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Financial Rebellions: Investors Are Pushing Back

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We are living through a very unique period in financial history. 

On one side, we’re in the midst of an amazing technological revolution. Software and new technologies are streamlining the way the world runs. Advances in renewable energy are picking up steam. Medicine is leaping forward in new and incredible ways.

There are, however, troubling financial storm clouds on the horizon. The entire world economy — with a few minor exceptions — is piling up debt like there’s no tomorrow. Total global debt in 2020 reached $281 trillion. That’s equivalent to an eye-gouging 356% of worldwide GDP. That’s up 35% from 2019. And don’t get me started on unfunded liabilities (Medicare, Social Security, etc), which is a whole other can of worms.

In Europe and the U.S., interest rates are lower than they’ve ever been. And they’re likely to stay that way as long as central banks can manage it. Savers are getting crushed while speculators are richly rewarded.

As a result of these and other factors, America is losing faith in its largest institutions. A recent Axios-Ipsos poll asked people how much they trust the Federal Reserve to look out for their best interests.

A full 60% of respondents said they don’t really trust their central bank (the Fed) to look out for them. Unfortunately I can’t find any historical polls on this question to judge the long-term trend. But I suspect it has been trending down since at least 1971 when we moved fully off the gold standard and inflation raged.

Trust in the U.S. government is even worse. A Pew Research poll that shows the percentage of people who trust America’s government “all or most of the time” has dropped precipitously over time.

When that survey began in 1958, 73% of people trusted the government. The most recent reading from March 2019 shows that only 17% feel the same way now.

Financial Rebels Popping Up

As a result of our financial situation and lack of trust in our government and financial institutions, people are understandably fed up. Rebellious investors are looking for ways to make the best of a crazy situation. 

Here are a few notable examples I’m following.

Silver Squeeze

The Silver Squeeze is a movement that is encouraging investors to buy physical silver bullion. Members of the Silver Squeeze movement post on a new Reddit group called Wall Street Silver and on other social networks. Their goal is to buy up as much physical silver as possible in order to send the price soaring and expose big institutions who are shorting silver to major losses. 

The basic theory is that there is much more “paper silver” trading out there than there is actual physical silver. Most contracts settle in cash, not actual metal. If a lot more traders decide to take physical delivery instead of settle for cash, there might not be enough bullion to go around. Wall Street Silver has grown rapidly on Reddit — it attracted 34,000 members in its first month. It’s also popular on Twitter and probably other sites too.

One member who goes by TheHappyHawaiian on Reddit says that institutional traders are essentially short 573% of the silver “float” (liquid inventory of silver bullion). Here’s an excerpt from his post.

If you want to think about it like a stock, the short interest is 573% of the ‘float’. This is based on the fact that over the next 3 months there are futures contracts and options which have the right to take delivery of 847 million ounces of silver. This is compared to only 147 million ounces registered on the COMEX that could fulfill these deliveries. For perspective, the GME short interest peaked at around 140% of its float, and that was considered crazy high. It is widely known that if a small, but significant share of long silver contract holders took delivery, that there would not be enough silver, as the demand would cascade higher and higher as the prices rise.

Partially as a result of this movement, it’s basically impossible to find physical silver coins or bars today. Any stores that have silver are selling them at a $5-to-$6 premium per ounce. That’s far higher than I’ve ever seen it. With price premiums in the market, it does seem likely that more traders could opt for physical metal instead of cash.

The Silver Squeeze is an interesting theory. If it’s even partially correct the implications would be quite significant. Either way I love silver, gold and miners here. As I mentioned, it’s very difficult to find physical silver today — but you can buy PSLV, the Sprott Physical Silver Trust, which is a solid alternative. You can also buy silver mining stocks. Note: silver is volatile! Don’t invest more than you can afford to lose.

Bitcoin Strikes Back

Bitcoin is arguably the prime example of financial populism/rebellion. I believe this bull run is a direct result of two things — massive budget deficits and low interest rates. 

In 2020, the U.S. budget deficit hit more than $3 trillion. And it will likely approach $4 trillion in 2021 once the new $1.9 trillion stimulus package passes. 

The 2020 deficit was equal to about 15% of the U.S. GDP — a ridiculously large number. People are starting to understand that Modern Monetary Theory and accelerated quantitative easing are essentially inevitable. 

And thanks to low interest rates, yields on bonds and stocks are pitiful. Everyone needs a place to store value that has upside. And many want inflation hedges. Bitcoin fits the bill in a very unique way. The financial realities are starting to set in, and institutions are finally getting involved as a result. Voila. 

