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An 'Amazon-type marketplace' could cut asset-management fees in half — and some of Wall Street's biggest names could take a huge hit

trader upset worried scared angry

  • Morgan Stanley and Oliver Wyman just published their annual blue paper on wholesale banks and asset managers, and they laid out a stark worst-case scenario for the latter.
  • They identify the types of asset managers that are in the worst possible shape heading into a crucial period for the industry, and which are poised to stay afloat.

For asset managers these days, the biggest question is not how to boost fees but how to keep from cutting them. And that poses a huge problem for an industry that has struggled to cut costs during a period of booming markets and growth in assets under management.

According to a blue paper released Wednesday by Morgan Stanley and Oliver Wyman, industry costs have remained stagnant for the past five years. With fee pressure meaning less in revenue per dollar of assets under management, something's going to have to give.

That's especially true given the risk of what the authors call "disruption in the distribution layer." Right now, fee pressures are mounting despite a distribution model for mutual funds that supports higher fee structures.

Funds are often distributed via banks, independent financial advisers, and investment consultants. But the two firms say asset managers could eventually see 50% of their fees evaporate if their distribution shifts to an "Amazon-type marketplace" where funds can reach investors directly. And while it's admittedly a worst-case scenario, the sheer fact that the discussion is occurring should trouble anyone in the industry.

"Such an outcome would lead to significantly more price transparency and a magnetic pull to a Vanguard-like pricing for active management," the two firms said.

Vanguard has a 25-basis-point weighted-average fee rate on its $1 trillion book of actively managed assets, which is much lower than in the rest of the industry, according to the report. With that type of downside scenario in play, it raises the questions of who is best positioned to stay afloat and who is most at risk.

Morgan Stanley and Oliver Wyman calculated the drop in fees for various big-money investors in the event that there's an industry-wide shift toward Vanguard-like fee levels. And some of Wall Street's biggest names, including Franklin Templeton, Waddell & Reed, Invesco, and Magellan would see reductions exceeding 40%.

Screen Shot 2018 03 15 at 5.31.08 PM

So what is a fund manager to do to stave off this possibility? First and foremost, the study's authors highlight capacity constraint as a key differentiator. They note the relative resilience of firms with strategies built around it and also forecast that those without any will continue to struggle.

The logic here is that managers with a capacity constraint will be able to continue charging higher fees, because of the perceived value-add that helps the strategy to work in the first place.

Second, while Morgan Stanley and Oliver Wyman see data science and artificial intelligence as ways to improve the investment and distribution processes, they see it positively affecting only a handful of firms. So firms unable to adapt to new technologies will also be at potentially grave risk.

Third, and perhaps most important, is the size of the firms in question. The authors note that cost as a proportion of assets under management for large firms is half that of their smaller counterparts, on average.

And to make matters worse for the little guy, they find active outflows for asset managers with less than $100 billion in assets under management have been double the industry average, despite frequent outperformance. This dynamic can be seen in the chart below.

Got all that? If not, Morgan Stanley and Oliver Wyman sum up the final piece of the equation in short and sweet fashion:

"The biggest are better positioned," they wrote.

Screen Shot 2018 03 15 at 3.22.34 PM

SEE ALSO: Amazon could shake the banking industry to its core — but one expert knows how Wall Street can fight back

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JPMorgan 'pulled a rug out from underneath' its competitors, and now they're all feeling the pain (JPM)

FILE PHOTO: Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co. speaks during the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., May 1, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

  • Stock research firms are getting battered so far in 2018, with revenues declining substantially.
  • Part of the blame is new European regulatory reform, which were widely expected to constrict research budgets.
  • But JPMorgan Chase deserves some of the blame as well for conducting a multi-front attack on sell-side research industry that "pulled a rug out from underneath" its competitors.

The stock research departments of global banks are suffering this year, with revenues falling in the face of European regulatory reforms that have led their customers to slash research budgets. 

In the fallout from the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II (MiFID II) going live in January, top-tier banks have seen 10% to 30% declines in research revenues in 2018, while second-tier firms are seeing declines of as much as 60%, according to consulting firm Oliver Wyman. 

The reasons for the decline are myriad, though the new regulatory requirement that research cannot be bundled with trade execution services, is paramount. With this provision, a decline of some degree was almost inevitable.

But the depth of cuts in research revenues can also be blamed, in part, on JPMorgan Chase — which has executed a multi-front attack on the research industry to snatch up market share.

On one hand, JPMorgan's massive asset management business was among the earliest to declare that it would absorb the cost of paying for research, rather than passing it along to customers. 

While many investment managers around the world were still considering the alternative, JPMorgan Asset Management and fellow behemoths BlackRock and Vanguard all pledged to bear the brunt themselves, setting a crucial precedent that led many others to fall in line. 

"Many listed asset managers ... did not want to absorb research costs onto their P&Ls, because it further challenges their ability to deliver operational leverage," Credit Suisse said in a research note in October. "In the end they effectively had to following competitive pressure from largest peers like JPMorgan AM and BlackRock who decided to absorb costs."

Mary Erdoes, the head of JPMorgan Asset Management, predicted in November that this would tighten up spending on sell-side research and in the future her firm would trim the number of analysts it works with by half. 

As Oliver Wyman partner Michael Turner recently told Business Insider, by now nearly every "buy-side client has come out as absorbing the research cost, placing further downward pressure on prices."

But JPMorgan also has a formidable equity-research department, which is completely separate from its asset and wealth-management business.

On the exact same day last August that JPMorgan Asset Management announced it would absorb research costs, Bloomberg reported that the firm was planning on charging just $10,000 for its entry-level equity research — one-fourth what some rivals were considering.

This was part of a "strategy to grab market share from rivals with smaller research operations," insiders told Bloomberg.

"It was massively disruptive to firms that cover all sectors," Erick Davis, the CEO of financials-focused boutique research firm Autonomous Research, recently told Business Insider.

He added that it was probably a brilliant strategy by JPMorgan: "They just pulled a rug out from underneath everyone else that had come out with a pricing point for global sectors."

So, while JPMorgan took a swipe at research budgets from the asset management side by encouraging investment managers to absorb costs and cut their budgets, it was also undercutting competitors on pricing its own research — two significant headwinds from opposite sides for research firms to reckon with.

JPMorgan doesn't get all the blame, but Oliver Wyman's figures show that early on in the post-MiFID II world, the strategy is exacerbating the pain for many of its competitors. 

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THE GLOBAL E-COMMERCE LANDSCAPE: How emerging markets will transform the future of online shopping

APAC CAGRThis is a preview of a research report from BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about BI Intelligence, click here.

Emerging markets are going to be essential for e-commerce growth, as retailers in developed markets may soon reach saturation in terms of consumer growth.

For example, almost half of US households now have a Prime membership, diminishing Amazon's growth potential in the country. Meanwhile, in China, the world's largest e-commerce market, nearly half of the population is actively making online purchases, leaving little room for growth. 

