Ẩm thực – Bà Hòa nấu ăn: thịt đông “đốn tim”

By Nội

Full link: https://soi.today/?p=237271&cat=16

Thit đông là một trong những món ăn không thể thiếu trong mâm cơm Tết của người Hà Nội.

Mình xin chia sẻ với các mẹ cách nấu món thịt đông đốn tim mấy gã đàn ông nhà mình để các mẹ tham khảo nhé 🙂

Nguyên liệu:

– 1 con gà mái đã làm sạch (nhớ xát muối cho thật hết màng vàng ngoài da gà cho không bị hôi), lọc xương để riêng.
– 500gr thịt chân giò (chọn phần bắp dươi cho ít mỡ)
– 1kg bì lợn
– 2 củ hành khô, nửa củ hành tây.
– 2 thìa canh nước mắm ngon,
– 1 thìa canh muối hột
– 1 củ cà rốt tỉa hoa, luộc sơ (nếu thích)

Cách làm:

– Bì lợn luộc sơ qua, cạo thật sạch phần ngoài da, lọc thật hết mỡ dính mặt trong, thái nhỏ bằng ngón tay

– Cho xương gà cùng chỗ bì lợn trên thêm 1 lít rưỡi nước và nửa củ hành tây vào nồi áp suất ninh. Đến khi mềm, vớt bỏ xương và bì lọc lấy nước

– Thịt gà thái mỏng, nếu ai sợ béo thì bỏ da

– Chân giò rửa sạch luộc sơ rồi bỏ ra cạo lại lần nữa cho thật sach,thái lát mỏng

– Cho thịt gà và thit chân giò vào nồi cùng nước ninh xương, bì lúc nãy, nêm nước mắm, muối, hành khô băm nhỏ. Đun lửa to cho sôi bùng lên rồi hạ lửa cho sôi liu riu, nhớ mở vung và hớt bọt cho nước trong. Thời gian đun tùy thuộc gà non hay già, miễn cho thịt gà và thịt chân giò vừa mềm, không nhừ quá cũng không cứng quá (đun khoảng từ 30’-50’).

– Đến lúc thịt chín mềm thì nêm nếm lại cho vừa miêng, nếu nhạt thì cho thêm chút muối (không cho nước mắm khi thịt đã chín vì có mùi mắm không thanh).

– Để nguội, múc thịt ra hộp nhựa hoăc thủy tinh hình tròn, lót mấy cái hoa cà rốt ở dưới. Đậy chặt và xếp vào ngăn mát tủ lạnh để ăn dần trong mấy ngày Tết.

Khi dọn ăn dùng mũi dao nhọn khẽ lách quanh vành hộp cho thịt đông long ra rồi úp ra đĩa, ta sẽ có đĩa thịt đông trong vắt đông cứng, dùng với dưa hành và chút nước mắm ớt thì tuyệt vời.

(Nhiều người nấu thịt đông có cho thêm mộc nhĩ nấm hương nhưng cá nhân mình thì thấy không hợp nên không cho.)

*

Ẩm thực – How to Get a Tattoo

By

Full link: https://www.gq.com/story/tattoo-ideas-find-an-artist-phillip-picardi?utm_source=nl&utm_brand=gq&utm_mailing=gq_daily_012920&utm_medium=email&bxid=5c5cba14283d8e788b2c6f8c&cndid=56356405&hasha=b357a3f7d7c5d1ec57c25e9b6231f8b6&hashb=aeff271f8ff4a7fd8fe495e655c0eb7b5e4fe7ac&hashc=1f8ce695fd760fb4d65e389189e83ccceb06e601bec24bb9c826250bee570416&esrc=bounceX&utm_campaign=gq_daily_012920&utm_term=GQ_Daily_Active

GQ grooming columnist Phillip Picardi on everything you need to know before (and after) getting inked. 

Guy getting tattoo on right Guy flexing  misspelled Tattoo on left

Last month, I experienced a media industry rite of passage: I was laid off. Newly uninsured, without a steady paycheck for the first time since I was 14 years old, generally pessimistic about my financial stability, and more or less sure I was spiraling into a state of complete emotional meltdown, I did what any logical man would do: I decided to get my first tattoo, the start of a full sleeve.

In the process, I learned a lot about the dos and don’ts of getting one, which I would like to share.

Finding an Artist and Picking an Idea

A slightly meandering path led me to the Instagram account of an artist named Victoria Do, who works out of Bang Bang in New York City, a shop named for its owner, who’s tattooed the likes of Rihanna, Justin Bieber, and Lebron James. I did not select Victoria for her proximity to the rich and famous (although I have always wanted to have something in common with Rihanna). I selected her because, during a FaceTime conversation, she peered more closely into her phone screen, as if her vision would sharpen my pixelated face. “Oh my God,” she said. “You were friends with my brother in college! You two took me to all these gay bars in New York when I was like, 16.”

My irresponsible past coming back to find me, I told myself, was a sign—this sleeve was not just the impulse of a man pushing 30 whose ego had been badly bruised. It was meant to be.

To be fair, the idea for my tattoo had been brewing for two years. My middle name is Francis, after my father’s favorite saint, Francis of Assisi. I’d later find out through some research that Saint Francis could have been a friend of Dorothy, if you know what I mean. Even though labels like “gay” didn’t really exist then (and he took a vow of chastity), it’s believed he was called “mother” by his followers, and had a “close friendship” with another man whose company he favored for long walks and hikes. After years of trauma from Catholic schooling, I found out my religious name had a homosexual subplot. All of this could amount to nothing, and it certainly isn’t how the Vatican sees things—but for me, it was too perfect.
Image may contain Skin Tattoo Human and Person
A tattoo by Victoria Do. Courtesy of Victoria Do

“A loose idea is fine,” Do says. “It doesn’t have to be a solid subject matter, even, but it helps if you’re set on the meaning behind it and the style that you want.” Do immediately showed me different forms of religious art, ranging from Renaissance-style pieces to flatter, Byzantine designs. I learned pretty quickly that identifying tattoo ideas is not all that different from wandering into a museum and finding what resonates with you. Tattooing is a vast world—there’s line drawing, fine line, fine line realism, micro-realism, abstract line work, geometric line work, and a whole bevy of cultural influences to choose from. But you can also work more intuitively: use Instagram as your art museum, browsing different pages and combing through hashtags, saving the images and designs that speak to you. When you look at your saved images folder later, you’ll (hopefully) find some aesthetic consistency—and maybe even identify the artist you want to work with.

To extend the fine art metaphor, keep in mind that plenty of Western museums have caught heat for owning some of the most important artistic pieces of other cultures—art and artifacts that are now considered prizes of colonial invasion and pillaging. This kind of cultural thievery also extends to your ink: “Please try not to get tattoos that don’t belong to your own culture,” warns the activist, model, and ink enthusiast Munroe Bergdorf. “It may have seemed cool 20 years ago to get a dreamcatcher or a Native American symbol tattooed on your body, but choosing something that’s personal to you is a much safer bet.”

It’s also good to remember that the stuff you see on Instagram is an inspiration point for tattoo ideas—not something for your eventual tattooer to copy. The artist Chella Man started noticing that people were lifting his artwork from his Instagram page and getting tattoos done of his paintings and drawings, even tagging him in a photo of the finished result. “As much as it’s an honor to have my work on another being’s body, I do ask that I be compensated,” he says. “Please remember that artwork is real work, and deserves to be paid as such!” (As a compromise, he made a temporary tattoo collection that lasts up to two weeks—a surprisingly cool option if you’re wanting to dip your toe in the waters before fully committing.)

Hopefully, your social media browsing led you to discover some artists or studios that you’d like to visit or commission. In fact, Mars Hobrecker, a tattoo artist and the co-owner of Somewhere NYC, says the platform is where “almost 100%” of his clientele comes from. “Instagram has made it easy to find artists who work in a wide variety of styles,” he says. “But on top of that, it also allows people to get a sense of the artist as a person. Both of these things are important to pay attention to: You can find someone whose art you love, but who you feel is also aligned with your values.”

Definitely think about the artist diligently before you book an appointment: You’re paying someone to put their work on your body, which you will then wear for (conceivably) the rest of your life. Not to mention that you might be about to spend a whole lot of time right next to them, depending on the scale of your tattoo. Hopefully, you’re picking someone who you’ll be proud to say has been a part of altering your body.

The Consultation

A lot of artists will offer a free consultation to assess how much time they need with you and determine what you’re going to make together. At Bang Bang, I sat down with Do a few weeks before my appointment to show her reference photos, as explain how I wanted my first tattoo with her to be a part of a bigger sleeve. She responded by showing me examples of work she’d done and of others’ work she liked that she thought she could riff off of for my design. I didn’t know that even sleeves came in different styles—everything from a “sticker” vibe (lots of different designs strategically placed along the arm) to a “mural,” which is one, dense piece with multiple elements that goes from the shoulder to the wrist. I didn’t want anything too dense, so we agreed on a series of appointments over the span of a few months, and I listed different figures, characters, and symbols I’d like incorporated. I even showed her my grandmother’s rosary beads, which she draped over my forearm and wrist and imagined, right there, as the logical ending of my sleeve. Excited, I asked if I could see her design before the appointment, and she bristled. I had unwittingly violated a part of the tattoo code.

“A lot of times, people really want to control every bit of the process,” Hobrecker says. “Sometimes, it can be really powerful to just let yourself enjoy something. Relinquishing some amount of control is important. If you choose the right person, then it will turn out fine.”

A consultation is also a good time to iron out other key details: How big are you thinking? How much time will it take? What places are you open to getting tattooed? Do you want to leave the opportunity to build atop this tattoo with more designs? It’s also great to flip through their own book to become more familiar with their work—and, their clientele. The model and activist Yves is famous for his full bodysuit of tattoos—even his eyelids are covered—but he finds one piece of advice worth dispensing above all. “If you’re gifted with a dark complexion like myself,” he says, “see if the artists have tattooed someone of your skin tone before you book an appointment.” (Unless you personally know and trust someone, it’s probably best not to be their test subject.)

Do also recommends using the in-person consultation as a way to get an idea of the artist’s space. “We go through so much training to make sure everything is sanitary,” she says. “So make sure you look at the stations in the studio—if you see a lot of ink stains, you should second guess going there. It usually means the station is dirty. Also, all the artists should be wearing gloves, and everything should be wrapped, from the bottles they’re touching to the wires they’re using. If anything looks out of place, I’d consider going elsewhere.”

Finally, your consultation is where you’re going to find out about the least fun part of your process: The cost. If all looks like a go after your consultation and you want to book an appointment, you’ll most likely be asked to make a deposit on the total amount of the service. Prices for tattoos vary enormously—everything from size to style to placement can play a factor—but, Do points out, this isn’t exactly something you want to underpay for. “You should be comfortable making an investment,” she says. “For a good tattoo, artists create original pieces or commissions, so it’s unique to you and your body. Plus, you’ll have it forever.” Hobrecker points out that he’s never created the same exact tattoo twice—even if his clients ask for it. Getting something special and custom in any industry means the cost will be higher—but if price is a concern, you can always ask up-front for rates, and establish whether a particular artist or studio is in your budget.

The Big Day

From your consultation, you should know about how much time you’ll be spending in the studio, so prepare accordingly. Start your day with a hearty breakfast, and pack a few snacks in your bag, as well as a bottle of water (and something slightly more enjoyable, like coconut water). You should not drink alcohol the entire day before you get your ink done. “It will thin your blood,” Hobrecker says. “It’s a little freaky, but I can always tell if someone has been drinking beforehand. It just affects how the skin takes the ink.”

The day will start with your design being unveiled, which is basically the best part! Hopefully, you love everything, or only need minor tweaks to be made. I immediately loved the design that Do made for me—a picture of Saint Francis holding a dove, his hand emerging from a rectangular frame, as if he was stepping out of the artwork himself. Showing me the design on her iPad, she couldn’t help but feel like it was missing something—and finally, began pulling up examples of text tattooing she’d executed before. Quickly, I pulled up the Prayer of Saint Francis, and she got to work drawing in cursive above her design. In under an hour, she had taken the initial idea I wanted, and transformed it into something so much more meaningful. I was beyond excited—and grateful to have finally, in Hobrecker’s words, relinquished control.

It doesn’t always go this way. If the artist totally missed the mark and you no longer feel like the trust is present (it happens sometimes!), you may need to make a difficult decision. “Tattooing is a consent-based practice,” Hobrecker points out. “So you shouldn’t feel pressured into anything. It sucks, but you can say, ‘No,’ or ‘I’m not feeling it’ at any point, even if that means losing your deposit.”

After the unveiling, your artist will print stencils to paste onto your body. This can actually be the most frustrating portion of the day. Since I was getting a sleeve Do was painfully meticulous about the placement of the stencil, asking me to raise my arms, bend, and turn at different angles before erasing it and trying again. It was tedious and a little anticlimactic, but she was clear that it was absolutely necessary: “You don’t want a crooked tattoo for the rest of your life, do you?”

Then, of course, comes the pain. In all honesty, tattooing starts off as more of a dull ache or stinging, but builds to a crescendo the longer you’re seated in the chair. Yves, who has tattoos from his head to his toes, insists that every single one has hurt. While every person is different, there are some near-universal truths about where you’ll feel pain the most: “My palms, my butt, my head, my eyelids, and my stomach,” he says, “ with my palms being the worst.”

Tattooing itself is extremely detail-oriented work—your artist will be up close and personal with whatever body part you’ve chosen. Naturally, different artists have different processes—Hobrecker, for example, likes to chat during the experience. “I love talking to people—it’s the best part of my job,” he says. For her part, Do alternated between chatting and intense periods of concentration. Unfortunately, I somehow fell asleep for the first two hours of the process, twitching periodically, threatening to ruin her precious work. (I, as you may have gathered by now, am a nightmare client.)

After my nap, I distracted myself with a book, then listened to a podcast. “You’ll be either sitting or lying down for a while, so bring things to keep you company,” she advises. “Download a movie on your phone or iPad, bring headphones, a book, a television show, whatever.” When you get the sense your artist is in the zone, you can always give them a heads up that you’re going to listen to music or zone out for a bit. While politeness is key, sometimes the best way to distract yourself from the pain is by getting your mind (and ears) off of it completely.

A lot of the other patrons of Bang Bang brought friends with them to watch the process, and this is something that definitely divides artists. If you do want a pal with you, stick to one friend only, and make sure they are prepared with entertainment in case you and your artist need to build your own rapport. I found that I was able to better immerse myself in the experience alone. I love my friends, but I can’t imagine anyone weighing in on what my body should look like.

For longer appointments, there will inevitably be breaks. I ordered us some lunch and we sat and ate together, scrolling through our phones, until we were ready to get back to it. At a certain point during my eight-hour visit, the pain started to become a little too much. I spoke up, Do sprayed the area with Bactine, a pain-numbing spray, and we made it to the finish line without incident.

(I feel it should probably go without saying, but some of the same dynamics we read about workplace harassment in the news these days can absolutely happen in the tattoo chair. A female tattoo artist who would prefer not to be named told me about a male client of hers who insisted on an upper thigh tattoo, then proceeded to rub around his thighs in an apparent effort to excite himself during the service. So just heed this advice above all: If you’re going to book a tattoo, don’t be a creep.)

After your ink is done, your artists will seal the deal, literally. While Bang Bang abides by a cellophane wrap for two hours followed by a soap water rinse, other artists are migrating to something called “second skin,” or Tegaderm .“It’s a type of bandage that’s been used in hospitals for ages,” Hobrecker says. “We bandage all of our clients with it and recommend they leave it on for three days—it’s waterproof, breathable, and your tattoo’s still getting air. This allows the tattoo to start healing from the inside out.”

Afterwards

No matter which method of recovery your artist has chosen, nothing will quite prepare you for what happens next. You have a fresh wound. And your beautiful tattoo—which may currently look immaculate and crisp—is about to itch like hell, potentially scab over, and basically molt and shed for the next couple of weeks. After-care is, therefore, absolutely essential.

A lot of artists recommend Aquaphor for the first couple of days off healing. Since I’m opposed to the stuff (petroleum jelly isn’t exactly an environmentally friendly ingredient), Do suggested I use coconut oil as a replacement. My favorite is still Shea Moisture Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. I apply a thin layer to the area anytime it feels dry or like it’s itching, and make sure to wash the area extra gently with soap and water during showers, being very careful to use moderate temperatures and get in and out as quickly as possible. “You don’t want to keep it locked in moisture for too long, so wait two to three weeks before exposing it to salt water,” Do adds. Even submerging it in a bath before a couple weeks’ time is a little risky.

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Most professionals recommend you skip the gym for a minimum of three days—or up to a week, depending on where you’re getting tattooed. (My trainer, GQ’s very own Joe Holder, was none too pleased about this.) I recommend booking your appointment on a Thursday, so you have the weekend to recover, and the rest of the week to get your exercise in.

You also have to avoid direct sun for two to three weeks. “When the sun hits a wound or scar, it causes discoloration and further scarring. Your tattoo could also become lighter in certain spots, especially when it’s healing,” Do says. Hobrecker remembers one client who spent hours getting a large piece on their calf, only for it to fade into a Henna-like color after they spent an ill-advised day at the beach.

The healing process may yield a less-than-perfect tattoo, which is totally fine. You’re welcome to contact your artist for touch-ups, which they should be happy to accommodate. (Remember: You’re now a walking advertisement for their art!)

But, beware that the after-care process never really stops. Chris Salgardo, former president of grooming powerhouse Kiehl’s, now has quite the ink collection—one he is constantly maintaining. “I make sure that I always have sunscreen on them when I’m in the direct sun, and I always keep my skin moisturized,” he says. “Like everything else you want to preserve in life, tattoos need maintenance, too.” Salgardo also goes for touch-ups, since the ink will fade over time, “especially if they’re in color.” You should be well acquainted with a good tube of sunscreen and find a formula that works for you. Personally, I resist anything that leaves a chalky residue, so I’m a forever fan of Supergoop Glow Oil SPF 50. Sunscreen is your best insurance policy for a tattoo that ages well.

Supergoop! Glow Oil SPF 50

Sephora
$34

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Speaking of aging, there seems to be a common refrain from tattoo skeptics that this is a decision we’ll regret massively when we’re older—but not a single tattooed older man I spoke to for this piece regretted his decision. In all honesty, the right tattoo on an older guy can very well be the difference between, “I’m your Father” and “I’m your Daddy.” (And come on: Who wouldn’t rather be the daddy?)

“For me, aged skin is aged skin. It really doesn’t matter whether it has ink on it or not,” says style icon Nick Wooster. “A good tattoo on aged skin is no different from good skin that ages.”

However, Salgardo cautions, “While tattoos look great at any age, you should expect to get them touched up over time, especially if they’re in color.” (Wooster now wishes he’d gotten his done only in black and white—the color has faded over time, despite his best efforts.)

Image may contain Skin Human Person Clothing Footwear Apparel Shoe Sleeve Lamp and Table Lamp
Nick WoosterPhotograph by Aaron Jay Young / Courtesy of Nick Wooster

And even though tattoos feel like they’re forever, they don’t necessarily have to be. For the past year, I’ve watched on Instagram as Bergdorf has undergone treatment for tattoo removal at the Pulselight Clinic in London, where technicians use a PicoWay laser to blast some of her tattoos. (Eventually, your body reabsorbs the ink and gets rid of it in stages, like waste.) The process, she says, “is about 10 times more painful than getting an actual tattoo, and you need to get it every two months until it’s gone.” It is also quite expensive.

When I ask her how I can avoid regretting my own tattoos, she insists “regret” isn’t the word she’d choose for herself. “I don’t regret them, but I’ve outgrown them,” she tells me. “I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve had an emotional breakthrough. I’ve not always felt at home in my body, but now I’ve grown a lot as a person. So I look at them now, and I see who I was before, and I don’t want that reminder.” Even as she’s embarked on her journey of removal, Bergdorf has added to her tattoo collection. One of her latest is the perfect insignia for this next chapter of her life: The word “GODDESS,” in rudimentary lettering, neatly drawn just above her breasts.

