Slow Death: Sports Illustrated will reduce print output to monthly….

Sports Illustrated was a weekly publication as recently as 2015. In 2020 it will become a monthly, Yahoo Finance has learned.

The magazine reduced to twice per month in January 2018. Now, just two years later, it will cut again to one issue per month in 2020—plus four special issues and the Swimsuit Issue, for a total of 17 issues in the calendar year.

Sports Illustrated staffers learned of the coming change at an all-hands meeting in October. Sports Illustrated management has also notified its printer of the plan to go monthly.

Most notably, sources close to the magazine say the “close time” for each issue will be 3-4 weeks, meaning that everything in every issue must be “closed” (all text and photos edited, complete, sent to the printer) more than three weeks before the magazine comes out.

That will meaningfully change the look and content of each issue, since stories will have to be evergreen enough to have a longer shelf life on newsstands. In addition, the iconic covers Sports Illustrated is so known for, which often show newsy photographs of a championship game or notable moment that just happened in the past week, likely won’t be possible.

Although the magazine will publish less frequently, the issues will be printed on heavier paper stock and priced higher on newsstands. And some current staffers are pleased with the new plan. “I actually like the idea, it doesn’t make sense as a weekly anymore,” says one writer at the magazine, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “I think the issues will look more like Vanity Fair or Vogue.”

CONTINUE @ YAHOO

Baltimore mayor insists leadership is not to blame for homicide rate: ‘I’m not committing the murders’

The mayor of Baltimore says local leadership isn’t to blame for the city’s increasing homicide rate, telling reporters on Wednesday he’s “not committing the murders” himself.

Bernard “Jack” Young, who took office in May, said during his weekly press conference that “there’s not any lack of leadership of my part.”

“That’s what people need to understand. I’m not committing the murders. The police commissioner is not committing it. The council is not committing it. So how can you fault leadership?” he questioned. “You know this has been five years of 300-plus murders, and I don’t see it as a lack of leadership.”

At least 296 people have been killed so far in the major northeastern city in Maryland this year, according to The Baltimore Sun, putting the city on track to have more than 300 homicides for the fifth year in a row. Baltimore has a population of more than 600,000 people.

Baltimore cops have somewhat relaxed the intensity of their enforcement efforts in the wake of Freddie Gray’s 2015 death while in police custody and the protests that followed. Preliminary data suggests cops have been reporting fewer and fewer criminal incidents in the years since Gray died, leading many observers to draw a correlation between overly cautious law enforcement stemming from the heightened scrutiny.

CONTINUE @ FOX

Baltimore hits 300 homicides for fifth year in a row

Several Southwest Baltimore neighbors began their Thursday morning with a visit to the South Monroe Grocery store and more bad news.

The lingering scent of bleach and a police presence outside the small shop signaled to patrons that another homicide had occurred. The officers soon placed a call to the fire department to wash the remaining flecks of blood from the pavement.

Hours earlier, a man and a woman were fatally shot — the 299th and 300th individuals killed in Baltimore in 2019.

Their deaths marked the city’s fifth consecutive year losing at least 300 citizens to homicide. The staggering total has become an unofficial milestone in Baltimore’s annual struggle to quell extreme violence.

Police confirmed the double shooting Thursday near the grocery store in the 1900 block of McHenry St. Prior to that, 21-year-old Donnell Brockington, of Aberdeen, died at an area hospital after he was found Wednesday night with gunshot wounds in the 2600 block of McElderry St.

“Every murder is a tragedy. We don’t want any. We strive to clear them all,” Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said Thursday on WYPR’s Midday show with Tom Hall.

Harrison, who previously served as New Orleans’ chief, said it took years for that city to reverse its crime trends. He said he attributed the reversals there partially to apprehending and holding criminals accountable. By solving more crimes, he said they were able to solve homicides, shootings and prevent more.

He said a new deployment strategy in Baltimore placed officers in the area of a shooting Wednesday night, allowing them to catch a fleeing vehicle. “Our officers were right where they are supposed to be.”

