Facebook: Zuckerberg Headwind?

With CEO Mark Zuckerberg planning to sell millions of shares, one needs to consider whether Facebook (FB) faces a headwind from constant selling. The social networking giant has seen the stock rise considerably since Zuckerberg originally considered the creation of Class C shares that would allow him to sell shares and still control voting rights similar to the move that Under Armour (UA,UAA) made last year.

The stock has risen considerably this year going from $ 115 at the end last year to $ 170 now. Is the move by the CEO an ominous sign of the valuation of Facebook?

Back on April 27, 2016, Facebook released the proposed plan to allow CEO Mark Zuckerberg to unload 99% of his outstanding shares without losing voting rights. The new Class C shares could be unloaded while he could keep his existing Class A and B shares that maintained existing voting rights.

Shareholders sued as the issuance of two new shares for each Class A and B share would lose economic value due to not holding voting rights. Though virtually meaningless due to the control of Zuckerberg, the recent Under Armour example proves that the non-voting shares would trade at a discount.

ChartUAA data by YCharts

Under Armour has traded straight down since announcing the intent for the Class C shares plan in 2015 and implementing the shares in April 2016. Facebook has seen the opposite move since announcing the Class C shares intention. The legal battle over the Class C shares might’ve provided a buffer for the stock.

The company settled the suit due to canceling the issuance of the controversial Class C shares for an ominous reason. Zuckerberg made the following statement via a post on Facebook regarding the reasoning for canceling the shares:

Over the past year and a half, Facebook’s business has performed well and the value of our stock has grown to the point that I can fully fund our philanthropy and retain voting control of Facebook for 20 years or more. As a result, I’ve asked our board to withdraw the proposal to reclassify our stock — and the board has agreed.

I want to be clear: this doesn’t change Priscilla and my plans to give away 99% of our Facebook shares during our lives. In fact, we now plan to accelerate our work and sell more shares sooner. I anticipate selling 35-70 million Facebook shares in the next 18 months to fund our work in education, science, and advocacy.

So in essence, the stock has gained so much value that he can sell enough shares to fund his charity plans for the next few decades without impacting his ability to control the majority of voting rights. At the mid-point of his target share sales over the next 18 months of 52.5 million shares, Zuckerberg would raise over $ 8.9 billion by the start of 2019.

At a market value of close to $ 500 billion, the impact to Facebook appears rather immaterial at this point. As well, the average daily trading volume is about 16 million shares. His plan is to dump the equivalent of 3 million shares per month so one can’t envision any liquidity issues or pressure on the stock at those volumes.

The problem with this plan is the mental aspect of the CEO consistently dumping shares. Going back to the Under Armour example, one probably isn’t surprised to see that the company lost focus and underperformed in the last year. Will the same happen at Facebook?

Even worse is a looming issue if the stock sells off due to Zuckerberg losing focus as these moves to liquidate positions appear to occur when the CEO sees extreme value in the stock. The major problem occurs down the road when the company is faced with the dilemma of needing to rethink the Class C share plans while he is actively unloading shares creating a headwind in the stock. Don’t think this isn’t possible as the market has a way of humbling the best intentions of world-class CEOs.

Facebook isn’t exactly an expensive stock trading at roughly 26x 2018 EPS estimates of $ 6.49. Revenues are expected to surge nearly 30% next year so my only concern is that the CEO was so shocked by the growth rate and stock gains this year that the company has pulled revenues forward. Zuckerberg would’ve never suggested a controversial plan if he had the vision that the stock would reach a $ 500 billion valuation so soon.

The key investor takeaway is that Facebook isn’t exactly expensive considering the forecasted growth rates. One has to question though if the moves by the CEO aren’t top ticking the stock, which could easily occur if the social network sees a slowdown in growth rates as revenues reach $ 50 billion next year. After all, Zuckerberg clearly doesn’t see a higher stock price and didn’t predict Facebook even reaching the current level suggesting one should be cautious at $ 170.

Disclosure: I am/we are long UA.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Additional disclosure: The information contained herein is for informational purposes only. Nothing in this article should be taken as a solicitation to purchase or sell securities. Before buying or selling any stock you should do your own research and reach your own conclusion or consult a financial advisor. Investing includes risks, including loss of principal.

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Deloitte Is the Latest Target of a Cyber Attack With Confidential Client Data at Risk

Global accountancy firm Deloitte has been hit by a sophisticated hack that resulted in a breach of confidential information and plans from some of its biggest clients, Britain’s Guardian newspaper said on Monday.

Deloitte—one of the big four professional services providers—confirmed to the newspaper it had been hit by a hack, but it said only a small number of its clients had been impacted.

The firm discovered the hack in March, according to the Guardian, but the cyber attackers could have had breached its systems as long ago as October or November 2016.

The attack was believed to have been focused on the U.S. operations of the company, which provides auditing, tax advice, and consultancy to multinationals and governments worldwide.

“In response to a cyber incident, Deloitte implemented its comprehensive security protocol and began an intensive and thorough review including mobilizing a team of cybersecurity and confidentiality experts inside and outside of Deloitte,” a spokesman told the newspaper. “As part of the review, Deloitte has been in contact with the very few clients impacted and notified governmental authorities and regulators.”

A Deloitte spokeswoman declined immediate comment, saying that the firm would issue a statement shortly.

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In Silicon Valley’s Push for Gender Equality, are Men the Real Victims?

In recent years, Silicon Valley has struggled to respond to a bruising series of sex scandals, to tone down what’s sometimes seen as a childish “tech bro” culture, and to rebalance a workforce in which as few as one-fourth of technical jobs are held by women.

But some workers in the Valley think the real victim here is men.

According to a new report in the The New York Times, more and more men in Silicon Valley are joining online and offline “men’s rights” groups that regard gender diversity efforts as an attack on them. Some believe that the standards for what qualifies as harassment are too stringent, and that gender equality in the industry is an unreasonable goal.

The rise of such beliefs, or at least a rising willingness to express them, may be best embodied by James Damore, the engineer whose memo deriding the abilities of women got him fired from Google last month. While many tech leaders were scornful of Damore and his worldview, expressions of support did come from heavyweights including Y Combinator founder Paul Graham. Since his firing, Damore has asserted his own victimhood at the hands of Google leadership.

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Nvidia engineer James Altizer, leader of a group called Bay Area Fathers’ Rights, told the Times that heightened awareness of discrimination against women is actually a “witch hunt” targeting men, spearheaded by “dangerous” human resources departments motivated by “zealotry.” According to the Times, Altizer’s views were shaped by a divorce. Another group that the Times says is growing is known as Mgtow, or “Men Going Their Own Way,” a “men’s separatist” movement that resists commitment and children.

Altizer may have missed the irony of his critique. In the Middle Ages, an estimated 60,000 accused witches were executed throughout Europe, and many thousands more were tortured. More than 70% of victims were women, and at least one historian has described the witch hunts as “genderized mass murder.”

The reactionary dynamic of the men’s rights movement is reminiscent of the rising visibility of white supremacists as members of racial minorities gain firmer social and economic footing. A few men in the Valley have even filed employment discrimination lawsuits linked to gender, directly paralleling a long string of lawsuits targeting affirmative action policies at universities.

