Topley’s Top 10 – July 28, 2020

Story of the Day…..Art Samberg (Pequot Capital Management), Lee Cooperman (Omega Family Office) and Mario Gabelli (Gabelli Asset Management) car pooled together to Columbia MBA.

Art Samberg Obituary….He (Arthur Samberg) carpooled to classes with Lee Cooperman and Mario Gabelli, who also became prominent investors.

Arthur Samberg Built Hedge-Fund Giant With Tech Savvy–Electrician’s son made huge profits in 1990s but closed firm amid insider-trading probe

1. Insider Selling Spiking.

Red Flag?  Insider Sales are ramping.

From Dave Lutz at Jones Trading.

2. Venture Capital $1B into Faux Meat and Dairy 2020.


More than 20 faux meat startups raised about $1.4 billion from venture investors in the first seven months of 2020, according to a report on Monday from London-based investor network Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return, known as Fairr. Venture investments in plant-based meat and dairy alternatives soared to $1.1 billion this year, up from $457 million in all of 2019, while investments in companies that grow cell-based meat more than tripled to $290 million from $75 million last year. 

The venture investors backing this space range from companies like Cargill Inc. and General Mills Inc. to pension funds, traditional venture capital firms  and celebrities like Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey. As a group, they are betting that faux meat and dairy can scale up production quickly to meet a new generation of climate-conscious eaters that want to reduce the impact of livestock on the planet, according to Marisa Drew, head of the impact advisory and finance group at Credit Suisse Group AG.  Plant-based and cell-based meat require a fraction of the water and energy used to manage livestock, but companies also have to invest heavily in marketing and technology to help replicate the look of a hamburger or the texture of seafood.

Venture Investors Double Their Bets on Faux Meat Startups Early stage investors back over 20 alternative protein startups with hopes of finding the next Beyond Meat.By Emily Chasan

3. Order Routing Revenue for Options ….As Mentioned Options Activity Up 129% YTD

While equity trading activity increased to all-time highs in March of this year when the flood of retail investors first hit Robinhood, Schwab and Etrade, and has declined since then, options trading activity has increased 129% YTD (up 35% from June levels), which helps expain why various HFT outfits are paying so much to frontrun Robinhood option trades.

Goldman Spots A Historic Inversion In The Market by Tyler Durden

4. Retail Sales Still Only 11.8% Digital.

Greetings from 2030: Growth investing for the next decade

5. TIPs Yields About To Break All-Time Lows.

LPL Research

Falling real yields tell a story. Often it means lower growth expectations, but it can also mean higher inflation expectations, especially with expectations coming off of low levels. It depends on whether investors are buying the safety of government securities or hedging against inflation. With central banks committed to keeping rates low, we think in this case changing inflation expectations may be an important part of the story.

“The bond market has not shown much confidence in the stock market rally,” said LPL Research Chief Market Strategist Ryan Detrick. “But with TIPS showing inflation expectations possibly creeping higher and credit spreads improving, it may be starting to listen.”

6. China Savings Rate 47%

China: 3 views on what’s next for its economy and stocks

7. Median Home Prices and Current Supply…..Homebuilders Break-Out.

Wolf Street–Back to new houses.

The median price of new houses, as volatile as it is with big month-to-month drops and bounces, has remained in the same range since 2016. The high occurred in late 2017. In June, the median price bounced off the hit it took in May and April, to $329,200, up 5.6% from June last year:

The number of unsold new houses – these are spec houses – declined to 307,000 houses, seasonally adjusted, the lowest since May 2018.

Given the increase in sales in June, supply at that rate of sales fell to 4.7 months, at the lower end of the multi-year range:

I’m still waiting to see if this shift from condos to houses and from urb

Shift from Condos to Houses and from Big Cities to Suburbs? New House Sales Rose 6.9% fr. June Last Year, to Highest Level since July 2007 by Wolf Richter • Jul 24, 2020 • 126 Comments

8. Yelp says more than half of restaurants temporarily closed are now permanently shuttered


It’s tough out there for restaurants and other small businesses. 

