Associated Press

Prime Minister Boris Johnson lost yet another vote in the Parliament, after an amendment forcing a Brexit delay was passed by 322 to 306 on Saturday.

But tellingly, the stage is now set for the U.K. to approve the Brexit pact negotiated by Johnson with the European Union.

Former Conservative party member of parliament, Oliver Letwin, who authored the amendment requiring the delay, told Parliament after its passage that he was prepared to vote in favor of Johnson’s pact eventually.

So too will other MPs who, like Letwin, were forced out of the Conservative Party by Johnson, as will a handful of Labour party MPs.

As Johnson pointed out on Saturday, the vote for delay was a close one. And for many who have been a thorn in Johnson’s side, the goal was simply to prevent a no-deal Brexit in the meantime, not a departure from the European Union altogether.

Now a key question is when. There will be a vote of some kind on Monday, the Leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, announced, but it’s not clear on what.

But for the larger, more substantive question of whether — that is almost assuredly put to bed.

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Don’t miss these top money and investing features:

Money and investing stories resonating with MarketWatch readers this past week include market warnings from bond guru Bill Gross and influential hedge-fund manager Ray Dalio. These two well-known investing veterans see trouble for investors as politicians and policy makers find options to generate economic growth are increasingly limited. Dalio, for his part, sees not a market crash but a “great sag” — listless, less-hospitable, less-profitable investing conditions.

Plus, understand why a traditional 60/40 stock-bond portfolio allocation might not be your best bet under these market conditions, and read about the seasonally bullish year-end run that U.S. stocks typically enjoy. Then, check out several stories on socially responsible investing, and watch an interview about the market sectors that giant won’t be able to dominate.

— Jonathan Burton

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Hedge-fund billionaire Ray Dalio said the world’s economy echoes the 1930s.

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Bank of America declares ‘the end of the 60/40’ standard portfolio

Bank of America strategists say there are reasons to increasingly doubt the safety of bonds.
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How big a year-end stock-market rally to expect this time

Some think the so-called Santa Claus Rally begins in late October, just like those who put up their Christmas decorations before Halloween.
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This little-known recession indicator is now sending investors and consumers a warning

Two gauges of U.S. economic health are telling different stories — and that’s troubling, writes Mark Hulbert.
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This transportation measure is far more upbeat than the Dow Transports

Economists and Dow Theorists have worried about the poor showing of the Dow Jones Transportation Average and what it means for the economy.
This transportation measure is far more upbeat than the Dow Transports

The first-ever ESG junk-bond ETF debuts

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More large-scale investors are skittish about an ESG strategy at the expense of returns: survey

Some institutional investors remain increasingly unconvinced that responsible investing will boost their returns.
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There’s growing demand for green bonds but no international standard to ensure their ‘greenness’

Investing in green bonds and other sustainable assets does not necessarily mean missing out gains from other funds, IMF report finds
There’s growing demand for green bonds but no international standard to ensure their ‘greenness’

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As online brokers slash their fees, more investors are finding their way to exchange-traded funds, and for more reasons, executives of the ETF market share leader told analysts
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Hedge funds still can’t keep up with the stock market

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The chairman of Switzerland’s largest bank is seeing what he calls an investor strike as the confusion and uncertainty surrounding Britain’s exit from the EU intensifies.

“I think you’ve seen, with Brexit but also with the trade disputes, that there has been an enormous increase in uncertainty,” UBS Chairman Axel Weber told CNBC’s Geoff Cutmore on Saturday. “Uncertainty has been bad for investments all along. What you’re seeing at the moment ⁠— and we’re seeing it in our client base ⁠— is almost an investor strike.”

The German investment banker’s comments came during the 2019 Annual International Monetary Fund meetings in Washington, D.C., where discussions focused heavily on global economic turmoil caused by trade wars, protectionism and political instability.

“The way I look at that is while interest rates are very very low, and the costs of investment are at historic lows, the increased uncertainty about whether those projects will pay off, whether rejigging your whole production chain will pay off, by having parts of that production chain be in China ⁠— or for Europeans, in the U.K. ⁠— is a huge uncertainty,” Weber said. “And people will not take these decisions until the political decisions are taken.”

S&P Global Ratings calculated in the spring that Brexit had, by last April, cost the U.K. economy $86 billion. The uncertainty following the vote led to a dramatic decrease in the value of the pound, increased inflation, a fall in household spending power, weak exports, declining real estate prices and the stalling of local and foreign investment.

