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Tommy Hilfiger is selling his sprawling Greenwich estate for $48 million. Take a look at the historic 22-acre property.

Sat, 09/12/2020 - 8:57am  |  Clusterstock
Hilfiger says he and his wife are moving to Palm Beach, Florida.

Greenwich, Connecticut, has been one of the most coveted real-estate destinations during the pandemic for wealthy New Yorkers in search of more space.

But one affluent New Yorker —  fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger — is giving up his Greenwich property and moving to sunnier climes. He's listed his 22-acre estate for $47.5 million, Sotheby's International Realty told Business Insider.

Hilfiger and his wife, Dee Ocleppo Hilfiger, bought the property in 2010 for $31.4 million, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The lavish estate includes a 13,344-square-foot main residence built in 1939, rose and water gardens, a swimming pool, tennis court, guest cottage, greenhouse, and detached four-bay garage. Janet Milligan of Sotheby's International Realty holds the listing.

Take a look at the property.

Fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger is selling his 22-acre estate in Greenwich, Connecticut, for $47.5 million. Tommy Hilfiger and his wife, Dee Ocleppo Hilfiger, at a Paris Fashion Week event in February 2020.

"I hear from my friends in real estate that the market is very strong, and it hasn't been this strong in years," Hilfiger told the Wall Street Journal.

Indeed, affluent New Yorkers have been moving to Greenwich in droves during the pandemic.

Hilfiger told the Journal that the couple is moving to Palm Beach, Florida, which they had been planning for some time.

The Hilfigers bought the expansive property in 2010 for $31.4 million, according to the Journal.

Hilfiger told the Journal that he and his wife loved the "Old World charm of the house," which was built in 1939. The couple spent three years restoring the historic home.

And it's not the first renovation project Hilfiger has undertaken over the years; he's renovated and sold seven other properties in Greenwich over the past 35 years, per the Journal.

A long driveway and a gated entrance lead to the estate's main residence.

Source: Sotheby's International Realty

The 81-year-old home sprawls over 13,344 square feet and is surrounded by landscaped gardens and hedges.

Source: Sotheby's International Realty

The castle-like home was influenced by English and French design, with turrets, Holland Brick, and granite covered in ivy.

Source: Sotheby's International Realty

The grounds appear to be meticulously maintained.

Source: Sotheby's International Realty

There are sculptural hedges, a rose garden, a topiary garden, and water fountains.

Source: Sotheby's International Realty

The estate sits on the highest point in Greenwich, with views of the Long Island Sound and even the Manhattan skyline, according to the listing.

Source: Sotheby's International Realty

The home was originally designed for real-estate tycoon Charles V. Paterno in the 1930s.

Later, it was the home of financier and art collector Joseph H. Hirshborn.

Inside, the home features six fireplaces and wood paneling.

Source: Sotheby's International Realty

In the reception space, an Elizabethan-style staircase spirals upward in a bay surrounded by windows.

Source: Sotheby's International Realty

The kitchen features a massive center island and an antler chandelier.

Source: Sotheby's International Realty

A formal dining room with wood-paneled walls and ceiling can seat at least 10 people.

Source: Sotheby's International Realty

Another dining nook can be seen with a smaller, round table that seats seven.

Source: Sotheby's International Realty

One room is fashioned as an entertainment area, with a billiards table and seating clustered around a fireplace.

Source: Sotheby's International Realty

Most of the first-floor rooms open up to the outside for an indoor-outdoor lifestyle.

Source: Sotheby's International Realty

There's also a home bar.

Source: Sotheby's International Realty

The master bedroom is home to one of the residence's six fireplaces.

Source: Sotheby's International Realty

The listing photos show a glamorous master bathroom with a massage table ...

Source: Sotheby's International Realty

... and a spacious walk-in shower.

Source: Sotheby's International Realty

The master suite also includes dual dressing rooms.

Source: Sotheby's International Realty

The home theater room was styled with Turkish-inspired finishes, according to the listing.

Source: Sotheby's International Realty

Another room is set up as a children's play room, with a drawing easel and a play castle.

Source: Sotheby's International Realty

The home gym includes weights, a treadmill, exercise ball, and other equipment.

Source: Sotheby's International Realty

The property's outdoor amenities include a resort-like swimming pool and an all-weather tennis court.

Source: Sotheby's International Realty

The property's guest house includes a living room, kitchen, two bedrooms, two baths, and a two-bay garage.

Source: Sotheby's International Realty

A turreted "tea house" has been converted into a security pavilion, per the listing.

Source: Sotheby's International Realty

Hilfiger's home isn't the only massive, pricey estate to hit the market in Greenwich lately.

In July, the 260-acre Hillandale Estate that straddles both Connecticut and New York hit the market for $49.5 million. 

Even before the pandemic, the Greenwich market had been picking up steam after a several-year slump, Compass real-estate agent Robin Kencel told Mansion Global. Last spring, a Georgian colonial-style waterfront mansion sold for $48 million

The most expensive home ever to sell in Greenwich — and Connecticut — was back in 2014, when the 51-acre Copper Beech Farm traded hands for $120 million.

Read the original article on Business Insider

REVIEW: I've fallen in and out of love with the VW GTI — but the 44-year-old hot hatch can still work its magic on me

Sat, 09/12/2020 - 8:54am  |  Clusterstock


The Volkswagen Golf GTI is a legend. It's the car that created the "hot hatch" category back in the 1980s. But its triple-threat — small, fast, and surprisingly versatile — has been supplanted in the US over the past 10 years by consumer preference for larger vehicles. SUVs and pickups sell. Compact hatches don't. 

So my recent test of the 2020 GTI forced me to grapple with how a great car can fall out of favor, even when it's as good as it's ever been.

Basically, the Volkswagen Golf is everything the American auto market doesn't want right now: a modest car with room for ... let's call it four, uncomfortably, less-than-awesome cargo capacity, and a relatively teensy engine. But when the Golf arrived, it was a revelation. 

Introduced in 1974, it succeeded the Beetle as the VW people's car, and for Americans already educated in the virtues of German engineering, an object of desire. Easy on gas, fairly reliable, fun to drive — who needed a V8 and eight mpg?


By 1983, when I got my license, the performance-happy, GTI version of the Golf had arrived in the US, after captivating the European enthusiast crowd for about a decade. I wanted one. My friends wanted one. By the early days of the Reagan administration, it was possible to be a complete snob about VW's hot hatch. Why pay more for performance? The GTI offered all the punch required, and the popularity of what was then called the Rabbit — later rechristened the Golf, to match the Euro designation — had established the boxy liftback as a player.

Outgrowing the GTI, but coming back VW GTI

I never owned a GTI, but I got my share of rides. Then the mood changed. Hatches gave way to wagons and then to SUVs. The 2020 equivalent of the Golf for most customers is the VW Tiguan crossover. The Golf, in assorted variants, has sold capably in the US for the past ten years, at times breaching 60,000 annual units, but lately falling below 40,000. 

Then VW loaned me a GTI "Autobahn," at $38,215 the top trim of the aging icon. (The base GTI S is about $30,000.)


The GTI is a light, lively, even jittery thing, throwing power to the front wheels in quick, turbocharged surges and often advertising its sporty insubstantial-ness. 

But after a day or two, the inverted learning curve kicked in, and I remember why the GTI has been beloved: because it's a light, lively, even jittery thing, throwing power to the front wheels in quick, turbocharged surges and often advertising its sporty insubstantial-ness. 

Once we were reacquainted, the Grand Tourer Injection (back in the day, fuel injection was a so tremendous an innovation that automakers touted it in their cars' monikers) and I settled into a familiar pattern: I hunted down corners, and the GTI made them a reason for being. 

Minus the front-wheel-drive, this is what driving a sports car is supposed to feel like. I mean, I like the new Porsche 911 4S about as much as I like coffee — which is to say I couldn't live without it — but just try to unsettle the masterpiece from Stuttgart.


The GTI's 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder powerplant makes 228 horsepower with 258 pound-feet of torque, piping the thrust through a seven-speed automatic transmission. (A six-speed manual is available, and I sure wished I had been testing that.) This car tips the scales at just over 3,100 lbs. so the power-to-weight ratio is a formula for tossability. 

The 0 to 60 mph dash clocks in at less than six seconds, en route to a 155 mph top speed. This is why the GTI has been fun forever and remains one of the best cars I've ever taken around a race track. For less than $40,000, I can be as engaged as Lewis Hamilton behind the wheel of his Mercedes F1 ride.


Amid the moderately frightening joy, one periodically remembers that this isn't a MINI John Cooper Works or a Mazda Miata. You've got a back seat — it's snug, but still — and a perfectly reasonable 17 cubic feet of cargo area at the stern, 54 cubic feet with the rear seats dropped. You could plausibly use the GTI as a "family car," as long as your family is composed mostly of travel-light pre-tweens. 

My test car, unfortunately, had an all-white exterior, punctuated only with dashes of red here and there, a motif that was echoed in the red highlights of the black interior. This is a stately combo, but I'd probably drop down to a lower trim and get the glorious plaid upholstery that has made the vee-dub not just one of the best values in performance motoring but also one of the kookiest cars on the road. The opportunities for pattern-clash, unless your wardrobe is undertaker-inspired, are endless.

The GTI stands alone, sort of VW GTI

Competition for the GTI sparks an awkward analysis. The Honda Civic Type R offers a 21st-century take on youthful exuberance, while the GTI continues to evoke the 1970s. Other performance cars that are easy on the budget have two doors and two seats (the Toyota Supra, for instance). The GTI isn't utterly sui generis, but I tend to think of it in a class of one. 

Bear in mind, too, that while the GTI's 24 mpg city/32 highway/27 combined fuel-economy rating looks good on paper, the machine doesn't invite you to drive it conservatively and therefore could lead to a few more fill-ups than planned. I burned up most of a tank in a week's worth of bold motoring around the New Jersey suburbs.


Build quality and fit-and-finish are excellent. The exterior design — for the seventh generation of the mighty Golf — is extremely familiar (gen eight launched last year, but the GTI version won't land until 2021). The GTI is a streamlined little box, nothing fancy. Some character lines and an angular fascia add panache, but I'm being charitable. You don't really need to dress up to get behind the wheel. 

Inside, the appointments are classic VW, smack in between mass-market and luxury. Everything is studiously nice, nothing is notably special. On the plus side, you won't weep if you spill some coffee or skip the vacuuming for a month to two. If you don't like it, buy a Buick. (My Autobahn trim did swap the pleather for actual hides, to give credit where due.)