Yelp’s Economic Average report out Wednesday shows exactly how tough: 60 percent of the 26,160 temporarily closed restaurants on the business review site as of July are now permanently shut. Temporary closures are dropping, and permanent shutdowns are increasing. 

Yelp’s previous report in April found that more than 175,000 total businesses were closed in some capacity. Just under 25 percent of those closed businesses have reopened three months later. For restaurants in particular, this is becoming the way it goes. Yelp noted a 23-percent increase in permanent restaurant closures from only a month ago. Bars and clubs are also closing forever at high rates: 44 percent (as of July) of 5,454 temporarily shuttered bars and other nightlife establishments are shut for good. 

Yelp broke down which cities and states are experiencing the most closures, both temporary and permanent. Places like Honolulu, San Francisco, and Las Vegas were struggling to keep businesses open as the cities with the highest rate of closures.

Closures are becoming permanent

Hawaii, California, and Nevada restaurants were hit hardest.

9. Here’s how much school closures will cost parents in lost wages, reduce GDP — and negatively impact the nation’s education system

By  Jillian Berman  The American public-school system is already largely segregated by race, class and outcomes, and expert say that trend is likely to get worse.Email ic

For America’s schoolchildren, their parents and their teachers, this fall will be unlike any other. 

Over the past few weeks, prominent public-school systems all over the country have announced that they’ll be starting school remotely. Others have pressed forward with plans for in-person instruction amid pressure from the federal government to reopen. 

It’s a weighty decision for officials with implications for students’ mental health, parents’ careers and public health and safety — particularly for teachers and others who work in schools. 

President Trump has repeatedly said he wants schools to reopen. Denmark appears to have achieved this successfully, it seems, while Israel has faltered. 

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for the past three decades, told MarketWatch in an interview on Thursday evening, “The fundamental default should be that we should try as best as we possibly can to open up the schools. But we have to remember, as a paramount consideration, the safety and the health of the children and teachers.”

Below is a snapshot of some of the ways these decisions could impact students, families, school systems, and the nation more broadly

Costs to the economy

We often think of school as a place where children expand their minds and learn to interact with others. That’s all true, of course, but our education system is also meant to prepare students to ultimately be productive members of our economy. 

Keeping schools closed could put that mission in danger. An estimate from the Brookings Institution, a think tank, suggests that losing four months of school closures, including universities, could cost the U.S. $2.5 trillion or 12.7% of its annual gross domestic product. The estimate is based on the assumption that each additional year of schooling bumps a student’s earning potential up 10%. Under that premise, four months of school closures will cost students $1,337 per year each, or $33,464 over a career when considering how the money would have grown over time. 

It’s a rough calculation and doesn’t take into account the education students are receiving through remote learning. But it does provide some insight into the future costs to the nation from this period. The authors note that the learning lost during World War II was still impacting former students’ lives four decades later. 

“You have to weigh the risks of contagion,” said Emiliana Vegas, co-director of Brookings’ Center for Universal Education and one of the authors of the analysis. “It’s a very tough decision.” 

Though this period will have costs for everyone, rich and poor, it’s also likely to exacerbate the economic divide between countries and communities. Vegas and her team are working on an analysis to quantify that gap. 

Their preliminary findings suggest that, while school closures will likely have a large and long-lasting impact on the earnings of future workers around the world, students from low-income countries will be affected most.

Cost to moms’ careers

The Brookings analysis doesn’t take into account the productivity parents are sacrificing as schools remain closed — either because they have to give up jobs that require them to go into work or scale back their hours to care for their children even if they are able to work remotely. 

Based on what we know about how families typically handle child-care responsibilities and the preliminary data on households from this period, that burden and loss in earnings is likely to fall largely on moms. 

The United Nations warned in an April report that “immediate steps are needed to ensure that COVID-19 does not reverse the gender equality progress achieved in recent decades, in particular with regard to women’s participation in the labor force.” 

