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FinecoBank Adds New Investment Options with Funds from Aberdeen Standard Investments – Crowdfund Insider

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FinecoBank (BI:FBK), an online trading and banking platform, has added a suite of funds from Aberdeen Standard Investments (ASI). The company states that with the new funds from ASI, Fineco clients in the UK now have access to a new set of funds. ASI is a global asset manager managing over $644 billion worldwide. FinecoBank says clients may access the funds at 25 basis points per year.

Fineco launched in the UK just over two years ago with an offering focused on trading, banking, and investing services, which can be managed through a single account, with the ability to hold up to 13 currencies as standard. Fineco once was a part of Unicredit but was spun out from the firm which now trades on the Borsa Italiana. Fineco offers commission fee trading for UK/US/European listed shares. The bank promotes its all in one, global approach with free current accounts.

Paolo Di Grazia, deputy general manager of Fineco, said they arecommitted to providing in the next few months our customers in the United Kingdom with the best asset managers offering, aiming to add a wider number of funds of 70 partners, today available on our Italian investment platform.

Fineco chose Aberdeen Asset Management for the firms expertise and quality of offering: the current market phase has shown why investors need access, at a competitive fee, to the best quality asset managers who can thrive in changing market conditions.

Campbell Fleming, Global Head of Distribution, Aberdeen Standard Investments, added that Fineco is one of their key partners in Italy, and their efforts to extend this partnership offering to the UK will help support a wider customer base in this market.

Our global presence and our knowledge of individual markets allow us to be the partner of choice for our customers whether operating in a single country, or as in this case, planning to expand their presence on a larger scale. ASI is committed to offering Fineco its full range of solutions and provide all the necessary support to achieve its objectives in the UK market.

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YC to cut the size of its investment in future YC startups – TechCrunch

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In a blog post this Friday afternoon, Y Combinators president Geoff Ralston said that the accelerator would make two changes to its terms for startups.

The first would see the size of the standard deal for YC startups decline from $150,000 for 7% (roughly a $2.1 million post-money valuation) to $125,000 for the same equity (or roughly a $1.79 million post-money valuation). The deal will continue to be offered using a SAFE, which YC and a group of others pioneered as a simpler investment option compared to convertible notes.

Interestingly, the firm is always writing into its terms that it will only take pro rata up to 4% of a subsequent rounds size, which is obviously smaller than the 7% ownership that the company is buying in its financing. That 4% number is a ceiling in cases where the accelerator has less ownership than 4%, the smaller percentage applies. Full terms of Y Combinators deal are available on its website.

The new deal will apply to startups who join Y Combinator in the Winter 2021 batch, and doesnt include startups in the current summer batch (who have already presumably been funded)

YCs deal has varied over the years. When it first launched more than a decade ago, it offered terms of $20,000 for 6%.

A Y Combinator spokeswoman said that the change was in line with the fundraising and budget realties of the accelerator going forward. The future of the economy is unpredictable, and we feel it is prudent during these times to switch to a leaner model, she said. In our case, we want to be set up to fund as many great founders as possible especially during a time that is creating an unprecedented change to consumer and business behavior; with these changes comes endless opportunities for startups. And with the changes made to our standard deal, we can fund as many as 3000 more companies.

Outside of budget, at least a couple of factors are potentially at work here. One is the increased use of Work From Anywhere, which presumably can help lower some of the running costs of a startup, particularly in its earliest days (e.g., no need to pay for that WeWork flex desk).

Y Combinator has also invested more of its funds into emerging markets startups, which can have dramatically lower costs of development given prevailing wages for talent in local markets.

Yet, the cutback is also a sign that the flood of capital entering the Valley in recent years has receded if ever so slightly in the wake of COVID-19. Valuations are depressing, and while $25,000 is not a massive loss considering the scale of later venture financings, the 16% valuation haircut is in line with other numbers we have seen in the Valley in recent weeks.

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YC to cut the size of its investment in future YC startups - TechCrunch

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June 30th, 2020 at 1:47 am

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Constellation Brands Ventures to Invest $100 Million in Black-Owned Beverage Companies by 2030 –

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Constellation Brands venture capital arm will invest $100 million in beverage alcohol startups with Black founders over the next decade, the company announced today.

Constellation Brands Ventures (CBV) Focus on Minority Founders program follows the template the beer, wine and spirits company used to create Focus on Female Founders in late 2018. Since that initiatives launch, female-owned businesses in CBVs portfolio mix have increased from 20% to 50%.