The fronts are heated and intended to grab hold of your haunches when you indulge the GTI's addiction to curves. The rear is a bench, and feels like a bench. I was able to accustom myself to it, but beware: I'm not tall, and anybody even slightly larger than me, including two of my family members, would be entitled to complain. 

The infotainment technology is medium-wattage, based on a responsive central touchscreen (the Fender premium audio system, by the way, is a gem). It gets the job done, neither visually thrilling nor needlessly complicated. The assumption among automakers is that you have to deliver the goods with these setups nowadays or risk alienating younger customers, but the GTI is one of those traditionally youthful cars that can actually be enjoyed without being plugged into the grid.


The best way to consider the interior overall is to put yourself in the mindset of a European designer in the postwar period: opulence was out, rebuilding society, in a spirit of shared peace and prosperity, was in.

That makes the Golf GTI a reassuring essay in frugality, leaving out what isn't required and maximizing utility in a small vehicle intended for road systems that could date to the Roman Empire. 


You could consider it boring, and if you don't harbor affections for small-ish hatchbacks, you should focus your attention on the more serious people haulers that industry has given us since the late 1980s and 1990s. 

Well-mannered wild thing VW GTI

It's hard to get away from the GTI's demeanor: apply the power and once you're in third gear, the chassis starts that bouncy thing. More power, more bounce. 

But that's about it for the seat-of-the-pants part of the story. There's no meaningful understeer, and the suspension rapidly absorbs and mitigates what little torque steer the four-banger generates under hard acceleration. 


There isn't enough power to worry about the brakes not being up to the task. Steering is bliss, ideally balanced, and matched to the GTI's need for a lot of little micro-adjustments.

There are five drive modes to play with: Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport, and Custom. Too much choice. You bought a GTI. Stick to Sport.

VW GTI An icon, a classic, and still impossible to beat for the price

I'm a lucky guy. I get to drive nearly every high-performance automobile that shapes the dreams of drivers everywhere. Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Aston Martins, Porsches, Corvettes, Mustangs, BMW M cars, Mercedes-AMGs. On and on.

But in that exalted company, the GTI remains special. It's incredibly good and incredibly cheap. If you think it through, it's all the car most folks need, if you want some fun combined with versatility and a lack of styling bravado.

The GTI costs well under $50,000, completely tricked out, and it can be used for everything from daily commutes to school drop offs to grocery store runs to medium-length road trips, and even hot laps (with some sticky performance tires). 

The Golf could be going away in the US market, but the GTI and Golf R will remain, in the upcoming eighth generation iterations. 

Few vehicles could claim a greater prerogative to fade away with dignity and reputation, as the US is conquered by SUVs and pickups. But the GTI continues to carry the banner it always has: driving should be an absolute blast, every single day, and it shouldn't cost very much at all.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Citi's next CEO — Wall Street's return to office — Banking bootcamp

Sat, 09/12/2020 - 8:46am  |  Clusterstock


It may have been a short workweek, but there was no shortage of big Wall Street news.

Citi announced that CEO Michael Corbat will be retiring next year and Jane Fraser, currently the firm's president and head of consumer banking, will be taking the helm. Fraser's elevation to CEO marks the first time a woman will lead a major US bank — a watershed moment for women in finance. You can read all the details from Reed Alexander here:

Wall Street shatters a glass ceiling as Jane Fraser is announced as Citigroup's new CEO

There was also plenty to follow in terms of Wall Street's return-to-office plans. With the afterglow of Labor Day in the rearview mirror, and six months of remote work having reshaped much of how Wall Street does business, industry executives are laying the groundwork for plans and timelines to get back to work the old fashioned way.

Reed rounded up the latest on what banks are telling workers. You can read the full story here: 

Wall Street is starting to get back to work. Here are the latest return-to-office plans for 5 firms, including Goldman Sachs and Bank of America.

Keep reading for a look inside an MBA investment-banking immersion course; the latest hire by a cloud provider from the banking world; and a roundup of how much Fidelity is paying people in tech-focused roles. 

Enjoy the rest of the weekend!


If you're not yet a newsletter subscriber, you can sign up here to get your daily dose of the stories dominating banking, business, and big deals.

Inside Cornell's investment-banking immersion course for first-year MBA students A university-wide minor in entrepreneurship and innovation prepares students for careers in the business world.

Bradley Saacks took a look inside an investment-banking bootcamp at Cornell's SC Johnson's College of Business. The immersion course is taught by former Citi banker Drew Pascarella, the school's current associate dean of MBA programs, and is held in the spring semester for first-years before they head off for summer gigs.  

Here's how the program trains MBA students to think like investment bankers before even setting foot on Wall Street.

One of the top alt-data buyers at $26 billion Coatue is out

Philippe Laffont, founder and portfolio manager of Coatue Management, speaks at the Sohn Investment Conference in New York, May 5, 2014.

Coatue — the long-running hedge fund of billionaire Philippe Laffont that manages $25.8 billion in assets — has lost one of its top people in charge of buying the data many consider to be the lifeblood of equity-focused hedge funds.

Coatue's data-science team is well-regarded in the industry, with more than two dozen people on it. But it ran into some speed bumps this year when the team's young quant fund was unable to keep up with the market volatility caused by the coronavirus in the spring. 

You can read the full story from Bradley Saacks and Alex Morrell here. 

Inside a Carlyle-led $175 million investment in digital-healthcare firm Grand Rounds

Owen Tripp, CEO of Grand Rounds

Grand Rounds, an online healthcare assistant to employees at self-insured companies like Walmart and Home Depot, just raised $175 million in a deal led by the private-equity giant The Carlyle Group.  

Carlyle's healthcare portfolio has invested more than $15 billion into companies since its inception, from full-control deals to minority stakes. Sinking growth equity into companies is less common for Carlyle, and while it doesn't have a whole division devoted to the asset class like some of its competitors, it has often considered smaller non control deals. 

Casey Sullivan chatted with Grand Rounds CEO Owen Tripp and Robert Schmidt, the lead Carlyle investor who is joining the company's board of directors, to learn more about the deal.

Google Cloud just hired another former bank exec

Derek White, who most recently served as chief digital officer at US Bank, has joined Google Cloud as vice president of global financial services. That marks the latest hire in Google Cloud's efforts to woo Wall Street clients.

Bringing in former bank executives to make inroads with financial firms has proved to be a successful strategy. The cloud provider has had several big client wins in financial services over the past 12 months, including Deutsche Bank, CME, and PayPal.

Dan DeFrancesco took a look at how Google Cloud is vying with AWS and Microsoft Azure for Wall Street customers

Amazon just leased a new space in Brooklyn to house recording studios for its music-streaming service

The Killers’ Brandon Flowers and Ronnie Vannucci Jr. joined Amazon Music on September 4th to answer fan questions

Dan Geiger broke the news this week that Amazon Music has signed on for a space in Brooklyn. It's the latest example of a major technology firm scooping up offices even as most tenants have remained hesitant to return to the workplace and leasing activity in New York City has come to a near halt.

Here's what Amazon has planned for its new space — and what the deal means for the broader commercial real-estate market. 

CareersFintech roundupLegal Read the original article on Business Insider

Some states have 'unintentionally' pursued a herd-immunity strategy to control the coronavirus, experts say — and it's kind of working

Sat, 09/12/2020 - 8:46am  |  Clusterstock
A server at the Hungry Tarpon Restaurant in Islamorada, Florida, gives an entree to a couple on June 1, 2020.
  • A population can achieve herd immunity after enough people become immune to a virus, either through vaccination or infection.
  • Arizona, Florida, and Texas — which had huge coronavirus outbreaks following early reopenings — may have reached low levels of herd immunity that have helped slow the virus's spread in the last month.
  • But that came at the cost of tens of thousands of lives, and experts say it's still not enough to prevent further outbreaks if these states go back to normal life as it was pre-pandemic.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

So many Americans have gotten COVID-19 that their immunity may have helped slow the virus' spread in key hotspots.

A lion's share of the infections and deaths during the US's second coronavirus surge this summer were clustered in a handful of states that reopened quickly, including Arizona, Florida, and Texas. Since then, however, new cases in those states have subsided significantly, dropping almost to the levels reported before the summer wave.

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According to epidemiologist Trevor Bedford, this could be partially because so many people in those states have developed immune responses, so the virus now has more difficulty spreading. This, in essence, is a degree of herd immunity: the point at which enough people become immune to a virus to significantly limit its ability to spread.

The safe way to gain herd immunity is through mass vaccination. The dangerous way is through mass infection — but that's usually what people mean when they talk about a "herd immunity strategy" in this pandemic.

"I certainly believe that the 'herd immunity' strategy for dealing with COVID-19 is hugely overly costly in terms of health impacts," Bedford wrote on Twitter last month. "But it does seem like the strategy is being perhaps unintentionally pursued in parts of the US."

Now, a month later, it seems states like Arizona, Florida, and Texas have stumbled upon the beginnings of herd immunity — which may be playing a role in the states' low daily infection tallies. But it came at a huge cost: Since May 15, at which point all three states had begun reopening, the coronavirus has killed more than 4,600 people in Arizona, more than 10,600 in Florida, and more than 12,700 in Texas.

It's unclear what infection rate leads to herd immunity Joshua Land, Taylor Brooks, and Heather Jones have cocktails at Bernini Italian restaurant on June 26, 2020 in Tampa, Florida.

Epidemiologists don't know what coronavirus infection rate it takes for a population to reach herd immunity. Generally, this proportion gets determined based on the number of people to whom an average infected person passes a pathogen. For the coronavirus, that's about two to three, meaning that about 50-70% of the population would need to be protected via vaccination in order to stop the virus' spread.

But when it comes to immunity gained as a result of infection, the dynamics of how people move and behave affect the herd immunity threshold. Some groups of people have more interpersonal contact than others, for example. So if  large portions of those particular groups contract the virus and gain immunity, that could significantly decrease future opportunities for the virus to spread.

"Young, healthy people are more likely to get immunity and 'cover' the rest of the population," Youyang Gu, a computer scientist who created the model, told Business Insider.

Customers enjoy a meal at Racks Billiards Sports Bar and Grill on May 4, 2020, the first day that retail stores and restaurants in most Florida counties were permitted to reopen.

For those reasons, some research has suggested that if 10-20% of a population gets infected, that could bring about some level of herd immunity, since the virus would mostly have spread among people who have the most contact with others.

