A popular international music festival, Exit, is now accepting cryptocurrency for tickets, products, and services. This year’s 20th-anniversary edition of the European event will be held in early summer and the festival’s online store already offers discounts for impatient music fans and visitors. Fans to Pay With Crypto for Festival Passes and Accommodation Bitcoin, the organizers say, is a fast and secure currency that has dramatically challenged the current norms of finance and governance. That’s why the festival now offers crypto enthusiasts among music fans the option to pay for tickets and passes, airport transfers, camping accommodation, and more using their digital coins. In a press release on the introduction of crypto payments, Exit stated: With the growth of blockchain, digital currency and non-fungible tokens, Exit recognizes that festivals should adapt and embrace new technologies to cater for their audience needs. “The potential of blockchain, digital exchange, and currency is exciting and we wanted to make sure we are at the forefront, utilizing new technologies and able to engage with our tech-savvy audience as technology evolves and changes,” Exit CEO Dušan Kovačević was quoted saying. To spend some BTC, customers need to select the items they want to buy in the festival’s store and proceed to checkout, where they’ll be offered the “Pay with Bitcoin” option.
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Taiwan, which has been among the most successful globally at containing Covid-19, has introduced two weeks of strict social distancing measures as it reported more than 200 new cases in its first significant community outbreak of the virus.The move was a shock for the country which has recorded some of the lowest case counts per capita, with just 1,682 cases and 12 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Its successful containment of the virus has afforded its residents largely normal lives amid the widespread disruption of coronavirus elsewhere.But Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s president, was forced to take to social media to urge people to stop panic buying as locals bought up staples such as instant noodles and toilet paper on the news on the restrictions.An outbreak this month ballooned to 206 new locally transmitted cases on Sunday, the health ministry said, adding that 186 of them were in the capital Taipei and its outskirts. On Saturday, when Taiwan reported 180 new local cases, the government banned indoor social gatherings of more than five people and outdoor gatherings of more than 10 in Taipei and the surrounding area. Mask wearing will be mandatory everywhere, and all shops and restaurants that remain open must register customers’ contact information. Leisure and entertainment venues were forced to close across the country under the restrictions, which are scheduled to last until May 28.Authorities further announced on Sunday that they were further stepping up testing and that hospitals will have to suspend all but the most urgent and critical surgery and treatments until the risk of infection has receded. Taiwan had previously drawn accolades for its success containing coronavirus, recording just 1.682 cases and 12 deaths. It reported 206 new locally transmitted cases on Sunday © Reuters Taiwan’s strong performance in preventing local outbreaks had buoyed public confidence and satisfaction with Tsai’s administration and her public health team. That sentiment has now been shaken, particularly because of Taiwan’s slow vaccination rate — a shortcoming partly attributable to health authorities’ caution with vaccines as long as there was no local spread, and partly to the government’s struggle to close a vaccine deal with Pfizer over opposition from China.Taiwan’s tech-heavy Taiex index dropped 8.4 per cent last week, suffering its worst intraday fall since 1969 on Wednesday as investors anticipated curbs on business to stem the worsening outbreak. Taiex futures were up 1 per cent on Sunday, according to Bloomberg.Only 186,149 of the population of more than 23m have had their first jab as of Saturday. Health authorities only have about 130,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines left; 5.05m doses of Moderna’s shot are expected to arrive in June. Locally-developed vaccines are also scheduled to become available from July.On Saturday, Taiwan announced the temporary suspension of its voluntary, paid Covid-19 vaccination programme, as it urged those in priority groups to get inoculated as soon as possible. Tsai said Taiwan had a year of preparation under its belt, with sufficient supplies of protective and medical equipment, as well as consumer goods. “There is no need to panic, be sure to remain calm,” she said on Facebook as she reminded residents that stores would continue to operate as usual.Government officials posted images of well-stocked warehouses of personal protective equipment and other essentials on social media in an effort to calm resident’s nerves. Carrefour said it would ration the sales of masks, toilet paper, alcohol and instant noodles to prevent hoarding. Taiwan’s ability to avoid lockdowns and other restrictions during the pandemic has safeguarded the country from the worst of the economic pain experienced elsewhere. Its gross domestic product grew about 3 per cent last year, before picking up to 8.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2021, a pace not seen in decades. The brisk economic performance has been driven by booming electronics exports and a net inflow of Taiwanese residents last year seeking refuge from the pandemic in other countries, notably the US.The cabinet proposed a NT$210bn (US$7.2bn) financial support package this week to cushion any short-term blow to consumption from the outbreak. “As long as we can quickly get things under control and effectively block the spread of the pandemic . . . a new wave of consumption will be stimulated after the situation calms down and this year’s economic growth can still be realised as forecast,” the government said in a statement after a meeting of top economic officials on Sunday morning.
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Volodymyr Zelensky has gone out of his way since becoming Ukrainian president to avoid provoking Moscow. But one action has enraged the Kremlin: Kyiv’s swoop against Viktor Medvedchuk, a pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarch and politician who made Russian president Vladimir Putin godfather to his daughter.In February, the Ukrainian government placed Medvedchuk on its sanctions list, froze his assets and shut down three television channels under his control for allegedly spreading misinformation. Zelensky’s move against the businessman, an expression of his frustration at a deadlocked peace process that has failed to end the war in eastern Ukraine, may have been a factor behind Russia’s sabre-rattling and massive troop mobilisation along Ukraine’s borders last month, analysts said.Undeterred, Ukrainian prosecutors last week sought Medvedchuk’s arrest on charges of treason. On Friday, Putin hit back saying Moscow would respond “promptly and properly, bearing in mind all the threats posed to us”. Ukraine, he added, “is being turned slowly but surely into some antipode of Russia, some anti-Russia”.Zelensky has come under pressure from the Biden administration to clamp down on Ukraine’s oligarchs and step up the fight against corruption.Medvedchuk, 66, a former presidential chief of staff in the early 2000s, made his fortune as a lawyer before branching into banking and energy. He was used by Zelensky’s predecessors as a back-channel to Moscow and played a role in the Minsk talks that were intended to end the war between Ukrainian and Russian-backed forces in the Donbas region. But more recently he has been regarded by Ukraine’s pro-western leadership as the voice of the Kremlin, relaying its views through TV channels owned by an associate and via his leadership of Opposition Platform — For Life, the largest of Ukraine’s pro-Russian opposition parties, which opposes the country’s future integration into Nato and the EU.“Medvedchuk is not only an oligarch but is also the primary agent of influence for the Kremlin in Ukraine for decades,” an adviser to Zelensky said, explaining the crackdown as a pressing part of a broader effort to break oligarch capture of the country’s politics and economy.“This makes him very dangerous for Ukraine’s national security,” the adviser added.The businessman was not immediately available for comment.Medvedchuk has echoed Moscow’s demands for ending the Donbas conflict, urging Ukraine to hold direct talks with the Russian-backed leaders of breakaway regions and to grant them autonomy that would potentially hand them veto power over future EU and Nato integration. “He is Putin’s asset inside Ukraine,” said Orysia Lutsevych, head of the Ukraine Forum at Chatham House in London. He is “like a magnet for all pro-Russian groups, for pro-Russian sentiments”.Before they were taken off air, the TV stations under his control had for years aired narratives “almost the same as Russian state TV channels”, according to Natalia Ligachova, editor of Detector Media, a Kyiv-based media watchdog.“Putin is presented as a hero, Russia is a friendly nation with which we need to have friendly ties, our enemy is the west, Ukrainians are fascists and . . . this is not a real nation after all.” Through its talking heads or through long monologues by Medvedchuk himself, the channels had spread the view “that Russia is not attacking Ukraine, that Ukraine attacked itself and is itself to blame, that this is a civil war”, Ligachova said. Medvedchuk has repeatedly denied owning channels 112, NewsOne and Zik. They belonged to Taras Kozak, an associate of Medvedchuk and fellow pro-Russian MP who was also last week charged with treason. Ukrainian authorities said he is in Russia. Medvedchuk said Kozak is in Belarus.Addressing a court on Thursday which ordered his house arrest, Medvedchuk — who has been sanctioned by the US since 2014 for undermining Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity — denied wrongdoing and described the charges as “a politically motivated accusation”.Zelensky’s administration and independent experts have pointed to evidence that the Kremlin in effect financed the broadcasting and political activities of Medvedchuk and his associates by granting them lucrative energy business interests in Russia.  The case is still being investigated, but Ukraine’s general prosecutor and state security chief said Medvedchuk and Kozak were for now being charged with treason related to two separate episodes. These include allegedly passing on to Russia information about a secret military unit, and engaging with Russian officials in offshore hydrocarbon transactions off the coast of occupied Crimea.“Zelensky’s fight against Medvedchuk is a fight against Putin,” said Hanna Hopko, chair of Ants, a Kyiv-based national interests advocacy group.The oligarch has meanwhile used his political position to undermine Zelenksy’s reform drive. The president has been struggling to overhaul a notoriously corrupt judicial system many of whose judges were appointed under Viktor Yanukovich, the former pro-Russian president who fled to Russia after being ousted by the 2014 pro-democracy revolution. In a bid to drive a wedge between Kyiv and its western backers and derail a $5bn IMF rescue, MPs allied with Medvedchuk last year applied successfully to Ukraine’s unreformed constitutional court to neuter recently established anti-corruption institutions. Fearing the court could next cancel farmland sales and other reforms that are conditions for continued western support, Zelensky sidelined its chief justice as authorities launched probes against him. Mykhailo Pogrebinsky, a political analyst who describes himself as Medvedchuk’s “friend”, said Zelensky was behaving like a “crook” by silencing critical media and trying to squash the leader of a party backed by 3.5m voters in the 2019 election. But the rise in the president’s poll ratings in recent months suggested that “stamping out these Russian proxies in Ukraine is widely supported in Ukrainian society”, Lutsevych said.“Its amazing that after the invasion of Crimea and the invasion of the east, that Medvedchuk still managed to operate for so long and strengthen his influence,” she added.
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India’s tea harvest is at risk as Covid-19 infections spread across plantations already struggling with a torrid drought.At least 90 tea gardens in Assam, India’s top tea-producing state, have reported cases and with many declared containment zones, according to the local tea association, as authorities try to stop the virus spreading into more of the state’s 800 plantations.About 500 cases have been confirmed but planters said more testing was needed to detect the true magnitude of the outbreak.India is the world’s second-largest tea producer after China, and competes with countries such as Kenya and Sri Lanka in the export market.Producers warn that, if not brought under control, the outbreaks could ruin the harvest season and push prices higher. “Last year, the tea gardens were miraculously spared,” said Prabhat Bezboruah, chair of the Tea Board of India. “This time . . . the portents are ominous.”The outbreaks on tea plantations highlight the reach of India’s second wave that has left no corner of the country untouched. Coronavirus has spread into remote areas after taking a devastating human toll in the cities and disrupting industry and economic activity.India on Sunday reported more than 310,000 new Covid-19 cases and more than 4,100 deaths on the previous day. Experts believe the figures are vast undercounts.Assam and neighbouring West Bengal, home to famed tea-producing hub Darjeeling, are each reporting their own surges. Both states recently held local elections that public health experts said fuelled infection.Labour groups blame what they call the cramped working conditions on tea plantations for the surge in cases.Living quarters “are densely populated. The workers work or move in large groups, so the chance of rapid increase in the number of infections among them is very alarming,” Dhiraj Gowala, president of the Assam Tea Tribes Students Association, wrote in a letter to the local government.India’s tea industry is already weakened by everything from erratic weather patterns linked to climate change to last year’s lockdown, which brought the harvest to a halt for several weeks.That lost output helped push Indian prices to record highs last year, giving Kenya and Sri Lanka an advantage in the export market. Ibi Idoniboye, an analyst at commodities data firm Mintec, said the latest disruption on Indian plantations could create another opening for producers such as Sri Lanka to sell more to large consumers such as Russia.Producers worry they face another lost year. The threat of coronavirus is exacerbated by a severe drought in Assam and India’s north-east, which has left tea leaves withering on their bushes. “You put your hand into the soil and you just pick up dust. Normally it’s lumpy and muddy by this time,” said Nazrana Ahmed, who runs a plantation near the city of Dibrugarh in Assam.North Indian tea production of 47m kg in March was higher than last year, according to tea trader Van Rees, but still well short of the 60m kg harvested in March 2019, the last “normal” year. Tea auction prices in Kolkata, the main export hub, jumped more than 40 per cent to Rs287.5 per kg in April from the previous month, according to Mintec.Vivek Goenka, president of the Indian Tea Association, said authorities were setting up vaccination camps to inoculate plantation workers but were struggling to procure shots amid a severe nationwide shortage of jabs.“Hopefully we’ll be able to contain the situation,” he said. “I’m not saying it’ll disappear overnight . . . It really depends on how swiftly and promptly we can control this.”