This reinforces there is a real need for these programs, and they can drive measurable improvement in minority representation for our industry, Constellation Brands CEO Bill Newlands said in the release.

Of companies that received venture capital backing between 2013 and 2017 nationwide, just 1% had Black founders, according to a diversity study by Rate My Investor. The study also found that 77.1% of founders are white and 90.8% are male.

In the beer industry, 1% of brewery owners are Black, according to the Brewers Associations Brewery Operations Benchmarking Survey. Slightly more than half (52.3%) of breweries are 100% male-owned, and 31% have 50-50, male-female ownership, usually husband-and-wife teams. Just 2% of breweries are female-owned.

In addition to investment funding, companies in the Focus on Minority Founders initiative will receive support in the form of sales, marketing, operations, and finance expertise from Constellation executives, as do companies in the Focus on Female Founders pipeline.

In its first year, Focus on Female Founders connected hard seltzer maker Vivify with more than 150 wholesalers and guided Austin Cocktails through a packaging redesign, according to a post from CBV vice president Jen Evans.

In January, Constellation Brands acquired a minority ownership stake in Press Premium Alcohol Seltzer, a company in the Focus on Female Founders program. Two months after Constellation made a minority investment in Press, the companys chief commercial officer for its beer division, Bruce Jacobson, left to join the Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based hard seltzer maker.

Constellation will also work internally to create greater equity for African American/Black colleagues, it said in the release. This entails a review of recruitment, hiring and talent development processes to challenge unconscious bias internally.

Externally, Constellation will review its sponsorships, advertising policies and brand activations to ensure they are aligned to brand and company values.

Newlands has also signed onto CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion, a business commitment to advance corporate diversity. Other beverage alcohol CEOs who have taken the organizations pledge include Anheuser-Busch InBev CEO Carlos Brito, Beam Suntory CEO Albert Baladi, Brown-Forman CEO Lawson Whiting, Diageo North America president Deirdre Mahlan, Molson Coors CEO Gavin Hattersley, New Belgium CEO Steve Fechheimer, and Standard Beverage president Darrell Swank.

Constellation will also donate $1 million to and begin a multi-year partnership with the Equal Justice Initiative, which is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment.

We categorically denounce bigotry, racism, and social injustice, Newlands said in the release. They are clearly inconsistent with our company values and our commitment to embracing diversity and creating an inclusive environment where all employees feel safe, respected, and valued. We stand in solidarity with the Black community and we are committed to achieving meaningful and lasting change.

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Morgan Stanley is bullish on Singapore stocks and expects 14% returns – CNBC

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People wearing protective masks walk along the Jubilee Bridge at the Marina Bay waterfront on June 7, 2020 in Singapore.

Suhaimi Abdullah | Getty Images

Morgan Stanley is bullish on Singapore stocks and expects as much as 14% returns for the MSCI Singapore index over the next 12 months.

In fact, investors could increasingly be looking to Singapore as a safe place to invest in as uncertainty roils the region, the investment bank said.

"We could see inflows supported by a growing of perception of Singapore as a safe haven amid geopolitical and economic uncertainties in the region," analysts Wilson Ng and Derek Chang wrote in a report last week.

Covid-19 has ravaged economies worldwide, and Asia-Pacific nations have not been spared.

Singapore, a wealthy city state in the region, has unveiled one of the most generous measures to support its economy four stimulus packages worth 100 billion Singapore dollars, or almost 20% of the country's GDP.

At the same time, geopolitical tensions have intensified.

Hong Kong's protests reignited again in May after China approved a national security law said to curtail the Chinese city's freedoms. The latest demonstrations come after months of protests last year that crippled the territory's economy.

Singapore and Hong Kong have traditionally been competitors for the status of the top financial hub and wealth center in Asia.

Money has been increasingly flowing into the city state in the past year.

In April, a record amount of money flowed into the city-state's banks, data from Singapore's central bank showed.

Deposits from non-residentsjumped 44% year-on-year to a record $62.14 billion Singapore dollars ($44.58 billion) in April the fourth monthly increase and a trend since 2019.

Markets in Singapore also saw more inflows via passive funds, which have been jumping year-on-year, according to data by Morgan Stanley. Passive investing is a strategy where investors buy an index that broadly tracks the market, such as exchange traded funds. It is increasingly popular among investors, as opposed to individual stock picks.

