We love sweet treats. But too much sugar in our diets can lead to weight gain and obesity, Type-2 diabetes and dental decay. We know we shouldn’t be eating candy, ice cream, cookies, cakes, and drinking sugary sodas, but sometimes they are so hard to resist.
It’s as if our brain is hardwired to want these foods.
Your body runs on sugar — glucose to be precise. Glucose comes from the Greek word glukos, which means sweet. Glucose fuels the cells that make up our body — including brain cells (neurons).
Dopamine “Hits” From Eating Sugar
On an evolutionary basis, our primitive ancestors were scavengers. Sugary foods are excellent sources of energy, so we have evolved to find sweet foods particularly pleasurable. Foods with unpleasant, bitter, and sour tastes can be unripe, poisonous, or rotting — causing sickness.
So to maximize our survival as a species, we have an innate brain system that makes us like sweet foods since they’re a great source of energy to fuel our bodies.
When we eat sweet foods, the brain’s reward system — called the mesolimbic dopamine system — gets activated. Dopamine is a brain chemical released by neurons and can signal that an event was positive. When the reward system fires, it reinforces behaviors — making it more likely for us to carry out these actions again.
Dopamine “hits” from eating sugar promote rapid learning to preferentially find more of these foods.
Our environment today is abundant with sweet, energy-rich foods. We no longer have to forage for these special sugary foods — they are available everywhere. Unfortunately, our brain is still functionally very similar to our ancestors, and it really likes sugar. So what happens in the brain when we excessively consume sugar?
In the case of sweet foods, this means we need to eat more to get the same rewarding feeling — a classic feature of addiction.
Food addiction is a controversial subject among scientists and clinicians. While it is true that you can become physically dependent on certain drugs, it is debated whether you can be addicted to food when you need it for basic survival.
The Brain Wants Sugar, Then More Sugar
Regardless of our need for food to power our bodies, many people experience food cravings, particularly when stressed, hungry, or just faced with an alluring display of cakes in a coffee shop.
To resist cravings, we need to inhibit our natural response to indulge in these tasty foods. A network of inhibitory neurons is critical for controlling behavior. These neurons are concentrated in the prefrontal cortex — a key area of the brain involved in decision-making, impulse control, and delaying gratification.
Importantly, the brain’s neuroplasticity capabilities allow it to reset to an extent following cutting down on dietary sugar, and physical exercise can augment this process. Foods rich in omega-3 fats (found in fish oil, nuts, and seeds) are also neuroprotective and can boost brain chemicals needed to form new neurons.
While it’s not easy to break habits, like always eating dessert or making your coffee a double-double, your brain will thank you for making positive steps.
The first step is often the hardest. These diet changes can often get easier along the way.
Many cat owners are fully aware of just how bizarrely and adorably their pets can sleep. Whether it be in a ball, like a human, or in a strange place, there are always new positions for them to discover, melting our hearts as they do so and always putting us in a better mood.
At Bright Side, we decided to compile a bunch of these cute, weird acts. So if you’re in a bad mood, looking at these sleeping kitties are a sure way to lift your spirits.
Nearly every pre-roll advertisement on YouTube this year was for Monday.com. You know, the new way to manage your work. I still don’t know what it is.
On LinkedIn this year, I saw an increase of employees at Drift using personal branding for business marketing. And in New York, Vienna, Edinburgh, and London I saw building banners for Slack.
We live on earth, but we are a tech-enabled society.
Today, most of our actions advanced by technology come with a price. A price we continue to pay monthly, despite having only entered our credit card information once. That’s the beauty of the recurring payment model of subscriptions.
Over the years, I’ve made some horrendous decisions about how to spend my money, and more recently improved upon these. So, as I began my end of year finances and set goals for 2020, I addressed my active subscriptions and wanted to share the 9 that will successfully bill me come January.
It’s worth mentioning that this list was created by someone who is proud of their frugality, knowing that each penny-pinched and economy flight allows them another day to invest in making their dreams a reality. If you too are looking to save money, spend mindfully, forge better relationships with technology, or simply give a bad-ass gift this season, then this list is for you. If you’re none of the above maybe you’ll enjoy reading about how I killed each of my partner’s house plants during our first week living together.
Canva is a simplified graphic-design tool that uses a drag-and-drop format, provides access to photographs, vector images, graphics, and fonts, and includes professional layouts to design consistently stunning graphics.
No matter how many times we lie about judging books by their covers, we do. Well, Canva is now making a lot of those book covers. Good branding is an invitation to explore the contents within and whether a book, a bottle or another product, good branding can either capture or dismiss our curiosity.
Canva’s cloud-based platform allows designers of all skill levels to create perfectly sized assets for social media postings, events, personal .pdfs, testimonials, investor decks, and more. Canva allows you to own distinguish yourself, your work, and your brand.
In 2019, Canva was a major reason for the growth I experienced because I was able to have ownership over my brand without needing tool-specific expertise as one does with the Adobe or Microsoft suites. The commands were familiar, making learning it fun, and creating my own assets increased the confidence of my offering.
In 2020, consider Canva for a staple in your toolbox.
Medium is an online publishing platform with a hybrid collection of amateur and professional people and publications, or exclusive blogs or publishers. Medium offers all users 3 reads per month before introducing a paywall, which once a member of allows for unlimited engagement.
The news kinda sucks right now. Even progressive outlets have removed comment sections, forcing those seeking engagement into anonymous Reddit hell holes. That’s not to mention the frequency of advertisements framing your page as you scroll through articles or past click-bait titles screaming READ ME!
Medium is a home for readers and writers to engage with pace. Authors control distribution, so a letter to the editor can be published immediately, accelerating the pace of conversation. Accelerating the pace of education. In my experience this past year on Medium, I’ve found most users are thoughtful, intentional, kind, and respectful. I’ve also found most major outlets and personalities are sharing on the platform, making it a one-stop-shop for information.
You can also earn money on Medium by enrolling in their partner program which pays writers based on how deeply Medium members read their work, so you’ll likely earn your membership fee’s back. In a way, Medium is Spotify for writers, and your Facebook comment sections if all your “friends” were compassionate, curious, and respectful.
Luminary is a podcast streaming platform and the first with a monthly access fee.
Luminary is the first paid podcast platform and honestly, it was only a matter of time. Podcasts are the best free education out there, and the hosts deserve to be fairly compensated beyond pre-roll ad spend. Podcast hosts such as Guy Raz, Michael Barbaro, and Rich Roll, and their guests, have become my professors. And they’ve kept their show’s free to listen to through other platforms.
But, for how long will they abstain from the consolidation? Earlier this year we saw Russell Brand and Trevor Noah join Luminary, moving their shows behind a pay-wall, and I’m cool with it.
In opposition to Luminary, one may argue for free podcast platforms (I still use the Podcast App from Apple) and the difference I will include is quality. Anyone can create a podcast on other platforms, so consider Luminary a litmus test answering the question, is this worth a listen?
Even with the verdict still out, Luminary has slashed their pricing and is now offering subscriptions for $3.99 per month for 12 months + 1 month free, so for $12 I’d encourage you to try it out for 3 months. Who knows, maybe you’ll be encouraged to create your own podcast, pitch it to Luminary, and begin generating revenue from it.
Spotify is a music streaming platform where the right music or podcast is always at your fingertips.
Music delivers joy and improves our moods. That alone is enough justification for a $2.50 monthly fee to unlimited music and podcasts. To add more though, consider Spotify as the soundtrack to your commute, your workday, your workout, your life. Especially attractive is Spotify if you choose not to pursue a Luminary subscription with the volume of podcasts included.
Spotify individual pricing plans begin at $9.99 per month, but for $14.99, 6 family members can use Spotify, lowering the individual monthly price to $2.50, so let your dinner tablemates know about this steal.
Down Dog Yoga is an anytime, anywhere, unique yoga practice. With over 30,000 different configurations, and multiple levels, voices, and settings you are able to individualize your practice, every time.
I love community, but don’t love rushing to an afternoon class, or meeting an early morning schedule, especially the more autonomous I’ve become over my schedule. With Down Dog, if I’m inspired to fall into a practice, or only want to dedicate 15 minutes, I’m empowered to do so.
Yoga has been proven to reduce anxiety, reduce depression, and lower stress levels, and Down Dog gives you all of these benefits monthly for a fraction of what you’d spend at a studio. And, if you prefer to practice with others, turn the volume up and invite them over to flow with you! (Sorry if this is against the rules Down Dog).
Did you know that people spend almost 3x more time on Insight Timer than many other apps who have 10 times more downloads and a bazillion times more revenue? Insight Timer is the world’s largest free library of guided meditations on earth and the world’s most loved meditation Timer.
You’ve read the articles about meditation, have tried and failed to keep a practice, or even lied about having a practice on a first date. Whatever your truth is, I don’t care. What I care about is Insight Timer.
The first social fitness network, Strava is the number one app for runners and cyclists. It has an international user community of over 40 million and a team that spends each day searching for new ways to inspire athletes and make the sports they love even more fun.
Now, my pacific days consist of runs, hikes, rides, and walks, all tracked and shared in Strava. I even tracked my solo bike ride across America this summer in Strava. But, not every movement needs to be competitive and that’s what I love about Strava. The social network aspect creates an environment to connect and share your daily’s with friends.
Mailchimp is an all-in-one marketing platform, most commonly used for email marketing.
Email lists are measured by the value of each subscriber. That individual subscriber value is a constantly debated metric and often shared only when it’s of an impressive value. Subscriber worth aside, the important message here is to keep an email list.
What started as a paid model, in 2009 Mailchimp introduced a freemium plan for those with under 2,000 contacts. If this is the first time you’re hearing of Mailchimp then this is probably you.
If you’re an entrepreneur or creator of anything, Mailchimp is something to familiarize yourself with. Beyond templates and email marketing, Mailchimp also offers custom landing pages and automation capabilities (enter your info here and you’ll see what an automation is).
It’s pretty impressive that Mailchimp offers this for free, and it totally reason enough to cancel that $25 annual mail merge extension.
With the FindTap app, you’ll reduce your single-use plastic, live more hydrated, and most likely discover some cool new shops that double as refill stations.
Okay now, that’s the list.
And if you had your calculator app open you know that for $32.43 per month, or $389.16 annually, you can leverage each of these tools every day in 2020.
Yesterday alone, I spent more than $32.43 in an airport restaurant on an unfulfilling veggie burger and green tea, so calculating this out made me cringe. But once my facial expression settled, the truth remained: For a veggie burger and green tea each month, I can radically transform myself.
You can too. That’s a no brainer.
One thing you may have noticed is that this list does not include Netflix, Hulu, YouTube TV or any other streaming service. This was intentional. As entertaining as the content within these platforms is, the majority of shows and series do not support a growth mindset. If anything, they encourage unhealthy and stationary behaviors. This, coupled with price increases due to the dissolution of many streaming platforms, validated the exclusion. Consider replacing the hours spent horizontal delaying sleep fixated on streaming screens with podcasts, yoga, or Medium. Or, if you enjoy reading, open a local library card and access their digital downloads from anywhere. Another free service.
A 2020 challenge for any reader still with me is to delete Uber, Lyft, or any other ride-sharing apps. Not only do these services increase congestion and contribute to climate disruption, but they also interfere with opportunity. In the absence of these services, opt for walking, riding a bicycle, or public transit, and observe your surroundings, rather than rush from destination to destination. At first, this will be challenging, that’s why it is a bonus, but be open to it. You will learn how to organize your day better, improve your travel planning, and may just meet some incredible people along the way.
Tech firms have enjoyed a deluge of funding in the last few years. As discussed in our State of Venture Capital report, 2018, in particular, was a bumper year, with a total of $254 billion invested globally into ~18,000 startups through venture capital funds—a sharp increase of 46% from 2017’s total. Figures for 2019 are not yet completely finalized, but initial reports point to a slowdown in funding levels in the first half of the year and a mild rebound in Q3. This is true across sectors, and is most definitely true for the fintech sector, which is the largest sector in the growth company space. In fact, the global fintech market was worth $127.66 billion in 2018, with a predicted annual growth rate of ~25% until 2022, to $309.98 billion.
As within the broader VC sector, there is a general trend in the fintech industry toward maturity: larger funds (getting closer in both size and behavior to their private equity counterparts) investing in later stages of a company’s life, as illustrated in the funding statistics section. This, coupled with the retreat in funding for seed-stage companies, points toward a general consolidation and development of the sector.
As the market and the fintech landscape are maturing, now is the time to see which companies are here to stay and can become profitable – there will be some necessary consolidation and perhaps some high-profile failures.
Three factors are contributing to the maturing of the fintech sector:
The new technologies that helped fuel innovation in this arena (e.g., artificial intelligence and cyber defenses) are also maturing.
A lot of funds that invested in the first generation of companies that tried to capitalize and build on top of the destruction caused by the financial crash in 2008 are reaching the end of their life, and are thus getting their houses in order to return money to their investors.
The macroeconomic situation, particularly in the UK (one of the most advanced fintech markets) and in Europe, has deteriorated, slowing down funding to younger and newer companies.
Finally, in terms of geography, more and more mega-deals are happening in developing countries, where a large un- and underbanked population provided a very fertile ground for rapid growth. The mega valuation of Ant Financial (~$150 billion as of June 2019) is a great example of all of these different trends, and we will thus briefly cover it. It is also an interesting case study of how to build a great financial services firm.
Categorization: What Falls Under Fintech?
We define fintech technology as any technology that helps companies in financial services to operate or deliver their products and services, or that helps companies or individuals to manage their financial affairs. Under this definition, we include regulatory technology but not cryptocurrency strictly in the sector (the latter is in order to avoid excessive volatility). Some other reports may use a different breakdown and thus show slightly different total figures.
The main players in the arena of financial services are (listed by magnitude and importance):
Government entities, which can range widely from regulators, central banks, sovereign wealth funds, and all the authorities that grant licenses and can actively influence the financial sector.
Traditional financial services firms, which are getting involved both as investors, potential strategic acquirers, and as promoters of innovation. For instance, Citibank, the US bulge-bracket bank, is incredibly and increasingly involved in the sector. It has a range of initiatives such as an accelerator, outside acquisitions, and a venture capital investment team that invests the bank’s own funds (on its own balance sheet no less).
Tech companies that provide financial services alongside their core products. For instance, both Uber and Amazon have dedicated internal teams of engineers and experts making a strong push toward increasing their presence in the sector.
Companies that provide technology for financial transactions such as Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters, American Express, Visa, etc. are all technology companies that are part of the fintech ecosystem and need to keep up with all changes in the space and with new competitors that may challenge them.
Professional investors, which can be categorized based on size (small or large fund), stage (seed, late venture, private equity, etc.), and finally for source of funds, such as pension funds, strategic investors, family offices, etc.
New, disruptive companies operating in several different sectors, which we will cover in one of the following sections. Most often, these companies got their start by “unbundling” one of the services provided by an incumbent player.
Banking and finance have always been very linked to governments, and are thus a very hard sector to enter. Fintech startup guru Kathryn Petralia summed up the inextricable relationship between state and bank as such: “While technology and market forces are central to the ongoing disruption, however, they will not be the only or even the main driver of outcomes. Banking is ultimately about money, and money is about public authority – this is why, for centuries, banks have been licensed when they weren’t direct creations of the state.”
As the sector matures, it is collectively shifting away from consumer-focused, P2P (peer-to-peer) propositions toward infrastructure, more capital-intensive businesses, and new technologies. However, full disruption is still a long way off; the fintech sector is only biting at the ankles of the banking giants.
Funding Statistics: Maturing Sector Still Has High Growth
2018 was a record year for fintech (and tech companies in general) – with the amount funded more than doubling compared to the previous year. 2019 has reversed the trend somewhat, with a normalization of volumes but still showing strong historical growth.
Fintech Deals Down from Record 2018 ($ Billions)
Deals are focusing on the later stages: a normal consequence of the stabilization and maturing of the sector.
VC Fintech Deals Steadily Up Since 2015
Fintech Deals by Stage and Quarter
Globally, Asia is becoming a hotbed for fintech investments, partly because of the increased activity and interests of investors like Temasek and GIC, Singapore’s sovereign wealth funds.
Global Deal Distribution by Quarter
Fintech by Sector, Number of US Bank Investors
North America, however, is and remains the largest market. The continent is home to twice as many fintech companies as the APAC region.
Fintech Startups by Region
Emerging Categories for Companies
In this section, we will cover the taxonomy of emerging categories, adding some insights and examples to each category and some fintech trends.
Open/challenger banking. The regulatory environment, together with changing customer behaviors, are encouraging financial institutions to embrace the journey toward open banking/challenger banks. Various fintech players in the market are developing platforms that can allow financial institutions to connect to the broader API ecosystem, particularly in the European Union. This is, in part, due to revolutionary new regulation that was introduced in the EU, the Payments Services Directive, PSD2, and in the UK. The UK is a particularly interesting case study. The lowering of capital requirements for approval of a banking license by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) created a flurry of new banks being opened and granted licenses after 2011 (while no new bank had been been given one in more than 100 years prior). TrueLayer is a great success story in this arena. The company recently received $35 million in funding from very prestigious investors such as Temasek, the sovereign wealth fund of the Government of Singapore, which is a very prolific and reputable actor in fintech. Temasek is also one of the headline investors in Ant Financial, which is the focus of our little case study.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning-powered platforms to manage core business processes. These are support tools for operations that are intrinsic to the complexity of financial services and are either paper- or data-intensive. These are instruments that allow users to analyze data, mostly either to provide decision-making support or to detect anomalies. This is the new state-of-the-art approach to fraud detection and compliance to anti-money laundering laws, adopted by companies like FICO and Finastra. A common application is credit scoring.
Personalized advice platforms, from investment to lending. The focus here is providing improved user experience which is scalable. This can happen because the improvements are powered by simple processes, simple decisions to make on the part of the client, simplified reporting, and all presented with a captivating UX/UI design. This approach is mainly used to address processes like wealth management, life insurance, or loan subscription. These platforms transform a service that, to many users, seems complex and difficult to dominate into something straightforward and almost playful. In addition, they are also used to connect to customers, either to improve user experience through perceived empathy or otherwise to provide data-powered assistance at a lower cost. The range of applications is very large but quite common in wealth and investment management. A good example is Nutmeg, a so-called robo-advisor that provides (simple) automated asset allocation services and advice through machine learning. Nutmeg recently received a cornerstone investment from Goldman Sachs, which has also partnered with it to start delivering their wealth services to retail clients.
Insurance and pension. Much like challenger banks and investment product startups, new companies in the insurance and pension space are digitally native and aim to simplify a complex process while offering transparent UX and tools to facilitate investment management. PensionBee created a lot of buzz in the London fintech investment community when they were able to raise sizeable capital in 2017 (the amount was never confirmed, though). The segment, however, presents many difficulties for a new company—it is heavily regulated and requires high capital buffers and complex actuarial systems. It is also difficult to scale as regulation and pension systems vary greatly from country to country.
Lending and crowdfunding platforms. The new generation of lending and crowdfunding platforms are marketplaces that help the two sides of the transaction (funder and funded, or creditor and debtor) by standardizing the process and helping with marketing and legal materials. They are mostly utilizing enhanced processes powered by data analytics, offering seamless process steps between subscription, data collection, and analysis. Many players that are developing lending platforms aim to simplify the process and reduce lending time (from loan application to disbursement). LendingClub is by far the best-known company with this business model in the debt space. Other companies, like Avant, are more like traditional lenders and are expanding in the credit card space. An important caveat for companies of this type is that they are constrained in their borrowing (or equity) power by their own ability to fund. Not only that, but a failed crowdfunding round (particularly for equity) can be extremely damaging to a fledgling company.
Security and identity. Another interesting application of technology is security. Companies offer products that aid in the process of client onboarding, including companies that are developing solutions related to digital/cyber identity, biometric authentication, and fraud detection. Temenos is a leader in the sector.
Mortgage and real estate. Companies like Rocket Mortgage have unbundled a different part of the traditional lending business of banks. They have greatly benefited from the reputational damage that the mortgage business mistakes and collapse brought before the last decade, as well as from the change in consumer behavior and interactions with their financial service providers.
Blockchain. Applications of this technology usually have been studied and applied in cases that revolve around contracts, but there are also interesting features regarding identity management and onboarding processes. No real standout player has emerged from this space.
Payment technologies. Ranging from cryptocurrencies to global account management and FX management, fintech in the payments industry offers a broad range of innovative solutions. TransferWise is the European unicorn that was recently valued at $3.5 billion after the founders sold a stake.
Relative Size of Fintech Segments
Drivers and Trends
Among the many new companies that operate in the financial services technology space, a few clear categories have emerged that are in direct competition with banks and other more “traditional” financial services companies. Traditionally, the market entry point (and thus the go-to market strategy) for many of these companies has been unbundling banking relationships and services, particularly in the case of the ones focused on consumers, as opposed to those with a B2B business model. What does this mean in practice?