However, India, Southeast Asia, and Latin America are worth keeping an eye on. E-commerce penetration rates in these areas hover between 2-6%, presenting a huge opportunity for future growth as online sales gain traction. Moreover, these regions are expected to grow at compound annual growth rates (CAGRs) of 31%, 32%, and 16%, respectively, through 2021.

This report compiles several e-commerce snapshots, which together highlight the most notable emerging markets in various regions. Each provides an overview of the e-commerce industry in a particular country, discusses influential retailers, and provides insights into the opportunities and challenges for that specific domestic industry.

Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • Emerging markets are going to be essential for e-commerce growth, as retailers in developed markets may soon reach saturation in terms of consumer growth.
  • India is the clear overall leader in e-commerce potential, but countries in Southeast Asia and Latin America are also worth keeping an eye on. Within Southeast Asia, Indonesia shows the most promise for retailers, as the government is loosening restrictions on foreign investments, and its massive population is gaining spending power and more access to internet. Meanwhile, Mexico is a retailer's best bet for expansion in Latin America, due to its stable economy and rising middle class, but Brazil may be gearing up to steal the top spot.
  • However, doing business in these regions can be difficult. In most of these emerging markets, infrastructure is underdeveloped and the population is largely unbanked, making digital payments a challenge.
  • If retailers can build a brand presence in these markets while online shopping is still in its nascent stages, they may become market leaders as e-commerce takes off in the regions. Moreover, these markets could provide new sources of growth for companies that would otherwise stagnate in more mature e-commerce markets.

 In full, the report:

  • Explores the e-commerce industry in India, Southeast Asia, and Latin America.
  • Highlights the leading country in each region, as well as key e-commerce players there. 
  • Outlines the challenges and opportunities each region faces.
  • Gives insight into how these emerging markets may shape the future of e-commerce.

 Interested in getting the full report? Here are two ways to access it:

  1. Subscribe to an All-Access pass to BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and over 100 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you'll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. >> Learn More Now
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7 ways life is harder for millennials than it was for their parents

boss mentor employee computer working manager

  • Millennials are the generation born between 1981 and 1996.
  • In some ways, their life is harder than it was for their parents at the same age.
  • Many millennials are struggling financially and emotionally. Even online dating isn't as easy as it might seem.

Everyone likes to think that their life is hard, that their problems are bigger and less solvable than anyone else's.

But for millennials — the generation born between 1981 and 1996 — that might in fact be true. Many of these 20- and 30-somethings are struggling financially, emotionally, and even in the love department, in ways that their forebears weren't.

Below, we've listed some of the most significant ways in which life is harder for millennials than it was for their parents.

SEE ALSO: 11 things millennials do completely differently from their parents

Millennials are less financially stable than previous generations

Business Insider's Linette Lopez reported on some disappointing data from the Washington, DC-based think tank Young Invincibles.

Among white Americans ages 25 to 34, median income decreased 21% between 1989 and 2013 — though it increased among Latinos, who started at a disadvantage.

What's more, as Steven Rattner described in a 2015 New York Times op-ed, millennials also have a lower net worth ($10,400 in 2013) than Gen X had ($18,200 in 1995). 

Perhaps the most startling finding comes from a 2017 paper by social scientists at Harvard, Stanford, and University of California, Berkeley: Economic mobility has decreased significantly since the 1940s.

Specifically, about 90% of Americans born in the 1940s outearned their parents by the time they hit 30. That figure drops to 50% among Americans born in the 1980s. The authors attribute the change largely to growing income inequality.

Millennials are saddled with student debt — but a college education is more necessary than ever

Rattner also points out that "college is becoming less affordable even as it has become increasingly necessary." (According to the Young Invincibles data, even college grads with debt earn more than people without a degree.)

Between 1993 and 2015, average tuition increased 234% — when the inflation rate was just 63%. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 46% of grads left college with debt in 1995, compared to 71% in 2015.

That makes it harder for millennials to hit those traditional "adult" milestones, like having kids or buying a house.

Millennial men are more likely to live at home with their parents than previous generations

Pew Research Center data reveals that, among men ages 18 to 34, living at home with parents has been the most common living arrangement since 2009. (Women in this age group are more likely to be living with a spouse or a romantic partner than they are to be living with their parents.)

The main culprit seems to be unemployment. Pew reports that research suggests employed young men are less likely to live at home than unemployed young men, and employment among young men has decreased significantly in the last few decades.

Living at home isn't a bad thing per se, but it can make it harder for millennials to feel independent.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Theranos may have self-destructed, but these Stanford students are still betting that health tech is going to be huge

Stanford University

  • Where Theranos and former CEO Elizabeth Holmes went wrong, these Stanford entrepreneurs are hoping to cover lost ground.
  • Just one day before Theranos and Holmes were charged by the SEC with "massive fraud," a demo day at Stanford revealed there is no shortage of interest in at-home healthcare solutions among Silicon Valley hopefuls.

Theranos may been charged with 'massive fraud' by the SEC this week, all but ending what could have been a pioneering company. But the idea of simpler, better, more humane health technology remains alive and well. 

That's judging from Tuesday's Stanford University startup demo day, where current students at the university — and a handful of alumni — showed off to potential investors and the media what their very-early-stage companies have been working on. Notably, the event was one day before the SEC levied its charges at Theranos.

And while fields from augmented reality to drones were represented, it was definitely health-related technology that ruled the day. (A funny sidenote: Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes herself attended Stanford herself, before dropping out.)

cardinal ventures

Many of these young entrepreneurs pitched various gadgets and online tools that promised to bring procedures, tests diagnoses, and healthier habits straight into the customer's home. The goal: winning the attention, mentorship and funding of several venture capitalists and angel investors in the audience.

This trend toward personalized "wellness" products and services has been steadily growing, as previously noted by the Financial Times, Forbes, and others. And many of the founders at Tuesday's event, organized by the university's Cardinal Ventures startup accelerator program, are riding the healthcare wave.

Several of the companies specifically described technology that will help patients shorten or avoid doctor visits by bringing medical procedures and testing into the comfort of their own home.

Demetric Maxim, founder and CEO of Nephrogen Inc., says that Americans lose $52 billion every year in "opportunity costs," meaning potential earnings lost to wasted time, because of doctor visits solely dedicated to blood tests. On stage at the Stanford demo day, Maxim says that his company plans to combat this cost by developing a "rapid, cheap, at-home blood testing platform" that can examine blood samples in 30 minutes, for less than five dollars a test.


Another startup, called CloudCath, also promised to minimize patients' number of doctor visits by building a skin patch that monitors and protects incisions in the skin surrounding catheters and other medical tubing inserted into the body.

"Complete visibility into compliance, treatment adequacy and early complication detection is now available at the comfort of patients' homes," according to CloudCath's website.

Another fledgling healthcare company, called, focussed on using technology to both simplify and reduce the costs of precision medicine, while effectively "bringing cardiology to pediatrics and general medicine."

