Monthly Archives: January 2018

Insider Inc. held its second-ever hackathon — these are some of the top ideas our tech teams came up with

Business Insider, Jason Merriman

If you were given one week to build something new or innovative that would benefit people or your company, what would you create?

Here at Business Insider, our tech team was given that opportunity in our first-ever hack week in December 2016 – and it was such a success that we recently held “Hack Week 2: The Unhackening.”

As a way to kick off our hacking, we hold a team meeting to pitch ideas, review some suggestions for projects, and form teams. All participants are then given four days – Monday through Thursday – to work on their passion project, concluding with presentations on Friday.

Each participant/team is able to use technologies they prefer, which really allows for creativity and gives everyone a chance to stretch their legs and work on something cool they may not have had time for otherwise.

Our first hack week, held last December, was a fun experiment that culminated in the whole team gathering in our building’s auxiliary cafe for presentations. There was great energy in the room as the team shared their creations – like a lunch-ordering plugin for Slack, sentiment analysis of our story content, and even an interactive, customizable corn-hole game (an office favorite here.)

One of the award winning ideas, a webhook that shows editors who else is currently editing the same post, was released into production as a quick follow.

“Hack Week 2: The Unhackening” resulted in another batch of improvements, creative solutions and candidates for production-ready products. As is our (albeit new) tradition, voting was held for a variety of award titles. We spoke with a few of the winners to get a better look into their own processes and projects.

“Project Valkyrie”

Gabrien Symons

Award: Most Collaborative Hacker: Zakir Tariverdiev

How did you come up with your idea?

An associate approached me awhile ago and suggested that editing the content of an article directly on the site would be more more efficient than using Viking, our content management system. I found the idea to be very interesting and we discussed possible benefits and drawbacks of this approach.

This idea had to be placed on the back-burner until there was a window of opportunity to work on its implementation. Hack week was a perfect time to revisit this concept. Implementing it as a browser extension felt like the right approach.

Since 92% of Business Insider’s editors use Chrome, I decided to go with that browser. The name Valkyrie was born because I wanted this app to be the counterpart of Viking CMS. It’s not a copy of Viking and is not really a CMS. It is a very efficient content-editing tool that allows editors to make and view changes right on Insider Inc. websites.

What was your favorite part of working on your project?

My favorite part was that I got to learn a technology I never worked with before. The Chrome extension API is a bit different from what I am used to working with.

My extension also needed to talk to the Malsgufa, the Viking back-end API service, and be able to perform such tasks as checking user permissions and updating content. This, in turn, made the extension significantly more complex than the examples normally found in online tutorials. So a lot of trial, error, and most importantly, learning occurred during its development process.

If you had one more day to work on your concept, is there something you might add, change or otherwise finesse?

There is always a place for improvement, but I accomplished everything that I planned for the presentation.

I have ideas on how to make the Valkyrie app better and possibly extend it to support landing pages and provide drag and drop functionality. None of that was planned for the presentation though, so overall I’m happy with how it worked out.

Is there anything you would recommend to other hack-week hackers out there?

To get the best learning experience, it’s best to tackle projects outside of your comfort zone. Try technologies or frameworks you always wanted to check out, but never had the time. Also, don’t get bogged down in implementation details when coming up with the concept as that can hinder your project development. Think outside of what you can do and aim to learn as much as possible during the project. You are pretty much guaranteed to be a better programmer after the project is over.

“What it would be like to have interactive graphs on our site”

Bryan Fellerath

Award: The X-Factor Hacker: Bryan Fellerath

How did you come up with your idea?

I have been interested in building an interactive data visualization using D3 [a programming language for HTML5-based visual features] js for awhile.

I also saw that in the hack-week suggestions from editorial, someone wrote this impassioned entry:

“Everyone else says “in-browser image editing, custom cropping, and a much better image library search + experience.” So I will dream big: D3-powered charts. You host data on the site and it renders catchy and interactive data charts, quizzes, maps, etc. Very sticky content. I think a D3-powered story on the New York Times that predicted the region you’re from is still that outlet’s most popular online story of all-time(?). This capability would open up *amazing* story possibilities in a data-rich world in which readers crave strong visuals. It’d also make Business Insider more of a unique destination apart from our syndication partners, since readers would have to come to our site for them.”

