Why All Investors Need To Own Gold and Bitcoin

I was lucky enough to find myself on GB News at the weekend, standing in for the veteran broadcaster Alastair Stewart, who was taking some no doubt well-deserved time off. No prizes for guessing what subject was the main focus of the two two-hour programmes.

The world has changed, and investors need to take that into account

There were all sorts of guests – Russian, Ukrainian, Polish – who all knew their onions, and added so many profound insights into the conflict. I sat there trying to ask sensible questions while absorbing as much information as I possibly could. I can’t pretend to be informed on this subject, despite being a lot more so now than I was a week ago – like most of us, I guess.

We covered so many subjects. The incredible bravery of the Ukrainian people and the resilience they have shown in the face of much better-armed opponents; the apparent strategic mistakes made by Russian forces so far, and the poor communication; the ruthlessness of Putin, the need to win and the risk that he doubles down.

We also covered sanctions, Swift and the weaponisation of money; the war on the oligarchs and the kleptocrats; the imminent refugee crisis; propaganda; the tacit alliance between Russia and China – and that China will be watching all of this and learning; the ramifications for Taiwan; the dependency of so many nations on Ukraine and Russia for food supplies. And much more besides. I watched, listened and tried to learn.

I left the studio with a distinct feeling of dread that this invasion may prove to be the beginning of something much bigger. Russian commentator Konstantin Kisin, who hosts the popular podcast Triggerpod, kept repeating the point that in terms of historic significance this invasion is “bigger than 9-11”. The geopolitical landscape has changed, he said, and the West is at war.

On both days, I left the studio feeling glad that I owned gold. It has been a source of immense disappointment and frustration to me, as regular readers will know, but there is a time to own gold and now would appear to be one of those times. I have reported more times than I care to remember on the vast amounts both Russia and China have accumulated over the last 20 years.

Meanwhile, the way that the West has weaponised its money and banking against Russia is extraordinary – unprecedented even, and made possible by digital banking and modern technology. China is surely looking at this weaponisation, looking at Taiwan, and thinking that to protect itself, it needs to de-dollarise as quickly and discreetly as possible. Indeed, we know China has already been doing that.

With so much money frozen abroad, one of the few ways in which Russia can actually fund itself is by selling its gold, probably via Dubai, so that may mean selling pressure. Even so, I think gold rises from here.

Hold gold, bitcoin and gold miners in the Americas

Inflation comes with war; money gets debased, no matter which side you are on. If there is some kind of China-Russia, anti-West alliance, then just as we have retaliated against Russia through Swift and the banking system, that alliance will do the same in reverse. Ergo, it will wage war on the dollar.

Western money is vulnerable. Fiat money has been printed into oblivion, while interest rates have been suppressed. Official inflation is already at 7%, while actual inflation is arguably much higher. Yet the system probably can’t take interest rates much above two or three percent. There is too much debt.

When the price of raw materials – commodities and natural resources – goes up even more because a key supplier, Russia, has been cut off, the pain of inflation is going to get worse. Governments may well attempt to impose price controls, but history shows that any relief that comes from price controls is only temporary. For the most part they don’t work and often just lead to shortages.

I’ve said for many years all China has to do is declare what its gold holdings really are – and you can see last year’s estimates here (I will do an update on this soon) – and that will be tantamount to a declaration of war. My theory, remember, is that China’s gold holdings are as big, if not bigger than those of the US.

I know I have long moaned about gold. It’s the most analogue asset there is in a world where all the value is digital. But I have also said many times that I continue to own it. It may be analogue but it has also been money since forever. It’s the first metal we ever used. 

We used it long before the Bronze Age, when we discovered smelting. Its purpose was the same as it is now – as reward, as display, as store of value, as tool of trade (in this case barter). In other words, as money.