Many researchers think the herd immunity threshold is therefore somewhere between 20% and 70%, and that it will vary for different populations.

"I think data we have now (that is robust) indicates it is >25%," Marm Kilpatrick, a disease ecologist and biostatistician at the University of California Santa Cruz, told Business Insider. "But it could be as low as 30%. It might be as high as 50% in some [populations]."

Levels of immunity below these thresholds can still help curb the virus's spread, though, even if they don't eliminate it.

Partial herd immunity may have helped flatten the curve in some places

New York City, where the first major US COVID-19 outbreak overwhelmed hospitals and morgues in March and April, seems to also be the first place in the country to have gained a significant degree of immunity.

A survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention detected coronavirus antibodies — indicating an immune response — in 23% of New York City blood tests in late April and early May.

Similarly, Gu's model estimates that about 25% of Florida's population had been infected as of Friday. In Arizona, his estimates suggest the portion is 24%, while it's around 23% in Texas, and almost 21% in New York state.

However, that's not the only reason for the decline in new cases in those states: Epidemiologists also attribute the trend to behavioral changes like mask-wearing, social distancing, and new business closures.

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"Disentangling behavioral effects from herd immunity is very difficult," Kilpatrick said.

That's because in addition to limiting the virus's opportunities to spread, these behavioral changes also reduce the level of herd immunity needed to curb an epidemic.

"Because of this reduction in transmission through social means, we don't need as much immunity to impact spread," Bedford said.

People attend a July 4 rally in Phoenix, Arizona, to protest coronavirus-related restrictions.

But he doesn't think these immunity levels would be enough to stop the virus from spreading if people go back to normal life.

Although the outbreaks may "leave enough immunity to assist in keeping COVID-19 controlled" for now, Bedford said, "this level of immunity is not compatible with a full return to societal behavior as existed before the pandemic."

Herd immunity is not a good game plan Grave diggers lower the coffin of a person who presumably died of COVID-19, in a graveyard near Saint Petersburg, Russia, May 13, 2020.

A couple weeks ago, The Washington Post reported that Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist serving as a top pandemic adviser to the Trump administration, had urged the president to pursue herd immunity by reopening businesses across the country and allowing the virus to spread among young and healthy people, while keeping the elderly and vulnerable at home.

Atlas denies this, however: "There is no policy of the president or this administration of achieving herd immunity," he said in a statement. "There never has been any such policy recommended to the president or to anyone else from me."

The cost of pursuing a herd-immunity strategy would be unconscionable, according to vaccinologist Florian Krammer.

"The only way to achieve herd immunity is through vaccination. Everything else is ethically questionable," he told Business Insider. "Would you take a vaccine that kills 1% of people who get vaccinated and protects the remaining ones — but of the remaining ones, 90% get sick? That's what infection does."

Patrons at the West Alabama Ice House have beers in Houston, Texas on June 26, 2020.

Even in an optimistic scenario in which only 20% of the population needs to get infected to reach herd immunity, about 600,000 people would still die in the US.

That's not to mention all the people who would fall ill — many so severely that they would end up in the hospital. Plenty of them would develop debilitating long-term symptoms: fatigue, difficulty breathing, and kidney damage to name a few.

Medical staff push a stretcher with a deceased patient to a car outside the COVID-19 intensive-care unit at the United Memorial Medical Center on June 30, 2020 in Houston, Texas.

"Humans are not herds," Michael Ryan, Executive Director of the World Health Organization's Health Emergencies Program, said in May. "I think we need to be really careful when we use terms in this way around natural infections in humans, because it can lead to a very brutal arithmetic which does not put people and life and suffering at the center of that equation."

Indeed, the US has paid a steep price for just a few states to get a small degree of herd immunity through natural infection: mass death, overwhelmed hospitals, refrigerator trucks filled with bodies, and nationwide testing shortages.

"The costs for this immunity have been substantial and are continuing to accrue," Bedford said. "We need a vaccine to achieve population immunity in a fashion that doesn't kill people."

Sinéad Baker contributed reporting to this story. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

New Tesla challengers are scoring huge investments, but Nikola, Rivian, and Lucid may arrive too late to gain ground in the electric car market

Sat, 09/12/2020 - 8:40am  |  Clusterstock
Tesla got to where it is the hard way, with a modest 2010 IPO that raised around $260 million, followed by a decade of slogging through what CEO Elon Musk has often called "production hell."
  • A batch of electric-vehicle startups — such as Lucid, Rivian, and Fisker — has launched exciting new vehicles and attracted billions in investment.
  • The traditional auto industry is also shifting to EVs and taking stakes in startups: GM acquired an 11% share in Nikola last week.
  • Everyone is banking on the EV market growing and growing fast, but it's currently tiny, and Tesla has a commanding lead.
  • Ultimately, the market may never grow large enough to support the level of investment that's now being undertaken.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.


As Tesla was busy becoming the most valuable automaker in the world, minting a market capitalization well over $350 billion, a bunch of new names were entering the electric-vehicle race.

Lucid, Nikola, Fisker, and more either made big announcements or pulled the cover off new, Tesla-fighting designs. Nikola and Fisker both went public in 2020 through "special purpose acquisition companies." For Nikola, that meant an initial valuation of over $3 billion that quickly shot up to $13 billion, and for Fisker, a $3 billion valuation with a cool billion earmarked to bring the carmaker's first vehicle, the Ocean, to market.

Lucid unveiled its Air sedan last week, amid considerable hoopla. Understandable, as the $170,000 top-trim of the car has performance specs that put the Tesla Model S in the rearview.

It gets better. Fisker has rolled out plans to produce a family of three vehicles and, in interviews with Business Insider, CEO Henrik Fisker outlined a business model that seeks to turn the traditional paradigm of auto ownership on its head.

Meanwhile, Nikola teamed up with General Motors, trading 11% of the company's equity — $2 billion — as well as $700 million in "reimbursements" to manufacturer the Nikola Badger pickup truck, using GM's Ultium battery technology.

And don't forget about Rivian, which was the talk of the auto-circuit in 2019 (back when there were auto shows) and looks like the old man of this group, thanks to a $500-million investment by Ford last year.

Reality check! Competition only makes sense if there's something to compete for, beyond media attention. About 17 million people bought a vehicle in the US last year. Almost none of them bought an EV.

That's a lot of action, but how about some context? Lucid has been around, in one form or another, since 2007, and got a huge shot in the arm financially in 2018 when the Saudi sovereign wealth fund invested at a $1 billion valuation. Skeptics could argue that it took the startup 13 years to reveal one car, which looks fantastic on paper but isn't, well, you know, built yet.

Nikola founder Trevor Milton wisely realized that manufacturing the Badger while also bringing a semi-truck to market was too heavy a lift, so he effectively hired GM to make the pickup, turning it into a showcase for Ultium, a technology that GM has ambitious plans for over the next decade.

Fisker has been arguing, refreshingly, that the old manufacturing model is hopeless for startups. So he's transformed himself, in his latest auto industry act — he founded Fisker Automotive before the financial crisis and was widely seen as an early Tesla rival — into a vocal advocate for asset-light car-making, with a focus on customer experience, rather than nuts and bolts.

The difference between this next-generation trio of electric carmakers and Tesla is obvious: Tesla did it the hard way, with a modest 2010 IPO that raised around $260 million, followed by a decade of slogging through what CEO Elon Musk has often called "production hell."

The reward is the titanic market cap and the awe of Wall Street. But Tesla still sold only 367,500 vehicles in 2019, while GM alone sold nearly eight million. It took Tesla 17 years to reach that mark, a pace that doesn't exactly augur rapid success for the likes of a direct competitor like Lucid, which has about four years of furious catch-up to play.

The biggest player in a tiny market Mary Barra presented GM's electric strategy in early 2020.

The critical issue is that Tesla now dominates what is a globally minuscule market for EVs —just about 1 to 2% of total sales. Many analysts and experts expect that market to grow rapidly in the coming years, hence the enthusiasm for Tesla among investors (who've already reaped an 8,000% return since 2010). 

But while Tesla has had the market largely to itself, with its main challengers over the past decade coming from low-key EVs (such as the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Bolt) the traditional automakers and their enormous cash-flows and R&D budgets have now seriously leaped into the fray, and SPAC-powered investors are on the hunt for promising startups that can catch the Tesla wave.

What's uncertain is whether the natural growth of the EV market is going to happen — or whether it might need help from governments that want to address the threat of climate change through regulatory action. And even substantial exertion on that front might not move the needle. After all, consumers need to want to buy electric cars, and up to now, they've mustered plenty of reasons not to.

If growth arrives, then both startups and established automakers intend to make a grab for it. The question then is whether they'll be able to convince people to buy something other than a Tesla — or offer vehicles in segments that Tesla isn't pursuing.

If the growth doesn't arrive, however, or doesn't arrive fast enough, then you have too much investment chasing too little potential market share. Big Auto can handle this, as 98% of its sales are of gas-powered vehicles. And Tesla already has more than half the EV market in the US, so it could consolidate its position. 

The nightmare scenario for the rest is that the bottom falls out, and fast. 

This isn't a death sentence for startups Fisker might have the best business model for an unpredictable EV future.

If I were handicapping, I'd say Nikola and Rivian could hang in there and that Fisker should make the most of its money, getting ahead of Tesla with a flexible-ownership concept that actually creates something of an interesting side market, particularly for leasing. (Fisker wants to offer a sort of easy-in-easy-out lease structure, so people aren't stuck with a car if their financial situation changes.)

But Lucid looks like it could be trying to replicate Tesla and become a competitor about 10 years too late, with a vehicle in the Air (base price: $80,000) that's chasing buyers in a slice of an overall EV market that's essentially a rounding error for worldwide sales.

Competition is a funny thing. There looks to be plenty of EVs, what with mega-name-brands like Porsche bringing vehicles like the objectively stupendous Taycan to the party, and a fresh surge of combatants making a lot of noise in 2020. 

But competition only makes sense if there's something to compete for, beyond media attention. About 17 million people bought a vehicle in the US last year. Almost none of them bought an EV. 

The tide has turned a little bit toward the idea that EV market penetration could pick up in the next decade. But then again, top auto execs in 2010 were predicting that EVs could capture 15% of sales by now. The bottom line is that today, there is no meaningful competition in the EV market, so everything is a wager on not just the desire for competition to emerge, but for actual customers to buy actual electric cars.