That was enough to encourage me that it was worth it to pursue the goal of having an interactive graph display in a BI post.

What was your favorite part of working on your project?

My favorite part was working with D3 to build a useful data visualization graph. I was really happy to get the data from Andy Kiersz and it was really fun working on displaying the data to be visually engaging.

I also hadn’t really thought about interactives from a product perspective. It really only makes sense to use interactives in the right situations. There are a lot of things to think about, like how much time your audience has, and it’s always good to remember that simple bar and line graphs convey a lot of information already.

I liked that this project got me thinking about these things, doing some general research on the state of Interactive Data Visualizations in media today.

If you had one more day to work on your concept, is there something you might add, change or otherwise finesse?

I would add more of the data to my interactive graph! The product for hack week toggled between the overall data and one subset; I would make it toggle between all the subsets.

Is there anything you would recommend to other hack-week hackers out there?

Don’t be afraid to pursue an idea that sounds a little out there and might not perfectly fit in as a product after just a week or so of work. There is a lot I learned by working on this, like the value of data visualization overall and how it can fit in (or not fit in) to a particular scenario.

I feel like I have a better idea of what goes into implementing something like this and how it could be implemented better. It is a learning experience and it makes sense to choose something that you feel passionate about.

“Albino Alligator”

Bryan Young

Award: Most Enthusiastic Hacker: Bryan Young

Albino Alligator was a study of engineers at BI. The purpose of the study was to better understand our culture, its opportunities and challenges, and how individuals related to it.

My goal was to determine what the common understanding of “BI culture” was by finding patterns across interviewees, and (hopefully) solidify and improve culture by making improvement recommendations based on those patterns. *takes breath*

How did you come up with your idea?

I facilitate a bi-weekly Lean Coffee session called “Process Improvements Office Hours” – its purpose is to understand, discuss, and recommend action items for some of our organizational challenges.

Those sessions are great, but a) it’s a small subset of the engineering team, b) the tone and subject of the meetings can be dictated by a thing that happened 10 minutes beforehand, leaving it almost suspiciously at the whims of whatever happens to be going on that day; and most importantly, c) many people don’t feel comfortable talking about such things in a group setting. Someone, I can’t remember who, recommended talking to everyone one-on-one and compiling the themes of those conversations in a report. Whoever that someone is came up with the idea. I liked it!

What was your favorite part of working on your project?

Seeing that there are cultural qualities that make some people very happy and others very unhappy. What do we do about these things? How do we determine which qualities to focus on?

Thinking about these sorts of issues helped me recognize my own biases and remember that perception is totally subjective.

If you had one more day to work on your concept, is there something you might add, change or otherwise finesse?

My interviews concluded by the end of the day on Thursday, so I had very little time to compile and interpret the data. If I had had more time or could do it again, I might have someone else compile and interpret the data separately and see if we came to the same conclusions.

Is there anything you would recommend to other hack-week hackers out there?

You don’t have to write a single line of code to validate a hypothesis.

Welcome to Inside Insider!

Hello! And welcome to the launch of the Business Insider engineering and product team blog, Inside Insider.

As many of you know, Business Insider has grown exponentially since we launched 10 years ago. Likewise, our group of in-house engineers has grown from a mere two teams to eight and counting.

Business Insider itself has expanded from a single website with a homegrown CMS to four sites, including our popular lifestyle publisher INSIDER, and 15 editions of Business Insider around the world. Our content reaches hundreds of millions of readers and viewers across platforms like Facebook, Google, Instagram, and Yahoo.

This purpose of the new Inside Insider blog is to share how we go about tackling the myriad of problems we face as a complex, matrixed organization – specifically, a digital publisher – that continues to grow in complexity.

Beyond revealing more about how we work, we hope our new blog can serve as a platform to spark engagement among the community of tech engineers, in any field. Our hope is that we can help inspire others with similar challenges, and start conversations about the amazing things that are happening – at breakneck speed – at the intersection technology and media, where we work.

Lastly, our mission is simple: to embrace the process of “getting better” every single day. And we hope this blog helps us in reaching that goal.

Our inaugural post is a behind-the-scenes of our most recent hackathon, an event that was fun but also yielded tangible results for the company.

Happy reading!