Financial services, as an industry, has traditionally had extremely high barriers to entry. This is because of a combination of factors, such as the high regulatory burden on them (which also changes by country because of the influence and style of the regulatory bodies), high capital requirements that can make it prohibitive to start a new enterprise (especially for retail banking and insurance), and because of risk management and compliance needs, which require a set of tools that are costly and complex. This has allowed traditional banks (from retail to corporate) to cross-sell to their clients heavily, which, in turn, increased the stickiness of the business. This practice had, at times, a negative impact on customer service levels and pricing power, as it became quite difficult for a client with a complex set of products and long-standing relationships to disentangle itself and change provider.
The real game-changer for the stagnating financial services sector was the coincidence in timing of a large-scale financial crash and a surge of technological advancements. Suddenly, the entire industry started suffering from a poor reputation, which prompted many to seek alternatives, while most institutions were focused internally to adhere to the new and increased requirements that came from the lessons learned by regulators and lawmakers in the crash. At the same time, technology advanced sharply.
Think how disruptive a company is when it can service a disgruntled banking customer who now also has a smartphone that can support a native app. These companies started identifying a part of the value chain that offered poor user experience and innovated upon it with technology and product. Digital-only banks, such as Monzo, Nubank, and Azlo, are examples of this. Monzo, for instance, initially known as Mondo, advertised itself as an innovative bank that could improve the overall experience of customers and “close the digital gap.”
Sector Evolution: With Maturity Comes Rebundling
As the sector evolves, and startups (or rather scaleups in this case) become more sophisticated and begin having access to larger amounts of capital, they are also starting a process of rebundling banking products and services.
For example, Zopa, the British P2P lending company that was one of the pioneers in the sector (founded in 2005), decided to become a bank in a process that has not been without its difficulties. Revolut, the controversial fintech unicorn that is leading a strong global expansion, has also taken similar steps, while also adding crypto services to its product range; however, Revolut has not yet been able to achieve profitability. Finally, a great example of multiple trends realizing in one company is Figure, the latest unicorn started by the founder of SoFi. The company provides home equity release while utilizing blockchain technology.
In general, the focus of younger companies appears to be moving from B2C to B2B as the former market becomes extremely crowded with several copycat ideas and some companies struggling because of the challenging macro and business environments, with a lot of interesting companies finding traction in the following segments:
Capital markets infrastructure, helping capital market players secure and innovate on their technology systems (pricing, settlement, KYC, etc.).
Compliance and regtech tools still developing as regulatory burden keep increasing – this can range from fraud prevention to AML to KYC.
Large institutional players (including banks, large investment funds, and tech companies) are increasing their allocation and attention to the sector, getting more and more involved, both through investing and building products.
Segmentation by Customer
Money transfer / FX / Remittances
Payments and billing
High Net Worth (HNW)
Crowdfunding and other investment platforms
B2B – small-to-medium enterprise (SME)
Payroll and accounting
B2B – enterprise
Trends to Watch
The consumer market is perhaps the most saturated, and also the easiest to conquer. Consumers, however, tend to have low loyalty, and be sensitive to design and experience initially, but then be swayed by price and convenience.
Companies targeting consumers with a few clear themes. There is a wealth of personal finance apps built on banking APIs and of a differing level of sophistication.
Many new types of insurers are emerging, focusing on different types of end-user insurance (car, bicycle, etc.). This is the least capital-intensive type of insurance and the easiest to get off the ground – it is still very early to see a real disruption along insurance lines.
Quite a few companies are targeting the self-employed and freelancers, offering services to the ever-increasing number of people that work in alternative ways.
The lending space is very crowded, in the same manner as in the B2B space, creating a ripe environment for acquisitions and consolidation.
The wealth management and investment space is most differentiated and interesting – AI technology advancement makes it now possible to offer services such as frequent investment portfolio rebalancing, which were previously only available to sophisticated private investors or high net worth individuals.
High Net Worth Individuals
HNW individuals are a separate class of consumers: They are more sophisticated and have more complex financial needs. The offering that is specifically targeted to them focuses around innovative and automated investment opportunities.
Many wealth management and personalized advice platforms target HNWs. They are meant to streamline the private banking process, facilitating access to innovative asset classes (such as startups, for instance) and reducing portfolio rebalancing costs.
Another offering geared toward this clientele focuses on real estate and loan direct investing. HNWs are targeted as the supply-side of P2P or digital loan marketplaces, both for personal or SME loans, as well as direct investments in real estate projects.
B2B – Enterprise
Enterprise clients are notoriously challenging. Sales cycles are much longer, the customers can be more demanding, require a lot of bespoke features, and they often expect a degree of professional services to be provided together with tech products. However, they are also very lucrative and can provide income over several years if they find a solution to a real business problem.
Startups targeting enterprises are much more differentiated – they tend to focus on business services and core business processes. This is an area of great focus, particularly for large banks, which are still adjusting to the changes in regulations that have come as a result of the financial crisis. Any company that offers a tool that can help not only streamline the process but also to reduce costs (banks spend up to 10% of their total costs on compliance – the amounts at play are staggering).
Wealth management and capital markets are the predominant target segments for investors, particularly in seed stage. As the consumer segment matures, more complex products targeting more sophisticated clients are emerging. These companies have enjoyed higher amounts of funding even at earlier stages, following the general VC trend for larger deals.
AI applications and infrastructure are the most interesting areas for investment and more differentiated offering – the evolution of AI technology creates a fertile ground for new ideas.
B2B – Small-to-medium Enterprise
Small and medium enterprises offer great opportunities for the fintech entrepreneurial community. SMEs struggle with the increased complexity imposed on them by changing technologies and do not often have the resources to build inhouse tools.
A great example of this are tools that facilitate accounting and invoice automation, such as Basware.
Benefits and business banking services are also becoming more popular.
The lending space is very crowded, in a similar vein as the lending space for consumers – the most established players will survive but a consolidation is to be expected.
Pension services are most interesting but not easily scalable as capital-intensive and dependent on regulation – these companies directly compete with traditional pension providers.
Ant Financial: Addressing Customer Needs + Big Backer = Winner
Ant Financial is, as of the summer of 2019, the most valuable unicorn in the world, after it had a reported valuation of around $150 billion. To put that in perspective, it makes Ant Financial approximately as valuable as Goldman Sachs ($79.46 billion) and Morgan Stanley ($79.05 billion) combined. It also makes Ant Financial one of the most valuable tech companies in China, a country with a population of close to 1.4 billion people. But what makes Ant Financial so interesting and such a good example of what the current state of fintech is? It is the fact that it is following the trajectory and trends we have identified at record speed – the company is shifting from being a pure payment business toward being more of a full-range financial services company.
Ant Financial was previously known as Alipay, the payment tool for Alibaba. It was originally developed to help facilitate transactions on Taobao, the Chinese competitor to eBay. By creating trust among users, it enabled the explosive growth of the Alibaba group, led by Jack Ma. Alipay was then spun off from Alibaba and started offering a broader range of financial services. Alipay was effectively responsible, together with the Commercial Bank of China, for building the basic electronic payments network in the country. Previously, all payments were handled with paper transactions and had to pass through the People’s Bank of China.
Moreover, China saw a boom in technology adoption by its population. They were also becoming wealthier, and thus in need of increasingly complex (and higher margin) financial products.
This perfect storm made Ant Financial into a powerhouse. It currently has 1.2 billion customers worldwide (¾ of whom are in China) and aims to grow to 2 billion over the next decade. Currently, it is estimated that around 60-70% of the company’s revenues come from payments, but this percentage will steadily decline as the Ant keeps strengthening their customer proposition and offering higher-value products like mortgages, credit cards, and credit scoring. This will effectively make them a modern, full-service bank, the bank of the future. For reference, a traditional retail bank will have around 30% of their revenues from payments.
The radical transformation of the financial services industry through fintech disruption is still underway. The regulatory tightening that started with the financial crash of 2008 is continuing at a strong pace, and thus forcing traditional players to embrace innovation. The market is maturing, with fewer but larger and later-stage deals taking place. The consumer and lender segments will face a strong consolidation, particularly if the macroeconomic situation deteriorates sharply.
It is worth noting that most of the underlying “plumbing” (i.e., the nuts and bolts that underpin financial transactions) is still almost entirely provided by traditional banks. This is because the requirements are prohibitive for any startup. For example, for any loan to an SME, a bank is required to hold 85% of the loan amount in regulatory capital. It will be challenging for fintech players to completely disentangle themselves from banks and at the same time receive the blessing of regulators. Zopa’s latest troubles are a good example – the company had to do a last-minute fundraise in order to fulfill a capital injection request from the FCA. Failing to do so would have meant losing its preliminary banking license.
Ultimately, vying for private equity capital or going public will put many of the largest companies in the space to the test. Can they finally deliver on investors’ expectations and become profitable? Are they able to pass muster with the competent authorities and gain significant market share in developed countries? How many fintechs will survive? What will the fintech landscape look like? Who will get acquired by a strategic investor? But finally, the parting question is: Is it possible to build a profitable bank of the future in the West, like Jack Ma has achieved in China? If you need a strategic partner to support you in the fintech crusade, Toptal has a team of fintech developers, designers, and business experts in place to assist.
Respondents’ views on the world economy and their countries’ conditions turn somewhat brighter. Trade tensions remain the most-cited threat to global growth, while social unrest climbs on the list of concerns.
The views of respondents to McKinsey’s latest survey on economic conditions end the year on a somewhat more upbeat note, moving away from earlier pessimism.1 While executives still tend to report negative sentiments, a growing share of respondents see current and future global conditions as stable or improving.
Views on conditions at home are also more tempered overall in this latest survey, as a larger share of respondents say their economies are unchanged from—as opposed to worse than—six months ago.2 In Latin America and in India, where executives are likeliest to report that present conditions have declined, respondents most clearly predict improvement in the months ahead.
Among perceived risks to global and domestic growth, trade conflicts and trade-policy changes remain at the fore, but social and political risks have risen on the list of commonly cited threats. Respondents identify social unrest as a global risk more often than they have all year, and they are more likely now than in the previous survey to say domestic political conflicts and transitions of political leadership are a top threat to their countries’ economies.
Though still cautious, views on the world economy grow more favorable
Views on the world economy remain more downbeat than cheerful overall. For the sixth quarter in a row, a larger share of respondents say the world economy has worsened than improved in the past six months. But the year’s negative trend has reversed: for the first time in 2019, respondents are more likely than in the previous survey to say conditions have stayed the same or improved, and are much less likely to say conditions have declined (Exhibit 1). Whereas three-quarters of respondents in September described conditions as having declined, that number fell to 53 percent in this latest survey, similar to the level one year ago.
Expectations for the months ahead also have shifted in a positive direction. In a change from the two previous surveys, fewer than half of respondents expect global conditions to worsen in the next six months. They are more likely than respondents were three and six months ago to expect conditions to remain unchanged.
Similarly, when asked specifically about the rate of global growth, the share of respondents saying they expect contraction has decreased for the first time this year (Exhibit 2). Further, the share expecting an increase in the growth rate has nearly doubled since the previous survey.
Shifting sentiment at home
Respondents’ views on current conditions in their countries also have moderated, though the share reporting improvement hasn’t grown. About four in ten say economic conditions have worsened in their countries in the past six months, down from 53 percent who said so in September but about the same as in the prior three surveys. The same share, 40 percent, say conditions have stayed the same, up from 30 percent in the previous survey. Meanwhile, the share reporting improvement in their economies—about one in five—has remained consistent since the June survey.
As was true in the previous survey, respondents in Latin America are the most sanguine about current conditions (Exhibit 3). Respondents in India and other developing markets remain more likely to express negative views than those in other regions. For the second quarter in a row, nearly eight in ten respondents in India say conditions there have worsened, and about six in ten in developing markets say the same.
Respondents in North America and Europe are less likely than those elsewhere to say conditions at home have declined. But as they look ahead to the next six months, they are among the least optimistic, along with respondents in developing markets.
Overall, respondents are less likely than in September to expect their countries’ economies to worsen. Forty-three percent expect conditions to decline in the first half of 2020, down from 51 percent who predicted declining conditions in September. Yet views remain more negative than positive: one-quarter expect their economies to improve, in line with the previous survey, and the remainder expect no change.
Across regions, respondents in Latin America are the most positive about their countries’ prospects for the second survey in a row. Forty-five percent say they expect improvement in their economies—a similar share as in September. Similarly, these respondents are the most likely to expect their countries’ growth rates to increase, and for their unemployment rates to decrease.
On the question of growth rates, respondents are less likely than in the previous survey to expect their countries’ growth rates to contract in the months ahead: 43 percent say so, compared with 51 percent in September. These findings resemble those from December 2018 through June of this year.
Concerns over trade remain high, and social unrest emerges as a threat
Trade concerns remain center stage for executives, and half of respondents say trade levels between their countries and the rest of the world have declined over the past year. About one in five report an increase in trade—in line with September’s findings. But a smaller share than in the previous survey expect trade levels to decrease in the year ahead: 43 percent, compared with 52 percent in September.
Trade conflicts top the list of cited risks to global economic growth over the next year, as they have throughout 2019 (Exhibit 4). Sixty-five percent of respondents cite this risk, down from 73 percent in September and three-quarters in June.
Similarly, for the third quarter in a row, trade-policy changes are the most commonly cited risk to domestic growth. Nearly four in ten say it is a top risk. As has been true throughout 2019, changes in trade policy remain an outsize concern in North America, where 53 percent of respondents say they are a threat. That is down from 63 percent in the region saying so in September.
Other top risks to global and domestic growth have reemerged. For the first time since September 2017, social unrest is among the top five most cited global risks. The share of respondents citing unrest—20 percent—has doubled since September, and the percentage in developed Asia–Pacific and Latin America deeming it a risk has more than tripled. Overall, social unrest continues to rank below trade conflicts, geopolitical risks, and trade-policy changes, which have been the top concerns throughout 2019.
Looking at the risks affecting respondents’ countries, political risks have become more top of mind in recent months. Domestic political conflicts are the second most commonly cited risk, behind trade-policy changes and overtaking geopolitical instability as a concern since the previous survey. Furthermore, 34 percent say these conflicts are a threat, up from 28 percent who said so in September. As has been true throughout the year, political conflicts are of outsize concern in Latin America, where they are the most commonly cited risk, identified by 52 percent of respondents. In addition, transitions of political leadership are again listed among the top five perceived threats to respondents’ economies, as they were in March and June.
Almost 30 years after the collapse of the USSR, Central Asian citizens are growing tired of stagnating economies, rampant corruption and their governments’ empty promises. In 2019, they made it clear they want something better — improved services, more transparency in decision-making and better opportunities for themselves and their children. Like many others across the globe, Central Asians are also demanding fresh leaders, solutions to their problems and a chance for their opinions to be heard.
These sentiments facilitated populist politics in the West, although generally through the ballot box. Frustrated Armenians toppled a long-standing government in the 2018 Velvet Revolution, replacing it with the country’s first truly post-Soviet government. In Hong Kong and Iran, violent protests have sent shivers down the spines of autocrats.
In Central Asia, popular anger is rising, but it is coinciding with tremendous demographic shifts. Central Asia’s population is roughly 72 million people — 16 million more than in 2000. The post-Soviet Central Asian generation is entering adulthood with limited employment opportunities and no social safety net. Central Asian governments struggle to recognise — let alone manage — these problems.
Some countries, like Turkmenistan, ignore domestic problems. There is no reliable information about the Turkmen budget or state reserves — the health of which are closely held secrets. Yet both are believed to be deeply troubled. A November 2019 IMF assessment warned Turkmenistan to avoid cheap credit, improve financial oversight and maintain fiscal stability. Food shortages are growing and the government is rationing access to foreign currency. These problems force Turkmen citizens to try to leave the country for jobs and cash — a difficult prospect for most. Rumours about President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov’s health and his mysterious disappearance in summer 2019 enhance this sense of instability.
Tajikistan’s social contract is crumbling as the ruling Rahmon family continues to consolidate control over the economy. This periodically instigates political infighting, with the losers occasionally using extreme means. Economic desperation may have led to the mysterious November attack against Tajik border guards that the government implausibly blamed on the so-called Islamic State terrorist group. Over two-thirds of Tajiks are under 30 and one-third live under the poverty line. These harsh realities force many working-age men to move to Russia, giving Moscow considerable leverage over Dushanbe.
Instability in Kyrgyzstan has given parliamentary democracy a bad name in the region. A series of elite corruption scandals roiled the country in 2019. One led to the murder of an investigative journalist, appears to be connected to organised crime, and apparently involved government officials. Anger over that case prompted mass protests in late 2019, causing a nervous government to block websites covering the story and temporarilyfreeze assets of the independent outlets that broke the story. The other has former president Almazbek Atambayev and many of his associates on trial or already jailed. Corruption has long stymied Kyrgyzstan’s democratic trajectory, impeded economic growth and undermined popular faith in government — particularly because judicial action against high-powered elites is usually coloured by politics. With parliamentary elections scheduled for October 2020, Kyrgyzstan’s politics will remain volatile.
Uzbekistan is the one bright spot in the region — for now. President Shavkat Mirziyoyev continues to pursue top-down reforms allowing criticism of local problems and publicly acknowledging the need for greater government accountability. But these reforms are largely to placate citizens, prevent grass-roots activism and focus public anger away from him onto lower level officials. If these moves truly liberalise the economy, it is still not certain whether Tashkent can entice enough foreign investors to create the jobs it needs for the future.
The 22 December Uzbek parliamentary election certainly allowed for more public debate of issues. Candidates and political parties held debates and created websites and Facebook pages, an unprecedented move in a country where the internet is highly controlled. Both eventually may allow for greater outreach and feedback between parliamentarians and constituents on key social issues, offering some hope to Uzbeks who want more accountability and responsiveness from their leaders. Nonetheless, the vote remained a carefully staged-managed event that blocked truly independent voices. The new parliament will have more women and younger voices — likely a response to the rapid demographic change occurring in the country and to Mirziyoyev’s desire to purge the body of his predecessor’s loyalists.
Kazakhstan is the country to watch most closely. The economic engine of the region suddenly looks less stable. In March 2019, the country’s first president Nursultan Nazarbayev stepped down after three decades of rule. He anointed former prime minister, foreign minister, and senate chairman Kassym Jomart-Tokayev, an experienced technocrat, as his successor in what was supposed to be a carefully managed presidential transition. Tokayev presumably was to run the day-to-day government, where economic challenges are growing. Meanwhile, Nazarbayev, who still chairs the more powerful Security Council, would serve as the elder statesman — similar to Singapore’s founder Lee Kuan Yew.
This transition did not go as planned. Grass-roots activists began voicing concerns over the lack of transparency in the transition, which provided them no democratic choice. A flawed election in June was supposed to fix that problem, but only provided a thin veneer of legitimacy for Tokayev and prompted even more protests.
Frictions are reportedly growing between the old and new presidents. In October, Nazarbayev seemingly clipped his successor’s wings when he regained the right to coordinate (meaning to approve) Tokayev’s senior government appointments. Nazarbayev and the Security Council he chairs clearly remain the centre of power. Rumours proliferate about how long Tokayev will last in the job.
Finally, nationalism is rising across the region — another international trend where youth seem to be turning away from globalisation. This nationalism enhances anger toward sitting elites, who are often accused of fleecing the state. Nationalism likewise complicates international relations. Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have to manage growing anti-Chinese sentiments at home, sparked by the lack of transparency in Beijing’s economic investments and intensified by the treatment of the Uighur minority across the border. Anti-Russian sentiment is also on the rise.
Demographic change and the rise of the next generation will continue to pose significant challenges for Central Asian regimes in the coming year, particularly for the Soviet-era elites who continue to rule the region but remain targets of popular resentment.
U.S. markets failed to add on to Monday’s gains in today’s shortened session with the DJIA and the S&P 500 falling slightly. The Nasdaq did manage to end the day in positive territory, but the action was thin across most major markets. Exchanges, banks, and just about everything else is closed tomorrow for the Christmas holiday. European and Canadian markets are closed Thursday for Boxing Day. U.S markets reopen on Thursday.
The SEC is investigating German auto manufacturer BMW. According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. regulator is looking into whether the company manipulated sales figures by having dealers register cars as sold when they were still present in car lots.
Tesla’s (TSLA) stock briefly crossed $420 yesterday, the price at which CEO Elon Musk had famously said he would take it private. It’s been a roller-coaster year for the company, and Musk noted the development on his twitter account with a pun news reporters on the cannabis beat are very familiar with.
Uber Technology’s (UBER) founder, Travis Kalanick is leaving the company’s board, effective Dec. 31, after reportedly having finished selling off all his stock in the company. Kalanick’s stake was worth about $2.5 billion, according to company filings. He is launching his latest venture, CloudKitchens, which rents out space to restaurateurs for delivery-based businesses.
Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have reached an agreement in a dispute over a shared oil field. The field, in a territory between the two countries called the “neutral zone,” produced 500,000 barrels of oil a day before the dispute stopped its production in early 2015. Chevron, which operates there, says it expects full production to be restored within a year.
