperson for MasterCard was not immediately available to comment. Lawmakers urged MasterCard and Visa to withdraw from the Libra Association after a recent report from The Wall Street Journal said both companies were reluctant to offer public support for Facebook's cryptocurrency.

Facebook announced its plans for Libra in June and said it would work to satisfy the concerns of regulators in the US and abroad before launching.

Read more: Facebook blockchain boss David Marcus says Libra won't launch until it has 'fully addressed regulatory concerns'

Marcus tried to assuage concerns from US lawmakers during an extended Senate hearing in July. US lawmakers expressed concerns over Facebook's ability keep Libra secure and questioned whether a well-funded cryptocurrency would give the social-media giant too much market power.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will testify before the House Financial Services Committee on October 23, where he is likely to face more tough questions regarding Libra.

"We appreciate their support for the goals and mission of the Libra project," Facebook's Dante Disparte, the head of policy and communication for the Libra Association, told Business Insider in a statement. "We are focused on moving forward and continuing to build a strong association of some of the world's leading enterprises, social impact organizations and other stakeholders to achieve a safe, transparent, and consumer-friendly implementation of a global payment system that breaks down financial barriers for billions of people.

"Although the makeup of the Association members may grow and change over time, the design principle of Libra's governance and technology, along with the open nature of this project ensures the Libra payment network will remain resilient," he continued. "We look forward to the inaugural Libra Association Council meeting in just 3 days and announcing the initial members of the Libra Association."

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Researchers calculated how much the average person would need to be paid to live a year without services like email and search engines. Here are the final numbers.

Fri, 10/11/2019 - 4:05pm

  • Free online services "have unquestionably become increasingly ubiquitous" in everyday life, but the rapidly expanding sector isn't accounted for in key economic metrics, MIT economist Erik Brynjolfsson wrote in a research paper.
  • Brynjolfsson and a team of researchers surveyed Americans to find how much people value free digital goods.
  • Search engines were deemed the most valuable service on average, and music was the least valued.
  • Read the full report here.
  • Visit the Business Insider homepage for more stories.

The internet brought countless free services to the masses, but many of its quality-of-life benefits aren't accounted for in critical economic data.

A team of researchers sought to find how much value average people gain from free online services like Google, Facebook, and Wikipedia. Online services are "increasingly ubiquitous and important in our daily lives," MIT economist Erik Brynjolfsson wrote, yet the sector counted for the same fraction of gross domestic product in 2016 as it did 35 years earlier

The metric leaves out many relatively new digital goods due to their lack of upfront cost.

The researchers concluded that free digital goods "provide substantial value to consumers even if they do not contribute substantially to GDP." Search engines were the highest valued service on average, and music was the least valued.

Here's how much the average person needed to be compensated to give up the following eight popular online services for a year. They're listed in increasing order of cost.

Read more: Dyslexic, failing at school, and partially blind: How Larry Hite overcame the odds to become one of the most successful self-made stock traders using a strategy that's 'accessible to anybody'

Messaging

Median yearly valuation: $155



Music

Median yearly valuation: $168



Social Media

Median yearly valuation: $322



E-Commerce

Median yearly valuation: $842



Video

Median yearly valuation: $1,173



Maps

Median yearly valuation: $3,648



Email

Median yearly valuation: $8,414



Search engines

Median yearly valuation: $17,530



Jonathan Soros is pumping $300 million into a new hedge fund run by one of his father's former portfolio managers

Fri, 10/11/2019 - 2:40pm

  • Courtney Carson, the former Soros Fund Management distressed-debt head, has gotten $300 million from Jonathan Soros' JS Capital for his new hedge fund, Hein Park, sources told Business Insider.
  • Carson left Soros Fund Management in May, one of a dozen money managers who have departed since Dawn Fitzpatrick took over as chief investment officer, Bloomberg reported.
  • Carson previously worked for Deutsche Bank and Richard Brennan's Camulos Capital and did several stints at Soros Fund Management.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

Jonathan Soros is backing one of his dad's former portfolio managers. 

The younger Soros' JS Capital is investing $300 million in Courtney Carson's new fund, named Hein Park after the historic district in Carson's hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, sources told Business Insider.

Carson left Soros Fund Management in May after running the firm's distressed-credit book since the beginning of 2016. Bloomberg reported that his team would stay at Soros Fund Management for the rest of the year. 

Carson, a graduate of Notre Dame and an alum of Deutsche Bank and Richard Brennan's Camulos Capital, is one of about a dozen money managers that have left George Soros' family office since new Chief Investment Officer Dawn Fitzpatrick took over. 

But Carson's clearly kept in touch with the family after his departure, as JS Capital is now lined up as one of the biggest backers for his new fund. It is unclear when the fund will launch or how much it hopes to begin trading with. 

Other investors who Soros' sons have backed include Santiago Jariton, who started Emerging Variant in 2017 after working for George Soros for more than a decade. Both Jonathan and Robert Soros invested in Jariton's new fund, according to media reports

JS Capital declined to comment. Carson did not respond to requests for comment. 

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Samba TV has acquired a startup to help teach big brands direct-to-consumer tricks

Fri, 10/11/2019 - 2:38pm

  • Ad-tech firm Samba TV has acquired Wove to help advertisers use first-party data in targeting and measuring TV ads.
  • Wove, which works with direct-to-consumer brands like Frey, Plated, and Parachute, helps advertisers anonymously share data that's used for ad targeting in email and social media campaigns.
  • Wove is the third company that Samba TV has bought in the past year to solve advertisers' problems like frequency capping and measurement, said Samba TV CEO and co-founder Ashwin Navin.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

As more marketers shift towards using first-party data to target ads, TV measurement firm Samba TV is acquiring Wove, a small data firm that specializes in helping direct-to-consumer companies manage data.

Wove helps DTC companies share anonymized customer data with each other so they can target better. For example, DTC laundry brand Frey uses Wove to share lookalike audiences with other brands, Adweek reported in May. According to its website, Wove's clients also include big DTC brands Parachute, Plated, and ClassPass.

Until now, Wove has focused on email and social advertising and will now build data products that help marketers advertise on TV using first-party data, according to Ashwin Navin, CEO and co-founder of Samba TV.

In one example, he said Wove's technology will be able retarget web surfers with TV ads. 

Wove has raised $12 million and is founded by former Liveramp employees Eddie Siegel, Armaan Sarkar, and Chris Taylor.

With privacy regulation growing, big platforms like Facebook and Google are favoring first-party data in their advertising products. Navin also said marketers are starting to question the accuracy of third-party data.

"The problem with over-the-top television is that it's not cookie-based and it's generally not targeted today," he said. "If it's going to be targeted and measured in the future, it will be with first-party data."

Read more: Sweeping regulations like California's upcoming privacy bill threaten to wipe out the advertising industry. These 10 tech companies are trying to help marketers survive.

