Bankroll – UFC 235 Thu, 30 Sep 2021 00:54:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Bankroll – UFC 235 32 32 MCA Loans Pose Hidden Risks to Small Businesses, Funding Pros Say Tue, 18 May 2021 09:16:32 +0000 Unclear terms and obfuscated rates in merchant cash advances can leave small-business owners paying up to 4,000 percent interest and trapped in debt spirals, Charter Capital cautions. HOUSTON, May 17, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Leading factoring company Charter Capital is issuing a warning to small-business owners about the dangers of merchant cash advances. We at that loans are a great way to […]]]>

Unclear terms and obfuscated rates in merchant cash advances can leave small-business owners paying up to 4,000 percent interest and trapped in debt spirals, Charter Capital cautions.

HOUSTON, May 17, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Leading factoring company Charter Capital is issuing a warning to small-business owners about the dangers of merchant cash advances. We at that loans are a great way to save money while you still have an abundance of time. Otherwise known as MCA loans, states and the FTC have been cracking down on predatory practices within the alternative lending niche that can leave businesses paying annual interest rates of nearly 4,000 percent. However, Charter Capital representatives say the problem persists and urges small business owners to approach MCA loans with caution.

Those interested in exploring the detailed release are encouraged to read “The True Cost of MCA Loans Compared to Alternative Funding Sources,” now available at

Joel Rosenthal, Charter Capital Co-Founder and Executive Manager, says that the way fees are presented with MCA loans is what makes them so troublesome. “Business owners hear their ‘multiplier’ is 1.5 and they think they’re getting a great interest rate on a loan,” Rosenthal explains. “But, an MCA isn’t a loan and a multiplier isn’t an interest rate. A multiplier is the rate by which the amount of principal is multiplied to calculate the payback amount. When it is converted into an annualized interest rate, or APR, it’s usually well over 100 percent and often into the thousands.”

Rosenthal says this is only the tip of the iceberg for business owners because MCA lenders typically scrape payments off the top of a business’ credit card income as a percentage of the processed payments. That can make it hard to predict income and expenses. Moreover, because MCAs are structured differently, there’s rarely any benefit to early repayment.

“Oftentimes, business owners don’t realize how their deal is structured until the money is coming out of their income. By then, it’s too late,” Rosenthal laments. “They may not be left with enough income to cover their expenses and can easily get caught up in a debt spiral while tapping into additional working capital solutions to make ends meet.”

Thankfully, small-business owners who don’t qualify for traditional bank loans still have options beyond MCAs, says Rosenthal. For example, some point-of-sale providers offer advances with more flexibility and reduced fees for early payoff. Invoice factoring, or advances on unpaid invoices, is also a good alternative to MCAs for those in the B2B sector.

Those interested in exploring factoring or obtaining a free rate quote may do so at

About Charter Capital

Headquartered in Houston, Texas, Charter Capital has been a leading provider of flexible funding solutions for the B2B sector for more than 20 years. Competitive rates, a fast approval process, and same-day funding help businesses across various industries secure the working capital necessary to manage daily needs and grow. To learn more, visit

Related Images

The Hidden Risks of MCA Loans

SOURCE Charter Capital Holdings LP

Related Links

]]> 0
PitchIt Podcast Episode 1: Zach Bruhnke of HMBradley Mon, 17 May 2021 10:30:41 +0000 In the premier episode of PitchIt: the fintech startups podcast we talk with HMBradley Co-Founder and CEO Zach Bruhnke. Neobanks have been sprouting up all over the U.S. in recent years and these days it feels as if someone is starting a bank each week. HMBradley’s approach is focused on savers, those who want to […]]]>

In the premier episode of PitchIt: the fintech startups podcast we talk with HMBradley Co-Founder and CEO Zach Bruhnke.

Neobanks have been sprouting up all over the U.S. in recent years and these days it feels as if someone is starting a bank each week. HMBradley’s approach is focused on savers, those who want to build a nest egg for the future.

Savings is not something that comes natural to most Americans, Zach and the team are trying to change that with their novel approach. Not only do we dig deep into the various products offered by HMBradley but we take a look at Zach’s journey as an entrepreneur. We found out that the genesis for the company was built a long time ago with the help of Zach’s parents.


Welcome to PitchIt, the Fintech Startups Podcast. I’m your host, Todd Anderson, Chief Product Officer at LendIt Fintech.


Before we go ahead and jump into the first episode, I just want to give everyone a little breakdown of what you can expect each week as well as a bit of history on PitchIt. So, PitchIt has been a core component of the LendIt in-person event. It’s really helped and it’s been the mission of PitchIt to help startups gain access to not only VC investors, but to the broader fintech community. They learn from fellow founders, they meet possible partners and so really it’s always been a part of LendIt to help startups engage with the broader fintech community. Some of our biggest success stories to date include Nova Credit, PossibleFinance, Autofi, Jasper and KickFurther.

So, each week on the podcast my plan is to interview founders from fintech startups and really the focus of PitchIt and the podcast is the early stage fintech company. We define startups for the competition which is what PitchIt is and for the podcast as companies that have raised about $20 Million in terms of equity founded no earlier than 2017 and they need to offer a fintech product for service. We also plan to talks to VC investors on the podcast and we plan to host occasionally more mature companies, whether it be a look back at the PitchIt competition in a special series or just give younger startups a bit of insight into kind of what it takes to build a successful startup.

We intend to have a lot of fun, talk about the entrepreneurial bug and how these companies are currently doing in the environment that we are in today as well as in the near, and hopefully, long term future. So now, without further ado, we’re going to launch into our premiere episode, Zach Bruhnke, Co-Founder and CEO of HMBradley. HMBradley is a neo bank focused on savers built by a saver. Speaking with Zach was a lot of fun and I hope everyone joins the episode.


Todd Anderson: Welcome to PitchIt, the Fintech Startups Podcast. I’m your host, Todd Anderson, Chief Product Officer at LendIt Fintech. Joining us today is Zach Bruhnke of HMBradley. Zach, welcome to the show!

Zach Bruhnke: Yeah. Thanks for having me.

Todd: So, to kick off, I’d like to just give a little background, tell the audience a little bit of about, you know, kind of where you’ve been before your current role and kind of what brought you to HMBradley and founding the company.

Zach: Yeah, for sure. Look, I spent most of my career sort of in and around startups even before I knew that they were called startups. So, I started my first company when I was 18, it was what they call an e-discovery service which is a really fancy way of saying we scan paper and provided it to attorneys in a digital format (laughs) and I did that as part of college. Actually, sold them when I was still in school so I’m a drop out and then, you know, sort of meandered my way into fintech a little over a decade ago now.

Originally interned at a place called Fee Fighters which is a long time ago, Stripe competitor, and Sheel Mohnot who’s pretty well known in fintech was one of the co-founders there and so I got to intern for Sheel and got to learn a little bit about what startups were, what fundraising was and all that kind of stuff which I’ve never really heard of before.

I grew up in Louisiana so wasn’t really growing up around this kind of thing and ultimately got into YC in winter 2012, went to YC when the company called Medmonk…Medmonk’s like still running,my old co-founders are still running it, it was more of a give Rx type of business, about a year there and decided, you know what, I like fintech much better. I eventually started a company called Spout which was a…let’s just say a Plaid competitor kind of, did not work out nearly as well as Plaid.

Todd: Too early?

Zach: Well, yeah. It’s funny, you know, back then the way it happened was everyone hated that business, believe it or not. You know, Yodlee was 15 years old, hadn’t gone public. Plaid had just talked everyone in the world and barely raised $3 Million and I would walk into meetings where blue chip firms…where they would routinely say something like I already passed on Plaid. (Todd laughs) So, long story short, you know, I kind of took the easy way out, kind of, you know, gave up and sold that company and spent five and a half years or so as the CTO of an investment bank, you know, which is every child’s dream, as you can imagine.

As I watched Plaid’s success and seen what they did…one of the things I remember the entire time was I was selling, you know, one of top five banks their own data back to them and to me that was a reminder that banks use their own data really, really poorly. And so, I think that was always at the back of my mind, one of the things that I knew and I think super highly of Zach and Will and the team at Plaid, but not that they were all that much smarter than I was, so I thought like if they can do it, I can do it so there’s no reason I couldn’t go and try this.

So yeah, I think after a few years of set back and kind of watching it and realizing that there was more that could have been done there and I kind of quit too early, I said, I’ve got one more in me and I’m going to take it as far as I possibly can. The one that I can promise you is if we ever sell this company, I’ll consider it a failure. (laughs)

Todd: Interesting. You don’t hear that from a lot of founders.

Zach: To me, it’s….you know, I’ve been a part of three exits too early. Selling your company too early, it’s basically like watching someone shake your baby. It’s terrible because they never do what you want them to do and technology never goes the way you want it to. I’m an engineer and have been my whole life and so…that part’s really hard for me and I think in this….we just said we want to build something that’ll last forever and we’re going to do whatever we can to do that. That was one of the first things that I…….well, first it was Max, I was talking to him about it, our first investor, and then my co-founders. Basically, everyone agreed, I’m not selling this company, like over my dead body, you know, we sell this thing and if we do, it’ll be because it failed and I was trying to recoup money for investors.