Netflix (NFLX) CEO Reed Hastings will receive $34 million in stock options in 2020 on top of his annual salary of $650,000, the company said in a regulatory filing. Netflix has been the best performing stock in the S&P 500 over the past decade.
It’s been quite a voyage. It is hard to believe that exactly a year ago, the S&P 500 sold off 2.7% to end a December of market carnage brought on by fears of an escalating trade war and a hawkish Federal Reserve. Things changed, as we know, and the broader market has surged 37% in a year, topping new records along the way.
It hasn’t just been a U.S. story, either. According to Deutsche Bank, global stock markets added more than $17 trillion in total value. The value of global equities began the year just under $70 trillion, but has now surpassed $85 trillion.
That growth has translated into a handsome gain for the global equity market, as seen through the MSCI World Index.
We’ll take that holiday gift and run with it.
We’ll keep it short and sweet today, and let you get back to the sweetness of family and friends during this holiday season.
Thank you for spending part of it with us.
What’s Open and Closed this Week?
It’s a short week for markets this week as markets around the world will be closed. Take a look at the table below for details on which markets are closed when.
chart courtesy YCHARTS
It was a light trading day today. Computer-chip maker Advanced Micro Devices rose 2.4% after RBC Capital Markets raised its price target for the company.
More sellers than buyers for tobacco company Altria Group, which dropped 2.4% and investment management firm Invesco, which fell 2.2%. Memory storage device maker Seagate fell 1.4%, and oil company Apache fell 1.4%, giving up some of yesterday’s gains.
A Christmas tree is an options trading spread strategy achieved by buying and selling six call (or 6 put) options with different strikes but the same expiration dates for a neutral to bullish forecast. This is termed a long call Christmas tree when using calls or a put Christmas tree when using put options. The strategy is also available long (bullish) or short, (bearish).
Today in History
December 24, 1968
Today in 1968, the crew of the Apollo 8 space mission, Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders, became the first humans to enter orbit around the moon. The crew, which blasted off on the 21st, were also the first human beings to ever leave low-earth orbit. Anders was assigned to photograph the surface of the moon for potential landing sites. However, the most spectacular photo wasn’t one of the moon, but an unscheduled picture of the earth, seen above. This photo, known as “Earthrise” shows the Earth, half in darkness, rising above the moon’s surface. The photo, showing the whole earth suspended and alone in space, is credited with helping spur the environmental movement, by showing how precarious and special humanity’s place is in a vast universe. Take a moment to appreciate the first earthrise ever seen by humans.
Stocks, bonds, currencies and commodity markets traded nearly unchanged during the hours of today’s abbreviated session at the New York Stock Exchange. The price of silver and gold were notable exceptions, however, as these markets broke significantly higher today. The price of silver rose nearly two percent while gold increased by one percent.
This small price spike in precious metals may be a reflection of some investors looking to hedge risks as the year comes to a close. Option sellers have held on to a subtle risk premium over the past few days, implying that they too see slightly elevated risks after the holiday stretch has past.
By contrast, retail traders and investors have largely embraced risk as evidenced by the fact that the microcap index (RUMIC) continues to outpace the broad market indexes. The chart below compares the surge in the price of iShares’ Russell Microcap index-tracking ETF (IWC) with the S&P 500 (SPX), to demonstrate that growing appetite for risk.
Precious Metals Demand Meets Risk Appetite
During a holiday market session with typically lower volumes in trading, the only traders and investors present in the market are those that are paid to be there, such as clerks and market makers, and those traders or investors who really want to be there. It is useful to pay attention to what happens on these days because the movement in prices created by these individuals may reflect larger or developing undercurrents in the market overall.
For example, the chart below compares IWC with three precious metals ETFs: State Street’s gold tracking ETF (GLD), iShares silver tracking ETF (SLV), and Van Eck’s Junior Gold Miners fund (GDXJ). All four of these funds show a recent uptick in price action, confirming that the increased appetite for risk and opportunity among investors is finding its way into the precious metals sector.
Smaller Mining Companies Signaling Success Ahead
Among small cap gold and silver mining companies, three in particular which mine both metals have shown unusual relative strength. Hecla Mining (HL), Coeur Mining (CDE) and Gold Resource Corporation (GORO), all have in common both gold and silver mining operations. The chart below compares the performance of an equal-weighted portfolio of these three stocks to GDXJ shares.
The comparison shows a surprising surge over the past three months with these stocks nearly doubling in price, on average, over the last six months. That small cap mining companies have increased in price on a day when the price of gold and silver have increased is not surprising. But the fact that these stocks have jumped so strongly during a period of time when the price of gold and silver has been drifting slightly lower may be an indication that well-informed investors sense a coming increase in demand for the metals. Experienced chart watchers recognize that signals like this usually imply continued moves to come.
The Bottom Line
Stocks and other assets traded nearly unchanged today in a shortened, low-volume trading session. However market participants show both an appetite for risk among buyers and a hedge against risk among sellers, suggesting that larger moves may come shortly after the new year. Both microcap stocks and gold mining companies were on the rise in today’s trading.
This year, we published more than 300 posts on Visual Capitalist, getting well over 30 million views along the way.
Many of these graphics are visually stunning, but there’s only room for 19 posts on the annual list of our best work. Below, you’ll find the Top Infographics of 2019 list, which contains our most popular infographics, as well as a curation of staff favorites for the year.
New this year is our “Viewer’s Choice” award, which is given to the best visualization, as chosen by our loyal VC+ readership.
Below are the top posts of 2019. But first, a few quick notes:
Images below are small preview images for each large infographic and article.
To view any post in full, click the image or link in the text. All links open in a new tab.
At the very end of the list, you can find our “Viewer’s Choice” award winner.
Wishing you the best in the new year! – The Visual Capitalist Team
19. How Does Your Personality Type Affect Your Income?
When it comes to making money, not all personality types play on an even playing field.
This recent post breaks down Myers-Briggs personality types by average earning potential, including the specific facets that tend to correlate positively with money over the long term.
18. The 20 Internet Giants That Rule the Web
Digital media moves at a breakneck pace — and with almost no barriers to entry, it’s no surprise to see the pecking order turn over every other year.
Even so, it’s easy to forget that names like GeoCities, Lycos, and Ask Jeeves once dominated the internet landscape as we knew it. Our infographic from earlier this year balances the technological pace of change with nostalgia, to show how the web has changed over recent decades.
17. Where the World’s Banks Make the Most Money
In 2018, the global banking industry raked in $1.3 trillion in after-tax profit.
In this infographic, we looked at where the money is in banking — as well as the upcoming geographic regions and segments that will fuel the future of banking.
16. A History of Revolution in U.S. Taxation
The American Revolution was born out of colonial dissent towards unfair taxation policies.
For this reason, it’s no surprise that the evolution of U.S. taxation itself has been inextricably linked to contentious debate and even moments of rebellion. Our infographic on the history of U.S. taxation helps paint a picture of this story.
15. The History of Esports
Esports is already filling stadiums — and soon it could be lining investors’ pockets as well.
Our recent infographic breaks down the history of this soon-to-be multi-billion dollar industry, while also showing you the five factors that will determine the pace of future growth in esports.
14. The Game of Life: Visualizing China’s Social Credit System
Imagine a world where over a billion citizens are scored on how “good” they are, based on a set of criteria put forward by the government.
What could possibly go wrong?
13. Visualizing Corruption Around the World
Which countries are the most corrupt?
This colorful map breaks down the Corruptions Perception Index — an attempted measure of the perceived level of public sector corruption in over 180 countries.
12. The Race to Invest in the Space Economy
For decades, the space economy has been driven solely by government spending.
Of course, the government still plays an important role in the sector today, but the final frontier is also seemingly open for private business and sustained investment. In the near future, space tourism, resource extraction, and other segments could make space a trillion dollar industry.
11. Mapped: The World’s Biggest Oil Discoveries Since 1868
Historically, oil and gas discoveries have been an unparalleled source of wealth for many countries around the world.
This recent post maps out the biggest oil discoveries ever made, while also highlighting the flipside to the story: in a global economy where dependency on fossil fuels is expected to diminish, is any new discovery a blessing or a curse?
Which company or organization is the largest employer in every state?
This animated map focuses in on employment statistics — but really, it gives perspective of the dominance of Walmart, the nation’s largest brick-and-mortar retailer and private employer.
9. Mapped: The Countries With the Highest Housing Bubble Risks
This series of maps highlights several metrics that are used to evaluate housing markets, including the price-to-rent ratio, price-to-income ratio, real house prices, and credit to households as a percentage of GDP.
See which countries have ratios out of whack, and what it could mean for housing markets.
8. All of the World’s Carbon Emissions in One Chart
Only 15 countries account for over 72.2% of global carbon emissions.
See it all visualized — and also see the percentage of fossil fuel emissions that have occurred in your lifetime.
7. Visualizing the Happiest Country on Every Continent
This series of maps provides a look at each individual continent, to identify the happiest (and unhappiest) country in each region.
6. 70 Years of China’s Economic Growth In One Chart
It’s been 70 years since the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
This nifty graphic timeline contains an impressive amount of history and facts about the country’s prolific rise and economic growth.
5. The Most Hyped Technology of Every Year From 2000-2018
It’s not always easy to tell which new technologies will pan out, and which will fail to live up to society’s expectations.
But hindsight is 20/20 — so in this graphic, we look back at almost 20 years of Gartner’s hype cycle of emerging technologies, to see what amounted from many of the technological breakthroughs that have gained traction over the years.
4. Ranking the Top 100 Websites in the World
In this spectacular data visualization, we resize the world’s top 100 websites according to the amount of traffic they receive.
The end result provides a fascinating snapshot of global web traffic, and the impressive scale of the internet.
3. The Entire History of Tesla in 5 Minutes
What is the origin story behind Tesla, and how did it end up becoming the innovative car company it is today?
We condense the history of Tesla into about five minutes, while also providing an outline of the future vision of Elon Musk.
2. $69 Trillion of World Debt in One Infographic
Did you know that government debt now adds up to $69 trillion globally?
The latest version of our famous world debt graphic breaks down the debt owed by each country as a proportion of world debt, as well as debt to GDP ratios.
1. How Tech Giants Make Their Billions
Tech giants are finding ways to play bigger roles in our digital lives, whether it’s through computers, smartphones, smart devices, or apps.
As names like Facebook, Amazon, and Google have become even more ubiquitous, they’ve also leveraged network effects, scale, and winner-take-most marketplaces to build up powerful businesses as well.
Our #1 pick of 2019 showcases the Big Five Tech Giants and their various revenue streams – which, when combined together, add up to over $802 billion per year.
Viewer’s Choice: The Largest Economies in 2030
Finally, it’s time for our “Viewer’s Choice” award.
We polled our VC+ members last week to get a tally for which visualization this year was their favorite, with this video on the largest projected economies in 2030 taking the cake.
Until next time, have a fantastic holiday season and a happy new year!
Đây là bài viết của Tiến sĩ dinh dưỡng sĩ Fu Da, một bác sĩ chuyên về dinh dưỡng thực hành, tập trung vào quản lý cân nặng và điều trị dinh dưỡng cho bệnh nhân trong hơn 20 năm tại Trung Quốc. Hy vọng bài viết của ông hữu ích cho quý vị độc […]
Đây là bài viết của Tiến sĩ dinh dưỡng sĩ Fu Da, một bác sĩ chuyên về dinh dưỡng thực hành, tập trung vào quản lý cân nặng và điều trị dinh dưỡng cho bệnh nhân trong hơn 20 năm tại Trung Quốc. Hy vọng bài viết của ông hữu ích cho quý vị độc giả.
Làm thế nào để có được dinh dưỡng tốt nhất với ít tiền nhất là một câu hỏi rất có ý nghĩa. Tôi đã giảng bài về dinh dưỡng cho sinh viên đại học nhiều lần và nói về vấn đề này nhiều lần.
Nhiều người nghĩ rằng để có được dinh dưỡng tốt, bạn phải ăn những sản phẩm dinh dưỡng đắt tiền. Trên thực tế, đây là một sự hiểu lầm, một quan niệm thiếu cơ sở khoa học.
Theo tôi, các sản phẩm dinh dưỡng như yến sào, vây cá mập, hải sâm và các thực phẩm tương tự như vậy thật khó để chúng ta tiếp cận thường xuyên vì giá của chúng quá cao. Để có được dinh dưỡng tốt, trước tiên bạn phải biết cơ thể bạn cần dinh dưỡng gì.
Con người là đại diện cho loài ăn tạp điển hình và đòi hỏi nhiều chất dinh dưỡng. Nước, carbohydrate, chất béo, protein, vitamin, khoáng chất, chất xơ, 7 chất dinh dưỡng này rất cần thiết cho cơ thể con người.
Trên thực tế, nó cũng nên bao gồm các hợp chất thực vật, nghĩa là, rất nhiều chất trong rau và trái cây, chẳng hạn như flavonoid…
Các nghiên cứu gần đây đã phát hiện ra rằng ăn hơn 500 miligam flavonoid mỗi ngày có lợi cho sức khỏe theo nhiều cách.
Biết được các yếu tố dinh dưỡng mà cơ thể con người cần, chúng ta hãy xem làm thế nào để có được dinh dưỡng tốt nhất với ít tiền nhất. Sau khi đọc bài viết này, bạn sẽ thấy rằng có được dinh dưỡng tốt thực sự không tốn nhiều tiền.
1, Nước uống
Giá cả của các loại nước có thể được sử dụng để uống có sự chênh lệch rất khác nhau, từ rẻ nhất cho đến đắt nhất đều có trên thị trường. Điều này có nghĩa rằng, có nhiều cái giá bạn phải bỏ ra cho việc uống nước.
Ví dụ, từ nước đun sôi để nguội rồi uống thì gần như miễn phí, hay chúng ta phải bỏ hàng chục đô la một chai nước khoáng đắt đỏ đặc biệt ở một nơi nào đó.
Nhưng nước cũng chỉ là nước, chỉ cần độ cứng phù hợp và không chứa các chất có hại, thì đều có lợi đối với sức khỏe của cơ thể như nhau. Vì vậy, chỉ cần bạn uống nước lọc đun sôi để nguội bình thường là đủ.
Nếu bạn có một số tiền dư, bạn cũng có thể mua trà để pha uống, chỉ cần chọn loại trà đảm bảo chất lượng, không nhất thiết phải mua trà thương hiệu nổi tiếng, bạn cũng sẽ không tốn nhiều tiền.
Điều quan trọng nhất khi lựa chọn nước uống không phải là giá cả, mà là số lượng. Hãy nhớ uống 1500 ~ 2000 ml nước đun sôi mỗi ngày để giữ cho cơ thể đủ nước. Cách nhận biết có đủ nước hay chưa là quan sát màu sắc nước tiểu. Nếu nước tiểu trong và đi tiểu đều đặn là khỏe mạnh.
Bạn cũng có thể uống nhiều hơn nếu bạn đổ mồ hôi nhiều hơn.
2, Thức ăn chính (nhóm tinh bột)
Nếu bạn không mua những loại thực phẩm cao quý được thổi phồng giá trị, thì các loại thực phẩm chủ yếu sẽ không tốn nhiều tiền.
Thực phẩm chính được nói tới ở đây là chất tinh bột (ví dụ như gạo) cung cấp carbohydrate và một lượng nhỏ protein thực vật.
Các loại ngũ cốc thô cũng có thể cung cấp nhiều chất xơ, vitamin, khoáng chất và các hợp chất thực vật. Do đó, hiệu quả dinh dưỡng của hạt thô cao hơn nhiều so với gạo trắng và mì trắng tinh chế.
Bạn có thể chọn mua các loại ngũ cốc thô thay thế cho 1/3 đến 1/2 số lượng gạo trắng/bột mì tinh chế cũng là một lựa chọn tốt. Giá cả của các loại hạt ngũ cốc thô như gạo lứt, yến mạch, kê, ngô, khoai lang,… đều khá rẻ, chất lượng thực phẩm loại này cũng rất tốt cho sức khỏe.
Liên quan đến nguồn carbohydrate, cũng có một loạt các nguồn khác như đồ uống có đường, kem, sô cô la, món tráng miệng và những thực phẩm tương tự như vậy. Những thực phẩm này thường là nhóm dinh dưỡng đơn nhất, chủ yếu là carbohydrate tinh chế, đường tự do và chất béo, và chúng thường không có giá trị dinh dưỡng nào khác ngoài việc cung cấp calo.
Hơn nữa, đây cũng là những thực phẩm có giá trị dinh dưỡng thấp nhưng giá cả lại đắt và không đáng để ăn.
3, Thức ăn giàu protein (nhóm thịt cá)
Protein là một chất dinh dưỡng rất quan trọng. Cơ thể con người có thể tổng hợp protein, nhưng các axit amin thô đều phụ thuộc vào thực phẩm. Và cơ thể không thể lưu trữ protein. Vì vậy, để có được dinh dưỡng tốt nhất, bạn phải ăn đủ hàm lượng protein mà cơ thể cần.
Dựa theo thành phần axit amin của protein, nó được chia thành protein chất lượng cao và protein chất lượng ít hơn. Protein chất lượng cao chứa tất cả các axit amin thiết yếu của cơ thể con người và tỷ lệ này gần với cơ thể con người, hầu hết đến từ protein động vật, protein từ đậu nành cũng có chất lượng tương đối tốt.
Thực phẩm giàu protein chất lượng cao có thể gói gọn trong mấy chữ: thịt, cá, tôm, trứng, sữa, đậu. Bây giờ, nếu bạn muốn chi tiêu càng ít tiền càng tốt nhưng vẫn đảm bảo đủ dinh dưỡng cho cơ thể, những thực phẩm sau đây là lựa chọn tốt nhất để bổ sung protein chất lượng cao.
Giá cả của các loại cá phổ biến mà chúng ta có thể ăn hàng ngày rất phải chăng, không đặt. Đặc biệt là các loại cá nuôi như cá mè, cá diếc… Hiệu quả về chi phí so với việc bổ sung protein có thể nói là cao nhất.
Hầu hết các loài cá biển có những loại có thể đắt hơn, nhưng cũng có những loại rất rẻ. Cá trích là một trong số đó. Không chỉ rẻ, nó còn ngon, và nó cũng rất giàu DHA và EPA. Đối với tôm, mặc dù giá trị dinh dưỡng là tốt, nhưng nó lại hơi đắt.
Sự lựa chọn tốt nhất của nhóm thịt là thịt gia cầm, ít chất béo và giá cả vừa phải. Khuyến cáo tốt nhất dành cho bạn là thịt ức gà, rất tiết kiệm chi phí, mặc dù ăn thịt ức gà có cảm giác hơi khô. Trên thực tế, thịt gà vịt bỏ da cũng là lựa chọn tốt vì giá cả sẽ không quá đắt.
Nhóm thịt động vật tiết kiệm chi phí nhất chắc chắn là thịt lợn, nhưng bạn nên chọn thịt thăn và thịt chân giò (đùi lợn) có hàm lượng chất béo ít hơn.
Trứng và sữa là thực phẩm nhóm protein mà Tiến sĩ Fu Da luôn khuyến khích mạnh mẽ. Tôi tin rằng mọi người đều quen thuộc với chúng.
Điều tôi cần nhấn mạnh ở đây là trứng gia cầm nuôi tự nhiên thường có giá cả đắt hơn so với trứng gia cầm nuôi công nghiệp, tuy nhiên chúng lại thực sự có cùng giá trị dinh dưỡng.
Đừng bỏ lòng đỏ trứng khi ăn trứng. Lòng đỏ trứng có rất nhiều chất dinh dưỡng khác với cholesterol cao. Ăn một hoặc hai quả trứng mỗi ngày sẽ không gây ra vấn đề về lipid (mỡ) máu. Đối với sữa, uống 200 ~ 500 ml mỗi ngày không chỉ có thể bổ sung thêm protein, mà còn bổ sung canxi, một công đôi việc.
Các sản phẩm từ đậu nành cũng là thực phẩm mà Tiến sĩ Fu Da yêu thích và muốn giới thiệu. Chúng rất giàu protein thực vật chất lượng cao, phospholipids đậu nành và isoflavone đậu nành, là nguồn thực phẩm lành mạnh. Các sản phẩm đậu nành phổ biến như đậu phụ, đậu phụ khô và sữa đậu nành đều không phải là món ăn đắt tiền, bạn đều nên tận dụng.
4, Rau củ
Rau rất cần thiết cho việc duy trì sức khỏe. Rau rất giàu chất xơ, vitamin, khoáng chất và các hợp chất thực vật, và giá trị dinh dưỡng của chúng là không thể thay thế.
Thông thường nên ăn 400 đến 500 gram rau mỗi ngày, để dễ nhớ thì bạn chỉ cần chú ý mỗi ngày ăn nửa kg rau các loại. Ăn càng nhiều rau càng tốt, đặc biệt là rau màu xanh đậm. Tất nhiên, giá rau rất khác nhau và cũng liên quan đến mùa thu hoạch và nhu cầu của thị trường.
