Monday, March 20, 2017
Climate change takes world to uncharted territory; Gates tops Forbes rich list; Robo-advisor to give investment advice
1 Climate change puts world in uncharted territory (Damian Carrington in The Guardian) The record-breaking heat that made 2016 the hottest year ever recorded has continued into 2017, pushing the world into “truly uncharted territory”, according to the World Meteorological Organisation.
Global warming is largely being driven by emissions from human activities, but a strong El Niño – a natural climate cycle – added to the heat in 2016. The El Niño is now waning, but the extremes continue to be seen, with temperature records tumbling in the US in February and polar heatwaves pushing ice cover to new lows.
“Even without a strong El Niño in 2017, we are seeing other remarkable changes across the planet that are challenging the limits of our understanding of the climate system. We are now in truly uncharted territory,” said David Carlson, director of the WMO’s world climate research programme.
“Earth is a planet in upheaval due to human-caused changes in the atmosphere,” said Jeffrey Kargel, a glaciologist at the University of Arizona in the US. “In general, drastically changing conditions do not help civilisation, which thrives on stability.”
2016 saw the hottest global average among thermometer measurements stretching back to 1880. But scientific research indicates the world was last this warm about 115,000 years ago and that the planet has not experienced such high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere for 4m years.
Climate change harms people most directly by increasing the risk of extreme weather events and the WMO report states that these raised risks can increasingly be calculated. For example, the Arctic heatwaves are made tens of times more likely and the soaring temperatures seen in Australia in February were made twice as likely.
2 Gates tops Forbes rich list (BBC) Microsoft founder Bill Gates again tops Forbes' list of the world's richest people, in a year when the number of billionaires rose 13% to 2,043. According to the magazine's annual rich list, Mr Gates' fortune rose to $86bn, from $75bn, followed by investor Warren Buffett, up $14.8bn to $75.6bn.
It was bad news for US President Donald Trump, who slipped 220 spots to 544 and must now rub along on just $3.5bn. Forbes said the $1bn fall in his wealth was due to the slow US property market. There were 183 tech billionaires on the Forbes list, with a combined $1tn in wealth. The list is dominated by US billionaires.
Others in the top 10 included Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who moved up to number three with the biggest gain of any person on the planet, a $27.6bn rise in his fortune of $72.8bn. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was number five and Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison was number seven.
The global population of billionaires, now put at a record 2,043, marks the biggest annual increase in the 31 years since the magazine began compiling the list. Forbes' top ten: Bill Gates $86bn, Warren Buffett $75.6bn, Jeff Bezos $72.8bn, Amancio Ortega $71.3bn, Mark Zuckerberg $56bn, Carlos Slim $54.5bn, Larry Ellison $52.2bn, Charles Koch $48.3bn, David Koch $48.3bn and Michael Bloomberg $47.5bn.
3 Robo-advisor to give investment advice (Straits Times) Goldman Sachs Group, known for advising the world's richest and most powerful, is building a so-called robo-adviser geared to mass affluent customers, according to a job listing on the bank's website.
A Goldman spokesman declined to comment. The job posting for employees to help build the platform comes as Goldman is looking at ways to broaden its customer base outside the super wealthy, including making deeper inroads into new consumer-focused businesses.
The bank last year launched Marcus, its first major foray into consumer lending, as well as a complementary deposit-taking platform after acquiring GE Capital's online bank. The robo platform would sit within the bank's rapidly growing investment management division.
The unit, which Goldman has been trying to build out in recent years to diversify its revenue, posted a record US$1.38 trillion in assets under supervision at the end of 2016. Goldman has for years grappled with how to tap into the mass affluent segment, broadly defined as those with less than $1 million in investable assets, according to people familiar with the matter.
While the robo-advice market was initially developed by startups such as Wealthfront and Betterment with ambitions of upending the traditional financial advice sector, large firms such as Charles Schwab Corp and Vanguard have launched similar services.