Tuần – Week: 21 – 26/09/2020

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Sự phục hồi đang dần diễn ra… nhưng vô cùng bất đối xứng…

Các sự kiện chính – Main events:

Ngày tồi tệ nhất của đại dịch covid-19, ít nhất là từ khía cạnh kinh tế, chính là thứ Sáu Tốt Lành. Vào ngày 10 tháng 4, sự phong tỏa ở nhiều quốc gia lên tới đỉnh điểm, bao gồm lệnh cấm tất cả mọi người ra khỏi nhà và dừng mọi hoạt động. GDP toàn cầu ngày hôm đó thấp hơn 20% so với mức nếu không có dịch bệnh.

Theo báo cáo của IDC năm 2020, trong 10 nước ở Châu Á TBD, Việt Nam chỉ xếp sau Trung Quốc và Hàn Quốc ở tốc độ phát triển ví điện tử (CAGR tăng trưởng ví điện tử giai đoạn 2017-2022 đạt 67%), và xếp thứ 3 sau Nhật và Malaysia về tốc độ phát triển debit card. Trong đó, báo cáo về kỷ nguyên mới của lĩnh vực thanh toán số của IDC và NTT Data công bố vào đầu năm 2020 cho thấy, trong khu vực Châu Á, Việt Nam là nước có tỷ lệ thanh toán không dùng tiền mặt ở mức gần như thấp nhất, chỉ hơn mỗi Philippines. Tỷ lệ thanh toán bằng tiền mặt ở Việt Nam hiện ở mức 80%, trong khi tại Indonesia là 68%, tại Nhật là 78%, tại Thái Lan là 60%, tại Trung Quốc là 34% và Hàn Quốc là 36%, ở các nước phát triển như Mỹ là 30%, UK là 25% và Thuỵ Điển là 15%. Với tỷ lệ hơn 52% dân số sử dụng internet và tiếp cận với smartphone hàng ngày, thế hệ Gen Z (những người sinh sau năm 2.000) và thế hệ Millennials (những người sinh sau 1980 đến đầu 2.000) đang trở thành lực lượng trẻ thúc đẩy xu hướng tiêu dùng số ở Việt Nam. Những con số trên cho thấy rằng, Việt Nam còn rất nhiều dư địa để phát triển thị trường thanh toán không dùng tiền mặt (noncash payments).

Khi cuộc chạy đua “đốt tiền” của các trang thương mại điện tử Việt Nam phần nào hạ nhiệt do thị trường đã định hình khá rõ ràng thì tâm điểm của sự chú ý cũng như dòng vốn đầu tư đã dịch chuyển sang những phân khúc khác đang cạnh tranh khốc liệt như thanh toán/ví điện tử và gọi xe, giao đồ ăn. Ba tay chơi chính trên thị trường là Grab, Go-Viet và be lỗ tổng cộng 4.900 tỷ đồng chỉ trong năm 2019. Bên cạnh đó, 2 ứng dụng chuyên về giao đồ ăn là Baemin và Now cũng lỗ hơn 1.200 tỷ đồng.

Với tầng lớp trung lưu phát triển tốc độ nhanh nhất Đông Nam Á, Việt Nam đang trong giai đoạn thị trường bán lẻ tăng trưởng phi thường. Theo phân tích, xu hướng này vẫn đang tiếp tục trong tương lai, khi mà Việt Nam có nhân khẩu học tương đối trẻ và chi cho tiêu dùng chiếm tỷ trọng lớn. Sự nở ra của miếng bánh bán lẻ quy mô 180 tỷ USD năm 2020 đi cùng những cấu phần bên trong nó, mà mô hình cửa hàng tiện lợi (Convenience Store) là một trong những điểm sáng. Cuộc đua mở cửa hàng tiện lợi 24/7 ngày càng được đẩy mạnh, nhưng thời điểm hiện tại phần lớn vẫn đang tập trung ở các thành phố lớn là HCM và Hà Nội.

Tại sao nó ảnh hưởng – Why is it affected:

Đến nay, các chính phủ đã dỡ bỏ các lệnh phong tỏa, cho phép các nền kinh tế bắt đầu phục hồi. Các nhà phân tích cho rằng GDP toàn cầu quý 3 sẽ tăng khoảng 7% so với quý hai. Có vẻ như kinh tế toàn cầu sẽ hồi phục theo hình chữ V, nhưng vẫn còn rất lâu thế giới mới có thể trở lại bình thường. Các chính phủ tiếp tục thực thi các biện pháp giãn cách xã hội để ngăn chặn virus. Những điều này làm giảm sản lượng – khi buộc ít thực khách hơn đến một nhà hàng tại một thời điểm, hoặc cấm khán giả tham gia các đấu trường thể thao. Mọi người vẫn lo lắng về việc bị lây nhiễm. Sự bất an về nền kinh tế của cả người tiêu dùng và doanh nghiệp đang ở gần mức kỷ lục – và đây chính là một trong những lý do khiến các công ty chần chừ không muốn đầu tư. Theo nghiên cứu của JPMorgan Chase, doanh số bán lẻ trên toàn cầu đã phục hồi mức trước đại dịch từ tháng 7. Được trang bị số tiền mặt trị giá 2 nghìn tỷ USD từ các chính phủ kể từ khi virus tấn công, người tiêu dùng trên khắp thế giới đã tích trữ nhiều thứ để có thể ở nhà thường xuyên hơn, từ máy tính xách tay đến quả tạ để tập thể dục khi rảnh rỗi. Tuy nhiên hoạt động dịch vụ thấp hơn nhiều so với mức trước đại dịch, phần lớn là do những ngành như vậy dễ bị ảnh hưởng khi mọi người không còn tụ tập nữa. Số lượng thực khách trong các nhà hàng vẫn thấp hơn 30-40% so với mức bình thường trên toàn thế giới, theo dữ liệu từ OpenTable, một nền tảng đặt chỗ. Số chuyến bay theo lịch trình chỉ bằng một nửa so với trước khi đại dịch xảy ra.

Không giống như Trung Quốc, thị trường ví điện tử gần như được định hình sẵn cho ông lớn WeChat và Alipay, thị trường ví điện tử của Việt Nam còn phân mảnh, người dùng sử dụng ví khi nào có nhiều khuyến mại cho họ hơn là sử dụng như một sản phẩm thay thế tiền mặt thông thường. Do đó, cuộc chiến đốt tiền để giành thị phần của các ví điện tử dường như không có hồi kết. Hiện nay đa phần các ví điện tử đều gắn với hệ sinh thái của những người khổng lồ. Ví dụ ZaloPay kết nối với hệ sinh thái Zalo của VNG, Airpay kết nối với hệ sinh thái Shopee và NOW, Moca nằm trong hệ sinh thái của Grab, chỉ có MoMo và Payoo là đơn thương độc mã. Thanh toán điện tử ở Việt Nam hiện nay vẫn dựa vào COD (thu hộ), nghiên cứu của IDC chỉ ra sự chậm lại ở hình thức COD tính đến năm 2022, bởi sự thanh toán liền mạch của các hình thức mới như ví điện tử hay thẻ tín dụng và thẻ ghi nợ. Sự phát triển của thương mại điện tử đã buộc các trang TMĐT phải nỗ lực để hỗ trợ nhiều tùy chọn thanh toán, bằng việc hợp tác với nhiều nhà cung cấp thanh toán khác nhau. IDC cho rằng cần có sự kết hợp nỗ lực từ cả khu vực tư nhân và nhà nước để tăng cường sử dụng thanh toán điện tử để giảm thiểu việc sử dụng tiền mặt tại Việt Nam. Theo IDC, ví di động sẽ phát triển mạnh mẽ trong giai đoạn 2022-2030 tại Việt Nam, đặc biệt là với các thế hệ trẻ thanh toán bằng điện thoại thông minh. Do đó để đón đầu xu hướng trong thời gian tới, các ví điện tử hiện nay đang chạy đua không ngừng để mở rộng khách hàng mới và giữ chân khách hàng cũ.

Với khởi đầu là một dịch vụ đặt xe, Grab đã phát triển thành một siêu ứng dụng với một loạt dịch vụ được tích hợp như gọi xe, đặt đồ ăn, chuyển hàng, thanh toán hóa đơn… Với việc có thêm cùng lúc 3 đối thủ nặng ký từ cuối năm 2018 là Go-Viet, be Group và Baemin (chỉ tham gia giao đồ ăn), mức mức lỗ năm 2019 của Grab đã tăng gấp đôi lên xấp xỉ 1.700 tỷ đồng. Tuy nhiên điều đáng nói là mức lỗ của Grab cũng chỉ tương đương với mức lỗ 1.682 tỷ của Go-Viet (hiện đã đổi tên thành Gojek Việt Nam) và nhỉnh hơn không nhiều so với mức lỗ 1.500 tỷ của be Group. Việc cả 3 có mức lỗ tương đương nhau trong khi 2 đối thủ đều có quy mô khiêm tốn hơn, cung cấp ít dịch vụ hơn (Go-Viet chưa có gọi ô tô, be chưa có giao đồ ăn) cho thấy sự áp đảo của Grab. Số liệu doanh thu phần nào minh chứng điều này: doanh thu 2019 của Grab đạt 3.382 tỷ trong khi Go-Viet chỉ đạt vỏn vẹn 22 tỷ và be đạt 456 tỷ đồng. Hơn 1.300 tỷ đồng lãi gộp từ hoạt động kinh doanh đã giúp Grab bù đắp đáng kể các chi phí khuyến mãi tung ra liên tục để thu hút người dùng.

Tính từ từ 2012 đến cuối năm 2018, số lượng cửa hàng tiện lợi trên toàn quốc gấp 4 lần. Số liệu từ báo cáo nghiên cứu của Deloitte cuối năm 2018 cho thấy rằng, thương hiệu ngoại chiếm tới 70% thị phần kênh cửa hàng tiện lợi so với chỉ 30% của các doanh nghiệp nội địa. Tuy nhiên các nhánh nhỏ hơn mới là điểm sáng chính: các cửa hàng tiện lợi hoạt động 24/7 với khác biệt nằm ở thời gian hoạt động không nghỉ, tập trung chủ yếu vào bán đồ ăn – thức uống, và là địa điểm ưa thích của giới trẻ cũng như những người lao động về đêm.

Xu hướng chính – Key trends:

Các tính toán của ngân hàng Goldman Sachs cho thấy rằng các biện pháp giãn cách xã hội tiếp tục làm giảm 7-8% GDP toàn cầu – hoàn toàn phù hợp với những gì The Economist nhận định vào tháng 4 khi đặt ra thuật ngữ “nền kinh tế 90%” để mô tả điều gì sẽ xảy ra khi lệnh phong tỏa được dỡ bỏ. Mặc dù nền kinh tế toàn cầu đang hoạt động với công suất khoảng chín phần mười, tuy nhiên, có rất nhiều sự khác biệt giữa các ngành và quốc gia. Tỷ lệ tăng trưởng phân hóa trong các đợt suy thoái là điều thường thấy, nhưng quy mô của sự sụt giảm sản lượng trong năm nay đồng nghĩa rằng sự khác biệt trong tốc độ tăng trưởng giữa các quốc gia là rất lớn. Một số nhà kinh tế cho rằng khoảng cách quá lớn giữa các quốc gia là một ảo ảnh thống kê, phản ánh các phương pháp tính toán số liệu GDP khác nhau; nhưng tác động này là nhỏ – phần lớn sự sụt giảm sản lượng đến từ khu vực tư nhân. Một số quốc gia khác có thể cân đối các biện pháp phong tỏa mà không gây ảnh hưởng quá tiêu cực đến GDP. Điều đó có thể giúp đưa thế giới đến gần hơn với “nền kinh tế 95%“. OECD kỳ vọng GDP toàn cầu sẽ phục hồi hơn nữa trong năm nay. Nhiều người có thể tin rằng một loại vắc xin, nếu có thể được sử dụng đủ rộng rãi, sẽ giúp mọi thứ sẽ trở lại bình thường. Nhưng chắc chắn sẽ có những “vết sẹo“. Việc các công ty không muốn đầu tư ngày hôm nay sẽ đồng nghĩa với việc có ít vốn hơn trong tương lai. Việc phân bổ lại các nguồn lực dư thừa cho các doanh nghiệp có năng suất cao hơn sẽ mất nhiều thời gian.

Tính chung cả năm 2019, bộ ba Grab, Go-Viet và be đã lỗ xấp xỉ 4.900 tỷ đồng – gấp 3 lần so với năm 2018; nguyên nhân một phần do Go-Viet mới chỉ hoạt động từ quý 4 còn be hoạt động từ tháng 12/2018. Chỉ sau hơn 1 năm gia nhập thị trường, lỗ lũy kế của Go-Viet và be đã lên tới 4.350 tỷ đồng – lớn hơn cả mức lỗ của Grab sau 6 năm hiện diện tại Việt Nam. Chính thức gia nhập thị trường từ năm 2019, dịch vụ giao ăn đồ ăn Baemin đến từ Hàn Quốc cũng lỗ tới 570 tỷ đồng không kém cạnh là bao so với mức lỗ 650 tỷ của Foody/Now.

Cuộc cạnh tranh tại phân khúc cửa hàng tiện lợi 24/7 tại Việt Nam đang khốc liệt và hấp dẫn không kém bất kỳ cuộc chiến kinh doanh nào; nhưng một đặc điểm chung, tất cả đang phải chịu cảnh thua lỗ để đổi lấy độ phủ và thị phần. Circle K hiện chính là tay chơi lớn nhất thị trường với gần 400 cửa hàng, tập trung tại hai thành phố là Hà Nội và HCM. Ra mắt Việt Nam từ cuối năm 2008, chuỗi cửa hàng tiện lợi Mỹ đã trở nên thân thuộc với thế hệ Z hay Millennials. Chỉ cần mua một món đồ bất kỳ, bạn sẽ có không gian có thể ngồi làm việc, đầy đủ wifi và điều hòa mát lạnh, có đồ ăn bất cứ khi nào đói… Kể từ thời điểm chốt báo cáo tài chính 2018 cho đến nay, chuỗi tiện lợi tăng thêm 100 cửa hàng. Xếp ngay sau, Family Mart cũng cho thấy sức mạnh của mình khi vào Việt Nam từ năm 2009 trong một liên doanh với CTCP Tập đoàn Phú Thái. Chỉ với khoảng 130 cửa hàng, nhưng doanh thu trong năm gần nhất lên tới 1.360 tỷ đồng. Đây là con số ấn tượng nhất trong các đơn vị kinh doanh bán lẻ 24/7 tại Việt Nam. Biên lợi nhuận gộp duy trì ở mức ổn định trong nhiều năm nay, đạt trên 26%. Mức lỗ đang giảm dần xuống còn 50 tỷ đồng năm 2019. Đến cuối năm 2013, hợp tác này chấm dứt. Family Mart xây dựng lại đế chế, trong khi Phú Thái tách ra lập thương hiệu bán lẻ riêng mang tên B’s Mart. Cho đến thời điểm hiện tại, B’s Mart cũng không phải tay vừa, quy mô đạt gần 160 cửa hàng tập trung tại TP HCM. Đỉnh cao của chuỗi này nằm ở năm 2017 với doanh thu 690 tỷ đồng, nhưng đi xuống trong hai năm gần đây. Ministop, chuỗi bán lẻ của Tập đoàn Aeon (Nhật Bản) năm ngoái đạt doanh thu 994 tỷ đồng, lỗ 141 tỷ đồng; hay như 7-Eleven, một thương hiệu hàng đầu thế giới trong lĩnh vực này gia nhập Việt Nam từ năm 2017 cũng nhanh chóng tăng mức lỗ lên 107 tỷ đồng. Cũng phải nói thêm rằng, tăng trưởng quy mô doanh thu của 7-Eleven là rất nhanh, đem về 415 tỷ đồng năm ngoái, gấp 2,2 lần năm trước đó. Một cái tên khác, G25, thương hiệu Hàn Quốc được vận hành bởi Tập đoàn Sơn Kim đạt gần 200 tỷ đồng doanh thu 2019, nhưng lỗ 67 tỷ đồng. Shop&Go nằm trong số những thương hiệu đời đầu đã phải bán mình cho VinCommerce năm ngoái với giá chỉ 1 USD. Trong năm cuối cùng còn hoạt động đơn lẻ, chuỗi này đạt doanh thu 162 tỷ đồng, giảm 1/3. Mức lỗ tăng lên cao nhất 49 tỷ đồng, lỗ lũy kế 93 tỷ đồng.

Cái gì tiếp theo – What comes next:

Báo cáo ngày 16/9 của OECD nhận định khoảng cách tăng trưởng giữa các quốc gia tăng trưởng tốt nhất và kém nhất trong nhóm các quốc gia G7 vào năm 2020 dự kiến là 6,7 điểm phần trăm, lớn hơn nhiều so với cuộc suy thoái toàn cầu gần nhất cách đây một thập kỷ. Trong số các nền kinh tế lớn, chỉ có Trung Quốc là mở rộng quy mô vào năm 2020. Một số quốc gia, chẳng hạn như Mỹ và Hàn Quốc, phải đối mặt với suy thoái nhưng không đến mức gọi là thảm họa; ngược lại, nước Anh có vẻ đang tiến đến cuộc suy thoái sâu sắc nhất kể từ trận Đại băng giá năm 1709. Các nhà thiết lập lãi suất của Fed cho rằng tỷ lệ thất nghiệp sẽ không trở lại mức trước đại dịch là 4% cho đến năm 2023, còn các nhà phân tích tại Goldman Sachs nghĩ rằng nó sẽ chỉ trở lại vào năm 2025, mặc dù họ lạc quan rằng vắc xin sẽ sớm được phân phối rộng rãi. Bởi bản thân căn bệnh này có ảnh hưởng lâu dài, nên nền kinh tế khó tránh khỏi tiếp tục bị ảnh hưởng tiêu cực trong thời gian tới.

Tỷ trọng doanh thu của cửa hàng tiện lợi trên tổng quy mô ngành bán lẻ của Việt Nam vẫn đang ở mức thấp so với các nước trong khu vực để ngỏ dư địa tăng trưởng còn lớn. Bên cạnh đó, sự bùng nổ của thương mại điện tử và công nghệ áp dụng trong các cửa hàng, thay đổi thói quen người tiêu dùng đang trở thành ưu thế giúp kênh hiện đại lấy dần thị phần của kênh truyền thống. Theo nhận định của Deloitte, sự mở rộng điểm bán hàng vật lý sẽ là điểm quan trọng đối với các chuỗi để phát triển chiến lược đa kênh, giúp quản lý một cách liền mạch trải nghiệm người dùng.

Dấu hiệu rủi ro – Risk signals:

Vẫn là thói quen tiền mặt… và mở rộng tràn lan dịch vụ thanh toán, thiếu quy hoạch phát triển tổng thể…

Nơi mà thuyết “bàn tay vô hình” [Adam Smith] chưa và sẽ không bao giờ hiện hữu…

xxx – npl

<Week …>

The recovery was slowly taking place… but extremely asymmetrical…

Main events:

The worst day of the Covid-19 epidemic, at least from an economic perspective, was Good Friday. On April 10, the blockade in many countries had been culminated, including a ban on everyone leaving their homes and stopping all activities. Global GDP that day was 20% lower than it would have been without the epidemic.

According to the IDC report in 2020, in 10 countries in Asia TBD, Vietnam was second only to China and South Korea in the growth rate of e-wallets (CAGR e-wallet growth in the period 2017-2022 reached 67%), and ranked 3rd after Japan and Malaysia in terms of speed of development debit card. In particular, the report on the new era of digital payments of IDC and NTT Data published in early 2020 showed that in Asia, Vietnam had the lowest rate of non-cash payments, just over each Philippines. The cash payment rate in Vietnam was currently at 80%, while it was 68% in Indonesia, was 78% in Japan, was 60% in Thailand, was 34% in China and 36% in Korea, in developed countries such as US, it was 30%, or the UK was 25% and Sweden was 15%. With more than 52% of the population using the internet and accessing smartphones daily, Gen Z (those born after 2000) and millennials (those born after 1980 to early 2,000) were becoming the young forces driving digital consumption trends in Vietnam. The above figures showed that Vietnam still had a lot of space to develop the noncash payments market.

