(Bloomberg) — What President Joe Biden touted as a historic U.S. federal investment program that will position the country to win the global innovation race still leaves it well behind China’s continuing, giant infrastructure upgrading campaign.
While the top-line for Biden’s American Jobs Plan is $2.25 trillion, China’s government and private companies pour the equivalent of trillions of dollars each year into new infrastructure ranging from transport to communications networks, water projects to manufacturing.
If spread evenly over the eight-year timeframe, Biden’s plan would be a little over $280 billion a year. By comparison, in China, just one source of public funds used mainly for infrastructure investment — local government “special” bonds — will total 3.65 trillion yuan ($556 billion) this year.
Looking purely at research and development, China’s is current second in the world behind the U.S. in terms of annual investment, but is aiming to increase total spending by private companies and state agencies to 3.76 trillion yuan in 2025, the government said last month. That would be 1.3 trillion yuan more than the amount spent last year.
Biden’s program includes $180 billion of government funding for R&D. According to Biden that is the biggest increase in such spending outside of defense on record, but some question whether it is enough.
“That doesn’t sound like catching up to me,” Jared Woodard, head of Bank of America’s research investment committee, said on Bloomberg TV Thursday.
However, it’s difficult to directly compare spending in the two countries, as much of China’s outlays are tied to accommodating the millions of rural residents who move to cities for the first time each year.
China’s economic output per capita is about a sixth of U.S. levels, and in many cases the country is for the first time building infrastructure like urban apartments, water treatment systems and airports that the U.S. has had for generations.
Read More: Biden Starts Infrastructure Bet With U.S. Far Behind China
“China is a developing country and the area for investment in infrastructure is larger than in a developed country,” said Justin Lin, a former chief economist at the World Bank who also advises China’s government. “In the U.S. they have the infrastructure, but it might be old and needs to be improved. So the scope for investment in high-income countries is lower.”
But in other cases, such as high-speed rail, China’s infrastructure is already more advanced than America’s — the Asian country’s high speed rail network was almost 38,000 kilometers last year. Building is also cheaper in China, so the spending goes further. For example, the construction cost of the Chinese high-speed rail network is about two-thirds of the cost in other countries, according to a 2019 World Bank study.
Biden’s plan will likely be reshaped significantly in Congress, and take months to pass. Advocates say the increasing focus in Washington on competing with China will usher a step-up in innovation and research that goes beyond the proposed federal spending, with incentives that spur private companies to step up as well.
“This is the largest play I’ve seen in my economic career to on-shore industries, to build up nascent industries, to grab global market share in areas where we could beat our competitors” Jared Bernstein, a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said in a Bloomberg TV interview Thursday.
(Updates with more detail on R&D spending from fourth paragraph.)
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A16z in talks to back CoinSwitch Kuber in first India investment – TechCrunch
A16z is inching closer to making its first investment in a startup in India, the world’s second largest internet market that has produced over two dozen unicorns this year.
The Menlo Park-headquartered firm is in final stages of conversations to invest in Indian crypto trading startup CoinSwitch Kuber, three sources familiar with the matter told TechCrunch. The proposed deal values the Bangalore-based firm at $1.9 billion, two sources said. Coinbase is also investing in the new round, one of the sources said.
CoinSwitch Kuber was valued at over $500 million in a round in April this year when it raised $25 million from Tiger Global. If the deal with A16z materializes, it will be CoinSwitch Kuber’s third financing round this year.
TechCrunch reported last week that CoinSwitch Kuber was in talks to raise its Series C funding at up to $2 billion valuation. The report, which didn’t identify a lead investor, noted that the Indian startup had engaged with Andreessen Horowitz and Coinbase in recent weeks.
Usual caveats apply: terms of the proposed deal may change or the talks may not result in a deal. The author reported some details about the deal on Wednesday.
The startup declined to comment. Coinbase and A16z as well as existing investors Tiger Global and Sequoia Capital India did not respond to requests for comment.
