Föhrenbergkreis Finanzwirtschaft

Unkonventionelle Lösungen für eine zukunftsfähige Gesellschaft

Climate scientists are terrified of a second Trump term

Posted by hkarner - 25. September 2020

Date: 24‑09‑2020

Source: Technology Review

And climate change is only one of the reasons.

Daniel Schrag has spent most of his life working on climate change. He studied the planet’s ancient warming periods early in his career, served as a climate advisor to President Barack Obama, and is now director of Harvard’s Center for the Environment.

But when he imagines the possibilities if President Donald Trump is reelected, climate change isn’t the issue he’s most concerned about.

“I immediately worry about democratic institutions,” he says. “I worry about profound and deep corruption at all levels, including the Justice Department.”

“The good news is that four years later, or whenever this ends, there are still a lot of things you can do for climate,” says Schrag. “But that’s not true if we have decimated the basic institutions of democracy.” Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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China says it will cut its net carbon emissions to zero by 2060

Posted by hkarner - 25. September 2020

Date: 24‑09‑2020

Source: The Economist

Achieving this will not be easy

IN A RECORDED video message to the UN General Assembly on September 22nd, China’s leader, Xi Jinping, made a surprise announcement. He said that as well as aiming to halt the rise of its carbon emissions by 2030—a goal set five years ago—China would strive for “carbon neutrality” by 2060. In climate‑change jargon, this means achieving a balance between carbon emissions and carbon‑reduction both technological and natural, such as planting trees. For China to succeed, it must descend from its emissions peak far more rapidly than any other major economy has either succeeded in doing, or has pledged to do. It will be a huge challenge.

Under the Paris agreement on climate change, reached in 2015, signatories were required to submit fresh plans for reducing their emissions by the end of this year. Covid‑19 has put a spanner in the works. On September 2nd Patricia Espinosa, the UN’s chief climate‑change official, said she expected about 80 countries to meet the deadline. Before Mr Xi’s speech, many analysts had predicted that China would not show its hand until after America’s elections in November, when American climate‑change policy for the next four years will become clearer. Stung by international criticism of its early handling of the pandemic, it may be that China decided to reveal its hand earlier to boost its image. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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The New History Wars

Posted by hkarner - 24. September 2020

Date: 23‑09‑2020

Source: Project Syndicate

Jeremy Adelman is Director of the Global History Lab at Princeton University. 

Andrew Thompson is Co‑Director of the Global History Centre at the University of Oxford. 

The movement to remove public monuments to imperialists and slave owners is now in full swing. But to satisfy its stated purpose, those demanding recognition will have to meet their rivals halfway, acknowledging that it is not easy to see pillars of one’s sense of identity become a source of shame.

PRINCETON – The contest over national symbols and stories is shifting into higher gear as the drive to topple statuary and rename institutions moves past the usual suspects of Cecil Rhodes, Woodrow Wilson, Confederate generals, and Belgium’s King Leopold II.

The British Museum, for example, has removed from prominent display a bust of its slave‑owning founder, Sir Hans Sloane. “We have pushed him off the pedestal,” observes the museum’s director, Hartwig Fischer. Similarly, just a week earlier, a desecrated statue of Voltaire in Paris’s tony 6th arrondissement was whisked away for its own protection.

Everywhere, it seems, cultural artifacts that once hid in plain sight are being scrutinized for their connections to empire or slavery. But even when those deemed worthy of removal are gone, the Great Reckoning will not be over. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Tesla ‘Battery Day’ Spotlights Elon Musk Plan for $25,000 Electric Car

Posted by hkarner - 24. September 2020

Date: 23‑09‑2020

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Company has eventual annual production target of 20 million vehicles, potentially becoming world’s largest auto maker

Elon Musk laid out a plan for Tesla Inc. to build a cheap electric car using drastically lower‑cost batteries to make a $25,000 vehicle and potentially turn the company into the world’s largest auto maker. 

