Finance

Minimum wage increase takes toll on workers, study in Seattle concludes

When Seattle officials voted three years ago to incrementally boost the city’s minimum wage up to $15 an hour, they’d hoped to improve the lives of low-income workers. Yet according to a major new study that could force economists to reassess past research on the issue, the hike has had the opposite effect.

The city is gradually increasing the hourly minimum to $15 over several years. Already, though, some employers have not been able to afford the increased minimums. They’ve cut their payrolls, putting off new hiring, reducing hours or letting their workers go, the study found.

The costs to low-wage workers in Seattle outweighed the benefits by a ratio of three to one, according to the study, conducted by a group of economists at the University of Washington who were commissioned by the city. The study, published as a working paper Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research, has not yet been peer reviewed.

On the whole, the study estimates, the average low-wage worker in the city lost $125 a month because of the hike in the minimum.

The paper’s conclusions contradict years of research on the minimum wage. Many past studies, by contrast, have found that the benefits of increases for low-wage workers exceed the costs in terms of reduced employment – often by a factor of four or five to one.

“This strikes me as a study that is likely to influence people,” said David Autor, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was not involved in the research. He called the work “very credible” and “sufficiently compelling in its design and statistical power that it can change minds.”

Yet the study will not put an end to the dispute. Experts cautioned that the effects of the minimum wage may vary according to the industries dominant in the cities where they are implemented along with overall economic conditions in the country as a whole.

Critics of the research pointed out what they saw as serious shortcomings. In particular, to avoid confusing establishments that were subject to the minimum with those that were not, the authors did not include large employers with locations both inside and outside of Seattle in their calculations.

“Like, whoa, what? Where did you get this?” asked Ben Zipperer, an economist at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute in Washington.

“My view of the research is that it seems to work,” he said. “The minimum wage in general seems to do exactly what it’s intended to do, and that’s to raise wages for low-wage workers, with little negative consequence in terms of job loss.”

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Senate Passes Bill Requiring Citizens Report Privately Stashed Cash

A new Senate bill will start forcing citizens to report cash and other assets not held in banks. This bill is stated to combat terrorism and money laundering. But is it? It seems to most like just another government attempt to steal assets and raise revenue for social programs. As this bill will give the government the authority to track assets and seize them should an individual fail to report independently held assets exceeding $10,000.

Civil forfeiture is another word for government robbery of your cash, gold, property and other assets. The most alarming aspect of civil forfeiture is that even a court verdict of not guilty doesn’t guarantee the return of state stolen assets. All the government has to do is suspect individuals of committing crimes to permanently confiscate your property.

This brings to mind the FBI raid under former FBI Director Comey of a small Texan Conservative political gathering back in 2015. Agents confiscated electronics and forcibly fingerprinted all 60 people gathered at the meeting. Now let’s just suppose for a second that they found any evidence of unreported wealth during the raid. You better believe they’d have seized-up all the assets. This is a very real possibility unfolding before us right now since the Senate just passed this bill.

The government is even going to start throwing people in prison if they find out folks haven’t been reporting ALL of their assets.  How long would you guess the minimum federal sentence would be for failing to report assets not held in a back? Here is a hint. It’s about double the average time handed for 1st-time rape offenders. Find out more about this freedom infringing bill and how it gives the government the right to start wiretapping private citizens on the next page. 

Shifting Dollars From Poor to Rich Is a Key Part of the Senate Health Bill

The Affordable Care Act gave health insurance to millions of Americans by shifting resources from the wealthy to the poor and by moving oversight from states to the federal government. The Senate bill introduced Thursday pushes back forcefully on both dimensions.

The bill is aligned with long-held Republican values, advancing states’ rights and paring back growing entitlement programs, while freeing individuals from requirements that they have insurance and emphasizing personal responsibility. Obamacare raised taxes on high earners and the health care industry, and essentially redistributed that income — in the form of health insurance or insurance subsidies — to many of the groups that have fared poorly over the last few decades.

The draft Senate bill, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act, would jettison those taxes while reducing federal funding for the care of low-income Americans. The bill’s largest benefits go to the wealthiest Americans, who have the most comfortable health care arrangements, and its biggest losses fall to poorer Americans who rely on government support. The bill preserves many of the structures of Obamacare, but rejects several of its central goals.

Like a House version of the legislation, the bill would fundamentally change the structure of Medicaid, which provides health insurance to 74 million disabled or poor Americans, including nearly 40 percent of all children. Instead of open-ended payments, the federal government would give states a maximum payment for nearly every individual enrolled in the program. The Senate version of the bill would increase that allotment every year by a formula that is expected to grow substantially more slowly than the average increase in medical costs.