But I have moaned about it because it has been such a perennial disappointment for so long.The currency wars are hotting up. Attacks on national currencies are going to become the norm; the rouble has been bombed already. Don’t think that at some stage the dollar, euro and the pound are not going to come under attack, because they will. Other fiat currencies will get caught in the crossfire.

Gold and bitcoin are the places to hide. On the subject of bitcoin, I see this conflict as an opportunity for it to decouple itself from the Nasdaq. If Swift is out of bounds, and governments in conflict have their tentacles running through the banking system, the use case for bitcoin suddenly got more compelling. What better way to transfer value across borders? You want to own both. And all those gold miners located far away from all of this in the Americas. There’s going to be a lot more demand for their product.

Source: Why all investors need to own gold – and bitcoin | MoneyWeek

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What Happens to Your Body When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep?

We’ve all been there before: You promise yourself just a few more minutes—and suddenly, it’s 2 a.m. and you’re still wide awake. Perhaps you’re binging a new favorite Netflix series or fretting over a morning meeting— whatever the root cause, you’re tossing and turning in bed all night, instead of getting the shut-eye you so desperately need.

What most of us don’t understand, however, is what really happens to our bodies when we don’t achieve that optimal level of sleep, which for most adults clocks in between seven and eight hours. Ahead, we asked a few doctors to explain how are bodies react to too-little sleep—and their answers might surprise you.

It becomes more difficult to focus on mental and physical tasks.

According to Dr. Jan K. Carney, MD, MPH, the Associate Dean for Public Health & Health Policy, and Professor of Medicine at Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont and the National Institutes of Health, sleep is essential for health at every age. “When we don’t get enough sleep, it is harder to stay alert, focus on school or work, and react quickly when driving,” Dr. Carney says.

Your memory and mood suffers—and your appetite increases.

Sleep physician Dr. Abhinav Singh, MD, FAASM, the Medical Director of the Indiana Sleep Center, and Sleep Foundation Medical Review Panel member, says that, believe it or not, losing precious hours of sleep and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol have similar physical consequences. “Sleep loss is linked to memory impairment, poor mood, increased appetite (think obesity and diabetes), and reduced reflexes,” he says. “Increased reaction time and some studies have compared it to being worse than being intoxicated with alcohol.”

Long-term sleep shortage could lead to chronic physical and mental health concerns.

While Dr. Carney says the short-term risks of sleep loss are things we’re all familiar with—feeling drowsy and having trouble concentrating—the real risk is what a compounded lack of sleep can do over time. “Longer-term sleep shortage is associated with increased risks for chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, stroke, and depression.”

You can’t make up for lost sleep.

Unfortunately, you can’t “catch up” on sleep—once those hours are gone, they’re gone for good. “It is best to develop and keep regular sleep habits over the long term,” shares Dr. Carney, adding that you also can’t “learn to live” with less sleep. “The best way to ensure both adequate sleep and high-quality sleep is to develop good sleep habits.”

This means implementing a routine with a consistent bedtime and wake time each day—even on weekends. “Regular exercise helps, as does avoiding caffeine or alcohol near bedtime,” Carney says. “Our environment is essential—we need a calm, quiet, dark, and cool location where we sleep regularly.”

By:

Source: What Happens to Your Body When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep?

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

These guidelines serve as a rule-of-thumb for how much sleep children and adults need while acknowledging that the ideal amount of sleep can vary from person to person.

For that reason, the guidelines list a range of hours for each age group. The recommendations also acknowledge that, for some people with unique circumstances, there’s some wiggle room on either side of the range for “acceptable,” though still not optimal, amount of sleep.

Deciding how much sleep you need means considering your overall health, daily activities, and typical sleep patterns. Some questions that you help assess your individual sleep needs include:

  • Are you productive, healthy, and happy on seven hours of sleep? Or have you noticed that you require more hours of sleep to get into high gear?
  • Do you have coexisting health issues? Are you at higher risk for any disease?
  • Do you have a high level of daily energy expenditure? Do you frequently play sports or work in a labor-intensive job?
  • Do your daily activities require alertness to do them safely? Do you drive every day and/or operate heavy machinery? Do you ever feel sleepy when doing these activities?
  • Are you experiencing or do you have a history of sleeping problems?
  • Do you depend on caffeine to get you through the day?
  • When you have an open schedule, do you sleep more than you do on a typical workday?