When the race to “burn cash” of Vietnamese e-commerce sites was somewhat cooled because the market had shaped quite clearly, the focus of attention as well as investment capital flows had shifted to other segments that were fiercely competitive such as payment/ e-wallet and car calling, food delivery. The three main players in the market were Grab, Go-Viet and be loss totaling VND 4,900 billion in 2019. Besides, 2 applications specializing in food delivery were Baemin and Now also lost more than VND 1,200 billion.

With Southeast Asia’s fastest growing middle class, Vietnam was in a period of extraordinary retail growth. According to the analysis, this trend was continuing in the future, when Vietnam had a relatively young demographic and spending on consumption accounts for a large proportion. The expansion of the $180 billion retail cake in 2020 comes with its internal components, for which the Convenience Store model was one of the bright lights. The race to open convenience stores 24/7 was increasingly promoted, but at the moment most were still concentrated in the big cities of HcmC and Hanoi.

Why is it affected:

So far, governments had lifted the blockades, allowing economies to begin to recover. Analysts say third-quarter global GDP would grow by about 7% compared to the second quarter. It seemed that the global economy would recover in a V-shape, but it was still a long time before the world could return to normal. Governments continued to implement social expansion measures to prevent the virus. These reduced output – when forcing fewer diners to a restaurant at a time, or banning spectators from participating in sports arenas. People were still worried about getting infected. The economic insecurity of both consumers and businesses was nearing record levels – and that had been one of the reasons companies hesitate to invest. Global retail sales had recovered to pre-epidemic levels since July, according to research by JPMorgan Chase. Armed with $2 trillion in cash from governments since the virus attack, consumers around the world had hoarded plenty of things to be able to stay home more often, from laptops to dumbbells to exercise in their spare time. However, service activity was much lower than before the epidemic, largely because such industries were vulnerable when people no longer gather. The number of diners in restaurants remained 30-40% lower than normal worldwide, according to data from OpenTable, a booking platform. The number of scheduled flights had been as only half that of before the epidemic.

Unlike China, the e-wallet market was almost pre-shaped for wechat and Alipay, Vietnam’s e-wallet market was fragmented, users using wallets while there would be more promotions for them than used as a regular cash substitute. Therefore, the battle to burn cash to gain market share of e-wallets seemed to last no end. Currently most e-wallets were associated with the ecosystem of giants. For example, ZaloPay connected to VNG’s Zalo ecosystem, Airpay connected to the Shopee and NOW ecosystems, Moca was part of Grab’s ecosystem, only MoMo and Payoo were single-code traders. Electronic payment in Vietnam still relied on COD (collection), IDC research indicated a slowdown in COD form as of 2022, due to the seamless payment of new forms such as e-wallets or credit and debit cards. The development of e-commerce had forced e-commerce sites to make efforts to support many payment options, by collaborating with various payment providers. IDC believed that it had been necessary to combine efforts from both the private and public sectors to increase the use of electronic payments to reduce the use of cash in Vietnam. According to IDC, mobile wallets would thrive in the period 2022-2030 in Vietnam, especially for younger generations of smartphone payments. Therefore, to catch up with the trend in the coming time, e-wallets were constantly racing to expand new customers and retain old customers.

With the beginning of a ride-booking service, Grab had developed into a super app with a range of integrated services such as ride-out, food ordering, shipping, bill payment… With the addition of three heavyweight competitors from the end of 2018, Go-Viet, be Group and Baemin (food delivery only), Grab’s 2019 loss had doubled to approximately VND 1,700 billion. However, it was worth noting that Grab’s loss had been only equivalent to the loss of 1.682 billion of Go-Viet (now renamed Gojek Vietnam) and not much more than the loss of 1,500 billion of be Group. The loss of all 3 equally while the two competitors were more modest in scale, offering fewer services (Go-Viet has no car calls, no food delivery) showed the overwhelmingness of Grab. Revenue figured partly demonstrate this: Grab’s revenue in 2019 reached 3.382 billion while Go-Viet only reached 22 billion and be reached 456 billion. More than VND 1,300 billion in gross profit from its business had helped Grab significantly offset the ongoing promotional costs to attract users.

From 2012 to the end of 2018, the number of convenience stores nationwide had been 4 times. Data from Deloitte’s research report at the end of 2018 showed that foreign brands accounted for 70% of the market share of convenience store channels compared to only 30% of domestic businesses. However, smaller branches were the main bright point: convenience stores operate 24/7 with differences located at non-stop operating times, focusing mainly on food and drink sales, and are a favorite place for young people as well as night workers.

Key trends:

Goldman Sachs bank calculations showed that social expansion measured continue to reduce global GDP by 7-8% – perfectly in line with what The Economist had said in April when it set out the term “90% economy” to describe what had happened when the blockade was lifted. Although the global economy was operating at a capacity of about nine-tenths, however, there were many differences between sectors and countries. The rate of differentiated growth during recessions was common, but the scale of this year’s decline in output meaned that the difference in growth rates between countries had been enormous. Some economists argued that the huge gap between countries was a statistical illusion, reflecting different methods of calculating GDP figures; but the impact was small – much of the drop in output came from the private sector. Some other countries might balance the blockade measures without negatively affecting GDP. That could help bring the world closer to the “95% economy“. The OECD expected global GDP to recover further this year. Many may believe that a vaccine, if it could be used extensively enough, would help things get back to normal. But there would surely be “scars“. Companies were not wanting to invest today would mean less capital in the future. Realming excess resources to more productive businesses would take a long time.

In 2019, Grab, Go-Viet and Be trio lost approximately VND 4,900 billion – 3 times more than in 2018; this was partly due to Go-Viet’s operation from the fourth quarter to December 2018. After just over a year in the market, Go-Viet and Be’s accumulated losses had reached VND 4,350 billion – greater than Grab’s losses after 6 years in Vietnam. Officially entering the market from 2019, Baemin food delivery service from Korea also lost up to VND 570 billion equally compared to Foody/Now’s loss of VND 650 billion.

The competition in the 24/7 convenience store segment in Vietnam was as fierce and attractive as any business war; but a common feature, all were suffering losses in exchange for coverage and market share. Circle K was currently the largest player in the market with nearly 400 stores, concentrated in two cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Launched in Vietnam in late 2008, the American convenience store chain had become familiar with generation Z or Millennials. Just buy any item, you would have space to sit at work, full wifi and cool air conditioning, had food whenever hungry… Since the close of financial report 2018 to date, the convenience chain had increased by 100 stores. Immediately after, Family Mart also showed its strength when entering Vietnam in 2009 in a joint venture with Phu Thai Group JSC. With only about 130 stores, but revenue in the last year reached 1,360 billion. This was the most impressive number of retail business units 24/7 in Vietnam. Gross margin had remained stable for many years now, reaching over 26%. Losses were gradually decreasing to VND50 billion in 2019. By the end of 2013, this cooperation ended. Family Mart rebuilt the empire, while Phu Thai spun up its own retail brand named B’s Mart. The peak of this chain is in 2017 with revenue of VND 690 billion, but went down in the last two years. Ministop, the retail chain of Aeon Group (Japan) last year achieved revenue of VND 994 billion, loss of VND 141 billion; or like 7-Eleven, a leading brand in this field to join Vietnam from 2017 also quickly increased the loss to 107 billion. It had had to also be added that the revenue growth of 7-Eleven was very fast, bringing about 415 billion last year, 2.2 times the previous year. Another name, G25, a Korean brand operated by Son Kim Group reached nearly 200 billion VND in revenue in 2019, but a loss of VND 67 billion. Shop&Go was among the early brands that had to sell themselves to VinCommerce last year for just $1. In the last year of single operation, this chain achieved revenue of VND 162 billion, down 1/3. The loss increased to the highest of VND 49 billion, accumulated losses of VND 93 billion.

What comes next:

The OECD’s September 16 report said the growth gap between the best and worst-growing countries in the G7 group by 2020 was expected to be 6.7 percentage points, much larger than the last global recession a decade ago. Among major economies, only China was scaling up by 2020. Some countries, such as the U.S. and South Korea, face recession but not to the point of calling it catastrophic; By contrast, England appeared to be on the way to its deepest recession since the Great Ice Age of 1709. Fed rate-setting analysts said the unemployment rate would not return to pre-epidemic levels of 4% until 2023, while analysts at Goldman Sachs thought it would only return in 2025, though they were optimistic that the vaccine would soon be widely distributed. Because the disease itself had a long-term effect, the inevitable economy continued to be negatively affected in the future.

The proportion of sales of convenience stores on the total size of Vietnam’s retail industry was still low compared to other countries in the region to open up large growth. In addition, the explosion of e-commerce and technology applied in stores, changing consumer habits was becoming the advantage that helped modern channels gradually take the market share of traditional channels. According to Deloitte, the expansion of physical selling points would be an important point for chains to develop a multi-channel strategy, helping to seamlessly manage the user experience.

Risk signals:

It was still a cash habit… and rampant expansion of payment services, lack of overall development planning…

Where the “invisible hand” theory [Adam Smith] had not and would never exist…

xxx – npl

Share – [THĐP Translation™] Vì sao buồn chán, sao nhãng và trì hoãn lại thiết yếu cho cuộc sống của bạn — Triết Học Đường Phố 2.0

(1200 chữ, 5 phút đọc) Sự tập trung là một nghịch lý – trong nó chứa đựng cả sự sao nhãng. Cả hai cùng cộng sinh; chúng là tâm thu và tâm trương của ý thức.

[THĐP Translation™] Vì sao buồn chán, sao nhãng và trì hoãn lại thiết yếu cho cuộc sống của bạn — Triết Học Đường Phố 2.0

Hầu hết chúng ta đều không có đủ thì giờ để lãng phí, dù đã cố gắng áp dụng bao nhiêu kỹ thuật quản lý thời gian đi chăng nữa. Tuy nhiên, năng suất lao động cũng đi kèm với cái giá của nó: Có được những giây phút nghỉ ngơi là vô cùng hữu ích. Chúng ta chiến đấu chống lại nỗi buồn chán, sự sao nhãng và thói trì hoãn vào mọi thời điểm, nhưng điều này không có nghĩa là bạn nên loại bỏ chúng hoàn toàn.

Nghe có vẻ hơi khác thường khi khuyên ai đó bắt đầu trở nên lười biếng, nhưng trong thực tế, việc này quan trọng đối với sức khỏe não bộ cũng như những giấc ngủ vậy. Trạng thái buồn chán, chần chừ hay sao nhãng đều hỗ trợ bộ não thực hiện chức năng của nó. Từ đó, bạn hiểu những quyết định của mình rõ hơn. Bạn học dễ vào hơn. Bạn thậm chí còn thúc đẩy sự sáng tạo và hiệu suất làm việc của mình nữa. Hãy cùng quan sát bộ-ba-bỏ-bê này từ cả hai góc nhìn của khoa học và sáng tạo.

NỖI BUỒN CHÁN THÚC ĐẨY SỰ SÁNG TẠO VÀ NHỮNG HÀNH VI TÍCH CỰC NHƯ THẾ NÀO?

Nếu hàng triệu những quyển sách thiếu nhi có cho thấy được gì đó, thì sự buồn chán vẫn luôn được biết đến là nguồn gốc của mọi hư hỏng (ND: Như người Việt có câu “Nhàn cư vi bất thiện”). Tuy nhiên, bằng nhiều cách, nỗi buồn chán lại là tấm màng lọc cần thiết cho chúng ta mỗi khi phải đối diện với một lượng thông tin quá lớn. Tờ báo New York Times giải thích như sau:

“Một số chuyên gia cho rằng mọi người có lý do chính đáng khi lọc bớt việc, và nỗi buồn chán dần trở thành một công cụ để phân loại thông tin – một tấm lọc rác tăng dần độ nhạy theo thời gian. Nghiên cứu trong nhiều lĩnh vực, bao gồm thần kinh học và giáo dục, cho thấy việc rơi vào trạng thái tê liệt cho phép não bộ tái thiết lập thế giới bên ngoài bằng nhiều phương cách có thể rất hiệu quả và sáng tạo, ít nhất là cũng thường xuyên như những lần nó gây rắc rối.”

Chính sự buồn chán này đã được nhà viết kịch Graham Linehan đón nhận như một phần trong quá trình sáng tạo của ông. Trong một buổi phỏng vấn với The Guardian, Linehan miêu tả quá trình của mình:

“Tôi phải dùng mọi chương trình để ngắt internet, ép bản thân trở nên chán chường, bởi cảm giác buồn chán là một phần thiết yếu của việc sáng tác, và internet thì rất khó khiến ta nhàm chán. Có quá nhiều thứ thú vị để làm, nó làm tôi trở nên sáng tạo hơn, nhưng nó cũng khiến tôi viết được ít hơn. Hiện giờ tôi đang cố gắng để cân bằng việc này. Khó lắm đấy.”

Tạp chí Psychology Today cũng ghi nhận rằng, nỗi buồn chán chính là bước đệm cho những điều to lớn và tốt đẹp hơn:

“Một khi ta mở lòng với ý tưởng rằng nỗi buồn chán có thể là bước đầu cho năng suất sáng tạo, nó sẽ nhanh chóng trở nên rõ ràng khi những giây phút chán ngắt ấy thực chất là lúc tâm trí đang trải lên giá vẽ tâm lý của bạn một tấm vải trắng, sẵn sàng cho bạn bắt đầu công việc tô vẽ.”

Luận điểm này cho rằng: Sự buồn chán mang đến cho bạn một khởi đầu mới mẻ (blank slate) để làm việc. Điều này cũng được nghiên cứu của Đại học Limerick ủng hộ, cho rằng nỗi buồn chán có thể dẫn đến những hành vi có lợi ích cho xã hội, bởi nó hướng bạn đến những hoạt động có ý nghĩa hơn. Nỗi buồn trầm kha có thể là một dấu hiệu của trầm cảm, nhưng tách khỏi thế giới xung quanh một ít mỗi ngày là một cách hay giúp thấu hiểu nó.

SAO NHÃNG VÀ TẬP TRUNG HOẠT ĐỘNG CÙNG NHAU NHƯ THẾ NÀO?

Buồn chán là một chuyện, nhưng một trong những tác dụng phụ của một vài kiểu buồn chán lại là tác nhân khác giết chết hiệu suất lao động của bạn: sự sao nhãng và mất tập trung. Chúng ta dễ dàng bị phân tâm đến mức có hẳn một hệ sinh thái các ứng dụng và tiện ích mở rộng trình duyệt được thiết kế chỉ để giúp bạn giảm bớt sao nhãng. Tuy nhiên, phân tâm lại là một mối lợi đối với tư duy sáng tạo, bởi nó cho phép bạn “think outside the box” – suy nghĩ vượt thoát khuôn mẫu.

Tạp chí khoa học Scientific American giải thích:

“Những vấn đề chuyên sâu yêu cầu lối tư duy không theo lối mòn. Đây là lúc tính nhạy cảm với các tác nhân sao nhãng có thể mang đến lợi ích. Ngoài những lúc cao điểm, sự tập trung của chúng ta thấp hơn, nhờ vậy ta có thể lưu tâm đến một khoảng thông tin rộng hơn. Tầm nhìn rộng này cho phép ta tiếp cận với nhiều phương án và những cách diễn giải đa dạng, qua đó thúc đẩy những sáng kiến và nhận thức sâu sắc. Thật vậy, [nghiên cứu] chỉ ra rằng những người tham gia thành công hơn trong việc giải quyết các vấn đề chuyên sâu khi được kiểm tra tại những thời điểm không phải là tối ưu với họ.”

Sự sao nhãng không chỉ cần thiết cho các loại hình sáng tạo hay với những người giải quyết vấn đề, nó còn rất quan trọng đối với sự tập trung của bạn. Tạp chí NY Magazine giải thích rằng:

“Sự tập trung là một nghịch lý – trong nó chứa đựng cả sự sao nhãng. Cả hai cùng cộng sinh; chúng là tâm thu và tâm trương của ý thức. Sự chú ý bắt nguồn từ tiếng La-tinh có nghĩa là “căng ra” hoặc “với tới”, còn sự sao nhãng có nghĩa là “kéo rời”. Chúng ta cần đến cả hai. Trong những hình thái cực độ của chúng, sự chú ý và tập trung thậm chí còn có thể đảo chiều và hoà trộn vào nhau.”

Nghiên cứu của tạp chí Journal of Neuroscience hỗ trợ cho quan điểm trên của NY Magazine, cho rằng việc mơ mộng giúp phát triển sự chú ý bằng cách thiết lập nên những liên kết thần kinh tầm xa. Nói tóm lại, việc bị sao nhãng và để cho tâm trí lang thang có thể khiến bạn trở nên thông minh hơn và tập trung tốt hơn trong dài hạn. Bạn dĩ nhiên không nên ngừng lại giữa chừng chỉ để lướt web khi năng suất của mình đang thăng hoa, nhưng nếu bắt gặp bản thân đang sao nhãng, bạn không hẳn lúc nào cũng phải chống lại nó.

•••

(Trích đoạn 1200 chữ đầu tiên trong bài viết full 2500 chữ đã xuất bản trong tạp chí Aloha volume 21. Đoạn sau bài viết nói về: Vì sao sự trì hoãn giúp bạn đưa ra những quyết định tốt hơn, sách Wait: The Art and Science of Delay, sách Trong chớp mắt: Sức mạnh của việc nghĩ mà không nghĩ của Malcolm Gladwell, nghiên cứu từ Columbia University, làm sao để ngưng hoạt động mà không biến mình thành một kẻ lười biếng…)

Tác giả: Thorin Klosowski
Biên dịch: Nô Bi Tin

Share – Bài học của mối quan hệ Twinflame (Linh hồn song sinh) — Triết Học Đường Phố 2.0

(2639 chữ, 10.5 phút đọc) Linh hồn song sinh đã “biết” nhau từ rất lâu, thậm chí đã có cam kết trải nghiệm nhiều kiếp sống cùng nhau. 20 more words

Bài học của mối quan hệ Twinflame (Linh hồn song sinh) — Triết Học Đường Phố 2.0

1. TWIN FLAME LÀ GÌ?

Twin flame là khái niệm giải thích về sự tương tác và kết nối giữa hai con người tương phản nhau về mọi góc độ trong một (hoặc nhiều) kiếp sống, để mỗi cá nhân hiểu về chính mình, về nhau, và về bản chất của thực tại. Hay nói cách khác, twin flame là một mối quan hệ thúc đẩy mãnh liệt quá trình giác ngộ của một người thông qua tình yêu. Nếu soulmate (tri kỷ) xuất hiện dưới nhiều hình thức khác nhau như bạn bè, anh em, mẹ con, bố con, người yêu, v.v… thì twin flame chỉ xuất hiện dưới hình thức người yêu để sự kết nối giữa họ có thể xảy ra ở cả 3 tầng mức cơ thể, tâm trí và linh hồn. Dù là hai người yêu nhau nhưng giữa họ lại biểu diễn được tất cả các mối liên kết của tri kỷ. Họ vừa là bạn thân, là người tình, là gia đình và là bạn đời. Tuy nhiên, khi bóng tối bên trong họ chưa được thanh tẩy, hai người có thể biểu diễn mối quan hệ kẻ thù.

Bản chất linh hồn (soul) đã là một sự trọn vẹn và cân bằng, nhưng khi trải nghiệm cấu trúc cơ thể và tâm trí giới hạn, linh hồn đi vào hai điểm nhìn tương phản, thể hiện tính nhị nguyên của cuộc đời. Đó là hai thái cực âm dương. Twin flame biểu diễn hai thái cực đó và hai người trong mối quan hệ này trải nghiệm những bài học đối xứng tuyệt vời. Nhiệm vụ của cả hai là nhìn vượt lên sự lưỡng cực để thấy sự hài hòa hoàn hảo bên trong chính mình. Thay vì sống bằng phần nửa góc nhìn, bằng lớp vỏ bề ngoài liên tục dao động biến đổi thì mỗi người cần sống bằng một con mắt toàn thiện và bằng tâm hồn an bình bất biến.

Twin flame thường được dịch ra theo tiếng Việt là “linh hồn song sinh”, nhưng bạn cũng có thể hiểu nó theo nghĩa “linh hồn gương soi”, người này là tấm gương phản chiếu người kia rõ ràng nhất. Hay nói cách khác, ta nhìn thấy chính mình khi ở trong mối quan hệ đó, cả mặt đen tối và tươi sáng nhất.