 

Avik Roy, the president of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, and a conservative health care analyst, cheered the bill on Twitter, saying, “If it passes, it’ll be the greatest policy achievement by a G.O.P. Congress in my lifetime.” The bill, he explained in an email, provides a mechanism for poor Americans to move from Medicaid coverage into the private market, a goal he has long championed as a way of equalizing insurance coverage across income groups.
States would continue to receive extra funding for Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid to more poor adults, but only temporarily. After several years, states wishing to cover that population would be expected to pay a much greater share of the bill, even as they adjust to leaner federal funding for other Medicaid beneficiaries — disabled children, nursing home residents — who are more vulnerable.
High-income earners would get substantial tax cuts on payroll and investment income. Subsidies for those low-income Americans who buy their own insurance would decline compared with current law. Low-income Americans who currently buy their own insurance would also lose federal help in paying their deductibles and co-payments.

The bill does offer insurance subsidies to poor Americans who live in states that don’t offer them Medicaid coverage, a group without good insurance options under Obamacare. But the high-deductible plans that would become the norm might continue to leave care out of their financial reach even if they do buy insurance.

The battle over resources played into the public debate. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, said the bill was needed to “bring help to the families who have been struggling with Obamacare.” In a Facebook post, President Barack Obama, without mentioning the taxes that made his program possible, condemned the Senate bill as “a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America.”

In another expression of Republican principles, the bill would make it much easier for states to set their own rules for insurance regulation, a return to the norm before Obamacare.

Where Senators Stand on the Health Care Bill
Senate Republican leaders unveiled their health care bill on Thursday.

Under the bill, states would be able to apply for waivers that would let them eliminate consumer protection regulations, like rules that require all health plans to cover a basic package of benefits or that prevent insurance plans from limiting how much care they will cover in a given year.

States could get rid of the online marketplaces that help consumers compare similar health plans, and make a variety of other changes to the health insurance system. The standards for approval are quite permissive. Not every state would choose to eliminate such rules, of course. But several might.

“You can eliminate all those financial protections,” said Nicholas Bagley, a law professor at the University of Michigan. “That would be huge.”

Americans with pre-existing conditions would continue to enjoy protection from discrimination: In contrast with the House health bill, insurers would not be allowed to charge higher prices to customers with a history of illness, even in states that wish to loosen insurance regulations.

But patients with serious illnesses may still face skimpier, less useful coverage. States may waive benefit requirements and allow insurers to charge customers more. Someone seriously ill who buys a plan that does not cover prescription drugs, for example, may not find it very valuable.
There are features that would tend to drive down the sticker price of insurance, a crucial concern of many Republican lawmakers, who have criticized high prices under Obamacare. Plans that cover fewer benefits and come with higher deductibles would cost less than more comprehensive coverage.

But because federal subsidies would also decline, only a fraction of people buying their own insurance would enjoy the benefits of lower prices. Many middle-income Americans would be expected to pay a larger share of their income to purchase health insurance that covers a smaller share of their care.

The bill also includes substantial funds to help protect insurers from losses caused by unusually expensive patients, a measure designed to lure into the market those insurance carriers that have grown skittish by losses in the early years of Obamacare. But it removes a policy dear to the insurance industry — if no one else. Without an individual mandate with penalties for Americans who remain uninsured, healthier customers may choose to opt out of the market until they need medical care, increasing costs for those who stay in.

The reforms are unlikely to drive down out-of-pocket spending, another perennial complaint of the bill’s authors, and a central critique by President Trump of the current system. He often likes to say that Obamacare plans come with deductibles so high that they are unusable. Subsidies under the bill would help middle-income consumers buy insurance that pays 58 percent of the average patient’s medical costs, down from 70 percent under Obamacare; it would also remove a different type of subsidy designed to lower deductibles further for Americans earning less than around $30,000 a year.
Out-of-pocket spending is the top concern of most voters. The insurance they would buy under the bill might seem cheap at first, but it wouldn’t be if they ended up paying more in deductibles.

Mr. McConnell was constrained by political considerations and the peculiar rules of the legislative mechanism that he chose to avoid a Democratic filibuster. Despite those limits, he managed to produce a bill that reflects some bedrock conservative values. But the bill also shows some jagged seams. It may not fix many of Obamacare’s problems — high premiums, high deductibles, declining competition — that he has railed against in promoting the new bill’s passage.

The Bankers’ Bolshevik

http://www.renegadetribune.com/the-bankers-bolshevik/

 

The spectre of an octogenarian Jew ominously hovers over the European Union. Doyen of capitalist investors, George Soros is on a mission to tear down Europe’s defences. His aim is to reap a harvest of 550 million peoples in pursuit of his manic one-world agenda.

Having graduated from the London School of Economics in 1954, Soros became consumed with a passion for meddling in international currencies. The serial killer of nations, George Soros first came to public notoriety when in September 1992 (Black Wednesday) he withdrew £1 billion from Britain’s financial markets.

As a consequence there was panic among speculators and Britain’s pension funds evaporated. The bank robbing parasites of Threadneedle Street took to their heels with their pinstriped pockets bulging with Britain’s hard-earned reserves.

The subsequent devaluation of the pound inspired a tsunami-like outflow of an already unstable currency. Such financial success spurred on the enigmatic Soros to carrying out further acts of economic sabotage.

In 1992 the speculator pressured the Italian government to withdraw from the EU’s monetary system and to clandestinely sell him a mind-boggling sum of Italian lire. As a consequence Rome lost $48 billion.