The electric‑car maker’s chief executive said Tuesday he was targeting eventual annual production of 20 million vehicles, or almost twice as many as Volkswagen AG sold last year as the world’s bestselling individual auto company.

The ambitious production figure, given at a presentation to investors near the company’s Fremont, Calif., assembly plant, came without a precise timeline or budget. It is the kind of shoot‑for‑the moon goal that has previously excited investors to make Tesla the world’s most‑valuable car company despite selling just 367,500 vehicles last year. 

Shares in after‑hours trading fell more than 6% as Mr. Musk said it could take three years to fully see the large battery cost reductions that he detailed. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Volkswagen in Talks to Sell Bugatti Brand to Croatian Upstart

Posted by hkarner - 23. September 2020

Date: 22‑09‑2020

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Sale could indicate start of broader realignment of VW’s assets

Volkswagen’s late patriarch Ferdinand Piech purchased the century‑old Bugatti trademark in 1998.

BERLIN— Volkswagen AG is in talks about a potential sale of its Bugatti luxury sport car brand, a move that could signal a broader realignment of the German car maker’s vast stable of automotive brands.

VW, whose brands range from Audi to Porsche and Skoda to Lamborghini, is discussing the possible divestment with Croatia’s Rimac Automobili, a person familiar with the talks said, stressing that there was no guarantee these would lead to a deal.

The existence of the talks, which were first reported by Germany’s Manager Magazin, suggests that the world’s biggest car maker by sales is moving beyond efforts to preserve its cash during the pandemic and exploring more strategic questions, such as the reordering of its vast portfolio of assets, many of which the company has discussed selling in recent years. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Surge in Wealth May Lead to Complacency on Economy

Posted by hkarner - 23. September 2020

Date: 22‑09‑2020

Source: The Wall Street Journal

The net worth of U.S. households is at a record, but the economy continues to struggle

The downturn has had an outsize effect on work in restaurants and other low‑paying service‑sector industries.

A record level of wealth and America’s biggest economic downturn on record make strange bedfellows. But that’s just what we saw last quarter.

The Federal Reserve on Monday reported that the net worth of U.S. households increased by $7.6 trillion, or 6.8%, in the second quarter from the first quarter, to $119 trillion. That pushed it above the previous record, set in the fourth quarter. And now, with stocks at higher levels than they were at the end of the second quarter—and the value of real estate continuing to rise—household net worth is surely even higher. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Trump is pushing nationalist myths.

Posted by hkarner - 22. September 2020

Date: 21‑09‑2020

Source: The Guardian by Cas Mudde

But Democrats indulge lavish patriotism, too

Democratic politicians are constantly trying to ‘prove’ they love the US.

Yet actual Americans seem more realistic about their country’s failings

‘We are by far the greatest, powerful, decent nation in the world,’ Biden recently said.

Donald Trump has long openly embraced his nationalism. But on Thursday he took it to a whole new level. In his speech at the White House conference on American history, he attacked “the liberal indoctrination of America’s youth” – a standard trope for any Republican speech these days – and said he would set up a commission to introduce “patriotic education” that would develop a “pro‑American curriculum that celebrates the truth about our nation’s great history”.

Still, this is hardly surprising. Trump is a far‑right politician and chauvinistic nationalism is part and parcel of far‑right ideology. What makes the US so exceptional is that patriotism, and even chauvinism, is shared across the political spectrum. All US presidents are keen on saying the US is the greatest country in the world, if not in world history. It is one of the few things Republicans and Democrats tend to agree on. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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No Job, Loads of Debt: Covid Upends Middle‑Class Family Finances

Posted by hkarner - 22. September 2020

Date: 21‑09‑2020

Source: The Wall Street Journal

The pandemic is wreaking havoc in loan‑laden white‑collar workers’ households; ‘I will never claw my way out of this situation’

‘It frustrates me to not be able to earn a living,’ says lawyer Alysse Hopkins.