Một ví dụ nhỏ về điều này đó là giả sử bạn thích nói chuyện huyên thuyên tâm sự tất tần tật mọi thứ thì đối phương lại rất kiệm lời. Khi nhìn theo góc độ tiêu cực, điều đó khiến bạn cảm thấy mình không được quan tâm đồng cảm và bị tổn thương khi có kỳ vọng về sự phản hồi tương đương. Trong khi, người kia cảm thấy bạn nhiều lời phiền phức và ảnh hưởng đến không gian yên bình của họ. Còn theo khía cạnh tích cực, sự tĩnh lặng của người này sẽ giúp người kia biết tiết chế tâm tưởng và ngược lại, sự hoạt ngôn của người này giúp người kia dễ dàng cởi mở tấm lòng. Cùng một câu chuyện nhưng nó sẽ thể hiện hai mặt sáng tối đối với cả hai người. Mỗi người đều cần nhận ra và học bài học của riêng mình để mối quan hệ trở nên lành mạnh và tích cực nhất có thể.

Ngoài ra còn rất nhiều những sự tương phản của cả hai trong đời sống như ngày tháng năm sinh, vẻ bề ngoài, lối ăn uống, cách làm việc, các mối quan hệ, hoàn cảnh gia đình, môi trường sống trước khi hai người gặp gỡ, khiếm khuyết hay điểm nhạy cảm trên cơ thể, những nơi họ đã từng đặt chân, những ký ức, thậm chí là ngưỡng âm thanh và lượng ánh sáng mà mỗi người thấy thoải mái khi tiếp xúc, v.v…

2. DẤU HIỆU NHẬN BIẾT MỘT MỐI QUAN HỆ TWIN FLAME

Đa phần những mô tả về mối quan hệ này thường là một sự mãnh liệt và sâu sắc tột độ, nhưng khả năng một người gặp được “nửa còn lại” của chính mình thì không cao trong dân số toàn cầu. Xác suất này chỉ xảy ra với cặp đôi có cùng một mục đích thức tỉnh, cùng một ngưỡng nhận thức (thường ở tần số cao), được hưởng ân sủng của God. Họ là những người rất gần đỉnh tháp năng lượng Hawkins hoặc đang vươn tới đó một cách mãnh liệt. Nếu những điều kiện này không đủ thì tối thiểu một trong hai người sẽ không chịu được áp lực năng lượng của mối quan hệ twin flame mà dẫn đến cảnh chia lìa. Gặp mặt nhưng không gặp lòng.

Có một số dấu hiệu nhận biết mình đang ở trong một mối quan hệ twin flame:

● Hai người thường có trực giác về nhau, cảm nhận được người kia đang ổn hay không dù không gặp mặt, biết nhau cần gì mà không cần phải nói ra. Thậm chí, twin flame thường được báo trước về sự gặp mặt vật lý đầu tiên giữa hai người thông qua giấc mơ.
● Twin flame thường phát ngôn ra cùng một câu, nói chuyện về cùng một chủ đề mà không hề có tính toán trước đó và thường hay trải nghiệm sự đồng nhịp (synchronicity) và đối xứng đến hoàn hảo trong cuộc sống.
● Họ chia sẻ rất nhiều sở thích và sự quan tâm giống nhau, chỉ khác nhau là cách tiếp cận trái nghịch.
● Có một lực hút mãnh liệt giữa hai người kéo họ về gần nhau dù ở cách xa nhau nửa vòng trái đất hay trong những môi trường văn hóa, tư tưởng hoàn toàn đối lập. Đồng thời, tồn tại một lực đẩy tương đương giữa cặp đôi này, có tác dụng nhận biết khi nào góc tối (ego) của mỗi người chưa được ý thức và gây thử thách cho mối quan hệ, hoặc nó giúp hai người có sự tự do, độc lập riêng mà không can thiệp vào thế giới của nhau.
● Người này là tác nhân khuếch đại ý thức của người kia, giúp nhau nhận ra được những góc khuất trong nội tâm của chính mình. Đôi khi, sự khuếch đại này rất dữ dội và khiến họ bị choáng váng hay căng thẳng tột độ. Nhìn chung, mối quan hệ này rất dữ dội lúc ban đầu. Nếu đi qua được thì sau đó là phần thưởng tuyệt vời số một, là tình yêu, sự an toàn và yên bình tuyệt đối.
● Hai người thường có cùng một yếu điểm hay yếu điểm đối lập nhau, người này bù lại cho người kia, người này nhìn người kia để thấy bài học của mình.
● Cả hai mang rất nhiều điểm tương phản, đối nghịch đến bất ngờ, và thường là những điểm quan trọng để cùng nhau cộng hưởng nên bài học của mỗi người.
● Khi ở bên cạnh nhau, twin flame cảm thấy như là “nhà”, đó là sự an bình và tĩnh tâm cao độ. Người ta vẫn nói là khi gặp một nửa của mình thì ta bồn chồn, tim đập chân run, toát mồ hôi hột. Nhưng đó là biểu hiện của mối quan hệ trả nghiệp. Còn với mối quan hệ twin flame, sự gặp nhau giữa hai người là sự cân bằng hoàn hảo của hai thái cực âm dương nên sự bình an, tự nhiên và thân thuộc chính là biểu hiện rõ ràng nhất. Linh hồn song sinh đã “biết” nhau từ rất lâu, thậm chí đã có cam kết trải nghiệm nhiều kiếp sống cùng nhau. Giống như linh hồn thể hiện sự vĩ đại của mình bằng cách chơi trò trốn tìm trong luân hồi. Họ tìm thấy nhau bằng tình yêu đích thực và họ là minh chứng của tình yêu vượt thời gian. Nếu tồn tại bất an trong mối quan hệ này thì đó là khi hai người vẫn sử dụng phần tối của mình để tương tác. Trải nghiệm này khi lên cao trào thì tồi tệ như địa ngục. Nó là thứ động lực đau khổ mãnh liệt nhất thúc đẩy hạt mầm tình yêu bên trong lộ ra để cân bằng lại.

Theo trải nghiệm cá nhân, mình cho rằng việc biết về những dấu hiệu này không quan trọng và triệt để bằng cách thực hành để nhận ra “người đó.” Vì những nhận biết về mặt trí năng mang một điểm tiêu cực là khiến một người sống ảo tưởng, vơ nhận những mối quan hệ trả nghiệp thông thường là mối quan hệ twin flame và không học được bài học của mối quan hệ đó. Đấy là chưa kể nó khiến một người dễ hướng ra bên ngoài, quan tâm để ý người kia nhiều hơn, trong khi việc họ cần làm là hướng vào bên trong, tập trung vào ốc đảo tự thân. Khi đã gọi là “linh hồn song sinh” thì bạn chỉ có thể tìm thấy ở ngay nơi linh hồn của chính mình chứ không phải ở bất kỳ nơi nào khác.

Một khi bạn nhận ra chính mình, tập đối diện với những góc tối bên trong, tự nâng cao ý thức, gần gũi với tâm linh đạo lý, bạn sẽ hiểu “một nửa” là gì. Lúc đó, “một nửa” sẽ tự động được hiện thực hóa ở trong một con người bằng xương bằng thịt để bạn có trải nghiệm cùng. Về cơ bản, linh hồn song sinh gặp nhau là để thúc đẩy quá trình bung nở của ý thức bằng mồi lửa tình yêu. Nên nếu bạn không có định hướng phát triển tâm hồn, hay không có khao khát về sự giác ngộ, dù có gặp được người kia thì hai bên cũng tự trượt ra khỏi nhau bởi kế hoạch thức tỉnh triệt để dành cho cặp đôi không đủ điều kiện để vận hành. Mối quan hệ của hai người như một quả thông rụng mà không bao giờ tách nở các cánh để hạt mầm được phát tán vì nó đã rơi quá sâu xuống hố đất và không nhận đủ ánh nắng mặt trời.

3. BÀI HỌC TÌNH YÊU CỦA TWIN FLAME

Nhờ sự hấp dẫn và “gặp lại” nhau của hai thái cực đối lập mà hai người ở trong mối quan hệ đặc biệt này được trải nghiệm sự cân bằng tự nhiên và ngọn lửa dâng trào của tình yêu. Tình yêu chứ không phải sự quyến luyến, mê đắm, mù mịt. Trước đó, họ sẽ trải nghiệm sự choáng váng và chống cự kịch liệt khi xu hướng của chính mình bị hòa tan mà sụp đổ, hoặc nhìn thấy một điều gì đó được vận hành theo cách mà mình đã từng cho là không thể. Cả hai chạm tới sự giới hạn của chính mình, vươn tới nhau và những điều tuyệt vời bằng một cú phóng đức tin, chứ không thể bằng lý luận hay kinh nghiệm xưa cũ. Ý thức của họ sẽ được thúc đẩy từ tầm mức cá nhân lên tầng mức đại đồng và chạm tới những chân lý quan trọng. Bài học của linh hồn song sinh hoàn toàn khác bài học của những mối quan hệ nghiệp quả. Nó mãnh liệt, hùng tráng và vĩ đại hơn rất nhiều. Chỉ những cá nhân nào có đủ phẩm hạnh và sức chịu đựng thì mới có thể đi qua được.

Tình yêu vô điều kiện chính là bài học lớn nhất và quan trọng nhất của mối quan hệ twin flame nói riêng và của toàn bộ loài người nói chung. Khi mỗi người nhìn thấy bóng tối của chính mình, lúc đó ý thức đã hiển lộ. Hoặc nói theo cách khác, sự cực đoan và dữ dội khi hai năng lượng đối lập va chạm là môi trường chiết xuất hoàn hảo cho sự cân bằng và bình an. Trong mối quan hệ này, tình yêu của hai người chắc chắn sẽ chiến thắng, nhưng họ phải cùng đưa ra quyết định để tình yêu thắng thế. Nếu không, tâm trí không được thuần phục sẽ lên làm ông chủ và gây ra những đau khổ khôn lường.

Twin flame là mối quan hệ thúc đẩy dọn dẹp gốc rễ vô minh của con người, và bản ngã sẽ quẫy đạp điên cuồng khi nó đối mặt với tình yêu. Giai đoạn đầu của mối quan hệ này thường rất cực đoan, thử thách và áp lực. Sự nén ép ở cường độ và tần suất rất cao, nó sinh ra cả từ bên trong và bên ngoài. Chỉ những người nào trực tiếp trải nghiệm mới thấy sự dữ dội của nó. Để tình yêu được hiển lộ, cả hai cần biết quy phục, phó thác cho cuộc đời dẫn lối và gỡ giải những khó khăn. Khi đó, sợi dây kết nối giữa hai người sẽ được thắt chặt, mối quan hệ với chính mình cũng được vững vàng và đôi uyên ương nhận được ân ủng từ Thượng Đế. Chính God sẽ là người trực tiếp điều phối tình yêu này chứ không phải ý muốn cá nhân của cả hai. Và cuộc hành trình ấy sẽ kỳ diệu không khác gì một câu chuyện cổ tích.

Trước khi chạm tới được tình yêu vô điều kiện, cặp đôi cần hoàn thiện bài học cá nhân ở hai thái cực âm dương đó là kỷ luật và quy phục. Mỗi người sẽ tự cân bằng chính mình, cùng nhau biểu lộ điệu vũ của mặt trăng và mặt trời, và trở thành minh chứng tình yêu sống động cho người đời.

Thông thường, việc bắt đầu mối quan hệ twin flame sẽ diễn ra đồng thời với quá trình thức tỉnh của một người. Mỗi biến đổi tích cực bên trong bạn sẽ là sự hiển lộ của tinh thần cân bằng và đối xứng trong mối quan hệ. Hay nói cách khác, bạn càng hoàn thiện bao nhiêu, tình yêu càng nảy nở rõ ràng bấy nhiêu.

Mối quan hệ twin flame được biểu diễn trực quan nhất trong lá bài Tarot The Lovers, trong 4/7 nguyên lý Hermectic (tương ứng, tiết nhịp, đối cực, giới tính). Ở đâu có cân bằng, ở đó có thể được diễn tả theo cách nhìn về twin flame. Đây là một mối quan hệ con người thể hiện rõ ràng tính âm dương thần thánh của tự nhiên trên mọi tầng mức (thể xác, tâm trí và linh hồn). Chúng ta được trải nghiệm trực tiếp nguyên lý ấy và nhớ lại bản chất thiêng liêng của chính mình. Chính tình yêu đưa hai người tới sự giác ngộ, hay sự gắn bó sâu sắc với hành trình giác ngộ đưa ta tới tình yêu chân chính.

Tất nhiên, không phải twin flame mới là mối quan hệ tốt nhất và mọi mối quan hệ khác đều không đáng quan tâm. Bất kỳ mối liên kết nào bạn đang có trong cuộc sống đều là những gì cần phải diễn ra cho sự phát triển nhận thức của bạn. Hãy trân trọng, tận hưởng và biết ơn nó cũng như những con người bạn tiếp xúc mỗi ngày. Mỗi người xuất hiện đều là tấm gương phản ánh bạn, dù ít hay nhiều. Nếu bạn chú ý, bạn sẽ nhìn thấy và học hỏi được nhiều điều quan trọng trong đời. Và điều quan trọng nhất không phải là tìm thấy người yêu, mà là tìm thấy chính mình.

Tác giả: Vũ Thanh Hòa

Ẩm thực – The Best Wine Subscriptions, According to Suspicious Sommeliers

BY DANIEL VARGHESE

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How you can get your drink on, while supporting local wine purveyors.

TAILOR OF PANAMA Pierce Brosnan 2001

Covid tried to take away our right to pay $16 a glass for a biodynamic pet-nat at a our favorite brunch spot, but some genuinely good wine subscriptions have stepped into the breach, ensuring the pours continue at home. Now that everything from alcohol delivery to your toothbrush has pivoted to subscriptions, you know the drill: you pay the fee, the monthly/quarterly/biannual shipment arrives. But unlike toothbrushes, the world of wine is vast, there is a lot of bad wine out there, and signing on for wine subscriptions can feel like a bit of a trust fall. 

“Quality is hard to evaluate, because it can exist at any price point,” admitted Grant Reynolds, Wine Director of Parcelle (which has its own wine subscription) and author of a literal book on how to drink wine. When you don’t have a shop owner, a somm, or an obsessed friend to guide you, how do you Internet shop for wine? Descriptions blend together; labels are useless. “Some of the best wines in the world have trash labels, and there’s complete junk out there with great branding,” says Reynolds. And that only gets worse when it comes to wine subscriptions.

“The problem I see with most wine subscription services is that most of those wines [come from] made-up labels,” says Sally Mohr, a master sommelier and advanced sake educator. “The winery doesn’t exist—it’s just a name, it has no story, no history, no sense of place.” Which explains why all the sommeliers we spoke to avoided most of the wine subscriptions offered by direct-to-consumer vintners. Emily Wines, aptly named master sommelier for Cooper’s Hawk winery and restaurant group (which also offers its own wine subscription), went further: “I would avoid any subscriptions that are given through non-wine affiliated organizations. Wall Street Journal, National Geographic, etc.”

Helpfully, Alpana Singh, who became the youngest female master sommelier ever in 2003 (and still one of the few female somms of color), offers some advice on what you should look for in a trustworthy wine subscription. Specifically, these three things: 

1.  Access: “Are you able to get wines that aren’t normally available but are worth having?” There’s no point in paying the shipping fees if you’re getting the same stuff that’s at your corner wine shop.

2. Information: “Am I going to learn something?” In other words, the wine subscription service should offer the details you need to know about what you’re drinking, and a selection that’s fresh and interesting.

3. Authority: “Who is doing the choosing? Can they be trusted?” Many of the best wine subscriptions are led by a top-flight sommelier or a trusted shop.    

Which led us to the seven expert-sanctioned wine subscriptions below. There’s a mix of affordable and big-money; subs that are big on European classics and some that like to get funky. All are backed by trusted somms, wineries, or shops. There’s no “best” wine subscription, but there’s bound to be one that’ll deliver the bottles you’re hoping for.

The Most Adventurous Wine Club: Viticole Wine Club

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$100Vitcole WineBuy Now

Cadence: Monthly

Cost per delivery: $59 or $99

Average bottle value: $25-$50

Why it’s great: Well, first of all, because you’re getting wine that sells for upwards of $60 per bottle. (That’s if you join the step-up Tier II version; Tier I bottles average $25-35/each.) Viticole Wine Club is the brain child of Brian McClintic, a master sommelier who’s focused on organically farmed wines from around the world—and extremely thorough about his sourcing. Each monthly shipment includes two bottles of wine (and the occasional bottle of cider) that McClintic has thoroughly vetted. He posts reams of information about the wineries on Viticole’s website, and hosts a podcast interviewing some of the producers. “His passion is undeniable,” says Wines.

The Best Themed Wine Club: SommSelect

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SommSelect “Drink Like a Somm” Wine Club

$115Somm SelectBuy Now

Cadence: MonthlyWATCH2 Chainz Out the Most Expensivest GrillMore GQ Videos Most Popular

Cost per delivery: $99 or $199 (+$15 delivery fee for both) 

Average bottle value: $29, $49

Why it’s great: SommSelect’s three subscriptions are curated by Ian Cauble, who is one of the youngest people to ever been named a master sommelier, and recommended by Singh. The club’s “Drink Like a Somm” option—its base tier—includes four monthly bottles with a theme. Sometimes that’s as broad as “great sparkling wines,” sometimes all the bottles come from a specific region. What you lose in variety, you’ll gain in building knowledge each month. If you want a shipment that boosts the price per bottle and the variety, the company’s Somm Six package or Blind Six package—both $199/month—will hit the spot.

The California Love Wine Clubs: Scribe Viticultural Society

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Scribe Winery “Viticultural Society”

$150Scribe WineryBuy Now

Cadence: Quarterly

Cost per delivery: Varies, from $150 to $550 depending on tier

Average bottle value: Varies by delivery 

Why it’s great: Sonoma’s Scribe winery, founded and managed by a pair of brothers who are fourth-generation farmers, has been an indie wine darling for years now (and a coveted Instagram wine geek thirst-trap backdrop). For good reason. “They make some of the most diverse wines in California, from natural ‘pet-nat’ sparkling wine to crowd pleasing Cabernet,” says Reynolds. Scribe’s pricing is a little complicated: it offers quarterly deliveries of four, six, or eight bottles, with the cost depending on what’s sent. You’ll see per-bottle discounts between 15 percent and 30 percent (with the best value-per-bottle option being the 12-bottle plan, naturally)—and as a bonus, that discount carries over if you reorder more bottles outside the quarterly delivery.

The Best Club for Classic Wines: Kermit Lynch Adventurers Wine Club

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Kermit Lynch Adventurers Wine Club

$40Kermit LynchBuy Now

Cadence: Monthly

Cost per delivery: $39

Average bottle value: $20

Why it’s great: It’s almost understatement to say that Kermit Lynch is a legendary importer of French and Italian wine—one who even pioneered a better way to ship vino from Europe.  “Kermit Lynch has been importing wines with great finesse and elegance for decades,” says Wines. “I love his palate for wine and would be delighted to discover new wines along with him.” Compared to other wine clubs managed by master sommeliers, the Kermit Lynch Adventurers club is surprisingly affordable—$40 for two bottles is a really good deal. If you want access to more expensive bottles, the “Club Rogue” gets you two bottles for $70 and the Club Chevalier gets you six bottles for $250. 

The Best Wine Club For Home Cooks: Crunchy Red Fruit “The Circle” Wine Club

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Crunchy Red Fruit “The Circle” Subscription

$189Crunchy Red FruitBuy Now

Cadence: Every other month

Cost per delivery: $189

Average bottle value: $32

Why it’s great: Singh is also a fan of the Crunchy Red Fruit wine club, which is another that’s led by a singular sommelier. This time, that’s Jackson Rohrbaugh, who has been a master sommelier since 2017 and was a bartender at renowned Seattle restaurant Canlis for 10 years. The club’s shipments aren’t limited to red wine, but it generally focuses on wines from small-batch producers. Besides bottles, each shipment includes detailed info cards, suggested food pairings, and sometimes a little extra treat (like a coaster).