Italian political commentator, Mario Sommossa; “George Soros has a long record of manipulating national currencies.”

A man one bun short of a picnic should not ordinarily be a problem. If Soros was a penniless person street-trolling with a placard he would be a figure of fun. The danger lays in the largesse the currency meddler showers over the European Union’s controlling elite; power corrupts absolutely.

The investor’s so-called Open Society Foundations finance incoming refugee placements whilst campaigning for liberating drug sales. If successful, Europeans, in a drug-induced stupor, will sleep walk into genocide.

The EU’s on-going economic crisis provides a lucrative harvest for currency speculators like George Soros. In the wake of fiscal upheaval Non-Government Organisations (NGO) proliferates. These are labelled ‘humanitarian activity’ but the bankers’ favourite Jew is hooked on dehumanising the world.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Mihály Orbán:

He (Soros) must not be underestimated. He is a powerful billionaire of enormous determination who, when it comes to his interests, respects neither God nor man.”

Financial leaders of many countries accuse Soros of using his billions and speculative knowhow to downgrade currencies. Malaysian geopolitical analyst Matthew Maavak says Soros could have had a hand in the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

George Soros is notorious for funding ‘non-government’ organisations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Center for Constitutional Rights, American Civil Liberties Union and similar scattered around this distressed globe of ours.

His foundations’ global drug policy supports ‘national and regional entities to decriminalise possession of all drugs, and emphasise alternative approaches to regulated access to a variety of illicit drugs.

The Jew on a Mission has created a network of non-government organisations that ‘deal with issues relating to migrants and human rights protection.’

In other words, the dead hand of Soros pulls the death shroud over Europe. There isn’t a refugee-related charity, foundation or pressure point that hasn’t access to Soros funding. If one were to investigate the bank accounts of the political elite you will find income and assets the source of which lead to the George Soros foundations. Soros invests millions of dollars in manipulating U.S elections; he is one of the American Democrats major sources of income.

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Mario Sommossa says: “In many cases, the purpose of such financing was political destabilisation in the countries where these organizations worked. In other cases the goal was to create specific economic and financial conditions which allow [Soros’] entities to benefit from them,” the commentator said.

During an interview with CNN, Soros, known for promoting Jewish exclusivity but not that of others, came to the point: the speculator admitted that he bankrolled Ukraine’s Maidan Revolution to bring a U.S friendly junta to power. In the same TV presentation he conceded responsibility for conducting similar regime changing operations in Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar and Iran.

The aims of Soros globalism are in perfect harmony with those of the Bolshevik-inspired Comintern (Communist International); globalism simply sounds better. Wall Street’s revolutionary soldier-of-misfortune, Vladimir Lenin notoriously said, “Without big banks socialism (now globalism) would be impossible.”

Wherever foundations support the current influx of non-Europeans you are sure to find George Soros’s fingerprints. Solution: Arrest corrupt politicians and place a warrant on the head of George Soros.

Amazon to Buy Whole Foods for $13.4 Billion

Amazon agreed to buy the upscale grocery chain Whole Foods for $13.4 billion, in a deal that will instantly transform the company that pioneered online shopping into a merchant with physical outposts in hundreds of neighborhoods across the country.

The acquisition, announced Friday, is a reflection of both the sheer magnitude of the grocery business — about $800 billion in annual spending in the United States — and a desire to turn Amazon into a more frequent shopping habit by becoming a bigger player in food and beverages. After almost a decade selling groceries online, Amazon has failed to make a major dent on its own as consumers have shown a stubborn urge to buy items like fruits, vegetables and meat in person.

Buying Whole Foods also represents a major escalation in the company’s long-running battle with Walmart, the largest grocery retailer in the United States, which has been struggling to play catch-up in internet shopping. On Friday, Walmart announced a $310 million deal to acquire the internet apparel retailer Bonobos, and last year it agreed to pay $3.3 billion for Jet.com and put Jet’s chief executive, Marc Lore, in charge of Walmart’s overall e-commerce business.

“Make no mistake, Walmart under no circumstances can lose the grocery wars to Amazon,” said Brittain Ladd, a strategy and supply chain consultant who formerly worked with Amazon on its grocery business. “If Walmart loses the grocery battle to Amazon, they have no chance of ever dethroning Amazon as the largest e-commerce player in the world.”

The idea of Amazon, a company founded 23 years ago on the premise of shopping from the comfort of a computer screen, moving forcefully into the crowded field of brick-and-mortar retail, with its limitations on selection and lack of customer reviews, once seemed ludicrous. But in the past several years, the company has dabbled with stores, opening or planning more than a dozen bookstores around the country.

Amazon Is Trying to Do (and Sell) Everything

The company’s $13.4 billion deal for Whole Foods is the latest signal of Amazon’s ambitions to have a hold on nearly every facet our lives — like the computer servers that power our favorite websites and the food we eat.

In Seattle, it recently opened two grocery drive-through stores where customers can pick up online orders, along with a convenience store called Amazon Go that uses sensors and software to let shoppers sail through the exits without visiting a cashier.

