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There’s nothing more beautiful to a professional investor than a negative correlation between stocks and bonds. When stocks have a bad month, bonds have a good month, and vice versa. Since their zigs and zags offset each other, the value of the combined portfolio is less volatile. The customers are pleased. And that’s how it’s been for most of the last two decades.
But for almost a year now, Bloomberg market reporters have been detecting anxiety from the pros that the era of negative correlation may be over or ending, replaced by an era of positive correlation in which stock and bond prices move together, amplifying volatility instead of dampening it. “Bonds Have Never Been So Useless as a Hedge to Stocks Since 1999,” read the headline on one article this May.
Yet hope springs eternal. The headline on a July 7 article was, “Bonds Are Hinting They’ll Hedge Stocks Again as Growth Bets Ease.”
In the big picture and over long periods, it’s obvious and necessary that stock and bond returns are positively correlated. After all, they’re competing investments. Each generates a stream of income: dividends for (most) stocks, coupon payments for bonds. If stocks get very expensive, investors will shift money into bonds as a cheaper alternative until that rebalancing makes bonds more or less equally expensive. Likewise, when one of the two asset classes gets cheap it will tend to drag down the other.
When the pros talk about negative correlation they’re referring to shorter periods—say, a month or two–over which stocks and bonds can indeed move in different directions. Lately two giant money managers have produced explanations for why stocks and bonds move apart or together. They’re worth understanding even if your assets under management are in the thousands rather than billions or trillions.
Bridgewater Associates, the world’s biggest hedge fund, based in Westport, Conn., says that how stocks and bonds play with each other has to do with economic conditions and policy. “There will naturally be times when they’re negatively correlated and naturally be times when they’re positively correlated, and those come from the underlying environment itself,” senior portfolio strategist, Jeff Gardner says in an edited transcript of a recent in-house interview.
According to Gardner, inflation was the most important factor in the markets for decades—both when it rose in the 1960s and 1970s and when it fell in the 1980s and 1990s. Inflation affects stocks and bonds similarly, although it’s worse for bonds with their fixed payments than for stocks. That’s why correlation was positive during that long period.
For the past 20 years or so, inflation has been so low and steady that it’s been a non-factor in the markets. So investors have paid more attention to economic growth prospects. Strong growth is great for stocks but doesn’t do anything for bonds. That, says Gardner, is the main reason that stocks and bonds have moved in different directions.
PGIM Inc., the main asset management business of insurer Prudential Financial Inc., has $1.5 trillion under management. In a report issued in May, it puts numbers on the disappointment the pros feel when stocks and bonds start to move in sync. Let’s say a portfolio is 60% stocks and 40% bonds and has a stock-bond correlation of -0.3, which is about average for the last 20 years. Volatility is around 7%.
Now let’s say the correlation goes to zero—not positive yet, but not negative anymore, either. To keep volatility from rising, the portfolio manager would have to reduce the allocation to stocks to around 52%, which would lower the portfolio’s returns. If the stock-bond correlation reached a positive 0.3, then keeping volatility from rising would require reducing the stock allocation to only 40%, hitting returns even harder.
PGIM’s list of factors that affect correlations is longer than Bridgewater’s but consistent with it. The report by vice president Junying Shen and managing director Noah Weisberger says correlations between stocks and bonds tend to be negative when there’s sustainable fiscal policy, independent and rules-based monetary policy, and shifts up or down in the demand side of the economy (consumption).
The correlation is likely to be positive, they say, when there’s unsustainable fiscal policy, discretionary monetary policy, monetary-fiscal policy coordination, and shifts in the supply side of the economy (output). One last thought: It’s a good idea to spread your money between stocks and bonds even if they don’t hedge each other.
The capital asset pricing model developed by William Sharpe in the 1960s says everyone should have the same portfolio, consisting of every asset available, and adjust their risk by how much they borrow. True, not everyone agrees. John Rekenthaler, a vice president for research at Morningstar Inc., wrote a fun article in 2017 about the different strategies of Sharpe and fellow Nobel laureate Harry Markowitz.
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The best entrepreneurs understand the power of people. Whether thinking about accessible healthcare or, more broadly, startup success, collaboration and partnerships have always been vital, even before the pandemic strengthened the need for a collective approach.
Of course, for entrepreneurs looking to scale their business, cash is a critical piece of the puzzle. For obvious reasons, access to capital enables a business to grow, whether that’s investing in research and development (R&D), expanding overseas, or hiring top talent.
But capital shouldn’t be treated as a silver bullet. Instead, founders should turn their attention toward creating strong, strategic partnerships to drive business growth. Working with other established organisations builds credibility, allowing businesses to make further connections and expand their operations.
Entrepreneurs, though, should learn exactly how to unlock beneficial relationships that will ultimately set them up for long-term victory. Partnerships must be win-win and goals aligned so that everyone comes out as beneficiaries.
Why connections matter.
When executed wisely, strategic partnerships can foster business growth. With the potential to form a critical part of any growing business, these partnerships benefit startups and corporates alike. For large corporations, startups and scaleups can fuel innovation; for early-stage founders, big companies can enable fresh revenue, scaling possibilities and credibility.
With established partners come established networks. Existing knowledge, suppliers and customers can make selling products on a larger scale much easier to achieve. This empowers startups to scale quickly, with that revenue used to reinvest in operations and innovation, fuelling further growth and making it easier to establish new business relationships with a wider pool of organisations.
What’s also important, particularly if operating in a crowded space such as healthcare, is the potential for impact. Healthcare solutions – rightly or wrongly – are often judged by the number of patients using them. So, establishing key strategic partnerships – as we’ve done with Microsoft, Allianz and Portuguese healthcare provider Médis – provides an avenue to millions of patients.
Infermedica experimented with different business models, but eventually settled on a B2B strategy over B2C as we had the potential to reach more patients through a partnership network. This accelerated on our goal to bring more accessible healthcare to all. Strategic partnerships enable startups to quickly build credibility and cut through loud crowded markets.