In the latest developments, Britain has requested yet another extension of the Oct. 31 deadline to leave the European Union — which would be the third extension since the June 2016 referendum — after U.K. lawmakers delayed a vote Saturday on the withdrawal agreement negotiated by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The lawmakers voted to activate a law that required Downing Street to ask Brussels to push back the deadline for Brexit, despite Johnson’s vocal objection to another extension.

But EU leaders don’t have to accept the extension request, and there are a number of ways they could respond. They could offer a technical extension of a few weeks in the hope of passing the recently-negotiated agreement with Johnson; they could agree to push the date back to January 31, opening the door to a U.K. general election and a potential second referendum; or they could refuse the extension request altogether, possibly triggering an economic crisis for both the U.K. and EU.

EU Council President Donald Tusk said he received the extension letter and that he would begin consulting with EU leaders on how to respond to Britain’s request. Meanwhile, Cabinet Minister Michael Gove said Sunday morning that the U.K. would indeed leave the EU by October 31, adding yet more confusion to the outlook.

Despite all this, Weber is “more positive that we’ll see an orderly Brexit,” he told CNBC Saturday. “But investors still want to see it on the table. They have been, too many times the project has been delayed, and they’re just holding out and waiting for investment. And you can see how investment in the U.K. has fallen off a cliff, and that is not good as a dynamic part of the economy.”

“So where I see a big risk is a kind of broad-based investment strike at the moment, about the uncertainty that we have in the global economy, which is politically made rather than made by markets. And that is a really bad environment.”

—CNBC’s Spencer Kimball and Matt Clinch contributed to this report.

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For Blackstone co-founder and chief executive Stephen Schwarzman, worrying is fun.

In his new memoir What it Takes, the private-equity titan advises readers that worrying “is playful, engaging work that requires you never switch it off.” This approach helped him to protect Blackstone Group Inc.

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 investors from the worst of the subprime real estate crisis, he told MarketWatch in an interview Monday afternoon.

The deep-pocketed investor, who has accumulated a net worth of $17.3 billion, according to Forbes, said “there are a lot of things going on” today that should have investors’ antennae finely tuned.

Schwarzman’s first concern is the manufacturing sector, which is “basically contracting around the world,” he said. A survey of Chinese manufacturers released Monday, indeed, showed that sector in contraction, while the eurozone’s manufacturing sector has weakened even more acutely.

The U.S. hasn’t been immune either, with a closely followed reading of manufacturing activity from the Institute for Supply Management showing that sector in contraction in August (a fresh ISM index reading on Tuesday showed it contracting further).

‘If they can’t accumulate capital, they can’t expand and extend credit to companies.’

Stephen Schwarzman

The Blackstone boss fears that the Federal Reserve might be headed down a similar monetary path as Japan and Europe, after announcing interest-rate cuts in back-to-back meetings, dialing back rates by a quarter-of-percentage point to a 1.75%-2% range at its most recent gathering ended Sept. 18.

‘If you push down [interest rates] too much, you create the problem you are trying to solve.’

“Interest rates are historically low in the United States and you keep driving them lower where do you get? What’s the objective?” he asked. Schwarzman worried that it is low interest rates specifically that are responsible for weak economic growth. “If you push down [interest rates] too much, you create the problem you are trying to solve.”

His fourth concern is that the global economy has shifted from synchronized growth as late as 2018 to a one in which expansion is receding as if there was no end in sight. “Most of the major countries around the world have slowing economies,” he pointed out.

Finally, he said the recent travails of some tech companies in public markets — including Peleton Interactive Inc.

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 disappointing launch Friday, WeWork parent The We Co.’s


 decision to scrap its IPO indefinitely, amid the steady slide of stocks of ride-sharing firms Uber Technologies Inc.

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 and Lyft Inc.

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 — are “signs of excess” that are typically associated with the late stages of an economic expansion cycle.

“The prices that these investments have been marked up to in previous rounds” are excessive, he said. “These [stocks] are trading sardines, not eating sardines,” he said. “When its time to eat and you open the can — and that is like the IPO moment — and the customers are saying ‘i don’t want to eat them.”

Despite the excesses he sees in private-technology companies, he doesn’t see signs of a bubble in alternative assets more broadly, like commercial real estate or private-equity targets outside the tech sphere. “Prices are high, but not in excess,” he said.