The addition of Whole Foods takes Amazon’s physical presence to a new level. The grocery chain includes more than 460 stores in the United States, Canada and Britain with sales of $16 billion in the last fiscal year. Mikey Vu, a partner at the consultancy Bain & Company who is focused on retail, said, “They’re going to be within an hour or 30 minutes of as many people as possible.”

Founded in 1978 in Austin, Tex., Whole Foods is best known for its organic foods, building its brand on healthy eating and fresh, local produce and meats. It has also long been caricatured as “Whole Paycheck” for the high prices it charges for groceries. That conflicts with a core tenet of Amazon, which has made low prices part of its mission as a retailer.

Analysts speculated that Amazon could use its $99-a-year Prime membership service, which gives customers free, two-day shipping and other benefits, to offer Whole Foods customers a better price on groceries, as it does for books in its bookstores. The stores could also serve as an advertisement to get more customers to sign up for Prime; in September the financial firm Cowen & Company estimated that Prime had 49 million subscribers in the United States, representing about 44 percent of households.

Amazon has been on a multiyear offensive to open warehouses closer to customers so it can deliver orders in as little as two hours, and Whole Foods stores will further narrow Amazon’s physical proximity to its shoppers. The stores could become locations for returning online orders of all kinds. Amazon could also use them to cut delivery times for online orders.

The $13.4 billion deal, which does not include net debt, immediately raised questions about whether Amazon’s experiments with automation, like the cashier-less checkout technology it is testing in its Amazon Go store, could eventually lead to job losses at Whole Foods stores.

“Amazon’s brutal vision for retail is one where automation replaces good jobs,” Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, said in a statement. “That is the reality today at Amazon, and it will no doubt become the reality at Whole Foods.”

Drew Herdener, a spokesman for Amazon, said it has no plans to use the Amazon Go technology to automate the jobs of cashiers at Whole Foods and no job reductions are planned as a result of the deal. Whole Foods workers are not unionized.

The move to buy Whole Foods is a further sign of the outsize ambitions of Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive and founder, who came under fire from Donald J. Trump during the presidential campaign last year, when Mr. Trump said Mr. Bezos had a “huge antitrust problem because he’s controlling so much.”

Nicole Navas Oxman, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, declined to comment about whether its antitrust division saw any issues with the proposed acquisition. Law professors who specialize in antitrust said it was unlikely regulators would block the deal.

“One question would be, does an online seller of groceries compete with a brick-and-mortar grocery store, and I think the answer is ‘yes, at some level, but that overlap is probably not terribly great,’” said John E. Lopatka, a professor of antitrust law at Penn State University.

If the deal goes through, Amazon and Whole Foods will still only account for about 3.5 percent of grocery spending in the United States, making it the country’s fifth-largest grocery retailer, according to estimates by John Blackledge, an analyst at Cowen & Company.

Groceries are purchased five times a month on average by shoppers, compared with the four times a month Amazon Prime customers typically shop on the site and two times for people who do not have Prime memberships, Cowen estimates.

“If you open up groceries, it could increase the frequency,” Mr. Blackledge said.

For Whole Foods, the deal represents a chance to fend off pressure from activist investors frustrated by a sluggish stock price as it has faced fierce competition from Costco, Safeway and Walmart, which have begun offering organic produce and kitchen staples, forcing Whole Foods to slash prices. Money managers, unhappy with the pace of the turnaround effort, have pushed for more, taking aim at the board, its grocery offerings and its pricey real estate holdings.

In response, Whole Foods has revamped its board and replaced its chief financial officer. Gabrielle Sulzberger, a private equity executive, was named the company’s chairwoman. Ms. Sulzberger is married to Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., the chairman and publisher of The New York Times.

Investors are betting there may be other buyers interested in Whole Foods, and by late Friday the company’s shares rose above Amazon’s $42 a share offer, nearly 30 percent higher for the day. Amazon closed at $987.71 a share, up 2.4 percent.

Even with the bigger physical presence Amazon will gain through Whole Foods, it will have far less reach than Walmart and its Sam’s Club warehouse chain, which together account for about 18 percent of the grocery market. Walmart has almost 10 times the number of stores as Whole Foods does.

“We feel great about our position, with more than 4,500 stores around the country and fast growing e-commerce and online grocery businesses,” Greg Hitt, a spokesman for Walmart, said in a statement.

WHO ARE ISRAEL’S TOP FIVE WEALTHIEST PEOPLE?

 

Recent years have seen a rise in the rate in which businessmen acquire properties and profits in the country, with certain entities turning in billions of dollars into assets. Currently there are 116 billionaires living in Israel, and their fortunes combined stand together at a whopping 168 billion USD, according to Israel’s The Marker magazine.

The magazine released its annual ranking, modeled after Forbes magazine’s famous list, on Tuesday, revealing the names that stand behind some of the powerhouse financial brands in 2017.