SambaTV wants to fix problems like frequency capping and measurement

Navin wouldn't disclose terms of the deal but said it's being funded using Samba TV's Series B funding of $30 million in 2017. Samba TV used the fund to acquire two other companies in the past year: Screen6 and Axwave.

Navin said Samba TV has broke even for "a number of years," and that the acquisitions are meant to fill targeting and measurement holes in Samba TV's tech stack.

Screen6's ID software matches advertisers' data to cap the number of ads people see in a given timeframe. Axwave tracks when and where ads on linear and connected TVs run, which Samba TV matches with its own viewership data to analyze reach and frequency, Navin said.

"We believe strongly in the potential of using first-party data in the television space and over-the-top," he said. "We think that model is going to be much more privacy-compliant and valuable to advertisers and consumers."

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The market's favorite recession indicator reverts back to safe territory for the first time in months

Fri, 10/11/2019 - 2:36pm

  • The spread between three-month and 10-year US Treasury bonds turned positive on Friday for the first time since July.
  • The relationship — know as the yield curve — has been inverted for months, issuing a signal that's preceded each US economic recession since 1950.
  • Positive news on trade talks between the US and China and Brexit progress drove a sell-off in Treasurys, which helped the curve un-invert.
  • Read more on Business Insider.

A long-watched recession indicator briefly turned positive Friday on news that a partial trade deal between the US and China may be in the works.

Treasurys sold off Friday on the trade news, pushing the yield on 10-year government bonds up 9 basis points to 1.703% as prices declined. That put the 10-year yield higher than the yield on the three-month Treasury, which declined slightly to 1.676%, making the spread between them roughly a basis point. 

It's the first time that the spread between the two — called the yield curve — has been positive since July. This is important because an inversion of the three-month and 10-year spread has preceded every US recession since 1950.

The reason for the yield curve reversion was the market's positive reaction to news on trade between the US and China, as well as Brexit, Charlie Ripley, a senior investment strategist for Allianz Investment Management, told Markets Insider in an interview. 

Markets rallied after President Trump tweeted that "good things are happening" early Friday, indicating that trade negotiations between the US and China were going well into the second day in Washington. In Europe, there are also signs of progress with Brexit as the EU agreed to enter talks with Boris Johnson.  

"We're seeing rates lifted on that positive news and equities are following," Ripley said.

Read more: Nobel laureate Robert Shiller forewarned investors about the dot-com and housing bubbles. Now he tells us which irrational market behaviors have him most worried.

The boost in equities and the sell-off in treasuries spilled over into other assets as well. Gold, traditionally a safe-haven asset that investors flock to when they're worried about risk, fell further below $1,500 an ounce, a key psychological level.

Having the yield curve back in positive territory could be a good sign for the future, according to Seema Shah, chief strategist at Principal Global Investors. 

"US recession risk has primarily been driven by weakness associate with the US/China trade war, so good news in that arena should lower recession risk, and therefore the need for Fed cuts," she told Markets Insider in an email. 

So far, the market seems to agree. The probability of a rate cut at the Fed's October meeting dropped to 66.8%, according to the CME FedWatch Tool. Last week, traders were forecasting the probability of a 25 to 50 basis point cut as high as 90%. 

But even though the yield curve is now in the green, an inversion is still a good signal that a recession could be on the horizon, Ripley said. 

"For us it brings up that it's something to keep an eye on, but we're looking at other things" as well, he said. 

Going forward, he'll keep an eye on business sentiment, which has been low, and jobless claims, an important measure of the health of the labor market.

Read more: A strategist with JPMorgan's $1.7 trillion asset-management business says trade and politics will keep investors in 'purgatory' for more than a year — but thinks these 4 strategies can help them break out

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Inside WeWork's troubled $850 million Lord & Taylor building: A tale of outsize ambition, audacious renovations, and now financial worries

Fri, 10/11/2019 - 2:36pm

  • The Lord & Taylor building in midtown Manhattan, owned by a real-estate fund linked to WeWork, is a symbol of the coworking company's grand ambitions gone unchecked.
  • Purchased in 2017 for $850 million, the building was an ambitious bet for WeWork's brash and charismatic founder Adam Neumann. WeWork planned to lease the space and turn it into a global headquarters.
  • The landmark property is still under construction, but as WeWork slashes thousands of jobs — eliminating the need for a new headquarters — and faces a difficult financial future after shelving its IPO, the building's future is in doubt.
  • For more WeWork stories, click here.

On a recent autumn day in New York, construction sounds drifted out of the Lord & Taylor building on Fifth Avenue. Contractors in yellow vests clustered outside a green-painted plywood wall encasing the ground floor. The location, spanning the block between 38th and 39th streets, is the site of an audacious renovation to restore the Italianate structure to an earlier grace.

But it's also a symbol of grand ambitions gone unchecked. The building is owned by a real-estate fund linked to WeWork, and the coworking startup has leased the entirety of its nearly 700,000 square feet. The lead banker for the company's failed initial public offering holds the mortgage. One need look no further than this trophy asset at the heart of New York's real-estate scene to understand the company's fate.

Lord & Taylor opened its flagship location at 424 Fifth Ave. in 1914, with The New York Times touting its "artistic architecture as a business asset." The building retains some of its original features, including crown molding and "original wood floors with amazing structure," according to two sources who were involved in the recent deal.

Read more: Sex, tequila, and a tiger: Employees inside Adam Neumann's WeWork talk about the nonstop party to attain a $100 billion dream and the messy reality that tanked it

In September 2006, Lord & Taylor and its 12-floor flagship store was sold to a retail developer and owner of the Hudson's Bay Co. as part of a 37-property sale. The developer was founded by Richard Baker, who is now Hudson's Bay chairman.

WeWork entered the picture in 2017 with a deal announced in October of that year by Lord & Taylor's parent company, Hudson's Bay. A source who was involved in the deal talks called them "friendly." It was just one part of a broader partnership for somewhat surprising bedfellows: one a 21st-century real-estate startup looking to open offices in prime locations, and the other a retailer with struggling brands and choice properties that claims to be the oldest company in North America. 

WeWork agreed to lease the entire space, with plans to fashion some of it into its global headquarters and allow Lord & Taylor to reoccupy about a quarter of it for a slimmed-down ground-floor retail store. WeWork would lease space in other Hudson's Bay buildings, including its flagship on Queen Street in Toronto, and two more in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Frankfurt, Germany. 

The purchase would be made with WeWork's property fund, a joint venture with an investment fund run by a board member, Rhone Capital's Steven Langman, to purchase properties that WeWork could lease. Rhone took a stake in Hudson's Bay as part of the deal. 

'A chance to conquer'

Perhaps most importantly, the landmark purchase was the most ambitious yet for WeWork's brash and charismatic founder Adam Neumann.