Tattooing can feel a bit like emotional catharsis— a decision to make something permanent to reflect a period of your life, whether that’s of intense loss, pain, heartbreak, or love. But permanence is a hard concept to grasp for any of us mortals, which is why it may be wise to think more than twice before making your commitment. “If you’re concerned about how your tattoo might age, I’d just say think further on it,” says the actor JR Bourne. “Maybe it isn’t the right one for this moment in your life.”

In fact, when I asked my friends about the tattoos they love the most, all of them pointed to something sentimental. For Yves, it’s the names “Cax” and “Justin,” which he had imprinted on his skin as a testament to “two dear humans I loved that unfortunately passed away. Adding them to my canvas helps me a bit with healing—even though they’re already a part of me, now they’re even more so.”

For Man, it’s the flipped words “I love you,” directly borrowed from a note he wrote to himself when he was just 12 years old. “For 18 years, I’ve tried infinitely to grasp my gender. Today, I understand my gender is outside of the binary. I am fully accepting and at peace with my body—this tattoo is my documentation of this realization.”

And for Wooster, who says his large tattoos were a contributing factor to his early street style fame, it’s the more modest ink etched onto his neck. Soon, Wooster will be celebrating his 60th birthday, as well as his 25th year of sobriety, which started on September 3rd, 1995. That’s the date he sees when he looks at his reflection to brush his teeth each morning—a constant reminder of where he’s been, who he was, and who he is now.

Ẩm thực – 9 Signs You Should Be Eating More Carbs

By DANA LEIGH SMITH

Full link: https://www.eatthis.com/signs-you-should-be-eating-more-carbs/?utm_source=nsltr&utm_medium=email&utm_content=best-cocktail-bar-every-state&utm_campaign=etntNewsletter

Headaches and constant hunger are just a few of the not-so-fun side effects of a low-carb diet.

Sleepy woman eating

Carbs are to dieters as tarantulas are to, well, pretty much everyone. Both are unrightfully vilified and give their haters the heebie-jeebies.

In reality, though, eating carbs won’t make you fat, and a tarantula bite is no more serious than a bee sting. But of course, not all carbs are created equal. Those that come from refined sugars and flours can spike blood-sugar levels and stall weight loss. However, complex carbs from whole grains and veggies are necessary for good health and a flat belly. What’s more, when you don’t eat enough carbs (about 225 grams a day), you’re apt to feel plain awful.

Instead of counting every gram you eat to see if you hit the mark, just look out for these telltale signs that you need to up your intake. (And when you do, be sure to include these best complex carbs for weight loss.)

1

You Get Bad Headaches

Apples - signs you should eat more carbs
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“Carbs don’t require any additional processing to make glucose,so they keep blood sugar levels steady quite effectively,” says registered dietitian Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN. “However, when you don’t eat enough carbs (or food in general), blood sugar levels can dip and cause headaches.” While getting headaches from time to time is normal, having them every day after embarking on a low-carb weight loss plan is a sign you may have taken things too far. Incorporate some carb-rich produce like apples, pears, and carrots to keep the pounds coming off while keeping the head-pounding pain at bay.

2

You Can’t Stop Shivering

Red tea - signs you should eat more carbs
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Despite the fact that your thermostat reads 70°F, your teeth are chattering. Unless you have a fever, it’s likely a sign that something is off. “Low-carb dieters are at risk of developing a low thyroid function, which can make it difficult to regular internal body temperature,” says Cassie Bjork, RD, LD of Healthy Simple Life.

3

Your Breath is Rank

Man brushing teeth - signs you should eat more carbs
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After embarking on a low-carb diet, the body turns to stored fat for energy. Although this may help your abs start to shine through (at first, at least), it can also make your breath reek. “When you don’t eat enough carbs, the body burns fat and protein for fuel. It does so by a process called ketosis. Unfortunately, using protein and fat for fuel can cause smelly breath,” says Smith. Though adding more carbs to your diet can help, so can doubling the amount of water your drink. Experts say this simple trick is an immediate cure.

4

You’re Irregular

Whole wheat pasta - signs you should eat more carbs
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When you cut back on pasta, bread, and other whole grains, you’re often cutting out fiber as well, which can be a problem if you don’t get the nutrient from other foods like fruits and veggies. This can lead to gastrointestinal troubles, including a bloated belly and constipation. To get back on track, Bjork suggests consuming 25 grams of fiber per day from non-starchy, low-carb vegetables like broccoli, kale, spinach, and asparagus.

5

Your Workouts Are Dragging

Exercising man and woman - signs you should eat more carbs
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“Carbs are the first line of use for energy for the body, so when muscle stores of carbohydrates are low, it can make some people feel lethargic and less able to sustain a high-intensity workout,” says Smith. Dial up your carb count before your workout to ensure you have enough energy to blast away fat. And afterward, do the same. This will ensure you’re replenishing lost energy stores so you can hit the gym again tomorrow. Pack the right combination of nutrients to keep your body looking great with these post-workout snacks.

6

Your Progress Has Stalled

Tired gym workout - signs you should eat more carbs

At first the flab was flying off—but you had to know that wouldn’t last, right? “A low-carb diet can stall weight loss because if you suddenly eat fewer carbs, the liver tries to make up for it by producing sugar,” says Bjork. “When blood sugar levels rise, the pancreas secretes insulin, your fat-storing hormone, so you store fat instead of shedding it.” So basically the exact opposite of what you want. Bjork says that the best way to overcome this is by carbohydrate cycling. “One day each week, add in more carbohydrates than you normally would,” says Bjork. Don’t down an entire loaf of bread, though. An extra sweet potato should do the trick!

7

You’re Hungry All the Time

Triple cheeseburger - signs you should eat more carbs

Most healthy carbs are often rich in belly-filling fiber, so if you don’t compensate for that with other filling nutrients, you might find that your tummy is constantly rumbling. “People on a low-carb plan are often hungry because they simply omit carbohydrates, instead of replacing them with healthy fats, which is the key!” warns Bjork. “A low-carb, low-fat eating regimen is a recipe for disaster.”

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You’re Feeling Foggy

Lack of sleep - signs you should eat more carbs
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Just like your body, your brain also uses carbs for energy. When the brain doesn’t get the fuel it needs, it might leave you feeling a little bit off your game, explains Smith. One small Tufts University study found that women on a low-carb diet scored worse on memory tests than their counterparts who followed a low-cal, nutrient-balanced plan. However, when the low-carb group started eating carbs again their brains quickly returned to normal.

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You’re Moody & Irritable

Man dislikes broccoli - signs you should eat more carbs
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No one knows the meaning of “hangry” quite like a low-carb dieter. “When people cut down carbs—especially at first—it can make them really crabby. Mostly because they aren’t taking in as many calories and their blood sugar levels are low,” explains Smith. Starchy foods like cookies and mac and cheese are also comfort foods for many so when they can longer turn to them for, well, comfort, it can leave them feeling moody and irritable. Another reason for the low-carb blues? Carbohydrates are essential to the body’s production of serotonin, a feel-good chemical that’s produced in the brain. Fewer carbs = fewer smiles. Adding more carbs to your plate should lift your spirit, as should eating these foods that end bad moods— and don’t worry, most of them can fit right into a low-carb diet plan.

Ẩm thực – Monstera Deliciosa

By Jared Rydelek

Full link: https://www.atlasobscura.com/foods/monstera-deliciosa-swiss-cheese-plant?utm_source=Gastro+Obscura+Weekly+E-mail&utm_campaign=92730c886f-GASTRO_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_01_04&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_2418498528-92730c886f-70327933&mc_cid=92730c886f&mc_eid=df51e46713

This fruit either burns your throat or tastes like a tropical medley.

As the scales fall away, a delicious corn-looking fruit appears beneath.

Monstera deliciosa is a fruit that should come with an instruction manual. Unripe fruits are chock full of oxalic acid, a substance that is used to bleach wood and clean rust off metal. Those who make the mistake of biting into an unripe monstera experience severe throat and skin irritation. However, when ripe, this monster of a fruit is indeed delicious.

The scientific name literally means “delicious monster,” an apt description given the fruit’s tasty yet dangerous potential. But the genus Monstera actually gets its name from the plant’s abnormal-looking leaves, which are very large with a strange network of holes. For this reason, it’s earned the nickname “Swiss cheese plant.” Its interesting appearance makes members of this genus a popular ornamental plant, though not all species have edible fruit.

When fully ripe, the monstera offers a wonderful combination of strong tropical flavors like pineapple, coconut, and banana. In its native countries of Mexico, Guatemala, Panama, and Costa Rica, it is typically eaten on its own or prepared into jams. Chefs also whip up monstera-based desserts, either pairing the fruit with a dash of light cream or incorporating it into fruit cups or ice cream.

Unlocking that flavorful potential—and avoiding any painful toxicity—is all a matter of timing. To ripen the fruit, set it inside a jar or glass and cover it with a brown bag. In time, the green hexagonal scales that make up the outer skin will slowly fall off from one end to another. You can nudge the scales off gently with a finger, but should stop if you find yourself using force.

The fruit underneath will resemble an ear of corn and can be removed and eaten as it becomes exposed. If there are sections with scales that have not yet fallen off, that means those parts are still dangerous and need more time to ripen. Even when the fruit is ready to eat, patience and moderation is still essential: Eating too much of the pulp may have a laxative effect.

It takes effort and care to eat a monstera, but once you’ve gone through the trouble, you will be rewarded handsomely.

Need to Know

Even when ripe, Monstera deliciosa still contains small amounts of oxalic acid and should be avoided by those who are sensitive to it. You may also notice some black specks in the fruit. These are edible, but can irritate the mouth. They can be picked out when consuming the fruit or skimmed off the top while it’s being cooked to make jam.

 

Collection – Bringing an Outsourced Finance Team In-house: A Case Study

By JAMES HAMORY

Full link: https://www.toptal.com/finance/financial-planning-consultants/outsourced-finance-team?utm_campaign=Toptal%20Finance%20Blog&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=82651664&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_OR4ePKtKLLzgwLaYiWTyrmKGskwCPpHY0cu4CvOhpbtUu-mG0p32ZUsfLSvPli_odpOR0oQ8yrOhYzmL6keVOSRstIQ&_hsmi=82651664

After breaking through to low six-figure annual revenue, LendEDU, a Y Combinator-backed startup, made the big decision to bring its finance and accounting functions in-house. LendEDU, a website that helps consumers learn about and compare financial products, including student loans, personal loans, and insurance products, was looking to support business growth while becoming more efficient.

During this time, my role at our company shifted and I became the director of finance & operations, a new role for our growing company. Candidly, this was a new role for me as well, and together, we decided that we needed to bring on an independent consultant to get us up and running.

This is the story of how our company moved its finance and accounting functions in-house with the support of Toptal Finance Expert Andrew Fales.

Early Struggles in Forming Our Accounting Processes

In the summer of 2017, LendEDU was a small startup company experiencing tremendous growth in various areas. With consistent increases in revenue, cash, customers, and employees, it was apparent that official accounting processes and bookkeeping were soon to be necessary.

LendEDU

Up until this point, LendEDU was laser-focused on growth and the aspects of the business that directly drive it. Understandably, the limited resources the company had at its disposal were not being deployed to build out official payables and receivables teams. Instead, employees with relevant skills and relatable responsibilities added these to their lists of duties.

Toward the end of that summer, our company began to consider the benefits that an official accounting process could provide. Faster receivable turnover could increase our cash flow, accrual accounting methods could help us more accurately analyze performance, and formal bookkeeping could enable us to efficiently manage our finances.

We now had sufficient resources to invest in this aspect of our business. However, at this point in time, it did not seem logical to hire a full-time accountant, so we began to do research on outsourced finance teams who could handle this for us. We came across a reputable firm that focused on carrying out accounting operations for startups. The hourly fees were exorbitant, but we figured, “you get what you pay for,” so we moved forward.

This turned out to be a noteworthy mistake. By August 2018, we had spent more than $50,000 on our outsourced finance department, but we did have official monthly financial statements to show for it. Our revenue was broken out by product line, our expenses were itemized, and the formatting was professional.

LendEDU’s Increased Spending on an Outsourced Finance Department

LendEDU’s Increased Spending on an Outsourced Finance Department
Source: LendEDU, QuickBooks.

There was just one problem—we could not trust the numbers. The close-out process each month was a nightmare. The reps at the firm we had hired did not seem to understand how we earned revenue, and they were not interested in learning. Lengthy emails citing balance discrepancies, invoicing errors, and lists of questions were exchanged, but reconciliations were consistently pushed off to the following months. The process was flawed, communication was terrible, and the customer service was abysmal. Most frustrating of all, confidence in our financial data was low.

Starting the Transition to In-house

After eight months of funneling money to this external accounting firm and struggling to produce valuable results, we’d had enough.

We decided to consider bringing our accounting functions in-house. The benefits of this move were exciting. By moving accounting operations in-house, we could produce monthly financial statements more quickly, more transparently, and less expensively. The persisting problem was that we still were not in a position to hire a full-time accountant and we didn’t have any CPAs conveniently on staff.

By this point, I had learned the basics of the accounting process that we needed to set up and I could handle the majority of the legwork. However, I needed someone with expertise to consult with about our process and, most importantly, to check my work. In short, I needed someone who knew what I didn’t know and someone who could not only identify mistakes but help me fix them. We found this person at Toptal. We had used the site before to subcontract a software developer for our website, and it was a great experience. This time, we needed someone with an accounting background, preferably a CPA, who understood the industry in which our company operates.

Hiring & Onboarding Process

After posting the position on Toptal, we received numerous responses from interested freelancers with impressive resumés. Within days, we had set up five phone interviews for the following week.

We explained what our needs were and asked how each applicant could help us avoid the accounting issues we’d experienced in the past. We found a match with Andrew Fales.

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Andrew is a CPA who founded a highly regarded tax accounting firm which specializes in various aspects of accounting and compliance for startups. Andrew has also consulted for numerous firms in a variety of industries throughout his career. Over a 30-minute phone interview, Andrew laid out a plan for us to set up an internal accounting process. He mentioned that he was proficient in QuickBooks and suggested that he could personally train me on how to navigate the software.

Furthermore, Andrew seemed to fully understand how our business operates and what we were trying to accomplish. Andrew said that his intention was to “work his way out of the job.” His implication was that he wanted to educate us to be self-reliant, which was precisely our goal. His motivation for this approach was the idea that we would consult him in other situations that we encountered as our company matured, which is exactly what we have done.

Month One

After discussing our budget with Andrew, we got right to work. In the first month, Andrew and I talked over Zoom for 2-4 hours per day, three days per week. I used screen share as he walked me through the QuickBooks software, taught me shortcuts, and emphasized accrual accounting principles that were essential to accurate bookkeeping. There was a lot to learn. Anytime I had a question, Andrew had an answer. Anytime there was a mistake that needed to be fixed, Andrew would offer multiple solutions. In one month, we had established a formal accounting process designed to avoid future discrepancies and to function efficiently.

Establishing a formal accounting process
Source: LendEDU, QuickBooks.

Month Two

By the end of month two, I was able to navigate QuickBooks independently and carry out close-out tasks such as bank and credit card account reconciliations, accruing payroll, amortizing prepaid expenses, creating adjusting journal entries, and producing official financial statements.

Month Three

At the end of month three, we had successfully produced accurate accrual financial statements for the 2018 fiscal year.

Month Four

By month four, we were using these statements as historical inputs for revenue projection models, expense budgeting, and ratio analysis. Not only did Andrew personally train me to use QuickBooks software and guide me thereafter, but he also took the time to learn the intricacies of our particular company. He created detailed spreadsheets to calculate payroll accruals, track amortizations, and compute deferred/current tax liabilities. These customized resources enable me to create complex accrual journal entries without assistance.

Accrual financial statements
Source: LendEDU, QuickBooks.

Year 1

It has been a little more than a year since we hired Andrew, and the confidence in our financial data has never been higher. At this point, I speak with Andrew over Zoom for about 5-10 hours per month, primarily for an end-of-month review and to ask questions about one-off accounting situations that occurred during the period. Andrew has successfully helped us set up an in-house accounting process that is more efficient, more accurate, and less expensive than our external collaboration ever could have been. Perhaps most valuable is that we have formed a relationship with a CPA and business professional who has made himself available to us 24/7 via Slack, phone, email, and Zoom for any advice we may need.

Projects Ahead for Year 2

Moving into 2020, we will begin with our 2019 year-end close. This process is usually more strenuous than the average monthly close-out. At this stage, it is essential to make all of the necessary adjustments and to achieve a high level of accuracy in our financial statements in preparation for submitting our tax returns.

Also on our to-do list in the first part of 2020 is to begin utilizing the QuickBooks budgeting tool. This will enable us to perform a detailed comparative analysis between our estimated budgets and actual budgets, ultimately helping us to manage our expenses. Andrew has already Slacked me a list of instructions on how to prepare for this project so that we can hit the ground running in the new year.

Collection – 7 Dos and Don’ts for Becoming a Billionaire

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Becoming a billionaire seems like a great goal, but unfortunately, it’s only a dream for most of us. The thing is, many billionaires didn’t start out as such. Some certainly had economic and educational advantages, but even without those, their smart decisions and business choices, plus a few key characteristics, led them to their billions.

So, what can we learn about our own real-life options for becoming billionaires?

First things first: find a way to make money. Four of the most often used methods of money-making in the world of billionaires are: inventing, investing, innovating and being an entrepreneur. But remember that how you pursue your billions is just as important as what you do to get them.

7 Real-Life Ways To Become A Billionaire

Do: Invent

Inventing is a tough career path to take. But if you’ve got the smarts to successfully create, patent, produce and market a product that people need (and thus, will buy in droves), you can build your future billionaire life on it. Successful inventions aren’t necessarily complicated or high-tech items but can be improvements on existing items. For example, James Dyson invented a better vacuum cleaner, and Gianfranco Zaccai invented a better mop, the Swiffer.

Do: Innovate

Innovation is the fine art of considering a current mainstream market and finding a creative way to improve the current offering.

Successful innovators will identify the real needs behind customer demands and will meet them with a smarter, better, more efficient product, or with a service that provides more than its competitors. Others may develop a business that works in a way just different enough to stand out from the rest. IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad is a great example of someone who used innovation to yield billions. Furniture doesn’t seem like a very exciting market, but his approach of providing modular, economical pieces with a modern flair from Sweden and other European designers and manufacturers to a global market proved fruitful.

Don’t: Think You Know It All

The moment you think you have nothing left to learn is the moment you kill your potential for becoming a billionaire. Especially if you’re interested in building your wealth through inventing or innovating, you have to be curious, open-minded and always learning. Those qualities allow you to look at old things in a new way, to see the potential for change and profit where others see only what already had been done.

Do: Invest

Self-made billionaire Warren Buffett is famous for his frugal ways and for his smart investments. Investing, of course, requires a little seed money and some accurate insight into which investments are smart and which are a waste of money. If you can follow in the footsteps of billionaire investors like Buffett, then this might be the route for you.

Don’t: Make Flashy Investments

The latest and greatest investment opportunity may be fun to talk about, but one of the pitfalls of would-be billionaires is to jump in on the “next big thing,” which doesn’t always turn out to be so big. Investors who make billions from their investments avoid flashy, fun and high-risk picks and instead choose those with long-term potential to provide great returns. Real estate, energy, steel, telecommunicationspharmaceuticals, and energy are among the picks, while high-tech and intriguing but risky options may go either way.

Do: Be an Entrepreneur

The third option for becoming a billionaire is in the time-honored tradition of entrepreneurial pursuits. Starting a business and taking it to success isn’t always easy, but for those with good business sense and the ability to spot start-ups that have the potential to be great, entrepreneurship can be the vehicle to great wealth.

Billionaire entrepreneurs might work in one of two ways: either by coming up with a great idea and taking it all the way, as in the case of Bill Gates and Microsoft or by spotting someone else’s good idea and investing in it early on. Both are viable ways to reach the success that can get you billions of dollars when it comes to your own net worth.

