Angel Aviles and Cynthia Carranza (aka Sadgirl and Sparkles) of Living Firme took a month off to rest and replenish. This is a video of their Firme Finds which include some a cute T-shirt and stickers from @thequeenofheartslv, some serious chola bands from @vatosrucasranflas and some new additions to our own newly designed shop https://shoplivingfirme.com/
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For Hilary Mantel, There’s No Time Like the Past
Around that time, Mantel’s health began to deteriorate. A doctor dismissed her symptoms as a bid for attention and referred her to a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist gave her tranquilizers and an antipsychotic drug and told her to stop writing.
Years later, when Mantel and McEwen were living in Botswana, she researched her symptoms and diagnosed herself with endometriosis. Doctors confirmed her suspicions, and when she was 27, she had surgery to remove her uterus and ovaries. The pain didn’t abate, and Mantel suffered from complications that still afflict her: her weight increased, her legs swelled, she felt exhausted and alien to herself.
Her illness made a normal day job impossible: “It narrowed my options in life, and it narrowed them to writing,” she said.
Mantel finished her first book, a novel about the French Revolution titled “A Place of Greater Safety,” in 1979, and sent it to publishers and agents, but no one wanted a 700-plus page historical novel by an unknown writer. She wrote a second book, a brisk, darkly comic contemporary novel, “Every Day Is Mother’s Day,” which became a critical success when it was published in 1985.
Over the next two decades, she published seven other novels and developed a cult following. Though her books vary in their subject matter, style and tone, they are bound by recurring themes: her fascination with transformation and the unseen realm, with myths and archetypes.
When she was writing her novel “Beyond Black,” about a medium who channels the voices of the dead, Mantel realized she was creating a road map for the Cromwell trilogy. “I was thinking, this isn’t just about a medium,” she said, “it’s about how to induce the necessary frame of mind to let the past enact itself.”
◇ ◇ ◇
‘The real story is better than anything I can come up with.’
When she began writing “Wolf Hall” in 2005, Mantel was still relatively obscure. She was also entering a saturated marketplace for Tudor historical fiction, territory that had already been mined by novelists like Philippa Gregory, Antonia Fraser and Alison Weir.
The World Isn’t Ready for a Major Coronavirus Outbreak
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A stark warning shakes the economy
The World Health Organization said yesterday that coronavirus cases outside China were accelerating. Around 80,000 people in nearly 40 countries have been infected, and at least 2,600 have died.
Draconian measures in China have slowed the spread there, the W.H.O. noted, but the outbreak could prove hard to contain elsewhere. Most health experts are worried about Iran, Italy and South Korea. Japanese officials said today that the country, which has more than 800 confirmed cases, was at a “crossroads” in fighting the outbreak.
If other countries followed China’s “bold approach,” as the W.H.O. put it, widespread quarantines and other restrictions would hit the global economy hard. This fear was partially responsible for yesterday’s tumultuous markets, as investors hedged their portfolios, businesses revised their forecasts, and officials prepared for the worst.
What’s up, what’s down
Global stocks fell sharply yesterday, with the S&P 500 suffering its worst single decline in two years. In just one day, the benchmark index gave up all its gains for the year. Every major sector fell.
Until now, investors viewed the virus outbreak “like a minor traffic jam,” according to the economist Megan Greene: “Disruptive but, in economic and financial terms, something you get past quickly.” Indeed, a recent survey of fund managers by Bank of America found that those investors were holding their lowest cash balances since 2013.
No longer. Stock investors are starting to price in the risk of a potential pandemic. Bond investors have been worried for some time, pushing long-term yields to historic lows.
Bucking the trend, the usual havens like U.S. Treasuries, the dollar and gold performed well. And if you’re brave enough to trade things linked to the VIX volatility index, the sharp, sudden lurch in trading has been a winner.
Why are investors reacting now? Our colleague Matt Phillips shares his thoughts:
The coronavirus isn’t just a China story anymore. Expanding outbreaks in other countries have investors and analysts rethinking their knee-jerk calls that the economic impact of the virus would be transitory and largely limited to China and its Asian neighbors.