"For someone like Adam, this is a chance to conquer, to capture a big deal and make a statement," a person who worked on the deal told Business Insider.

He paid up to do so. WeWork Property Advisors offered $150 million more for the Lord & Taylor building than what the commercial-property giant Brookfield Property Partners was prepared to pay, according to The Wall Street Journal. The $850 million purchase price was a 30% premium to where it had been appraised just a year before.

For Neumann, an Israeli Navy veteran unafraid to think big, it was an opportunity to push the company he founded in 2010 past its coworking roots and into retail, where an industry struggling to compete with the likes of Amazon was sitting on real estate in prime locations. 

"WeWork's role in this big trend will be to reimagine and reshape places so as to foster collaboration, innovation and creativity," the founder and then-CEO said in the statement announcing the deal. "Retail is changing and the role that real estate has to play in the way that we shop today must change with it. The opportunity to develop this partnership with HBC to explore this trend was too good to pass up."

The tenant eventually signed a 20-year lease for a mix of retail and office space starting at $105 per square foot, with annual increases and a 15-year guarantee that WeWork would pay. Current midtown Manhattan rents averaged about $88 a square foot for office space in the second quarter, a new quarterly high, according to the brokerage firm CBRE. 

Read more: How WeWork spiraled from a $47 billion valuation to talk of bankruptcy in just 6 weeks

Nonetheless, that would be enough to convince JPMorgan, then angling for a spot on the startup's highly anticipated public offering, to sign off on a mortgage whose balance stood at $389 million in February, according to public records. In total, WeWork lined up $900 million in financing from JPMorgan, Starwood Property Trust, and others, according to the real-estate-data provider Real Capital Analytics.

WeWork, which scrapped its IPO last month and ousted Neumann, is now on the hook for about $74 million in annual lease payments that will step up over the next 15 years. 

Representatives for Neumann, WeWork, JPMorgan Chase, Rhone Capital, and Hudson's Bay declined to comment on the record for this story.

'All smoke and mirrors'

But in 2017, WeWork looked like it could do no wrong. Hudson's Bay's Baker sold the deal by saying it would bring an additional 6,000 to 8,000 people by the firm's store, with customers getting access to WeWork's member platform. WeWork employees would get exclusive access to clothing sales with Lord & Taylor, a brand more synonymous with an older generation than the millennials who frequent WeWork's spaces. 

"The original plan to keep Lord & Taylor in the Fifth Ave. building was all smoke and mirrors," the person who worked on the deal said. "It was never going to happen."

The deal featured the types of conflicts that would later help derail WeWork's IPO. For one, WeWork sat on both sides of the deal, as an investor in the fund with control of the management team and as the tenant.

In theory, the property fund made sense: As WeWork brought its industrial-chic design approach to buildings, their value would increase. It had happened in the past. And the real-estate fund could enjoy some of that appreciation. In the end, outside investors contributed much of the money the fund would eventually manage. 

Read more: Adam Neumann lent money to phone distributor PCS Wireless this spring, showing how his family office is investing beyond startups

But there was more: Rhone Capital agreed to invest $500 million into Hudson's Bay Co. as part of the deal, further tying the three entities together. Langman and the WeWork exec Eric Gross joined HBC's board. And earlier this year, Baker proposed taking Hudson's Bay private, counting himself, WeWork's property fund, and Rhone as holders of a combined 57% stake and further entangling the coworking company in activities outside its core mission. 

It took a long time for the Lord & Taylor transaction to close. The October 2017 press release initially said it would close no later than August 10, 2018, with the renovation work beginning after that year's Christmas season. The parties haggled over terms, and WeWork lined up financing through the end of 2017 and into 2018.

On August 3, 2018, Hudson's Bay announced an amendment to the original agreement, extending the transaction closing date to November 13 and also disclosing options that would allow it to extend the closing date to February of the following year. The retailer said it collected an additional $25 million for extending the dates and would collect another $25 million if the buyer asked to extend the closing date to January. 

In November 2018, Community Board 5, which oversees the district that includes the Lord & Taylor building, took a hard look at WeWork's planned renovations. The board members, whose recommendations are nonbinding, gave it a lukewarm response. 

The board's landmarks commission recommended denying the proposal, citing the company's plan to alter one of the city's largest and most intact rooftop terraces in favor of a two-story glass cube perched above the building on dozens of skinny columns.

The committee also withheld approval for signage on the building's northeast corner that would replace "Lord & Taylor" with a more WeWork-like "Do What You Love," according to a presentation WeWork gave to the community board. Other signage requests showed the company was considering numerous tenants for the retail space, suggesting it had already moved on from the plan to have a Lord & Taylor shop as the anchor, according to a person with knowledge of the presentation. 

In any event, WeWork showed little interest in considering the board's suggestions, the person said. Later that month, the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission signed off on the project despite the community board's reservations. 

The transaction finally closed in February and included a provision that gave Hudson's Bay a $125 million preferred-equity interest in the building. Renovations were expected to cost $400 million, according to The Wall Street Journal. 

Outsize ambitions

To date, WeWork has not moved into the building, and its headquarters remains in Chelsea, Manhattan. Even as work continues, the office company has looked for other options. Rumors circled earlier this year that Amazon might lease the building for more than the price of WeWork's lease, either in whole or in part. 

As WeWork explores options, it's also in talks with its largest investor, SoftBank, for another cash infusion, and with a collection of banks, including JPMorgan, for debt financing. Bloomberg reported on Friday that the financing package could be as big as $5 billion.

Read more: WeWork opened 400 locations in 3 years. In some cases, it used deep discounts to convince existing customers to relocate to help fill them.

JPMorgan's role shows how conflicted the bank has become — if it chooses against lending to WeWork, the startup's property fund is more likely to default on its Lord & Taylor building mortgage. It also holds mortgages on residential properties Neumann has bought.

Two years after the deal was first signed, much of what was announced has failed to materialize. Lord & Taylor will not take 150,000 square feet of retail space in the building — a source who was involved in the original negotiations said "those conversations ended pretty quickly." The retailer shuttered its flagship store in January. 

And about those three Hudson's Bay locations where WeWork would lease space? So far, it has announced plans for only one, in Toronto, which is scheduled to open in November. And the company, which is set to lay off up to a quarter of its staff, has little need for a new headquarters.  

One executive who was involved with the original deal said the Lord & Taylor building was representative of WeWork's outsize ambitions under Neumann. While the company, especially Neumann, wanted a trophy building to encourage future investments, the source said executives failed to anticipate the complexity of both the deal — with layers of options, warrants, and parties — and the overhaul of a landmark property.

Despite the chaotic financial backdrop, construction crews are still at work on the building. They're peeling away drop-down ceilings that have obscured crown molding, working to transform the landmark retail building into the office of the future. Just who will sit in those seats, though, remains to be seen.