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Rishi Sunak is holding back support for Joe Biden’s plans for a 21 per cent minimum global business tax rate, as Britain pushes the US to ensure any agreement includes a fairer system for taxing digital technology giants.The chancellor, who chairs the G7 finance ministers, said he would consider a global minimum levy only as part of a broader package, with Treasury officials fearing Biden is intent on compelling tech firms to pay tax “in California when it ought to be paid in the UK”.Sunak has come under pressure from Labour to endorse the US plan for a 21 per cent global minimum corporation tax rate. Lisa Nandy, shadow foreign secretary, charged that Britain was showing hesitancy, not leadership.But the chancellor’s allies argued that backing Biden’s plan would play into the hands of Washington, which wants an early agreement on a global minimum tax rate, not least because the US president is also seeking to raise domestic corporation tax rates to 25-28 per cent.British officials feared that the US would be unwilling to accept a sufficiently radical shake-up of global tax rules — which date back to the 1920s — to reflect where multinationals make their sales, rather than where the groups have a physical presence.The UK was also concerned that even if the Biden administration approved a global deal, it could still falter in Congress, leaving the UK high and dry. Talks on a revamp of global taxation are taking place at the OECD and G20 levels, and the issue is certain to come up when G7 finance ministers meet in London on June 4.Speaking at an online conference for Oxford university’s Centre for Business Taxation, Mike Williams, the Treasury’s director of business and international tax, said a deal that only looked at a global minimum tax was not politically acceptable. “The core UK proposition is that we’ve got to solve the digital tax issue, which we’ve been working on for years,” he said. Britain has introduced its own digital sales tax, which is expected to raise about £500m per year from big US tech companies by 2024-5. “It’s not primarily about a minimum tax,” Williams said. “Minimum taxes might help — so long as they work — to ensure businesses pay tax, but it matters as well where tax is paid.”“In terms of providing schools for the children of Coventry, it is not actually tremendously helpful if more tax is paid in California when it ought to be paid in the UK,” he added.But Britain is ready to do a deal that covers both pillars of Biden’s plan to overhaul global taxation: a global digital tax and the minimum global tax rate for multinationals. The chancellor told a Wall Street Journal CEO summit last week that the digital tax was the UK’s priority: “It’s about finding a way of appropriately and fairly taxing large international digital companies.” He has promised to scrap Britain’s digital sales tax if a multinational deal is agreed. Sunak also said a 21 per cent minimum corporate tax rate was “higher than where previous discussions were”, but that he was open to discussing it. Ireland, with a headline 12.5 per cent rate, is fiercely opposed; Sunak is set to raise the UK rate to 25 per cent in 2023.Nandy said the Biden initiative on a minimum global tax rate represented a historic opportunity. She is working with Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, to push Sunak to put the issue on the agenda of next month’s G7 leaders summit in Cornwall. “We have to avoid a race to the bottom,” she said.Robert Palmer, director of campaign group Tax Justice UK, called on the UK to back Biden’s plan, saying the current position was “not a good look” for a government that has said it wants to tackle tax avoidance. While the deal on the table was “not perfect”, a global minimum corporate tax rate of 21 per cent would be a “game-changer” in stopping companies from paying “ultra-low” tax rates, he said.
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This week a great number of bitcoin supporters and skeptics have been arguing over whether or not bitcoin mining is harmful to the global environment. However, crypto supporters have been saying that concerns over the Bitcoin network’s energy supply are absurd, in contrast to the carbon used and the military violence that backs a number of fiat currencies including the U.S. dollar. One could even go as far as to say that the American dollar alone has left boot prints on large groups of humans over the years and desecrated entire countries. Musk and Dorsey Still Use US Dollars When They Know the Currency Leverages Massive Amounts of Carbon and Military Force Elon Musk and his electric car company Tesla ignited a ferocious debate over bitcoin mining and how it affects the global environment. Similarly, the founder of Square and Twitter, Jack Dorsey, added fuel to the argument when his company’s CFO said the payment firm has no current plans to buy more bitcoin (BTC). Dorsey then tweeted that “changes *everything*…for the better” and further added, “we will forever work to make bitcoin better.” However, people have been questioning Musk and Dorsey’s stance, as the two have not discussed the carbon used by the U.S. dollar or the military violence that is tethered to the American currency. Despite the dollar’s obvious problems, Musk and Dorsey’s companies have accepted USD without hesitation. Moreover, Musk himself has been called out over hypocrisy. The popular stock-to-flow creator “Plan B” shared a photo with Musk of a Tesla car using energy that derived from power stemming from a coal facility in North Dakota. While ASIC miners are used to process blocks via Bitcoin’s proof-of-work (PoW) system, many people believe the U.S. dollar’s PoW system is backed by a massive carbon footprint and military violence. It is well known that the U.S. dollar is tied to violence and manipulation that is bolstered by the military-industrial complex. In fact, most people believe the American military occupation abroad and more specifically in the Middle East has been kept there to maintain the U.S. hegemony and petro-dollar. After Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) quite literally flipped the American economy upside down, global financiers invoked the Bretton Woods pact which was the first step in establishing the petro-dollar. These days a great number of economists and analysts have said on multiple occasions that the petro-dollar and the U.S. hegemony is over. Many people believe that the U.S. military maintains its force to keep the U.S. dollar going strong. In order to do so, the U.S. military consumes more carbon than most entities on earth. People should ask if Musk and Dorsey have contemplated the proof-of-work behind the U.S. dollar and the petro-dollar’s effects on the global economy. It’s well documented that the American dollar’s consensus algorithm is backed by violent measures and sanctions. The U.S. dollar has made it so America has been a bully of other nations and feels the need to step in as the world police. But environmentalists have added zero concerns about the U.S. dollar and they gladly accept USD to fund their goals. The founder of Watchdog Capital, Bruce Fenton tweeted about this hypocrisy on Friday. Fenton said: An M1 Abrams tank uses jet fuel that costs $5 a gallon (3-10x delivered). It burns a gallon a minute when driving, a gallon every 5 min when idle. In Afghanistan, they leave the tanks on all night. The war has been going for two decades. Don’t @ me about Bitcoin energy usage.
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Since this column always appears at the start of the week, it was troubling to come across an academic study the other day suggesting workers are at their rudest on Mondays.To be more precise, the paper’s European authors found that people are on average most impolite on Mondays and grow more civil as the week wears on, but only if they are not naturally mindful, or focused on the present. I am no expert on mindfulness, but I am fairly sure this means a sizeable chunk of the working population are best avoided on the first day of the working week.This may not sound terribly novel. We all know what it’s like to feel Mondayitis. The Oxford English Dictionary even has a definition for it: “Reluctance to attend school or work, or a reduction in working efficiency, experienced on a Monday morning.”What is new is that in many parts of the world, the problem has been fading as a result of the pandemic.It turns out that, from the City of London to Sydney, if people can choose which days they work at home and which in the office, a large number will stay home on Mondays. And also on Fridays. This is already happening in places where Covid is largely contained and hybrid working is spreading, meaning people spend some days in the office and others at home. A recent survey in nearly virus-free Australia showed Mondays and Fridays are the least popular days for heading to the office, while Thursdays are the most favoured. An unscientific study of friends whose offices are reopening in London suggests the same pattern is emerging here. I suspect it is best to enjoy this while it lasts, because a lot of people want it to end. For a start, many bosses think staying home on Mondays and Fridays amounts to slacking off.The evidence for this is not clear. Workers were less productive on Mondays and Fridays last year, according to an assessment of data from nearly 7,000 employees by Prodoscore, a group that uses artificial intelligence to measure people’s productivity. But the group says the figures were pretty much the same in 2019, before the pandemic hit.Still, JPMorgan Chase’s chief executive Jamie Dimon said last year the Monday and Friday day-off trend was one reason he was keen to have staff back in the office.Others have different concerns. Offices were already emptier at the start and end of the week before the pandemic, according to the Advanced Workplace Associates management consultancy.But Covid is set to magnify the trend, the group said in a recent report, warning managers should be careful to avoid offices pocked with so much empty space that they feel “energy-less, dead and without buzz”.To lure staff in on Mondays and Fridays, the consultancy suggests businesses offer incentives “such as celebrity chefs being deployed to attract staff to attend”.This is an idea I could get behind. Alas, I suspect more managers will prefer the consultancy’s less glamorous ideas, such as agreeing on core days and rotas to flatten demand for office space.In Australia, meanwhile, the spread of hybrid work is leading to fears for the future of city centres.“It isn’t practical to have the office heaving on Thursdays, and for Mondays and Fridays to be dead,” said a March report by the Property Council of Australia and EY.It warned the trend would affect traffic flows and building use, not to mention weekday retailers and cafés. To counter the shift, the study urges cities to make their central business districts “central experience districts”, where attractions such as food markets, outdoor pools and live music draw people in from their homes.In the meantime, at least one bar and café group owner from the Queensland capital of Brisbane has suggested it would be no bad thing if HR departments just banned people from working at home on Mondays and Fridays.As the trend for staying home on those days began to emerge, Giuseppe Petroccitto told the Australian Financial Review that business from Tuesday to Thursday was “amazing” and gave him hope. “But Monday and Friday you just think, ‘Wow’.”