So far, economists have only snipped their expectations for the economic impact on the United States and the profits of American companies. But the sharp tumble in stocks — and more importantly bond yields — on Monday suggests investors are quickly moving beyond those relatively rosy views.
Of course, investors can be wrong. Markets often overshoot, ping-ponging between overly optimistic when times are good to downright despondent on the first sign that they might, well, not be. The truth is almost always somewhere in the murky middle, except when it isn’t.
U.S. stocks are set to open up slightly today, although European shares also started in the green before slipping into the red. Traders say they aren’t in “sell everything” mode — even if what passes for optimism these days are calls like those from Blackstone’s Byron Wien, who recently said, “I don’t think it’s the end of the world.”
Companies count the cost; the Fed stands ready
Profit warnings from companies are piling up, as the outbreak’s impact on supply chains and consumer spending takes its toll.
United Airlines abandoned its earnings guidance for 2020, saying “the range of possible scenarios is too wide” to provide a sensible forecast. With some understatement, it said demand for flights to China was down “approximately 100 percent.”
Expectations for a Fed rate cut (or two) are rising, although central bank officials are reluctant to factor epidemiology into their forecasts for the U.S. economy. For their part, Goldman Sachs economists cut their estimate of first-quarter G.D.P. growth to just above 1 percent, saying the risks are “clearly skewed to the downside.”
Falling markets and weaker growth could be a threat to President Trump’s re-election chances, a source of consternation inside the White House. The president tweeted yesterday that the virus was under control in the U.S., and the drop in stocks meant the market was “starting to look very good to me!” The White House’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, added that investors should “seriously consider buying these dips.”
A watershed moment for #MeToo
A Manhattan jury convicted Harvey Weinstein yesterday of two counts of two felony sex crimes but acquitted him of charges of being a sexual predator. No matter: It was a big moment in holding powerful men accountable in a court of law.
A reminder of how the case reshaped the corporate world, according to Rebecca Greenfield of Bloomberg:
As sex-harassment complaints spiked in the last two years and numerous prominent people were fired, companies also found new ways to protect themselves. Some merger agreements now include a “Weinstein Clause” in case misconduct emerges. Companies can even purchase a type of “disgrace insurance” against wayward executives.
When private equity doesn’t deliver
The main selling point of private equity is that, despite hefty fees, it outperforms the stock market. Bain & Company’s latest report on the industry challenges this pitch.
U.S. buyout funds’ returns have essentially matched U.S. stock markets over the past 10 years. Returns over longer periods have been better for private equity, but investors may rightfully ask: What have you done for me lately? “Parity with public markets is not what PE investors are paying for,” Bain writes. (In light of these findings, the big annual industry confab that starts today in Berlin, known as SuperReturn, might not live up to its branding.)
The future isn’t looking much brighter. “If you draw a trend line between the 10-year return in 1999 and the 10-year return today, it would show a decline of 6 percentage points over that period,” the study’s authors add.
• The sheer amount of uninvested capital — some $1.5 trillion in so-called dry powder — is driving up prices for deals, eroding funds’ performance.
• The only sure winners, the report predicts, are sector experts — think Silver Lake for tech or L Catterton for consumer — or mega-firms like Blackstone and KKR.
Cross Buffett off the list of potential Bloomberg L.P. buyers
On CNBC yesterday, Warren Buffett told Andrew he would “have no trouble voting for Mike Bloomberg,” though he cautioned that support from a fellow billionaire might not help Mr. Bloomberg win the Democratic presidential nomination.
On buying Bloomberg’s company if the eponymous founder became president, Mr. Buffett — whose Berkshire Hathaway is sitting on $128 billion in cash and loves cash-rich companies with fat profit margins — didn’t mince words:
CNBC’s Becky Quick: If Michael Bloomberg becomes the Democratic candidate, would you consider buying his company?
Mr. Buffett: No. (Laughs.) I can give you a categorical answer to that.
Ms. Quick: Because of the price, because of …?
Mr. Buffett: There’d be somebody who’d pay more.
We threw out some names of potential Bloomberg buyers, including Mr. Buffett, in the newsletter last week … but that was before Mr. Bloomberg’s debate debut.
