Posts tagged with "CNBC"

Every U.S. home now has a wildfire threat score—and some areas see a 200% jump in risk

May 17, 2022

Raging New Mexico and California wildfires may offer an ominous outlook for a growing swath of America—and not just in the West, reports CNBC.

Wildfire risk is increasing, likely due to global warming, and its destruction is becoming ever more expensive. Of the wildfires that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has tracked since 1980, 66% of the damage has occurred in the last five years.

Insured damage from wildfires last year totaled $5 billion, according to a Yale University report, marking the seventh consecutive year of insured losses above $2 billion.

Wildfire risk modeling is more crucial than ever to help protect lives and property, and new technology from a Brooklyn-based nonprofit, First Street Foundation, is mapping the threat with house-by-house specificity.

First Street uses everything from property tax data to satellite imagery and assigns a wildfire risk score that factors in construction type, roof type, weather and exposure to natural fuels like trees and grass.

“We calculate every individual property and structure’s risk across the country, be it a commercial building, or be it an individual’s home,” said Matthew Eby, founder and executive director of First Street Foundation. “What you’re able to see from that is that one home might have the same probability as another of being in a wildfire, but may be much more susceptible to burning down.”

Certain homes may be more vulnerable because of their building materials, the defensible space around them or the roof type, for example. The company models the immediate risk to Americans’ homes and then adjusts for projected climate change.

“We can then use supercomputers to simulate 100 million scenarios of wildfire today, and then another 100 million scenarios 30 years in the future with the forecasted weather conditions,” Eby said.

First Street gives every home a unique score and unique probabilities of risk. It did the same for water threats, working with Realtor.com to put a flood score on every property on the home-selling website. That feature is now the second-most clicked map on Realtor.com, behind school district data on K-12 performance.

“The reaction to flood has been overwhelmingly positive. It’s really helpful in being able to make informed decisions and to understand what it is to protect your home,” said Sara Brinton, lead project manager with Realtor.com.

Potential buyers and homeowners who find their flood and fire scores on Realtor.com can click a link for more information on First Street’s site to find out how best to protect their homes.

“On a on a monthly basis, we see tens of millions of impressions against our flood factor data,” said Eby.

More than 71% of recent homebuyers took natural disasters into account when considering where to move, according to a recent survey from Realtor.com and analytics company HarrisX. About half of respondents reported being more concerned about natural disasters today than they were five years ago.

The First Street fire model pays particular attention to what it calls the “wildland urban interface,” where housing developments butt up against wooded areas.

At least 10 million properties rank somewhere between “major” and “extreme” wildfire risk, according to First Street. While flood risk grows by about 25% over a span of 30 years, wildfire risk overall is doubling and jumping more than 200% in places you might not expect, like New Jersey, Massachusetts, Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, and Arkansas.

That change helps explains why big firms, like Nuveen Real Estate, are buying the data to inform their investments.

“The First Street data is helping us get that really close look at how will the building be impacted? And more importantly, how can we reflect this increasing risk in our underwriting?” said Jessica Long, head of sustainability for Nuveen’s U.S. real estate portfolio. “We use the data as part of new investment screening as well as part of our annual business-planning process.”

For homeowners, the information not only guides them in buying a home, but it can also help in protecting one they already own. The fire score, for example, can help inform minor changes to reduce that risk, like adjusting landscaping or ventilation. Experts say it’s much easier to protect a home from wildfire than from major flooding.

When First Street introduced its flood-score feature, the data was met with concern that it would lower the value of homes with higher risk. Realtor.com’s Brinton said there have been very few complaints, but added, “In a few places we see homes appreciating somewhat more slowly in areas with high flood-risk scores.”

Research contact: @CNBC

Bob Iger, eBay, Rich Paul, and Chernin Group team up to buy 25% stake in toy maker Funko

Nay 9, 2022

A consortium including former Disney CEO Bob Iger, sports agent Rich Paul,  eBay, and the  film and television production company Chernin Group is buying a 25% stake in toy maker Funko, reports CNBC.

The investment, which is worth $263 million, or $21 per share, means Chernin will add two directors to Funko’s board. Chernin Group CEO Peter Chernin and Iger will serve as advisors to the board.

Shares of Funko were initially halted on the news, but late on Thursday, May 5, resumed trading after hours—jumping more than 20% to around $21 per share.