Don’t: Quit Too Soon

Entrepreneurial types who succeed realize that success rarely comes overnight. One business idea might not pay off, but the next might. It’s not easy to build something from scratch, especially when your something is a fortune of billions. Time is on your side if you don’t rush it.

The Bottom Line

Of course, luck has something to do with success. It helps to be in the right place at the right time. However, if you don’t know what to do when you’re there, luck won’t help you out much. Smart choices, smart investments, and long-term learning and growing will.

Note – Investopedia: Buy the News & WHO Says

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Markets Today

Sometimes I am surprised at investors’ reaction to major news events. Today was one of those days. Global markets were gripped by fear all day as more coronavirus cases were discovered around the world. The U.S. identified the first human-to-human transmission of the virus in the country, and China expanded its quarantine to other cities to contain the outbreak. This afternoon, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus a ‘Global Health Emergency’, and put measures in place for global health organizations to help triage and track the spread of the virus that has claimed 170 lives so far and sickened close to 8,000 people.

Just as that news broke, U.S. markets started climbing until they had erased their losses, eventually closing in positive territory. There is an adage in investing that says, “Buy the rumor, sell the news”. Today, we saw the opposite of that. Investors sold stocks up until the WHO’s declaration, and then started buying with a little over an hour to go in the session. They even bought airline and hotel stocks, which have been trampled all week on concerns that their businesses would be impacted by the global outbreak.

I have no reasonable explanation for this other than the fact that most intra-day trading is powered by software algorithms that can fire off hundreds of trades a minute and move markets instantly. Perhaps those algos deciphered that the WHO’s declaration did not sound as alarming as it could have, and the buy signal was triggered. I really don’t know.

There was a lot of other news breaking all day today, so let’s get to it.

Headlines:

  • Amazon (AMZN) absolutely shattered expectations with its Q4 2019 earnings report, beating estimates for both revenue and profits. One driver of this earnings boost was the fact that Amazon’s high-margin Amazon Web Services (AWS) business posted higher-than-expected revenue. Amazon’s stock is up more than 12% in after-hours trading.
  • IBM (IBM) CEO Virginia “Ginny” Rometty will be stepping down from the helm of Big Blue, a position she has held since 2012. She will be replaced by Arvind Krishna, a top executive of IBM. During her tenure as CEO, IBM’s stock has fallen about 26%, while the S&P 500 has grown 160%. Shares of IBM rallied 5% on the news.
  • U.S. GDP growth came in at 2.1% for the fourth quarter of 2019, and 2.3% for the full year. The numbers were expected, but still underwhelming and well below the 2.9% increase in 2018 and the 2.4% gain in 2017, the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency. The 2017 tax cuts were meant to boost economic growth, and three interest rate cuts in 2019 should’ve also helped, but the trade war may have sapped momentum from economic growth.
  • Shares of Facebook (FB) fell 6% Thursday after it reported fourth-quarter earnings Wednesday evening. The drop erased more than $50 billion from Facebook’s market cap. While shares recovered a bit by the close, the stock had its worst day since June 3, 2019, when it fell 7.51%.
  • The Bank of England kept interest rates steady at 0.75% in Governor Mark Carney’s final meeting, as it waits for more evidence of an economic rebound before making further cuts. It was the BOE’s last meeting before the U.K. departs the EU tomorrow.
  • Altria (MO) said its 35% stake in e-cigarette maker JUUL is worth $4.2 billion as of Dec. 31, down from the $12.8 billion it paid in 2018. It recorded a pre-tax charge of $4.1 billion due in part to the legal cases pending against the e-cigarette maker. Altria also wrote down its stake by $4.5 billion in October.
  • Coca-Cola (KO) reported quarterly revenue that topped analysts’ expectations as new products like Coke Plus Coffee and Coke Zero Sugar boosted sales.
  • Deutsche Bank reported a net loss of 5.3 billion euros for 2019 as it underwent a massive transformation. It posted a net loss of 1.5 billion euros in Q4 2019. 70% of the total anticipated costs have been incurred. As part of the strategy announced in July, the firm will downsize its investment bank and cut total costs by a quarter by 2022.
  • Apple (AAPL) beat Samsung to be the world’s No.1 smartphone maker in Q4 2019, according to a report from Strategy Analytics. The research firm said Apple shipped 70.7 million phones, and its market share increased from 17.5% this time last year to 18.9% this year. Samsung’s market share remained steady at 18.4%, while Huawei’s fell and Xiaomi’s rose.
  • Worldwide smartphone shipments decreased 1.1% year over year in the fourth quarter of 2019, according to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation (IDC). While the past several years have delivered flat growth, 2019 volumes dropped to levels below annual shipment levels between 2015 and 2018.

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Jack Taylor / Stringer

What Really Happens with Brexit Tomorrow?

The U.K. officially leaves the European Union tomorrow night at 11PM GMT, which its citizens voted to do in June 2016. It’s been a long and bumpy road to get here that has seen two prime ministers lose their jobs amid a broader fracturing of the British Parliament.

Tomorrow’s ‘exit’ is mostly symbolic. The U.K. will no longer have representation in the European Parliament or a vote on the European Council, but will still be governed by EU laws until a transition period ends on Dec. 31, 2020. That’s when the divorce will really be felt, although companies have been preparing for this day for three and a half years. A key challenge will be for Prime Minister Boris Johnson who will have to hammer out a trade deal with the EU before the end of 2020. He’ll also need to figure out trade arrangements with the rest of the world.

If we learned anything in 2019, new trade agreements are never simple, and they can weigh on a country’s growth for a long time. As this chart of the U.K.’s GDP shows, that growth is heading in the wrong direction.

chart courtesy TradingEconomics.com

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(chart courtesy YCHARTS)

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Electric car-maker Tesla rose today after it reported a strong adjusted-earnings beat. Other companies that rose after earnings beats are cloud computing firm ServiceNow and packaged food company Mondelez.

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Software company Aspen Technology fell after disappointing earnings numbers, while chemical firm DuPont de Nemours fell despite matching earnings expectations due to disappointing guidance for this year.

Word of the Day

Deflationary Spiral

A deflationary spiral is a downward price reaction to an economic crisis leading to lower production, lower wages, decreased demand, and still lower prices. Deflation occurs when general price levels decline, as opposed to inflation which is when general price levels rise. When deflation occurs, central banks and monetary authorities can enact expansionary monetary policies to spur demand and economic growth. If monetary policy efforts fail, however, due to greater-than-anticipated weakness in the economy or because target interest rates are already zero or close to zero, a deflationary spiral may occur even with an expansionary monetary policy in place. Such a spiral amounts to a vicious circle, where a chain of events reinforces an initial problem.

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Today in History

January 30, 1934

Today in 1934 the Gold Reserve Act was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The act restored stability to U.S. currency after his monetary programs of the previous year allowed the economy to reflate. The Gold Standard Act of 1900 established that dollars were convertible to gold at a rate of $20.76 an ounce. This peg restricted the money supply and meant that when the Great Depression hit, the economy was sent into a damaging deflationary spiral that the government had no policy tools to halt. In 1933 a series of executive orders and congressional resolutions removed the dollar’s peg to gold, and raised the dollar price of gold, expanding the money supply and stopping deflation. The Gold Reserve Act tied the dollar back to gold at the higher price of $35 an ounce, and mandated that all gold held by private individuals and institutions be converted into dollars at that price. The law also established the “Exchange Stabilization Fund,” that the Treasury could use to purchase securities, gold, and other assets to help regulate the money supply, much as the Federal Reserve does today.

Sources:
https://www.federalreservehistory.org/essays/roosevelts_gold_program

https://www.federalreservehistory.org/essays/gold_reserve_act

Market Moves

Amazon (AMZN) reported earnings immediately after the close of the market and the stock jumped. A lot. The news was so good that investors and analysts will likely decide that over the past three months, where AMZN shares had lagged behind the market averages, investors were wrong and completely under-pricing the company.

Consider the chart below, which displays the zones where option market makers priced the post-earnings move. The prices, based on implied volatility, were set for a probability that the stock would move $60 higher if the news was good, or $60 lower if the news was bad. Option markets show repeated expertise at pricing such moves, as evidenced by the recent moves in Apple (AAPL) and Microsoft (MSFT). In both of those cases the pricing perfectly limited the post-announcement surge. However, not even the option pricing was properly prepared for Amazon’s stellar quarter. AMZN share prices rocketed higher after the news and will likely gap higher well above $2000 per share tomorrow at the open.

The importance of this news is that the influence earnings on the Nasdaq 100 index (NDX) will likely push the markets higher in the days to come. The S&P 500 (SPX), the Nasdaq 100 (NDX), and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJX) all closed higher today once the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report that they were  really going to get to work on the Coronavirus. The news had quite a bit of impact considering that the session today opened a good bit lower than yesterday’s close.

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Investors Nervous but Excited

With investors fears about the Coronavirus calmed somewhat, stocks rose strongly in the final hours of the trading session. But both implied and realized volatility remain elevated. Consider the chart below which compares State Street’s S&P 500 index ETF (SPY), with the Volatility Index (VIX) and the 5-day average true range as a percentage of SPY (blue line). Astute chart watchers will recognize that though investors wanted to rapidly buy up stocks today, the nervousness remains and prices could fall back equally fast on bad news. If these measures aren’t convincing enough, consider the behavior of utility sector stocks in today’s session.

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Utilities Still on the Rise

If investors are no longer worried about the China-originated Coronavirus, then stocks should, in theory, rebound to their former highs in short order, since the majority of the reason for the drop last weekend was based on those fears. But that doesn’t explain why investors pushed utility stocks up by nearly one percent today. State Street’s Utility Sector index ETF (XLU) was three times as bullish as the S&P 500 index today.

The chart below shows what XLU share performance has looked like since the start of 2020. It may seem intuitive to expect that if news came out alleviating investor fears that XLU would no longer continue to outperform the broad market index. That’s because the utility sector usually only outperforms the market when investors are nervous. The second chart below shows that the news from WHO did nothing to stem the money flowing into the sector. In fact the price even accelerated after the news. This seems to imply that there remains a large contingent of skeptics who still think the Coronavirus, or something worse, is still a cause for concern.

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The Bottom Line

Stocks displayed an impressive rebound, setting the stage for Amazon’s big news. The stock (AMZN) and the broad market indexes will likely open higher to begin tomorrow’s session. However, investors remain nervous as evidenced by the price action in the Utility sector today.

Note – Bloomberg: 5 things to start your day

And finally, here’s what Tracy’s interested in this morning

China’s pledged to buy almost $80 billion of extra American goods this year as part of its “phase one” trade deal agreed with the U.S. It’s always been unclear whether it will be able to purchase enough to reach that number — now that question mark is looming even larger. A big chunk of China’s economy has been shut down as it strives to contain the coronavirus, putting into doubt its ability (or desire) to buy additional American goods.

Interestingly, as Bloomberg notes, there is a clause in the deal terms that exempts parties “in the event that a natural disaster or other unforeseeable event” prevents them from fulfilling their obligations. One might imagine the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent quarantine of millions of people would fit that language. In which case, it’s worth wondering how U.S. President Donald Trump might react. Just months before the 2020 election, he’ll be under pressure to keep the U.S. economy humming, of course. But easing up on China in the midst of its domestic crisis could also be an opportunity to heal bilateral relations after tense trade negotiations. Either way, this will be interesting to watch.

And finally, here’s what Eddie’s interested in this morning

Worries about how the coronavirus will affect the world’s second-biggest economy are starting to mount, and as you’d expect commodities are having a rough time. But are they getting ahead of themselves? The facts about the virus are alarming, but few raw materials could reliably expect substantial shifts in demand on what’s been revealed so far. Industrial metals are heavily exposed to China, it’s true, but that’s because the country is at the heart of the global industrial machine. World growth, not just Chinese growth, matter to the demand picture. Yet copper has posted its longest run of declines on record. Brent crude is below $59 per barrel from above $70 at the start of the month. Some commodities will take a hit of course — think jet fuel — but right now, barring an exponential escalation of the virus, it looks like raw materials are doing what they always do: vastly overprice new risks. What follows is usually a violent snap back when fundamentals come to the fore.

The World Health Organization officially declares the coronavirus crisis a global health emergency, Amazon shares surge after beating Wall Street estimates and this time around the inverted yield curve may not be signalling an impending recession. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about today.

It’s an Emergency

The World Health Organization called the outbreak of coronavirus in China a global health emergency, citing the risk that the sometimes-deadly virus could expand to other countries beyond the smattering of cases outside China so far. Here’s what that designation means. The declaration comes hours after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the first case of human-to-human transmission of the virus in the U.S., in a woman who traveled to China and then infected her husband. As confirmed cases in China have topped 8,000 and the death toll rises to 212, nations and companies are taking drastic measures to stop the spread of the disease, with the tourism industry braced for a hit worse than during the SARS outbreak of 2003. In announcing the emergency WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus did, however, praise China’s efforts to contain the outbreak so far, saying there’s no need at this time for measures that interfere with travel and trade, even though many governments, airlines and businesses have already taken such steps. Still have questions about the virus? Here’s everything you need to know about the coronavirus and its spread.

Markets Finally Boosted

Asian stocks looked set to snap this week’s run of losses after a late-session rally in U.S. shares, as investors continue to gauge the implications of the spreading coronavirus. The S&P 500 Index, after a slide of nearly 1%, closed higher Thursday after the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency, while saying travel and trade restrictions weren’t necessary. Treasuries erased gains to close flat, while futures pointed higher in Japan and Australia. China’s offshore yuan pared losses to trade stronger than 7 after briefly weakening past the level for the first time this year. Elsewhere, oil slumped on growing alarm that the viral outbreak is crippling demand, prompting OPEC to consider an emergency meeting. Copper posted a record 12-day losing streak in London. The pound strengthened as the Bank of England surprised the market by voting 7-2 to keep its key rate unchanged.

Other Doubts

When a key slice of the U.S. yield curve inverted on Thursday for the first time since October, it revived memories of growth fears that plagued investors last year, and signaled doubts that the Federal Reserve will succeed in reviving inflation. But the inverting yield curve is about more than recession this time. The gap between the yield on three-month and 10-year Treasuries at one point slipped to as low as minus 2 basis points on Thursday. The spread — seen by some as a warning signal because it has inverted before each of the past seven U.S. recessions — last reached those levels as economic conditions deteriorated at the height of the trade war. While there are concerns over the coronavirus outbreak and the business cycle, the more important factors are emerging doubts over the ability and commitment of policy makers to shore up growth and spur inflation. The inversion has deepened since Chairman Jerome Powell and colleagues kept rates unchanged this week and signaled they would pull out all the stops to combat a global disinflationary downdraft.

Amazing Amazon

Amazon beat Wall Street earnings estimates from the key holiday quarter, showing the largest U.S. e-commerce company can invest heavily in next-day delivery without devastating its bottom line. Shares surged 10% on the news. Fourth-quarter sales were $87.4 billion and profit was $6.47 a share, the Seattle-based company said Thursday in a statement. Analysts had earlier been concerned about Amazon’s lavish spending to fend off rivals in several key parts of its business: In e-commerce, the company is rolling out next-day delivery, up from its previous two-day offering, to fight intensified competition from Walmart. and other retailers. The Amazon Web Services cloud business is building new data centers and hiring engineers in response to steady gains by Microsoft and a renewed customer push from Alphabet Google. On top of that, Amazon continues to plow money into overseas markets such as India and Brazil. Still, although Amazon stock has climbed about 12% in the past year, it’s been lagging behind tech industry peers.

Tax Cuts Coming?

India’s annual budget on Saturday is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s second opportunity in seven months to refresh policy priorities to support an economy on a downward spiral. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is set to outline fiscal steps that may include higher spending in rural areas and possible tax cuts when she delivers her second budget speech in New Delhi. The government is expected to widen its budget deficit target for the year through March to 3.8% of gross domestic product from a planned 3.3%. Sitharaman has had to contend with weaker tax revenue as the economy slowed, and lower-than-expected income from assets sales. She may be forced to borrow more and tap the Reserve Bank of India for more dividends to help finance the budget. Here’s what to watch for.

Bloomberg

Info – Tesla’s Valuation Surpasses Ford and GM Combined

Full link: https://www.visualcapitalist.com/teslas-valuation-surpasses-ford-and-gm-combined/

Tesla is Now Worth More than Ford and GM Combined

Tesla has been on a roller coaster ride of market sentiment in recent years, but the electric car company is starting off the new decade on a high note.

The company is not only America’s most valuable automaker, it’s now worth more than Ford and GM combined.

tesla ford gm market caps

Tesla’s valuation has already surpassed the $100 billion mark – a significant milestone for a company that produces a fraction of the vehicles of its direct competitors.

Here’s a comparison of the top selling models in the U.S. for Ford, GM, and Tesla.

Rank Model Unit Sales (Q4 2019)
1 Ford F-Series 233,952
2 Chevrolet Silverado 163,311
3 Chevrolet Equinox 92,092
4 GMC Sierra 68,722
5 Ford Explorer 51,284
6 Ford Escape 47,587
7 Tesla Model 3 47,275
8 Ford Edge 37,621
9 Ford Transit 36,885
10 Chevrolet Malibu 34,314

A quick glance at this list is revealing. Though Tesla’s Model 3 put up strong sales numbers, it’s still only a small percentage of vehicles sold by U.S. automakers.

So, what’s driving Tesla’s meteoric growth, and is it sustainable? Below, we’ll take a high-level look at the bull and bear cases for the company.

The Bull Case for Tesla Motors

Tesla posted losses of $1.1 billion in the first half of 2019, but since then, the company has turned the situation around in dramatic fashion.

The automaker had a surprising third quarter with not only record deliveries of 97,000 cars, but also a profit of $143 million. Deliveries broke yet another record in Q4 2019, totaling 112,000 vehicles. These announcements helped improve market sentiment, sending the company’s stock back on an upward trajectory heading into 2020.

tesla bull quotes

Here are three reasons some analysts and media are still bullish on Tesla:

1. Tapping into the World’s Largest Electric Car Market

For a long time, foreign companies looking to manufacture products in China couldn’t do so without working through a domestic partner. Recently though, Tesla became the first major benefactor of a policy change, becoming the first wholly foreign-owned automaker in China.

Gigafactory 3 in Shanghai was completed in October, and was built in just 10 months – an impressive feat. Furthermore, cars have already begun rolling off the assembly lines, as Tesla targets an annual production of 150,000 Model 3s.

Perhaps the best part for a company with historically volatile earnings: Tesla claims the facility was 65% cheaper to build than its production plant in the U.S.

2. Still the Range King

2019 saw many of the more established automakers take their first swings at Tesla.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) handed out official range ratings for several new electric cars, but none could unseat the king:

ev range ratings

3. Musk’s Megaphone

Few CEOs capture the attention of media quite like Elon Musk. While his actions can sometimes have unintended consequences for the company – the infamous “funding secured” tweet, for example – Elon Musk’s massive reach allows the company to sell vehicles without spending a dime on advertising.

By contrast, in 2018, Ford and GM spent $2.3 billion and $3.1 billion respectively on advertising in the U.S. alone.

The Bear Case for Tesla Motors

While the second half of 2019 has given Tesla bulls much to celebrate, many investors are remaining vigilant, if not skeptical.

tesla bear quotes

1. Stiff Competition in China

Tapping into the world’s largest EV market is a double-edged sword for Tesla, as they face an onslaught of domestic and foreign competitors.

The Chinese government has also generously supported its own EV industry, handing out over $60 billion in subsidies to over 400 companies. Tesla will be competing against state-owned enterprises like BAIC, one of the largest players in the Chinese EV market.

Western automakers are also gaining a foothold in China as well. Volkswagen and its Chinese joint-venture partner, SAIC Motor, will begin producing cars at two factories in China in the autumn of 2020.

The German automotive giant has also forged partnerships with Chinese battery manufacturers, including China’s biggest battery company Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL).