Fortune has reached out to Nvidia seeking a response to Altizer’s comments.

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How to Restructure Your Bussiness Based Around Customer Experience

Most online brands we know and love have been around for long, have likely lived through their fair share of growing pains when it comes to providing a streamlined customer experience (CX) that keeps people coming back.

Many online businesses make the detrimental mistake of reducing CX to a supplementary factor in their brand image. In reality, it should be a cornerstone of the values they represent – take Zappos for example. To nearly everyone familiar with the digital landscape, a superior CX is practically synonymous with their reputation.

For the companies still trying to find the right formula that works for them, here are three ways to make sure your brand delivers outstanding CX.

1. Optimize Customer Journeys

Fine-tuning your customer journey is an ongoing process that requires constant attention. This involves knowing exactly how people go from being unaware of what you offer, to becoming loyal customers. Your analytics reveal ‘what’ your customers are doing, and ‘which’ of your digital channels are working to bring in new customers.

However, this data will only reveal so much. When it comes to enhancing the customer journey, the most effective advice actually comes straight from the source – the voice of the customer.

For this purpose, Medallia, a global CX management software company, released The Digital Voice of Customer Toolkit. This top-to-bottom resource focuses on the best ways for measuring and improving the customer experience across websites, mobile web, and mobile applications. A digital VoC program allows you to systematically engage with your customers, and gain comprehensive insights in real-time, on users’ interactions with your digital touchpoints.

From here, you will be able to identify the most effective methods to engage with the audience and gain meaningful feedback, which can take your business to the next level. Ultimately, a VoC program pinpoints the deeper meaning of the ‘why’ and uses feedback straight from the source. This feedback compliments the data that you collect from your analytics provider to improve customer satisfaction and experience.

2. Emphasize Persona

Your brand persona is how people see you and what impression you leave them with, after an interaction.

The harsh truth of conducting business digitally is that your competition is no longer confined to a specific geographic location. Brands are now faced with competition across their entire industry. That being said, brand loyalty these days is commonly built and developed based on the persona you project.

These unique characteristics should be present throughout your whole strategy – from your marketing messages to the actual products. Even more, it needs to speak to the existing and prospective customers in a manner they can easily relate to.

A great place to start with is archetypes. If your brand was a human being:

· What do they sound like?

· What do they look like?

· What is their general outlook on life?

· What is the most important thing to them?

· How do they interact with others?

For these answers, social media and web monitoring tools come in very handy. Tools like Brandwatch allow you to track relevant keywords, brand names, industries, and more to give you a better idea of who your ideal customers are, and how to speak their language.

3. Always A/B Test

The digital world is one that is constantly changing. This is due to the rapid advancement of the internet, e-commerce technology, and user mindsets. As a result, you cannot expect a formula for a good CX to work forever. As time goes on, you will need to refine the smaller details of how people use your digital channels.

This process involves personalizing website engagement at all stages, from knowing customer preferences all the way to the checkout. The more you experiment and gauge results, you’ll quickly learn that even the tiniest tweaks can make a world of difference. Perhaps the most frequently-tested aspects in strategies to increase website conversion rate are tweaking copy and calls to action (CTA) buttons. Doing something as simple as altering the color, text, or placement can boost your conversions.

Tools like Optimizely allow you to set up different versions of your website and landing pages to run customized tests that determine which approaches work well, and which ones can be scrapped. The program is equipped with heat maps, behavioral targeting, usability testing, and more to ensure your CX is constantly evolving alongside user preferences.

By consistently A/B testing variations across your website, you can increase online sales by up to 20%!

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An IT Pro Takes the Dive into Deep Learning

IT professional Rich Casselberry experimented with deep learning using online tools and came away with interesting results.
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Investor Group Wants Inquiry Into SEC Hack

A global investor group on Friday called for an independent investigation into a cyber breach at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and urged the regulator to delay new data-gathering rules until it could assure investors that its computer systems were secure.

Wall Street’s top regulator came under fire on Thursday after admitting hackers had breached its database of corporate announcements in 2016 and might have used it for insider trading.

The Investment Company Institute (ICI), which represents over 95 million U.S. shareholders, wants the SEC to clear up concerns about its cyber defenses before requiring funds to submit monthly performance data to the regulator, Paul Schott Stevens, the group’s chief executive, told Reuters in a phone interview.

“What the SEC breach now makes very clear is precisely what we were concerned about – that market-sensitive information of that nature can be exploited to the disadvantage of millions and millions of investors,” Stevens said.

ICI, whose shareholders have $ 20 trillion plus in assets, has raised concerns about how the SEC safeguarded industry data it gathers since 2015.

“I’m certain there will be a full inquiry by the Government of Accountability Office – and there should be, so we understand exactly what happened here,” Stevens said.

In a July report, the Government Accountability Office, a congressional watchdog, criticized the SEC for failing to fully protect its computer networks from cyber attacks and recommended a slew of improvements.

Former SEC Chair Mary Jo White, in office when the hack occurred, told Reuters in 2016 that cyber security posed the biggest risk to the U.S. financial system.

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Her successor, Jay Clayton, uncovered the full extent of the hack after launching a review of the SEC’s cybersecurity standards earlier this year.

The SEC declined to comment.

New reporting rules which start to come into force in December would require funds for the first time to confidentially file complete monthly portfolio holdings with the SEC, data which the ICI has said could easily be used for insider trading if obtained by hackers.

“Until that information security environment has been established, funds should continue to collect data quarterly, not monthly information, as quarterly data is not nearly as sensitive,” said Stevens.

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Uber stripped of London license

LONDON (Reuters) – London stripped Uber [UBER.UL] on Friday of its license to operate from the end of September in a huge blow to the taxi app that will affect more than 40,000 drivers in one of the world’s biggest cities.

Regulator Transport for London (TfL) said Uber’s conduct posed risks to public safety and it would not renew its license when it expires on Sept. 30. Uber has 21 days to appeal and can continue to operate until the appeal process has finished.

“Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications,” TfL said.

Uber, which accounts for a third of private hire vehicles on London’s streets, said it would contest the decision.

“Transport for London and the Mayor have caved in to a small number of people who want to restrict consumer choice,” said Tom Elvidge, Uber’s general manager in London. “We intend to immediately challenge this in the courts.”

Uber has been attacked by London’s black cab drivers who say it has undercut safety rules and threatened their livelihoods. The U.S. firm has also faced criticism from unions and lawmakers and been embroiled in legal battles over workers’ rights.

An electronic billboard advertising Uber is seen in front of an office block in London, Britain, June 28, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Uber has endured a tumultuous few months after a string of scandals involving allegations of sexism and bullying at the Silicon Valley start-up that forced out former CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick.

The app has been forced to quit several countries including Denmark and Hungary and faced regulatory battles in multiple U.S. states and countries around the world.

One of Uber’s British competitors in London, Addison Lee, is also awaiting a decision from TfL about a longer-term license. The company declined to comment on Friday.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he backed the decision to reject Uber’s application for a new license.