Additional reporting by Alex Nicoll.  

Got a tip? Contact Meghan Morris on Signal at (646) 768-1627 or Dakin Campbell on Signal at (917) 673 9252 using a nonwork phone, or email Morris at mmorris@businessinsider.com or Campbell at dcampbell@businessinsider.com. (PR pitches by email only, please.) 

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Amazon's delivery contractors announce upward of 2,000 layoffs even as the mega-retailer's logistics demand balloons (AMZN)

Fri, 10/11/2019 - 2:35pm

  • A slew of Amazon delivery-service partners (DSPs) nationwide have announced layoffs this month.
  • Business Insider has learned that Letter Ride, an Amazon DSP, is laying off nearly 900 workers in California and Texas. These companies deliver Amazon packages to customers' homes.
  • Several outlets previously reported layoffs in Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, Massachusetts, and Connecticut after those DSPs lost their Amazon contracts. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A slew of Amazon's delivery-service partners (DSPs) that deliver packages to customers' homes have announced layoffs this month.

Business Insider has learned that Letter Ride, an Amazon DSP, is laying off nearly 900 workers in California and Texas. The last-mile delivery company filed Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notifications in both states. It did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

Nationwide, more than 900 employees at Urban Mobility Now and Inpax, both of which also provide last-mile delivery services for Amazon, learned in recent weeks that they would be laid off. Drivers, dispatchers, and managers will be affected. Another DSP, Sheard-Loman Transport, said last month that it planned to fire 200 employees in three states because of the expiration of its Amazon contract, BuzzFeed News reported on Friday. 

DSPs are small third-party delivery companies that typically work exclusively for Amazon. Amazon puts DSPs in charge of drivers' wages, insurance, health benefits, and vehicle maintenance.

"We work with a variety of carrier partners to get packages to Amazon customers and we regularly evaluate our partnerships," a company spokesperson told Business Insider. "We have ended our relationship with these companies, and drivers are being supported with opportunities to deliver Amazon packages with other local Delivery Service Partners."

Amazon, meanwhile, retains power over many other aspects of these drivers' jobs, according to legal filings and interviews with more than 40 delivery workers, including drivers, supervisors, owners of courier companies, and Amazon logistics managers.

For Amazon, this system of contracting delivery jobs is a cost-effective alternative to direct employment.

Read more: 'This is just another piece of the puzzle': Amazon is now rolling out branded tractors in its latest move to become a full-fledged trucking company

"This mass layoff is expected to be permanent," Inpax CEO Leonard Wright wrote in his letter to the state of Georgia, according to a document posted by the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Here's a list of layoffs we already know about: 

Amazon confirmed it ended its relationship with these three DSPs and that the company would support laid-off drivers with new DSP opportunities. 

Inpax declined to comment for this story. Urban Mobility Now, which did not answer its phones, has already shut down its website and pages on LinkedIn and Facebook, and could not be reached for a comment.

Amazon contracts can prove to be pitfalls for logistics companies

Amazon has been actively expanding its logistics network as it becomes its own biggest delivery provider. As part of that growth, it has recruited and hired dozens of people over the past year to start and operate new DSP companies delivering Amazon packages. Each of these companies is expected to ultimately grow their fleets to 40 vehicles. 

Read more: 'Amazon has all the power': How Amazon controls legions of delivery drivers without paying their wages and benefits

The layoffs could be a sign that Amazon is moving to rely more on these newer, smaller companies over its older partners. 

At the same time, Amazon has been moving other parts of its logistics operations in-house as it grows a network of planes, trucks, vans, and even ocean freighters. The insourcing moves have been particularly taxing on companies who provide Amazon with their delivery services.

This is because the companies Amazon uses for logistics often depend on the retail giant for a large part of their revenue, so when Amazon curtails its business, its partners are often forced to readjust their yearly outlooks.

In February, Amazon's transition to move its own packages slashed $600 million in expected revenues at XPO Logistics — the top logistics company in the US by revenue in 2018. XPO's leading business with Amazon was taking packages from the company and delivering them via the US Postal Service, otherwise called "postal injection," the Seaport Global analyst Kevin Sterling previously told Business Insider.

Read more: Amazon took over the $176 billion market for cloud computing. Now it's using the same playbook in logistics.

A $402 million trucking company went under in February, a bankruptcy that analysts said was partially because of Amazon's in-housing moves. 

Other companies have found that Amazon is a big customer but not one that drives massive profits. In May, FedEx unexpectedly announced that it would no longer fly Amazon packages.

A Business Insider report showed that may have been motivated by the low margins Amazon packages carry. While FedEx's air networks had been carrying a lot of parcels, the company's financial statements indicated that those huge amounts of packages weren't generating a lot of profit.

SEE ALSO: Missing wages, grueling shifts, and bottles of urine: The disturbing accounts of Amazon delivery drivers may reveal the true human cost of "free" shipping

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Forbes just revoked Adam Neumann's billionaire status and lowered its estimate of his personal net worth to $600 million — which means his purported net worth has plummeted by $3.5 billion in just 7 months

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 6:25pm

Adam Neumann is no longer a billionaire, Forbes now estimates.

The former WeWork CEO's net worth has plummeted to $600 million, the magazine estimates, paralleling the plunging valuation of his co-working empire following the company's up-and-down IPO adventure that saw the company whipsaw from a $47 billion valuation to talk of bankruptcy in just 6 weeksForbes' Samantha Sharf also reported that Neumann's cofounder, Miguel McKelvey, has also lost his billionaire status.

The $3.5 billion drop in Neumann's personal net worth was the result of the declining value of Neumann's 18% stake in WeWork, Forbes reported. WeWork was valued at $47 billion in January following an investment from Japanese investment firm Softbank. However, the company reportedly sought a valuation as low as $10 billion in September as public scrutiny over its steep losses and leadership structure threatened its IPO. Forbes now estimates that the company is worth "at most $2.8 billion."

A representative for Neumann declined Business Insider's request for comment on whether Neumann's net worth had fallen below $1 billion.

The Forbes calculation of Neumann's net worth includes:

  • $504 million stake in WeWork, and
  • $500 million he profited from stock sales,
  • minus $380 million in debt disclosed in WeWork's S1 filing.

Read more: The WeWork IPO fiasco of 2019, explained in 30 seconds

Forbes does not believe that either Neumann or McKelvey — who the publication says is now worth $400 million — will likely rejoin the three comma club.

Neumann founded WeWork in 2010 alongside his now-wife Rebekah Neumann and Miguel McKelvey. Concern from potential investors over the company's finances and corporate governance issues pushed Neumann to resign as WeWork's CEO on September 24.

Under Neumann's leadership, the company was plagued by a party culture that included alcohol-fueled company retreats and little work-life balance, Business Insider's Meghan Morris and Julie Bort previously reported.

