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Throughout the month of June, New York City locations of sweetgreen will serve the June Hozon salad
David Chang talks about Hozon, the special ingredient behind the June Hozon salad at sweetgreen.
During the month of June, farm-to-table salad chain Sweetgreen will serve the June Hozon salad throughout its New York City locations. The salad features the newly created Momofuku Hozon dressing, which will be made in-house all month.
What is Hozon, you ask?
Using the same fermentation process as Japanese miso, nuts, seeds, or legumes are added to basmati rice koji (a Japanese fermentation starter), and ground into a smooth and creamy texture. Miso is made using soybeans, whereas Momofuku Hozon uses sunflower seeds. The dressing is made by hand in Brooklyn, at Kaizen Trading Company, Momofuku’s culinary science lab.
If you’re in New York, stop by Sweetgreen’s NoMad or Tribeca stores to try the June Hozon Salad.
Watch the video below to hear Momofuku founder David Chang talk about his hopes and dreams for Sunflower Hozon.
Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.
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Mercado Little Spain
Major players: José Andrés and the Adrià brothersLocation: Ground floor, corner of 10th Avenue and 30th StreetPartial opening
Billed as the Spanish version of Eataly but more like the markets of Spain, this 35,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor food hall will be manned by three of the biggest Spanish food chefs in the world. José Andrés, the main guy in this project, is a DC-based chef who owns more than a dozen restaurants as part of company Think Food Group he’s credited with popularizing tapas and other Spanish cuisine in the U.S. and his Minibar in D.C. has two Michelin stars. For the project, he’s brought on Ferran and Albert Adrià. The brothers don’t have any restaurants in the U.S. but are considered two of the most renowned modernist chefs in the world for their work at El Bulli, a now-shuttered experimental restaurant in Spain with three Michelin stars that was a trailblazer in molecular gastronomy.
Mercado will have three full-service restaurants, plus Spanish retail, bars, and food kiosks. It’s colorful and bright, and with a huge ground floor entrance, it will likely be a major access point to the building for many people. The idea is that people can use it from morning until late night, whether stopping in for a quick bite or sitting down for a more leisurely meal. Here’s a rundown see more photos of the space here.
Opening on March 15, starting at 5 p.m.
Bar Celona: A cocktail bar with a focus on vermouth
The Colmado: A store for Spanish goods, including canned seafood and cookbooks
Bravas: A kiosk specializing in fried potatoes and sauces
Churros: A kiosk with churros and hot chocolate
Food from Spanish Diner Hudson Yards New York [Official Photo]
Full-service restaurants, to open later
Leña: This restaurant will primarily cook using wood or charcoal, with special attention to grilled meats, paella, and other family-style, rice-based Spanish fare.
Mar: Seafood will be the focus here, though styles will vary. Expect stews as well as fried fish.
Spanish Diner: This all-day restaurant will be the biggest and most casual of the three, with eventual plans to be open from 7 a.m. to late night. It’s got big, garage-style walls and a bar. Food will be homestyle Spanish cooking, like egg tortillas, sandwiches, and a combination platter with rice, eggs, tomato sauce, and sausage. “We would die for this dish,” Andrés says. “If we behaved, my mom would make it twice a week.”
Bocatas & Empanadas: Serving breads, sandwiches and tarts
Cocas: Flatbreads cooked on the spot and with lots of vegetables
Granja: Coffee and pastries
Huevos, Frituras & Pulpos: Eggs and fried seafood
Jamón & Queso: Ham, cured meats, and cheese
La Barra: The only tapas bar in the market, serving icons like patatas bravas and empanadas at a counter
Paella & Carnes: Paella and meat
Pasteles & Helados: Sweets like cakes, tarts, candy, ice cream, and xuixos, a Catalonian pastry that’s deep-fried and filled with cream
Frutas & Verduras: Soups, salads, juices, and gazpacho
Pescados: A fish market
Kiosko: A retail shop with souvenirs and books
Flower Shop: A retail shop with flowers and arrangements
Kāwi and Peach Mart
Major players: David Chang and Eunjo “Jo” ParkLocation: Fifth floor at the Shops, the northeast end of the buildingOpening initially just for lunch
Chef David Chang Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Netflix
Chef Eunjo “Jo” Park Andrew Bezek/Momofuku
Find Kāwi and Peach Mart in the Shops on the fifth floor Hudson Yards New York
Momofuku kingpin David Chang has taken over 5,000-square-feet on the fifth floor of the Shops building for Kāwi, a dark and wood-heavy restaurant that will feel a bit more luxe and sultry than most other Momofuku restaurants in New York. It will have a dining room, a bar, and a counter with seats looking into an open kitchen.
The chef in charge of the menu here is Eunjo “Jo” Park, a former Ko chef who’s also spent time at Daniel and Per Se. Korean fare will be “the backbone” of the offerings, but don’t expect tradition. She’s pouring her varied cooking (and life) experiences into the menu of small and shareable plates, resulting in a restaurant intended to feel distinct from any one cuisine. Lots of dishes with tableside elements are already in the works, meaning that servers will be finishing up certain options in front of diners.
Plus, next door to the restaurant will be a to-go operation called Peach Mart. There, the crew is offering sandwiches and snacks, like kimbap, the Korean dish that’s made of cooked rice and ingredients such as vegetables and meat, all rolled up in nori.
RSE Ventures, a private investment firm owned by Related, has a stake in Momofuku, and this will be one of Momofuku’s more expensive buildouts. The restaurant group’s fast-casual spicy fried chicken mini-chain Fuku will also have an outpost here, on the second floor. See more photos of Kāwi here, and see more photos of Peach Mart here.
Major player: Anya FernaldLocation: Fourth floor, northeast side near 10th Avenue
Belcampo is on the fourth floor Hudson Yards New York
A more recent exciting addition to the lineup comes from northern California, a fast-casual restaurant that’s based its offerings around the ethos of ethical meat sourcing. Belcampo Meat Co. is a butcher with a farm in Shasta Valley, California, and just like it does in the Bay, co-founder and CEO Anya Fernald will be shipping whole animals to New York for its counter-service spot on the fourth floor of the Shops.
The bright restaurant is far more open into the mall, and more casual as well. It’s best known for burgers, including a 28-day dry-aged beef one with white cheddar cheese and a 100-day dry-aged beef one with raclette. Bowls and salads topped with Belcampo’s meats are also available, starting at $14, plus bone broth, sausage, and steak-frites. Though it’s counter-service, people dining inside the 80-seat space will get some service, like drink refills. A separate bar will have full-service from a bartender, and there, special menu items like carpaccio can be ordered. No butcher shop here instead, a special case in the middle of the restaurant will feature finer cuts of meat from the farm for people seeking a spendier dinner. Find out more about Belcampo and Fernald here.
It will be the first location of the popular restaurant outside of California and is the most exciting fast-casual addition to Hudson Yards.
Major players: Rhubarb, Peter Jin, Tien HoLocation: Fifth floor, northwest side, facing the public squareOpening for lunch and dinner
Wild Ink is on the fifth floor Hudson Yards New York
London-based hospitality and catering company Rhubarb has two restaurants at Hudson Yards, the first of which is an Asian-ish restaurant called Wild Ink. It’s one of the restaurants with lots of windows, here facing the public square in the middle of the development and the railroad tracks further west. The executive chef in charge of day-to-day happenings is Peter Jin (Hotel 50 Bowery, Refinery Hotel), with a menu assist from experimental former Momofuku chef Tien Ho, who’s acting as a culinary director for Rhubarb’s American restaurants.
The 90-seat dining room at Wild Ink has curvy banquettes, an open kitchen, a big bar, and pan-Asian-inspired elements like bamboo and tables topped with Lazy Susans. Designed by British firm Robert Angell Design International (Burberry, Savoy), it’s got a bit of a clubby vibe to it.
The menu, too, seems to nod to the clubby Asian fusion restaurants of New York’s past. Small plates, snacks, and dim sum dishes pulling elements from Japan, Thailand, China, Tibet, England, and Italy fill the menu. Food options include a Japanese risotto with shiitake mushroom dashi, a curried lamb momo, and a miso custard tart, while cocktails use ingredients such as a black sesame-infused gin or yuzu bitters.
It will be Rhubarb’s first entry into the New York market and will likely set the tone for how people will receive an even more high-profile project from the team: a restaurant at the top of 30 Hudson Yards. The building at the corner of 10th Avenue and 33rd Street will be the tallest in the development at 1,300 feet, and with an outdoor observation deck, it’s already destined to be a huge tourist destination. It’s not opening until later this year.
