Trump and the Stock Market: Correlation Does Not Equal Causation

The front page cover for The Economist magazine. The cover features a photo of Trump with the word, "Trumponomics" written across his face.

Photo credit: dennizn / Shutterstock

Ever since Trump took office, the stock market has hit some record highs. Most recently, the Dow reached over 23,000 for the first time in history.

President Trump, of course, credits himself for this trend. In a series of tweets published on Oct. 11, the president wrote:

“Stock market has increased by 5.2 trillion dollars since the election on November 8th, a 25% increase. Lowest unemployment in 6 years and if Congress gives us the massive tax cuts (and reform) I am asking for, those numbers will grow by leaps and bounds.”

But while it’s tempting to attribute the recent economic growth to the newly elected president, experts say that just isn’t accurate.

Kevin Caron, a portfolio manager and market strategist who helped oversee $180 billion dollars at Stifel Nicolaus, attributes the growth to earnings rather than politics.

“The new records have everything to do with earnings,” Caron explained. “It’s obvious that the stock market follows earnings, but the market narrative always wants to find something more interest. But the reality is very simple: The market has gone higher because earnings have improved.”

Maris Ogg, president of Tower Bridge Advisors, agrees.

“So far, earnings have beat expectations,” said Ogg. “I think that the most important thing economically that has happened this year is the clear, sustainable recovery occurring in Europe. We’re getting confirmation of that with almost every economic release.”

Other business moguls have different theories. Walter Hellwig, senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management, believes the recent growth has more to do with the time of year.

“The seasonal factor is playing a big role,” Hellwig told Business Insider. “We’re out of the ‘sell in May and go away’ time frame. Between now and the end of the year, I think people are going to keep buying, with good earnings still coming in.”

And then there’s Bill Schultz, chief investment officer at McQueen, Ball, & Associates. Schultz gave several reasons for the rise of the Dow, none of which have to do with Trump.

“The underlying economy has performed better than a lot of people expected,” Schultz expounded in an interview with Business Insider. “You’re starting to see a lot of capital expenditures take place through corporations. You’ve got better confidence coming from individuals. There’s not as much concern about the Fed aggressively raising rates. And the economies around the world have performed better.”

In summation, Trump’s involvement with the rise of the stock market is likely more coincidental than anything. However, it’s unlikely that he’ll ever stop taking credit for it.

Advertisements

Upscale Fashion Company Coach Changes its Name to Tapestry

A photo of the Coach logo plastered on the outside of a building.

Photo credit: NYgraphic / Shutterstock

Coach stock prices took a dip on Wednesday after the company announced that it is changing its name to Tapestry. The news caused uproar among brand loyalists.

“When I think of Tapestry the first thing that comes to mind is my college dorm room, where I hung tapestries,” said Ariana Moshref, a 23-year-old San Franciscan.

Kathleen O’Leary, a 35-year-old residing in New York, echoed Moshref’s distaste.

“I feel so strongly against this—who can I call about it?” O’Leary told CNBC.

But the public outrage quelled when fans learned that the new name was strictly for the corporate parent company, not for the Coach brand itself. The new name is meant to encompass the two other fashion brands that the company owns: Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman.

“In Tapestry, we found a name that speaks to creativity, craftsmanship, authenticity and inclusivity on a shared platform and values,” said CEO Victor Luis. “As such, we believe that Tapestry can grow with our portfolio and with our current brands as they extend into new categories and markets.”

Other companies have undergone similar name changes in the past. Google, for example, renamed itself Alphabet in 2015.

As The Wall Street Journal points out, CEO Victor Luis was mimicking the likes of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE and Kering SA, which owns Gucci, Balenciaga, and other high-end European fashion brands. The corporate name change is meant to reflect the umbrella of ownership. The company is also changing its symbol on the New York Stock Exchange from “COH” to TPR.”

CEO Victor Luis said that his one reservation with the name change is that people will associate it with being old-fashioned. He also acknowledged its musical connotation.

“For anyone who is aware of the album, Carole King does come up,” Luis stated. “But we discovered most millennials had not heard of it.”

The name change will officially go into effect at the end of this month.

