Investing and Global Finance News


New York Tech Celebrated at Blockchain Weekend

On the weekend of November 7-10, New York City was busy with the inaugural BlockchainWeekend NYC 2019.

In partnership with the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), BlockchainWeekend highlighted projects from a variety of NY based companies, startups, and entrepreneurs. More than 50 events took place across all five boroughs, creating a networked platform for decentralized events. With workshops, panels, hackathons, and meetup sessions, there were plenty of opportunities to hear about what is new in NYC’s world of technology and innovation.

The weekend was launched with a reception hosted by Gemini, the biggest New York based crypto exchange, that opened its headquarters as part of the event.

Gemini’s Jeanine Hightower-Sellitto said,

“Blockchain Weekend celebrates so much of what we love about New York: the coming together of technology and the people and companies who build it. The implications of and potential for blockchain—and cryptocurrency—continue to grow and its foothold in the financial world demands that New York be a leader in its development and growth. Blockchain Weekend is an encouraging step in that direction, and we applaud the leadership of forward-looking companies like Gemini and other New York blockchain companies for being a part of it.”

New York Colleges Offering More Tech-Ed

Five campuses of the City University of New York (CUNY) network are now offering more technology courses, bolstered faculty, and internship opportunities at local tech companies. This initiative is part of the city’s effort to double the number of CUNY alumni employed in the tech industry by 2022.

New York’s Department of Small Business Services is giving $4 million to the CUNY 2X Tech program, making the program’s budget to $24 million across eight CUNY campuses.

“This additional investment in N.Y.C. public colleges expands the pipelines of opportunities for New Yorkers to enter quality, well-paying careers in the tech sector. Local employers can now reach into a larger pool of home-grown talent to help their business and New York City’s economy grow.”

Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the Small Business Services Department

More than 1,000 students have already been trained by tech workers at Apple, Amazon, and Google, with some continuing on as fulltime employees.

Hunter, Lehman and City colleges already offer the enhanced tech programs. Brooklyn, Queens, Medgar Evers, John Jay Colleges, and the College of Staten Island will each be allocated $2 million over the next few years to expand their tech offerings.

Something New Brewing at Starbucks New York

The Starbucks coffee chain has announced plans to open the first Starbucks Pickup point in Penn Station.

This coffee shop is being designed as a streamlined store experience for customers who order and pay with the Starbucks app. The process of ordering involves downloading the app, selecting Pickup-Penn Station as the location, and placing an order. At the store, the order status board will guide consumers to their caffeine. Baristas will be available to help if needed, but their primary role will be to make drinks as orders come in on the app.

The Penn Station concept is similar to Starbucks Now, the recently launched coffee system in Beijing that relies on mobile orders and serves as a pickup spot for Starbucks delivery personnel. The Starbucks brand is building a portfolio of store concepts, ranging from full-sized stores for work, meetings, and hanging out, to drive-thru only stores meant for areas with high volumes of commuter business. The new Starbucks Pickup adds another facet to the collection. Given its reliance on foot traffic, the pilot location in Penn Station will be a good indicator of its value to coffee-seeking commuters.

NYC to Track Vacancies, Support Small Businesses

New York City is building a database of vacant storefronts to help small business owners find appropriate spaces.

New NYC database will ensure more storefronts are open for business.

The city’s rising rents and recent trends favoring online shopping have resulted in a vacancy crisis. The five bills passed in July 2019 as part of this effort require yearly reporting on storefront vacancies, updates on the business environment, and focused tracking of family-owned businesses. The information will be gathered by the Department of Finance and will include size as well as occupancy status and monthly rents if the property is being leased. Two related bills task the city’s Department of Small Business Services the responsibility of training small businesses on regulation compliance and marketing.

Small storefront businesses are an important part of the city’s economic growth. 50,000 small and mid-size retail and restaurant businesses employ more than 600,000 people across the five boroughs. Chris Doeblin, owner of Book Culture, an independent book store chain, believes the legislation is an important step in helping NYC’s small businesses. “We need to have a lot of information and this bill gives us the most basic information about what is open.”

Global Business City of the Year: Scottsdale, Arizona

The City of Scottsdale was recognized as the Global Business City of the Year at the 2019 Global Chamber “Grow Globally Fair.” Now in its 12th year, The Fair was founded to acknowledge and applaud businesses that are leading, exceling, and pushing the boundaries in international business.

The Global Chamber is networked in 195 countries and more than 525 cities, boosting efforts to export, import, and invest globally. The award committee researched several Arizona cities and their pursuits in international markets. Scottsdale’s success focuses on international connections, globally recognized events, and increasingly more global companies relocating to the city.

Tree Street, Scottsdale, Arizona

Scottsdale Mayor W.J. “Jim” Lane said,

“Community integration, pro-business climate, and relationship building have been key to our success over the years and we couldn’t do it without the help of those working tirelessly to ensure our state is welcoming and supportive for international investment. The relationships we are building and fostering today are establishing tomorrow’s avenues of international business here in Scottsdale. We are honored to receive this award and will continue to lead the way to make Scottsdale and Arizona a premier place to do business locally, nationally and internationally.”