The investment talks come at a time when CoinSwitch Kuber has more than doubled its user base in recent months — even as local authorities push back against crypto assets. Its eponymous app had over 10 million users in India last month, up from about 4 million in April this year, the startup said in a newspaper advertisement over the weekend.
A handful of crypto startups in India have demonstrated fast-pace growth in recent years — while impressively keeping their CAC very low — as millions of millennials in the South Asian nation kickstart their investment journeys. Several funds including those with big presence in India such as Accel, Lightspeed, WEH and Kalaari recently began working on their thesis to back crypto startups, TechCrunch reported earlier.
B Capital backed CoinDCX, a rival of CoinSwitch Kuber that has amassed 3.5 million users, last month in a $90 million round that valued CoinDCX at about $1.1 billion.
Policymakers in India have been debating on the status of digital currencies in the South Asian market for several years. India’s central bank, Reserve Bank of India, has expressed concerns about private virtual currencies though it is planning to run trial programs of its first digital currency as soon as December.
About 27 Indian startups have become a unicorn this year, up from 11 last year, as several high-profile investors — and global peers of Andreessen Horowitz — such as Tiger Global and Coatue have increased the pace of their investments in the South Asian market. Apna announced earlier on Thursday that it had raised $100 million in a round led by Tiger Global at $1.1 billion valuation, becoming the youngest Indian firm to attain the unicorn status.
Groww, an investment app for millennials, is in talks to raise a new financing round that would value it at $3 billion, TechCrunch reported on Wednesday. The startup has engaged with Coatue in recent days, the report said.
Why Canadians are still struggling to understand investment fees – The Globe and Mail
Financial advisory fees remain a confusing subject to the vast majority of Canadian investors despite a decades-long effort by the investment industry and its regulators to provide greater clarity and transparency. That means financial advisors remain in the ideal position to help close that comprehension gap.
According to the results of a survey the Mutual Fund Dealers Association of Canada (MFDA) released in June as part of a more expansive research report, fewer than one in five Canadian investors could identify correctly what types of costs are included in current fee summaries.
“The challenge we have today is that most investors don’t get a full picture of all the fees,” says Jean-Paul Bureaud, executive director of the Canadian Foundation for the Advancement of Investor Rights (FAIR Canada), “they only get a partial picture and they might not appreciate that it’s a partial picture.”
Advisors can clarify that to clients relatively easily by making clear that current fee summaries only include the fees for advice and trailing commissions on mutual funds, he says, and that other costs – such as fund management fees and operational costs – also apply.
Advisors can also ensure investors understand as much as possible by avoiding “using all kinds of fancy terms for all the different types of fees,” Mr. Bureaud says.
In fact, the MFDA’s report states, “Even experienced investors struggle to understand key terms and how their choices influence the type and amount of fees they pay.”
That means even when dealing with sophisticated clients, advisors should not assume “MER” is universally understood to stand for management expense ratio, or what it means. Breaking down jargon such as “trailing commissions” in simple terms – perhaps as an annual fee the advisor receives each year a client holds a particular investment – will also help avoid misunderstandings.
Instead of simply noting what fees are or are not included in existing disclosures, the MFDA report urges advisors to get as close to total cost reporting as possible.
London-based global firm The Behavioural Insights Team ran an experiment on behalf of the MFDA testing four formats of expanded cost reporting. Three of them specified investment fund charges while the fourth, known as the “control” option, included only a disclosure that other charges, such as fund management and operation costs, applied.
Only 23 per cent of investors exposed to the control option were able to identify their total cost of investing correctly, while between 54 per cent and 70 per cent of investors exposed to the other three options were able to do so.
Karen McGuinness, the MFDA’s senior vice president of member regulation and compliance, says part of the reason the experiment succeeded was a focus on using plain language.
“When we did the format, initially, we were using industry terminology because it was just second nature to us, but we brought in the behavioural research firm and they were the ones who said we need to set up this information in a way that’s more easily digestible for the average retail investor,” Ms. McGuinness says.
Nevertheless, the MFDA report warns that dealers and advisors shouldn’t assume sharing more cost information will always lead to better comprehension among clients as they will eventually hit a point of diminishing returns.