Star-Studded Group to Be Inducted into the US Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame

Snowsport goggles laid on top of an American flag.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

The US Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame has announced its 2017 inductees, which include some of the biggest names in the sports. Both important financial supporters like Thom Weisel and well-known athletes like Eddie Ferguson will be added in honor of their accomplishments.

Eddie “Airborne” Ferguson is known as a freestyle icon who helped develop the hotdog freestyle skiing movement in the 70s. His camps taught over 4,000 students how to ski. His personal records are equally as impressive: he won the World Freestyle Championship in 1973, was a commentator for ABC’s Wide World of Sports, and became the youngest PSIA instruction at age 14.

Herman Gollner was a coach, competitor, and inventor best known for performing the first double backward somersault in 1965 as well as the first triple forward somersault in 1967. In 1968 he performed the “Moebius Flip” by doing a full somersault with a full twist on skis. He also invented a screw-in hinge alpine pole that helped reduce delays in slalom races all over the world.

Marty Hall drove the movement to bring US cross-country skiing into the international eye. In 1970 he became the first US women’s national coach to support a team in an FIS competition outside of the US. He also coached Bill Koch, America’s first—and only—cross-country skier to win an Olympic gold medal in 1976.

Michael and Steven Marolt earned their fame as what Outside Magazine called “two of the most accomplished ski mountaineers alive.” The twin brothers are known for having scaled and skied some of the most impressive descents—without oxygen, porters, or altitude drugs. They have been on 13 expeditions to the Himalayas alone and were the first Americans to ski from an 8,000-meter peak in Tibet.

Steve McKinney was a big name in the speed skiing world of the 70s and 80s. In addition to setting the world record in speed—117.7 MPH in 1974—he also broke that record in 1987, skiing over 130 MPH. He helped design the Trout Head Helmet and other aerodynamic equipment for the sport.

Shaun Palmer is known as one of the forefathers of extreme sport and competed in professional snowboarding for almost 20 years. He earned six X-Games gold medals, a gold medal at the 2002 Gravity Games, and a position on the 2010 Vancouver Olympic snowboard cross team. The 2001 ESPY Awards named him the Action Sports Athlete of the Year.

Thom Weisel is a longtime supporter of the US Ski Team. He was chairman of the Ski Team’s Foundation from 1983-84 and helped raise millions of dollars as well as bringing in organizational support. He was involved with the USSA for 35 years, providing leadership and financial prowess that earned him the USSA’s highest honor, the Julius Blegen Award.

The inductees will be officially honored in April 2018 at the Village at Squaw Valley during the Snowsport History Celebration, which brings in hundreds of skiing enthusiasts.

The US Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame and Museum is the only national hall of fame dedicated to American skiing and snowboarding. Located in Ishpeming, Michigan, the museum provides visitors with extensive exhibits on the history of snowsport going back as far as its Nordic origins. Part of its 15,000 square feet of exhibits includes the Roland Palmedo Ski Library, which houses a collection of over 1,300 books, magazines, videos, and films on the sports of skiing and snowboarding.

Albuquerque Kicks National Coffee Day Up a Notch

An animated image of a coffee cup, an iced latte, and coffee beans. The image reads, "Coffee Day. September 29."

Image credit: Shutterstock

Today is National Coffee Day, and Albuquerque, New Mexico is set to celebrate—and give back to the community.

Nationwide chains like Starbucks, Peet’s, Dunkin Donuts, and more are offering a variety of specials such as free drip coffee, discounts on beans, and various coffee tastings.

Even car ride service Lyft is getting in on the action: in select cities (Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Austin, Dallas, and Philadelphia), riders will be able to get a free can of High Brew Cold Brew Coffee during their ride.

In Albuquerque, however, things are going a bit differently.

Thanks to the New Mexico Coffee Association, there will be a series of events not only to celebrate coffee, but to give back to nonprofit organizations and those who support fair trade coffee.

  • Red Rock Roasters will donate $1 of every bag of beans sold to Coffee Kids, a nonprofit that supports young coffee growers all over the world and helps them build sustainable businesses to support themselves and their families.
  • Pinion Coffee House will donate $1 from select drink sales to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central New Mexico.
  • Deep Space Coffee will be featuring a fair trade Ethiopian coffee from Sweet Bloom Roasters.