Until mid‑March, Alysse Hopkins earned a comfortable living in Rockland County, N.Y., representing clients in foreclosure cases and personal‑injury lawsuits.

In a good year, the 43‑year‑old lawyer and her husband, Ian Boschen, 41, together brought in about $175,000, the couple said—enough to cover the mortgage, two car leases, student loans, credit cards and assorted costs of raising two daughters in the New York City suburbs.

After the coronavirus halted many foreclosures and closed courts, her work dried up. Unemployment benefits have helped, Ms. Hopkins said, but the family is running low on savings and can’t keep up with $9,000 in monthly debt payments including mortgage installments. “It frustrates me to not be able to earn a living,” she said. “I have a law degree, almost 20 years of practice.”

Millions of Americans have lost jobs during a pandemic that kept restaurants, shops and public institutions closed for months and hit the travel industry hard. While lower‑wage workers have borne much of the brunt, the crisis is wreaking a particular kind of havoc on the debt‑laden middle class.

Debt didn’t present a major problem before the coronavirus. The job market was booming and median household incomes were rising, allowing families to keep up with payments.

American families with nonhousing debt making over $98,018 a year in pre‑tax income owed an average of nearly $92,000 of such debt in 2016. That’s up 32% from 2004, adjusted for inflation, according to an analysis of Federal Reserve data by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, a nonpartisan nonprofit research group.

Consumer debt, including student loans and auto loans, have contributed to risingU.S. household indebtedness.

Average nonhousing debt owed by families making $52,655 to $98,01

Before the pandemic, Americans had amassed $4.2 trillion in consumer debt, excluding mortgages, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, a record even when adjusting for inflation. Housing debt added an additional $10 trillion to the tally.

The coronavirus has spared few industries and expanded unemployment benefits designed to replace the average American income didn’t cover all the lost pay of higher‑earning workers, especially in or near expensive cities. The extra $600 weekly payments expired in July, putting them even further behind.

“What I see happening here is a core assault on successful college‑educated families, which are the new breed of middle‑class American families,” said Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. “There’s a professional workforce that’s getting slammed.”

Roughly six months into the pandemic, many lenders that let borrowers skip monthly payments now expect to get paid again. They have set aside billions of dollars to cover potential losses on soured consumer loans—an acknowledgment that America’s decadelong debt binge has come to an end.

Credit‑card debt has fallen in recent months. But with a big chunk of government assistance gone, Congress is still haggling over a second round of coronavirus relief. President Trump signed an executive order in August to provide an extra $300 a week in federal unemployment benefits. The payments haven’t been distributed by every state yet, and Democrats say the president’s order violated congressional‑spending authority.

The increase in balances owed for student loans and auto loans has outpacedhousing debt

White‑collar pain

Unemployment has fallen from its pandemic peak of near 15%, but the rate stood at 8.4% in August, up from 3.5% in February, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unemployment for the arts, design, media, sports and entertainment was 12.7% in August, more than triple its year‑earlier level. In education, it more than doubled to 10.2%. Sales and office unemployment was 7.8% in August, up from 3.8% in August 2019.

Architects and engineers, who earn $1,826 in average weekly pretax income, well above the $1,389 average among full‑time wage and salaried workers, have seen unemployment rise to 3.7% from 0.8% a year earlier. Unemployment for computer and math occupations, which earn $1,919 a week on average, more than tripled to 4.6%.

It could get worse. “The pain so far in the economy has largely been at the lower end of the pay scale,” said Discover Financial Services Chief Executive Roger Hochschild, adding that many of “the white‑collar layoffs are still to come.”

Lynn Scott‑White, 47, was furloughed from her job as a corporate travel agent at the end of March. Before the pandemic, she and her husband together earned roughly $150,000, she said.