Start with the above-mentioned recommendations and then use your answers to these questions to home in on your optimal amount of sleep.

How Were the Recommendations Created?

To create these recommended sleep times, an expert panel of 18 people was convened from different fields of science and medicine. The members of the panel reviewed hundreds of validated research studies about sleep duration and key health outcomes like cardiovascular disease, depression, pain, and diabetes.

After studying the evidence, the panel used several rounds of voting and discussion to narrow down the ranges for the amount of sleep needed at different ages. In total, this process took over nine months to complete.

Other organizations, such as the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and Sleep Research Society (SRS) have also published recommendations for the amount of sleep needed for adults2 and children3. In general, these organizations closely coincide in their findings as do similar organizations in Canada.4

Improve Your Sleep Today: Make Sleep a Priority

Once you have a nightly goal based on the hours of sleep that you need, it’s time to start planning for how to make that a reality.

Start by making sleep a priority in your schedule. This means budgeting for the hours you need so that work or social activities don’t trade off with sleep. While cutting sleep short may be tempting in the moment, it doesn’t pay off because sleep is essential to being at your best both mentally and physically.

Improving your sleep hygiene, which includes your bedroom setting and sleep-related habits, is an established way to get better rest. Examples of sleep hygiene improvements include:

If you’re a parent, many of the same tips apply to help children and teens get the recommended amount of sleep that they need for kids their age. Pointers for parents can help with teens, specifically, who face a number of unique sleep challenges.

Getting more sleep is a key part of the equation, but remember that it’s not just about sleep quantity. Quality sleep matters5, too, and it’s possible to get the hours that you need but not

feel refreshed because your sleep is fragmented or non-restorative. Fortunately, improving sleep hygiene often boosts both the quantity and quality of your sleep.

If you or a family member are experiencing symptoms such as significant sleepiness during the day, chronic snoring, leg cramps or tingling, difficulty breathing during sleep, chronic insomnia, or another symptom that is preventing you from sleeping well, you should consult your primary care doctor or find a sleep professional to determine the underlying cause.

You can try using our Sleep Diary or Sleep Log to track your sleep habits. This can provide insight about your sleep patterns and needs. It can also be helpful to bring with you to the doctor if you have ongoing sleep problems.

By: Eric Suni  – SleepFoundation

Why The Dow Plunged More Than 1,000 Points? Should I Wait For Stocks To Sink Lower

What a difference a day makes. Fresh off the best percentage gain for the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.30% since Nov. 9, 2020, the blue-chip index got clobbered, along with the rest of the stock market, including the S&P 500 SPX, -0.57% and the Nasdaq Composite COMP, -1.40%.

Not even U.S. Treasurys were safe, with the 10-year Treasury note TMUBMUSD10Y, 3.127% climbing above 3% as prices fall.

Some experts attributed Wednesday’s rally to a statement by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell that a 75-basis-point increase wasn’t being actively considered by policy makers at the central bank at coming meetings.

The remark came after the Fed on Wednesday delivered the first half-percentage-point interest-rate hike, as had been widely expected, since 2000, in the final months of President Bill Clinton’s second term.

The Fed has been hiking rates to combat a surge in inflation that materialized in the aftermath of the COVID-19 shutdowns and dislocations, and which has been exacerbated by bloody conflict in Ukraine following Russia’s invasion in late February.

Some industry watchers peg Thursday’s selloff partly to fears that inflation will continue to dog the economy in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world.

Data on Thursday showed that the productivity of American workers and businesses sank at an 7.5% annual pace in the first quarter, marking the biggest drop since 1947, amid supply shortages and production bottlenecks.

