977 followers • 9 symbols Watchlist by Yahoo Finance
This basket consists of stocks that have attracted bad press.
The big U.S. banks reported earnings for the fourth-quarter of 2019, seeing decent top-line growth as a result of a strong U.S. consumer. But the bottom line earnings were helped by share buybacks.
Investors in The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE:GS) had a good week, as its shares rose 3.0% to close at US$249...
You'll want to buy and hold SmartCentres REIT (TSX:SRU.UN), H&R REIT (TSX:HR.UN), and Automotive Properties REIT (TSX:APR.UN) for a very long time.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Sitcoms are an underrated way of portraying the economic challenges faced by average people. “Atlanta” shows the travails of working-class black Americans navigating a world of hassle, insecurity and poverty. The Canadian program “Kim’s Convenience” depicts immigrant small-business owners and their second-generation children off to a rocky start on their rise into the middle class. Broad economic trends form the backdrop to both of shows -- the loss of dependable manufacturing jobs, the geographic concentration of economic opportunity, immigration, prejudice and social mobility. But perhaps no show captures the reality of the modern American workplace as well as NBC’s “Superstore.”The premise of “Superstore” is charmingly simple -- the misadventures of the employees of a big-box discount store called Cloud 9 (a fictional analog of Walmart). They represent a diverse cross-section of the American populace: young, old, black, white, Asian, Hispanic. One is disabled, one is an unauthorized immigrant, one is homeless, another is a teenage mom. They’re not the burly hard-hat-wearing men that one might associate with the term “working class.” But perhaps that stereotype ought to change because retail workers have outnumbered manufacturing workers in the U.S. since 2003:The Cloud 9 workers are both benefiting from and suffering from the big change that U.S. retail has undergone in recent decades as local, family-owned stores were replaced by national chains. Between 1948 and 1997, the share of single-establishment retail companies fell from about 70% to less than 40%.That shift has raised efficiency, but often at the expense of workers. Bargaining between employees and managers that might have been done face-to-face at a mom-and-pop is done at arm’s length behind a protective veil of corporate policy. When a manager in “Superstore” dares to violate corporate policy and gives a new mother paid time off, he is promptly fired by his supervisors. This sort of faceless, pitiless way of dealing with employees reduces their power, allowing companies to squeeze them in a thousand small ways. It also probably makes the average store a colder and more forbidding work environment.Another way retail companies squeeze their employees is with irregular scheduling. The workers in “Superstore,” like many real workers, have little assurance that they will be given enough hours to earn enough to live on. But when they do get lots of hours, they often find themselves working unpaid overtime. This is technically illegal, but employers have many ways of getting around the rules.The obvious way to fight back against corporate exploitation would be to form a union. A number of “Superstore” plots revolve around efforts to do exactly this. But it’s an uphill struggle for several reasons. First, retail jobs don’t require years of training to master, and striking workers can be replaced relatively easily. Second, a unionized store will be at a competitive disadvantage versus nonunion competitors, which could lead to job losses or even a shutdown. And third, big chain companies are very skilled at dissuading workers from voting to unionize.These problems could be solved by government policy. If the U.S. government mandated that all the retail workers in a given region be represented by a single union -- a policy known as sectoral bargaining -- it would mean one less reason for employers to fear unions because all stores would be competing on a level playing field. Extending union agreements to nonunionized workers would be a way to rapidly restore labor’s power without the cumbersome process of voting in unions everywhere. These fixes would require an extensive rewrite of U.S. labor law, but it might be a way to make retail work as good as the manufacturing jobs of the past.Regulation can also help. Restricting irregular scheduling doesn’t just improve workers’ quality of life, it boosts productivity. Tightening up the rules regarding unpaid overtime and ensuring adequate parental leave should also be a priority.Even sectoral bargaining and regulation, of course, won’t protect retail workers from the onslaught of technology. Walmart’s most formidable competition comes from Amazon.com Inc., which has much lower overhead in terms of land and personnel. If unions force physical stores to raise wages so much that consumer prices start going up, customers could have even more incentive to shop at the online giant, putting stores out of business. Plenty of chain stores have closed in recent years amid what some refer to as the retail apocalypse and retail employment is declining as a share of the population, much as manufacturing did:Presumably, sectoral unions would be smart enough to hold down wages to fend off the threat, but this means less money in workers’ pockets.So in addition to retail workers’ trials and tribulations, “Superstore” shows a way of life in decline. No matter what happens with labor laws, stores will keep closing if online retail becomes cheaper than it already is. In that case, the U.S. economy will simply have to find something else for all those working-class people to do.To contact the author of this story: Noah Smith at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Greiff at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Noah Smith is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He was an assistant professor of finance at Stony Brook University, and he blogs at Noahpinion.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Investor sentiment mixed on banks' Q4 earnings, with the major players displaying top-line strength aided by higher fee income and loan growth, partly muted by margin pressure and elevated expenses.