Todd: (laughs) It sounds like you’ve had the entrepreneurial bug for quite some time being that you start a company in college, I mean, is there anything specifically that kind of led you down, I want to be a founder, I want to start companies?

Zach: Oh man, my Dad, he’s going to listen to this and probably, you know, rub his head, just laugh, but when I was a kid, there was three of us and my parents weren’t super wealthy, they didn’t have a whole lot, but they were really, really smart, they were good savers. But, my Mom run a cash vault and my Dad sells fences and my Dad desperately wanted to start a company to the point where on weekends, sometimes, he would drive us by buildings, like that’s the building I’m going to lease, I’m going to do it. The one thing I never got to watch my Dad do as a kid was actually start anything, he always like…..and I think part of it was, you know, we were comfortable and that was a big risk and we weren’t wealthy enough to just take the plunge.

So, I think that was always in the back of his mind, not that I felt sorry for him, but I sort of did, I guess. You know, I was like I saw that him and I knew how badly he wanted to do it and I think by the time I was probably 13 or 14, I thought, I am never going to let my kids feel sorry for me the way that I felt sorry for him. I am going to do whatever it takes to bust my ass and just make it work somehow and know that I left it all on the table. Honestly, that’s probably why I started HMBradley when I did, I felt even though I’ve done it and I’ve spent my career doing it, I haven’t left it all on the table yet and that’s what HMBradley is about, You know, for me it’s about putting it out there, leaving it all on the table, every bit of effort I have into it and betting my entire life and reputation on it.

Todd: Being that you mentioned the company now, let’s move to….tell us a little bit about the firm, the products that you guys have, your differentiator….feel like, you know, these days as a neo bank almost every week, it feels like, (Zach laughs) at least from my perspective as someone covering the space so just tell everyone a little bit about what you guys do and, you know, kind of who your target audience is as well.

Zach: Yeah. I think we feel sort of the same way, we saw all these neo banks and I think one of the reasons for creating HMBradley was that one of the things that we didn’t see in the neo banks is in the differentiation, you know. Basically, in my opinion, Chime came out and said hey, get paid two days early where you never pay a fee and it worked and everyone else just ripped that off completely.

Todd: (laughs) I see a lot of commercials with “get paid two days early” now.

Zach: By the way, not to say anything bad, I think very highly of Chris and Ryan and the whole team at Chime, Maya is an incredible, you know, advocates for ours ironically, whose the voice of the customer there, but, you know, getting paid three days early doesn’t really mean much. You know, you get paid today really once and then you’re in the same 14-day cycle.

Todd: Yeah. You’re just getting paid two days early, two days early and then the cycle is the same, like you said.

Zach: That’s exactly right. So, it’s really…you know, that to me was not a hook that our customers cared about and when I say our customers, we came into this building something that we wanted as consumers. I think the reality that we had as consumers was we’re banking with one of the top five banks because we have a credit card with them, we have a mortgage with them or we might have a car loan with them.

Todd: Yeah.

Zach: So, we weren’t banking at Chime even though the experience might have been better. We might have had like a slightly better looking app. To us, that really, you know….the app wasn’t the problem. In getting paid two days early, it certainly wasn’t my problem, I manage cash flow well and now it’s to save money, you know, it’s something my parents basically beat into my head and so for me, the problem of banking was always the experience.

One of the things that we saw in starting this was look, if you talk to a typical bank CEO, they’re going to tell you that they want stable deposits and they want to grow them. If you talk to a typical consumer, they’re probably going to say something like I want to make more money on my money.

Todd: Yeah.

Zach: And those things might seem diametrically opposed, but our thesis was they work that far apart and so what we’ve done with HMBradley is we’ve created absolutely the best bank account in the world if you’re a saver. The reason is if you have a direct deposit with us and you save 20% of that, we’re paying you 3% which is eons above the rest of the industry right now. I think it’s probably, you know, six, the highest high yield savings account.

On the low end, if you’re not having direct deposits with us, we’re not paying you anything and if you have a direct deposit and you’re not saving, we’re paying you less and it tiers up. So, we have four different tiers, they pay you .5,1, 2 and 3% and they’re all based on your savings habits. So what we’re saying is basically, if you’re helping us grow deposits, we’re paying you higher rates, end of story.

Todd: In terms of, you know, the target audience, is it the millennial, Gen X type, I mean, I went through a little bit of the process on your side and if you don’t have a mobile phone number, obviously, you can’t get…this can’t go through the process online. I’m not sure if there’s another way to get to it, but is that kind of the core person that you’re going after so that’s not that different from you and I.

Zach: Yeah. I mean, it definitely, I think, was our original target. You know, we do require a mobile phone, that’s because we want to be able to deliver your text messages and that’s something most of our customers expect. I think the most surprising part of what we’ve seen, so far, is that about 30% of our customers were born before 1970.

Todd: Interesting.

Zach: You know, our oldest customer is well into his 80s, at this point, and, you know, that’s pretty shocking, we didn’t see that coming. One of our first ever direct depositors was a retiree who I…he literally, you know, I answered his request, he sent me his pension form and said, can you fill this out so I can get my pensions in here.

So, it’s actually a pretty broad audience, but the core of our audience is really 25 to 45, W2 employees, most of them make $75K or more a year. You know, our average account balance at HMBradley is about $30,000 per account so when you look at who our customers are, there’s certainly a different spectrum than what you’re seeing in most challenger banks.

Todd: Yeah, for sure. In terms of, you know, traction, not to give in to specific customer numbers, but more on, you know, how is growth going year over year, how long have you guys been around. Just tell the audience a little bit about…in terms of where you come from and, you know, where you guys are currently.

Zach: Yeah. We’re going close to a year, we went live March of last year. You know, for the first several months, the company….we basically doubled month over month every month. I think we announced in November that we’ve just had $100 Million in deposits and as of today, we’re almost $200 Million so we’ve almost doubled since then. So, you know, the growth has been, I think, way beyond our expectations, you know, ultimately, two thirds of our customers are coming from other customers, just word of mouth.

You know, we spent very little on the way of advertising and we’re seeing just exponential growth, both week over week and month over month right now and I think a big part of that is the fact that we’re paying this kind of eye popping rates and a lot of consumers are seeing that. They probably tell their friends hey, if you were lighting money on fire, come get it while you can (Todd laughs) which is okay with me if that’s what they think.

Todd: Yeah. So, when visiting your website, your LinkedIn you kind of see, you know, kind of all over the place which is “Banking is old. Building is new.” Where did the slogan come from and tell us a little bit more about that.

Zach: Yeah, for sure. I mean, it’s something we talked about a lot, we were kind of initially building the product. One of the things, you know, that….

Todd: Did you feel you needed, a slogan, like, you know. marketing and building the brand, do you feel as if you needed something to kind of go with HMBradley?

Zach: No, I mean, I kind of think slogans are bullshit, I’m being honest. You know, it might be memorable and, you know, Banking is old. Building is new.” is one of those things where we said look, we talk to you, we talk to thousands of people before we ever launched anything. You know, what they kept talking about was…basically, the reason that we’re saving is because they were building for the future of some sort and the thing that we heard over and over again about peoples’ banks was like it was sort of just this necessary evil, like I kind of have to have it.

Todd: You need to put your money in…somewhere.

Zach: Right. It’s like, you know, either that or a mattress. This seems slightly safer than my mattress, right, and so I think in some way “Banking is old. Building is new” was new as a hat tip to the idea that look, you’re banking at the same place that your grandparents banked then and nothing has changed in that hundred years. You know, I mentioned earlier that, you know, basically bankers want to grow deposits and they want to make more money on their money and the way that we’ve done this for a hundred years now is just to pay everyone the same rate, no matter what. That makes no logical sense, right, it’s absolutely bonkers and I think what we wanted to focus on was what’s broken in banking is not banking itself, the fundamental business model of banking is really strong, it’s actually a great business.

It’s basically really simple, right, like you give me $10, I promise you $11 and then, you know, Dimitri asked me for $10 and he promises me $12 and I keep that extra dollar. That’s a wonderful business in the grand scheme of things. Now, what’s not wonderful in that business, in our opinion, is the way that a consumer experiences it. What I mean by that is….you know, I always joke that today, going and asking for a loan from your bank is sort of like going on a date with your spouse and having them say so, what do you do for a living. (Todd laughs)

It’s just like you know everything about me and I think in this world where Facebook can unearth my friend from third grade and Amazon, those who are about to buy next week and Netflix can literally build television series knowing that I will watch them, how the hell is your bank still saying like fill out this paper application or if you’re lucky, it’s on line with all the same information that you’ve already told us multiple times over the course of our 20-year relationship.

Todd: Or you get 30 notices in the mail for credit cards and it’s all the same notice.

Zach: It’s wild. I mean, like credit cards are great, why was it that we launched a credit card as soon as we did. We launched a credit card three months after and one of the reasons we did was because, ultimately, when you look at how a credit card application typically works, it’s like hey, here fill out the information again and ours, we said, look, we’re going to give you a one click credit. What that means is we already know everything about you, like you gave us permission to pull your credits so we’re just going to tell you what you’re good for. So, we push someone an offer, it says, here’s a $10,000 line of credit with 15.9% APR, if you want it, take it and that’s jarring for a consumer, but, frankly, it’s what all of us probably wish that we had.