And of course there will be special discounts and other events.

This is all due to the efforts of the New Mexico Coffee Association, a collection of 12 local roasters focused on raising awareness of the local coffee community, both to support small business and to encourage the appreciation of the unique culture of Albuquerque. As a nonprofit, they coordinate with local affiliates in the coffee industry and promote quality and diversity in the area coffee trade. And for those new to the area—or just unfamiliar with the coffee scene—they offer a “coffee trail” map of all the coffee shops in the area (conveniently downloadable as a PDF if you’re looking for something to take along).

Why More Women Are Speaking Out About Sexual Harassment

A business man caressing a business woman's leg.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

These past few months have been rife with sexual harassment cases. In June, Uber founder and CEO Travis Kalanick was forced to resign after a former engineer shed light on the company’s sexist work culture. In July, founder and CEO of 500 Startups Dave McClure was also forced to step down following revelations of his sexual misconduct. As if that’s not bad enough, earlier this month, SoFi’s founder and CEO Mike Cagney also had to take a permanent leave of absence after several employees complained about his inappropriate workplace behavior.

All these recent cases of sexual harassment have Americans wondering: Why now? What’s changed?

What’s changed is that women have finally mustered the courage to speak out about these issues. As for why now, it turns out that coming forward about sexual harassment is a domino effect. Take Cecilia Pagkalinawan, for example.

For more than a decade, Cecilia Pagkalinawan stayed silent about her experience with sexual harassment. During the dotcom crash of 2001, Pagkalinawan was faced with a tough decision: Raise money for her startup or lay off 26 employees.

Scared of losing her business, she was undoubtedly excited when she finally managed to set up a meeting with a venture capitalist in New York City. However, things took a dark turn when she met with the investor at an upscale restaurant.

Upon arrival, Pagkalinawan discovered that the investor had already ordered a $5,000 bottle of wine. The man insisted that she drink with him, despite her own objections. Not wanting to be rude, she finally gave in. That’s when he started caressing her leg, attempting to kiss her, and telling her that he wanted to take care of her. She then excused herself, vomited in the bathroom, and then called a friend to pick her up.

Pagkalinawan told CNN Tech that she decided to come forward now because she was inspired by the recent string of brave women who have spoken up about their experience with sexual harassment. In other words, it’s not that women are overly sensitive or making these stories up; it’s that women finally feel like they can speak out about sexual misconduct without fear of losing their jobs.

Meet the iPhone X

An image of a phone without any buttons on the front—it's entirely touch-screen.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Apple recently released the specs for the new iPhone X (pronounced “iPhone 10”), and technology aficionados are taking notice.

“Over the past decade, we’ve pushed forward with innovation after innovation, bringing us to this moment, when we can create devices that are far more intelligent, far more capable, and far more creative than ever before,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook when he made the announcement.

The iPhone X has glass on both the front and the back, and its surgical-grade stainless steel sides make it water- and dust-resistant. The “Super Retina” display boasts the highest pixel density of any iPhone (458ppi), with a screen 5.8 inches diagonal and a resolution of 2436 x 1125.

The biggest change from previous iPhones is that there’s no home button. Instead, users will have to perform an upward swipe starting at the bottom of the phone.

The swiping is part of Apple’s plan to move away from the Touch ID fingerprint sensor and onto newer technology—in this case, a method called Face ID that is already being used for the Apple Pay app. Face ID is just what it sounds like: it unlocks the phone based on facial recognition. A dedicated neural engine will process facial recognition in real time.

And if you’re still worried about security, don’t be: the company claims there’s only a 1 in 1,000,000 chance of another person being able to unlock the phone via Face ID.

Another change likely to take some getting used to is the requirement for different strokes for different functions. To open the iOS Control Center, for example, a user will have to swipe down from the top right corner. These kinds of interactions have been tried by other phone companies before with varying success, so it’s unclear how well they’ll do for the iPhone X.