Investor partnerships can play a role as well. Relationships don’t need to simply need to be between providers, but investors can bring knowledge, connections and consultancy which can help startups to overcome growing challenges and open doors that may otherwise remain closed until certain milestones around size, revenue and customers have been reached. What’s key is ensuring both sides remain committed to moving forward together.
How to unlock the opportunity.
But what’s the best way to go about creating these relationships? For founders, the first step to achieving this is to remember that although partnerships are sealed between companies, they’re created by people and that human connection has to be built first. Talk to the potential partner to understand what they are truly trying to achieve and how a partnership could help them solve it.
Similarly, founders must understand their own goals and what they need from any relationship to ensure they keep progressing towards it. When discussions are open and the people are looked after, great relationships are forged.
Developing a partner program at an early stage: creating a network of trusted resellers and innovative partners also allows entrepreneurs to explore opportunities in their immediate area and beyond. Indeed, European founders shouldn’t simply look within their own country or continent for partnerships, by looking further afield they open themselves up to new ways of thinking and opportunities.
Partner programs and ecosystems establish a feedback community, each organization provides feedback which improves each other’s offerings, leading to greater growth and credibility for all. This also drives thoughts around integration, how compatible one offering is with another to ensure it truly adds value in a real-world environment. Collaboration with partners enables entrepreneurs to see how their product fits into the bigger picture which fuels wider innovation.
For example, Infermedica’s partner program enables organizations from all aspects of healthcare to collaborate with us and access our AI technology, enhancing and diversifying services which offer better end-user outcomes. Of course, there is still some way to go and things will never stop evolving. The top SaaS companies have on average around 350 integrations as they understand all of the potential engagement points and are establishing ecosystems that reflect them. The key takeaway: when creating partner ecosystems, always keep in mind how an end-user could potentially interact with your offering.
Take your time.
As in life, building a long-last relationship takes a lot of time and effort. So, while it can be tempting to rush into an exciting partnership or program, it’s vital to take your time to build trust and establish clear boundaries. Drawing on our own experience, it took more than a year to establish partnerships with Microsoft and Allianz, and it’s an ongoing process of building mutual trust and finding new ways to collaborate.
Remember that there should be no A and B side in partnerships. Each party brings their own benefits to the table. Combining knowledge and resources makes the relationship greater than the sum of its parts, delivering greater value to customers, industry and economy.
At all times, specificity is key to success. Be sure that the partnership is truly feeding into your overall strategy and that you have all the necessary resources to support you on your journey. Plan it well and take your time. It’s a long-term strategy that requires patience, commitment and perseverance. Rome was not built in a day, but the foundations of a long lasting relationship could start tomorrow.
Keep your goals in mind and ensure you’re going into every conversation with completely open eyes because when you find those strategic connections that just work, the opportunity for growth is truly great.
A strategic partnership (also see strategic alliance) is a relationship between two commercial enterprises, usually formalized by one or more business contracts. A strategic partnership will usually fall short of a legal partnership entity, agency, or corporate affiliate relationship. Strategic partnerships can take on various forms from shake hand agreements, contractual cooperation’s all the way to equity alliances, either the formation of a joint venture or cross-holdings in each other.
Typically, two companies form a strategic partnership when each possesses one or more business assets or have expertise that will help the other by enhancing their businesses. This can also mean, that one firm is helping the other firm to expand their market to other marketplaces, by helping with some expertise.
According to Cohen and Levinthal a considerable in-house expertise which complements the technology activities of its partner is a necessary condition for a successful exploitation of knowledge and technological capabilities outside their boundaries. Strategic partnerships can develop in outsourcing relationships where the parties desire to achieve long-term “win-win” benefits and innovation based on mutually desired outcomes.
No matter if a business contract was signed, between the two parties, or not, a trust-based relationship between the partners is indispensable. One common strategic partnership involves one company providing engineering, manufacturing or product development services, partnering with a smaller, entrepreneurial firm or inventor to create a specialized new product. Typically, the larger firm supplies capital, and the necessary product development, marketing, manufacturing, and distribution capabilities, while the smaller firm supplies specialized technical or creative expertise.
M&M Consultants, Archived 2021-01-18 at the Wayback Machine “we are having a look at the cooperation between the digital accounting company Lexoffice and the fintech bank Penta. Penta has a big customer base of entrepreneurs and companies who will need a reliable accounting program.
Penta offers the accounting solution in its banking dashboard to its customers. Whenever a customer registers through Penta with Lexoffice the banking company most probably receives a lead fee. This strategic decision shows that a new lucrative income stream can be generated with a relatively low investment of resources and time by understanding the customer and its needs.”
Keith, Bonnie; et al. (2016). Strategic Sourcing in the New Economy: Harnessing the Potential of Sourcing Business Models for Modern Procurement (1st ed.). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN978-1137552181.
Grant, Robert M. (2010). Contemporary Strategy Analysis (8th ed.). Chichester, UK: John Wiley&Sons. ISBN978-1118634851.
Mohr, Jakki; Spekman, Robert (1994). “Characteristics of partnership success: Partnership attributes, communication behavior, and conflict resolution techniques”. Strategic Management Journal. 15 (2): 135–152. doi:10.1002/smj.4250150205. ISSN1097-0266.
Lumineau, Fabrice; Eckerd, Stephanie; Handley, Sean (2015). “Inter-organizational conflicts: Research overview, challenges, and opportunities”. Journal of Strategic Contracting and Negotiation. 1 (1): 42–64. doi:10.1177/2055563614568493. ISSN2055-5636. S2CID18256230. Vitasek, Kate; et al. (2013). Vested Outsourcing, Second Edition: Five Rules That Will Transform Outsourcing (2nd ed.). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN978-1137297198.
Shares in U.K. publicly-listed supermarket chain Morrisons surged by almost a third in morning trading today, after Britain’s fourth biggest grocer rebuffed a $7.6 billion takeover from U.S. private equity giant Clayton, Dubilier & Rice.
The huge spike in its valuation was prompted by emerging news over the weekend that Morrisons had become a takeover target for CD&R, potentially sparking a bidding war for the grocer.