Note: Bitcoin has already run up a lot in the past year. Don’t invest more than you can afford to lose. It could go to $200k over the next year — or it could go a lot lower. I am biased to the upside, but let’s not get overconfident here. Consider using dollar-cost-averaging, where you buy periodically over a long time period (once a month for a year). 

Startup Investing

Non-accredited investors have been cut out of this market for 80+ years. Tech startups are growing faster than ever before. A lot of money is being made by early investors. People are beginning to realize how unfair this is. And they want in. 

In truth, the startup investing revolution has been underway since online investing launched in 2016. It’s been growing steadily since then, but on March 15th it’s going to get a HUGE boost. That’s when the fundraising limit on deals goes from $1 million to $5 million. 

Overnight, the public startup investing industry will become a viable funding option for tens of thousands of more established startups. This is going to change everything. Higher quality. More mature companies. More capital for companies to grow and expand with. And eventually it’s likely that the limit will increase from $5 million to perhaps $15 million or higher.

Gamestonk & WSB

In many ways, the WallStreetBets (WSB) GameStop saga was also a sort of rebellion — or at least a decentralized populist stock pump (more here and here). And I don’t say populist in a disparaging way. It was a bunch of people who felt they had a chance to profit off a billion-dollar hedge fund’s crooked-looking short trade on GME. And on Wednesday, they managed to send GameStop flying again. 

It was perceived as Wall Street vs. Main Street clash — a chance for regular investors to strike back against an evil short seller (and make money). And people absolutely loved it. I expect a lot more of this type of behavior now that WSB has more than 9 million members, and countless similar groups have spawned on other networks. It’s going to be very interesting to watch. 

If you get involved in this “meme stonk” trading stuff, please be careful. Most traders lose money — and for every amazing gain you see there are probably five horrible losses you don’t. 


In some ways, financial markets are constantly undergoing revolution. But I believe the next 10 years will be especially disruptive. There will certainly be lucrative opportunities — but I also see many potential pitfalls.

The post Financial Rebellions: Investors Are Pushing Back appeared first on Early Investing.

Source: https://earlyinvesting.com/financial-rebellions-investors-are-pushing-back/

Crowdfunding

KeyBank & Laurel Road Unveils Digital Bank Specifically for Doctors

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Laurel Road, a brand of KeyBank, announced earlier this week the launch of Laurel Road for Doctors, a digital bank specifically for physicians and dentists. According to Laurel, the goal of the new digital bank is to help ease the burden for doctors of paying down student debt, finding more balance between work and life, and planning for the future—many of whom have worked tirelessly through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With Laurel Road for Doctors, Laurel Road and KeyBank expand on its existing suite of tailored digital banking and lending products and extensive experience working directly with doctors to create a platform that meets the distinct challenges of this community.”

. The online experience, from originations to servicing tools, will include new offerings such as:

  • Student Loan Cashback Credit Card: The only credit card that offers 2% cashback to pay down student loans with most loan servicers.
  • Student Loan Refi & Linked Savings: Link new savings accounts when refinancing student loans to build savings while obtaining an even lower interest rate.
  • High Yield Savings Account: Qualified borrowers can open an account and earn 10x the national average Annual Percentage Yield (APY), with $0 to open, no minimum balance, and no monthly maintenance fees to fast-track savings goals.
  • Financial Insights: Personalized data and guidance that allows doctors to compare against those in similar specialties on salary, debt and more, utilize educational content to build financial literacy, and access custom insights for budgeting.
  • Laurel Road Perks!: Exclusive offers, discounts and benefits through a newly established and growing partner network of premium brand partners such as P.volve, Sakara, Rent the Runway, Brooklinen, KidPass, Talkspace and The White Coat Investor.
  • Premium Care Team: Financial healthcare support specialists to provide personalized care seven days a week.

While speaking about the launch, Chris Gorman, Chairman and CEO of KeyCorp, added:

“We acquired Laurel Road in 2019 with the intention of scaling this digital born business. Through this new digital bank offering we are able to provide a secure online experience and customized banking solutions to meet the special needs of physicians and dentists.”

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2021/04/173861-keybank-laurel-road-unveils-digital-bank-specifically-for-doctors/

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Celsius Network Update: Offers Yield on Gold-Backed wDGLD Token

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Celsius Network, a cryptocurrency lending and borrowing platform, announced on Thursday it will add support for CoinShares wDGLD token. According to Celsius, customers will be able to hold wDGLD tokens in their Celsius wallets to earn weekly compounding yield or use their coins as collateral to get cash loans against their crypto.