Schwarzman, meanwhile, remains an optimist about the long-term health of the U.S. economy. His memoir is the tale of middle-class kid from the Philadelphia area who became one of the most powerful men in finance, an adviser to presidents and heads of state. He said there are “great fundamental” conditions for the next wave of entrepreneurs to make their mark.

“You have a ton of money available for investment, more than ever,” he said. “Entrepreneurial activity is in fashion, you see [students] at universities and even at large companies people have a bias toward starting something new.”

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The lights have been green for the baby boomers all their lives.

They were born just after World War II, between 1946 and 1964, and raised during the biggest, most sustained economic boom in human history.

They were sent to college, and grad school, by their doting parents when it was still cheap — or nearly free.

And then, when they went out to work, they were able to accumulate stocks, bonds and real estate just as prices began to skyrocket. The Dow Jones Industrial Average

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 was just 1,000 in the early 1980s, when most boomers were first entering the workplace.

So after all this good luck, where are they now?

A new study has the numbers. And they aren’t pretty.

“Boomer Expectations for Retirement,” a new annual study from the Insured Retirement Institute — a trade body for the annuity industry — makes shocking reading. Most boomers are unprepared for retirement, even as they approach it or enter it. Amazingly, barely one in 10 has enough saved up.

This is hardly the first study to report on Americans’ poor retirement savings. But the IRI survey stands out because it focuses specifically on boomers. They interviewed 804 people aged 56 to 72.

In a nutshell, based on their numbers, about 11% have at least $500,000 saved for their retirement. That’s hardly a king’s ransom, but it may have to do.

The remainder don’t even have that.

Nearly half don’t have any retirement savings at all. None.

Yikes. Good times ahead. About half of those who make it into their early 60s will live past 85. How they’re going to get by without savings is anyone’s guess.

OK, OK. Financial surveys about retirement planning are generally produced by organizations in the financial services industry, and naturally they have a point of view. The IRI represents annuity providers. And, yes, the survey results suggest that, all in all, more people really should buy annuities when they retire. Make of that what you will. But the study is useful all the same.

Among the benefits: It shows an astonishing seven “deadly sins” of retirement planning which have led so many to this dismal situation.

Here are seven things not to do when planning for your retirement.

1. Not saving enough — or anything. Yes, it’s the most obvious but it’s worth repeating. According to the IRI survey, an astonishing 23% of baby boomers have no retirement savings… and never did.

2. Draining your retirement savings. Another 17% did save for their retirement once… but then spent the money, either in desperation, or carelessness, or maybe both.

3. Not calculating a retirement savings goal. It’s a lot harder to save enough for retirement if you haven’t first at least tried to work out how much that’s supposed to be. Astonishingly, just 25% of boomers who do not have a financial adviser have tried to run the numbers. And even 25% of those who do have a financial adviser still haven’t set a target. Um… what?

4. Underestimating health costs. Here’s a sobering item: A 2018 analysis estimated that a healthy couple in their mid-60s may need to budget between a third and half a million dollars for their health care expenses, including supplementary insurance, copays and other out of pocket expenses. Yet most near-retirees don’t have a clue. According to the IRI survey, more than half of boomers think their health care costs will come to less than 20% of their retirement income, and more than one in four think they will come to less than 10%.

Read: Health-care costs in retirement continue to rise — here’s what you need to know

5. Ignoring long-term care costs. Yet nearly 70% of those in their mid-60s are going to need some kind of long-term care, and the average cost a year is $89,000 a year. Who’s going to pay? “Medicare,” say 46% of baby boomers surveyed. Yes, really. Uh… folks: Medicare doesn’t pay for long-term care. Not a nickel.

6. Mishandling your retirement date. On the one hand, some people have been forced to postpone retirement because they couldn’t afford it. Some 29% of those aged 62 to 66 have postponed their retirement, and a remarkable 33% of those aged 67 to 72. On the other hand, others overestimate how long they’ll be able to keep working. Some 31% of boomers predict they’ll work past 70… but studies have found fewer than 10% actually do.

7. Not setting affairs in order. Possibly the most astonishing revelation in the survey is buried in the footnotes: About two-thirds of boomers have taken no steps to protect themselves if they suffer diminished capacity or dementia. They haven’t spelled out their wishes for their care and end of life. They haven’t sorted out a power of attorney for when one is needed. And as anyone who has been through this process can tell you, the chances are pretty high that if you wait to do this stuff until it’s needed, it’s going to be too late.