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Grayscale, one of the largest cryptocurrency fund managers, has declared it is trying to morph the bitcoin trust GBTC into an exchange-traded fund (ETF) to solve its price woes. The exchange rate is now at a 20% price discount compared to its bitcoin holdings, a fact that has many worried about the overall sustainability of their business model. Grayscale Hints at Becoming an ETF Grayscale, the biggest cryptocurrency fund manager in the world, has declared its Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) is in the process to become an ETF to get rid of some of the problems it is facing. Grayscale’s CEO, Michael Sonnenshein, declared that morphing GBTC into an ETF would solve many of the inefficiencies that investors are experiencing now when it comes to pricing, a process he said they were 100% committed to doing. Shares of GBTC, the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust, have underperformed its digital counterpart significantly this year, and have reached lower lows during selloffs. This imbalance could negate the advantages that institutional investors see in this kind of indirect exposure investment vehicles, making them move to other more profitable investments. However, Sonnenshein thinks this price imbalance could be solved when converting GBTC to an ETF. Sonnesheim argued in favor of this in an interview on Bloomberg, stating: “It is our belief looking at the arbitrage mechanism built in ETFs that any discount or premium of where shares may trade relative to the product’s net asset value would be arb’ed away,”
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Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio has warned that cryptocurrency’s biggest risk is its own success. He explained that it could attract regulators to come down tough on the crypto industry because “as a storehold of wealth no government wants to have an alternative currency.” Crypto’s Success May Attract Tough Regulation Ray Dalio, the founder of the world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, warned about the success of cryptocurrencies at the Wall Street Journal “Future of Everything Festival” this week. Dalio is the co-founder and chief investment officer of Bridgewater Associates, whose clients include endowments, governments, foundations, pensions, and sovereign wealth funds. The Bridgewater chief said: Its own biggest risk is its success, because as a storehold of wealth no government wants to have an alternative currency. Dalio has long voiced concerns about regulators coming after bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies if they feel their monetary sovereignty is threatened. His warning came amid warnings by regulators, such as the governor of the Bank of England (BOE) and the president of the European Central Bank (ECB). BOE Governor Andrew Bailey said last week that bitcoin has no intrinsic value and investors should be prepared to lose all their money if investing in this asset class. ECB Chief Christine Lagarde concurred, emphasizing money laundering risks. Meanwhile, the U.S. is reportedly working on crypto regulation. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has a new chairman, Gary Gensler, who has stressed the importance of a regulatory framework with strong investor protection. Nonetheless, Dalio believes that the future of cryptocurrencies is “exciting and unknown.” He opined: Crypto as a digital clearing mechanism and so on, very exciting, very bullish. Crypto as a storehold of wealth, very interesting. Probably will be important for us. In March, Dalio said there is “a good probability” of the government outlawing bitcoin, adding that the government could also restrict bitcoin investments by imposing “shocking” taxes. Nonetheless, he sees the cryptocurrency as an alternative investment to gold in portfolios. What do you think about Ray Dalio’s warning? Let us know in the comments section below. Tags in this story Image Credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a direct offer or solicitation of an offer to buy or sell, or a recommendation or endorsement of any products, services, or companies. Bitcoin.com does not provide investment, tax, legal, or accounting advice. Neither the company nor the author is responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in this article. Read disclaimer
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This year decentralized finance (DeFi) has proven to be a transformative sector for the cryptocurrency ecosystem and it is also making waves in among global financial markets as institutional investors become entranced with the potential to earn high yields on stablecoins, altcoins and Bitcoin. While the price action from Dogecoin (DOGE) has dominated the headlines in recent weeks, Delphi Digital has been chronicling the growth of the DeFi ecosystem on the Ethereum (ETH) network which has steadily been gaining strength over the past month. Ethereum DeFi performance year-to-date. Source: Delphi DigitalAccording to Delphi Digital researchers, while the majority of growth occurred on Ethereum-based DeFi platforms, protocols across the top ecosystems including Ethereum, BSC, Solana (SOL), Avalanche (AVAX), Polygon (MATIC) and Terra (LUNA) have begun to gain traction and now account for 34% of the total value locked in DeFi. Multi-chain DeFi total value locked. Source: Delphi DigitalThe BSC ecosystem is the second-fastest-growing DeFi ecosystem behind Ethereum, thanks in part to its connection with the Binance ecosystem which has immense resources to help get its native protocols off to a strong start. Venus (XVS), PancakeSwap (CAKE) and PancakeBunny (BUNNY) are the three top DeFi protocols on the BSC and the total value locked on the network totals $49.1 billion. Total value locked in DeFi on the BSC. Source: DefistationCollectively, all layer-1 ecosystems have now surpassed $130 billion in cumulative total value locked (TVL).Stablecoins form the foundationAccording to Delphi Digital, DeFi native stablecoins have played a major role in the growth of the ecosystem and now account for nearly $10 billion of the total market cap. Dai's (DAI) circulating supply recently surpassed the $4 billion mark to establish itself as the largest DeFi stablecoin, while UST is a rapidly rising challenger fr the Terra ecosystem. DeFi stablecoin market caps. Source: Delphi DigitalFrom a wider market perspective, the growing circulating supply of the top stablecoins projects (USDT and USDC) has further helped to boost the value of the crypto sector as a whole by providing a simple way for new funds to enter the market. To highlight the significance of the growth in the cryptocurrency ecosystem, Delphi Digital points to the global M2 money supply, the broadest definition of the money supply. Cryptocurrency percentage of total global money supply. Source: Delphi DigitalDue to gains made across the cryptocurrency ecosystem since mid-2020, the cumulative market cap of the crypto market is now more than 2% of the global M2 money supply with Bitcoin (BTC) alone accounting for 1%. Collectively, the rest of the crypto market accounts for about 1.2% of the global money supply. As signs of increased cryptocurrency adoption arise on a near-daily basis, like the May 6 revelation that Goldman Sachs had launched a crypto trading desk, it's likely that the amount of funds locked in DeFi will continue to rise alongside crypto’s share of the global money supply. The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph.com. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision.
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The CEO of Square Inc. says that “bitcoin changes everything for the better.” His comment followed one from Square’s CFO reaffirming the company’s corporate bitcoin strategy. The CEO also made a commitment to “forever work to make bitcoin better.” Meanwhile, Square and Ark Invest have published a report arguing “for bitcoin as a key driver of renewable energy’s future.” ‘Bitcoin Changes Everything for the Better’ Following a comment from Square’s chief financial officer, Amrita Ahuja, stating that the company has not changed its bitcoin strategy, CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted Friday: “Bitcoin changes ‘everything’ … for the better. And we will forever work to make bitcoin better.” Dorsey’s statement followed CFO Ahuja’s tweet that says: “Our bitcoin strategy hasn’t changed. We’re deeply committed to this community, including working towards a greener future through our Bitcoin Clean Energy initiative.” She emphasized that “as shared in February, Square continues to access its bitcoin investment strategy on an ongoing basis.” Dorsey then participated in a discussion thread that started with a tweet stating: “Neither Jack, nor Elon, nor anyone else can change Bitcoin. Bitcoin will change Jack, Elon and everyone else.” Another Twitter user asked about institutions, questioning: “Is that the threat that we all are concerned about?” Dorsey responded by saying: No single person (or institution) will be able to change it, or stop it. This week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that his electric car company has suspended accepting bitcoin for payments. The company cited environmental issues, stating, “We are concerned about rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for Bitcoin mining and transactions, especially coal, which has the worst emissions of any fuel.” The price of bitcoin took a hit following Musk’s comment. In April, Square and Ark Invest authored a white paper “to argue for bitcoin as a key driver of renewable energy’s future,” Square explained. If bitcoin needs anything, it’s more white papers. In this one, @Square and @ARKInvest team up to argue for bitcoin as a key driver of renewable energy’s future: https://t.co/UmayxNtCFJ Hate reading? Here’s the nutshell version: — Square Crypto (@sqcrypto) April 21, 2021 In the report, Ark wrote: “With real-world data, we (Ark Invest) demonstrate that bitcoin mining could encourage investment in solar systems (solar grid + batteries), enabling renewables to generate a higher percentage of grid power with potentially no change in the cost of electricity.” What do you think about the Square CEO’s comments about bitcoin? Let us know in the comments section below. Tags in this story Image Credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a direct offer or solicitation of an offer to buy or sell, or a recommendation or endorsement of any products, services, or companies. Bitcoin.com does not provide investment, tax, legal, or accounting advice. Neither the company nor the author is responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in this article. Read disclaimer
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Strategic investor Lyn Alden is convinced Bitcoin has still the potential to reach $100K in the current bull cycle — despite growing uncertainty and increasing volatility. “We are seeing a lot of froth throughout the industry”, she said, referring to the latest rally in a number of meme coins such as Doge. “Those are kind of warning signs for the cycle”, she added.Alden said that with the bull run slowing down and growing risks of a correction, it makes sense for some investors to take some money off the table and put it into some other assets. “For people who would have trouble with drawdowns or periods of volatility, it can make sense to rebalance”. Overall, Alden’s position remains bullish given her confidence in the strong fundamentals of the Bitcoin network:“I have a pretty high conviction on it. And so I'm fine with maintaining a pretty large position.”Despite a number of altcoins outperforming Bitcoin this year, she doesn’t think Bitcoin is anywhere near losing its leading position in the crypto market. Most altcoins, she pointed out, didn’t manage to sustain the same degree of growth throughout multiple business cycles. “ I'd be more concerned if I saw protocols that chip into Bitcoin's market dominance in one cycle and then chip even more into it in the next market cycle”.Don’t miss the full interview on our YouTube channel and don’t forget to subscribe!
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Who knew what, and when did they know it?Investigating Watergate in 1973, Senator Howard Baker Jr. wanted the answer. Thanks to a couple of journalists, he eventually got it. And while the stakes may not be as high, the team at Cointelegraph Markets Pro is pretty curious about some interesting crypto data this week.The VORTECS™ Score includes sentiment analysis, tweet and trading volume, and price action as components of the algorithm — which are then weighted according to a proprietary formula based on how similar these are to historical conditions.If there is a similarity in these factors, the score will be higher when historical precedents have most consistently led to higher prices.But while the score is algorithmically-generated, the raw data can sometimes tell a story too.AAVE IdeaFirst off, here’s a chart of tweet volume for AAVE this week, charted against the price of the DeFi asset.Tweets are obviously public information, but what are the chances that most retail participants in the crypto markets are able to absorb this outlier and analyze its meaning? The VORTECS™ Score can, however — it’s untouched by human hands, and since one of the components is based on the entire Twitter universe (most algos are only fed a subsection of the full firehose) it is essentially omnipotent when it comes to tweet data.And sure enough, the VORTECS™ Score began to rise very shortly after this large spike in tweet volume, as seen in the chart below.So what’s going on here? An AAVE Army arising to pump the token? Some kind of amazing news that only affected the price 24 hours later?Well here’s the kicker for all those conspiracy theorists out there: this is pure coincidence. Plain and simple.And in fact it all comes back to Elon Musk… in a roundabout way. Because everything in crypto does these days. On Saturday Night Live this week, which was hosted by the Doge fanboy, he participated in a sketch featuring the acronym ‘AAVE’, which appears to have resulted in a large volume of tweets concerning “African-American Vernacular English” over the next couple of days.In fact, even the Urban Dictionary tweeted about the acronym, though the tweet is (as might be expected from such an august website) NSFW. The show’s co-head writer was accused of cultural appropriation as a result of using certain Black vernacular terms in the show, and as we all know, outrage drives social media. So… here’s a fantastic learning moment for sentiment analysis in the crypto market: Proof that causation and correlation are not the same thing.As it happens, AAVE (the crypto asset) did indeed soar following the uptick in Twitter volume for the term AAVE (an acronym). And although the VORTECS™ Score picks apart tweets using artificial intelligence to remove those that don’t fit the context that the algorithm is seeking… perhaps this time it was fooled. But don’t worry — Markets Pro will be filtering for this term in future.Damn you, Elon Musk!Alpha before Alpha?Alpha Finance has no Musk connection (as far as we know) so we’re just going to treat this as a curious outlier.The red arrow in the chart below shows an unusual pattern of reported trading for 24 hours which was followed by the price of ALPHA moving up by almost 50%. It turns out Alpha Finance had some news of its own this week as the team announced on May 10 that they’d be launching an oracle aggregator.Following this unusual pattern and the release of the news, the VORTECS™ Score began to rise too.As is often the case when price rises, the trading volume soared in conjunction with price action. But the steep introduction to the May 9 outlier, and its equally steep decline, could lead one to believe that this was a trading bot being turned on and off again.So why would anyone move the trading volume so significantly in advance of an important news story… and how would they time it so well?Or in other words… who knew what, and when did they know it?Best returns from Cointelegraph Markets Pro live-tested strategiesThe Markets Pro team has been tracking 42 possible strategies since the launch of the VORTECS™ algorithm on January 3rd 2021. Current top returns, as detailed in this document on the methodology used, are as follows:Holding Bitcoin: 47% returnHolding Top 100 altcoins: 426% returnBest-performing time-based VORTECS™ strategy: 3,199% returnBest-performing score-based VORTECS™ strategy: 3,682% returnCointelegraph Markets Pro is available exclusively to member on a monthly basis at $99 per month, or annually with two free months included. It carries a 14-day money-back policy, to ensure that it fits the crypto trading and investing research needs of subscribers, and members can cancel anytime.Important DisclaimerCointelegraph is a publisher of financial information, not an investment adviser. We do not provide personalized or individualized investment advice. Cryptocurrencies are volatile investments and carry significant risk including the risk of permanent and total loss. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Figures and charts are correct at the time of writing or as otherwise specified. Live-tested strategies are not recommendations. Consult your financial advisor before making financial decisions. Full terms and conditions.