2. Getting Ratio’d

Tesla has an extremely high premium on earnings when compared with its more established counterparts in the auto industry.

Company Ticker Enterprise Multiple* (last 12 months)
Toyota NYSE: TM 8.4x
GM NYSE: GM 10.0x
Ford NYSE: F 14.5x
Tesla NASDAQ: TSLA 50.2x

The enterprise multiple (EV/EBITDA) measures the dollars in enterprise value for each dollar of earnings. The ratio is commonly used to determine if a company is undervalued or overvalued compared to peers.

The Bottom Line is… the Bottom Line

Of course, Tesla’s future will be dictated by variables more complex than can be summed up in a tidy pro/con list.

Musk has shown a willingness to sacrifice profitability in the name of growth – Tesla has yet to prove it can deliver consistent, quarterly profits.

It’s hard to be profitable with that level of growth. We could slow it down, but then that would not be good for sustainability and the cause of electric vehicles.

– Elon Musk

After reporting a record number of deliveries in the final quarter of 2019, there’s no doubt that true believers and short sellers alike will be watching the company’s January 29, 2020, earnings call with much anticipation.

Collection – Mỗi người Việt ăn hết bao nhiêu/tháng? Lương tối thiểu của chúng ta có đủ chi trả cho “sự thoải mái cơ bản”? Việt Nam ở đâu trên bản đồ lương tối thiểu thế giới?

Full link: http://cafef.vn/moi-nguoi-viet-an-het-bao-nhieu-thang-luong-toi-thieu-cua-chung-ta-co-du-chi-tra-cho-su-thoai-mai-co-ban-viet-nam-o-dau-tren-ban-do-luong-toi-thieu-the-gioi-20200130122542136.chn

Lương tối thiểu ở Việt Nam xếp hạng 35/54 quốc gia trong báo cáo. Theo tính toán, chi phí thực phẩm cơ bản/lương tối thiểu ở Việt Nam ở mức 50,2%. Tỷ lệ này lọt Top 10 quốc gia cuối bảng, dù vẫn xếp trên Thái Lan (51,6%) và Philippines (75,1%).

Mỗi người Việt ăn hết bao nhiêu/tháng? Lương tối thiểu của chúng ta có đủ chi trả cho "sự thoải mái cơ bản"? Việt Nam ở đâu trên bản đồ lương tối thiểu thế giới?

Tùy thuộc vào từng quốc gia, mức lương tối thiểu là mối quan tâm của vài phần trăm đến vài chục phần trăm dân số làm việc. Mức lương tối thiểu sẽ bảo vệ nhân viên trước thu nhập thấp quá mức. So sánh mức lương tối thiểu ở từng quốc gia cũng như tính toán số tiền này có đủ để chi trả cho sự thoải mái tối thiểu trong cuộc sống hay không, nhóm Picodi.com đã có những phát hiện thú vị.

Việt Nam ở đâu trên bảng lương tối thiểu toàn thế giới?

Năm 2020, mức lương tối thiểu tăng từ năm này sang năm khác được ghi nhận ở Nigeria (64,8%). Tuy nhiên, sau khi chuyển đổi sang USD, số tiền này vẫn là một trong những mức thấp nhất (74 USD). Ở một số quốc gia, như Mỹ, Tây Ban Nha, Nam Phi hay Latvia, mức lương tối thiểu không thay đổi.

Mỗi người Việt ăn hết bao nhiêu/tháng? Lương tối thiểu của chúng ta có đủ chi trả cho sự thoải mái cơ bản? Việt Nam ở đâu trên bản đồ lương tối thiểu thế giới? - Ảnh 1.

Ở Kazakhstan, mức lương tối thiểu không thay đổi, nhưng số tiền thực tế mà một công nhân bỏ vào túi của mình đã giảm, vì mức bảo hiểm y tế cao hơn.

Việt Nam xếp hạng 35 trong số 54 quốc gia/vùng lãnh thổ trong báo cáo. Năm 2020, tiền lương ròng hàng tháng cao hơn 5,7% so với năm trước (4.420.000 đồng so với 4.180.000 đồng cho một nhân viên toàn thời gian). So sánh, mức lương tối thiểu tăng 8,7% ở Hồng Kông, 4,8% ở Anh và 2,5% ở Hàn Quốc.

Một người lớn ăn hết bao nhiêu?

Mỗi người Việt ăn hết bao nhiêu/tháng? Lương tối thiểu của chúng ta có đủ chi trả cho sự thoải mái cơ bản? Việt Nam ở đâu trên bản đồ lương tối thiểu thế giới? - Ảnh 2.

Nhóm nghiên cứu quyết định so sánh mức lương tối thiểu với giá lương thực, thực phẩm.

Giỏ mua sắm được tạo ra cho mục đích của báo cáo này bao gồm 8 mặt hàng cơ bản: bánh mì, sữa, trứng, gạo, phô mai, thịt, trái cây và rau quả. Mặc dù danh sách này ngắn và khá thanh đạm, những sản phẩm này đủ để đáp ứng nhu cầu dinh dưỡng của một người lớn và giá của chúng liên tục được theo dõi và cập nhật trên toàn thế giới.

Vào đầu năm 2020, giá thực phẩm từ danh sách có mức giá như sau::

Sữa (10 l) — 326.100 đồng

Bánh mì (10 ổ, mỗi ổ 500 g) — 169.900 đồng

Gạo (1,5 kg) — 28.600 đồng

Trứng (20) — 52.600 đồng

Phô mai (1 kg) — 323.200 đồng

Gia cầm và Thịt bò (6 kg) — 901.600 đồng

Hoa quả (6 kg) — 237.900 đồng

Rau củ quả (8 kg) —180.900 đồng

Tổng giá của các sản phẩm thực phẩm cơ bản ở mức 2.220.800 đồng, không có sự khác biệt so với năm trước.

Mỗi người Việt ăn hết bao nhiêu/tháng? Lương tối thiểu của chúng ta có đủ chi trả cho sự thoải mái cơ bản? Việt Nam ở đâu trên bản đồ lương tối thiểu thế giới? - Ảnh 3.

Giỏ mua sắm cơ bản chiếm 50,2 % của mức lương ròng tối thiểu. So với năm ngoái, các sản phẩm tương tự chiếm đến 53,7% mức lương tối thiểu tại thời điểm đó. Điều đó có nghĩa là mức lương ở Việt Nam tiến triển nhanh hơn giá cả thị trường.

Chi tiêu cho thực phẩm trên toàn thế giới

Có nhiều cách khác nhau để tiêu tiền cũng như có những định nghĩa khác nhau về sự thoải mái trong cuộc sống. Tuy nhiên, nhóm nghiên cứu đã so sánh giá của các sản phẩm tương tự ở các quốc gia khác nhau và kiểm tra phần ngân sách mà mọi người sẽ phải chi ra cho các sản phẩm thực phẩm thiết yếu hàng ngày.

Mỗi người Việt ăn hết bao nhiêu/tháng? Lương tối thiểu của chúng ta có đủ chi trả cho sự thoải mái cơ bản? Việt Nam ở đâu trên bản đồ lương tối thiểu thế giới? - Ảnh 4.

Việt Nam đứng ở trong top 10 quốc gia cuối danh sách (46 trong 54 quốc gia) khi phải chi hơn 50% tiền lương tối thiểu cho một giỏ thực phẩm cơ bản. Đứng sau là Thái Lan (vị trí thứ 47), Ấn Độ (vị trí thứ 49) và Philippines ở vị trí 52.

Ở một số quốc gia, như Nigeria hoặc Uzbekistan, mức lương tối thiểu thấp đến mức không đủ chi phí cho một giỏ mua sắm cơ bản nhất.

Nghiên cứu được tính toán trên 54 quốc gia nơi có quy định về mức lương tối thiểu. Tuy nhiên mức thuế lại thay đổi từ quốc gia/vùng lãnh thổ này sang quốc gia/vùng lãnh thổ khác. Ví dụ, ở Philippines và Hồng Kông, mức lương tối thiểu được miễn thuế thu nhập cá nhân. Ở những nơi khác, sự khác biệt về tổng lương và lương sau thuế có thể đạt tới mức khác biệt là 40% (Romania). Để so sánh này là đầy đủ, nhóm đã tính đến tiền lương ròng (net salary), đó là số tiền mà một nhân viên mang về nhà sau tất cả các khoản khấu trừ.

Trong báo cáo, mức lương tối thiểu mới nhất được so sánh với mức lương tối thiểu áp dụng cho năm 2019. Nhóm nghiên cứu đã bỏ qua các quốc gia nơi mức lương tối thiểu được đàm phán với các công đoàn và những nơi không có mức lương tối thiểu trên toàn quốc. Đối với các quốc gia áp dụng mức lương tối thiểu khác nhau cho các đơn vị hành chính khác nhau (Canada, Việt Nam, Thái Lan), nhóm đã tính giá trị trung bình của tất cả tiền lương ròng. Thanh toán ròng được xác định với máy tính thuế địa phương. Giá sản phẩm đến từ numbeo.com nơi dữ liệu được thu thập bởi người dùng internet từ khắp nơi trên thế giới.

Theo Bình An – Trí Thức Trẻ

Share – Điện gió và điện mặt trời sắp rẻ hơn nhiệt điện — Cổng thông tin Địa môi trường

Giá của các loại năng lượng tái tạo đang giảm nhanh hơn so với dự đoán từng được đưa ra chỉ cách đây vài năm nhờ các công nghệ mới điển hình như những turbine gió khổng lồ. Đó là kết luận vừa được Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) đưa ra. Theo ước tính của […]

via Điện gió và điện mặt trời sắp rẻ hơn nhiệt điện — Cổng thông tin Địa môi trường

Giá của các loại năng lượng tái tạo đang giảm nhanh hơn so với dự đoán từng được đưa ra chỉ cách đây vài năm nhờ các công nghệ mới điển hình như những turbine gió khổng lồ.

Đó là kết luận vừa được Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) đưa ra. Theo ước tính của nhà sáng lập BNEF Michael Liebreich, năng lượng sạch sẽ chiếm tới 86% trong tổng số 10.200 tỷ USD dự đoán sẽ được rót vào ngành công nghiệp năng lượng từ nay đến năm 2040.

Trong 1 bài thuyết trình ở London tuần trước, Liebreich cho rằng với các công nghệ phát triển giúp giảm chi phí của các trang trại điện gió và điện mặt trời, khó có thể tránh khỏi việc ở nhiều nơi trên thế giới năng lượng sạch sẽ có tính kinh tế cao hơn so với nhiên liệu hóa thạch.

Có thể nhìn thấy rõ ràng sự phát triển vượt bậc của công nghệ điện gió trong biểu đồ dưới đây. Công suất và kích thước của các turbine gió đã tăng lên nhanh chóng.

Kể từ khi bắt đầu thu thập dữ liệu vào năm 2004, BNEF đã nhìn thấy xu hướng các máy móc trong ngành công nghiệp điện gió ngày càng có kích thước to hơn và công suất cũng lớn hơn. Siemens AG và Vestas Wind Systems A/S đang cung cấp turbine có vòng quay cánh quạt lớn hơn cả 1 chiếc máy bay thân rộng Airbus A380.

Hào hứng với triển vọng trong thập kỷ tới sẽ có những turbine gió khổng lồ, nhà đầu tư của các trang trại điện gió ngoài khơi của Đức đã hứa hẹn các dự án tiếp theo sẽ không cần phải nhận sự trợ cấp của Chính phủ.

“Một trong số nhiều lý do khiến chi phí sản xuất điện gió giảm mạnh là những turbine mới thực sự là những con quái vật”, Liebreich nói. “Hãy tưởng tượng turbine cao hơn cả tòa tháp Shard”.

Liebreich chỉ ra 2 thời điểm bước ngoặt quan trọng sẽ khiến công nghệ sản xuất điện bằng khí đốt và than đá trở nên kém hấp dẫn vì chi phí sản xuất năng lượng tái tạo quá rẻ.

“Thứ nhất là khi năng lượng gió và năng lượng mặt trời trở nên rẻ hơn tất cả mọi thứ”. Ví dụ, ở Nhật Bản, đến năm 2025 chi phí để xây 1 nhà máy điện mặt trời sẽ rẻ hơn so với nhà máy nhiệt điện. Thị trường Ấn Độ sẽ đạt được cột mốc này vào năm 2030.

Thời điểm quan trọng thứ hai là khi chi phí để vận hành các nhà máy điện cũ chạy bằng khí đốt và than đá còn cao hơn so với việc lấy năng lượng từ gió và ánh mặt trời. BNEF dự báo điều này sẽ xảy ra vào khoảng năm 2025, ở cả Đức và Trung Quốc.

Vì chi phí nhiên liệu ở từng nước là rất khác nhau, rất khó để đưa ra 1 mốc thời gian chắc chắn khi nào thì năng lượng tái tạo sẽ vượt qua năng lượng hóa thạch. Ví dụ, Brazil vẫn phụ thuộc vào các đập thủy điện trong khi Pháp chuộng điện hạt nhân. 2 công nghệ này ít được sử dụng ở hầu hết các nước.

Dẫu vậy, đối với Liebreich thì hiệu quả kinh tế mà điện gió và điện mặt trời đem lại ngày càng rõ ràng và đủ hấp dẫn để đi đến kết luận than đá không thể mãi mãi duy trì vị thế số 1 trên thị trường năng lượng toàn cầu, cho dù đó là mong muốn của Tổng thống Mỹ Donald Trump.

“Ở Mỹ, than đá đang xuống dốc. Sẽ chẳng có ai làm cho than đá vĩ đại trở lại”, ông nói.

Thu Hương

Theo Trí thức trẻ/Bloomberg

http://cafef.vn/dien-gio-va-dien-mat-troi-sap-re-hon-nhiet-dien-20171127161052415.chn

Ẩm thực – Let’s Get Ready to RumBOWL!

By 

Full link: https://www.eater.com/2020/1/27/21080183/eater-bowl-bowl-sweet-sixteen-super-bowl-chipotle-sweetgreen-taco-bell?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NATIONAL%20-%2012720&utm_content=NATIONAL%20-%2012720+Version+A+CID_7546c8271726546c9f1da08237aec005&utm_source=cm_email&utm_term=AMERICAS%20BEST%20BOWL%20FOOD%20THE%20BRACKET

It’s the Sweet 16 of the first-ever Eater Bowl Bowl, with Sweetgreen, Olive Garden, Taco Bell, and Chipotle all facing off to determine who has the best bowl of all

 AND GENTLEMEALS! BOWLS AND GRILLS! Welcome to the first, and likely last, Eater Bowl Bowl January Madness, where your honored writers and editors are narrowing down some of the most popular food bowls to determine which will be awarded the Bowl Bowl trophy (which, as a fake thing, is worthless and non-transferable).

With the rise of fast casual and Instagram-friendly meals, the bowl, once such a humble dish, is hotter than ever before. Whether you want something healthy for your sad desk salad or something repulsively decadent and full of melted cheese for your hangover cure, you can likely find it served conveniently in a bowl, a vessel found across cuisines and cultures, creeds and communities.

Using a variation of the March Madness NCAA bracket system (“But this is ostensibly tied to the Super Bowl, thus ‘bowl’ word play. Seems poorly thought out,” you say. Shut up! Go read a sports site and leave this to the indoor kids!), dividing our bowls into two conferences, we have Healthy-ish vs. Slop.

On the healthy-ish side…

Sweetgreen (1): With dishes like Guacamole Greens, the Harvest Bowl, and the Kale Caesar salad, Sweetgreen is king of the health-conscious office lunch set.

Bibimbap (2): Controversially, bibimbap is the only non-brand-associated dish on the bracket; though ubiquitous throughout the country, no major chain has risen to claim it as its own (thankfully). Still, its popularity and deliciousness merits inclusion.

Cava (3): Lunch spot Cava can be found in East Coast cities, Southern California, and Texas, where it serves up Mediterranean-inspired grain and veggie bowls topped with various types of hummus, tzatziki, falafel, and proteins.

Chop’t (4): Less bougie than Sweetgreen, Chop’t is the salad chain of the proletariat.

Pokéworks (5): A national chain, Pokéworks serves up cubed raw fish, mostly prepared Hawaiian poke style, with tropical flavors, typically over rice.

Yumm bowl (6): A specialty of Café Yumm in the northwestern corner of the U.S. (Washington, Oregon, and Idaho), the Yumm Bowl features brown rice, salsa, black beans, and “Yumm sauce.” A regional favorite.

Starbucks protein bowl (7): Vaguely similar to the Yumm Bowl, a Starbucks protein bowl also features chicken and quinoa. There are worse airport breakfasts/lunches, I’m sure.

Jamba smoothie bowl (8): Ever wanted a super-sugary smoothie but without the convenience of a cup and straw? Here you go!

Moving on to slop…

Chipotle burrito bowl (1): Customizable with choices like barbacoa, sofritas, pinto or black beans, and guacamole (at extra cost), the Chipotle burrito bowl is a fan favorite.

Noodles & Co. mac and cheese (2): A decadent fast-casual dish, the Noodles & Co. mac is made with elbow macaroni and silky melted cheddar (typically from Wisconsin), then topped off with an unnecessary-but-appreciated extra sprinkle of shredded cheddar.

KFC bowl (3): Made from mashed potatoes, corn, and — obviously — fried chicken, the KFC bowl was among the first bowls to gain national attention (and derision), thanks largely to a comedy set by Patton Oswalt (more on that to come). And yet, it stays standing, which is worth something, though we’re not sure what.

Olive Garden pizza bowl (4): The bowl itself is made from pizza crust and it’s filled with various heart-clogging ingredients like meatballs or chicken alfredo.

Panera Bread’s double bread bowl (5): For when you can’t decide between two soups, but know you want them served in a hollowed-out loaf of bread.

Panda Express (6): The mall food court stalwart has been serving up American-Chinese fast food for decades. Its bowls can include vegetables, chow mein, and rice, with more extravagant proteins like orange chicken or broccoli beef.

Dunkin’ breakfast bowl (7): For when you want something more substantial than a donut, look to the Dunkin’ breakfast bowl, which comes in two variations: the egg white bowl (with spinach, potatoes, and cheddar) or the sausage scramble bowl.

Taco Bell mini skillet bowl (8): Taco Bell’s beloved potatoes with nacho cheese, scrambled eggs, and pico de gallo. Additional calories can be added. **Homer Simpson drool sound**


Taking price, accessibility, customer reviews, and their own experiences into consideration, we have Eater writers Brenna Houck, Caleb Pershan, Jaya Saxena, and Jenny Zhang determining today’s outcomes.

Healthy-ish

Sweetgreen (1) vs. Jamba bowl (8)

If you are a metropolitan areas with a Sweetgreen, it is the power lunch. It’s got cultural cache (partly because it’s not as ubiquitous as most fast food), and is known for its efforts in sustainability and legitimately treating its workers well. The salad chain serves up the clout-signaling hexagonal bowl — but at a price. You’re likely not going to be getting out of a there for less than $13. But as wellness-y as they are, and as much as its increasingly chaotic ordering system stresses me out every time I go to one, I must admit that it makes a great bowl. Sweetgreen offers basically any flavor profile you want (miso! Za’atar! Cilantro lime!), and its pre-arranged menu items features a variety of textures and flavors that put the restaurant’s food a step above a pile of ingredients chopped into oblivion, though you can absolutely order that too if it’s what you want. The hype and conversation around Sweetgreen can be insufferable, and no it’s not the best bowl of food you’ll get anywhere, but — though it pains me to say it — it’s honestly good.