However, Harrison said to address the “culture of violence” in Baltimore, he said there must be programs offering young men a path away from a life of crime.

“If you’re not doing that we are only responding to it,” he said.

CONTINUE @ BALTIMORE SUN

Report: 70% of Americans say they are struggling financially

Many Americans remain in precarious financial shape even as the economy continues to grow, with 7 of 10 saying they struggling with at least one aspect of financial stability, such as paying bills or saving money.

The findings come from a survey of more than 5,400 Americans from the Financial Health Network, a nonprofit financial services consultancy. The project, which started a year ago, is aimed at assessing people’s financial health by asking about debt, savings, bills and wages, among other issues.

Despite solid U.S. economic growth this year, the share of Americans who are struggling financially remains statistically unchanged from a year ago, said Rob Levy, vice president of research and measurement with Financial Health Network.

The study adds to a body of research indicating that millions of American families have trouble making ends meet even a decade after the Great Recession and as unemployment has sunk to its lowest level in decades.

For instance, centrist think tank the Urban Institute has found that 4 in 10 Americans struggle to pay for basic needs such as groceries or housing. And a Zillow report released Thursday found that roughly a quarter of renters say that affording their payments is difficult or very difficult.

Not only the poor face financial pressure, the new study suggests. Almost 20% of people earning between $30,000 and $100,000 said they spent more than they earned — an increase of more than 4 percentage points from last year.

“That suggests there is a real squeeze being put on the middle class,” Levy said. “Income is not keeping pace with expenses.”

CONTINUE @ CBS

468%: Stocks 10-year run becomes best bull market ever…

The longest bull market in history is also the best ever.

The current market boom, which started March 9, 2009, has enjoyed a whopping 468% gain for the S&P 500 through the first day of November, making this record-long bull run also the best-performing one since World War II, according to The Leuthold Group. The S&P 500, which eked out a record closing high Thursday, has soared 472% in this epic run.

The bull market from 1949 to 1956 scored a 454% gain for the S&P 500, the second-biggest return in recent history, the firm said. The explosive bull run in the 1990s saw the S&P 500 rally 391%, while the bull market of 2002–2007 pulled off a 121% gain for the benchmark, according to The Leuthold Group.

More than 10 years off the financial crisis bottom, the market still hasn’t lost its momentum as it currently sits at its all-time high lifted by renewed hopes for a U.S.-China trade resolution. The S&P 500 tumbled to its financial crisis intraday low of 666 hit in March 2009 and roared back to around 3,094 on Wednesday.

“The most outstanding feature of this cycle since 2008 is always going to be fear,” Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at The Leuthold Group, told CNBC. “I’ve referred to this cycle to some degree as a bearish bull market. It keeps the market from getting so far over its skis that it has to have a bear market.”

CONTINUE @ CNBC

Fiat Chrysler Is Trying To Stuff Dealer Channels With Over 40,000 Cars

As the global automobile market continues down the path of recession, it isn’t just tensions with consumers that are rising.

Fiat Chrysler is apparently at odds with many of its U.S. dealers after trying to get them to accept inventory of about 40,000 vehicles that they didn’t order, according to Bloomberg.

Four dealers came forward and said that the company has revived a “sales bank”, which is a decade old practice that is frowned upon by investors and analysts because it can muddy the waters of an automaker’s inventory figures. Dealers dislike it because it creates pressure to take delivery of vehicles they don’t want.

Chrysler had used sales banks in the two times it needed eventual rescues from the U.S. government – in 1980 and 2009.

Disney Did In 1 Day What Took HBO 4 Years: 10 Million Streaming Subscribers

Somewhere Netflix and Amazon video are sweating.

Disney announced today that Disney+ has reached a stunning 10 million plus subscribers just 24 hours after its launch yesterday in the U.S., Canada, and Netherlands; the figure surprised analysts who had expected a much slower rollout for Disney to reach that level, although let’s just ignore that most of the new “subs” are only there thanks to one of the various free streaming offers (perhaps someone should launch WeStream).