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Cardano's ADA token neared $2.40 on May 15 as a select few altcoins bucked the bearish mood to steal the spotlight from a weak Bitcoin (BTC).ADA/USD 1-hour candle chart (Binance). Source: TradingviewADA in price discovery as $2.50 nearsData from Cointelegraph Markets Pro and TradingView showed ADA/USD climbing through the weekend to hit a record $2.38.Traders had suspected that the long-awaited $2 would come into play in the short term, with Cardano bulls taking down resistance in one fell swoop overnight on Friday.With $2 out of the way, price discovery mode was activated, which delivered the new all-time highs before a consolidation period began at around $2.30.As such, Cardano was giving even previously successful altcoins such as Ether (ETH) a run for their money as most tokens saw losses on Saturday."$ADA is now narrowing the gap between $ETH & Altcoin Market Cap," popular trader and analyst Rekt Capital noted on the day. "ADA is now up +80% compared to ETH and Altcoin Market Cap which have both rallied +150%."PlanB on BTC price: I'm "excited"Joining Cardano were only a handful of major cap altcoins, these led by Polygon (MATIC) which delivered 24-hour gains of 24% and weekly returns above 130%.Others, such as Dogecoin (DOGE) and Ethereum Classic (ETC), delivered mild losses in line with the general trend. Bitcoin, having recovered some of its lost ground after falling 20% earlier in the week, stayed near the lower end of its trading range without managing to reclaim $50,000.On short timeframes, however, fellow trader Scott Melker nonetheless highlighted bullish signals for Bitcoin's relative strength index (RSI) — something which could deliver more solid progress in the coming days. For PlanB, creator of the stock-to-flow family of BTC price models, the RSI behavior was "typical" and comparable to the ranging seen before BTC/USD hit all-time highs in late 2017. "Bitcoin relative strength index (RSI): we are at the typical mid-bull-cycle drop in RSI (yellow circles), in between 2013 and 2017," he commented alongside an accompanying chart."Excited about next couple of months."Bitcoin RSI chart vs. months between block subsidy halvings. Source: PlanB/ Twitter
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Decades before the "starchitects" and their mega-mansion projects in Beverly Hills and Bel-Air, iconic Mid-Century Modern architects such as  Richard Neutra, John Lautner, A. Quincy Jones, Craig Ellwood, and Edward Fickett were designing timeless homes around Southern California. Their Modernism styles, noted for walls of glass, open floor plans, and post and beam construction, captured the essence of the indoor-outdoor California lifestyle. Designer-turned-developer Philippe Naouri stands in front one of his latest projects: a ... [+] 4,200-square-foot Malibu property designed by noted Mid-Century architect Edward Fickett. The property is currently listed at $10,000,000. Maison D'Artiste | Philippe Naouri The linear and sleek designs many built as custom commissions in the fifties and sixties are perfect in their simplicity. Today, Mid-Century homes that have aged gracefully can boast eight-figure price tags after restoration and expansion. For example, a 4,200-square-foot Malibu property designed by noted Mid-Century architect Edward Fickett is currently listed at $10,000,000. No doubt, Fickett and his contemporaries would gasp at the prices these prized properties are selling for around Los Angeles. If these homes don't sell before hitting the market (well-kept Mid-Century homes often have a line of patient buyers waiting in the wings), they receive multiple offers resulting in bidding wars. Restored and maintained Mid-Century homes often have a line of patient buyers waiting in the wings, ... [+] resulting in bidding wars when the properties hit the market. Maison D'Artiste | Philippe Naouri Meet Philippe Naouri, the sought-after designer and creative director of the Malibu-based Maison d'Artise, who purchased and restored the Fickett home.  A true preservationist, Naouri reimagines and redesigns Mid-Century gems from Malibu to Trousdale to the Hollywood Hills for today's lifestyle while maintaining the integrity of the architect of record. A bedroom inside the restored and reimaged Edward Fickett-designed modernist home in Malibu features ... [+] contrasting hues softened by rich woodwork. Maison D'Aritiste | Philippe Naouri "Many people buy these homes and do teardowns since land is so expensive and the existing homes are often under 2,000 square feet.  Developers want the largest house possible on the property, so it pencils out for today's market," explained Naouri, who previously made his mark in fashion as a designer of vintage denim apparel for LA Antik Denim before turning his talents and vision to Mid-Century architecture.   Naouri recently restored the Craig Ellwood-designed Kuderna House in the Hollywood Hills. The house ... [+] is currently for sale at $2.945 million. Hilton & Hyland "My way of thinking is to site them keeping the views and make it larger to justify the price point when we put them back on the market. Buyers love Mid-Century, but they do want them with all of today's amenities," Naouri said.  Those amenities include everything from state-of-the-art kitchens to the ultimate smart home systems. The floor-to-ceiling brick fireplace and kitchen inside the Kuderna House in Hollywood Hills. Hilton & Hyland A longtime Modernism enthusiast, Naouri, born and raised in France, bought his first Mid-Century home at the age of 18 in Dallas. Part of Naouri's restoration and redesign process includes restoring or replacing travertine flooring, walnut wood paneling and designing new kitchens and baths. As a steward of these homes, Naouri replaces clerestory windows with double-paned energy-efficient ones while expanding the home's original footprint yet retaining inherent design integrity. Outside the restored Kuderna House on Passmore Road in Hollywood Hills. Hilton & Hyland Mick Partridge of Beverly Hills-based Hilton & Hyland partners with Naouri to market the properties.  Locating and securing architecturally significant properties for Naouri to buy, Partridge, the son of a well-known Los Angeles architect, understands the increasingly competitive niche of the Mid-Century market. As a successful real estate broker, Partridge works with Nouri to reimagine the homes that can be marketed and sold at price points to attract the right buyers who appreciate Naouri's expertise.  Partridge exclusively markets and sells all of Nouri's projects. "My office is helping build Philippe's Mid-Century portfolio as we are doing a lot of architectural sales," Partridge said. The Kuderna House in the late 1950s. The house was built in 1956 by modernist architect Craig ... [+] Ellwood. Hilton & Hyland Naouri is a prolific designer with five projects in Malibu soon coming to market and a Trousdale estate on Loma Vista offered at $20,000,000. In addition, the Kuderna House, an authentically restored Craig Ellwood case study home in the Hollywood Hills, is also on the market at $2,945,000. An overhead view of one of Naouri's latest projects: a sprawling Rex Lotery-designed house in the ... [+] Trousdale section of Beverly Hills. Maison D'Artiste | Philippe Naouri Naouri's next passion project is the famed Chuey House on Sunset Plaza Drive, designed by Richard Neutra, one of the most iconic Mid-Century architects. "I will extend yet keep the original design while building around it and adding a second story and a guest house," Naouri said, adding, “we will make it alive again.” To reimagine the Chuey House, Naouri worked with the Los Angeles Conservancy, with whom he has close ties. The project is expected to take over two years. When looking at how a potential project pencils out, Naouri says he is often caught "between my love of the home and the practical financial side." Naouri incorporates modernist staples in his newer projects, such as this $16-million modern ... [+] masterpiece in the Serra Retreat area of Malibu. Hilton & Hyland "Sometimes, I see an amazing house, and it's priced too high for what I do, so I pass it on to friends to buy for themselves," he said. "You must have an exit strategy.” Assisting with evaluating the financial viability of a project is Partridge with his pulse on the market. "Philippe is considered one of the areas most gifted restoration and builder/developer. His homes are sought after and never stay on the market," Partridge said.   As the demand for prime Mid-Century properties continues, expect to see more of Naouri's inspiring designs the original architects would be most pleased with. Hilton & Hyland is a founding member of Forbes Global Properties, a consumer marketplace and membership network of elite brokerages selling the world’s most luxurious homes.
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When Elon Musk’s ‘Bitcoin is bad for the environment’ tweet caused a flash crash of BTC and the majority of altcoins’ prices earlier this week, a handful of digital assets headed in the opposite direction, making huge gains amid the sea of red. Those were the tokens that market themselves as environmentally friendly capitalizing on investors’ immediate instinct that Tesla might be switching to some alternative, eco-friendly cryptocurrency soon.NANO’s moment of unsustainabilityAmong the biggest winners of the day was NANO, a decentralized cryptocurrency that relies on a consensus algorithm similar to proof of stake and that emphasizes its status as a highly sustainable form of money. Boosted by the news of Musk’s quest for greener pastures, the coin almost doubled its price, soaring from $8.44 to $16.32 in a matter of just 12 hours.But how sustainable was this run? Price action triggered by Musk’s escapades can be dramatic, but it is almost always short-lived. For traders who bought the news and rushed to open a position in NANO in the aftermath of Elon’s tweet, these were a long 12 hours. How high can NANO go? Is this the moon yet? When do I take profits? Is it going to drop soon?The VORTECS™ Score, an algorithmic analytical tool exclusively available to the members of Cointelegraph Markets Pro, would not be able to answer any of these questions definitively. What it could do, however, is sift through years’ worth of historical data and identify whether the combination of market and social conditions around the coin resembled those that preceded sharp upward or downward price action in the past.In NANO’s case this week, the VORTECS™ score line had been neutral ahead of the May 13 pump. Naturally, the fundamental market and social conditions did not look historically ripe for a rally that would soon be triggered by an ex-machina kind of event.Then, in the middle of a tweet-induced price hike, VORTECS™ score began turning red, suggesting that the model sensed a bearish pattern of market activity (first red circle and box in the graph). Despite a dip, there was a second spike in price (second red box) which coincided with an even more negative score from VORTECS™ (second red circle). As the yellow star indicates, this second spike was followed by a major drop in price.The low score of 18 was registered when NANO’s price was still on the way to its second peak of $15.82, shortly before it reversed its course and fell to below $11. While history does not repeat, in this case, it rhymed.Short positions 101There are several ways in which crypto traders could put NANO’s recent rally to work. One is byquickly reacting to the news and opening a long position in hopes of taking profits before the trigger’s impact recedes. Another is shorting the asset when it is still flying high — in other words, betting that the coin’s price will drop.Short positions are often opened using borrowed funds: In a classic scenario, an investor would borrow the asset whose price they expect to go down, immediately trade it at the current market price, then purchase again for cheaper, pocketing the difference. Today, many cryptocurrency exchanges offer derivative contracts that allow users to short crypto assets without actually touching them. You can revisit this Cointelegraph guide into long and short positions to recap the essentials. While the VORTECS™ score will not tell investors when to go long or short, it can provide a useful indication of historically bullish or bearish conditions for a particular coin — insights that can potentially be profitably incorporated into a trading strategy.Cointelegraph Markets Pro is available exclusively to subscribers on a monthly basis at $99 per month, or annually with two free months included. It carries a 14-day money-back policy, to ensure that it fits the crypto trading and investing research needs of subscribers, and members can cancel anytime.Important DisclaimerOpinions are those of the author. Cointelegraph is a publisher of financial information, not an investment adviser. We do not provide personalized or individualized investment advice. Cryptocurrencies are volatile investments and carry significant risk including the risk of permanent and total loss. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Figures and charts are correct at the time of writing or as otherwise specified. Live-tested strategies are not recommendations. Consult your financial advisor before making financial decisions. Full terms and conditions.