The jury's even out on Tesla, if you think about it. As I pointed out a while ago, Tesla is worth more than Toyota, the world's most valuable carmaker for many years prior to Tesla's epic stock-market rally in 2020. But Tesla has been valued at that level for less than a year, while Toyota has stewarded value for decades.

Say the EV market tops out at 5 to 10% in the US and Europe and fails to dominate in China, the globe's big growth opportunity. Then, even if Tesla is number one, it can't defend a market cap of almost $400 billion on sales of just a few million vehicles annually.

Where's my creative destruction? A Porsche Taycan being assembled.

Another thing that concerns me about Tesla bullishness and all the new aspirants to the EV throne is that what the economist Joseph Schumpeter called the "perennial gale of creative destruction" isn't blowing hard enough.

We should be seeing EVs replacing internal-combustion-engine vehicles at a much brisker pace if the technology is truly superior, or at least superior enough to attract consumer dollars to go along with investor dollars (which aren't the same thing). 

We should also see traditional automakers enduring incredible transitional pain or even failing outright. Instead, before the coronavirus pandemic, automakers had been raking in cash, building up fortress-like balance sheets against a downturn, buying entire Silicon Valley startups, and posting consistently profitable quarters as pickups and SUVs flew off dealer lots. 

If you follow the logic, then unless the EV market quickly replaces the gas-powered market, or replaces a significant portion of it, there ultimately is no EV market. There could be a Tesla market, and I've already argued a couple of times that Tesla is on its way to establishing a micro-monopoly (one too small to deserve government anti-trust attention).

EV startups, then, have a dual challenge. First, they have to draw even with the first-mover, Tesla, which will be difficult and costly. Then they have to hope that anticipated growth does more than arrive — it has to beat expectations to make enough space for profitable competition. 

If you think that all sounds harsh, welcome to entrepreneurship in the transportation business! There's a good reason why Lucid, Nikola, and Fisker have reeled in billions — the risk is so crazy that only fortunes are bold enough to favor it.

Read the original article on Business Insider

This opulent Mercedes G-Wagen is a $500,000 art piece on wheels — see inside the G63 Steampunk Edition

Sat, 09/12/2020 - 8:23am  |  Clusterstock
Carlex Design G63 Steampunk Edition.
  • Polish car customizer Carlex Design developed a totally over-the-top, steampunk-themed G-Wagen called the Steampunk Edition. 
  • Carlex plans to build 10 of the SUVs, and said each one takes 5,200 hours to build. 
  • Each limited-edition G63 will feature a leather interior, wood floors, and a bespoke, hand-etched copper roof with steampunk-inspired designs. 
  • The conversion costs roughly $350,000, not including the price of the SUV itself. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Maintaining the same basic, boxy look for decades, the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen doesn't need much in the way of improvements. But that doesn't stop customizers — and occasionally the brand itself — from coming up with outlandish new takes on the time-honored SUV. 

One of the latest comes courtesy of Polish customization firm Carlex Design. The company developed a limited-run, steampunk-inspired G-Wagen that runs customers right around $500,000, when one factors in the roughly $350,000 conversion cost and the price of the SUV itself. 

The steampunk aesthetic gets its inspiration from 19th-century fashion and steam-powered machinery, so Carlex's G63 Steampunk Edition incorporates lots of leather, wood, copper accents, and handmade details. The most striking part of the SUV is an intricate, hand-etched copper roof that will be unique to each of the 10 Steampunk-Edition G63s built. 

Keep scrolling to take a closer look at Carlex's Steampunk G63. 

Polish customization company Carlex Design created a limited-run, steampunk-themed Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen. And it's just as wild as it sounds. Carlex Design G63 Steampunk Edition. "We are living in the era of mass production and plastic, where handcraft seems to be falling into oblivion," Carlex said in a press release. Carlex Design G63 Steampunk Edition. "The G Steampunk Edition is a perfect choice for collectors fascinated with the art of jewelry, hand-craft, and fantasy." Carlex Design G63 Steampunk Edition. Carlex based the model off of the Mercedes-AMG G63 SUV and sought to keep most of the exterior unchanged. Carlex Design G63 Steampunk Edition. However, it did incorporate a stunning, handmade copper roof, "on which jewelers and designers engraved a gigantic relief with steampunk motifs." Carlex Design G63 Steampunk Edition. Each of the 10 special-edition vehicles will get a unique design on the roof. Carlex Design G63 Steampunk Edition. The SUV also gets a bespoke etching on the spare-tire cover ... Carlex Design G63 Steampunk Edition. ... along with custom copper-colored rims. Carlex Design G63 Steampunk Edition. All in all, Carlex says each vehicle takes 5,200 hours to build. Carlex Design G63 Steampunk Edition. The steampunk motif continues on the SUV's interior, which features intricate designs along with copper-colored accents, solid wood, and leather. Carlex Design G63 Steampunk Edition. The SUV's headliner is made from Alcantara ... Carlex Design G63 Steampunk Edition. ... and comes embroidered with steampunk imagery to match the roof. Carlex Design G63 Steampunk Edition. The Steampunk Edition boasts a similar design on the center armrest ... Carlex Design G63 Steampunk Edition. ... and on the doors. Carlex Design G63 Steampunk Edition. Carlex laid down solid walnut for the floors ... Carlex Design G63 Steampunk Edition. ... and plated parts of the interior in gold. Carlex Design G63 Steampunk Edition. Each car comes with a plaque denoting its limited-edition status. Carlex Design G63 Steampunk Edition. And each customer gets a "leather-bound book ornamented with gold emblems," which documents the entire conversion process. Carlex Design G63 Steampunk Edition. The conversion costs roughly $350,000, a Carlex spokesperson told Business Insider. Carlex Design G63 Steampunk Edition. When you factor in the cost of the SUV — which starts at more than $150,000 — you're looking at an all-in cost of roughly $500,000. Carlex Design G63 Steampunk Edition. Though the SUV was officially announced earlier this year, Carlex says there are still a few build slots available. Carlex Design G63 Steampunk Edition. Read the original article on Business Insider

Some Tesla Model Y owners say they've found parts in their cars that look like 'someone made a run to Home Depot'

Sat, 09/12/2020 - 8:12am  |  Clusterstock
The new Tesla Model Y is seen at its unveiling in Hawthorne, California on March 14, 2019.
  • Tesla owners have found parts inside their Model Y cars held on by straps that don't appear to be standard. 
  • In forums, some owners said the parts looked like someone had "made a run to Home Depot to make Q2 numbers."
  • It isn't clear how widespread the possible use of the non-standard parts is, or if they can cause any issues with the cars' performance. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.


Some Tesla Model Y owners have made an interesting discovery when exploring the inner bowels of their vehicles.

"Someone made a run to Home Depot to make Q2 numbers," someone said on the Tesla Motors Club forum last week, along with a photo of what appears to be a cooling unit held in place by plastic straps and faux wood.

The user said it wasn't in an easily accessible place, beneath the vehicle's frunk insert, but they were already diving into the car's innards to fix a separate issue when they found the straps.

"I wouldn't recommend doing it just to look for this," they said. But it didn't stop others from searching and following up with their own found examples.

—Nikola Pro (@thenikolapro) September 9, 2020


According to The Drive, the part in question is the car's Liquid Cooled Condenser, which is responsible for not only making sure the battery doesn't overheat but also cooling the powertrain and cabin air conditioning as well. The site also uncovered several YouTube videos that show a more form-fitting covering holding the part in place.

Tesla did not respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

To be sure, it's not clear if the materials have had any effect on the cars' operation, although Car and Driver also called some elements of the Model Y build quality into question in its review of the car.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Lucid Motors will launch an electric SUV on the heels of its Air sedan — see the first images of 'Project Gravity'

Sat, 09/12/2020 - 8:02am  |  Clusterstock
Lucid Motors Project Gravity.
  • After debuting its all-electric sedan, the Air, Lucid Motors also published images of its upcoming SUV.
  • For now, it's called Project Gravity and it will be built on the same platform as the Air.
  • A company spokesperson told Business Insider that Lucid hopes to bring Project Gravity to market by 2023.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

On the heels of the all-electric Lucid Air sedan, California EV startup Lucid Motors also released a handful of shadowy images of its upcoming all-electric SUV. 

As a reminder, the Air is the luxury EV that can beat a Tesla Model S on paper and will have a super spacious interior. Prices for the base model will start at $80,000, which will be available in 2022. The mid-tier version will be available in Q2 of next year.

A company spokesperson declined to provide any specifics on the SUV but did say that it's currently called Project Gravity. Project Gravity will be built on the same platform as the Air — Lucid's LEAP skateboard EV architecture. The company aims to bring the SUV to market in 2023.

Keep scrolling to see the best look yet we have of Project Gravity.

In addition to debuting the Air all-electric sedan, California EV startup Lucid Motors also published photos of its upcoming SUV. Lucid Motors Project Gravity. Currently, it's called Project Gravity and will likely be the second EV Lucid launches. Lucid Motors Project Gravity. Project Gravity will ride on the same platform as the Air sedan. Lucid Motors Project Gravity. That platform is the Lucid Electric Advanced Platform, or "LEAP." It's a skateboard EV architecture. Lucid Air. In an interview with Business Insider, Lucid CEO and CTO Peter Rawlinson said he wants Lucid to be a car company more than an SUV company. Lucid Motors Project Gravity. But every luxury lineup needs an SUV because people love to buy them. Lucid Motors Project Gravity. A Lucid spokesperson declined to provide further specifics on Project Gravity. Lucid Motors Project Gravity. Therefore, things like the price and performance are unknown. Lucid Motors Project Gravity. But Lucid does plan to bring the SUV to market in 2023, or about two years after the Air arrives. Lucid Motors Project Gravity. Read the original article on Business Insider

Why buying real estate may be a bad deal for you amid the pandemic

Sat, 09/12/2020 - 7:54am  |  Clusterstock
A backyard may seem like a great get amid the coronavirus pandemic, but buying a home may not be as great a deal as you think.
  • Buying a house amid the coronavirus pandemic might seem like a good idea, especially with mortgage rates historically low, but evidence that is piling up is making it look like a bad deal.
  • A LendEDU survey in late August found that 55% of those who became homeowners amid the pandemic already regret the decision, mostly due to financial reasons.
  • Redfin found that as of the end of July, lower mortgage rates had given buyers an extra 6.9% in purchase power, but house prices were up 8.2% year-over-year.
  • Meanwhile, the Mortgage Bankers Association just said that mortgage availability plummeted last month, meaning it's going to be harder and harder to get one moving forward.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Surprisingly low mortgage rates, the ability to work from anywhere, and the desire for one's own backyard are unique aspects of the coronavirus pandemic that have inspired many to buy a house. Mortgage applications are up 22% compared to last year, showing that demand is immense.