Pandemic-related job losses in the U.S. through May haven’t disproportionately affected women with young children. That’s in part because these women already have the lowest labor force participation rates of any group and so it would take a major event to move the needle, said Elise Gould, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a labor-focused think tank.

Still, this recession has disproportionately impacted women overall. Industries, like hospitality and retail, that have been hit hardest by the pandemic are dominated by women; from February through May, 11.5 million women lost their jobs, compared to 9 million men, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data. 

But because those industries are also disproportionately young, the impact on women with children hasn’t been as large, Gould said.

That could change. “When the jobs come back you may see that mothers — parents, but particularly mothers of children whose schools are not opening — you may see them holding back from returning to the labor force because they simply can’t,” Gould said. 

Evidence suggests that the months of school and camp closures have already forced women to scale back.

Between February and April 2020, women with preschool-aged children worked 1.8 fewer hours per week and those with school-aged children cut back 1.9 hours, according to a recent study from a group of sociologists at Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Melbourne, the Labor Department and the University of North Texas. Women with high-school aged children reduced their work time by 1.5 hours per week, the study found. 

Men with children on the other hand, didn’t change their working habits much. Only those with high school-aged children reduced their hours by 1.2 per week, the study found. The result: the gap between the hours men and women work grew by between 20% and 50%.

Research also suggests that mothers aren’t just reducing their hours, they’re leaving their jobs to cope. Among women who said they were not working due to the pandemic, more than 16% said it was because they had to care for children not in school or daycare, according to a research brief from Syracuse University’s Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion. That’s compared to less than 5% of men. 

Historically, these kinds of breaks have been costly to womens’ future earnings and careers. Women who leave the workforce face a 7% drop in earnings when they return, according to a 2018 study by PayScale, the salary data company. 

“When women off-ramp, when they off-ramp for even just a short period of time to care for a family member or to care for a child, it really impacts their earnings, their long-term earnings, and their career mobility and advancement,” said C. Nicole Mason, the chief executive officer of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a think tank. 

A number of historical and societal factors explain why women bear the brunt of child care responsibilities, Mason said, including that our workplace system still largely assumes the average family has a man making money and a woman taking responsibility for the home, even though that’s largely not the case.

“We see care and responsibilities of care as an individual problem for women to solve or for families to solve on their own, not as a universal problem,” she said. “It’s been left up to families to figure out, if you can’t figure out care, I guess you can’t work or I guess you have to off-ramp.”

If we don’t come up with a broader solution, fast, it could have particularly devastating consequences for women who are their family’s primary breadwinners — a group that is disproportionately Black. About 41% of moms overall are the sole or primary breadwinners for their families, according to a 2019 analysis from the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank. That’s true of 84% of Black mothers. 

Cost to school systems

Families are reeling from officials’ decisions to keep schools physically closed in the fall, with those who can afford it scrambling for ways to provide their children with some in-person instruction and socialization. But opening schools safely is costly, and without some sort of subsidy many school districts likely won’t be able to afford to do it. 

Creating the necessary safety precautions — like providing surgical masks for teachers, setting up handwashing stations and reorganizing classrooms to provide for social distancing — would cost $1.8 million for a school district with eight buildings and about 3,200 students, according to a July report from the National Academy of Sciences. The Los Angeles Unified School District, which is the second largest in the country and will be going remote this fall, serves more than 600,000 students in over 1,000 schools. 

The Council of Chief State School Officers, an organization representing officials who head public elementary and secondary school departments, estimated in June that schools would need between $158.1 billion and $244.6 billion in additional funding to open safely. 

Congress is currently negotiating another coronavirus relief package that could offer some funding for schools. Democrats say they will block any plan that conditions the funding on schools physically re-opening. 

The funds required to open schools fall into several buckets, said Emma García, an economist at EPI who specializes in the economics of education and education policy.

School systems need to be able to cover the costs of the equipment to keep students and teachers safe. In addition, complying with social distancing may require smaller classes, which would also require more teachers. What’s more, the school closures we’ve already seen will mean that many students will come back seeking more support, academically, emotionally or in other ways, which will likely also necessitate more staff. 