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In this articleDUKA view of Duke Energy’s Marshall Power Plant in Sherrills Ford, North Carolina, November 29, 2018.Chris Keane | ReutersCompany: Duke Energy Corp. (DUK)Business: Duke operates as an energy company in the United States that is the product of a merger with Cinergy in 2006; a merger with Progress Energy in 2012; and the acquisition of Piedmont Natural Gas in 2016. It operates through three segments: Electric Utilities and Infrastructure, Gas Utilities and Infrastructure, and Commercial Renewables. The Electric Utilities and Infrastructure segment generates, transmits, distributes, and sells electricity in the Carolinas, Florida, and the Midwest; and uses coal, hydroelectric, natural gas, oil, renewable sources, and nuclear fuel to generate electricity. It also engages in the wholesale of electricity to municipalities, electric cooperative utilities, and load-serving entities. The Gas Utilities and Infrastructure segment distributes natural gas to residential, commercial, industrial, and power generation natural gas customers; and owns, operates, and invests in pipeline transmission and natural gas storage facilities. The Commercial Renewables segment acquires, owns, develops, builds, and operates wind and solar renewable generation projects, including nonregulated renewable energy and energy storage services to utilities, electric cooperatives, municipalities, and commercial and industrial customers.Stock Market Value: $79.2B ($103.06 per share)Activist: Elliott AssociatesPercentage Ownership:  n/aAverage Cost: n/aActivist Commentary: Elliott is a $40+ billion hedge fund with tremendous resources to analyze potential investments. Their team includes analysts from leading tech private equity firms, engineers, operating partners — former technology CEOs and chief operating officers. When evaluating an investment they also hire specialty and general management consultants, expert cost analysts and industry specialists. They often watch companies for many years before investing and have an extensive stable of impressive board candidates. Although Elliott is known for their activism in the technology sector, they have been successful activists in many sectors, including utilities. In recent years, Elliott has engaged with a number of companies in this space: Sempra Energy, NRG Energy, FirstEnergy, DTE Energy and Evergy, to name a few. In some of these situations, Elliott called for myriad strategic and operational changes from cost cuts to spin-offs and settled for board seats in most cases. A common theme to many of Elliott's campaigns is "get back to your basics."What's Happening:On May 10, 2021, The Wall Street Journal reported that Elliott Management has built a stake in Duke Energy Corp. (DUK) and is calling for the company to add directors to its board. Elliott reportedly may also call for the company to sell some assets or make operational improvements.  Behind the Scenes:Duke's geographical business is broken down by the Carolinas, Florida and Indiana, which account for 60%, 25% and 15% of the company's rate base, respectively. The company focuses 90%+ of its time on the Carolinas and the valuable assets of Indiana and Florida tend to go under-managed. These are valuable assets in high growth areas with opportunities to cut costs and make additional investment.As a result, the company trades at a discount to its peers — the Regulated Utilities index trades at 19 times earnings, NextEra trades at 26 times earnings and the company trades at 18 times earnings. This is not a reflection of its assets, but of the management of its assets. The Carolinas should trade at around industry average of 19 times, but in January 2021, the company sold 20% of its Indiana business for 22 times earnings, and Florida should be even more valuable than that.Management needs to redeploy its focus, optimize operations, cut costs and serve its customers better so that the true value of its assets are reflected in its stock price. If they cannot do that, there are strategic ways to recognize value through spin-offs and sales. After all, there is no reason that non-contiguous utilities should be owned by the same company. Elliott has not yet released any letters or presentations on the company, but based on past investments in this area and the level of engagement, we expect that they have a $1B+ investment in Duke. With the annual meeting recently passing, director nominations for next year are not due until January 2022, so management has time to prove itself. However, we do not expect Elliott to sit by quietly during that time. We expect them to become vocal and engaged shareholders putting pressure on management to create value. The right plan could create tens of billions of dollars of value for shareholders.Ken Squire is the founder and president of 13D Monitor, an institutional research service on shareholder activism, and the founder and portfolio manager of the 13D Activist Fund, a mutual fund that invests in a portfolio of activist 13D investments.
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A Wall Street sign is seen near the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, May 4, 2021.Brendan McDermid | ReutersInvestors will see whether stocks carry their newfound momentum into the week ahead, as major retailers, including Walmart and Home Depot, report earnings and housing data dominates the calendar.The Federal Reserve may also play a role. Minutes from its last meeting will be released Wednesday, and after April's hotter than expected consumer and producer inflation, market pros will watch it closely.Central bank officials are also scheduled to make comments, including Fed Vice Chairman Richard Clarida who speaks next Monday.Stocks have been volatile. The rally on Thursday and Friday was unable to reverse the week's heavy losses. The defensive consumer staples, financials and materials were on track for a positive week among major sectors. The worst performers were consumer discretionary, off about 3.7% for the week, and tech, which was down 2.2%.Technology shares were among the best performers in Friday's rally, up about 2.1%. Energy was the best performer, up more than 3%."Watch it with a certain amount of trepidation," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities. "It's not like the things that spooked us this week, like inflation, are going away...I think the fact we bounced at the end of the week is constructive." He added that he still expects the market to move forward with fits and starts.Zoom In IconArrows pointing outwardsBut a positive for the market and the economy was the announcement on Thursday from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that vaccinated people do not need to wear masks.Fundstrat co-founder Tom Lee said in a report Friday that he now expects small caps and stocks that were hardest hit in the pandemic, like airlines and hotels, are ready to rise off the bottom.He is still concerned about the tech sector, which big investors are using as a source of funds as they rotate into staples and health care.Fed AheadThe Fed minutes should basically be a replay of the last central bank meeting. But that was held before April's Consumer Price Index was reported to be up a sizzling 4.2% year over year.That last meeting also took place prior to the April employment report that showed just 266,000 payrolls, a quarter of what was expected."I think the Fed is willing to look through these weird data points. They're thinking that one data point is not a trend," said Joseph Song, senior U.S. economist at Bank of America.But the markets have been focused on whether any data helps clarify how soon the Fed may start to talk about winding down its bond buying. That would be a precursor to slowly ending the $120 billion a month asset purchase program, and also a signal that it is one step closer to raising interest rates.Hogan said when the weak employment report was released, the market view shifted away from the idea that the Fed could discuss tapering its bond buying when it holds its Jackson Hole Economic Symposium in late summer.But the market moved back to that view when the hot CPI report was released Wednesday."We saw hot CPI, hot PPI," said Hogan, referring to the producer price index. "That tells us the Fed could be behind the curve."The Fed has said it expects a transitory spike inflation, but concerns it may not be a temporary spike rippled through the market. But Hogan said investors took some comfort from declines in iron ore and copper, down nearly 2% for the week.Retail earnings and housingBig retailers report quarterly earnings throughout the week. Walmart and Home Depot will report Tuesday. Target, TJX and Lowe's release results Wednesday, and B.J.'s Wholesale and Kohl's on Thursday.Another disappointing data point was Friday's April's retail sales, which came in flat with March. But they are still at a high level. Hogan said based on the sales report, retailers should have done well."You're likely to hear the usual suspects are outperforming. It used to be Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Lowe's," said Hogan. He said now others have joined the list, like TJX and Gap, and should do well.Besides earnings, there is housing data. The National Association of Home Builders sentiment index will be released Monday, and housing starts are published Tuesday. Existing home sales will be issued on Friday.Hogan said depending on the data, it may help the homebuilders which fell hard in the past week. He noted that D.R. Horton and Hovnanian were both down for the week."The home building index is off 5% for the week, even with it being up 1% [Friday]. This is a red-hot sector that has lots of implications," he said. "What's good for home sales is good for auto sales. It's good for Home Depot and Lowe's."Homebuilders were part of a broad swath of the market that was bouncing Friday.Scott Redler, chief strategist at T3Live.com, said by the end of the week, some of the growth and tech names were trading better, like Facebook and Alphabet."The S&P 500 held the 50-day moving average, which is constructive," he said.The S&P 500 came within about a dozen points of its 50-day, which is the average price of the last 50 closes. It is often a level that acts as support, but if it is broken, it can signal a negative trend.The S&P 500 was down about 1.5% for the week at 4,173.85. The Nasdaq ended the week at 13,429.98, down 2.3% on the week."The tech sector, which has been under pressure, held its yearly uptrend earlier in the week. Today it felt a little better than the rest of the week," Redler said Friday. "It doesn't mean you can go into everything, but you can tell traders are picking away at better acting stocks at these prices."Week ahead calendarMondayEarnings: Hostess Brands, Lordstown Motors, Tencent 8:30 a.m. Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic on CNBC8:30 a.m. Empire manufacturing10:00 a.m. NAHB index10:25 a.m. Fed Vice Chairman Richard Clarida at Atlanta Fed conference4:00 p.m. TIC data6:00 p.m. Dallas Fed President Rob KaplanTuesdayEarnings: Walmart, Home Depot, Macy's, Baidu, Take-Two Interactive, Trip.com, NetEase8:30 a.m. Housing starts11:05 a.m. Dallas Fed President Rob KaplanWednesdayEarnings: Target, Lowe's, JD.Com, Cisco, Shoe Carnival, TJX, Eagle Materials, Analog Devices, L Brands10:00 a.m. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard on economy and monetary policy2:00 p.m. FOMC minutesThursdayEarnings: BJ's Wholesale, Kohl's, Petco, Ralph Lauren, Applied Materials, Ross Stores, Deckers Outdoor, Hormel Foods, Palo Alto Networks8:30 a.m. Initial jobless claims8:30 a.m. Philadelphia Fed10:00 a.m. Leading indicators10:00 a.m. St. Louis Fed's Bullard10:30 a.m. Dallas Fed's KaplanFridayEarnings: Deere, Foot Locker, Buckle, VF Corp, Booz Allen Hamilton9:45 a.m. Markit Manufacturing PMI9:45 a.m. Markit Services PMI10:00 a.m. Existing home sales12:15 p.m. Dallas Fed's Kaplan, Atlanta Fed's Bostic, and Richmond Fed President Thomas Barkin on a panel1:30 p.m. San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly
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California Gov. Gavin Newsom capped a week of daily multi-billion dollar additions to his proposed $267.8 billion budget Friday with a plan to bring universal broadband to the state and expand Medi-Cal to undocumented immigrants over the age of 60.The governor began the week by declaring the state will a $75.7 billion surplus and is eligible for $26 billion in federal aid and he would use the money to fund a $100 billion California Comeback Plan.Newsom’s proposals this week have included $11.9 billion to provide $600 stimulus checks to residents who make under $75,000, $12 billion to fight homelessness, $20 billion to reimagine education and $5.1 billion for water infrastructure and drought response. “Let’s get this done once and for all, so no future generations are talking about the digital divide," California Gov. Gavin Newsom said of his universal broadband program.California Gov. Gavin Newsom's Office The governor’s May budget revisions typically start frenzied weeks of negotiations between Newsom and state lawmakers leading up to the June 15 budget approval deadline.A likely sticking point will be the Medi-Cal expansion, which Assembly Democrats would like expanded to all undocumented immigrants. The governor proposed spending $2 billion this year to expand the state's version of Medicaid to undocumented seniors.Most of the $7 billion to expand broadband would come from federal relief funds. Newsom's May revision to his budget proposal also breaks out how the governor would spend the rest of the $26 billion coming from the federal government.“It is time to do this justice, not just for our kids’ education, but as an economic development strategy for rural regions,” Newsom said. “Let’s get this done once and for all, so no future generations are talking about the digital divide.”He didn't provide details at this point as to how that program would be structured.The Biden administration also will end challenges to federal funding for California's high speed rail project that started during the Trump administration, Newsom said.“Those dollars are coming back into the state, reinforcing we have a real federal partner for a high-speed rail system,” Newsom said.His Republican opponents in the recall election expected later this year have been running on the idea that the fact the state has such a large surplus indicates that Californians are overtaxed.Newsom responded that the surplus is not an indication that the state is overtaxed, but proof of the strength of the state’s economy.“There were 41 initial public offerings in the state today,” Newsom said. “If you read Fortune Magazine, of the 64 most influential companies in the country, 31 are in California.”The last time that California increased taxes was in 2012, and it occurred through a proposition approved by voters, he said.“Kiplinger did an analysis of taxes in this country, not just through the lens of 1% earners,” Newsom said. “California came out in that survey as a tax friendly state, right there around Texas. If you look at the property taxes in this state, they are much lower than the states they identify as being tax friendly.”For only the second time since the Gann Act was adopted in 1979, the state will hit a cap that requires it to return $8 billion to schools and $8 billion to taxpayers. The governor said his $11.9 billion rebate isn’t motivated by the Gann Act, but in addition to that number.The state's nonpartisan Legislative Analyst also cautioned in a report last week that lawmakers be mindful of matching one-time money with one-time expenditures, but the budget represents some expansions, including a program to add a "K2" grade to public schools for four-year-olds.“The percentage of one-time spending vs ongoing is similar to previous years,” said Department of Finance Director Keely Bosler. “We have planned for a lot of risk in the future forecast. We have seen capital gains plummet with the stock market during the last two recessions.”State revenues with a heavy dependence on income taxes and capital gains can fluctuate wildly with changes in the stock market.Bosler added that her team is mindful of balancing budget growth against the risks they consider to expenditures and revenues in the state’s multi-year forecast.“We are also mindful of just how incredibly uncertain things continue to be,” Bosler said. “There was $3 trillion pumped into the economy by the federal government since our December forecast and it has had an impact.”But only 43% of the jobs lost during the height of the pandemic have been added back, said Bosler, which is why one of the things informing the budget is how to provide relief to those households hit the hardest.