Have you worked for Adam Neumann or WeWork and have a story you'd like to share? Contact the reporter via encrypted messaging app Signal at +1 (646) 768-4725 using a non-work phone, email at trogers@businessinsider.com, or Twitter DM at @TaylorNRogers. (PR pitches by email only, please.)

Read the full report from Forbes >>

SEE ALSO: WeWork cofounder Rebekah Paltrow Neumann is stepping down from her roles at the company. Meet the former actress, who is former CEO Adam Neumann's 'strategic thought partner.'

DON'T MISS: Meet Masayoshi Son, the Japanese billionaire whose SoftBank mega-fund has been reportedly involved in asking Adam Neumann to step down from being WeWork CEO

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NOW WATCH: The US women's national team dominates soccer, but here's why the US men's team sucks

GM CEO Mary Barra met with top UAW leadership to overcome strike impasse (GM)

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 6:21pm

  • GM CEO Mary Barra met with UAW President Gary Jones and Vice-President Terry Dittes with a strike against the carmaker reaching into its fourth week.
  • The meeting evidently encouraged negotiators to overcome an impasse and continue working through remaining contract issues.
  • GM's 50,000 UAW-represented workers have been on strike since Sept. 16; it's the largest labor action against a major automaker since 1982.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.


GM CEO Mary Barra on Wednesday held a meeting with United Auto Workers President Gary Jones and Vice-President Terry Dittes. 

The UAW strike against GM, with nearly 50,000 workers walking off the job, is now in its fourth week.

The meeting between Barra, several GM negotiators, and the UAW leadership,  was held at GM's headquarters in downtown Detroit and took place on Tuesday afternoon at Barra's behest, a source with knowledge of the negotiations told Business Insider. The news was originally reported by the New York Post and the Detroit Free Press.

The UAW also confirmed the meeting to Reuters. The meeting has been labeled "secret," but the UAW disputed that characterization.

Read more: The US auto workers union just decided to walk out on GM — here's why they're striking

After appearing to have resolved a series of remaining issues around profit-sharing and temporary workers, talks reached an impasse the past weekend when, Dittes wrote in an email to GM negotiator Scott Sandefur, the company failed to respond in an acceptable manner to a UAW proposal.

Talks continued into the night and early morning

With no official counter from the UAW on Monday and Tuesday, even as negotiations continued, Barra decided to offer the meeting, which ran for about an hour. The New York Post said that armed guards escorted Jones and Dittes to Barra's office in the Renaissance Center, but that wasn't the case. The meeting took place in the main negotiating area in the building, and there were no armed guards, a source familiar with the situation said.

A source indicated that talks then continued well into the night and early Thursday morning, suggesting that two sides are working to address the remaining sticking points.

The strike began on September 16 and is the largest labor action against a major automaker since 1982. In 2007, the UAW struck GM for just two days.

Jones's presence at the media was notable. The UAW president has maintained a relatively low profile during negotiations. He, along with other UAW officials, is under investigation by federal authorities on allegations of corruption.

The meeting was consistent with Barra's approach to running GM. She's wasted no time in making the difficult decisions that could keep the 111-year-old automaker in business. GM sold its money-losing European division, Opel, in 2017, and more recently streamlined its South Korea operations. In 2016, it bought San Francisco-based Cruise Automation for an all-in price of $1 billion; subsequent investment has raised the self-driving startup's valuation to nearly $20 billion (GM's market cap is $50 billion). 

GM's original offer didn't satisfy the UAW

GM originally offered to invest $7 billion and add 5,400 jobs in the US, including "solutions" for idled plants in Ohio and Michigan. The company announced last year that it would "unallocate" a group of US factories, but in its initial offer to the union it said that it could bring an electric-battery plant to area in Ohio where the Lordstown facility is located, and that it could use the Hamtramck plant in Michigan to assemble a new electric truck.

The UAW membership walked out over benefits, profit-sharing, and the fate of temporary workers, despite a GM offer to keep UAW contributions to health care at around 3%. But earlier this week, Dittes sent a letter to the membership that stressed job security as an ongoing concern.

"We have made it clear that there is no job security for us when GM products are made in other countries for the purpose of selling them here in the USA," he wrote, referring to GM vehicles manufactured in Mexico."We believe that the vehicles GM sells here should be built here."

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NOW WATCH: Chevy has built a $37.5K all-electric car capable of a 238-mile range

Lowe's CEO Marvin Ellison addresses 'tremendous change' to stores in message to employees about this year's worker feedback survey (LOW)

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 5:57pm

  • Lowe's CEO Marvin Ellison announced that the company would be renaming the company's employee engagement survey in a message to workers on Thursday.  
  • Ellison also addressed the "tremendous" shifts that stores have undergone lately, acknowledging that "change is never easy."
  • Business Insider spoke with six current and former Lowe's workers who all cited flagging morale within the stores over changes like role eliminations and a scheduling system overhaul.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Lowe's CEO Marvin Ellison addressed store workers in a message announcing the company's annual employee feedback survey.

Business Insider reviewed two pictures of the message from Ellison, which employees say went out Thursday.

"In the past year, we've undergone tremendous change and growth to position us toward becoming the leading home improvement retailer," Ellison wrote. "Although change is never easy, because of your hard work our sales performance in first and second quarter has outperformed our closest US competitor for the first time in over a decade."

Lowe's did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.

Read more: Lowe's workers say morale is reaching an all-time low as the home-improvement giant rolls out changes to stores

Ellison explained that Lowe's "re-designed" and "renamed" its annual employee opinion survey this year, in order to better "align with the core behaviors that drive our mission and areas that have a direct impact on associate engagement." 

The survey will now be called Lowe's BEST, acronym for "building, engagement, and success together," and is set to run from October 14 to November 1.

"One of our core behaviors is to show courage, and I ask you to demonstrate that by raising opportunities that need to be addressed," Ellison wrote. "My commitment to you is that the leadership team will use this feedback to make Lowe's an even greater place to work."

Are you a Lowe's employee with a story to share? Email acain@businessinsider.com.

SEE ALSO: Costco, Lowe's, Sam's Club, and 12 other stores that will be closed on Thanksgiving this year

DON'T MISS: A look back at Lowe’s journey from small family hardware store to retail giant

SEE ALSO: Lowe's exec apologizes after hawking a power drill as perfect for 'Hispanic pros with smaller hands'

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NOW WATCH: This new solar-powered home development store is coming after Home Depot

Investors are getting increasingly worried that a recession or major market crash is coming, Allianz says

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 4:35pm

  • Nearly half of investors are worried that a recession is coming, or that a big market crash is on the horizon, according to a recent study by Allianz Life. 
  • There's a big difference in perception between age groups, the study found. Millennials are the most worried about a recession, but also the most comfortable with the market right now. 
  • The study also found that increasing fear isn't necessarily helping investors make the best decisions about protecting their savings in the market. 
  • Read more on Business Insider.