More from MarketWatch Retirement

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‘Just do the math, there’s 89 million millennials in a 330 million population of the United States of America. And then the group behind them — this is crazy — is just as big. In 20 years, there is going to be way more payers into the Social Security system and there is going to be way fewer taker-outers — and that problem will solve itself through demographics.’

That’s just part of the boost aging millennials will deliver to the U.S. economy over the next decade, according to Smead Capital Management CEO Bill Smead.

He explained to CNBC on Monday morning how “incredibly economically impactful things” are about to happen as millennials prioritize necessity spending. Big ticket items, he says, will soon be prioritized over “Apple

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devices, craft beer and Chipotle

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Read: Social Security is a lifeline for many older Americans, but how will it continue to be funded in the future?

Smead cites the coming shift when millennials surpass baby boomers as the biggest living adult generation in the country.

“We just love this circumstance because it is very possibly the changeover point now for what we have been waiting for a long time,” he said. “We are giving them the lowest interest rates in the history of the U.S.A. to form their lives. We are practically giving them the money to buy houses and buy cars etc.”

Watch the full segment:

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Getty Images

Flexibility has become the No. 1 priority for workers today as advances in technology make it more challenging than ever to maintain a work-life balance.

In fact, a recent survey by online job platform FlexJobs revealed that 71% of millennials have considered leaving a job because it did not offer flexible work arrangements. And of those polled, 28% said they actually would be willing to give up vacation time in exchange for more flexibility or remote work options.

Indeed, more companies are starting to relax their strict 9-to-5 policy, but millennials, especially, are still worried about finding a career path that will support the fluid lifestyle they desire, one of the factors leading the surge in today’s freelance economy: There are currently 56.7 million freelancers in the U.S., an increase of 3.7 million over the past five years, says a new report from Freelancers Union and Upwork.

For more on tech, transformation and the future of work, join CNBC at the @ Work: People + Machines Summit in San Francisco on Nov. 4. Leaders from Dropbox, SAS, McKinsey and more will teach us how to balance the needs of today with the possibilities of tomorrow, and the winning strategies to compete.

But while freelancing offers many luxuries — such as the freedom to choose your projects, your clients and your hours; the power to control your income; and more money and time for leisurely activities rather than wasted on a lengthy commute — there are still a number of other factors to consider if you are opting to be your own boss.

Location is one of them.

Not all cities are ‘freelancer-friendly’

Working wherever you want, from your home office or your sofa to your local coffee shop, sounds appealing, but freelancers should beware: Not all cities are “freelancer-friendly.” For instance, some cities have much slower internet speeds and steep rents. Others have limited ways of getting around town, a pain point for freelancers who need to meet up with clients on a regular basis. Some areas lack a lively activities scene, which can be extremely isolating for a freelancer.

“Cities should want to attract independent workers, because they’re good for the local economy. Thanks to the well-known “multiplier effect,” for every professional that moves there, there are actually up to 4.3 jobs created in total: The freelancer will spend the money he or she earns locally, which in turn creates work for lawyers, schoolteachers, dentists, retail staff and restaurant workers,” says Stephane Kasriel, CEO of Upwork, a global freelancing platform where businesses and independent professionals connect and collaborate remotely.

In order to make things easier for current or aspiring freelancers, created a ranking of the best — and worst — cities in the country to live and work as a freelancer.

To determine the rankings, analyzed U.S. Census Bureau data from more than 150 cities and compared those cities across five metrics, including median rent, average internet speed, number of coffee shops per capita, income taxes (based on the median freelancer income of $52,074) and ease of getting around town (based on the average of combined walkability, transit and biking scores). All metrics were weighted equally, at 20 points each.

Here are the best and worst cities for freelancers, according to, along with the cities on this list that top each category. Sept. 2019

Cost of living

Best cities: Tempe, Arizona; Spokane, Washington; Las Vegas and San Antonio

Cost of living is one of the most important factors for freelancers. For this metric, considered both the median rent of a one-bedroom apartment as well as income taxes based on the median freelancer income of $52,074. The average rent of the top 30 cities on its list is $1,139. Cities like Tempe, Arizona; Spokane, Washington; Las Vegas and San Antonio all had a median rent of less than $1,000.

