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Thursday, 01 February 2018 07:52

GM Ramping Up Self-Driving Cars


General Motors is ramping up its efforts in the self-driving car space. In what has become somewhat of a new age automotive space race, the company is doing well in its testing of autonomous vehicles. That said, it is still well behind the performance of Waymo, Google’s self-driving car unit. GM’s vehicles are getting very autonomous, with a human driver only needing to intervene 0.797 times for every 1,000 miles driven in 2017, down from 18.51 in 2016. Google’s number is 0.179 per 1,000 miles. Some criticize this “disengagement” metric because it is not well controlled or defined.

FINSUM: There is probably a little bit of “play” in how these stats are recorded, but if they are anything near the truth, the technology sounds like it is performing very well. GM says it wants to debut self-driving cars in 2019.

Thursday, 01 February 2018 07:51

Whole Foods Making Strides Under Amazon


The Whole Foods acquisition by Amazon has been somewhat of a mystery for markets. While the move sparked a great deal of fear and excitement, it is still not readily clear what Amazon will do with its new asset. That said, prices at Whole Foods are falling, and the company’s in house basic brand, 365, is pushing forward. Whole Foods 365 is the company’s new low price chain of stores. Many thought it would be shuttered under Amazon’s leadership, but it is moving ahead. The first store just opened in Brooklyn and will expand to five more locations this year.

FINSUM: We think a Whole Foods sub brand of lower priced items with the same general theme could work very well in attracting more Millennial shoppers.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018 10:48

ETFs at Risk of Manipulation

(New York)

Vanguard, one of the preeminent global fund managers, has just gone on the record warning about a big and growing danger for ETFs. Vanguard says that “predators” are increasingly front-running ETFs at the expense of legitimate investors. Because most ETFs disclose their daily holdings, and are benchmarked to an index, they are susceptible to manipulation by those who trade ahead of the reconciliation. Vanguard hopes that regulators will not approve new rules which would demand even greater transparency in the ETF marketplace, as this could worsen the problem. Vanguard currently only discloses its holdings with a one-month lag to mitigate frontrunning, but could be forced to do so on a daily basis.

FINSUM: This is one of the areas of markets where transparency may actual work counter to the interests of the everyday investor.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018 10:46

Is the Meltdown Finally Here?

(New York)

Investors have been waiting anxiously for a downturn in stocks for several months. In recent weeks the nervousness had risen as we had seemed to reach a period of “melt up”. However, the market has fallen considerably over the last couple of days, including the S&P 500 falling over 1% yesterday. The question is whether the tide is finally turning following the rise in concern over surging bond yields.

FINSUM: This was a pretty scary couple of days, but we have a feeling this is not the beginning of the end given strong earnings coming out.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018 10:45

Do Advisors Approve of Trump? Poll Says Yes


InvestmentNews has done a broad survey of US financial advisors’ views of Trump and the results are in. The survey was of 745 advisor readers of the site and the study found that Trump was more popular among advisors than the general public. 50% of advisors approved of Trump while 44.8% disapproved. This compares to 39.9% and 55.6% amongst the general public. However, many advisors said they approved of Trump from a financial perspective but disliked his overall behavior.

FINSUM: We are uniquely placed to comment on this given all the reader feedback we get. We would say that, if anything, this poll discounts the president’s support amongst the advisor community.

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