“CoinShares and Blockchain.com launched the wDGLD token in November 2020 as a solution to bring digital gold onto the Ethereum network and extend its usability within the digital asset ecosystem. wDGLD is pegged 1:1 with DGLD, a gold-backed token built on the Bitcoin blockchain and is currently available in the Blockchain.com wallet, home to over 69 million created wallets.”

Alex Mashinsky, CEO of Celsius, spoke about the support by stating:

“It’s a win-win-win when we’re able to form mutually beneficial partnerships that also generate more value for our customers. At a time when dollars and other inflationary currencies are losing value at an exponential rate, adding wDGLD provides our users with yet another option to diversify their assets in a way that acts in their best interest.”

Founded in 2017, Celsius addresses the financial needs of today’s consumers worldwide through a democratized interest income and lending platform accessible through a mobile app.

“Built on the belief that financial services should only do what is in the best interests of the community, Celsius is a modern platform where membership provides access to curated financial services that are not available through traditional financial institutions.”

Celsius recently announced it now holds more than $5.3 billion worth of cryptocurrency assets.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2021/04/173860-celsius-network-update-offers-yield-on-gold-backed-wdgld-token/

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A Day in the Life of Madysson Bouchard, Indie Film Producer and Co-Founder of Sunday Breakfast Studio

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Whether you’re raising funds for a creative project or a new business idea, running your own crowdfunding campaign is no easy feat. It takes a healthy dose of passion, discipline, and commitment to bring your ideas and concepts to life, and get your backer community excited about them. Ever wondered what a day in the life of a creative entrepreneur on Indiegogo is like? We’re here to give you an exclusive glimpse into 24 hours of their day. 

Juggling creative projects, a film production company, and a crowdfunding campaign can be challenging, so we’re always inspired when we encounter a woman can do it all. Meet Montreal-based indie film producer and graphic designer Madysson Bouchard who co-founded Sunday Breakfast Studio.

Together with indie filmmaker Gregory Thomas David, she is running a campaign to fund Portraits of A Family — a film that adapts the true story of a Filipino-Canadian family, spanning over two decades, as they struggle to put the pieces back together after divorce and drug addiction has torn them apart:

“Portraits of a Family is the story of a family of four, including two first generation Filipino-Canadian boys, and the hardships they face within the span of two decades. We see this family at their lowest of lows, struggling through the complexities of divorce and the pain and frustration of drug addiction, but through it all they find a way, as individuals and as a unit, to remain strong, intact and full of love. Although this is a family drama that may sound familiar, and that many people can probably relate to, we are driven to create this film in order to show an authentic Filipino-Canadian experience that the film industry is sorely lacking.”

Your contribution will allow their production to start filming, and get this story out to screens everywhere, in a world where AAPI voices and images are missing some real representation.

The team at Sunday Breakfast Studio

Read on to see how Madysson spends 24 hours in her day, working as a creative professional in Montreal. Then scroll down for a brief Q&A to get to know her better, learn more about Portraits of A Family, and get inspired!

6 A.M. As a mom to a two-year-old boy, this is usually where my day begins. I’d love to say that I get up  early to do yoga and get a fresh start to my day, but it’s more along the lines of watching  cartoons while sharing cereal with my son. Although I could use some extra sleep on most days,  this is the hour in my day where I get to spend time alone with him and get a good fix of his tiny  cuddles before the day fully begins. 

7 A.M. The action begins. It’s time for our little family to get dressed, have breakfast, get ready  for the day and leave the house for daycare. As simple as it looks, this takes a full hour for us,  because best believe that a pregnant lady and a toddler are not the fastest when it comes to  getting ready! 

8 A.M. Once I drop off my son at daycare, I switch hats to become both a graphic designer and a  producer. Making an independent film is a lot of work, but so is taking care of a family. So, at  the same time as being a full-time producer for Portraits of a Family, I also have a full-time job as a graphic designer, which helps us stay afloat and develop my creativity. 

9 A.M. The time in my workday where no one is yet active and I get to catch up with the many emails I’ve received since the last time I checked. It’s usually the same: new design projects that  need to be finished within the week, or questions from actors, volunteers and sponsors.  Answering all of these takes no less than an hour, and it helps set the tone for the day, too.

Madysson Bouchard at work

10 A.M. It’s time to get down to business. As opposed to a producer on a regular production, I  have to wear many hats to be able to get things done. That means PR, graphic design, set  design, castings, finances, and many, many more! Our team is made of the director, who is also  my fiancé, and a handful of volunteers who give a few days a week to the project. When  something needs to be done, I usually take care of it! This is the time of the day where I map  out the needs of the production for that day and decide what to do and what to delegate. 