Investors are growing increasingly worried that a major recession — and an accompany market crash — is coming, according to a recent study by Allianz Life.

In the study — which surveyed more than 1,000 adults in August — 50% of investors said they worry about a recession coming soon, up from 48% in the second quarter and 46% in the first quarter of this year. Similarly, 48% worry about the market crashing, up from earlier in the year as well. Both are the highest readings on the survey since the beginning of 2018. 

"The longer we go in this long bull market the more that  it seems like people are afraid of when it's going to stop," Kelly LaVigne, vice president of Advanced Markets at Allianz Life told Markets Insider in an interview.

In addition, as volatility has continued to spike throughout the summer, it makes sense that investors would be more skittish, he said. 

Investor fears about the state of the market are mounting against an increasingly uncertain backdrop. Markets have whiplashed on trade news between the US and China and the threat of ever-escalating tariffs. There are signs that the US economy is slowing, from weakening consumer sentiment to disappointing manufacturing numbers.

Read more: 'All the makings of a crash are there': A hedge fund manager sees a giant bubble in the 'Ponzi economy' — and he's sounding the alarm on WeWork and Tesla

And the US Treasury yield curve — a trusted indicator that's preceded every economic meltdown since 1950 — has been flashing red since May.

That's prompted investors to cool on the market. Only 35% said that it's a good time to invest, according to the survey, down from 41% in the first quarter of the year. 

Demographic differences

The study found that investors of different ages have different reactions to the current environment. This makes sense, LaVigne said, because investors have different timelines depending on their age and retirement goals. 

Millennials are the most worried that there's a major recession around the corner, while boomers are the least worried. Millennials are also the most comfortable with current market conditions. Nearly half of millennials surveyed said that they're comfortable with the market and ready to invest now, compared to 25% of Gen Xers and 17% of Baby Boomers. 

"They seem to be feeling more at peace about their situation – likely because they have more time to recover from any major losses," said LaVigne.

Read more: A Wall Street investment chief says stock-market levels are 'completely unjustified' — and shares how he's positioning his portfolio in an economy that looks 'primed for recession'

The study also found that as negative market perception increases, it's not directly helping investors take action to protect their savings. 

An increasing number of investors said that it's good to protect savings against a downturn if five to 10 years from retirement. But overall, investors aren't necessarily protecting their investments now. The number of investors that said it was important to have some retirement savings in a product that would protect from loss fell to 66% in this quarter from 72% in the second quarter.

"I think what it's doing is all the fear is clouding judgement or maybe paralyzing people," LaVigne said. Instead of investing in something that will protect them, investors might be thinking that the best thing to do is nothing instead of something, he said. 

Unfortunately, he said, that plays into exactly what investors are told not to do, which is sell low and buy high. To avoid that, it's best to talk to a personal financial advisor instead of listening to "the guys on tv," he said.

Join the conversation about this story »

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The Blue Cash Preferred and Wells Fargo Propel are 2 of the best cash-back credit cards available now. We compared them to find your best option.

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 4:30pm

American Express offers a ton of great credit cards, including some of the best cash-back credit cards on the market as well as more premium rewards cards like the Platinum Card® from American Express. If you're looking for a cash-back card, two options you'll want to consider are the Blue Cash Preferred American Express Credit Card and the Wells Fargo Propel American Express card. They offer excellent cash-back rewards on some popular spending categories, from travel to groceries at US supermarkets to select streaming services.

If you're choosing between the two, it's important to compare and contrast perks and rewards in order to find one that fits your spending habits and financial health the best. With that in mind, here is our comparison of the Blue Cash Preferred American Express Credit Card and the Wells Fargo Propel American Express card.

Keep in mind that we're focusing on the rewards and perks that make these credit cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which can far outweigh the value of any rewards.

When you're working to earn credit card rewards, it's important to practice financial discipline, like paying your balances off in full each month, making payments on time, and not spending more than you can afford to pay back. Basically, treat your credit card like a debit card.

Read more: The best credit card sign-up offers available now

Blue Cash Preferred vs. Wells Fargo Propel: The biggest differences

Blue Cash Preferred details

First, let's talk about the Blue Cash Preferred card.

Welcome bonus

Currently, this card is offering new cardholders $250 in cash back in the form of a statement credit after spending $1,000 within the first three months of the account opening.

Intro APR offer

Additionally, this card features a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months. After that, the variable APR ranges between 14.74% and 25.74% based on your credit-worthiness.

Rewards

The Blue Cash Preferred has some pretty impressive cash-back rewards — so strong that it's one of the few cash-back cards on our list of best overall rewards cards.

Cardholders can earn:

  • 6% cash back at all US supermarkets on purchases up to $6,000 annually. After that and until your account anniversary, you'll earn 1% cash back on US supermarket purchases.
  • 6% cash back on select US streaming subscriptions (including Hulu, Netflix, and Spotify)
  • 3% cash back on transit (taxis, tolls, ride shares, parking, trains, buses)
  • 3% cash back at US gas stations.
  • For all other purchases, cardholders earn 1% cash back.

Your cash-back rewards will be granted in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as statement credits to offset purchases on your account.

This card is an especially strong choice if you frequently make US supermarket purchases, since it's a great way to maximize your grocery shopping with 6% back. 6% back on select US streaming services (see the full list of eligible streaming services here) with no cap is also great, but most people's spending on these services will only add up to a few hundred dollars per year. 

Read more: The best credit cards for earning cash back or points on groceries

Annual fee

The card does have a $95 annual fee, but the current welcome bonus of $250 accounts for at least two years of the annual fee, and as long as you use your Blue Cash Preferred card on purchases at US supermarkets, streaming and transportation, it should be relatively easy to earn enough rewards such that the annual fee pays for itself.

Read more: Blue Cash Preferred Amex card review

Other benefits

In addition to bonuses and rewards, the Blue Cash Preferred card comes with a suite of insurances and protections. With this card, you'll be entitled to secondary car rental coverage (except in Australia, Italy, and New Zealand) as long as you pay for your rental car with your card and decline the insurance company's insurance. 

The Blue Cash Preferred also offers travel accident insurance and roadside assistance in the form of towing, changing a flat, or boosting a battery in the US, Canada, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. If you're traveling more than 100 miles from home, you'll also be entitled to a 24/7 Global Assist Hotline for legal, medical, financial, or emergency help.

Blue Cash Preferred card holders also get purchase protection, two-day shipping with Shoprunner, and exclusive access to ticket pre-sales and cardmember-only events.

Click here to learn more about the Blue Cash Preferred card. Wells Fargo Propel

The Wells Fargo Propel card, meanwhile, has a nice welcome bonus and great international compatibility, since it doesn't charge a foreign transaction fee while the Blue Cash Preferred does.