The news prompted shares to rise across the grocery sector, as investors bet that other supermarket groups could become targets for private equity investors or that a bidding battle could erupt, with online giant Amazon AMZN-0.9% – which has an online delivery deal with Morrisons – one possible bidder for its partner.
American private equity firms Lone Star and Apollo Global Management APO+1.9% have also been mentioned as possible suitors for Morrisons, which has been battling with a declining market share, now down at 10%, from 10.6% five years ago. There is a sense that the U.K. supermarket sector could be ripe for more potential takeovers. The share price performance of the entire sector is seen as under-performing compared with U.S. grocers, for example, despite being profitable and achieving typical dividend yields of around 4%.
CD&R has history, having previously made investments in the discount U.K. store chain B&M, from which it made more than $1.4 billion.
Morrisons Rebuffs Bid But More Could Follow
Morrisons first announced on Saturday that it had turned down a preliminary bid by Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, which is believed to have been made on or around 14 June. The Bradford-based company said that its board had “unanimously concluded that the conditional proposal significantly undervalued Morrisons and its future prospects”.
CD&R had offered to pay nearly 320c a share in cash, while Morrisons’ share price closed at 247c on Friday, before its surge today as trading reopened for the first time since the announcement.
The New York-headquartered private equity firm has until 17 July to make a firm offer and to persuade a reluctant Morrisons management team to recommend that shareholders agree to the deal.
Sir Terry Leahy, a former Tesco chief executive, is a senior adviser for CD&R and, like its market-leading rival Tesco, Morrisons’ shares have been trading below their pre-pandemic levels as higher costs due to operating throughout the pandemic have taken their toll despite booming sales at essential stores across the U.K.
Morrisons currently employs 121,000 people and made a pre-pandemic profit of $565.5 million in 2019, which plunged to $278.6 million in 2020. It owns the freehold for 85% of its 497 stores. One-quarter of what it sells comes from its own supply chain of fresh food manufacturers, bakeries and farms.
CD&R has so far declined to comment on whether it will return with a higher bid, but analysts believe its approach is probably just the first salvo.
Previously, former Walmart WMT+0.9%-owned Asda was snapped up by the U.K.’s forecourt billionaire Issa brothers along with private equity firm TDR Capital in a debt-based $9.4 billion buyout. Likewise, CD&R could adopt a similar model and combine Morrisons, which has just a handful of convenience stores after a number of limited trials of smaller store formats, with its Motor Fuel Group of 900 gas stations.
There are also wider political concerns that it could emulate the Issas by saddling Morrisons with debt and selling off its real estate assets and CD&R is understood to be weighing political reaction before determining whether or not to come back with a higher bid.
Supermarket Takeovers More Likely Than Mergers
For tightly-regulated U.K. competition reasons, takeovers or mergers between supermarket groups appear increasingly complex. The competition watchdog blocked a proposed $9.7 billion takeover by Sainsbury’s for rival Asda two years ago, determining that the deal threatened to increase prices and reduce choice and quality.
However, comparatively relaxed rules on private equity bids mean few such restrictions apply to takeovers. Private equity firms have acquired more U.K. firms over the past 18 months than at any time since the financial crisis, according to data from Dealogic, and Czech business mogul Daniel Křetínský has established a 10% stake in Sainsbury’s, the U.K.’s second biggest supermarket chain. Having failed in an attempt to take over Germany’s Metro Group last year, he could yet make an offer for a British grocer.
AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould added in an investor note this morning that Morrisons’ balance sheet looks highly attractive, in particular to a private equity firm looking to sell business assets to release cash.
“Morrisons’ balance sheet has plenty of asset backing and the valuation was relatively depressed before news of private equity interest,” he said. “The market value of the business had weakened so much that it clearly triggered some alerts in the private equity space to say the value on offer was looking much more attractive.”
I am a global retail and real estate expert who looks behind the headlines to figure out what makes consumers tick. I work as editor-in-chief for MAPIC and editor for World Retail Congress, two of the biggest annual international retail business events. I also organise, speak at, and chair conferences all over the world, with a focus on how people are changing and what that means for the retail, food & beverage, and leisure industries. And it’s complicated! Forget the tired mantra that online killed the store and remember instead that retail has always been dog-eat-dog: star names rise and fall fast, and only retailers that embrace the madness will survive. Don’t think it’s not important, your pension funds own those malls!
Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc (Morrisons) (LSE: MRW) is the fourth biggest supermarket in the United Kingdom. Its main offices are in Bradford, West Yorkshire, England.The company is usually called Morrisons. In 2008, Sir Ken Morrison left the company. Dalton Philips is the current head. The old CEO was Marc Bolland, who left to become CEO of Marks & Spencer.
As of September 2009, Morrisons has 455 shops in the United Kingdom. On 15 March 2007, Morrisons said that it would stop its old branding and go for a more modern brand image. Their lower price brand, Bettabuy, was also changed to a more modern brand called the Morrisons Value. This brand was then changed again in 2012 as Morrisons started their low price option brand called M Savers.
In 2005 Morrisons bought part of the old Rathbones Bakeries for £15.5 million which make Rathbones and Morrisons bread. In 2011, Morrisons opened a new 767,500 square/foot centre in Bridgwater for a £11 million redevelopment project. This project also made 200 new jobs.
As interest in the stock market grows and equities continue to soar, investment giant Fidelity said Tuesday that it will launch new investing accounts just for teens.
The offerings for 13- to 17-year-olds—limited to those teenagers whose parents or guardians also invest with Fidelity—will include ways to save and deposit money, a debit card and investing capabilities, all accessible on a mobile app.
Teens will be able to buy and sell U.S. equities, Fidelity’s own mutual funds and ETFs without any fees or commissions.
To open the account, a teen’s parent or guardian must enter into a brokerage agreement with Fidelity, the Wall Street Journal reported, and after that the account—and power to make trades—is transferred to the teen.
