Business TECH_Technology

Amazon says Bernie Sanders’ working conditions claims are ‘misleading’

Next week, Senator Bernie Sanders is planning to introduce a bill that aims to improve working conditions at large companies like Walmart and Amazon following public criticisms of the companies’ wages and working conditions.

But in a recent blog, Amazon said that the Senator was making  “inaccurate and misleading accusations” about the company’s practices. “In addition to highly competitive wages and a climate controlled, safe workplace, Amazon provides employees with a comprehensive benefit package including health insurance, disability insurance, retirement savings plans and company stock.”

Amazon also sent a letter to employees that pushed those in fulfillment centers to tell Sanders their stories.

“I encourage you and your teams to let him know what you think,” wrote Amazon’s head of global operations Dave Clark. “He only asks if you are on food stamps, but I hope he would be interested in hearing that you’re not as well.”

“The taxpayers in this country should not be subsidizing a guy who’s worth $150 billion, whose wealth is increasing by $260 million every single day,” Sanders said about Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. “That is insane. He has enough money to pay his workers a living wage. He does not need corporate welfare. And our goal is to see that Bezos pays his workers a living wage.”

“I believe that Jeff Bezos can play a profound role in American society today if he were to say, ‘Yes, I’m the richest guy in the world. I will pay my workers a living wage at least $15 and make sure all of my workers have the security and dignity they need. I will improve conditions.'”


Top banking CEO says US-China trade war is hurting clients

A top Europe banking CEO claims that clients are beginning to feel the impact of the global trade tariffs stemming from the US-China trade war, with profit warnings being issued and production lines being changed.

“We see clients looking to reorganize their value chains,” said Ralph Hamers, the chief executive officer of Dutch bank ING. “We are making sure that either they are not caught by higher tariffs or moving their production or basically rerouting value chains through which they make their products.”

Hamers said that some customers believe their sales will decrease, their costs will increase, and their products will in turn not be as competitive.

“It is very clear that a trade war is not good for producer confidence to invest and for consumer confidence to consume,” he said. “It already has (had) a negative impact on economic growth.”

Other risk factors, such as Brexit, have also kept investors on their toes. However, Hamers claims that as of now, there are no deterimental effects from Brexit.

“(The) U.K. economy is growing pretty well, employment is also improving there,” he said. “(The) European economy is also growing pretty well. Clearly, probably closer to the deadline, maybe some volatility coming but I truly hope that there is common sense with the politicians in order to get the deal.”

In June, the U.K. voted to leave the European Union (EU), but the process has been a prolonged process that contains many technical details. As of now, the departure date is scheduled for March 29 next year.


Cryptocurrency startup Dfinity raises $102 million to create ‘internet computer’

Cryptocurrency startup Dfinity just raised another $102 million for the development of their “internet computer,” which brings the total capital it has raised to $200 million. The funding was raised by a16z crypto, Andreessen Horowitz’s dedicated cryptocurrency fund, as well as crypto hedge fund Polychain Capital.

“The Internet Computer is a public infrastructure that aims to host the world’s next generation of software and services,” said Dominic Williams, founder and chief scientist of Dfinity. “The platform provides a novel means to develop and host new software systems where R&D costs can be 90% lower, yet hosted systems are far more secure since the Internet Computer is unhackable, and are always available, highly interoperable and better able to preserve the privacy of confidential data.”

Dfinity was founded back in 2015 and is located in Switzerland’s “Crypto Valley.” The team behind the company wants to create a decentralized cloud computing network that rivals centralized platforms like Amazon Web Services (AMS), which some have accused of censorship.

“We are excited to back DFINITY’s Internet Computer and their vision to host the world’s next generation of software and services on a public network,” said Chris Dixon, partner at a16z crypto. “The Internet Computer is on track to become a critical piece of the future technology stack. This is groundbreaking and a real testament to Dominic and the incredible team at DFINITY.”

Although Dfinity has not conducted an initial coin offering (ICO) that is open to the general public, it held an airdrop to freely distribute tokens that were worth $35 million at the time. Participants are set to receive their tokens when the network launches.


Papa John’s founder blames CEO for decrease in sales

After a slump in sales, Papa John’s founder John Schnatter, who was ousted from the company, claims that the new CEO Steve Ritchie is to blame. However, many critics have claimed that the steady drop in sales is due to the NFL severing its Papa John’s sponsorship following Schnatter’s criticism of the league.

But Schnatter thinks the real problem is that there is “rot at the top,” and that Ritchie, who he chose to be his successor, has been “out of his depth as CEO” since he took the position in January.

“Bad financial decisions, insufficient management skills to correct them, a toxic senior management culture, and serious misconduct at the top levels of our leadership team have prompted some in the company to use me as an excuse to distract from those cold realities,” he said.

Schnatter also claims that Ritchie blocked him out of the company despite misgivings on the company’s board.

“This June, I told the board that Steve needed to go,” Schnatter said. “At the time, the board agreed – and asked me to become executive chairman.”