The Best Cheap Wine Subscription: Ferry Plaza “All Four” Wine Club

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Ferry Plaza “All Four” Level

$68Ferry Plaza Wine MerchantBuy Now

Cadence: Monthly

Cost per delivery: $68

Average bottle value: $17

Why it’s great: San Francisco-based Ferry Plaza, a giant shop in the Embarcadero also offers a bunch of wine subscriptions respected by Singh. Managed by master sommelier Peter Granoff and wine competition judge Debbie Zachareas, the subscriptions come in five different “levels”—one focused only on Cabernets, one focused on the Pacific Northwest, another for collectors—but the “All Four” level gets you the best value. Each shipment comes with information on the wines and cheese pairing suggestions. Hopefully your local cheesemonger is still up and running. 

The Best Big-Money Wine Subscription: Raj Parr Wine Club

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Raj Parr Wine Club

$500Raj ParrBuy Now

Cadence: BiannualMost Popular

Cost per delivery: $500

Average bottle value: $83

Why it’s great: If you don’t have a master sommelier best friend, getting into Rajat Parr’s club is the next best thing. Parr is one of the most celebrated sommelier’s in the world, who literally the book on wine. It’s called Secrets of the Sommeliers and it won a James Beard award in 2011.  The wine club is very expensive, but the wine is, obviously, both astoundingly good and the opposite of basic. “He’s curating some really interesting wines,” says Wines. “Both super traditional and really cutting edge from around the world.” And then there’s the big perk: members get Parr’s personal cell phone number to ask questions about new and vintage wines and get restaurant recommendations. This might explain why the club has a waiting list for membership. 

Four Other Wine Subscriptions You Could Consider

Fair warning: none of these wine subscription services were explicitly recommended by the sommeliers. But in our testing, all have proven to offer such a good value—especially their discounted introductory packages. The pitch with these four wine subscriptions is decent (probably not life-changing) wine at a solid price. There’s no shame in the affordable wine game!

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Winc Wine Subscription

$35WincBuy Now

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Firstleaf wine club introduction

$40FirstleafBuy Now

Both of these wine subscriptions start off newcomers with a quiz to gauge wine likes and dislikes, and then ship some algorithmically-suitable bottles. The simplicity is nice, but the results can feel random, like a Spotify Discover playlist. Winc and Firstleaf seem best for the not-so-choosy who just want to keep their cabinets stocked.  

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Wine Insiders Wine Club

$90Wine InsidersBuy Now

Wine Insider’s shipments are as random as those from Winc and Firstleaf, but you get more of the randomness: 15 bottles for just $89. With the math that much in your favor, it’s a guarantee you won’t love every bottle you pull out of the massive box plopped on your doorstep. But you won’t have to worry about running dry—and you might stumble across a real winner. 

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Astor Wines Wine Club

$450Astor Wine and SpiritsBuy Now

Astor Wines and Spirits in Manhattan is a long-standing, cavernous ode to drinking. The store’s staff is knowledgable, and the selection well-vetted. The wine club’s a bit clunky though. Monthly shipments are massive, at 12 bottles each, and you need to commit to at least three months at a time. The monthly fee is steep, but the per-bottle price is solid (about $12 each), making Astor’s subscription a smart move if you’re pouring a glass or two every single day (no judgments) or looking to stock a cellar on a budget.

Ẩm thực – How Much Protein You Should Actually Eat in One Meal, According to Experts

BY CHEYENNE BUCKINGHAM

Full link: https://www.eatthis.com/protein-per-meal/?utm_source=nsltr&utm_medium=email&utm_content=grab-and-go&utm_campaign=etntNewsletter

We called on two health professionals to detail how much protein you should be eating per meal so you don’t overdo it.

protein sources

Protein is one of the four macronutrients that you need in your everyday diet in order to prevent infection and injury. Everyone’s protein intake looks different depending on various factors, including age and physical activity level. However, there’s one aspect that remains consistent, and that’s the amount that should be consumed in one sitting. Gabrielle Mancella, a registered dietitian at Orlando Health, and Cedrina Calder, MD, Preventive Medicine Doctor, and health and wellness expert, explain exactly how much protein you should eat per meal so that you get an idea on how not to overdo it.

So, how much protein is too much for one meal? Here’s what the experts had to say.

How much protein should the average person consume per meal? In other words, how much protein is too much?

Both Calder and Mancella say that no more than 30 grams of protein per meal is ideal because excess protein will be excreted through urine.

“Excess protein consumption in roughly amounts greater than 30 grams per hour are not stored,” says Mancella. “Protein is never stored, and it is never meant to be used for immediate energy.”

By contrast, carbs and fat can be stored in the body for later use if eaten in excess. Have you ever heard of someone carbo-loading before a big race? The body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, which is then stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver. So when you’re engaging in intense physical activity, your body utilizes these glycogen stores so that you are able to withstand fatigue and finish the workout.

Protein works differently. Mancella explains that eating protein will not yield immediate energy like fat and carbs will, so the body redirects metabolic processes in order to create energy. The kidneys will then remove any excess protein in the blood. If excess protein is consumed regularly, the kidneys may become stressed. Calder says those with kidney disease may fare better avoiding eating a high protein diet.

“When we consume protein in excess, this adds more work for the kidneys to filter this through the body in order for protein to not build up within the protein,” says Mancella.

So eating a meal that contains more than 30 grams of protein is not only a waste, but it also can harm your kidneys long-term. Trying to eat a high protein diet could also put you at risk of weight gain as well, and not in muscle mass. There are four calories per gram of protein. It’s important to monitor how many calories are going in versus how much is burned through physical activity.

“With regard to fat gain, the human body will store any excess calories as fat,” says Calder. “In other words, if eating a high protein diet increases your daily caloric intake to the point where it is higher than the daily caloric output, you will gain fat as a result. The same is true for carbohydrates and fats.”

How much protein do I need a day? What if I am trying to build muscle mass?

“The Dietary Reference Intake is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound,” says Mancella. “Depending on one’s goals and current lean body mass whilst trying to build more lean body mass, protein needs vary. Typically, 1.5 grams per kilogram of body weight is sufficient in combination with a balanced diet.”

Keep in mind the DRI is indicative of the minimum amount of protein you should aim to get in a day. So, a 140-pound person who is active would need a minimum of about 50 grams of protein per day per this suggestion. If that same person was trying to build muscle mass, their intake would hover around 95 grams of protein per day based on Mancella’s suggestion.

Aside from building muscle mass and promoting fat loss, Calder says that older individuals may benefit from higher protein intake if they are enduring illness or injury to speed up recovery. High physical activity levels could also require higher protein intake. Ultimately, the amount of protein you need each day varies from person to person and depends on several factors.

What types of protein should I eat?

Both Calder and Mancella agree the best protein comes from whole foods. Some examples of healthy protein sources include:

The two health professionals also say that high-quality protein powders are a good way to supplement protein into your diet.

The best protein powder? One that’s plant-based and contains minimal preservatives and sweeteners. Plant-based protein powders can typically provide up to 20 grams of protein per serving. Blend one scoop of protein powder with oat milk, berries, and a handful of spinach for a vitamin-packed, protein-rich smoothie.

“The use of protein powders is an effective way to help supplement your diet to ensure that you are meeting your daily intake targets,” says Calder. “However, you should aim to get the majority of your daily protein from whole food sources.”

It’s important to keep in mind that consuming more than 30 grams of protein is too much for just one meal because anything above that number will go straight to the kidneys. In other words, you’re basically throwing your hard-earned cash down the toilet if you’re trying to ingest more than that within one hour because protein cannot be stored in the body for later use as carbs and fats can. So, instead of pairing a protein shake with a chicken breast at dinner, save the shake for after your workout or a few hours before. Spacing your protein consumption throughout the day is key to avoid having too much protein at one time!

Ẩm thực – The Court Case That Killed the ‘Ladies Menu’

BY NATASHA FROST

Full link: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/ladies-menus-no-prices-lawsuit?utm_source=Gastro+Obscura+Weekly+E-mail&utm_campaign=5d9b25456b-GASTRO_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_05_30&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_2418498528-5d9b25456b-70327933&mc_cid=5d9b25456b&mc_eid=df51e46713

Upscale restaurants once listed prices only for men.

The scene of the crime: L'Orangerie closed its doors in 2006, after 29 years of business.

IN MID-JULY, 1980, KATHLEEN BICK decided to treat her business partner, Larry Becker, to dinner. Together, they ran a public relations and design business, and things were going well. She chose L’Orangerie, a restaurant whose owners, Virginie and Gerrard Ferry, were Parisian émigrés looking to inject Old World French elegance into the Los Angeles dining scene. In this West Hollywood restaurant, two of the nine appetizers on the menu featured caviar, the medallion of veal came with three separate mustard sauces, and the poisson du jour was flown in daily from France.

The pair were seated and given menus. Becker’s was green; Bick’s, unexpectedly, was white. Before tax, the veal medallion was $26, or a steaming $82 in today’s money, but Bick’s menu said nothing of the sort. In fact, the white menu didn’t list any of the prices. It was assumed that Becker, as the man, would pay, and that Bick, as the woman, didn’t need to worry her pretty head about anything so unseemly as money.

She had been given a “ladies’ menu,” a common feature of high-end restaurants throughout Europe and, in some cases, the United States. Nowadays, the practice is near-extinct, and only a few fusty stalwarts have menus for the customer who really, really doesn’t want their guest to know how much they are spending. But even in the 1980s, the practice was rare—and downright unappetizing to Bick and Becker.

For a time, Gloria Allred (on the right) served as Norma McCorvey's attorney, the Jane Roe in Roe v. Wade.

Beneath the high ceilings and floral bouquets of L’Orangerie, Bick and Becker put down their menus and left without eating. Later, the lawyer Gloria Allred rang the restaurant on their behalf. In her book, Fight Back and Win, Allred recalls asking owner Virginie Ferry why such a policy was in place. “She replied, ‘Because a woman is a woman is a woman.’ My response was, ‘What does that mean, what does that mean, what does that mean?’” It was, apparently, “the French way.” Allred explained that their policy was discriminatory and violated California’s Civil Rights Act, but they refused to change it.

Allred was already well on her way to becoming one of the country’s most famous feminist lawyers. She served for a while as the attorney for “Jane Roe” in the landmark Roe v. Wade, represented an 11-year-old girl against the Boys Scouts, and generally played a role in many of the most important feminist legal victories of the late 20th century, across issues of women’s rights and sexual harassment. Shortly before this case, she had been part of a lawsuit against a drugstore that gender-segregated its toys. At a press conference, one of her clients, a little boy, told reporters he was too embarrassed to fetch jump ropes or hula hoops from the section explicitly for girls.

If she’d go to court over sexist toys, Allred would certainly go to court over sexist menus. In this case, Allred saw a policy that she believed “denigrated women and perpetuated negative stereotypes about them. Since when was it a restaurant’s job to decide who would be financially responsible for a meal?” It insulted businesswomen, such as Bick, and married women who might want to know what was being spent on their meal. After all, she wrote, meals were “paid for with community property.”

Café Martin, in New York, was one such restaurant with a ladies' menu. It looked much like the one above—but without the $1.50 price tag.

Aided by Allred, Bick and Becker charged the restaurant with discrimination. They asked for statutory damages of at least $250 and sought a permanent injunction to end the dual menu practice. Until the restaurant dropped the policy, they called on the state Alcohol and Beverage Commission to revoke the restaurant’s liquor licence. Later, Bick would tell papers that the experience of being given a “ladies’ menu” had left her feeling “humiliated and incensed.”

At first, the public appeared to side with the restaurant. In August 1980, Susan G. Gillespie wrote to the Los Angeles Times to complain about the suit and Allred’s desire for “a world of no distinction between the sexes, requiring an end to the social graces practiced at expensive restaurants.” Ellen Grehan Potts, who wrote to the paper “as a feminist (and humanist),” felt that Allred was misusing her “considerable talents and clout in soothing the sensibilities of rich hogs.” L’Orangerie’s owners, meanwhile, defended the practice as “a tradition done in the same spirit as lighting a cigarette or standing up when she enters the room.”

Precisely what happened next remains in doubt. Eventually, the restaurant announced a change in policy. They would retain their priceless menus, but they would no longer assume that the guest being treated was the female diner. It seems likely that this was due to the heat lamp of litigation—though Allred cites a different explanation. In a publicity stunt, Allred and her clients set up a table outside L’Orangerie, laid with a linen tablecloth, gold plates, silverware, and a rose in a vase.

It’s not exactly clear what this spoof table was supposed to communicate, but Allred remembers it covered throughout the country in newspapers and on television. This provoked a shift in public opinion, she writes in her book, and eventually caused the restaurant to cave. It may be that the restaurant owners were simply responding to the irritation of having a stunt table set up outside. Either way, the suit in Los Angeles County Superior Court was dropped.

This dispute seemed to teach Allred an important technique. The “fake table” publicity stunt had proven effective, and would go on to be the first of many, earning her the dubious honor of “longtime master of the press conference” from New Republic writer Jeffrey Rosen. Indeed, six months after this menu furor, as part of a public hearing on banning abortion, Allred was back in the papers. She walked up to a pro-life senator, took out a chastity belt, and handed it to him in front of dozens of flashing cameras and note-taking reporters. “Under his proposed law, such a device would be the only acceptable means of birth control,” she wrote, later. “His open-mouthed reaction ran on all the TV newscasts that night.”

A menu from a female-only Ladies' Restaruant in New York—with prices.

THE MENU CASE IS NOW only a footnote in feminist history, and with good reason: Ladies’ menus have never been de rigueur in the United States. A 1927 “humorous” newspaper column lampooned a New York restaurant that used them as “high-hat, you see, to show rich and careless disregard for such vulgar details as the mere cost of one’s victuals.” In 1966, a Fodor guide to New York and New Jersey made a particular point of mentioning that the Italian restaurant Orsini’s had ladies’ menus with no prices. Gerard and Virginie Ferry might have been clinging to French tradition, but it was one which had made few inroads in their new home.

Nonetheless, the legal action helped put a stop to them for good. In 1981, the Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly suggested that “restaurants with a dual-menu policy may lose the patronage of their customers—and may also lose in court.” An already minority practice sunk further into obscurity.

But in the history of American dining, there was another kind of “ladies’ menu,” and it was much more influential. Throughout the 19th century, it was often considered inappropriate for women to eat alone at a restaurant. But more and more, as women visited town alone to meet with friends, shop, or attend religious services, they needed respectable places to eat—and so restaurants especially for women were born. In 1833, a “Ladies’ Ordinary” opened in New York City as an all-female space.

People, and particularly men, were initially shocked. Baltimore Sun reporter wrote that this “New York custom, borrowed from France” was “making sad inroads upon all propriety.” Nonetheless, women continued to eat out, with guide books publishing lists of appropriate restaurants for women to dine in, until they were commonplace in most larger cities. Every menu in these ladies’ restaurants was a ladies’ menu, but they most certainly had prices.

Ẩm thực – The Case for Fussy Breakfasts

by Tammie Teclemariam 

Full link: https://www.eater.com/2020/5/20/21262948/fussy-breakfast-egg-topper-grapefruit-knife?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NATIONAL%20-%2052020&utm_content=NATIONAL%20-%2052020+Version+B+CID_deb7df493b129b57233ee2bfaff2896b&utm_source=cm_email&utm_term=The%20case%20for%20fussy%20breakfasts

How to game breakfast into a luxurious solo pursuit

A soft-boiled egg sitting in an egg cup with its top shell open.

If breakfast has suffered the most indignities in the name of convenience, it’s because it’s so naturally fussy at heart. The permutations of sweet, fatty, juicy, and crisp are only achieved through a cadre of dedicated appliances, dishes, and devices that make mornings important: the toaster, waffle iron, citrus reamer, omelet pan, French press, tea infuser, milk frother, cold-press juicer, high-speed blender, silicone spatula, double-boiler, and fluted tart pan, to name a few. Even the humble butter knife. What other meal has the range? Breakfast is so uncontainably intricate it has a sequel (brunch).

The idea of what made up a “balanced” breakfast often felt so out of reach on the daily that just a couple months ago, Starbucks egg bites or rubbery pre-peeled hard-boiled eggs comprised a responsible start to the day. But now, pandemic mornings have been made idle by stay-at-home orders — meaning it’s a prime time to give breakfast the royal treatment it deserves.

I’ve found that by deploying a set of very specific tools (no kitchen appliances here, necessarily) I’ve gamed breakfast into a perfect, leisurely solo pursuit. Not only is the routine one that’s worth repeating every day, but achieving something akin to perfection is a ritual that temporarily solves the problem of feeling too overwhelmed to do anything — even eat — after catching up on the day’s headlines.

Making a fussy breakfast lets me check off an accomplishment before reality has the chance to ask me for something harder.

The first step: coffee. Third-wave coffee culture normalized using gear like the Chemex, scales, and thermometers for extracting the best from your specialty beans, but brewing coffee by the cup is really where it’s at. I keep my setup in my bedroom: a kettle, Brita pitcher, Kalita Wave, burr grinder, and scale. In the morning, I measure 21 grams of beans, exactly enough to fill my favorite mug to the top, to brew manually with a trickle of 357 grams (a ratio of 1:17) of 195- to 205-degree water for no more than three minutes.

The quality of brewing coffee one cup at a time, explicitly for immediate consumption, really does show compared to leftover java from an earlier batch, especially when it comes to showcasing the light, single-origin roasts in my monthly Sweet Bloom subscription. More importantly, thanks to my precision, it is perfect every time, letting me check off an accomplishment before reality has the chance to ask me for something harder. One cup of motivation, hot and fresh.

Perfection doesn’t always come in the form of a ratio or recipe. Grapefruit is one of the great breakfast delicacies, balancing brisk bitterness with energizing tang. Lacking the peel-and-eat factor of more portable citrus, a grapefruit’s place is at the table, split into exposed hemispheres, each garnished with a Luxardo cherry nipple.

As with the oyster shucker, cherry pitter, and nutcracker, sometimes there is simply the right tool for a tough job. The most common one, in this case, is the grapefruit spoon, iconically serrated at one end to dislodge wedges of fruit from each half, and I myself was a fan before I discovered the ultimate grapefruit tool, an undeniable unitasker invaluable to anyone who wants to treat their breakfast like a game of Operation.

The grapefruit knife is a sinister double-sided tool that lets you attack citrus like a freak. If grapefruits had any rights at all, this utensil would be outlawed. Two parallel blades on one end simultaneously slice the meat on either side of the tough radiating membrane with gentle, exquisite stabs. A curved blade on the other end of the tool lets you scalp the meat from the pith so that the only thing left to do is scoop up each dislodged, concentric gem, one by one. When all the fruit is gone, knock back the puddle of accumulated juices with the vigor of a Friday night. It’s hard not to appreciate the luxury of a perfectly prepared grapefruit — even if you have to do the work yourself.

The most ridiculous apparatus in my new fancy breakfast arsenal is an egg topper, a rod with a weighted steel ball that cracks a perfect opening to eat a soft boiled egg with strips of toast or a tiny spoon. You probably think this is the most decadent way to eat an egg, perched on its requisite egg cup, or the most absurd. Regardless of your feelings, this is the indisputable best treatment if you love soft eggs but hate peeling them. Here’s the recipe: Carefully lower two eggs into simmering water and set a timer for five minutes, making your toast while they cook. When the alarm sounds, use a strainer to rinse the eggs under cold water for 20 seconds before placing them on their pedestals. Break open the tops immediately and dig in.

With the novelty of a Cadbury Creme egg, this method is silly, even pointless, compared to all of the much easier ways to eat eggs, but therein lies the fun. With a demitasse spoon in one hand and buttered toast in the other, it’s impossible to scroll your phone, honing your focus on the careful, carnal action of scraping every bit of tender custard and rich yolk from the shell without breaking it. And while an egg cup is the appropriate prop for this task, ripping the cups off a paper egg carton works just as well if pocillovy isn’t your thing.

Fuss makes every bite exciting in a way that my early pandemic strategy of seeking comfort in from-scratch versions of all my favorite restaurant dinners could not. I got to observe this principle in action with my recently adopted dog who, despite being a high-energy mix, has too much anxiety to freely run around outside. One solution for cooped-up dogs is to make them “work” for their food with puzzles and toys that dole out kibble by the bit, keeping them busy by prolonging the mealtime and basically forcing them to enjoy it.

As Buffer longs for traffic-free pastures, so do I for the social life I once knew. In the meantime, I’ll continue to linger over hard-won spoonfuls of egg, citrus supreme, and the freshest coffee possible, a like-minded way to “work” for my breakfast that doesn’t feel like work at all.