Parents will be able to monitor the account’s activity and will retain the ability to close the account at any time, the Journal reported, and teens won’t be able to trade options or borrow money to fund trades.
“Fidelity is committed to responsibly supporting young investors,” Jennifer Samalis, senior vice president of acquisition and loyalty at Fidelity Investments, said in a statement. “Importantly, our goal for the Fidelity Youth Account is to encourage young Americans to learn through action and foster meaningful family conversations around financial topics.”
$10.3 trillion. That’s how much money Fidelity manages. It’s one of the largest stock brokerage firms in the United States.
Old-guard brokerage firms and startups alike are actively pursuing the next generation of investors. Greenlight, a startup that offers debit cards and investing services for kids, was recently valued at $2.3 billion.
Fidelity’s new offering was in the works before the memestock trading frenzy that sent stocks soaring and captivated investors earlier this year, the Journal reported.
In January, retail traders from online communities including Reddit’s r/WallStreetBets and the popular brokerage app Robinhood—which is also aimed at making investing simpler for young investors—pitted themselves against Wall Street institutions which had placed bets that a handful of previously unpopular stocks would fall.
That resulted in a short squeeze that sent Gamestock and other stocks soaring and ignited a national debate about regulation, risky trades and the what some viewed as gamified app-based trading.
I’m a breaking news reporter for Forbes focusing on economic policy and capital markets. I completed my master’s degree in business and economic reporting at New York University. Before becoming a journalist, I worked as a paralegal specializing in corporate compliance.
Bill Gates wants you to know two numbers: 51 billion and zero. The former is the number of tons of greenhouse gases typically added to the atmosphere each year as a result of human activities. The latter is the number of tons we need to get to by 2050 in order to avert a climate crisis.
Gates has a plan for how to go from 51 billion to zero, and he’s happy to say it doesn’t come with a price tag in the trillions of dollars. As you might expect from a guy who made his fortune in technology, the billionaire’s suggested solution is tied in large part to innovation.
He spells out his plan in a new book, How To Avoid A Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have And The Breakthroughs We Need, to be released on February 16. Ahead of the book launch, Gates talked to Forbes about why he wrote the book. He also shared details the book doesn’t get into, including how much he’s invested in zero-carbon companies, which ones he’s most excited about, including a new kind of nuclear power plant, and what he’s likely to invest in next.
Goal number one of the book, says Gates, is to clearly lay out which sectors of the economy are producing the 51 billion tons of greenhouse gases the world typically adds to the atmosphere each year. “The actual numeric framework, which is the most basic thing for any problem you want to tackle…that’s really been missing,” Gates says in a video interview from a conference room in his offices in Seattle. (See table for the percentage breakdown.) The goal we as a planet need to aim for: zero emissions by 2050. Gates is optimistic that as hard as it sounds, we can get there.
How It Adds Up Globally: 51 Billion Tons
Emissions dropped about 5% in 2020 due to the pandemic, Gates estimates. But in a normal year the world adds 51 billion tons of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, Gates writes in his book.
Gates admits, both in his book and when we spoke, that he is an imperfect messenger on climate change. “The very idea that one person is saying they know what we should do —appropriately, there is some pushback,” he says. In his book, he writes, “The world is not exactly lacking in rich men with big ideas about what other people should do, or who think technology can fix any problem.” He admits to owning big houses and flying in private jets, though he tells me that he buys carbon offsets for $400 a ton for the private jet flights he takes. “I can’t deny being a rich guy with an opinion. I do believe, though, that it is an informed opinion, and I am always trying to learn more,” he writes.
Gates presciently warned in a 2015 talk about the dangers of a global pandemic and what we’d need to do to prepare for it. Similarly, this is not his first public prescription for the climate. In 2010 he gave a TED talk calling for the need to eliminate carbon emissions by 2050. He’s continued to consult experts in the field and delve into the latest in climate science and policy. In 2015 he got involved in the Paris Climate Summit, calling France’s then president, Francois Hollande, and encouraging him to get countries to agree to raise their R&D budgets for clean tech innovation. Twenty countries signed on. Says Gates, “Although we did not see all those countries double their R&D budgets, we did see some increase. That’s sort of when the field started to focus on can we get this innovation to take place.”
To help put a framework around progress and the cost of new carbon-free innovations, Gates and his team came up with a term called “Green Premium” and introduced it in his blog, Gates Notes, in September last year. As he explains it, the Green Premium spells out the difference in cost between a product or process that doesn’t emit carbon with one that does. Green Premiums have fallen in the passenger car sector to the point where more people are buying electric cars (though Gates points out that just 2% of global auto sales are electric vehicles). In the industrial sector, however, Green Premiums are much higher. Says Gates, “The hardest problems to solve are in areas like steel and concrete and even transportation things like aviation fuel.” The problems he’s referring to: coming up with processes to make these products that don’t emit greenhouse gases. The research is in its early stages, and that’s where government R&D can play a role, Gates suggests.
What’s It All Going To Cost?
In December, Gates suggested in his blog that the U.S. create a National Institutes of Energy Innovation to help the country take the lead in climate change innovation. The idea is to model it after the National Institutes of Health, the backbone of U.S. medical research, which has an annual budget of about $37 billion. Gates says current U.S. government R&D spending on energy innovation is about $7 billion annually; that would need to be quintupled to match government spending on the NIH.
Another suggestion from Gates: shift the tax credits now available for solar and wind to more nascent areas like offshore wind, energy storage and new types of steel. “If you do that, and maybe double or triple the amount you spend on those tax benefits, then I do think that will be just a monumental contribution from the Biden administration,” he explains.
Whatever tech innovation comes out of the U.S. or elsewhere has to be affordable enough for countries like India to adopt it, Gates points out. Right now, the U.S. accounts for 14% of the world’s emissions. If just the U.S. gets to zero carbon emissions, we won’t be solving the problem globally.