For the photography fans, there is a 12-megapixel camera equipped with dual optical image stabilization. According to Apple, the sensors are larger and faster than ever. The main camera has an f/1.8 aperture, and the telephoto lens has an f/2.4 aperture. The phone also has a quad-LED True Tone flash.

The starting price for the iPhone X is more than a little steep at $999, so it’s likely only truly dedicated Apple fans will have the option to purchase at first. Preorders begin on October 27, and shipping will start on November 3.

Sexual Harassment Allegations Could Topple $4 Billion Company

A businessman places his hand on his female colleague's leg.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Online lending start-up Social Finance (SoFi) is facing a sex scandal so big that it makes Uber’s work culture look like paradise.

Yesterday, The New York Times published a scathing new report on SoFi, in which more than 30 current and former employees dished on the company’s discriminatory and unethical practices. Among the numerous complaints that were made, perhaps the most shocking are allegations of sexual harassment coming from the company’s top dog.

Laura Munoz, a former executive assistant at SoFi, said that she received sexually explicit text messages from Mike Cagney, the company’s CEO. In 2012, SoFi’s board was notified of the inappropriate exchanges, but an investigation yielded no evidence of a sexual relationship. SoFi then paid Munoz about $75,000 to leave the company, according to sources familiar with the case.

Cagney, who is married with two children, is also accused of sexually harassing other employees. Six employees claim they saw Cagney holding hands with and engaging in intimate conversations with another young female worker. He’s also alleged to have bragged about his sexual experiences along with the size of his penis at a late-night corporate event.

Cagney has since resigned from his position as a result of the scandal.

But Cagney isn’t the only one accused of engaging in inappropriate behavior. Witnesses also say that Nino Fanlo, SoFi’s chief financial officer, commented on women’s body’s, including their breasts. He is also reported to have said that women would be happier as homemakers. More than a dozen employees who worked with Fanlo also claim that he once offered two female employees $5,000 if they lost 30 pounds by the year’s end.

As if that’s not bad enough, Brandon Charles, a former senior operations manager at SoFi, alleges that he was fired after speaking up about the sexual harassment that his female colleague were subjected to.

“The culture of male bravado filters down from the leadership team at SoFi headquarters in San Francisco throughout the company, empowering other managers to engage in sexual conduct in the workplace,” Charles said.

The controversy surrounding the scandal could be enough to topple SoFi, which private equity firm Silver Lake partners values at $4.3 billion.

The New Generation of Tech in Silicon Valley

A word cloud image featuring terms such as "Silicon Valley," "Technology," "Internet," and "California."

Image credit: Shutterstock

Lest anyone forget, Silicon Valley remains a valuable tech hub. Recent investments, such as the Warriors’ Kevin Durant’s in cloud computing startup Rubrik, show that the tech industry is alive and strong. In the face of potential new policies, the landscape is likely to change, but growth continues.

In some cases, the old guard is providing guidance for the new Silicon Valley tech startups. For 37 years, investment banker Thom Weisel spearheaded investments in companies like Yahoo and Geocities. Post dotcom bubble, he’s expressing great faith in the new wave of social media, commenting that “the big difference is, these companies, in many cases, are enormously profitable out of the gate.”

New tech companies have certainly caught the eyes of up-and-coming investors. The Warriors’ Kevin Durant recently added tech to his portfolio by investing in cloud computing startup Rubrik. Durant is one of many professional athletes increasing their support of the Silicon Valley companies of today.

“Being in Silicon Valley, I play in front of [tech executives] and run into them at restaurants,” Durant said of expanding his tech investments with companies like Rubrik.

Durant’s umbrella corporation, the Durant Company, has also invested in the financial app Acorns and the on-demand delivery service Postmates.

Meanwhile, official policy may or may not support the new wave of Silicon Valley tech. A recent TechNet study found that cooperation between federal, state, and local policymakers could add one million jobs to the US economy each year if they work together to promote pro-startup policies.

In addition to hoping for more relaxed regulation and opportunities for rising tech companies, CEOs are also set to support expanded H-1B programs for highly-skilled workers coming to the US specifically to work in the tech industry.

However, with anti-immigration policies like the recent rescinding of the DACA legislation, Silicon Valley execs may be out of luck when it comes to adding more STEM-focused professionals to their teams.