The perception of Singapore as a safe haven amid the current health crisis and geopolitical uncertainties could drive more high-net worth individuals (HNWIs) to allocate more of their wealth in the country

Wilson Ng and Derek Chang

Morgan Stanley

The real estate sector is key in driving those gains, according to the investment bank. Singapore, a regional hub for real estate investment trusts, or REITs, has been supported by a sustained low interest rate environment that has fueled a chase for yields, said the investment bank.

REITsare companies that manage a portfolio of properties such as offices, shopping malls, or hotels. Income generated from those assets, after accounting for fees, is distributed as dividends to shareholders.Investors generally find REITs attractive for their dividend payouts.

"We think the growth of the Singapore REIT market, which led to more representation in benchmarks used by expanding passive real estate and yield focused ETFs, was, and will continue to be, a significant factor driving passive fund inflows," said the report.

"The perception of Singapore as a safe haven amid the current health crisis and geopolitical uncertainties could drive more high-net worth individuals (HNWIs) to allocate more of their wealth in the country."

The overall rise in capital inflows "could spill over" into local markets and further drive up demand, Morgan Stanley said.

Valuations for Singapore stocks have bottomed, says Morgan Stanley, but it says that a "sustained rebound is underway."

"High and sustainable dividends" are what differentiates Singapore stocks from other markets, it said.

Here are five stocks that Morgan Stanley predicted will have sustainable dividends, and which fit the theme of cyclical recovery:

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Morgan Stanley is bullish on Singapore stocks and expects 14% returns - CNBC

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450k for trainers: why vintage fashion is the new smart investment – The Guardian

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Handbag aficionado Cardi B with some of the examples fuelling the secondhand market. Composite: Christies, Back Grid, Bonhams, Fellows Auctioneers

If youve ever complained about the cost of new trainers, consider this. On Friday night, a pair of running shoes sold $162,500 (132,000) at auction at Sothebys in New York. Though these unique spike shoes were handmade in the early 1970s by Bill Bowerman, co-founder of Nike, theyre not even the most expensive trainers in the world. Those were sold at Sothebys last month: a pair of Michael Jordans Air Jordan 1s from 1985 fetched $560,000 .

These sales are part of a growing trend for traditional auction houses to sell fashion and streetwear. Many now sell skateboards as well as Picassos, and are setting up handbag departments alongside those for antiquities and old masters.

According to data analysts GlobalData, the secondhand market for luxury goods is set to be worth $51bn by 2023, compared with $24bn in 2018, and while plenty of this will be through dedicated fashion resale websites, venerable auction houses are getting in on the act.

Bonhams, founded 1793, holds its inaugural handbag sale in July. The lots include a Perspex handbag designed by Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton in 2018 and a 2019 Herms Birkin. Meg Randell is head of the handbag department, set up at Bonhams this year, and she says the luxury secondhand market grew four times faster than the primary market this year. Pre-loved luxury goods are huge in all sectors from auction houses to online, she says.

According to Randell, secondhand sales are driven by two factors. Some bidders want items you cant get new. For example, you cant go into a Herms boutique and buy a Birkin. Herms doesnt run a waiting list anymore, they only make them for friends of the fashion house. So theres a huge resale market.

For others, theyre looking for cheaper bags on the secondary market or bags from the last 20 years. At the moment, you see a lot of influencers on Instagram with Fendi Baguettes the It-bag of 2000 so theres a big market for those.

A report by Art Market Research published last week said that in 2019, 3,700 designer handbags sold for 26.4m at auctions around the world. Birkin handbags increased in price by 42% on average last year, while the average value of Herms Kelly bags have risen 129% since 2010.

While Christies and Sothebys also have established fashion and handbag departments, the latter has cornered the market on trainers since 2019. Their first auctions broke world records. Brahm Wachter, director of e-commerce Development, says Sothebys identified that the sneaker resale market was expected to grow to $6bn by 2025, and also noted how many collectors were out there. We wanted to try something unique, but stay true to our brand with our first sneaker auction, he says. In partnership with online streetwear platform Stadium Goods, we sold 100 of the rarest sneakers ever released, and at the time broke a record for the highest price, selling the 1972 Nike Moon Shoe for over $400,000.

Wachter says that trainers havent caused culture shock at Sothebys. In fact, two pairs are on view for sale at their New York headquarters a pair of What the Dunk skate shoes with a starting price of $12,500 and a pair of Air Force 1s Lux Anaconda, which start at $2,500.