“All companies in London must play by the rules and adhere to the high standards we expect – particularly when it comes to the safety of customers,” he said.

“It would be wrong if TfL continued to license Uber if there is any way that this could pose a threat to Londoners’ safety and security.”

Additional reporting by Michael Holden and Kylie MacLellan; editing by Guy Faulconbridge/David Clarke

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Recreate Your Job in the Age of Digital Transformation

Whether you work in the C-suite or in a line role, if you don’t want to be left behind, figure out how to evolve so you can help the company meet its digital business objectives.
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HPE plans 5,000 job cuts: Bloomberg

(Reuters) – Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co is planning to cut at least 5,000 workers as part of a broader effort to reduce costs amid mounting competition, Bloomberg reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The reductions of about 10 percent of the company’s total workforce of 50,000 are expected to start before the end of the year, Bloomberg reported. (bloom.bg/2xiAgYx)

The cuts are likely to affect workers in the United States and abroad, including managers, Bloomberg added.

The company could not immediately be reached for comment.

Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru; Editing by Jonathan Oatis

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Innogy to spend 1.2 billion euro on e-mobility, solar, glass fiber

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Innogy, Germany’s largest energy group by market value, will spend up to 1.2 billion euros ($ 1.43 billion) in e-mobility, photovoltaics and glass fiber networks by 2019, it said in a statement on Thursday.

Innogy has an existing investment plan of 6.5-7.0 billion euros over the next three years and it was not immediately clear from the statement whether the 1.2 billion would come on top of that or are part of the existing budget.

The group, which is majority-owned by RWE, also said that there would be “no taboos” with regard to its portfolio on its way to become a leader in all relevant markets by 2025, not specifying further.

Reporting by Christoph Steitz; Editing by Arno Schuetze

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Lego Hit a Wall Because It Grew Too Quickly. Here's How to Pace Your Company

Lego holds a special place in millions of childhoods. The universal appeal of the bricks has endured for over 80 years and helped it dominate the global toy industry. So when Lego unexpectedly announced a percent drop in profits last week, and that it would consequently being laying off eight percent of its workforce, many people were left scratching their heads. What on earth went wrong?

After coming back from the brink Lego has being growing rapidly in recent years; reporting double digits for the best part of a decade. During that time it hired and spent aggressively while tripling its workforce. But as it grew it became more and more complex with new product lines and franchises.

Chairman, Jorgen Vig Knudstorp, says the whole company will undergo a “reset” featuring cost-cutting, both via layoffs and a simpler business model that will entail “a clean-up of inventories across the entire value chain.”

Lego was not pacing for growth; as they grew rapidly they added more and more complexity and eventually hit their maximum capacity. Their strategy was all about executing growth but neglected to build the capabilities that they would need to sustain that growth for the future.

Strategy is only strategic when it allows you to decide what to do and what not to do. Focus is only focused when it allows you to do less or say no more often.

Here are five ways you can use focus to drive lasting growth for your business

1. Use focus to drive absolute clarity.

Just because we have the people or capital we need to launch a new product, enter a new market, or roll out a new sales tool doesn’t mean we should do it. Focus requires saying no to opportunities, tasks, and ideas that have less merit than other opportunities, tasks, and ideas.

We have to decide if the effort needed to attain the outcome is worth the time and other resources. The right focus stops people from doing some things so that they can do other things.

2. Use focus to invest energy disproportionately.

Every business has limited resources. Even in a cash-rich enterprise or well-funded start-up, resources like time and deep expertise are often in short supply. When we focus the resources that most matter to driving growth, they have more impact.

We can only achieve this focus by stopping some activities. Growth leaders understand that you can only build capacity for growth by conserving time and energy by making tough choices.

3. Use focus to align vertically.

Top-down or vertical alignment ensures that all levels of the organization understand and focus on delivering what is needed today as they develop themselves for the future. This is not possible when the business, team, or individuals are always maxed out.

4. Use focus to align horizontally.

Horizontal alignment means reaching out across the business to ensure it is delivering the right product to the right customer in the right way at the right time. This chain of activities involves almost every function in the business.

Horizontal alignment allows decision makers across the chain of activities ending with the customer to make good decisions together–at the right speed–to maximize benefit to the company, not just their particular piece of it, and for the customer.

5. Use focus to conserve resources for growth.

We waste so much energy when we lack focus and alignment across the different functions of the business. By learning to focus and then align people and other resources to that focus, you can conserve time and energy that can be used to build new capabilities for growth.

Lego has a fantastic core product, an extremely strong brand and is company that knows how to pivot and make a comeback. Although there will be some painful times ahead, this new strategy of simplification will hopefully give them the focus they need to recover and find a more sustainable pace of growth for the future.

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Digital firms pay less than half tax of traditional rivals: EU Commission

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Digital companies in the European Union pay in tax less than half the amount paid by traditional firms, the European Commission said in a draft report which backs plans to increase the tax bill of firms like Amazon or Facebook.

In the report to be adopted on Thursday, the Commission says the best solution to address this distortion would be a global deal, but in the absence of sufficient progress it said the EU should move ahead alone.

Short-term solutions include a tax on turnover, as proposed by France and backed by 10 EU countries, the report seen by Reuters said.

Alternative short-term options would be a withholding tax on payments to digital businesses and a levy on revenues from advertisement or other services provided by digital firms.

In the longer-term, the EU should review the notion of “permanent establishment” so that firms could be taxed also in countries where they do not have a physical presence, the Commission said.

Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio; editing by Philip Blenkinsop

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Uber reviews Asia business over bribery allegations in U.S.: Bloomberg

(Reuters) – Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL], which is the subject of a federal probe into whether it broke bribery laws, has started a review of its Asia operations and notified U.S. officials about payments made by staff in Indonesia, Bloomberg reported, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

A source familiar with the matter told Reuters that the Bloomberg report was accurate.

Uber said in August it was cooperating with a preliminary investigation led by the U.S. Department of Justice into whether company managers violated U.S. laws against bribery of foreign officials, specifically the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Uber hired law firm O‘Melveny & Myers LLP to investigate how it obtained the medical records of an Indian woman who was raped by an Uber driver in 2014, Reuters reported in June.

O’Melveny & Myers is now examining records of foreign payments and interviewing employees, raising questions about why some potentially problematic business dealings were not disclosed sooner, Bloomberg said on Tuesday. bloom.bg/2xdk6PT

Attorneys are focused on suspicious activity in at least five Asian countries: China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and South Korea, Bloomberg said, adding that Uber’s law firm is reviewing financial arrangements tied to the Malaysian government that may have influenced lawmakers there.

Uber and the DoJ could not immediately be reached for comment.

Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru and Peter Henderson in San Francisco; Editing by Leslie Adler

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IT Department Hiring Now at Zero Growth

There may be evidence that the movement to cloud computing and workplace automation is slowing IT hiring.
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In Physics, Crossing a River Is Just Like Landing a Plane

To non-pilots, landing an aircraft in a crosswind looks all but impossible. When the wind is perpendicular to the direction of motion of the plane, the plane has to aim in one direction—its wheels not lined up with the runway—so it moves in another. To pull it off, the pilot must quickly change the orientation of the plane once it touches the runway. It’s hard. Whenever possible, a pilot would prefer to land flying into the wind and not perpendicular to it.