Where Gates Is Investing
Gates, whose $124 billion fortune stems from an estimated 1% stake in Microsoft and a variety of other investments, says in the book he’s put “more than $1 billion” into companies working toward zero emissions. How much more? Altogether, he tells Forbes it’s about $2 billion. He describes himself as perhaps the biggest funder of direct air capture technologies—methods to capture carbon from the air. Two of the more well-known companies he’s been an investor in are producing plant-based meats: Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat. Some of his investing he categorizes as philanthropic, like the money he’s put toward an open source climate model that aims to show how electricity generation will work in long periods of tough weather when wind and solar would be shut down.
His biggest bet has been on TerraPower, a nuclear power company with a reactor that uses depleted uranium as its fuel. Gates founded the company with a few others more than a decade ago. In 2017, TerraPower formed a joint venture with a Chinese company and was planning to produce its first reactor in China. That deal was scuttled by the U.S. government, which in late 2019 blocked U.S. cooperation with China on civilian nuclear power. Now the plan is to build a demonstration plant somewhere in the U.S. In October the U.S. Department of Energy awarded $80 million to TerraPower toward construction of the plant; the agreement is that half of the funding will come from the private sector. Gates says, “That’s coming largely from me.”
His hope is that the demonstration plant will be built within five to seven years. “If things go well, that means that maybe in 10 years, commercial plant builders would take that design and build it ideally in the hundreds—which is what you need to have an impact on climate change.”
Gates has also invested in zero-carbon companies through Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a group he assembled that launched in December 2016. “It was a lot easier to raise the money than I expected,” he says. “I made about 22 calls and got about 20 yeses for the first billion.” Investors include billionaires such as Jeff Bezos, Vinod Khosla, John Arnold and John Doerr; Gates says he’s the largest investor. So far Breakthrough Energy Ventures has invested in 40 companies; One, QuantumScape, which is developing lithium metal batteries for electric vehicles and has no revenues yet, went public through a SPAC last November. Though many of the companies are still early stage, Gates describes some as “really wild,” including QuidNet, which is working to store electricity by pumping water into pressured underground wells; when energy is needed, the water is released and goes through a turbine, creating electricity.
Breakthrough Energy Ventures raised another $1 billion fund in January, with most of the same initial investors and some newcomers. (Gates didn’t disclose names.) He says he’s the largest investor in the latest fund, too. The new fund will look to invest in more of the industrial processes like low-carbon cement and steel production as well as technologies to capture carbon from the air, Gates says.
Over the next five years, Gates says “I’ll put in at least $2 billion” toward zero-carbon technologies. But while a total of $4 billion is a lot of money, for someone worth more than $120 billion, it’s a small sliver of his overall investments. Says Gates, “It’s more limited by what is out there that can have a high impact.”
One of Gates’ other investments that’s been in the news recently seems to fly in the face of his zero-carbon focus. In early February, Gates’ investment arm, Cascade, partnered with Blackstone Group and private equity firm Global Infrastructure Partners in a $4.7 billion deal to buy Signature Aviation, the world’s largest operator of private jet bases. Private jet travel has been booming during the pandemic, but such travel emits a heck of a lot of greenhouse gases. How does he square the deal with the premise of his book? A spokesperson for Gates did not reply to the question.
Will Gates’ book influence policy makers and move the needle toward innovation in zero-carbon technologies? It helps that combating climate change is already one of the Biden administration’s top four priorities. Given that the book is addressing weighty material, it’s relatively easy to read, sprinkled with Gates’ personal observations and even a photo of him with his son Rory on a visit to a geothermal power plant in Iceland. (Gates says he and Rory liked to visit power plants for fun.) He mentions that he drives an electric car — the Porsche Taycan Turbo, which he describes to Forbes as “ridiculously nice and ridiculously expensive” — that sells for $150,000 or more. (He’s such a fan that he got one of the first demo models, he adds.)
If nothing else, Gates wants to get people talking. “My hope is that we can shift the conversation by sharing the facts with the people in our lives— our family members, friends, and leaders. And not just the facts that tell us why we need to act, but also those that show us the actions that will do the most good,” he writes.
A bigger measure of his success will be whether the Biden administration adopts any of his policy proposals. Says Gates, “I do think that with those increases [in spending], we’ll be doing exactly what we need to do, not just for us, but for the entire world.”
I’m a San Francisco-based Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on the world’s richest people. I oversee the massive reporting effort that goes into Forbes’ annual World’s Billionaires list and The Forbes 400 Richest Americans list. The former gets me to use my rusty Spanish and Portuguese. In 2014, I won an Overseas Press Club award for an article I wrote about Saudi Arabian billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal; I also won a Gerald Loeb Award with co-author Rafael Marques de Morais for an article we wrote about Isabel dos Santos, the eldest daughter of Angola’s former president. Over more than two decades, reporting for Forbes has taken me to 17 countries on four continents, from the streets of Manila to palaces in Saudi Arabia and Mexico’s presidential residence. Follow me on Twitter @KerryDolan My email: kdolan[at]forbes[dot] com Tips and story ideas welcome
Bill Gates outlines his vision for a global green revolution. He tells Zanny Minton Beddoes, our editor-in-chief, how renewable energy is merely the first step in combatting climate change. 00:00 – How to fund a green economy 00:38 – Lessons from the pandemic 01:52 – Behaviour change v innovation in technology 03:36 – Most promising renewable technologies 04:31 – Private sector investment in green technology 06:30 – How essential are carbon prices? 07:50 – Net-zero emissions targets for businesses 09:39 – America’s role in climate-change action 12:40 – What are the odds for success of green innovation? Sign up to The Economist’s fortnightly climate-change newsletter: https://econ.st/3midEwG Find our most recent climate-change coverage: https://econ.st/37epi7u The World In 2021: the world could turn a corner on climate change: https://econ.st/37hdgKp
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On Thursday evening Thomas Peterffy, the billionaire founder of Interactive Brokers, took stock of a day unlike any in his over fifty-year trading career. An army of novice traders had united on social media site Reddit and relentlessly bought stock and options in ailing video game retailer GameStop on trading applications such as Robinhood, driving its stock from $20 at the start of the year to nearly $500 that afternoon.