Trainer collectors certainly have a reputation for obsession. Jordan Geller is the American collector who sold the two record-breaking pairs of trainers at Sothebys recently. He made the Guinness Book of Records in 2013 for having the worlds largest collection of Nikes, and at one point owned more than 15,000 pairs. Currently he has about 300.

Ive always viewed sneakers as art and its great to see other people feel the same way

Its difficult for me to put a value on my collection as I consider them priceless, he says.

Like all serious sneaker collectors, Geller identifies as passionate and obsessive. I am certainly both. Collectors are always on the hunt for that next special pair. We are nostalgic, and sneakers bring back good memories for us. He thinks its great that auction houses are getting into trainers. Ive always viewed sneakers as art, and its great to see other people feel the same way.

Wachter believes trainers are culturally important. Sneakers cover a broad range of our cultural history. From sports and art to film and music, sneakers are often a big (and popular) part of the story. All it takes is watching Back to the Future II, with Marty McFly lacing up his Nike MAGs, to see the importance that these items ,and Nike, have had on our collective culture.

He also notes that although the first Sothebys skateboard sale was held only last year, skateboards decorated by artists such as George Kondo and KAWS had previously gone under the hammer just at contemporary art auctions.

Collaborations between designers and artists is one of the modern phenomena that has meant fashion is now viewed as a collectible commodity, but more fundamental changes in the audience for fashion have come through the internet and the access it provides to blogs, influencers and Instagram.

The landscape of fashion has completely changed in the last two decades, says Oriole Cullen, a contemporary fashion and textiles curator at the V&A, the London museum with the largest fashion archive in the world. The history, theory and study of fashion has become more accessible. There used to be gatekeepers who decided what fashion could be and what was important but thats all gone.

The idea of bidding on modern fashion has come from brands such as the streetwear label Supreme, which really sparked the trend for buying limited editions. Clever brands limit production, which feeds demand. Now auction houses hold online sales, anyone can bid from anywhere around the world. Its a global conversation.

As Cullen says, if theres demand then theres going to be a sale. Though she cautions that not all buys will hold their value. Some of these products use experimental fabrics which do degrade weve found that with our collections.

Although the current boom in auction house and online sales causes her some professional disappointments as so many bidders are now competing for items the V&A might want, Cullen is all in favour of the democratisation of fashion.Before the internet, many clothes would be worn and then lost for ever. Now if you want to look for dresses made by, say, Balenciaga in the 1950s, theres a chance youll find them. Thats kind of magical.

Handbags: The most expensive handbag sold in the UK was a Herms Himalaya Birkin bag with white gold and diamond buckles and clasps which fetched 162,500 at Christies in 2018. The most expensive handbag ever sold at auction was also a Birkin. That went for 293,000 at a Christies auction in Hong Kong.

Trainers: Michael Jordans worn, autographed Nike Air Jordan 1s from 1985 sold for $560,000 at Sothebys in May 2020. The shoes had a reserve price of $150,000 but the sale coincided with the smash hit documentary series about Jordan, which had 23.8m viewers worldwide on Netflix.

Skateboards: Supreme is the worlds most sought-after skateboard brand at auction. A collection of 248 skateboards was sold at Sothebys for $800,00 in 2019. Christies auction dedicated to Supreme streetwear, also in 2019, featured a Supreme x Louis Vuitton skateboard that went for $30,000.

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450k for trainers: why vintage fashion is the new smart investment - The Guardian

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Are Index Funds Still a Good Investment in 2020? – MSN Money

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Index funds are the epitome of passive investing.

Rather than trying to beat the market by selecting individual stocks, these funds own all stocks constituting the index, matching the performance of the underlying benchmark. There are plenty of advantages to this way of investing lower fees, less reliance on the competence of a fund manager (many of whom fail to beat the market) and market-wide diversification make index funds one of the safest ways to invest your money.

The greatest advantage index funds have offered over the last few years is their ability to capture the returns of the longest bull run in stock market history. Over the last 10 years, the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (ticker: SPY), an exchange-traded fund that mimics the S&P 500 index, has enjoyed an average annual return of 11.04% not bad at all, and better than many individual investors have been able to achieve.

Investors have responded to the impressive performance of index funds by fleeing from actively managed funds in droves and putting their hard-earned money into passively managed funds. According to Morningstar, in 2019, investors withdrew a net total of $204.1 billion from actively managed U.S. stock funds, while passively managed funds saw investors pour in $162.7 billion. This was the culmination of a years-long trend, marking the first time in history that the total assets of passive funds surpassed those of active funds.