Todd: Pretty much.

Zach: Like why do we not know the terms, you know, and I think it’s one of the things that we felt super strongly about is, you know, if you peel the onion back and you hear what people say about banking, what they’re really frustrated by is just this idea that they never know where they stand and they’re sort of bowing at the throne and asking for permission all the time, you know. And I think a lot of where One Click Credit came from was my mortgage, you know, I’ve got a mortgage at Wells Fargo that I had to pay for almost a decade.

My wife and I are buying a house right now and we’re getting it from First Republic and, you know what, if Wells Fargo had a….like a number at the top right corner of my account that said, hey Zach, you’re good for $2 Million, I would have never gone anywhere else and that’s a feeling. It’s not something that I had to automate in reality, it’s a feeling of the consumer of knowing where they stand and knowing what they’re good for and that’s something you can easily do.

Todd: I once talked to a bank and they said, we can’t tell you how many customers we have, in terms of the entire bank across small business, mortgage, consumer and they said simply because the technology…nothing talks to one another. So small business is in this division, mortgage is here, unsecured credit card, everything’s in a separate bucket and you wonder why more neo banks are launching every week.

You mentioned growth and how fast you guys are growing, how big is the team now and how much has it grown from when you launched and then second question on that is, obviously, we’re still in the pandemic so it’s not like you can easily go interview or have 50 people come in for a round of interviews. How has that challenge been since you’ve launched and trying to grow a team when you’re doing pretty much everything through the video?

Zach: Yeah, it’s wild. You know, luckily, I’m a ferocious recruiter so I had been doing a bunch of recruiting well ahead of needing people and not sell it a little bit what’s ramping up, but, yeah, I mean, look, the team now I think is 33/ When we launched, I think it was 11 so 3X basically. We launched during COVID so I haven’t seen the full team in a room since we launched which is pretty wild.

Zach: Yeah. Some of us have like, you know, loathed that. I think our VP of Credit Strategy, Andrew, has been like…I think just wanted to go have a beer with everybody, you know, a couple of times, at some point, it sucks.

Todd: Sometimes, the people in the room feed off one another, especially when you’re building something and doing it, even like how we’re doing this interview, I’m sure it’s frustrating.

Zach: Oh, yeah. I mean, it definitely drags some things and, you know, look, the reality is ….and think founders should talk about it more often probably is, you know, it’s definitely bringing up depression more among our team and in ourselves. It’s hard, right, like…..ultimately, it was just a joke that I like, computers not people. If COVID has taught me anything….I do actually like people, you know, like I really do and I want to interact and need that human interaction. And so, I think in some cases, people will overcompensate for it and try to like find ways, do special things.

For us, it’s really been more around, you know, trying to figure out how we can connect with each other in different ways, whether it’s getting on a big video chat, having it all hands and just….you know, we shipped everyone, drinks at their house one weekend and like hey, let’s all hang out together, but it’s tough. It’s a really hard thing and the recruiting side is, you know, it’s one thing to recruit people which is hard enough, it’s another thing to come in and learn their personalities all over Slack……

Todd: Yeah.

Zach: ….or Tandem or whatever tool that you’re using, you know, Flavor of the Week. I think one of the things that I’ve seen is you end up….it feels like head butting more than you actually would had you been in person and like knew the personality or what was coming across in the words.

Todd: It’s hard to gauge certain things especially in chat.

Zach: Oh yeah.

Todd: It’s almost impossible, but even on video, there are certain tells in person that you get and on video you just don’t get.

Zach: Oh, it’s totally true. Yeah, I definitely….you know, it’s hard for me, specifically because I’m blunt, I’m really blunt, and I just say what I think. If I don’t like something, everybody knows it and there’s no hiding it. I think that comes out in my Twitter sometimes, I’ve made a few pretty audacious swipes at Cash App and what I think is just a giant fraud, you know, going on with some of that.

You know, I don’t mind saying it because that’s how I feel and so sometimes that could be really tough when a team member doesn’t know…. like we had a team member, Joanne, who’s really great and we’ve actually built a great relationship on…we really ended up doing it by late night pairing sessions,II’m a programmer and I still like to code occasionally, that’s how we ended up building some rapport.

But, you know, what I eventually got was things like man, you are scary when someone first starts here, just like I’m an engineer and I’ve got the CEO like, you know, barking at me about like how this should have been implemented instead, how do you know how to take that. The reality was I wasn’t really trying to bark at anybody, that’s not how, you know, it was more just like hey, why is this not done this way, I’ve been doing this for a long time. But, you know, it was good to get the perspective of like hey man….whether you’re treated or not, you’ve got this like kind of level over everyone.

You know, I think one of the best one-on-ones I had recently is somebody said, you know Zach, it doesn’t matter how often you tell us that we can tell you to f*** off, we all know that we can tell you to f*** off, it’s still really hard for us. (both laugh) You’ve been trained your entire life that you can’t talk to people that way, he’s like I know that we can and everyone, I think, feels comfortable coming to me and kind of saying whatever they want, but it’ still tough, they’re all still trying to learn so building in COVID has been a really interesting experience.

I joke all the time that… this was my fourth company, right, and so I came into this thinking I’d seen everything, you know, there’s nothing I’m going to see that I haven’t seen before and you know, that’s the worst thing you can say because, you know, COVID has…boy, has it taught me I didn’t know anything yet.

Todd: Shifting a little bit about how you manage time, your team and everything so what is the daily routine……and one thing I found from COVID is it seems as if you’re working more now because, you know, there’s no natural break points in the day to the office. Lunch, coming home from the office, you’re just there and there’s time slots in your calendar and you encourage people to take up the time slots and all of a sudden you’re like shit, I have four days of time slots filled up. So, how do you, as someone who’s building right now and building pretty rapidly, how you manage the team, your personal time and not burning yourself to the ground.

Zach: Yeah, We actually, recently, did something that I’ve been really happy about because we killed all meetings except for Mondays and Thursdays. We just said, you can pull somebody into something, you can do whatever, but like we’re killing meetings and ….my stated goal this year is to build more of a written culture inside of HMBradley. And so, one of the things that I did was I started building a handbook and I started writing down everything that I wanted employees to know, everything that was in my head, everything that why we do we do, what kind of culture that we want to build here just so it’s super clear because it’s really hard when you don’t have that, you know, morale in the office to kind of gauge how everybody’s feeling and what’s going on.

Todd: And you don’t know when it’s coming back either?

Zach: Well, that’s true. I mean, yeah.

Todd: If you said in six months it’s back then it’s alright, there’s six months window, we have no idea.

Zach: No. I remember, at the start of last year, we thought we’d head back in the office by 4th of July, you know, like how ….

Todd: That would be home for two weeks. (laughs)

Zach: No. It’s true and so, yeah, I’ve had to learn how to manage my time very differently. So, I keep my calendar as open as I can, but I also encourage, like you just said, people to put time on it and, you know, grab me if you need me. So, I’ve been signed up in a lot of ad hoc meetings, you know, a lot of where my time gets spent is thinking around what’s going to move the needle next on product for us like how are going to get to where we need to go because, ultimately, like I think….you know, I get cool emails from customers all the time and it’s really neat to see like some of them really…seems like they care about HMBradley, but it’s probably like….I got an email last night that was probably 2,000 words. The customer was randomly giving me feedback which is cool.

Todd: There’s no way that customers write in 2,000 words to a bank unless it’s about how the bank screwed them out of overdraft fees or something.

Zach: (laughs) No. The best part of it is literally just feedback, it was, hey, this is what I like, this what I don’t like, this is where I’m wondering about savings tiers and how like how you can improve those and honestly, a lot of that stuff is what drives me to keep thinking. You know, one of the things that we’re about to do that we haven’t really announced yet is, you know, we launched this savings…it’s a checking account technically, but it just pays like a savings account, we won’t call it savings account and we launched this credit card and those things….to some people, feel like they’re opposed and to us, they’re really not at all, like our users use credit cards. In fact, if we can see anything, like we can see that in the usage, right, like you have 70 times less credit cards than we have debit cards today. but we have more daily credit cards spending than debit cards spending.

Todd: With some of the broader trends going on like “buy now pay later,” how do you view that in relation to the fact that you have a credit card product. It seems like there’s some shifting in the credit card universe so I’m kind of curious what you think about that.

Zach: It’s consumers….most of us, you know, we still have…credit card is going to be the go to, I mean, the reason that “buy now, pay later” works is because someone like Max at Affirm comes along and does a BD deal and they say, hey, here’s a Peloton bike at 0 percent. That’s an easy one to pick up and say yeah, sure, it’s free, it’s free money, you know, Peloton’s actually paying the “interest” on the other side of that, right, like they’re just paying a fee to the Affirm to acquire that customer basically. It’s a great model, it makes a ton of sense.

I think for the average consumer though….you know, well, first of all, I think the one controversial statement I’ll make is those loans are not exactly helpful for your credit score. You know, I know that Affirm would love you to believe they are. Max and I are friends, I’ve known him for a long time. The reason I know him is because he tried to get me work for the Affirm and embarrassingly, you know, now I look back and….I remember the conversation where I literally said no was I guess probably 2013 and I was talking to him and I said, look Max, at the end of the day, at some point we’re going to come out a QE and when that happens the cost of capital is going to rise and I don’t know how you’re to compete and boy, was I wrong, we’re still in QE, So, you know, eight years later, here we are. (laughs)

Todd: There’s no end in sight.

Zach: Oh yeah. So, yeah, I mean, that’s like a foot in mouth scenario right there, but, you know, I think the reality from those consumers is they’re still looking to their bank first, you know, like “buy now, pay later” is great, but I’m not getting my mortgage from Affirm anytime soon.

Todd: Yeah, that’s true.

Zach: And I think, ultimately, when we talk to our customers and say, what do you use, credit cards are still one of the number one things that they’re using and one of the reasons they’re doing that is because they realize if I go to the store, I’m not getting an Affirm loan for my groceries. With a debit card, I’m just going to lose money because the price of that credit card price is built in the transaction so I might as well give it as much rewards as possible.

Todd: Yeah.

Zach: And that was basically where we said, look, the every day spending piece is not going away anytime soon and what we wanted to validate was the everyday spending card. The reason that we did three to one before Venmo blatantly ripped it off, you know, was that we said, look, we want the card to work for you, we want it to be something where it’s dynamically changing with your habits every single month. That’s something that we felt really strongly about because we felt like we could show the consumer more time, we’re working while you’re sleeping.

Todd: So, one of my questions to you would be one of your biggest regrets be the not joining Affirm or is there another one that supersedes that only because, you know, where Affirm ended up going/exiting. I don’t know how early you might have been on the team, but is there something else that may be supersede that.

Zach: I think I would have been employee number 12. (Todd laughs) So, very early, in fact, I was there the day that Lee Moore, the CTO, joined so I was definitely around super early. I would say, I’ve never actually regretted that, ironically. No, the big regret I will always have is giving up too early on Spout. I feel like … Spout, we have a slightly different vision than Plaid, but we were doing the same thing.

To give you some context, when Plaid had eight banks, we had 850 and we were building really quickly, sort of the royal we it was really just me, you know, I was basically the only person there at that time and what really stings about that one is I think the vision that we had at Spout was better. What we were basically pitching was a wall for finance. We were telling people, we’ll give you this way that you can log-in the bank accounts whatever and you can put it on your site or we’ll give you this job description that you can stick on your site and you can on-board people in a basically better on-boarding flow that we know is optimized because we’ve seen it across hundreds of customers.

Ultimately, you put a button on your side that says, I’m a Spout so if they’ve got non-accounts already connected with Spout, they can click that button and have non-accounts backed into the new app. We were basically saying, we’re going to give you a discount for that because we’re going to create this financial identity layer for the consumer. And, frankly, I think that’s the anti-Google and I think that’s the opportunity that Plaid had and when I sold, Zach Perret called me and he said, hey man, I’ve heard your name for the last three years, I just want to chat, you know, let’s talk about what you…..and that begged him and I said, will you please build this, I want it as a consumer, I desperately want this.

And I had this vision of like I go into a hotel room and it knows the temperature that I like at my house because it has my (inaudible) stat data or I drive into a parking garage and it just charges my credit card because it knows which one I prefer instead of me having to get out and put a ticket whatever. That was like the world that I wanted to live in.

Todd: How far are we away from that still.

Zach: It drives me insane, so far. I mean, we don’t have to be. You know, one of the things that’s not clear from what we’re doing is that we want to become more of a financial conduit to the consumer. I’m not going to do everything, we can’t, doesn’t make sense so what we should do is like give the consumer better options where they can get them. So, sometimes it’s in affirm loan and sometimes it’s a, you know, a credit card from Chase and that’s okay.

Todd: Yeah.

Zach: You know, what we should really do is like let the consumer know what the better options are for them, give them the information to make that and, frankly, let them stop with the information in the forms all over the web over and over again. Every time you do that, it’s a vector of attack.

Todd: Yeah.

Zach: And so, the way that we look at this is like if we’re doing this right, if this looks anything like a bank account in five years, we’ve royally screwed up. You know, we should be more of a conduit for the consumer and I think that’s where we have to get…and so when Plaid announced My Plaid, I was so excited, six years after I told Zach to do it. I said, yes, they’re going to do it and then they just did nothing with it, frankly, and I’m still aggravated by that. I think we’re so far from where we could be and I think what the world needs right now, more than anything….you know, the consumer side is the anti-Google.

They need somebody that is going to say….you know, and Apple thinks they’re it, but they’re not because, frankly, Tim Cook has no product vision. He’s a great operator, but they’re not doing anything interesting anymore, they’re just like, you know, kind of honing in the privacy. I think there’s a world out there where someone comes along, maybe it’s us without saying too much, that says like, look, you don’t have to put your information on this site, you don’t have to do it this way, it doesn’t have to be so like convoluted. You don’t have to have a wallet with ten cards in it either, like let’s get you to a world where we can actually kind of help you understand what you want to do and tie things together.

Todd: It’s still way too complicated and cumbersome today. ‘

Zach: It sucks, doesn’t it?

Todd: It’s exhausting, it’s exhausting. I mean, the other day I’m cleaning out some drawers and my wife and I had a mortgage and then we got a refi and a stack of paper like this and there’s really no reason to have a stack of papers like that, but, that’s kind of still where we are. Do you think part of it is regulatory in the sense that, you know….I mean, the US is not a streamlined regulatory system. I mean, there’s federal, there’s state, there’s all kinds of crap. Is there something that regulators obviously getting out of the way in a lot of cases, but is part of this regulatory?

Zach: I think regulatory is number one favorite excuse. You know, the thing that I’ll say there, to tie onto that is one click credit is a great example like when I started talking to regulators about it, like their initial reaction was oh, I don’t think you can do that and when you ask why, they’re like yeah, I guess you can legally, yeah, you can probably do that. And then when you go to implement it, like you wouldn’t believe the conversations I had with the bureaus trying to get them to understand, no, no, I’m not going to do a hard pull, I’m going to do a soft pull just like what credit Karma was doing, but I want to underwrite based on that. I’m going to give them a fully underwritten offer that they know they’re good for and they were like, no, no, it’s got to be a hard pull and I was like, but why.

I said, show me the law, show me the law where that has to happen and the answer’s like, there’s none and I said, look, if I’m telling them I’m going to give them this account….these customers are actively looking for credit. I’m pushing them, please do this and so why punish them for accepting something when… the way, their scores are already going to take a hit when they accepted anyways because they’re going to have a new account.

Todd: Yeah.

Zach: You know, the whole system is sort of stuck against you in finance right now and I think, you know, one of my favorite movies in the world is Charlie Wilson’s War. There’s a scene in Charlie Wilson’s War where Julia Roberts’ character looks at Tom Hanks and says, Charlie, why is Congress saying one thing and doing nothing and he sits back in his chair and sips a glass of whiskey, and he says, tradition mostly.

Todd: Yeah.

Zach: And that’s where we are in finance like banks, banks are fat and happy and frankly, they’re not scared of some of the neo banks out there because neo banks aren’t taking their customers. So, they’re enjoying a great time, right, they’re like, oh yeah, yeah, take all the customers we don’t want, we’ll keep all the big money and we’ll keep originating all the mortgages and getting all the valuable loans in the long term and lending all these money out. I think there’s a ton of neo banks that have built their entire model and the ship has sailed on, how do I get them reflected in the debit card.

Todd: The interchange.

Zach: Yeah. And when you do that, you know, ultimately, a) you get less interchange from a debit card than a credit card. People love to say that credit cards are the problem, credit cards are not the problem. Transparency might be the problem, but that’s not a credit card problem, right.

Todd: That’s a people organizational problem, it’s not the product. I’ve always said, people have criticized fintech or whatever you have, a RobinHood or whatever issue, it comes on oh, fintech is too young, fintech is this or fintech is that and then when you start digging into it, it’s people, it’s lawyers, it’s bad decisions by people and the tools are not usually the problem.

Zach: That’s exactly right. So, yeah, I think, ultimately, we’re going to have to drag regulators kicking and screaming into the 21st century, unfortunately. Honestly, it’s not that they don’t want to be there, they actually want to see cool things and they want to do it, they just don’t have an imagination and lawyers inherently don’t have imagination so truly not their fault. (Todd laughs) They’ve been taught to interpret something.

Todd: So, we’re coming up on…. almost out of time, just to end with a few fun things. One is, do you have a favorite book, what’s the last book that you read?

Zach: I think favorite book and this is just near and dear to my heart because this is part of my personality, there’s a guy named Mark Manson and he wrote a book “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck” (Todd laughs) and it’s a wonderful read. I think the reason that it resonated to me so much is anyone that knows people tell you, I don’t care what anyone thinks, to a fault maybe, I mean, it doesn’t bother me.

Todd: Same with me sometimes.

Zach: You know, it just doesn’t matter and I think that book kind of harps on that and says, look, you got be you and do what’s best for you. A close second would be “Never Split the Difference” by Chris Voss who’s a really great writer. I’m a voracious reader so I think I read about 80 books starting HMBradley because I was traveling so much.

Todd: That’s a lot.

Zach: Yeah. You know, I love to read and our employees make of it. My old condo, we just sold our house so we’re buying another house right now, but I have bookshelves in my living room, they were just like chock-full and so like if you’re on a video chat it’s like, Jesus, man, how many books do you have.

Todd: Is that part of the reason you went to…. I want to do more to make HM more of a written word.

Zach: I think it’s part of it, I think the written word is powerful because when it’s there, you can’t kind of go back on it so much. I think that one of the things my Dad sort of beat into my head really early is, you know, ultimately, you only have a couple of things, but your word and your reputation matter more than almost anything and by having written word there, it’s a lot harder to step back in doing something. But, the other reason I like written word is because, ultimately, you’re a lot less likely to write something down that you know is stupid.

It’s like if you know that you’re doing something you shouldn’t be doing, you’re not going to document that, you’re going to go fix it and then you’re going to document the right way to do it and it kind of forces us to do that even in an engineering culture, it’s like you’re going to write something down and you know, ah, I shouldn’t be doing it this way. You probably are not going to write it down and tell everyone else to do it that way, you’ll probably get into a fix about what you’ve been doing and then that helps everybody. So, I think that’s a big part of the reason that I think about it.

Last book was “Measure What Matters,” I actually re-read it because I made my Co-Founder read it because we were talking about APRs and driving these on HMBradley. So, yeah, “Measure What Matters,” great book, definitely recommend and that was the last one.

Todd: Favorite sports and sports teams you root for. I know the team over my shoulder is one of them as we discovered when we first chatted before we started, but any other favorite sports, in general, and sports teams.

Zach: Yeah. Grew up playing baseball, I’ve always been a Red Sox fan, I was a Giant Nomar fan when I was a kid, even though I’m from Louisiana not Boston. So, Red Sox has been near and dear to my heart for a long time. (cross talking)

Todd: I’m not a Yankees fan, I’m a Mets fan, I don’t hate the Red Sox as much as a Yankee fan would.

Zach: Yeah. You know, even though I was a terrible football player, I love football, you know, and definitely the Fighting Irish over your shoulder there. I’ve been a Notre Dame fan when I was a very small child. My Dad swears his first memory of me was when I was about six, everyday he’d come home from work and I would be on the phone with a JC Penney catalogue arguing with them over where my Notre Dame Fighting Irish sheets were so that’s how far that goes back for me. And then, you know, I’m from Louisiana so Saints and Cowboys actually, ironically, because they’re three hours from when I grew up. Those are the football teams I root for.

Todd: Cowboys and Notre Dame are the national teams that are usually on television. (both laugh)

Zach: Yeah. My grandfather, my Mom’s Dad, pretty much taught us that there is a hole in Texas Stadium so God can watch his team play, that was basically his belief.

Todd: Fascinating. (laughs) Lastly, it sounds like, I know the answer to this, but what’s your biggest inspiration in life?

Zach: Yeah. I think you kind of hit it around, my parents, frankly, both of them. They drove so much into me that I’ll never be able to get back. I think one of the things that’s really cool is when I started working, I was 14 and I worked in my Dad’s gate shop and my Mom would take half of my paychecks away. I thought my Mom was this mean lady that was stealing money from me. When I turned 18, she gave me the other half of those paychecks and that’s actually the money that I used to start my first company and it changed my whole life.

That moment, I think, was the moment I realized that A) saving money had a reason and it was valuable and B) with enough grit and effort and whatever, you can get yourself almost anywhere. Now, granted I had some advantages that others don’t have, you know, I’d be the first to admit that and great parents is one of those. I think for me that’s definitely always going to be the response like they helped me think that I could accomplish anything, probably to an unreasonable point, so I have a very, almost false sense of belief in myself to this day and I should credit that to them and what they thought that I can do.

Todd: Zach, this was a fantastic conversation. I appreciate you coming on the show, this will be one of our first episodes so thank you for joining me, enjoy the rest of your day and looking forward to more great things from HMBradley.

Zach: Awesome. Thanks for having me, I really appreciate it.

Todd: Alright. Thanks, Zach.


Todd: You know, when listening to Zach, it’s almost impossible to not feel the energy come through, I mean, he’s really an entrepreneur at heart and it’s not everyday that you hear an entrepreneur and a founder talk about not selling his company. I mean, he clearly wants HMBradley to be seen as his legacy, he’s learned from the previous ventures he’s done and so you learn a great deal when you go through the various things that Zach went through with other companies.

He mentioned it in terms if selling early, so clearly, HMBradley is his long term focus and something that…hopefully, we see have continued success. Savings is not something that’s easily ingrained in the US consumer so seeing how they’re able to potentially change that behavior in the US is going to be fascinating to watch.

So, thanks for tuning in, hope you enjoyed the show and we’ll see you next time.

You can subscribe to the PitchIt: the fintech startups podcast via Apple or Spotify. To listen to this podcast episode there is an audio player directly below or you can download the MP3 file here.

]]> 0
Higher Corporate Taxes Won’t Hurt Business Mon, 17 May 2021 10:28:54 +0000 Bloomberg The World Economy Is Suddenly Running Low on Everything (Bloomberg) — A year ago, as the pandemic ravaged country after country and economies shuddered, consumers were the ones panic-buying. Today, on the rebound, it’s companies furiously stocking up. Mattress producers to car manufacturers to aluminum foil makers are buying more material than they need […]]]>


