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The Weekly Recap 4/7/19

Daniel Chase

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There’s nothing quite like a nice cup of coffee to start the morning. It’s almost like within that cup of mysterious liquid lies a magic to help us start the day. Coffee is the drink of champions no matter what obstacles they may come across but nothing can compare knowing the future. It hasn’t been proven that any one actually can tell the future but our best attempt at this is reviewing our past to inform how to act in the present, thus altering the future. Now that we’re on the same page, please enjoy this healthy serving of your weekly recap. 

Leave Biden Alone 

There are certain people the media covers quite often because of their inclinations to say racist things or make women feel uncomfortable, but there stands to be a select few that have managed to stay out of the negative spotlight. Former Vice President Joe Biden is one such person who has given off the never-hurt-a-fly vibe. Biden may or may not announce his candidacy for the 2020 presidential election, but on Friday, Lucy Flores, Nevada’s Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in 2014, came forward and said that Biden made her feel uncomfortable when he was weirdly physical at a campaign event. 

“Neither then, nor in the years since, did he or the staff at the time have an inkling that Ms. Flores had been at any time uncomfortable nor do they recall what she describes.”

Bill Russo, spokesperson for Joe Biden 

Melania Trump, Everyone 

I don’t know what you’ve heard about First Lady Melania Trump but I’m here to tell you that she’s a stand-up individual. Actually, to be fair other than her debacle with decorating the White House with red Christmas trees during the holiday season I’m not really sure what she’s been up to. According to recent reports, First Lady Trump’s “Be Best” program, a program designed to focus on major issues facing children today, encouraging them to be best, is doing quite well. My only issue that how can someone “be best,” wouldn’t it make sense to “be the best” or “be one’s best?” 

I digress, Melania announced over the weekend that she’s now working the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs, an organization founded under President George W. Bush. 

“When Mrs. Trump was was made aware that there is an existing mechanism in government that convenes 20 agencies that focus on youth-specific programs, she saw that as a real opportunity to bring their good work to the forefront and ensure that those programs aligned with Be Best get the attention and focus they deserve.”

Stephanie Grisham, First Lady Trump spokesperson 

Biden, Now We Can’t Do This…

It has now come to the media’s attention that Joe Biden, former vice president and potential presidential candidate, has been accused by a second woman of him touching her inappropriately. Earlier this week, Lucy Flores, a former lieutenant gubernatorial candidate, came out and said that Biden had kissed her forehead at a campaign event and it made her incredibly uncomfortable. On Monday, Amy Lappos told a Connecticut newspaper that Biden rubbed noses with her at a 2009 fundraiser. Lappos stated that it “wasn’t sexual” but her head was grabbed. 

Naturally, Biden responded with his own statement: 

“In my many years on the campaign trail and in public life, I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort. And not once — never — did I believe I acted inappropriately. If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully. But it was never my attention.”

Joe Biden, former Vice President of the United States

Be Careful

Anytime friends of mine get into Ubers or other ride-hailed vehicles, I always remind them to check the license plate on their smartphone app and compare it with the vehicle that has shown up. Unfortunately, a University of South Carolina student was taken advantage of and murdered over the weekend. The body of Samantha Josephson, 21, was found in a forest on Friday night when she didn’t come home after a night out. 

“We want every college student in America to take a pledge that says they will never get into a ride share without first asking the driver, “What’s my name,’ to make sure that they are getting in the right vehicle. This is really a national problem. We thought we had a safe city here and a safe campus, but this might happen again this weekend if a student gets into one of those vehicles and hasn’t fully confirmed that it’s the right vehicle.”

Harris Pastides, University of South Carolina President 

Borders Are Bad For Business, Beats, Battlestar Galactica 

According to a recent economic study released on Tuesday, countless American businesses, including manufacturers and farmers, will lose $726 million per day if President Donald Trump makes good on his threat to temporarily shutdown the US-Mexico border. Chat Moutray, chief economist at the National Association of Manufacturers told The Hill that over 21,000 companies in the U.S. export to Mexico.

“The NAM has been to the border to witness the situation firsthand. Congress absolutely must tackle comprehensive immigration reform immediately to address the real national security and humanitarian concerns that are a direct result of our current broken system. We’re getting somewhat mixed messages from the markets right now. We have really strong job growth, optimism is high when I talk to firms about their overall outlook, but they also have this lingering worry about the global economy, and looking at Germany and China, we’re already seeing materially slower growth than even a couple of months ago.”

Chad Moutray

Bern, Baby Bern That Money!

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) is back at it again with the white hairs and is showing no signs of slowing down. Sanders in February announced his entrance into the pantheon of candidates running for president in the 2020 election. According to recent reports, he’s raised $18.2 million from over five-hundred thousand donors since his initial announcement. If these numbers are in fact correct, Sander has raised more money than any other Democratic presidential candidate currently in the running. 