Internet speed

Best cities: Austin, San Antonio and Garland, Texas

Most freelancers are at the mercy of the internet, so having one that is fast and reliable is a priority. If the internet speed is slow, it could take longer to complete a project, which means potentially losing out on future work from clients. If fast internet is a top priority, you may want to look at Texas for your home base. Six Texas cities appear on’s top 30 ranking, and three of those cities (Austin, San Antonio and Garland) have download speeds of 60 Mbps or faster, according to BroadbandNow data. Sept. 2019

Getting around

Best cities: St. Paul, Minnesota; Tempe, Arizona; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Pittsburgh; Salt Lake City; Tacoma, Washington; Hialeah, Florida; and Fort Lauderdale

Not only is internet speed important for freelancers but so is the ease of getting around town. From meeting up with clients to finding the perfect coffee shop, freelancers are no strangers to being out and about throughout the day.

Freelancers who need to get around town quickly should look to the following cities: St. Paul, Minnesota; Tempe, Arizona; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Pittsburgh; Salt Lake City; Tacoma, Washington; Hialeah, Florida; and Fort Lauderdale. All eight cities have an average walkability, transit and bike score of 50 or more.

Coffee shops

Best cities: Las Vegas and Sin City, Nevada; Spokane, Vancouver and Tacoma, Washington

According to Kasriel, coffee shops are more important to freelancers than many people realize. Upwork’s 2019 Freelancing in America study found that nearly two-thirds, or 64%, of freelancers say they’re interested in working in alternative workspaces, such as coffeehouses.

A man uses the Internet on his laptop computer at a Starbucks coffee shop in New York City.

Getty Images | Spencer Platt analyzed data from more than 20,000 Starbucks locations to determine which cities have the most Starbucks locations per 100,000 people. What they found: Las Vegas is No. 1 when it comes to Starbucks per capita, and Sin City is home to a whopping 25.3 per capita. Spokane and Tacoma also has a large amount of Starbucks locations.


A sixth metric?

Kasriel claims that a sixth metric — the number of freelancers in a given city — should also have been included in the study.

“One of the main challenges for remote workers can be isolation. That’s why having a local community of other similar professionals who can provide support, connection and networking opportunities is so important. The more of a critical mass of freelancers you can get in a place, the more effective they all become,” he says.

Kasriel also says that, based on Upwork’s 2019 study, 46% of freelancers say they’re unable to work for a traditional employer due to personal circumstances, such as health issues or familial obligations.

“Cities would do well to take that into account by offering services like affordable childcare, public parks and accessibility assistance for those with disabilities,” he says.

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Activision will release “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” on October 25, the 16th installment in the “Call of Duty” video game series. This first-person shooter game isn’t out yet, but fans who have been playing the beta version since its September debut are already embroiled in heated arguments over it.

On a “Call of Duty”-related Reddit subthread titled, “Stop requesting features a week and a half before game release,” one user called another a “three-toothed slobbering halfwit” and a “wannabe alpha-beta.” Another characterized the thread starter as possessing a “small brain,” and yet another was described as an “angry elf.”

Many other, more colorful epithets were also hurled to and fro.

It wasn’t much better in the dedicated discussion, “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Beta FAQ.” A user there voiced his dissatisfaction at the manufacturer, saying that PlayStation4 owners were being given priority over those using other platforms, and that “PC optimization is probably lacking at launch like it has been every year.”

As for the game itself, this latest version will have both single-player and multiplayer modes, and it will permit cross-play between multiple platforms, so someone on an Xbox One in Florida will be able to play with a friend on a PlayStation4 in Idaho. But what it won’t have is “loot boxes,” which are bonuses that players find within the game, but have to pay for without knowing what’s inside. Erik Kain wrote in Forbes that omitting loot boxes was a back-door method of getting players to part with even more money a month or so after release.

“This is how Activision operates with ‘Call Of Duty’ and loot boxes,” he said. “They release the game without any. They let the reviews and first impressions and word-of-mouth pile up. Then they release an update a month or so down the road and add all that micro-transaction junk in once the dust has settled, the Metacritic score has been secured, and the cash has been parted with.”

Representatives for Activision did not immediately return requests for comment, so one can only speculate as to whether engagement from disgruntled players is part of their marketing plan. But Jordan Rooney, CEO of the Ridge Point strategic media firm, said that unless the game receives uniformly negative reviews, he expects it to sell robustly, precisely because of the negativity and denunciation.

