Investing and Global Finance News


Smarthome Showroom

Automation technologies are taking over almost every aspect of our lives. We have apps for almost everything and want the capacity to control much of our systems and platforms from our handheld devices.

Leading New York City electronics integrator Sakab Designs recently opened a multi-floor technology center in New York City that allows visitors to experience the capabilities and power of the latest home and office automation technology tools created by Nortek Security & Control.

The showroom offers home and business owners a hands-on experience of what is possible with established automation technology systems that tie together everything from lights to door locks to multi-room audio and video in their home or office (or even your home-office).

seamless smart home design at the Sakab Designs showroom

“We wanted to give local home and business owners a real-life experience that shows how the latest technologies can simplify and improve everyday tasks.”

Jeff Sakkal, Sakab Designs owner

Practically every aspect of home automation is on display, with the main floor mimicking a residential space (living room, game room, kitchen and backyard) and the second floor simulating a business setting (conference room, office space and reception area).

Unlike popular DIY solutions, the Sakab solutions are a fully developed family of products installed by professionals, offering seamless user experience and increased flexibility and power.

New York City’s Got Milk

New York City makeup brand, Milk Makeup is moving into its own location: 586 Broadway. Once sold only in Sephora shops, Urban Outfitters, Birchbox and online, now Milk Makeup’s 100% vegan, cruelty-free and paraben-free products will be available in the brand’s flagship store.

Good-for-you beauty products from Milk Makeup

Created by Milk Studios, Milk Makeup creates original, healthy products that redesign the concept of beauty, not the consumer. Popular with skincare and beauty junkies, environmentally aware divas, and sustainable fashionistas, Milk Makeup is a NYC company that is all about good ingredients.

Foam Food Containers: A Thing of New York’s Past

New York City has taken a big step toward environmental protection by banning foam food containers and packing peanuts.

Foam boxes like these are now banned in New York

Now the city’s take-outs, delis, food trucks, and eateries have changed to paperboard or bamboo plates, cups, and take-home boxes.

This earth-friendly move follows on the heels of a New York statewide ban on most types of single-use plastic bags slated for March 2020.

Paper and multiple-use bags required in New York as of March 2020

In June of 2019, New York approved an impressive climate plan that would ostensibly eliminate greenhouse gas emissions over the next 30 years. The idea is to achieve this reduction by using renewable energy sources and curtailing the use of gasoline-fueled cars.

Up next for New York is the removal of plastic straws from eateries and places of entertainment.

New York is also trying to get rid of plastic straws

Ultimately, the city is also set to require plastic bottles be made of a minimum 75% recycled materials.

Tracking Renewable Energy Sources In NYC

New York City is always looking for new ways to reduce carbon emissions from communities and facilities. Tapping the often-ignored geothermal energy from the ground is now an option with a new screening tool. Now being built to test this technology for all New York City properties, the city will begin utilizing the free resource that is literally right under our feet.

Geothermal ground source energy uses the earth as a reservoir, with average temperatures between 50°- 60°F, as a stable storage conduit for heating devices to either recover or store energy for heating or cooling.

New York City to tap ground source energy

New York City’s Geothermal Ground Source Screening Tool was developed for the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and the Department of Design and Construction by engineering firm Goldman Copeland. The data procured by the tool must be assessed by a local geologist and a trained geothermal engineer, but the New York City model simplifies the approach and allows users to definitively determine the viability of ground source heating and cooling in all five city districts (nearly 900,000 lots have been identified as potential sources). The technology is especially useful in evaluating the capacity of new buildings to maximize the available ground source energies.

Using Tech to Breath Better

Residents in the tri-state area can take a deep- and clean(er)- breath in the coming year. OpenAQ is making sure of that!

The open-source platform gathers air quality data from governments and international organizations in one site; it is all free and accessible to everyone. It is also cultivating a community of activists, scientists, and data-devotees who care about air quality and pollution.

Named one of the New York Time’s 2019 Good Tech Awardees, OpenAQ compares critical air quality stats in different cities around the world. Its data can be used to build apps for local residents, alerting them when pollutants reach dangerous levels. The company processes nearly 200 million air quality measurements each year. OpenAQ is also used by lawmakers, environmentalists, and others to promote cleaner air for everyone.

What Dynamics Drive Markets Today?

In this video on the recent 7th  annual risk conference from Quantifi, we are presented with a brief synopsis on some of the issues discussed last month in London. In attendance were industry delegates and professionals discussing the dynamics driving capital markets today.  From IBOR transition to the rise of fixed income ETFS, the panel discussions were very well received. One panel member said: “There’s been a massive shift from active into index and the ETF world is part of that shift.” Another panelist: “there’s been a bit of wake up call about term rates…looking at the greater good this is the right direction.”

