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Inside Wisconsin’s Disastrous $4.5 Billion Deal With Foxconn

Austin Carr, writing for Bloomberg Businessweek , on the state of Foxconn and Wisconsin:

“This is the Eighth Wonder of the World.”

So declared President Donald Trump onstage last June at a press event at Foxconn’s new factory in Mount Pleasant, Wis. He was there to herald the potential of the Taiwanese manufacturing giant’s expansion into cheesehead country. He’d joined Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou and then-Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to celebrate a partnership he’d helped broker — “one of the great deals ever,” Trump said. In exchange for more than $4.5 billion in government incentives, Foxconn had agreed to build a high-tech manufacturing hub on 3,000 acres of farmland south of Milwaukee and create as many as 13,000 good-paying jobs for “amazing Wisconsin workers” as early as 2022.

[…]

The only consistency, many of these people say, lay in how obvious it was that Wisconsin struck a weak deal. Under the terms Walker negotiated, each job at the Mount Pleasant factory is projected to cost the state at least $219,000 in tax breaks and other incentives. The good or extra-bad news, depending on your perspective, is that there probably won’t be 13,000 of them.

[…]

A report from the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau, a nonpartisan government agency, estimated the state would be in the red on the deal until at least 2042, and even that projection didn’t account for the kinds of increased public-services costs associated with population growth. It also based income tax revenue projections on the implausible assumption that every employee would live in Wisconsin, whereas some would almost certainly commute from nearby Illinois. “There’s no way this will ever pay itself off,” says Tim Bartik, a senior economist at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. He says Foxconn’s incentives are more than 10 times greater than typical government aid packages of its stripe.

[…]

Wisconsin officials apparently didn’t consider Gou’s track record problematic. Instead, they describe the billionaire, who charmed them with stories of his early days selling TV parts in the Midwest, as almost philanthropic. “My impression of him was, what a nice person,” says Scott Neitzel, who led negotiations for the Walker administration. “An extremely genuine, down-to-earth tycoon.” When asked if the state looked at Foxconn’s history, WEDC Chief Executive Officer Mark Hogan says, “We didn’t spend a lot of time on that because, in the end, we got to know these people so well.”

Morgan Stanley: Buy Apple now before earnings next week because the bad news is already in the stock

Yun Li, writing for CNBC:

The bar is set low for Apple’s earnings next Tuesday so Morgan Stanley says it’s a good time to buy the stock.

“We believe the recent pullback is an attractive entry point given upcoming services launches and shares already pricing in extremely cautious iPhone replacement cycle and average selling price headwinds,” the bank’s analyst Katy Huberty said in a note on Friday.

Apple’s stock has plummeted more than 28 percent over the past three months. Shares of the iPhone maker took a huge hit when it slashed revenue guidance by 8 percent on Jan. 2, blaming the slowdown on weaker sales in China. The stock tanked 15 percent that day.

Morgan Stanley said the Wall Street and buy-side investors have already lowered their expectations for Apple’s December numbers after the guidance, so next week’s numbers will unlikely tank the stock further. All eyes will be on any forecast for the current quarter

I’m sure Apple will bounce back after all their bad news so far this year, but it will be interesting to watch.

NHL develops app to give coaches live stats during games

Greg Wyshynski, writing for ESPN:

In a digital age, NHL teams were still relying on analog approaches to deliver stats and data to coaches during games. One team’s video coach would leave his room with 30 seconds left in a period and run out to print game summaries from NHL.com to ensure that his coaches had them ready for intermission.

“They’re running around corners, printing. That’s what was happening,” said Chris Foster, the NHL’s director of digital business development.

The coaches wanted to innovate the process, and the league listened. The SAP-NHL Coaching Insights App will begin appearing on coaches’ iPads located at the benches and in the dressing rooms — which are currently used for video replays — as early as February.

No more waiting for the printer to churn out stat sheets. The data will now arrive in the hands of coaches as the game is going on, in real time. No more waiting until intermission to analyze the numbers; now, coaches can make informed adjustments to everything, from faceoff choices to ice time, on the fly.

“This will provide real-time data, analytics and metrics to complement the video and give them what they want in the live game environment,” Dave Lehanski, the NHL’s senior VP of business development and innovation, told ESPN. “As far as we know, we’ll be the only sports property delivering real-time video and data to the benches for the coaches and the players.”

[…]

In 2017, the NHL and Apple partnered to build an in-arena, in-game coaching system that allowed teams to review video highlights during the game. The request was made by players and coaches, and the system was well-received.

Over time, coaches began asking about adding real-time stats to the iPads. So the NHL, Apple and SAP began collaborating with bench coaches, video coaches and team analytics analysts to determine what data they’d need during the game to better make decisions, and how best to deliver it.

The result is a clean interface that brings the real-time stats found on the league’s website during games, as well as exclusive features, into the hands of coaches during play.

“There are two stat types across the board that every coaching staff said that, without question, helped them make in-game moment decisions: Time on ice and faceoffs,” Foster said. “With time on ice, you want to manage your top players to make sure they have gas in the tank at the end of the game, or if they’re coming back from an injury.”

For both ice time and faceoffs, the app offers something that the coaches uniformly requested from the NHL: easy-to-read displays. Faceoff success or failure is depicted as a series of green circles with check marks or red circles with X’s, and faceoff percentages can be broken down by where they were held and against whom.

“While coaches consider season performance or career performance, it’s what they’re doing in that game that matters,” said Foster.

Players that are near or over their ice time projection during the game will have their names displayed in red, with a small red triangle with an exclamation point next to their photo — similar to a “check engine” light on a car dashboard.

Stripe is giving up on bitcoin as a payment method

Theodore Schleifer:

Stripe, which four years ago said it would become the first major online payments platform to accept bitcoin for payments, is ditching the idea.

The company said Tuesday that the cryptocurrency had almost become a victim of its own popularity — the time needed to complete a transaction has increased, meaning that payments sometimes fail. And the rise in transaction fees helped convince Stripe that bitcoin is meant to be more of an asset and less of a currency for daily payments.

“By the time the transaction is confirmed, fluctuations in bitcoin price mean that it’s for the ‘wrong’ amount,” Stripe’s Tom Karlo said. “For a regular bitcoin transaction, a fee of tens of U.S. dollars is common, making bitcoin transactions about as expensive as bank wires.”

So the company said it doesn’t make sense to keep allowing merchants to accept a payment method that no one wants to use. The last bitcoin transactions will be processed on April 23.

Stripe says it remains bullish on the crypto-economy, and CEO Patrick Collison was certainly ahead of the curve on bitcoin’s rise. Collison told Recode back in 2014 that it was important for the payments platform to accept a currency that anyone around the world could access.

“Universality is the big one for me,” he said. “Bitcoin is something that anyone can get ahold of.”

Stripe is my main goto for payment processors, and with the way Bitcoin has been lately, this is probably a good move on their side.