Then a global pandemic began.

While index funds may be the pinnacle of passive investing, 2020 has been anything but passive for the stock market.

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Market volatility inherently favors stock pickers adept at changing with the times, while index funds have been left to hang on for dear life as the markets have surged and sagged. Tech stocks, like Facebook (FB), Amazon (AMZN) and others within the "FAANG" group, have dramatically outpaced the market, meaning that investors who focused their funds on these companies are beating the returns of their peers whose investments are diversified across an entire index.

In short, the volatility of 2020 has raised a potent, important question:

"Just because index funds have been volatile does not mean investors should necessarily steer clear," says Matthew Lui, vice president at Investment Research Canterbury Consulting. "They should assess their risk tolerance in light of the drawdown and understand that even though investing in index funds has been smooth sailing for quite some time, every once in a while you'll get whacked with an event like what happened in the first quarter."

Derek Horstmeyer, associate professor at George Mason University School of Business, agrees.

"Index funds are still the best bet in this terrible roller-coaster environment. The single greatest factor in long-run returns for a fund are the fees paid," Horstmeyer says. "With index funds now with expense ratios down at close to zero, this is still far better than any actively managed fund. Further, active management notoriously does poorly in volatile periods since they are bad market timers this is another reason to stick with indexers."

As if the benefits don't end there, Horstmeyer goes on: "Index funds are also far more tax efficient, which is very important in volatile markets to maximize after-tax returns."

But does sticking with index funds mean leaving potential gains on the table? After all, the recent upswing in the market has been the result of a surge in a few core industries, namely tech, while other sectors such as travel and hospitality have largely lagged. And while the diversification of index funds is one of their greatest strengths when the market as a whole is moving upward, if gains are piecemeal, then index funds may become eclipsed by the gains of actively managed funds.

Yet no less than Jack Bogle himself, the father of index investing, encouraged investors to focus less on the flashy gains and losses and more on the hidden costs of active investing. Namely, fees.

"Active management can be an effective approach," Lui admits. "Strong active managers can take advantage of short-term opportunities caused by big market moves to outperform index funds. However, our research has shown that it is difficult, though not impossible, to identify active managers that can consistently outperform net of fees."

"This is particularly true in widely trafficked areas such as large-cap U.S. stocks," he adds.

Fees are the hidden costs of actively managed funds that chip away at your profits. These fees usually take the form of management fees, operating expenses or expense ratios a calculation of a mutual fund's operating expenses divided by the average total dollar value of the assets in the fund. For actively managed funds, the expense ratio usually ranges from 0.5% to 1%, with 1.5% on the more expensive end. Although those numbers may sound low, they add up over time and eat deeply into any gains you see. Meanwhile, the expense ratio of passive index funds is often closer to 0.2%.

If you believe in the market's turnaround and that things will continue to get better from here, what's the best index fund to invest in if you're bullish?

"As a rule of thumb, index funds that focus on stocks of smaller, foreign, or more cyclical companies tend to be riskier but carry the prospect of potentially higher returns in the long run," says Lui. "These may be suitable for investors with a higher risk tolerance and a more bullish outlook."

As for the bears, Lui notes that "for the more defensive-minded, index funds that invest in large U.S. companies, such as the S&P 500, tend to be less volatile compared to the above options. Balanced funds (comprising a mix of stocks and bonds) can also be a way to provide downside protection."

So at the end of the day, are index funds still a good idea right now?

Brandon Renfroe, financial adviser and assistant professor of finance at East Texas Baptist University, summarizes it well.

"Index funds are still a good choice in 2020, but it's important to remember why you would choose index funds in the first place. Index investing relies on a belief that you can't consistently select 'better' individual investments. Successful index investing means you accept the market average and get it in a cost-effective way."

Your personal investment horizon is also important to keep in mind. "If you are only thinking about short-term return relative to other funds, you'll always be able to find a reason to regret choosing index funds. It's the nature of the strategy," Renfroe adds.

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Are Index Funds Still a Good Investment in 2020? - MSN Money

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June 30th, 2020 at 1:46 am

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Worried About Investing in a Recession? Take This Advice From Warren Buffett. – The Motley Fool

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The stock market has been on a wild ride lately, and Americans aren't enjoying it. In fact, a Gallup poll taken at the end of April 2020 revealed just 21% of people think stocks or mutual funds are the best long-term investment. This was the lowest level since 2012. And that was well before it was announced that the country had officially entered a recession.