Compared to other candidates like Sen. Kamala Harris, Sanders has raised most of his funds from smaller donors rather than deep-pocketed individuals. 

“We’re building a campaign to win and we’re planning to win from the outset.”

Faiz Shakir, Campaign Manager for Sanders 2020

Facebook…Why Do We Even Bother? 

It’s almost painful how often Facebook has dropped the data privacy ball over the last few months. To be honest, I’m fairly close from closing my own account in an effort to secure my private information. According to a TechCrunch report released this week, over 540 million user profiles were exposed due to two separate third-party companies who failed to keep them safe. As for the team that discovered the data exposure, the UpGuard Cyber Risk team today reported that Cultura Colectiva, a Mexico-based media company exposed “146 gigabytes of records including comments, likes, reactions, account names, FB Ids and more.”

Given the increasing value of data among the tech industry, one would think that Facebook  would be more careful with which companies it works with/shares user data with. In all fairness to Zuckerberg and his team of rag-tag engineers at Facebook, mistakes happen, especially with computers. Having said that, Facebook has dominated the headlines over the last six months for several “mistakes” that bring to mind the question of whether our data is truly safe when stored on internet databases and social media sites. 

“For app developers on Facebook, part of the platform’s appeals is access to some slice of the data generated by and about Facebook users. For Cultura Colectiva, data on responses to each post allows them to tune an algorithm for predicting which future content will generate the most traffic. The data exposed in each of these sets would not exist without Facebook, yet these data sets are no longer under Facebook’s control. In each case, the Facebook platform facilitated the collection of data about individuals and its transfer to third parties, who became responsible for its security.”

UpGuard

Mr. Trump, Your Taxes, Please…

After years of birther movements and lascivious acts, it seems as thought the tables have turned. On Tuesday, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal submitted a formal request for the tax returns from President Donald Trump. Transparency for U.S. presidents is one thing, but especially considering the doubt and mistrust from the Democratic Party towards Trump, it would serve him well to share his taxes.

“Consistent with its authority, the Committee is considering legislative proposals and conducting oversight related to our Federal tax laws, including, but not limited to, the extent to which the IRS audits and enforces the Federal tax laws against a President. Under the Internal Revenue Manual, individual income tax returns of a President are subject to mandatory examination, but this practice is IRS policy and not codified in the Federal tax laws…”

Richard E. Neal   

Swipe For The Next Page 

Bumble arose as a cultural alternative to Tinder. The app was created with a women-centric framework that structured the app around a woman’s right to choose. If a male swiped right on a female, and she swiped on him, it was up to the woman to initiate the conversation. The app instantly took off and became the less-creepy dating app on the market. Tinder remained operable for hook-ups, but Bumble has been lauded as a place to find true love. 

In recognition of their upcoming eminence as a digital brand, Bumble today announced the release of Bumble Mag, a lifestyle magazine made in collaboration with Hearst Publications that has relationship-related content, dating advice, etc…Per the details of their announcement, the magazine is split into four sections, “You First,” “You + BFFs,” “You+Dating,” and “You+Bizz.” The organization of the publication is said to mimic the goals of the Company. 

“Bumble is at the forefront of inspiring women to make connections and take initiative in all aspects of their lives with its positive message of empowerment. The magazine is a perfect example of how HearstMade is changing the face of custom publishing with hyper-targeted content that reflected the brand’s ethos in the most authentic way…”

Brett Hill, Editorial Director, HearstMade

I Know Why The Caged Cohen Sings 

Michael Cohen, the disgraced former lawyer of President Donald Trump, knows that he messed up by being the President’s fixer. He orchestrated hush payments to Stormy Daniels, an adult film star, who spent romantic moments with our president, as well as committed campaign finance violations and he lied to congress. Now, Cohen is begging members of the Democratic leadership to let him go freely if he cooperates with Congress. He is asking for more time — before heading to the clink — to assist Congress in pinning down President Trump.

“We hope that this memorandum demonstrates that Mr. Cohen needs to be readily accessible and immediately available to provide ongoing assistance to Congress in order for it to fulfill its executive branch oversight responsibilities. Mr. Cohen was only recently able to access a hard drive with important documents.”

Statement from Michael Cohen’s legal team

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Fed Announces No Rate Cuts, But Sees A Cut In The Future

Joe Samuel

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For the past couple of years, the United States Federal Reserve has been in the middle of a lot of speculation. The trade war between the United States and China has created a clamor for cuts in interest rates.