Other restaurants to watch
A luxe new location of longtime Greek restaurant Estiatorio Milos: Chef Costas Spiliadis first opened his sleek Midtown restaurant in 1997, originally debuting with a bang for its upscale, yet crowd-pleasing Greek seafood menu. It hasn’t been as well-reviewed in recent years, but it’s been popular enough to spawn outposts in Miami and Las Vegas. Over the years, the original NYC location has attracted lots of the rich and famous and powerful. Here, it will be just as posh, with marble floors, a spiral staircase to the dining room, one of the best views in the building, and the only restaurant with an outdoor terrace. Food will be similar to the other locations, but with the addition of Milos Wine Bar. It will have a yogurt bar, packaged goods, Greek wines, and small plates, plus an outdoor terrace. Fifth and sixth floors, northwest side of the building
A classic restaurant from Neiman Marcus: For more than 50 years, fancy department store Neiman Marcus’s flagship Dallas location has had a swanky restaurant called the Zodiac, and at the Shops, the company is recreating the classic restaurant as the Zodiac Room. It’s best known for being a destination for the ladies-who-lunch crowd, serving salad, sandwiches, and caviar, and the location in New York follows through with big banquettes, blue tones, and the famous popovers that the restaurant has been serving for decades in Texas. The restaurant’s hidden inside the women’s section of the store, but it happens to boast one of the better views in the building, with windows that look out onto 10th Avenue. A coffee shop and a bar will also be on-site. Seventh floor, inside Neiman Marcus, southwest side of the building
Casual American dining from chef Michael Lomanaco: The TV personality and chef behind more than decade-old Time Warner Center steakhouse Porter House Bar and Grill will be opening his second New York restaurant here, a collaboration with Boston’s Himmel Hospitality Group. The sprawling, 265-seat restaurant with an open kitchen and big bar will be called Hudson Yards Grill and will likely be the place where big groups go to get a little something for everybody. A variety of meats — from chicken and lamb legs to prime rib — will be cooked on a spit, and other American classics like fried chicken and steaks will be on the menu, plus pizza and sushi. It will be a casual affair, accompanied by a bakery. Fourth floor, northeast side of the building, opening for dinner only
A rendering of The Shops from the public plaza Hudson Yards [Official Photo]
A brasserie with from a British “restaurant king”: One of the UK’s biggest and best known restaurant groups D&D London already has settled into New York with Bluebird in the Time Warner Center, but Des Gunewardena and David Loewi actually started talking to Keller and Himmel first for this space at Hudson Yards. Queensyard covers 11,000-square-feet of real estate and has a clear view onto the public square in the middle of the development, including the centerpiece of the space, Thomas Heatherwick’s Vessel. In the UK, the prolific company owns more than 30 restaurants, including ones with Michelin stars, and is known for chic hotspots that veer on the upscale side. The company’s foray into New York hasn’t been great so far Bluebird received zero stars from both Eater and the Times. But people will be coming here for the scene, not the food. The spacious room has cushiony banquettes, trees inside the restaurant, a solid view, and big murals on the walls. The bathroom also charmingly only plays songs by Queen. Fourth floor at the Shops, southwest side of the building
Treats from an Upper East Side icon: A Kosher bakery open since the 1940s called William Greenberg Desserts is opening another location here. The bakery is famous for its black and white cookies and brownies, and here, it will be on the third floor with 500-square-feet of space, designed to look similar to its flagship on Madison Avenue. Third floor, east side of the building
Second floor: High-end Upper West Side grocer Citarella will have a market, plus a prepared food section with seating and a wine and liquor store. An ice cream and cereal bar from fashion brand Kith will be inside Snark Park, an immersive exhibition space. Bay Area-based company Blue Bottle Coffee has an outpost on the southwest side. And a location of David Chang’s fried chicken restaurant Fuku will be here as well.
Third floor: Australian coffee chain and cafe Bluestone Lane has an outpost, right next door to William Greenberg and Greenpoint-born ice cream shop Van Leeuwen.
Fourth floor: New York-born, global burger chain Shake Shack from Danny Meyer will have a location here. Across the hall will be Jack’s Stir Brew Coffee and an outpost of celebrity favorite chain Dylan’s Candy Bar, and around the corner, longtime chocolate maker Li-Lac Chocolates will be setting up with more than 100 handmade chocolate varieties.
Over at 10 Hudson Yards, at 30th street, salad chain Sweetgreen is already up and running., and 55 Hudson Yards will have location of bakery chain Maison Kayser.
Anticipated still-to-open restaurants
Major player: Thomas KellerLocation: Fifth and sixth floors, southwest side, facing the public squareOpening later in March
TAK Room is closer to the public square Hudson Yards New York
Bicoastal chef Thomas Keller is in charge of much of the dining options at Hudson Yards, and besides that input, he’s also opening a restaurant of his own over on the fifth and sixth floors. Called TAK Room, the 200-seater will reportedly be less pricey than his tasting menu flagships French Laundry and Per Se. Luxury, though, likely won’t be totally absent the chef has said it will have some Mad Men-era touches, with decor “that shimmers with glamour of a bygone era” and food reflecting “a time when the fanciest food in America was called continental cuisine.” Champagne carts and live music will be among the offerings. It’s been hosting celebrity-packed private parties but won’t be opening to the public until later in March.
It’s a big deal: Keller is one of the most influential fine-dining chefs in the country, and this will be his first new restaurant in NYC about a decade. But his reputation has taken a bit of a hit in New York after Eater’s Ryan Sutton and the Times’ Pete Wells both slammed Per Se in the last couple years — expect all eyes to be on Keller to see how the icon is adapting to the times. Elsewhere on the fifth floor, he will have an outpost of his chain Bouchon Bakery.
A to-be-named Stephen Starr restaurant: The James Beard-award winning restaurateur behind critical hits like Le Coucou and crowd-pleasers like El Vez will have a restaurant inside the Equinox Hotel. Seasonality and health will be a focus, and the all-day operation is anticipated to open in June. 35 Hudson Yards
Danny Meyer at the arts center: Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group has been charged with providing food and beverage for the Shed, a nonprofit performing arts center on the development. Called Cedric’s at the Shed, it will have 121 seats and will be open from morning to late evening. Drinks will be prioritized over food, which will include snacks, sandwiches, and salads. It opens in April. The Shed
Foxtrot Market Closes $42 Million In Series B Investment Round
CHICAGO , Feb. 22, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Foxtrot Market, the corner store and café redefining convenience for the modern consumer, announces today it has received a $42 million Series B growth investment. The round was led by David Barber's Almanac Insights and Monogram Capital Partners. Backers also include food and hospitality industry heavy hitters David Chang , Founder of Momofuku Nicolas Jammet , Co-founder and Chief Concept Officer of sweetgreen and Walter Robb , former CEO of Whole Foods.
With this investment, Foxtrot expects to double its store count by the end of 2021. This growth will include adding as many as nine stores in Chicago and Dallas where they presently have a footprint, and expansion into new markets including Washington, D.C. Funds will also be used to expand its line of private label packaged goods and gift offerings, and to continue the investment into nationwide shipping which launched in January. By accelerating its ecommerce capabilities and offering nationwide shipping on items like chef-driven packaged products, private label and exclusive-to-Foxtrot goods, and wine, Foxtrot will further itself as the nation's premier corner store.
Additionally, Foxtrot has made three new appointments to its executive team: Sumi Ghosh , COO Scott Holloway , SVP, Delivery and Caroline Barry , VP, Strategy. The newest leadership additions, who have earned their stripes in leadership at Starbucks, Instacart, and sweetgreen, respectively, will be core to the brand's growth in this next phase.
"With this new round of funding and an incredibly strong executive team now fully in place, we see 2021 as a year of tremendous growth for Foxtrot," said CEO and Co-founder Mike LaVitola . "We have built a business that marries the local approach of a corner store with the convenience of ecommerce. We know how our stores operate best and in which markets, which is where we'll be going deep with our expansion efforts next. We also look forward to showcasing to customers coast-to-coast what Foxtrot is all about as we continue to rollout shipping nationwide."
Launched in 2014, Foxtrot combines an upscale corner store and café with app-based purchasing that makes its entire inventory available for delivery in under an hour. Foxtrot derives its revenue equally between online sales and in-store purchases. The brand's delivery model has been central to its customer service strategy since inception, making Foxtrot uniquely positioned for strength during the pandemic. In 2020, company sales increased over 100 percent fueled by consistent year-over-year growth across channels. Of that growth, 55 percent derives from retail, largely from same-stores sales, and over 200 percent from ecommerce, driven by a 100 percent increase in app downloads.
"Foxtrot has mastered giving their customers a seamless and convenient shopping experience--using innovation to meet guests where they are, when they want," said David Barber , Founder of Almanac. "Foxtrot's commitment to building a sense of community in every market they enter by creating a space for both members of that neighborhood and local makers to test products and grow distribution is admirable. We're proud to lead this latest investment round and be part of helping Foxtrot reimagine the future of the neighborhood corner store."
Jared Stein , Co-founder and Partner of Monogram added, "Foxtrot is leading the way in the long overdue re-platforming of the convenience channel, creating an environment that is both a third place for meetings and community engagement and an incredibly easy on-demand convenience offering across both physical retail and omnichannel delivery. The company was built for where the consumer is moving in terms of providing a small format store for all of a customer's essentials, and a few bonus items that you can't find anywhere else, elevating the curation with its own best-in-class proprietary offerings."
In addition to grocery staples, Foxtrot stores offer a full-service café, sommelier-curated wine shop, and unique gift bundles for every occasion via on-demand delivery and in its tech-enabled brick and mortar stores. Select gift bundles are also currently available in Foxtrot's Ship Shop, which will continue to add offerings as it expands its nationwide shipping capabilities.
Additional investors in Foxtrot's Series B round include Imaginary Ventures, Wittington Ventures, Fifth Wall, Lerer Hippeau, Revolution's Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, M3 Ventures, The University of Chicago , Collaborative Fund, Wasson Enterprise, Bluestein Ventures, and Barshop Ventures.
For more information on Foxtrot, visit www.foxtrotco.com.
Foxtrot is redefining convenience for the modern consumer, marrying the best of neighborhood retail and ecommerce technology to create a community of discovery. Its spaces offer all the most-loved aspects of neighborhood cafés, and you can turn to the Foxtrot app for 60-minute delivery of a city's best goods – from local beers and fine wines to chef-prepared meals, curated gifts and everyday essentials. Whether at their place or yours, Foxtrot connects people to a better kind of convenience with thoughtful curation, so everyone can feel good about the goods they buy every day.
About Almanac Insights
Committed to acting as a positive force in the food ecosystem, Almanac invests in a limited number of hospitality, CPG, and food system technology companies. Almanac engages founders making transformative change across the industry, primarily to how we eat and access food. With deep experience in both regional food system development and hospitality, we look to make meaningful connections and provide key strategic support for our portfolio.