The surge cost Wall Street investors almost $20 billion in mark-to-market losses, and Peterffy’s brokerage spent the day issuing thousands of margin calls on its customers’ bearish GameStop bets, forcing them to realize losses. During the trading day, Interactive Brokers, Robinhood and other online brokerages also restricted some trading in GameStop, movie theater chain AMC Entertainment, BlackBerry and other stocks that were part of the pump. The move, they later said, was to conserve cash as their clearinghouses demanded money to cover potential customer losses amid the fervent speculation.
At Interactive Brokers, Peterffy estimated that had the firm not closed out trades, its customers were sitting on $500 million in losses. Cash got tight at Robinhood, the Silicon Valley unicorn that had raised billions in venture capital and unleashed the speculative frenzy, introducing millions of young traders to frictionless stock and options trading. It drew down hundreds of millions in its credit lines and raised $1 billion in new emergency cash as its clearinghouse reserves rose tenfold.
Peterffy went to bed that night worried of a market collapse. “If the broker has to pay more money to the clearinghouse for customer losses than he has, then the broker is bankrupt. And when one broker goes bankrupt, usually a few others do too,” he told Forbes late on Thursday evening. “So, I’m worried about a systemic failure.”
The episode of millennial and zoomer-aged Reddit traders taking on Wall Street’s wealthiest and winning has turned into the David versus Goliath tale of the age of inequality. There are some big winners from GameStop, young investors who’ve already taken massive profits that can be used to pay off student debt, or build savings. For many onlookers, the humiliation of Wall Street is icing on the cake.
Despite the wry cheers, GameStop’s surge is surfacing a market fraught with leverage, unprecedented speculation and superficial analysis at almost every corner, exposing enormous risks. The pain started with the hedge funds that lost big, but as risk bubbles over, it will have reverberations in the broader market (see story).
“What’s been happening really is a reflection of the quality of analysis, the quality of work, the quality of input that is coming to Wall Street,” says billionaire investing legend Michael Steinhardt. “And it’s a sorry tale, that something like this can happen and it’s obviously something that will have a bad ending for people who are in a position to afford it least.”
Long-short equity hedge funds generated big gains in 2020 as they bet on the digital companies that thrived during the Coronavirus pandemic, and hedged their rising portfolios by crowding into bets against troubled retailers like GameStop. But they entered the new year complacent.
“When I looked at these shorts, I thought who the heck would be short movie theaters, bricks and mortar retailers and airlines when we’re just beginning to clear bottlenecks in vaccine distribution,” says Barry Knapp, managing partner of Ironsides Macroeconomics. GameStop entered 2021 as one of the most shorted stocks in the world, though positive changes were afoot inside the company as online sales surged and customers lined up outside its stores to buy new PlayStation consoles. Moreover, the Federal Reserve has been flooding the market with liquidity and a second round of stimulus checks hit bank accounts at the end of the year, a risk hedge funds should have sidestepped. The complacency was exploited by the Reddit army, to devastating effect.
A hedge fund named Melvin Capital, backed by Billionaire Steven A. Cohen of Point72, was the biggest victim, dropping 53% in January according to the Wall Street Journal, in part due to its GameStop short. One of Melvin’s mistakes was disclosing a put position against GameStop (a bet shares would fall) on its public filings, which gave the Redditors a target to rally around. It could have done the trades over-the-counter, remaining discreet, or closed them. Last week, Melvin required a $2.75 billion infusion from Cohen’s Point72 Asset Management and Citadel, owned by billionaire Ken Griffin, due to its losses.
Other big funds were hit hard. “People are telling me that the pain is anywhere from down 10% on the low end, which is Steve Cohen, to down 30% on the high-end,” says hedge fund insider Anthony Scaramucci of Skybridge. Large funds swept up in the losses include Cohen’s Point72 and highly-regarded funds like D1 Capital, Holocene Capital, Viking Global and Ken Griffin’s Citadel.
These funds may have mistakenly taken a piping hot stock market as a sign of genius, pressing their trade too far. “Tech stocks today are historically overvalued. On many metrics, they’re higher than they were at the peak of the dot-com bubble,” says Kevin Smith, chief investment officer of $200 million in assets Crescat Capital.
Fueling soaring valuations is perhaps the biggest speculative frenzy witnessed in a century, thanks to frictionless and zero-cost stock and options trading by Robinhood. Single stock call option trading has hit new records. Junky GameStop, not Apple or Microsoft, was by far the most traded company in America at times last week. Daily option premiums traded in the video game retailer surged to nearly $10 billion, more than the entire S&P 500 Index.
It’s all thanks to online brokerage Robinhood, which introduced millions of young traders to these dangerous derivative financial products and adeptly built a platform that encourages video game-like speculation. While Robinhood purports to democratize investing, behind the scenes it makes money feeding customers order to Wall Street’s savviest traders (see story). Giant market making firms like Citadel Securities and Virtu Financial have been more than happy to pay for the flow of orders coming from Robinhood, earning record revenues executing the trades in 2020. Time and again, however, the construct has proven unable to handle the rampant speculation it encourages.
For the past year, Robinhood has crashed at the apex of market activity and a new problem emerged Thursday. Because Robinhood onboards clients with margin accounts so they can begin trading instantaneously, it’s required to post collateral for its traders’ activity. On Thursday, the activity was so large, concentrated and speculative, Robinhood’s clearinghouses demanded extra collateral, creating a cash crunch that led to the trading freeze. Robinhood then went running to its venture capital backers for a $1 billion cash infusion.
Lawmakers and celebrities came to the Redditors defense. When trading was restricted in GameStop, just as they could smell hedge fund blood in the water, both New York Congressman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Texas Senator Ted Cruz demanded investigations. Comedian Jon Stewart lamented, “this is bull**it. The Redditors aren’t cheating, they’re joining a party Wall Street insiders have been enjoying for years…maybe sue them for copyright infringement instead!!”