Schnatter also claims that Ritchie became aware of the planned coup via one of his direct reports, who he says was having an affair with an employee that had access to Schnatter’s drafts outlining proposed changes in management.

“Steve then decided, and communicated to others, that he needed to get rid of me to save his own job,” he wrote.

Papa John’s denied Schnatter’s allegations in a statement on Tuesday.

“At no time has the board asked John Schnatter to become executive chairman,” the company said, referring to Schnatter’s letter as “a self-serving attempt to distract from the damaging impact his own words and actions have had on the company and our stakeholders.”


Manu Ginobli retires after 16 NBA seasons

International NBA superstar Manu Ginobli, who was once the San Antonio Spurs’ go-to sixth man off the bench, announced his retirement from basketball Monday after 16 seasons.

“Today with a wide range of feelings, I’m announcing my retirement from basketball,” the 41-year-old Argentine wrote on Twitter. “IMENSE GRATITUDE to everyone (family, friends, teammates, coaches, staff, fans) involved in my life in the past 23 years. It’s been a fabulous journey. Way beyond my wildest dreams.”

According to an ESPN report earlier this month, Ginobli had been seriously considering retirement this offseason and said he would meet with head coach Gregg Popovich prior to training camp to discuss his future. He reportedly had one year and $2.5 million left on his contract.

Picked 57th overall by the Spurs in 1999, Ginobili averaged 13.3 points, 3.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds for his career, and 14.0 points, 3.8 assists and 4.0 rebounds in 218 postseason games. He won the NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 2008, and earned All-Star honors twice.

With Tim Duncan at center and Tony Parker at point guard, the Spurs became a postseason mainstay, tallying at least 47  regular season wins and never missing the playoffs in all of Ginobli’s 16 seasons. His departure brings to a close San Antonio’s golden era. Duncan retired after the 2015-16 season and Parker was traded to the Charlotte Hornets this offseason.


Is Elon Musk’s public reckoning here?

Elon Musk’s media outbursts have taken Tesla shareholders for quite the ride, including a claim of privatization that was later abandoned a few hours later via a statement.

“As a public company, we are subject to wild swings in our stock price that can be a major distraction,” Musk wrote. “Being public also subjects us to the quarterly earnings cycle that puts enormous pressure on Tesla to make decisions that may be right for a given quarter, but not necessarily right for the long-term.”

But now, the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating Musk’s tweets, and it appears Musk’s reckoning might be here. Not only that, but Musk is lashing out on Twitter again and doubling down on his previous “pedo” comment directed at one of the Thai cave divers.

“You don’t think it’s strange he hasn’t sued me?” he said to a twitter user. “He was offered free legal services.”

“I think a lot of things are strange, Elon,” the user responded. “What I think is especially strange here is that you’re wondering why he hasn’t sued you while the rest of us are wondering why you did something so egregious that he could sue you for in the first place.”

“Did you investigate at all?” Musk asked. “I’m guessing answer is no. Why? Answer the question @yoda. You brought it up, not me. Did you investigate or not? If so, what did you actually do?”

It appears that Musk is still unhinged, which is probably making shareholders even more nervous than they already are.

Business TECH_Technology

‘Amazon effect’ could influence inflation dynamics

Experts believe that Inc. has kept United States inflation lower than typical economic models predict during the market’s current expansion. But more than that, a new paper suggests that another “Amazon effect” might be more relevant when it comes to central bankers: price change frequency.

In particular, competition from Amazon has likely increased the frequency of prices changes at traditional retailers, and a higher uniformity in the pricing of these items across different locations. The paper also found that this shift has paved the way for greater influence on movements in the United States gas prices and dollar exchange rate.

“For monetary policy and those interested in inflation dynamics, the implication is that retail prices are becoming less ‘insulated’ from these common nationwide shocks,” Cavallo said. “Fuel prices, exchange-rate fluctuations, or any other force affecting costs that may enter the pricing algorithms used by these firms are more likely to have a faster and larger impact on retail prices that in the past.”

The study’s implications expand to monetary policy since “stick prices,” which refers to the notion that sellers can’t alter prices immediately in response to supply and demand changes, is what gives power to interest rates in mainstream models.

“For monetary models and empirical work, my results suggest that the focus needs to move beyond traditional nominal rigidities,” Cavallo said. “Labor costs, limited information, and even ’decision costs’ (related to inattention and the limited capacity to process data) will tend to disappear as more retailers use algorithms to make pricing decisions.”

Business Mobile TECH_Technology

Toyota makes $500 million investment into Uber

Toyota is partnering with Uber to bring an on-demand autonomous ride-hailing service to market, which includes a $500 million investment on behalf of the Japanese automaker. In particular, Toyota Sienna minivans are going to be equipped with Uber’s self-driving technology and deployed onto Uber’s network.

In a statement released on Monday, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi noted that the deal is the first of its kind for Uber. Not only that, it could help advance Uber’s image, especially in the wake of the fatal self-driving vehicle accident back in March.