Watch a firefighter catch a child thrown from a burning building in Georgia

Screenshot/DeKalb County Firefighter’s Association

A helmet camera captured a firefighter catching a five-year-old child who was thrown from a burning building in Georgia in early January.

The video shows Capt. Scott Stroup catch the child, who was thrown by the father from a ladder three stories up, as people screamed and embers rained down to the ground.

A number of other children were dropped from the building and caught by firefighters as well.

A four-year-old child was dropped from a balcony and caught by Capt. Jackie Peckrul, according to Inside Edition. Babies as young as one-month-old were also dropped and caught, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“We were catching babies like a football – literally,” DeKalb County fire Capt. Eric Jackson told the Journal-Constitution. “There were adults that were on the balcony that were dropping their babies right into our arms. We had a couple firefighters catching babies, so it was just really incredible.”

The fire on January 3 in Decatur, Georgia injured 12 people, including 8 children, according to WSB-TV.

Watch the video from the Washington Post below:

Larry Fink, CEO of $6.3 trillion manager BlackRock, just sent a warning letter to CEOs everywhere

Larry Fink, the chairman and CEO of BlackRock.

Larry Fink, the chairman and CEO of BlackRock.
REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

  • BlackRock CEO Larry Fink on Tuesday sent a letter to CEOs of public companies outlining his expectation that they start accounting for their effect on society.
  • BlackRock, a $6.3 trillion asset manager, is doubling the size of its investor-stewardship program, which aims to engage with companies rather than rely on proxy voting.
  • “Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose,” Fink wrote.

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink just sent a warning shot to CEOs across the world: start accounting for the societal impact of your companies, or risk disappointing the largest asset manager in the world.

In a letter to CEOs of public companies, Fink, whose firm manages $6.3 trillion in assets, said that companies needed to demonstrate a strategy for long-term value creation and financial performance, and that understanding a company’s effect on the world was a key component.

Simply managing for short-term shareholder profit is not an acceptable management strategy, according to Fink.

“Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose,” Fink wrote. “To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society. Companies must benefit all of their stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, and the communities in which they operate.”

Fink said BlackRock would ramp up its investor-stewardship initiative, started in 2011 to favor engaging with companies and their management over proxy voting. The stewardship team will double in size over the next three years under the new leadership of Barbara Novick, a vice chairman who helped found BlackRock, Fink said.

“BlackRock recognizes and embraces our responsibility to help drive this change,” Fink wrote.

He continued: “The growth of our team will help foster even more effective engagement with your company by building a framework for deeper, more frequent, and more productive conversations.”

Here are some more highlights from Fink’s full letter (emphasis ours):

“In order to make engagement with shareholders as productive as possible, companies must be able to describe their strategy for long-term growth. I want to reiterate our request, outlined in past letters, that you publicly articulate your company’s strategic framework for long-term value creation and explicitly affirm that it has been reviewed by your board of directors. This demonstrates to investors that your board is engaged with the strategic direction of the company. When we meet with directors, we also expect them to describe the board process for overseeing your strategy.

“The statement of long-term strategy is essential to understanding a company’s actions and policies, its preparation for potential challenges, and the context of its shorter-term decisions. Your company’s strategy must articulate a path to achieve financial performance. To sustain that performance, however, you must also understand the societal impact of your business as well as the ways that broad, structural trends – from slow wage growth to rising automation to climate change – affect your potential for growth

Companies must ask themselves: What role do we play in the community? How are we managing our impact on the environment? Are we working to create a diverse workforce? Are we adapting to technological change? Are we providing the retraining and opportunities that our employees and our business will need to adjust to an increasingly automated world? Are we using behavioral finance and other tools to prepare workers for retirement, so that they invest in a way that that will help them achieve their goals?

“As we enter 2018, BlackRock is eager to participate in discussions about long-term value creation and work to build a better framework for serving all your stakeholders. Today, our clients – who are your company’s owners – are asking you to demonstrate the leadership and clarity that will drive not only their own investment returns, but also the prosperity and security of their fellow citizens. We look forward to engaging with you on these issues.”

Inside the swanky private club where Bill Gates, Eric Schmidt, and Justin Timberlake go to ski

The Rainbow Lodge at the Yellowstone Club.