The Denton, Texas, couple pay $4,400 a month on their mortgage, four car loans and leases, and student debt, Ms. Scott‑White said. Minimum required monthly credit‑card payments total about $700. The debt was manageable pre‑pandemic, she said.

 She deferred lease payments on her Infiniti QX60 for three months and started paying again with unemployment benefits. Her husband traded in his Ford F‑150 in August for a lower‑cost car and reduced his original monthly payment of $820 by about $100, and his income covers the $2,100 mortgage.

Lynn Scott‑White is preparing to switch careers. ‘I didn’t think I would have to do this,’ she says.

After about 24 years in the travel industry, Ms. Scott‑White is preparing to switch careers, concluding it could be a long time before corporate travel returns to previous levels. In August, her employer gave her three options: severance of a week’s pay for each year employed, unpaid leave until late March or continue on furlough.

She resigned, opting to take the severance. She returned to college last month to complete a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology to pursue a sports‑medicine career. She borrowed $5,000 against her 401(k) to help pay for it. “I didn’t think I would have to do this,” she said. “I’m trying to decide what I want to be when I grow up.”

By some measures, the outlook for higher‑earning workers appears worse than during the 2008 financial crisis. In August, about 3.3 million people age 25 and over with bachelor’s degrees or higher were unemployed, up from 1.2 million in February, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. During the last downturn, that number peaked at about 2.2 million.

Postings for jobs with salaries over $100,000 were down 19% in August from April, while postings for all other salary categories increased, according to job‑search site ZipRecruiter Inc.

American Airlines Group Inc. and United Airlines Holdings Inc. have outlined plans to furlough or lay off thousands of employees on Oct. 1, when federal aid expires, unless they receive more government assistance. Business‑software company Salesforce.com Inc. is eliminating 1,000 jobs; a spokeswoman said the company is also adding 4,000 jobs over the next six months.

MGM Resorts International and Stanley Black & Decker Inc. notified some furloughed employees they would be laid off. The companies said they have brought back, or expect to bring back, many of these employees.

America’s biggest banks have indicated they are preparing for a protracted downturn to hurt businesses in industries that weren’t immediately affected by shutdowns.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. says it expects the U.S. to add roughly 5.4 million jobs in the third and fourth quarters. That would leave the U.S. economy with about 9.2 million fewer jobs since February.

“The pandemic has a grip on the economy,” Citigroup Inc. CEO Michael Corbat said when the bank reported second‑quarter earnings in July, “and it doesn’t seem likely to loosen until vaccines are widely available.” This month, the bank said many customers that previously enrolled in deferment programs are making payments.

‘Very dire’

Terri Smith, 64, said her job analyzing legal expenses for her employer was eliminated in a round of cost‑cutting. Even with the extra $600 a week, unemployment didn’t cover her lost earnings, and she is now down to $285 after tax in weekly unemployment benefits.

The monthly mortgage payment on her Charlotte, N.C., home is $1,550, she said. Her car payment is $550. Health insurance costs $600 a month, and a recent hospital visit cost $7,500 in out‑of‑pocket expenses. She has dipped into savings to keep up with bills and is thinking about withdrawing from her 401(k) or signing up for loan‑deferment programs until she can find a job.

“I don’t have a plan. It’s very dire,” she said. “I’m getting very nervous.”

Many people who have jobs are struggling with pay cuts. As of August, 17 million workers were getting paid less due to the pandemic, said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. Some 9.5 million took pay cuts; the remaining 7.5 million are working fewer hours, he said.

Steven Sickinger’s income fell sharply in the spring, he said, when customers stopped coming to the auto‑repair shop he managed. Concerned that the shop was at risk of shutting down, Mr. Sickinger, 55, quit and took another job he considered more secure making $50,000—35% less than the $77,000 he made in 2019.