About Monogram Capital Partners
Headquartered in Los Angeles, CA and founded in 2014, Monogram Capital Partners focuses exclusively on investing in high-growth consumer and omnichannel brands with approximately $400 million of capital under management. The firm seeks to partner with founders and strong management teams, typically investing $5 million to $40 million of equity per transaction, backing brands including Chewy.com, Oatly, Country Archer, Olipop, and Vive Organic. Foxtrot represents the firm's twenty-fifth portfolio company. To learn more about Monogram, please visit: www.monogramcapital.com
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China Braces for $1.3 Trillion Maturity Wall as Defaults Surge
(Bloomberg) -- Even by the standards of a record-breaking global credit binge, China’s corporate bond tab stands out: $1.3 trillion of domestic debt payable in the next 12 months.That’s 30% more than what U.S. companies owe, 63% more than in all of Europe and enough money to buy Tesla Inc. twice over. What’s more, it’s all coming due at a time when Chinese borrowers are defaulting on onshore debt at an unprecedented pace.The combination has investors bracing for another turbulent stretch for the world’s second-largest credit market. It’s also underscoring the challenge for Chinese authorities as they work toward two conflicting goals: reducing moral hazard by allowing more defaults, and turning the domestic bond market into a more reliable source of long-term funding.While average corporate bond maturities have increased in the U.S., Europe and Japan in recent years, they’re getting shorter in China as defaults prompt investors to reduce risk. Domestic Chinese bonds issued in the first quarter had an average tenor of 3.02 years, down from 3.22 years for all of last year and on course for the shortest annual average since Fitch Ratings began compiling the data in 2016.“As credit risk increases, everyone wants to limit their exposure by investing in shorter maturities only,” said Iris Pang, chief economist for Greater China at ING Bank NV. “Issuers also want to sell shorter-dated bonds because as defaults rise, longer-dated bonds have even higher borrowing costs.”The move toward shorter maturities has coincided with a Chinese government campaign to instill more discipline in local credit markets, which have long been underpinned by implicit state guarantees. Investors are increasingly rethinking the widely held assumption that authorities will backstop big borrowers amid a string of missed payments by state-owned companies and a selloff in bonds issued by China Huarong Asset Management Co.The country’s onshore defaults have swelled from negligible levels in 2016 to exceed 100 billion yuan ($15.5 billion) for four straight years. That milestone was reached again last month, putting defaults on track for another record annual high.The resulting preference for shorter-dated bonds has exacerbated one of China’s structural challenges: a dearth of long-term institutional money. Even before authorities began allowing more defaults, short-term investments including banks’ wealth management products played an outsized role.Social security funds and insurance firms are the main providers of long-term funding in China, but their presence in the bond market is limited, said Wu Zhaoyin, chief strategist at AVIC Trust Co., a financial firm. “It’s difficult to sell long-dated bonds in China because there is a lack of long-term capital,” Wu said.Chinese authorities have been taking steps to attract long-term investors, including foreign pension funds and university endowments. The government has in recent years scrapped some investment quotas and dismantled foreign ownership limits for life insurers, brokerages and fund managers.But even if those efforts gain traction, it’s not clear Chinese companies will embrace longer maturities. Many prefer selling short-dated bonds because they lack long-term capital management plans, according to Shen Meng, director at Chanson & Co., a Beijing-based boutique investment bank. That applies even for state-owned enterprises, whose senior managers typically get reshuffled by the government every three to five years, Shen said.The upshot is that China’s domestic credit market faces a near constant cycle of refinancing and repayment risk, which threatens to exacerbate volatility as defaults rise. A similar dynamic is also playing out in the offshore market, where maturities total $167 billion over the next 12 months.For ING’s Pang, the cycle is unlikely to change anytime soon. “It may last for another decade in China,” she said.More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
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Lim family's global assets on radar after Singapore court move
SINGAPORE (Reuters) -A Singapore court has approved a freeze on up to $3.5 billion of assets of the family behind collapsed Hin Leong Trading Pte Ltd, boosting the prospect of debt recovery from the former oil trading empire that counts some of the world's biggest banks among its creditors. Hin Leong was wound up in March after failing in a year-long effort to restructure more than $3 billion in debts after the COVID-19-led oil crash laid bare huge losses. Founder Lim Oon Kuin admitted in a court document last year to directing the company not to disclose hundreds of millions of dollars in losses over several years.
Dollar near 3-month low, weighed by Fed's dovish tilt
The dollar stood near its lowest level in three months against a resurgent euro, and traders pared earlier bets the Federal Reserve may move soon to taper its stimulus though markets were not fully convinced that higher U.S. inflation is transient. Minutes from the Fed's April policy meeting released last week showed a sizable minority of policymakers wanted to discuss tapering bond purchase on worries that pouring more money to an economy on the mend could stoke inflation. Still, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell's repeated comments that it is not yet time to discuss a reduction in quantitative monetary easing has led many investors to believe it will be months before the central bank actually tweaks policy.
First Warning Sign in Global Commodity Boom Flashes in China
(Bloomberg) -- One pillar of this year’s blistering commodities rally -- Chinese demand -- may be teetering.Beijing aced its economic recovery from the pandemic largely via an expansion in credit and a state-aided construction boom that sucked in raw materials from across the planet. Already the world’s biggest consumer, China spent $150 billion on crude oil, iron ore and copper ore alone in the first four months of 2021. Resurgent demand and rising prices mean that’s $36 billion more than the same period last year.With global commodities rising to record highs, Chinese government officials are trying to temper prices and reduce some of the speculative froth that’s driven markets. Wary of inflating asset bubbles, the People’s Bank of China has also been restricting the flow of money to the economy since last year, albeit gradually to avoid derailing growth. At the same time, funding for infrastructure projects has shown signs of slowing.Economic data for April suggest that both China’s economic expansion and its credit impulse -- new credit as a percentage of GDP -- may already have crested, putting the rally on a precarious footing. The most obvious impact of China’s deleveraging would fall on those metals keyed to real estate and infrastructure spending, from copper and aluminum, to steel and its main ingredient, iron ore.“Credit is a major driver for commodity prices, and we reckon prices peak when credit peaks,” said Alison Li, co-head of base metals research at Mysteel in Shanghai. “That refers to global credit, but Chinese credit accounts for a big part of it, especially when it comes to infrastructure and property investment.”But the impact of China’s credit pullback could ripple far and wide, threatening the rally in global oil prices and even China’s crop markets. And while tighter money supply hasn’t stopped many metals hitting eye-popping levels in recent weeks, some, like copper, are already seeing consumers shying away from higher prices.“The slowdown in credit will have a negative impact on China’s demand for commodities,” said Hao Zhou, senior emerging markets economist at Commerzbank AG. “So far, property and infrastructure investments haven’t shown an obvious deceleration. But they are likely to trend lower in the second half of this year.”A lag between the withdrawal of credit and stimulus from the economy and its impact on China’s raw material purchases may mean that markets haven’t yet peaked. However, its companies may eventually soften imports due to tighter credit conditions, which means the direction of the global commodity market will hinge on how much the recovery in economies including the U.S. and Europe can continue to drive prices higher.Some sectors have seen policy push an expansion in capacity, such as Beijing’s move to grow the country’s crude oil refining and copper smelting industries. Purchases of the materials needed for production in those sectors may continue to see gains although at a slower pace.One example of slowing purchases is likely to be in refined copper, said Mysteel’s Li. The premium paid for the metal at the port of Yangshan has already hit a four-year low in a sign of waning demand, and imports are likely to fall this year, she said.At the same time, the rally in copper prices probably still has a few months to run, according to a recent note from Citigroup Inc., citing the lag between peak credit and peak demand. From around $9,850 a ton now, the bank expects copper to reach $12,200 by September.It’s a dynamic that’s also playing out in ferrous metals markets.“We’re still at an early phase of tightening in terms of money reaching projects,” said Tomas Gutierrez, an analyst at Kallanish Commodities Ltd. “Iron ore demand reacts with a lag of several months to tightening. Steel demand is still around record highs on the back of the economic recovery and ongoing investments, but is likely to pull back slightly by the end of the year.”For agriculture, credit tightening may only affect China’s soaring crop imports around the margins, said Ma Wenfeng, an analyst at Beijing Orient Agribusiness Consultant Co. Less cash in the system could soften domestic prices by curbing speculation, which may in turn reduce the small proportion of imports handled by private firms, he said.The wider trend is for China’s state-owned giants to keep importing grains to cover the nation’s domestic shortfall, to replenish state reserves and to meet trade deal obligations with the U.S.No DisasterMore broadly, Beijing’s policy tightening doesn’t spell disaster for commodities bulls. For one, the authorities are unlikely to accelerate deleveraging from this point, according the latest comments from the State Council, China’s cabinet.“Internal guidance from our macro department is that the country won’t tighten credit too much -- they just won’t loosen further,” said Harry Jiang, head of trading and research at Yonggang Resouces, a commodity trader in Shanghai. “We don’t have many concerns over credit tightening.”And in any case, raw materials markets are no longer almost entirely in thrall to Chinese demand.“In the past, the inflection point of industrial metal prices often coincides with that of China’s credit cycle,” said Larry Hu, chief China economist at Macquarie Group Ltd. “But that doesn’t mean it will be like that this time too, because the U.S. has unleashed much larger stimulus than China, and its demand is very strong.”Hu also pointed to caution among China’s leaders, who probably don’t want to risk choking off their much-admired recovery by sharp swings in policy.“I expect China’s property investment will slow down, but not by too much,” he said. “Infrastructure investment hasn’t changed too much in the past few years, and won’t this year either.”Additionally, China has been pumping up consumer spending as a lever for growth, and isn’t as reliant on infrastructure and property investment as it used to be, said Bruce Pang, head of macro and strategy research at China Renaissance Securities Hong Kong. The disruption to global commodities supply because of the pandemic is also a new factor that can support prices, he said.Other policy priorities, such as cutting steel production to make inroads on China’s climate pledges, or boosting the supply of energy products, whether domestically or via purchases from overseas, are other complicating factors when it comes to assessing import demand and prices for specific commodities, according to analysts.(Updates copper price in 11th paragraph.)More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
U.S. Dollar Index (DX) Futures Technical Analysis – Trade Through 90.155 Confirms Friday’s Reversal Bottom
The direction of the June U.S. Dollar Index is likely to be determined by trader reaction to 90.155.
Credit card debt has plunged — but what if you're still up to your neck?
If your finances are being hit hard by the pandemic, you may need to get creative.
Zara owner Inditex to close all stores in Venezuela, local partner says
Inditex, owner of brands including Zara, Bershka and Pull & Bear, will close all its stores in Venezuela in coming weeks as a deal between the retailer and its local partner Phoenix World Trade has come under review, a spokesperson for Phoenix World Trade said. Phoenix World Trade, a company based in Panama and controlled by Venezuelan businessman Camilo Ibrahim, took over operation of Inditex stores in the South American country in 2007. "Phoenix World Trade is re-evaluating the commercial presence of its franchised brands Zara, Bershka and Pull&Bear in Venezuela, to make it consistent with the new model of integration and digital transformation announced by Inditex," the company said in response to a Reuters request.