"By the time you get at CT scan, it is already too late," said co-founder Damien Kettud in his pitch. The company aims to use genetic sequencing technology, similar to that developed by other consumer products like 23andMe, to detect and predict heart disease. 

Ultimately, it's different ways of getting at the same idea: The idea that technology can improve the healthcare experience and make for a healthier world. It's risky — as Theranos showed, healthcare is complicated, and it's easier to have a great idea than it is to actually execute on it. But the promise is a healthier world.

SEE ALSO: Theranos and its founder, Elizabeth Holmes, have been charged with fraud by the SEC

SEE ALSO: Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes has been forced to give up majority control of the company to resolve charges of a 'massive fraud'

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'They will come for you': A third Russian exile in Britain is getting death threats after nerve agent attack

Valery Morovoz Al Jazeera

  • Valery Morozov, 63, said he received an email saying that the people who targeted Sergei Skripal "will come for you."
  • Skripal was struck with Novichok nerve agent and is seriously ill in hospital.
  • Putin critic Nikolai Glushkov was murdered in the past week in London.
  • Numerous other Russians in the UK are now reconsidering their safety.

A Russian exile living in Britain says he has received death threats saying that people who poisoned former spy Sergei Skripal are coming for him.

Valery Morozov, a 63-year-old who fled Russia after exposing what he said were corrupt business practices, said that he received threats to his life via anonymous, encrypted emails.

Skripal was exposed to Novichok, a Russian-made nerve agent, which left him in critical condition in hospital and sparked a major diplomatic rift between London and Moscow.

Not long after he was poisoned, Russian exile Nikolai Glushkov was found dead in his London home in what police now believe was a murder. Glushkov had earlier warned that he was on a Kremlin hit list.

Morozov shared the messages with The Sunday Times newspaper. The first said: "They came for Sergei, they will come for you."

When he did not respond, he received a second which asked: "Do you not care what will happen to you? Waiting for your confirmation."

Morozov, who lives in Guildford, Surrey, reported the emails to local police, who are investigating. He has reportedly been given increased police protection.

According to the BBC, police and security forces have contacted several more Russians in Britain to "discuss their safety" in light of the Skripal and Glushkov cases.

The two deaths could also be part of a much longer-running trend.

A major investigation published last year by BuzzFeed News claimed to identify 14 similar deaths linked either to the Russian state or Russian criminal groups.

Amber Rudd, the British Home Secretary, said that these deaths would all be investigated a second time in light of Skripal's death.

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Prince Harry has reportedly refused to sign a prenuptial agreement before marrying Meghan Markle

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry

  • Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are getting married on May 19.
  • Ahead of their royal wedding, Prince Harry has reportedly refused to sign a pre-nup agreement.
  • Harry is "determined" to make the marriage work and last a long time, the Daily Mail reports.
  • Prince William also didn't sign a prenup before he married Kate Middleton.
  • Prince Harry has a reported net worth of between $25 and 40 million. Markle has an estimated net worth of $5 million.

Prince Harry has reportedly refused to sign a prenuptial agreement ahead of his wedding to Meghan Markle, the Daily Mail reported.

Harry "is determined that his marriage will be a lasting one, so there's no need for him to sign anything," according to the Daily Mail.

meghan markle prince harry

This isn't an entirely unprecedented move. Prince William also refused to sign a prenup before marrying Kate Middleton, according to Fox News.

Prince Harry has a reported net worth of between $25 and 40 million, according to Money. He inherited $14 million from Princess Diana. He also served 10 years in the Royal Airforce, ultimately earning $53,000 a year as a captain, Money reports. Markle, who was reportedly paid $50,000 per "Suits" episode, has an estimated net worth of $5 million.

The couple will be married on May 19 at Windsor Castle.

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Here's what investors say they want out of the next Goldman Sachs CEO — and where Lloyd Blankfein fell short (GS)

Lloyd Blankfein David Solomon Harvey Schwartz Goldman Sachs

  • David Solomon is now the heir apparent to Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein.
  • Procensus, a data company that aggregates and analyzes investor sentiment, surveyed investors on the succession. According to results seen by Business Insider, 19 investors from firms with a combined $11 trillion in assets under management responded, with nearly 75% saying Solomon was the best choice. 
  • Investors largely approved of Lloyd Blankfein's performance, but there was a key area they said Solomon could improve upon.

The succession plan at Goldman Sachs has crystallized, with COO David Solomon set to take the reins once CEO Lloyd Blankfein clears out, likely in the next year or so, according to reports. 

So, what are investors hoping for out of the next regime at America's most prestigious investment bank?

Procensus, a data company that aggregates and analyzes investor sentiment, surveyed investors on the succession. And according to results seen by Business Insider, 19 investors from firms with more than $11 trillion in combined assets under management responded, with most respondents optimistic about Solomon leading the company. Nearly 75% said he was the best candidate to replace Blankfein.

Procencus david solomon goldman sachs

"Investors appear cautiously positive about David Solomon being the heir apparent at GS. Almost three quarters of respondents see him as the best choice for the job, with former GS president Gary Cohn the only other potential candidate to attract more than a single vote," Procensus said in its report.

Investors largely approved of Blankfein, but they see room for improvement. 

When asked what the next CEO could do to improve upon Blankfein's performance, some highlighted the bank's need to increase earnings power and better allocate capital, but the most frequent request was for better communication, with a "high proportion of investors requesting more engagement and better disclosure from GS."

A sample of the responses:

  • "Improve disclosures. More frank discussion of capital allocation." 
  • "Allocate capital better and improve disclosure and market communication" 
  • "Increase transparency on conference calls and earnings releases."
  • "More disclosure within Trading businesses, particularly FICC."
  • "Participate on earnings calls!"

A number of respondents also said the bank should shift away from FICC, with one saying they'd like to see the bank "refocus on banking," another saying the bank should "allocate capital away from the trading business," and a third saying the bank should do more business with corporates, and "recognize pricing risky assets is no longer a competitive advantage."

Solomon for his part has played a key role in devising Goldman's growth initiatives, such as focusing on winning more business from corporate clients, and pushing new businesses like the bank's Marcus offering. 

One respondent said Solomon's position as the heir apparent "definitely confirms a big pivot in the strategic focus and mix at the company." 

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Marco Rubio throws Facebook under the bus for allowing Trump-linked firm to take 50 million users' information in massive data 'breach'


  • Sen. Marco Rubio said he was "disturbed" by Facebook allowing Cambridge Analytica to collect the data of millions of unwitting users.
  • He suggested Facebook hasn't been forthcoming to Congressional investigators, and accused the company of acting like it is above the law.
  • The data firm is tied to the 2016 campaign of President Donald Trump, and is of interest to investigators in the Russia probe.

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida tore into Facebook on Sunday in response to allegations that the social media company had allowed a data firm that worked for President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign to harvest the data of 50 million users without their knowledge.