Jamba Juice was on the cutting edge of wellness culture in the early aughts, bringing the idea of healthy juice and smoothies mainstream (even though its smoothies are mostly sugar since a lot of the bases are straight-up sherbert). Still, the juice train has tried to evolve with the times, adding plant milks and spirulina as ingredients, and of course offering smoothie and acai bowls. Which, let’s be clear, is just a smoothie in a bowl. The shape makes it an easier vessel for granola and fruit toppings, but it’s fruit soup, and according to some reviews, a half-assed fruit soup. It’s a difficult comparison because there are no savory options here; bowl ingredients may include kale, pumpkin seeds and greek yogurt, but they’re all blended with frozen fruit and concentrated juice. Health is a slippery and problematic concept, and some people may honestly prefer a sweet lunch, but by many metrics Jamba’s smoothie bowls are more dessert than square meal. There’s also naming to consider. As much as it’s embarrassing to order Sweetgreen’s “Shroomami” out loud, it is somehow better than asking someone for a “Chunky Strawberry.” Winner: Sweetgreen — JS

Bibimbap (2) vs. Starbucks protein bowl (7)

Starbucks is a chain that is good at engineering sustenance that fits snugly in the “good enough category of food — from egg bites to those butterhorns that are no longer sold but should come back. But how about a bowl? Bowls are trendy so natch’ the Siren had to get a cut of that market. Thus it debuted the chicken quinoa protein bowl two years ago. While admittedly appealing, as some Starbucks employees pointed out on Reddit, it’s essentially just the old Starbucks salad stuffed into a slightly larger, rounder package making it both less efficient and not really a bowl. It would certainly be a decent lunch option in a pinch, though some suggest cutting back on the very salty dressing. Nice try Starbucks, but you can’t trick me into buying this.

Bibimbap, Korea’s gift to the world of bowls, needs no introduction, but it’s getting one anyway. A layer of warm and sometimes crispy rice is served with toppings like kimchi, sprouts, mushrooms, gochujang, and other veggies with meat and an egg (fried or raw). This bowl also comes with its own instruction manual; the word bibimbap literally means “mix rice” in Korean, and that’s exactly what you do before eating this glorious dish. While it hasn’t yet become the breakout star of the fast-casual bowl world, it is widely available at Korean restaurants across the country. A few regional chains such as Bibibop Asian Grill and Bibigo are even trying to go national. The latter seems to be winning over customers with its customizable bowls clocking in between $8 and $11, it’s a filling and flavorful steal. I’m a sucker for an egg-topped rice bowl so obviously this one wins. Starbucks never even stood a chance. Winner: Bibimbap — BH

Cava bowl (3) vs. Yumm bowl (6)

Weighing in at 90 locations on both coasts, Mediterranean chain Cava is a budding force in bowl domination. And in the western corner, Café Yumm! comprises 23 restaurants in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. But bowl size isn’t everything, so let’s consider what lies within. Cava is mostly Greek, with roots at the chain’s original, sit-down restaurant outside Washington DC. Bowl bases here are choices like rice or lentils, with mezze on top like hummus, eggplant ,and red pepper spreads, plus “protein” like falafel, chicken, and roasted veggies. There’s a real flavor profile and sensibility to Cava, even if it’s all a bit simplified to suit a random work lunch. Cafe Yumm, known for its Yumm Bowls, is vegetarian, and guided less by a particular tradition and set of ingredients and flavors than a disposition toward health food. The Original Yumm! Bowl® is basically just (organic) rice and beans, with cheddar, sour cream, avocado, and black olives on top and a beloved “Yumm! Sauce” tying it all together. In 1997, it grew out of a popular dish at Wild Rose Café in Eugene, Oregon but has since franchised, making for more variability and less overall control in its product. Meanwhile, Cava has resisted a franchise model, and runs all its locations for better quality control. While Cafe Yumm remains a beloved regional option, Cava is the winner here, with lots of healthy options including ones for vegetarians. Winner: Cava — CP

Chopt (4) vs. Pokéworks (5)

Chopt, founded in 2001, is one of the early progenitors of the thriving category of food known these days as “bougie desk lunch,” “fast-casual bowl food,” or — at least according to an Eater coworker — different variations on “slop.” Early on, Chopt was a trendsetter, translating the fine-dining shtick of tableside knife work into the more everyday sight of hourly workers on the line using mezzalunas to obliterate white-collar professionals’ $13 salads into shreds. Beyond the thrill of watching the thudding knives at work behind the counter, the chopping produced a perfect heap of evenly distributed ingredients, with each bite perfectly optimized for mindless consumption while staring at a computer screen.

Now fast forward 19 years and the chain is showing its age: its namesake chopping is out, and its offerings just seem a bit … boring? Dependable, sure, but no one is necessarily getting excited about (pre-chopped) salad and bowls with predictable toppings and flavor combinations. There are more interesting choices on the market — for example, poke. A few years into the mainland’s fast-casual raw fish craze, we’ve seen some leveling off with closures, but chains like Pokéworks continue to woo customers with higher-than-average reviews and ratings, Instagrammable looks, and menu items that just seem a little more unique. Pokéworks’ servings aren’t huge, and bowls are more expensive on average compared to Chopt’s, but that’s kind of the point: poke is a little pricier, a touch more special-occasion. For those days when you really need a break from the soul-crushing tedium of your 9-6. Or 9-7. Or 9-Always. Winner: Pokéworks — JZ

Slop

Chipotle (1) vs. Taco Bell (8)

Chipotle offers maybe the platonic ideal of a bowl, in that it’s mostly a pile with the barest hint of layers. When it comes to fast food you could absolutely do worse than a bowl of rice and beans topped with veggies, meat, cheese, and four types of salsa (we don’t need to tell you guac is extra). My main association with eating Chipotle is feeling like I’m carrying a sack of potatoes under my shirt for about three hours after I eat. Chipotle dominates for sheer poundage of food available in one serving, the bowl being slightly more akin to a trough. Though it’s around $9 for a basic burrito bowl, you can usually get two meals out of it, making it pretty reasonable price-wise. The biggest argument against it seems to be whether you’d want to support Chipotle in the first place: It doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to things like not giving customers foodborne illness, and it’s under investigation in New York for labor violations. Most of the complaints against it seem to be about things that run rampant across the fast food industry. Speaking of…

Taco Bell wins for the ballsiest marketing for its mini skillet bowl, writing, “There’s no way the inventor of the bowl could have imagined such a use for his creation when he carved the first stone bowl some 10,000,000 years ago.” Which is probably true, as they did not have nacho cheese sauce back then. But the mini breakfast bowl is barely a bowl—it’s more a cup of breakfast chazerai, a serving of spiced, crispy potatoes, pico de gallo, scrambled eggs and nacho cheese sauce no bigger than your palm. In most places it’s only a dollar, and it’s surprisingly filling, though the artificial tang of the cheese sauce starts getting pretty pungent by the end of an already small serving. The biggest hurdle I have is the price. On one hand, it’s a satisfying breakfast available everywhere for literally a dollar, hearty but not so much it’s going to make you want to immediately take a nap. On the other hand, the economics behind the fast food dollar menu belie an ouroboros of low wages and devaluing of food, in which you buy the dollar breakfast because you can’t afford anything else, and Taco Bell sells a dollar breakfast because, like many, they pay employees low wages, and around and around we go. This bowl represents the entirety of the state of fast food and it’s sending me into an existential dilemma about why I even write when I should be inciting a class war. Anyway, the cheese sauce is pretty gross. Winner: Chipotle — JS

Noodles & Co. mac and cheese (2) vs. Dunkin’ bowl (6)

Given that I know how to make good noodles at home, I’ve never had any reason to visit a Noodles & Co. This chain offers a selection of “World Famous Macs” in bowls, all of which I’ve never heard of so obviously this is a lie. I also don’t know who refers to it as the singular “mac” but I don’t care for it. Setting all that aside, with an open mind let’s all acknowledge that this mac looks whack. Plus, there’s an option for zucchini noodles and zoodles have no business pretending to be pasta, let alone macaroni and cheese. And why isn’t the cheese melting properly atop this mac? Everything here is wrong. Please stop the madness. It doesn’t look much better in this video, but this reviewer swears there’s layers of cheese sauce, and for under $7, I’ll admit it’s a pretty good portion size. (Editor’s note: There’s plenty of cheese sauce, and it’s divine.)

A few years back, Dunkin’ dropped the “Donuts” part of its name, presumably in order to start serving the bowls that millennials like me crave. This ushered in the short-lived era of the Dunkin’ breakfast bowl — essentially just a pitiful scramble in a paper cup. Some came with sausage and eggs. Others featured eggs, corn, black beans, rice, cauliflower. Reviews were decidedly mixed and honestly the uniform-looking product didn’t inspire much envy. NJ.com viciously described them as “criminally gross,” and I’d believe it. They don’t appear to be available on the menu anymore, which is probably good for everyone. I guess this means that Noodles & Co. mac wins this round, a result that shocks no one more than I. Then again, who can truly argue with cheese? Winner: Noodles & Co. — BH

KFC bowl (3) vs. Panda Express (6)

KFC’s bowls are indeed famous — or at least infamous — thanks in part to a viral schtick by comedian Patton Oswalt. He derided the dish, basically a kitchen sink approach to the whole KFC menu, as “a failure pile in a sadness bowl.” According to KFC itself, however, Famous Bowls aren’t made with sadness as an ingredient at all. Instead, they contain a foundation of creamy mashed potatoes with sweet corn and fried chicken bites that are topped with gravy and a “perfect” blend of three shredded cheeses.

If you’re playing a numbers game, the KFC Famous Bowl is a sure winner: It’s just $3 for an entire pound of food that provides 710 calories. But, love or hate him on Twitter, Patton Oswalt might have been right about the KFC famous bowl. Ignoring flavor (as the bowls themselves do) they’re a textural nightmare, a horrifying hospital mush of soft and soggy that’s some of the Colonel’s laziest work.

By contrast, unfairly-maligned mall food purveyor Panda Express is not-so-secretly actually good. While the chain of Americanized Chinese food restaurants isn’t necessarily known as a “bowl” place, there’s a solid bowl ordering option popular with Panda heads out there: Choose a base of white or fried rice and steam tray items like its best-in-class orange chicken, and you won’t be as sad that you’re eating at the mall. Compared to the KFC Famous Bowl, a Panda Express bowl offers flavor and texture — a clear win. Winner: Panda Express — CP

Olive Garden’s meatball pizza bowl (4) vs. Panera Bread’s double bread bowl (5)

Of obscenity, Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once wrote, “I know it when I see it.” Using that threshold test, I, too, know it when I see it, and when faced with Olive Garden’s Meatball Pizza Bowl and Panera Bread’s Double Bread Bowl, oh boy do I see it.

The two bowls, both alike in lack of dignity, are over-the-top versions of the kind of generic, suburban decadence that I expect anytime I go home to the Midwest. The Double Bread Bowl, which Panera offered nationwide for a limited time around Valentine’s Day last year, is the bread bowl’s natural next stage of evolution: a crusty sourdough loaf hollowed out with not one, but two fist-sized holes made to be filled with creamy soups or, in earlier iterations of the dish, macaroni and cheese. Meanwhile, Olive Garden’s Meatball Pizza Bowl — also no longer available today — is a monstrosity of cheese and red sauce and balls of meat layered in a garlic-seasoned vessel.

If we accept that both of these contenders are freaks of nature, then they must be judged according to which excels more at the very quality that sets them apart from conventional foods. One could argue that the Meatball Pizza Bowl, while shameless, is merely a mutation of a pizza: flatten the crust, and a loaded flatbread appears; fold it up, and a calzone is born. There are no such excuses for the Double Bread Bowl’s cursed existence, and even fewer for the dish’s uncanny resemblance to, frankly, boobs. Is it obscene? Yes. Would I still eat it? Beyond a shadow of a doubt. Winner: Panera — JZ

Ẩm thực – 26 Ways to Feel Full While Eating Less

By OLIVIA TARANTINO

Full link: https://www.eatthis.com/how-to-feel-full/?utm_source=nsltr&utm_medium=email&utm_content=slow-cooker-breakfast-recipes&utm_campaign=etntNewsletter

Trying to cut calories doesn’t mean your weight loss efforts should be undercut by hunger pangs.

Skip meal

If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you’ve likely experienced the constant cravings, tummy rumblings, and hanger that inevitably come with trimming down. And although your coworkers may have finally realized your stomach growls aren’t the ominous signal of an abrupt downpour, we have a feeling they wouldn’t mind if you got rid of the false alarm. Luckily, quieting your tummy isn’t hard to do. The secret is a three-step process: reign in your insatiable appetite by ridding your environment and mind of the triggers that cause cravings, cut out the foods that make you hungrier, and, finally, spend your calories on foods that boost your satiety and help you eat less yet still feel full.

Below we’re sharing our tips for how to help shut off your hunger hormones so you can power through your presentation without daydreaming about chocolate bars. Now, your brain can finally focus on things other than always trying to find food!

First, Reign In Your Appetite

Feel full eat less appetite in check

They sound like they mean the same thing, but hunger and appetite are separate processes. Hunger is the physical need for food when your body senses a dip in blood sugar. Appetite, on the other hand, is the conditioned desire to eat—often what you feel when you see that piece of chocolate cake right after you’ve had a more-than-filling dinner. The former may keep us alive, but the latter causes us to become fat. And it’s also the reason why we never seem to feel full after we’ve eaten our fill. Luckily, with the following tips and tricks, you can suppress your appetite and harness your hunger to work for your weight loss efforts.

1

Relax

Feel full eat less stress fighting

Whether it’s your job, spouse, or kids, stress can be a dieter’s worst nightmare. According to dietician Julieanna Hever, MS, RD, CPT, “Stress kicks up your cortisol levels into high gear, which promotes hunger and overeating.” So even if you’re eating well, you might not feel full if you’re constantly stressed, explains a study published in Behavioural Brain Research. The authors discovered that when obese women had higher levels of cortisol, their levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin failed to decrease after a meal, and their perception of hunger was higher than those who had low levels of cortisol. So although they ate the same meal, the stressed group was more likely to continue eating to satisfy their hormone signals.

Eat This! Tip

Besides fitting more of these stress-fighting foods into your diet, Hever recommends stress management techniques such as meditation, walking, or talking to a friend or therapist to help you deal with the underlying issues promoting stress. When you’re less stressed out, you’ll be less likely to fill up unnecessarily.

2

Beef Up Your Salads

Feel full eat less beef up salad

No diet feels complete unless you’re eating a salad almost every day—but you could technically be doing it wrong. Although greens are packed with nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, if your salad is lacking substantial, energy-providing carbohydrates to fuel your brain and muscles or protein to keep you feeling satisfied, you’ll be tired and hungry soon after and crave more fuel, explain The Nutrition Twins, Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CDN, CFT and Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CDN, CFT.

Eat This! Tip

Pair your salads with a source of healthy fats, like an avocado or nuts, or protein, like quinoa, beans, eggs, chicken, or salmon. Protein and fats take a longer time to digest, which means they’ll stay in your stomach, promote feelings of fullness, and thus, have an appetite-suppressing effect. A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition discovered those who ate a protein-rich meal had a lower response to ghrelin and were less hungry hours later compared to those who ate a carb-heavy meal.

3

Drink Up

Feel full eat less water
Shutterstock

Those who feel hungry are often just thirsty, according to a study in Physiology & Behavior. Sixty percent of the time, people will eat instead of drink when their body is actually in need of a tall glass of water. That’s because a part of your brain called the hypothalamus regulates both hunger and thirst, and sometimes it mixes up its signals. When you make sure to drink enough water throughout the day—and especially before meals—you’ll not only fill up your stomach to help ward off hunger, but you’ll also keep your energy levels up and your metabolism from dipping while you’re eating less.

Eat This! Tip

Drink two cups of water before delving into a meal. An American Chemical Society study found this tactic to cause people to eat 75 to 90 calories less than people to didn’t quench their thirst over the course of a meal. And if you’d like to jazz up your drink of choice, grab a tea bag of Rooibos. According to research, the flavonoids found in this herbal tea can reduce stress hormones that trigger hunger and fat storage.

4

Turn Off the ‘Toons

Feel full eat less tv

With such hectic schedules, many of us choose to multitask by eating dinner while catching up on our favorite shows. So while you may be able to get in on the office conversation about last night’s episode of Game of Thrones, you’re putting your waistline at risk; That’s because of a little thing called distracted eating. When we eat in front of the TV or computer or on the road, it can prevent the signal of satiety from reaching our brains in regular time. Research has shown that people can consume hundreds of extra calories when distracted as opposed to focused on their food.

Eat This! Tip

To avoid this pitfall, turn off any distractions around you while you’re eating and focus on all the aspects of your meal when you eat so you don’t continue mindlessly munching.

5

Perceive Larger Portions

Feel full eat less smaller portions

Dieting requires you to reduce portion sizes—and that means your plates, bowls, and cups as well. A study in the International Journal of Obesity discovered people were more satisfied for longer periods of time after researchers showed participants a large portion of fruit went into their smoothie compared to participants who were shown a small piece of fruit—even though both groups were actually given the same size smoothie to drink. The authors of the study suggest the key to losing weight could be in manipulating our beliefs about how filling we think food will be before we eat it.

Eat This! Tip

Try the trick at home by using smaller plates and glasses that make your portions look more generous, it’s just one of the 15 Ways to Break Your Bad Eating Habits. That way you’ll trick your brain into feeling fuller, even though you’ve actually eaten less!

6

Cut Your Food Into Smaller Pieces

Feel full eat less chop

One way to curb your appetite? Findings from an Arizona State University study suggest you should cut your food into smaller pieces. Researchers found that when people ate a whole bagel cut into small pieces for breakfast, they consumed 25 percent fewer calories at lunch compared to those who ate the same bagel whole.

Eat This! Tip

Get more meal satisfaction from less food throughout the day by intentionally cutting sandwiches or proteins into smaller, bite-sized pieces during breakfast and lunch. This can help trick your brain into thinking you’re eating much more than you actually are.

7

Eat More Slowly

Feel full eat less slow down
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Ever scarf down a full meal in 5-minutes flat to still feel hungry afterward? That’s because it takes time for the signal from your stomach to get to your brain that you’ve just eaten. Without that signal, we typically eat past our actual fullness. Instead, try stretching your meal to be a full 20 minutes. Why the 20-minute limit? It takes that long for hunger hormones to relay the message between themselves, and then to your brain.

Eat This! Tip:

Split up your dinner into two rounds: When your entrée arrives, start by eating half, then wait at least 10 minutes before finishing it off. Sip some water (to fill you up a little more), and chat to give your stomach a chance to digest and decide whether you’ve had enough—regardless of what that restaurant-sized plate might be saying.

8

Pregame With a Salad

Feel full eat less woman eating salad
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See green! Multiple studies have found that noshing on a low-calorie, high-volume snack can help you fill up and reduce total caloric intake over the course of the meal. According to Cornell researchers, pre-loading your meals with salads can actually help your body control its blood glucose levels by minimizing post-eating spikes. So you’ll not only stay fuller longer, but you’ll also save your body from an inflammation-inducing spike in blood sugar.

9

Get Some Shuteye

Feel full eat less sleep
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Feeling full isn’t just about what you’re eating, it’s also about taking care of your body. When you don’t get enough quality sleep, your body has trouble regulating its hunger hormones: ghrelin, the “I’m hungry” hormone, shoots up while leptin, the “I’m full” hormone, decreases. Not only that but University of Chicago researchers found that sleep deprivation increases your body’s levels of chemicals called endocannabinoids—and yes, these same chemicals are what cause the infamous “munchies” after one smokes cannabis. Endocannabinoids are responsible for the desire to indulge in something sweet, salty, or fatty—even when you aren’t physically hungry.

Eat This! Tip

To more easily reach those expert-recommended six to eight hours of sleep a night, power down your devices an hour before bed, develop a bedtime routine that consistently signals your body it’s time to sleep and try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule. All are just a few of the 30 Things To Do Before Bed to Lose Weight.