GameStop’s rise began with reasonable analysis, but morphed into an arbitrage that exploits free options trading. Ultimately, it has revealed a new force in financial markets that’s crashing Wall Street’s clubby party, with hard to predict consequences. “Frictionless and highly gamified environments ignite the basest instincts of human nature,” says Paul Rowady of Alphacution Research. “Lubricating people to forego whatever discipline and self-control that they might otherwise have is the intended goal of these environments. And, with sustained exposure comes indelible impacts.”
GameStop’s ascent started in the summer of 2019 when Michael Burry, the hedge fund manager lionized for spotting the housing bubble in “The Big Short,” uncovered his next great trade in GameStop. Burry bought two million shares and recommended an obvious arbitrage. “GameStop could pull off perhaps the most consequential and shareholder-friendly buyback in stock market history with elegance and stealth,” Burry told the company after disclosing his position. “Mr. Market is putting this one right in your hands,” said Burry. Within months GameStop spent $200 million to retire 38% of its heavily shorted stock.
It seeped into social media. In September 2019, Keith Gill, a 34-year financial advisor in Massachusetts, got into the GameStop trade, paying $53,566.04 to buy 1,000 call options on the company and posting his position to Reddit on Sept. 8, 2019 under the pseudonym u/DeepF__ingValue, which eventually became a sensation with millions of followers. By July 2020, he was publishing videos to YouTube under the pseudonym Roaring Kitty, presenting in kitten-themed tee shirts his detailed analysis on why GameStop could gain big if the market grew more optimistic on its sales as a new PlayStation console was released. Others jumped in. Ryan Cohen, the billionaire founder of online pet food seller Chewy, bought 10% of GameStop, and joined its board in the fall, hoping to bolster its digital platform.
With positive change afoot, Reddit posters uncovered the potential for a squeeze due to GameStop’s heavy short interest and the interplay of options trades on platforms like Robinhood and their execution by market makers like Citadel Securities. Because call options are the right to buy 100 shares of stock at a specified price for a specified period of time, the market maker executing the trade (Citadel Securities, for example) hedges itself by buying actual shares.
If enough buying activity could be organized, the Redditors realized, demand for GameStop shares would far exceed available supply, pushing prices far higher. Eventually, hedge funds short GameStop would be forced to close or cover their positions and buy GameStop shares at higher prices, adding even more upward pressure to the stock. It would be similar to the organized run on shares of United Copper, which caused the Panic of 1907, only in a digital world.
The dynamics pushed GameStop up almost 2,000% in 2020, to a $22 billion market value. Had GameStop trading not been halted, it might have ripped far higher, and it may yet.
“It’s not like everyone is an idiot just playing with their money,” says Taylor Hamilton, 23, an IT worker who has made well over $100,000 in profits and paid his off student loans since starting to trade options on online brokerages like Robinhood in March 2020. “We understood what was going on and we understood how to take advantage of the moment.”
The key for the Reddit army is to get out before the music inevitably stops. “We’re in a naturally occuring Ponzi,” says Ben Inker, head of asset allocation at GMO, “The market needs to draw in more and more money to keep this afloat. Eventually you don’t have enough and it collapses.”
For some, the squeeze is the outcome of a decade of encouragement of risk taking. Signs of excess are everywhere, from record Spac issuance to red hot initial public offerings that double or triple in a matter of days. “Policymakers are essentially telling us as investors that the prudent and responsible thing to do in this cycle is to be irresponsible and imprudent. These guys on Reddit figured it out,” says Marko Papic, chief strategist at Clocktower Group.
Things may yet get crazier, and the possibility of a debacle that hits the portfolios of index fund investors seems inevitable. As GameStop and other “meme” stocks squeezed higher, hedge funds liquidated their portfolios en masse, causing a sharp weekly drop in the S&P 500 Index. With hedge funds squeezed to the hilt, brokerages low on cash, and millions of investors maintaining enormously speculative positions, risks of bad surprises abound.
“Where there’s leverage, there’s susceptibility to squeezes and tails,” says Mark Spitznagel, the head of Universa Investments. “The entire marketplace is leveraged in an unprecedented way right now.”
The biggest immediate issue is that the squeeze is far from over. “I keep hearing that most of the GameStop shorts have been covered. Totally untrue,” says Ihor Dusaniwsky, of market data firm S3 Partners. “Brokers have been telling me as soon as some shorts are covering there is a line of new short sellers looking to short GameStop at these high stock price levels in anticipation of a pullback.”
Short interest in GameStop is now $11.20 billion with 57.83 million shares shorted, or 113% of its tradable shares, near record highs, according to Dusaniwsky. Shares shorted have declined by just 8%, despite the billions already lost.
“These stocks could be pushed further,” worries Peterffy of Interactive Brokers, “It is a very dangerous, but very attractive game for both sides and the positions may increase accordingly… SCARY.”
—With reporting from Eliza Haverstock, Halah Touryalai, Christopher Helman, Sergei Klebnikov, Matt Schifrin and Jon Ponciano
I’m a staff writer and associate editor at Forbes, where I cover finance and investing. My beat includes hedge funds, private equity, fintech, mutual funds, mergers, and banks. I’m a graduate of Middlebury College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and I’ve worked at TheStreet and Businessweek. Before becoming a financial scribe, I was a member of the fateful 2008 analyst class at Lehman Brothers. Email thoughts and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Twitter at @antoinegara
GameStop has captivated Wall Street’s attention. The stock’s rise has been otherworldly. But the obsession isn’t just with the rally, it’s with who’s making money off of it. Legions of individual investors — regular, everyday people — gathered on social platforms like Reddit and decided to send GameStop stock, as they would say, to the moon. This week, GameStop shares soared 400%, a hedge fund had to get bailed out, and online trading platforms had to restricting trading on GameStop and other hot stocks. Here’s how the GameStop saga played out, and what’s next as lawmakers turn their sights on the story that took over Wall Street this week. »
Bitcoin is the first cryptocurrency in the world, launched in 2009. It is also the first wide-scale, real-world application of blockchain technology. Bitcoin (BTC) is a decentralised network which uses a public ledger to approve transactions, eliminating the need for third party approval (such as a bank). It also operates free of a governing body, such as a central bank, and all changes in the network require consensus from its members.