You don’t have to be a pilot to get a feel for this kind of landing, though. Crosswind landings follow the same concepts as a classic physics problem that goes something like this:

You have a boat that can travel with a speed of 4 m/s relative to the water. This boat will be used to cross a river that is 50 meters wide and has water moving at a constant speed of 2 m/s. What angle should you point the boat such that it travels across the river to a point directly on the opposite bank? What is the fastest way to cross the river?

I will answer the above question, but first I will go over the physics of relative velocity. Let me start with a simple case. Suppose you have a train car moving along with a constant speed of 1 m/s. Inside the car a person throws a ball so that it has a constant horizontal speed of 3 m/s. What would that look like if you were inside the car? Yes, this is a simple question. If you are inside the car and you throw a ball at 3 m/s, it will look like it is traveling 3 m/s.

Now imagine that you are standing on the ground outside the moving train car. As you look into the car at the ball, how fast does the ball appear to be moving? Ah ha! You can’t actually answer this question because I didn’t say which way the ball was thrown. If the ball is thrown in the same direction as the motion of the car, then it will appear to be moving with a speed of 4 m/s (1 m/s + 3 m/s). However, if the ball is thrown in the opposite direction of the car it would appear to be going at a speed of 2 m/s.

In general, we define velocities relative to some coordinate system—this coordinate system could be moving with the train or it could be on the ground. Heck, the coordinate system could even be on a different train car moving at a different speed. Really any coordinate system that moves with a constant velocity will work. But once I have two difference reference frames (like the car and the ground), then I can write the following vector equation relating velocities in different frames.

I actually wrote the equation twice (in case you couldn’t tell). In the first version, I explicitly included the velocities in terms of the object and the reference frame. So v_ball-ground_ is the velocity of the ball with respect to the ground and v_car-ground_ is the velocity of the car with respect to the ground. The second equation is written in the way you would normally see it with “b” representing the ball and “c” representing the ground. But here is the key—these are vector quantities that have to be added as vectors.

Just for fun, here is a Python model in which I can show the motion of a ball both as viewed from inside the car and from outside the car. First, this is the motion as viewed from the car. Just click the “play” button at the lower left to get the thing started (if you want to look at the code, click the “pencil”).

Here it is looking from the ground for the exact same situation.

Notice in the view from the car it appears as though the ball just goes straight up and then back down. However, when viewed from the ground you get something different. But your viewpoint doesn’t matter. Either way, the ball lands back on the car in the same spot.

But what about the case of crossing the river? How do you get straight across? How do you get across the quickest? Before going over the exact solution, I made a Python model so you can play with the different crossing angles. Below you see a river (yes, I made the river to the best of my artistic ability). The arrow is the boat and it is pointing in the travel direction with respect to the water (so this is how it would look as viewed from above). You can click and drag the direction of the arrow to set the launch angle of the boat. When you let go, it runs and shows you the motion of the boat with respect to the ground (not the water). If you want to run it again, click the “play” button. Once the boat gets across the river, the program will print out the time to cross and how far the boat traveled in the direction of the river.

Play around with the river crossing model and see what you can figure out.

Please tell me you tried at least a couple of different angles. Here is a hint: The fastest time you can cross the river is in 12.96 seconds. If you didn’t get that time, you can keep trying to get a faster time.

Now for the full solution. I will start by writing the two things I know—the velocity vector for the water with respect to the ground and the magnitude of the velocity of the boat with respect to the water. Actually, if I assume the boat is pointed at some angle, θ then I can also write this as a vector. Note that I am representing vectors as three components in the x, y, and z directions with the angle brackets. Of course there are many ways to represent a vector—use the format that makes you happy.

Just to be clear, the x-component of the water’s velocity with respect to the ground is negative since I have the water flowing to the left. Of course to solve the two problems about the river crossing, I need the velocity of the boat with respect to the ground. I can find that by adding the two vectors above together.

If the boat is to travel to a point directly on the opposite side of the river, then its x-velocity must be zero (with respect to the ground). When looking at a vector equation (like the one above), it is possible to just look at one component of the vectors. By just considering the x-components of the velocities and letting the x-velocity of the boat with respect to the ground to be zero, I get the following:

Try going back to the Python model above and see if this angle does indeed make the boat go straight across the river. Yes, I know it’s not trivial to get the arrow right at 60 degrees, but you can at least get close.

But what about the fastest crossing time? This will happen when the y-velocity of the boat with respect to the ground is the highest. There is no y-velocity of the water’s velocity, so it’s all just due to the boat. Look at that expression for the y-velocity of the boat and notice that it depends on the sine of θ. When is the sin(θ) the greatest? When θ is equal to 90 degrees. So just aim the boat straight across the river and it will get there in the least amount of time—but it doesn’t travel straight across since there is still the x-motion due to the water. Go ahead and try it with the model and see if you can get the lowest time.

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New York governor wants credit-reporting firms to follow cyber rules

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday that he wants credit-reporting firms to comply with the state’s cyber-security regulations, the latest government official to crack down on the industry in the wake of the massive Equifax hack.

Also on Monday, Bloomberg News reported that federal authorities have opened a criminal probe into stock sales by three Equifax Inc (EFX.N) executives before the company disclosed the massive data breach, news that has weighed heavily on the stock price.

The company has said the executives were unaware of the hack when they sold the stock for $ 1.8 million.

Equifax shares rose 1.5 percent on Monday after losing about a third of their value since the hack was announced. The Equifax breach discovered on July 29 exposed sensitive data like Social Security numbers of up to 143 million people.

Cuomo said he planned to require all credit-reporting agencies to register with the state and comply with its cyber-security rules.

The proposed regulation would take effect in February, Cuomo said in a statement. If the companies do not register, they risk being barred from doing business with financial companies regulated by New York state.

The state would be able to bar credit-reporting agencies, including TransUnion (TRU.N) and Experian Plc (EXPN.L), as well as Equifax, from doing business in New York if the state found they engaged in “unfair, deceptive or predatory practices,” Cuomo said.

“The Equifax breach was a wake-up call,” Cuomo said. “And with this action, New York is raising the bar for consumer protections that we hope will be replicated across the nation.”

Proposed regulations are typically subject to a period for public comment before they become final.

A New York state cyber-security regulation, the first of its kind in the United States, took effect on March 1. It requires financial firms to take measures to protect networks and customer data from hackers and disclose cyber events to regulators.

Maine is the only U.S. state that requires credit agencies to register, said William Lund, superintendent of the Maine Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection. But its law does not cover cyber security, an issue the bureau will have to consider, Lund said.

Maine, which has been registering credit-reporting agencies since the 1990s, has 30 such agencies on its roster, ranging from the largest to those dealing with everything from check approval to tenants’ rental histories, he added.

The three credit-reporting agencies did not respond to requests for comment on Cuomo’s plan.

Bloomberg reported on Monday that the U.S. Justice Department is investigating whether Equifax’s chief financial officer, John Gamble, and two other executives broke insider-trading rules by selling stock after the breach was discovered in July and weeks before it was disclosed this month.