The pay cuts have made it difficult for the Tucson, Ariz., resident to keep up with bills. He said he owes at least $24,000 on his credit cards. His credit union let him skip his roughly $655 monthly payments on the loan for his Ford F‑150 in June and July. He said he hasn’t used his credit cards in months, but interest charges and late fees are pushing his balances higher. Eight of his credit cards have been reported late, he said. Pre‑pandemic, his credit report showed an on‑time record going back to 2014.

Before the coronavirus, his plan was to pay off the debt in about 2½ years and would then begin preparing for retirement. Now, Mr. Sickinger said, he is in the process of filing for bankruptcy: “I will never claw my way out of this situation.”

The economy is reviving in parts of the country including New York, where Ms. Hopkins lives. Most courts in the state have reopened. But law firms in New York City and Long Island that used to hire her to avoid the hour‑or‑more drive are now handling their cases online.

Ms. Hopkins says the pandemic has drastically reduced her work.

Ms. Hopkins is working again, taking virtual depositions, but the volume is nothing like it was. She had six assignments in August and a few so far this month. Pre‑pandemic, she appeared in court on average for four to six cases a day. “I don’t know if it’s ever going to go back to that,” she said.

She and Mr. Boschen paused their $750 in car payments for April and May. They got a one‑month break on a $680 payment on a personal loan taken for a bathroom renovation. Mr. Boschen said his nearly $800 in monthly student‑loan payments are deferred through December. That, and money set aside for their daughters’ summer camp, freed up enough to help cover their $3,000 monthly mortgage payment and $1,500 monthly health‑insurance premium.

Ms. Hopkins’s weekly state unemployment of $441 after taxes ended last week, she said, at the same time that she received a $262 deposit, the first of her unemployment benefits tied to President Trump’s August executive order.

Ms. Hopkins said she recently took out a $36,500 Small Business Administration loan, because she qualifies as a small business through her legal work, to cover the work bills. She said she has 30 years to repay it.

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A grim outlook

Posted by hkarner - 21. September 2020

Date: 17‑09‑2020

Source: The Economist

How worse weather will disrupt businesses and their supply chains

In 2012, when post‑tropical storm Sandy devastated New York, the city was left in darkness. Among the few buildings still lit up was the headquarters of Goldman Sachs, which had a 25,000‑sandbag wall and a backup generator. Gary Cohn, then the bank’s president, said one problem was how to get staff into the office in a shut‑down city. In 2018, after a storm battered Vancouver Island, falling trees toppled electricity poles. The resulting power cut led to the closure of a water‑treatment plant. And last January, when wildfires ravaged Australia’s outback, the toxic air hampered production at a coalmine owned by bhp, a commodity giant.

Businesses have always had to adapt to a changing environment. But climate change is making this far harder. As weather conditions worsen, some companies are responding. But it is impossible to mitigate all the risks. For many firms, the physical impact of climate change will affect them more through disaster‑struck suppliers or inundated transport routes than in their own operations. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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What the Old Establishment Can Teach the New Tech Elite

Posted by hkarner - 20. September 2020

Date: 19‑09‑2020

Source: The Wall Street Journal

At a time when their talents are sorely needed, the privileged class in the West has forgotten the tradition of public service

It is unlikely that Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos and the other lords and ladies of Silicon Valley spend any time in English churchyards. But if they were to visit these delightfully melancholic places, the first things that they would encounter would be monuments to the fallen of the Great War. Their initial emotion, like anybody else’s looking at these morbid plinths, would rightly be one of relief. It is good that the West’s young men are no longer herded into uniform and marched toward machine guns.

If they looked harder, however, today’s elite would spot something else in these cemeteries. The whole of society is commemorated in stone: The baronet’s heir was shot to pieces in Flanders alongside the gamekeeper’s son. Recall that in the controversial D.H. Lawrence novel “Lady Chatterley’s Lover,” Lady Chatterley is driven into the arms of the local gamekeeper in part because her husband, Sir Clifford, was paralyzed from the waist down in the Great War. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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