Nevertheless, the Silicon Valley of today continues to grow, exhibiting more maturity and innovation since the days of the dotcom bust. Whether it’s taking cues from big names of the past or boldly moving forward with new tech opportunities, Silicon Valley is not about to let a few policy setbacks keep it from holding its position as the hotbed of the country’s technology innovations.

America’s First Vegetarian Fast Food Restaurant Could Be Coming to a City Near You

A photo of the outside of Amy's Drive Thru, a fast food restaurant that serves vegetarian and gluten-free meals.

Amy’s Drive Thru, a fast food restaurant that serves vegetarian and gluten-free meals.
Photo courtesy of Tony Webster at Flickr Creative Commons.

Two years ago, vegetarian fast food restaurant Amy’s Drive Thru opened in Rohnert Park, CA. Since its inception, business has been booming. In fact, the restaurant is doing so well that the company recently announced plans to open more eateries across the U.S.

If the name “Amy’s” sounds familiar, that’s because there’s a good chance you’ve seen their food in the frozen isle of your local supermarket. The brand has been in business for over 27 years and specializes in providing convenient, pre-made, organic vegetarian meals. Stick it in the microwave for a couple minutes and you’ve got a wholesome dinner made with natural ingredients.

As the company grew in popularity, loyal customers began requesting dairy-free and gluten-free options. Today, you can find a variety of heat-and-serve Amy’s meals for nearly every diet imaginable. There’s even vegan and kosher options.

If the company’s steady growth shows anything, it’s that there’s a demand for healthy fast food, whether that be frozen or freshly made. Most everyone wants to eat healthy, but most don’t have the time to eat healthy.

And that’s the brilliance behind Amy’s business model. The company meets this demand by providing easy-to-make meals that feature high quality ingredients.

So if the thought of a healthy fast food chain with vegetarian and gluten-free options excites you, that’s great. But don’t get too excited, as it’s going to be a while before the new Amy’s Drive Thru locations are in operation.

Fast Company reports that the newest location in Corte Madera, CA isn’t slated to open until 2018. Also of note: Amy’s is eyeing five more locations in Northern California.

Unfortunately, the company hasn’t announced any locations outside the state of California as of yet. However, director of operations Paul Schiefer told Fast Company that Amy’s does intend to expand across the U.S., there’s just no word yet on when that will be happening.

Most Americans Face Hostile Work Environments, According to Survey

According to a new survey, most Americans face a hostile work environment.

Photo: Shutterstock

A recently released survey from the RAND Corporation, Harvard Medical School, and UCLA revealed some pretty disturbing findings about the current American workplace: many employees are under constant stress, workplaces are often hazardous, and social environments are frequently hostile, especially for women.

The survey was given to about 3,000 workers, and while not all of the information gleaned was negative, much of it does give reason for pause:

  • More than one in four American workers say they have too little time to complete their work. This complaint was most frequent among white-collar workers.
  • More than half do some sort of work outside of their workplace, impacting their ability to spend quality time with their friends and family.
  • More than half of those surveyed reported that they are exposed to unpleasant and even hazardous working conditions, including hostility and threats.
  • About 62 percent of American workers reported their work tasks are typically monotonous and unenjoyable.
  • Only 38 percent reported opportunities to advance within their employment.

It’s not all bad news, though. The survey revealed some positive traits of the modern workplace, too:

  • Four out of five Americans said their jobs met at least one definition of “meaningful” most of the time.
  • Eight out of ten American workers said their job is steady and predictable.
  • The majority of those surveyed said they saw “solving unforeseen problems” and “applying [their] own ideas” as important parts of their work.
  • Many reported a certain degree of autonomy and confidence about their skillset.
  • More than half of the surveyed workers (58 percent) said their boss is supportive, and 56 percent said they have good friends at work.

“There’s a message for employers here,” said the study lead author, Nicole Maestas. “Working conditions really do matter.”

This was the first survey of its kind, focusing on American workers ages 25-71. The RAND Corporation and its partners intend to collect data again next year to compare American and European working conditions.

%d bloggers like this: