Weekly Link Roundup

♥ The Kindle version of Mark Leibovich’s Big Game: The NFL in Dangerous Times is now on sale at Amazon for $4.99. I am a fan of Leibovich’s writing (I really liked This Town, before the current state of affairs), so wasn’t put off by the book’s clear lack of message/overarching theme, or by his conspicuous Patriots fandom. What Big Game has going for it is that it’s easy to read (the tone is gossipy/snarky and the writing snappy), so for casual fans of football, this might be a good book to read while in transit to your Thanksgiving celebrations.

OK Boomer, Who’s Going to Buy Your 21 Million Homes? (The Wall Street Journal): “The U.S. is at the beginning of a tidal wave of homes hitting the market on the scale of the housing bubble in the mid-2000s. This time it won’t be driven by overbuilding, easy credit or irrational exuberance, but by … the passing of the baby boomer generation. One in eight owner-occupied homes in the U.S., or roughly nine million residences, are set to hit the market from 2017 through 2027 as the baby boomers start to die in larger number … That is up from roughly 7 million homes in the prior decade. By 2037, one quarter of the U.S. for-sale housing stock, or roughly 21 million homes will be vacated by seniors. That is more than twice the number of new properties built during a 10-year period that spanned the last housing bubble. Most of these homes will be concentrated in traditional retirement communities in Arizona and Florida … Gen Xers and the younger millennials have shown thus far they would rather be in cities or suburbs in major metropolitan areas … They have little interest in migrating to planned, age-restricted retirement enclaves in sunnier corners of the U.S. … The consequences of a housing sales glut are potentially wide-reaching. A mismatch between supply and demand in places like Florida, Arizona and Nevada could offer new fiscal challenges that are already familiar to aging cities of the Rust Belt: a shrinking tax base and less money for crucial services like roads and police. Home construction could also falter, dampening an important contributor to the local economy.”

Saks Fifth Avenue’s Flagship Store Loses More than Half Its Value (The Business of Fashion): “The building at 611 Fifth Ave. was recently appraised at $1.6 billion … dropping almost 60 percent from about $3.7 billion five years ago … Last month, Hudson’s Bay agreed to go private at a valuation of $1.45 billion in a deal that was put together by Chairman Richard Baker, who wants to reinvigorate the struggling retailer. But the proposal requires the approval of shareholders, and there’s been debate among investors about the value of the company’s real estate.”

LVMH Sweetens Tiffany Bid to $16 Billion as Deal Nears (Bloomberg): “The French luxury conglomerate’s new proposal — at $135 a share — is 12.5% above the initial $120-a-share bid … Both companies’ boards are meeting Sunday to approve the latest offer and an agreement could be announced as soon as Monday … Tiffany’s shares have traded steadily above the initial offer price since … Oct. 26, closing at $125.51 a share on Nov. 22. After a difficult period during which the U.S. jeweler lost track of consumer trends, Tiffany is looking to bounce back by cutting its entry-priced gifting options and revamping its marketing to target younger shoppers. For LVMH, the brand would help the Louis Vuitton owner challenge Cartier owner Richemont for dominance in the global jewelry business.”

‘I Live on the Street Now’: How Americans Fall into Medical Bankruptcy (The Guardian): “One out of every six Americans has an unpaid medical bill on their credit report, amounting to $81bn in debt nationwide, while about one in 12 Americans went without any medical insurance throughout 2018. Even as many Americans struggle to afford health insurance coverage in the first place, those that have it are not insulated from facing massive debt due to medical bills.”

Fifth Avenue Rents Decline as Retail Stores Struggle (The Business of Fashion): “Lower Fifth Avenue, an area between 42nd and 49th streets, saw the biggest asking rent decline among Manhattan’s prominent retail corridors in the third quarter, falling 25 percent from the same period last year … In contrast, rents along upper Fifth Avenue, a swanky shopping district that runs from 49th Street north to Central Park, slipped just 0.7 percent over the same period … Manhattan-wide, rents fell an average of 8.1 percent. The Meatpacking District, which has benefited from tourist traffic on the High Line, was the only submarket where rents climbed.

In Mississippi, an Unlikely Model for School Desegregation (The Wall Street Journal): “… schools organized by grade level, rather than geography … [are] being held up by researchers and educators as a success—and a possible solution as the number of ‘intensely segregated’ minority public schools increases throughout the U.S. … Research shows that minorities concentrated in high-poverty schools tend to have lower performance and fewer educational opportunities than those who attend schools in more-affluent areas … Nationwide, about 9.5 million minority students attended intensely segregated schools in 2018, representing 18% of the number of public schools, with the vast majority of the students low-income.”

♥ During the Tory Burch Holiday Event, take 30% off purchases over $250 with code THANKS. Sale ends 12/03/19. Shipping and returns are free on all orders. My picks:

What Would Happen If Facebook Were Turned Off? (The Economist): “Several weeks after the deactivation period, those who had been off Facebook spent 23% less time on it than those who had never left, and 5% of the forced leavers had yet to turn their accounts back on. And the amount of money subjects were willing to accept to shut their accounts for another four weeks was 13% lower after the month off than it had been before. Users, in other words, overestimate how much they value the service: a misperception corrected by a month of abstention. Even so, most are loth to call it quits entirely. That reluctance would seem to indicate that Facebook, despite its problems, generates lots of value for consumers, which would presumably vanish were the network to disappear.”

L Brands Has Three Months to Placate Activist Investor Barington (The Business of Fashion): “The company [reported] better-than-expected sales growth at its Bath & Body Works unit. Its shares rallied but they’re still down about 34 percent since the company announced an agreement to stave off the activist campaign by Barington Capital Group — a pact that’s up for renewal in late February … The activist hedge fund … in March called for sweeping changes at the company, including a spinoff of Victoria’s Secret or an initial public offering of Bath & Body Works.”

Carl Icahn Placing a Big Bet Against Mall Owners (The Wall Street Journal): “The billionaire investor stands to gain $400 million or more if mall owners run into challenges servicing their debt … Mr. Icahn likely is the largest short seller of mall debt … an index, called CMBX 6, which tracks the value of 25 commercial-mortgage-backed securities … has grabbed investor attention because it has significant exposure to loans made in 2012 to malls that lately have been running into difficulties … Malls have suffered rising vacancies and falling foot traffic … But many landlords have continued to service their debt by finding new tenants. Some owners have also been able to modify or secure extensions to their loans … Mr. Icahn has lost millions on this trade, but he hasn’t backed off and may even add to his bearish trade that he considers a long-term position, … Mr. Icahn’s insurance contracts will pay off if landlords run into difficulty paying back their debt by 2022 … Though many malls and shopping centers have suffered deteriorating income, only three of the roughly 40 malls and shopping centers linked to the CMBX 6 have been delinquent on their loans since 2012.”

How FedEx Cut Its Tax Bill to $0 (The New York Times): “FedEx [brought] its effective tax rate from 34 percent in fiscal year 2017 to less than zero in fiscal year 2018 … But it did not increase investment in new equipment and other assets in the fiscal year that followed … the companies that received the biggest tax cuts increased their capital investment by less, on average, than companies that got smaller cuts … FedEx spent more than $2 billion on stock buybacks and dividend increases in the 2019 fiscal year, up from $1.6 billion in 2018, and more than double the amount the company spent on buybacks and dividends in fiscal year 2017 … Companies that make up the S&P 500 index had an average effective tax rate of 18.1 percent in 2018, down from 25.9 percent in 2016 … More than 200 of those companies saw their effective tax rates fall by 10 points or more. Nearly three dozen, including FedEx, saw their tax rates fall to zero or reported that tax authorities owed them money.”

The Best Parenting Advice Is to Go Live in Europe (The Atlantic): “America’s economic primacy has been contested by the dynamism of several countries, particularly European and Asian ones, which leaves American parents concerned that their kids won’t succeed in a hypercompetitive, globalized economy … international standardized testing that compares various countries’ educational systems has given Americans a sense of how unremarkable theirs is … several important components of being a happy, relaxed parent have nothing to do with parents’ behavior, but depend on the support system in place where they live—something American parents can’t emulate.”