There are over 390 internationally owned businesses, such as Airobotics and IMNA Solutions, currently operating in Scottsdale. Scottsdale has always been committed to working closely with key business influencers like the Global Chamber, Global Ties Arizona, Canada Arizona Business Council, Arizona Israel Technology Alliance, AZ Tech Council, Greater Phoenix Economic Council, Arizona Commerce Authority and others.

New Technology = New International Business Opportunities

In today’s world, the old saying “money talks” is truer than ever. But sometimes it really isn’t that easy to understand.

International business opportunities have long been hindered by language barriers. When people and platforms struggle to communicate, it is no surprise that they can’t do business with each other.

Thankfully, this problem is being solved more and more by machine-based translation programs that are becoming sophisticated enough to enable people around the world to communicate as if they spoke the same language. While translation programs are not (yet) being tracked by economists, they are showing tremendous potential to boost international trade.

E-commerce giant eBay, for example, knows too well that the internet is good at connecting buyers and sellers, but international expansion would be all but impossible if shoppers weren’t able to understand product listings from abroad. So they developed a system that allows shoppers to make search queries in their preferred language and receive translated product listings, while also taking into account the context of a customer’s request.

Sanjeev Katariya, an eBay vice president who focuses on artificial intelligence explains,

“anything that supports cross-border trade so that someone from outside the U.S. is capable of engaging in e-commerce is where the power of global trade lives.”

EBay’s inclusion of machine translation has grown the company’s Latin American exports by nearly 20%, according to researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and illustrates the potential for increased commercial activity as translation technologies gain wider adoption in business.

NYC Companies Merge to create Wall Street’s largest woman- and minority-owned firm

The merger of the Siebert Cisneros Shank & Co. and the Williams Capital Group investment banks are merging to form Wall Street’s largest woman- and minority-owned firm.

The new entity will be led by Chief Executive Suzanne Shank, who is describing the move as a merger of equals. Shank is the only African-American woman to run a Wall Street firm. She formed her firm in 1996 after she had dinner at the Post House with Muriel Siebert, the first female member of the New York Stock Exchange. Siebert was looking to create a firm that could lead investment banking deals and wanted Shank to run it.

Siebert Cisneros Shank is among the nation’s leading underwriters of municipal bonds and Williams Capital is a primary player in corporate debt. The combined firm will have 140 employees and be dual based in New York City and Oakland, California. Neither company will issue any layoffs as part of the merger.

Shank underscored the motivation for the merger in saying,

“by bringing together two first-class firms, we will accelerate our collective success and greatly enhance our ability to serve our clients using a strong capital base that is now significantly larger.”

Williams founder Christopher Williams will serve as chairman of the firm. Shareholders include Bill Thompson, former city comptroller and mayoral candidate. Vice Chairman Henry Cisneros once served on the Clinton administration.

Importance of Architectural Design in Property Value

When it comes to real estate Architectural design in buildings has always been extremely important.  Resell and real estate value can really be impacted by poor/quality architectural design.  In addition, when purchasing for one’s own use, with bad design the problems are endless.  Looking for solid, aesthetically pleasing designs with the use of high quality materials and structures is crucial in the real estate market.

A study conducted by Modern Metal Solutions (a group of architects, contractors, engineers, fabricators and installers) also found that homes with rich architecture will have a higher re-sale value over properties in the same neighborhood with all things equal.

According to semi-retired Moshe Victor Keinig, there is another reason architecturally-sound designed buildings are a great investment.

“At the end of the day, people want beauty.  If you look around and think about what people spend money on it’s often something that makes them feel good, that offers comfort and enjoyment.  Thus their home is going to be a place of beauty.  That’s why I personally believe re-sale value is increased by high quality architectural design.”

This sentiment was echoed by a paper published in 2015 in America by the International Conference on Sustainable Design, Engineering and Construction.  It found that vis-à-vis sustainable homes, architectural designs are likely to have an extremely positive impact.  In addition, just two years ago a report published in England by The Modern House in conjunction with Dataloft found that an additional 12 percent can be added to the sale price of a well-designed home.  Modern House co-founder Albert Hill said:

“Design is a real differentiator for today’s home buyers and they are prepared to dig deep if they can see design having a tangible effect on their lifestyle. More than ever people are looking for transformative experiences and so the enthusiasm for investing in a great home space is not surprising.”

In Australia it was found that staying true to classic design can also increase re-sale value.  In 2017 a Carlton terrace property was auctioned for $1m higher than its reserve price due to renovation that stayed within its classic boundaries.

When it comes to property and re-sale value, investments and real estate, it does appear that there are many arguments to be made in favor of renovation, re-design and sound architectural construction.