Separately, Apptopia reported 3.2 million mobile app downloads in the first 24 hours, with an estimated 89% of mobile downloads in the U.S., 9% in Canada, and 2% in the Netherlands. In just one day, users spent 1.3 million hours watching it, Apptopia said, more than Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime Video, but far less than the 6 million hours watched on Netflix.

“Disney should silence naysayers who expressed reservations about a pivot to streaming,” said Geetha Ranganathan, a media analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence. “It took HBO Now about four years to reach about 10 million streaming subscribers.”

That’s just the beginning: on Nov. 19, Disney+ will launch in Australia, New Zealand, and Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico’s launch was delayed one week) and will launch in Western Europe on March 31, 2020. While the service experienced first day technical glitches, this was likely due to high consumer demand which was ahead of management’s expectations and not structural issues with the app.

At this fervent adoption rate, Disney could hit its target of 60 million to 90 million worldwide subscribers in just months, if not weeks, and certainly well before the company’s original 2024 goal, according to Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives. This, of course is bad news for legacy streamers such as Netflix, which could see as many as 10% of its customers lured away to rival services such as Disney+ and one from Apple that launched earlier this month.

Commenting on Disney’s stunning disclosure, JPM said that the steep ramp reflects a philosophy of “initial subscribers now; pricing later.” Disney’s willingness to debut its content-rich service at an attractive price point is leading to massive subscriber growth which will likely lead to pricing power later. To be sure, JPM noted questions arise regarding the ARPU despite the strong ramp in subs, including:

  1. subscribers opting-in to the Verizon deal for a free year of Disney+ from a potential opportunity of ~17-19m eligible Verizon customers;
  2. subscribers to the bundle with ESPN+ and ad-supported Hulu; and
  3. subscriber churn following the free seven-day trial. Overall, we are positive on the read-through for subscriber growth at ESPN+ and adsupported Hulu as the combination at $12.99/month is a compelling deal.

Even so, the bank pointed out that “the announcement surpasses our expectations for 5m subs in the first quarter; we now expect 15m subscribers in FQ120 and bump up our full year expectations from 15m to 25m.”

Separately, Disney clinched important last minute deals for its content. Ahead of the Disney+ launch, Disney started to remove on-demand content for cable customers, in our view to create heightened demand for the content and the product.
As a result, nearly all Marvel movies are available to stream in the U.S., including Avengers: Endgame (initially expected to stream on Dec. 11) as Disney struck some last-minute rights deals. Four Marvel films will remain on Netflix through the end of 2019 (Black Panther, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Avengers: Infinity War, and Thor: Ragnarok) and will stream on Disney+ in 2020.

As an aside, JPM analyst Alexia Quadrani noted that she was impressed by the content and user experience of Disney+ upon launch: “The recommendations, originals tab, as well as different collections under the search tab make it very easy to navigate through content and find what one is looking for. We did experience some technical issues on launch day, which we think is due to strong demand and not any underlying issues given the service has been in beta for months in the Netherlands.”

Not surprisingly, DIS stock exploded higher on the announcement, climbing as much as 6.8% on Wednesday, its biggest intraday rally in seventh months, and hitting a new all time high.

Netflix shares tumbled 3.7% as its company’s investors assess how big a threat Disney+ will be.

Finally, for those curious, yesterday we showed a full breakdown of which video streaming service is showing what exclusive content; we recreate it below.

SOURCE: ZERO HEDGE

How the Fed Boosts the 1%: Even the Upper Middle Class Loses Share of Household Wealth to the 1%. Bottom Half Gets Screwed

It is ironic the Fed puts out this data, as if to show off its success, and how every time the wealth of the 1% is threatened, the Fed comes up with new bailouts, rate cuts, and other shenanigans.