 

Some of them are household names, while others are business moguls who in their anonymity have flown right over your radar and on to the next staggering deal. These are the five most affluent people in Israel as of 2017:

1). Patrick Drahi
Israel’s richest businessman is media mogul Patrick Drahi. The French businessman, born in Morocco, owns some of the country’s leading telecommunications and media outlet companies. In 2014, Forbes ranked Drahi as the richest man in Israel, and in 2015 he came in at number 57 on the magazine’s list of the world’s richest people. Drahi’s stock value stands at 17 billion USD and his fortune is estimated at 14 billion USD.

In Israel, Drahi holds significant stocks in the HOT cable television company (formerly known as Mirs Communications Ltd.) and has founded news channel i24 News. Drahi is also the founder and controlling shareholder of telecom group Altice.

 

2). Wertheimer family
Ranking at number two is Israel’s royal family, at least when it comes to the finance world. The Wertheimers’ fortune as of 2017 is estimated at 8.7 billion USD. The father of the family is German-born investor, industrialist and philanthropist Stefan (Stef) Wertheimer.

The industrial titan, founder of ISCAR Ltd., is mostly known for his efforts to promote regional peace through the construction of industrial parks in impoverished, predominantly Arab regions of Israel. In 2010, Wertheimer was awarded the Oslo Business for Peace Award for these endeavors.

 

3). Shari Arison
Coming in third is Israel’s Shari Arison, the New-York born businesswoman and philanthropist whose stock value stands at 2.1 billion USD and whose total fortune in 2017 has been estimated at 5/2 billion USD.

Arison, who is the regular target of Israeli’s media insistent jabs, is considered to be the richest woman in the Middle East according to Forbes and the owner of Arison Investments. Among her companies is Bank Hapoalim, one of the country’s main banks.

The heiress, whose father is renowned businessman Ted Arison, isn’t preoccupied solely with business ventures and has also initiated Israel’s Good Deeds Day.

 

4)Arnon Milchan
Number four on the list is Hollywood producer and businessman Arnon Milchan. Milchan, who holds stocks at Israel’s Channel 10, co-owns the independent production company “New Regency” along with media mogul Rupert Murdock. His total fortune as on 2017 is estimated at 5.1 billion USD.

Milchan, who has produced blockbusters such as “Pretty Woman,” has recently been embroiled in a highly controversial affair at the midst of which is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In the beginning of the year reports surfaced alleging that Milchan, who is a close friend and confidant of the premier, had bestowed lavish gifts on the prime minister and his wife Sara over the years such as cigars and champagne. The presents were estimated to be worth hundreds of thousands of shekels, and the police opened an investigation that is now dubbed Case 1000.

The Netanyahus have firmly denied the allegations, with the premier claiming that that there were just “presents exchanged among friends.”

 

5). Danna Azrieli and the Azrieli heirs
Last but not least is David Azrieli’s family business, which has encouraged Israelis countrywide to shop till they drop.

Businessman, architect and billionaire David Azrieli, who spearheaded the Azrieli Group which owns dozens of shopping centers across the country, passed away at 92 in 2014, leaving the family business to his heirs.

The family fortunes are estimated at 4.5 billion USD, and at their helm now stands Danna Azrieli (49), Azrieli’s youngest daughter who took over as CEO of the group.

Azrieli, a lawyer who was born and raised in Canada, also acts as the representative of the family’s shareholders and is the CEO of the Azrieli Israel Foundation, which seeks to promote education and culture in the country.

Other notable business people that were included in this year’s list were Israeli-American media proprietor and philanthropist Haim Saban (who ranked at number 11), business magnate Yitzhak Tshuva and his family and the Strauss family, whose company is the largest foods manufacturer in Israel.

Now Five Men (Jews and White Freemasons) Own Almost as Much Wealth as Half the World’s Population

Last year it was eight men, then down to six, and now almost five.

While Americans fixate on Trump, the super-rich are absconding with our wealth, and the plague of inequality continues to grow. An analysis of 2016 data found that the poorest five deciles of the world population own about $410 billion in total wealth. As of June 8, 2017, the world’s richest five men owned over $400 billion in wealth. Thus, on average, each man owns nearly as much as 750 million people.

Why Do We Let a Few People Shift Great Portions of the World’s Wealth to Themselves?

Most of the super-super-rich are Americans. We the American people created the internet, developed and funded artificial intelligence, and built a massive transportation infrastructure, yet we let just a few individuals take almost all the credit, along with hundreds of billions of dollars.

Defenders of the out-of-control wealth gap insist that all is OK, because after all, America is a meritocracy in which the super-wealthy have earned all they have. They heed the words of Warren Buffett: “The genius of the American economy, our emphasis on a meritocracy and a market system and a rule of law has enabled generation after generation to live better than their parents did.”

But it’s not a meritocracy. Children are no longer living better than their parents did. In the eight years since the recession the Wilshire Total Market valuation has more than tripled, rising from a little over $8 trillion to nearly $25 trillion. The great majority of it has gone to the very richest Americans. In 2016 alone, the richest 1% effectively shifted nearly $4 trillion in wealth away from the rest of the nation to themselves, with nearly half of the wealth transfer ($1.94 trillion) coming from the nation’s poorest 90% — the middle and lower classes. That’s over $17,000 in housing and savings per lower-to-middle-class household lost to the super-rich.

A meritocracy? Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos have done little that wouldn’t have happened anyway. All modern U.S. technology started with, and to a great extent continues with, our tax dollars and our research institutes and our subsidies to corporations.

Why Do We Let Unqualified Rich People Tell Us How To Live? 

In 1975, at the age of 20, Bill Gates founded Microsoft with high school buddy Paul Allen. At the time, Gary Kildall’s CP/M operating system was the industry standard. Even Gates’ company used it. But Kildall was an innovator, not a businessman, and when IBM came calling for an OS for the new IBM PC, his delays drove the big mainframe company to Gates. Even though the newly established Microsoft company couldn’t fill IBM’s needs, Gates and Allen saw an opportunity, and so they hurriedly bought the rights to another local company’s OS — which was based on Kildall’s CP/M system. Kildall wanted to sue, but intellectual property law for software had not yet been established. Kildall was a maker who got taken.

So Bill Gates took from others to become the richest man in the world. And now, because of his great wealth and the meritocracy myth, many people look to him for solutions in vital areas of human need, such as education and global food production.

Gates on Education: He has promoted galvanic skin response monitors to measure the biological reactions of students, and the videotaping of teachers to evaluate their performances. About schools he said, “The best results have come in cities where the mayor is in charge of the school system. So you have one executive, and the school board isn’t as powerful.”

Gates on Africa: With investments in or deals with MonsantoCargill and Merck, Gates has demonstrated his preference for corporate control over poor countries deemed unable to help themselves. But no problem: according to Gates, “By 2035, there will be almost no poor countries left in the world.”

Warren Buffett: Demanding To Be Taxed at a Higher Rate (As Long As His Own Company Doesn’t Have To Pay)

Warren Buffett has advocated for higher taxes on the rich and a reasonable estate tax. But his company Berkshire Hathaway has used “hypothetical amounts” to pay its taxes while actually deferring $77 billion in real taxes.

Jeff Bezos: $50 Billion in Less Than Two Years, and Fighting Taxes All the Way

Since the end of 2015 Jeff Bezos has accumulated enough wealth to cover the entire $50 billion U.S. housing budget, which serves five million Americans. Bezos, who has profited greatly from the internet and the infrastructure built up over many years by many people with many of our tax dollars, has used tax havens and high-priced lobbyists to avoid the taxes owed by his company.

Mark Zuckerberg (6th Richest in World, 4th Richest in America)

While Zuckerberg was developing his version of social networking at Harvard, Columbia University students Adam Goldberg and Wayne Ting built a system called Campus Network, which was much more sophisticated than the early versions of Facebook. But Zuckerberg had the Harvard name and better financial support.

Now with his billions he has created a charitable foundation, which in reality is a tax-exempt limited liability company, leaving him free to make political donations or sell his holdings, all without paying taxes.

The False Promise of Philanthropy

Many super-rich individuals have pledged the majority of their fortunes to philanthropic causes. That’s very generous, if they keep their promises. But that’s not really the point.

American billionaires all made their money because of the research and innovation and infrastructure that make up the foundation of our modern technologies. They have taken credit, along with their massive fortunes, for successes that derive from society rather than from a few individuals. It should not be any one person’s decision about the proper use of that wealth. Instead a significant portion of annual national wealth gains should be promised to education, housing, health research, and infrastructure. That is what Americans and their parents and grandparents have earned after a half-century of hard work and productivity.

Paul Buchheit is the author of “Disposable Americans” (2017). He is an advocate for social and economic justice. His essays, videos, and poems can be found at YouDeserveFacts.org.

Tech sell-off weighs again on stocks; dollar slips

A sell-off in Apple (AAPL.O) and other tech heavyweights dragged stocks down for a second session on Monday, while the dollar slipped ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve meeting this week.

The technology sector rout weighed on all three major U.S. stock indexes and raised concerns about lofty U.S. share levels.

The Nasdaq ended down 0.5 percent after falling 1.8 percent on Friday. Apple lost 2.5 percent, though other tech giants Alphabet (GOOGL.O), Facebook (FB.O) and Microsoft (MSFT.O) also were down.

At the same time, energy shares added to Friday’s gains, suggesting that investors were seeking value. The S&P energy index .SPNY, which has had the biggest declines among sectors so far this year, ended up 0.7 percent.

“You’re seeing people not want to come out of the market. They’re selling what’s been a winner, rotating into what’s been a loser because they want to stay in the market. That’s not necessarily a bullish omen because when markets are at tops, people want to stay fully invested,” said Michael O’Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading in Greenwich, Connecticut.

The S&P technology index .SPLRCT ended down 0.8 percent on Monday, but well off its worst levels of the session and it remains up 17.6 percent for the year to date. The sector had ballooned to its most expensive since early 2008 in terms of price-to-earnings expectations.

The Apple-led worries had taken a heavy toll on Asian rivals, including Samsung (005930.KS) overnight, and then hit Europe’s big chipmakers STMicro (STM.PA) and Dialog (DLGS.DE).

