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The Daily Ten – Apple is building autonomous vehicles, Scaramucci launches a Bitcoin fund, Snoop Dogg raises $100 million weed fund…

December 22, 2020by Steve NsonNews

The Daily Ten – Apple is building autonomous vehicles, Scaramucci launches a Bitcoin fund, Snoop Dogg raises $100 million weed fund…

December 22, 2020 by Steve Nson
Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020

The Daily Ten

1. Apple targets car production by 2024 and eyes ‘next level’ battery technology – sources | Reuters

(Reuters) – Apple Inc is moving forward with self-driving car technology and is targeting 2024 to produce a passenger vehicle that could include its own breakthrough battery technology, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The iPhone maker’s automotive efforts, known as Project Titan, have proceeded unevenly since 2014 when it first started to design its own vehicle from scratch. At one point, Apple drew back the effort to focus on software and reassessed its goals. Doug Field, an Apple veteran who had worked at Tesla Inc, returned to oversee the project in 2018 and laid off 190 people from the team in 2019.

Since then, Apple has progressed enough that it now aims to build a vehicle for consumers, two people familiar with the effort said, asking not to be named because Apple’s plans are not public. Apple’s goal of building a personal vehicle for the mass market contrasts with rivals such as Alphabet Inc’s Waymo, which has built robo-taxis to carry passengers for a driverless ride-hailing service.

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2. Commercial Real Estate’s Pandemic Pain Is Only Just Beginning | Bloomberg

The coronavirus pandemic shuttered thousands of U.S. restaurants, gyms and stores, kept office workers at home and left hotel rooms sitting empty. Yet, so far, the commercial real estate market hasn’t really had a reckoning.

That’s set to change.

Lenders have granted struggling building owners months of forbearance, avoiding fire sales. But even as vaccines herald the slow return to normal life, it’s increasingly clear the fundamentals of real estate have been altered.

Next year, many property owners who’ve fallen behind on debt are going to have to put more money into their buildings, sell at distressed prices or hand the keys back to the bank. Roughly $430 billion in commercial and multifamily real estate debt matures in 2021, forcing lenders and borrowers to come to terms about what buildings are worth in a world the pandemic reshaped.

“That period of ‘let’s just put a Band-Aid on it’ is more or less coming to a conclusion,” says Wendy Silverstein, a former executive with Vornado Realty Trust and WeWork who recently started a restructuring and advisory firm. “There’s a lot of collateral damage that’s going to be hanging around for a while.”

That damage has the potential to ripple far beyond building owners and their tenants. Commercial property underpins the tax base in many cities across the U.S., and a downturn could pummel local budgets. As loan losses mount, the slump could also put stress on the banking system. The Federal Reserve singled out commercial real estate in its most recent Financial Stability Report as showing particular signs of weakness.

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3. Lidar stocks soar after report that Apple is working on a car for 2024 | CNBC

Two companies that make lidar sensors saw their stocks soar on Monday after Reuters reported on hat Apple is aiming to start production of an Apple-branded car for consumers as soon as 2024.

Velodyne stock rose nearly 23% on Monday. Luminar rose over 27%.

Lidar is a core component for self-driving cars that allows their computers to take a 3D image of the world around them. The sensors measure the range or velocity of objects using a process that is similar to radar — they bounce lasers off objects and when the light returns, the sensors can calculate how far away the object is and if it’s moving.

Self-driving car companies like Alphabet’s Waymo and GM’s Cruise make heavy use of lidar in their self-driving systems. Apple has decided to use outside partners for parts of its self-driving system, including lidar sensors, according to the report.

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4. Scaramucci’s SkyBridge Launching a Bitcoin Fund | CoinDesk

Anthony Scaramucci’s hedge fund SkyBridge Capital filed documents with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Monday for what appears to be its first bitcoin fund.

The $9.2 billion asset manager filed a Form D for “SkyBridge Bitcoin Fund L.P.,” a private securities offering open only to accredited investors buying at least $50,000. The fund’s strategy and means of exposure were unavailable at press time.

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5. Snoop Dogg’s Casa Verde Capital closes on $100 million as the cannabis industry bounces | TechCrunch

Casa Verde Capital, the investment fund co-founded by cannabis connoisseur Snoop Dogg (also known as Calvin Broadus), has closed on $100 million for its second investment fund, according to documents filed with the SEC.

The fund, whose managing director, Karan Wadhera declined to comment for this article, has managed to raise more cash just as the market for cannabis-related products seems poised for another period of expansion.

“What happened to the public perception of the cannabis industry is not too dissimilar to the dotcom bubble of the late ’90s, where there was a lot of hype — a lot of it driven by public companies — and a lot of speculative trading and valuations that weren’t really founded in reality. [We’re talking about] projections multiple years out into the future, and then crazy revenue multiples on top of that,” Wadhera said of the last bust when he spoke to TechCrunch in July. “Things just got really frothy, and that eventually burst, and last April or May was sort of the apex of that moment. It’s when things started to trade off. And it’s been those names, the public names in particular, that have been hit particularly hard.”