Fur Free for 2020

All four brands of SMCP, the Chinese-owned French fashion company, are now entirely fur-free.

As more and more consumers look for fashion that is sustainable, kind, and responsible, fur, leather, and animal byproducts are falling out of favor. Claudie Pierlot is the last of the ready-to-wear brand to cease the use of fur in its fashion collections. Sandro, Maje, and De Fursac stopped using animal products in autumn 2018 and autumn 2019 respectively.

Fur-free fashion on 2020 runways

SMCP’s announcement follows similar proclamations from other fashion houses including Gucci, Michael Kors, Versace, and Prada that have each done away with fur over the years.

Popular clothing brands are not the only ones taking this environmental step forward. Angela Kelly, Queen Elizabeth’s personal fashion consultant, also shared that Her Majesty’s wardrobe will no longer include real fur. Only fake and synthetic materials will be used to keep the monarch warm.

Queen Elizabeth II wears only animal-friendly fashion

Hedge Funds 2020: What to Expect

Where are hedge funds headed next year? What is the outlook for the industry vis-à-vis new hires, M&As?  Here we present the thoughts of some experts in the field, most notably Alexis DuFresne, Whitney Partners Director, Paul Tudor Jones of Investment Corporation and Leon Cooperman of Omega Advisors.

In a recent YouTube video, on a presentation entitled “Bloomberg Markets: The Close” Alexis DuFresne spoke with Scarlet Fu, Romaine Bostick and Katia Porzecanski. She said she is:

“More optimistic than last year as this is a record year for acquisitions. Right now we are left with a lot of opportunity for talent, not necessarily new hires but replacement hires so we will see volume, not necessarily new positions, mostly upgrades….Secondary space which is growing year over year. This year we’ve seen about 50 billion in asset inflows versus hedge funds.  Over the past six quarters hedge funds have been losing assets and I think this quarter is about 36 billion in outflows in hedge funds so we really see that reflected in the private equity side and I’ve seen numbers all over the place in terms of asset raising anywhere from 200-500 billion going into private strategies so that also indicates that there’s hiring, new hiring.”

The video also showed Hedge Fund Performance to be:

  1. Equity – 8.63%;
  2. Credit – 5.72%;
  3. Macro – 5.19%;
  4. RV – 5.41%;
  5. Event – 4.79%.

Looking at the industry within the political realm, Tudor Investment Corporation’s CEO and founder Paul Tudor Jones asked what would happen if Elizabeth Warren was elected president?  He believes this would result in a 25 percent dip in the market. 

Leon Cooperman of Omega Advisors chairman and CEO had a similar thought telling   CNBC that: They won’t open the stock market if Elizabeth Warren is the next president.”

Why are these individuals predicting such potential doom and gloom?  They believe that incorporated into Warren’s plans are the dismantling of large tech firms, a re-invention of the healthcare system, a banning on fracking and more. 

What to Expect When You Meet With Your Financial Adviser

Not all investment firms work in the same way, but it’s helpful to have some ideas about what you’ll experience when you meet with your financial adviser. The first step, of course, is to find an adviser with whom you’d like to work. Amongst other resources, sites like CrunchBase compile publicly available information about investing firms, such as this example for Fisher Investments. Once you’ve done the research and are ready to start with an adviser, it’s important to know what to expect.

During your first meeting with the new financial adviser, you’ll discuss your current financial situation and your life goals. You’ll talk about your current salary, and any retirement accounts you have. If you’re married, you’ll discuss how the two of you have set up your finances (together, separate, etc) and if you have children, you’ll discuss any savings accounts that you already have for them or that you hope to create.

Before this first meeting, you should do your homework. Your meeting will be far more productive if you come to it prepared. But what does that mean? What should you bring with you? Before your first meeting, you should consider your life goals. When do you hope to retire? How do you plan to pay for your children’s college education? What do you hope to do in retirement? Obviously, you don’t have to have everything figured out; but the clearer you can be about these goals, the easier it will be to plan with your advisor.

Materials that you should bring to your first meeting include: your mortgage statement, all debt statements, pay stubs for you and your spouse, your most recent tax return, your monthly budget, and any 401(k) or other investment statements. You can ask your adviser before your first meeting if there are other things that he or she would like for you to bring. Keep in mind, of course, that you will be starting a relationship. If there are things that you don’t bring to the first meeting, you’ll always have the opportunity to do so at future meetings, or to send materials through email and other avenues.

Based on the goals and materials that you share with the financial adviser, they will then help you to develop strategies which will include a monthly savings plan and how to spread out your investments. Expect some give and take from these meetings as you discuss and refine your goals, needs and targets. Once you’re gotten started, it’s always a good idea to return to your financial adviser once a year for a check-in and to discuss anything that might have changed.