The Rainbow Lodge at the Yellowstone Club.
Photo courtesy of The Yellowstone Club

  • Yellowstone Club was the first private ski club with its own mountain.
  • Notable members include Bill and Melinda Gates, Google’s Eric Schmidt, and Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel.
  • To become a member, you must own property within the grounds – which ranges from $2 million to $25 million. Initial membership fees are $300,000, and there is an annual fee of $37,500.

Yellowstone Club, a private ski resort and residential community near Big Sky, Montana, was a pioneer in the members-only space. The first private club with its own mountain, its uber-rich members include Bill and Melinda Gates, Google’s Eric Schmidt, Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel, former Vice President Dan Quayle, and NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke, as well as many Wall Streeters. Last summer, Fox NFL correspondent and “Dancing with the Stars” host Erin Andrews wed former NHL star Jarret Stoll at the club.

Its 2,200 acres of powder offer world-class skiing from the bunny slopes to its 2,700-vertical-foot drops, but to gain access to the club’s exclusive mountain, you must own property within the community limits. Real estate prices can range greatly, from $2 million all the way up to $25 million. Members must also pay an initial fee of $300,000 and an annual fee of $37,500.

Founded in 2001 by Tim Blixseth and his then-wife Edra, the club has endured its fair share of turmoil. It was forced to file for bankruptcy in 2008, and, ending last July, Blixseth spent 15 months in prison for civil contempt of court. This month Blixseth agreed to a $3 million settlement with creditors – a fraction of the $525 million they say they’re owed.

However, in June 2009 CrossHarbor Capital Partners’ cofounder, Sam Byrne, paid $115 million for Yellowstone Club, ushering in a new era and helping to turn the club around financially. The club’s Rainbow Lodge, with its spa, fitness center and pool, is the newest evidence that Yellowstone Club is working to stay up-to-date with the modern skier.

Ahead, 15 photos that show the joys of private skiing: no lift lines, and plenty of breathing room out on the slopes.

Yellowstone Club is nestled in the Rocky Mountains. Founder Tim Blixseth was set on creating a resort that focused on families with slopes and activities that catered to all ages.

Photo courtesy of The Yellowstone Club

To be a member of the Yellowstone Club, you must own property. With an aim to remain exclusive, membership is capped to 864 households.

Photo courtesy of The Yellowstone Club

There’s a huge range of real estate options, from condominiums to ranch homes on 360 acres of land.

Photo courtesy of The Yellowstone Club

Of course, prices also vary, from $2.5 million for a condominium to as much as $25 million for a mansion. And while traditional ski homes are common, there are also some modern, glassy mansions under construction.

Photo courtesy of The Yellowstone Club

Source: New York Times

The homes are just as gorgeous inside as they are on the outside — and they’re just as luxe as you’d expect. According to The New York Times, most homes include “ski rooms with individual lockers, heated driveways, bunk rooms and $5,000 boot dryers.”

Photo courtesy of The Yellowstone Club

Source: New York Times

Joining the Yellowstone Club costs an initial $300,000, and annual fees are $37,500.

Photo courtesy of The Yellowstone Club

One of the club’s most recent projects is the Rainbow Lodge, which now includes a restaurant, spa, fitness center, and a copper pool. With the renovation, the lodge has more than doubled in square footage.

Inside the Rainbow Lodge
Photo courtesy of The Yellowstone Club

Source: Curbed

Members also love the privacy and safety that the club offers. The grounds are reportedly protected by a security team that is led by a former Secret Service officer. It’s a major perk for those who don’t want bodyguards surrounding them while they ski.

Photo courtesy of The Yellowstone Club

Source: New York Times

The resort has 15 ski lifts and more than 60 trails.

Photo courtesy of The Yellowstone Club

The club prides itself on its variety of runs, which include groomed beginner runs, steep chutes, and trails lined with trees for experienced glade skiers.

Photo courtesy of The Yellowstone Club

On average, the Yellowstone Club’s Pioneer Mountain receives approximately 300 inches of snowfall each year — plenty of powder for great skiing and snowboarding.

Photo courtesy of The Yellowstone Club

But if that’s not enough, club members also have access to the 5,800 acres of public ski area at neighboring Big Sky Resort.