China crypto mining business hit by Beijing crackdown, bitcoin tumbles
SHANGHAI (Reuters) -Cryptocurrency miners, including HashCow and BTC.TOP, have halted all or part of their China operations after Beijing intensified a crackdown on bitcoin mining and trading, hammering digital currencies amid heightened global regulatory scrutiny. It was the first time China's cabinet has targeted virtual currency mining, a sizable business in the world's second-biggest economy that some estimates say accounts for as much as 70% of the global crypto supply. Cryptocurrency exchange Huobi on Monday suspended both crypto-mining and some trading services to new clients from mainland China, adding it will instead focus on overseas businesses.
Commerce Secretary tells how to fix the crazy car shortage
So we have auto shortages and billions of dollars of car sales lost, prices gone bananas for used cars and thousands of jobs at risk. What the hell happened? Well COVID yes, but executives made some bad calls too. That plus over-dependence on a fragile and non-U.S.-based supply chain.
Bubble Risks Test China’s Commitment to No Sharp Turn in Policy
(Bloomberg) -- Despite Beijing’s best efforts, asset bubbles are forming in China.Home prices are soaring, prompting officials to revive the idea of a national property tax. A surge in raw material prices spurred pledges to increase domestic supply, toughen market oversight, and crack down on speculation and hoarding.The rapid gains are challenging the central bank’s ability to restrain inflation without hiking borrowing costs or making a sharp turn in monetary policy -- something the People’s Bank of China has said it will avoid. The risk is the government’s attempts to curb price increases won’t be enough, forcing the central bank’s hand at a vulnerable time for domestic consumption.That would be a shock to the nation’s financial markets, which are pricing in a relatively benign scenario. The 10-year government bond yield has fallen to the lowest level in eight months, while the stock benchmark CSI 300 Index is the least volatile since January. The calm contrasts with the rest of the world, where investors are becoming increasingly obsessed with how central banks may react to the threat of an overheating global economy.“How to mitigate the boom in property and commodities without tightening macro policy -- it’s a real challenge for the Chinese government,” said Zhou Hao, an economist at Commerzbank AG in Singapore.More than 15 months after the pandemic first forced China to cut rates and inject trillions of yuan into the financial system, policy makers in Beijing are -- like many others across the world -- dealing with the aftermath. As the global economic recovery accelerates, some are being forced to act because of inflation: Brazil in March became the first Group of 20 nation to lift borrowing costs, with Turkey and Russia following suit. Even Iceland hiked a short-term rate in May.Others, like the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank, have insisted spikes in prices are only temporary. The PBOC also downplayed inflation worries in its first-quarter monetary report, published shortly after data showed factory prices surged 6.8% in April -- the fastest pace since 2017.What Bloomberg Economists Say. “It will be a challenge for China to contain rising producer prices because few commodities are priced within the country. There’s not much China can do, and even tightening monetary policy will not be able to change the situation,” said David Qu, China economist at Bloomberg Economics.-- Bloomberg Terminal subscribers can access more insight HEREWhile the rapid increase in commodity prices moderated in recent days, a continuation of gains could pressure companies to pass on rising costs to consumers, who are already spending less than expected. Analysts at Huachuang Securities Co. said in a May 9 report that prices of consumer goods, like home appliances and furniture, as well as electric vehicles and food, are rising. Still, there’s little evidence of demand-driven pressures, with core inflation, which strips out volatile food and energy costs, fairly subdued.The threat of inflation -- coupled with a fragile economy -- tends to be bad news for stocks because of how it erodes corporate profits, and for bonds it reduces the value of future cash flows. Accelerating prices walloped China’s bond market in 2019, and contributed to a steep selloff in stocks in early 2016.In a sign of how seriously that threat is being taken, China’s cabinet said Wednesday more effort needs to be taken to tackle rising commodity prices. A PBOC official said China should allow the yuan to appreciate to offset the impact of rising import prices, according to an article published Friday. The currency is trading near an almost three-year high against the dollar.Imported inflation is a headache for China’s leaders already dealing with risks caused by a surge in capital inflows. In recent years Beijing opened investment channels to allow more funds into its financial system. The goal was to use foreign institutions’ heft to anchor its markets and stabilize its currency, but the record liquidity unleashed by global central banks in the wake of the pandemic is now pressuring prices in China.That’s prompted some strong language from senior officials. Top securities regulator Yi Huiman said in March large flows of “hot money” into China must be strictly controlled. The same month, banking regulator Guo Shuqing said he was “very worried” that asset bubbles in overseas markets would burst soon, posing a risk to the global economy.Deciding whether recent spikes in prices are temporary or a permanent shift toward sustained inflation is something Chinese policy makers have to grapple with. For now, Beijing’s current approach of jawboning, boosting supply and penalizing speculation appears to be targeted at the former.“It’s still too early to tell if China can contain the surge in producer prices, and if it can’t, whether that will have large-scale impact on consumer prices,” said Raymond Yeung, chief economist for Greater China at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. “This inflation is largely imported -- it’s not something that can be solved by the PBOC.”More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
A Quiet Day Ahead on the Economic Calendar Leaves the U.S Economy and FOMC Chatter in Focus
It’s a quiet day ahead on the economic calendar. A lack of stats will leave inflation, sentiment towards the U.S economy, and any FOMC member chatter in focus.
Hong Kong Exchange’s New CEO Is Put on Cleanup Duty
(Bloomberg) -- The veteran JPMorgan Chase & Co. banker who’s taking the helm at Hong Kong’s exchange has been put on cleanup duty.Chairman Laura Cha has handed Nicolas Aguzin, who takes charge Monday, the task of reviewing the exchange’s practices after a bribery scandal and censure from the regulator, according to people familiar with the matter. The 52-year-old former head of JPMorgan’s international private bank is seen by Cha as having the experience to force a cultural shake-up given his background at a heavily regulated bank, said the people, asking to remain anonymous discussing sensitive issues.Aguzin takes over as the bourse is delivering record earnings. His predecessor, Charles Li, oversaw a doubling of revenue during his decade in charge through acquisitions, loosened listing rules and, most importantly, trading links with mainland China. The easier oversight allowed the listing of Chinese technology giants such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and positioned it as the exchange-of-choice for mainland firms amid tensions with the U.S.But there has also been criticism that investor protections were sacrificed to win business. Over the past years, there has been a steady stream of flareups between the bourse and the regulator over IPO quality, the proliferation of shell companies and whether to allow dual class shares.“The HKEX has done a great job in market development, and has introduced measures to improve investor protection,” Sally Wong, CEO of Hong Kong Investment Funds Association, said in an email. “But it seems that issuers’ voices tend to prevail over that of the investors. We very much look forward to working with the new CEO to see how to strike a more appropriate balance to better safeguard investor interests.”Spokespeople for the exchange and the Securities and Futures Commission as well as Aguzin declined to comment.In a review released last year after the former IPO vetting co-head was arrested for bribery, the SFC discovered “numerous ambiguities” in the Chinese Wall between its listing and business divisions. Other issues highlighted last year include keeping track of share options and following up on complaints on withdrawn IPO applications.Cha had begun to tighten internal checks and balances for senior managers toward the end of Li’s tenure as well as assert more board control over hiring, people familiar have said. The exchange has halted the interactions between its listing and business units, according to the SFC review. Last week, in a joint statement with the SFC, the bourse vowed to better police its frothy IPO market, citing concerns about companies inflating their values, market manipulation and unusually high underwriting fees.Aguzin is expected by the board to prioritize the exchange’s role as a regulator alongside its growth ambitions, people familiar said.David Webb, a former HKEX director, investor and corporate governance activist, is skeptical the bourse will institute any meaningful reforms. “HKEX has, with government approval, lowered its standards to attract business, for example, by listing second-class shares with weak voting rights,” he said in an email. “It shows no sign of raising them again.”Investors have also urged the exchange to set rules requiring company boards to have a lead outside board member or an independent chair, according to Wong. “But it seems that the HKEX is not ready to even bring them up for market consultation.”The government is on board with Aguzin’s appointment, which comes at a fraught time after Beijing has tightened its grip on the city, raising questions about its continued status as an international financial hub.Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Christopher Hui said the three-tiered regulatory system comprising his department, the SFC and HKEX has worked well. Aguzin’s appointment embodies the city’s openness and its role as a gateway between China and the world, he said. “This is exactly what we will pursue.”Further deepening connections to China is seen as key to growth for the bourse, which also faces stiffer competition from mainland exchanges as China opens its financial markets.While Aguzin has worked in Asia for the past decade -- also serving as JPMorgan’s CEO of Asia Pacific from 2013 to 2020 -- he will be the first non-Chinese CEO of a bourse that often needs to deal with Beijing.Cha is well connected in China, having served as vice chairman of China Securities Regulatory Commission. She has signaled that she sees the bourse’s role as serving Beijing’s interests and avoiding competition with the mainland, a person said familiar with the matter said last year.The push toward the mainland is not all welcome in China. Expanding the link to include several benchmark stocks has proved difficult, with one sticking point being whether to include shares like Alibaba Group, which are dual listed and with weighted voting rights.Even so, Cha said at the time of the appointment that Aguzin’s remit will include further strengthening the link to the mainland.Another board member, Fred Hu, said in an interview that “Aguzin is well positioned to take HKEX into the future, to further deepen the connectivity with China but also connectivity with the rest of the world.”More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
Renault-Nissan fights court battle with Indian workers on operations during COVID-19 surge
Renault-Nissan has told an Indian court it needs to continue production at its car plant to meet orders, rejecting claims from an employee union that COVID-19 safety protocols were being ignored at the factory, legal filings show. Renault-Nissan India and workers at its plant in the southern state of Tamil Nadu have been locked in a legal tussle after workers petitioned a court to halt operations because social distancing norms were being flouted and company-provided health benefits were outweighed by the risk to their lives. In response, Renault-Nissan has argued in a court filing - which is not public - that there was a "compelling need" to continue operations to fulfil domestic and export orders.