Rubio told NBC's Chuck Todd that he was "disturbed" by the news, and criticized Facebook for behaving like they are above the law.

"Their growth has been a lot faster than perhaps their ability to mature institutionally from within on some of these challenges that they're facing," Rubio said on "Meet the Press." "I think another part about it is sometimes these companies grow so fast and get so much good press, they get up high on themselves that they start to think that perhaps they're above sort of the rules that apply to everybody else."

On Friday, in response to the news, Facebook banned Cambridge Analytica, the firm that had gained access to users' information during the 2016 campaign.

"Protecting people's information is at the heart of what we do, and we require the same from people who operate apps on Facebook," a company statement read.

But reports from The New York Times and The Guardian found that Facebook may have been aware of Cambridge Analytica's access as early as in summer of 2016.

mark zuckerberg

Rubio, who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told Todd that the tech company has not been as forthcoming with investigators as it should have been about what they knew when.

"I think we've learned that the hard way," Rubio said, referring to Facebook's lack of transparency. "Every time that we've spoken to them, it's kind of rolled out as more coming out."

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota demanded Facebook Mark Zuckerberg testify before Congress.

"This is a major breach that must be investigated. It's clear these platforms can't police themselves," she said on Twitter Saturday.

Cambridge Analytica is a British company that was created by right-wing financier and hedge fund manager Robert Mercer, who was also until recently a major donor for the right-wing site Breitbart News. The company specializes in "psychographic" profiling that allows them to paint a picture of online users and then use this information to target them with political campaign ads.

In addition to Trump's campaign, Cambridge Analytica was also highly active during the lead-up to Brexit in the UK in 2016, in which they helped the "leave" campaign garner a surprise victory.

But the company has been tied to even more controversial operations — they have been implicated in a social media effort by the United Arab Emirates last year to link its rival Qatar to terrorism.

The company's operations and ties to Trump are under continued scrutiny by investigators in the Russia probe, according to Vox.

Rubio said he was "disturbed" by Facebook's lack of transparency, and the way its platform has been misused to manipulate people.

"I'm disturbed by that," he said. "I'm disturbed by the fact that Facebook has created filters to help the Chinese government censor. And they're begging to get back into China. There's a lot I'm disturbed about these things."

Watch a clip of Rubio's interview below:

SEE ALSO: Facebook and its executives are getting destroyed after botching the handling of a massive data 'breach'

DON'T MISS: Trump-linked firm Cambridge Analytica collected personal information from 50 million Facebook users without permission

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The newest tool for a happy marriage has been under our noses all along

couple smiling at each other

  • Chores can cause a lot of conflict in a relationship, especially if one person feels they're doing more than their share.
  • Many couples are addressing this problem with a simple tool: a digital spreadsheet.
  • A spreadsheet (or a task-management app) can make it easier to divide chores so that it's convenient for both partners.
  • The goal isn't to achieve a 50/50 split, but for both partners to be happy.

In a recent interview with The Cut, Japanese lifestyle guru Marie Kondo dished on how she and her husband divide household labor.

Kondo is the author of multiple bestselling books on organization — in the 2014 "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up," she invites readers to get rid of all their possessions except those that "spark joy" in their bodies.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Kondo applies similar rigor to organization in her marriage. She told The Cut that when she and her husband got married (they now have two daughters), they discussed "the kind of home life we wanted and what it would take to achieve that." Then they put all that on a shared Google spreadsheet.

Kondo said, "When one of us completed a task we'd mark it as done and then the other one might leave a message saying 'Thank you,' or something like that. It was all very systematic." 

Nowadays, they don't really need the spreadsheet. Kondo added, "By doing this we got a very clear sense of what needed to be done. And from this we developed a natural division of labor and now we have a good rhythm in place."

To be sure, Kondo's general approach to organization veers toward the extreme. But using a shared document to keep track of who's responsible for what around the house is relatively common among modern couples.

Recording what each person does around the house can make you realize you're not actually doing everything

In her 2017 book "Drop the Ball," Tiffany Dufu mentions MEL, i.e. the Management Excel List she shares with her husband. The list helped them negotiate (and renegotiate) who was best equipped to do which tasks. For example, if one of them knew they'd be traveling or bogged down at work, the other would take care of school drop-offs.

Using MEL also helped Dufu realized that her husband was pulling more of his weight around the house than she'd previously believed. Dufu writes:

"If you had asked me before this exercise what percentage of household and child-rearing work my husband did, I would have smiled and said, 'Oh, he's fantastic,' but in my head, I would have been rolling my eyes and thinking, 'Five percent on a good day.'

"After I tallied all the items I had added that I knew Kojo did, then combined it with his new rows, it was more like 30 percent, a staggeringly high number given my belief that he did hardly anything around the house. Talk about an eye-opener."

Today's couples are hardly the first faced with figuring out how to divvy up chores and parenting tasks. But digital technology has arguably made the process easier.

A 2017 article in The Guardian highlights how couples are using task-management apps (like Trello, Wunderlist, or Evernote) to streamline their joint lives. The article notes that these apps make it easier to share the "mental load," and not just the tasks themselves.

In other words, since both partners have a to-do list with a recurring item called "pick up milk," it's no longer one person's responsibility to remember every single week to buy more milk.

The goal isn't to go perfectly 'splitsies' with your partner on household tasks

All that said, the way you approach your spreadsheet or task-management app matters a lot. The goal shouldn't be for each person to do exactly 50% of the tasks on the list. Instead, it's about each person feeling happy with what they're currently doing — even if the split winds up looking more like 70/30.

Lori Gottlieb, a popular couples therapist, is quoted saying as much in Jo Piazza's 2017 book "How to Be Married." According to Gottlieb, too many couples insist on treating marital teamwork like work teamwork.

Gottlieb said: "You can't treat a relationship like a spreadsheet. It has to be more organic than that. Each couple needs to find their own rhythm, where each person is participating in a way that makes you both feel like you're getting a good deal."

Kondo, for example, said her husband is a good cook, so he's in charge of the cooking while she's in charge of the cleaning. "My husband will do breakfast and I'll put the dishes in the dishwasher, put things away, set and clear the table," she said.

Still, the best part about using a spreadsheet to divide household tasks isn't necessarily the accountability piece. A Harvard PhD student in sociology told The Guardian that keeping shared lists online allows couples to save in-person time for talking about the really meaningful stuff — not logistics.

That is to say, it gives you a chance to remember why you love each other — which, I'm guessing, isn't how well you scrub the kitchen floor.

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Amazon could shake the banking industry to its core — but one expert knows how Wall Street can fight back

jeff bezos

  • Amazon's reported foray into the checking-account business is a scary proposition for the banking industry, given the company's reputation for disruption.
  • A partner at Bain & Co. argues banks can withstand pressure from Amazon if they focus on one key area.

When the news hit that Amazon was in talks with several banks to launch a "checking-account-like product," everyone feared the worst.