Reuters was not able to confirm the Bloomberg report.

Separately, the company issued a statement saying a second Bloomberg report late on Monday about a second cyber attack in March referred to a breach at Equifax payroll unit that was previously reported to regulators, customers and consumers and also been covered by the press.

“Equifax complied fully with all consumer notification requirements related to the March incident. The two events are not related,” the statement said.

Reporting by Diane Bartz and Suzanne Barlyn; Additional reporting by Sarah N. Lynch, David Shepardson and Dustin Volz; Editing by Jim Finkle, Leslie Adler and Michael Perry

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Top 10 Challenges IT Faces Heading Into 2018

While IT teams seem to face similar obstacles every year (talent shortages, tight budgets), the technology and methods they use to meet those challenges are rapidly improving and evolving.
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Nvidia hits another record high as AI takes centerstage

(Reuters) – Shares of Nvidia Corp touched a record high for the second straight day on Monday following yet another steep increase in the chipmaker’s price target by a Wall Street analyst.

Nvidia’s shares, valued at a low $ 23.3 in 2015, have since surged to hit a high of $ 190.10 on Monday, with at least four brokerages setting their price targets at $ 200 or above.

Analysts have focused on the company’s progress in artificial intelligence, in particular.

“Our sense is management believes that investors still severely underestimates the impact of AI and the size of the potential market,” Evercore analyst C J Muse wrote in a note on Friday after hosting Nvidia’s management.

Nvidia has been rapidly expanding into newer technologies including artificial intelligence, cloud computing and self-driving cars, away from designing graphics-processing chips for which the company was known for.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Vivek Arya listed Nvidia a “top pick”, basing his view “on (Nvidia‘s) underappreciated transformation from a traditional PC graphics vendor, into a supplier into high-end gaming, enterprise graphics, cloud, accelerated computing and automotive markets,” according to Seeking Alpha.

Arya raised his price target on Monday by $ 25 to $ 210, the second highest on the Street. Evercore ISI’s whopping $ 70 price target raise on Friday to $ 250 is currently the highest.

Wall Street is bullish on the stock, with 22 of 38 brokerages having a “buy” recommendation, as per Thomson Reuters data. Twelve have “hold” and 4 have “sell” rating.

Broadening its push into AI, Nvidia has been partnering with auto makers to help develop self-driving vehicles.

In May, Nvidia announced a partnership with Toyota Motor Corp through which the Japanese car maker would use Nvidia’s AI technology to develop self-driving vehicle systems planned for the next few years. reut.rs/2wB8Qst

“NVDA has created an industry standard for AI systems that will be nearly impossible to replicate,” Evercore’s Muse wrote in a note on Friday.

Nvidia is also gaining from rising demand for its chips used to process cryptocurrency transactions.

However, the company has little room for any missteps.

Nvidia’s shares fell last month after the company’s second-quarter revenue in its data center and automotive businesses missed estimates.

Reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal and Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru

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You Have 10 Years Left To Retire, How To Plan

Let’s say you have just turned 50, or you are already in early 50’s, and you plan to retire in about 10 years. It’s probably the high time to work out a plan and put it into practice. Thinking of retirement, the very first question that comes to mind is how much savings would be enough that could last comfortably for 30-40 years. The second question would be what will be my/our expenses in retirement. Both of these questions are inter-dependent and often are the most intriguing questions facing most people who are not yet retired but plan to retire not too distant in the future.

On the other hand, if you are still in your 40s, you may think it is too early to ask these questions. However, it never hurts to run some numbers and plan accordingly. Moreover, if you plan early, you will have more choices and time to adjust your plan.

Obviously, these questions are not very straightforward to answer. There are many variables that can differ from one person to another. The first question that you need to tackle is how much spending/expenses a year you will have in retirement. The answer to the other question with regard to the amount of savings will largely depend on our ability to answer the first question fairly accurately. In this article, we will try to address these questions and try to develop some estimates. We will also try to demonstrate how a modest level of savings can be grown to significant sums that can last for a long time.

We can use a hypothetical couple – John and Lisa – let’s assume they both are 50 years of age and want to retire in 10 years at 60 years of age. Their current savings are modest at $ 300,000 and mostly in 401K, and/or IRAs. Their current household gross income is $ 125,000 a year. They recognize that they need to do some serious planning and make some tough choices if they hope to have a comfortable retirement starting 10 years.

John and Lisa currently carry a mortgage on their house and have one child in college whom they are supporting. First, they make some bold decisions. They decide that they will make some extra payments each year on the mortgage and will be able to pay off the house by the time they retire. They decide that they will not carry any car loans or credit card debt into retirement. They also decide that they both will increase their current 401K contributions to 16% of their earnings until they retire. This will help boost their savings significantly.

Estimation of Expenses in Retirement:

Next task is to figure out how much their spending/expenses will be when they retire in 10 years. There are basically two ways to calculate spending. First one is to simply make a list and add the likely expenses in retirement; however, one is likely to underestimate or overestimate some expenses. The second method that we feel is more appropriate is to take the current income and subtract all the expenses that you will not incur in retirement. Also, add any expenses that you may have in retirement that you do not have currently; for example, there may be an increase in medical premiums/costs. Then, adjust this remaining amount for inflation for the number of years that are left prior to retirement. It basically means to figure out how much of the money currently goes into items that will no longer be needed. This method will ensure your current lifestyle into retirement years.

This is what they come up with:

  • They will not need to put the 16% savings contributions into their 401K or retirement funds any longer.
  • Their tax bracket would be much lower, so will need to account for that reduction.
  • They will not be putting any more money into Social Security/Medicare deductions, as they would not have any earned income.
  • Besides they will not have work-related expenses, like commuting, new clothing, dry-cleaning expenses, etc.
  • They should be done with kid’s college education which will cut down another $ 14,000 a year.
  • They will not have the house mortgage payments anymore (monthly mortgage $ 1,200 or $ 14,400 yearly).
  • They will not have the current medical premiums that get deducted from their paychecks, but instead, they will need to earmark higher medical premiums since they will not be eligible for Medicare until 65.

Total current gross earnings

Minus (-)

Current 401/IRA contributions

Social security/Medicare deductions

Taxes (federal and State)

Medical premium deductions

Any work-related expenses

Kid’s college expenses

Home Mortgage payments

Plus (+)

Extra costs or premium for Medical Insurance.

John and Lisa use a Google spreadsheet (prepared by Financially Free Investor, available here) to run the numbers and come to a conclusion that nearly 60% of their current income goes to expense-items that they will no longer have or need in retirement. That means they would only require 40% of their current income to support their existing lifestyle. Based on their current gross income of $ 125,000, it comes to $ 50,000 a year in today’s prices. However, due to inflation in the next 10 years (assuming at 2.5% a year), they will require $ 64,000 a year. In addition, they plan to earmark another $ 1,000 a month or $ 12,000 a year for medical premiums/costs. So, they figure out that they will need roughly $ 76,000 a year to be able to sustain their current living standards. They round it off to $ 75,000 a year.