Photo courtesy of The Yellowstone Club

Other activities like tubing are available for children. The Li’l Rippers ski program teaches kids how to ski or snowboard.

Photo courtesy of The Yellowstone Club

Adults can get ski or snowboarding lessons, too.

Photo courtesy of The Yellowstone Club

Members can also go snowshoeing or snowmobiling in the winter months. In the summer, adventurers might go mountain biking, bushwhacking, or mountain climbing, while those wanting a slower pace can try out the 18-hole golf course designed by Tom Weiskopf. According to The New York Times, members now spend 60 days a year here on average.

Photo courtesy of The Yellowstone Club

Source: New York Times

We’re about to find out if Trump meant anything he said about taking a jackhammer to global trade deals

Mark Lyons / Stringer / Getty Images

  • In the coming weeks, the White House is expected to make trade decisions about several goods, ranging from steel to solar panels.
  • These decisions are aimed mostly at attacking China, but the way President Donald Trump is undertaking them could mean massive collateral damage.
  • If the White House’s moves are as aggressive as its rhetoric, it could undermine the international trading system and prompt some of the US’s closest allies to retaliate.

In the coming weeks, we’ll find out whether President Donald Trump meant what he said about trade during his campaign – whether he will “Make America Great Again” by throwing up protectionist tariffs meant to punish countries that have been “unfair” to the US in the international trading system.

In this White House’s endeavor to protect industries like steel and aluminum, we could very well anger powerful allies and open a Pandora’s box of issues unthinkable since World War II.

And in its effort to protect American intellectual property in China, the US could undermine the rule of law and, subsequently, its own very real argument against China’s very real IP theft.

In other words, we’re doing this all wrong, and that will have consequences. Of course, if you look at it Trump’s way, we’re already dealing with those.

“We already have a trade war,” Trump told a crowd at a rally in 2016. “And we’re losing, badly.”

Free to decide

The big decisions down the line have to do with steel, aluminum, washing machines, and solar panels.

The administration will decide whether to put up tariffs on steel and aluminum based on national security concerns. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross last week gave Trump his report on the issue.

To trade experts, this is a huge problem. Using national security concerns to justify tariffs on commodities brings up issues that World Trade Organization member nations have been responsible enough to leave off the table since WWII.

One such expert, Lee Branstetter, a professor of economics at Carnegie Mellon, said it would “set a precedent that anyone, especially the Chinese, can use against us.”

What he means is that once the US starts invoking national security to protect industries, everyone can do it. That’s why no one has done it. The international trade system is built on trust, and no one has violated that trust to this degree.

What’s more, the Trump administration wants to hit China with these measures for steel and aluminum. China has a problem with commodity overcapacity – it has more steel, aluminum, copper, and more than it can sell or use.

“The underlying source of the issue is China’s overcapacity,” said Chad Bown, an economist and senior fellow at the Peterson Institute. “But the problem from the US side is that we’ve mostly stopped steel and aluminum coming from China through anti-dumping duties.”

The US has used more-targeted measures to stop Chinese steel from coming into the country. It did pretty much the same thing with Chinese solar panels, Bown told Business Insider – in 2012, the US government put anti-dumping measures on them, but they kept coming in from other parts of Asia.

If the Trump administration just puts up blanket tariffs on these goods, we’d be hitting our allies, not the target.

“The proposed cure is worse than the disease,” Branstetter said, adding that it’s “quite likely” the US’s allies would retaliate.

“The WTO will give them a right to inflict equal pain on other industries,” he said.

That means, say, Boeing planes. Or Wisconsin dairy products.

“If a president had deliberately tried to undermine our allies’ good faith in us, you could hardly do a better job than the Trump administration,” Branstetter said.

US steel imports

US Department of Commerce

Don’t analyze

Some analysts expect the Trump administration may also act in the coming weeks on its investigation into the theft of American intellectual property in China.

Trade experts across the political spectrum assert that this theft is an issue. When US companies go into China, they’re forced into joint ventures with state-owned enterprises – and that’s where, they say, part of this theft occurs.

Multinationals also say that simply using the internet in China, with its “Great Firewall,” can result in theft. Of course, complaining too publicly is a no-no if they want to continue doing business there.

So the question here isn’t whether this is a problem, but how to deal with it.