Kungfu – Traditional vs. Modern: Evolution not Revolution

By Mark Jacobs 

Full link: https://blackbeltmag.com/traditional-vs-modern-evolution-not-revolution?utm_campaign=BBM%20FY20&utm_medium=email&_hsmi=95798980&_hsenc=p2ANqtz–mlSa0UJPCfGfrLJZVWlsci1v27JCyaoFfNsD8cA5kqSbMrELd1swwDowzxoxQhNfb2tOwYOFGn7_F_ABRt7XLPcgCgA&utm_content=95798980&utm_source=hs_email

Frequently in martial arts you hear laments about the changing nature of these arts and how particular styles were better years ago because they were more “traditional” or how they are better now because they are more “modern.” But rarely does anyone stop to ask just what constitutes traditional and modern in martial arts or where the dividing line is that separates any particular art into its traditional and modern phases.

Though some people would call karate as it’s currently practiced a traditional martial art, many older karateka will tell you it’s no longer truly traditional. They’ll argue that with the preponderance of newly made up kata, the focus on tournament competition and the blending of techniques from a variety of other martial arts, most karate just doesn’t qualify as a “traditional” art anymore. But that begs the question of “When was it a traditional martial art?”

Was the karate being practiced when it was first imported to Western countries in the 1950s and 1960s the traditional karate? Or was it the karate that was first imported to Japan by Gichin Funakoshi in the 1920s? Or does one have to go back to the time in the late 1800s when Funakoshi was learning karate in Okinawa to find the true, traditional karate?

https://www.youtube.com/embed/enttNLnjSXs?rel=0Gichin Funakoshi (1924 Vintage Footage) www.youtube.com

Certainly whatever was being taught as karate in Okinawa, circa 1890, is a far cry from the karate that’s being taught in the United States in 2020. But at what point did karate go from being “traditional” to being “modern?”

The problem is, people tend to envision a radical break in martial arts between the traditional era and the modern era. An example of this comes in looking at the ancient martial arts of Japan, which are referred to as “koryu” or old school martial arts. These are generally regarded as the martial arts of the samurai class, as opposed to the “gendai budo” or new martial arts, such as kendo, judo and aikido, which all developed within the last 150 years.

It’s sometimes said that, to be considered a koryu style, a martial art must have existed before the Meiji Restoration ended Japanese feudalism in 1868. But does that mean if a Japanese martial art was created on December 31, 1867, it should be classified as a koryu while a similar martial art created on January 1, 1868 should be called a gendai budo?

Clearly such a sharp delineation between old and new, between traditional and modern, is faulty. Yet this is how most people tend to view the contrast between what they think of as traditional and modern in martial arts. And while it’s true that if we examine karate in 1890 and 2020, we’ll see two almost completely different entities, there is no one point where this art underwent a revolutionary change. What we’re really dealing with is an evolution, not a revolution.

Karate evolution
i.pinimg.com

If you were to look at the karate of 1890 and, instead, compare it to the karate being done in 1900 you might see some changes but an art that was still essentially recognizable as what was being done in 1890. And if you were to look at karate in 1910, you would see something that had, perhaps, changed a bit more but was still fairly similar to what was being done back in 1900. There is no one year, or perhaps even no one decade, where you can look at karate and say it completely changed from one thing to another. Instead, only looking at it over a long enough period of time do we see changes so significant as to appear revolutionary.

So to call karate, or any other martial art that’s been around for a while, “modern” or to say it was once “traditional” is merely to summon up an arbitrary comparison to some idealized notion of an art that existed at an unspecified time in the past. Viewed in this manner, the terms “traditional” and “modern” lose most of their meaning in martial arts.

Put another way, there are no true “traditional” or “modern” martial arts. There are just martial arts.

Kungfu – 12 Tips for Being the Perfect Training Partner

By Sarah Lobban 

Full link: https://blackbeltmag.com/how-to-find-a-training-partner?utm_campaign=BBM%20FY20&utm_medium=email&_hsmi=95798980&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_V7e1LAzBPOCojarhTKZnv7C-TAdjjxHy83et5mleWIGM1ytku0Hf_1ncYGXLzVgb5Xc0FLJQbZF6u67kXf7-vQbVHiw&utm_content=95798980&utm_source=hs_email

I’ve trained in several martial arts (krav maga, muay thai, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, jeet kune do, kali) over a time period of eight or so years. For all their differences, they – and all martial arts – have one thing in common: partner training. There is no martial art where partner training doesn’t play a crucial role. So like it or not, you are going to have a major impact on the quality of training your partners get.

I’ve worked with good and bad partners, and been a good and bad partner (I could make a movie called To All the Boys I’ve Accidentally Punched Harder Than I Meant To). There’s an art to being a good training partner. The best way to learn is to get out there and do it, but I’ve assembled some basic dos and don’ts.

1) Don’t worry if you’re not on the same level as your partner. If you’re brand new and get paired with a senior student, don’t worry that you’re somehow “holding them back.” Chances are, they welcome the chance to brush up on their basics, and will be more than happy to give you pointers. And don’t be embarrassed if you make mistakes – remember, they’ve been there, too!

2) Do be willing to accommodate your partner’s level. If they’re ahead of you, be prepared to push yourself, even if it means failing once or twice. You’ll learn from the experience. And if you’re the advanced one, keep in mind that you may need to go a little more slowly for your training partner. The moves you can fly through with your eyes closed are still new to them. Focus, instead, on perfecting your technique.

3) Don’t go all-out in resisting your partner’s techniques. For example, if you’re drilling an arm bar escape, and your partner is practicing the move, don’t latch on to their arm for dear life and start cranking like you’re in the final five seconds of a UFC fight. “But no one will just let them do this move in a real match!” you whine. True. But they also won’t do it to someone who knows exactly what’s coming, and has just seen the entirety of the move demonstrated step-by-step. Also, this time in class is for learning the technique – getting a sense of how the movements work and what to do. If you lock up, over-power them, or weasel away every time they try the move, they won’t get to learn the technical aspects.

4) At the same time, don’t be a dead fish. Move and resist a little, and give them the feel that they’re working with a live human rather than a sack of potatoes.

5) Don’t over-coach your partner if you’re on compatible levels (and especially if you’re on a lower level). I cannot tell you how frustrating it is to get unasked-for, unwanted coaching seminars from someone less experienced than myself. I don’t mean pointers (“I think your arm needs to be a higher,” or, “No, that choke doesn’t feel tight yet,”) – I mean five-minute, stop-the-drill-that-we-were-doing-so-they-can-talk-about-every-detail-of-the-drill-and-why-their-way-is-right coaching. Half of the time, this advice ended up conflicting with what the coach had said, but the partner was so sure they’d figured out a better way, and just had to share it.

6) Do accept constructive criticism. Sure, it’s never fun to hear you’re not doing something right, but keep this in mind: the person offering the critique probably did so out of a genuine desire to see you become better. Instead of letting you continue to do something the wrong way, they cared about you – and they believed in your ability to grow – enough to correct you.

7) Do ask for help if you’re struggling! This ties back in to #1. No one’s going to judge you for not knowing a move, and even black belts get hung up on certain stuff.

8) When it comes time to spar or roll, don’t treat your training partner as your personal punching bag or grappling dummy. If you are more skilled than your partner, fantastic – you’ve trained hard! If you’re stronger, good for you – you must work out! If you’re simply bigger, wonderful – genetics have given you a handy advantage! And guess what? None of this entitles you crush or punch the living daylights out of your partner. If you want to go all-out, go against someone your own size/strength/skill level, or someone who has enough of one of these attributes to counter to counter your main advantage (e.g. you’re really skilled and they’re a white belt who’s strong as an ox and build like a tank).

9) Do be ready and willing to tap. You should never force your training partner to choose between actually hurting you and giving up a lock or good position that they’ve earned.

I was unintentionally terrible at this in BJJ. My shoulders, wrists and elbows are, if not full-on double-jointed, at least very flexible (I attribute this to having virtually zero muscle mass above hip level), and I weaseled out of some things I probably shouldn’t have been able to weasel out of. Sometimes, if the lock was out in front of me where I could see it, I’d compromise and tap before I felt pain because I’d figure, “Well, I’m not getting out of this, and also I’m pretty sure most arms don’t bend that way.” But a lot of the time, if the lock happened behind my back, or off to the side with a human body blocking my view, I’d keep resisting, not in any pain, until my partner would either let go or ask, polite and concerned, hadn’t I perhaps meant to tap by now? And then I’d say, “Oh. Probably.” And tap.

10) If you’re in a striking art, do pay attention to how your partner holds mitts/pads, and take pointers. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I believe that holding pads correctly is harder to pick up than striking. That said, you need to make learning a priority. No one wants to work with the guy who’s been training for five months and still doesn’t know how to hold correctly. Plus, it’s dangerous to not hold correctly.

11) Men – don’t treat your female training partners like we’re made of glass. I promise, you are not going to break one of us on accident (if you do break one of us, it was because you were going hard enough to break any human – in which case go back and read #8 again).

12) Don’t make grappling awkward.

Here, let’s play a game of fill-in-the-blank! Write down some words:

  1. An external body part (eg. armpit, sternum, calf, thigh, earlobe, left nostril)
  2. An external body part
  3. An external body part
  4. Yet one more external body part.

Now, using the words you’ve chosen, fill in the following sentences:

“At some point during grappling, you will find yourself in a position where your (1)_______________ is smashed into your training partner’s (2)______________. Your face will end up against their (3) ____________. Their face will end up against your (4) __________________. This does not matter. Keep looking for submissions. Ignore the sweat.”

Repeat this game until no possible combination seems weird.

Those are my basic tips! What would you add, and what are your biggest partner pet peeves? Let me know in the comments!

Stoic – There Is No “One Last Job”

Just a few more years we tell ourselves. Just until I make enough money. After I make rank. Almost there.

These are the lies we tell ourselves, the rationales for why we’re doing the thing we hate or being the kind of person we’d rather not be. Seneca did this. He took what was probably supposed to be a short gig tutoring a young prince—because it would end his exile—and ended up, years later, still in Nero’s service. Time and time again, he must have told himself, “I’ll get out soon. Just let me get the boy on firmer footing. Just let me get through this consulship.”

He was telling the lie that the brilliant comedian and writer Pete Holmes talked about on Daily Stoic’s podcast recently. He called it the lie of the “One Last Job.” It’s the lie that bank robbers tell themselves, just as comedians or musicians do—one more tour, one more album, then I’ll slow down. But it never happens. It can’t happen.

Seneca was never able to get out, never able to get free. He tried to give Nero his fortune back, but it didn’t work. Only with death was he free—free from the addiction to power, the addiction to doing, the fantasy of one last job.

You could leave life right now, Marcus Aurelius reminds us. We have to let that determine what we do and say and the jobs we take. Life is too short to be or do things you know aren’t right, that you know you’re not meant to do. Don’t put it off. Don’t lie to yourself. It will never happen… unless you pull the trigger right now.

Collection – Can One Word Predict the End of a Relationship?

By Colleen Murphy

Full link: https://medium.com/wholistique/can-one-word-predict-the-end-of-a-relationship-7edec33f332b

According to relationship expert Esther Perel…yes.

Image for post

“Your relationships are your story. Write well. Edit often.”

— Esther Perel

It feels uncomfortable. Awkward. You walk through the door, home from your day and just feel…tension. Your home doesn’t rise up to meet you. It drags you down and you just want to escape.

The weight of a failing relationship is a heavy burden. But is it that bad? Should we be trying harder? Can this be fixed?

Esther Perel knows the answer. It is one single word that will kill any relationship.


Perel’s 4 Key Signs of Relationship Failure

Indifference

In your heart, you feel your partner simply doesn’t care about who you are or what you desire. Your feelings are disregarded. It is even larger than becoming bored with your partner, it is completely failing to see them as a person with wants and needs. Those things aren’t even on the radar of mattering. You don’t feel like you matter.

You are nothing but a second paycheck, a plus-one for the wedding, someone to split the chores with. Partnership in the truest sense of the word is no where in sight. The relationship gradually becomes cold and disconnected.

Neglect

It is an assumption your partner will always be there just taking whatever you dish out. You assume their presence like a family member who can’t leave. It is the indifference that causes people to take each other for granted.

Anything and everything takes precedence over your partner. When you practice neglect, you can use anything as an excuse. All of your passion and excitement goes into the children, beloved pets, a new television show, social media feeds. Absolutely everything deserves your full effort…except your partner.

Violence

And not the physical kind. That kind is an obvious physical threat. But it is abuse nonetheless. According to Esther Perel, when a relationship begins to degrade, the level of conversation goes in the toilet. People speak to their partner in a way they would speak to almost no one else. If you care about the relationship, you don’t convey disrespect in any way.

To love is to be loving. To care about someone. Being dismissive, short, rude, crass, unkind. When you assume a person will always be there, you feel you don’t even have to try. You can use them as a dumping ground for all your crap.

And the downward spiral continues into the single biggest predictor of the end of a relationship.

And that one word?

…Contempt

Quite simply, this is the killer of relationships.

It is that look. One of disdain, disrespect, disgust. On The Tim Ferriss Podcast, Perel explains, “the belittling, the infantilising, the demeaning, the degrading, all of these categories of a relationship which ultimately amount to abusiveness. To me, that is the moment where a relationship really is done. Because what it means, is that in order to protect one self, one needs to leave.”

You can fight, you can complain, you can hurt each other, and none of those are dealbreakers. The most successful couples repair with ease and come out stronger on the other side, everytime.

But contempt, no. Not ever. It is a sign of something that has been lost. There is no respect left in the relationship. And that matters. Without a sense of adoration, admiration and feeling a strong sense of fondness for your partner, you cannot survive as a couple.


But why? Because you cannot recover from that place. And the relationship no longer holds any value.

Because what is a relationship at the end of all our reading, writing and discussions? Your primary relationship is the core foundation of your life. They are how we interact with one another. It is where we draw strength. It will determine your level of personal happiness, professional success, and your ability to have healthy relationships with all of the other people in your life.

The person we choose to spend our lives with is our greatest supporter, our cheerleader, the one person you want to share both the good and the bad with. The one person you want to tell everything to, because you know sharing it gives life meaning.

The most important value in a great partnership is to know that you matter to the other person, and that they know how much they matter to you. Our primary relationship is where we find connection and meaning in our lives every day.

Without that connection we are simply going through the motions, pretending to be something we are not.


Why you are going to be ok

Nothing, not one single thing in this world lasts forever.

Change of any magnitude is always scary. We fear what we are letting go, what will happen next, how we will manage. Transitioning out of a relationship that doesn’t work doesn’t have to be ugly.

According to Perel, “Some people want to end with the ‘conscious uncoupling’, as we call it. Some relationships have run their course and that doesn’t mean they have failed, it means they ended. Not everybody is meant to live 60 to 70 years with the same person or in the same relationship.”

And that’s ok.

Collection – Power Plant 4.0: Embracing next-generation technologies for power plant digitization

By Rodolfo Maciel and Peter SafarikOpen interactive popup

Full link: https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/electric-power-and-natural-gas/our-insights/power-plant-4-point-0-embracing-next-generation-technologies-for-power-plant-digitization#

As industry 4.0 technology continues to advance, existing data can be harnessed to develop machine-learning solutions that deliver real value, optimize decision making, increase flexibility, and attract top talent.

Even before the outbreak of COVID-19, fossil-fuel power plants faced significant disruption from renewable energy sources, low gas prices, and ambitious decarbonization goals, all of which are changing customer preferences. Now, as the power-generation industry shifts to the next normal, adopting the latest digital and advanced-analytics technologies has become critical.

Many power companies began their digital transformations with technological solutions such as data models, which help optimize set points, enable better dispatch decisions, and support maintenance strategies and operating-mode selection. Forward-thinking companies, however, have recently started using visualization tools to manage real-time generation performance and digital control software to relay predictive data to control rooms. Yet these innovations are grounded in tangibly improving outcomes for plant operations and are therefore only part of a digitally enabled, next-generation power plant (Exhibit 1).

Exhibit 1

Chief among an organization’s most valuable assets are its data. And the first steps of any company’s journey are building a fact-based, data-driven culture and learning how recent advances in analytics can transform data into actionable insights. The next generation of digital and advanced-analytics tools has emerged alongside innovative technologies, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. Such approaches seek to go beyond traditional multivariate regression analysis methods in terms of revealing hidden patterns and complex interdependencies.

For example, a next-generation power plant can use machine learning to account for significantly more inputs, thus enabling core plant operational functions to be modeled more precisely than previously thought possible. Just a few years ago, performance-improvement models based on thermodynamic models and OEM set points were considered an adequate approach to optimizing a plant’s heat rate—the amount of energy needed to produce a single kilowatt-hour (kWh). Today, machine learning can optimize heat rates with much greater efficiency in a fraction of the time.

In the coming decade, power plants must improve their unit efficiency and increase the resilience of their operations to remain competitive in the global energy supply. Here, we illustrate two points: first, that the latest advanced-analytics models and solutions have changed the art of the possible for power generation; second, that adopting digital solutions in power generation matters more today than ever before.

The foundation for digital tools has rapidly expanded

Historically, power plants have heavily relied on well-established legacy systems based on “first principles” engineering insights and problem-solving methods, such as direct monitoring of temperature or pressure deviations without predictive or pattern-recognition algorithms. These programs required expensive systems that tracked only a few types of data and relied on proprietary engineering knowledge to provide system warnings and operating bands.1

Two trends help show the path forward. First, operators have become more familiar with new technologies, techniques, and tools to collect and store data. This has led to the development of rudimentary dashboards to track plant-specific parameters, such as high superheater temperature alarms or excess pressure on a turbine.

Second, the availability of workers skilled in programming and digital technologies has increased, while data-processing costs have decreased. As a result, more companies now offer inexpensive data-analytics solutions. In fact, a review of 40 companies offering products immediately applicable in power plants shows that the development of operations-oriented technology and advanced mathematics models has grown drastically. Small software programs meant to optimize a specific operation or support a consistent decision point have proliferated, and higher levels of specification have created a technology ecosystem that allows power generators to embrace targeted, value-accretive digitization (Exhibit 2).

Exhibit 2

These trends have set the stage for the current digital transformation. Cheap processing power, available talent, and a large repository of historical data provide the foundation upon which new advanced-analytics techniques and end-to-end digital tools can be built.

Next-generation tools can be easily adopted—and add significant value

Power plants are already highly “sensorized,” meaning vast amounts of data are continuously collected and stored. However, our research shows that a mere 20 to 30 percent of the data collected is used to directly inform decision making and that the data collected from sensors could be better optimized (Exhibit 3).

Exhibit 3

As an example, one power plant collected and stored more than 30,000 different “tags,” or unique types of plant data, for more than ten years—yet these data went completely unnoticed by leadership. Such information is often difficult to digest, and links between the data set and its financial impact are not always obvious. As a result, many operators might perceive such data as a “black box,” unless they have been involved in the collection process along the way.

The next generation of value will likely be built upon this informational foundation. Operators can employ an analytics-backed approach to find unique data predictors of plant performance. And expanding on those findings with first-principles engineering and operating insights can optimize previously unidentified value drivers. For instance, rapid machine-learning algorithms can already identify optimal parameters to increase combined-cycle gas turbine plant outputs and heat rates. Advanced pattern-recognition methods can identify and predict the need for repairs and proactively recommend focused preventive maintenance.

Optimization models for unit efficiency, flexibility, and operability can further help operators run their facilities to the theoretical limits of performance. The results can include improving their bottom lines by increasing power availability and reducing fuel consumption to minimize carbon emissions.

Developing advanced analytics: A four-step approach

Even the most efficient power plants can benefit from advanced-analytics models to improve heat rates (Exhibit 4). An increasing number of power companies at the outset of their digital journeys are already seeing promising results. Irrespective of fuel type (coal or gas), machine learning and advanced analytics can create heat-rate improvement of up to 3 percent. Generating higher profits and lower carbon emissions can be accomplished by following a four-step program.

Exhibit 4

This approach—based on historical data from operators, IT teams, and small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs)—incorporates more than 1,000 data tags to build models that simulates multiple scenarios and generates counterintuitive recommendations. In addition, these tags includes hundreds of variables, such as temperatures and pressure at different points of different equipment, ambient temperatures, and on–off tags and their durations.