While initially BTC value was extremely low, priced at fractions of cents, it picked up steam over the years, reaching price levels in the thousands of dollars for a single Bitcoin token and a market cap in the hundreds of billions. The Bitcoin chart often displays extreme volatility, having short-term price spikes and tumbles. Sometimes, when the Bitcoin price is on the rise, more people are inclined to buy Bitcoin, fueling its positive run further.
On the other hand, when the Bitcoin value is on the decline, it can prompt existing investors to sell their Bitcoin and push prices down. Moreover, Bitcoin is considered the bellwether of the cryptocurrency space, so it can often generate industry-wide trends.
Get the facts about trading Bitcoin before you start. Discuss investment strategies, review market research, and get real-time updates. Bitcoin is the first cryptocurrency in the world, launched in 2009. It is also the first wide-scale, real-world application of blockchain technology.
While initially BTC value was extremely low, priced at fractions of cents, it picked up steam over the years, reaching price levels in the thousands of dollars for a single Bitcoin token and a market cap in the hundreds of billions.
The Bitcoin chart often displays extreme volatility, having short-term price spikes and tumbles. Sometimes, when the Bitcoin price is on the rise, more people are inclined to buy Bitcoin, fueling its positive run further. On the other hand, when the Bitcoin value is on the decline, it can prompt existing investors to sell their Bitcoin and push prices down. Moreover, Bitcoin is considered the bellwether of the cryptocurrency space, so it can often generate industry-wide trends. Still not sure if you should invest? Read more below
Read more about Bitcoin
Who should include Bitcoin in their portfolios?
Cryptocurrency traders: Bitcoin is the most well-known cryptocurrency, and therefore, many crypto traders buy it as part of their cryptocurrency portfolio.
Long-term investors: While still considered an extremely volatile and risky market, Bitcoin has shown tremendous price increases over time. Therefore, those who believe the overall trend will be positive could consider a Bitcoin investment.
Day traders: BTC prices can often have significant price swings over the course of a few hours. Traders can try to take advantage of these movements in an attempt to generate short-term profits.
Blockchain enthusiasts: Since Bitcoin is the first major application of blockchain technology, those who have faith in the technology and its potential impact on the tech and financial industries, could consider buying Bitcoin.
Blockchain enthusiasts: Since Bitcoin is the first major application of blockchain technology, those who have faith in the technology and its potential impact on the tech and financial industries, could consider buying Bitcoin.
Most of us have heard the phrase, “It takes money to make money.” It’s often necessary to invest in order to make more. This isn’t always an easy decision, but the question that many entrepreneurs ultimately have to ask themselves is, can you really expect customers to invest with you if you’re not willing to invest in yourself?
When you consider investing in professional development such as a coach, consultant, mentor or online course, making sure this is worth both the time and financial commitment is strategic. But if the statistics are anything to go by, this strategy can quickly turn into fear for many women in particular.
Research shows that 71% of all assets held by women are in cash, but that 68% of women lose sleep because of money worries. It’s time to stop letting the fear of not having enough stop you from investing to build your wealth.
These are my top three tips for making smart investments and minimizing money worries.
The first step is to write down your biggest goal for your business. What is it you really want to achieve? Is it to make six figures in fewer hours, or perhaps to build a big company that you will lead with lots of employees? Getting clear on this will protect you when you come across “shiny objects” — complex websites, funnels or branding that the sales world will try to convince you is absolutely necessary.
We usually succumb to these entreaties when we’re not focused on our end goal; when we procrastinate and look for quick fixes. Deciding what is just a shiny object or a really good investment starts with the question, “Will this investment help me achieve my goal faster?”
Only when it’s a yes should you consider the investment seriously.
Work out your boundaries
Next, you need to decide if the investment is in alignment with what you want to achieve and how you want to get there. Write down what you are and are not willing to do to hit your big goal in your business. For example, will the commitment of the investment mean you’ll have to work 50 hour weeks when you only want to work 10? If so, then it’s probably not a good fit.
It’s also a good idea to write down your values. Don’t let your feelings or mental blocks get in your way. Take your time so your fear doesn’t interfere. You might think that you don’t want to do sales calls. However, sales are a big part of a successful business. So, is it actually true that you don’t want to sell and thereby help other people, or could it be that you simply don’t want to feel like an old-fashioned salesman cold-selling by knocking on doors? If you were to feel good about selling, would selling be aligned? Most likely it’s a yes.
Essentially, if your boundaries and values are in line with the investment, you should move forward to the last step.
Assess the level of support
Investments are a vehicle for getting you from A to B, and it’s up to you to decide how you want to travel. Think of it like an airplane: You can go from London to Paris flying economy, Business or FirstClass.
If you know that your money is tight and you are willing to have less support on your journey, an online course could be the way. If you know that you are willing to find the funds to get fully supported and get to your goal easier and faster, bespoke one-on-one coaching could be an option. If you want to be around other high-achieving entrepreneurs to push yourself and achieve more, a mastermind could be a great investment.
This is when you need to ask yourself the question, “Is this investment providing the right level of support that I want?” If that’s a yes, you’re on the right track.
Overthinking is often a massive pitfall, making you say no to things you really want and ending in you missing out on great opportunities. Investing in something is supposed to make you feel nervous and excited at the same time, and will most likely be a true game-changer in your business.
When I started out, I had no savings at all, only debt. But I wanted to move fast, and my family couldn’t afford for me to not make money, so I found a way to make it happen.
I started with “smaller” investments — $500 or $2,000 — which felt just as scary as the six-figure investments I make now. Since then, I have learned from experience that if the investment is not a stretch, I’m not really taking a risk, so the likelihood of me building success momentum is small.
Today, women invest with me at all levels — from $ 1,000 to $ 100,000 — and I celebrate them all for making the commitment financially, mentally and emotionally. Investment is always a risk, and having the tools to help you decide if it’s one worth taking is essential.