The Trump administration has invoked Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, something that hasn’t been used in the 15 years since the development of our modern trading system.

China sees the use of Section 301 as an act of aggression because it allows the American president to act against the Chinese economy without consulting the WTO, of which China has been a member since 2001. The section’s use fell out of fashion around that time because US leaders saw the WTO’s framework as having more legitimacy. Even allies were complaining about its use.

Initiating the investigation is not a violation of WTO rules, which the Trump administration would break only if it punished China on the basis of Section 301. The US could still take its findings to the WTO to try to come up with a solution within the body – but that wouldn’t jibe with the administration’s rhetoric.

What would be better, Branstetter said, is an effort to get countries together to subpoena multinationals to see what’s going on with IP theft in China. This would allow them to find out what multinationals are too afraid to say, as well as give multinationals the cover of being subpoenaed by their own governments.

The way this investigation is headed now, though, could give China the moral high ground on this issue. It too, then, could retaliate.

“This issue with China would be there even if had Trump hadn’t been elected,” Bown said. “But there’s still no real strategy from the administration on how to deal with China. There’s more of a piecemeal strategy.”

That piecemeal strategy comes with baggage. It comes with the erosion of trust in the US as a good actor on the world stage, as well as potential retaliation from our friends and frenemies that could harm our economy.

None of this is necessary. And it could have wide-ranging effects.

As Cordell Hull, the US secretary of state from 1933 to 1944, put it: “Unhampered trade dovetailed with peace; high tariffs, trade barriers, and unfair economic competition with war … It is a fact that war did not break out between the US and any country with which we had been able to negotiate a trade agreement.”

china imports to the us

Deutsche Bank

Ferrari will build an electric supercar to take on Tesla


  • Ferrari plans to build an electric supercar to challenge Tesla, according to a Bloomberg report.
  • The luxury carmaker said it also plans to launch an SUV by the end of 2019 or early 2020.
  • All Ferraris will have some hybrid technology by 2019.

Ferrari is throwing down the gauntlet and challenging Tesla by jumping into the electric car space.

CEO Sergio Marchionne said on Tuesday at the Detroit auto show that the automaker plans to build an electric supercar, according to a Bloomberg report. Marchionne also said that the company plans to launch its first SUV by late 2019 or early 2020 and that the vehicle will be the fastest SUV on the market, according to the report.

“If there is an electric supercar to be built then Ferrari will be the first,” Marchionne said.

Ferrari pushing into electric cars isn’t a complete surprise. Marchionne said in 2016 that all Ferraris would have some hybrid technology by 2019 and he said during an earnings call last May that the company was moving towards electrification.

“I think that there is now a view inside the house that electrification is a core skill that needs to be mastered and needs to be part of the offering of the combustion engine world,” Marchionne said.

Ferrari isn’t the only automaker investing in battery-powered cars, though.

According to a Reuters analysis, global carmakers have invested some $90 billion in electric vehicles. So once the automaker’s first electric car hits the market, it will likely have some stiff competition.

In November, Tesla revealed it a new Roadster, which is set to launch in 2020. And Porsche is planning on rolling out its all-electric Mission E in 2019.

People are desperately trying to #FixTrumpIn5Words

Twitter users are posting their best suggestions to #FixTrumpIn5Words

President Donald Trump has had his fair share of blunders since he took office about a year ago.

Just looking at 2018 alone: He reportedly referred to several foreign countries as “shithole countries”.

Then, there was the whole debacle of the US selling Norway fighter jets (F-52s) that didn’t exist. 

Oh, and let’s not forget that Trump also called himself “a very stable genius” who was “like, really smart”.

And from the looks of it, Twitter users have had enough. To solve the problem, many users started posting their best suggestions to #FixTrumpIn5Words on Friday (Jan 12).

Here’s a snapshot of some of the best ones we could find:

Twitter post by Devlyn Angel

Twitter post by SarahCA

Twitter post by E5quire

Twitter post by Travis Allen

Meanwhile, others simply admitted defeat:

Twitter post by Luisa Haynes

Twitter post by Dan Sutton

Twitter post by Lets_Groove_Tonights

But of course, there were a few who felt that there was nothing to be fixed:

Twitter post by Minnesota Patriot

Twitter post by S.Churchill

Twitter post by Jim Hanson

Trump’s hawkish security adviser reportedly held secret meetings with Japan and South Korea about standing up to North Korea

Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser, waiting to be introduced at the FDD National Security Summit in Washington, DC, on October 19.

Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser, waiting to be introduced at the FDD National Security Summit in Washington, DC, on October 19.
REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

  • President Donald Trump’s hawkish national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, reportedly took a meeting with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts to discuss North Korea.
  • McMaster has reportedly been pushing Trump to strike North Korea, and allegedly dismissed the recent talks between North and South Korea as “diversions.”
  • The US has backed off military drills that anger North Korea but stepped up pressure and military deployments in other ways.

H.R. McMaster, the US Army general and academic who leads President Donald Trump’s National Security Council, has reportedly attended secret meetings with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts on North Korea.

McMaster, a noted hawk who is reportedly pushing for Trump to give North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a “bloody nose” by conducting a limited strike on the country, took meetings Saturday and Sunday in San Francisco where he stressed a need for the three countries to present a unified front against Pyongyang, according to the news website Axios.

In the meetings, Axios reports, McMaster dismissed North Korea’s recent thawing of tensions and talks to Pyongyang as “diversions,” noting that Kim still intended to develop nuclear weapons.

Axios’ report sheds light on one of the more inaccessible parts of Trump’s presidency, in which top staffers guide his hand on North Korea issues.

While many have looked to the recent talks between North and South Korea as a beacon of hope, it could be that McMaster is looking past them. Though the US and South Korea took a big step toward peace talks by delaying joint military drills until after the Paralympics conclude in mid-March, the US has stepped up pressure in other ways.

US officials are now discussing interdicting ships they suspect of heading into North Korea, and the US has deployed all three varieties of strategic bombers to Guam as tensions soar between the two countries.

There’s a ‘significant risk to markets’ that’s a bigger worry than where the economy is headed next

REUTERS/Philip Massie

  • The Treasury Department is set to increase its bond sales to support the government’s funding needs.
  • According to Deutsche Bank’s Torsten Slok, this incoming supply flood is a “significant risk to markets” that’s worth more attention than the US economy’s nuts and bolts.
  • Several central banks, among the biggest buyers of Treasurys and key sources of demand, are getting ready to slow their bond buying.

The Treasury Department’s forthcoming increase in debt sales poses “a significant risk to markets,” according to Torsten Slok, Deutsche Bank’s chief international economist.

Treasury plans to slowly increase its issuance of coupon-bearing securities to support the government’s funding needs. This will be crucial as the gap between spending and income continues to widen. The US deficit jumped to a record $665.7 billion in the most recent fiscal year, and could hit $1 trillion in a decade, according to analyses of the new tax law.

One way the government plans to fund all that spending is by borrowing from the public. And this means that the Treasury’s issuance of bonds is set to surge.

There just needs to be interested buyers.

“The bottom line is that investors should spend less time looking at US economic fundamentals and more time on where a doubling in demand for US fixed income can come from, in particular in a world where central banks at the same time stop doing QE,” Slok said in a note on Tuesday.

He continued: “If demand for US fixed income doesn’t double over the coming years then US long rates will move higher, credit spreads will widen, the dollar will fall, and stocks will likely go down as foreigners move out of depreciating US assets. And this could happen even in a situation where US economic fundamentals remain solid.”

1 16 18 treasury supply COTD

Deutsche Bank

The Treasury Department is selling $62 billion in coupon-bearing bonds in the three months through February, when it’s expected to announce an increase.

This comes at a time when one of the biggest sources of demand for Treasurys – central banks – appears to be retreating to the backseat.

After the financial crisis, central banks in the US, Japan, and Eurozone helped keep interest rates low by buying up several billions worth of Treasurys. When demand for the bonds rises and increases their prices, their yields fall.

But the global economy is now in recovery.

The Fed is already shrinking its balance sheet, partly by not reinvesting $6 billion of its maturing Treasurys every month.

Last week, the European Central Bank and Bank of Japan spooked investors with news that suggested they were slowing their bond purchases.

Also, senior Chinese government officials reportedly urged slowing or stopping their buying of Treasurys. All this news sent the benchmark 10-year yield to its highest level in 10 months.