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6. Covid Spurs Families to Shun Nursing Homes, a Shift That Appears Long Lasting | WSJ

Fearing infection and isolation, relatives are turning to home care as new services make that option more possible for many

The pandemic is reshaping the way Americans care for their elderly, prompting family decisions to avoid nursing homes and keep loved ones in their own homes for rehabilitation and other care.

Americans have long relied on institutions to care for the frailest seniors. The U.S. has the largest number of nursing-home residents in the world. But families and some doctors have been reluctant to send patients to such facilities, fearing infection and isolation in places ravaged by Covid-19, which has caused more than 115,000 deaths linked to U.S. long-term-care institutions.

The drop-off has persisted since spring, including at times when the virus’s spread was subdued. In the summer, when many hospitals were performing near-normal levels of the kinds of procedures that often result in nursing-home stays, referrals to nursing homes remained down.

Occupancy in U.S. nursing homes is down by 15%, or more than 195,000 residents, since the end of 2019, driven both by deaths and by the fall in admissions, a Wall Street Journal analysis of federal data shows.

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7. Covid-19 Is Pushing Women Out of Work. Just Look at Italy. | WSJ

Italy’s gender employment gap is now the widest in Europe

ROME— Margherita Marino was a successful family lawyer in Naples, running a small but thriving practice, until the pandemic struck. Now she spends nearly all her time taking care of her two children, who have mostly been at home since March due to prolonged school closures.

“Sometimes I tell myself: I am a supermom looking after my children. Other times I’m like: what am I doing?” said Ms. Marino, 43, who worries her career won’t recover. “It’s frustrating.”

The economic shock from the pandemic has hit women harder than men across much of the Western world. Many of the lost jobs have been in service sectors with large female workforces, such as retail, restaurants and hospitality. Women have also had to shoulder the bulk of child care during school closures, forcing many working moms to stay home.

The labor-market consequences could outlast the pandemic, hurting many women’s long-term economic prospects and worsening gender inequality, economists warn.

A United Nations study found that job losses between the end of 2019 and the second quarter of 2020 disproportionately hurt women. In 55 high-and-middle-income countries, around 29.4 million women over the age of 25 lost or left their jobs—slightly more than men, far more of whom were in the workforce to begin with.

In few major economies is this a bigger problem than in Italy, where female employment was already among the lowest in the West.

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8. London is a ghost town after city goes into strict COVID-19 lockdown | New York Post

The Swinging City has ground to a halt.

Eerie photos show London looking like a ghost town after the UK capital was forced into strict lockdown over the alarming spread of a new, highly contagious mutation of COVID-19.

Streets usually buoyant with tourists and Christmas shoppers were instead empty, while the typical fight to get a seat on a London Underground train was replaced by a struggle to spot other commuters.

Most dramatically, train stations that had been dangerously packed with people desperately trying to flee the city Saturday night before the lockdown started at midnight were almost completely deserted.

The striking images came as the Daily Mirror newspaper branded Britain the “Sick Man of Europe” amid a mounting number of nations blocking borders to keep out the new strain, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned appears to be up to 70 percent more transmissible.

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9. Relief Deal Would Give Small Businesses a Shot at a Second Loan | The New York Times

The stimulus package being negotiated in Washington includes $285 billion for a renewed Paycheck Protection Program.

Federal lawmakers have agreed to revive the signature small-business relief effort established last spring, committing $285 billion for additional loans under the Paycheck Protection Program and allowing particularly hard-hit companies to get a second loan.

The $900 billion assistance package would restart the P.P.P. — the government’s small-business program created under the CARES Act — through March 31, while doing away with the restriction that left more than $100 billion unspent over the summer.

Lindsey Munson, the administrator of the Montessori School of Charlottesville, Va., a day care and preschool, said she was ecstatic at the prospect of more help. “We’re literally living hand to hand, month to month,” she said.

The school, which has kept all of its employees except two part-time assistants, got a $160,000 loan in April, but that money is long gone. Enrollment is down 30 percent, leaving a major hole in the school’s budget, Ms. Munson said. It has been scraping by on donations and state and local relief grants. Another federal infusion would help enormously, she said.

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10. Billionaire Reubens Bet Big on Manhattan’s Battered Real Estate | Bloomberg

Simon and David Reuben have been gobbling up Manhattan property, ramping up their bet on a real estate market that has taken a hit during the pandemic.

The billionaire brothers, well-known real estate investors based in the U.K., have spent nearly $2.5 billion on U.S. acquisitions and financing deals this year, according to people familiar with the matter.

That includes office, retail and hotel properties in Manhattan, where investment has plummeted as social-distancing keeps office workers and tourists at home. The brothers, worth more than $12 billion combined, bought a Fifth Avenue retail condo as well as the five-star Surrey Hotel on the Upper East Side.

They also provided financing for HSBC Holdings Plc’s U.S. headquarters on Fifth Avenue and the Park Lane Hotel, which borders Central Park, the person said.

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