Vì bạn muốn tiết kiệm tiền, nên chọn các loại rau phổ biến và chọn các giống đang có trên thị trường vào mùa cao điểm. Các loại rau sẽ có giá rẻ hơn khi bạn mua đúng vụ thu hoạch, hạn chế ăn rau trái mùa vì sẽ rất đắt và không ngon.
Các loại rau nên chọn mua bao gồm cải thảo, bắp cải, cải xoăn, rau bina, cần tây, rau cải xanh, nấm hương, mộc nhĩ, rau muống, cà rốt, củ cải, khoai lang, khoai tây, khoai môn, rau mùi, ớt xanh, cà chua, các loại măng, đậu xanh, đậu lăng, súp lơ, bông cải xanh…
5, Trái cây
Để tiết kiệm tiền, nhiều người không chọn mua trái cây và thay thế bằng cách ăn nhiều rau. Trên thực tế, giá trị dinh dưỡng của trái cây và rau quả không giống nhau và không thể thay thế hoàn toàn với nhau.
Bạn có thể tìm mua một số loại trái cây không đắt lắm. Táo, lê, cam, bưởi, quýt, ổi… mua chính vụ sẽ có giá vừa phải, miễn là bạn không chọn những giống đắt tiền, giá cả khá phải chăng.
Mỗi ngày bạn nên ăn nửa kg trái cây các loại là tốt cho sức khỏe.
6, Các loại hạt
Các loại hạt là một loại thực phẩm mà nhiều người thường bị bỏ qua. Không phải là không có lý khi các hướng dẫn chế độ ăn uống của hầu hết các quốc gia và khu vực trên thế giới sẽ ghi rõ rằng dinh dưỡng cần bao gồm các loại hạt như thực phẩm được khuyến nghị.
Các loại hạt rất giàu axit béo không bão hòa có lợi, protein, vitamin tan trong chất béo, khoáng chất và giàu các hợp chất thực vật, có giá trị dinh dưỡng không thể thay thế.
Đừng lo lắng về giá của các loại hạt. Bạn phải ăn hơn mười hoặc hai mươi gram mỗi ngày, và nó không tốn nhiều tiền như chúng ta tưởng tượng.
Dinh dưỡng mà cơ thể chúng ta cần thực sự ẩn trong những thực phẩm phổ biến này.
Để tạo ra một chế độ dinh dưỡng của riêng bạn, chỉ cần bổ sung đủ các thành phần này và chú ý rằng chúng được chế biến theo cách ít muối, ít béo, ít đường, chế độ ăn uống thông thường là đủ tốt.
Những thực phẩm này không khó tìm, cũng không tốn kém.
Đối với các chất bổ sung và dinh dưỡng đắt tiền khác nhau, người bình thường không cần thiết phải mua sắm những thực phẩm đó.
Cũng như thịt bò, thịt gà cũng lại là một loại thịt có tác dụng hỗ trợ giảm cân cực tốt và cung cấp đủ dinh dưỡng cho cả ngày. Với thịt gà, bạn nên chọn ức gà để chế biến các món ăn giảm cân từ chúng. Có thể bạn không biết, ức gà […]
Cũng như thịt bò, thịt gà cũng lại là một loại thịt có tác dụng hỗ trợ giảm cân cực tốt và cung cấp đủ dinh dưỡng cho cả ngày. Với thịt gà, bạn nên chọn ức gà để chế biến các món ăn giảm cân từ chúng.
Có thể bạn không biết, ức gà nằm trong số 21 loại thực phẩm có tác dụng giảm cân
được cả thế giới công nhận. Vì thế, thêm ức gà vào thực đơn giảm cân là một việc làm hợp lý, hoặc thực hiện một chế độ ăn hợp lý với ức gà nhé các bạn.
Với ức gà, bạn có thể giảm cân hiệu quả bằng cách hạn chế dùng những thức ăn bằng tinh bột, dầu ăn và mỡ động vật. Bạn có biết ức gà giúp đẩy nhanh quá trình chuyển hóa mỡ ở dạng cô đặc, và đốt cháy mỡ thừa ở dạng mô mỡ. Giúp quá trình giảm cân diễn ra nhanh chóng hơn.
Ức gà sốt mật ong
Nguyên liệu: Ức gà, thái hạt lựu, ⅓ chén bột bắp, chén nước, 2-3 muỗng canh tương ớt (tùy thuộc bạn muốn ăn cay thế nào), năm muỗng canh nước tương, 2-3 muỗng canh mật ong (tùy thuộc vào cách bạn muốn nó ngọt)
Gia vị: đường, muối…
Cách thực hiện:
Bỏ tương ớt, nước tương, tỏi, đường mật ong vào một chảo nhỏ khuấy đều với một chút nước.
Cho hỗn hợp đun sôi trên lửa vừa đồng thời đánh hai muỗng bột bắp với nước cho đến khi hòa tan, các bạn cho nước bột bắp vào đảo đến cô đặc lại, cho lửa ở mức thấp nhất.
Cho một cái nồi lên bếp, bỏ ít dầu ăn vào nồi và ít tỏi vào, phi vàng tỏi thì cho ức gà thái hạt lựu vào xào cho gà vừa tái săn lại, đổ chút nước dùng đun cho thịt mềm hơn.
Khi nước cạn dần, cho phần gia vị vào nêm vừa miệng.
Ức gà nấu nước cốt dừa
Nguyên liệu: Ức gà bỏ da, xương, một quả chanh (Chanh tây), 150ml nước cốt dừa, dầu ăn (Tốt nhất là dầu ôliu), bốn cây hành lá, cắt khúc 2.5cm. Ớt xanh thái nhỏ, rau mùi.
Cách chế biến:
Thái thịt gà, thêm chút nước cốt chanh và vỏ chanh thái nhỏ, đảo đều, ướp. Đun nóng dầu ăn, cho gà vào đảo chừng 3-4 phút, đến khi miếng thịt gà vàng. Thêm một chút ớt cay cay, nấu thêm 1 phút, thêm nước cốt dừa, một phần hành thái khúc vào, nấu 1-2 phút là được.
Salad ức gà sữa chua
Nguyên liệu: nho tươi vừa đủ, hai quả cà chua bi, cây salad, sữa chua không đường và khoảng 100g ức gà.
Cách thực hiện:
Ức gà bỏ da, luộc chín xé nhỏ. Cắt đôi nho và cà chua bi. Salad rửa sạch để ráo nước sau đó cho ra dĩa hoặc tô. Trang trí cà chua xung quanh. Cho ức gà đã xé vào chính giữa. Lấy sữa chua không đường phết lên phần ức gà. Thế là bạn có món salad ức gà nhanh gọn, thơm ngon như ý rồi.
Ức gà nướng
Nguyên liệu: 300g ức gà, nước tương, sa tế, tỏi, hành khô, mật ong, hạt nêm, gừng. Ức gà rửa sạch, lọc phần xương và da gà. Cắt các đường chéo trên ức gà gia vị thấm sâu vào miếng ức.
Nước sốt: một muỗng canh nước tương, hai thìa cà phê sa tế, ba tép tỏi băm nhuyễn, một củ hành khô băm nhuyễn, hai thìa cà phê hạt nêm và một ít gừng băm nhuyễn.
Ướp phần ức gà với nước sốt vừa hoàn thành và trộn đều tay, ướp 30 phút. Làm nóng lò nướng khoảng 200 độ C, làm nóng trước 5-10 phút. Lót giấy bạc vào khay nướng. Nướng gà trong khoảng thời gian là 15 phút, cứ năm phút lại lật miếng ức gà 1 lần và quét nước ướp lên mặt miếng ức gà cho màu được đều.
Với những thông tin bổ ích về cách chế biến những món giảm cân từ ức gà trên đây, mong rằng bạn có thể giảm cân, lấy lại vóc dáng nhanh chóng.
Thanks to Travis, Virgil, and the rest, the shoe—popular in the ‘80s, and then the early ’00s—is making a comeback.
The year 1985 was arguably the most important in Nike’s history. That year, on the heels of Michael Jordan’s black and red Air Ships being banned by the NBA in 1984, the then-ten-year-old brand launched the Air Jordan 1. Nike gave the new shoes the same color scheme, certain that the league would ban them, too—and, in the process, provide some unimpeachably good press. Elsewhere at Nike, though, other classics were also being cooked up. These were the source of less controversy, but, over time, would create their own legacy, too. Through various collaborations at the beginning of the 21st century, and sneaker culture’s insatiable desire for nostalgia, the Dunk rose to prominence—then faded—and now is once again at the center of kicks conversations.
Later that year, the Swoosh officially unveiled the Nike Dunk, a shoe that shared much of the same design language as the Air Jordan 1 and the even earlier Nike Air Force 1 (which was released in 1982). The Dunk was initially intended to showcase Nike’s other major new relationship in the world of hoops—it had started outfitting some of the NCAA’s biggest basketball programs, including Kentucky, St. Johns, Syracuse, Georgetown, Iowa, Michigan, UNLV, Arizona, and Georgia. Still, because the Nike Dunk wasn’t MJ’s shoe, it didn’t make much of a stink, and, in 1988, went into the archives for an entire decade.
It reemerged in 1998, but took off in 2002, with a version released by Nike’s fledgling SB department just as skate culture was going pop. The shoe was a massive success, and various collaborations (a novel idea at the time) effectively jumpstarted what we know today as “sneaker culture”: Versions by Supreme (2002), Diamond Supply Co. (2005), and Staple (2005) all are considered all-time great sneakers. By decade’s end, though, with so many different collaborations and colorways of the skate shoe on shelves, fatigue set in. Which meant that the 2010s were a down decade for the Nike Dunk. But thanks to some new, inspired collabs and revived appreciation for this classic kick, its status as a sleeper (in the case of the OGs) or an overused canvas (the SBs) is about to change as we enter the 2020s.
As with so many other instances of white-hot hype, Nike has one person to thank for the Dunk’s impending return: Virgil Abloh. Thanks to his “The Ten” collaboration in 2017 and the numerous drops since, all of which feature some form of Abloh’s post-modern, inside-out design language, Abloh is arguably the most impactful sneaker designer in the world, at least when it comes to drumming up buzz. On December 20, Abloh and Nike dropped the Nike Dunk Low in colorways inspired by the OG versions, updated with Abloh’s add-ons like orange tags, cosmetic lace loops, and the word “shoelaces” printed on the kicks’ flat laces. All signs suggest that once again, Abloh and Nike have created a hit: the “University Red” colorway is currently listed for north of $500 on StockX. It’s safe to say Abloh’s take are the first Nike Dunks in many years to receive this much aftermarket attention. But the shoes stand to serve as a catalyst for the Dunk to really get popping in the new year.
But one ultra-rare collaboration does not a sneaker movement make. For that, you need more—you need proof that even non-collab Dunks are entering the collective consciousness of the sneaker world once again. Nike might have Abloh to thank for this, too—though not for his designs, but instead, his outfits. Abloh was photographed wearing the Nike Dunk High “Syracuse”—one of the original Dunk colorways—at Paris Fashion Week in January. Abloh was early: the shoe was last released in 2016, alongside a bunch of other college colorways as part of the “Be True” pack, and according to StockX, the average resale price of the shoe was $100 in 2018. This year, the figure jumped to $268—and that’s if you can find the shoes at all, which are only available on StockX right now in sizes 7.5, 8, and 12. Three years ago, no one seemed to care or even notice that these OG Dunks had re-entered the market. Today, they’re the iteration preferred by style movers and shakers.
Take Alan Galloway, the man behind a network of popular style and culture Instagram pages, but is best known to sneakerheads as @oldmanalan. Galloway’s popular style-focused feed has been home to plenty of Dunks in the last two years, including OG colorways like the “Kentucky” and “Syracuse” versions. Notably, Galloway’s pleasant, naturally-lit photos focus not on the wacky-colored collabs of yesteryear, but mellow versions for the kind of fashion enthusiasts into Dickies and Supreme’s non-logo heavy apparel. Galloway’s own route to the Dunk is instructive: he liked to wear Air Jordan 1s—until everyone else started buying them, too. “Now, everybody has a pair of Jordan 1s,” he says. “Even though there are hype releases still coming, a lot of them just aren’t as good.” To Galloway, the 2016 release of the “Be True” Nike Dunk High serves as the perfect example of how irrelevant Dunks were three years ago, but also how much people want them today. “I don’t even remember them dropping. I didn’t care about it [when it was released],” he says, speculating that because the Adidas Boost was the “it” style of 2016, that it overshadowed the re-release of the original Dunks.
Now, though, the secret is out: Dunk prices are on the rise. Take the Dunk High “Undefeated”: In 2018, it saw an average resale price of $328. In 2019? It jumped to $644. Even obscure fashion Dunks, like the see-through Comme Des Garçons version that released in 2017, went from $445 on average in 2018 to $685. And to cap it all off, in 2019, average resale prices of all Dunks released between 2002 and 2009 listed on StockX saw an uptick in price on the resale marketplace, even though the overall resale prices of Dunks have declined over time.
What about SBs, which at one point in time were the Nike Dunks to covet? Galloway thinks the shoe’s potential as a hype-driver may be gone for good: “You wear SBs now with the kind of clothes you like to wear now, and you’ll look like an idiot,” he says, a reference to the bold colorways and added padding on the tongue of the SB version. While the shoes are cool again, it’s not 2002 anymore, a time when the de facto style of jean was “bootcut.”
Not everyone agrees. Dennis Todisco, an avid collector whose @outfitgrid account has racked up over 800,000 followers, also says the Nike Dunk is due for a resurgence—SBs included. He says that the shoes represent a bygone era in sneaker collecting: “Back then, you couldn’t buy the shoes unless you knew a mom and pop shop or were friends with a skate shop, and they only would get a few pairs.” But he also thinks that trend-wise, the bulkier design of the SB actually serves its nostalgia appeal. “I think style-wise, we’re seeing a lot of people returning to that late ‘90s and early ‘00s look,” Todisco says. “And people who were babies or maybe not even alive when SBs first came out are realizing how amazing those shoes are.” Todisco notes that celebrities like Travis Scott have been wearing classic Dunk SBs this year— and shoes like the Nike Dunk SB Trail End Brown sneakers, which served as the inspiration for Travis Scott’s Air Jordan 1 collaboration, have skyrocketed in value since Scott’s Nike release.
But if new Nike Dunk SBs are going to have a chance of making waves they way they did in the early-to-mid-aughts, Todisco says it will have to be via true retros of classics like the Diamond Supply Co. x Nike Dunk “Tiffany”—not the alternate, high-top version that served mostly as an homage to the OG back in 2013. The data supports his claim: the average resale price of a pair of Diamond Supply Co. x Nike Dunk SB His is $334 on StockX, while the OGs from 2005 go for $1,170.
The stage should be set for the return of classic Dunks: it’s not hard to imagine a world where the model is the biggest sneaker of 2020. Yet, as of this writing, there’s only a single model I’d consider a big deal even rumored to be dropping in 2020—a collaboration with Japanese label Ambush. Given all of the resale market excitement, this feels…suspicious. Maybe, as we still are in the early stages of the Dunk’s resurgence, the internet’s sneaker gumshoes haven’t tracked down leaks on these releases the way they do for Jordans. But whether or not Nike has a slew of hot new Dunks on the way in 2020, the time to strike is now. Because even if Nike chooses not to slam home this alley-oop, in 2020, classic Dunk styles from years past will become even harder to get, and more expensive. Galloway puts it in slightly starker terms: “If they don’t capitalize on more than just the Off-White Dunks next year, they’re fucking ridiculous. Why wouldn’t they do that?”
Christmas service at the Princess Garden Chinese restaurant in Kansas City is an all-hands-on-deck family affair
Under disco lights and near the seated queue of karaoke singers waiting for their turn, I clear Heineken bottles from the bridal party table, flexing my fingers around their sticky green glass necks to drop them into a bin out in the service hallway. “It’s hard work but good pay,” my sister’s friend, Annie Wong, texted earlier in the day. Her family owns Princess Garden, a Chinese restaurant that also caters weddings, mostly Vietnamese and Cambodian, outside their restaurant’s location near Waldo in Kansas City, Missouri.
The job is, as Annie described, hard. And it’s also, surprisingly, great for me. By the end of the evening, I’d be offered a regular job at the restaurant, which I accept while asking how the catering gigs and work at the restaurant might compare. “It’s not too different,” Sueka Chang, Annie’s aunt, says. “Nothing bad like Christmas.” Someone in the family groans it’s too early to talk about Christmas, and they all share a collective wince. What, I think, is the big deal with Christmas?
After working as a chef in Chinese restaurants in New York and in Washington, D.C., Chuen Lock Cheung opened his first U.S. restaurant, Princess Garden, in 1972, moving his family from Hong Kong to Kansas City. In 1981, the restaurant moved from its strip mall location at 75th and Wornall to its current location of 89th and Wornall, where the family bought the property and built the restaurant to their own specifications. Cheung’s eldest child, Robert Chang, started as a manager and then became head chef when his father retired in the mid-1980s. His younger siblings Nancy, Suewan, Sam, and Sueka worked at the restaurant from its inception or started as soon as they were old enough, and they all continue to work at Princess Garden today.
Robert is still head chef, and plates every single entree that’s ordered during his shifts. In the kitchen, his wok is burnished in oil and surrounded by constant high flames until service ends. The food, mostly Northern Chinese, Szechuan, and the American style of those cuisines, is prepared and cooked under the tenets that nothing is made in advance or in bulk (excluding appetizers like dumplings, crab rangoon, and wontons, which are still handmade daily on site). Nearly everything is cooked to order, making the restaurant an outlier against the other Chinese restaurants in the city.
At Princess Garden, there is no restaurant POS. Orders are shouted into the kitchen, where Robert cooks several entrees in minutes while keeping an ear ready for the continuous rounds of orders. His wife, Wendy, works as an assistant, cleaning and preparing ingredients. Sam manages the front of house and is usually the one to cut and serve the Peking duck, always at tableside. His wife, Vivian, manages the deep fryer and helps with additional prep work. Nancy is in charge of carryout, taking the orders by phone and making sure they’re fulfilled and packed correctly; she’s often the first person to greet diners and thank them for coming after they finish their meal.
Suewan and Sueka work as the restaurant’s main servers. Whatever distraction or impediment that may be happening in the kitchen is rarely seen on their faces when they hit the floor, where their attentiveness makes most diners forget they’re often the only two servers working. Suewan’s husband, David, does everything from bartending to dishwashing to fixing plumbing and electricity issues. Sueka’s husband, Sun, works in IT but will frequently come to help when the weekend flux demands it, and can buss a table that would take me two visits in one. If the restaurant has a reservation for a large party or when there’s catering or if it’s a very busy night, their children will come to help. Besides a longtime line cook who assists with stir frying, two dishwashers, and me, the work of Princess Garden is a family enterprise.
When I walked through the restaurant’s double doors for a shift early last December, I noticed a small Christmas tree bearing the weight of candy canes and small carryout cartons. Two thousand napkins folded with bulk paper napkins sat nearby, on emergency reserve. One thousand more new plates had been ordered in anticipation for Christmas Day’s service; so had more forks, more spoons, more glasses. Fifteen hundred ducks were ordered for just Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, nearly 3,000 egg rolls, crab rangoons, and dumplings made. The bar section is usually an area of respite for the family when there’s the odd break, but the days before Christmas, it becomes a storage and organizing area where deliveries stack up and the new dishes rest in their crates.
Despite the restaurant’s history and the long history of Jewish families eating at Chinese restaurants on Christmas, Christmas at Princess Garden is only a 10-year-old tradition. It started when families, mostly Jewish, asked if the restaurant would open for them during the holiday. “I came to America and started working at 19, and now I’m 66,” Robert says. “I’ve seen customers get married, have kids, and then seen those kids bring in their own kids into the restaurant. We’ve fed people through birthdays, weddings, and funerals. Princess Garden is their family gathering restaurant.”
“So it was easy to say yes?” I ask. Robert nods. “I’m very honored they still want to come.”
After three years of opening on Christmas, the number of diners increased beyond the families who originally requested the favor, and the Chang family recognized that Christmas would have to be its own special operation. Now, reservations are required for parties of six or more, and any smaller party is seated on a first-come-first-serve basis; carryout can be ordered in advance but all orders stop at 5 p.m.; orders are written out separately for Robert in the kitchen rather than shouted; nearly all of Cheung’s nine grandchildren will work Christmas Eve and Day because Christmas could not be done without them; and finally, the family accepts that at some moment during service, they can’t staunch the crowd and will get jammed.
“I do a lot more yelling,” Robert says when I ask how he gets through Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. “That’s usual.” Robert cooks with no break, and sees both days as an opportunity to see how much he can do. “It’s a good challenge for me. I want to cook perfectly, and I want to know how the dishes come out and how people like it,” he says. “Every time I cook, I’m fighting for time. It’s a kind of fun.”