ɺ hot market': Demand for office maintenance workers growing at rapid clip
Even with staggered and limited reopenings, the demand for in-person support roles is growing at a rapid clip. The heightened awareness and focus on hygiene reflects how the coronavirus may be a tailwind for the foreseeable future.
European Equities: A Quiet Economic Calendar and Low Volumes May Test Support
It’s a quiet day ahead, with no major stats for the markets to consider. A lack of stats and lower trading volumes will leave the markets to fret over inflation.
Summers Says Crypto Has Chance of Becoming ‘Digital Gold’
(Bloomberg) -- Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said cryptocurrencies could stay a feature of global markets as something akin to “digital gold,” even if their importance in economies will remain limited.Speaking at the end of a week in which Bitcoin whipsawed, Summers told Bloomberg Television’s “Wall Street Week” with David Westin that cryptocurrencies offered an alternative to gold for those seeking an asset “separate and apart from the day-to-day workings of governments.”“Gold has been a primary asset of that kind for a long time,” said Summers, a paid contributor to Bloomberg. “Crypto has a chance of becoming an agreed form that people who are looking for safety hold wealth in. My guess is that crypto is here to stay, and probably here to stay as a kind of digital gold.”If cryptocurrencies became even a third of the total value of gold, Summers said that would be a “substantial appreciation from current levels” and that means there’s a “good prospect that crypto will be part of the system for quite a while to come.”Comparing Bitcoin to the yellow metal is common in the crypto community, with various estimates as to whether and how quickly their total market values might equalize.Yassine Elmandjra, crypto analyst at Cathie Wood’s Ark Investment Management LLC, said earlier this month that if gold is assumed to have a market cap of around $10 trillion, “it’s not out of the question that Bitcoin will reach gold parity in the next five years.” With Bitcoin’s market cap around $700 billion, that could mean price appreciation of around 14-fold or more.But Summers said cryptocurrencies do not matter to the overall economy and were unlikely to ever serve as a majority of payments.Summers is on the board of directors of Square Inc. The company said this month that sales in the first quarter more than tripled, driven by skyrocketing Bitcoin purchases through the company’s Cash App.Summers’ comments were echoed by Nobel laureate Paul Krugman, who doubted crypto’s value as a medium of exchange or stable purchasing power, but said some forms of it may continue to exist as an alternative to gold.“Are cryptocurrencies headed for a crash sometime soon? Not necessarily,” Krugman wrote in the New York Times. “One fact that gives even crypto skeptics like me pause is the durability of gold as a highly valued asset.”Summers also said that President Joe Biden’s administration is heading in the “right direction” by asking companies to pay more tax. He argued policy makers in the past had not been guilty of pursuing “too much antitrust” regulation although he warned it would be “badly wrong” to go after companies just because of increasing market share and profits.Returning to his worry that the U.S. economy risks overheating, Summers said the Federal Reserve should be more aware of the inflationary threat.“I don’t think the Fed is projecting in a way that reflects the potential seriousness of the problem,” he said. “I am concerned that with everything that’s going on, the economy may be a bit charging toward a wall.”(Adds Summers is on Square’s board in 8th paragraph)More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
15 places to look for — and find — extra money this weekend
Here are several ways to essentially (and easily) give yourself a raise.
Is Buying Bitcoin Right Now a Smart Idea?
It’s no longer news that Bitcoin’s dramatic fall on Thursday weighed on market sentiments relatively but Willy Woo a top crypto analyst, still believes the curtain call for Bitcoin’s overall upward rally has not occurred yet.
What to expect from Hudson Yards’ restaurant and food options, from Mercado Little Spain to Belcampo
Hudson Yards counts fried chicken chain Fuku among its options. Photo Credit: Czech National Film Archive
“I’ve always been inspired by the new, the unexplored,” José Andrés says.
The award-winning D.C.-based chef’s first New York project, Mercado Little Spain, is among the buzzy dining concepts to lure diners to Manhattan’s Far West Side now that Hudson Yards is open. The massive commercial and residential development excited Andrés because it is “a completely new neighborhood in a city that I’ve loved ever since I came to this country.”
Mercado is one of the more than two dozen restaurants, bars, cafes and shops that make up Hudson Yards’ dining collection. In its conceptual stages, it has been likened to a Spanish Eataly and will celebrate the cuisine and culture of Andrés’ native Spain through three restaurants, two bars and more than a dozen kiosks serving tapas.
“New York is a city of beautiful immigrants, Spanish and many, many others, and what we’ve tried to create with Mercado Little Spain is our tribute to my native country, a little piece of Spain in an exciting new corner of Manhattan,” Andrés says.
José Andrés’ first New York project is Mercado Little Spain at Hudson Yards. Photo Credit: Ryan Forbes
‘Something for everyone’
Mercado will be accompanied by new restaurants from other world-famous chefs, from David Chang’s Kāwi to Michael Lomonaco’s Hudson Yards Grill, along with new-to-New-York concepts, like Bay Area-based sustainable meat company Belcampo and department store Neiman Marcus’ eatery Zodiac Room.
The menu of options will also be lush with local food brands, like Shake Shack, Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream, Fuku, Jack’s Stir Brew and Citarella.
Development group Related Urban teamed up with chef Thomas Keller to curate Hudson Yard’s culinary lineup. They worked to ensure different price points and diverse cuisine to offer “something for everyone in this neighborhood coming to life,” says Kevin Stuessi, vice president of Related Companies, who compared the process of developing a coherent culinary program to building a puzzle and finding fits for the missing pieces.
As a dining destination, Hudson Yards will enhance the options for visitors to the High Line, with its proximity to the elevated park’s north end, and the Javits Center. It will also serve a bridge between Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen. For Stuessi, a highlight will be the outdoor space — a premium in Manhattan — which has inspired restaurants to offer picnic baskets and boxed items to go.
The majority of new restaurants are slated to open this Friday, an almost unfathomable feat in a city where opening day can be synonymous with delays and postponement.
“We have an absolutely incredible construction and tenant coordination team,” Stuessi says with a laugh when asked how they’re pulling off the large batch of openings. “They’re working with us to bring them all to life in one moment.”
Already, there’s a sense of community in the new neighborhood.
“You see people from different restaurants walking in each other’s spots, grabbing a coffee,” Stuessi says.
The benefit of proximity has also helped the restaurants work together on staffing and supply needs Stuessi recounts that the hospitality businesses were able to share applicants with their neighbors when good candidates presented themselves but job openings were already filled.
“There is a sense of camaraderie with everyone opening a restaurant in Hudson Yards at the same time,” says Sam Gelman, vice president of operations at Fuku, Momofuku’s fast-casual fried chicken sandwich mini-chain.
The Hudson Yards outpost will feature Fuku’s new bone-in fried chicken program and menu of sides, along with its signature spicy fried chicken sandwiches and chicken fingers.
Anya Fernald is bringing Belcampo’s burgers, bowls and salads to New York City for the first time at Hudson Yards. Photo Credit: Celia Catalina / Belcampo
Fitting in in NYC
In addition to familiar names like Fuku and Shake Shack, Hudson Yards will see a few eateries dipping into the New York dining scene for the first time, like Belcampo. It’ll be serving its burgers, grass-fed and finished steaks, bone broth on tap and bone broth-based soups for the first time outside of California.
Grain bowls with fresh veggies will also be new to the menu, a nod to the potential regulars living and working at Hudson Yards who may crave a lighter option. Another change Belcampo is making for Manhattanites: takeout.
“We’re planning on launching with a focus on food delivery systems like Seamless and Grubhub,” says Anya Fernald, co-founder and CEO of Belcampo, who is anticipating an “immediate high volume” of orders from hungry New Yorkers who don’t like to wait.
Correction: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this story did not note the restaurants are opening Friday.
Opening day eats
More than 25 restaurant and food concepts are planned for Hudson Yards, with a majority making their debut this week. (Some, like Sweetgreen, have already opened, while others, like new concepts from Danny Meyer in The Shed and Stephen Starr in the Equinox Hotel, as well as a Maison Kayser, will follow.) Here’s a look at everything on the food front that’s slated to open on Friday:
David Rigsbee – Sanctity and Agnosticism – Guest Editorial
David Rigsbee is an American poet, critic and translator who has an immense body of published work behind him. Not Alone in my Dancing – Essays and Reviews (2016), This Much I Can Tell You ( 2017), School of the Americas (2012) and The Pilot House (2011), all published by Black Lawrence Press, are but a sample. Forthcoming in the fall is his complete translation of Dante’s Paradiso from Salmon Poetry, and MAGA Sonnets by Donald Trump from Main Street Rag, a series of 85 quotations from Trump’s speeches and interviews bundled up in sonnet form (political satire and grimly humorous).
Stevens, Kizer, Smyth, and Me: Sanctity and Agnosticism among the Mighty Dead
“They will get it straight one day at the Sorbonne. We shall return at twilight from the lecture,
pleased that the irrational is rational.” — Wallace Stevens
David Morgan – The Kurds
Article in PDF ( Download )
The Kurds are an ancient people with distinctive heritage, traditions and language. They have lived on their historic lands for centuries alongside the other peoples of the Middle East as is reflected on old maps of the region where Kurdistan generally features. Their recent tragic history of dispossession, oppression and struggle for very survival as a people can be traced to the settlement imposed on the region in the aftermath of the First World War which saw the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the redrawing of the borders of modern states. That settlement drawn up by the victorious imperial powers denied the Kurds the right to national self-determination.
The Kurdish people are now dispersed across four major nation states namely, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. The latter country has by far the largest Kurdish population and it remains the place where fundamental rights for the Kurds are most flagrantly denied and where a protracted and as yet unresolved conflict has been taking place over more than thirty years.
The founder of the Turkish Republic Mustafa Kemal Ataturk is still widely lauded by commentators and historians as one of the greatest nation builders of modern times, but this ignores how the modern Turkish state was shaped at the expense of the diversity of peoples residing within the Turkish borders. Turkification marked the attempted eradication of the very existence of the Kurds and all traces of their culture, language and history were denied for decades by the ruling Kemalist nationalist ideology. While it was appallingly oppressive, this attempt has failed the Kurds refused to succumb to all attempts at assimilation by force and the sense of a national identity lived on in their hearts and minds.