But if you're keen on submitting your own application, you might want to reconsider.

The US is facing a housing shortage that only ratchets home prices up, according to a new Redfin analysis. Meanwhile, a new LendEDU survey found that those who decided to become pandemic homeowners are already expressing buyer's remorse.

The number of homes for sale in the country was down for the 12th straight month in July. Just 1.9 million homes were on the market in July, according to Redfin.

The housing deficit, which already existed due to what Redfin called a "homebuilding slowdown" following the Great Recession, has only been exacerbated by the pandemic. Many are fleeing coastal capitals and looking to relocate to more affordable metro areas while taking advantage of all-time low mortgage rates.

Take Baltimore and San Antonio, for example. Both are notably more affordable housing markets — but their housing supply has plummeted 20% year-over-year amid the pandemic. Meanwhile, the supply in expensive cities like New York and San Francisco has surged, while demand has dwindled.

In Baltimore, buyers outnumbering sellers has contributed to elevated home prices. "Buyers are willing to pay more for a house than I've ever seen — I'm talking $30,000 to $50,000 over the listing price," Dan Borowy, a Baltimore real estate agent, told Redfin. "They're desperate because homes are flying off the market so quickly. I'm selling all of the homes I'm listing within three days."

Snagging a low-rate mortgage to finance that purchase, however, is also hard these days. The Mortgage Bankers Association released a report on Thursday that said lenders are tightening standards due to the coronavirus recession. Mortgage availability, according to the association, plummeted so far in August that it hasn't been this hard to take out a mortgage since 2014.

And another study shows that those new homeowners who were able to secure a mortgage almost immediately experienced buyer's remorse.

LendEDU surveyed 1,000 homeowners with a mortgage in late August. More than half of respondents — a whopping 55% — reported that they regret taking out a mortgage amid the pandemic.

Roughly 30% of those with regrets cited financial struggles. Even with low interest rates, payments become more difficult to manage as the pandemic continues to sink the country into a recession.

Another 10% said social reasons fueled their regret, while 7% reported that they were not prepared for homeownership, and 8% reported another miscellaneous reason.

This may be down to the dynamics of the market. Redfin calculated that as of the end of July, the lower mortgage rates have given buyers an extra 6.9% in purchasing power, but prices were up 8.2% year-over-year, wiping that out.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A woman deliberately cut off her hand with a circular saw in a $1.2m insurance scam

Sat, 09/12/2020 - 7:45am  |  Clusterstock
Julija Adlesic kept her left hand covered in court.
  • A Slovenian woman has been sentenced to two years in jail after been found guilty of attempted insurance fraud.
  • Julija Adlesic and her boyfriend plotted to deliberately saw off her hand to receive a €1m ($1.2m) payout, Sky News reports.
  • Adlesic claims it was an accident. However, her boyfriend's internet history shows he searched for prosthetic hands the day before the incident.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A woman who deliberately sawed off her hand in an insurance fraud plot has been sentenced to two years in jail.

Slovenian Julija Adlesic, 22, is accused of using a circular saw to sever herself at the left wrist in early 2019.

She had taken out insurance policies with five companies the year before and would have received €1m ($1.2m) in payout.

However, the young woman was found guilty of attempted insurance fraud at a court in Ljubljana, Sky News reports.

Adlesic's boyfriend has been sentenced to three years in prison, with a one-year suspended sentence for his father.

The couple claims Adlesic's left hand was accidentally sawed off while cutting branches at her home in the Slovenian capital. They left the hand at the location of the incident when they went to the hospital.

The day before, Adlesic's boyfriend had done an internet search for prosthetic hands, which prosecutors said was further evidence that the hand removal had been deliberate.

They claim the couple left the hand behind when they went to the hospital to ensure the injury was permanent, but Adlesic's hand was recovered and reattached.

Adlesic maintains that she is innocent: "No one wants to be crippled. My youth has been destroyed.

"I lost my hand at the age of 20. Only I know how it happened."

Read more:

Online pet scams have tripled since last year as people look for furry friends in quarantine

Big YouTube accounts are being plagued by hackers promoting Bitcoin scams resembling the hack that compromised Twitter

The best saws to tackle DIY projects at home

Read the original article on Business Insider

A record-high number of apartments are available for rent in Manhattan

Sat, 09/12/2020 - 7:45am  |  Clusterstock
Rental inventory in Manhattan has reached a record high.
  • The number of empty rentals in Manhattan is at a 14-year record high, according to appraisal firm Miller Samuel and real estate company Douglas Elliman.
  • The 15,025 available rentals is 14.5% higher than last month's 13,117 and nearly triple the 5,645 empty rentals from August 2019.
  • The August report notes that the vacancy rate is above 5% for the first time, marking another record statistic.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Manhattan is experiencing a record-high vacancy rate along with a record-high rental inventory, according to the latest Douglas Elliman rental report from appraisal firm Miller Samuel.

Available rentals hit a new high in the borough's housing market, surpassing July's figure of 13,000 that Business Insider previously reported. August's figure of 15,025 is 14.5% higher than July and 166.2% higher than the 5,645 rental inventory from a year earlier. The report notes that another month of a drop in new lease signings contributed to this large figure.

These are record figures for the 14 years since the firm first started tracking this data. The firm also found there is a record share of landlord concessions, or incentives to sign a lease, in Manhattan over the decade for which the firm has tracked this data, at 54.2%. 

As Business Insider previously reported, incentives may include some period of free rent, such as the typical 1.9 months of free rent in Manhattan from the latest report.

Manhattan's vacancy rate of 5.1% marks the fourth-straight record month and the first time ever crossing 5%.

Based on Manhattan's rental inventory data provided by Miller Samuel, Business Insider calculated the percent changes from one year to another since the end of 2011. The following chart shows that the year-over-year difference has grown much larger in the months during the pandemic than earlier years. 

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Brooklyn also has a high number of empty rentals compared to last year. The August report shows that the borough's nearly 4,000 rentals increased by 6.9% from July and 130.5% from last August. Northwest Queens had 642 available rentals in August but did not see as large of a year-over-year change in its rental inventory. The borough saw a year-over-year change of 78.3% and a decrease of 0.9% from last month.

Jonathan Miller, president and CEO of Miller Samuel, told Bloomberg in an interview that "Until we see a stabilization in outbound migration or some impetus to bring people back, we're looking at more softening rents to come."

Miller told Business Insider that some Manhattan residents left back in March and April and right now there's "not an incentive to return" due to reasons like uncertainty whether schools will remain open and the ability to telework.

People in New York City have been leaving to nearby suburbs amid the pandemic, according to reporting from The New York Times. This left a large number of vacant apartments in the city. 

Despite the high level of available inventory in Manhattan, Miller said one of the reasons the rental market is soft right now is because "consumers that might have been eventual renters pivoted to home buying," but he is seeing evidence that contract activity in the suburbs is beginning to plateau.

Miller said that it is "certainly possible" to see another record high in rental listings as demand in the city is low right now. 

"What is going to change [the lack of demand] I think is a longer issue," Miller told Business Insider. "And one of the milestones is going to be when there's a vaccine, and until that it's just a lot of uncertainty."

New signed contracts have also climbed after reaching lows in the middle of the pandemic. However, these are still below the level from the previous year.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The S&P 500 could plunge 20% in the coming months, with stocks too optimistically priced, says one market strategist

Sat, 09/12/2020 - 7:34am  |  Clusterstock
  • S&P 500 could fall by as much as 20% in the coming weeks,  Tim Hayes, senior strategist at Ned Davis Research, told Business Insider.
  • He said: "I would expect a decline of 15-20% and then we get a rally that maybe leaves us back where we are around now."
  • All three major Wall Street indices fell last week due to a sell-off in big US tech stocks. 
  • He said: "Right now the valuations and sentiment have priced in a much better economic and earnings outlook than we are seeing."
  • But he expects stocks to pick up after November once the US election is over.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The S&P 500 could fall by another 15-20% in the coming weeks, and although it will recover, it is unlikely to rise much beyond current levels, suggesting that a top may be in place, according to one strategist. 

The index has hit record highs this month, in a year of volatile trading, driven by technology stocks, and it is this sector that is likely to fuel any steep declines.

"The average change in the S&P 500 over the last 100 days is 1% and that tends to be consistent with sharper moods in the market," Tim Hayes, senior investment strategist at Ned Davis Research told Business Insider.

He added: "I would expect a decline of 15-20% and then we get a rally that maybe leaves us back where we are around now. That would be my best expectation." 

The  S&P 500 is down almost 4% on a weekly basis, having fallen for two straight weeks. 

Read more: Buy these 30 stocks that offer the best bargains for strong sales and earnings growth in a pricey market, Credit Suisse says

The VIX volatility index which tracks the volatility of options on the S&P 500, hit a three-month high on September 3 at 33.60. While it is down 16% in the last week the VIX has risen almost 27% in the last month, indicating heightened investor nervousness. 

Tech stocks, as reflected by the Nasdaq, have fallen by 10% since hitting a record earlier this month. "Some of these stocks have had pretty big declines, so they will continue to weigh (the market) down. You will start to see the broader indexes decline as well," he said.

Tesla, run by billionaire Elon Musk, which has so far risen more than 650% in the last 12 months, fell as much as 21% on Tuesday partly due to the broader tech-decline and because of its surprise exclusion from the S&P 500 Index. 

Read more: 'The worst crash in our lifetime': One market expert says stocks are screaming towards a Great Depression-like setup in early 2021 — and warns an 80% to 90% plunge isn't out of the question

The electric car producer had met the eligibility criteria but, surprisingly, did not make the cut. 

The S&P 500 index has risen around 50% since touching coronavirus lows in March, helped by a boom in tech stocks and rock bottom interest rates. And Hayes said he feels many stocks are still priced far more optimistically than they should be, given the backdrop of an economy still technically in recession and millions out of work. 

"Right now valuations and sentiment have priced in a much better economic and earnings outlook than we are seeing and than what is coming through the numbers. That is becoming a motivation for the momentum selling to pick up," he said. 

Read more: Buy these 16 tech stocks that are beaten down from the pandemic and now primed for explosive growth in the months ahead, Stifel says

Hayes said the S&P 500 will stage a rally later once the US presidential election in November is out of the way. 