  1. Companies must obtain insights from historical data. Plant operators need to ensure the data are high quality and have been reviewed for inconsistencies, such as one-off equipment breakage or outages. This correlation analysis can help provide insights into basic relationships between data and past performance.
  2. Operators and owners should use the advanced-analytics model and ask, “What if?” Doing so can enable leadership to understand relationships and constraints based on the data and subsequently explore new scenarios (for example, how would a gas turbine perform if pressure limits were increased?) This kind of sensitivity analysis can also provide additional insight into past performance.
  3. Once the analytics-based steps are completed, operators can move to prediction. To begin, they must determine how well the predictive algorithm forecasts output, as the advanced-analytics model can use part of the actual data to provide a picture of future performance. The ex-ante prediction—a forecast that uses only available information—can be compared with actual data to determine ex-post accuracy.
  4. Follow up with optimization. Machine learning and advanced algorithms can prescribe optimal actions for real-time iteration. A system that employs machine learning can react to data it has previously logged, strengthening the relationship between what was predicted and what happened—as well as charting deviation between the two. This system can then improve on its iteration process and make subsequent predictions much more accurately. Predictions will continue to improve over time, yielding optimal decision making and parameters with little to no wasted time.

While the results of this approach will vary, most plants are likely to show reduced fuel costs because of improved heat rates, increasing profitability. This approach can also help plants reduce carbon emissions, as less coal or gas will be needed to generate electricity.


Despite the considerable progress power plants have made in recent years, they have only scratched the surface of what digitization can achieve. Efficient and resilient digitally enabled operations are key to success in the next normal. Those that do not make the most of their data risk falling behind—even in times of economic stability. The changes experienced during the pandemic offer utilities the opportunity to adopt new operating models that enable faster decision making, increase structural flexibility, and attract new talent.

Generating power from fossil fuels will continue to be the norm for the time being, as transitioning to renewable energy sources is a complicated process. However, fossil plants can do their part to support this transition by continuously improving operationally. After exhausting traditional performance-improvement levers, next-generation digital solutions will likely become the new frontier for growth.

Collection – Five Steps to Success: A Private Equity Fundraising Checklist

By FRANK ELVINGER

Full link: https://www.toptal.com/finance/private-equity-consultants/private-equity-fundraising-checklist?utm_campaign=Toptal%20Finance%20Blog&utm_medium=email&_hsmi=95763270&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_MDK97YM77urDqP8EJp2zD7G1F2JfeIvEq_RI4zwr9IIMu8abYZaaAGaMrZEZ-0Smj9Y–8Mv16LgQQ6V8AM6Y_ngMNw&utm_content=95763270&utm_source=hs_email

Raising money as a new private equity (PE) fund manager can be a daunting task. I’ve distilled the necessary steps into the following checklist, which should help you put together a compelling investment case for prospective investors.

PE Fundraising Checklist

Private equity investors, also known as limited partners (LPs), usually see hundreds of funds but only invest in a handful of them. To make the cut, it is important to consider all five of these points together to give a convincing case to the inevitable question of “why should we invest in you?”

✅ Articulate your investment strategy and source of competitive advantage.
✅ Budget the size of fund and fees necessary to execute the strategy.
✅ Finalize a legal structure that provides potential flexibility down the road.
✅ Compile investor lists and separate into buckets based on long-term capital allocation goals.
✅ Prepare for the marketing phase with clear return targets and benchmark metrics.

1. What Is Your Investment Strategy and Competitive Advantage?

You should articulate your strategy in simple terms and convey what your product will represent within a wider LP allocation. LPs are relying not only on an “asset-based” but also on an “outcome-based” view to determine their allocation. To get them interested, you need to explain which drivers of wealth growth an LP can access by committing funds to you. Each PE strategy has a tradeoff between these wealth drivers:

Exposure of PE Strategies to Desired LP Outcomes

Exposure of PE Strategies to Desired LP Outcomes

Do You Have a Proven Approach to Achieving Superior Returns? Can Your Strategy Be Easily Replicated?

For first-time fund managers, focus on your unique value proposition and offer a differentiated approach. Be prepared to discuss your competitive landscape and how you plan to source and win deals. You need a solid differentiator during bidding processes—paying the highest price is definitely not the right answer. Make sure to clearly articulate these differentiators so as not to be perceived as a so-called JAMMBOG (just another middle-market buyout group).

If you are just getting started, your biggest asset is focus. Focus helps harness institutional knowledge and differentiated insights that win auctions and create value. As you grow, identify the characteristics of your successful deals and develop pattern recognition for ideal targets. This can help you scale to adjacent sectors and/or geographies as you search for ways to deploy more capital down the road.

What Sources of Value-add Do You Contribute to Portfolio Companies?

Beyond using leverage, PE firms create value by improving the enterprise value of portfolio companies. A larger enterprise value at exit can happen due to revenue growth, margin expansion, or multiple expansion. In recent years, multiple expansion has delivered most of the EV growth across the asset class. Going forward, as multiple expansion slows, general partners (GPs) need to develop new capabilities that rely on the two other levers: revenue growth and margin expansion. You should also consider the role of data science in your strategy across the lifecycle of a fund:

Investor RelationsScreening and Due DiligencePortfolio Management
a) Digital progression touchpoints with LP

b) Customized analytics to answer LP-specific concerns
a) Alternative data and natural language processing to generate leads

b) Digitized analytics for due diligence data room
a) Analytics-based segmentation to identify pricing opportunities or to track procurement spending

b) Machine learning to identify growth and value drivers

How Will the Strategy Perform During Downturns?

Make sure to assess cyclical risk in the due diligence process and to develop a view of the overall risk of the portfolio. Possible measures to consider include top-down limits on sector exposure and changing leverage ratios. As an example, Invest Europe, which sets governing principles for PEs and VCs, recommends that LPs consider their exposures to the following risk categories:

  • Funding risk: The risk of default on a capital call that could result in the loss of partnership interests
  • Liquidity risk: The illiquidity associated with selling the stake in the fund in the secondary market
  • Market risk: The fluctuation of the market has an impact on the value of the NAV.
  • Capital risk: The capital could be deployed inefficiently by the fund and permanently lost.

Also, look at the levers that you can use within your wider portfolio management strategy to mitigate risk. These can be split into pre- and post-deal, for example, during due diligence for the former and ongoing risk management monitoring for the latter.

Does the Team Being Assembled Provide a Platform for Success?

It’s crucial for your team to have a verifiable track record as a lot of LPs are reluctant to invest in first-time investors. The best way to prove this is attribution letters from former employers. Unfortunately, employers can be reluctant to provide these letters. If that’s your case, there are several alternatives that I will outline later. Ideally, your team should have a verifiable track record for a full cycle to prove that you’re able to handle the full spectrum of the investment process. Even as a new manager, you can break down your track record by actions made at the relevant stages of the investment cycle:

  • Deal flow origination: Finding companies, corralling co-investors, and negotiating terms
  • Investment performance: The financial returns of deals and/or funds you have managed
  • Hiring: Have you unearthed and nurtured talent within your teams?
  • Timing: How have your deal entry and exit timings corresponded with macroeconomic cycles?

LPs will invariably see more opportunities than they can possibly fund. Some advice from the BVCA that is particularly valuable is to not pitch yourself as a better alternative to LPs’ existing investments. Be aspirational and informative in your pitch; don’t exaggerate claims or call investors’ judgment into question.

TRACK RECORDS FOR BEGINNERS

In real life, many employers are reluctant to give out attribution letters that certify exact involvement in past deals. Luckily, you can use two different ways to prove your involvement to potential LPs:

  • Use public information. Provide public evidence of board positions in companies that you invested in or provide public statements mentioning your name as the lead investor.
  • Ask for references from other involved parties. Another possibility is to ask the executive team of companies you invested in or funds that co-invested for references.

If none of these options are possible, you could consider creating a new track record prior to raising your fund. Several new managers achieve this through individual deals. Usually, new investors complete between three and five individual deals through special purpose vehicles (SPVs).

The process is as follows: Find an attractive investment consistent with the fund’s planned strategy, convince investors to participate in the deal, create an SPV, and close the deal. It’s important that the rationale behind those investments is consistent with the fund strategy in order to serve as a track record. You should also create a full investor memorandum for every deal to later provide the prospective LPs of your fund with these sample documents. If you are thinking of mentioning personal investments to prove your track record, they are generally irrelevant, especially if their rationale is not consistent with the fund’s strategy.

2. Fund Size and Fees

The size of your fund needs to accommodate your strategy. You need to consider the market map for potential portfolio companies, the size of investment that will be required, and the number of investing partners. It always looks better to set a conservative fund size, be oversubscribed, and raise the target than coming short of your round adjective and taking longer to close. However, LPs will insist on a hard cap that is close to the target, to make sure that you close up fundraising fast and get to investing. LPs also want to control for the alpha decay that comes with larger AUMs due to inefficient deployment of funds on “next best” ideas.

How Competitive Are Your Fees and Terms?

As a first-time fund manager, the most effective strategy is to offer LP friendly terms, meaning the management fee should be at a reasonable level (generally around 2%) and should be reduced after the investment period. The fund should use a European carry mechanism that calculates carried interest on a whole fund basis, and a significant portion of your personal wealth should be committed to the fund. After creating a more developed track record, your fund can slowly adopt more GP-friendly terms, but being LP-friendly at the beginning increases your success rate during the first fundraising.

What Is Your “Sweet Spot”?

As fund size increases, generated alpha can increase at first due to increased buying power and resources necessary to compete for bids. Beyond a certain point, AUM growth translates to inefficient capital deployment and a deteriorating track record. The resulting revenue will be impacted through two different channels:

  • The management fee channel. Revenue grows with AUM because of a fixed management fee charged on committed capital during the investment period and adjusted to cost during the harvesting period.
  • The performance fee channel. Performance revenue is a factor of capital deployed and realized alpha per unit of deployed capital. Realized alpha per unit of deployed capital generally boils down to the “next best” ideas mentioned earlier, but total performance revenue could still be growing. This illustrates a misalignment of incentives between GPs and LPs and explains the prevalence of hard caps.

Ultimately, taking a long-term view that prioritizes LP relationship preservation will guide your fund size.

3. Using Co-investments as an LP Magnet

Consideration toward the legal structure of your fund can provide flexibility to “draft” in prospective LPs later on, by initially engaging with them as co-investors. Many LPs seek co-investment opportunities to achieve higher net returns, efficiently control capital deployment, and have better levers on industry/geography exposure. Co-investments are also a great way for LPs to perform ongoing due diligence, especially on new fund managers. On top of this, offering co-investments reduces the blended fee for LPs as no management fee is charged on the co-investment amounts. Co-investments are typically characterized by a shorter duration and predictability on the timing of capital calls.

Co-investments as an LP Magnet

Co-investments as an LP Magnet

From your perspective, offering co-investments will facilitate access to capital, strengthen relationships with LPs, and manage your fund exposure limits. In a 2015 Preqin survey, 44% of respondents noted that co-investments were a “very important” factor in achieving successful LP solicitations down the line.

4. Appraising the Appropriateness of LPs

Each LP has different concerns, goals, and requirements based on their stakeholders. An LP relationship lasts at a minimum of 10 years. While diversifying your LP base can protect you from unexpected dropouts, it is paramount to focus on LPs with the best fit and be aware of your tradeoffs.

LPs can be split into three buckets, determined by their investment characteristics:

Patient Capital

Large institutional investors are insensitive to business cycle swings and can almost always fulfill their capital commitments. Endowments and pensions may hold large amounts of capital to deploy, but they take longer on due diligence and are restricted by strict mandates. Institutional investors will also expect you to accommodate their reporting requirements, which can be onerous and bureaucratic and may, at times, force you to publicly disclose returns metrics.

Flexible Capital

A fund of funds has the manpower and expertise to facilitate a fast due diligence process. However, a fund of funds manager cares more about fast financial returns to make up for their double layer of fees. These types of funds charge their end investors fees that include both their internal operating costs and the fees passed on by the managers of their underlying investments.

Family offices are also more fast-moving than institutional investors, and their investment goals are very varied and can rely on qualitative aspects that are hard to ascertain. Banks and insurance companies are warming up to the idea of riskier investments but are heavily directed by the prevailing economic, regulatory, and stock market conditions.

Value-add Capital

Corporate LPs invest for knowledge transfer opportunities and to find acquisition targets, but they can also provide assistance in winning deals and guidance during the portfolio management phase. When considering your target LP base, if you envisage hands-on interventions during the portfolio management phase, a strong corporate investor with potential client leads and synergistic assets can be a unique value-add differentiator.

It has become common in recent years for corporations to start their own internal investment divisions, forsaking the tradition of mandating external managers to invest their capital. While this trend is set to continue, there are still many corporations that prefer the expertise of specialist fund managers.

5. Best Practices During the Actual Raise

When discussing return metrics with investors, it is important to put them into context in relation to assets of a similar nature. Different types of PE funds have nuanced risk and return tradeoffs, which investors should already be familiar with.

Risk and Return Profile of Private Equity Strategies: 2000-2010 Vintages

Risk and Return Profile of Private Equity Strategies: 2000-2010 Vintages

Metrics and Benchmarks

To communicate effectively your targets for the fund, compile a list of funds from a range of vintages to show their performance relative to your projections. This provides both transparency and an opportunity to derive new insight from their experiences in the asset class.

In terms of what metrics to communicate, you will be familiar with the names below, but pay attention to the elaboration on why they are important to LPs.

  • Net IRR: Net internal rate of return, which makes the net present value (NPV) of all cash flows equal to zero for the investor. This measure is time-sensitive: GPs think about gross IRR, but LPs care about net. If investors have obligations on their side for capital return (think back to the fund of funds example), then this metric will be front of mind.
  • TVPI: Total value to paid-in capital is a multiple representing the sum of the cumulative distributions paid out to LPs to date and the residual value of the fund divided by the paid-in capital. Unlike IRR, it does not consider the time value of money and is calculated by summing up two components: the DPI and RVPI:
    • DPI: Distributions to paid-in capital is the ratio of cumulative distribution to paid-in capital: “cash-on-cash” returns. This allows the LPs to judge the ability of fund managers to execute on their portfolio strategy and actually deliver positive cash flows to investors. DPI only considers realized and distributed value.
    • RVPI: Residual value to paid-in capital is the ratio of the fair value of unrealized net assets in the fund to paid-in capital. This can fluctuate based on the used valuation methods. From an LP perspective, this is an important metric for negotiating a purchase price during secondary deals.
  • Loss ratio is the percentage of capital in deals realized below cost, net of any recovered proceeds. This is a measure of volatility and is very important for LPs considering co-investments down the line.

Know that LPs will want to compare these metrics for your fund with aggregate metrics in the industry that have the same strategy and generally place you within a quartile. Some investors have rules about not investing beyond certain quartiles.

Prepare Complete and Impactful Marketing Materials

When you are fundraising, momentum matters. The longer it takes you to close your round, the less favorably you will be perceived by LPs. See your marketing documents, such as the pitch deck, as an ongoing work in progress. The meetings you take form a continual feedback loop where you can refine your message based on the insights you gain from each investor solicited.

You need to prepare a virtual data room with all the necessary information, including a private placement memorandum, a presentation deck, any required due diligence questionnaires, deal attribution analysis, detailed team background, and track record information. Try to make this resource as user-friendly as possible and demonstrate your confidence by being as transparent as possible with the data you show.

Be prepared to provide additional documents very promptly, such as sample reports provided to LPs for prior funds, compliance and ESG policy statements, or a business continuity plan. Try to anticipate and prepare the necessary intelligence to answer LP concerns to ensure an efficient roadshow.

Raise In-house or Use a Placement Agent?

Evaluate your investor relations’ internal capabilities and decide whether you need to enlist the help of a placement agent. Even if you have an IR team ready to take on most of the fundraising effort, consider bringing on a placement agent with a core expertise complementary to yours through a “top-off” mandate. They can help with access to an LP segment or a geography currently outside of your own outreach or with knowledge of investors interested in co-investments.

Placement agents can also give advice on contentious clauses and help structure more LP-friendly economic (fee structure, hurdle rate, waterfall, clawback provisions) and governance (key person and no-fault clauses) terms. On top of this, a well-known placement agent can give you enhanced credibility when negotiating with LPs.

Using a placement agent will result in a financial cost, but consider the potential long-term benefits. If you truly believe in your strategy, a short-term cost will be a necessary hurdle toward reaching your goal.

In Summary: Be Open, Flexible, and Creative

This checklist provides clear steps to follow, but it comes with a caveat: When raising a first-time fund, you must be responsive and ready to adapt when the wind changes. Fundraising cannot be gamified into a fool-proof process, but being prepared is a key step to successfully raising your first PE fund.

Landscape – International Cooperation Welcomed Across 14 Advanced Economies

BY JAMES BELLJACOB POUSHTERMOIRA FAGANNICHOLAS KENT AND J.J. MONCUS

Full link: https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2020/09/21/international-cooperation-welcomed-across-14-advanced-economies/?utm_source=Pew+Research+Center&utm_campaign=64a7e8a2e5-Weekly_2020_09_26&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_3e953b9b70-64a7e8a2e5-400737085

UN broadly credited with promoting peace and human rights as younger adults are more supportive of international cooperation

A speaker addressing the UN General Assembly in New York. (Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

A Pew Research Center survey of 14,276 people across 14 countries conducted in summer 2020 finds that many believe greater global cooperation could have reduced the human toll from COVID-19. The same poll reveals strong support for taking the interests of other countries into account even if this requires compromise. These findings are in line with a pre-coronavirus 2019 Pew Research Center survey in 12 of the same 14 countries that showed robust public support for the idea of nations cooperating, rather than competing, on the world stage.

Strong public support for international cooperation and multilateral governance

Publics in the 14 countries surveyed this past summer generally hold favorable opinions of the United Nations. Young people and those with a college education are even more likely to approve – a pattern consistent with past surveys by the Center in which younger, more educated adults were more supportive of multilateral organizations and cooperation.

UN is seen as a promoter of human rights and peace, but fewer say it deals effectively with international issues or cares about the needs of ordinary people

In the countries surveyed, the UN is typically given high marks for fulfilling its core mission of promoting peace and human rights. And for the most part, people say the 75-year-old organization does a good job of promoting economic development, the fight against infectious diseases like COVID-19 and action on climate change.

Publics in the 14 countries polled are less certain that the UN cares about the needs of ordinary people or that it is effective in actually solving international problems.

This last pair of findings is in line with past Pew Research Center surveys, which have demonstrated that while people tend to view multilateral organizations like the European Union and NATO favorably, doubts about these institutions persist. For example, many Europeans feel the EU does not understand the needs of its citizens and are reluctant to fulfill their country’s Article 5 obligations as NATO members.

In contrast to the mixed view of the UN’s overall effectiveness, more people in the surveyed countries express satisfaction with how the World Health Organization (WHO) has handled the coronavirus pandemic: A median of 63% say the multilateral institution has done a good job dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. Younger adults are particularly likely to hold this view.

In countries surveyed, UN most often credited with promoting human rights, peace

The survey of adults was conducted by telephone between June 10 and Aug. 3, 2020, in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The margin of error varied by national sample from plus or minus 3.1 percentage points to plus or minus 4.2 points.

Younger people more favorable toward UN, WHO’s handling of COVID-19 and international cooperation

In addition to the general findings already described, the 14-country survey reveals important differences by age, with younger adults (ages 18 to 29) more favorably inclined toward the UN and WHO as well as toward international cooperation in general. Among this cohort, 72% say they have a positive view of the UN, compared with 58% among those 50 and older. Age gaps also appear in support for the principle of cooperation between countries to manage the COVID-19 pandemic and for the WHO’s handling of the pandemic.

Educational attainment is also related to attitudes toward multilateral institutions and cooperation with other countries. In half or more of the countries surveyed, those with a postsecondary education are also more likely to have a positive evaluation of the UN and its promotion of human rights and peace. They are also more likely than those with less education to support international cooperation to solve major issues, even if it requires compromise.

Country spotlight: United States

Americans’ views of UN relatively stable

The U.S. is the largest government funder of the United Nations, contributing over $10 billion in 2018. This accounted for roughly 18% of the total UN revenue that year.