Emergence of the Modern Kurdish Movement
It is however with the emergence of the modern Kurdish national movement in the 1980s that the Kurds once again began to reshape their history and determine the future of their country and the wider region.
There are some notable dates in the modern history of the Kurds. One landmark year was 1980 when the 12 September military coup in Turkey headed by General Evren led to a brutal crackdown during which hundreds of thousands of progressive activists and civilians were detained, tortured and executed by use of extra-legal means a reign of terror by the ruling military was especially brutal in the Kurdish region. Two years later the Turkish generals imposed a new constitution on the country which placed strict restrictions on civil, political and human rights. That same constitution is the one that is subject to reforms by Erdogan with some calling for an entirely new constitution.
The first election following the military coup in November 1983 saw Turgut Ozal become prime minister. The following year saw the start of the guerrilla campaign by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party – PKK – launched to achieve the freedom of the Kurdish people. Brutal clashes with the Turkish military were to go on for years and there were casualties numbering approximately 40 thousand people.
Challenging Official Versions of Turkish History
The official version of events put forward by Turkey blames the PKK for countless atrocities and plays down the brutal actions of the military and state forces. This version of events is increasingly challenged by independent media. New news sources on the internet have made more information available allowing Kurdish voices to be heard. Turkish statements are no longer simply repeated uncritically in news reports. Nevertheless, Turkey continues to arrest and detain its own journalists and systematically seeks to prevent independent investigations into incidents, such as in the case of the Roboski massacre of December 2011 where the full circumstances of the deaths of 34 Kurdish villagers are still not determined.
In 1989 Ozal became the first civil president of the Turkish Republic. Counter-terrorism operations against the Kurds were stepped up and human rights violations increased.
The Period of Dirty War Against the Kurds
The 1990s are seen as a lost decade and one of the darkest periods in the history of Turkey when the rule of law appeared to have been set aside as the state pursued a dirty war against the Kurds. The conflict between the state and the Kurds expanded to embrace the whole of Kurdish society and Turkey became divided into two entirely separate regions with the Kurdish south east resembling a huge militarised encampment. Economically disastrous, these years led to increasing poverty and mass migration especially from the Kurdish regions thousands claimed asylum in countries of Europe, particularly, Germany, Sweden and the UK, but many more Kurds, deliberately displaced from their villages and dispossessed of their pastoral lands, were forced to migrate to the main Turkish conurbations to live in shanty towns on the margins.
Casualties continued to mount as the war reached new heights of intensity. A notorious massacre of dozens of Kurdish mourners at the funeral of Kurdish political activist Vedat Aydin occurred in Diyarbakir in 1991 when Turkish counter-terror forces fired into the crowd.
Meanwhile, in 1992, the Kurdish town of Sirnak was razed by the Turkish army in a savage reprisal for a previous PKK attack. To this day this incident remains symbolic of the “scorched earth” policy carried out by the Turkish military over this period.
Targets for Assassination
Assassinations of opponents of the Turkish state became more frequent. Victims continue and have included journalists investigating the hidden powers of the “deep state”. Counter-terrorism agencies were accused of sponsoring the Islamist Hizbullah organisation in carrying out a campaign of targeted killings of prominent Kurdish community leaders, businessmen and intellectuals. Assassinations under suspicious circumstances still occasionally occur, and not always on Turkish territory. The deaths of three prominent Kurdish women activists in Paris in January 2012 remained shadowed in mystery more than one year later.
Kurdish writer and journalist Musa Anter was one of the prominent victims of assassination in September 1992 while a leading Kurdish trade union activist, Zubeyir Akkoc was killed in January 1993 and MP Mehmet Sincar was murdered in September of that same year.
Kurds Unite for Peace
In the face of major human rights violations and atrocities, the Kurds have remained remarkably united in their determination to achieve peace and reconciliation. The political leadership of the Kurds have adopted a perspective informed by a realistic understanding of the functioning of the state and social relations. They are able to distinguish between the actions of the state and the opinions of the people and seek a lasting political solution to the conflict which will enable the Kurdish and Turkish peoples to live together in peace, freedom and equality. Peace and reconciliation on the post-apartheid South African model is the preferred option and parallels between the two conflicts have been drawn frequently.
Political events in Turkey have often been shrouded in mystery and intrigue leading to a near paranoid atmosphere where conspiracy theories thrive. In February 1993, suspicious circumstances surrounded a plane crash which killed General Bitlis, the commander of the Gendarmerie, who was known to be seeking to find a solution to the Kurdish question. Two months later President Ozal died unexpectedly of a heart attack, sparking rumours of an assassination.
During the presidency of Suleyman Demirel and Prime Minister Tansu Ciller the military offensive against the Kurds was massively intensified. The Kurdish provinces were put under a state of martial law and covert counter-terrorism operations became the norm. Thousands were detained, tortured and murdered in a dirty war that saw mafia bosses, contract killers, drug dealers, informers, state agents and provocateurs working together to defeat the Kurds.
During the years of conflict the Turkey military conducted its counter-insurgency measures with extreme brutality. Atrocities were systematic torture widespread, whole communities were subject terrorised, civilians picked up at random, innocent men, women and children were routinely tortured and many people simply disappeared. People’s bodies were dumped into mass graves in secret locations. Meanwhile, the bodies of captured guerrillas were grotesquely mutilated with Turkish soldiers displaying body parts as trophies in shocking photographs. The mutilation of bodies has continued with one incident reported during renewed conflict in the aftermath of the 2011 general election when photographs of four dismembered bodies of some 24 Kurdish guerrillas who died in clashes with the Turkish army were published. The evidence of savagery and hatred was widely denounced. On 5 November 1996 the notorious Susurluk incident exposed the close collaboration between politicians, police, the security apparatus and the criminal underworld in their counter-insurgency campaign against the Kurds. Susurluk led to be the downfall of Prime Minister Tansu Ciller.
In 1997 the government of the Islamist PM Erbakan was forced to resign under military pressure. Erbakan’s Welfare Party was later banned by the constitutional court and was re-established as the Virtue Party. The current Justice and Development Party (AKP) emerged from the reformist wing of this party. The AKP has come to dominate Turkish politics since its sweeping election victory in 2002, but its grip on power now looks increasingly shaky. The AKP has sought to present a moderate reformist face of Islam and Turkey was hailed in the West as an example of a successful compromise between Islam and democracy and held up as a model for emulation in the wider Middle East to emulate.
The Limits of the AKP Opening to the Kurds
Despite its improved image, apparent economic success, policy of reforms, and the moves towards a new constitution, the leadership of Prime Minister Erdogan and the AKP, has been hesitant and contradictory in its policy towards resolving the Kurdish conflict. This policy became deadlocked despite making great play of an “opening” towards the Kurds and even talking to detained Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan. In fact, Erdogan pursued a two-pronged strategy of small, piecemeal reforms while seeking to eliminate independent Kurdish politics. Such a policy was deemed at best inadequate and at worst duplicitous. It failed to convince or satisfy the Kurdish people and did not seriously address their core demands.
Mass Show Trials
Following the June 2011 general election in Turkey, when the pro-Kurdish BDP won a significant level of support, the arrest of Kurdish activists, prominent intellectuals, writers, academics, lawyers as well as leading members of the main pro-Kurdish legal political party the BDP, was stepped up. Arrests under sweeping anti-terrorism laws have led to mass show trials that have attracted a fair amount of international attention. One of the key roles of Peace in Kurdistan has been to bring to the attention of the world the ongoing trials and the violations of people’s rights that continue to take place. This PIK achieves by explaining the significance of the trials, which can be extremely complex, and by organising regular eye witness delegations of lawyers, politicians and journalists to observe the often labyrinthine Turkish court proceedings.
The prosecutions of Kurdish civil society members including political leaders exposes the tremendous difficulties for the Kurds in engaging in any meaningful way in constitutional politics within Turkey.
The Peoples’ Democratic Party –BDP- is the latest in a series of pro-Kurdish parties that have been established over the last twenty years. At least five previous parties, which had all received significant voter support, have been closed down by the Turkish courts following prosecutions, arrests, harassment and police raids which have become a matter of routine. The previous parties include the People’s Labour Party (HEP), closed in 1993 the Democracy Party (DEP) closed in 1994 People’s Democracy Party (HADEP) closed in 2003 the Democratic People’s Party (DEHAP) closed in 2005 and the Democratic Society Party (DTP) closed in 2009. It is a tribute to the skills and persistence of the Kurdish politicians that they have to date managed to success manoeuvre around the bans and in the process achieve rising levels of support from the people. But the measures taken to block their effectiveness are outrageous and warrant strong criticism from the Western democracies, and particularly from countries in the European Union, who like to take on the role of upholders of democracy overseas.
Abdullah Ocalan and the PKK
One of the key campaign demands of Peace in Kurdistan, reflecting a main demand of the Kurdish people themselves, is for the release of Abdullah Ocalan, widely recognised as the chosen leader of the Kurdish people. While the release of Ocalan has to take place within a general amnesty and decriminalisation of the Kurdish movement, Abdullah Ocalan has an essential role to play in the conclusion of any meaningful and lasting peace between the Kurds and Turkey. Ocalan is the only political leader with the authority to reach an agreement with the Turkish government and the only person entrusted by the Kurdish people to exercise their will. It is inconceivable that a political solution to the Kurdish question can ever be achieved until Ocalan is brought into negotiations which can be achieved within the context of a process of reconciliation and confidence building as was achieved in South Africa in the final days of apartheid.
The most memorable date in recent Kurdish political history is undoubtedly 15 February 1999 as this was the day when PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan was captured in Kenya by Turkish special forces personnel operating undercover. The circumstances surrounding Ocalan’s arrest are rightly regarded by the Kurds as an international conspiracy because of the clearly coordinated actions of security personnel (CIA, Mossad and MI5) and politicians from various countries which lured Ocalan into a trap after he was denied the right to claim political asylum in Europe (in flagrant violation of international human rights law).