An ebbing of the reflation trade that was based on U.S. President Donald Trump’s tax and spending promises, and a run of negative U.S. economic surprises, have prompted some investors to review the mix of their portfolios.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 36.3 points, or 0.17 percent, to 21,235.67, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 2.38 points, or 0.10 percent, to 2,429.39 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 32.45 points, or 0.52 percent, to 6,175.47.

The pan-European STOXX 600 was down 1 percent, while MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe .MIWD00000PUS was down 0.3 percent.

In the foreign exchange market, the dollar index .DXY slipped 0.1 percent, with losses limited by investor expectations the Fed will increase U.S. interest rates this week while other central banks, including the Bank of England and Bank of Japan, are likely to remain on hold.

The euro EUR= rose 0.1 percent against the dollar to $1.1205 after pro-European parties scored in French and Italian elections over the weekend.

The first round French parliamentary election results look set to give President Emmanuel Macron a huge majority to push through pro-business reforms, which also helped.

Oil gained on signs of inventory declines in the United States. News that Saudi Arabia will limit volumes of crude to some Asian buyers in July and deepen cuts to the United States also boosted prices.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 ended the session up 14 cents, or 0.3 percent at $48.29 a barrel, while U.S. crude futures CLc1 gained 25 cents, or 0.6 percent, to settle at $46.08.

U.S. Treasury yields rose after tepid demand at a 10-year Treasury auction offset strong demand at a three-year auction.

Benchmark 10-year Treasuries US10YT=RR were last down 3/32 in price to yield 2.211 percent, from a yield of 2.199 percent late on Friday.

TORONTO STOCK EXCHANGE (WHITE FREEMASONS) LOOKS TO INCREASE ISRAELI COMPANY LISTINGS

 

Canada’s leading equity markets have expanded into Israel in a bid to attract Israeli companies and strengthen relationships with the country’s business community.

The Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) and TSX Venture Exchange (TSXV) announced on Monday that they are currently exploring opportunities in Israel as part of the international growth strategy of both exchanges. As part of the decision, the TMX Group Limited, which owns and operates the exchanges, has appointed an executive specifically dedicated to Israel operations, Israeli hi-tech industry veteran Yossi Boker.

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“Our mandate is to raise the profile of our premier markets around the world,” said Nick Thadaney, president and CEO of Global Equity Capital Markets at TMX. “Boker’s vast experience and expertise in the Israeli market will enable us to more effectively promote the advantages of TSX and TSXV’s unique capital formation ecosystem and to potential clients and to better support Israeli companies listing on our exchanges.”

Prior to the official expansion of TSX and TSXV, there were six Israeli companies listed on the exchanges, with a market capitalization of approximately $3 billion, according to the TMX Group.

These companies include Adira Energy Ltd.; Eco (Atlantic) Oil & Gas Ltd.; Siyata Mobile Inc.; Vaxil Bio Ltd.

on TSXV; Baylin Technologies Inc. on TSX; along with Gazit-Globe Ltd.

The exchanges promote specific benefits to Israeli companies that consider listing on them, including access to North American investors in a securities framework that is able to support companies at all stages of growth, a statement from TMX said.

In addition, the statement added, companies could use the Canada-US multi-jurisdictional disclosure system to speed access to US listings at an appropriate stage, as well as take advantage of a competitive landscape of investment banks.

While TSX had traditionally been focused on natural resources – which were the center of the old Canadian economy – the exchange has in recent decades grown increasingly interested in technology, Boker told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.

“The need or the desire to develop more of this segment brought the TSX to realize that Israel is actually the Start-up Nation,” said Boker, who will serve as head of business development in Israel.

As such, the exchange redirected its attention to Israel, Silicon Valley, China and a few other key places, with a goal of “attracting innovative companies to list on the TSX,” Boker said.

Another reason he cited for TSX’s entry into Israel was the opportunity to fill a gap, as the country lacks sufficient listing solutions for small-cap and mid-cap companies – those with small or mid-level market capitalization.

While large-cap Israeli companies can list on NASDAQ, those valued at less than $500 million have fewer places to turn, according to Boker.

TSX itself caters to companies with valuations of more than $100m., but the venture exchange TSXV is looking to attract those valued at between $10m. and $100m., he said.

When companies listed on TSXV grow and reach new milestones, they have the opportunity to then advance to TSX, he added. Out of today’s 1,400 companies listed on TSX, about 630 of the firms were graduates from the venture exchange, Boker said.

Apple, Facebook and other big tech stocks tank, weigh on Wall Street

  • Facebook, Apple, Amazon.com, Alphabet, Microsoft all fell more than 3 percent Friday as investors rotated out of the stocks.
  • The group has been the market’s leaders and is behind about 40 percent of its performance this year.
  • Goldman Sachs analyzed the group and finds it has some advantages and disadvantages when compared to the tech leaders before the tech bubble burst in 2000.