“We believe Funko is significantly undervalued in the public markets and at this highly attractive entry price provides a runway of opportunity and growth potential,” Chernin said in a statement Thursday. “There are many areas of identifiable growth across content, commerce, marketplaces, consumer products and technology that should drive substantial increases to Funko’s performance.”

In addition to his investment business, Chernin produces television and films through Chernin Entertainment, which launched titles such as “New Girl,” “Hidden Figures,” “The Greatest Showman” and “Ford v Ferrari.” Previously, he served as president and COO of News Corp; and chair and CEO of the Fox Group, where he helped greenlight “Titanic” and “Avatar,” two of the highest-grossing films of all time.

Iger is well-known in the entertainment industry for leading the charge at Disney to acquire Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and, most recently, 20th Century Fox. Many of the characters from franchises within these brands can be found as part of Funko’s product line.

Paul, CEO and founder of Klutch Sports Group and head of sports at United Talent Agency, is expected to bring his expertise in the sports and music sectors to help advance Funko’s product expansion in those areas. He represents LeBron James.

As part of the investment, eBay and Funko agreed to make eBay the preferred secondary market for Funko products. They will also team up for exclusive product releases.

“Funko sits at the intersection of pop culture, passion and collectibles, with one of the most engaged communities of enthusiasts,” said Stefanie Jay, eBay chief business and strategy officer, in a statement. “Building on the incredible appetite for Funko products on eBay, we look forward to what our companies can do together.”

Research contact: @CNBC

Netflix may offer lower-priced, ad-supported plans

April 21, 2022

After years of resisting the idea of running advertisements on its streaming service, Netflix now is “open” to offering lower-priced tiers with ads, co-CEO Reed Hastings said on Tuesday, April 19, reports CNBC.

Hastings has long been opposed to adding commercials or other promotions to the platform, but said during the company’s prerecorded earnings conference call that it “makes a lot of sense” to offer customers a cheaper option.

“Those who have followed Netflix know that I have been against the complexity of advertising and a big fan of the simplicity of subscription,” Hastings said. “But as much as I am a fan of that, I am a bigger fan of consumer choice, and allowing consumers who would like to have a lower price and are advertising-tolerant to get what they want makes a lot of sense.”

The option likely wouldn’t be available on the service for a year or two, Hastings said. A new ad-supported tier has a lot of profit potential for Netflix, which on Tuesday reported its first subscriber loss in more than a decade.

Netflix cited growing competition from recent streaming launches by traditional entertainment companies, as well as rampant password sharing, inflation. and the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine for the recent stall in paid subscriptions.

In an effort to lure more subscribers, Netflix has increased its content spend, particularly on originals. To pay for it, the company hiked prices of its service. Netflix said those price changes are helping to bolster revenue but were partially responsible for a loss of 600,000 subscribers in the U.S. and Canada during the most recent quarter.

A lower-tier option that includes advertisements could keep some price-conscious consumers with the service and provide Netflix with a different avenue to garner funds.

“It’s pretty clear that it’s working for Hulu. Disney is doing it. HBO did it,” Hastings said. “I don’t think we have a lot of doubt that it works.”

Research contact: @CNBC

Prosecutors: White House Secret Service staff ‘compromised’ by men impersonating DHS agents

April 11, 2022

Two men charged with impersonating Department of Homeland Security agents “compromised” the Secret Service staff assigned to protect First Lady Jill Biden and the White House by “lavishing” them with gifts that included rent-free apartments, federal prosecutors said on Friday, April 8, as they asked a judge to hold the duo without bail.

One of the men, Arian Taherzadeh, admitted after his arrest that he had impersonated a DHS agent and had falsely identified himself to others as a former U.S. Army Ranger, prosecutors wrote in a filing in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C, in advance of their detention hearing there Friday afternoon, reports CNBC.

Taherzadeh, 40, also told authorities that his co-defendant in the case, 35-year-old Hader Ali, “funded most of their day-to-day operations but Taherzadeh did not know the source of the funds,” the filing says.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia said that the mens’ impersonation of Department of Homeland Security agents went on “for years.” Both men, who are U.S. citizens, “pose a danger to the community based on their use and possession of firearms and other weaponry in furtherance of their impersonation of federal law enforcement officers,” prosecutors wrote in the filing.