Turkey’s success in capturing their “Enemy Number One” was broadcast before the world’s media in an attempt to humiliate both Ocalan and the Kurdish people as a whole. The spectacle was a grotesque act of triumphalism on the part of Turkey and only served to exacerbate tensions between Turks and Kurds. It set off a wave of spontaneous actions by Kurds within Turkey and among the diaspora communities across Europe.
During a show trial of dubious legality, Ocalan conducted himself with great dignity, statesmanship and imagination as he sought to explain the Kurdish case historically. He has continued to pursue a policy of peace and reconciliation while in detention, a policy which he in fact had adopted long before his arrest. During the frenzied atmosphere of arrest and trial and in the years of his isolation, Ocalan demonstrated consistency in his approach to working for a peaceful settlement if only Turkish leaders and their allies would seize this as an opportunity to resolve a conflict then progress might be made. Ocalan has urged Kurdish guerrillas to cease military actions and to fall back to defensive positions outside the country, to which they have responded despite provocations. PIK believes that it is time Turkey seriously reciprocated.
Ocalan has produced several detailed proposals for achieving peace, including the roadmap, which the Turkish authorities initially withheld from the public, and culminating in proposals for “democratic autonomy”. All his ideas have been released through his lawyers, who have been subjected to intimidation and prosecution simply for carrying out their professional duties. Since his conviction, Ocalan has produced substantial writings, which have been published as books in English and other languages in these pages Ocalan seeks to offer constructive and conciliatory arguments for a lasting settlement. So far there has been little serious public response from the Turkish side to any of his proposals although reports emerged in 2011 that talks were being held between Ocalan and Turkish officials. Such talks conducted out in the open offer the only realistic way forward to resolve the conflict.
As I write the Kurds are preparing to celebrate Newroz, the ancient pre-Christian, pre-Islamic festival that is still marked with great enthusiasm and huge public festivities across the Middle East. While it is an event shared with other ancient peoples such as the Persians, for the Kurds Newroz has taken on an added political significance in recent decades as it became a rare outlet for them to demonstrate their cultural affiliations and heritage. Not very long ago, Newroz festivities in Turkish Kurdistan were met with oppressive state measures with mass armed police presence on the streets as Kurds came out to celebrate. Many actions such as chanting slogans and wearing Kurdish emblems, but in particular any reference made to the PKK or to Abdullah Ocalan, were swiftly and violently suppressed. Nowadays, as a kind of thaw set in during the years of a tentative and protracted peace process, the authorities have become more lenient and Newroz celebrations have not ended in bloodshed. Nevertheless the PKK remains officially a banned terrorist group and its alleged offshoots frequently face legal clampdowns.
Despite the continued ban on the PKK and the Turkish state’s continued incarceration of Ocalan as its alleged ‘’enemy number one’’, a peace process including exploratory talks between Ocalan and state officials had been taking place until relatively recently. These talks have come to a virtual halt as the elections of 30 March loom and as Prime Minister Erdogan became mired in political crises. Turkey has now reached a point where it appears that Erdogan is fighting for his political survival. He has fallen out in a big way with erstwhile ally, the powerful scholar and businessman Gulen, whose movement backed the AKP in previous elections. Now rival Islamic parties are emerging on the political scene and are challenging the once hegemonic sway exercised by the AKP, long seen in the West as a moderate face of Islam in power and held up as a model for how regimes should be governed in the wider Middle East. With the AKP in crisis, it is not clear how this model will be revamped or what the character of the future post-AKP leaders of Turkey will look like.
Nevertheless while Erdogan and the AKP could never be regarded as a friend of the Kurds or properly trusted by them – he has something of a reputation for maverick manoeuvring, authoritarianism and inconsistency – he has become someone ready to do business with them and as such offers a less uncertain choice than his rivals for power in coming elections. The rival parties may adopt a more anti-Kurdish posture if they believe that this will appeal to Turkish voters and rather than being put on hold, the peace process might be abandoned altogether.
There is however a clear danger for the Kurds if they were seen to be pitching their tent too closely to Erdogan if he is entering into the final chapter of his supremacy. It is obvious that his days are numbered even if he manages to hang on for a while longer he has been in power for a very long time, his appeal is waning with the electorate and his political ‘’brand’’ has been perhaps fatally tarnished. Splits have opened up in his ruling party with President Gul seeming to criticise and contradict the Prime Minister on important issues, thus posing as a serious rival in future. A financial scandal involving the Prime Minister and his son has brought into question Erdogan’s reputation for political integrity and unshakeable honesty. His handling of the Gazi protests, which saw the emergence of an alliance between progressives and members of the secular middle class and youth, alienated major sections of the Turkish public and probably done lasting damage to his political standing. Even by Turkish standards where conspiracy theories seem all too common, Erdogan’s constant muttering of ‘’external forces’’ plotting against him seems a tad too paranoid to be taken seriously. But the political uncertainty in Turkey poses a dilemma for the Kurds in that they might not know with whom best to negotiate. But rifts within the political class might open up new opportunities. With mounting crises and a likely knock on effect on the economic fortunes of the country, Turkey’s leaders might be amenable to dealing more fairly with the Kurds. Whatever the case, unfortunately the realisation of Kurdish demands seems a distant dream. Successive setbacks have made the Kurds resilient and it impossible not to admire their spirit of resistance and optimism that pervades their actions and their awakened consciousness of their identity as a people that has been stimulated and shaped by the political leadership offered by the PKK.
Despite his incarceration, Ocalan has remained the embodiment of a cherished commodity seen as essential for every human being – the embodiment of hopes and dreams of a people for a better future where they are free and living in harmony among themselves, with their neighbours and their environment. This is an essential component and driver of all modern political movements. It is certain that the PKK, unfairly branded as a terrorist organisation by Turkey and its Nato allies in the West, will continue to thrive and gather support as long as the genuine and deep seated grievances of Turkey’s Kurdish citizens are left unresolved or remedied. The Kurdish people’s demands for full equality within a new democratic Turkey are not likely to be relinquished despite the state’s attempts to curtail them. Oppressive measures tend to make the movement more determined and resilient. Unless Turkey is careful, the Kurds will be a rock against which the state, founded by Ataturk on an essential injustice, will break apart. The outcome of the coming election could initiate a process which will see the end of the Erdogan era.
The Kurds, whose party of choice in the polling booth is the BDP, face a challenge from a new Islamist party, the Free Cause Party or Huda-Par which has reportedly been picking up support from disillusioned voters –largely former Erdogan supporters – in the Kurdish stronghold city of Diyarbakir. This party, a different kind of threat to the Kurds than the AKP ever was, has links to the anti-Kurdish Hizbullah terror organisation responsible for assassination of Kurds a few years ago when Turkey was in far less peaceful times.
The 30 March poll will be the first ever election in which this party has run and it is hoped that they pose no challenge to the progressive social democratic politics of the BDP, which while being described as a pro-Kurdish party, adopts an inclusive politics that offers a reform programme that benefits all communities irrespective of whether they are Kurds or not. The BDP and its predecessors have held power in Diyarbakir since 1999 winning successive elections much to the annoyance of Ankara. While the Free Cause Party sets its sights on overtaking the AKP as its prime goal, it could also pose a threat to the BDP. This would be a regressive development were the election to result in such an upset.
Southern Kurdistan Northern Iraq
Until Rojava in Syria became established, however precariously, the only place where Kurds have been able to govern themselves freely has been in Iraqi Kurdistan where the Kurdistan Regional Government has exercised power since the imposition of the ‘’no-fly zone’’ after the first Iraq war. The KRG has been highly successful in building its economy and society over the years earning it the plaudit of the ‘’Kurdish Dubai’’ because of the amount of construction work that has been taking place over a relatively short period of time.
It used to be said that ‘’the Kurds have no friends but the mountains’’. But this is no longer quite true. In fact the Kurds nowadays have many friends, but these are often friends with agendas of their own and based on securing strategic interests. Often strange friendships are thrown up recently the prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq sought to defend Saudi Arabia from a scolding by Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki, who, clearly at the end of his tether faced with years of terrorism from Al Qaeda violence and an epidemic of foreign funded suicide bombers, accused Riyadh of financing this terrorism. The KRG’s Barzani stepped in to defend Saudi Arabia claiming that the country had taken strenuous action to eliminate terrorist activities among its citizenry and strongly criticised Maliki for his outspokenness, much to his annoyance. Such disputes are likely to exacerbate tensions considerably in Iraq by driving a wedge between the government in Baghdad and the regional Kurdish administration. Enjoying years of peace, security and prosperity in a part of the world prone to crisis and conflict, the KRG might find itself embroiled in an escalating conflict not of its making and outside its control. The KRG has long been a success story for the Kurds with its thriving economy, growing prosperity and international diplomatic recognition. Although the KRG’s future seems assured, the continuing violence elsewhere in Iraq and Baghdad’s tensions with its Arab neighbours may pose increasingly problematical for the KRG in future.
Throughout their history the Kurds have always been under threat to a greater or lesser degree because of this tragic history, the Kurds hold the values of peace, justice and security in particularly high regard. Their resilience as a people and their historical struggle for peace and a homeland deserves the utmost respect. The Kurdish people’s dream of a unified Kurdistan with its place firmly fixed on the map and their seat at international forums may remain as elusive as ever, it is a dream that has motivated generations of Kurds and will surely continue to do so. The Kurds are a people for whom the word ‘solidarity’ seemed to have been specially coined because they are entirely deserving of support.
Abdullah Ocalan is proposing a democratic solution applicable for the entire Middle Eastern region, not exclusively for the Kurds, where all the peoples of the region can live in a peaceful environment free from rancour and conflict: ambitious, certainly a romantic dream? Quite possibly, but following the abject failure of the “Arab Spring”, the various communities in this fractious region certainly need some reason to hope that things can get better. The proposals of Ocalan put that hope back on the agenda.
David Morgan is a journalist, editor, political writer and historian. He has written widely on political and historical subjects for journals, newspapers and online. He has edited a book on the anti-terrorism legislation in the UK and was an editor and contributor to the former Kurdistan Report, a quarterly magazine published by Peace in Kurdistan Campaign.
David is Secretary of the Socialist History Society, has been a member of the editorial board of the journal Socialist History and is presently editor of the Society’s Occasional Publications series.
