August 23, 2020
#1 Robinhood Investing - Startup Disrupting Wall Street
Robinhood is a brokerage platform that provides commission free investing. Founded in 2013, the company has managed to disrupt the industry by allowing traders to buy small slices of stocks (read fractional shares). The company doesn’t require a trader to hold a minimum balance account, but their usp is that they allow for free trade, i.e. they don’t charge any commission for trades. Until last year, the industry standard of free trade didn’t exist. The impact of this can attributed to Robinhood. Robinhood’s success forced established brokers such as Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade to eliminate their commission. Another key selling point for the success of Robinhood is the simple and easy to understand user interface of their platform. In 2020, the company reported 3 million new accounts, bringing its total to 13 million.
The company has also faced major criticism, owing to their easy interface for investing. Complainants have highlighted that with just a few clicks of the button an uninformed individual can trade options without having any knowledge on investing. Recently, a new term has been coined the “Robinhood Effect”, wherein the recently rally in the US stock market has been attributed to the increase in retail investors that have been using platforms such as Robinhood. However, the extent of this effect is unclear with several analysts standing on opposite sides of the field.
#2 The “Beige Gold” Thieves - What’s more precious: Your order or the box it comes in?
67,000 tons of cardboard boxes meant for recycling have been stolen in Spain and shipped to South-East Asia. The gang started operation in 2015 and according to BBC, on average $12 million worth of old boxes have been stolen a year. Spain has arrested 42 people in connection with this.
#3 The Everything Company - Reliance on a Shopping Spree
Reliance recently sold 33% stake in their Jio platform. Mukesh Ambani has taken some of the money from this selling spree and has now gone on a shopping spree. The company is looking to buy Zivame - $160 million (lingerie company), Netmeds - $120 million (pharma), Urban ladder (furniture) - $30 million. Reliance might also be looking to buy Milkbasket a milk delivery company. Reliance is looking at becoming an everything company and giving competition to Amazon in India.
#4 Basketball Made in Canada? - The Sport could have been Canada’s Favourite Pastime
Basketball was invented by a Canadian, James Naismith. The sport was invented in 1891 by James while he was teaching at the YMCA in Springfield, Massachusetts, USA. The sport gained popularity in high school and college owing to minimal equipment needed and ability to play indoors.
#5 $1.8 million LeBron James Card - Betting on Trading Cards
Gary Vaynerchuk, media mogul and serial entrepreneur, has identified investing in Sports Cards as well as Pokemon Cards as a great opportunity. The market for these cards has been rising rapidly, with certain cards that were bought at antique markets for less than $10 are now selling for around $1000+. The surge in such a market can be attributed to the limited supply with an ever growing demand. Also nostalgia associated with these cards has also led to a growth in demand, especially for players from the 80s and 90s as well Pokemon, which were a huge hit globally in the 90s and early 2000s.
With the recent worldwide stoppage on sports, which led to a complete halt in sports betting, people were looking at more avenues to cater to their addiction of betting. Cards can be viewed as a way of betting on an outcome as when you buy a pack of cards there is a decent probability of finding limited edition/ unique card. You can flip these cards for an extremely high value and this in turn fuels your betting addiction.
#6 Journey Around the World with Man’s Best Friend
Tom Turich and his dog Savannah have walked 18,000 miles in the last 5 years. Tom started his journey in New Jersey, USA and after 184 days he adopted Savannah in Austin, Texas, USA to accompany him. The pair even visited Antarctica by a boat after nearly two years of walking. At present, Tom and Savannah are in Baku, Azerbaijan after walking across Europe. The reason Tom started on his journey was that he wanted to travel and explore the world and for him the best mode of doing this was by foot. Tom says that the on the surface humans might be different but one thing that is universal is that everyone wants to make a little bit of money and spend time with their loved ones.
#7 Global Coffee Crisis? - Bad News for Seven Cups Sunday
As per a Vox report, the world consumes around 500 billion cups of coffee every year. The plant on which coffee berries are produced can be found in Latin America, Africa and Asia. However, these areas are shrinking in size due to the affects of climate change.
There are over a 100 species of coffee plant, but only a few can be cultivated on a farm. There are two species of coffee plant, which are the most common - Robusta coffee, which is used to make espresso and most of instant coffee and Arabica coffee which is a more premium high end coffee, which is used by the likes of Starbucks. Both coffee species require specific conditions to grow, but Arabica is more sensitive. To grow, the plant needs temperatures between 18-21 C. Too hot or too cold the plant wouldn’t grow. It also needs a specific amount of rain and also needs to grown at a certain elevation as it needs warm days and cold nights. Thus Arabica plant grows only in certain latitudes, particularly in Colombia.
Colombia, one of the largest producers of coffee, has been feeling the affects of climate change. With the temperatures rising, the country has been producing lower quality coffee. As temperature rises, the plants are vulnerable to pests and fungi. At Santa Fe farm in Colombia, some coffee plants have been afflicted by a fungus called “coffee rust”. The coffee producing regions of Colombia have shrunk by nearly 7% since 2013. A recent study estimates that by 2050, the coffee cultivating regions around the world will reduce by nearly 50%. Another study also predicts that 60% wild species of coffee will become extinct by the same time.
There are several measures that coffee farmers can use to protect their plants - such as using shade trees, moving their coffee plants to a higher elevation or using a different variety of coffee plant that is less sensitive to temperatures. However, all these measure require more capital which most small farmers don’t have. For coffee farmers to negate the affects of climate change and fluctuating coffee prices, they need assistance through an international minimum price agreement and local government support in terms of financial grants/ aids.