11 A.M. By that time, I usually have most of our PR needs answered for the day. Emails have been  answered and sent, our Inbox is clear, and our volunteers have been reached to know what to  work on that day. On busy days, the director and I spend some time watching new auditions  and writing notes for potential call-backs. When I have more time, I focus on creating visuals to  update the website, our social media platforms, or our Indiegogo campaign. 

12 P.M. Did I mention an Indiegogo campaign? That’s right! All of us spend a lot of time sending the  campaign to friends and family, as well as posting it on different groups and to communities  who can offer support. We also have a newsletter thanking personally all donors which I send  from the Sunday Breakfast Studio email at this point of the day, every day. 

1 P.M. Time for a well-deserved break. Although working from home allows us to spend time together,  my fiancé and I like to put everything aside during lunch time, including work-talk. We fix  ourselves a quick meal, share a few thoughts and stories, and go right back to work. 

2 P.M. After lunch, I usually have a few meetings scheduled. Some people like to get the day started  with meetings, but I’d rather have time to prepare first. As a graphic designer working  remotely, zoom meetings are the best way for me to fully understand the client’s needs and get  a complete brief. And as a do-it-all producer, I often have to answer questions regarding  auditions, funding, pre-production and logistics. 

3 P.M. Only one hour left before we have to go get our son. It’s a short 15 minutes from our house, but  once he’s home, we put our computers, and the workload that comes with it, aside. So, it’s  crunch time to send the last few emails before I go MIA for a few hours. I send draft projects for  approval, requests for the next day, update our Excel tables and make sure all the data,  information and visuals made during the day are available to everyone on our drive. 

4 P.M. Picking up my son has to be one of my favourite moments in a day. Even at his young age, he  has loads to tell us; including what he did with his friends, what games he played and where he  went. It’s a good reminder that he has his own world, too, filled with just as many adventures  as us. We usually play some more once we get home and I get things ready for dinner. 

5 P.M. Now that I’m pregnant again, dinner can be tricky. It happens that I can’t stand being in the  kitchen, and that’s where my fiancé takes over. The rest of the time, though, I make dinner and  the boys (yes, even my son) get involved by mixing, cutting or washing the dishes. Now, just like  the morning, this is kind of a hectic time in our house because we also try to fit in a bath and a  small story time for our son. 

6 P.M. Usually means we’re really close to my son’s bedtime. We tidy up the last few things he  might’ve left around, make sure he has everything he needs, and then up in bed. For us this  also means we have time to wind down and rest a little bit until he’s 100% asleep. 

7 P.M. You’d think that my workday would be done by the time I first put away my laptop, right? Well,  it’s not the case! The dishes are down, the little one’s asleep, and we go right back to work. As I  said, being a producer is a full-time job, and with another full-time job keeping me busy during  the day, I have to find time to work on the film, and that happens to be at night. As exhausting  as it sounds, there’s nothing better than working on your own projects.

8 P.M. At night, most of my focus goes towards visuals and logistics. Since everyone is pretty much off the grid, it’s the perfect time to work on the social media calendar, on our budget sheet, our  prop list or design the costumes. In this production, I act as pretty much every department’s  head, and make sure we’re respecting our tight schedule and budget.  

9 P.M. And still going! With the TV on in the background, I write a list of the things that need to  be done the next day. It can be hard to balance two full-time jobs as well as being a mom, and  keeping a house clean, but this is where my fiancé comes in. As the director of Portraits of a  Family, he wears just as many hats as I do and shares the full load.  

10 P.M. On most days, this marks the end of our workday. We work until we have to, but seeing how  early our son wakes up, it’s safe to say that bedtime shouldn’t be too late. I usually take a few  minutes to relax and leave the day behind before going to bed. 

11 P.M. And it’s lights out! Although this schedule is pretty packed and often asks us to juggle  many things at once, it’s one that I chose and that I’m happy to have. I wouldn’t change one  hour of my day, nor would I change any of the many hats I put on.

Now that you’ve gotten a glimpse of what their day is like, get more inspiration in our exclusive Q&A with Madysson below!

INDIEGOGO: How and why did you become a film producer? Was it something you always intended  for yourself? 

MADYSSON: I studied in fashion marketing and business finances for 3 years. I had many jobs in the fashion  industry, including visual merchandising, designer, stylist, etc. When I met Gregory and learnt  about his passion and ambitions when it comes to making films, I wanted nothing more than to  support him. Throughout the process of helping here and there, I realized that producing a film  regroups a lot of the things I am good at and love doing. It was never in my plans, but it all  makes sense now.

INDIEGOGO: What makes your Indiegogo film project unique? 