10

Stick to Solids

Feel full eat less smoothie

Smoothies and juices might be all the rage right now, but if you’ve ever had a meal-replacement drink and been hungry almost immediately after, here’s why: Your body doesn’t register liquid calories the same way as it does with solids. In fact, energy obtained from fluids has been shown to be less satisfying than calories from solid foods, so we’ll tend to drink more before we feel satisfied, according to a study in the journal Appetite. Experts hypothesize that the physical act of chewing can increase physiological satiety responses—one recent study in Food Quality and Preference attributed the satiety signal with the fact that hearing the crunch of food can serve as a way to monitor your consumption—or that whole foods are more slowly digested than liquids, a process known as gastric emptying, causing your stomach to actually feel fuller, longer.

Eat This! Tip

We certainly love our smoothies around here, but if you’ve become victim to always feeling hungry it might be best if you laid off on the blended meals.

Then, Cut the Junk

Feel full eat less donate

Yes, having a cleaner kitchen leads to less overeating, but we’re specifically talking about cutting out the junk food in your diet. You can help accelerate your weight-loss success by removing these worst, hunger-inducing ingredients and their common food culprits from your kitchen.

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Ditch Diet

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Eat This, Not That!

It might be “sugar-free” but don’t take that as an excuse to overindulge. Artificially-sweetened drinks have been known to ramp up your appetite even more than real sugar because these ingredients bypass evolutionary satiety mechanisms. According to a study in the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers found that while drinks sweetened with glucose and fructose (two components of regular table sugar) increased satiety and decreased the hunger hormone ghrelin, drinks sweetened with an artificial sweetener were not able to affect satiety hormone signaling at all. Not to mention, artificial sugar alternatives have been associated with destroying proper gut health.

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Toss the Junk Food

Feel full eat less junk food

It’s no wonder food manufacturers would take the bet that “You can’t eat just one!” The odds are in their favor! Junk foods are chemically-engineered to trick your brain into thinking you’re still hungry. “Essentially, these foods are calorically dense but lack actual nutrition. So, you have to eat more and more of the food before your brain gets the message that you are actually full,” shares Rebecca Lewis, RD for HelloFresh. That’s because scientists have discovered the perfect blend of additives, flavors, and textures that hack our evolutionary nutrient receptors. These processed foods stimulate such a strong reward connection in our brains that it tricks our brains into thinking we need the food, making it very easy to overeat.

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Say “No” to Fat-Free

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Not all yogurts are created equal. When you opt for the “healthy” skim or low-fat option, you’ll oft be looking for more to eat. That’s because consuming healthy fats are digested slowly and help to satisfy our appetite. Not to mention, because fat provides flavor, many low-fat foods, like yogurt and peanut butter, are pumped full of taste-boosting sugars and salt—which can cause you to eat more.

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Pass on the MSG

Feel full eat less MSG
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It’s not just Chinese food that you have to look out for when it comes to the appetite-revving additive, MSG. Anything from chips and soups to snack bars and processed meats contain this additive under the guise of hydrolyzed vegetable protein, autolyzed yeast, or yeast extract. MSG, or monosodium glutamate, is used as a flavor enhancer in a variety of processed foods. Research suggests that MSG causes a drastic increase in appetite. One group of researchers hypothesize it’s because this neurotransmitter-mimicking chemical activates taste bud cells that release the “happy” hormone serotonin—because our brain evolutionarily connects MSG with eating a nutrient-dense piece of meat—which causes us to crave even more of it. Be sure to steer clear of food with this additive on the label.

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Say Sayonara to Sugar

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If you rarely eat home-cooked meals, you could be taking in a whopping 87 percent of your total daily calories from added sugar, according to a study published in BMJ Open. That’s because manufacturers sneak the health-harming additive into almost every processed food—and many will surprise you. Eating foods with sugar, as well as highly refined carbohydrates, causes an increase in the fat-storing hormone insulin. When there is a lot of insulin, too much sugar is shuttered away in fat cells, leaving none for your blood. The result? A huge crash and subsequent low blood sugar level that makes you feel hungry shortly after consumption.

Lastly, Stock Up These Foods

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Whether these foods prolong feelings of fullness or suppress your appetite by increasing levels of leptin, either way, they’re going to help you feel full with fewer calories. To whittle your middle down to a flat belly, eat more of these foods that will curb your cravings, and your hunger pangs at bay for hours.

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Artichokes

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High-fiber foods are a must when it comes to feeling full on fewer calories. This macronutrient is digested slowly in your gut and also helps add bulk to foods, which gives you the satisfaction of chewing and a feeling of a full stomach. Leafy greens, carrots, and celery are all excellent choices, but artichokes sit at the top of the pack. That’s because a single medium artichoke serves up 40 percent of your daily required fiber intake. Plus, artichokes are also one of the foods highest in the soluble fiber, inulin, which acts as a prebiotic, feeding your good gut bacteria. Maintaining proper gut health also helps to control your leptin and ghrelin levels.

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Resistant Starches

Feel full eat less potatoes
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You know refined carbs break down quickly in your body and can grow belly fat, but not all carbs have the same effect. In fact, the right starchy foods can actually help you trim down. Slightly underripe bananas, beans, and raw oats are rich in resistant starch, a source of prebiotics which passes through your upper gut undigested. Instead, they move down to your large intestine, where they feed gut bacteria, leading to prolonged feelings of fullness and the fermentation of anti-inflammatory compounds which help blast fat. Another source of resistant starch, boiled and chilled potatoes, are also one of the most filling foods there is, according to a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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Trail Mix

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Portable, tasty, and full of the satiating trio of protein, fiber, and healthy fats: trail mix is one of the best food to help you feel full. Plus, snacking can also help to reduce binging at mealtimes by keeping blood-sugar levels stable and your metabolism humming, which prevents the body from storing fat.

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Spinach

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Grab a bag of spinach to quash your food cravings naturally. Recent research suggests specific compounds, known as thylakoids, found in the membranes of spinach leaves may serve as a powerful appetite suppressant. The study, published in the journal Appetite, found that a drink that contained spinach thylakoids significantly reduced women’s cravings for snacks and sweets. A cup of spinach has only 7 calories, so throw a handful or two in your smoothies, salads, and stir-frys to fill up without filling out.

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Cinnamon

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Spice up your life! This warm spice has been found to help maintain your fasting blood glucose levels, according to a study in the Journal of Medicinal Food. When your blood glucose levels say constant for longer, your body won’t trigger the release of the hunger hormone ghrelin, so you’ll be kept from indulging unnecessarily. Sprinkle it on yogurt, oatmeal, popcorn, or sub it for sugar to add flavor to coffee.

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Avocados

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Don’t worry—eating fat won’t always make you fat. Avocados are packed with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, like those found in olive oil and nuts, that dim your hunger switches and ward off the munchies: a study in Nutrition Journal found that participants who ate half a fresh avocado with lunch reported a 40 percent decreased desire to eat for hours afterward. Oh, and did we mention that these same unsaturated fats can also prevent the storage of belly fat? It’s a win-win, as the more belly fat we have, the harder it is to control our appetite, according to a new study from the University of Florida.

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Oatmeal

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Ditch the processed, sugary cereals and eat a bowl of oats in the morning. According to research published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, eating oatmeal results in greater feelings of satiety than cold breakfast cereal. Why? The belly-filling power of insoluble fiber. In one Canadian study, researchers discovered that those whose diets were supplemented with insoluble fiber had lower levels of the hunger-inducing hormone ghrelin.

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Hummus

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Chickpea hummus is not only packed with satiating protein but having the Mediterranean dip stocked in your pantry also give you an excuse to eat more filling, fiber-rich vegetables. Legumes—which also includes beans, lentils, and peas—have been found to be some powerful appetite suppressors. A review, published in the journal Obesity, discovered that subjects who consumed ¾ to 1 cup of legumes daily felt as much as 31 percent fuller than those who abstained.

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Raspberries

raspberries

They might be small, but raspberries are a mighty hunger fighter. A small study in the journal Appetite found that young women who consumed a mere 65-calorie cup of berries ate about 20 percent fewer calories an hour later than women who ate the same number of calories in candy. Translation: Eating berries won’t just quell your cravings, they’ll ward off overeating, too. That’s because just a cup of raspberries provides 8 grams of satiating fiber. Don’t feel restricted to popping them plain, either. Throw them into a smoothie or on top of a salad—you’ll do your entire body a favor.

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Greek Yogurt

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Greek yogurt packs a one-two punch when it comes to beating hunger pangs: it packs over 20 grams of satiating protein and a whopping 20 percent of your daily calcium needs. Without enough calcium in your body, you’re more likely to experience anxiety and depression—which can increase cortisol and hunger hormone levels. Because chewing helps boost satiety, add some nuts or baked oats that are high in fiber to add a crunch to the creamy yogurt.

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Apple Cider Vinegar

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Mix up an apple cider vinaigrette and those wimpy salads might actually be able to tide you over until dinner. That’s because a study in the journal BMC Gastroenterology found that the acetic acid in the vinegar can both delay gastric emptying and slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream—two powerful components of extending feelings of fullness. A separate study in Diabetes Care among pre-diabetics found the addition of 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to a high-carb meal reduced the subsequent rise in blood sugar by 34 percent!

Ẩm thực – What the Heck Is Crab Rangoon Anyway?

By DAN NOSOWITZ

Full link: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/what-is-crab-rangoon?utm_source=Gastro+Obscura+Weekly+E-mail&utm_campaign=60b77ed76e-GASTRO_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_12_31&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_2418498528-60b77ed76e-70327933&mc_cid=60b77ed76e&mc_eid=df51e46713

How a fusion of at least four cuisines created a beloved and misunderstood dish.

How could something so creamy and crispy and sweet and sour and savory become so popular?

OF ALL THE WONDERS OF the modern American Chinese menu, crab rangoon is one of the strangest. It consists of cream cheese, sometimes sweetened, plus, usually, very small bits of imitation crab, stuffed into a wonton wrapper and deep-fried, served with a syrupy, neon sweet-and-sour dipping sauce. It is, essentially, deep-fried cheesecake with fake crab in it—as sweet as any dessert, but served as an appetizer. It has a Burmese name, is served in a theoretically Chinese restaurant, and its main component was invented in New York in the late 19th century.

I conducted a survey through Twitter, in which more than 650 people responded with their experience of crab rangoon. The vast majority adore this dish, as I do. I asked respondents to state where they live, whether they order crab rangoon, and to describe the version they get. Responses came from New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and other major American cities, in addition to Chattanooga, Tennessee; Tampa, Florida; Madison, Wisconsin; Boulder, Colorado; and many smaller towns. I also got replies from Dublin, Ireland; Vancouver, British Columbia; and, in what I’m assuming is a joke, Djibouti, describing crab rangoon as “steak with hollandaise.”

In all of these places, people love and order crab rangoon from their local takeout American Chinese restaurant. In all of these places, crab rangoon is essentially the same dish. With a few exceptions (P.F. Chang’s, Panda Express), none of these restaurants are formally associated with one another in any way, yet the dish is consistent, and consistently beloved.

What the heck is crab rangoon, and how did it happen?

ONE THING TO GET OUT of the way is that crab rangoon is not inauthentic, and you should not be embarrassed to order it. American Chinese food is its own cuisine, with its own staples and a reasonably long and fascinating history. There’s a fundamental problem with the concept of authenticity in food, because cuisine is constantly mutating and adapting to new ingredients, new people, new techniques, and new ideas. Mexican food would be completely different without the influence of the Spanish and Arab immigrants and colonists; the tomato is not native to Italy; the chili pepper is not native to Thailand. There are old dishes and there are newer dishes, and that can be an interesting distinction. And there is tasty food and lousy food, but using some concept of authenticity alone as a criteria is a flawed approach.

Los Angeles' Chinatown, as depicted on a postcard in 1930. Soon, American Chinese restaurants would be everywhere.

American Chinese food did not arise with the first major influx of Chinese migrants to the United States, during the Gold Rush in the American West. These people cooked Chinese food for other Chinese people. By the end of the 19th century, other Americans had begun to discover Chinese food, which was to be found in the various Chinatowns that had sprouted up in cities large and small. But American Chinese food, as a distinct cuisine, was born thanks to a loophole in the racist laws aimed to keep Chinese immigrants out of, or at least marginalized in, the United States.

Those exclusionary laws allowed certain kinds of “merchant visas” to let Chinese-Americans find workers who wanted to emigrate from China. In 1915, a court decided that restaurant owners qualified for those merchant visas, and the number of Chinese restaurants immediately ballooned. One economist estimated that the number of them quadrupled between 1910 and 1920.

A restaurant was one of the few ways for a Chinese-American to own a business, and they began to blossom outside of Chinese enclaves. Chinese food was the first Asian cuisine to take hold in the United States; it was unlike the more Eurocentric restaurant scene at the time, and that made it exciting to some Americans.

This is the period when American Chinese food begins to evolve. Chinese restaurateurs began to change menus to suit the tastes (and/or perceived tastes) of their new clientele. Jennifer 8. Lee, author of The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, in which she examines American Chinese food through the lens of the fortune cookie, says that the availability of ingredients was a major influence. Many ingredients that were expensive in China were cheap in America, and vice versa. Oil, for deep-frying, was cheap, as was white sugar and many cuts of meat, such as chicken breasts, which weren’t prized in China. Szechuan peppercorns, on the other hand, were for a long time expensive and largely inaccessible in the United States.

General Tso is the great statesman of American Chinese cuisine.

Thus began a period of experimentation, when American Chinese restaurants—many of which were fancy, date-night places—began trying a whole bunch of stuff to see what stuck. Sometimes they modified older Chinese dishes. Szechuan kung pao chicken, for example, got sweeter, added Western ingredients such as bell pepper, and lost the expensive, distinctive peppercorns. Sometimes dishes were created out of whole cloth, like chop suey or General Tso’s chicken. The latter, as revealed in the documentary The Search for General Tso, shares a name with a dish on the menu of a Hunanese restaurant in Taiwan, but is neither Hunanese nor Taiwanese. It is a perfect icon of American Chinese food: deep-fried, sticky-sweet, and sour, barely spicy.

Through the 1950s and 1960s, much of the modern American Chinese oeuvre developed and was codified, especially the proven hits, the stuff you had to have if you wanted a packed dining room. A few companies further standardized things. Kari-Out, for example, today sells most of the little soy sauce packets nationwide. Menu printing was and remains dominated by a few printers in New York City and the Bay Area—menus used by tens of thousands of independent restaurants.

The Chinese restaurant at 24 Pell Street in New York's Chinatown shows how Chinese dining was a formal affair in 1905.

The dishes on these largely standardized menus came from a hive-mind of restaurateurs. “Something pops up and people copy it,” says Lee. That’s why it’s nearly impossible to credit an original inventor for many of the classic dishes. Lee likens the process to open-source software, where anyone is free to make modifications to, or outright copy, the work of anyone else. Eventually, there emerged a pattern: If you wanted to have an American Chinese restaurant, certain menu items were expected.

But the inspiration had to come from somewhere. American Chinese chefs are still experimenting with dishes to suit their own hyperlocal customer bases. Yaka mein, in New Orleans, combines Cajun seasoning with a beef noodle soup. Cashew chicken, from Springfield, Missouri, pairs fried chicken with cashews.

Crab rangoon has its roots in another quintessentially American cuisine. Starting in the 1940s, thanks to returning World War II veterans, the country began a decades-long obsession with the aquamarine hues and tropical vibes of Polynesia, or at least a vague idea of what Polynesia might be. It manifested as what we know as tiki culture.

This image from a 1956 Trader Vic's menu sells the sensual appeal and cultural insensitivity of tiki culture.

Tiki bars and restaurants have even less in common with their ostensible international roots than American Chinese restaurants do. They were based instead on an American obsession with leisure, danger, and exoticism—along with what now reads as a racist stew of imagery: palm-thatched roofs, canned pineapple, ceramic Easter Island head mugs, white sand beaches.

The history of crab rangoon leads back to tiki culture. The dish was probably invented by Victor Bergeron, best known as the namesake founder of the Trader Vic’s chain of tiki bars. (Trader Vic’s, in turn, inspired the Trader Joe’s grocery chain—you can still see some of that weird colonialist imagination in its design motifs.) In 1934, Bergeron opened a saloon called Hinky Dink’s in Oakland, California. Capitalizing on the new craze for the South Pacific, Bergeron began integrating island signifiers into his decor and bar lineup. In 1937, Hinky Dink’s became Trader Vic’s, and began selling many of the cocktails now associated with tiki culture. (He is one of two disputed creators of the mai tai.)

Also in 1937, Bergeron started selling food at the new Trader Vic’s. Eve Bergeron, head of marketing and public relations (and also Victor’s granddaughter), sent me that original 1937 menu. Eve says that Joe Young, a Chinese-American barback at Trader Vic’s, was a major influence on the early menus. That first one has a couple of nods towards tiki culture: pineapple spareribs, imported New Zealand clams. But it is, largely, early American Chinese food.

Trader Vic's first menu. No crab rangoon yet, but a lot of American Chinese dishes.

Bergeron, though, was a joyful experimenter with both cocktails and food. Sometime in the 1940s, says Eve, he started messing around with wonton wrappers. “Knowing my grandfather, he probably just started to play with it,” she says. “Just put stuff in here, fry it up, and see what we get.”

Cream cheese was a staple of 1940s and 1950s American cuisine. This is a bit of a generalization of hindsight, but mid-century cookbooks seem to offer no end of creamy, cheesy sauces. With celery, with Spam, formed into balls and rolled in nuts, baked into the ultimate decadent dessert: It was the age of cream cheese.

Several people in my survey expressed embarrassment, or at least puzzlement, that crab rangoon violates the taboo against eating seafood with cheese. Though pervasive, this is a mild and inconsistent prohibition originating in Italy. But cream cheese has always somehow been exempt. Bagels with cream cheese and lox is a relevant, beloved example, and many famous dishes from the 1940s and 1950s use the combination as well. There’s clam and cream cheese dip or those cucumber rounds with cream cheese–based salmon mousse on top.

Trader Vic’s crab rangoon recipe, which remains largely unchanged over the decades it’s been on the menu (at 20-odd locations today, including a notable cluster in the Middle East), has several major differences from American Chinese crab rangoon. Trader Vic’s version uses real crab meat, for one thing: Canadian blue. It also includes A.1. Steak Sauce and Lingham’s Chili Sauce, a bottled British sweet-and-hot sauce, in addition to cream cheese. Eve seemed offended when I suggested the cream cheese in a crab rangoon might be sweetened, as it is in many American Chinese restaurants. Trader Vic’s is not (though the sauces mixed in are).

Trader Vic's crab rangoon is thought to be the original.

The name, too, is emblematic of tiki culture. Rangoon, now Yangon, is the largest city in Myanmar, formerly Burma. Myanmar has a substantial Chinese cultural and gastronomic influence, as the two countries share a border. But neither uses cream cheese in its food—that’s a proud New York product. There’s plenty of crab in Burmese food, but it’s pretty clear that Trader Vic didn’t name his dish after the city because there was any connection there. It is simply a place in a general Southeast Asia-Polynesia-South Pacific zone, suitably exotic-sounding but still easy for native English speakers to pronounce.

Tiki culture’s widespread popularity occurred in the 1940s and 1950s, just when American Chinese cuisine was also gaining huge mainstream acceptance. The food served in tiki restaurants shared a lot with American Chinese food: vaguely Asian, very sweet, deep-fried. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the cuisines cross-pollinated. Some tiki food gained a spot on those centralized menus. The pu pu platter, for example, derives, sort of, from the Hawaiian pūpū, essentially Hawaiian meze: a selection of appetizers.

There was a strange, circular movement between tiki food and American Chinese food. Trader Vic’s created tiki food by making American Chinese food seem more tropical; American Chinese restaurants took his dishes right back and made them more American Chinese. The American Chinese version tends toward cheaper imitation crab, which is made, usually, of pollock blended with starch and other binders, crab flavoring, and red food coloring. Imitation crab simply wasn’t available to Trader Vic—it started being produced in 1975—and it’s also neither Polynesian nor Chinese, but Japanese. American Chinese crab rangoon is a 1940s crab-and-cream-cheese dip stuffed into a wonton and deep-fried—a pure distillation of tiki fusion weirdness.