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The Federal Reserve’s policy is in a good place right now, said Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester, while playing down signals from data that she warns will be volatile as the economy reopens.“The volatility month-to-month I think is something we should expect, Mester said Friday in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “We’re really at the beginning of this vaccinations-widely-distributed part of the recovery and I think we just have to wait and be a little bit patient and let the recovery continue.”Friday’s retail-sales report unexpectedly showed a stalling out in April, following a sharp increase the previous month. It comes after another report showed disappointing job growth last month. The two stand in contrast with strong consumer and producer price index figures published earlier this week.Loretta Mester, president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, speaks during a New York Association For Business Economics luncheon in New York, U.S., on Friday, April 1, 2016. Bloomberg News“I think we’re in a good place right now with our policy and we’re going to adjust it as appropriate depending on how the actual recovery progresses,” Mester said. “This is not the time to be adjusting anything on policy. It really is a time for watchful waiting, seeing how the recovery evolves.”Fed officials have echoed Mester’s comments on patience even as some on Wall Street and Main Street worry that price increases will force the Fed to act faster than it wants to. Three governors and a slew of other reserve bank presidents have spoken this week, calling higher inflation readings temporary and transitory.“My baseline scenario for inflation is we’re going to have higher inflation this year, above 2%, but then as some of those constraints on supply ease I think we’re going to see inflation go back down and we’ll have to monitor that as we go forward,” Mester said.Big price increases, as seen in April CPI reading, which was the highest since 2009, are mostly due to pent-up spending as the economy reopens more broadly and factors like supply-chain bottlenecks, Fed officials have argued. Measures of trend inflation, including the Cleveland Fed’smedianCPI gauge, at 2.1% in April, are still in check.Dallas Federal Reserve President Robert Kaplan said he is concerned about imbalances of supply and demand for goods and labor becoming embedded in inflation expectations.“That’s when you worry” that expectations get elevated to a level that’s not consistent with anchoring at 2%, he said at a separate event.The labor market, which struggled to add jobs last month even as nearly 10 million Americans are still without work, is seeing constraints due to ongoing virus concerns and child-care gaps as some schooling remains virtual.Kaplan repeated his view that the Fed should start talking about tapering its monthly purchases of $80 billion in Treasuries and $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities sooner rather than later, as the U.S. is “making substantial progress in the economy toward full employment and price stability.”Mester is also hopeful, but cautioned that patience is needed.“I have a positive outlook. I think the outlook is bright,” Mester said. “I just think we need to let it continue on a little bit longer, because opening up the economy after such a deep shock downward is proving to be — there are some stumbles along the way. I think we should have expected that and I think that’s what we’re seeing in the data right now.”
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The Puerto Rico Oversight Board voted to overrule the territory's House of Representatives on spending for the privatization of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority transmission and distribution system.On Wednesday the House voted 43 to 0 with 2 abstentions against authorizing a revision to this year’s General Fund budget allocating $750 million for the privatization. The board told the Puerto Rico Department of Treasury to transfer $750 million to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority to allow for the privatization of the authority's transmission and distribution system.Bloomberg News On Thursday the board said it had used its budgetary powers in the Puerto Rico, Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act to overrule the House vote. On Saturday the board had sent a letter to the leadership of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives and Senate asking them to approve the funding and saying that if it did not the board would act without their approval. The board said the monetary allocation was “to ensure the necessary levels of working capital to operate PREPA’s electrical grid and comply with the agreement between LUMA Energy, PREPA and the P3 Authority, by which LUMA is to assume the operation and management of PREPA’s transmission and distribution system on June 1.”The money is for an operational reserve, the board said. The operational and maintenance agreement ensures that PREPA has sufficient funds to operate and to pay vendors and fuel suppliers. Part of the money will be used towards investments in grid and reconstruction projects. Eventually, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will reimburse for these.“PREPA’s lack of funds to maintain the system and inability to maintain adequate cash reserves are some of the reasons that exacerbated PREPA’s problems and inability to respond quickly to hurricanes Irma and Maria,” said Oversight Board Executive Director Natalie Jaresko. “The operational reserve is a critical step toward ensuring that never happens again, especially when managed by a professional operator.”The money will be transfered from the Puerto Rico government's cash accounts. As of April 30 the central cash account, the Treasury Single Account, had $10.4 billion. On Friday Puerto Rico House Speaker Rafael Hernández Montañez sent a letter to the board stating the House stance on the budget is controlling unless the board launches a lawsuit.The board has repeatedly stated and courts have repeatedly upheld that under PROMESA the board has ultimate authority over Puerto Rico government spending.Rep. Luis Raúl Torres, who is president of the House committee overseeing energy, said in a written statement, “The government of Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia and the Fiscal Oversight Board are willing to provide a life of luxury to the foreign directors of LUMA who today bill at $325 per hour and to their president who earns over $1 million. The Electric Power Authority will pay double payroll since the Fiscal Supervision Board said that it will also pay the salaries of employees who are transferred to other agencies.“In addition, the Fiscal Oversight Board tells us that LUMA will bring efficiencies that will represent enough savings for us to pay its cost and to spare money,” Raúl Torres said. “But let's not fool ourselves; there is no empirical analysis that justifies this assumption. With FEMA’s billions, LUMA will renew all its equipment. That is where the real gain in efficiency lies, because we will have new equipment that is inherently more efficient. This is why we can achieve it without dismantling the public corporation.”
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Municipals held steady to slightly firmer in spots Friday after flat retail sales moved U.S. Treasuries stronger while equities gained back mid-week losses.Despite the slight pressure from economic data and overall market volatility, municipals continue to hold their own place in the capital markets.In the current environment, muni technicals are "simply overpowering," said Barclays strategists Mikhail Foux, Clare Pickering and Mayur Patel in a weekly report. "This week was a good example: rates were under pressure, and tax-exempts were not completely immune, as muni yields have moved higher in sympathy, but still outperformed Treasuries," they wrote. "Five-year tax-exempts have been rich for some time, as a result their yields and ratios have been steadily adjusting higher, but longer-dated munis continued to outperform, with 30-year ratios getting very close to their all-time lows reached earlier this year."Municipal to UST ratios closed at 62% in 10 years and 68% in 30 years on Friday, according to Refinitiv MMD and ICE Data Services. As for technicals, demand remains quite strong despite poor valuations. "If anything, higher yields might bring more investors to the municipal space, possibly improving appetite for tax-exempts even further," the Barclays strategists noted. Issuers are sitting on cash and in no hurry to tap the market aggressively, they said. The total potential volume for the week of May 17 is estimated at $8.532 billion: $6.15 billion of negotiated deals and $2.381 billion scheduled for competitive sale.Another week of larger state general obligation bond deals, led by Connecticut whose GO rating was boosted to A-plus on Thursday by S&P Global Ratings and AA-minus by Fitch Ratings on Friday. The state is set to price $700 million of exempts and $300 million of taxables. Colorado comes with $500 million negotiated and West Virginia with $200 million competitive while Guam (Ba1///) put its $258.5 million of business privilege tax refunding bonds Series 2021F tax-exempt forward delivery bonds on the calendar for Tuesday for those looking for yield. Triple-A Prince George's County, Maryland, offers $271 million of GOs on Tuesday in the competitive market.Some issuers "might actually expect a resurrection of tax-exempt refundings, keeping their interest in placing new deals at bay," Barclays said in its report. It is especially true for healthcare, education, and state and local governments, while issuers in transportation, utility and housing sectors have been actually surpassing last year's pace.The muni market is rich and will likely remain fully valued for some time, they said. "If Treasury yields continue to move up, while having some spillover effects into the muni space, to us it would be a buying opportunity, as tax-exempts will likely continue to do well for the time being," according to Barclays.Secondary trades and scalesTrading showed firmer prints. Maryland 5s of 2022 traded at 0.13%. California 5s of 2024 at 0.24% versus 0.35%-0.28% Thursday. Columbus, Ohio, 5s of 2024 at 0.31%-0.30%. Fairfax County, Virginia, 4s of 2024 at 0.29%. Washington 5s of 2025 at 0.42%. Tennessee 5s of 2025 at 0.36%. Utah 5s of 2028 at 0.74%. Florida PECO 5s of 2032 at 1.13% versus 1.16% Thursday. Fairfax County 4s of 2038 at 1.47% versus 1.57% original. Energy Northwest 5s of 2040 traded at 1.50% versus 1.54%-1.52% Thursday and 1.51% original. Los Angeles Department of Water and Power 5s of 2050 traded at 1.65%. On Refinitiv MMD’s AAA benchmark scale, yields were steady at 0.09% in 2022 and 0.13% in 2023. The yield on the 10-year sat at 1.01% and the 30-year at 1.59%.The ICE AAA municipal yield curve showed yields at 0.10% in 2022 and 0.16% in 2023, the 10-year stayed at 1.01% while the 30-year sat at 1.60%.The IHS Markit municipal analytics AAA curve showed yields at 0.11% in 2022 and 0.14% in 2023, the 10-year at 0.99% and the 30-year at 1.59%.The Bloomberg BVAL AAA curve showed yields steady at 0.08% in 2022 and 0.10% in 2023, at 0.98% in the 10-year and the 30-year at 1.49%.The 10-year Treasury was yielding 1.64% and the 30-year Treasury was yielding 2.36% near the close. Equities rose with the Dow gaining 387 points, the S&P 500 rose 1.55% and the Nasdaq gained 2.35%.Economic indicatorsDespite a flat month in April, experts expect retail sales to improve with the continued economic reopening, although the numbers have been volatile, as stimulus payments were often quickly spent.Given the payouts in March, “it is best to take a moving average of the monthly retail sales,” said Berenberg chief economist for the U.S., Americas and Asia Mickey Levy, because sales remain at a high level.Retail sales were unchanged in April after an upwardly revised 10.7% jump in March, first reported as a 9.8% gain. Excluding autos sales fell 0.8% after a 9.0% surge.Economists polled by IFR Markets predicted sales would increase 1.0%, with ex-autos up 0.9%.“The retail sales control group that is calculated directly in GDP — retail sales excluding autos, building supplies, and gasoline stations — fell 1.4% following a 7.6% rise in March,” Levy noted. “Even with this decline, the April retail sales control group is 2.3% higher than its first quarter average. This is consistent with our forecast of robust growth in consumption in the second quarter.”“The on-again, off-again dynamic with spending and big cash windfalls has injected new volatility into retail sales figures,” said Wells Fargo Securities senior economist Tim Quinlan and economist Shannon Seery.The monthly retail sales change averaged 0.3% in the 10 years ending December 2019, they wrote in a report, never seeing an increase more than 2.2% or a decline larger than 2.0%. “Between last year's lockdowns and a reopening surge in goods spending, this year's stimulus checks and late winter storms, it's no wonder why retailers are struggling to manage inventory and anticipate demand.”Given the volatility, they said, their “outlook is not influenced one way or another by today's report” since they expect a “surge in consumer spending tied to the reopening of the service sector.”