“We are now living in a world where the only thing worse than being criticized is to be ignored,” he said. “Indeed, it is the strong opinions either way, the noise, that sells it.”

Michael Bonebright, a consumer analyst with the comparison shopping site DealNews, said that “Call of Duty” has benefited in the past from controversy, such as in 2009’s “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2,” in which players could massacre civilians at a Russian airport, to graphically violent effect. The game went on to make $1 billion in sales in just two months. He said that he expects the grousing and fault-finding to provide similar free publicity.

“If a player sees a new title everywhere, they’re going to want to try it, just to see what all the fuss is about,” Bonebright said.

Be that as it may, Kevin Kleinman, a financial advisor with Blue Haven Capital, said that the “noise as marketing” strategy is likely less effective when it comes to selling a product like a video game, and more suited to promoting a short-term experience, such as a movie. He cited “Joker,” which drew audiences curious about the online outrage it had inspired and had a $93 million opening weekend as a result.

“Fans have to see for themselves to make their own judgment, but they can do so for a one-time charge of $10 to $18,” he said. “‘Call of Duty,’ on the other hand, costs $60, and once you buy it, you are stuck with it… So ‘noise’ does sell, but it depends on the industry.”

When the game is released on Friday, it will be possible to see the effect all the commotion has had on its sales. Alex Beene, a self-described “avid gamer” who is also a coordinator with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, said that what ultimately cuts through all the chatter is the quality of the game. Online arguments and insults will raise awareness of the product, but they might also shine a spotlight on flaws that will make gamers think twice before buying.

“When you’re dealing with products like games, which have a $60 up-front price or more, you don’t want to cause too many questions, because consumers will often choose to save their cash,” he said.

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Carl Icahn, billionaire activist investor, waits for Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, not pictured, to speak at an election night event in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, April 19, 2016.

Victor J. Blue | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn is moving his office from New York to Florida early next year, and plans to eventually hand over the hedge fund to his son, Brett.

The 83-year-old activist hedge fund manager, who founded Icahn Enterprises, has no plans to retire, but told The Wall Street Journal that his son is the “leading candidate” to take over his firm.

“I’m not going to give up making the real decisions,” Icahn said. “I’m still in charge, but he’d get a piece of the action.”

Brett, 40, would likely rejoin the company in the next few months after a more than three-year break, and would oversee a small new investment fund. For over a year, Icahn and his son have been negotiating the terms of the agreement, leading to a roughly 90-page contract, according to The Journal.

“I don’t think anybody can fill his shoes the way he fills them,” Brett said. “But I look forward to continuing to make him a lot of money and continuing to develop my career.”

Brett worked with his father for over 15 years as an analyst, but recently took a break. He remained involved as a consultant and now represents his father on the board of Newell Brands Inc., the maker of Sharpies and other products. He previously ran a more than $6 billion fund at Icahn Enterprises.

After joining Icahn Enterprises, Brett steered the firm toward profitable investments like one in Apple. Icahn said he wouldn’t have considered that investment because it lacked an activism angle.

“The activism formula is a great formula for increasing shareholder value. My father has proven that,” Brett said. “But I don’t think you absolutely need to have activism for there to be a good risk-reward ratio in an investment.”

At the new fund, Brett would need to put a percentage of his own money into every investment, and is thinking about buying $25 million worth of Icahn Enterprises shares.

Icahn, whose personal wealth is estimated at $17.5 billion, employs roughly 50 people in New York. More than half of his staff, including some of his lawyers and portfolio analysts, will move to the new office near Miami.

Icahn has long told associates that work excites him and he has no plans to stop.

Read the full story here

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Johnson & Johnson is recalling more than 30,000 bottles of baby powder because of asbestos contamination concerns, but a new report says that’s not the only potential threat parents need to worry about.

A day before Johnson & Johnson announced it was starting a voluntary recall for one lot of its baby powder “out of an abundance of caution,” a study said 95% of lab-tested baby foods contained traces of at least one of four heavy metals.

The Healthy Babies Bright Futures study found that one in four of the 168 lab-tested baby foods — ranging from purees to juice and teething biscuits — contained all four heavy metals, which are arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury. Researchers tested both niche brands and widely available brands, such as Gerber — which told MarketWatch the report “may have caused unnecessary alarm about the safety of foods for children.”