Crab rangoon is, after all, a preposterous dish. Many of the responses I got in my survey were sheepish, or seemed overly proud, as if to mask the problem of loving a dish that is utterly uncool, wildly outdated, and not even in the same ballpark as authenticity.

But that notion is even more preposterous than the dish. Making this crazy thing took years of work, ingredients from around the world, and who knows how many restaurateurs. Those little packets are strangely, psychotically perfect, designed to appeal to our base instincts: creamy and fatty and crispy and sweet and sour and savory, all at once. No modern food conglomerate would ever come up with something as deranged as crab rangoon, and if it was new today, nobody would buy it. And yet somehow it survived, watching food trends be born and die, outliving them all.

Stoic – Stop Freaking Out. None of This Is New

You think this hasn’t happened before? Whatever it is, whatever you’re freaking out about?

A crisis at the borders. Agitators riling up the youth. Excess and immorality. Rising demagogues. Distrust in institutions. A backlash against free speech and expression.

It’s scary because it seems new—like things are breaking down, right? Except it’s not remotely new. Each one of those things was happening during Marcus Aurelius’s reign. They were happening during Seneca’s time. They were happening a hundred years ago. They were happening back in America while James Stockdale was locked away as a POW in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

What the Stoics want us to see is the big picture. All of this has happened before, Marcus wrote to himself. It happened before and it is happening now and it will happen again. Zoom out, he says, look at this from space, not with your ear to the ground. See how small it really is.

Look back through the pages of history, the Stoics urge us. You’ll find that most of the things people were worried about never came to pass. The trends peter out. The revolution loses its force. Sanity is restored. You’ll find that the things they should have been concerned about, they totally missed. You’ll find people who were so focused on the trends and the symptoms of problems that they lost opportunities to address the root causes.

And most of all, you’ll find that none of us are around long enough to waste any time on worry anyway. So relax. See the big picture. Focus on what you control. Change what you can. Make a difference where you can. Let go and keep going.

Collection – Everything You Do Can Be Explained by Two Things

By Zat Rana

Full link: https://medium.com/swlh/everything-you-do-can-be-explained-by-two-things-7d4b0cfc1d2c

Once you see them, you see them everywhere.

In 600 BC, King Ayattes of the ancient Kingdom of Lydia — or what we today know as modern-day Turkey — minted the first official currency. This coin, an imperfectly molded circle, featured a roaring lion.

Before that, it was mostly surplus goods, like grain and cattle, that were used to exchange favors and trade time, resources, and wealth between people.

The establishment of currency gave us a way to more accurately measure these trades between us. Technologies, of course, evolved over time. In the 16th century, the use of paper money started to become more commonplace. Early forms of electric transfers were done in the 19th century. The 20th century saw the birth of credit cards, and from there, we have continued this same march forward. But the core feature of currency hasn’t really changed that much since the days of King Ayattes.

We took an object of some kind from the natural world, used an authority to assign a mathematical value to it, with the hope that this object would ensure we could trade things without worrying about being ripped off. A coin or a piece of paper alone is mostly worthless. With this assigned value, with this collective belief in its value, it keeps modern economies running.

Money has allowed us to trust strangers in a way that perhaps no other force in human history has. It doesn’t matter where you are from, what your skin color is, what God you pray to, if you give me a dollar for the work I do, I’ll take it. This is as true for the capitalist as it is for the fervent communist.

It begs an important question: Why has money been so successful where religions, philosophies, and other ideologies have failed to bring us together?

The answer comes down to how well money has been able to domesticate the two core drivers of human behavior: narratives and incentives.

The Mental Grip of Narratives

In the psychological sciences, the mental realm is divided into two parts: cognition and emotion. We can think of the former as those processes in the brain associated with thought and rationality. We can think of the latter as those associated with sensations and feelings.

Much of Western philosophy has been a battleground that tries to define the two as separate, with one coming out on top as being the prime motivator of what we do. But in the messiness of our lives, the two are often intertwined with one another, and the thing that tangles them together are narratives.

We are emotional beings to our core, each of us with our own palate of individual experiences, and we then use thought and language to spin the sum total of those into a sort of story that makes sense of it all by means of a coherent system of consistency. This coherent system is what we think of us our sense of self, the voice in our mind that tells us who we are.

The ideologies of the world, whether they be religious or political or philosophical, are similar stories that make sense of our collective emotions and condense them into a sort of coherent system that allows us to cooperate with one another. Depending on our personal preferences, some of these make more sense to us than others. Some we question because, for some reason, we feel like their rationality breaks down. Others we accept because we feel that they answer our deepest questions and yearnings.

Pretty much all ideologies, all shared narratives, have proponents and opponents — believers and atheists, liberals and conservatives, rationalists and empiricists. And this divide is mostly due to the fact that many of them are beliefs in very abstract things that break down when looked at on a different level of abstraction, depending on who is looking.

Money, however, is different. The King, or the state, or whatever authority gives this piece of paper or this coin value generally doesn’t have as blatant of a story to tell us — it’s based on a mathematical system that we all broadly agree works a certain way. Beyond that, there is no belief in this or that. It’s something that is so deeply intuitive to us, so seemingly separated from the power that gives its ideology authority, that we never even question it.

Herein lies the power of the most successful stories: We identify with them without questioning them. And if you can get yourself and other people to identify with something without questioning it, you can make yourself and other people do pretty much anything a human body is capable of.

That said, the power of money goes a step further than that, and that is perhaps also why the story of money itself is so believable and uncontested.

The Physical Force of Incentives

The problem that most stories and most ideologies run into is that, no matter how perfectly crafted they are in writing, sooner or later, when they face the reality of flesh and bone, they break down.

Life is too complex for any single story to entirely monopolize it. One story might work at the highest level of abstraction, another might work somewhere in the middle, but rarely does a story stay uncontested across space and time, at least not in the collective minds of the masses.

Beyond just cognition and emotion, there is also behavioral psychology. And in the realm of behavior, in the day to day drudgery of daily life, we often act relative to the incentives that are offered to us. You work because you love your job and the meaningful story you tell yourself about it, sure, but you also work to make a living that will help you thrive. You keep a certain diet to keep yourself looking a certain way, but at its core, you eat and you feed yourself, first and foremost, because if you didn’t, you’d simply die.

Not only is the story of money so subtle as to be uncontested, but it also perfectly aligns with all of our material and physical incentives. It mathematically measures wealth and resources, both of which are directly tied to our livelihood, things that we can’t survive without.

At the end of the day, humans are nothing more than civilized animals. Our stories, and our moralities, and our philosophies, and our beliefs may provide the guidance that works, say, 99 percent of the time, but in a life and death situation, or a situation where a person has a lot to gain relative to the sacrifice, the story will quite often lose to the material incentives. We are fallible in more ways than one.

This isn’t to say that incentives always overpower stories. That would contradict the many sacrifices that people make for their beliefs every single day. It’s just that, on average, unless the story we are told is so compelling that it is worth sacrificing our life for, sooner or later, unless the material incentives are aligned with that story, something is going to give.

The reason that money is perhaps the greatest story we have ever told is precisely that it doesn’t feel like a story. It’s so subtle in its narrative, so real in what it offers as a reward in the physical world, that we don’t even stop to think about the fact that it’s a collectively shared myth.

The Takeaway

Money is an interesting case study, but this approach is true of anything that humans do both individually and collectively. We have narratives and beliefs in our minds that help determine what we value, and then we have the demands of a physical world that are ruled by incentives.

For some people, narratives and beliefs matter more than most of the day to day incentives that are offered in the physical world. For others, the realness of the rewards in the material world serves as a stronger motivator. For most of us, it’s some complex mix between the two.

Any great company or movement is based on these same two principles. The greatest leaders in the world are both compelling storytellers and also grounded enough in reality to design the most appropriate incentives for whatever they are trying to accomplish for themselves and others.

Even personal agency is a mix of the two: Your sense of self — the story you tell about who you are — and your surrounding environment and its levers meet somewhere in the middle to guide you on the path of your life.

Much of the time we go through life unconscious to these two powerful forces, and this kind of unconsciousness can lead us towards an end that isn’t necessarily in our best interests. To avoid this trap, we have to be aware — both of our own narratives and incentives and also those fed to us by other people who have their personal interests at stake.

The historian Will Durant, summarizing the work of Aristotle, once wrote:

“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation: we do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have these because we have acted rightly… We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

Acting rightly, however, isn’t just as simple as mindlessly thinking that we are doing the right thing. It’s a conscious movement shaped by forces on the opposing end of the human experience, forces that either push us to a kind of imitation of what is, or forces that lead towards personal excellence.

Collection – Can telcos create more value by breaking up?

By Gustav GrundinRobin Nuttall, Lorraine Salazar, Halldor Sigurdsson, and Nemanja Vucevic

Full link: https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/technology-media-and-telecommunications/our-insights/can-telcos-create-more-value-by-breaking-up?cid=other-eml-alt-mip-mck&hlkid=0db1d3790ab648d28fc1bc2852588609&hctky=2618809&hdpid=bd0e37f6-3760-4c77-a591-74a3b744486b

Once primarily a regulators’ tool, structural separation is beginning to attract growing interest from operators facing financial and market pressures.

Sometimes, the whole is less than the sum of its parts. At least that is the belief underpinning structural separation—splitting an integrated telco operator into two freestanding businesses: one that operates the network (the NetCo) and one customer-facing entity (the ServCo). The idea is that the resulting units will perform better by clarifying management focus and improving capital allocation, given the fundamentally different nature of these two businesses. The hope, also, is that such a move will create a market structure that requires less regulatory intervention.

The concept of separation in the telecommunications industry has been around for over two decades, though for most of that time, it has been the government’s decision to mandate it, not the telco’s choice to pursue it. Yet integrated incumbents are beginning to embrace or at least consider separation voluntarily as a way to address deepening financial and market pressures as required infrastructure funding increases dramatically in the face of the investment-heavy evolution toward 5G and fiber to the home. So far, only a few telcos have fully taken the plunge. But with the telecom sector facing headwinds, structural separation is becoming a more frequently discussed topic of major industry stakeholders.

For management, boards, shareholders, and regulators pondering the prospect of separation, the central questions remain: Can breaking up a telco create more value in the long-term? Is doing so worth the risk? And how can telcos minimize that risk?

The Czech case for separation

Separation can take different forms, from accounting separation (the simplest and most basic) to functional separation (where the wholesale and retail businesses are set up as independent units) to legal separation (where new legal entities are established but overall ownership remains the same).

The most sweeping change is a full structural separation, which entails creating two distinct legal entities. Historically, most such splits have been the consequence of government action, as a way for regulators to address perceived deep-rooted market inefficiencies resulting from having one entity, often the former state-run monopoly, dominate the telco market. While a few incumbents have considered breakups on a voluntary basis, most have ultimately opted against this path given the massive complexities involved.

That is starting to change. In 2014, O2 in the Czech Republic showed that pursuing structural separation voluntarily could generate superior stakeholder returns while greatly improving the infrastructure of the country. Four years later, Denmark’s TDC Group was acquired by a Macquarie-led consortium of buyers at a 34 percent premium to the market price with a structural separation initiative as one of the core pillars of value creation justifying the takeover.1 Telecom Italia2 in 2018 started to evaluate the possibility of setting up a separate NetCo, and that same year Telstra3 came out with plans to establish a separate infrastructure business unit. Meanwhile, shareholders or board members of at least two other carriers, British Telecom4 and Telefonica,5 requested their companies consider the same.

A detailed examination of the O2 Czech Republic case offers a good illustration of the potential upside of separation. In 2014, PPF Group, a local private-equity fund, bought O2 Czech Republic from Telefónica Group. The new owner separated the network from the retail business and took the infrastructure unit, now named CETIN, private, while keeping the retail unit publicly listed under the O2 Czech Republic name. It didn’t take long for the move to pay off for the investors (Exhibit 1).

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The deal not only benefitted the new owners; the country received a significant infrastructure upgrade as well. The creation of a pure network-infrastructure player lowered borrowing costs and improved capital access such that CETIN increased its network capital expenditures by 40 percent a year after separation. From there on, capital expenditures increased by 13 percent annually. This led to a jump in fiber coverage and broadband speeds at a level rarely seen in Europe (Exhibit 2).

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How separation can pay off

While the specifics of how PPF Group doubled its money with the O2 Czech Republic separation is a matter of debate, structural separation in general can fuel value creation in the following five ways:

  1. Regulatory relief. Since separation invariably alters the existing market structure and typically increases retail competition, most cases result in some form of regulatory relief. There are even EU guidelines for regulations to this effect.6 Before separation, O2 estimated that retail price regulation impacted roughly 25 percent of its gross margin. The company also faced several predatory pricing cases. With the lifting of these restraints, O2 and CETIN gained greater pricing and contracting flexibility. Removing nationwide retail pricing controls was particularly important in a market where rates vary greatly, given the localized nature of competition.
  2. Greater addressable market. A carrier-neutral NetCo can grow its wholesale business with other operators, since aggregating demand from multiple wholesale customers increases household conversion rates for fiber and, hence, return on investment for new builds. In the O2 case, the carrier-neutral CETIN, untethered from its former parent, grew beyond its original business by adding subscribers and traffic from the customer bases of other operators.
  3. Cheaper access to capital. By operating independently, financing options for the NetCo improve considerably. Since it primarily invests in infrastructure, the NetCo can attract long-term investors who are interested in buying into a physical asset. Similarly, the ServCo’s investment profile is better suited to investors who are looking for higher risk-adjusted returns. As a result, the multiples for the two entities recalibrate in a way that increases their combined valuation.
  4. Sharpened management focus. Investment horizons differ significantly for the separated entities; NetCos usually plan in ten-to-15-year time frames (for infrastructure investments that can last for 50 to 100 years) while ServCos work with one-to-three-year investment cycles (for commercial activities, such as marketing campaigns and promotions). By separating the NetCo and ServCo, decision makers can direct strategy and budget based squarely on the specific needs of each company, leading to greater strategic clarity and operating momentum. In the case of O2, the increased focus for management translated into higher customer satisfaction ratings for CETIN, and a faster buildout of O2’s O2 TV.
  5. Better suited for a 5G world. Although analysts disagree on the exact numbers and magnitude, there is broad consensus that 5G will drive up the total cost of network ownership, given the massively increased densification of urban areas and the resulting heightened requirements on capillarity of fiber deployment. A strong, independent NetCo is better positioned to support the industry’s need for fiber rollout than an integrated carrier. As a neutral party, it is also a natural orchestrator for the increased network sharing that 5G is likely to prompt. A recent McKinsey 5G survey found that 93 percent of chief technology officers expect increased network sharing to occur with the onset of 5G.7

Why separation can backfire

While separation has the potential to generate significant value creation, it is also a high-stakes venture that can destroy value if managed poorly or pursued under the wrong preconditions. By giving up their network ownership ServCos could, for instance, face higher transaction costs in their day-to-day dealings with the NetCo and lose several important advantages, such as:

  • preferential treatment in fixed deployment through price differentiation or operational integration
  • ability to apply similar preferential treatment in mobile through bundling and cross-subsidization
  • power to direct NetCo investments into areas that benefit the ServCo, driven by regional market-share differences
  • full control of certain types of product development that require deep integration into the network (for example, certain IoT use cases)

The extent to which the loss of these advantages will impact the ServCo depends largely on the regulatory frameworks that will be adopted after the separation as well as on the details of the commercial contracts governing relations between the ServCo and the NetCo.

Separation is also costly and time-consuming. British Telecom estimated that a previous functional separation had cost them more than $1 billion,8 and historic cases indicate that the process can take anywhere from two to five years, consuming significant management attention, and potentially all but paralyzing leadership. IT systems separation alone can take as long as 18 months, during which time typical product development generally grinds to a halt.

When separation makes sense—or doesn’t

Carefully weighing the pros and cons of separation before making a choice is not simple. Individual markets and operators differ greatly with regard to the parameters that determine the potential upside and downside. Given the irreversible nature of the decision, management, boards and investors should carefully evaluate each of the drivers.9

These determinant factors include the scope of the current regulatory environment, which could be reduced as a result of separation and thereby unlock value; the amount of growth potential from increasing investments in infrastructure; and the extent to which the NetCo could play an active role in future network-sharing arrangements. They also include the ability of the ServCo to lock in some post-separation downside protection, such as a limited form of preferential coordination with the NetCo or a clear commercial opportunity on the retail side. Finally, there is the sheer complexity of the undertaking, the time required to complete it, and the sustained management focus required (Exhibit 3).

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Getting separation right

There is no doubt that executing structural separation is one of the most complex and arduous journeys a telco management team can undertake. Yet, done well, it can potentially deliver huge returns. Success stories to date provide a clear picture of the trickiest issues to address. These include:

  • Asset and activity delineation. Deciding which assets belong to the ServCo and which should transfer to the NetCo is not a trivial exercise. When figuring out how to divide assets, executives need to consider both synergies and downstream implications. In addition to apportioning out core network functionalities and different customer interfaces, they need to address strategic questions such as how spectrum ownership will be assigned, choices that impact how the mobile network is designed and how wholesale capacity decisions are made.
  • Organization and process redesign. The breakup will require the NetCo and ServCo to create new processes, retrofit other ones, and create efficient information-sharing mechanisms. These efforts are complicated by two factors. First, many processes (such as provisioning) crisscross the incumbent’s network and customer-facing organizations. Disentangling them requires a comprehensive process redesign effort. Second, integrated players also depend on many informal and undocumented processes in their day-to-day work. Failing to manage the process-redesign effort effectively will almost certainly lead to disruptions in the network operations.
  • Commercial contract.Creating a commercial contract that governs every activity and service that the NetCo is currently providing to the ServCo is a monumental task. From a transparency and governance standpoint, it is also the most critical way to clarify any advantages the ServCo may forfeit after the split.
  • IT-systems separation. Each telco has a unique IT setup, usually a patchwork quilt of operations support systems and business support systems, some of them homegrown, most of them integrated across functions that will end up on different sides of the separated entity. Inevitably, some systems will have to be duplicated, some retired, and some built anew.

Addressing these changes successfully hinges on two things—timing and teaming. First, management needs to pay attention to the proper sequencing of tasks. Not all issues can be addressed in parallel, since the resolution of some are prerequisites for tackling others. Secondly, different tasks require very different talent profiles and capabilities. Some tasks, for instance, require significant expertise and analysis. Others require a tolerance for slogging through straightforward but laborious work for weeks or months on end. Still others, like the separation of IT, require both. Shaping the right road map and establishing the right project teams will have a significant bearing on the quality of the outcome (Exhibit 4).10

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Structural separation offers the potential for significant value creation, but the risks and complexity of carving out deeply interconnected businesses are great as well. While the jury is still out on whether it will become a more widely adopted business model, success depends on a close understanding of the market and regulatory environment, a comprehensive change-management plan, and an investment case that recognizes that separation is a long-term play that requires considerable ramp-up time and downside protection for ServCo businesses.

Landscape – Will Vietnam’s anti-corruption campaign endure beyond Trong?

Author: Le Hong Hiep, ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute

Full link: https://www.eastasiaforum.org/2020/01/29/will-vietnams-anti-corruption-campaign-endure-beyond-trong/

A key current feature of Vietnamese politics is the high-profile anti-corruption campaign led by Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong. The campaign enters its fifth year, with Trong recently announcing that 10 more grand corruption cases would be put to trial in 2020.

Danang City's former chairmen Van Huu Chien and Tran Van Minh are seen during the verdict session of their trial at a court in Hanoi, Vietnam, 13 January 2020 (Photo: Reuters/VNA/Doan Tan). But if Trong steps down at the 13th CPV National Congress early next year, it is uncertain whether the campaign can maintain momentum.

The campaign has strongly impacted Vietnamese politics over the past four years. Official statistics show that two Politburo members and 21 current and former CPV Central Committee members have been disciplined as a result of the campaign. Many of them were prosecuted and given long prison sentences, including former Politburo member Dinh La Thang and two former ministers of information and communications, Nguyen Bac Son and Truong Minh Tuan.