If you're concerned about buying stocks now, you aren't alone. But you may also be making a big mistake as a recession is as good a time to invest as any -- or perhaps an even better one.

Don't take my word for it either. Heed the advice of the Oracle of Omaha, as Warren Buffett, one of the world's best investors, has a lot to say about investing in troubled times. Here are some pearls of wisdom to take to heart.

Image source: Getty Images.

More than half of all Americans fear the market hasn't hit bottom yet. If you're one of them, you shouldn't let fear prevent you from putting your money in.

As Buffett explained, when most people are fearful, it's a good opportunity to purchase shares of stock at low prices. And who doesn't want to buy low and sell high?

While the market has largely recovered from the coronavirus-driven crash in March, another correction is inevitable as many investors are still overvaluing stocks because they aren't taking into account the full economic impact COVID-19 could have throughout the summer and fall.

If the market ends up crashing again, you may be tempted to sit on the sidelines and wait until the bad times have passed. Instead, heed Buffett's advice about the opportunity to invest on the downswing and take the chance to get your money in to score even deeper discounts.

A quick glance at the news shows that commentators aren't very hopeful about the future. And with the country in a recession, coronavirus cases rising, and justifiable fear of a second wave, you won't get much reassurance right now.

But according to Buffett, that's a good thing because you won't be paying a high price for words that mean nothing in the end since, after all, no one can predict what's coming.

Americans may be wary of stocks because they're worried about the risk of loss -- and March's market crash didn't help allay their fears. But, as Buffett points out, putting your money into the market really only carries big risks if you don't know how to do it right.

Of course, any investment could lose money. But if you know how to pick solid companies to invest in (or you invest in index funds that track the market's performance) and you build a diversified portfolio, the most likely outcome based on decades of historical data is that you'll earn a reasonable return overall, over time.

This doesn't mean no investments will perform poorly, and it doesn't even mean that you won't have bad years. But it does mean that when you take the time to learn how to invest, you invest for the long term, and as you make informed decisions in building a diversified portfolio, you reduce your risk -- even if you're investing in a recession.

Of course, on the flip side, if you think you can invest your money during the downturn and make a quick buck without taking the time to learn the fundamentals of sound investing, you could be setting yourself up for disaster.

There's plenty of reason for doom and gloom during the 2020 recession, but anticipating bad times does little to help you survive them.

Instead, follow Buffett's wise words and take the time to build your ark. You can do this by developing a solid investment strategy, researching and picking stocks you'll be happy holding for a while, and making sure you've taken the steps needed to recession-proof your finances.

Recessions almost always present buying opportunities, but this one is unique because it wasn't driven by natural economic cycles but rather by a black swan event. If effective treatments are developed for coronavirus or a vaccine comes along sooner than expected, economic recovery may be swift.

Don't miss out on the chance to invest when things look bleak -- as long as you do it wisely. Otherwise, you could very well come to regret it.

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Briefing: The unbearable lightness of investing | Features | IPE –

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This is a paper of two narratives. The front pages are beset by worries over second waves, geopolitical and social tensions, economic turmoil and a painful uncertain recovery from the after-effects of COVID-19 and the ensuing economic paralysis. The business pages talk instead exuberantly about v-shaped recoveries and markets regaining their heights, with occasional fretting about the sufficiency of stimulus and the need for more.

Occasionally, trade wars and collapsing demand cross over but only insofar as they roil the sustainability of financial returns. Even then, there is an underlying confidence that clearer heads will prevail and we will muddle through. Indeed, one may go so far as to say markets and investors are remarkably sanguine in the face of what seems like an even more fraught global environment littered with tail risks.

This is cognitive dissonance in action.

Market meet economyMarch 2020 saw the fastest bear market in US history, to be followed by the fastest rally. In less than five weeks, the S&P 500 fell almost 34%. As of the first week of June, it had regained much of its ground to sit back at where it began 2020.

In financial market after market, the same pattern has played out. Credit spreads widened to levels last seen a decade ago, before rapidly compressing again. WTI oil dropped to a negative $37 a barrel on 20 April, before yo-yoing back almost equally in the opposite direction to sit at a positive $37 per barrel by 4 June.

Turn to the economy, however, and the pattern disappears.

In the US, unemployment soared to 14.7% in April, before dipping slightly to 13.3% in May. Even a mild sense of recovery, however, was quickly dispelled when it came out that survey takers had mistakenly classified 4.9m people as employed. May was still an improvement, but it still stood at 16.1% after correcting for this error.