He is also a historian focusing on labour, radical and socialist history. He organises lectures and seminars on these themes in London and recently participated in an international conference at the University of East Anglia. He is currently organising talks on the history of the First World War and a major seminar on the legacy of the British politician Tony Benn which will be held in April 2014.
A professional journalist for 30 years he has written about the financial, commercial and trading relations between the UK and the Middle East and produced several commercial publications and guides for business.
Some foodservice industry heavyweights back Foxtrot’s expansion. Bloomin’ Brands virtual chicken concept flies the coop en route to national expansion. A major Jack in the Box franchisee has declared bankruptcy. These stories and a whole lot more This Week in Foodservice.
January total retail sales increased 5.3% compared to December. The growth period broke the streak of three months of sales declines. January sales were up 7.4% compared to January 2020. Total retail sales from November to December were revised to down 1.4%, a decline that was .3% greater than originally reported.
Foodservice & Drinking Place sales increased 6.9% in January from December. Despite this increase, sales were down 16.6% from January of 2020.
Some economists and others see the January sales results as an important sign the economy is improving. Further encouragement comes from the stimulus funds that may soon come from the federal government.
Economic News This Week
- Initial-jobless claims increased 13,000 for a total of 861,000for the week ending Feb. 13. Ohio reported 147,000 claims for the week ending Feb. 13, an unusually high number. Ohio officials suspect at least 33,000 claims are fraudulent and are investigating. Further complicating matters, the U.S. Department of Labor revised the Feb. 6 report by adding 55,000 more unemployment claims. The severe winter weather that affected most of the country may have an impact on the claims numbers, too.
- Increasing the minimum wage has positives and negatives, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Research predicts an increase will lift some workers out of poverty, but it will likely eliminate some jobs.
- The Producer Price Index for Final Demand increased 1.3% in January. A 5.1% rise in energy prices drove the increase. Without food and energy, January’s increase was 0.8%.
- Business conditions improved in New York during the month of February, according to the New York Federal Reserve’s Empire Manufacturing Survey. The General Business Conditions Index hit 12.1 in February, an 8.6-point increase from the previous month. Any reading greater than 0 indicates growth. The New Orders Index hit 10.8 in February, a 4.2-point increase. Despite a 3.3-point decline, the shipments remained in positive territory at 4.0. The Unfilled Orders Index climbed to 2.6 in February from -5.5 in January.
- The Philadelphia Federal Reserve’s Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey showed continuing growth in the region. The diffusion indexes represent the percentage of respondents indicating an increase minus the percentage of respondents indicating a decrease. Thus, a score can be as high as 100 if everyone surveyed reports an indicator is increasing to -100 if everyone surveyed says an indicator is declining. For February 2021, the study shows General Business Activity at 23.1. The New Orders Index is 23.4. Shipments are at a level of 21.5. The Unfilled Orders Index is 25.6.The Number Of Employees Index is 25.3 and the Average Employee Work Week Index is 30.6.
- Industrial production increased 0.9% in January, per the Federal Reserve. Manufacturing output rose 1.0%. Mining production increased 2.3%. Utilities’ output declined 1.2%. Capacity Utilization for the industrial sector totaled 75.6% in January. Despite the 0.7% increase, utilization remains 4.0% less than its long-run (1972-2020) average.
- January privately owned housing starts fell 6.0% from December and dropped 2.3% from January 2020. Single-family housing starts were down 12.2% from December. Building permits for privately owned housing starts increased 10.4% from December and were up 22.5% from January 2020. Single-family permits were up 3.8% from December.
- Existing-home sales increased to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.69 million in January. This was a 0.6% increase from December and a 23.7% increase from January 2020.
Foodservice News This Week
- Self-described corner store and cafe concept Foxtrot Marketreceived a $42 million growth investment from a cadre of investors that includes some high-profile names in the restaurant industry. Investors include David Barber's Almanac Insights and Monogram Capital Partners as well as food and hospitality industry heavyweights David Chang, founder of Momofuku Nicolas Jammet, co-founder and chief concept officer of sweetgreen and Walter Robb, former CEO of Whole Foods. With this investment, Foxtrot expects to double its store count by the end of 2021. This growth will include adding as many as nine stores in Chicagoand, in Dallas where the company already has a footprint, and expansion into new markets including Washington, D.C.
- The pandemic may be leading to a glut of used foodservice equipment in some markets, per a report from the Associated Press. Some used equipment dealers report turning away restaurants trying to sell their equipment because the dealers don’t have room in their warehouses. If there is a silver lining to this, operators who are opening new restaurants or who need to replace equipment can get some great deals.
- Where did consumers spend those bucks that used to go to restaurants? According to the Wall Street Journal, spending on cars, appliances, furniture and power tools has shot up. Some manufacturers serving these segments had forecast a decline in sales and were surprised by the increase in orders.
- Tender Shack, Bloomin’ Brands virtual chicken concept, is now on a national flight plan. The multiconcept operator expects Tender Shack to hit $75 million in annual sales soon.
- A 70-unit Jack in the Box franchisee has filed for bankruptcy. The franchisee, which operates under the names Missouri Jack and Illinois Jack, was unable to reach an agreement with its lender, National City Bank, to whom it owes more than $15 million. The franchisee blamed its problems on an increase in a growing number of competitors, which caused the restaurant chain to fall behind in its payments. The COVID-19 pandemic further added to the company’s financial woes.
- In their attempt to build brand awareness, some quick-service restaurants want to sell you more than a meal. McDonald’s, for example, developed a hoodie to coincide with the launch of its latest chicken sandwich. Dunkin’ has what it describes as a wedding kit of matrimonial-related items. All of this is the name of marketing as these companies look for new ways to keep their concepts top of mind among consumers.
- The complex and evolving relationship between restaurants and third-party delivery companies continues to take some new twists and turns. In theory, restaurants should be partners with DoorDash, Uber Eats and other third-party delivery services. In reality, though, operators continue to claim these services are too expensive, even if these companies bring more business to the restaurants. In some markets, though, governments limit how much the third-party delivery companies can charge the restaurants. Some companies claim these fees result in their not being profitable. Enter some new delivery services that charge lower prices by allowing the restaurants to handle some of their own deliveries and charging as little as a $1.00. Whether these new firms will survive is open to question.
- Growth Chains: Mountain Mike's Pizza plans to open 30 locations in Utah in the next decade.
- Comparable Store Sales Reports: Blomin’ Brands: (Combined brands down 17.7%, Outback down 15.2%, Carrabba’s down 11.4%, Bonefish Grill down 27.1% and Fleming’s down 29.7%) and Cheesecake Factory down 19.5%.
For details and same store sales of other chains, Please Click Here for the latest Green Sheet.
The Always-On Infomercial
Does Gen Z even know what an infomercial is? They are familiar with “only three easy payments'' not from George Foreman or Billy Mays, but from Affirm or other Buy Now Pay Later platforms.
But if they don’t know now, they will soon. 2021 is the year that shopstreaming goes mainstream. Pioneered by Chinese influencers on Douyin, shopstreaming is shop owners or influencers walking through items that viewers can purchase directly from the stream. A single influencer sold US$145 million worth of lipstick on Singles’ Day this year alone. With Facebook including click-to-buy functionality into Instagram Live and Instagram Reels, it is a simple way for influencers to grow their pie and expose their followers to new products. With individuals rarely interacting with linear TV anymore, shopstreaming is the closest they will get to commercials.
As an aside, are direct to consumer products any different from “as seen on TV”? The Only Pot claims to be a 6-in-1 kitchen utensil. Did the Ginsu not “slice, dice and make Julienne Fries?”
Expect other retailers to follow JC Penney’s lead and bring shopstreaming to North America. With staff often stuck at home, stores have some of their best sales and clienteling talent ready and waiting to get started.
Monday, August 3, 2009
I Pork & Egg Bun. Deeeeeeelicious.
Saturday- First stop, Momofuku Milk Bar for some tasty treats. The place is small but jam-packed with so many amazing things. M and I both got the Pork & Egg bun- if we had known how big they were, we definitely could've split one. It was so amazing- pork belly slices, an over easy egg, cucumbers, hoisin sauce. A squirt of Sriracha (available at each table) was great, but isn't necessary to make this taste Awesome.
We also got samples of both the Strawberry Shortcake and Cereal Milk soft serves. Yes you read that correctly, Cereal Milk. And wouldn't you know it, it REALLY tasted like the milk in a bowl after you've eaten all the cereal. So Cool!! I couldn't leave without buying one of their sweets- picked up a Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow cookie- bonus, the one he gave me was broken off on one part so he gave me two, woo. I tried this cookie later on Sunday before I left, and it was just so rich and crispy/smooth/buttery/I'm running out of adjectives, haha. So good!
Vanilla Custard, Shake Shack
After walking around for a while, we hit up Madison Square Park for the famed Shake Shack. I first got a custard, thinking I was still too full from the Pork & Egg bun to get a burger. But since M wanted a shake anyway, we got into the "not custards" line and waited it out, for about 30-45 minutes total.
I could eat my computer screen right now, seriously.
I am so glad we did, and I told myself to just get the burger, since we were all the way here and already waiting in line anyway. Oh. My. GOD. The Shackburger (meat, cheese, tomato, lettuce, Shack sauce) was UNBELIEVEABLY good. Like Wow-So-Glad-I-Got-This-I-Can't-Finish-It-But-I-Want-To-But-I-Might-Explode-But-It's-So-Amazing-I-Wonder-If-I-Can-Take-It-Back-To-MD-And-Save-It-So-I-Can-Extend-This-Enjoyment-For-Another-Day. kind of "good". Seriously, I don't even care if you went to a churrascaria moments beforehand, if you are anywhere near MSP (or not, even), just suck it up and wait in line for this baby. SO AMAZING. In other news, M got an order of fries which I sampled as well- crispy and salty with creamy potato-y insides, a delicious order in itself.
Hello long-lost loveeeeeeeeeee.
Finished off the weekend with some breakfast at Pinkberry before catching the train back to DC. They have a few new toppings, including the Valencia Orange slices pictured above. Even though I've been lucky to have other tart frozen yogurt places pop up nearby, they are just still not the same as Pinkberry. So glad I got some before heading home!