The Propel card earns Go Far Rewards points, and these points are worth 1 cent apiece — while you can redeem them for travel through Wells Fargo's site, you can also redeem them as cash back. This card is generally considered to be a cash-back card rather than a true rewards card since you can't transfer the points to travel partners.

Welcome bonus

This card currently features a welcome bonus of 30,000 bonus Go Far Rewards points after $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of opening the account, which amounts to a $300 value.

Intro APR offer

This card also has a 0% introductory APR during the first 12 months of the account. After that, it will vary between 15.74% to 27.74%. based on your creditworthiness.

Rewards

This is generally a 3x points card/a 3% cash-back card.

Cardholders earn 3x points on:

  • Eating out and ordering in
  • Gas, ride shares, and transit
  • Flights, hotels, homestays, and car rentals
  • Select streaming services including Hulu and Netflix (see the full list here)

For all other purchases, cardholders earn 1 point per dollar (1% cash back)

There are no limits to the points that you can earn, and points don't ever expire as long as your account remains open. Points can be redeemed for cash in $25 (2,500 point) increments, but your Go Far Rewards points can also be redeemed on gift cards and travel. Through the Go Far Rewards portal, you can combine your rewards points with another payment method if you don't have enough points to cover the entire reward.

Read more: Wells Fargo Propel card review

Other benefits

Cardholders are entitled to cell phone protection when they pay for cell phone bills using the Wells Fargo Propel card. As a cardholder, you'll also have access to purchase protection, extended warranties, lost luggage reimbursement, car rental damage insurance, roadside assistance, and 24/7 travel and emergency assistance.

Click here to learn more about the Wells Fargo Propel card. Which card is best for you?

Which card is best for you depends primarily on where you spend your money. The Blue Cash Preferred card offers bonus cash back at US supermarkets, on select US streaming subscriptions, transit, and gas stations, while the Wells Fargo Propel offers bonus rewards for dining, gas, transit, flights hotels, and streaming services.

The main difference between the bonus categories is 6% cash back on groceries (at US supermarkets) for the Blue Cash Preferred vs. 3x points back on travel (flights, hotels, homestays, and car rentals) with the Wells Fargo Propel. So, if you spend more than twice as much on travel compared to groceries, you'll come out ahead with the Wells Fargo Propel. Otherwise, the Blue Cash Preferred is likely a better bet between these two.

Beyond that, the Blue Cash Preferred charges a $95 annual fee while the Wells Fargo Propel has no annual fee. The Propel also generously waives foreign transaction fees, unlike the Blue Cash Preferred, so you won't want to take it on trips abroad.

If you're still on the fence after comparing the cards' bonus categories, annual fees and other charges, take a closer look at their other perks. If you value cell phone insurance, the Wells Fargo Propel could be a better pick, while the Blue Cash Preferred could make sense if you value benefits like Shoprunner and access to Amex cardmember-only events.

Bottom Line

Both cards come with similar welcome bonuses, similar introductory and general APRs, and similar insurances and protections. In my opinion, though, these cards can be used very differently.

The Blue Cash Preferred card is an excellent domestic card because its cash-back rates for things like US supermarkets are among the highest in the industry. For US-based cardholders who prefer to use a cash-back credit card for everyday purchases, this card is ideal.

The Wells Fargo Propel card is better for international travelers who are keen to earn rewards for everyday spending as well as travel purchases. With no foreign transaction fees, this card is best used as a casual card for consumers on the go.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: What El Chapo is really like, according to the wife of one his closest henchman

Here are the top power moves of the week —Intel, Shake Shack, and Credit Suisse

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 4:23pm

  • Keeping an eye on major hires and promotions is one of the best ways to understand a company's strategy. 
  • The Org tracks executive changes at companies big and small. 
  • Here's a snapshot of the most important executive moves of the week across technology, retail, media, and financial services. 

Every week we bring you an overview of the most important executive changes from around the world. This week, Intel hired Karen Walker as Chief Marketing Officer. Read more about this and other notable executive changes:

Former Cisco CMO Karen Walker joins Intel as Chief Marketing Officer
Karen Walker, a veteran of more than 20 years of global technology industry marketing, will join Intel as senior vice president and chief marketing officer, starting October 23. Walker previously served as CMO at Cisco and was the force behind innovative campaigns such as "Bridge to Possible." At Intel she will oversee the global marketing group and report to Michelle Johnston Holthaus, executive vice president and general manager of Intel's Sales, Marketing and Communications Group.

Shake Shack Promotes Tara Comonte to President and Chief Financial Officer
Tara Comonte, the chief financial officer of Shake Shack, has been promoted to president. Since joining the burger chain in 2017, she's played a critical role in its increased focus and investment in digital innovation, as well as overall leadership of their enterprise-wide technology upgrade, referred to as Project Concrete.

Veteran HBO PR Chief Nancy Lesser Leaving Amid WarnerMedia Realignment
The executive reshuffle continues at WarnerMedia following AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner. The most recent executive to depart is Nancy Lesser who has served as HBO's Head of Communications for more than 30 years. She announced her departure in a heartfelt internal memo and is expected to continue her career elsewhere. She will remain with the premium cable network through a transition as communications for all of WarnerMedia will be centralized under Kevin Brockman.

Chief Operating Officer of Credit Suisse resigns following spying scandal
Pierre-Olivier Bouée, the chief operating officer of Credit Suisse, has resigned with immediate effect, following an investigation found that he ordered a surveillance operation on a top banker who joined a crosstown rival. Bouée ordered the Credit Suisse Head of Global Security Services to initiate observation of Iqbal Khan after UBS announced that he would be joining them. The executive reportedly feared that Khan would try to encourage Credit Suisse colleagues to join him at UBS.

Impossible Foods Hires Dan Greene as Senior Vice President of US Sales
Impossible Foods has hired tech industry sales leader Dan Greene as Senior Vice President of US Sales. Before joining Impossible Foods, Greene served as Chief Revenue Officer for a conversational artificial intelligence startup and served as an executive consultant with other early-stage software companies. Prior to that, Dan spent 11 years overseeing large teams and revenue-generating business units at Google and Twitter.

Christian Wylonis is the co-founder and CEO of The Org, a professional community where you can explore any organizational chart in the world.

Join the conversation about this story »

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The market's next test: Bank of America weighs in on which sectors will crush it this earnings season — and which will flounder

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 3:57pm

  • Earnings season kicks off on Monday, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts are projecting which sectors will impress investors and which are most likely to stumble.
  • US banks and brokerages account for many of next week's reports and begin reporting earnings on October 15.
  • BAML analysts expect the insurance, REIT, and utilities industries to post the biggest earnings wins. They anticipate the energy, aerospace/defense, and basic materials sectors to announce the biggest losses.
  • Visit the Business Insider homepage for more stories.