The World Economy Is Suddenly Running Low on Everything

(Bloomberg) — A year ago, as the pandemic ravaged country after country and economies shuddered, consumers were the ones panic-buying. Today, on the rebound, it’s companies furiously stocking up. Mattress producers to car manufacturers to aluminum foil makers are buying more material than they need to survive the breakneck speed at which demand for goods is recovering and assuage that primal fear of running out. The corporate buying and hoarding is pushing supply chains to the brink of seizing up. Shortages, transportation bottlenecks and price spikes are nearing the highest levels in recent memory, raising concern that a supercharged global economy will stoke inflation.Copper, iron ore and steel. Corn, coffee, wheat and soybeans. Lumber, semiconductors, plastic and cardboard for packaging. The world is seemingly low on all of it. “You name it, and we have a shortage on it,” Tom Linebarger, chairman and chief executive of engine and generator manufacturer Cummins Inc., said on a call this month. Clients are “trying to get everything they can because they see high demand,” Jennifer Rumsey, the Columbus, Indiana-based company’s president, said. “They think it’s going to extend into next year.”The difference between the big crunch of 2021 and past supply disruptions is the sheer magnitude of it, and the fact that there is — as far as anyone can tell — no clear end in sight. Big or small, few businesses are spared. Europe’s largest fleet of trucks, Girteka Logistics, says there’s been a struggle to find enough capacity. Monster Beverage Corp. of Corona, California, is dealing with an aluminum can scarcity. Hong Kong’s MOMAX Technology Ltd. is delaying production of a new product because of a dearth of semiconductors.Further exacerbating the situation is an unusually long and growing list of calamities that have rocked commodities in recent months. A freak accident in the Suez Canal backed up global shipping in March. Drought has wreaked havoc upon agricultural crops. A deep freeze and mass blackout wiped out energy and petrochemicals operations across the central U.S. in February. Less than two weeks ago, hackers brought down the largest fuel pipeline in the U.S., driving gasoline prices above $3 a gallon for the first time since 2014. Now India’s massive Covid-19 outbreak is threatening its biggest ports. For anyone who thinks it’s all going to end in a few months, consider the somewhat obscure U.S. economic indicator known as the Logistics Managers’ Index. The gauge is built on a monthly survey of corporate supply chiefs that asks where they see inventory, transportation and warehouse expenses — the three key components of managing supply chains — now and in 12 months. The current index is at its second-highest level in records dating back to 2016, and the future gauge shows little respite a year from now. The index has proven unnervingly accurate in the past, matching up with actual costs about 90% of the time.To Zac Rogers, who helps compile the index as an assistant professor at Colorado State University’s College of Business, it’s a paradigm shift. In the past, those three areas were optimized for low costs and reliability. Today, with e-commerce demand soaring, warehouses have moved from the cheap outskirts of urban areas to prime parking garages downtown or vacant department-store space where deliveries can be made quickly, albeit with pricier real estate, labor and utilities. Once viewed as liabilities before the pandemic, fatter inventories are in vogue. Transport costs, more volatile than the other two, won’t lighten up until demand does.“Essentially what people are telling us to expect is that it’s going to be hard to get supply up to a place where it matches demand,” Rogers said, “and because of that, we’re going to continue to see some price increases over the next 12 months.”More well-known barometers are starting to reflect the higher costs for households and companies. An index of U.S. consumer prices that excludes food and fuel jumped in April from a month earlier by the most since 1982. At the factory gate, the increase in prices charged by American producers was twice as large as economists expected. Unless companies pass that cost along to consumers and boost productivity, it’ll eat into their profit margins.A growing chorus of observers are warning that inflation is bound to quicken. The threat has been enough to send tremors through world capitals, central banks, factories and supermarkets. The U.S. Federal Reserve is facing new questions about when it will hike rates to stave off inflation — and the perceived political risk already threatens to upset President Joe Biden’s spending plans. “You bring all of these factors in, and it’s an environment that’s ripe for significant inflation, with limited levers” for monetary authorities to pull, said David Landau, chief product officer at BluJay Solutions, a U.K.-based logistics software and services provider.Policy makers, however, have laid out a number of reasons why they don’t expect inflationary pressures to get out of hand. Fed Governor Lael Brainard said recently that officials should be “patient through the transitory surge.” Among the reasons for calm: The big surges lately are partly blamed on skewed comparisons to the steep drops of a year ago, and many companies that have held the line on price hikes for years remain reticent about them now. What’s more, U.S. retail sales stalled in April after a sharp rise in the month earlier, and commodities prices have recently retreated from multi-year highs. Read More: Fed Officials Have Six Reasons to Bet Inflation Spike Will PassCaught in the crosscurrents is Dennis Wolkin, whose family has run a business making crib mattresses for three generations. Economic expansions are usually good for baby bed sales. But the extra demand means little without the key ingredient: foam padding. There has been a run on the kind of polyurethane foam Wolkin uses — in part because of the deep freeze across the U.S. South in February, and because of “companies over-ordering and trying to hoard what they can.”“It’s gotten out of control, especially in the past month,” said Wolkin, vice president of operations at Atlanta-based Colgate Mattress, a 35-employee company that sells products at Target stores and independent retailers. “We’ve never seen anything like this.”Though polyurethane foam is 50% more expensive than it was before the Covid-19 pandemic, Wolkin would buy twice the amount he needs and look for warehouse space rather than reject orders from new customers. “Every company like us is going to overbuy,” he said.Even multinational companies with digital supply-management systems and teams of people monitoring them are just trying to cope. Whirlpool Corp. CEO Marc Bitzer told Bloomberg Television this month its supply chain is “pretty much upside down” and the appliance maker is phasing in price increases. Usually Whirlpool and other large manufacturers produce goods based on incoming orders and forecasts for those sales. Now it’s producing based on what parts are available.“It is anything but efficient or normal, but that is how you have to run it right now,” Bitzer said. “I know there’s talk of a temporary blip, but we do see this elevated for a sustained period.”The strains stretch all the way back to global output of raw materials and may persist because the capacity to produce more of what’s scarce — with either additional capital or labor — is slow and expensive to ramp up. The price of lumber, copper, iron ore and steel have all surged in recent months as supplies constrict in the face of stronger demand from the U.S. and China, the world’s two largest economies.Crude oil is also on the rise, as are the prices of industrial materials from plastics to rubber and chemicals. Some of the increases are already making their ways to the store shelf. Reynolds Consumer Products Inc., the maker of the namesake aluminum foil and Hefty trash bags, is planning another round of price increases — its third in 2021 alone.Food costs are climbing, too. The world’s most consumed edible oil, processed from the fruit of oil palm trees, has jumped by more than 135% in the past year to a record. Soybeans topped $16 a bushel for the first time since 2012. Corn futures hit an eight-year high while wheat futures rose to the highest since 2013.A United Nations gauge of world food costs climbed for an 11th month in April, extending its gain to the highest in seven years. Prices are in their longest advance in more than a decade amid weather worries and a crop-buying spree in China that’s tightening supplies, threatening faster inflation.Earlier this month, the Bloomberg Commodity Spot Index touched the highest level since 2011. A big reason for the rally is a U.S. economy that’s recovering faster than most. The evidence of that is floating off the coast of California, where dozens of container ships are waiting to offload at ports from Oakland to Los Angeles. Most goods are flooding in from China, where government figures last week showed producer prices climbed by the most since 2017 in April, adding to evidence that cost pressures for that nation’s factories pose another risk if those are passed on to retailers and other customers abroad. Across the world’s manufacturing hub of East Asia, the blockages are especially acute. The dearth of semiconductors has already spread from the automotive sector to Asia’s highly complex supply chains for smartphones.Read More: World Is Short of Computer Chips. Here’s Why: QuickTakeJohn Cheng runs a consumer electronics manufacturer that makes everything from wireless magnetic smartphone chargers to smart home air purifiers. The supply choke has complicated his efforts to develop new products and enter new markets, according to Cheng, the CEO of Hong Kong-based MOMAX, which has about two-thirds of its 300 employees working in a Shenzhen factory. One example: Production of a new power bank for Apple products such as the iPhone, Airpods, iPad and Apple watch has been delayed because of the chip shortage.Instead of proving to be a short-lived disruption, the semiconductor crunch is threatening the broader electronics sector and may start to squeeze Asia’s high-performing export economies, according to Vincent Tsui of Gavekal Research. It’s “not simply the result of a few temporary glitches,” Tsui wrote in a note. “They are more structural in nature, and they affect a whole range of industries, not just automobile production.”In an indication of just how serious the chips crunch is, South Korea plans to spend roughly $450 billion to build the world’s biggest chipmaking base over the next decade.Meanwhile, running full tilt between factories and consumers are the ships, trucks and trains that move parts along a global production process and finished goods to market. Container vessels are running at capacity, pushing ocean cargo rates to record highs and clogging up ports. So much so that Columbia Sportswear Co.’s merchandise shipments were delayed for three weeks and the retailer expects its fall product lineup will arrive late as well. Executives at A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S, the world’s No. 1 container carrier, say they see only a gradual decline in seaborne freight rates for the rest of the year. And even then, they don’t expect a return to the ultra-cheap ocean cargo service of the past decade. More capacity is coming in the form of new ships on order, but they take two or three years to build.HSBC trade economist Shanella Rajanayagam estimates that the surge in container rates over the past year could raise producer prices in the euro zone by as much as 2 percent.Rail and trucking rates are elevated, too. The Cass Freight Index measure of expenditures reached a record in April — its fourth in five months. Spot prices for truckload service are on track to rise 70% in the second quarter from a year earlier, and are set to be up about 30% this year compared with 2020, Todd Fowler, a KeyBanc Capital Markets analyst, said in a May 10 note.“We expect pricing to remain elevated given lean inventories, seasonal demand and improving economic activity, all of which is underpinned by capacity constraints from truck production limitations and driver availability challenges,” Fowler said.What Bloomberg Intelligence Says:“Most modes of freight transportation have pricing power. Supply-demand imbalances should help keep rates high, albeit they should moderate for current unsustainable levels as supply chains improve. This is stressing networks, creating bottlenecks in the supply chains and capacity constraints.”–Lee Klaskow, senior analystFor London-based packaging company DS Smith Plc, challenges are coming from multiple sides. During the pandemic, customers rushed to online purchases, raising demand for its ePack boxes and other shipping materials by 700%. Then came the doubling of its supply costs to 200 euros ($243) a ton for the recycled fiber it uses to make its products.“That’s a significant cost” for a company that buys 4 to 5 million tons of used fiber annually, said Miles Roberts, DS Smith’s group chief executive, who doesn’t see the lockdown-inspired web purchasing as a temporary trend. “The e-commerce that has increased is here to stay.”At Colgate Mattress, Wolkin used to be able to order foam on Mondays and have it delivered on Thursdays. Now, his suppliers can’t promise anything. What’s clear is he can’t sustain the higher input costs forever and still maintain quality. “This is kind of a long-term issue,” Wolkin said. “Inflation is coming — at some point, you’ve got to pass this along.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

]]> 0
Indian migrants who fled towns during lockdown return to altered reality Thu, 08 Apr 2021 02:38:39 +0000 Seizing their meager possessions, millions of migrants stranded in vast Indian cities have traveled hundreds of miles to the refuge of their village homes last year after the government ordered a strict lockdown from March 25 to ward off the COVID-19 pandemic. All transport had stopped and the towns where they had found work as […]]]>

Seizing their meager possessions, millions of migrants stranded in vast Indian cities have traveled hundreds of miles to the refuge of their village homes last year after the government ordered a strict lockdown from March 25 to ward off the COVID-19 pandemic.

All transport had stopped and the towns where they had found work as drivers, security guards and construction workers, among others, had abruptly closed their doors, wresting their meager means of livelihood.

India’s more than two-month shutdown – one of the strictest in the world – has led to a mass exodus of migrant workers who support the economy of big cities. Most were walking, some with children. Some cycled along deserted highways while others crowded into what few buses used to bring them home as the scale of the humanitarian crisis unfolded.

Back in their villages, life was not easy either. Kamal Singh, who drove a taxi in New Delhi, recalled how he and three others traveled to a small hill near their home in the northern state of Rajasthan before the pandemic to smash stones to sell to a handful of people who had received a government grant to build houses.

“It was summer and it was very hot during the day,” recalls Singh, whose village is near a hot desert region. “We could only work early in the morning and in the evening. But somehow we managed to fill a tractor cart to earn around $ 10 between four people. That was roughly enough to buy food for his family – his parents, his wife and two sons.

India’s vast unorganized sector supports over 90% of the country’s livelihoods. Many of them are rural migrants, who come to work in populated cities like New Delhi and Mumbai.

“This is why it is only in India, outside the major economies, that you have seen massive migration from urban to rural areas,” said Arun Kumar, former professor of economics at the University. Jawaharlal Nehru. “You haven’t seen it in the US, UK or China because they don’t have such a large unorganized sector. Moreover, nowhere does the unorganized sector experience the kind of poverty that there is in India. This is why India has been particularly affected.

The government said more than 11 million migrants moved from cities to their homes during the lockdown.