Americans are more favorable toward the UN than not: 62% have a positive view, while 31% have a negative view. The U.S. public’s views of the organization have been relatively consistent in recent years. Still, there has been a large upward shift in approval from 2007, when 48% of Americans had a favorable view of the UN.

Gender, age, trust in others and political affiliation all shape views of the UN among Americans. Women are 9 percentage points more likely to have a positive view of the organization than men, and those ages 18 to 29 are 17 points more likely to have a favorable than those 50 and older.

About two-thirds of Americans who say that most people can be trusted have a positive opinion of the UN, compared with about half of those who say most people cannot be trusted (68% vs. 52%, respectively).

Large partisan differences are found across several questions regarding multilateralism. Democrats and those who lean to the Democratic Party are much more likely to have a positive view of international cooperation and organizations than Republicans and those who lean Republican. For example, 83% of Democrats and Democratic leaners say that if the U.S. had cooperated more with other countries, the number of domestic COVID-19 cases would have been lower, compared with just 27% of Republicans and Republican leaners who say the same.

And 78% of Democrats say that the U.S. should take the interests of other countries into account when making foreign policy, compared with only 31% of Republicans who say the same.

In the U.S., Democrats are much more likely than Republicans to support international cooperation, the UN and the WHO’s coronavirus response

While Americans’ views of the UN have remained generally stable overall since 2007, Democrats and Republicans consistently express differing views about the organization, and the size of the partisan gap has increased over time. This year, for example, 85% of Democrats are positive on the UN, compared with just 39% of Republicans, a difference of 46 percentage points.

Democrats and Republicans in U.S. differ on UN favorability

Country spotlight: Japan

Over half of Japanese have unfavorable view of UN, a massive shift from last year

The Japanese public stands out as the most unfavorable toward the UN among all countries surveyed in 2020. A majority (55%) express a negative sentiment with the organization, up 20 percentage points from 2019 and the highest share since this question was first asked in 2006.

In contrast, just 29% express a favorable view of the UN, a drop of 18 points from the 47% who said the same in 2019.

Favorable views of the UN in Japan reached their peak in 2011. That year, 61% rated the organization positively in the aftermath of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, a period during which the UN provided disaster relief to Japan.

Japanese who say that, in general, most people can be trusted tend to be more favorable toward the UN and several of its missions. For example, 72% of Japanese who say people can be trusted hold the view that the UN promotes peace, compared with 53% of those who say people cannot be trusted. Views of the WHO are also linked to views of the UN: Japanese who say the WHO has done a good job dealing with the outbreak are much more likely than those who say it has done a bad job to have a favorable view of the United Nations (52% vs. 22%, respectively).

When evaluating several specific UN functions, only about a quarter say the UN advances the interests of countries like Japan or cares about the needs of ordinary people. And only 41% say the UN was effective in promoting action on the spread of the coronavirus. These are the lowest marks on these UN characteristics across the 14 countries surveyed.

Japanese are skeptical of the WHO, UN and international cooperation in general

Japanese tend to be more skeptical than other publics on the tenets of the multilateral system and the WHO’s handling of the pandemic.

Two-thirds of the Japanese public say that the WHO has done a bad job dealing with the coronavirus outbreak, while a majority holds the view that their own country has done a good job handling the virus.

About half in Japan (53%) express the view that no amount of international cooperation would have reduced the number of domestic coronavirus cases.

Half of Japanese say that, when dealing with major international issues, Japan should follow its own interests, compared with the 39% who say their country should take into account the interests of other countries. The Japanese public is more positive when asked if their country should act as part of a global community or as an independent nation: 85% say Japan should act as part of a global community.

Country spotlight: Germany

Most Germans say the UN promotes peace and human rights, less confidence it cares about ordinary people

Germans are generally supportive of the principles of multilateralism, the UN itself and the leadership of the WHO amid the coronavirus pandemic. Majorities in Germany think their country should act as part of an international community and say their country should take into account the interests of other countries.

But while many people in Germany say the WHO handled the outbreak well, they are skeptical that more cooperation between countries would have reduced the number of coronavirus cases within their own country; about four-in-ten hold this view. Overall, nearly nine-in-ten Germans (88%) say the country has done a good job dealing with the outbreak.

And although 61% of Germans have a favorable view of the UN, they share some skepticism about the organization’s care for ordinary citizens and its handling of climate change. A majority of Germans say the UN does not care about the needs of ordinary people, and 47% think it does not promote action on climate change, an issue that ranks as Germany’s top international concern.

1. Views on international cooperation

There is widespread willingness to cooperate with other countries, even if it means compromising

In the countries surveyed, people generally agree that it is important to take other countries’ interests into account when dealing with major international issues, even if it means making compromises.

A median of 58% agree that their country should take other countries’ interests into account. Clear majorities hold this view in 10 of the 14 countries polled, including the U.S., while opinion is more divided in Italy and Denmark. There is less support for international compromise in Australia (41%) and Japan (39%), where half or more say that their country should follow its own interests when dealing with international concerns.

Right-wing populist party supporters more likely to favor their country following its own interests

In every European country surveyed, those with favorable views of right-wing populist parties are much more likely to say their country should follow its own interests even when other nations disagree. (See the appendix for more information on European populist parties.)

For example, 62% of those with a favorable view of the Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV) favor this approach, while 28% with an unfavorable view of the PVV support the Netherlands following its own interests.

The opposite pattern is present among those with favorable views of the two left-wing populist parties included in the survey: Spain’s Podemos and France’s La France Insoumise. In both cases, supporters of each party are less likely to favor their countries following their own interests even when facing international disagreement.

In the U.S., about two-thirds of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (68%) say the U.S. should follow its own interests, while 19% of Democrats and Democratic leaners say the same.

Those with more education tend to express stronger support for international cooperation

And in nearly all the countries surveyed, those with more education are more likely to support cooperation with other countries than those with less education, even if it means compromise.1

The divide is particularly stark in Italy. Almost three-quarters of those with a postsecondary degree or more (74%) say their country should take other countries’ interests into account and be willing to compromise, compared with less than half (47%) of those with secondary degree or less.

Prevailing view is that greater international cooperation would have reduced COVID-19’s impact

When asked specifically about countries cooperating in the fight against COVID-19, the dominant view is that greater international cooperation would have reduced the number of domestic coronavirus cases since the outbreak began. A median of roughly six-in-ten (59%) hold this view, while a median of 36% say that no amount of international cooperation would have reduced the number of coronavirus cases in their country.

However, in several countries polled, half or more say no amount of cooperation would have made a difference. Clear majorities express such skepticism in Australia (59%) and Germany (56%). Danish views also stand out: 78% say no amount of international cooperation would have helped their domestic situation.

Younger people more likely to think international cooperation would have reduced domestic cases of COVID-19

In most countries polled, those ages 18 to 29 are more likely than those 50 and older to say that more cooperation with other countries would have reduced the number of domestic coronavirus cases. In Australia, for example, about six-in-ten (61%) of those ages 18 to 29 hold this view, compared with about a quarter (26%) of their older counterparts. Younger people are also more likely than older adults to say this in 10 additional countries.

However, 63% of older South Koreans say international cooperation would have improved the domestic situation, compared with 54% of those ages 18 to 29.

Before COVID-19, clear majorities preferred a world in which countries cooperate rather than compete

In 2019, Pew Research Center asked whether cooperation or competition should define the way countries interact on the international stage. Strong majorities consistently favored nation-states acting as members of a global community that works together to solve problems. A median of 81% across 12 countries supported this approach, while 17% said countries should act as independent nations that compete with others and pursue their own interests.

In each of the 12 countries surveyed, large majorities preferred international cooperation. And in no country did more than one-in-five prefer a world of competing states that pursue their own interests.

Those on the ideological left favor acting as part of a global community

In almost every one of the 12 countries, those who place themselves on the ideological left were more likely to say countries should act as part of a global community than those on the ideological right. This divide was particularly large in the U.S.: 90% of liberals favored acting as part of a global community, compared with 56% of conservatives, a difference of 34 percentage points. In the U.S., ideology was defined as conservative (right), moderate (center) and liberal (left).

2. United Nations and World Health Organization receive positive ratings across most countries

Favorable views of the UN widespread

When asked about overall views of the United Nations, a median of 63% across 14 countries hold a favorable view of the organization, while 33% hold an unfavorable view.

In every European country surveyed, majorities are positive toward the organization, ranging from 59% in Belgium to 80% in Denmark. Majorities in Canada and the U.S. are also much more favorable toward the UN than negative.

Views are more mixed in the Asia-Pacific region. In South Korea, 69% have a favorable view of the UN, and 61% say the same in Australia. But only 29% have a favorable view of the UN in Japan, with 55% holding a negative opinion.

Favorable views of the UN stable in most countries

Positive views of the UN have remained generally consistent across many of the countries surveyed, but there are exceptions. Favorable opinions declined in several countries between 2019 and 2020. This is especially the case in South Korea (-13 points) and Japan (-18 points).

In the U.S., favorable views of the UN have ticked up 7 percentage points overall since the question was first asked in 2004, but sentiment is up 14 points since 2007, when only 48% of Americans held a positive view of the organization.

Social trust is tied to favorable views of the organization. Across all countries included in the survey, those who say that, in general, most people can be trusted are more likely to have favorable views of the organization. For example, in Germany, 70% of those who say people can be trusted view the UN positively, compared with 48% who say people cannot be trusted.

Younger adults are more positive toward the UN than those 50 and older

While more than half in each age group across all countries except Japan have a favorable view of the UN, in most countries surveyed, those ages 18 to 29 are more positive toward it than those 50 and older.

In Italy, for example, 80% of those ages 18 to 29 have a favorable view of the UN, compared with 56% of those 50 and older, a difference of 24 percentage points. Double-digit differences between the youngest and oldest age groups are also present in Spain, Australia, the U.S., Belgium, France, the Netherlands, the UK and Germany.

People who want to take into account the interests of other countries in foreign policy more favorable toward UN

Those who say their country should take into account the interests of other countries when dealing with major international issues are more likely to have a favorable view of the UN than those who say their country should follow its own interests. This difference is present across all 14 countries included in the survey, but it is largest in the U.S. Over three-quarters of Americans who prefer taking other countries’ interests into account have a favorable view of the UN, compared with 40% of those who say the U.S. should follow its own interests.

World Health Organization gets positive ratings for its handling of COVID-19

World Health Organization’s handling of COVID-19 gets positive marks in most countries polled

When asked about the World Health Organization’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak, a median of 63% say the organization has done a somewhat or very good job dealing with the pandemic. Positive assessments are especially strong in Denmark (74% somewhat or very good) and Sweden (73%).

A median of 35% say the organization has done a bad job dealing with the outbreak. Two-thirds or more in South Korea (80%) and Japan (67%) say the WHO’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak is somewhat or very bad. Views are particularly negative in South Korea, where 41% think the WHO has done a very bad job dealing with the outbreak.

In the U.S., 44% say the WHO has done a somewhat or very bad job handling the pandemic, while 53% believe it has done a somewhat or very good job.

Women express greater praise for WHO’s handling of outbreak than men

In seven countries surveyed, people who place themselves on the left of the ideological spectrum are more likely than those on the right to say the WHO has done a good job dealing with the coronavirus outbreak by double digits. In the U.S., there is a 34 percentage point difference between those on the left who say the organization has done a good job and those on the right (71% vs. 37%, respectively).

And in nearly every country polled, women are more likely than men to say the WHO has done a good job dealing with the outbreak. This difference is largest in Italy: Women are 23 points more likely than men to have a positive view of the WHO’s role in the pandemic (67% vs. 44%, respectively).

Previous Pew Research Center findings have shown that women are also more likely than men to say their lives have changed because of COVID-19.

3. Characteristics of the United Nations

In countries surveyed, UN most often credited with promoting human rights, peace
Democrats significantly more likely than Republicans to say the UN advances the interests of the U.S. and promotes action on global issues, including coronavirus

In each of the 14 countries polled in 2020, majorities credit the United Nations with promoting human rights and peace. However, the organization’s reputation for resolving international problems or caring about ordinary people is not as consistently positive. Only about half overall (median of 51%) say the UN deals effectively with global issues. Doubts are most pronounced in France and Japan, where just 43% in each country have confidence in the UN to deal effectively with problems. Even fewer Italians (40%) trust the UN on this count.

Similarly, there is considerable skepticism that the UN cares about the needs of ordinary people. A median of 53% believe this to be the case, but that share falls as low as 38% in Germany and Italy, and lower still in France (35%), South Korea (30%) and Japan (26%).

In many countries, those with a postsecondary degree or more are more likely than those with less education to say that the UN promotes peace and human rights. For example, in Italy, 75% of people with more education agree the UN promotes peace, compared with 59% of those with less education.

In the U.S., Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are consistently more favorable than Republicans and Republican-leaning independents about the UN across this entire battery of questions.

South Koreans have least faith in UN’s promotion of economic development

When asked if the UN advances the interests of countries like theirs, roughly three-quarters of Democrats and Democratic leaners (77%) agree, while about a third of Republicans and Republican leaners (35%) say the same. The closest the two parties’ proponents come to agreeing on the UN’s role in the world is on whether the organization promotes action on climate change, but even then, there exists an 18 percentage point difference between Democrats (69%) and Republicans (51%).

Most surveyed have a positive view of the UN’s promotion of economic development, with a 14-country median of 65% agreeing the United Nations does this. In 12 countries, majorities believe the UN promotes economic development. Two-thirds or more in Canada, the UK, Denmark and Sweden express this view.

Only in the East Asian countries surveyed – Japan and South Korea – do publics have less-positive assessments about the UN’s efforts to facilitate economic development. Japan is roughly divided on the topic: 46% agree the UN promotes economic growth while 42% disagree. However, a majority of South Koreans say the UN does not promote economic development.

Majorities in most countries surveyed agree the UN effectively tackles infectious diseases and climate change, with notable exceptions

Majorities in most countries surveyed say the UN promotes efforts to fight infectious diseases, like coronavirus, and that it promotes action on climate change, two issues respondents most commonly cited as major threats to their countries. However, there are notable cross-national differences.

Just 41% in Japan and 47% in Italy give the UN good marks on fighting infectious diseases, compared with roughly two-thirds in Spain, Canada and Denmark.

Majorities in 10 countries give the UN positive marks on climate change, but just 46% of Germans, 47% of French, 48% of Italians and half of Japanese express this opinion.

In many countries, people are split on whether the UN is effective on international issues

Most people in countries surveyed are divided on whether the UN deals effectively with international problems. Majorities in Denmark (65%), Canada (55%) and the Netherlands (55%) agree the UN deals with international issues effectively.

Beyond these nations, approval of the UN’s handling of international problems hovers closer to the global median of 51%; for example, half of publics in Germany, Belgium and Spain think the UN deals with global issues effectively. Italy is somewhat of an outlier in Europe, with only 40% saying the UN deals effectively with international problems.

Japan remains skeptical of the UN’s international problem-solving. Only 43% of Japanese consider the UN effective in the international arena.

Those with more education more likely to say UN promotes human rights

In 10 of the 14 countries surveyed, people with higher levels of education are more likely to believe the UN promotes human rights. This pattern is seen most strongly in Italy, where 81% of those with more education agree with the statement that the UN promotes human rights while 62% of those with less education say the same.

Americans most divided ideologically on whether the UN advances the interests of countries like theirs

In nine of the countries surveyed, ideology is linked to views about whether the UN advances the interests of countries, with people on the left more likely to think the UN advances the interests of countries like theirs in eight nations.

This difference is most striking in the U.S., where 79% of those on the ideological left say the UN advances national interests like theirs, but only 39% of those on the ideological right say the same.

In contrast, those on South Korea’s ideological right (43%) are more likely than those on the left (30%) to agree that the UN looks out for the interests of countries like theirs.

Landscape – Domestic policies key to the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative

Author: Ken Heydon, LSE

Full link: https://www.eastasiaforum.org/2020/09/21/domestic-policies-key-to-the-supply-chain-resilience-initiative/?utm_source=subscribe2&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=postnotify&utm_id=300115&utm_title=Domestic%20policies%20key%20to%20the%20Supply%20Chain%20Resilience%20Initiative

Reports are circulating of a trilateral exploration by Japan, India and Australia of a ‘Supply Chain Resilience Initiative’ (SCRI) seeking to secure supply chains and reduce dependence on China. The initiative — seemingly instigated by Japan — will likely be broached at an India–Japan summit in coming weeks. It is envisaged to eventually extend to ASEAN and the United States.

Workers are busy at producing vehicles at a factory of Dongfeng Honda, a
50:50 joint-venture between Dongfeng Motor Group and Honda Motor Company,
Wuhan city, central China's Hubei province, 7 April 2020 (Photo: Fachaoshi/
Reuters).

The initiative prompts some critical questions. What, for example, is the degree of shared ambition? India and Japan have clear economic motivations — including fostering Indian pharmaceutical activity in Japan and Australia, and Japanese motor vehicle production in India. But distinctive strategic concerns also arise from recent border tensions with China in East Ladakh and the Senkaku Islands.

The driving ambition of the United States is no less than to constrain China’s rising technological and strategic prowess. But although Australia may wish to have fewer eggs in the China basket, it will not want to jeopardise crucial trade links with the region’s largest market. And ASEAN members, whose participation is unlikely, are reluctant decouplers as emerging beneficiaries of Chinese offshoring.

Another question is one of principle. Is it possible to designate and foster prospective areas of economic activity — such as semiconductors, aerospace, medical devices, textiles, chemicals and rare earths — without falling into the trap of picking winners? This danger is very real for Japan, having budgeted US$2.2 billion to reconfigure supply chains. The risk is also particularly acute in the framework of the global value chains (GVCs). The temptation will be to reduce import restrictions on intermediate inputs while increasing them on final products, raising the spread of tariffs (tariff dispersion) and hence trade distortion.

A related question is one of practical feasibility. How realistic is it to seek to displace China in GVCs? Some firms, like Toshiba and Komatsu, have shifted production elsewhere in response to US penalty tariffs against China. But this has been at great cost and in defiance of the advantages that China offers with its vast domestic market and workforce, deep supplier networks and reliable infrastructure.

India and the United States might, by virtue of their size, be considered possible alternatives to China within certain supply chains — yet both have policy settings that mitigate against this. India consistently fails to capitalise on its comparative advantage in manufacturing, and the United States imposes self-harming restrictions on the spread of its technology.

The challenges to reconfiguring supply chains are compounded by the fact that they tend to be sticky, given the high fixed costs involved in establishing them. Foxconn, for instance, had to spend US$8.8 billion to build a single plant. Moreover, although the disruption caused by COVID-19 is a principal driver of the pursuit of supply chain restructuring, the hit to firms’ cash flows in the wake of the pandemic makes it harder to meet the costs of reconfiguration.

So while some adjustments will be made to supply chain structures — such as for choke points in medical supplies — a major shift in global trade patterns is a fantasy.

This is not to say that there is no role for the SCRI. But the focus will need to be less on sectoral reconfiguration and picking winners, and more on cooperative efforts to improve overall supply chain functioning. This calls for better harnessing of technology in supply chain management, freer cross-border data flows and greater regulatory coherence in digital trade protocols.

The SCRI may also have a role in energising international bodies. Two examples stand out — instigating efforts by G20 trade ministers to avoid vaccine nationalism and disruption to COVID-19 vaccine supply chains, and promoting action in the World Trade Organization to secure greater Chinese respect for intellectual property rights. Such collective action should be welcomed by Canberra, which does not need another David and Goliath moment.

Still, the overriding requirement in improving global supply chain resilience and effectiveness is better domestic economic policies within the countries engaged in them. These are policies that strengthen both backward and forward linkages.

For prospective SCRI participants, such policies will be country-specific. India must develop simpler labour laws, improve basic infrastructure and promote openness in the digital economy. Japan should foster improvements in productivity via enhanced corporate governance to offset the impact of falling labour inputs. The United States would do well to return to more open policies of technological development, enabling it to ‘run faster’. And Australia, in line with its Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s COVID-19 parliamentary inquiry submission, should avoid ‘rigid production systems based on the worst and most infrequent of events’.

In brief, if the SCRI is not to be a slippery slope it will need to focus less on decoupling from China and more on domestic and cooperative action to improve the enabling environment in which supply chains operate.

Ken Heydon is a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics. He is formerly an Australian trade official, deputy director-general of Australia’s Office of National Assessments and senior member of the OECD secretariat. His latest book is The Political Economy of International Trade: Putting Commerce in Context (Polity, 2019).