"Usually when you get to October the selling pressure tends to [loosen] and you can expect some end of year rally," Hayes said.  "Once you get past the US election the uncertainty will clear up and by then market valuations may look better," he concluded. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Nikola sinks another 18% as Citron Research calls it a 'total fraud' and investors shun a rebuttal of the original short-seller report

Sat, 09/12/2020 - 7:31am  |  Clusterstock
Trevor Milton, the CEO and founder of Nikola.
  • Nikola shares sank as much as 18% on Friday after Citron Research followed Hindenburg Research in accusing the automaker of fraudulent activity.
  • The slide extended losses that began after Hindenburg published a report on Thursday accusing Nikola of overhyping its products and filling order books "with fluff." Nikola stock fell 11% in Thursday trading.
  • Citron congratulated Hindenburg in a Friday tweet, saying it was "exposing what appears to be a total fraud" with Nikola.
  • Investors seemed to shun the automaker's rebuttal. CEO Trevor Milton called the allegations "false and deceptive," and a company press release deemed Hindenburg's report "a hit job for short sale profit."
  • Watch Nikola trade live here.

Nikola tanked as much as 18% on Friday as investors continued to flee following the release of a scathing short-seller report.

The slump extended losses on Thursday after Hindenburg Research accused the electric-vehicle company and its CEO, Trevor Milton, of overhyping its truck's capabilities. The firm, which has a short position in Nikola, also accused Nikola of filling its multibillion-dollar order book "with fluff."

Citron Research backed up the claims on Friday morning and congratulated Hindenburg in a tweet, saying it was "exposing what appears to be a total fraud" with Nikola.

Read more: 'The worst crash in our lifetime': One market expert says stocks are screaming towards a Great Depression-like setup in early 2021 — and warns an 80% to 90% plunge isn't out of the question

Milton fired back at the allegations in a tweet on Friday, accusing Hindenburg of wanting "max damage" with "false and deceptive" statements.

Nikola said in a press release that Hindenburg's motivation was "to manipulate the market and profit from a manufactured decline in our stock price." Nikola said that it retained an outside counsel, Kirkland & Ellis, for possible legal recourse and that it would work with the Securities and Exchange Commission to rebut the report.

"To be clear, this was not a research report and it is not accurate. This was a hit job for short sale profit driven by greed," the company said.

Citron pledged to cover half of any legal expenses for Hindenburg.

Read more: Buy these 30 stocks that offer the best bargains for strong sales and earnings growth in a pricey market, Credit Suisse says

The Friday slump brought Nikola shares to their lowest point since early August. Thursday's sell-off pushed shares 11.3% lower through the session.

Earlier this week, Nikola shares were boosted when General Motors announced a deal in which it would take an 11% stake in Nikola.

Hindenburg said it suspected that Tesla's lead in the electric-vehicle sector pressured GM to make the investment. The research firm added that several of Nikola's partners and investors "have been cashing out aggressively" through the year as its shares have surged on strong investor demand.

Nikola traded at $31.92 as of 10:45 a.m. ET on Friday.

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

Buy these 16 tech stocks that are beaten down from the pandemic and now primed for explosive growth in the months ahead, Stifel says

Billionaire investor Michael Hintze's hedge fund still down 43% this year after mild August gain, report says

US consumer comfort gauge posts biggest leap since 2009 as reopening charges on

Read the original article on Business Insider

Maserati's flashy new supercar is the start of a reinvention — and that's just what the storied Italian brand needs

Sat, 09/12/2020 - 7:09am  |  Clusterstock
Maserati MC20.
  • The MC20 supercar, Maserati's new flagship halo car, represents the first of Maserati’s “new era” of vehicles.
  • Following the MC20, Maserati will launch 13 new cars from now through 2024. All-electric versions of those cars are also in the works.
  • The new cars will take design cues and technology from the MC20.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

If in the past few years you've found yourself wondering what, exactly, was up at Maserati, you weren't alone.

For a decent while, the Italian brand only offered four cars: the Levante SUV, launched in 2016; the Quattroporte and Ghibli sedans, launched in 2013; and the aged GranTurismo grand tourer that launched during the second Bush administration

Poor sales have plagued the brand since at least 2018. In November of that year, The Drive quoted a story from Automotive News that said Maserati's earnings dropped 87% — or about $17.2 million — in the third quarter.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Mike Manley blamed the poor performance on brand mismanagement. He said, "With hindsight, when we put Maserati and Alfa [Romeo] together, it did two things. Firstly, it reduced the focus on Maserati the brand. Secondly, Maserati was treated for a period of time almost as if it were a mass-market brand, which it isn't and shouldn't be treated that way."

A separate Automotive News story in August 2019 said Maserati would not see profitability until it began its new product launches this year. And it desperately needed some new products.

Now, we finally have some.

Maserati MC20.

Enter the MC20 supercar — "MC" standing for Maserati Corse and "20" for 2020. Debuting in a Wednesday livestream from Modena, Italy, to New York City in a show of flashing lights, a drum routine (?), and a choreographed choral number (??), the MC20 became Maserati's first entirely new car since the Levante's launch in 2016. 

It was trotted out before an assembly of existing Maserati cars in a big stadium — not unlike the way Simba was presented to the animal kingdom, assembled at the foot of Pride Rock — and marked the brand's first flagship halo car since the prohibitively expensive and rare MC12 from 2004. 

Maserati MC20 reveal.

While Maserati didn't go to MC12 levels with the new car, it did make an appropriate halo car: Its on-paper performance and sticker price, $210,000 at the lowest, put it side-by-side with McLarens and Lamborghinis. 

It is on the shoulders of the MC20 that Maserati will kick off its new era of reinvention. Don't expect a Maserati IPO à la Ferrari, but do expect an ambitious plan from Manley: the launching of 13 new Maserati models from now through 2024, led by the MC20.

Maserati MC20.

At the MC20's debut on Wednesday, Maserati's director of brand and sales, Andy Love, told Business Insider that a new Quattroporte sedan, Levante SUV, compact SUV, and grand-tourer and grand-cabrio are in the works. He declined to answer specifically what the new, unnamed models in the 13-car launch plan would be, but confirmed that fully electric versions of all would be available.

Indeed, in announcing the MC20, Maserati said the supercar is "designed … for full electric power."

Maserati MC20.

The MC20's positioning is meant to make a "big splash," Love told Business Insider. This is the car to get people excited about Maserati again, the one that's supposed to end up on bedroom posters. It certainly has the looks — sweeping, elegant, refined, Italian.

"It signals the beginning of a new era of Maserati," Love said. The MC20's design language, engine, and technology will appear in subsequent Maserati models. A particular point of pride for the automaker is the new Nettuno — "Neptune" in Italian, since Maserati's emblem is a trident — engine, nestled between the MC20's two axles.

Maserati MC20.

It's a twin-turbocharged, 3.0-liter V6 unit that's good for a claimed 621 horsepower and 538 pound-feet of torque. All that power will be sent to the rear wheels via a dual-clutch, eight-speed automatic transmission. It all makes the MC20 sound like it'll be a fast, exhilarating thing.

Maserati said the Nettuno engine will, like the rest of the car, be built in its home base in Modena, Italy, and is a "patented, 100% Maserati engine." A Road & Track story from July, however, observed the engine appears to share parts with other engines in the FCA family, including ones from siblings Ferrari and Alfa Romeo.

Maserati MC20.

Regardless, it's likely that versions of this engine will appear in the upcoming new Maseratis. 

Not much more is known about the MC20 except for the initial release stats and specs, but an emailed press release said the project started in January 2019. 

"The MC20 design was produced in about 24 months, with the involvement from the outset, in an innovative approach, of a team of Maserati Innovation Lab engineers, technical specialists from the Maserati Engine Lab and designers from the Maserati Style Centre," it read.

Maserati MC20.

Love confirmed the timeline to Business Insider, saying the MC20 took effectively two years from conception to production.

It seems short, but Love assured Business Insider that car production these days takes about three years. Also, because the MC20 will be largely hand-built, it won't require a huge production line, he said. 

Maserati MC20.

In 2015, Jalopnik reported that, contrary to then-industry standards of new car development taking between four and five years, the Alfa Romeo Giulia was developed in just two and a half years. The story noted that Mercedes-Benz, for example, can spend six years developing a car.

The Giulia's reliability issues are well documented. Car and Driver's long-term Giulia Quadrifoglio seemed like a maintenance nightmare. The UK's The Sunday Times suffered three broken Giulias. Jalopnik's press car broke down on the highway. The Truth About Cars reported that Consumer Reports had to go to the dealer three times in the early days of its Giulia ownership. During a track day, PistonHeads' Giulia decided to go into limp mode and stop on track.

Maserati MC20 reveal.

That being said, it's also unclear if the Giulia's short development time correlates to issues experienced by journalists. Obviously, they represent a small number of Giulia drivers.

But it's something to keep in mind, especially since Italian cars have a reputation of being unreliable

Maserati MC20.

But for too long, questions regarding Maserati's purpose went unanswered. It's changed hands many times over in its 105-year history, but has also been known to build some of the most beautiful cars in history nevertheless. Its contemporary-but-aging lineup desperately needs something new. It needs something thrilling. Something to get people talking about it again.

Finally, in the year of our Lord 2020, there's a concentrated effort to rejuvenate the storied Italian brand. The MC20, for all intents and purposes, seems to be an exciting first crack at things to come.

Maserati MC20. Read the original article on Business Insider

Miller Center’s Food Systems Accelerator focusing on Africa Takes Off

Sat, 09/12/2020 - 6:19am  |  Timbuktu Chronicles
From the Miller Center:Building upon the experience of accelerating nearly 100 agriculture-related enterprises that have collectively saved, improved, or transformed 40 million lives and raised almost $100 million in capital following their participation in our programs, Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship is honored to support a new cohort of enterprises creating climate resilience in sub-Saharan Africa.