After all, this is a company that has taken multibillion-dollar bites out of at least five major industries in the past year, often with only minor announcements. Armed with a war chest of cash and an ever-expanding network of customers, Amazon isn't afraid to throw its weight around.

But the situation for banks may not be as dire as some seem to think — at least yet.

That's according to Maureen Burns, a Boston-based partner at the consulting firm Bain & Co. who cowrote a recent report analyzing Amazon's foray into financial services. She argues banks have some inherent advantages and could withstand pressure from Amazon if they focus on customer service.

"Banks are in a position where they can catch up, and do it quickly," Burns told Business Insider by phone. "They need to identify where their customer experience lags and find the right partners to get the experience to the level of a big tech provider."

In particular, there seems to be some catching up to do when it comes to digital channels. In the Bain & Co. report, the firm found that only about half of US survey respondents strongly agreed that their primary bank's website let them do everything they needed. That percentage fell to 31% for their primary bank's app. In contrast, US millennials list Amazon as having the app they can't live without.

But for now, banks still have a leg up when it comes to their massive balance sheets, which offer the type of liquidity necessary to run a checking-account operation, Burns says. She also notes that whatever banking business Amazon does launch will need the regulatory clearance and backing that big banks already have.

With those two elements already working in their favor, Burns says it's up to banks to improve their outward-facing interactions with clients. In the end, her point is that while Amazon needs to rely on the cooperation of large financial institutions, all banks have to do is focus on themselves.

"It's not simple to change a banking relationship, so customers do it when they get really frustrated, or can't do what they want to do," Burns said. "Banks need to get ahead of that."

Easier said than done? Perhaps. But no one ever said fighting off Amazon would be easy.

Navigating the 'trust gap'

The topic of trust and how it shapes consumer behavior is something Burns touched upon frequently, while Bain's recent study also discusses it in detail. And based on the findings, it's a factor that could decide how things unfold as Amazon pushes into banking.

To hear Bain tell it, the company is off to a great start, with a trust ranking that puts its mega-cap technology peers to shame. This can be seen in the chart below, which shows consumers are far more likely to trust Amazon with their money than the likes of Apple, Google, Microsoft, or Facebook.

Screen Shot 2018 03 14 at 3.48.25 PM

You'll notice, however, the massive chasm that still exists between Amazon and primary banks. It suggests Amazon still has a ways to go — though Burns notes the difference used to be far more pronounced.

"The trust gap between banks and tech players wasn't as big as we would've thought, and it's getting smaller," Burns said. "But client trust, and convincing people to put money with them, is still an enormous barrier."

With that in mind, if big banks are truly going to withstand Amazon's latest industry-disrupting push, they'll also have to combat CEO Jeff Bezos' well-known mantra: "Your margin is my opportunity."

And that may be the toughest task of all, as they're nowhere near as diversified as Amazon, which makes them ill-equipped to deal with a margin squeeze.

Amazon's "model is about getting into a bunch of things, innovating, being willing to experiment, being willing to take risks, being willing to lose money — and then finding the really profitable places where they can play," Burns said. "Banks absolutely need to be thinking about this. Amazon looks to be in it for the long game."

SEE ALSO: Everything is going exactly right for one group of stocks poised to smash record highs

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NOW WATCH: The surprising reason why NASA hasn't sent humans to Mars yet

US soldiers tested the new targeting system that can turn artillery into a 'giant sniper rifle' — and they liked what they saw

US soldiers tested the new targeting system that can turn artillery into a 'giant sniper rifle' — and they liked what they saw

SEE ALSO: The US military is facing a 'real war for talent' — but some valuable recruits could be scared away

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NOW WATCH: We went inside the giant desert base where Marines are trained in artillery warfare

THE MOBILE BANKING COMPETITIVE EDGE REPORT: How banks rank on offering the features consumers say are critical for choosing a bank

Pacesetters updated

This is a preview of a research report from BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. This report is exclusively available to enterprise subscribers. Check to see if your company has access. 

Banks are going to new lengths to attract and retain customers with mobile features. 

In BI Intelligence's Mobile Banking Competitive Edge study, 83% of respondents said they use mobile banking. And banks are investing in mobile banking capabilities at unprecedented levels: Bank of America tripled its 2015 mobile banking budget in 2016, and maintained it through 2017, for example. Cutting-edge banking services are “table-stakes to attract and retain customers,” according to Michelle Moore, Head of Digital at Bank of America.

BI Intelligence’s first Mobile Banking Competitive Edge Report identifies which mobile banking and emerging features are most important to consumers when choosing a bank. The study ranks the largest 15 banks and credit unions in the US by whether they offer the mobile features that customers say they care most about. The report helps channel strategists choose which features they should focus their attention on, and lets them see how they compare to rival banks in offering those features. 

This study uses exclusive data from the BI Insiders Panel (BIIP), an exclusive online community of 17,000 of our readers from all over the world. Designed to be a leading-edge indicator of what’s next in digital, BIIP members tend to be affluent, tech-savvy early adopters. This means that the BIIP community is an especially sensitive indicator of what consumers will buy and adopt, as well as what behaviors, devices, and platforms will be the winners in digital disruption. 

Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

  • Wells Fargo leads the pack. The bank offers in-demand mobile transfer capabilities, along with competitive features related to security and mobile wallets. USAA follows closely behind in second. Bank of America and Citi are tied for third, and Capital One rounds out the top five.
  • Mobile transfers are the most in-demand mobile features. Transfers are the most important category of features to consumers when choosing a bank, according to our study. The most in-demand feature in this study, instant transfers, is in this category. Transfers also include bill pay, international transfers, and peer-to-peer (P2P) payments.
  • Post-Equifax, consumer interest in security tools is high. Security and control was the second most popular category in the study. Gen Xers value several features in this category — such as setting travel notifications and mobile access to ATMs — more than millennials.
  • Interest in advanced mobile banking account access is poised to jump. The account access section, the third most popular in this study, includes features like biometrics and account aggregation. With Face ID giving customers a new way to log in to banking, interest in the group of features will likely rise.
  • In spite of lagging adoption, interest in mobile wallets is still healthy. This category weighs not only whether banks support provisioning their cards in each of the popular wallets, but if they offer their own bank-branded wallets. Our study shows consumers rank support of third-party wallets as much more important than banking solutions.
  • Conversational features have the lowest demand in the study. The voice- or chatbot-based banking tools in the category are desired by only a small fraction of consumers. Instead of using the features to attract new customers, banks are exploring offloading costly transitional conversations with live support staff to AI. 

 In full, the report:

  • Shows how 32 mobile features stack up according to how important consumers say they are for choosing a new bank.
  • Ranks the top 15 banks on whether they offer each of those features.
  • Analyzes how demographics effect demand for different mobile features.
  • Provides strategies for banks to best attract and retain customers with mobile features.