40% of the current Income:

Inflation adjusted Amount (10 years later):

Plus Medical Premiums in retirement:

$ 50,000

$ 64,000

$ 12,000

Total:

$ 76,000 a year

(~=75,000 a year).

How Much Savings Are Needed?

John and Lisa decide that John would start taking his social security benefits at the earliest eligibility age of 62 years, but delay Lisa’s social security until she gets to 70 years of age. By doing this, they will be able to balance out the income needs along with compounding Lisa’s social security benefits to the highest payout possible.

John and Lisa also assume that they will withdraw up to 6% income from their investment capital at the time of retirement at age 60 until they get to the age 70. This is when they start withdrawing the second social security benefits. Now some folks will argue that 6% income is too high to withdraw. However, even if we think it is too high, in the worst case scenario, their portfolio may not grow as much they would like during their age from 60-70 years. After 70 years, when they have the second social security coming in, their withdrawal percentage will get reduced significantly.

By reverse calculation, this couple will require $ 1.25 million (75,000/0.06) in investment savings at the time of retirement. They only have $ 300,000 today. Without any more contributions, to grow this amount to 1.25 million in 10 years will require compounding this amount at a rate of 16% per annum, which is almost unachievable. But the good thing is that they are still working. They have already decided to increase their 401K pre-tax contributions to 16% of their income, and along with the employer’s matching, they will likely be able to achieve the target. Any further rise in their income would also be put away to ROTH IRA accounts.

Investment Returns Simulations:

John and Lisa get to the task of planning how they could get to the target of $ 1.25 million in 10 years. In the first example, they assume that their investments would grow at a very steady rate of 9% a year for the next 10 years, while they contributed 16% of income every year along with 4% from employer’s matching.

Table-1

With 9% steady growth rate, they are very close to their target of $ 1.25 million, but not entirely. Further, the above assumption of 9% growth every year would probably be fine over 2 or 3 decades, but over 10 years it may not be very realistic. The market’s ups and downs from year to year can change the outcome. If the history is any guide, it can vary greatly depending on how the markets do in the next 10 years. Let’s run some numbers for John and Lisa, from the past for historical perspective to see what is realistic.

We will consider every 10-year period, starting from the year 1999; for example, 10-year periods such as 1999-2008, 2000-2009, 2001-2010 and so on. We will assume that they invested rather conservatively with a mix of 70% in stocks, and 30% in Treasuries and bonds. Let’s see how they would have fared in each scenario.

Now, what if, John and Lisa had decided to invest everything in S&P 500. Let’s see how they would have fared in this scenario:

As you can see if they had started their 10-year plan anytime between years 1999 and 2002, they would be much behind their intended target. The 10-year periods of 1999-2008, 2000-2009 and 2001-2010 were most undesirable as they had to bear two full-blown recessions/corrections and did not have enough time to recover from 2008 debacle. It is clear if John and Lisa had started the plan anytime between 1999 and 2002, there was no way they could have retired at the end of 10 years with the level of spending expenses as they had planned. The only options would have been either to postpone the retirement for a few years until the markets recovered or to cut down on their lifestyle significantly.

Now, for the sake of comparison, let’s also run the numbers if John and Lisa had decided to invest in a Conservative Risk-Adjusted Rotation portfolio (based on back-tested numbers). This portfolio rotates between S&P 500 fund and the treasury/bond funds. When the market is relatively strong, the more funds are invested in the market; however, when the market starts declining or enters into a correction phase, more funds get switched to treasuries and bonds. Such a portfolio would generally underperform slightly during strong bull markets, but protect the capital during major corrections or recessions.

Author’s Note: The above Risk-Adjusted Rotation portfolio is part of FFI’s Marketplace service “High Income DIY Portfolios.”

Comparison of 3 Investment portfolios:

Initial Capital = $ 300,000

Additional Contribution= $ 25,000 each year for 10 years

However, for the sake of simplicity, let’s assume, John and Lisa would get a constant return of 8% over 10 years, which is not overly optimistic. With this rate of growth, their savings and contributions over 10 years will accumulate to 1.01 million. Let’s round it off to $ 1.0 million. As we can see, John and Lisa would fall short of their target of $ 1.25 million. However, the gap is not huge and can be managed with some innovative thinking. The other solution may be that one or both of them work some part-time job for a couple more years; however, not a desirable outcome. Let’s look at some alternatives to manage the gap.

Bridging The Gap:

For John and Lisa, the other solution may be as follows:

  • They reserve 2 years of expenses in cash from the total capital, a total of $ 150,000 @ $ 75,000 per year, leaving the investment capital to $ 850,000.
  • Also, they had already decided that John will start withdrawing social-security at the earlier eligible age of 62. Due to early withdrawal, he will get 75-80% of the full benefits. We will assume that SS-1 to be $ 1,500 a month and grow at a very conservative rate of 1% per annum due to COLA (Cost Of Living Adjustments).
  • This will allow Lisa to wait until the age of 70 years to collect and let the social-security benefits be compounded to a much higher amount. We will assume that the SS-2 will be $ 3,000 per month, starting at 70 years and grow at 1% per annum by COLA adjustments.
  • However, at age 70, due to inflation (from age 60-70 years), their expenses would go up as well, and they would need roughly $ 94,000 to keep the same purchasing power as of $ 75,000 (when they were 60).
  • They assume that investments of $ 850,000 ($ 1.0 million – 150K reserve) will grow at a conservative rate of @8%.

COLA – Cost Of Living Adjustment – (Source: Investopedia)

An adjustment made to Social Security and Supplemental Security Income to counteract the effects of inflation. Cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) are generally equal to the percentage increase in the consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers (CPI-W) for a specific period.

Below is the table that simulates the income and withdrawals from the age of 60-80 years.

Explanation and assumptions:

  • Column A shows the age in years.
  • Column B shows the starting capital at the beginning of the year.
  • Column C shows the needed income each year. For the first two years, they need a fixed amount of $ 75,000 each year. After that, we will add 2.5% each year for inflation.
  • Column D shows the social security payments for John, the first earner, assuming he starts withdrawing at 62 years of age (the earliest eligible date). We will assume that social security payment increases at an average rate of 1.0% (Cola adjustment).
  • Column E shows the social security payments for Lisa, the second earner, assuming she starts withdrawing at 70 years of age (the late withdrawal date), so as to get higher payments. We will assume that she gets $ 3,000 per month starting at age 7 years. Also, social security payment increases at an average rate of 1.0% (Cola adjustment) after that.
  • Column F is the actual cash withdrawn from the invested capital. Column F = Column C – Column D – Column E
  • Column G shows the percentage of cash withdrawn. Column G = Column F / Column B
  • Column H is the net investible amount after taking out the needed income.
  • Column I: Rate of return on the invested capital = 8% per annum.
  • Column K is the total balance amount at the end of each year, after accounting for withdrawals and the growth of the capital.

Table-5

Now, there is no guarantee that the future returns will be at 8%. It can be less or more. It may depend on their investment choices and market conditions. Let’s see, what their net balance would be at the age of 80, assuming different rates of return, everything else being the same. In the below table, we are only showing the last line only (at age 80) from table-5, assuming different rates of return.