The filing also says that Ali’s travel in past years to Iran; Pakistan; and Doha, Qatar—as well as his claims to have connections to Pakistan’s intelligence agency —make him a flight risk. “Ali obtained two 90-day visas from Iran and traveled there twice, not long before the charged activity began as early as February 2020,” prosecutors wrote.

And the filing notes that Taherzadeh in February 2020 applied for a concealed weapons permit, but “was denied due to his prior history of violence and instability”—which included two cases in which he was charged in 2013 with assaulting two different women, his wife and his girlfriend.

That filing contains photos of handguns, ammunition, body armor brass knuckles, a fingerprint kit, lock picking tools, and a box of documents with profiles of various people that were seized Wednesday at the men’s apartments in a building in Southeast Washington.

“In one document, an invoice for the defendants’ Chevrolet Impala, the customer information is listed as ‘Secret Service US’ with fake and fictitious names, such as the ‘authorizer name’ listed as ‘Fay Tate’ and the ‘driver name’ listed as ‘James Haider,’ an obvious variation on Haider Ali,” the filing says.

Prosecutors say that while they were claiming to be law enforcement agents involved in covert operations for DHS, “they compromised United States Secret Service (USSS) personnel involved in protective details and with access to the White House complex by lavishing gifts upon them, including rent-free living.”

The defendants maintained five apartments in the complex, two of which they lived in.

“Neither Defendant is even employed by the United States government,” prosecutors wrote. “But their impersonation scheme was sufficiently realistic to convince other government employees, including law enforcement agents, of their false identities.”

Four Secret Service personnel have been placed on leave as a result of the case.

The Secret Service has not said if any of the agents who were placed on leave was one agent assigned to Jill Biden’s protective detail, who was identified in a criminal complaint as being offered an AR-15-style assault rifle valued at $2,000 by Taherzadeh, and who lived below him in the same building.

Research contact: @CNBC

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki plans to leave for an on-air role at MSNBC

April 4, 2022

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, is planning to leave her post to take an on-air role at MSNBC, a source familiar with the matter told CNBC on April 1.

Psaki, who is still fleshing out details with the company, is expected to leave the White House around May, Axios reported earlier Friday.

Psaki will host a show for NBCUniversal’s streaming platform, Peacock, Axios reported. She had reportedly also been in talks with CNN and other networks.

Psaki did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

“We don’t have anything to confirm about Jen’s length of planned service or any consideration about future plans,” a White House official told CNBC in an email. “Jen is here and working hard every day on behalf of the president to get you the answers to the questions that you have, and that’s where her focus is.”

News networks have long looked to recruit spokespeople and other high-profile Beltway figures for their day-to-day political coverage, both as anchors and regular contributors.

Longtime ABC News host George Stephanopoulos, for instance, was formerly the White House communications director under President Bill Clinton. MSNBC political analyst and host Nicolle Wallace was a senior spokesperson for the George W. Bush administration and a spokesperson for John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Last March, former President Donald Trump’s final Press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, joined Fox News as a commentator. More recently, CBS News signed ex-Trump official Mick Mulvaney as a paid contributor.

Research contact: @CNBC

Why ‘free’ shipping isn’t free

April 1. 2022

The big carriers such as FedExUPS, and Amazon make lots of deliveries that they say are “gratis,” but none of those packages actually is being shipped for “free,” reports CNBC.

“People like free shipping because the word free is very powerful, even if people know that it’s not really free because someone is paying for it,” Kara Buntin, owner of the Etsy shop A Cake To Remember, recently explained to CNBC.

And today, more packages are being shipped than ever before: There were more than 131 billion parcels shipped worldwide in 2020, and parcel shipments are expected to double again in the next five years possibly reaching 266 billion by 2026—according to Pitney Bowes.

“When consumers click that ‘buy’ box, they often don’t see [the] labor that leads to a box on their doorstep,” Ellen Reese, a sociology professor at UC Riverside and co-editor of “The Cost of Free Shipping: Amazon in the Global Economy,” told CNBC.

“Anyone can offer an Amazon Prime two-day shipping. It’s just the cost that…might [be incurred] in providing that service,” says Dhruv Saxena, co-founder of third-party logistics company ShipBob. He estimates it may cost a company anywhere from $25 to $35 for a typical two-day shipping rate.