The full report is available to BI Intelligence enterprise clients. To learn more about this report, email Senior Account Executive Chris Roth ( BI Intelligence's Mobile Banking Competitive Edge study includes: Bank of America, BB&T, Capital One, Chase, Citibank, Fifth Third, HSBC, Key Bank, Navy Federal Credit Union, PNC, SunTrust, TD, US Bank, and USAA.

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Transplants don’t cure baldness but here are a few products that will regrow hair, according to a hair scientist

  • Business Insider UK spoke to trichologist Shirley MacDonald about possible cures for baldness.
  • Hair transplants don't cure baldness but do provide a good cover.
  • There are a few other products that can prevent baldness but they must be taken continuously.


Read the full transcript below:

Shirley MacDonald: Transplants are getting much better. I mean 20-30 years ago when you had a transplant they looked like dolls hair. Now you can have them put in individually by the surgeon or even robots are putting them in, and they take them from the back of the scalp and they take them in a mosaic pattern and then re-transplant them.

Once it’s transplanted it would camouflage that area, but really it doesn’t cure baldness it’s just going to be a coverage, and that hair would continue to grow because it’s not androgen sensitive so unlike the hair on the top of the head, on the frontal area but you would then probably need, or your surgeon would need to look at how you’re going to look in 10 years from the first transplant to sort of fill in those other areas. So you may need top-ups from the first transplant.

There are lots of things on the market that claim to grow hair, caffeine shampoos, I’ve seen them all the only thing that’s licensed and that we know will work for a large proportion of people is topical minoxidil in different strengths for men and women and that’s applied and that stops, slows down, it holds the hair in the growing phase much longer.

Something else that’s licensed is Propicia which is an oral tablet that only men can take. The only disadvantage with these is that once you start, you have to continue otherwise you will lose the hair once you stop, both of these treatments.

we are always on the lookout for cure’s for baldness that research never stops it’s really, really important. But I think we’re going to look towards genetic engineering in the future.

If we’ve I think that’s probably the most likely solution to baldness. But the research doesn’t stop, it’s ongoing all the time, so yes there’s still hope out there.

Produced by Charlie Floyd

SEE ALSO: A fitness coach shows us how to do the perfect squat

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The 24-year-old billionaire heiress to the Dell fortune left social media after exposing her family to security risks — here's her advice for teens on apps

alexa dell 2

  • Alexa Dell, the daughter of computer magnate Michael Dell, once posted an image to Instagram of her younger brother aboard the family's private jet.
  • The "Rich Kids of Instagram" Tumblr blogged the image, and it went viral.
  • Dell was forced to leave social media after exposing her family to security risks.
  • Dell, now a 24-year-old startup advisor, has advice for teens on apps today.


Alexa Dell, 24, is the daughter of tech billionaire and entrepreneur Michael Dell. She grew up in Austin, Texas on a sprawling estate called "The Castle" with her parents and four siblings, and her father gave her an at-home masterclass on building world-changing technologies.

But as tech royalty, Dell quickly learned that she couldn't use social media apps the way most teenagers do. Business Insider caught up with Dell at SXSW to hear the whole story.

When she was 18, Dell posted a photo to Instagram. Her younger brother, Zacahary, sat in the window seat of what appeared to be a small plane. A spread of fresh fruit, vegetables, charcuterie, and, of course, a Dell laptop, was laid before him.

alexa dell zachary dell rich kids of instagram

"Snachary en route to Fiji @zachdell by alexadell #dell #privatejet," Alexa Dell's caption read.

Then the internet descended.

Rich Kids of Instagram, a popular Tumblr site that documents the adventures of the world's wealthiest offspring, circulated the image. Within a week 0f the posting, Dell and her brother, Zachary, disappeared from social media.

Bloomberg BusinessWeek broke the story that Dell had been documenting her every move on Twitter, complete with GPS locations from her phone. According to BusinessWeek, Dell's father's security detail had her Twitter and Instagram accounts suspended. The article cited concerns over the family's safety, singling out fears of kidnapping for ransom. 

It's worth noting that Gawker's now-defunct Valleywag reported that Alexa Dell shut down her social media accounts without the Dell company's intervention after the photo went viral.

Dell was an 18-year-old Columbia University student and "W" magazine intern at the time.

She told Business Insider her first response to the Rich Kids of Instagram posting was panic.

alexa dell 1

"That obviously took me completely by surprise. I didn't even realize that account, or that blog-Tumblr-thing, was a thing," Dell said. "It's unfortunate because it obviously put my family at risk and our safety. It's a shame that there are people out there who just are having fun exploiting others."

In 2012, BusinessWeek reviewed proxy statements filed with the Securities and Exchange Commision that showed Michael Dell spent $2.7 million annually on his family's security. His company provides the security detail, and Dell reimburses the company for its protection.

But the computer magnate didn't know to check his daughter's social media accounts.

"[Social media] wasn't there when I grew up. It wasn't something that I was taught how to do. It was something that we sort of taught ourselves how to use, and it sort of grew with us and became what it is now over time," Dell said.


A post shared by Alexa Dell (@alexakdell) on Feb 23, 2017 at 10:04am PST on


Dell returned to Instagram only two days after the BusinessWeek article posted, with a photo of the college student sitting poolside in a tropical location with a grove of palm trees behind her.

Her posts to Instagram are no longer tagged with her location.

Today, Dell runs a tech consulting business, and counts dating app Bumble as a client.

Dell said the experience of making it onto Tumblr's Rich Kids of Instagram — and the safety risk it created — taught her a lesson that teens on social media platforms can learn from.

"I would advise younger people new to social media to be weary ... everyone's not so nice," Dell said.

She encouraged teens to "think twice" and "be careful" before sharing personal information on the internet. She also warned that a person's tone of voice can be lost in translation on apps.

"If you think you meant something in a fun and lighthearted kind of context, someone may spin that and take it from you," Dell said.

SEE ALSO: The fabulous life of Alexa Dell, the 24-year-old billionaire heiress who grew up in 'The Castle,' dated Tinder's CEO, and got engaged with a million-dollar ring

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NOW WATCH: Dell's CMO says this is the biggest mistake marketers make

Here’s what’s wrong with bitcoin, according to 25-year-old Canadian rap artist Lil Windex

Lil Windex

  • Last week, Canadian rap artist Lil Windex released a video called "Bitcoin Ca$h," which criticized the bitcoin core and praised bitcoin cash.
  • In an interview with Business Insider, Lil Windex explained his commitment to bitcoin cash over bitcoin, his favorite cryptocurrency trading platforms, and why he thinks the bitcoin core are "a buncha lames."

Lil Windex, the mysterious Canadian cleaning-product themed rapper best known for his 2017 single "Cleanin Up," released another music video last week — and this time, his lyrical focus was centered on one of the most heated debates within the cryptocurrency community. 