But school systems are already squeezed for funds. To get to the same level of service students experienced last fall could mean that public schools face a budget gap as wide as $93.5 billion for the next year, according to an analysis by the American Federation of Teachers of data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. AFT estimates that at least another $116.5 billion will be necessary to equip schools to operate in a pandemic environment. 

Without some federal help, those funds will be hard to come by. The pandemic will cost states $555 billion over fiscal years 2020 to 2022, according to an estimate by CBPP. States were already struggling to recover from the last recession; in 2015, 29 states were still providing less funding per student to their public schools than in 2008, CBPP found. 

“We are entering this school year in this new normal, much further behind then we were entering the prior recession and that’s also not good news,” García said. 

Costs to equity

The American public-school system is already largely segregated by race, class and outcomes, and that trend is likely only to get worse as a result of pandemic disruptions to schooling. 

Students overall are likely to suffer from the school closures that already took place this spring. They’ll start in the fall with 63% to 68% of the learning gains in reading relative to a typical school year, according to an analysis by NWEA, an academic assessment organization. They’ll come back with 37% to 50% of the typical learning gains in math, the analysis found. 

NWEA’s estimate is based on historical data from other schooling pauses, like those that take place during natural disasters and as a result of chronic absenteeism. It doesn’t take into account the remote education schools are offering, so the estimates are likely to be a lower bound, said Beth Tarasawa, the executive vice president of research at NWEA and one of the authors of the study. 

But what we know historically about these pauses and others, like summer slide — or the phenomenon of students losing some of what they’ve learned during the year when school is off — is that they disproportionately impact low-income students. 

An average group of fifth graders return to the classroom at a variety of grade levels; 32.8% may be learning at third grade level, while 4.4% may be up to seventh grade, according to NWEA. 

“That variation is likely to be expanded and spread,” as a result of this pandemic period, Tarasawa said.  

Some students may have had access to devices, strong internet connections and parents with the time and resources to help them with school during the spring and summer.

While at Boys & Girls Clubs across the country, staffers were looking for ways to provide devices, strong internet connection and tutoring call-in hours to the low-income families they serve, said Lesa Sexton, Director of Education, Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

And that’s just the gap in the educational experience. The economic and health impacts of COVID-19 have disproportionately affected low-income communities and communities of color, experiences that will certainly impact students’ ability to be successful in school.

10. Four Habits for Managing High-Stress Deadlines

By Craig Ballantyne | 02/26/2018 | 2 Comments

A reader asked, “Craig, I’m a busy CPA and there are times of the year—like tax season—when work hours are extremely long and come with high-stress deadlines. These are the times when it becomes quite challenging to maintain ideal morning and evening routines.

How can my routines be modified so I have more success and less stress during these times?”

It’s a great question—and a timely one.

As an entrepreneur, I struggle with this as well—particularly during product launches and big events. For example, my stress always peaks during the annual three-day Perfect Life Retreat. I play host to 300 attendees and lead sessions running from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. It can be exhausting—without the proper planning.

Here’s how I get through it: I create time management and productivity routines that, over time, become second nature. We must build strong habits when our workload is moderate in preparation for times when stress is great.

High-performing athletes are a great example of these routines in action. They must practice, practice, practice when the pressure is off so that they can win the gold medal when the pressure is on.

Look at the young American figure skater, Nathan Chen. At 18 years old, he just competed in his first ever Olympic games. High pressure? Just a little—but he practiced incessantly for the opportunity.

And yes, practice doesn’t guarantee success. Even Chen fumbled his first Olympic skate.

But do you know what happened when the pressure was off (on the final day of competition, when the figure skating prodigy sat in 17th place far outside of medal contention)?

Chen was able to perform without stress, and relying on his perfect practice, rituals, and routines—his second-nature abilities—he went out and delivered a historical performance, completing a record six quad jumps in one routine.

How does this relate to you as a CPA?