18 for-profit and hybrid organizations addressing food security through tech-enabled solutions are participating in Miller Center’s Food Systems Accelerator cohort, which runs September 2020 through February 2021. This program provides executive mentorship, targeted content, and strategic partnership with ecosystem supporters like Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, the African Green Revolution Forum, and the Sankalp Forum Africa Summit...[more]

2 Democratic congresswomen say the police were called after they showed up at an Amazon warehouse to check on workers' safety

Sat, 09/12/2020 - 1:24am  |  Clusterstock
The inside of an Amazon fulfillment center in Robbinsville, New Jersey on December 2, 2019.
  • Rep. Rashida Tlaib said in a tweet Friday that Amazon called the police on her and Rep. Debbie Dingell after they showed up at a Michigan warehouse to check on workers' safety.
  • The Democratic lawmakers, both from Michigan, had come at the request of workers and the company itself, and were waiting for more than an hour, Tlaib said. 
  • Tlaib said they were eventually let in and both said they would share more soon.
  • Tlaib and Dingell have previously raised concerns about worker safety and called for a federal investigation into Amazon's warehouse safety practices.
  • "There was an unfortunate misunderstanding when one of our night shift security guards was not expecting external visitors to be filming onsite and was not aware of the identity of those filming at the entryway of the facility — the situation was resolved and we toured the Congresswomen through the site," a spokesperson for Amazon told Business Insider.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib claimed in a tweet Friday that the police were called about her and fellow Michigan congresswomen Rep. Debbie Dingell after they arrived at an Amazon warehouse in Romulus, Michigan, for a safety inspection.

"@DebDingell and I waited for 1.5 hours at  @Amazon's Romulus facility to check on worker safety at the request of workers and the company itself. They let us in, but not before calling the police on us," Tlaib tweeted.

—Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) September 12, 2020

"They told us it was a misunderstanding, but we were completely taken aback. We will share more on what we saw soon. We remained deeply concerned about worker safety in @Amazon facilities," Tlaib said in a subsequent tweet.

Dingell also weighed in, tweeting: "Worker safety is important and matters. Have a lot of thoughts from tonight's visit with @RashidaTlaib that will share when I've fully considered them."

Rep. Tlaib's office did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

"There was an unfortunate misunderstanding when one of our night shift security guards was not expecting external visitors to be filming onsite and was not aware of the identity of those filming at the entryway of the facility — the situation was resolved and we toured the Congresswomen through the site," a spokesperson for Amazon told Business Insider.

Tlaib and Dingell have previously sought to call attention to working conditions during the pandemic. In May, they called for federal officials to investigate Amazon's facilities across the country after complaints of warehouse conditions during the coronavirus pandemic.

This story is developing and will be updated as more information is available.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Trump appointees sought to alter CDC scientific reports so they don't contradict or undermine the president

Sat, 09/12/2020 - 12:52am  |  Clusterstock
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is shown Sunday, March 15, 2020, in Atlanta.
  • An email obtained by Politico shows a Trump political appointee accusing career scientists at the CDC of undermining the president's messaging on COVID-19.
  • "CDC to me appears to be writing hit pieces on the administration," Dr. Paul Alexander, a scientific advisor to agency spokesperson Michael Caputo, wrote in the Aug. 8 email.
  • Caputo and Alexander appear to have successfully delayed publication of a CDC report that recommended against using hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug falsely touted by President Trump as a potential cure for COVID-19, Politico reported.
  • "Nothing to go out unless I read and agree with the findings... and I tweak it to ensure it is fair and balanced and 'complete,'" Alexander said in the email.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Trump administration officials have sought to water down reports from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Politico reported Friday night, with one political appointee accusing career scientists of trying to undermine the president's campaign to reopen schools.

"CDC to me appears to be writing hit pieces on the administration," Dr. Paul Alexander, a scientific advisor to agency spokesperson Michael Caputo, wrote in an Aug. 8 email to CDC Director Robert Redfield. Alexander, who was appointed this spring by Caputo, a former Trump campaign official, accused scientists of seeking to "hurt the president," according to the email obtained by Politico.

Caputo and his communications staff have worked to delay CDC reports that contradict President Donald Trump's rhetoric. One publication was held back for about a month, according to Politico, for recommending against the use of hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug touted by the White House as a potential cure for COVID-19.

The reports, written by career scientists, are known as the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports, and according to Politico, are used to "inform doctors, researchers, and the general public about how Covid-19 is spreading and who is at risk." Jennifer Kates, of the Kaiser Family Foundation's global health work, who has relied on past reports, told Political they are "the go-to place for the public health community to get information that's scientifically vetted."

The Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization of the drug in late-March but revoked it in June after it was found to not be effective against COVID-19 with potentially fatal side-effects. Several scientific studies have also shown that hydroxychloroquine is not effective for COVID-19. 

In the Aug. 8 email, Alexander took particular aim at a scientific report that warned of the dangers from reopening schools.

"CDC tried to report as if once kids get together, there will be spread and this will impact school re-opening," Alexander wrote. "Very misleading by CDC and shame on them. Their aim is clear."

Since mid-July, nearly 2,500 schools and campuses have reported confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to a database maintained by the National Education Association. Dozens of schools that reopened have been forced to put students and staff in quarantine. There have been at least 34 deaths.

Alexander, in this missive, said any future reports related to the coronavirus "must be read by someone outside of CDC like myself," calling previous work "outrageous" and "lunacy."

"Nothing to go out unless I read and agree with the findings how they CDC, wrote it and I tweak it to ensure it is fair and balanced and 'complete,'" Alexander told Redfield and other officials.

In a statement to Politico, Caputo defended Alexander, "an Oxford-educated epidemiologist."

Caputo was appointed to his role at the health department in April is and is a loyalist to Trump. He's worked on Republican campaigns since the 1980s and also worked as a public-relations consultant for a Russian state-owned energy company in the 1990s. 

Caputo has also asserted conspiracy theories including claiming that the Russia probe and the Ukraine investigation, which led to Trump's impeachment in 2019, were part of a plot to "enrich global insiders like Hunter Biden, George Soros, and more."

"Dr. Alexander advises me on pandemic policy and he has been encouraged to share his opinions with other scientists. Like all scientists, his advice is heard and taken or rejected by his peers," Caputo said in a statement.

Norman Ornstein, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, suggested the revelation of political interference with the CDC's work should prompt legal action.

"The level of corruption involving public health — meaning more people dying because of it — by Trump and his minions is so, so high, and so, so despicable," he wrote on Twitter. "All of these people should be prosecuted for reckless endangerment."

Trump has repeatedly made claims about the coronavirus that contradicted the information presented by public health experts. The president has also admitted to veteran journalist Bob Woodward of downplaying the severity of the coronavirus pandemic early on. 

"I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down because I don't want to create a panic," Trump told Woodward on March 19.

The CDC did not reply to Business Insider's request for comment at the time of publication. 

Read the full Politico report here »

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Read the original article on Business Insider

A COVID-19 outbreak unfolded in Virginia after ICE flew immigration detainees there so agents could be shipped to the nation's capital in response to protests

Fri, 09/11/2020 - 9:05pm  |  Clusterstock
Members of the D.C. National Guard stand on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial as demonstrators participate in a peaceful protest against police brutality and the death of George Floyd, on June 2, 2020 in Washington, DC
  • The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency flew detainees to Virginia so federal agents could be deployed to Black Lives Matter protests in Washington, DC, in June, The Washington Post reported. 
  • The immigration detainees were transferred to the Farmville Detention Center from Arizona and Florida in June. 
  • A COVID-19 outbreak then broke out at the facility, where 339 inmates tested positive. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency flew immigrant detainees to Virginia this summer so federal agents could easily be deployed to Black Lives Matter protests in Washington, DC. The trip to Virginia which fueled a coronavirus outbreak in a detention center, The Washington Post reported. 

According to The Post's report, a Department of Homeland Security official and an ICE official both said the department used the detainee transfer to circumvent rules designed to prevent ICE employees from taking chartered flights. Employees aren't allowed to use chartered flights unless detainees are also on board. 

After the immigrants were transferred from Florida and Arizona to the Farmville Detention Center in Virginia, dozens of them tested positive for the virus, The Post's report said. By the end of July, 339 inmates were infected, and one died. 

Henry Lucero, the Executive Associate Director of Enforcement and Removal Operations at ICE, told Business Insider in a statement that the June 2 transfer of detainees to Farmville "was made as part of a national effort to spread detainees across the detention network to facilitate social distancing and mitigate the spread of COVID-19."

Prior to transport, the agency conducts temperature checks and medically screens detainees for COVID-19 symptoms, an ICE spokesperson told Insider, adding that detainees brought to the facility on June 2 were quarantined on arrival for two weeks.

"There have been no new intakes into Farmville since early June," the ICE spokesperson said.

The spokesperson also said the transfer was part of the agency's effort to move detainees from more populated facilities to locations that house fewer people. 

Records compiled by Witness at the Border, an immigrant advocacy group that monitors ICE activity, did not indicate any other flights between Arizona and Florida to Virginia. 

ICE did not comment on the transport of agents to the Washington, DC, protests following the drop-off of detainees in Virginia.

Federal agents from different departments who were shipped in from different states patrolled Washington, DC, during protests that broke out after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Read the original article on Business Insider

13 reasons why an Amazon Prime membership is worth the $119 annual fee

Fri, 09/11/2020 - 7:45pm  |  Clusterstock

When you buy through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.

We think Amazon Prime is worth the money. Keep reading to find out why.

Asking the question "How much would you pay for Amazon Prime?" is kind of like asking how much would you pay to keep using Google. It's so fundamentally entrenched in our daily lives (more than 100 million people have access to Amazon Prime benefits in the US alone) that it has reached a ubiquitous status.  We are used to near-instant gratification, and, for many of us, it's hard to put a price on that convenience.

But that price did, unfortunately, rise in 2018. Amazon Prime memberships went up from $99 to $119 — an increase of 20%.

If you pay month to month, an Amazon Prime membership is $12.99 per month, and a Prime Student membership is $6.49 per month. For EBT and Medicaid holders, additional discounts bring the cost down to $5.99 per month. Overall, paying month to month for the average user will cost you about $37 more than the annual option over a year. 

Is Amazon Prime worth it at $119?

In short, yes. JPMorgan has estimated that your Amazon Prime membership is actually worth $785 annually.

For the $119 annual fee, Prime members get a ton of benefits (which definitely range in usefulness). Among them are free two-day shipping, free same-day shipping, and free two-hour delivery on eligible items (of which there are many), exclusive rewards and discounts, access to Prime Video, Prime Music, online photo storage, music and books, and over 20 other perks.

As a Prime member, you also get access to Prime Day discounts on everything from new TVs to Instant Pots to Amazon Echo devices. For those not familiar, Prime Day is Amazon's sitewide savings event exclusively for Prime members. Last year, it lasted for a whole 48 hours. 

Granted, you may not use every feature included in your annual membership, but the convenience alone is worth the cost.