Past research has linked the four metals with harm to the brain, among other health consequences, according to Healthy Babies Bright Futures. The organization is an alliance of scientists and public health nonprofit organizations that are focused on ending young children’s exposure to chemicals that can impair development.

Other studies have uncovered heavy metals in baby foods, like one in 2017, which found lead in 20% of some 2,000 baby food samples.

Gerber and Beech-Nut defended the safety of their products

A spokeswoman for Gerber’s parent company, Nestle

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told MarketWatch “trace amounts” of elements like arsenic and lead occur naturally.

For that reason, she said “many food safety and agricultural experts suggest that it is not feasible to achieve a “zero” level of these elements — even in homemade foods made from organic ingredients.”

The company prides itself on strict adherence to food safety, said spokeswoman Kelly Schneider. “We want to reassure parents that Gerber never compromises on the safety or quality of our foods. We are committed in partnership with our suppliers, growers, and manufacturing team to minimize heavy metal levels to as low as possible.”

Beech-Nut Nutrition said in a statement that its products “are dependably safe, healthy and nutritious,” noting it tests for 255 contaminants including lead, other heavy metals and pesticides. Some of the Healthy Babies Bright Futures recommendations “support what we’ve been doing at Beech-Nut for years, including being selective in sourcing and conducting rigorous testing.”

‘Sub-trace levels’ of chrysotile asbestos were found in Johnson & Johnson baby powder

The baby powder recall and the Healthy Babies Bright Futures report amount to distressing news for parents, especially if they don’t have the time to make their own baby food or sort through which baby powders to use.

Johnson & Johnson

JNJ, -6.22%

  said it was initiating the voluntary recall of a single lot — about 33,000 bottles — after a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) test showed “sub-trace levels of chrysotile asbestos contamination” from one baby powder bottle purchased online.

Johnson & Johnson said it couldn’t confirm whether the results were a false positive, or whether the sample came from a genuine Johnson & Johnson bottle or a counterfeit.

“Thousands of tests over the past 40 years repeatedly confirm that our consumer talc products do not contain asbestos,”Johnson & Johnson said in a statement. The company is fending off at least 13,000 lawsuits alleging that baby powder and other talc-containing products cause cancer. The company says its products are safe and don’t cause cancer. It is appealing verdicts against the company and has won several lawsuits in state courts, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The FDA said it took the Johnson & Johnson baby powder sample as it continues to search for asbestos in cosmetic products. It tested Johnson & Johnson baby powder from different lot and the results were negative.

Earlier this year, the FDA found asbestos in children’s makeup products.

How parents can take action

There are few federal guidelines about what’s considered a safe amount of heavy metals in baby food, the Healthy Babies Bright Futures report noted. Eighty-eight percent of the tested foods lacked federal rules or guidance on maximum safe levels, according to the report.

The FDA needs to both create new standards for foods with rules on heavy metal amounts and toughen existing standards too, said Healthy Babies Bright Futures. Companies have already reduced arsenic contaminants amounts in rice cereal and juice by following a FDA guidance, it noted.

The organization is calling for action from government officials and baby food companies, but there are steps parents can take too:

• Feed babies rice-free snacks and oatmeal instead of puffs and rice cereal. Rice can absorb arsenic, a naturally-occurring element, as it grows.

• Let babies gnaw on frozen bananas and chilled cucumbers instead of teething biscuits.

• Serve tap water instead of fruit juice.

• Feed their child a range of fruits and vegetables.

Other pediatric experts have also said mixing up a baby’s diet is a good way to minimize exposure to contaminants in food.

In reaction to the Healthy Babies Bright Futures report, the FDA also advised parents vary the food in their child’s diet.

A spokesman said the agency’s work “includes actively monitoring the levels of arsenic, lead and other elements in foods and working to identify the most effective and feasible ways to reduce exposure to these elements from food. The recent report by Healthy Babies Bright Futures underscores the importance of our continued work in this area.”

The spokesman continued, “While we have seen progress in this area, more work can be done to further decrease exposures to arsenic and lead from foods.”

He said parents should “continue to feed their babies and children an age appropriate, varied, well balanced diet for nutrition and food safety. The FDA is committed to working with stakeholders in industry and in advocacy, to continue to reduce exposure to these elements.”

Shares of Johnson & Johnson have been down 2.95% over the past three months, compared to a 1.4% decline for the Dow Jones Industrial Average

DJIA, -0.95%

  and a .06% drop for the S&P 500 Index

SPX, -0.39%


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