The struggle continues

A year later, Indian cities are operational and many migrants have returned to seek means of subsistence. While some have found jobs, others are struggling in cities where the pandemic has altered old patterns.

FILE – Migrant workers, desperate to return to their hometown, walk along train tracks towards a train station in Ahmedabad, India, May 11, 2020.

Singh returned last month to take over the operation of his cab, which he bought two and a half years ago after taking out a $ 6,000 loan. He used to bring in a good income, but the new standard of working from home has left him with few clients. This is no surprise – the streets of the Gurugram business center near Delhi, once crowded with cars and taxis, are largely deserted. “I hardly got around and could barely cover my taxi expenses,” he said.

Unable to repay his monthly loan payments, a dispirited Singh finally sold the taxi this month. He now has a temporary job as a driver.

The economy is suffering

The economic crisis triggered by the pandemic triggered the worst recession India has seen in decades. The country also experienced the largest decline among the world’s major economies. While the overall economy is expected to contract nearly 8% over the past year, the drop was much more pronounced during the tight lockdown from April to June, when it fell around 24%.

This caused more hardship than the war, says Kumar, author of a book called “The Greatest Crisis in Indian Economy”.

“What happens during war is that everyone is busy fighting, producing for war, etc. But here, because people are not working, there is enormous unemployment. And that is why the economy has fallen very sharply. “

Migrant workers wearing masks as a precaution against the coronavirus leave for work in Kochi, Kerala state, India on February 18, 2021.

Migrant workers wearing masks as a precaution against the coronavirus leave for work in Kochi, Kerala state, India on February 18, 2021.

Jobs are slowly picking up as the economy recovers – India posted modest growth from October to December and, according to a recent economic survey, the recovery is expected to accelerate in the coming year.

Arun Yadav, 26, who lost his job at a food counter at New Delhi airport during the lockdown, was hired at another counter two months ago. In his village in Uttar Pradesh, where he moved after losing his job, times were tough.

“I tried to do something that would bring in an income and help the family, but there was nothing I could do because of the lockdown. It was very hard, ”Yadav recalls. ” Now all is fine. I even repaid the loans I had taken out during the lockdown.

But the pandemic has left its scars on migrants worried about whether cities will offer them the same opportunities as in pre-pandemic times. Kumar said recent estimates suggest that around 20% of those who lost their jobs during the pandemic are still looking for work.

And as India, which has had the third highest number of COVID-19 infections in the world, grapples with a second wave in parts of the country, concerns are again high over what the future holds us, especially since its most industrialized state, Maharashtra, is the epicenter of the new outbreak.

Economists warn that although Indian cities have largely resumed normal activity, another epidemic will set back hopes of a rapid recovery.

Those who have suffered in the past know only too well what this means.

“There is always the fear in my heart to assume that another problem like this arises, how are we going to cope especially if our family is growing,” said Yadav, who married two years ago. years.

This is a question that will linger for a long time with these migrants.

]]> 0
Grant County Organizations Create Loan Program to Replace Emergency Payday Loans Thu, 08 Apr 2021 02:38:27 +0000 Two organizations are teaming up to provide small loans to residents of Grant County, in an effort to discourage the use of high interest payday loans. The “Bridge the Gap” loan program aims to create better financial literacy and help residents lift themselves out of poverty. Grant County has the third highest poverty rate in […]]]>

Two organizations are teaming up to provide small loans to residents of Grant County, in an effort to discourage the use of high interest payday loans. The “Bridge the Gap” loan program aims to create better financial literacy and help residents lift themselves out of poverty.

Grant County has the third highest poverty rate in Indiana, at 16% in 2019, according to the U.S. census. Grant County-based Afena Credit Union has developed a program to try to reduce this percentage.

Experts say showcases payday loans and the cycle of debt can add to the wealth disparity, especially for communities of color.

Marion is the seat of Grant County and is nearly 15% African-American, according to the 2019 U.S. Census.

Afena CEO Karen Madrey said emergency high interest loans can lead to a cycle of borrowing and repayment.

“When you’re in a very poor community, it makes the residents of the community a bit more vulnerable,” Madrey said. “And we know there are lenders going after it.”

Madrey said one of her goals is to make the credit union aim to provide equitable financial services to those who are financially vulnerable or marginalized.

The “Bridge the Gap” program gives members immediate access to small loans of $ 500 to $ 2,500 with interest rates as low as 4.25%, unlike payday loans where the average interest rate. is almost 400%.

Dawn Brown is the CEO of the Grant County Community Foundation. Almost three years ago, the foundation embarked on a new strategic plan. One element was to launch an impact investing strategy in which foundations take a portion of their endowment and invest it in programs that can impact the community.

In this case, the foundation took a million dollars and invested it in the Bridge the Gap loan program.

Brown said it was at a luncheon where she and Madrey made the decision to try and team up. Afena had been approved as a Community Development Financial Institution or CDFI, which meant that it could provide loans to families who might otherwise not be able to obtain them.

“I presented it to my board of directors when COVID arrived because I knew that at that point these families were in an even more difficult situation than they had been before,” said Brown.

But payday loans created a cycle of indebtedness long before the start of the pandemic. Yasmin Farahi is Senior Policy Advisor at the Center for Responsible Lending, or CRL. She said there are 262 payday loan storefronts in Indiana alone.

“It’s a major problem in Indiana, which drains more than $ 300 million from working Hoosier families over five years,” Farahi said.

CRL’s mission is to ensure a fair and inclusive market for all creditworthy borrowers. Farahi advises organizations and lawmakers working to eliminate abusive lending practices.

Farahi said the one-time emergency loan was a myth.

“They are relying on people with more than 10 loans a year, unable to meet the conditions and end up being unable to escape the debt cycle,” Farahi said.

Sherry Dixon is the lead ambassador for the Bridge the Gap program. Her job is to go into the community and tell people about the program and encourage them to apply for a loan if they need it.

She said the position gives her the opportunity to get out into the community and help people without them feeling judged for their credit score or budget.

“I’m actually here to offer advice on how to improve your credit report, advice on how to start making a monthly budget,” Dixon said.

As of March 1, nearly 80 loans had been issued, lending more than $ 170,000 to members with an average credit score of 414, including 21 participants with a credit score of zero.

Madrey said she wants the credit union to teach people how to manage their finances and help them achieve their financial goals.

All loan officers are certified financial advisers. Each person who receives a loan will also benefit from free personalized financial coaching.

“One of the reasons I’m so passionate about this topic is that no one has ever told me,” Madrey said. “I learned by making mistakes.”

As members repay their loans, the money is deposited into a separate savings account to help them build an emergency fund.

Dixon said people were very receptive and grateful for the program.

“I know we’re not supposed to kiss each other, you know about social distancing,” Dixon said. “I got hugs from new members, I had a few tears from new members. I only got happy remarks.

Speaking to anyone from Afena or the Community Foundation, it is clear that the program is above all about the people they can help.

Brown said that while there is always a return on the Community Foundation’s investment, from members paying interest, that is not the only outcome they are looking for with the program.

“But the main reason we would be able to do that is social feedback,” Brown said.

Madrey said the program is designed to help people get back on their feet once they return to work. In order to receive the loan, members must have a source of income, which they can show with two pay stubs.

“This is to help close any gap they have due to their lack of COVID,” Madrey said.

Monthly payments can be as low as $ 35 and members are encouraged to make weekly payments of $ 10 to ensure they always pay on time. The focus is on low-income families with incomes of 200 percent or less of federal poverty guidelines.

While other programs have seen lockdowns due to COVID-19, the Bridge the Gap program has been pushed forward by this one.

“It was kind of brought to the fore once we started seeing some of these real stories that our families were going through,” Brown said. “And we wanted to see what we could do to give them some relief, some stability and maybe just a little bit of hope.”

With an investment of $ 5 million over five years, Madrey said she hopes to see their community’s poverty rate drop.

As the Bridge the Gap loan seeks to end the loan cycle in Grant County, Fahari said there are organizations and lawmakers working to end it at the state level.

“There is a way to stop this,” Farahi said. “So 17 states over DC have stopped predatory payday loans with a rate cap of around 36%.”

An Indiana Statehouse bill has been making its way through the legislature since 2018. Farahi said passing these rate caps is the most effective way to end payday loan debt cycles.

]]> 0
DC man accused of stealing over $ 2 million in PPP and EIDL loans: DOJ Thu, 08 Apr 2021 02:38:16 +0000 Man accused of defrauding small businesses during pandemic Department of Justice officials claim that Kenneth Gaughan, 41, fraudulently used $ 2.1 million to buy a $ 300,000 yacht, $ 1.13 million townhouse and sports sedan from luxury of $ 46,000. WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) – DC man is behind bars after Justice Department officials say […]]]>

DC man is behind bars after Justice Department officials say he stole more than $ 2 million in Paycheck Protection Plan (P3) loans and disaster loans economic (EIDL).

In unsealed documents Tuesday, Justice Department officials claim that Kenneth Gaughan, 41, fraudulently used $ 2.1 million to buy a $ 300,000 yacht, a 1.13 million townhouse. dollars and a $ 46,000 luxury sports sedan.