On Thursday, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved the new free-trade agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico. The deal, which covers the biggest free-trade zone in the world, should boost the economies of all three countries.
(Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. India’s government has scoffed at Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos’ offer to invest $1 billion in the country, firing the latest salvo at an e-commerce giant that’s been accused of predatory business practices.Trade minister Piyush Goyal delivered a stinging rebuke two days after Bezos arrived in New Delhi and touted his efforts to help digitize small and medium enterprises. The investment would bring Amazon’s bet on the Indian market to about $6.5 billion. Goyal told a gathering of foreign ministers from around the world he welcomed an investigation into the company’s alleged “predatory pricing and unfair trade practices.”“They may have put in a billion dollars,” Goyal said at the Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi on Thursday. “But then if they make a loss of a billion dollars every year, then they jolly well have to finance that billion dollars. So it’s not as if they are doing a great favor to India when they invest a billion dollars.”Bezos has attracted significant opposition during a tour of India intended to underscore its importance as a growth driver for Amazon. The country’s antitrust regulator initiated a formal investigation hours before his arrival, and retailers affiliated with the Confederation of All India Traders organized sit-ins and public rallies in multiple cities to protest Amazon’s traditional cut-price approach and exclusive-selling practices.Outside the venue of Amazon India’s annual event for small retailers Wednesday, demonstrators held banners proclaiming “Amazon, go back!” and with Bezos’ face crossed-out. The CEO has sought a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi but that hasn’t come through.Amazon has sought to counter the negativity with a PR offensive. From Delhi, Bezos went on to Mumbai where he visited a neighborhood store. It’s these small stores that are up in arms against the retail behemoth. The chief executive then rubbed shoulders with Bollywood personalities -- Amazon is plowing money into creating Bollywood-dominated content for its Prime Video service to lure movie-mad Indians. On Friday, the company declared it planned to create a million jobs within the country by 2025. The retail giant said it had already created 700,000 jobs in six years of operating its marketplace there.Increasing HostilityStill, Goyal’s comments were an indication that Modi’s government is trying to safeguard the interests of smaller Indian traders, the traditional voter base of his Bharatiya Janata Party, as elections approach in the state of Delhi, home to the country’s capital.Soon after Goyal spoke, the chief of his party’s foreign cell, Vijay Chauthaiwale, tweeted barely-veiled criticism of the Washington Post, which is owned by Bezos. The U.S. newspaper has been criticized by the BJP and its allies for its coverage of the Modi government’s increasingly right-wing policies.The flare-up suggests India is turning increasingly hostile to the monopolistic practices of foreign e-commerce players that dominate the burgeoning market. Responding to widespread complaints, India restricted foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail and this has forced Amazon and Walmart Inc.’s Flipkart, the two biggest e-commerce players in India, to overhaul business models to comply with new rules introduced in December 2018.In 2016, New Delhi had said foreign-owned e-commerce platforms could operate as marketplaces -- facilitating transactions between sellers and consumers -- but not sell directly. Flipkart and Amazon had established wholesale networks to reach their customers. But the more recent regulations target this workaround, banning foreign e-commerce sites from selling goods from companies in which they own a stake or have commercial arrangements with.Yet resentment toward Amazon and Walmart lingers. On Thursday, Goyal also questioned why an e-commerce marketplace should make losses.“Anybody who tries to use the e-commerce marketplace model to get into the multi-brand retail space surreptitiously will have to be questioned, will have to be investigated,” Goyal said.(Updates with job creation in the sixth paragraph)To contact the reporters on this story: Archana Chaudhary in New Delhi at email@example.com;Saritha Rai in Bangalore at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ruth Pollard at email@example.com, Muneeza Naqvi, Abhay SinghFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- One surprising part of the trade deal struck between U.S. President Donald Trump and Beijing is that U.S. investors won a direct shot at the potentially lucrative job of helping China clean up its heap of bad debt.China is embracing foreign capital as it grapples with a tide of soured debt. Some estimate it to have topped $1 trillion as the trade war weighed on economic growth and a long crackdown on shadow banking choked off liquidity.The Communist Party-ruled nation is trying to instill more discipline in the market as corporate defaults have hit records for two straight years and its vast regional banking network struggles to cope. Growing participation by foreign investors could relieve pressure on the mainly state-owned firms that so far have been the front-line in dealing with the bad debt problem. It could also result in a more market-driven pricing of soured borrowings.U.S. firms including Oaktree Capital Group and Bain Capital Credit have already been pushing into one of the world’s biggest distressed debt market. The trade deal will allow financial services companies from the U.S. to apply for licenses to buy non-performing loans, or NPLs, directly from banks, cutting out the middle man they have to go through now.