Sueka, the youngest Chang sibling, feels similarly. “There’s an excitement. I get to see all the families together and people are really nice on Christmas Day. They understand that we’re busy and don’t give us any pressure, but as a server, I still want to do my best job and make them happy.” Sueka takes the larger parties of eight and more on Christmas, and can command a table’s attention for their order with an easy charm. I’ve seen her split a check for a table of 25 without blinking. (There is nothing more Midwestern to me than the expectation and accommodation of a split check.)
Water no ice, water with lemon, hot tea, dropped fork, extra sweet and sour sauce. When I’m working, I often think of Georges Perec’s An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris and adapt his experiment to help me remember orders while trying to do them efficiently. In his small book, Perec spends three days in the Place Saint-Sulpice simply writing his observations: “A basset hound. A man with a bow tie. An 86 [bus].” Usually this helps me keep engaged and cool in the work, but right now — at noon, Christmas Day 2018 — all I can think is that Perec got to eat a Camembert sandwich after admitting the futility of his experiment.
On this Christmas, the restaurant has staffed up considerably. With Robert and Wendy’s two sons and Annie, the restaurant gains three more waiters to work alongside Suewan and Sueka. Sam and Vivian’s daughter helps her mother at the deep fryer. Annie’s sister, Angela Wong, works as a host and answers the calls for carryout so their mother Nancy can focus on fulfilling them. David seems permanently fixed behind the bar making mai tai after mai tai. Sam moves between greeting the diners to leading them to their table and handling the register. Wendy works in the kitchen with Robert, who still finishes and plates every single entrée. Sueka’s son, Calvin Kot, washes the dishes with a new recruit as an assistant. Suewan’s kids are tasked to help with food running, bussing tables, serving and refilling water, and resetting the tables with another new recruit, J., and me. Throughout the day, family friends volunteer to help out in short bursts.
When I arrive to work, Suewan tells me to place the napkins tucked with two forks and a knife center on the plate. There’s no time to do the usual setting of the utensils to the side of the plates before people are seated. The restaurant’s tables have been reconfigured to accommodate larger parties, and space is prioritized to fit as many diners as possible under code (300 people total), which results in the loss of the table that usually holds the clean plates, napkins with their utensils, and the white paper pre-cut to cover and protect the white tablecloths. Instead, everything is set on or around a cart in the small service hallway, the white paper is rolled into multiple bins, and everything must be bussed immediately into the kitchen.
Despite these adjustments and working around the kitchen’s higher traffic, a familiar routine takes over me: keep an eye on incoming diners, serve water as quickly as possible, refill waters as needed, refill ice from the ice machine, buss the tables, hand off the final receipt and tips directly to the waiter or to the front register if a waiter hasn’t managed it yet, discard the white paper on top of each tablecloth and then replace it with another, and finally, reset the table for everything again. Even the usual punctuations of running out food or additional drinks from the bar or getting an extra sauce or relaying a message to a waiter feels like a normal, busy weekend night … until it doesn’t.
At some point, the ice machine stops making ice. We start setting the plates with one fork instead of two because there is a void between the forks being used and the forks being cleaned; there are not enough forks. The crowd waiting in the lobby doesn’t diminish. The lids for the Styrofoam cups used as water glasses for young children won’t fit. Plates, steaming hot from the dishwashers, must be carried in stacks from the kitchen to the cart and dried quickly by hand for service. The kitchen floor, between the dishes being washed at a perpetual pace and the itinerant oil from all the cooking, is more slick. Later, a stack of plates falls and breaks. J., who worked Christmas Eve but somehow doesn’t know where anything is, manages to blithely walk the dining floor with half-filled water pitchers and comments that I’m always busy doing something. I find myself not liking J.
There are no clocks or windows on the dining floor or inside the kitchen, so I have no sense of when this happened, but soon everything begins to swell against my ability to do anything: I can’t walk as quickly. I struggle to memorize the tables’ needs and who their waiter is. Bussing tables feels like more of an undertaking. Everything feels heavy. I have irrational, proprietary feelings for a small tray that goes missing every time I set it down.
I feel like I am being processed through a system of water slides with increasing speed and with all relief points zeroing out into a cascade. One of Suewan’s tables flags me down to double their egg roll order. In my rush to the kitchen, I slip and then slide the full length of the service counter, feeling the entire drag on my back heel. Suewan steadies me to a stop. “Your table wants another order of egg rolls,” I say, stunned and relieved that I didn’t fall. She nods, someone asks if I’m okay, and I snap a quick affirmative. I walk out of the kitchen back to the dining floor where I immediately trip over a man’s leg angled outside of his booth. “I am so sorry,” he says horrified as he quickly tucks his leg under the table. Something like kernel panic hits me. My Perec lists blink and then blank into a blue still.
I keep working until Suewan tells me it’s 7 p.m. and I can go if I want to. I do. As I grab my jacket, Nancy tells me I need to eat, and I tell her I’d rather go home. I say goodnight and, with my legs finding speed again, I leave the restaurant. Or, as Nancy described when Sueka asked where I was, “Nina ran off pissed!”
Later I ask Kot, the youngest cousin at 18, what his mindset is to get through Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, particularly when it feels intense: “My mom, my aunts, and uncles, they all did this in their prime and they’re still doing it. I try to think of other things, like hanging out with my friends or my schoolwork, while staying super focused to make sure none of the dirty dishes are stacking and make sure everything is going through hot and clean,” he says. “At some point the only motivation I have is thinking [the family] is what we have to get through this.”
It would be an understatement to say Princess Garden knows that traditions can be created rather than solely inherited. Sam will often say, “With good food, they all come.” What good food means and people’s expectation for authentic Chinese food is both mutable and definitive at the restaurant, depending on who is eating. Robert created the restaurant’s signature entrée, spiced crunchy beef, after observing people wanted sweet and sour dishes with more spice. The egg rolls and dumplings, traditionally made with pork, were changed to be made with beef tenderloin to make them safer treyf for Jewish families; Robert knew that with Kansas City’s cowtown history, most people would prefer beef anyway or not care. International Chinese students come from nearby universities and from states as far as Iowa and Nebraska for the Peking duck and lobster in garlic sauce, frequently accompanied with off-the-menu dishes.
Opening on Christmas is another example of the aunts and uncles’ skill of seeing people the way they want to be seen and welcomed, and then responding to what people want. Carrying the weight of those expectations while enduring the hours and effort it takes is their business.
“At my age now, we’re seeing the third generation of customers come in to eat,” says Angela, 37, who has more time to talk to people as they wait to be seated and can hear stories like a doctor sharing how her grandfather fed him for free throughout medical school. “Christmas is just crazy busy,” she says. “We [the cousins] do it and it’s not our day job so it’s rougher for us, but, for many people, my family is a major part of their holiday tradition. It’s not Christmas for them without us.”
Romance, magazines, and technology made delicate confections a must-have.
IN JAPAN, CHRISTMAS CAKES ARE a big deal. Starting in November, bakery chains, hotels, restaurants, department stores, supermarkets, and convenience stores announce their cake line-ups to huge fanfare, with popular cakes selling out far in advance of the holiday. Internationally renowned pâtissiers and chocolatiers such as Pierre Hermé, Frédéric Cassel, and Jean-Paul Hévin offer their own versions for the Japanese market, as do domestic favorites like Sadaharu Aoki and Hironobu Tsujiguchi. Even fast food chains get into the Christmas cake act. KFC always offers a special cake—a triple-berry tiramisu cake this year—as a set deal with their famous Christmas Bucket of fried chicken, and Baskin-Robbins, known as 31 Ice Cream in Japan, has a selection of festive ice cream cakes that will never appear stateside.
Japanese Christmas cakes are quite different from the long-keeping holiday sweets that are traditional in many Western countries. The quintessential Christmas cake in Japan is strawberry shortcake, an ethereal creation of feather-light génoise sponge, crème Chantilly or whipped cream, and red, ripe strawberries—none of which is at all hearty or long-keeping. A mash-up of American and French pastry, the Japanese Christmas cake is a secular symbol of celebration that arose after decades of media promotion of Christmas as a stylish, romantic event.
While Christmas has been embraced enthusiastically in Japan, it’s not a public holiday. Most businesses stay open, and public transit runs on regular hours. Modern Japan is a largely secular country, though Shinto and Buddhism are deeply woven into the fabric of daily life. According to statistics published by Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs, as of 2017 there were only 1.9 million Christians in Japan.
While Christianity entered Japan via Portuguese and Spanish missionaries, it was subsequently banned in the 17th century by the Tokugawa shogunate, which considered it an infiltration of European influence and a threat to national security. Yet after the American government, represented by Commodore Matthew Perry, abruptly ended Japan’s long period of isolation in 1853, the Meiji government regarded the adaptation of European customs as critical for Japan to be regarded as a modern country. Administrators actively encouraged the populace to take on western dress and hair styles, the eating of meat, and even timekeeping methods such as the Gregorian calendar.
They didn’t actively encourage the adoption of Christianity, or any other religion. However, newspapers and magazines of the time promoted the decorated Christmas tree and Christmas dinner as stylish and modern things to try, with just passing mentions of their religious roots. The media disseminated images of Santa Claus, but not obviously Christian symbols such Nativity scenes. In essence, Christmas was strictly secular almost from the start.
Essayist Kenichiro Horii, the author of the provocatively titled “The Merry Christmas of Love and Raves: How a Festival From a Foreign Culture Became Japanized,” writes that Christmas really took off in Japan after the Russo-Japanese War of 1904. Emboldened by their victory over a western power, the nation as a whole became more open to foreign customs. According to Horii, “in those early days Christmas in Japan was a holiday for adults, an excuse to hold stylish parties, rather than an occasion for families and children in the way it is in most western Christian countries.”
The history of the Christmas cake in Japan started in the waning days of the Meiji period. In 1910, Fujiya, a European-style pastry shop in Tokyo’s port city of Yokohama, introduced what is widely considered to be the very first Japanese Christmas cake. According to a representative from Fujiya’s PR department, “the base of the cake was a rich, liqueur-soaked fruitcake” in the European style. But the bakers considered its plain brown appearance not eye-catching enough, so they decorated it with snow-white royal icing, complete with little Christmas trees. Over the next decade, bakers around the country decorated their Christmas desserts with strawberries after growing methods made them available in December, although both strawberries and the cakes they decorated remained expensive and reserved for the well-off.
During World War II, western customs were frowned upon, so Christmas was essentially banned. It came back after the war in 1947, helped along in part by the presence of the occupying, mostly American Allied Forces. The strawberry shortcake as we know it now, with its soft sponge cake base, fresh strawberries, and whipped cream, only came about in the late 1950s. As the country finally left behind the impoverished postwar period and became more prosperous, Japanese people rapidly adopted the refrigerator along with the black-and-white television and the washing machine, dubbing them the “Three Sacred Treasures.” With a refrigerator, the delicate whipped-cream and fresh strawberry-topped strawberry shortcake could be kept for a day or so.
As the nation entered the Economic Miracle period in the late 1960s to 1970s, western-style cakes and pastries became even more popular. But while the strawberry shortcake still reigned supreme, Christmas dessert could mean Swiss roll cake, the Mont Blanc (made with chestnut cream and whipped cream), or small fruit tarts. Grown-up elegance is a common factor, though, especially since Christmas Eve in Japan is mainly regarded as a day for romance. Businesses marketed the idea heavily in the 1980s and 1990s, with JR Tokai, which operates the busy Tokyo-to-Osaka Tokaido Shinkansen bullet train, at the forefront. The company ran a series of legendary commercials featuring young couples reunited just in time for Christmas Eve by the Shinkansen.
For the past few years, the big players in the crowded Christmas cake market have been the national convenience store chains. 7-Eleven, FamilyMart, and Lawson all offer beautiful and very tasty cakes at relatively reasonable prices, with the added convenience of ordering the requisite fried or roast chicken and other party foods at the same time. You can even order flash-frozen Christmas cakes from Amazon and other online merchants. And while the strawberry shortcake remains the one and only Christmas cake for many people, there are now a bewildering array of choices. As the Christmas cake market has gotten ever more competitive, traditional European Christmas fare like German stollen, Italian panettone, and the French bûche de Noël are more popular than ever. These days, just about any cake is appreciated at Christmastime in Japan, as long as it’s delicious, fun, and festive.
As a new year is about to begin, many of us are thinking about how we’d like to get healthier, wealthier, and wiser over the next twelve months. Of course, to the Stoics, what really mattered was that final bucket—getting wiser. Understanding yourself and the world better was their primary focus.
So if your goal is to get smarter this year, where will you start? For most people, the obvious answer is books. A lot of people begin the year committing to read a certain number of books. I am going to read 50 books this year. I am finally going to finish the entire works of Howard Zinn. Once again, the Stoics might urge caution.
They would encourage you to begin this year by committing not to read widely, but read deeply. To dive into a handful of the wisest texts and come to know the authors like you had lived with them. As Seneca advised Lucilius in one of his letters:
You must linger among a limited number of master thinkers, and digest their works, if you would derive ideas which shall win firm hold in your mind. Everywhere means nowhere…And the same thing must hold true of men who seek intimate acquaintance with no single author, but visit them all in a hasty and hurried manner…There is nothing so efficacious that it can be helpful while it is being shifted about. And in reading of many books is distraction.
Today, with 2020 bearing down on us, we are encouraging you to follow that timeless wisdom.Listen to David McCullough’s advice, too. “Study a masterpiece,” he says, “take it apart, study its architecture, its vocabulary, its intent. Underline, make notes in the margins, and after a few years, go back and read it again.”
But you could also break down Seneca’s letters this way—read one letter a day. Or one passage from Marcus each morning. Or one poem from Emily Dickinson each day. Or one page of the Bible each evening before bed. For thousands of years, the Jewish people have divided up the Torah in what they call Parashat ha-Shavua (portion of the week) to be read aloud at synagogue, so that the entire Torah can be cycled through annually.
A new year sits before you. Use it wisely. Commit to read deeply and regularly. It will change you over the next fifty two weeks…and then January 1st next year, if you’re still here, you can start again as a new person and be changed once more.
This article came out of a casual night of perusing questions on Quora. I was new to the platform and felt like engaging in a few questions to feel it out.
I came across the question “what are 20 things that are not worth it? ” and I felt a hint of bitterness well up from less-than-satisfactory experiences and I thought: “oh yeah, I can answer this”.
It seemed like a great opportunity to exhume these feelings and perhaps turn them into lessons or personal reminders.
The list I came up with was, at times, controversial; but to my surprise, my answer had some modest success. I thought perhaps it may bring some value to others if I list and expand upon them.
Be warned, this is all based on myown experience and observations. Because of this, I am taking a more informal tone
What Are 20 Things That Are Not Worth It?
1. Dating people who have been traumatised or abused in the past who have not dealt with it.
We are supposed to be empathetic to victims and give them every chance we can. After all, it is not their fault what happened to them.
This is the appropriate response.
But not all people try to — or even can — get better.
Hurt people hurt people. You need to be careful who you are vulnerable with otherwise you too will be abused.
Some of these battles are worth it, but if you leave yourself open to someone with resulting personality issues, like people who won’t fully commit (for self-preservation); play mind games (for power); make continuously poor decisions; have addictive behaviour; or punish you for the actions of their wrongdoers — it will take a toll on you long-term to say the least.
2. Collaborating or working with friends merely because they are friends.
I have been friendly with people and out of that affinity or mutual interest I have committed to agreements that ended up massive failures.
A few friends never fully paid me for work, people I have worked with had not cultivated a useful level of skill, and others simply would be flaky or entitled in contradiction to the effort they were putting in.
You should work with people based on their evident skills, reputation, and all-round professionalism. If you just so happen to get along well, then that’s great and more often than not, you will.
3. Having sex with someone because you felt pressured.
Often women feel pressured to oblige in order to evade confrontation, or ‘do what is expected of them’, and men feel obligated to pursue, to evade the humiliation of sexual ineptitude. These are tragic motivations for something so intimate.
You must understand that your body is yours and you determine your values and the situations in which you might share that experience with, and with whom. Not cave to external pressures.
This is your inalienable right, and if you don’t feel comfortable about something then you absolutely must not give in because you are acting as if your feelings don’t matter. You might think you won’t remember these occasions, but they linger.
If you’re not advocating for yourself, who will?
4. Pursuing ‘spirituality’ for purpose.
Many people who pursue new-age spirituality for purpose seem to end up selling one of its ideologies, products, or become more confused. The enlightenment of this philosophy is often “nothingness”, “being” and the “non-self”. This can be an impediment to self-actualisation.
Self-actualisation is youas something defined, engaging in your talents and developing potentials. New age spirituality however, portrays you as something indefinable.
This can result in eroding your ambition and capacity to work on your skills to unfold your potential. It can take away motivation by taking away a sense of a value hierarchy that allows you to pursue some things over others. It replaces vision of the future with the eternal present. Many people are stuck in liminality and indecision because of this.
The ego is the devil in this brand of spirituality, which is really the individual identity/personality as opposed to a collective identity. A kind of tribalism that elevates animal over man, nature over civilisation, imagination over the concrete… you’ll see that the advocates for this philosophy will dress in a tribal style that reflects this.
5.Challenging people’s politics online.
Many things will threaten your values online, perpetually.
Unless it allows you to understand your own or another’s position with more resolution — it’s a waste of time. Almost always others won’t change their mind, so pick your battles.
Let’s be honest, it doesn’t matter how many ‘libtards’ or ‘nazis’ you destroyed, you were probably baited, trolled, or unironically responding to a satire article anyway.
6.Ranting on social media.
Rants are emotional. The purpose isn’t necessarily to share carefully analysed information, but to purge. What sounds reasonable and effective when you are emotional is definitely unreliable in translating to those who are casually perusing social media. You probably look like an uninformed idiot that can’t control themselves.
It just provides cringe for your future self.
Good rants are usually bottled up contemplations of professionals that have analysed a situation for a period of time, which provides fertile grounds for cultivating eloquence and insight instead of tumbling out like hot diarrhea.
7.Drinking a large amount of alcohol, in any situation.
This is a surprisingly hard conclusion for people to come to. It’s like every time there’s a bad experience, poor decision, or bad hangover, any potential lesson learned suddenly vanishes from memory — but once you see this in plain terms it kinda makes sense, right?
Alcohol can help foster a good time but quite often ruins one. It seems to make people a little more open but also a little more like animals; invoking the usually suppressed primal drives of lust and aggression to combat the wounding but necessary moderation of daily civility.
8.Telling an addicted person in the middle of their habit to stop the object of their addiction.
In my experience, they will not be receptive.
If someone has an insecurity that has allowed for an addiction, which in turn has created an alternate reality in the mind of the addict that rationalises away any consequence of their addiction, they are in deep shit.
You telling them they have to stop something they won’t acknowledge because it means dealing with the very things they are willing to destroy their lives over to avoid is probably not going to go well.
These people must come to conclusions themselves and won’t ask for help until their illusion breaks down after some heavy persuasion by life.
9.Getting involved in a quarrel between two people in a relationship.
Do you really want to get involved?
You could become the scapegoat for their conflict. It takes a hell of a lot for people to break up sometimes, to the point of being delusional.
For example, some people will absolutely refuse to believe a partner has cheated even if they are told by multiple friends or even by the person who has slept with them themselves. Others will stay despite emotional manipulation or abuse. Steer clear if that’s an ethical option.
10. Social media.
It’s a good organiser for communication and contacts but it will take valuable amounts of time away from you. It’s designed to keep you engaged. Your brain will adapt to it and reward you for your engagement.
Over time this habituates you and creates dependency. Your impulses will be wired and your habits out of alignment with your own goals.
11.Blind research or infotainment on the internet.
If you’re the type that consumes a substantial amount of infotainment or reads articles until 3:00am because you want to know everything interesting happening in society, or know everything about multiple topics that interest you, you will overwhelm yourself and not remember anything if there is no specific project or purpose.
This is a tricky one because it convinces you that you are learning, but that tense feeling of unfulfilment after a while of consuming more information is still there as if you had just played video games that entire time.
I was working outside one day when a slab of thick metal fell from above me and nicked the side of my head before it hit the ground. That could have been the end of me.
My boss had got an angle grinder and ground off half a catch for a chain that held a metal weight designed to bash large posts into the ground — because it was ‘getting in the way’.
That was a massive wake-up call for me because I hated that job, and if I had died doing it, the amount of anger I would feel would have warped space and time to raise me from the dead and avenge my nihilistic end over a goddamn fence.
You really want to die because some bozo dropped something on you? It’s not worth it.
13. Buying unnecessary luxuries if you’re below upper middle class.
This is how people lose money. They try to buy prestige, not earn it.
This could be a car you become indebted to, owning the latest technology at any given moment, and just generally living beyond your means instead of saving or investing.
It really can be hard to determine whether you really need/want/deserve something but the ‘tell’ is that you’re rationalising.
14.Staying up late when you know you have work the next day.
I hate to sound like your mother but even I still do this often because I feel like I never get enough done.