“Uber’s advanced technology and Toyota’s commitment to safety and its renowned manufacturing prowess make this partnership a natural fit,” Khosrowshahi said. “I look forward to seeing what our teams accomplish together.”

The companies are calling the service “Autono-MaaS” fleet, which is supposed to mean autonomous-mobility as a service.

Tokyo employs a unique deployment strategy for autonomous vehicles compared to competitors. The company wants to create fully autonomous cars that are able to cater to an aging population, as well as the disabled.

Toyota is planning to use its core information structure for vehicles connected to the network. This structure is called a mobility services platform, also referred to as MSPF.

“Uber’s automated driving system and Toyota’s guardian system will independently monitor the vehicle environment and real-time situation, enhancing overall vehicle safety for both the automated driver and the vehicle,” said Gill Pratt, Toyota Research Institute CEO.

Prior to the deal, Toyota already had a relationship with Uber. However, it wasn’t as close as it will be under the new arrangement.


Recession risk still low, research paper says

A new paper from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco suggests that while the risk of a recession is rising, a downturn is still not likely.

The paper examined the activity of the Treasury bond yield curve, which tracks investor return based on the maturity of their security ownership. Longer-dated bonds have high yields to cope with the uncertainty of holding extended investments, while shorter-dated securities have lower yields to curb risk

Atlanta Fed leader Raphael Bostic suggests that the Fed might have to put rate increases on to prevent an inversion.

Bostic said that “I’m going to be very sensitive” to what the market is doing. “I wouldn’t knowingly” support a rise in rate that would lead to inversion.

“The difference between 10-year and three-month Treasury rates is the most useful term spread for forecasting recessions,” said Michael Bauer and Thomas Mertens, both of whom are bank economists.

The authors did caution that is is still unclear if inversions correlate with recessions or cause them. Regardless, they are “a reliable predictor” of recessions.

As of now, the difference between two- and 10-year notes points to at least one or two more Fed increases from the current overnight target rate of 1.75% and 2%. This is compared with the 2.63% two-year note yield.

“Although this particular spread has narrowed recently like most other measures, it is still a comfortable distance from a yield curve inversion,” the report reads.

“The recent evolution of the yield curve suggests that recession risk might be rising,” but “the flattening yield curve provides no sign of an impending recession.”


The Most Incredible Indoor Water Parks

Timber Ridge Lodge & Water Park

If you’re heading to Chicago, be sure to stop by Moose Mountain Falls at Timber Ridge Lodge & Water Park. Located in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, this stunning water park is complete with plenty of pools and slides to keep the whole family occupied. If the advanced, modern slides don’t catch your attention, you can always head to the arcade located in the park instead.

Kalahari Resorts and Conventions’ Pocono Mountains

If you’re looking to visit the largest water park in the world, be sure to stop by the Kalahari Resorts and Conventions. With a size of over 200,000 square feet, it’s a great place to go if you want to avoid crowds. There are some seriously wild rides here, and anyone who likes to seek thrills will feel at home. It also has plenty of amenities for toddlers, so it’s a great location for the whole family.

Massanutten Resort

The cool thing about Massanutten is the fact that you can stop by immediately after a day of skiing or boarding at the nearby hills. An indoor water park can be a great way to warm up after a cold day. There are eight water slides to experience, and you can even learn how to surf at the artificial wave generator called the Pipeline. Toddlers and families are also welcome at the Frog Pond.

Wilderness Resort

They call it the “Water Park Capital of the World” for a reason. This is one of the most popular parks in the country, and it draws in thousands of visitors every year. It’s also incredibly large, and there’s enough space for everyone to have plenty of fun. There are four separate indoor parks in this resort – each with their own unique theme and attractions. Visit the Wild WaterDome to experience the largest artificial waves in the country.

Epic Waters Indoor Water Park

To check out one of the newest water parks in the country, head to Epic Waters Indoor Water Park. Located in Grand Prairie, Texas, this advanced attraction has plenty of interesting rides to experience, including the Lasso Loop (the tallest indoor water ride in the nation).  Plenty of geysers and sprinklers also make this location fun for the entire family.

Boyne Mountain Resort

Check out Boyne Mountain Resort for some serious thrills. One of the best rides to try is the Cannonbowl, which allows you to get into a double tube with a friend. At regular intervals, a horn sounds and there’s a huge dump of water overhead. This is another family-friendly location with plenty of attractions – even if you don’t feel like getting wet.

WaTiki Waterpark Resort

The WaTiki Indoor Water Park has everything you need to have tons of fun. Four hotels are right on its doorstep, so you can make an entire vacation out of your visit from anywhere in the world. It’s one of the most nature-focused parks around, and you can check out Mount Rushmore and various natural attractions as you paddle around. Of course, there are also plenty of rides and slides to keep you occupied as well.

CoCo Key Water Resort

There are so many things that make CoCo Key Water Resort a premiere destination for any lover of water parks. Rides like the Shark Slam are a blast for people of all ages. You can let your young children have tons of fun at Parrot’s Perch – an area designed entirely for little tykes. There’s even an arcade with plenty of video games to play.