The rapper's single, called "Bitcoin Ca$h" focuses on bitcoin cash, the cryptocurrency that was created as the result of a "hard fork" within the bitcoin blockchain in August 2017 that allows for increased scalability for bitcoin transactions. Whereas bitcoin, or the "bitcoin core" (a nickname derived from the "bitcoin core developers"), conceives of the cryptocurrency as digital gold, bitcoin cash envisions the cryptocurrency in terms of digital cash, a currency that accelerates the transactional verification process. 

Lil Windex

Lil Windex, who has never before ventured into the burgeoning arena of cryptocurrency-themed music, expressed his allegiance to bitcoin cash, and harshly denigrated the bitcoin core at the song's close: 

"Hey, f--- bitcoin core," Lil Windex raps.

The song tells the rags-to-riches story entailing the life of Lil Windex before he was the flaxen-haired, gold-tooth-plated lyrical genius that he is today. 

As Slate pointed out, it's unclear whether or not the song is sponsored — after all, it wouldn't be the first time a cryptocurrency was the subject of a bizarro marketing scheme in recent months.

In an effort to learn more, Business Insider reached out to Lil Windex in an email interview. Here's what Lil Windex had to say: 

ZOË BERNARD: Do you think that bitcoin cash is better than all other forms of currency?

LIL WINDEX: Yo, I think it has potential to be better. I like the principles it stands for, would be nice to be able to have money without giving it all to the bank to control, just so they can tax me with fees anytime I want to do something with my own loot. It's also nice to send cash to people without buying the boys at Western Union a steak dinner.

BERNARD: In the video, you throw around cash — do you think this is confusing to viewers who don't know that bitcoin cash is a decentralized digital currency that exists devoid of physical form, and therefore cannot be represented by traditional fiat currencies, such as the Canadian dollar?

LIL WINDEX: I'm pretty sure half the people watchin' this ish don't even know what decentralized means, so I'm not trippin' about it. It's a rap video, so it's got money in it. What's confusing about that? Nothing. Are people confused when Bitcoin millionaires cash-in for fiat so they can buy Lambo's? I don't think so. It's called flexing. 

BERNARD: Do you have that bitcoin cash? 

LIL WINDEX: B----, you know I go that bitcoin cash. What kind of question is that? I say it like 20 times in the song. 

BERNARD: How much of that bitcoin cash do you have?

LIL WINDEX: Trying to get personal with me? Here, let me explain how much I got in the language of my people: Rikiki!*

[*Editor's note: "Rikiki" is a sound that Lil Windex frequently makes within his music.]

BERNARD: What is your bitcoin cash investment strategy?

LIL WINDEX: It's simple. Get as much bitcoin cash as possible, and then just ball out everyday. I'll use it to improve my image as your grandma's favorite rapper. 

BERNARD: What cryptocurrency exchanges do you prefer?

LIL WINDEX: I'm from Vancouver, so I mess with Quadrigacx. The good people over there always get my racks to me on time for fair fees. 

BERNARD: Are there any alt-coins that you're particularly inspired to write songs about?

LIL WINDEX: No, I just did this for fun because I think it's cool s--t, and got my feet wet with bitcoin cash, it's my ride or die. Lil Windex is loyal, I don't f--k with the ops. Don't pin me as some kind of crypto rapper, that's not even a thing, I'm not out here trying to invent genres. 

BERNARD: Are you bullish or bearish?

LIL WINDEX: Depends what day it is. When it's tanking, I'm a bear. Rawr. When it's peaking, I'm tweaking. Then I get on my bulls--t.

BERNARD: Bitcoin cash has recently plummeted in value. How do you feel about this?

LIL WINDEX: Lil Windex never stresses about nothing. I got money to blow all over the place. Maybe I feel a bit sad sometimes, but then I just go ball out and I feel a lot better. 

BERNARD: What inspired you to write this song?

LIL WINDEX: I was checking my app on an "up day," and got excited thinking about the future. I started daydreaming about Lambo's, and how many bedrooms would be in my mansion if this stuff went to the moon. Then I thought, why not write a song about it? The rest is history. 

Lil Windex

BERNARD: Do you believe that bitcoin cash is more closely aligned to Satoshi Nakamoto's original vision for bitcoin rather than bitcoin core?

LIL WINDEX: I guess I believe that, because that's what people told me, and that's what I've read, but I mean, Donald Trump tells people a lot of things... so who knows what's real anymore. Could all be fake news. 

BERNARD: At the end of your song, you say, "F--- bitcoin core/ You're just a buncha names." Why do you feel that the bitcoin core are just a "buncha names?" [Translation per Gizmodo]

LIL WINDEX: Lames, I said they were a bunch of lames. How do people be a buncha names? It doesn't make any sense. Again, sounds like they're being all weird about Bitcoin and censoring people for having opinions. There's a lotta peeps pissed off about things like LN and F--kwit. Sounds lame, so if they're doing that, then yeah, they're a bunch of lames. Satoshi is a G. Respect your elders. RIKIKI!

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: What it's actually like to hear voices in your head

'Black Panther' wins the box-office for the 5th straight weekend — a first since 'Avatar' (DIS)

Black Panther

  • With an estimated $27.02 million, "Black Panther" won the box office for a fifth-straight weekend.
  • It's the first movie to pull that off since 2009's "Avatar."
  • "Black Panther" is projected to earn $461 million in profit after its theatrical run and all ancillaries are through.

Disney/Marvel's "Black Panther" has hit another box office milestone.

Winning the domestic box office this weekend with an estimated $27.02 million, according to boxofficepro, it marks the movie's fifth-straight week atop at No. 1. It's the first time a movie has pulled off that feat since the 2009 box office sensation, "Avatar."

It's also the first-ever comic book movie to do it.

The "Black Panther" totals are astounding: $605.4 million domestically, over $1.1 billion worldwide.

When the $200 million-budgeted movie is through with its theatrical and ancillary run, it's projected to have an estimated profit of a whopping $461 million, according to Deadline. That's more than previous Marvel hits "Avengers: Age of Ultron ($382.3 million) and "Captain America: Civil War" ($193.4 million).

tomb raider"Black Panther" has done this by completely destroying Hollywood's previous box office theories.

Movies released in February have always been considered to be a dumping ground for studios' projected poor performers: "Black Panther" proved that a hit movie can thrive in the first quarter of the year.

Urban audiences are thought to not be moviegoers. Wrong. Close to 40% of the movie's domestic box office is from African-Americans.

And China, the second-largest movie market in the world, is still a guessing game for Hollywood in what will play well there and what won't. Turns out "Black Panther" works. The movie has already earned over $66 million there — out-grossing the "Star Wars" movies that have played there ("The Last Jedi" earned $42.5 million in the Middle Kingdom) and on pace to be one of the top Marvel Cinematic Universe titles released in China.

Now the question is: What movie will dethrone "Black Panther"?

Warner Bros.'s "Tomb Raider" tried and failed this weekend. Though the Lara Croft reboot starring Alicia Vikander beat out "Black Panther" on Friday by taking in $9 million over the $7.5 million by "Panther," the weekend proved to favor the box office champ.