I especially stay up late when more work (for other people) is on the next day because I feel the pressure of not being able to do what I want to for an extended period of time, so I cram it in the night before; but the next day is always more miserable and then you have no energy left for your own activities and goals afterwards.
Sleep is incredibly important for your body, mind and sanity. It’s easily seen as something you can sacrifice, but it isn’t.
15. Dating someone with different core values.
No, love does not conquer all.
“No matter how great the initial chemistry is, if your values are on two different pages, the odds of your marriage working decrease significantly.”
― Chana Levitan
It’s really possible to waste many years of your life with someone incompatible and each of you will think you’re right in your own standing, and try to change the other person so it ends up a power struggle.
Figure out your own values and personality and find someone similar, but perhaps not too close as some challenge is a good thing.
Sometimes compromise only breeds resentment.
16. Acting in revenge.
If you truly understand revenge as a means of justice, you’ll understand it’s futile. The only true justice is when a person understands their mistake, regrets it in proportion to the error, makes an appropriate amount of effort or sacrifice to remedy the mistake, and their new values renders them incapable of the error.
This justice unfortunately is condemned to only come from their personal realisation, but some sense of justice comes from the fact that if they don’t realise it, they have not grown. They are stunted.
In revenge, nobody learns anything. You give the perpetrator reason for rationalising away their own guilt by giving them evidence that you are just as bad as they are.
17.Neglecting Your Potential.
People neglect their potential by putting off cultivating skills in areas they are passionate about or might have an inkling that they are, creating a tension that is complicated, painful, and ill-defined.
It’s a tragedy when people neglect these things because these are what will develop them into who they want to be and allow them to provide value in the ways they want to provide it, despite the fear and self-doubt involved in the process.
18.Working long-term in a job you hate or with people who treat you poorly.
This will wear down your confidence and waste precious time. Your life will become a routine and that is all. Developing a means of mental, emotional and perhaps physical escape won’t be healthy.
We should always continue to develop and act on a vision that helps motivate us in life and express who we are.
19.Higher education when you don’t have a plan.
You’ll just have a useless degree and a lot of debt. Sometimes it is better to be entrepreneurial and go your own way if you’re up for the work and risk. Most people report learning everything they know on the job. It depends on the career choice of course. People might become suspicious if you’re a basement chemist.
Also, beware of subjects in the humanities. The subjects are valuable but it’s not like many people out there are going to employ you as a philosopher.
It could sure help you gain a position through exuding a sense of sophistication or erudition, but if you go this route you’re likely going to have to have great entrepreneurial skills as well in order to make a living.
20.Chasing fun and being whimsical in your 20’s.
Sure, you can do some of this. Experiences in travel and work are good things. I’m no fun police, but if you don’t have a sense of pressure because you’re in your 20’s, you’ll start hitting the wall pretty hard at 27–30 when you realise you either haven’t achieved anything, you don’t know how to support the rest of your life and you’ve wasted those years not giving a thought to your future.
Beware of rash decisions as well, especially when it comes to relationships and sex. You can be stuck with someone much sooner than you had the chance to determine your values.
Do your best to make a plan as you experience more of life and as above, cultivate skills.
As if mutual fund investors didn’t have enough to worry about, here’s one more thing: Your portfolio manager’s politics.
Of course, it’s no secret that our political feelings can cloud our judgment. Democrats and Republicans routinely report different views about the health of the U.S. economy. But professional mutual fund managers are supposed to be above all that: cool-headed analysts who pay more attention to sales growth and price-to-earnings ratios than the shouting on Fox and CNBC.
Maybe not. A new study by researchers Babajide Wintoki, of the University of Kansas, and Yaoyi Xi, of San Diego State University, found that managers with strong political convictions often let those creep into their investment decisions, making funds more volatile, while also potentially hurting returns.
Wintoki and Xi hypothesized that a kind of bias known as “in-group favoritism” made it likely that fund managers — intentionally or otherwise — select companies whose executives share their political ideology. Using data from the Center for Responsive Politics, the scholars tracked contributions made by managers from nearly 1,300 actively managed mutual funds to political parties from 2000 to 2015.
The duo cross-referenced that data with political contributions made by the executives of companies in the fund portfolios. They then reviewed fund performance for the three groups of funds — Republican-leaning, Democratic-leaning and those funds whose managers had no political contributions on record — to see if political ideology affected risk and returns.
They found that Democratic-leaning fund managers disproportionately selected companies with Democratic-leaning executives, while Republican-leaning fund managers were more likely to go with Republican-backing management. Not only did the researchers find widespread evidence of this bias, they also found significant performance differences between funds with a political tilt and ones where not tilt was detected.
“The consequence is negative and costly to shareholders,” said Xi in an interview. “Mutual funds who buy lots of these holdings based on political ideology alignment tend to have higher risk.”
Partisan affiliation increased “idiosyncratic” volatility, meaning that the funds managed by political donors were more inclined to unpredictable price swings than funds managed by managers without a track record of political contributions. The scholars found some evidence of underperformance by the partisan-influenced funds, but it was within the margin of statistical error. One thing was clear from all their models: the partisan funds did not outperform the control group. Taking on significantly higher risk without the prospect of higher returns flies in the face of all principles of investment, said Xi.
What’s more Republican-leaning funds were more likely to “over-allocate” investment in politically aligned companies during Republican presidential administrations and vice versa for the Democratic-leaning funds, according to Xi. As presidential elections seldom directly affect a company’s “fundamentals,” like sales and earnings per share, the partisan managers were likely making a political calculation when reallocating portfolios at such times, the researchers concluded.
Xi said the partisan effect is comparable to other invisible investment biases exposed over the years, including the tendency of fund managers to pick stocks issued by local companies.
2019 in China brought together long running challenges, such as uncertainty over US–China tariff levels and ever more intrusive regulation of business in China, with a few unexpected ones as well: the crisis in Hong Kong and the flare up triggered by tweets from an NBA coach, to mention just two. Yet for many businesses, opportunities flourished throughout the year as China’s economy grew roughly 6 percent. And in multiple key industries, the government’s commitment to global leadership started to pay dividends.
2020 will offer a similar mix of evolving, often worsening, challenges. Growing separation between the US and China in technology sectors seems inevitable. While some companies will evolve to remain relevant in both markets, others will choose to focus on one. In 2020 this separation may become broader, impacting financial markets much more directly. China’s economic momentum will continue in 2020 with domestic consumption leading the way, selectively creating opportunities. If China’s priority sectors match those of your business, 2020 will be a good year to step up as the taps of government funding remain open for now.
Multiple areas of growing separation between the US and Chinese economies predicted in last year’s note were largely realized—investment flows, supply chain, data flows, people flows, technology procurement, standards. In all these areas, further separation will occur in 2020. One example, US government agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Energy, not just the Department of Defense, have been presenting US university administrators with hundreds of case examples where they believe non-US academics, largely Chinese, have failed to disclose parallel funding for their research from overseas governments along with commitments to share their IP discoveries with those governments. Those academics will likely be proactively excluded from US universities; many others will self-select out or simply not come to the US in the first place. Restrictions on investment from China into the US will shift from a focus on larger deals, which have shrunk to almost zero, to direct and indirect (i.e. through funds) investment into technology start-ups.
Restrictions on investment from China into the US will shift from a focus on larger deals, which have shrunk to almost zero, to direct and indirect (i.e. through funds) investment into technology start-ups.
I did anticipate a year ago that we would have clarity about tariffs by now, not the ongoing uncertainty that holds back investment plans in supply chain and factories. Looking into 2020, if there is finally agreement it seems likely to be narrow and not likely to be long lasting. Multinationals have suffered least from tariff volatility. They typically send no more than 15 percent of their China production to the US and have multiple factories around the world that they can move production for the US to. Almost none of these factories are or will be in the US. Smaller businesses, often foreign-owned, that focus solely on exports to the US, have been most hurt.
Factories do continue to move out of China. Manufacturers are also consolidating in China, doubling down on technology in their remaining factories. Indeed, China is rapidly becoming the world center for the Internet of Things in factories. These trends preceded the US tariffs and have only been marginally accelerated by them. More non-Chinese companies than Chinese are shutting down factories in China, but not all move production out of China as they close. A good number outsource their manufacturing to a Chinese-owned company producing in China, believing that the Chinese company will be lower cost than the foreign-owned factory, and just as good quality.
New areas of US–China separation will come into focus in 2020. Financial markets will be front and center. The US–China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2019 report to Congress has as its first recommendation to delist Chinese companies on US exchanges that do not meet four criteria. No Chinese company listed in the US meets all four, many won’t meet any. This threat covers around 500 companies with a cumulative market capitalization of about $1 trillion (dominated by Alibaba). It was smart of Alibaba to get its secondary listing in Hong Kong in place in November 2019. Companies such as Ping An’s fintech subsidiary, OneConnect, which has announced plans to list in New York, may reconsider. After all, less than $2 billion has been raised by Chinese companies on the NYSE and Nasdaq so far this year, down 74 percent from last year. Some Chinese tech companies may list domestically within China where listings generally achieve higher earnings multiples and Chinese regulators have quietly made it possible for companies using the Variable Interest Entity (VIE) structure to list domestically.
The US and Chinese governments continue their rush to embrace greater technology separation. 2020 may be a tipping point. On one side the US government excludes Chinese companies from buying US sourced technology components (at least from being able to do so with certainty), from investing in US technology companies, and from supplying their technology products into the US. On the other, the Chinese government has launched an over $20 billion fund to support Chinese independence in a broad range of manufacturing technologies to go alongside its similar sized fund to support developments in semiconductors.
All Chinese and US tariffs could be eliminated tomorrow and only have a marginal impact on these trends.
China’s “secure and control” initiative is encouraging government departments and state-owned enterprises to buy technology without US content—perhaps 25 percent of the traditional PC and server market. Chinese manufacturers’ share of the server and storage market had already risen from around 30 percent in 2012 to 70-80 percent in 2018. It is set to rise higher. In smartphones, four Chinese brands hold more than 85 percent of the Chinese market and less than 1 percent of the US. China’s internet giants, with the exception of TikTok, are absent from the US (TikTok may not retain its presence in the US for long if US legislators sustain their focus on the company); the US giants have long been absent from China.
The pinch point in semiconductors of Taiwanese contract manufacturers who play a key role for both US and Chinese companies will become much more visible in 2020, with greater levels of government to government pressure exerted on the key companies.
One of the few business-focused outcomes from the recent 4th Plenum were plans to establish a “new national system for making breakthroughs in core technologies under socialist market economy conditions.” This feels very similar to state-driven industrial policies contained in “Made in China 2025,” if not yet with the quantitative targets. In some areas, China is likely to achieve goals quickly, for example, as China still represents nearly a quarter of global manufacturing output; taking leadership in smart factories should be a no-brainer. China is turning its cities into large-scale pilots for 5G-enabled smart cities at a pace that will allow China to set de facto standards. Their products will not be accepted in the US, especially not as many will require access to large scale data sets that dwarf those that Chinese companies have been blocked from.
All Chinese and US tariffs could be eliminated tomorrow and only have a marginal impact on these trends. Both governments have embraced growing separation, the only question is how fast and with how much pain is incurred as we proceed.
Global sports and China
Reactions in China to the social media post by the Houston Rockets general manager are winding down. Initial reaction to the post in China was not surprising; perhaps what was surprising was that it has taken so long for this kind of incident to happen. International criticism of China over Xinjiang and Tibet has occurred for years, but had not triggered an incident, despite sports figures taking public stances on many issues globally.
The incident should make any business that takes sponsorship from Chinese companies pause. Have they done sufficient due diligence on the Chinese company to assess the risk of a player or a fan base launching a campaign against the sponsor? Multinationals with large operations in China should consider the risks of their China sales becoming collateral damage if China’s social media nationalists decide to blame a corporate sponsor for remarks made by a team player or coach.
Where might the next incident happen? Soccer. Premier League clubs regularly play preseason games in mainland China. What would happen in China if European soccer fans waved banners in support of Hong Kong or a player made a remark on a topic deemed sensitive in China? No TV or online coverage of their games, and pressure would be put on their Chinese and non-Chinese sponsors to withdraw their support for the team. What would happen if the impacted team was owned, all or in part, by a Chinese company (such as Inter Milan by Suning, Wolverhampton Wanderers by Fosun)?
While professional sports see enormous commercial potential in China, it largely remains that—potential. Could European soccer leagues survive without Chinese advertisers and broadcast revenues? Yes. The NBA, the same. Some teams may have to.
Consumers in China
Consumer retail spending in the first 10 months of 2019 rose 8 percent year on year, ahead of income growth of roughly 6 percent. Over 10 million new jobs were created. With moderate house price growth and a positive year in domestic stock markets over the last year, the wealth impact on consumer confidence remained positive. More and more consumer purchases are now financed through installment payment schemes, through credit cards and bank debt (now well over $1 trillion). The average Chinese consumer is not yet overleveraged (total household debt stands at only 60 percent of GDP), but the 20-30 age groups who borrow most enthusiastically are getting there, pulling forward consumption from future years. These younger age groups also sustain higher current spending by not entering the property ownership market. For many, property prices are now so high it is simply not possible until much later in life. Many realize that renting is a better economic plan. A recent JLL report showed the average price of renting in top Chinese cities was less than half the average mortgage payment. At the individual city level, these trends could finally trigger a material downward adjustment of as much as 30 percent in specific city property prices in 2020.
Multiple consumer sectors suffered significant demand weakness, most notably the automotive sector and smartphones, where a 2020 rebound is unlikely. Yet many service sectors are thriving. Private education providers with quality facilities and faculty are one example, especially those with internationally focused curricula. I recently visited the brand new Whittle School in Shenzhen. With its world class facilities, it will attract students who would otherwise have commuted to schools in Hong Kong. Second tier cities, such as Suzhou, are showing that they can support multiple international schools targeted at mainland students, with Perse School from Cambridge, England, adding to those present. Lego announced that it is building the world’s largest Legoland theme park in Shanghai at the cost of over $625 million, locating it alongside Disneyland Shanghai, creating an international theme park cluster. And it has plans for many more.
China’s endless food health and safety scandals along with a growing awareness of personal health (supporting the boom in gyms in China) has led many middle-class Chinese to embrace healthier eating choices. Restaurants are adding more vegetarian options, and plant-protein-based meat replacements are gaining traction. In China, which consumes more than 50 percent of pork produced globally and has seen pork prices rise over 100 percent due to disease in the pig population, the need is for pork alternatives, rather than the focus in the US on beef substitutes. As a result, Asian companies such as Green Common from Hong Kong have taken the lead in meeting this demand.
In 2020, the government will require that labels on foods show their glycemic index, a rating of how the carbohydrates impact blood glucose levels.
The government is getting more involved, requiring manufacturers to provide additional labeling information. In 2020, the government will require that labels on foods show their glycemic index, a rating of how the carbohydrates impact blood glucose levels. The government is acting in an attempt to impact the explosion in diabetes and obesity across China. If the experience of launching this index in Australia provides guidance, food manufacturers will reformulate their products to reduce their GI rating and will market aggressively on the back of having done so, leading to a boom in consumer demand for lower GI products.
With China’s food delivery services providing more than 40 million meal deliveries a day and still growing 35 percent year on year, Meituan and Ele.me have a key role to play in shaping middle class food consumption in China. To meet this demand, they will be promoting healthier options and providing more information to consumers on their choices, whether it is lunch delivered to the office or dinner to the home.
Social Credit System not a big deal for individuals—yet
Government initiatives to create social credit systems attracted a lot of international attention earlier in 2019, which has since died down. In part this was because the system was neither as new nor as all-encompassing as initially described, and in part because Chinese citizens are currently mellow about the entire scheme. Data gathered in the system come almost entirely from existing databases compiled by many agencies covering financial matters, party membership, regulatory and legal compliance. As much as 75 percent of this data was already publicly available, perhaps just not online. For many citizens the question was more “what has changed?” Calling out individuals who fail to pay their debts on a public blacklist, making you aware that someone you might be about to do business with has defaulted in the past, seems like a good thing. As with any system, there is potential for misuse, blacklists can get too long, and they may not be objectively created. Evidence from a Jiangsu pilot shows that if government gets too heavy handed, citizens successfully push back.
And of course, there is a part of the social credit system that evaluates and blacklists government departments, with more than 20 county-level governments already having been blacklisted as “dishonest.”
Rebound of EVs
Vehicle manufacturers in China had a tough 2018 and 2019. The overall market fell 8 percent by volume in 2018 and another 3 percent in the year to October 2019. Looking forward, demand faces several headwinds. Anyone spending time in a major city realizes just how unpleasant the experience of owning a car can be with the lack of parking and permanent traffic jams. On top of that, local authorities ration availability and increase the cost of getting a license plate to more than the cost of the car. Ride sharing is extremely cheap and available. It is possible that we have seen the peak of the internal combustion engine vehicle market in China.
In 2020, as Tesla breaks ground on its 100 percent-owned factory in Shanghai, the industry bright spot will be electric vehicles (Exhibit 1). Again, local governments play a critical role along with changing consumer tastes. Cities are switching their bus fleets to electric (close to 25 percent of all buses sold in China will likely be electric in 2019, perhaps 35 percent in 2020) and are mandating that taxi fleets shift to electric and reducing the cost of acquiring a license plate for EVs. Cities are rolling out networks of charging stations well ahead of demand. It is common to see car parks where the only spaces are those next to the EV charging stations.
China’s EV market is already 3-4 times the size of the US market and this multiple will grow.
Middle class consumers who are increasingly sensitive to air pollution are investigating EVs and realizing that their range exceeds that which they ever travel in a single car journey. Vehicle OEMs are responding: between 2019 and 2021 more than 200 EV models will launch. EVs represent close to 5 percent of automotive sales in 2019 (up to 20 percent in major cities) and could easily step up to 7 percent in 2020 if central government decides to include EV subsidies in any stimulus program.
China’s EV market is already 3-4 times the size of the US market. This multiple will grow, giving market leaders in China the opportunity to become world leaders in developing and manufacturing EVs, their batteries, and charging infrastructure.
Realizing parts of the Greater Bay Area (GBA) Initiative
The GBA initiative remains a priority for President Xi Jinping. As the region covers around 15 percent of China’s GDP and is the center of innovation for many of China’s priority industries, the GBA’s success is also important for national economic growth (Exhibit 2).
The Greater Bay Area will become more concrete (literally) in 2020 as key pieces of its physical infrastructure are built. Bridges, roads, and railways to connect its east and west more closely will start construction. This will bring previously remote areas in the West of the delta much closer to existing economic hubs in the East. Developers will follow quickly to build homes, factories, and business parks in the West. Homes are critically important as this will take pressure off housing prices in Shenzhen, allowing more of China’s young talent to migrate into this vibrant hub for work. Factories that relocate to the Western side of the region will still be able to get their goods to Hong Kong or Shenzhen airport within an hour for shipment globally, using the new (and very underused) Hong Kong Zhuhai bridge.
Beyond infrastructure the GBA plan contains hundreds of softer goals, giving cities in the GBA priority sectors to focus on and creating mechanisms for cities that have historically competed aggressively to work more closely together.
Businesses need strategies for the GBA in 2020 that focus on two things. One—how to take advantage of new regional infrastructure. Two—how to shape still evolving GBA policy to their advantage, rather than reacting once policy is defined.
Many companies saw 2019 as a year when more and more regulations piled on to them. CEOs who were the legal representative for their company in China got increasingly nervous as legal teams updated them on their personal responsibility under new regulations. Unfortunately for them, 2020 will see more new and evolved regulations targeting all companies operating in China.
The State Administration of Market Regulation (SAMR) will be more active in 2020 in tackling anti-trust, anti-monopolistic behaviors. Their investigations will have teeth. Fines can be as much as 10 percent of prior year revenue. Inquiries are already underway.
Fifteen courier companies are under investigation for their alleged anti-monopolistic practices based on complaints from customers about coordinated price increases and selective willingness to bid for business. Companies should recognize that inquiries will often be triggered by their customers, whether with legitimate complaints or simply a grudge. Ensuring that government affairs teams have a well-established relationship with local SAMR officials is a sensible preparatory step.
Twenty e-commerce enterprises are under investigation for requiring exclusive listings on their sites, which is prohibited by e-commerce law and anti-monopoly law. Sellers on these sites should check their contracts to ensure they are not enabling behaviors that SAMR may find problematic. Businesses will be challenged by SAMR on whether they have sufficient insight and control over behavior by frontline employees to prevent collusion taking place locally.
The best Chinese companies’ internal control teams deploy up to 100 people on this, and they act against hundreds of often small-scale breaches every year. Multinationals tend to have fewer resources, which may expose them to criticism.
Foreign investment and National Security Review (NSR)
New foreign investment laws come into effect in January 2020 with elements favorable to foreign companies, solidifying announced market openings and reducing inconsistency in policy enforcement. Policies to support business should in future apply equally to both domestic and foreign enterprises. Foreign enterprises should also have equal access to government procurement and to domestic standards setting processes. There will be no distinction in how policy is applied to different vehicles for foreign investment (WFOE, EJV, CJV). Great intent, follow implementation closely.