“It was a setback for our Roaring 2020s scenario of a technology-led productivity growth boom offsetting the chronic shortage of labor,” according to Yardeni Research, a provider of global investment strategy founded by Ed Yardeni, a MarketWatch contributor.

Meanwhile, Greg Bassuk, CEO at AXS Investments in New York, said the day’s action reflects “a continuation of 2022’s market roller coaster of high volatility, with this session’s strong spiral downward erasing yesterday’s gains.”

Bassuk told MarketWatch that “investors are selling today on renewed concerns regarding the plethora of continued uncertainties.”

The AXS CEO pointed to tensions with China, Russia’s siege in Ukraine, as well as a mixed bag of corporate earnings and nagging concerns about COVID-19 hamstringing a more powerful recovery in parts of the world.

Recession fears and inflation worries have been the centerpiece of the current bout of bearishness on Wall Street. “There’s no doubt that inflation, rising rates and volatility will continue to characterize the market environment in [the second quarter] and beyond,” Bassuk said.

“What is really interesting about these markets is that there are these every-other-day changes in either direction where investors are outrageously bullish, or outrageously bearish the next day,” said Sylvia Jablonski, chief executive and chief investment officer at Defiance ETFs in New York.

Indeed, MarketWatch’s Bill Watts wrote that, with the exception of 2020, the S&P 500 has already topped or is on track to exceed annual totals of 2%-or-greater moves for every year stretching back to 2011.

“Inflation may have peaked, growth may be slowing, but it is still positive. The consumer is still spending, [and] employment is at all-time highs,” she said, going on to point to the up to $2 trillion in excess savings said to have been amassed during the pandemic.

Market Extra (July 2021):

The volatile state of the market is stoking confusion about the outlook. Is this time to jump into stocks, or should investors wait for a better entry point? Or should we heed billionaire investor Paul Tudor Jones’s advice and stay clear of traditional markets altogether?

History suggests that you can’t time the market and that, over a long period, the market wins. The big question is what’s your time frame what’s your tolerance for pain?

The slump in bonds, with yields rising as prices fall, is complicating matters for some investors. Treasurys, notably the benchmark 10-year U.S. government bond TMUBMUSD10Y, 3.127%, traditionally are seen as a refuge in times of uncertainty, but they also have been undone given the Fed’s current rate-hike plan, which has led to selling in bonds in the hope of richer yields to come.

Source: Why the Dow plunged more than 1,000 points? Should I wait for stocks to sink lower? Here’s what some pros think. – MarketWatch

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Summer Travel Forecast: Plenty Of Flight Delays And Cancellations, With Higher Airfares

Yesterday, 462 flights within, into or out of the U.S. were cancelled and 6,623 were delayed, according to FlightAware, an app that provides real-time, historical, and predictive flight tracking data.

That wasn’t just a blip. Thousands of flights were delayed or canceled the day before, as well as the day before that.

While many of these disruptions can be chalked up to staffing shortages, it’s worth noting that pilots from Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines have been picketing in the past week. “That means there’s a systemic issue that isn’t going away by summer in terms of flight crew or pilot shortages,” says Kathleen Bangs, a former commercial airline pilot and spokesperson for FlightAware.

Symptomatic of the same problem is that carriers like JetBlue and Alaska Airlines have been cutting back on routes — not just for a few days or weeks, but months into the future as they try to manage staff shortages.

One airline pulling out or reducing frequency on a route can greatly impact airfares. “We’ve seen that when lower-cost carriers, such as JetBlue, enter a new route, it can drive down prices overall on the route by about 20%,” says Berg, lead economist at the deal-finding site Hopper. “However, when there’s less competition on a route because that carrier exits, prices tend to rebound by about 12%.”

“In one-off instances this won’t have a significant impact on airfare,” says Berg. “But extended and far-reaching cancellations will have a more pronounced impact on demand and put upward pressure on airfare.”