Well, you need to practice, practice, practice. But you need to practice perfectly, because perfect practice makes perfect. You need to build habits of steel in the few weeks you have before tax time. With those second-nature habits in place, you’ll make it through with minimal stress.

 Here’s where you should start:

When high-pressure times hit, you’ll be able to rely on these four tactics to improve your performance on what’s most essential.

But let’s actually put this into action so you can see how effective these strategies are.

Building the Perfect (and Stress-Free) Morning Routine

I’m going to steal a trick from Tony Robbins’s version of “priming” here. 

As soon as you wake up, you need to “change your state” as fast as possible.

Tony does a cold plunge into his pool. 

Tony’s friend, a successful entrepreneur and speaker, Ed Mylett, jumps into the ocean at his home in California or in the lake at his vacation home.

Listen to the first 15 minutes of Ed’s podcast here. He explains the importance of this state-changing routine, and why it works. The premise: Activating your sympathetic nervous system pushes you into a state of mental alertness. Once alert, you can dive into your Morning Routine focus exercise(s) right away.

This may seem stressful, but it’s actually the opposite. You’re not giving your mind the opportunity to dally in doubts and excuses, compounding your stress. You’re acting, not thinking about acting.

Cutting Anxiety with an End-of-Day Routine

This is where a goal and time journal is extremely helpful. Take a few minutes every evening to write down any potential morning obstacles alongside your top goals. Think through each. How will you handle the obstacles when you face them? And what are the steps you’re going to take to check your goals off your list—before you even leave for work?

This activity is about more than just mapping out to-dos. You’re actually structuring success in your mind, which automatically reduces the stress induced by flailing around during chaotic mornings. You know what to expect and how you’re going to tackle it.

Prepping Pre-Bedtime

It may sound silly, but repeating this simple mantra will help you get into the zone when the alarm goes off in the morning:

I will get up immediately.

I will get up immediately.

I will get up immediately.

As soon as you wake up, remember the promise you made to yourself the night before.

It also helps to keep your alarm clock across the room so you have to get up and change your state immediately. While this is tricky if you share your bed with someone, not wanting to wake them up also makes for a powerful motivator to get out of bed on time!

Time-Blocking for Maximum Productivity

I’ve talked about this a lot, and the idea is simple: Grab a time journal (it can be the goal-setting journal mentioned above, modified for time-blocking) and separate out the main 2-3-hour time blocks in your day. Now fill them in with your most important to-dos. Keep an eye on your top goals as you do this, and make sure you’re accomplishing those that are at the top of your list.

There are all kinds of productivity benefits to this strategy. With a time-blocking system in place, you’ll recognize shortcuts in your daily routine, things that don’t work and must be avoided, and things that work almost instantly to improve your mood, memory, and success. Sometimes, boosting productivity is as easy as swapping that 4pm giant coffee with a soothing peppermint tea.

When you know what to expect and what to accomplish throughout your day, your stress will be cut in half.

I want to close with a personal example of these methods in action so you can see that they actually work.

When we hosted the Perfect Life Retreat last November, I assumed I would be operating on a paltry four hours of sleep for three days straight—while somehow being engaged enough to shake hundreds of hands. I knew I had to ditch my energizing workouts and would be spending very little time on meals. Even my wardrobe changes needed to be timed!

But my team and I planned ahead. Here’s what we scheduled to ensure minimal stress:

  • My exercise routine was more intense in advance of the retreat so that I could use my three days on stage as recovery time.
  • My meal needs were outlined and communicated to staff so that healthy food was available whenever I had a break. Most of this was easy to eat by hand. 
  • I completed my own mental walkthrough of the event to be sure that I had all of my health needs covered.
  • We planned a post-retreat recovery so I could quickly get back to 100%.

As you might assume, keeping this plan on track required a solid Morning Routine, end-of-day and pre-bedtime planning, and careful time-blocking. But all of this was second nature to me. I just had to apply the strategies I had used for years to a new setting.

Reducing stress is really all about mapping out your own success and removing obstacles to productivity. Take advantage of these tools and you’ll find that tax time—or any high-stress time—is easily manageable.


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