MADYSSON: Portraits of a Family is one of the rare Filipino-Canadian stories out there. There are very little  films being made in Canada that are made by and showcasing Filipinos and their culture. And  because of that, it makes it an important project to a lot of people as it would be a chance for  the Filipino community to hold leading roles amongst the cast and the crew. This is definitely  something to be a part of. 

INDIEGOGO: What’s your biggest piece of advice for women who want to make movies? 

MADYSSON: There’s never too much planning. They say you can never make a movie in a cheap, fast and  good way. You always have to choose two; it’s either cheap and good, but a slow process, or  expensive but you get to do it faster. You will know which one is right for you. We knew that  money would be our biggest challenge, and so we’ve scheduled every month for over a year,  from development until production and beyond. Make sure you know the schedule by heart,  because it’s easy to forget deadlines or important steps when there is so much to do. 

INDIEGOGO: What are the film influences behind your movie?

MADYSSON: A lot of the inspiration for Portraits of a Family comes from these films: The Squid and the Whale, Moonlight, After the Storm, A Separation, and Boyhood. From the look to the thematic  feel of these five movies, we can find similarities in what we’re trying to create. None of them  are Filipino movies, hence why our film is an important one to make. 

INDIEGOGO: What tools would you recommend to anyone starting their own business,  crowdfunding campaign or project? 

MADYSSON: I wouldn’t have been able to learn everything that I know without the book Producer to Producer by Maureen A. Ryan. She’s a genius when it comes to explaining everything a  producer has to do in the most efficient way. Every step is described along with the resources  to get further help. I would also say to always keep two copies of everything. If you register your IP for a film, make sure to also scan the official paper and keep it on a Drive. Same goes for schedules, contracts, and so on. Anything can happen and some papers are too valuable to lose, such as permits and official documents. Our team shares everything through the same Drive, and communicates using apps like Teams, or Slack. 

INDIEGOGO: What’s your favorite Indiegogo campaign? 

MADYSSON: I really liked the East West Eats Cookbook campaign by Ellen Lee. It featured many chefs from The Bay Area and helped a student project at the same time, plus the recipes looked great. We have a Filipino recipe book ourselves as a perk and we can never have too many!

To support Madysson and Gregory in making Portraits of A Family happen, check out their Indiegogo campaign page or follow them on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. To learn more about her other creative projects, you can follow her on Instagram.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://go.indiegogo.com/blog/2021/04/a-day-in-the-life-of-madysson-bouchard-indie-film-producer-and-founder-of-sunday-breakfast-studio.html

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Pine Labs Reports that CIMB Bank, HSBC Bank, Others are Using its Buy Now Pay Later Solution, Now Also Available in Malaysia

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Pine Labs, an Asian merchant commerce solution provider that’s backed by payments giant Mastercard, has introduced a Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) solution in Malaysia.

Pine Labs aims to offer a technology-focused offline payments platform where several different credit card issuers can use a common terminal to provide BNPL offers to clients.

AFFIN BANK, AmBank, CIMB Bank, HSBC Bank, RHB Bank are now using Pine Labs’ BNPL solution.

Pine Labs reports that it has managed to achieve success with its offline BNPL platform in India where it claims a 95% market share. During late 2020, Pine Labs had revealed that it was planning to introduce its BNPL platform through a partnership with Mastercard. The company said it would launch the service in Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

Kush Mehra, Chief Business Officer, Pine Labs, stated:

“It is an excellent product and a win-win proposition for everyone involved including consumers who get affordable buying options, merchants who are getting an enticing proposition to woo customers back to the stores and boost their sales, and banks and brands who get to build their brand loyalty. This integrated solution that we launched with Mastercard will now be further expanded to newer markets in the region.”

As covered, Pine Labs is an India-headquartered merchant commerce platform that’s focused on expanding its services to Southeast Asia, thanks to key organizational changes.

As previously reported, Pine Labs offers a merchant platform that includes technology and financial solutions for merchants to help them in increasing their revenue, reducing the cost and complexity of running a business, and managing the risks involved. The company connects financial institutions and consumer brands to empower merchants to deliver value to their retail customers.

Pine Labs and its tech platform power both offline and online “last-mile retail transactions, provide customer insights to merchants for targeted sales and offer risk-managed financial solutions for merchants’ business growth.” Today, more than 1 million merchants in India and several other Asian countries, use Pine Labs’ solutions to “run accessible, affordable, speedy and risk-managed last-mile retail operations.”

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2021/04/173848-pine-labs-reports-that-cimb-bank-hsbc-bank-others-are-using-its-buy-now-pay-later-solution-now-also-available-in-malaysia/

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