“Investors are starting to drink the Fed’s Kool-Aid that inflation will be transitory,” said Ed Moya, senior market analyst for the Americas at OANDA. Referring to the eight individuals associated with the New York Yankees who tested positive for COVID-19 despite having been vaccinated more than two weeks ago, he noted, “it is fascinating to see how less sensitive the U.S. is now to news of a fresh coronavirus outbreak.”But, with only one of those individuals showing symptoms, “suggests the vaccines are working,” he said. “The U.S. is widely expected to have a very normal summer.”Indeed, the Centers for Disease Control loosened mask restrictions for those who have been vaccinated, which “will lead to more consumer activity during the spring and summer months,” said Yelena Maleyev, economist at Grant Thornton.Also released Friday, the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index slipped to 82.8 in the preliminary May read from 88.3 in April. The index stood at 73.2 in May 2020.Economists estimated a reading of 90.3.The current conditions index fell to 90.8 in May from 97.2 in April, while the expectations index declined to 77.6 from 82.7.Separately, import prices climbed 0.7% in April after an upwardly revised 1.4% March, originally reported as a 1.2% gain, while exports rose 0.8% following an upwardly revised 2.4% gain the prior month, first reported as a 2.1% increase.Economists expected prices to rise 0.6% for both imports and exports.Elsewhere, industrial production climbed 0.7% in April, after an upwardly revised increase of 2.4%, first reported as a 1.4% rise.Economists had expectations of a 1.1% increase.Capacity utilization gained to 74.9% in April from an unrevised 74.4% in March.Economists predicted a 75.1% level.Also, business inventories increased 0.3% March, after a revised 0.6% gain in February, first reported as 0.5% increase.Economists projected inventories to gain 0.3%.Business sales were up 5.7% in March, after a 1.6% drop in February.Muni primary deals to comeIn the competitive market, Prince George’s County, Maryland, (/AAA//) is set to sell $271.6 million of general obligation consolidated public improvement bonds, Series 2021A on Tuesday at 10:45 a.m.West Virginia (/AA//) is set to sell $200 million of general obligation state road bonds at 10:15 a.m. and $14.265 million of GO state road refunding bonds at 10:45 a.m. Tuesday.On Wednesday, the Virginia College Building Authority (Aa1/AA+//) is set to sell $535.2 million of educational facilities revenue bonds, Series 2021A (21st Century Collage and Equipment Programs) at 10:30 a.m.Seattle (Aa1/AA+//) is set to sell $112.9 million of drainage and wastewater system improvement and refunding revenue bonds 2021 at 10:45 a.m. Wednesday.Fulton County, Georgia, is set to sell $175 million of general fund tax anticipation notes, series 2021, at 10 a.m. Wednesday.Ladue School District, Missouri, (/AAA//) is set to sell $126 million of unlimited tax general obligation bonds at noon Wednesday. In the negotiated space, Connecticut (Aa3/A+/AA-/) will sell $700 million of general obligation bonds in three series on Wednesday, $300 million 2021 Series B social bonds, $175 million 2021 Series C refunding GOs, and $225 million 2021 Series D forward delivery social refunding bonds. BofA Securities is bookrunner.Connecticut (Aa3/A+/AA-/) is also set to price $300 million of taxable refunding GOs, serials 2022-2031, on Wednesday. UBS Financial Services Inc. is head underwriter.Colorado (Aa2/AA-//) is set to price on Wednesday $500 million of Rural Colorado certificates of participation Series 2021A. J.P. Morgan Securities LLC is head underwriter.The City of Phoenix Civic Improvement Corp. (Aa2/AAA//) is set to price on Tuesday $317.3 million of junior lien water system revenue bonds Series 2021A, $250 million, series 2026-2041, term 2045 and $67.3 million of refunding bonds, serials 2022-2026. Siebert Williams Shank & Co., LLC is lead underwriter.The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority, North Carolina, (Aa3/AA-//) is set to price on Thursday $300 million of taxable healthcare revenue bonds Series 2021A, serial 2051. Citigroup Global Markets Inc. is bookrunner.The authority is also set to price on Thursday $300 million of variable rate healthcare revenue bonds, three-, seven- and 10-year Series 2021B, C and D. Citigroup Global Markets Inc. is bookrunner.The California Municipal Finance Authority (/AA//) is set to price on Tuesday $275.6 million of student housing revenue bonds (CHF-Davis II, L.L.C. - Orchard Park Student Housing Project) Series 2021, insured by Build America Mutual. J.P. Morgan Securities LLC is head underwriter. Underlying ratings: (Baa3///).The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (/AA+/AA+/) is set to price on Tuesday $271.2 million of subordinate water revenue bonds, 2017 Series C (SIFMA Index Mode), subordinate water revenue refunding bonds, 2017 Series D (SIFMA Index Mode), subordinate water revenue refunding bonds, 2017 Series E (SIFMA Index Mode). J.P. Morgan Securities LLC is bookrunner.The Government of Guam (Ba1///) is set to price on Tuesday $258.5 million of business privilege tax refunding bonds Series 2021F tax-exempt forward delivery, serials, 2026-2031, terms 2036, 2042. Citigroup Global Markets Inc. is head underwriter.The Maricopa County Special Health Care District, California, (Aa3//AA-/) is set to price on Thursday $243 million of general obligation bonds, Series 2021 D. J.P. Morgan Securities LLC is head underwriter.The Alamo Community College District (Aaa/AAA//) is set to price $188 million of limited tax bonds, Series 2021 on Tuesday. J.P. Morgan Securities LLC is set to run the books.The Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (Aa1/AA+//) is set to price $178.1 million of AMT and non-AMT residential housing finance bonds on Wednesday. $24 million Series 2021C, serials, 2022-2028 and $154.1 million Series 2021D, serials 2022, 2027-2032, terms 2036, 2041, 2046, 2052, 2052. RBC Capital Markets is head underwriter.The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (Aa2/AA+//) is set to price on Wednesday $175.2 million of single family mortgage revenue bonds, Series 2021-135A (non-AMT social bonds), Series 2021-135B AMT social bonds. Barclays Capital Inc. is head underwriter. Retail order period on Tuesday.The Sioux Falls School District No. 49-5, Minnehaha and Lincoln Counties, South Dakota, (/AA+//) is set to price on Thursday $159 million of general obligation refunding bonds, taxable Series 2021. D.A. Davidson & Co. is bookrunner.The State of Louisiana (/AA//) Is set to price $155.3 million of grant anticipation revenue bonds, Series 2021, on Wednesday. J.P. Morgan Securities LLC is lead underwriter.The City of Phoenix Civic Improvement Corp. (Aa2/AA//) is set to price $151.4 million of taxable Series 2021C refunding junior lien water system revenue refunding bonds, serials 2026-2041 and term 2044. Siebert Williams Shank & Co., LLC is head underwriter.Carroll County, Kentucky, (A1/A//) is set to price on Tuesday $131.9 million of environmental facilities revenue bonds, $54 million of Series 2006B, remarketing refunding and $77.9 million of Series 2008A remarketing bonds. BofA Securities is bookrunner.Grand Forks, North Dakota, is set to price $118 million of solid waste disposal facility revenue bonds (Red River Biorefinery, LLC Project), Series 2021A (Green Bonds), Series 2021B (Green Bonds) (Turbo Bonds). Jefferies LLC is lead underwriter.The City of Aurora, Colorado, (/AA+/AA+/) is set to price on Tuesday $111.7 million of first-lien water revenue bonds (SEAM Facility & Other System Improvements Project) Series 2021. Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC is head underwriter.The Town of Hempstead Local Development Corp., New York, (A1/A//) is set to price on Thursday $100 million of tax-exempt and taxable revenue bonds, Series 2021 (Hofstra University Project). Barclays Capital Inc.Aaron Weitzman contributed to this report.
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Connecticut will bring three rating upgrades to the table when it comes to market with a $1 billion exempt and taxable general obligation deal set for Wednesday.Fitch Ratings on Friday lifted Connecticut to AA-minus from A-plus.The action "reflects enhancements to the state's fiscal management practices in recent years that are materially increasing the state's resilience to absorb economic and revenue cyclicality," according to Fitch.Connecticut state Treasurer Shawn Wooden said recent upgrades are a reflection of strong financial governance.Bill MorganS&P Global Ratings, in an action dated Thursday, upgraded the state's general obligation bonds to A-plus from A. "The upgrade reflects our view of a continuing moderating debt profile, based on a slower rate of tax-supported debt issuances, rapid amortization, and our opinion that a majority of debt metrics will remain below a level that previously resulted in a one-notch override that lowered our anchor rating," S&P analyst Timothy Little said in a statement. Kroll Bond Rating Agency, in an action dated Thurday, upgraded Connecticut GO bonds to AA from AA-minus."The upgrade reflects the significant progress the State has made in improving its financial position in the last three years," according to Kroll, evidenced by the increase in the state's Budget Reserve Fund to nearly $3.1 billion at the end of fiscal 2020 from $213 million three years earlier.In a statement relesaed after the S&P upgrade was announced, state Treasurer Shawn Wooden called it "a direct result of strong financial governance and early decisions we’ve made to put Connecticut in a stronger financial position.”All three rating agencies assign stable outlooks to Connecticut, as does Moody's Investors Service, which upgraded the state one notch to Aa3 in March.Connecticut's $1 billion deal next week, with a mix of taxable and tax-exempt bonds, will be senior managed by UBS Financial Services Inc. and BofA Securities.
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A landmark English Tudor-style home in the La Jolla neighborhood of San Diego has come on the market for $8.85 million. The storybook home, dating to nearly 100 years ago, was designed and built by noted San Diego architect Edgar V. Ullrich as his personal residence, according to Regin Daniels Rubin of Willis Allen Real Estate, who is co-listing the property with Linda Daniels and Marta Schrimpf. In the late 1920s, it was later owned by Philip Barber, the pioneering New Jersey developer who created the area’s charming Beach-Barber Tract, where the house is located. Homes in La Jolla's Beach-Barber Tract are coveted for their architecture and proximity to the beach ... [+] and Village area. Willis Allen Real Estate Although development of the tract was slowed in the 1930s by the Great Depression, Rubin says the area remains an idyllic area filled with architectural treasures. English, French Normandy and Spanish-style homes designed by celebrated architects such as Ullrich are found throughout the quiet neighborhood, which stretches west of La Jolla Boulevard to Windansea Beach. The combination of pedigree and location has made the Beach-Barber Tract one of the most sought-after neighborhoods in all of San Diego. “The neighborhood is highly coveted for its historic charm and its proximity to both the ocean and the amenities of La Jolla’s beloved Village area,” Rubin said. A brick walkway leads up to the English Tudor-inspired house designed by architect Edgar V. Ullrich. Willis Allen Real Estate Approached by a brick-lined walkway, the three-story residence has all the trappings of a timeless classic: A steep shingle roof, half-timbering, leaded windows and a whimsical rotunda with a Juliet balcony. Ornate details around the front door create both interest and fodder for local lore. Original laded windows take in views of the courtyard. Willis Allen Real Estate “Many original details can be found throughout the home, most notably being the sculpture on the home’s front gable showing two monkeys holding the Ullrich family crest,” Rubin said. “It’s said that Edgar Ullrich was commissioned to build many Catholic churches throughout San Diego County, and he often argued with the archbishop about the ‘Scopes Trial’ of that time. These monkeys are said to be a tongue-in-cheek detail that he added to his home’s design as a symbol of his Darwinist beliefs.” Original built-ins and clapboard siding lend a timeless feel to the office/study. Willis Allen Real Estate Inside, the main house has seven bedrooms, 6.5 bathrooms and a dedicated office within about 5,250 square feet of space. A vaulted-ceiling living room with stenciled ceilings, a formal dining room and a large family room area among the common areas. The cozy eat-in kitchen charms with its original brickwork. A 400-square-foot guest studio above the detached garage provides additional living space. A later renovation in the mid-1970s added a three-story living room that opens to the grounds. Willis Allen Real Estate According to Rubin, the home has twice been renovated and taken to new heights since being built in 1924. “The first addition took place in 1928 when Barber hired Ullrich to design a second level to the then single-story, three-bedroom cottage,” she said. “The second (and largest) addition took place in the mid-1970s when the current owners added a third level to the home and three additional bedrooms as well as a sprawling family room with a showpiece fireplace inspired by Yosemite’s Ahwahnee Lodge.” The grounds are full of patios and intimate sitting areas such as this dining patio. Willis Allen Real Estate The property is the latest trophy offering in a La Jolla market that has remained red-hot since mid-2020. According to Rubin, inventory levels at or near five-year lows have kept the market “incredibly competitive” through the first quarter of 2021. Single-family home inventory, in particular, fell 37% year-over-year in Q1 2020, while pending sales and sold homes increased 49% and 22% year-over-year, respectively. The home's front gable is adorned two monkeys holding the architect's family crest. Willis Allen Real Estate Intense demand for La Jolla real estate resulted in a 26% increase in average price month-over-month (from $2.84 million to $3.51 million) and a 41% increase year-over-year (from $2.534 million to $3.51 million). “La Jolla’s seller’s market is showing no sign of cooling off as we finished April with record monthly growth,” Rubin said. “These numbers are unprecedented in our luxury market and are making the purchasing process increasingly competitive among active buyers.” Willis Allen Real Estate is a founding member of Forbes Global Properties, a consumer marketplace and membership network of elite brokerages selling the world’s most luxurious homes.