Fun fact: Mr. Buffett has finally traded in his flip phone for an iPhone, a sign of brand allegiance (in addition, of course, to his company’s $74 billion stake in Apple).
The speed read
• HP plans to counter Xerox’s hostile takeover bid with a plan to buy back $15 billion worth of stock. (WSJ)
• Revolut, the popular British fintech start-up, has raised $500 million at a $5.5 billion valuation. (Quartz)
• SoftBank’s second Vision Fund has reportedly invested $100 million in Behavox, a compliance software start-up. (Bloomberg)
Politics and policy
• President Trump received a huge welcome in India. But that won’t get him any closer to a trade deal with New Delhi. (NYT)
• Senator Bernie Sanders outlined how he would pay for policy proposals like “Medicare for all.” Not everything adds up. (NYT)
• Britain’s post-Brexit dilemma: come up with its own rules without alienating its most important trading partner, the E.U. (NYT)
• A Cisco employee made nearly $100,000 trading on insider information about a pending takeover. Then he turned himself in to the S.E.C. (Bloomberg)
• The European Commission has told its staff to begin using the encrypted messaging platform Signal for all communications. (Politico)
• Netflix cracked open its viewership black box, with a new feature that will show users the top 10 movies and TV shows in their country. (Yahoo)
Best of the rest
• The start-up reckoning is underway, as investor anxiety and cold financial reality settle in. (NYT)
• A harsh review by a former central bank chief of Thomas Piketty’s new book: “Look skeptically at its solutions.” (FT)
• A touching obituary for Katherine Johnson, the NASA mathematician who helped make Apollo 11 possible: “They asked Katherine Johnson for the moon, and she gave it to them.” (NYT)
We’d love your feedback. Please email thoughts and suggestions to email@example.com.
As Trump Visits India, a Trade Deal Remains Elusive
WASHINGTON — President Trump’s visit to India includes a state dinner, tens of thousands of cheering onlookers and even a marching band on camels — but a long-awaited trade deal between the United States and India is notably absent.
For the second time since September, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India visited the United States, the two countries have failed to reach even a limited “mini-deal” that would increase trade for focused groups of goods, like dairy products, medical devices and Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
Negotiators from both countries have been working since 2018 on a deal that would lower Indian barriers to some American products, and restore India’s access to a program that allows goods to enter the United States tariff-free.
But the breakdown in negotiations illustrates the steep challenge in reaching a trade deal between two countries headed by populist leaders who harbor suspicions of multilateral arrangements. Both Mr. Trump and Mr. Modi want to protect jobs in their own countries by fending off foreign competitors — shared attributes that make it even more difficult to strike a comprehensive agreement that would roll back trade barriers more broadly.
“Both sides are attuned to their own political imperatives and not where the other side might have an area of accommodation,” said Nisha Biswal, president of the U.S. India Business Council, who served as assistant secretary of state for Central and South Asia during the Obama administration. “It is hard, then, to find where the common ground is where a deal could be struck.”
In appearances alongside Mr. Modi on Tuesday, Mr. Trump touted an agreement by India to purchase more than $3 billion of American military equipment, as well as other purchasing agreements related to commercial airlines and natural gas.
He said the two sides had made “tremendous progress on a comprehensive trade agreement” and that he remained optimistic they could reach a deal.
But urgency toward a deal appears to have faded, with both leaders appearing content for trade barriers to continue. Mr. Trump has said he is focused on a larger agreement that could be reached at the end of this year, if the two sides can find common ground.
That may not be easy. During his visit, the president reiterated his previous complaints about India’s high tariffs on American products, including Harley Davidson motorcycles and other goods.
“We’re being charged large amounts of tariffs, and you can’t do that,” Mr. Trump said. “I just said that’s unfair, and we’re working it out.”
He added that “the money you’re talking about is major, but the United States has to be treated fairly. And India understands that.”
Since trade talks began, both the United States and India have escalated tensions by ratcheting up tariffs and trade barriers, rather than lowering them.
In March 2018, Mr. Trump included India in the list of countries that would be hit by his steel and aluminum tariffs. India responded with retaliatory tariffs on American almonds, apples and other goods. Last May, the Trump administration stripped India of a special status that exempted billions of dollars of its exports into the United States from tariffs.