This is the transcript from my podcast last SundayTHE WOLF STREET REPORT:

OK, the Federal Reserve just came out with its quarterly data on the wealth of American households. It’s mostly the headline numbers that are being displayed in the media – how much wealth American households have – namely a new record of $107 trillion, thank you Fed, QE, interest-rate repression, and Wealth Effect. But the Fed’s data also shows the wealth distribution.

Everyone knows that if you’re in the bottom 50% of households in terms of wealth in this country, you’re essentially screwed. At the bottom 50%, you’re chasing after the American dream, and while a few are able to get out of the bottom 50%, for most, the American dream remains just a dream.

But the share that the bottom 50% of households have of the overall wealth, of that record $107 trillion, is minuscule. It’s just 1.9%.

That share is down by half from the already miserably low levels of 1999, according to the Fed’s data. So those folks in the bottom half of households are screwed and we knew that.

But today, we’ll take a closer look at the top 50% to 99% of households by wealth because even their share of the wealth is now declining, while the share of the 1% is surging.

This is the upper middle class and the top of the middle class, and they’re losing out to the 1%. And it’s a big deal in terms of dollars because those households have a lot of wealth, but their share is shrinking as the share of the 1% is gaining.

In other words, this economy – and I will point my finger straight at the policies of the Federal Reserve – is set up to shift an ever-larger share of the wealth to the top 1% and away from everyone else, according to the Fed’s own data. And the Fed is bragging about it.

We already know what is happening at the bottom half of the households: They’ve always been screwed. They’re just screwed even more today than they were 20 years ago, according to the Fed’s data.

As of the new data from the Fed, the bottom half of the households, owns 6.1% of all assets that Americans own. They own just 2.2% of all stocks and stock mutual funds. They own just 2.7% of what the Fed calls “pension entitlements.” The gold-plated executive pension plans are only for the few. They own just 13.5% of household real estate wealth. They own just 0.1% of the “private business wealth.”

But in terms of debt, the bottom half of households carry 36% of the total debt, such as mortgages, credit card debt, auto loans, and student loans. So they own 6.1% of the assets and they owe 36% of the debt.

And the wealth of the bottom half of households – wealth being assets minus debt – amounts to just $2 trillion, or 1.9% of the total household wealth.

These are the people who cannot save anything because their expenses for housing, healthcare, education, transportation, childcare, etc. are eating up their income. And because they cannot save anything, they have no means to invest. The whole system is set up that way.

Healthcare expenses cost roughly the same for rich and poor. The problem is that health care expenses are enormous in the US, and become an affordability issue for the bottom half of the households, a huge burden, and lots of people struggle to pay for it or cannot afford it.

The healthcare sector is now around 18% of GDP, or nearly $4 trillion a year. This business has become immensely profitable with its monopolistic structure, constant mergers, abuse of the patent system to prolong pharma monopolies, outrageous hospital bills as hospitals have become integrated into corporatized medicine. And so on. Paying even for basic healthcare has become a nightmare for the bottom half of households.

For the lucky ones who’re covered by an employer’s health plan, family coverage costs the employee on average $6,000, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. This is just the insurance premium. Then there are copays and deductibles, etc. And those deductibles can be thousands of dollars.

For families without employer health coverage, the premiums alone for reasonable insurance plans run over $20,000 a year.

Then there are housing costs – whether people own or buy. They have surged in many places in the country. And for the bottom 50%, paying for a roof over the head in a lot of places is straining budgets, or exceeding budgets. Just check out the thousands of parked vehicles that people live in, around Silicon Valley, San Francisco, and other places. These are people with jobs that cannot afford housing.

The costs of higher education have become a huge burden at the bottom 50% of the wealth scale. This burden is carried by the family that now sacrifices in many ways, and it will be carried by the student who will end up with a pile of student loans.

CONTINUE @ WOLF STREET

US Bank Loans to Reach $10 Trillion Monthly Milestone

According to data gathered by LearnBonds.com, loans and leases in Bank Credit of all commercial banks in the United States could reach $10 trillion monthly soon.