Rather, the report recommends they should “eliminate any information presented in the fee summary that is unlikely to be useful to investors. People have limited attention [and] this is especially significant when information is complex.”
To establish a baseline for how much any given client already understands – and therefore how much education advisors should attempt to provide – regulators have developed a number of quick and straightforward tools for that purpose.
For example, the B.C. Securities Commission runs the InvestRight website that includes fee calculators and a short quiz designed to gauge investors’ overall comprehension of investment fees.
“It only takes about five minutes to answer the questions, and a lot of people would be surprised at what they learn,” says FAIR Canada’s Mr. Bureaud.
The Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) operates a similar website – GetSmarterAboutMoney – that offers even more comprehensive tools and resources.
Meanwhile, regulators are working on a new set of disclosure rules to replace the second phase of the customer relationship model (CRM2) that has been in place since 2016. The goal of what’s being called CRM3 is to provide what the MFDA’s Ms. McGuinness calls “total cost reporting,” as it should get disclosures as close as possible to breaking down all the fees investors pay and not just those their advisor receives.
Although there’s no timeline for when CRM3 will be complete, Greg Pollock, president and chief executive of Advocis, says advisors will need to be more transparent with their clients on fees before the current bull market goes bust.
“Investors tend to look at the bottom line, and if they see that year-over-year returns are looking pretty good, they don’t get too focused on the fees simply because they’re satisfied with the overall performance,” he says. “But it does raise the question of what happens in a bear market when performance suffers. That really gets people’s attention.”
As RedBird Capital Eyes SpringHill Investment, LeBron James Continues March Toward Billionaire Status – Forbes
The private equity firm is expected to take a significant minority stake that will likely value the company at between $650 million and $750 million.
LeBron James is one step closer to cashing in on his entertainment business in a deal that would still leave the NBA superstar short of becoming basketball’s second billionaire.
People familiar with the matter say that private equity firm RedBird Capital is in advanced discussions to make a strategic investment in James’ SpringHill Co., an entertainment company that has been the subject of deal rumors since July. The amount of the possible deal, which was first reported by Sportico, could not be determined, although the investment is likely to be done at a valuation of $650 million to $750 million.
The infusion of capital would represent a massive win for James, who continues to expand his off-the-court interests. The 36-year-old Los Angeles Lakers superstar came in as the fifth-highest-paid athlete on the planet on this year’s Forbes list, with earnings of $96.5 million over 12 months. Only Conor McGregor and Roger Federer posted off-the-field totals higher than James’ $65 million. Prior to the SpringHill deal, Forbes estimated James’ net worth to be roughly $850 million. James is the largest single shareholder in SpringHill. Forbes recently valued his stake—believed not to exceed 50%—at approximately $300 million.
James and his childhood friend, Maverick Carter, together built the SpringHill Co., the diversified media company behind the new Space Jam movie, the HBO documentary What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali and unscripted series including the NBC competition show The Wall. The company, named for the apartment complex where James grew up, was founded in 2020 and also includes media platform Uninterrupted, which produces the HBO talk show The Shop, and a marketing agency, the Robot Company, which counts JPMorgan Chase, Beats by Dre and Sprite as clients.
James is chasing Michael Jordan, the only billionaire to have emerged from the sport, although he reached that status after his playing days were over.
RedBird was founded by Gerry Cardinale, a former Goldman Sachs partner with deep ties to Hollywood and the world of professional sports. He has been assembling an expansive portfolio of assets, taking a minority stake earlier this year in Wasserman, a sports marketing and talent agency, and investing $275 million into David Ellison’s Skydance Media, the studio behind the Oscar-winning movie Parasite. It also bought, sold and re-acquired a stake in the YES Network.
The potential SpringHill deal isn’t the first time Cardinale and James have crossed paths. Months ago, RedBird purchased a 10% stake in Fenway Sports Group, which owns a bevy of sports assets including Liverpool FC and the Boston Red Sox. James bought 2% of Liverpool in 2011 and exchanged his stake to grab a reported 1% investment in FSG earlier this year.
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