Companies such as Amazon, WalmartTarget, and even Etsy benefit from economies of scale because they generate mass online sales. This puts them at an advantage to achieve bulk discount rates, according to the U.S. Postal Service.

Indeed, when CNBC asked the Postal Service for information about how much money Amazon, Walmart and Target pay the service to ship packages, the department said that no contracts exist, but “there may be possibly an agreement in place with negotiated rates to deliver packages. However, we cannot confirm nor deny an agreement exists.”

This is due to federal regulations dictating that acknowledgment of the existence of a specific national service agreement “would cause harm and is confidential commercial information that would not be disclosed under good business practice,” the Postal Service said.

“Many [small businesses] have been under pressure, shutting down and closing because they can’t compete, “Jake Alimahomed-Wilson, a sociology professor at California State University Long Beach and co-editor of “The Cost of Free Shipping: Amazon in the Global Economy,” told CNBC in a recent interview.

In a 2019 survey, three-quarters of independent retailers said Amazon’s dominance is a major threat to their survival, according to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

“You can’t really plan for how much [carriers] are going to charge or how much [packages] are going to cost when you ship them, and that makes it difficult to offer free shipping because a lot of times you end up with no profit if you’re not really careful,” Buntin said.

Amazon, FedEx and UPS either declined or could not be reached for comment for this story.

Research contact: @CNBC

NATO leaders set to OK ‘major increases’ of troops in response to Putin’s war on Ukraine

March 24, 2022

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on March 23 that the group—an intergovernmental military alliance of 30 nations—is likely to bolster troops along its eastern flank, deploying four new battle groups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia, reports CNBC.

“I expect leaders will agree to strengthen NATO’s posture in all domains, with major increases in the eastern part of the alliance on land, in the air, and at sea,” Stoltenberg said during a press conference ahead of the NATO Leaders Summit in Brussels.

Since the Kremlin’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine, NATO has readied 140,000 troops in the region and mobilized a colossal war chest of advanced military equipment. Of the approximately 140,000 troops, the United States has provided the lion’s share with 100,000 soldiers.

The U.S. service members and NATO troops are deployed in neighboring NATO-member countries and are not directly fighting with Russian forces inside Ukraine.

The alliance, which has more than 140 warships at the ready as well as 130 aircraft on heightened alert, has previously warned Putin that an attack on a NATO member state will be viewed as an attack on all, triggering the group’s cornerstone Article 5 that calls for a military response from member nations.

Ukraine, which has sought NATO membership since 2002, is bordered by four NATO allies; Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania. Poland currently hosts the majority of the troops from the 30-member alliance and has thus far taken the lion’s share of refugees fleeing Putin’s war.

U.S. President Joe Biden, who is expected to travel to Poland after attending the NATO leader’s summit on Thursday, said Wednesday that Putin’s potential use of chemical weapons to attack Ukraine is “a real threat.”

Earlier this month, Biden warned Putin could resort to using “false flags” to justify a chemical or biological weapons attack on Ukraine.

“Now he’s talking about new false flags he’s setting up … asserting that we in America have biological as well as chemical weapons in Europe, [it’s] simply not true I guarantee you,” Biden said at the business event in Washington on March 21.

“They are also suggesting that Ukraine has biological and chemical weapons in Ukraine. That’s a clear sign he’s considering using both of those,” Biden said, without presenting evidence.

Stoltenberg told reporters at the alliance headquarters in Brussels that using chemical weapons would change the nature of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

“It will be a blatant violation of international law and with far-reaching consequences,” Stoltenberg said, adding that the use of such weapons could impact nearby NATO member countries.

Stoltenberg also said that the NATO alliance soon will provide Ukraine with equipment to protect against chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons. He declined to elaborate on what kind of specific support the alliance would provide out of operational security.

Russia has previously used chemical weapons on the battlefield, including in Syria.

Research contact: @CNBC

Derek Jeter steps down as Miami Marlins CEO; sells stake in the team

March 1, 2022

Derek Jeter is stepping down as chief executive of the Miami Marlins and selling his stake in the Major League Baseball franchise, the Hall of Famer announced on Monday, February 28, reports CNBC.