This partly explains why some carriers are backpedaling on their initial peak-season projections. “Some airlines like Alaska Airlines were forecasting even greater capacity than in pre-pandemic 2019, but have had to scale back sky high expectations slightly due to labor shortages and increased pilot attrition and pilot shortages,” says Bangs. “Other airlines such as Southwest are reporting seeing similar issues with not being able to get enough pilots trained and back online.”

For the airlines and their customers, staffing problems couldn’t come at a worse time. As infections from the original omicron variant fell in February and March, travel demand came roaring back. Currently, U.S. airline passenger volume is averaging about 92% of the pre-pandemic levels, according to Transportation Security Administration (TSA) throughput data.

Surging demand, coupled with a 30% rise in fuel prices since Russia invaded Ukraine, is sending airfares skyward as we head into the summer travel season.

As of now, domestic airfare is trending 7% above 2019 prices at $330 round-trip, according to Hopper’s data. “That is the highest average domestic airfare we’ve seen since we started collecting this data,” says Berg. “International airfare is matching 2019 prices at $810 round trip.”

Bangs doesn’t see a quick fix on the horizon. “What we’re seeing is not just a growing pilot shortage,” she says. “For some carriers it’s attrition to other rival airlines that pilots view as having better working conditions, greater pay, or a more favorable union contract.”

“Many airlines are building up relationships with aviation universities and with regional carriers to create a pipeline of pilots they can draw from, but right now that well is getting dry as the regionals struggle to keep their top-tier pilots long enough to meet the demands of their schedules,” explains Bangs.

For travelers who haven’t booked their summer vacations yet, Berg recommends not waiting too much longer, since the combination of booming demand, higher jet fuel prices and airline staff shortages will only drive summer airfares higher still.

“Prices are on the rise overall this summer, so you should use a price monitoring app like Hopper to start tracking fares now so you can buy at the right time,” she advises. “In general, you’ll want to book summer trips by the first week of May.”

I watch trends in travel. Prior to working at Forbes, I was a longtime freelancer who contributed hundreds of articles to Conde Nast Traveler, CNN Travel, Travel + Leisure, Afar, Reader’s

Source: Summer Travel Forecast: Plenty Of Flight Delays And Cancellations, With Higher Airfares

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3 Factors Making Accounting A Challenge Now and How To Hedge Against Them

Inflation, the labor shortage and the challenges of hybrid work—these are just three factors that define today’s economic landscape and challenge today’s finance professionals, particularly accountants. How can organizations respond? We spoke to two accounting professionals from the accounting, consulting and technology services firm Crowe to find out.

Forecast For The Effects Of Inflation

It seems that no sectors are immune from inflation. Prices for food, energy and trade services rose by 0.9% in January alone, and raw material costs have gone through the roof. Large changes in demand and supply have created supply chain challenges in seemingly every facet of the economy, contributing to rapid swings in prices and overall inflation.

Inflation’s volatility makes it harder for finance and accounting professionals to see into the future. Specifically, accurately forecasting cash flow—never a simple task—becomes even more difficult when prices can change so significantly and rapidly.

“Cash flow forecasts are a critical input to a variety of accounting and financial reporting elements,” says Ryan Walker, who works in accounting advisory at Crowe. “Inflation can result in changes to cash flow forecasts or can even cause uncertainty in forecasting, both of which could in turn affect asset impairment assessments, fair value of assets and going concern analyses.”

To avoid surprises, Walker says, accountants should think about how inflation might affect their forecasts—particularly if a business can’t pass increasing costs along to its customers.

Another option is renegotiating contracts to counteract inflation. “If they’re able to, some companies might want to modify their contracts with customers so that they can pass some of those costs on,” Walker says. Finance teams should tread carefully, however.

“We also saw this a lot during the early days of the pandemic. Companies were facing struggles and modifying their contracts, such as revenue contracts or leases, but they lacked detailed knowledge of the relevant accounting guidance and financial reporting implications,” Walker says.