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America’s torrid housing market isn’t showing any signs of slowing down—at least for now.In April, every home sold in the U.S. had at least 5 offers on average according to the National Association of Realtors, while three-quarters of offers for homes represented by Redfin agents resulted in bidding wars. In some markets like Westchester, NY, homes are for up to 30% over ask with no contingencies and 48% of houses nationwide last month sold for more than their original list price. One suburban Washington, D.C. 4-bedroom home reportedly recently had 76 all-cash offers within 72 hours of being listed and eventually sold for 70% over asking price. The current hyper-caffeinated housing market isn’t just isolated to the U.S. Home prices in 37 of the world’s wealthiest countries comprising the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (a.k.a. the OECD), including the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Israel, Turkey, Korea, and virtually all of Europe, rose 7% year-over-year between 2019 and 2020, the fastest pace of international housing inflation in two decades since before the Great Recession. 48% of all U.S. homes this past April sold for over ask. On average, homes had a minimum of five ... [+] offers getty For Millennial first-home buyers in the U.S., current homeowners and Baby Boomers looking to downsize or pull new-found equity out of their homes, or growing families needing to trade up, all of the panic buying raises two essential questions. How long will the current boom last? And, more importantly for buyers who don’t have the time to wait around to find out, are there any affordable houses in America left? On the former question, there are mixed opinions on how long the current froth can sustain itself against persistently high unemployment and low wage growth on the backside of the pandemic. But most real estate economists and experts largely agree that the fundamentals of the present housing upswing are strong—unlike the glass house that was 2008 and despite predictions that the pandemically-induced economic contraction last year could force tens of millions of Americans into foreclosure and eviction, triggering another national housing crisis. The reality is that the opposite happened. Buyers and investors who got in on Miami and South Florida's recent real estate boom before it hit ... [+] scorching mode are reaping the rewards getty For an American economy that’s still recovering, this is all great news for current homeowners, recent buyers, and investors who’ve gotten in early enough to get a piece of the action on one of the hottest asset classes right now outside of the stock market. But the panic homebuying has driven up prices beyond most current buyers’ financial capabilities, which in turn is exacerbating an affordability and housing supply crisis that’s been building in the U.S. for years since the Great Recession, particularly among the approximately 5 million Millennials turning 30 every year and entering prime first-time homebuying years. As to the more important second question: Where are affordable homes in vibrant, stable American cities still available? It turns out a lot of places—if you know where to look and don’t have to commute every day to a top ten U.S. metropolitan area like New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, or Washington, D.C., which fortunately tens of millions of Americans don’t have to any longer in the new remote work normal. Against most buyers expectations, most of these affordable cities right now are also in some of America’s hottest destinations currently when it comes to everything Millennials and first-time homebuyers want according to real estate experts, including thriving local hubs for food (Louisville), music (Memphis), sports (Pittsburgh), tech (Indianapolis), and jobs (Birmingham).   Memphis's Beale Street was Tennessee's music soul long before Nashville according to many locals getty What’s ultimately driving affordability in America’s last attainable housing markets are prices that already were reasonable priced in the first place before the pandemic hit, say most experts. As a result, compared with currently super-charged markets like South Florida and Austin that just got tighter and more irrational over the past twelve months, many homes in these cities already were within most first-time homebuyers’ financial limits in the first place despite nationwide housing supply constraints. “These affordable markets are not necessarily any less competitive than many others around the country. The crucial difference is price point,” says Arpita Chakravorty, a Zillow Economist. “In some of these cities home values are up almost 20% from a year ago, which are some of the highest growth rates in the country and not far off from what we’re seeing in places like Phoenix or Austin. But even with the strong appreciation in the markets on this list, they remain among the least expensive large U.S. metros in terms of home prices overall.” The new remote work normal is opening up real estate opportunities in cities and places that people ... [+] had never thought of living before. Many are motivated by affordability more than any other factor getty The new remote work normal is also empowering millions of potential homebuyers to look at cities and neighborhoods that were never on the map before because they needed to commute to jobs in major metropolitan areas. That’s making homes in formerly lesser know cities in the Midwest and South that always had thriving downtowns and sustainable economies before the pandemic some of the best places to invest in real estate after it based on year-over-year appreciation. “The explosion of remote work has caused many to reimagine what and where they want their home to be,” continues Chakravorty. “So more affordable areas of the country are in high demand as buyers look for homes that offer more room to spread out. That could mean moving farther from a downtown core into nearby suburbs, or from a more-expensive metro to a less-expensive one which is in part what’s driving price appreciation in these smaller, Midwestern and Southern cities. The bottom line is that we are still in the early stages of what we call the Great Reshuffling as many are taking advantage of more flexible remote work policies to rethink where and how they want to live. Some who have been working remotely during the pandemic may be called back to the office. But others will receive firm guidance from their employer of a permanent ability to work remotely and take advantage of that freedom for years.” Smaller cities like Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Memphis, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Birmingham, and Baton ... [+] Rouge will all benefit from America's ongoing housing affordability crisis getty As for the future of America’s housing affordability crisis, few are bold enough to predict what comes next. But everyone agrees on the most obvious solution: more supply—particularly when it comes to first-time, women, minority, and immigrant homebuyers. “More housing is the clearest path to a more balanced market between buyers and sellers,” says Chakravorty. “Ideas like down payment assistance can help, especially for younger generations who are competing in today’s incredibly competitive market with long-time homeowners who have built up equity from the home price gains in recent years. But demand shows no signs of meaningfully slowing any time soon, so without more supply to meet that demand it’s likely that prices will continue to grow at a fast pace and make down payments a bigger and bigger challenge for first-time buyers. Builders are doing their part, but it will take years, if not decades, to catch up from the underbuilding that took place following the Great Recession.” One of America's most affordable cities is also one of its most historic and picturesque. Jackson, ... [+] Mississippi getty In the meantime here are fifteen of America’s most affordable cities where home prices still are attainable with some of the most, vibrant up-and-coming cultural, entertainment, hospitality, and tech scenes in the country. [NOTES: Cities are ranked from high to low based on mortgage affordability as determined by Zillow and based on the share of a metro's median income that would be needed to pay a mortgage on the median house in that metro area. A negative number in mortgage affordability Y-O-Y means that city got more affordable between Jan. 2020 and Jan. 2021. All data courtesy of Zillow] Scranton, PA ·     Mortgage Affordability: 11.1% ·     Mortgage Affordability Y-O-Y Change: -2.2% ·     Median Home Price: $139,985 ·     Y-O-Y Price Appreciation: 14.2% Jackson, MS ·     Mortgage Affordability: 11.1% ·     Mortgage Affordability Y-O-Y Change: -6.9% ·     Median Home Price: $157,611 ·     Y-O-Y Price Appreciation: 8.8% Little Rock, AR ·     Mortgage Affordability: 11.3% ·     Mortgage Affordability Y-O-Y Change: -7.2% ·     Median Home Price: $166,580 ·     Y-O-Y Price Appreciation: 7.6% Baton Rouge, LA ·     Mortgage Affordability: 12.6% ·     Mortgage Affordability Y-O-Y Change: -5.4% ·     Median Home Price: $198,547 ·     Y-O-Y Price Appreciation: 3.3% Birmingham, AL ·     Mortgage Affordability: 12.6% ·     Mortgage Affordability Y-O-Y Change: -2.9% ·     Median Home Price: $195,643 ·     Y-O-Y Price Appreciation: 10.7% Oklahoma City, OK ·     Mortgage Affordability: 12.7% ·     Mortgage Affordability Y-O-Y Change: 0.8% ·     Median Home Price: $179,922 ·     Y-O-Y Price Appreciation: 8.9% Indianapolis, IN ·     Mortgage Affordability: 12.8% ·     Mortgage Affordability Y-O-Y Change: -1.2% ·     Median Home Price: $212,334 ·     Y-O-Y Price Appreciation: $13.7% Columbia, SC ·     Mortgage Affordability: 12.8% ·     Mortgage Affordability Y-O-Y Change: 2.1% ·     Median Home Price: $179,785 ·     Y-O-Y Price Appreciation: $10.3% Augusta, GA ·     Mortgage Affordability: 12.9% ·     Mortgage Affordability Y-O-Y Change: 1.4% ·     Median Home Price: $177,614 ·     Y-O-Y Price Appreciation: 12.2% Louisville, KY ·     Mortgage Affordability: 13% ·     Mortgage Affordability Y-O-Y Change: -6.8% ·     Median Home Price: $205,647 ·     Y-O-Y Price Appreciation: 10.6% Memphis, TN ·     Mortgage Affordability: 13.3% ·     Mortgage Affordability Y-O-Y Change: -0.7% ·     Median Home Price: $182,914 ·     Y-O-Y Price Appreciation: 13.2% Pittsburgh, PA ·     Mortgage Affordability: 13.4% ·     Mortgage Affordability Y-O-Y Change: -0.1% ·     Median Home Price: $185,063 ·     Y-O-Y Price Appreciation: 13% Winston-Salem, NC ·     Mortgage Affordability: 13.4% ·     Mortgage Affordability Y-O-Y Change: 0.5% ·     Median Home Price: $184,526 ·     Y-O-Y Price Appreciation: 15.1% St. Louis, MO ·     Mortgage Affordability: 13.7% ·     Mortgage Affordability Y-O-Y Change: 0.4% ·     Median Home Price: $205,604 ·     Y-O-Y Price Appreciation: 11.5% Cleveland, OH ·     Mortgage Affordability: 14% ·     Mortgage Affordability Y-O-Y Change: 0.8% ·     Median Home Price: $184,224 ·     Y-O-Y Price Appreciation: 13.5%
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The work-from-anywhere culture of the coronavirus pandemic is not going away with vaccines, and that has created an opportunity for small cities to lure new residents. So-called digital nomads are in high demand and are now being offered cash to relocate.Programs are popping up across the country. The poachers don't want the workers to quit their jobs, they just want them to do those jobs from somewhere else. New residents will contribute to local spending, pay local taxes and help juice the local housing market.Almost a year ago, when Covid was at its worst in New York City, Lindsey Marvel packed up her Brooklyn, New York, apartment, bought a car online and drove to Tulsa, Oklahoma.Lindsey MarvelCNBC "You're just in this survival mode, and I was just terrified," she said at the time.A Tulsa nonprofit called Tulsa Remote offers workers $10,000 to move there. They also offer social programs to connect the digital nomads in the program and help them adjust to a new city.A year later, Marvel said: "It's been a blessing. I wouldn't want it any other way, during a pandemic or any other time.She recently bought a home, thanks to the $10,000 and to the fact that Tulsa is much cheaper than New York City. And the social life is beyond her expectations."I think I've made more friends in this year, during a pandemic, than I ever had in college or any other time you're supposed to be connected with many people," said Marvel.Tulsa is one of a growing number of cities offering cash incentives to remote workers. There is even a website, MakeMyMove.com, that tracks them.A new program in West Virginia appears to offer the most. It combines cash and financial incentives equaling $20,000 to people willing to work from there.Ascend WVA is a $25 million program funded by executive chairman of Intuit and state native Brad Smith, who says he is capitalizing on two new trends."The first is a shift towards remote work and the second is a shift in geographic preference to more rural settings, and those happened to intersect perfectly with West Virginia's most valued assets, which are welcoming communities and our outdoor recreational amenities," said Smith.Those communities and amenities are in big demand. Ascend WVA will open later this year with 50 slots, but has already received more than 7,000 applications. The goal over seven years is to attract more than 1,000 new residents, who will bring their purchasing power, while not taking up local jobs.In addition to Smith's financial contribution, the state of West Virginia is also supporting the program, through the governor's office, Department of Tourism and Department of Economist Development. They are making equal investments in amenities like broadband, affordable housing, and the infrastructure required to make these communities welcoming for these remote workers, according to Smith, who said the program could create even more local jobs."They'll have the opportunity to work in co-working facilities with fellow peers, who are also fully employed with companies, and this will start to create synergy, where these individuals can spend in our local communities, they can form relationships and friendships, and maybe down the road they'll choose to start a business there," said Smith. "So this doesn't compete for jobs in West Virginia, this brings fully employed individuals into the state which will strengthen our infrastructure, our economy and our communities."It is very similar to what is happening in Tulsa, which started its program well before the pandemic hit. Marvel joked about the spending power of digital nomads, as well as how pricey the housing market is becoming there.The price of a home in Tulsa is up 11% compared with a year ago, according to Zillow, but it is $147,252, which is well below the national value. Marvel bought her home after renting for a year, and rents are going up as well."Because we are from cities like Brooklyn and Seattle, we don't really have a sense of what we're supposed to pay for something," she laughed. "So people are willing to pay a little more."Marvel said she does not expect to leave Tulsa anytime soon."New York is amazing. It's the best city in the world, but it's, you know, it's gonna be there. I can travel, but I don't need to be there all the time. I know I made the right decision."
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