There’s no ‘no-go zone’ in this anti-corruption campaign. For the first time in its history, the Party has extended its anti-corruption drive into the police and armed forces, with 38 senior officers, including 23 generals, being disciplined or prosecuted over the past four years. These forces were largely exempt from anti-corruption efforts in the past due to their immense political power and their important role in regime security.

The unprecedented campaign has improved Vietnamese public confidence in CPV leadership and cemented Trong’s political position. Unlike the previous term of office when his authority was challenged by former prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung, Trong’s power and control over the political system have been strengthened. This enables him to single-handedly shape the Party’s agenda, including making personnel arrangements for the upcoming Party Congress.

Many of Trong’s political rivals have fallen victim to the campaign, including former cronies and associates of Dung. Meanwhile, several of his loyal and trusted followers have been promoted to key positions to facilitate his mandates. The most notable is Tran Cam Tu, who was appointed Head of the CPV’s Central Inspection Commission in May 2018 and has since acted as Trong’s right-hand man in his ‘crusade’ against corruption.

Although the campaign is welcomed by the public, its impact on the general state of corruption in Vietnam remains unclear. The campaign mainly targets high-level corruption, while corruption at lower levels of government, or in agencies that people and businesses frequently deal with, such as the tax and customs authorities, have not shown clear signs of improvement. Only 13 per cent of people surveyed in Ho Chi Minh City and 35 per cent of those surveyed in Hanoi believe that corruption has decreased over the past year.

The campaign has also made some officials unwilling to make major decisions or promote economic growth initiatives for fear of legal consequences. This has negatively impacted certain economic sectors, like the real estate industry of Ho Chi Minh City. Anti-corruption investigations and officials’ personal reservations have delayed the licensing process for property projects, leading to falling supply of new properties, surging property prices and declining government revenue from land fees. In light of this situation, Trong called for a stop to ‘self-preservation’ and the resulting inaction of officials in decision-making positions.

With the 13th CPV National Congress approaching, questions remain as to how the anti-corruption campaign will be maintained following any leadership changes made at the Congress. Trong will likely step down at the Congress due to his advanced age and fragile health. Given the level of control he has over the Party, his successor will likely be handpicked by him.

Trong will look for someone to carry on his legacy and continue the fight against corruption — a cause that he believes is crucial to the Party’s survival. Tran Quoc Vuong, the Standing Secretary of the CPV Central Committee’s Secretariat, so far appears to be his favourite candidate.

Still, whoever succeeds Trong will face significant challenges in continuing his anti-corruption mission at the same level witnessed over the past four years.

First, the new party chief will not have the same level of power and authority enjoyed by Trong. They will have to establish their own authority and power base within the first few years of their leadership. This might involve making compromises with corrupt officials or infighting with political rivals, distracting them from anti-corruption efforts.

Second, as most grand corruption cases have been prosecuted over the past four years, there remain few cases for the new leader to showcase their anti-corruption agenda, while uncovering new ones will take time.

Third, with the anti-corruption drive slowing economic activity in certain sectors, the new leadership might need to strike a balance between fighting corruption and promoting economic growth.

So while the new leadership will undoubtedly maintain the fight against corruption, it may be less broad and intense than it was under the watch of Trong. But this does not mean that the anti-corruption drive will become less consequential for Vietnam’s political economy.

Vietnamese officials should begin to shift the focus of the campaign by making more effort to fight lower level corruption rather than primarily focussing on grand cases. Overhauling various political and legal institutions to prevent corruption, rather than dealing with its consequences, will also make Vietnam’s fight against corruption more sustainable, effective and less dependent on any single politician.

Note – Investopedia: Holding Here & Grey Swan

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Markets Today

U.S. markets see-sawed today going into and following the Fed’s decision to hold interest rates at current levels. No one was expecting a change in rates, but the FOMC’s tone on inflation may have given investors some pause. The DJIA gave up nearly all of its gains by the close after climbing 220 points at its highs. The S&P 500 couldn’t hold its gains and closed slightly lower for the session.

Beyond monetary policy, it was all about earnings today, and like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get. We have a recap of some of the higher-profile companies’ results below, but suffice to say, the day belonged to Tesla and Microsoft, which both handily beat estimates and saw their shares spike in after-hours trading.

Let’s get into it.

Headlines:

  • Tesla (TSLA) reported a diluted EPS of $0.58, well under consensus expectations. However, when $1.56 a share in non-cash expenses from stock-based compensation is removed, TSLA reported an adjusted EPS of $2.14, much higher than expected. Investors paid attention to the adjusted number, sending TSLA’s stock up 5% in after-hours trading. These earnings came after Tesla’s record quarterly car-deliveries, announced earlier this month, which likely contributed to bullish sentiment.
  • Microsoft (MSFT) exceeded earnings and revenue expectations. Its focus on its cloud business seems to be paying off, with revenue from its “Intelligent Cloud” segment topping expectations and increasing as a share of its overall revenue from 29% to 32%.
  • Facebook (FB) reported better-than-expected earnings and revenue, and its growth in monthly average users matched expectations. Despite this, its stock fell 6% in after-hours trading.
  • Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway are leaving the newspaper business as the company has agreed to sell the Buffalo News and several other regional newspapers it owns to Lee Enterprises for $140 million in cash and the assumption of debt. Read more here.
  • The World Health Organization called a meeting of its emergency committee tomorrow to consider issuing a global alarm after coronavirus cases in China surpassed the number of infections there during the SARS epidemic. To date, more than 6,000 cases have been reported in China, and 132 deaths.
  • Boeing (BA) posted its first annual loss in more than 20 years as the airplane manufacturer struggled to regain traction following the two fatal crashes of its 737 Max planes.
  • Goldman Sachs (GS) held its first investor day today with Chairman and CEO David Solomon and outlined long-term goals for the legacy bank in an effort to give shareholders a clearer roadmap for its future. That roadmap shows Goldman becoming more of a commercial bank by increasing consumer loans and credit card balances, in addition to offering checking and savings accounts through Marcus, its commercial subsidiary.
  • French luxury giant LVMH said its revenue in 2019 was 53.7 billion euros, up 15% from the prior year. Net profit grew 13% to 7.2 billion euros. The record revenue and results were despite a difficult environment in Hong Kong during the second half of the year.
  • J.Crew Group has chosen Jan Singer as its new chief executive. Singer was previously the head of Victoria’s Secret’s lingerie business and Spanx CEO.
  • The WSJ is reporting that Les Wexner, the CEO of Victoria’s Secret, may step aside and sell some or all of the brand. Wexner is the longest serving CEO in the S&P 500 and built brands like Victoria’s Secret, The Limited, and Abercrombie & Fitch into a global retail empire.

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Samuel Corum / Stringer

Fed Up With Inflation

Today’s announcement by Fed Chair Jay Powell sounded a lot like the one he made six weeks ago when the FOMC held its benchmark funds rate between 1.5% and 1.75%. That’s where the Fed left it today, which surprised no one. But today’s announcement contained what some described as frustration on the part of the Fed that inflation remains stubbornly low. The Fed likes inflation at or around 2%, but it has been below that for several quarters despite three interest rate cuts last year.

The Fed said as much in its statement today, “…On a 12‑month basis, overall inflation and inflation for items other than food and energy are running below 2 percent. Market-based measures of inflation compensation remain low; survey-based measures of longer-term inflation expectations are little changed.”

Low prices are good for consumers, and we all know how consumers have been holding the U.S. economy together for the past year. However, the Fed worries that low expectations will continue to keep inflation and, consequently, interest rates at below its preferred levels. That would give the Fed less flexibility to cut rates if and when the U.S. economy falls into a downturn. But the Fed also downgraded household spending to “moderate” from “strong”, in its statement, which many have interpreted that the economy is not as strong as it was in 2019. That may have been what shook investors this afternoon as they began selling gains from earlier in the day.

The good news is that Powell left today’s press conference essentially assuring investors that interest rates would remain low for 2020. For consumers with credit card debt, which is partially based off of the federal funds rate, that’s a good thing. As our friends at The Balance have noted, APR rates on the credit cards they track (the major ones) have been trending lower.

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And mortgage rates on a 30-year fixed have also been coming down, which has spurred on homebuyers.

chart courtesy FRED

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The bad news is that the Fed is showing more concern than it has in recent months about the health of the consumer and the inability of companies and goods producers to raise prices. That could stifle the U.S. economy which is already having a hard time reaching 2% GDP growth. If rate cuts don’t do the trick, what will?

(chart courtesy YCHARTS)

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Fashion company L Brands rose on news that its CEO is considering stepping down, and that it is also considering a sale of its Victoria’s Secret brand. General Electric rose today after it beat earnings expectations. Consumer finance company Santander Consumer USA Holdings rose after it reported strong earnings, while investment banking consultancy firm Evercore rose after it announced substantial cost cuts.

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Semiconductor firm, Xilinx, fell after it missed on revenue and issued disappointing guidance for its next quarter. It blamed a “perfect storm” of slower 5G investment and trade restrictions on its major customer Huawei. Natural gas companies continue to hurt as both EQT and Antero resources fell today. Oil and gas firm Hess fell on worse-than-expected earnings. Biotech firm, Moderna, which is working to combat the coronavirus, lost some of its recent gains.

Word of the Day

Adjusted Earnings

Adjusted earnings are the sum of earnings and increases in loss reserves, new business, deficiency reserves, deferred tax liabilities and capital gains from the previous time period to the current time period. Adjusted earnings provide a measurement of how current performance compares with performance in previous years.

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Today in History

January 29, 1997

Today in 1997, the U.S. Federal Reserve offered its first treasury inflation-protected security, or TIPS. TIPS are treasury bonds whose value rises along with the consumer price index, or CPI, a primary measure of inflation. This means that the bond’s value will keep pace with inflation, making it a safe investment if you fear inflation will be high. As a tradeoff for this lower risk, TIPS offer a lower yield than normal treasury bonds of an equivalent duration. This creates a way to measure bond-buyers’ inflation expectations, because TIPS yields will fall if people think inflation will be high, because people are willing to sacrifice more yield for inflation protection. This difference in yields is known as the “TIPS spread.”

Sources:

https://www.treasurydirect.gov/indiv/research/history/histtime/histtime_tips.htm
https://www.investopedia.com/terms/t/tips-spread.asp

Market Moves

Microsoft reported earnings shortly after the close today. The news was good. The company not only beat top-line estimates but increased profits as well. This news follows on the heels of similar results from Apple (AAPL). The importance of these reports is that those two stocks form nearly half of the influence on the Nasdaq 100 index (NDX).

The S&P 500 (SPX), the Nasdaq 100 (NDX), and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJX) all closed nearly unchanged today, though the Russell 2000 (RUT) and the Russell Microcap index (RUMIC) were decidedly down at the close. This outcome implies that investors will shift to safer versions of assets in the coming weeks. That typically means FAANG stocks in recent years. Given what Microsoft announced today, it seems likely that the news will fuel the Nasdaq 100 higher.  This is actually a very bullish outcome considering that the market is facing an ongoing grey-swan event associated with the Coronavirus headlines.

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High Tech and Low Energy

As the news about China’s woes in containing the Coronavirus continue to wash out into the sea of investors worldwide, the response to that news takes on various forms depending on which sector of the stock market is observed. Three days into this week, the sectors have already begun to reveal a pattern that explains how investors look at the threat.

The chart below displays a comparison among State Street’s S&P 500 ETF (SPY) and its sector fund ETFs including Technology (XLK), Healthcare (XLV), Industrial (XLI), Utilities (XLU), Financial (XLF), Staples (XLP), Basic Materials (XLB), Discretionary (XLY) and Energy (XLE). Looking closely at the dip and rebound chart watchers notice three subtle observations. First, XLU is the only sector making new highs at the moment (so some nervousness still remains). Second, the technology sector is rebounding most strongly (which implies investors are still willing to take risks for higher returns). Third, the energy sector, already struggling, has taken a hard hit and will likely have difficulty recovering quickly.

The importance of this information is that investing in broad-brush strategies is unlikely to be the best tactic right now. The negative moves of the weakest sectors may cancel out the positive moves of the strongest sectors. Better to adopt strategies which maximize the trends of the market.

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Investors Tip Hand to Home Construction Market

With the stock market recovering from both fears of worldwide epidemic and the notion that prices are just simply too high, it is instructive to look at sectors where investors are likely to display either signs of optimism or a need for safe havens. The chart below gives the impression that investors will lean towards optimism and opportunity.

This chart compares State Street’s Homebuilder index ETF (XHB) with an equal-weighted portfolio of the top seven most heavily traded home construction companies, including Pulte Homes (PHM), D.R. Horton (DHI), Lennar (LEN), KB Home (KBH), TRI Point Group (TPH), Taylor Morrison Home Corporation (TMHC) and Toll Brothers (TOL). These charts differ because XHB includes many construction related stocks such as Home Depot (HD) or Whirlpool (WHR) which benefit from the after effects of rising home sales. The five days in comparison on each chart show that investors clearly favor the builders themselves, despite fears of what may yet come in 2020.

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The Bottom Line

Stocks made lackluster moves today, but Microsoft reported very strong earnings. Combined with the good news from Apple yesterday, the rise in these two stocks should lift the Nasdaq 100 going forward. Meanwhile various sectors are showing starkly different responses to the Coronavirus. Homebuilder stocks seem to be holding favor with investors.

Note – Bloomberg: 5 things to start your day

And finally, here’s what Tracy’s interested in this morning

Worries over the coronvirus have hit commodities prices hard. That makes sense. If China is idling a large chunk of its production capacity through its containment efforts, then demand for things like copper, steel and other raw materials are going to decline. We’ve yet to see much of an impact on the supply side of the equation, but this story from Bloomberg may be the first indication of what’s to come.

Kotak Commodity Services, one of India’s top cotton exporters, said it will stop shipping cotton to China because of, as Bloomberg puts it, “concern the spread of coronavirus may force the top buyer of the fiber to close ports and banks.” That’s different to imports falling off due to declining demand, and could represent a new headwind to China’s economy if enough commodities exporters start pulling back on their shipments due to force majeure concerns. The debate in commodities-land could well end up being whether any stimulus enacting by Beijing to counterbalance slower economic growth can offset declining demand as well as more limited supply.

And finally, here’s what Luke’s interested in this morning

There’s a lot to be on edge about right now if you’re a trader. Some financial professionals are turning into amateur epidemiologists in an attempt to game out how to trade through the spread of the coronavirus. The biggest American companies are reporting earnings. The political calendar is about to heat up, too. By comparison, today’s Fed decision and press conference come amid relatively little fanfare – even if there are some indications that suggest it might not be that much of a snoozer. For one, investors treated the Friday-Monday swoon in risk assets as something that might change the central bank’s stance. The two-day drop in the yield on fourth Eurodollar futures contract was basically in line with what would’ve been expected during an equity retreat in 2019. But the story coming into this year was that the bar for any kind of action from the Fed was materially higher. So either there may be somewhat of a disconnect between the central bank’s reaction function and market participants’ perception of it, or there’s a real worry about the magnitude of the ramifications the virus could have on U.S. growth. The prospect of technical tweaks not strictly related to the stance of monetary policy (an upwards adjustment to the IOER or, more likely, commentary about a slowdown in the growth of its balance sheet) could also sow some angst or confusion among algos or traders. As such, the cost of straddles — an options bet that the Fed will cause a move in equity markets in either direction — is exactly in-line with its five-year average, according to Wells Fargo equity derivatives strategists Pravit Chintawongvanich.

Concern is rising about the pervasiveness of the coronavirus as cases of asymptomatic carriers begin to appear, the Fed keeps interest rates on hold and Hong Kong faces down another huge political challenge in holding back the virus outrbreak. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about today.

Staying Steady

The Federal Reserve kept its key interest rate unchanged and continued to signal policy would stay on hold for the time being as the U.S. enters a presidential election year, but Fed Chairman Jerome Powell isn’t satisfied with inflation running persistently below 2%. The central bank also made a technical adjustment to the rate it pays on reserve balances and said it would extend a program aimed at smoothing volatility in money markets — at least through April. “We believe monetary policy is well positioned to serve the American people,” Chairman Jerome Powell told a press conference Wednesday in Washington following the decision. Policy makers also changed their language to say that the current stance of monetary policy is appropriate to support “inflation returning to the committee’s symmetric 2% objective.” Previously they had said policy was supporting inflation “near” the goal. U.S. stocks climbed and then pared those gains, while yields on the 10-year Treasury declined, as did the dollar.

Super Spreader

The case of a 10-year-old boy who was diagnosed with the Wuhan coronavirus — even though he showed no symptoms — is raising concern that people may be spreading the virus undetected by front-line screening methods. The boy was part of a family who visited relatives in the central Chinese city over the New Year. His case was the first to demonstrate person-to-person and health-care associated spread of the newly identified virus, dubbed 2019-nCoV. The asymptomatic infection has fueled concern the pathogen may turn out to be harder to detect and contain than SARS, the similar pneumonia-like illness that erupted into a global epidemic in 2003, prompting the World Health Organization called a meeting of its Emergency Committee Thursday to consider issuing a global alarm after cases in China surpassed the official number of SARS infections in the country during that epidemic. As of Thursday, the coronavirus death toll had reached 169, with close to 6,000 people infected across 15 countries.

Politics, Disease, Mistrust

Hong Kong has lately been served a nasty cocktail of political unrest and financial downturn. Now, the city can add disease into the mix. The semi-autonomous region was always going to face a huge challenge holding back the present coronavirus outbreak raging in the mainland, but deep mistrust built up over seven months of protests in the city is making that task even harder. As new cases of a deadly new corona virus mounted this week, Chief Executive Carrie Lam was forced to cancel plans to turn a newly built housing estate into a quarantine facility after protesters set fire to the lobby. She’s denied rumors that the government was blocking shipments of surgical masks and found her efforts to dramatically curtail visits by mainlanders panned by health workers, as well as lawmakers. The outbreak left Lam facing a strikingly similar situation to one of her predecessors, Tung Chee-hwa, who in 2003 found himself grappling with an uprising against China-backed national security legislation and an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome that ended up killing almost 300 people in Hong Kong. Tung later resigned — something Lam has so far refused to do, despite having even lower poll numbers.

Markets Sputter

Treasuries rose after the Federal Reserve continued to signal policy would stay on hold and cited inflation concerns. Meanwhile, Asian stock futures pointed to a cautious start and U.S. equities closed flat as ten-year Treasury yields retreated toward the lowest levels since October and traders lifted bets on a U.S. interest rate cut by November. American stocks struggled to hold on to gains, and Asia was on course for modest declines amid lingering concern about the coronavirus. Earnings continue to roll in, with Facebook Inc. falling in after-hours trading following its underwhelming result. Microsoft Corp. rose as sales and profit topped estimates. Elsewhere, oil fell after a government report showed the biggest jump in U.S. crude stockpiles since November. The European Parliament approved Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal, clearing the way for the U.K. to leave the EU on Jan. 31 with an agreement that, for the time being, will avoid a chaotic rupture.

Goldman Anew

The Goldman of tomorrow wants to be more like everyone else. Previously, with its big bets, practiced secrecy and narrow focus, Goldman Sachs always stood apart from the rest of the large banks on Wall Street. But now, Goldman’s new leaders on Wednesday gave investors an unprecedented look under the hood for a firm that scoffs at even displaying its name on its headquarters, laying out a plan that could leave it looking more like an everyday bank. Out were private-equity deals with the firm’s own money; in were the unglamorous businesses of transaction banking and deposit gathering. The investment bank long known for its lucrative partnership now touted how it could cut costs by delayering management and using robotics. Some Goldman veterans see the moves as falling in with the crowd at the expense of the company’s unique strengths. Others see it as the inevitable reckoning with a reality that other banks embraced years ago. “Imagine a Goldman Sachs in which one or more of these opportunities really blossoms,” Chief Executive Officer David Solomon said at its debut investor day. “Our earnings power could grow dramatically.”

Bloomberg