“China’s NPL market is large and growing, and opportunities for deeply discounted investments are enticing foreign firms with NPL experience in other markets,” said Brock Silvers, managing director at Adamas Asset Management in Hong Kong.Gaining access is one thing, but succeeding is another. Top-down run China can be an arbitrary place to do business, and local knowledge and contacts are required in the 1.4 billion person nation. Foreign firms have often grappled with unpredictable courts, fraud and challenges of sourcing bad loans. A web of local enterprises are often closely connected to regional banks and the local government, making it hard to navigate.The market has grown significantly in recent years. But lack of experience has been an obstacle and many firms that stuck their toe in eventually pulled back because of difficulties in working out bad loans in China’s system, according to Benjamin Fanger, a managing partner at ShoreVest Partners, a distressed debt firm.“Some foreign investors are still continuing to push forward to try to learn and this new agreement opening to direct deals with banks might add more interest again,” he said. “But doing Chinese NPLs requires a very significant commitment of time and resources to build up local sourcing, underwriting and servicing/exit capability.”The sheer pace in the buildup in soured debt is proving a potent lure. Bad debt held by commercial banks jumped almost 20% in the first nine months of last year to 2.4 trillion yuan, according to the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission.Data shows that overseas purchases of bad loan portfolios nearly tripled in 2018 to 30 billion yuan, Savills has said in a report. Active international players include Oaktree, Loan Star, Goldman Sachs, Bain, PAG and CarVal, according to the real estate and research firm.Savills said the overseas investors typically target loan books as large as $100 million, compared with domestic investors who seek to buy small batches of about $30 million. Targeted returns are usually 12-15%, unleveraged, or 17-22%, with leverage.China’s recent financial tightening has also led to opportunities for some foreign investors since some local investors are struggling to conclude deals, according to Savills.While the trade deal applies to U.S. financial services firms, the government could potentially broaden the scope to include European firms in time, according John Xu, a Shanghai-based partner at Linklaters that advises international funds on buying nonperforming loans.“The challenge is that there is a quota on the licenses per province, so there may not be sufficient licenses in some of the main provinces,” said Xu.ShoreVest Partners wasted no time in moving ahead and is in talks “with several provincial and municipal governments” about the new agreement and what the first steps would be toward obtaining an asset management company license, according to Fanger, a China bad debt veteran who speaks fluent Mandarin.But further steps will be needed to tame the unpredictability of the Chinese market.“If Beijing is to eventually get a handle on China’s over-indebtedness, it will have to allow for a predictable, rule-based nonperforming loan enforcement process,” said Silvers at Adamas in Hong Kong.\--With assistance from Alfred Liu and Emma Dong.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Denise Wee in Hong Kong at firstname.lastname@example.org;Tongjian Dong in Shanghai at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Neha D'silva at firstname.lastname@example.org, ;Andrew Monahan at email@example.com, Jonas BergmanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Follow Bloomberg on Telegram for all the investment news and analysis you need.It’s a tantalizing prospect for traders whose success often hinges on microseconds: a desktop PC algorithm that crunches market data faster than today’s most advanced supercomputers.Japan’s Toshiba Corp. says it has the technology to make such rapid-fire calculations a reality -- not quite quantum computing, but perhaps the next best thing. The claim is being met with a mix of intrigue and skepticism at financial firms in Tokyo and around the world.Toshiba’s “Simulated Bifurcation Algorithm” is designed to harness the principles behind quantum computers without requiring the use of such machines, which currently have limited applications and can cost millions of dollars to build and keep near absolute zero temperature. Toshiba says its technology, which may also have uses outside finance, runs on PCs made from off-the-shelf components.