"Tomb Raider" finished in second with $23 million.

Up next to take on "Black Panther" will be Universal's "Pacific Rim Uprising."

More "Black Panther":

  • The 7 biggest questions we had after watching Marvel's "Black Panther," and hope are answered in the sequel
  • All the futuristic technologies in "Black Panther," and how close they are to becoming reality
  • The February box-office success of "Black Panther" is a rarity for the movie business — but industry insiders say that's about to change
  • Michael B. Jordan added 15 pounds of muscle after "Creed" to play the villain in "Black Panther" — here's how he did it

SEE ALSO: We talked to Walton Goggins about how he came up with the "grounded" villain role in "Tomb Raider" and his Oscar — yes, he has an Oscar

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Why 555 is always used for phone numbers on TV and in movies

GOLDMAN SACHS: A new 'scenario worth worrying about' could cause the next avalanche of selling in the stock market


  • The recent stock market correction was worsened by a flash crash in illiquid investment products that had bet on low volatility.
  • This flash crash and others during the recovery have occurred against the backdrop of a relatively good economy — and that's the worrying scenario, according to Charles Himmelberg, Goldman Sachs' cohead of global markets research.
  • If such a drop happens as investors digest sour economic news, that's when we could see a spillover into the real economy, he said.

The factor that triggered the most recent major meltdown in financial markets is unlikely to cause the next, according to Goldman Sachs' Charles Himmelberg.

Himmelberg, the bank's cohead of global markets research, thinks "liquidity is the new leverage."

In a nutshell, "leverage" refers to investment products that were backed by bad mortgages, which played a major role in deepening the 2008 crisis. At the time, investment banks took on excessive debt to support their portfolios and increase the chances of a higher return.

Today, investors are increasingly embracing illiquid products in their quest for higher yields. The exchange-traded notes that had profited from the stock market's low volatility before the flash crash in February are a good example, Himmelberg said. When the Cboe Volatility index, or VIX, had its biggest one-day spike ever, traders who owned these ETNs were forced to cover their short bets in a virtually one-directional trade.

"A scenario worth worrying about is that every flash crash so far has been against the [macroeconomic] backdrop of 'things were good,'" Himmelberg said at a conference on Wednesday.

Wage growth and concerns about higher interest rates, for example, were the driving narratives behind the market's correction in February. But Himmelberg doesn't think this holds water, since year-on-year average hourly earnings have been growing at a steady pace since last October.

"What if one of these flash crashes happens when there is macro news to be worried about, when we are in the middle of a trade war, let's say," Himmelberg said.

"If there's real macro news that's already in the market and then we get big price moves, the market would say, 'Well, that just proves it.'" Such a move could be big enough that it begins to feed into the real economy, Himmelberg added.

Electronic trading could also drain liquidity during a crash that happens against the backdrop of bad economic news, Himmelberg said. In some cases, such programs are designed to shut down as a fail-safe mechanism against massive losses.

The risk lies with products in which a wave of selling forces more selling and necessitates a trade that hedges against further losses; in the case of the VIX-linked ETNs, it was buying more volatility, Himmelberg said.

Exchange-traded funds broadly do not fit this bill, he noted. "The biggest product innovation of this cycle has been ETFs," he said. "By and large, they do not force selling in a downturn."

SEE ALSO: Why Trump's tariffs could be the most damaging for America since Nixon's, according to Goldman Sachs' top economist

Join the conversation about this story »

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We compared Mattress Firm and the store a hot startup just launched to compete with it — and the winner was clear

Mattress Firm

  • Mattress Firm is the largest specialty mattress retailer in the US, with around 3,400 stores. 
  • Casper is an online mattress brand that launched in 2014. After running a series of pop-ups around the country, it opened its first permanent store in New York in February.
  • We visited both stores to compare the experience of shopping there. 

Mattress shopping is about to get a little more interesting.

In February, mattress-in-a-box startup Casper opened its first permanent store, which its cofounder and chief operating officer Neil Parikh described as a Disneyland-type experience for mattress shopping. This digitally native brand is approaching brick-and-mortar retail with fresh eyes and is aiming to create a more innovative in-store shopping experience for its customers. 

Several other e-commerce brands, such as Everlane and Bonobos, have done the same and are putting their own spin on brick-and-mortar retail by making it an integrated part of their digital offering. These brands benefit from not having thousands of stores on their roster to worry about, and their so-called "showrooms" can become learning experiences that are constantly adapted to the customer's needs. 

We compared the shopping experience at Casper's new store in Manhattan's Noho neighborhood with a Mattress Firm store in nearby Tribeca. Mattress Firm is the largest specialty mattress retailer in the US with around 3,400 stores. It's not uncommon to find several stores clustered together in one place. 

Here's what it is like to shop at these stores:

SEE ALSO: Millennials have been accused of killing everything from napkins to beer — but here are the industries that started dying when baby boomers were their age

We visited a Mattress Firm store in Manhattan's Tribeca neighborhood. From the outside of the store, the focus was on luring you in with deals and financing options.

Our visit to the store was in the mid-morning on a Wednesday. Although this was definitely not prime mattress-shopping time, the store was noticeably empty.

In January, a Reddit thread that accused the store of being a front for money laundering went viral. Reddit users claimed that Mattress Firm is overstored in the US and that its stores are often empty, which they claimed could be a sign of something more dubious. Mattress Firm has denied these allegations.

Earlier in March, Mattress Firm's parent company, South African retail conglomerate Steinhoff Holdings, confirmed it would be closing stores this year. Though in December it had estimated it would close 200 stores, that figure has since been updated to 175.

We visited two other Mattress Firm stores in New York and found that each one was completely empty during the day. We were instantly approached by a pushy salesperson who asked lots of questions and was reluctant to leave us to browse.



Each mattress in the store was laid out on a bed frame for shoppers to test out. The mattresses were color-coded by firmness, which made it easy to shop.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

All your favorite Netflix original shows that are coming back for another season

stranger things season 2

Netflix has begun to cancel shows, but that doesn't mean it's getting rid of your favorites.

Nearly 40 Netflix original series will be returning with new seasons in the near future.

Only a handful of the series have official release dates, including the upcoming premieres of "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" and "Marvel's Luke Cage." 

But other hit Netflix shows like "Stranger Things" and "Mindhunter" have been renewed by the streaming service and are either currently in production or awaiting release.

For this list, we have only included renewed Netflix series that are yet to air, and we've included official release dates if applicable. We've excluded children's shows and reality series.

Here are the 38 Netflix original series that are coming back for another season:

SEE ALSO: All 54 of Netflix's notable original shows, ranked from worst to best

"Santa Clarita Diet" (Season 2) — Premieres March 23

"A Series of Unfortunate Events" (Season 2) — Premieres March 30

"Trailer Park Boys" (Season 12) — Premieres March 30

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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