Download the FOX 5 DC News app for the latest local news and weather

Gaughan has also been charged, according to Justice Department officials, with a separate embezzlement scheme linked to the alleged theft of more than $ 472,000 in funds from the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. Officials say he was previously employed there as deputy superintendent.

The documents indicate that Gaughan “has sought and received approximately $ 2.1 million in PPP and EIDL loans through applications to SBA lenders on behalf of several companies, all falsely claiming to register emotional support animals.”

Justice Department officials say Gaughan has been charged with one count of bank fraud, one count of theft of government funds, one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering.

FOX 5’s Evan Lambert will have more of this story on FOX 5 News at 10 p.m. and 11 p.m.


]]> 0
This AI smart crib gently bounces to wake babies back to sleep Thu, 08 Apr 2021 02:38:05 +0000 There is nothing in the world more valuable to new parents than sleep. To help you out, Cradlewise has developed a smart crib that uses AI and a built-in monitor to help your little one sleep as long as possible. An elegantly designed cradle made of white and light colored wood, it features an arch […]]]>

There is nothing in the world more valuable to new parents than sleep. To help you out, Cradlewise has developed a smart crib that uses AI and a built-in monitor to help your little one sleep as long as possible. An elegantly designed cradle made of white and light colored wood, it features an arch above the cradle that holds the monitor and camera. The bed portion of the cradle can be lowered as the child ages so that they can move from a cradle to a cradle.

The Cradlewise bassinet teaches your child’s sleep patterns and senses when they start to move and wake up. When this happens, it automatically begins to bounce back gently to help the child fall back to sleep before they start to fuss or cry. After your baby goes back to sleep, the cradle will stop moving. It can also play music if you prefer, and the cradle will learn your child’s habits to create personalized “sleep recipes” of their favorite sleep, wake patterns and sounds.

The monitor also provides video feed so parents can monitor their baby from anywhere through the app. The app will also provide analytics on how your child sleeps, send notifications, and control crib functionality. However, the cradle will also respond to a hand placed in front of the sensor so you don’t have to search for your smartphone in the middle of the night to keep it from bouncing.

While not yet widely available, the company has just successfully completed a series of beta tests in the Bay Area and plans to take pre-orders for the Cradle in March.

]]> 0
Bronner in Frankenmuth loans nativity scene for state capital exhibit as satanic group plans own exhibit Thu, 08 Apr 2021 02:37:47 +0000 Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland Lending the Crib Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth lends a three-piece nativity scene like this to a church in Lansing for display on the Michigan Capitol Lawn. (Jeff Schrier) Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland FRANKENMUTH, MI – A Frankenmuth company that bills itself as the largest Christmas store in the world is lending a […]]]>

Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland Lending the Crib

Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth lends a three-piece nativity scene like this to a church in Lansing for display on the Michigan Capitol Lawn.

(Jeff Schrier)

Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland

FRANKENMUTH, MI – A Frankenmuth company that bills itself as the largest Christmas store in the world is lending a nativity scene to display at the Michigan Capitol.

The decision from the makers of Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland comes after a satanic group announced plans to set up their own exhibit on Capitol Hill this year.

Company president Wayne Bronner said his family business was happy to provide a Christian Christmas display.

“We think it’s very appropriate,” Bronner said. “Because, after all, Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ. “

Bronner said Wednesday, Dec. 17, his company is lending a nursery to a Catholic church in the Lansing area that plans to manage the signage on the Capitol Lawn.

State Senator Rick Jones has led recent efforts to place a Christian Nativity scene outside the Capitol during the holidays.

An earlier effort by an out-of-state resident to place a Nativity display in front of the Capitol failed after this man could not find local assistance to dismantle the display each night, as the rules of the Capitol require it.

A satanic group is planning to install this exhibit at the Lansing State Capitol.

Jones announced he was resurrecting the effort on November 15 after learning that a Detroit chapter of the Satanic Temple would set up its own holiday exhibit on the Capitol Lawn.

The group, which describes itself as a collective of “Satanists, lay people and defenders of individual freedom,” received permission to set up an exhibition on the North Lawn of the Capitol from December 21 to 23. The exhibit, built by the Detroit Chapter, includes a cross, a serpent, and a message that “the greatest gift is knowledge.”

Bronner, a devout Lutheran, said there was a reason his store capitalized the “Christ” portion of his name in signs and advertising.

“There is no doubt in what we believe,” he said. “We think having a nativity scene on display during the Christmas season is very, very important.”

The longtime family business has sold hundreds of nurseries to people across the country, Bronner said.

He called it “unfortunate” that the satanic group is vying for public attention with its display during the Christmas holidays.

“They certainly have the right to display this,” Bronner said. “I think that’s a real shame. When I was a kid, those issues never arose. Now a vocal minority makes it a big deal. I just think it’s very sad that a vocal minority is pushing them aside. people.”

Bronner said a three-piece Nativity of the Holy Family set was chosen because it met the size requirements set by the state.

The store lends the figurines to St. John’s Church and Student Center, a Catholic church located near the Michigan State University campus in East Lansing. Volunteers will set up a schedule to ensure that the Nativity is installed each morning on the grounds of the Capitol and taken down each evening.

Bronner said the three characters were being prepared for the Wednesday morning, Dec. 17 trip. The plan is to install the display before noon on Friday, December 19.

Mark Tower covers local government for MLive / The Saginaw News. Contact him at 989-284-4807, by email at or follow him on Twitter, Facebook Where Google+.

]]> 0
Reservations required for Boy Scouts Christmas tree collection in Jackson Thu, 08 Apr 2021 02:37:26 +0000 JACKSON, MI – The Christmas tree pickup for Boy Scout Troop 424 will be a little different due to COVID-19 restrictions. Jackson residents are to call and make a reservation for the troop to collect their abandoned tree on January 9. For the past several years, the Boy Scouts have been roaming the city to […]]]>

JACKSON, MI – The Christmas tree pickup for Boy Scout Troop 424 will be a little different due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Jackson residents are to call and make a reservation for the troop to collect their abandoned tree on January 9. For the past several years, the Boy Scouts have been roaming the city to collect all the trees along the road.

Different families will not share vehicles, which limits the number of trees the troop can catch, committee chairman Tom McKown said.

“We’re glad we could organize something, but we didn’t want to commit to doing the whole town,” McKown said. “We are as creative as possible to try to do everything.”

Residents of Summit Township will also need to make a move reservation, but that’s the same as in previous years, he said.

The free tree picking takes place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, January 9. Scouts will leave an envelope on people’s doorstep if they wish to donate, which will go entirely to the troop.

Residents of the City of Jackson and Summit Township should call 517-740-0570 to leave a message with their address and phone number to request a pickup.

McKown expects them to pick up around 300 discarded Christmases. The other years, they caught close to 1,000.

People can drop their trees between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Jan. 9 in the parking lot at Queen of the Miraculous Medal Church, 1111 Carlton Blvd., if there are any members of the troupe in attendance, McKown said. .

“If we’re not there, we try to leave a note so people don’t just drop their trees in the parking lot,” he said. “If we only had a bunch of trees there, that wouldn’t be right.”

All trees collected by Troop 424 are recycled.

Learn more about MLive:

“It’s just gone”: woman searches for missing necklace containing her mother’s ashes with the help of social networks

Half of Jackson County homicides in 2020 did not result in any criminal charges

Police release name of woman shot dead in Jackson

Police release name of Jackson County man killed in tree crash

]]> 0
Saginaw Oracle Brewing Now Offers Twice-Weekly Home Delivery Thu, 08 Apr 2021 02:37:02 +0000 SAGINAW, MI – Oracle Brewing of Old Town Saginaw will now deliver fresh beer from the brewery right to your doorstep. Oracle Brewing announced its new two-day-a-week delivery service in a Facebook post on Thursday, December 3. Beer delivery will be available from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday and Saturday. Customers must place their […]]]>

SAGINAW, MI – Oracle Brewing of Old Town Saginaw will now deliver fresh beer from the brewery right to your doorstep.

Oracle Brewing announced its new two-day-a-week delivery service in a Facebook post on Thursday, December 3.

Beer delivery will be available from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday and Saturday. Customers must place their orders by phone between 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Wednesday for Thursday delivery or between 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Friday for Saturday delivery. Options include bottles, growlers, howlers, and five gallon drums.

Oracle will deliver within a 30 mile radius, which includes Saginaw, Midland, Freeland, Bay City, Frankenmuth and elsewhere. Shipping is free for orders of $ 50 or more or $ 5 for small orders. A person 21 years of age or older with valid ID must be present to accept delivery.

Find more information at or call 989-401-7446.

Oracle Brewing opened in 2017. The microbrewery is located at 122 N. Michigan Ave. in the old town of Saginaw.

Oracle usually offers a dozen beers on tap. Currently available is Oracle’s Casual Loop, a Mosaic Hoppy IPA, C-Beans, Chocolate and Coffee Stout and Reflection of a Million Dew Drops, described as a blend of various mixed fermentations, packaged on blackcurrants, blackberries and pomegranate, among others. . See the list of beers here.

Learn more about MLive:

12 little Michigan breweries that make tasty beer

‘Big Gretch’ beer sells out in 9 minutes

Spread the holiday cheer with these Michigan beers

Put These 16 New Michigan Sweet Breweries on Your Must-Have List

]]> 0