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/06/09/fang-stocks-slammed-goldman-compares-them-to-tech-bubble.html

 

Big tech was slammed Friday as investors took profits from the group, which some fear has become a massive market bubble.

The sell-off accelerated in afternoon trading, with the Nasdaq falling 2.4 percent, and names like Facebook and Apple, down 4 percent. The S&P tech sector was down 3.3 percent Friday but was still up 18 percent for the year.

Goldman Sachs on Friday released a report on the top five outperforming mega-cap names in tech with some warnings on valuations and concerns that their volatility has become extraordinarily low. In fact, the stocks had become closely correlated to safe haven plays, like bonds and utilities.

Goldman studied the valuations of the tech leaders, known as the FAAMG — for FacebookAmazon.comAppleMicrosoft and Alphabet(Google). (It left out Netflix from the original FANG, since its impact on the S&P 500 is still too small.)

What it found is that the current-day tech stocks have advantages in cash flow, valuation and cash balances over the top five tech names in the first quarter of 2000 — just before the bubble burst. But the current group is behind in profitability, as measured by gross profits and total assets. The tech bubble names Goldman studied included Lucent, CiscoOracle and Intel. Microsoft was the only stock to make both lists

The FAAMG names have added a total of $600 billion of market capitalization this year — the equivalent of the GDP of Hong Kong and South Africa combined, says Goldman. The group makes up about 13 percent of the S&P 500, but has accounted for almost 40 percent of its year-to-date performance. The stocks are among the top holdings of hedge funds. The analysts noted that mutual funds, aimed at core, growth and value, are overweight all but Apple, and the five companies combined are 11.8 percent of those mutual fund holdings.

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The analysts said that momentum and growth as market factors are elevated and the tech names are appealing because investors may be looking for opportunities that are not dependent on policy changes in Washington.

UBS also commented on the FAAMG group of big tech stocks Friday. Julian Emanuel, equity and derivatives analyst, still likes tech but says they could be vulnerable in the near term as investors rotate to other groups.

“That could be a short-term headwind given the outperformance. But the long-term earnings growth story remains intact,” he said. Emanuel noted there were four times when a handful of tech names became so powerful. Twice, it ended badly—after 1999 and 2007. But they also were leaders in 1993 and 2005.

He said it’s notable that on the previous occasions, Microsoft fell 62.8 percent after the 2000 bubble and was down 45.4 in the financial crisis in 2008. “Such declines now appear as blips on a long-term chart,” Emanuel noted.

The FAAMG group does break some historic trends. Goldman Sachs says the volatility in the FAAMG bloc is lower than not only the S&P 500, but the staples sector and utilities. The group continues to be closely tied to tech and discretionary stocks, but it has also started trading more with the other sectors following the U.S. election and its correlation to staples and utilities is at a five-year high.

“Steady sales growth, rising cash balances and limited market shocks have dampened realized volatility to the point that they now look more like consumer staples than tech stocks. If FAAMG was its own sector it would screen with the lowest realized volatility,” the Goldman analysts wrote.

But they also noted that investors are using the group as a bond proxy. “Since November, correlation has turned negative suggesting that higher bond yields, typically associated with stronger growth, will weigh on stocks while falling bond yields are a good thing,” they said, adding it runs counter to history.

While they may be loved, today’s tech darlings aren’t without potential flaws.

“We believe low realized volatility can potentially lead people to underestimate the risks inherent in these businesses including cyclical exposure, potential regulations regarding online activity or antitrust concerns or disruption risk as they encroach into each other’s businesses,” the Goldman analysts noted.

Momentum in the group “has built a valuation air pocket” and is “creating cause for pause,” they wrote.

“The fear is that if fundamental events cause volatility to rise, these same passive vehicles will sell and exacerbate downside volatility,” they added. Goldman points to a warning in the options markets, which is pricing in more volatility for the companies when looking at options three months out, and prices suggest the FAAMG stocks would be more volatile than the average stock in 6 of 9 major sectors, including tech.

Free cash flow for FAAMG has plateaued after doubling between 2006 and 2016, and at the same time the group has increased capital expenditures to 17 percent while cash flow from operations grew at less than 10 percent. Cash levels have also plateaued as a percent of market cap.

Comparison of FAAMG stocks to 2000 tech bubble leaders

Source: Goldman Sachs

But when looking back at the year 2000, all five companies have eight times more cash than the big tech stocks had in the bubble. Free cash margins are modestly better than the tech bubble companies but yields are higher.

Goldman said that the gross profits and total assets were significantly higher for the tech bubble names and that could be because today’s businesses have become more capital intensive. Return on invested capital was also higher but that may be because companies now are using accelerated depreciation.

As for size, the FAAMG stocks are almost 30 percent bigger and they aren’t as large a portion of the S&P, 13 percent compared with 15.8 percent in 2000. FAAMG is an even larger 43 percent of Nasdaq and provided 55 percent of its gains so far this year.

During the bubble, the five largest tech names were trading at almost 60 times two-year forward earnings, with the cheapest stock trading at 36 times. Now FAAMG trades at 23 times forward two-year earnings with only one, Amazon, over 30 times.