“You can just plug it into a server and run it at room temperature,” Kosuke Tatsumura, a senior research scientist at Toshiba’s Computer & Network Systems Laboratory, said in an interview. The Tokyo-based conglomerate, while best known for its consumer electronics and nuclear reactors, has long conducted research into advanced technologies.Toshiba has said it needs a partner to adopt the algorithm for real-world use, and financial firms have taken notice as they grapple for an edge in markets increasingly dominated by machines. Banks, brokerages and asset managers have all been experimenting with quantum computing, although viable applications are generally considered to be some time away.Why Quantum Computers Will Be Super Awesome, Someday: QuickTakeArbitrage OpportunitiesToshiba said its system is capable of calculating arbitrage opportunities for currencies in microseconds. The company has hired financial professionals to work on the project and aims to complete a real-world trial by March 2021.“Finance is the most familiar application,” Toshiba Chief Executive Officer Nobuaki Kurumatani said in an interview. “But there are so many uses. This is a technology with real potential.”Toshiba’s algorithm seems to outperform rival approaches on mathematical benchmarks, but how it will perform on real-world problems is anyone’s guess. Access to the company’s backtesting in currency trading and portfolio optimization isn’t publicly available and adopting the technology to a new problem would likely require rebuilding the algorithm from scratch.“There is a lot of talk about applications of quantum computing in finance, but it’s not very clear where it would be all that necessary,” said Takanobu Mizuta, a fund manager and senior researcher at Sparx Group Co. Optimizing a portfolio is not something that needs to be done in microseconds and calculations involved in high-frequency trading, where speed counts, are not very complicated, Mizuta said.Toshiba may choose to use the algorithm for areas outside finance. Other applications could include things like plotting complex shipping and logistics routes and developing new drugs with molecular precision, according to the company.First IdeaThe idea first arose in 2015, when senior research scientist Hayato Goto was exploring how the qualities of some complex systems can suddenly change with additional input, a phenomenon he describes as bifurcation. But it took him two years, he said, to realize the discovery could be used to craft algorithms that can efficiently sift through a huge number of possibilities -- like a quantum computer without the onerous requirements to run one.Goto partnered with Tatsumura, whose semiconductor expertise was crucial in making the calculations work on multiple processors in parallel.“We will see some ideas for specific applications of quantum computing coming out over the next five years,” said Masayuki Ohzeki, an associate professor at Tohoku University whose research focuses on the technology. “But real implementation will depend on when there is a good match between improvement in performance and techniques that simplify the calculations.”Toshiba revealed its Simulated Bifurcation Algorithm in April, initially garnering little attention outside the scientific community. In October, the company announced that its model had identified potential arbitrage opportunities in currency trading in just 30 microseconds -- fast enough, it claimed, to give it a 90% chance of making profitable trades. That triggered inquiries from financial institutions in Japan and abroad, Toshiba said.Quantum ComputingInvestment banks are already eyeing quantum computing as an opportunity and a threat. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has been building an in-house research team and late last year joined forces with startup WC Ware to speed up the search for a “quantum advantage.” Japan’s Nomura Holdings Inc. has partnered with Ohzeki’s lab at Tohoku University to explore applications in asset management using a machine made by Canada’s D-Wave Systems Inc.“Right now, what you can do with it is still hypothetical,” said Kazuyuki Takeda, a general manager at Mizuho-DL Financial Technology Co., a research arm of one of Japan’s biggest financial groups. “It will take quite a bit of time before we have practical uses of quantum computing. At least 10 years or so.”Alphabet Inc.’s Google claimed in October that its quantum computer -- built on a custom processor with bespoke cryogenic cooling -- could perform a task in 200 seconds that would take today’s fastest supercomputer 10,000 years. Researchers at IBM have countered, saying that their supercomputer can match Google’s Sycamore processor “in a matter of days.” But that cluster of machines occupies an area the size of two basketball courts inside the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In either case, the cost of quantum-like computational capability appears to still be prohibitively high for most applications.In the meantime, Toshiba is hoping it will succeed in commercializing its new algorithms -- whether in finance or elsewhere -- by delivering a computational edge with existing technology.“We give ourselves about a one-year lead for the stuff that we release publicly,” Goto said. “The more cutting-edge knowledge we have internally gives us confidence that we won’t be easily caught up with.”(Updates with expert comment and latest developments in quantum computing.)