Earnings season is less than a week away, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts are predicting which sectors will sink and which will swim.

Major US banks and stock brokers will account for many of next week's reports, with JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Goldman Sachs among the companies releasing quarterly figures starting October 15.

Public investment-grade issuers — or companies with strong corporate credit — are expected to report a consensus 4.6% earnings decline year-over-year and revenue growth of 3.3%, BAML analysts wrote. The outlook improves when excluding the more volatile finance and energy sectors, analysts added, with earnings only falling 3.8% and revenues growing 5%.

Here are the three sectors BAML expects to post the greatest year-over-year earnings growth and the three expected to announce the biggest declines. 

Read more: A group of small tech stocks is quietly dominating the FANGs after lagging behind for years. Here's why a Wall Street expert is convinced its gains are just getting started.

Winners

Utilities

  • Earnings growth: 5.2%
  • Sales growth: 5.1%

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

  • Earnings growth: 4.0%
  • Sales growth: 1.5%

Insurance

  • Earnings growth: 3.7%
  • Sales growth: 2.6%



Losers

Energy

  • Earnings growth: -20.9%
  • Sales growth: -2.6%

Basic Materials

  • Earnings growth: -15.3%
  • Sales growth: -0.7%

Aerospace and Defense

  • Earnings growth: -10.7%
  • Sales growth: 0.8%

Now read more markets coverage from Markets Insider and Business Insider:

Wall Street analysts are slashing their Netflix stock forecasts in expectation of a weak earnings report

Once-toxic Greek debt is now in high demand as global recession fears mount

'It's not frugal, but it's intentional': The cofounder of the fitness app Strava describes the money principles that shape his business and personal finances



BANK OF AMERICA: Here are 14 of the top stock picks for traders seeking exposure to millennials and Gen Zers

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 3:54pm

  • Bank of America published an updated list of thematic stock picks. One of the themes is companies with high exposure to millennials and Gen Zers. 
  • The report breaks down companies by their exposure to young consumers through sub-sectors ranging from social media, video games, apparel, and travel and leisure.
  • Here are the top stocks per sector that Bank of America recommends for exposure to young consumers. 
  • Read more on Business Insider.

Investors looking to capture the spirit of youth need to look no further than Bank of America Merrill Lynch's latest picks. 

The bank on Tuesday published an updated list of picks for companies exposed to millennials and Gen Z. It was part of a quarterly update to BAML's "Primer Picks" list, which saw it add 63 companies in total.

One of the lists focuses on companies popular withmMillennials — roughly between the ages of 23 to 38 — and Gen Zers — which fall between 7 and 22. These young shoppers have shown that they have a lot of clout. Companies are constantly looking for ways to appeal to them as their shifting interests have changed a bevy of industries from retail to media. 

The report breaks down companies by their exposure to young consumers through sub-sectors that range from social media, video games, apparel, and travel and leisure. The report also maps opportunities and risks to "highlight a diverse range of verticals for investors wishing to access the theme," Haim Israel, an equity strategist at BAML, wrote in the note.

Read more: A group of small tech stocks is quietly dominating the FANGs after lagging behind for years. Here's why a Wall Street expert is convinced its gains are just getting started.

In order to be highly exposed to a certain theme, the company must have theme-related products, technologies, services, and solutions that are core to the business model, strategy, and research and development of the company, according to the report. In addition, the products must move material sales, drive growth, or be a pure play. 

There are also a number of stocks that are "Primer Picks." To be included as a Bank of America Primer Pick, the stock must have a high or medium exposure to the relevant theme. It must also be covered by a Bank of America Global Research fundamental analysts and have a "buy" rating when the quarterly update is published.

Here is the top stock, ranked by exposure and market capitalization, per millennial sub-sector:  

1. Facebook

Ticker: FB

Millennial Sub-sector: Social Media 

Market Capitalization: $596 billion 

Primer Pick: Yes

Exposure: High 

Source: Bank of America Merrill Lynch



2. Walt Disney

Ticker:DIS

Millennial Sub-sector: Media & Entertainment 

Market Capitalization: $218 billion 

Primer Pick: Yes

Exposure: High 

Source: Bank of America Merrill Lynch



3. Activision

Ticker: ATVI

Millennial Sub-sector: Video Games 

Market Capitalization: $42.9 billion 

Primer Pick: Yes

Exposure: Medium 

Source: Bank of America Merrill Lynch



4. Amazon

Ticker: AMZN

Market Capitalization: $962 billion 

Millennial Sub-sector: Internet/ E-Commerce 

Primer Pick: Yes

Exposure: Medium 

Source: Bank of America Merrill Lynch



5. Apple

Ticker: AAPL

Market Capitalization: $111 billion 

Millennial Sub-sector: Smart Devices  

Primer Pick: Yes

Source: Bank of America Merrill Lynch



6. Tapestry

Ticker: TPR

Millennial Sub-sector: Affordable Luxury 

Market Capitalization: $6.9 billion

Primer Pick: Yes

Exposure: Medium 

Source: Bank of America Merrill Lynch



7. Nike

Ticker: NKE 

Millennial Sub-sector: Sports Apparel 

Market Capitalization: $15 billion  

Primer Pick: No  

Source: Bank of America Merrill Lynch



8. VF Corporation

Ticker: VFC

Millennial Sub-sector: Apparel 

Market Capitalization: $34 billion  

Primer Pick: No

Source: Bank of America Merrill Lynch



9. Anheuser Busch InBev

Ticker: BUDFF 

Millennial Sub-sector: Beverages (Alcohol) 

Market Capitalization: $18 billion 

Primer Pick: Yes

Exposure: Medium 

Source: Bank of America Merrill Lynch



10. Urban Outfitters

Ticker: UO

Millennial Sub-sector: Fast Fashion

Market Capitalization: $2.62 billion 

Primer Pick: Yes

Exposure: High 

Source: Bank of America Merrill Lynch



11. Starbucks

Ticker: SBUX 

Millennial Sub-sector: Food 

Market Capitalization: $137 billion 

Primer Pick: Yes

Exposure: Medium 

Source: Bank of America Merrill Lynch



12. Booking Holdings

Ticker: BKNG

Millennial Sub-sector: Travel & Leisure 

Market Capitalization: $84 billion 

Primer Pick: Yes

Exposure: Medium 

Source: Bank of America Merrill Lynch



13. Home Depot

Ticker: HD

Millennial Sub-sector: Home

Market Capitalization: $228 billion 

Primer Pick: Yes

Exposure: Medium 

Source: Bank of America Merrill Lynch



14. Paypal

Ticker: PYPL

Millennial Sub-sector: Fintech

Market Capitalization: $126 billion 

Primer Pick: Yes

Exposure: High

Source: Bank of America Merrill Lynch





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