The stumbling block for many companies is a lack of experience on an organizational level.

“Many companies don’t deal with these issues all that frequently,” Walker says. “Companies should carefully assess any contract modifications in order to ensure the correct accounting models are applied and the resulting financial reporting impacts are appropriate.”

In addition, Walker stresses the importance of frequent and thorough communication with key stakeholders across an organization. “Often, sales teams will modify contracts without communicating the changes back to the finance and accounting department,” he says. “When there isn’t good cross-functional communication, the impacts might not be accounted for accurately or in a timely manner.”

Separately, if companies can’t modify long-term revenue contracts, inflation could render some contracts unprofitable. In these instances, Walker notes, companies should carefully assess the accounting and reporting implications, such as when such a loss should be recorded.

Factor In The Labor Shortage

Compounding the current economic disorder is a tight labor market.

“With the Great Resignation, a lot of departments are short-handed, and they’re finding it very difficult and expensive to hire folks,” says James Hannan, managing director in accounting advisory at Crowe. “Just having the people in place to do what needs to get done, especially at companies that have experienced tremendous growth, has been challenging.”

That’s why focusing on retention is so critical. One strategy that can help reduce turnover is clear: Raise salaries.

“Companies should take a close look at what they’re paying folks and make sure that salaries are consistent with the market,” Hannan says. “Waiting until the end of the normal yearlong cycle to make adjustments is not a wise approach because organizations can be pretty sure that other companies are actively recruiting their staff and often are willing to pay a hefty premium to attract them.”

Money doesn’t solve every problem, of course. There’s also the issue of job satisfaction. Hannan suggests more automation to help reduce repetitive work. Automation is good for the company, too. When employees focus on higher-value work, overall efficiency increases, which improves organizational resiliency.

Another strategy many companies can employ to mitigate the challenges of staff turnover is to outsource some of their accounting processes. Outsourcing can fill critical roles, and it also helps organizations gain access to best accounting practices and advanced technology.

Optimize For Hybrid Work

Finally, there’s the work-from-home phenomenon, which has implications for accountants.

When the pandemic began, many companies had little choice but to close their offices and equip their workers to do their jobs at home. “As people transitioned to work-from-home environments, organizations required new equipment and had to pivot to a paperless system,” Hannan explains. Then, an interesting thing happened: “Many leaders learned that their people can be effective and productive while working remotely.”

Employees recognized this, too. What’s more, they found that “working from home has given them the flexibility to balance family, personal needs and work, and they don’t want to give that up. Working from home has become essential to maintaining their well-being,” Hannan says.

While some businesses have insisted their employees return to the office—further fueling the Great Resignation—others have been reevaluating their on-site needs. “Companies are finding that they might not need all their office space,” Hannan says.

But downsizing office space can’t be done overnight. For renters, business leases are often lengthy and rigid; for property owners, unused space equates to wasted money. So while it’s tempting for executive leadership to look for savings in less square footage or by subleasing, the accounting department must be part of the conversation, as they’ll need to consider any complex accounting issues that may arise.

Walker explains these could include accounting issues related to lease modifications, long-lived asset abandonment and long-lived asset impairment. Another path forward that some businesses might consider is evolving office spaces instead of closing them. “Being physically present and interacting in person can yield a lot of benefits,” Hannan says. “And, of course, customers often need someone to be there in person.”

The ultimate takeaway? There is no one-size-fits-all approach. “Each company needs to get input from all stakeholders to find the model that works best for them to balance all these needs and remain flexible to respond to a rapidly changing environment,” Hannan says.

Tatiana Walk-Morris is a Detroit-born, Chicago-based freelance writer specializing in business and technology.

Crowe LLP is a public accounting, consulting, and technology firm with offices around the world. Crowe uses its deep industry expertise to provide audit services

Source: 3 Factors Making Accounting A Challenge Now—And How To Hedge Against Them

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