Table-6

As you see, a lot depends on what the average rate of return is from the investments. If they get only 6% rate of return, they are not doing so good, as their capital is reducing, albeit slowly. If that were to occur, they should modify their lifestyle and reduce spending by about 10%. However, if they were to get an average rate of 8%, which is highly feasible, they have nothing to worry as their net balance at 80 years would be 70% higher than when they started, in addition to the consistent income withdrawn. Anything more than 8% would, of course, be icing on the cake.

Conclusion:

The simple conclusion is that if you are already 50 years old or more and have not planned for a possible retirement, it is high time that you should do it. Of course, it can always be done prior to getting to 50, but your numbers may have a little higher margin of error. It is always prudent to start saving from an early age, but as John and Lisa’s example shows, it is never too late. Even if you have modest savings by the time you turn 50, there is still ample time to make a plan, ramp up the savings/contributions to retirement accounts and compound the savings. However, more you delay it, harder will be the choices.

Author’s note: If you like this article, please click on the “Follow” button at the top of the article. In our SA Marketplace service “High Income DIY Portfolios,” we provide two high-income portfolios, one conservative portfolio, and another hi-growth portfolio. For more details, please click on the image just below our logo at the top of the article. We are currently running the 2-week free trial and discounted pricing.

Full Disclaimer: The information presented in this article is for informational purposes only and in no way should be construed as financial advice or recommendation to buy or sell any stock. Please always do further research and do your own due diligence before making any investments. Every effort has been made to present the data/information accurately; however, the author does not claim 100% accuracy. Any stock portfolio or strategy presented here is only for demonstration purposes.

Additional Disclosure: I am/we are long ABT, ABBV, JNJ, PFE, NVS, NVO, CL, CLX, GIS, UL, NSRGY, PG, MON, ADM, MO, PM, KO, DEO, MCD, WMT, WBA, CVS, LOW, CSCO, MSFT, INTC, T, VZ, VTR, CVX, XOM, VLO, HCP, O, OHI, NNN, STAG, WPC, MAIN, NLY, PCI, PDI, PFF, RFI, RNP, UTF, EVT, FFC, KYN, NMZ, NBB, HQH, JPC, JRI, TLT.MCD, WMT, WBA, CVS, LOW, CSCO, MSFT, INTC, T, VZ, VTR, CVX, XOM, VLO, HCP, O, OHI, NNN, STAG, WPC, MAIN, NLY, PCI, PDI, PFF, RFI, RNP, UTF, EVT, FFC, KYN, NMZ, NBB, HQH, JPS, JRI, TLT.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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The Next-Generation IT Help Desk is Achievable Today

The new enterprise IT help desk features bots, cloud monitoring, and consolidated views into problems, and it can be implemented today.
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Too soon to determine risks of central bank-issued cryptocurrencies: BIS

LONDON (Reuters) – It is too soon to determine whether central banks should issue their own cryptocurrencies, the Bank for International Settlements said on Sunday, as the risks could not yet be fully assessed and the technology underpinning them is still unproven.

Central banks already use electronic money – only a very small proportion of their assets are now backed by gold – but this is exchanged in a centralized fashion, across accounts at the central bank.

What would be distinctive about a central bank-issued cryptocurrency – rather than just electronic money – would be that this could be exchanged “directly between the payer and the payee without the need for central intermediary”, by means of blockchain technology, BIS said in its latest Quarterly Review.

Blockchain technology enables peer-to-peer payments to be made using decentralized cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, by means of a shared ledger that verifies, records and settles transactions in a matter of minutes.

“While it seems unlikely that bitcoin or its sisters will displace sovereign currencies, they have demonstrated the ability of the underlying blockchain or distributed ledger technology (DLT),” BIS said.

Publication of the BIS report coincides with a crackdown by China on the cryptocurrency business as it tries to limit risks with consumers piling into a highly speculative market that has grown rapidly this year.

RETAIL OR WHOLESALE?

The report explores two possibly forms of central bank-issued cryptocurrency: a consumer-facing currency for use in retail transactions, and a wholesale one that would be used by institutions as a “token” currency for digitally settling transactions.

BIS concluded that the peer-to-peer nature of the technology meant that a cryptocurrency for consumers could enable the anonymity that cash currently provides. But if that were not seen as important, it said, it was unclear what further benefits it could provide.

“Most of the alleged benefits of retail central bank cryptocurrencies can be achieved by giving the public access to accounts at the central bank, something that has been technically feasible for a long time but which central banks have mostly stayed away from,” it said.

BIS said that the question of whether or not a central bank should offer a digital alternative to cash was most pressing in a country like Sweden, where cash usage has declined rapidly over the past decade.

A retail cryptocurrency could also, if it were to completely replace cash, remove the zero-lower-bound constraint on monetary policy, BIS said, as it would no longer be possible for depositors to avoid negative interest rates by hoarding cash.

On the institutional side, a central bank-issued cryptocurrency’s usefulness depended on whether it could reduce settlement times and improve efficiency, BIS said. But that had yet to be proven and would depend on the successful resolution of a number of technical issues.

BIS concluded that central banks would probably have to decide on an individual basis whether issuing retail or wholesale central bank cryptocurrencies made sense for them.

“In making this decision, central banks will have to consider not only consumer preferences for privacy and possible efficiency gains – in terms of payments, clearing and settlement – but also the risks it may entail for the financial system and the wider economy, as well as any implications for monetary policy,” BIS said.

“Some of the risks are currently hard to assess,” it said, adding that very little was known about the resilience such currencies would be able to show to cyber-attacks, for example.

Reporting by Jemima Kelly; editing by John Stonestreet

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Everything We'll Be Watching for During the Emmys

For years the Emmys were the place that Modern Family went to pick up something pretty for the mantle. But that’s all changing thanks to the likes of Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. Now streaming services compete—and win—right alongside their big network counterparts. With more players in the game, television studios are starting to pony up for really creative shows to grab attention. All of this has lead to a lot of amazing TV. In anticipation of the Emmys, which air tonight at 8 pm Eastern/5 pm Pacific on CBS, WIRED’s editors spent last week reflecting on our favorite shows of the last year—and why we think they deserve to be rewarded.

The Handmaid’s Tale Reinvented Dystopia

The Handmaid’s Tale couldn’t have come to Hulu at a better—or worse—time. The adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel started production in 2016, when it looked like the United States was on a course to elect its first female president; it got released in 2017, after that same country elected a man who dismissed his use of the phrase “grab ‘em by the pussy” as locker room talk and saw a swell of white nationalism in its borders. Atwood’s dystopian world of Gilead was modeled after an America that had succumbed to totalitarian theocratic rule. It’s not quite Trump’s America—but as The Handmaid’s Tale’s first 10 episodes rolled out, it was hard not to see similarities. (Read the rest of Angela Watercutter’s appreciation of  The Handmaid’s Tale.)