But on Wednesday, the Fed held the interest rates as they were. Furthermore, the Fed officially announced that no cuts in interest rates were forthcoming in 2019. It’s interesting to note that the markets are betting heavily on a forthcoming rate cut from the Fed. Some even expect the cuts to be formalized in July.

Rate Cut Ahead?

The Fed has ruled out the possibility of any cuts this year (allegedly). But many market watchers believe that a lot depends on how the market conditions evolve over the coming months. The uncertainty regarding the trade war with China is a major problem.

Yet experts believe that if it turns into a prolonged skirmish, then the Fed might reconsider its position. The United States President Donald Trump has led been campaigning for lower rates from the Fed for some time.

After having delivered his statement on Wednesday, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Jerome Powell seemed to imply that rate cuts could not be completely out of the question in 2019.

“Many participants now see the case for a somewhat more accommodative policy has strengthened.”

The decision by the Fed was possibly one of the most-watched events in recent times. Long-term ramifications are the main concern.

Market participants had been calling for multiple cuts. But the Fed voted to keep benchmark rates within the 2.25% and 2.5% range. It was the range that had been back in December when the Fed had controversially raised the interest rates. The voted had been passed 9-1 in favor of holding the rate.

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Trade Talks Fail, What’s Next For The Market?

Jon Phillip

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The trade war between the United States and China has probably been the biggest economic and diplomatic development since the turn of the year. Although the world’s two biggest economies were locked in talks for months over a new trade deal, it all unraveled quickly.

This happened when US President Donald Trump stated that the Chinese went back on their word. He then imposed tariff hikes on Chinese goods last Friday. The tariffs were raised to an astonishing 25% on goods worth $200 billion. Although Trump might believe this might bully the Chinese into submission, many experts believe that might not be the case.

Difficulty in Completing Deal

The President had imposed these tariff hikes right before the Chinese delegation was supposed to show up at Washington. This was for which many had believed was going to be the last round of talks. However, experts now feel that the escalation of tensions between the two countries following the latest developments will make it difficult to reach a deal that could be considered a win for the US. As soon as the tariffs kicked in, Beijing announced that it was looking at countermeasures as well. However, there were no specifics on the nature of these measures.

Last year, the two nations had been embroiled in a damaging retaliatory tariff war and it could lead to a protracted trade war, if the Chinese decided to resort of the same tactics. The Chinese delegation is going to be in Washington this week to engage in another round of talks but it is believed that a binding trade deal is unlikely to be signed.

Is A Trump Win Likely?

One of the biggest reasons why the deal might not be signed anytime soon is perhaps the fact that the US President needs to be able to claim it as a win for himself. The President has staked his personal weight behind a favorable deal for the US. But with every passing day, it is looking increasingly unlikely that it is going to happen.

If that is to happen, then China’s entire way of doing business will need to change. This is starting at intellectual property theft and expands to technology transfers by force from US companies. If those things are not part of the deal, then it would not be the sort of deal that can be claimed as a win for the US. It doesn’t help that today, China came in with its own tariffs. China will raise tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. goods, the Chinese Finance Ministry said Monday.

And in true Trump fashion, the U.S. may not be done retaliating. The U.S. President has threatened to put 25% tariffs on $325 billion in Chinese goods that remain untaxed. The president has signaled he is content leaving the duties in place, arguing they will damage China more than the U.S. What are your thoughts?

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Can 102 Words Really Impact Stock Prices?

Joe Samuel

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trump tweet

In short, the answer is yes.  We’ve witnessed, first hand, this week how just a few words can drastically impact the stock market.  If you’re just tuning in, at the beginning of the first full week of May, U.S. President Donald Trump Tweeted out a 102-word post that ended up triggering a sell-off costing the global markets around $1.36 TRILLION…with a “T”!

The “Trump Tweet” expressed that he would once again increase tariffs on Chinese goods by the end of this week. What followed has been a shock to the global markets with futures pointing at dramatic declines every day this week.  Though some say that the decline are all but a speed bump, it still hasn’t helped the fact that this drop is one of the worst seen all year. People like Kerry Craig of JPMorgan Asset Management think that a trade deal can still be reached.  The expectations, however, have been readjusted to reflect a more long-term time horizon.

Eyes Turn Toward The Second Half Of The Week

Other analysts like Oanda Asia Pacific’s Jeffrey Halley feel that investors are prudently “lightening their loads.” Halley said, “My feeling is that investors are lightening their portfolios as a precaution.”

All eyes are on the second half of this week.  As we reported on May 7th, Vice Premier Liu He, China’s top trade negotiator will be heading to the US to talk trade this week.  

“Liu will be in the U.S. from May 9-10. The invite comes from both the U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.” Regardless of what “will happen,” what has happened thus far has been an emotionally charged & very fragile global market. As this story develops we will continue to follow with more updates.

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