The reason? In a statement announcing the move, Jeter, 47, said the “vision for the future of the franchise is different than the one I signed up to lead,” when he took over the Marlins.

“We had a vision five years ago to turn the Marlins franchise around, and as CEO, I have been proud to put my name and reputation on the line to make our plan a reality,” Jeter said. “Through hard work, trust and accountability, we transformed every aspect of the franchise, reshaping the workforce, and developing a long-term strategic plan for success.”

Jeter, the New York Yankees icon, took over the team’s top C-suite role in 2017. The Marlins finished in fourth place in the National League East division last year. The team made the postseason once during Jeter’s tenure, a wild card spot in 2020.

The Marlins are worth $990 million, according to Forbes.

Marlins chairman and principal owner Bruce Sherman said the club would work as a committee to run business and baseball operations while searching for Jeter’s replacement.

Sherman also said the team is “committed to keep investing in the future of the franchise—Marlins fans and the local community.”

The news came on a big deadline day for MLB. Owners gave the players union until Monday to agree to a new labor deal—or Opening Day and potentially other games would be canceled.

Research contact: @CNBC

Biden agrees ‘in principle’ to meet with Putin, if Russia has not invaded Ukraine

Febraury 22, 2022

U.S. President Joe Biden has accepted “in principle” a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in what could represent a last-ditch effort at diplomacy over tensions surrounding Ukraine and a possible avenue to avert a looming invasion directed by Moscow, reports CNBC.

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said on Sunday evening, February 20,  that the summit between the two world leaders would happen following a meeting between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. That meeting is scheduled for later this week.

Psaki noted that the agreement is conditioned on Moscow holding off on an invasion.

“As the President has repeatedly made clear, we are committed to pursuing diplomacy until the moment an invasion begins,” Psaki said in a statement. “President Biden accepted in principle a meeting with President Putin following that engagement, again, if an invasion hasn’t happened. We are always ready for diplomacy.”

The Kremlin said on Monday, February 21, that there were currently no concrete plans for a meeting between Putin and Biden, according to Reuters.

News of a possible one-on-one between Biden and Putin comes as the White House warns that a Russian invasion of Ukraine could come at any time. Moscow has for weeks built up its military force on its ex-Soviet neighbor’s northern and eastern borders, with recent totals putting Russia’s force at about 190,000.

Research contact: @CNBC

Hillary Clinton to speak at NYS Dem confab as speculation grows over a run at Biden

February 14, 2022

Hillary Clinton is scheduled to speak to a gathering of top New York State Democrats next week—amid speculation that she could seek the White House again as President Joe Biden’s poll numbers continue to plunge, reports the New York Post.

Clinton, who was heavily favored to win the 2016 presidential election before being upset by Donald Trump, is set to address the state Democratic Committee’s Nominating Convention on February 17, a source familiar with the matter told The Post on Thursday, February 10.

It’s unclear who, if anyone, Clinton will endorse during the event at the Sheraton New York Times Square hotel, which will kick off with a reception there the night before.

Four years ago, she spoke in support of then-Governor Andrew Cuomo’s nomination during the party’s convention at Long Island’s Hofstra University on Long Island.

Clinton’s planned appearance was first reported by CNBC, which cited a source who described her “as beloved by the mainstream members of the Democratic Party” and added that “her popularity is likely higher than that of President Biden.”

“It’s good for her because it keeps her relevant and her appearance is likely meant to galvanize the party and the audience,” the source said.

Last month, Democratic pollster Doug Schoen and former Manhattan Borough President Andrew Stein publicly floated the notion that Clinton, age 74, was “already in an advantageous position to become the 2024 Democratic nominee.”

In an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, they said a “perfect storm” was gathering due to the combination of Biden’s low approval ratings and advanced age, as well as the “unpopularity” of Vice President Kamala Harris.

Clinton, a former secretary of state and U.S. Senator from New York, “is an experienced national figure who is younger than Mr. Biden and can offer a different approach from the disorganized and unpopular one the party is currently taking,” they wrote.

A CNN poll released Thursday showed that Biden’s approval rating fell to 41%, down from 49% in early December and 53% in late April. The survey also showed that 58% of respondents disapproved of his leadership—with more than half saying he hadn’t done anything in office that they liked.

Research contact: @nypost