The two sides were close to reaching a modest agreement in early January that would remove barriers for American farmers and medical device makers and strengthen India’s intellectual property protections, among other issues. But new demands — like a U.S. request for India to buy more walnuts and turkeys — kept popping up, delaying an agreement.
India then surprised the Trump administration in February by pledging to raise import duties on more than 100 items, including medical devices, furniture, electronics, cheese and shelled walnuts — a move that became a major stumbling block to the pact’s conclusion.
Mr. Trump’s trade negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, responded by reopening previously settled issues. Then he canceled a planned trip to work out everything in person with Mr. Modi’s commerce minister, Piyush Goyal.
An Indian official briefed on the talks said that India would not be bullied into making an agreement with the United States, especially if those concessions might ultimately hurt Indian interests.
For both India and the United States, the trading relationship is an important one. India was the United States’ ninth-largest trading partner in goods in 2018, while the United States edged ahead of China to become India’s largest trading partner last year.
Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the outcome showed the limitations of Mr. Trump’s truculent approach to trade, in which he tries to ratchet up pressure on trading partners to force them into making a bilateral deal.
With smaller countries that count the United States as a major market — South Korea, Japan, Canada and Mexico — Mr. Trump has signed a series of small or revised deals. But with bigger economies, Mr. Trump’s one-on-one approach “has really run into roadblocks,” Mr. Alden said.
With China, it resulted in a limited trade deal, but not one that addressed the biggest economic issues between the countries. Negotiations with the European Union have so far failed to progress. And with India, Mr. Trump’s pressure campaign may have backfired, he said.
Alyssa Ayres, also a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said India had gradually been moving toward greater economic openness since experiencing a financial crisis in 1991. But in recent years, the Trump administration’s trade tactics may have pushed India in the opposite direction.
“Given that the Trump administration has brought tariffs back as a policy tool, we are setting the wrong example ourselves for these trade moves,” she said.
But Wendy Cutler, vice president of the Asia Society and a former trade negotiator, said the United States was hardly alone in its inability to get India to sign a trade deal.
India has yet to sign a deal with Europe despite years of talks and has fought efforts by the World Trade Organization to update its trade rules, Ms. Cutler said. Progress that the United States and India were making toward a deal “was overshadowed by new tariff and nontariff measures that India was erecting, seriously complicating the talks.”
The Trump administration’s biggest carrot is the restoration of India’s tariff-free status for industries under the Generalized System of Preferences. But that carrot, which waived $200 million a year in tariffs on Indian exports, hardly has the Indian side salivating.
Since Mr. Trump revoked that status, India’s exports of preferential goods like leather handbags, certain metal and plastic products and furniture have increased 5.5 percent, compared with a 1.9 percent increase in overall exports to the United States. That suggests Indian companies are facing little pain from the change in trade status.
“The U.S. needs the trade deal more than India does,” said Mukesh Aghi, the chief executive of the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum, a business group whose members include PepsiCo, Cisco, Mastercard, Boeing and Disney.
The battle over milk and vegetarian cows has been another example of how the two sides can’t seem to find a middle ground.
India produces more milk than anyone else in the world, yet it’s still not enough to meet demand. But India is worried that cheap imported milk from the United States will wipe out many of its 80 million small farmers, who typically tend just a few cows each.
“If our farmers go out of business, there is no one to feed us,” said Ashwani Mahajan, a leader of Swadeshi Jagran Manch, a business group affiliated with India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
Then there’s the matter of what those cows eat. In the United States, cattle are typically fed ground-up parts of other animals. That does not pass muster with Hindus, most of whom are vegetarian.
Some American farmers are willing to keep cows on a purely vegetarian diet for 90 days before their milk is sent to India, said Tom Vilsack, the chief executive of the U.S. Dairy Export Council and the U.S. agriculture secretary under President Obama.
However, “the Indian government is not willing to accept that,” Mr. Vilsack said. “I don’t see any path forward.”
Ana Swanson reported from Washington, and Vindu Goel from Mumbai, India.
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