In the UK, 60% of businesses reported by May that their turnover was lower than normal ranges, while out of work claims have grown rapidly to north of 2m and to levels last seen in the early 1990s a scarring period for many parts ofthe country.

Globally, the International Labour Organization estimates that the equivalent of 300m jobs might be lost globally once job losses and cuts in working hours are taken into account. That is even before taking into account the impact of pay cuts that are appearing across a range of sectors and countries.

The OECD struck an equally positive tone as it said the Covid-19 pandemic had triggered the most severe economic recession innearly a century. It forecastsglobal economic activity will fall 6% in 2020, with five years of income growth lost across the global economy by 2021. If a second wave appears, then the numbers are correspondingly worse.

It is hard to call any of this a positive backdrop, and given the shock to demand, it is even harder to contemplate a quick recovery to some former normal.

A clear divergence has appeared between economic uncertainty and financial volatility. This is not conjecture or argument but one borne out by hard data.

In recent years, measures of economic policy uncertainty have risen and are at elevated levels that are typically associated historically with financial turmoil. In contrast, measures of financial volatility (such as the VIX) have ground ever lower and, barring the odd jitter, sit at historical lows.

One can combine the two and track over time to create an index of their disconnectedness a cognitive dissonance index (CDI), so to speak (figure 1).

The trend is a clear one and the disconnect today stark. The CDI has generally stayed in a tight band but began to rise after the last financial crisis, with the disconnect only worsening in recent years.

The implication is one of complacency. Financial markets are ultimately linked to the real economy and over the long term their behaviour must reflect the underlying economic reality. Either uncertainty must fall to match expectations, or volatility must rise to reflect the dilemmas facing policymakers today.

Living in the momentAt the heart of this divergence lies human behaviour and the perils of moral hazard.

Financial markets are not static entities. They are collective nouns for the actions born of the hope, greed, and fear of countless human participants. What they portray is emotion as much as any underlying economic reality and the volatility that we typically observe is driven by the competition between these emotions. Different worldviews vie for dominance, coalescing into temporary paradigms transient accepted wisdoms that ebb and flow over time, euphemistically creating the peaks and troughs of volatility we observe.

The belief thatpolicymakers will somehow muddle through and support markets, no matter what, has led to a growing disconnect

After the financial crisis of 2007-09, central bank monetary support first sustained markets and then increasingly lulled investors into a comforting sense of security. Forward guidance accentuated this, and even as uncertainty has grown, the belief that policymakers will somehow muddle through and support markets, no matter what, has led to a growing disconnect.

From this perspective, the (near) absence of volatility is not a boon. It is a reflection of the fact that there are no competing world views. Clear signs are apparent of a herd mentality that has developed over the past decade and an entire generation that has grown up in a world of ultra-low rates and monetary accommodation.

Faced with a world of tail risks, the investment horizons of markets and their participants have shrunk, so that these risks and the vast uncertainties they represent now sit just beyond. Markets remain, then, in a comforting cocoon of omniscient policymakers, who will do what it takes to maintain the existing order.

Nothing has happened to shake that belief. Huge doses of monetary and now fiscal stimulus have flooded the financial system in recent months. Over 130 central banks cut rates in 2020, while large economies have devoted an average of nearly 25% of GDP to stimulus of one form or the other (figure 2). Is it any wonder that markets rallied while the economy cratered?

Markets have extrapolated this present largesse and dont fight the Fed mentality into the far future, imbibing a false sense of permanence. But economics cannot be divorced from politics, geography and society all important influences on the course of money and economies historically.

The underlying reality is one of fragility, not strength particularly when set against the growth in economic uncertainty.

Investors do not fully appreciate the stark choices facing policymakers today from future demand, to supporting businesses, to creating jobs, to worrying about the growing debt burden across all parts of the economy. There are, in addition, the growing pressures of populism, fed by disenfranchisement and inequality.

Instead, they have derived a simple correlation between monetary (and fiscal) support and rising asset prices, even in the face of future uncertainty. But there is nomathematical or economic relationship between the two, merely a psychological link based on perception and faith.

It would be foolish to take that assumption at face value. Given the strength of anger amongst populations globally and the visible scars of inequality now emerging in the aftermath of Covid-19, future bailouts may bypass markets entirely and go straight to society.

And what happens when growth that Holy Grail finally returns?

Monetary largesse might be withdrawn, stimulus might be unwound and bailouts become a thing of the past. Now that would be terrifying given todays reliance on these comfort blankets. Cognitive dissonance in reverse, with economies roaring and market whimpering, could become apparent.