♥ Join myA&F (free to join) to take 50% everything at Abercrombie & Fitch (prices as marked) before the sale opens to the public on Friday. My picks:

LVMH Is Now the Second-Most Valuable Company in Europe: How Did That Happen? (The Business of Fashion): “The market capitalisation of LVMH, which owns fashion brands including Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton and Celine, passed the €200 billion mark on the Paris Stock Exchange … Earlier this year, the French luxury group moved ahead of Anheuser-Busch and Unilever to become the second-largest company in the eurozone following oil and gas company Royal Dutch Shell … In 2018, LVMH generated €10 billion in profit on recurring operations, up 21 percent over the previous year, while Kering made €3.9 billion in operating profit, up 46.6 percent. Not only do these category leaders have more money to spend on marketing and advertising, opening physical stores and improving their e-commerce experience, but they’ve also moved their operations further upstream, buying factories, tanneries — even alligator farms — so that they can control the entire luxury supply chain, boxing competitors out.”

How We Loved Frequent-Flyer Programs to Death (Bloomberg): “To optimize revenue, airlines continue to restructure their loyalty programs to focus on the highest-value customers, i.e., the ones who spend the most cash, divorcing the idea of a ‘mile’ from actual travel … though some frequent-flyer programs are making more award seats available, they have also begun pricing redemption rates dynamically, more closely pegged to the price of airfare … An estimated 4.6 billion passengers will fly in 2019, up from 2.5 billion in 2009 … If the frequent-flyer program trends continue, and there’s no reason to think they won’t, airline miles will simply become a glorified form of cash-back ­currency where each type of airline mile has an (almost) precise cash value: about 1¢, sometimes less. On the other hand, flyers will know exactly how much value to expect out of any miles they earn, and airlines will probably make more ways of redeeming them available.”

114,000 Students in N.Y.C. Are Homeless. These Two Let Us Into Their Lives. (The New York Times): “The number of school-age children in New York City who live in shelters or ‘doubled up’ in apartments with family or friends has swelled by 70 percent over the past decade … By day, New York’s 114,085 homeless students live in plain sight: They study on the subway and sprint through playgrounds. At night, these children sometimes sleep in squalid, unsafe rooms, often for just a few months until they move again. School is the only stable place they know … Over 70 percent of the city’s homeless students failed state English exams last year, and less than 60 percent of homeless children graduated from the city’s public high schools.”

Robocall Scams Exist Because They Work—One Woman’s Story Shows How (The Wall Street Journal): “In the first nine months of the year, the Federal Trade Commission received more than 139,000 reports of fraud in which people claimed to be from the Social Security Administration, with losses totaling nearly $30 million. In New York City alone, consumers lost $5.8 million in 523 Social Security Administration impostor scams between January and late October, according to the New York Police Department. Many of those used law-enforcement impostors to help facilitate the fraud … It’s inexpensive and easy for fraudsters to blast out thousands of internet-based phone calls, and hard for law enforcement to trace those calls back to their origins. Even calls from overseas can be made to appear to be from a local area code. Scammers benefit from the sheer volume of low-cost calls they can make with web technology … as well as a trove of information on consumers’ email and physical addresses online, and on the dark web from data breaches … Banks are required to have procedures in place to flag suspect transactions to regulators, but they have some flexibility to set those parameters. And the coaching many scammers give their victims provides them with plausible answers to questions raised. In general, there are few limits to a customer’s ability to move funds at will.”

♥ Recently purchased: Reformation Kelly Puff Sleeve Crop Top, J. Crew Chateau Puffer Jacket with Primaloft®, Ann Taylor Eartha Polka Dot Bow Suede Flats, Givenchy 2G Buckle Leather Belt, Chloé Iconic Exaggerated Collar Coat, LOFT Shoulder Button Ribbed Sweater Dress, and Gap Bobble Stitch Puff Sleeve Sweater.

Have a great week, everyone!

Hi, I am Elle!

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