Areas of concern exist. The law details how indirect investment by foreigners will be treated, but does not detail the specific structures or ownership levels that will trigger review and registration. This is another area to watch, especially for financial investors.
Reviews are required for any foreign investment in national defense security (control not required) and any foreign investment in companies engaged in key industries that are somehow related to national security where the foreign investor has effective control.
Perhaps the most important change is the revised national security review of foreign investment. Reviews are required for any foreign investment in national defense security (control not required) and any foreign investment in companies engaged in key industries that are somehow related to national security where the foreign investor has effective control. The second category is more relevant for most enterprises. Industries that fall into its scope range from agriculture to energy, infrastructure, technology, culture and the internet. While 50 percent ownership will certainly be seen as a trigger of effective control, a company could be deemed to have effective control at a much lower equity stake if the foreign investor is seen to be driving management decisions in areas such as strategy and HR.
NDRC coordinates inputs from multiple ministries and other government stakeholders, convening an Inter-Ministerial Joint Committee to make decisions. If they do not reach consensus, decisions are pushed up to the State Council as final decision maker. Businesses should expect high profile decisions to be driven by geopolitics, not just economics.
Multi Level Protection Systems or MLPS 2.0 have been front of mind for chief information officers in China for much of 2019 as they prepared for the launch of new data protection standards. Large foreign companies seem more aware and better prepared for these changes than their Chinese peers. All businesses are required to self-assess the data they collect and their protection of this data. Anyone processing data above a certain level of sensitivity must report to their Public Security Bureau. All data breaches or attempted breaches must also be reported. Use of Chinese hardware and China-based cloud services is strongly encouraged as part of protection protocols.
Government inspectors from the Public Security Bureau will have unrestricted access to data stored in and passing through corporate servers to ensure that companies have registered themselves and implemented protections appropriately. This oversight of compliance is not theoretical. In Jiangsu province alone, around eight cases per day have been processed and 140 enterprises have been deprived of their business license over the last two years.
The government is determined not to fall as far behind in regulating emerging blockchain-based industries as it did in the early years of the internet. The strategy of just launching a business and begging forgiveness later will not be tolerated. Regulatory priorities are not to enable unfettered innovation, rather they are to ensure social stability and centralized control. The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) recently announced that it had shut down over 170 crypto platforms in 2019. Specific priorities include:
Ensure Chinese leadership in AI and IoT—an echo of Made in China 2025 priorities.
Apply blockchain at scale in supply chain and quality control to dramatically reduce cost.
Enhance food and drug safety—a broad middle-class priority which the government has struggled with for years.
Accelerate the shift away from physical money, to reduce risk in the financial system and direct money to places that it wants it to go.
Avoid dependence on the US for any aspect of blockchain technologies.
President Xi’s recent speech on blockchain closed with two reminders. One to government officials to get on top of regulating this area, and one to innovators to focus their innovation on approved areas. In 2020, the most visible outcome of the speech will likely be local governments setting up funds to invest in local blockchain businesses.
Business in mainland China
For many industrial businesses, 2019 has been tough. Profits lower across the board—light and heavy industry, state-owned and private businesses. Labor costs rising while ex-factory prices are not. Access to debt restricted. The gap between high performers and laggards widened further, with leaders raising capital expenditures 20 percent plus over last year as they double down on deploying robotics, IoT, blockchain, and other productivity enablers in their supply chain. Laggards are edging closer to bankruptcy.
There are strong signs that we will see more bankruptcies in 2020. More banks will be allowed to fail beyond the four shuttered so far in 2019. The PBOC declared in its 2019 Financial Stability Report that it had closed 1000 P2P lenders in 2019 and that they evaluate close to 600 smaller banks (13 percent of the total) as “risky.” Their solution will have “Chinese characteristics”: failing banks will almost all be bailed out through merging with one of China’s larger banks.
Sectors where the Chinese government actively encourages investment have been clearly laid out—from semiconductor, to AI and smart cities, to manufacturing IoT, to biotech and advanced materials.
More property companies will find they are financially extended beyond the level at which black-market lenders will support them. Industry consolidation will be the main solution. Investors will see more dramatic falls in share prices for specific stressed listed companies in the mainland and Hong Kong, along the lines of the 90 percent plus falls at Kasen, ArtGo and Tibet Water in recent weeks. This is a positive; companies that had been clogging up their sectors are finally being cleared out. Business will need to be alert to the financial state of their customers and suppliers.
High growth sectors in 2020 will be clustered in consumer facing services, many internet-enabled. Healthcare, education, travel, and leisure will all remain strong. Sectors where the Chinese government actively encourages investment have been clearly laid out–from semiconductor, to AI and smart cities, to manufacturing IoT, to biotech and advanced materials. Making money in these sectors directly in the short term may be tough, but making money out of supplying to these sectors can be very attractive.
Hong Kong and business
Hong Kong entered a recession driven by the downturn in tourists (nearly 1 million fewer travelers through Hong Kong airport last month with 20 percent fewer arrivals from mainland China) and by locals pulling back on spending. More than 50 conferences and exhibitions have been postponed or moved elsewhere. Popular hotels and restaurants have utilization down below 40 percent, even with 40-60 percent discounts, and are putting staff on unpaid leave. Retailers from clothing to jewelry have sales down as much as 50 percent from last year.
Businesses clustered in industries in and around the financial markets have been less impacted. Financial markets have not closed and IPOs are still happening. But changes are being considered. While they won’t make overnight changes to a successful operating model, many are now starting to think through the what ifs and could act on them in 2020.
For some multinationals, asking the basic question of why a large regional headquarters is in Hong Kong, and why it is of the scale that it is, can return slightly uncomfortable answers. For a good number, the answer is little more than it has always been like that—a location decision that was made rationally 20 or 30 years ago had not been challenged since then. Plus their senior executives like the low tax rates on offer in Hong Kong.
For China-focused businesses, more regional activity could be undertaken in the mainland, without material additional cost. ASEAN and North Asian businesses may have grown to the scale to justify their own regional hubs. With mainland visitor numbers to Hong Kong looking unlikely to recover soon, luxury brand businesses are questioning just how many outlets they should retain in Hong Kong.
If clients from the mainland now prefer to meet in Shenzhen, it is straightforward to upgrade a Shenzhen office, to accommodate more permanent staff. Shenzhen or other local governments may even offer GBA policy incentives to do so. Looking forward into 2020, business leaders in Hong Kong face tough organizational challenges such as sustaining a culture in which mainland and local staff work effectively, and persuading Hong Kong staff to continue to take opportunities in the mainland.
Few corporate leaders in Hong Kong are well prepared for these fundamental people challenges. There will likely be public instances where they fall short in 2020.
2020 is the final year in China’s decade-long challenge to double its GDP. The government will be able to declare success (potentially with a little support from statistical revisions). US tariffs will continue to have minor impact on Chinese growth. Domestic consumption and investment will remain the key economic drivers, and China will deploy targeted stimuli to maintain momentum.
Many businesses will find 2020 a challenging, stressful year in China—more bankruptcies, more regulation, more unpredictable risks to reputation, and more selective consumer consumption. Yet China will only grow in importance to the majority of global businesses—as a source of global demand, of innovation, of capital, and of newly emerged world class competition. In spite of external pressure to deglobalize, global businesses will evolve their supply chain, their operating model, and even their ownership structure if needed to remain relevant in China.
U.S. markets rallied to record highs yet again (The 32nd time this year for the S&P 500), as China announced this morning that it is cutting tariffs on 850 commodity imports as of January 1, 2020. Trading volume was light due to the Christmas holiday on Wednesday followed by Boxing Day on Thursday. U.S. markets will close at 1 p.m. tomorrow, so expect the tranquility to continue.
There may be more good news in store for stock investors if you believe in Santa… or the Santa Claus rally, as it is known. According to the Stock Traders Almanac, during the final five trading days of the year and the first two tradings days of the new year, the S&P 500 has posted a 1.3% gain on average since 1950. Past performance is no guarantee of anything, but the recent trend in the stock market sets up nicely for the Santa rally to stay true to form.
China is cutting tariffs on 850 key commodities, including frozen pork, semiconductor products, avocados, and pharmaceuticals, starting Jan. 1. Analysts believe this is in order to spur domestic consumption. Although the statement from the Finance Ministry doesn’t mention the U.S., it can be assumed this is also a move to increase the amount of American goods imported without upsetting other trade partners. The Chinese state-backed National Integrated Circuitry Investment Fund also said it will cut its stakes in some tech firms.
Boeing’s (BA) CEO Dennis Muilenburg resigned today as the aerospace company has struggled to regain the trust of regulators, customers, investors, and the public in the wake of two fatal crashes of its plane, the 737 Max. Chairman David Calhoun will take over as CEO on January 13, and board member Lawrence Kellner will become the company’s non-executive chairman, according to a press release. Shares of Boeing rose more than 2% on the news.
U.S. sales of newly built homes increased 1.3% in November from the prior month, as low mortgage rates are pushing up purchases as well as prices. The Commerce Department said Monday that new single-family houses sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 719,000 last month. Sales surged in the Northeast and West, but they were flat in the Midwest and fell in the South.New-home sales have increased 9.8% so far this year.
Tesla (TSLA) and a group of Chinese banks have agreed on a new 10 billion yuan ($1.4 billion), five-year loan facility for the automaker’s Shanghai car plant, Reuters reports. Tesla broke ground on the factory in January and has started producing vehicles from its Shanghai plant. It aims to build at least 1,000 Model 3 cars a week by the end of this year.
BlackRock (BLK), the world’s largest asset manager, is set to establish a joint venture wealth management company in China with Temasek Holdings and China Construction Bank, according to Reuters. BlackRock and Temasek will be majority stakeholders. China opened its $43 trillion financial sector to foreign companies earlier this year.
chart courtesy WSJ.com
2019 – The Rarest of Years
With just a few trading days left in the year, 2019 will be remembered for a lot of things, but the 28% return in the S&P 500 will be one of them. Barring the unforeseen, 2019 will rank as the 6th best year of returns for the S&P 500, but it will also be a year where four market forces came together in a most unusual way. I borrowed the chart above from the Wall Street Journal because it shows so clearly that 2019 will be the first year that the following happened:
The broader market (S&P 500) rose more than 20 points
The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury fell more than 0.75%
Gold prices have risen more than 10%
Oil prices have risen more than 10%
Typically, when stocks rise 10% or more in a year bond yields fall, but not by this much. Gold, which is often seen as a safe haven during volatile times in the stock market and the economy, has risen despite the outperformance of stocks and the relative stability of the global economy. You can thank the trade war for that since it has kept investors on their toes all year. And when oil prices rise by double-digits or more, it is typically a concerning sign for stock investors since higher oil prices can lead to higher fixed costs for companies, which erode their profit margins.
But 2019 has been very different, and the Federal reserve has made it that way. The Fed cut interest rates three times in 2019 to “keep the economic expansion sustained”, which drove investors into stocks, particularly technology stocks.
But the uncertainty around the trade war between the U.S. and China kept scaring investors back into U.S. Treasuries and gold, typically considered safety assets.
Meanwhile, as oil prices continued to fall in what has been a multi-year long trend, OPEC and its allies have been cutting production and supply, hoping to push crude prices back up. It has worked, but it is not sustainable over the long term.
Still, this rare confluence of events has produced the rarest performance of these asset classes in history. We have no idea what 2020 will bring, but the global economy and markets had remarkable shifts in 2019, and we may never be the same.
chart courtesy YCharts
The Currency Pair of the Decade
The U.S. – China trade war and currency battle gets all the press, but it has not been the best trade of the past decade. In other words, it has not had the best returns for traders who bought the U.S. Dollar to Chinese Yuan pairing. As foreign exchange (forex) traders know, currencies are always traded in pairs, one against the other. Traders look for opportunities for pricing mismatches and buy one or multiple currencies to look for price arbitrage. It’s way more complicated than that, so if you want to take the deep dive, jump in here: Intro to Forex Trading.
Our friends at YCharts have assembled some terrific end of the decade charts, and we liked the one above in particular.
The best currency pair trade of the decade has been the U.S. to Euro Exchange. The U.S. to Canadian Dollar has also been strong, as has the Dollar/Yen and the Dollar to Pound Sterling.
One of the worst currency pair trades has been the U.S. to Chinese Yuan pairing, returning only 3% over the past decade.
What’s Open and Closed this Week?
It’s a short week for markets next week as markets around the world will be closed. Take a look at the table below for details on which markets are closed when.
chart courtesy YCHARTS
Oil exploration and production company Apache rocketed up by 17.5% today. The rise came after it announced joint venture in Suriname with fellow energy firm Total. This comes after news earlier this month that boded negatively for its Suriname operations. Rising oil prices have also buoyed Schlumberger, Hess, and National Oilwell Varco, among others, which rose 3.5%, 3.1%, and 3.1% respectively.
Cosmetics company Coty fell 4.1% today. Used-car retailer CarMax continued to fall after last-week’s earnings miss, falling another 3.8% today. Packaged-foods company Conagra Brands brands gave up some of last-week’s rise today, falling 3%.
Asset allocation is an investment strategy that aims to balance risk and reward by apportioning a portfolio’s assets according to an individual’s goals, risk tolerance, and investment horizon. The three main asset classes – equities, fixed-income, and cash and equivalents – have different levels of risk and return, so each will behave differently over time.
Today in History
December 23, 1913
Today in 1913 President Woodrow Wilson signed the Owen-Glass Act, which created the Federal Reserve System. The Federal Reserve is an independent federal agency created to ensure that the U.S. money supply stays steady, set interest rates, and keep an eye on the overall availability of credit. The Federal Reserve standardized how banks would work in the U.S., which had previously operated in a wide variety of different ways, resulting in 4 major financial crises in the previous 40 years. The Federal Reserve was the first central bank in the United States in over 70 years, since the charter of the Second Bank of the U.S. ended in 1836.
The market closed higher breaking new territory in all major indexes for yet another day. One might think this market could be summed up by a slogan on a coffee mug that reads “Keep Calm and Buy More.” And yet the Volatility Index (VIX) ended the day with a slight increase over its previous close, hinting at continued nervousness by option sellers for a notable third consecutive session.
Meanwhile one particular sector has been on the rise after having been beat down for several months, namely, the energy sector. The chart below shows a sector analysis and compares nine of State Street’s popular sector-tracking index ETFs. It highlights the S&P 500 fund (SPY) and the Energy Sector fund (XLE). At the beginning of October (marked “then” on the chart), the energy sector was still lagging behind all others, but now it has moved into the middle of the pack, showing acceleration in its price performance that may continue into 2020.
Micro cap index shows investors favor risk
The broad market indexes closed mildly higher, but it was the Microcap index (RUMIC) that topped all other closing up .63% at the close of the session. The chart below compares the Russell Microcap and the Russell 2000 small cap (RUT) with the larger cap indexes since the first of October. Today’s action extends the trend of these stocks outperforming other asset classes over the same period of time that the energy sector has also been gaining ground.
The important point for chart watchers to observe is that investors are willing to put more resources behind both risky stocks and behind energy stocks. With this evidence making itself apparent, it might make sense for traders to look at a higher-risk, low-cost stock in the energy sector to find opportunities.
Marathon oil showing technical signs of turnaround
One particular company that matches this criteria might be Marathon Oil (MRO). The stock is not only relatively inexpensive at under $14 per share, but the stock’s PE ratio, like may other stocks in the oil and gas industry, is well below the market average. A low PE ratio can be misleading to investors if they are not careful to recognize the risks it implies.
The chart below points out four items of technical evidence that help reinforce the notion that MRO shares may have turned the corner and are about to begin a new upward trend. First (1) a bullish divergence appears between the price action and the Commodity Channel Index (CCI) indicator. Second (2) the stock has bumped up against the top of its downward channel three times. Third (3) the share price has closed above the resistance line in the channel. Fourth (4) the indicator has maintained its position in the upper range of the CCI, thus confirming the expectation of a continuing upward trend.
The Bottom Line
Stocks moved to historic highs again as the micro caps outpaced all others. This show of preference for risk and opportunity also extends into the energy sector. Stocks in these industry groups are showing relative strength including Marathon Oil shares.
The global music market experienced its fourth consecutive year of growth in 2018, generating over $19 billion in revenue. Music streaming now accounts for almost half of that revenue, with 255 million paid users worldwide.
Today’s infographic from Global Web Index compares the popularity of streaming services, exploring how streaming behavior differs by age group and region.
While listeners can now gain access to an abundance of streaming options—is the success of the industry good news for everyone?
The Age of Streaming
Streaming platforms are web-based services that allow users to listen to high-definition music without having to download and store large files.
The foundations of music streaming were laid by peer-to-peer file sharing system Napster when it was created in 2001, followed by Apple’s iTunes a couple of years later. Spotify, in an attempt to combat music piracy, was founded in 2006 by Swedish duo Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon.
Today, 68% of adults use a music streaming service of some kind. According to Global Web Index, Gen Z leads the way with the highest average streaming times, accessing their favorite tracks across multiple platforms.
How Streaming Platforms Make Money
There are currently 33 active streaming platforms available, with a range of different features and characteristics available. Spotify and Apple Music, the largest of the streaming giants, rely on almost identical models to generate revenue:
Paid Subscriptions: Advertising drives free users towards monthly subscription packages, which include a premium offering for $10 a month and a family offering for $15 a month.
Advertising: Advertisers pay for exposure, with ads played every 15 minutes for 30 seconds, and can also include sponsored playlists, and homepage takeovers.
With 217 million active users, and revenues of almost $6 billion in 2018, Spotify is the global leader in music streaming.
For Spotify, 91% of the company’s revenue comes from its 100 million paid subscriptions—double that of Apple Music—while the other 9% comes from advertising.
Apple’s streaming service commands a larger user-base than Spotify in the Asia Pacific and the Middle East and Africa regions.
While Apple Music has not been a profitable move for the company, the streaming platform bolsters Apple’s ecosystem of services—encouraging a more loyal consumer base.
How Artists Make Money
For both Spotify and Apple Music, 70% of the revenue generated from paid subscriptions and advertising goes towards paying music labels and artists.
Both platforms use the pro-rata model, which pays based on the total share of streams each artist has. For example, if $100 million is generated in revenue, and an artist accounts for 1% of all streams, then they would receive $1 million in royalties.
However, artists advocate for a fairer, more user-centric model that would pay artists based on who each user listens to the most, using their subscription fee. Smaller platforms like Deezer are moving towards a user-centric model and pressuring more established platforms to do the same.
The Future of Streaming
Over the next decade, the music streaming industry will continue to transform, with new innovations presenting significant opportunities and challenges for both streaming platforms and consumers alike.
Personalization: Streaming platforms are using technology to fully understand a user’s listening habits and to tailor music recommendations directly to them.
Original Content: Spurred on by the growth of streaming services like Netflix and YouTube, Spotify’s purchase of Gimlet Media for over $200 million signals the beginning of streaming platforms investing in original content.
Premium Prices: Artists and music labels are demanding more for music, forcing streaming platforms to hike their subscription rates in an attempt to make up for lost revenue.
Live Streaming: With live streaming rising in popularity, artists can offer audiences an intimate connection and more authentic version of their music.
Currently, artists can increase their chances of being featured on more playlists and ultimately earn more money by altering their music based on streaming platform algorithms. For example, artists only get paid if their song is listened to for 30 seconds, which results in much shorter songs that open with the chorus to keep the listener’s attention.
While streaming platforms continue to provide more avenues for artists to get in front of the right ears, many industry critics argue that music is no longer about creating something for pure enjoyment, but rather about using a formulaic approach to make more money.
Is the future of music safe in the hands of tech giants?
Một năm đã lại gần đi qua, nhìn lại chặng đường của thị trường BĐS ở mọi phân khúc, có thể thấy những khó khăn còn “bủa vây”, thậm chí lộ diện thêm những thách thức mới. Dưới góc nhìn của các chuyên gia, doanh nghiệp, câu chuyện về thị trường BĐS năm 2019 hiện lên như thế nào?
A year has almost gone, looked back on the real estate market progress in all segments, it could be seen that the difficulties have still been appeared “besieged”, even with new revealed challenges. From the perspective of experts, entrepreneur, how would the story of the real estate market in 2019 appear?
Các sự kiện chính – Main events:
Bộ Tài chính đang lấy ý kiến dự thảo sửa đổi Nghị định 20/2017 về quản lý thuế đối với doanh nghiệp có giao dịch liên kết. Trong đó, Bộ Tài chính đề xuất tăng mức trần chi phí lãi vay của doanh nghiệp lên 30%, thay vì 20% như hiện hành.
The Ministry of Finance was under consulted the draft amendments to Decree 20/2017 on tax administration for enterprises with associated transactions. In particular, the Ministry of Finance proposed raising the ceiling interest expense of businesses to 30%, instead of the current level of 20%.