There is something fundamentally wrong with a world where growth is to be dreaded. Long-term investors should tread with caution, grabbing their pennies for now but also watching that steamroller carefully lest it begin to move again.

Dr Bob Swarup is principal at Camdor Global Advisors, a macro advisory firm focused on independent actionable research and holistic analysis. He can be contacted on

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Briefing: The unbearable lightness of investing | Features | IPE -

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June 30th, 2020 at 1:46 am

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Vodafone Giants CEO on Acquisitions, Investments, and the Necessity of ‘International Returns’ – TEO – The Esports Observer

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Spanish esports organization Vodafone Giants made a series of announcements in the last two months that are opening it up to expand its operations internationally. Following the acquisition of X6tence by its parent company Giants Gaming Esports and closing a round of investments in May, it announced that Red Bull joined Nike and other brands as a team sponsor.

We have been leading the Spanish market for a long time. We have considered it necessary to expand our brand to other markets and especially to games in which we can achieve international returns, like for example Rainbow 6 with our Team in Apac Pro league under Giants, and in CS:GO with our new Danish roster for X6tence. We are also looking very closely at everything that happens in Latin America, which due to the proximity of our language is one of our medium-term targets, Giants Gaming Esports CEO Jos Ramn Daz told The Esports Observer.

The international movement came shortly after the conclusion of the investment round, in which the Snchez Czar Group allocated 3M ($3.3M USD) to Vodafone Giants. It was the largest fundraising in esports in the country and keeps the Giants as a company still with 100% Spanish capital. In addition to boosting the organizations internationalization, the resource will also be used for the development of new products and the construction of headquarters in Malaga.

Shortly after, Vodafone Giants announced Red Bull as a new sponsor. The agreement is valid for one year and the energy drink brand will appear on Giants social networks and its different broadcast channels. According to the announcement, the agreement also states that Red Bull will provide the organization with all its knowledge in competition and preparation for elite sport.

Daz said that this agreement is one more step in the evolution of our brand and confirms the good health of our company and the Spanish ecosystem. Red Bull Spain said at the time the deal was announced that it reassures the companys commitment to the esports sector, and predicts that esports is a market niche that will grow dramatically in the upcoming years.

Red Bull joins Nike and ChupaChups as one of the main sponsors of Vodafone Giants, which is also supported by other brands like Ozone, Diesel, and even the city of Malaga. Although the agreement with Red Bull is only one-year-long, the organization states it works together with the brands to build a long-term relationship, and the sponsor renewal rate is close to 100%.

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Vodafone Giants CEO on Acquisitions, Investments, and the Necessity of 'International Returns' - TEO - The Esports Observer

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12 million invested in RAS feed production – The Fish Site

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The new line is the result of a DKK 100 million (12 million) investment that has enabled BioMar to increase the annual capacity of its Danish facility by 25 percent.

Situated in Jutland, it is close to many of the worlds leading RAS companies, allowing BioMar to focus on feeds for land-based farming.

Being situated in an area with a long history of RAS research and development has enabled us to be first movers in RAS feeds and will continue to be crucially important in the innovation development of feeds for land-based farming. There is good recognition for our RAS feeds globally and our ambitions for this growing segment are high, stated Carlos Diaz, CEO of BioMar Group.

The Danish production facility has experience in specially designed feeds for more than 40 aquaculture species, including trout, salmon and yellowtail kingfish. The investment project has been able to increase the overall capacity to 160,000 tonnes.

Anders Brandt-Clausen, managing director of BioMar Denmark explains: Installing an extra production line into a facility that is in daily operation was challenging, particularly in the last few months of the process where we all have been working under extraordinary circumstances due to the COVID-19 situation. Thanks to our highly skilled and dedicated people, we have been able to successfully manage the process without compromising the daily operations and scheduled deliverables.

Aquaculture feeds from the new line have been tested through the last couple of months and, according to BioMar, have shown impressive results.

Pellets coming out of the new line are now in a much better diameter: length ratio, the inter-size gap has been improved for at smoother transition between pellet sizes. The improved process control technology on the new line will further strengthen BioMars ability to focus on more physical quality parameters such as sinking speed and water stability, stated the company.

We have just been through the fry feed season and we received very positive feedback from farmers around the world on the quality and performance of the products, concluded Brandt-Clausen.

12 million invested in RAS feed production - The Fish Site

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