If you're a student and/or have access to a university email, you can save 50% on the yearly fee with Prime Student. You can also share your Amazon Prime and most benefits with family members via Amazon Household, making your dollar stretch even further. Even if none of that applies to you, it's still generally a great investment. 

<a target="_merchant" href="" data-analytics-product="" data-analytics-product-module="Product Prime Day" data-analytics-product-area="insider-pick-primeday-button" data-analytics-product-price="1" class="insider-pick-button insider-pick-button--large">Get a free 30-day Prime trial</a>

Ultimately, most of us will pay a bit more for the perks we've come to rely upon without much grumbling. But, if you want a breakdown of the ways you're saving and potentially reassess the cost, check out our breakdown below. If you're unsure and haven't made the leap yet, check out a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime before deciding it's worth committing to. 

Here's a breakdown of why Amazon Prime is still a great value, even at $119 per year: Shipping costs

The annual price of $119 includes free two-day shipping on over 100 million items and free one-day shipping on more than 10 million items with no minimum purchase. Without Prime, you'll get free regular shipping if your order is over $25, but no two-day or one-day perk.

Two-day shipping (give or take a couple of bucks) typically costs about $10. If, as a Prime member, you place 11 orders of under $25 over the course of a year on Amazon (say, you need paper towels but not much else), the membership pays for itself. 

And while expedited shipping is an abnormal cost for most of us, it's a pricey one. However, Prime's free same-day shipping on over a million items in 8,000 cities when you spend over $35 can save you money, time, and convenience. 

On average, Amazon Prime members spend $1,400 US dollars on the platform every year. Non-Prime users spend a little less than half that ($600), but they may be picking up the tab elsewhere, like in the cost of gas to shop in-store, the higher price of items from big-box retailers, and shipping from other stores. 

Video streaming services

One of the suspected reasons for the increase in annual fee last year was due to the amount of money Amazon planned to pour into its digital content, which is one of the best perks of the Prime membership. It's currently on pace to spend $7 billion on video and music content in 2019.

Prime Video lets you stream from a large library of movies and TV shows for free, including Amazon Originals content, and rent the latest releases for low prices. Prime members can also subscribe to over 100 channels (and only pay for the channels they want, which is great for saving money without losing convenience), including HBO, Showtime, and CBS All Access

Plus, it's probably only going to get better as streaming competition intensifies.

Unlimited photo storage and sharing, as well as 5 GB for videos and files

Amazon Photos lets you save and share unlimited full-resolution photos across desktop, mobile, and tablet, as well as share unlimited photo storage with up to five people. If you're paying a few bucks every month to increase your iCloud storage just to make room for the photos on your phone, you can cut out that cost and use your membership to a fuller extent.

You'll also get five GB for videos and files. And Prime Photos comes pre-installed on Amazon devices, so you can also view your photos from your Fire TV and Echo Show. 

Sharing Prime benefits across an entire household at no additional cost

If you're using it as a family, Amazon Household is one of the easiest ways to see the return on your Prime membership investment. Two adults and up to four teens and four child profiles may link in a 'Household,' allowing everyone in the family to enjoy Prime benefits (free shipping, Prime Video, Prime Photos and share content like ebooks, audiobooks, games, and apps) without paying extra. This alone makes Prime a good deal if you or your family members use any of the features even sparingly. 

Another benefit of linking accounts is that adults can approve orders before they're placed (for teens) and set parental controls on digital content (for kids). 

Prime exclusive rewards and discounts, like Prime Day deals, Lightning Deals, and a rewards credit card that gives you 5% cash back

Your Prime membership also makes you eligible for lots of exclusive deals, which are the metaphorical cherry on top of the rest mentioned.

The most impactful is access to Prime Day deals, but you also get exclusive access to the following:

Early access to Lightning DealsPrime members get an extra 30 minutes to shop lightning deals (which typically last only for a few hours) before they're officially open. Just look for the "Prime Early Access" label as you shop the page. 

Discounts or rewards for choosing no-rush shipping at checkout: If you can wait a few extra days for your order to arrive, you can either earn rewards on future purchases or receive discounts immediately. Rewards are automatically added to your account once your free No-Rush order ships and they are automatically applied to qualifying orders as well. 

A rewards credit card with no annual fee or foreign transaction fees: Get 5% back at and Whole Foods Market, 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores, and 1% back on all other purchases. You can redeem your points on Amazon as well as for cash back, gift cards, and travel.

Added discounts and exclusive options in Prime Pantry: You can do a free 30-day trial, but Prime members can tack on $4.99 per month for access to thousands of household essentials, many of which are not available elsewhere on Amazon. Pantry-exclusive coupons save you even more money on these items. Find a review here.

The option to try clothes on at home before actually buying them

Prime Wardrobe lets you try on and purchase new styles at home. Choose three or more items across their many lines and try them on at home before deciding what to keep and pay for. You have seven days to choose, and you can just check out online once you've decided. From there, return your unwanted items for free using the resealable box and prepaid shipping label. 

If you don't frequently shop online this might not save you much money through your membership. But if you've ever gotten burned by a short return window and a busy schedule, the try-before-you-buy is a great feature to save money in the long term. 

Access to books, magazines, and comics

Prime members get access to Prime Reading which means they can choose up to 10 titles at a time from more than 1,000 options as a perk of membership, and Amazon First Reads gives you access to one free Kindle book every month. 

And if you have kids and find yourself spending a lot on kids' books, movies, TV shows, or educational apps and games put-together, Prime members can pay $2.99 per month for a single child or $6.99 for a family of four kids for FreeTime Unlimited, which gives members unlimited access to thousands of options. Start a trial here before committing

Parents can set controls like time limits and content filters, and personalize the experiences of each child profile. It's available on Fire Tablets (books, videos, apps), Echo (audio), Kindle eReaders (books), and Android phones and tablets (books, videos). 

Free Prime Music streaming and discounted Amazon Music Unlimited

Prime Music is a benefit of your Prime Membership that features a growing selection of 2 million songs which you can listen to ad-free and on-demand. If you want to expand your options, Amazon Music Unlimited ($7.99 per month) has a larger library of tens of millions of songs and lets you download them for offline listening on any device. Depending on your own preference, Amazon Music Unlimited might be a better deal than popular choices like Spotify Premium ($9.99 per month). You can find a trial here to determine which one is better ultimately for you.

Save 50% on Prime with access to a email or as a qualifying customer with an EBT or Medicaid card

If you have access to a .edu email and haven't yet become a member with it, you can get a six-month trial of Prime Student at no-cost and then pay 50% less than other Prime users ($6.49 per month) after the trial ends for four years or until your indicated graduation date — whichever comes first.

Prime is also discounted ($5.99 per month) for qualifying customers with an EBT or Medicaid card

Free standard shipping and returns on Shopbop, East Dane, and Woot!

Your shipping benefits are key, and they extend beyond You can get free two-day shipping by signing into your Amazon account while shopping at Shopbop, East Dane, and the flash deals at Woot! as well.

Exclusive discounts on unlocked phones

If you want an unlocked phone (and the greater freedom afforded by not being tied to one phone carrier), Amazon reserves low prices for LG, Moto, and Nokia phones for Prime members. 

Twitch Prime live video streaming and viewing

Twitch is primarily used to watch video gameplay. Prime members get free two-hour delivery, a free Twitch channel subscription (starting at $4.99 per month otherwise), pre-order price guarantee, a Prime-exclusive chat badge, and release date delivery. 


Perhaps the biggest (and most valued) thing you will save with Prime is time. With free two-hour delivery on household items with Prime Now, free same-day shipping on over a million items, and consistent two-day shipping on everything else, you'll save time commuting, browsing, price-matching, and waiting in lines. 

And if you find yourself waiting in lines for new video game releases, you'll save even more with free release-date delivery on new video games, books, music, and movies if you can wait until 7 p.m. day-of for delivery.

In select cities, you can even enable Amazon Key in-home delivery, so you don't even need to be home to bring your packages indoors. It's a secure in-home delivery on millions of eligible items. It's possible with the Amazon Key Home Kit ($219.99), which can also be used normally to schedule home access for guests, friends, and family. Eligible shoppers can also get packages delivered to their garage or car when it's parked at a publicly accessible area.

Read all of our Prime Day 2020 coverage hereFind the best deals across all categories of Prime Day 2020 here Read the original article on Business Insider

California just made it easier for inmate firefighters to become professionals, allowing them to have their nonviolent criminal records wiped clean

Fri, 09/11/2020 - 7:37pm  |  Clusterstock
Inmate firefighters arrive at the scene of the Water fire, a new start about 20 miles from the Apple fire in Whitewater, California on August 2, 2020. - More than 1,300 firefighters were battling a blaze that was burning out of control August 2 in southern California, threatening thousands of people and homes east of Los Angeles. The so-called Apple Fire that broke out Friday near the city of San Bernardino has so far charred more than 20,000 acres, sending up columns of smoke visible from far away.
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill on Friday that allows formerly incarcerated firefighters to have their nonviolent criminal records expunged.
  • Over 1,200 incarcerated people are currently serving as firefighters in California, paid a couple of dollars per day for their service.
  • "This legislation rights a historic wrong and recognizes the sacrifice of thousands of incarcerated people who have helped battle wildfires in our state," Newsom said in a statement.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

California is making it easier for formerly incarcerated firefighters to go professional, with a new law enabling nonviolent offenders to have their criminal records expunged.

For decades, liberal California has relied on its massive prison population to fight wildfires. Detained men and women are trained on how to fight blazes, sleeping in camps, and earning a couple of dollars a day. But until now they were largely unable to put that experience to use once free.

In a statement on Friday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced he was signing a bill, AB 2147, to fix that.

"This legislation rights a historic wrong and recognizes the sacrifice of thousands of incarcerated people who have helped battle wildfires in our state," Newsom said.

—Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) September 11, 2020

Many fire departments reject candidates with a troubled legal past. Under AB 2147, formerly incarcerated people can petition a county court to have that past excised.

"I am thrilled we have this law on the books," Romarilyn Ralston, a formerly incarcerated woman who fought fires while an inmate, told Business Insider. "It is long overdue."

California has more than 1,200 incarcerated firefighters, The Fresno Bee reported, with prisoners helping fight some of the largest fires in state history, a million acres already torched.

"Signing AB 2147 into law is about giving second chances. To correct is to right a wrong; to rehabilitate is to restore," Assemblymember Gomez Reyes, the bill's author, said in a statement. "Rehabilitation without strategies to ensure the formerly incarcerated have a career is a pathway to recidivism."

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Read the original article on Business Insider

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