Thị trường bất động sản năm 2019 chứng kiến những “nốt trầm” ở những tháng cuối năm dù trước đó, hồi đầu năm một số phân khúc giao dịch khá sôi động. Nhiều chuyên gia nhận định, khoảng lặng thị trường lúc này có thể là tiền đề cho năm 2020 phát triển ổn định hơn. Niềm tin phần nào bị xói mòn chính bởi hàng loạt những vấn đề pháp lý bị xáo trộn ở cả dự án chưa bán và đã bán dẫn đến những tiêu cực nhất định cho thị trường. Thậm chí, ảnh hưởng luôn đến tâm lý của NĐT nước ngoài khi đầu tư vào các dự án BĐS Việt Nam. Với những dự án trong tương lai không thể triển khai được chắc chắn ảnh hưởng đến việc cân đối nguồn vốn của CĐT:
The real estate market in 2019 witnessed the “low notes” in the last months of the year though, at the beginning of the year, trading in some segments had been remarkably active. Many experts have said that the market silence may be a prerequisite for a better stable development of 2020. Confidence was somewhat, eroded by a series of legal issues disturbed in both unsold and sold projects leading to certain dynamics to the market, even, affecting the psychology of foreign investors while investing in real estate projects in Vietnam. With future projects that could not be implemented, it certainly affected the balance of investment capital:
Khó khăn về mặt pháp lý dự án: Rất nhiều dự án không thể triển khai được theo đúng tiến độ vì chậm trễ trong quá trình cấp giấy phép đầu tư, xây dựng. Điều này đã khiến tất cả kế hoạch phát triển dự án của các CĐT không diễn ra như đúng kế hoạch. Trong khi họ vẫn phải duy trì các chi phí về tiền đất, lãi ngân hàng…
Challenges on the legal aspect of the project: Many projects could not be implemented on schedule due to delays in the process of issuing investment and construction licenses. This had caused all project development plans of the developers delayed compared to planned. While they still have bared the maintains of all kinds of cost such as land, bank interest …
Khó khăn tiếp cận nguồn vốn vay BĐS: Hiện nay quy trình nguồn vốn vào BĐS đang bị siết chặt. Thực tế việc siết này là có lộ trình chứ không bất thình lình. Tuy vậy, bản thân các CĐT cũng như người mua cũng gặp phải những trở ngại nhất định, và trở ngại này lại kết nối với khó khăn về pháp lý đã khiến cho thị trường BĐS năm 2019 trở nên chậm lại, các dự án BĐS trong tương lai không thể triển khai được chắc chắn ảnh hưởng đến việc cân đối nguồn vốn của CĐT.
Challenges in accessing commercial loans: Currently, the capital flow into real estate has been tightened. In fact, that tightening was a roadmap, not a sudden. However, the investors themselves and buyers also encountered certain obstacles, and those obstacles were connected with legal difficulties that had driven the real estate market in 2019 slower, real estate projects; in the future, if it could not be implemented, then may certainly affect the balance of capital of investors.
Nghị định 87 (thay thế, bổ sung Nghị định thi hành Luật phòng chống rửa tiền) vừa được ban hành là một tin vui cho giới ngân hàng. Theo đó, tổ chức trung gian thanh toán có quyền không gặp trực tiếp người dân khi lần đầu giao dịch. Việc phải trình diện trực tiếp với nhân viên nhà băng trong lần đầu giao dịch là một cản trở khiến nhiều người chưa tiếp cận được với dịch vụ tài chính, đặc biệt ở địa bàn nhà băng chưa có chi nhánh giao dịch. Đồng nghĩa đây cũng là rào cản cho các ngân hàng trong tiến trình số hóa. eKYC – xác thực khách hàng không cần gặp trực tiếp, được ví như “tấm vé gửi xe” hướng tới ngân hàng số, vừa chính thức được đề cập trong nghị định 87.
The recently issued Decree numbered 87 (replaced and supplementing the Decree on the implementation of the Anti-Money Laundering Law) was good news for the banking community. Accordingly, the payment intermediary has selectively had the right to not meet people directly on the first transaction. The direct presentation to bank staff in the first transaction was an obstacle that had prevented many people accessing financial services, especially in the area where transaction branches were not found. This was also a barrier for banks in digitization transform. eKYC – authenticating customer process, in which would not require to meet in person, as a “entrance ticket” towards the digital bank, has just been officially mentioned in Decree 87.
Trong đó, sau hơn chục năm từ khi ví điện tử đầu tiên được thí điểm, 28 ví được cấp phép nhưng 80-90% thị phần thuộc về vài cái tên như Payoo, MoMo, SenPay, Moca, AirPay và ZaloPay, theo số liệu từ Vụ Thanh toán Ngân hàng Nhà nước, hầu hết thị phần về số lượng ví được mở, số dư, lượng giao dịch qua ví… chỉ rơi vào 5-6 ví.
Particularly, after more than a decade since the first e-wallet had been piloted, 28 wallets were licensed but 80-90% of the market segmented to few names such as Payoo, MoMo, SenPay, Moca, AirPay and ZaloPay, according to data from the Payment Department of State Bank, most of the market share of the number of activated wallets, the balance, the amount of transactions via wallets … only were addressed into 5-6 wallets.
Tại sao nó ảnh hưởng – Why is it affected:
Nghị định 20 với mục tiêu quản lý, chống thất thu thuế thu nhập doanh nghiệp đối với các công ty có quan hệ liên kết có hiệu lực từ tháng 5/2017 và được áp dụng với các kỳ tính thuế từ năm 2018. Theo đó, chi phí lãi vay trong kỳ của doanh nghiệp được trừ xác định thu nhập chịu thuế thu nhập doanh nghiệp không được vượt quá 20% tổng lợi nhuận thuần. Phần chi phí lãi vay vượt quá 20% sẽ không được tính vào chi phí hoạt động và bị tính thuế. Tuy nhiên, từ khi có hiệu lực đến nay, nhiều lần các doanh nghiệp phản ánh quy định này khiến họ phải nộp thêm hàng trăm tỷ đồng tiền thuế, đặc biệt là các tập đoàn, tổng công ty vốn thường đứng ra vay vốn rồi phân bổ về các công ty con.
Decree 20 with the aim of managing and combating CIT losses for associated companies took effect from May 2017 and applied to taxable periods from 2018. Accordingly , deductible interest expense in the period of determining the enterprise’s income subjected to CIT should not exceed 20% of the total net profit. Interest expenses exceeding 20% would not be accountable to operating expenses and would not be taxable. However, since the day coming to effect till now, many enterprises have commented that provision, causing them to pay an extra tax of hundred billions dong, especially holding companies and corporations of which have often borrowed money, allocated to its subsidiaries.
Sau 5 năm phát triển “nóng“, thị trường BĐS đang có những dấu hiệu chững lại – điều này cũng là một tín hiệu tốt. Thị trường sẽ có khoảng thời gian để hấp thụ dần số lượng hàng tồn kho trên thị trường. Thực tế số lượng hàng tồn kho trên thị trường đang có dấu hiệu giảm dần. Hơn thế, những khó khăn trong năm 2019 cũng tạo tiền đề để năm 2020 thị trường phát triển bình ổn hơn, đặc biệt người mua dự án được đảm bảo hơn về quyền lợi khi tham gia thị trường. Tuy nhiên, pháp lý vẫn còn là một thách thức khi còn có những dự án đã bán rồi, đã ra sổ rồi những vấn nảy sinh vấn đề là khu đất đó phát triển không hợp pháp hay cấp phép xây dựng hay đầu tư không đúng quy trình. Có trường hợp đã có sổ đỏ vẫn có khả năng bị thu hồi. Thực tế này đang ảnh hưởng rất nhiều đến tâm lý của người mua BĐS. Công tác thanh tra kiểm tra trong năm 2019 cũng là điểm tích cực khiến thị trường minh bạch hơn về mặt pháp lý dự án. Điều này sẽ đảm bảo cho người mua có được môi trường đầu tư minh bạch, hợp pháp, tránh trường hợp người mua sau khi nhận nhà xong lại bị ảnh hưởng về giấy tờ; khủng hoảng về pháp lý trên diện rộng đã ảnh hưởng đến nguồn cung sản phẩm ra thị trường giảm sút nghiêm trọng. Bên cạnh đó, mặc dù nhu cầu về nhà ở vẫn tăng trưởng bền vững, các chỉ số phát triển kinh tế tốt hơn so với kỳ vọng, tuy nhiên, các Doanh nghiệp BĐS đang bước vào giai đoạn khó khăn do kế hoạch kinh doanh trong ngắn hạn lẫn dài hạn buộc phải điều chỉnh. Một trong những điểm mốc tích cực trong năm 2019 chính là nguồn vốn đầu tư nước ngoài đổ vào BĐS tiếp tục tăng mạnh. Điều đó chứng tỏ kỳ vọng của nhà đầu tư vào thị trường BĐS trong dài hạn vẫn rất tốt.
After 5 years of “hot” development, the real estate market was showing its signs of slowing down – this was also a good signal. The market would have time to gradually absorb the amount of inventory in the market. In fact, the number of inventories in the market was decreasing. Moreover, the difficulties in 2019 also had created a foundation for a more stable development of the market by 2020, especially project buyers were more assured of rights while participating in the market. However, the law was still a challenge when there were already sold projects, already issued books but the problems have arisen that the land had been illegally developed or licensed for construction or im-proper investment procedure. There were cases where a red book had been issued but still likely to be revoked. This fact was greatly affecting the psychology of buyers. Inspection in 2019 was also a positive point that drove the market more transparent in terms of project legal. This would ensure the buyer has had a transparent and legal investment environment, avoiding the case that the buyer would be affected from paperwork after receiving the house; the wide-ranging legal crisis has seriously affected the supply of products to the market. Besides, although the demand for housing was still growing steadily, the economic development indicators were better than expected, but real estate businesses have faced a difficult period due to business plans. Both short-term and long-term might be adjusted. One of the positive landmarks in 2019 was that foreign investment inflows into real estate continue to rise sharply. This proved that the expectation of investors in the real estate market in the long term has been still very good.
Tại nhiều diễn đàn, hội thảo về thanh toán điện tử, Vụ trưởng Thanh toán (Ngân hàng Nhà nước), ông Phạm Tiến Dũng từng ví von eKYC sẽ là “tấm vé gửi xe” đầu tiên cho các ngân hàng làm số hóa. “Khi eKYC cần phải trả lời hai câu hỏi: Bạn là ai? Bạn có đúng là bạn không?”. Để làm được điều này cần có hệ thống sinh trắc học (khuôn mặt, vân tay, mống mắt, giọng nói) được cơ quan nhà nước có thẩm quyền lưu trữ. Tuy nhiên, nếu chưa thể xây dựng được hệ sinh trắc này, sẽ cần đến một số giải pháp cụ thể như hạn chế hạn mức giao dịch… Tuy nhiên, còn nhiều câu chuyện phải bàn tới để đưa eKYC vào hiện thực kể cả khi đã có hành lang pháp lý. Nếu không gặp mặt trực tiếp, đơn vị cung ứng dịch vụ cần có biện pháp, hình thức và công nghệ để nhận biết và xác minh khách hàng. Hiện nay, chưa có hệ thống dữ liệu quốc gia có thể chia sẻ cho các bên, các nhà băng phải tự xây dựng hệ thống nhận dạng thông qua sinh trắc học riêng. Ngoài ra, eYKC cũng gặp những trở ngại về lưu trữ dữ liệu lớn cho việc phân tích và so sánh trong khi chưa có sự liên thông các dữ liệu của các tổ chức với nhau, hay khẩu vị rủi ro với cách hiểu về các quy định pháp lý của từng ngân hàng cũng là một thách thức không hề nhỏ.
At many forums, seminars on electronic payment, Director of Payment (State Bank), Mr. Pham Tien Dung once compared eKYC as the first “entrance ticket” for banks to digitize. “When eKYC, it requires to answer two questions: Who are you? Are you truly you?“. To have this done, a biometric system (face, fingerprint, iris, voice) should be stored by the competent state authority. However, if this biometric system could not be built, it might need some specific solutions such as limiting transaction limits … However, there were still many stories to discuss to bring eKYC into reality. even when there was a legal corridor. Without face-to-face meetings, the service provider should take measures, forms and technology to identify and verify customers. Currently, there was no national data system that cold be shared with the parties, banks have had to build their own identification system through biometrics. In addition, eYKC also faced major data storage challenges for analysis and comparison, while there was no link between organizations’ data, or risk appetite with an understanding of the rules. Legal regulations of each bank were also not tiny challenges.
Tính đến tháng 8/2019, 5 ví có số dư lớn nhất chiếm hơn 80% số dư toàn thị trường là Payoo, MoMo, SenPay, Moca và Airpay. Trong khi đó, Airpay, MoMo, Senpay, Moca và VTC Pay là các ví điện tử có số lượng phát hành luỹ kế lớn nhất. Nếu tính trong quý II/2019, 95% giá trị giao dịch toàn thị trường ví tập trung vào 5 đơn vị là Payoo, MoMo, Senpay, Airpay và Zalopay. Hai hình thái cơ bản để xây dựng và phát triển ví:
To August 2019, 5 wallets with the largest balances accounted for more than 80% of the total market balance were Payoo, MoMo, SenPay, Moca and Airpay. Meanwhile, Airpay, MoMo, Senpay, Moca and VTC Pay were the largest digital wallets. If calculated in the second quarter of 2019, 95% of the transaction value of the whole wallet market focused on 5 units: Payoo, MoMo, Senpay, Airpay and Zalopay. Two basic forms for building and developing a wallet:
Thương mại điện tử được xem là một hệ sinh thái góp phần làm nên thành công cho nhiều ví điện tử, do đó, trong bối cảnh thương mại điện tử tại Việt Nam trở thành điểm nóng và tăng trưởng mạnh mẽ, nhiều ví điện tử hưởng lợi từ các “khu chợ online“. Theo báo cáo của JP Morgan, 19% giá trị giao dịch thương mại điện tử tại Việt Nam được thực hiện qua ví điện tử. Giá trị giao dịch thương mại điện tử qua ví điện tử ngang với thanh toán bằng tiền mặt, xếp sau thanh toán qua thẻ (34%) và chuyển khoản ngân hàng (22%); bên cạnh đó,
E-commerce was considered an ecosystem that had contributed to the success of many e-wallets, thus, in the context of e-commerce in Vietnam becoming a hot spot and growing strongly, many e-wallets benefited from “online markets“. Reported by JP Morgan, 19% of the value of e-commerce transactions in Vietnam was done via e-wallets. The value of e-commerce transactions via e-wallets was equal to that of cash payment, after card payment (34%) and bank transfer (22%); besides,
tuy không có lợi thế sẵn có từ thị trường thương mại điện tử như những cái tên kể trên, MoMo, Moca hay Payoo vẫn nằm trong danh sách ví điện tử có thị phần lớn nhất nhờ phát triển hệ sinh thái riêng. Ví điện tử này từng bước hợp tác những điểm offline asset (thương mại, bán lẻ truyền thống) và có hơn 100.000 điểm thanh toán, đồng thời dốc tiền làm khuyến mãi thu hút khách sử dụng ví.
although there was no advantage available from the e-commerce market as the above mentioned names, MoMo, Moca or Payoo had been still in the list of e-wallets with the largest market share, thanked to developing their own ecosystem. This e-wallet step by step cooperated offline assets (commercial, traditional retail) and has had more than 100,000 payment points, simultaneously offering money to attract customers to use the service.
Nhìn từ vị thế của nhóm dẫn đầu này, có thể thấy những tay chơi dẫn dắt thị trường là kẻ sinh ra trong một hệ sinh thái sẵn có hoặc/và tự gây dựng nên được một mạng lưới rộng khắp, từ bán lẻ truyền thống đến thương mại điện tử và các dịch vụ tiềm năng khác của nền kinh tế Internet.
From the status of the leading group, it could be seen that the market leaders has been those who had been born in an existing ecosystem or / and build themselves an extensive network, from traditional retail. to e-commerce and other potential services of the Internet economy.
Xu hướng chính – Key trends:
Phó thủ tướng Vương Đình Huệ chủ trì cuộc họp sửa đổi quy định 20/2017 này sau nhiều kiến nghị từ các doanh nghiệp. Lãnh đạo Chính phủ đánh giá quy định này giúp hạn chế tình trạng chuyển giá nhưng lại gây khó khăn cho nhiều doanh nghiệp trong nước. Đại diện Bộ Tài chính cũng thừa nhận, bên cạnh mặt tích cực, quy định có bất cập là phạm vi đối tượng áp dụng rộng, gây khó cho hoạt động của doanh nghiệp trung chuyển vốn vay, hay việc vay nợ giữa công ty con với công ty mẹ trong cùng một tập đoàn, tổng công ty ở trong nước.
Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue chaired the meeting to revise the 20/2017 regulation after many proposals from businesses. Government leader assessed that this regulation had helped limit the price transfer issue but had caused difficulties for many domestic enterprises on the other hand. The representative of the Ministry of Finance also acknowledged those, apart from the positive effects, the inadequate regulation was its wide-scoped application, resulting difficulties for the business to allocate loan between subsidiaries or among enterprises with the holding company within the same group of companies, the corporation in the country.
Bước sang năm 2020 để có thể giải quyết ách tắc về mặt thể chế, đặc biệt là khủng hoảng về pháp lý BĐS giúp thị trường phát triển lành mạnh trở lại và khai thông nguồn lực đầu tư trong và ngoài nước rất cần sự đổi mới toàn diện, tháo gỡ các vướng mắc mà nhà đầu tư đang gặp phải trong quá trình đầu tư, đảm bảo thị trường phát triển bền vững trong dài hạn. Khách hàng sẽ có xu hướng lựa chọn các thương hiệu lớn, có đủ năng lực và kinh nghiêm phát triển các dự án với quy mô lớn, pháp lý đầy đủ, đảm bảo việc thực hiện theo cam kết với khách hàng. Tập trung đầu tư vào giá trị sản phẩm nhằm tạo sự khác biệt và giá trị gia tăng bền vững trong dài hạn là chiến lược đầu tư thông minh và đúng đắn. Thị trường đất nền vẫn được đánh giá là kênh đầu tư được ưa chuộng
Entering to 2020 to be able to solve institutional bottlenecks, especially the legal crisis, helping the market to develop healthily again and to open up domestic and foreign investment resources, it was a need of innovation, comprehensively, removing obstacles that investors were facing in the investment process, ensuring long-term sustainable market development. Customers would in trend to choose big brands, implied the capacity and experience to develop large-scale projects, full legal, ensuring the implementation of commitments with customers. Focusing on investing in product value to make a difference and sustainable long-term value-added were a smart and sound investment strategy. The land market was still considered the preferred investment channel
Cái gì tiếp theo – What comes next:
Các thành phố lớn, các địa phương đang chú trọng rà soát toàn bộ các dự án sai phạm để sớm cấp phép cho những dự án đủ điều kiện phát triển và mở bán vào cuối năm 2019. Nhiều doanh nghiệp cũng đang khắc phục những sai phạm trước đây để thị trường dần ổn định trở lại. Thị trường BĐS năm 2020 sẽ chưa “sáng sủa” hơn năm nay, nhất là về vấn đề pháp lý. Bởi pháp lý của một dự án hoàn thiện phải mất vài năm mới ra được. Thị trường có thể sẽ đi ngang nhưng dự án sẽ dồn vào ông CĐT lớn nhiều hơn.
Major cities and provinces were focusing on reviewing all offending projects to soon authorize those projects eligible for development and launch for sale by the end of 2019. Many businesses were also fixing the old mistakes to stabilize the market. Real estate market in 2020 would not show “brighter” than current year of 2019, especially on legal issues. As the law of a complete project might take a few years to be solved out. The market may move sideways but projects would be flowed to big hands.
Dấu hiệu rủi ro – Risk signals:
Tính đến thời điểm này, dù còn 1,5 tháng nữa mới kết thúc năm 2019, nhưng có thể dễ dàng nhận thấy rằng thị trường bất động sản 2019 là một năm đầy khó khăn với những điểm rõ ràng: Nguồn cung mới giảm mạnh, tiêu thụ trên nguồn cung mới giảm theo, giao dịch thứ cấp cũng giảm, loại hình căn hộ hạng C ngày càng khan hiếm, áp lực tăng giá…
Up to this point, although there were only 1.5 months to close the chapter of 2019, but it was easy to see that the real estate market in 2019 had been a difficult year with clear points: new supply plummeted. , consumption on new supply decreased, secondary transactions also decreased, type C apartments were increasingly scarce, pressured to rocket prices …
Trong một mỗi tương quan phát triển BĐS, ngân hàng đóng một vai trò không nhỏ như van điều tiết thông qua việc quản lý và định giá tài sản… “Được hay không”, BĐS còn phải dòm mặt ông ngân hàng…
In a correlation of real estate development, the bank played a significant role as a damper through the management and valuation of property … “Yes or no” – being on the face of bank …