The Handmaid’s Tale couldn’t have come to Hulu at a better—or worse—time. The adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel started production in 2016, when it looked like the United States was on a course to elect its first female president; it got released in 2017, after that same country elected a man who dismissed his use of the phrase “grab ‘em by the pussy” as locker room talk and saw a swell of white nationalism in its borders. Atwood’s dystopian world of Gilead was modeled after an America that had succumbed to totalitarian theocratic rule. It’s not quite Trump’s America—but as The Handmaid’s Tale’s first 10 episodes rolled out, it was hard not to see similarities. (Read the rest of Angela Watercutter’s appreciation of  The Handmaid’s Tale.)

How Atlanta Expanded the Limits of Storytelling

Atlanta, akin to the city itself, is pure sprawl—thematically sweeping if sometimes implausibly lush, with its cabal of lovably thorny characters and its conceptually exhaustive format. Much to the credit of Donald Glover and his all-black writers’ room, it is a show without a roadmap that isn’t afraid to take detours to uncharted territories (or get lost and find its way back). As such, the Emmy-nominated comedy (it’s up for four awards on Sunday) has no precedent. In the short history of contemporary television, there have been more than a handful of shows that have traversed the highs and lows of black life—some of them exceptional, most of them simply OK. But there’s never been a vision quite as specific and as versatile and as wonderfully gonzo as Atlanta: It speaks with a cultural knowingness that, until its debut, had never been given space on TV. (Read the rest of Jason Parham’s appreciation of Atlanta.)

Atlanta, akin to the city itself, is pure sprawl—thematically sweeping if sometimes implausibly lush, with its cabal of lovably thorny characters and its conceptually exhaustive format. Much to the credit of Donald Glover and his all-black writers’ room, it is a show without a roadmap that isn’t afraid to take detours to uncharted territories (or get lost and find its way back). As such, the Emmy-nominated comedy (it’s up for four awards on Sunday) has no precedent. In the short history of contemporary television, there have been more than a handful of shows that have traversed the highs and lows of black life—some of them exceptional, most of them simply OK. But there’s never been a vision quite as specific and as versatile and as wonderfully gonzo as Atlanta: It speaks with a cultural knowingness that, until its debut, had never been given space on TV. (Read the rest of Jason Parham’s appreciation of Atlanta.)

Westworld’s Strength Is Its Inhumanity

One scene from Westworld replays in my head again and again, a little like (I imagine) one of the poor, doomed robots on the show who start noticing and remembering the programmatic loops in their simulated, hyper-violent Old West sandbox game. It’s when the android Maeve, played by Thandie Newton, grabs a technician’s tablet showing the dashboard for her personality software and, with a deft finger swipe, upgrades herself to genius. Yes, maybe taking control of your life by literally taking control of your life is a teensy bit on the nose. But for me it was the best flicker of weirdness from a show that—again, like its robots—dreamed big dreams. (Read the rest of Adam Rogers’ appreciation of Westworld.)

One scene from Westworld replays in my head again and again, a little like (I imagine) one of the poor, doomed robots on the show who start noticing and remembering the programmatic loops in their simulated, hyper-violent Old West sandbox game. It’s when the android Maeve, played by Thandie Newton, grabs a technician’s tablet showing the dashboard for her personality software and, with a deft finger swipe, upgrades herself to genius. Yes, maybe taking control of your life by literally taking control of your life is a teensy bit on the nose. But for me it was the best flicker of weirdness from a show that—again, like its robots—dreamed big dreams. (Read the rest of Adam Rogers’ appreciation of Westworld.)

The Night Of’s Single Season Is the Future of TV

Last year’s best case for restraint was The Night Of, the hypnotic HBO legal miniseries created by Richard Price and Steven Zaillian. Which is not to say The Night Of didn’t have blind spots. It did, thematically and narratively—lazy detective work; the sluggish pacing of certain scenes—but the complete product was a small triumph: a sneakily crafted urban noir about the justice system that was ambitious and pragmatic in palatable doses. The show never overcompensated (if anything, the plot sometimes didn’t say enough). In this way, The Night Of was less of a whodunit and more of a close look at the contours of human identity—the way a single event radically alters the lives of the people it touches. (Read the rest of Jason Parham’s appreciation of The Night Of.)

Last year’s best case for restraint was The Night Of, the hypnotic HBO legal miniseries created by Richard Price and Steven Zaillian. Which is not to say The Night Of didn’t have blind spots. It did, thematically and narratively—lazy detective work; the sluggish pacing of certain scenes—but the complete product was a small triumph: a sneakily crafted urban noir about the justice system that was ambitious and pragmatic in palatable doses. The show never overcompensated (if anything, the plot sometimes didn’t say enough). In this way, The Night Of was less of a whodunit and more of a close look at the contours of human identity—the way a single event radically alters the lives of the people it touches. (Read the rest of Jason Parham’s appreciation of The Night Of.)

O.J.: Made in America Is a Masterful Feat of Editing

O.J.: Made in America is, to be sure, a feat of raw reportage—director Ezra Edelman and his producers conducted more than 70 interviews. But what editors Bret Granato, Maya Mumma, and Ben Sozanski accomplished was equally remarkable. They distilled hundreds of hours and countless narratives into a nearly eight-hour-long panoramic about everything from politics to race to the media—and somehow wrapped it all into a can’t-turn-away thriller. (Read the rest of Brian Raftery‘s appreciation of O.J.: Made in America.)

O.J.: Made in America is, to be sure, a feat of raw reportage—director Ezra Edelman and his producers conducted more than 70 interviews. But what editors Bret Granato, Maya Mumma, and Ben Sozanski accomplished was equally remarkable. They distilled hundreds of hours and countless narratives into a nearly eight-hour-long panoramic about everything from politics to race to the media—and somehow wrapped it all into a can’t-turn-away thriller. (Read the rest of Brian Raftery‘s appreciation of O.J.: Made in America.)

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3 Tips for Making Better Investments in Security

Information security’s role is becoming more strategic, but its approach to making investment decisions hasn’t kept pace. To better align security investments with enterprise strategy, IT and security leaders must stay focused on the right risks, add rigor to decision making processes, and give stakeholders opportunities for input.
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A New Era of OpenStack

The chairman of the OpenStack Foundation outlines some of the steps the organization is taking to support a growing interest in OpenStack.
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Digital Transformation Done Right

A successful digital transformation initiative starts with an organization’s leadership instilling a culture that supports the idea of the entire business operating under one digital strategy.
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Design Expert: The Secrets to Better User Interfaces

Designer Scott Schaedle feels that user interfaces would look and function much better if developers simply followed a handful of good design practices.
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Rackspace, OpenStack and the Multiplicity of Clouds

While some wish to view OpenStack as a failure, the open source initiative serves a purpose and is a fit for a growing number of organizations.
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Hurricanes: Risk Analytics in a World of Uncertainty

The already-devastating hurricane season highlights the need for predictive analytical models that account for exceptional events.
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A Hat Doesn’t Make a Captain: 3 Traits of a C-Suite Genius

What makes an executive successful? Consider traits such as risk taking and never relying on the status quo.
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The Forgotten Secret to DevOps Success: Measurement

Measuring the end-to-end DevOps value stream is the key to delivering value and tracking its ROI and allocating resources.
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