Note – Blooloop weekend briefing: Godzilla | Hong Kong Disneyland | V&A and Smithsonian

Museums

The V&A and the Smithsonian Institution have announced that they are shelving a plan to co-curate a gallery at V&A East in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, east London.

The Natural History Museum has joined forces with data visualisation company Beyond Words Studio to illustrate the changes in the movement of people, air and noise pollution, and wildlife sightings during lockdown in the UK.

Madrid is all set to welcome a Willy Wonka-style attraction called Sweet Space Museum, opening at the ABC Serrano Shopping Centre on October 10. It will feature a candy forest and ice-cream lab.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture has announced that it will set up the Red Sea Museum in the Bab Al Bunt building in Al-Balad, the historical area of Jeddah. It will be inaugurated in late 2022.

The Box, a new £48m museum and cultural hub with replica models of a woolly mammoth and the Mayflower, is opening in Plymouth on September 29. The site contains approximately 1.5 million objects.

Technology

The V&A and HTC VIVE Arts have announced an innovative partnership taking audiences on an immersive and mind-bending VR journey to the world of Alice in Wonderland with ‘Curious Alice’.

Europa-Park has opened YULLBE, a new virtual reality (VR) attraction offering the ‘Mission Rulantica’ and ‘Traumatica’ experiences, created by MackNeXT and VR Coaster.

Madame Tussauds Sydney has joined forces with some of Sydney’s influencers to launch a series of interactive TikTok challenges for visitors to replicate with the stars, starting on September 25.

Hyundai has partnered with the chief curator of the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) on a safe, free drive-thru art experience, Driven: A Latinx Artist Celebration, at the Hollywood Palladium Theater.

The UK is inviting music lovers worldwide to collaborate on a musical project by submitting sounds for the UK Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, which is now kicking off in October 2021.

Theme parks

Universal Orlando’s three theme parks all hit limited capacity over the weekend as Universal Studios opened two new haunted houses, despite the cancellation of Halloween Horror Nights 2020.

Universal Orlando then expanded its schedule for Halloween, and is offering its new haunted houses on additional dates at Universal Studios Florida.

Hong Kong Disneyland has announced that it will reopen with health and safety measures on September 25, after closing for a second time in response to the coronavirus crisis in July.

However, the Walt Disney Company has lost the option to expand Hong Kong Disneyland after the Hong Kong Government decided not to renew an agreement to develop an adjacent plot of land.

Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, has now called on California Governor Gavin Newsom to reopen Disneyland. D’Amaro said at a virtual press conference “it’s time”.

Construction is progressing on the enormous Godzilla model at Nijigen no Mori in Japan, which is part of the theme park’s Godzilla-themed expansion. The replica is described as the “world’s largest life-size Godzilla”.

Disney shared a first look at the new entrance, aka porte cochère, for Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, which is reopening in summer 2021. The design is inspired by the colours, patterns and textures found throughout the resort.

Water parks

Walt Disney World is planning to reopen one of its water parks, Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon, in March 2021. The water parks have been closed in response to COVID-19 since March 2020.

Zoos and aquariums

Dubai Municipality announced that Dubai Safari Park is opening after more than two years with new interactive, educational and entertainment experiences on October 5, following a renovation and development process.

In depth

Fun Spot EMEA: delivering high ROI sportainment is easier than ever MORE

Daisy Shang on the secret of Fantawild’s rapid growth MORE

Fed up California theme parks demand to reopen MORE

Studio Ghibli theme park: everything you need to know MORE

Pirates in Batavia at Europa-Park: from destruction to completion MORE

What could be next for Puy du Fou? MORE

Can staycations help the UK attractions industry weather the storm? MORE

Looking ahead to 2021: COVID-19 and the long road to recovery MORE

Note – McKinsey: Don’t ignore the climate, and other advice for world-weary humans

This week, climate change in the year of COVID-19. Plus, problems with the US blood supply, and how CFOs can tackle 2021 budgeting.
Photo of wheat field
Infernal wildfires. Epic droughts. Drenching hurricanes. Melting glaciers. Climate woes have returned with a vengeance—as if to say, we know you’re preoccupied with the pandemic, but remember Mother Nature.
McKinsey has conducted in-depth analyses in articles like “Climate risk and response: Physical hazards and socioeconomic impacts” and “Valuing nature conservation.” And to mark Climate Week NYC, we’re offering a collection of research and perspectives on the challenges and potential solutions that lie ahead. With so many knock-on effects of a changing climate, we thought we’d look at how it might affect what you eat and drink.
First, breadbaskets. McKinsey examined the likelihood of a harvest failure occurring in multiple breadbasket locations as well as the potential socioeconomic effects. The analysis suggests that a multiple-breadbasket failure—enough simultaneous shocks to affect global production—becomes increasingly likely in the decades ahead, driven by an increase in both the likelihood and the severity of climate events.
Here’s a prime example: In August, a derecho swept through Iowa, bringing severe winds and significant precipitation across many parts of the state. Nearly 12 million acres of cropland were affected, representing about 50 percent of the 24.7 million acres planted in the state in 2020. An estimated 3.1 million to 3.8 million acres of corn and soybeans were damaged.
Addressing shortages. Following the food shortages of the early 2000s, the G-20 developed an action plan to reduce price volatility. That was a good response, but governments can also manage domestic grain prices by stockpiling when prices are low and releasing grain when prices rise, to create a price ceiling. They can also subsidize private-sector storage or invest in improved transportation infrastructure.
Effects on the world’s poor. Short-term price hikes due to acute climate stress could significantly affect the well-being of 750 million of the world’s poorest people. Increasing production and storage in good years and promoting flexibility in the use of food crops to maximize calories consumed could go a long way to lessen that risk.
Case study: Africa. Climate change is expected to make agricultural development in Africa more challenging, as extreme weather patterns increase the volatility of crop and livestock yields. For coffee farmers in Ethiopia, for example, the chance of experiencing a 25 percent or greater drop in annual yield could climb from 3.2 percent to 4.2 percent in 2030—a 31 percent increase.
Case study: Mediterranean basin. Every year, tourists flock to Mediterranean countries for the mild climate, wine and food, and stunning scenery (or at least they did before COVID-19). Climate change may alter that lovely mix: the mean temperature in the Mediterranean basin has increased by 1.4 degrees Celsius since the late 19th century, compared with the global average of 1.1 degrees—and, absent targeted decarbonization, temperatures are projected to increase by an additional 1.5 degrees by 2050, making the Mediterranean climate more vulnerable to drought, water stress, wildfires, and floods.
In vino veritas. Nearly half of the Mediterranean region’s agricultural production value comes from four crops: grapes (14 percent) and wheat, tomatoes, and olives (9 percent each). Some studies project that the Mediterranean area suitable for viticulture could fall by up to 70 percent. As the Mediterranean region becomes warmer, it is also likely that specific grape varieties will no longer grow where they do now (for example, Merlot in Bordeaux), though the opportunity to plant new varieties may rise. The good news is that wine growers are already taking measures to adapt, turning to grape varieties that require less water, or harvesting earlier.
On the horizon. Innovation and advanced technologies could make a powerful contribution to secure and sustainable food production. For example, digital and biotechnologies could improve the health of ruminant livestock, requiring fewer methane-producing animals to meet the world’s protein needs. Genetic technologies could play a supporting role by enabling the breeding of animals that produce less methane. Data and advanced analytics also could help authorities better monitor and manage the seas to limit overfishing. Agriculture is a traditional industry, but its quest for tech-enabled sustainability shows the path forward.

Where the US blood supply runs low
For a system that relies on the altruism of contributors, an aging class of blood donors and changing attitudes about donation put the nation’s blood supply at risk. We can see that in the Pacific Northwest, where a perilously low stockpile of blood and blood products could greatly affect the region’s workforce and their families. Donors aged 45 and older account for 63 percent of the total blood volume collected from repeat donors. But baby boomers are aging out of the donor pool, and first-time donors aren’t replenishing their ranks.

Where the US blood supply runs low

Carbon dioxide emissions would need to reach net zero by 2050 to avoid the worst effects of climate change

Carbon dioxide emissions would need to reach net zero by 2050 to avoid the worst effects of climate change

the Shortlist

McKinsey & Company

Note – Fisher: How to Think About Your Emergency Cash in a Low-Rate World

By Fisher Investments Editorial Staff

Full link: https://www.fisherinvestments.com/en-us/marketminder/how-to-think-about-your-emergency-cash-in-a-low-rate-world?fiut=p

Low interest rates may reduce the appeal of savings accounts, but a right-sized emergency fund is still important.

For most of the past decade, interest rates have hovered near historical lows. To some, namely people who took out loans during this stretch, that has likely been a pretty positive development. But to others, it amounts to “financial repression”—a fancy way to say low rates punish savings by slashing yields well below inflation rates. Today, options to stash your cash are returning less than ever—which we think has many behaving rather oddly. Here is a broad look at various cash options—and some behaviors we think you ought to avoid.

First, to be clear, we think it is a fallacy to argue that people fit into neat and tidy categories like borrowers, savers, investors, consumers, etc. Most people are all those things at once. One trait of good investors, in our view, is that they are disciplined savers, too. They have a cash reserve to tap in case of emergencies—so that they aren’t forced to liquidate any time an unexpected expense arises. Now, this should be within reason—holding too much cash lowers your overall expected return and is a mistake that complicates many folks’ efforts to reach their financial goals. It is also not cash “on the sidelines” that you may look to deploy at some point. But having a right-sized emergency fund is important. Usually between 3 and 12 months’ (in extreme cases) cash flow needs seems sufficient, in our view. There are reasons to hold more cash than that, though. For example, if you are saving for some near-term expected expense—a down payment on a property, perhaps. But we generally think large holdings of cash warrant scrutiny.

Here is why: With interest rates as low as they are now, cash holdings—no matter where they are parked—are likely losing purchasing power to inflation, even at today’s low inflation rates. The US Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 1.3% y/y in August—1.7% excluding food and fuel. Good luck finding that in a stable-value option like a certificate of deposit (CD), savings account or money market fund.

Most of these deposit accounts base their interest rate on the short-term interest rates set by the Fed. The Fed’s target range is presently 0% – 0.25% which, to state the obvious, is low. Even the 10-year US Treasury yields just 0.68%, far below CPI. (Exhibit 1) The upshot: Carrying too much cash erodes your purchasing power. This is even more true when you consider that many cash-like options pay even less than 10-year yields.

Exhibit 1: As You Know, Interest Rates Are Low

Source: FactSet, as of 9/23/2020. 10-Year US Treasury constant maturity yield, fed-funds target rates, 9/22/1980 – 9/22/2020. Note: The Fed shifted from targeting an explicit rate to a 25 basis point range on 12/16/2008.

Now, that doesn’t mean you should hold no cash. But it leads many to wonder: What should they do with their reserves? Here are some suggested dos—and don’ts.

Standard savings accounts at many banks pay very, very little. The average rate today is something like a 0.1% annual percentage yield (APY), which we hesitate to call an interest rate. Many banks are awash in excess reserves and don’t need to pay you a higher yield to attract your deposit. Yet there are options to consider. Look at high-yield, online savings accounts from one of the many purveyors. You can choose from a large array ranging from big banks to midsized and smaller firms. Rates on these still aren’t phenomenal. But in our review of eight today, we found rates ranging from 0.6% to 0.9% APY.[i] Again, these aren’t great. But no option will be hugely higher with fed-funds rates so low. The drawbacks to an online bank? In many cases, you can’t walk into a branch (to the extent you would these days anyway). Moreover, if you run into a really time-sensitive cash pinch, it can take a couple of days to move money via electronic funds transfer to your checking account. Otherwise, most of these are FDIC insured in exactly the same manner as your neighborhood bank—up to $250,000 per depositor, $500,000 for joint accounts—and subject to the same regulatory cap at six monthly withdrawals.

Some money market mutual funds can offer similar yields with a good deal of stability. But it is worth remembering that, after post-financial crisis reforms, some of these are subject to price volatility. The exception: Treasury funds, which aren’t likely to match the above yields. Furthermore, they aren’t FDIC insured, if that is important to you.

Another possible option: Certificates of Deposit (CDs). But these rates are little different—in some cases lower—than high-yield savings accounts. The difference is they lock the rate in for a specified period, so if you expect rates to go lower, this may be an option. That said, don’t expect much here, either. Exhibit 2 plots CD rates and the effective fed-funds rate (the rate banks actually are lending to one another at). CDs also may be tougher to get your money out of in a pinch—many ding you for early redemption.

Exhibit 2: CD Rates Aren’t Much Better

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, as of 9/23/2020. Effective fed-funds rate and national average CD rates, 3- and 12-month jumbo and non-jumbo CDs. Jumbo is defined as above $100,000.

If you start looking beyond this—at bonds or other assets—you immediately start taking on more volatility risk than may be desirable for an emergency fund or nest egg. Any bond will fluctuate in the secondary market based on interest rate moves. If they rise, prices fall, and your holdings may decline in value. Some outlandish ideas we have seen include moving into gold or Bitcoin. This is, in our view, a horrific idea for holdings that would otherwise be in cash. Both are more volatile than stocks! As another strike against Bitcoin, we frequently see reports of scams in cryptocurrencies. So, if you want our advice, don’t follow the CEO who recently moved his firm’s cash reserves into crypto on the notion real returns on cash were somehow double-digit negative.[ii] They aren’t good, but it is a stretch to think they are that bad.

We realize the returns you would get on cash are paltry now. That is the world we live in. But a right-sized, well-managed cash reserve should never have been about making money in the first place. That is where your investments come in. Savings, in our view, are a safety blanket for emergencies or money you can’t subject to volatility.


[i] We reviewed rates from Goldman Sachs’ Marcus unit, Vio Bank, Ally Financial, CapitalOne 360, Citi’s Accelerate, and American Express. As of 9/22/2020.

[ii] “CEO Says Bitcoin Is Safer After Moving Firm’s Cash to Crypto,” Olga Kharif, Bloomberg, September 22, 2020.

FISHER INVESTMENTS ® MARKETMINDER DIGEST

Note – AngelList: Bird (in a) box

Bird enters big-box retail

Alternate text

 riding his e-powered scooter.

Not to be outdone this week, rival scooter maker Unagi responded with news — and buzzwords! — of its own. Announcing the opening of a store in Bird’s backyard, CEO David Hyman called Los Angeles “ground zero epicenter for electric scooter culture” and predicted the global scooter market would reach $35B by 2025.

Funding and acquisitions

Miami-based startup Papa raised $18 million to pair older adults and families with companionship and assistance. Gig workers, known as “Papa Pals,” help the elderly with everyday tasks such as retrieving prescriptions, connecting to technology, and navigating their health care benefits. Papa is already operating in 17 states and will use the new funding to expand to all 50 by January.

Pure Watercraft hopes that its electric outboard motor can replace a normal gas one for most boating needs under 50 HP — and it raised a $23.4 million Series A to hit the throttle. Pure’s motor works much like a traditional one, but it runs on a suitcase-sized battery pack and is almost silent (minus the sound of turbulence). The funding round is aimed squarely at spinning up production.

Forage (formerly InsideSherpa)a startup that hosts virtual work experience programs for college students all around the world, raised a $9.3 million Series A. When the pandemic caused many tech internship programs to be cancelled, Forage stepped in to match college students with online courses and programs from a variety of companies. The programs are designed by companies like Citi, BCG, and GE, and give students exposure to the work that happens inside the company. Enrollments in InsideSherpa grew more than 86% since the onset of COVID-19, up to 1 million students.

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Note – DealStreetAsia: The Week That Was

As we usher in a new week, here is a quick recap of the important developments that unfolded over the last week.

Fundraising in the times of COVID-19  
Morgan Stanley’s Asia private equity unit, Morgan Stanley Private Equity Asia (MSPEA), has secured nearly $400 million in capital commitments so far for its fifth Asia PE fund.

In Singapore, Altara Ventures launched its $100 million debut fund to focus on tech deals in Southeast Asia. The firm’s five general partners are Koh Boon Hwee, Tan Chow Boon, Seow Kiat Wang, Gavin Teo and Dave Ng.

Meanwhile, Sequoia Capital China is looking to raise at least $2.2 billion for a new RMB fund as it ramps up its focus on sectors ranging from industrial technology, healthcare and consumer to media.

China’s IDG Capital is in talks to raise $550 million for a new fund. The development comes at a time when the VC firm is in the process of raising $688 million for another fund launched in March this year.

In Indonesia, VC firm Alpha JWC is sticking to its early-stage investment philosophy as it gears up to launch its third fund. Industry sources say the firm is targeting to raise between $200 million and $250 million for its third vehicle.
Deal news
In Singapore, VC firm Openspace Ventures announced the first investment from its new opportunity fund focused on mid-stage technology investing. OSV+ backed health analytics platform Biofourmis, which raised $100 million in its Series C round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s plant-based food producer Green Monday Holdings secured $70 million in new funding led by The Rise Fund, a part of San Francisco-based global investment firm TPG, and Hong Kong-listed conglomerate Swire Pacific Limited.

In India, edtech startup Byju’s roped in BlackRock, Sands Capital and Alkeon Capital as new investors in its ongoing $500-million funding round. Earlier this month, the company had raised funds from investors including private equity firm Silver Lake Partners, General Atlantic, Owl Ventures and Tiger Global at a valuation of $10.8 billion.

In Indonesia, Yummy Corp bagged $12 million in a round led by SoftBank Ventures Asia. Hong Kong-based Vectr VenturesAppWorks, Quest Ventures, Coca Cola Amatil X and Palm Drive Capital also participated in the round, along with existing investors Intudo Ventures and Sovereign’s Capital.

Shanghai-based WM Motor announced the completion of a Series D round of financing at 10 billion yuan ($1.47 billion), the largest financing for an electric vehicle developer in the country by far. 

In Japan, Sequoia co-led a $100 million funding in Tokyo’s mobile gaming unicorn Playco, which is now valued at $1 billion. The investment update was part of the announcement of the company’s launch last week.
Let’s dive in   
A feature focused on women-owned enterprises in Southeast Asia highlighted how investors are increasingly evincing interest in businesses led by women to narrow the billion-dollar financing gap faced by them.

Southeast Asia, along with East Asia, witnessed 23 active, private market, gender lens investing (GLI) vehicles at the end of last year with total assets under management of $815 million, up 77 per cent from the year before.

Crowded market and tighter regulatory norms are set to drive consolidation in Vietnam’s e-payments space. There are 37 licensed intermediary payment services (IPS) providers, including 34 e-wallets, in the country that serve an adult population of slightly over 66 million. 
Interviews 
Edwin Wong, managing partner and CEO at Ares SSG, told DealStreetAsia in an interview that the firm sees great potential in the real estate and financial services sectors in India and China. The coronavirus pandemic, he said, has driven up demand in Asia for alternative capital, particularly as banks seek to manage their risks during the crisis.

Meanwhile, Shannon Kalayanamitr, partner at VC firm Gobi Partnersshared her perspective on the Southeast Asian VC ecosystem and its performance in terms of gender diversity. “There are not enough women in VC in decision-making positions… Even in Southeast Asia, 73 per cent of venture capital firms in the region don’t have a female investing partner,” she said.

In Indonesia, state-owned digital payments provider LinkAja is understood to be slowly getting back on its feet after a rude jolt from the COVID-19 pandemic, said its chief marketing officer Edward Killian Suwignyo. “Our transactions from transportation and offline merchants dropped more than 50 per cent, particularly in April and May. It was the hardest moment for our merchants and us,” he said.
People moves 
Private equity firm CVC Capital has roped in Justin Choi, who until recently led equity fundraising, mergers and acquisitions and investments, joint ventures and equity-linked partnerships at ride-hailing and payments firm Gojek. The appointment indicates the PE firm’s growing interest in tech investments, once the domain of venture capital funds.

Meanwhile, Thai venture capitalist Paul Ark (Polapat Arkkrapridi) has joined pan-Asia VC firm Gobi Partners as an advisor after a nine-month sabbatical. In his new role, Ark will “advise on, design, and implement various startup, and innovation initiatives, including ESG (Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance) and sustainability, and regional ecosystem development.”

Stay safe and have a productive week ahead. 
Paramita Chatterjee
Editor, DealStreetAsia
paramita@dealstreetasia.com