\--With assistance from Michael Patterson.To contact the reporters on this story: Pavel Alpeyev in Tokyo at firstname.lastname@example.org;Grace Huang in Tokyo at email@example.com;Shoko Oda in Tokyo at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Edwin Chan at email@example.com, Vlad Savov, Tom RedmondFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Jeff Bezos is in India at an awkward moment. Just before his visit, the country’s antitrust authority ordered a probe into the business practices of its two main American-owned shopping websites. One of them is his.How worried should the Amazon.com Inc. boss be?If the Competition Commission’s recently released study on e-commerce is any guide, Bezos shouldn’t lose any sleep over the $6.5 billion he has committed so far — including $1 billion just this week — to win the only billion-person market that’s open to Western tech firms. The document, which forms the basis for the antitrust investigation, has much fodder for action, but nothing that hasn't already been chewed over.Amazon India and Walmart Inc.-owned Flipkart Online Services Pvt. are required to be neutral online marketplaces. Sellers they own can’t offer goods on their websites. That’s the law, and sure enough, last year Bezos hastily sold a big chunk of Amazon’s stake in Cloudtail, its top Indian partner, to stay on the right side of it. Flipkart, too, found a way to tiptoe around the requirement that foreign-owned platforms only facilitate e-commerce; they aren’t allowed to control inventory or influence prices.Yet many small retailers, who compete online, believe their products are outgunned in customer searches by preferred sellers — such as Cloudtail and Appario Retail Pvt for Amazon and OmniTech Retail India Ltd. for Flipkart — and their heavily discounted offerings. Here’s how the Competition Commission’s study frames the problem: “The price points at which these sellers sell the products on the marketplace platforms are in many instances lower than the cost price for the brick-and-mortar retailers. These retailers maintain that, therefore, they either have to match the online discounts at a significant loss or the online market would be foreclosed for them. This was pointed out to be a particularly pressing concern in the case of mobile phones, where online markets constitute around 40% of the total sales in the country.”With a traders’ association announcing sit-ins and protest rallies in 300 cities, Bezos understands the need to manage the anger of stakeholders in an important market. At a summit of sellers in New Delhi on Wednesday, he announced a fresh $1 billion investment to help bring small businesses online. To political authorities, Amazon wants to demonstrate the social usefulness of e-commerce by committing to export $10 billion of made-in-India goods by 2025. Can the competition investigation upend existing business models? There’s a hint of a stick in the watchdog’s study, which notes that, “Any potentially anti-competitive unilateral conduct of platforms or platforms’ vertical arrangements with sellers/service providers will receive enforcement attention.” Yet, in closing, the commission just asks the industry to police itself by working on things like describing search-ranking parameters “in plain and intelligible language.”It’ll be unrealistic to expect anything more dramatic from the formal inquiry. After all, the final customer isn’t complaining. She would rather receive a bigger discount on a new mobile phone than ask why it’s being exclusively sold online. More than any antitrust order, the real challenge for Bezos will come from “phygital” retail, a combination of physical and digital commerce that Mukesh Ambani, Asia’s richest man, is currently piloting. Ambani’s ambition is to link up 30 million neighborhood stores to the 360 million-plus customers of his 4G telecom network, Jio. If he can dominate grocery and fast-moving consumer goods by offering discounts, cashless payment, in-store credit and the convenience of home delivery, small shops around the country could become one gigantic storefront for his JioMart. If they share their purchase, sales and inventory data with Ambani, they may even get to enjoy lower borrowing costs from banks and nonbank financiers. They won’t be as independent as they now are, but they will be bigger and more profitable, and more competitive against pure e-commerce. This future isn’t too far away. The takeaway for the antitrust authority is that they can’t put up new restrictions on Amazon and Flipkart based on the 7% of a $1.2 trillion retail market that’s gone online. Major changes are afoot in the remaining 93% of the industry that’s currently offline. Wait for the churn that comes after JioMart goes live. Bezos, too, will be waiting.To contact the author of this story: Andy Mukherjee at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Rachel Rosenthal at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Andy Mukherjee is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering industrial companies and financial services. He previously was a columnist for Reuters Breakingviews. He has also worked for the Straits Times, ET NOW and Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Amazon (AMZN) is likely to gain momentum among third-party sellers, who were forced to shift to pricier delivery services during the peak holiday season, by removing ban on FedEx's ground network.
StepStone Group LP, one of the world's biggest investors in alternative assets such as private equity and real estate, has hired investment banks for an initial public offering (IPO) that could take place as early as the first quarter of this year, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday. StepStone's listing would follow peer Hamilton Lane Inc's $190 million IPO in 2017. Hamilton Lane shares have quadrupled in value since then, as the management fee revenue the firm generates from allocating investments to private equity funds makes it attractive to stock market investors.