Moreover, the value of bank credit of all commercial banks in the United States is close to reaching $14 trillion. Although this is unlikely to happen in 2019, it is expected to take place during the first half of 2020.

Commercial Banks Register Record Loans

Currently, Bank Credit of U.S. commercial banks in October 2019 reached $13.72 trillion U.S. dollars. This represents an increase of 6.52% compared to October 2018.

Bank credit is the total amount of credit that is available to businesses or individuals from banking institutions. Specifically, this refers to the total amount of combined funds that financial companies provide to clients, including both businesses and individuals.

For bank credit to reach $14 trillion, it will be necessary for the industry to expand over 2% in the coming months.

Between 2008 and the beginning of 2012, the bank credit of all commercial banks remained stable between $8.6 and $9.1 trillion. At that time, the world financial crisis affected the banking industry, something that was reflected in the economic activity of these years.

Nonetheless, bank credit expanded since 2012 and reached new record highs in October 2019 with the aforementioned $13.72 trillion.

Loans and Leases in Bank Credit are also expanding. They could eventually reach $10 trillion soon. Indeed, the loans and leases would have to grow 1% as well before being able to hit the $10 trillion monthly milestone.

This is expected to happen in the coming months and there is a large possibility for this to take place before the end of 2019. Nevertheless, it is highly likely this will occur during the first quarter of the next year.

CONTINUE @ LEARN BONDS

Half of world’s wealthy bracing for huge sell-off in 2020, UBS says

A majority of the wealthiest investors in the world are preparing for a huge market sell-off in 2020, according to a new report released by UBS Wealth.

More than half of the 3,400 high-net-worth individuals surveyed by UBS said they think there will be a significant market sell-off before the end of next year, according to the report, which was conducted between August and October.

“The rapidly changing geopolitical environment is the biggest concern for investors around the world,” Paula Polito, client strategy officer at UBS GWM, said in a statement. “They see global interconnectivity and reverberations of change impacting their portfolios more than traditional business fundamentals, a marked change from the past.”

Overall, almost fourth-fifths — 79 percent — expect volatility to increase next year, with almost 72 percent characterizing the investment environment as “more challenging” than five years ago.

CONTINUE @ FOX BUSINESS

Tyson settles with government over fraudulent inspection records…the company found video of a USDA inspector faking a meat plant inspection

Tyson Foods has reached a $1-million settlement with the federal government after the meat giant alleged that a Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspector lied about her work and forced the company to throw out thousands of pig carcasses.

“This was an unfortunate situation and we appreciate the USDA for working with us to address our losses,” a Tyson spokesman told The New Food Economy.

Tyson is a titan of the food industry, pulling in over $40 billion in annual revenue. The Springdale, Arkansas, meatpacker slaughters more chickens and cattle than any other American company, employing 121,000 people at over 120 plants and offices. It’s responsible for 20 percent of all beef, pork and chicken produced in America, including McDonald’s chicken nuggets and Walmart’s ground beef, according to the Wall Street Journal. (Pork isn’t its main business.)

In May, the company sued the United States, claiming that a USDA veterinarian, Yolanda Thompson, had signed inspection certificates for 4,622 slaughtered hogs at its Storm Lake, Iowa, plant on March 26, 2018. The company claimed that video footage showed Thompson hadn’t entered the plant that day, and in fact, signed those forms in her car.

Federal meat inspectors are required to visually inspect animal carcasses, to make sure they’re safe to eat.

By the time plant officials found out, it was too late to remove the pigs from production. Unable to separate them, the company said it was forced to destroy around 8,000 hog carcasses. In its complaint, it sought over $2.48 million in damages, including $1.85 million for destroyed carcasses, and $315,000 in cancelled sales.

That’s a lot of pigs, though only a fraction of the 21 million that Tyson processes every year, according to company data. As the Trump administration pursues a plan to privatize meat inspection, federal meat inspectors say they’re already understaffed, and don’t have the ability to do their jobs.

CONTINUE @ NFE