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Paying the Price for Freshness

Paying the Price for Freshness


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Rising costs mean in-season produce is out of reach for many

As the weather warms up, towns and cities alike are peppered with the telltale tents of farmers markets, proverbial horns of plenty beckoning shoppers to stalls that spill over with fresh produce.

We know the old adage: Eat your fruits and vegetables. And with so many delicious choices in season, including locally sourced and organic offers, doing just that should be easy.

Unfortunately, for too many Americans prices have become the deciding factor in diet.

According to the Consumer Price Index, prices for fresh fruits and vegetables have risen dramatically over past decades, approximately 109 percent since 1989, and will continue to do so if the trend continues. Healthy cereals and whole grains have also seen price increases, though lower at approximately 92 percent since the same year. Meanwhile, costs for sugary and packaged foods have maintained relatively stable, rising only approximately 75 percent since 1989 with standard inflation, and remaining comparatively cheaper throughout the decades.

For a nation plagued with obesity, diabetes, and other diet-based health concerns, a lack of access to fresh produce is, at the very least, exacerbating a preexisting problem.

Even as food education initiatives strive to instruct the population on the importance of balanced nutrition and fresh foods, such programs can have little effect if prices continue to keep the right foods out of reach.


The March Recipes

This month I wanted to present a vegetarian menu because although we live in the southwest of France, aka “duck country”, Eric and I regularly enjoy meatless meals. For the March menu, I liked the idea of serving a healthy main course (meaning no cream or butter in the dish). The side benefit is it gives us some wiggle room to indulge a bit in the other two courses! The photo of the main course is red snapper but while in France I would instead use “dorade royale” (sea bream), bar de ligne (line caught sea bass) or turbot (flounder). For the entrée (1 st course), I wanted a vegetable with some substance because the main course is ‘only’ fish and rice, without a heavy sauce. Corn and scallion cakes fit the bill! Although it used to be difficult to buy fresh, sweet corn in France during the summer, that has luckily changed. I can buy it fresh, cut it off the ear and stock it in our freezer, making it easily available year round. Corn in France is relatively expensive compared to other vegetables, at about 1,20€/ear, or 8€/kg based on the weight of the kernels removed from the cob. (Just for comparison, the last time I bought fresh corn in Appleton, WI in 2019, it cost a dollar for 4 ears!). I certainly don’t mind paying the price here to support local organic farming, with non-GMO corn to boot. One final story on the subject of corn – I recall the odd looks I got 15 years ago when I would ask people where I could find fresh corn in France. I know they thought I was crazy and the usual response was: “what do you mean - corn is for animals” ! Did anyone else have that experience?! I’m glad that is changing. Anyway, moving on to dessert, why not bananes flambées? It’s a great excuse to get some fruit in the diet and it tastes much more decadent than it is to prepare. Plus, once you get confident at making this dessert, the “flambée factor” is fun to do in front of guests! Just be sure to announce “flambée” with great drama as it gently ignites to everyone’s delight!

The March Wine Pairings,by Eric ANTHONISSEN

Entrée (1 st course) – Corn and scallion fritter cakes
Pairing: Château Lagrezette, Merveille de Rocamadour, Viognier Sec, IGP Côtes du Lot, 2018.

Château Lagrezette is a property near Cahors but with parcels further North, near Rocamadour, where they grow Chardonnay and Viognier grapes. This wine has beautiful aromas of white flowers, ripe apricots and peach along with a long finish with toasted notes. This entrée provides several wine choices depending on the other ingredients used besides the corn. Indeed, the corn itself will provide for a sweet flavor that can easily be paired with either a red or a white wine - all we would need is a bit of a contrast between the sweetness and the wine itself. I would recommend a wine you like on its own because it will most likely go well with the corn fritter. Now, when the other ingredients come into play (such as which cheese is added to the corn fritter itself along with which salsa/guacamole/sour cream sauce is served with it), the story changes depending on their intensity, and will force us to take those flavors into consideration. In this case, the two main ones to consider are: spices – present but not “mouth burning” and the “citron confit” (preserved lemon) which provides for a delicate acidity and citrus taste. The full flavored “Merveille de Rocamadour” will stand its ground and provide for a nice pairing here.

Main Course: Fish filet, turmeric rice, Porto reduction

Pairing : Château Belingard, Reserve, 2018, AOC Bergerac Sec, White

A classic recommendation here: a dry white wine from a beautiful property near Bergerac, in Pomport: Château Belingard. Note that “Bergerac Sec” is a specific AOC for dry white wine made mostly with Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon grapes. The Bergerac region also offers several delicious AOC red wines (such as AOC Bergerac, AOC Côtes de Bergerac, AOC Pécharmant etc.), but these will likely be too robust with this main course. The Château Belingard Réserve 2018 white wine has very intense flavors of white fruits with hints of vanilla. The freshness, full ripe fruits flavors, hints of citrus and menthol with an extraordinary (for a white wine) long finish will pair beautifully with the red snapper and turmeric Porto sauce.

The 'Vigneron' (winemaker), Laurent de Bosredon, and his wife Sylvie, are charming people who will gladly welcome you to the property where you will be able to admire one of the most beautiful landscapes of the Bergerac region! The name Belingard comes from 'Beleen gaard', the Garden of the Sun! It goes back to the Celts and some old sacrificial stones are still visible on the property. Wine tastings are always a pleasure at Château Belingard – we’ve brought groups there who have been enthralled. The people at this vineyard are very nice, the sightseeing is wonderful, the sun is often shining and the wine is excellent, what else do you want?!


Arizonans react to Gov. Ducey's announcement

Michael Rusconi, who owns Rusconi&aposs Kitchen, says he&aposd hire 10 people right now if he could find them.

"We’re desperate to hire. It’s been one of the most challenging things," said Rusconi.

Rusconi would like to expand hours at his restaurant and he has even offered $500 bonuses to new hires.

"There’s the unemployment factor. The enhanced unemployment, the stimulus, that’s great motivation for people to not come back to work," said Rusconi.

Steve Chucri, President of the Arizona Restaurant Association, said Gov. Ducey&aposs measure, as announced on May 13, should help with the worker shortage situation.

"I’ve not seen signing bonuses, I’ve not seen bonuses just to show up to work, so those are all new to the restaurant industry, and I’m hopeful we can get our labor force back in our restaurants," said Chucri.

Not all are optimistic the plan will work. Elizabeth Newcomb, a single mother who is unemployed, says the measures, as announced, won&apost help her.

"A lot of our childcare was closed down because of COVID, and now, there’s waiting lists," said Newcomb. "There are some lists that are a year, two, three years long, so single moms like me, single dads, we can’t just get right back to work."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Zucchini Corn Fritters

After a very wet start to our summer, our garden is now paying the price and our zucchini have given up the fight. It is really unfortunate as our zucchini plants were so healthy and absolutely flourished for a couple of months, but the constant rain just was too much for them. Oh well, we had lots of tasty zucchini from our garden while it was at its peak! Luckily, since it is now zucchini season I can buy fresh picked small zucchini at every local green grocer, outdoor market, and grocery store. I do like zucchini as they are such a versatile vegetable. They really do not have a lot of flavor on their own, but you can do so many things with them from desserts to main course.

One of my favorite summer treats are zucchini fritters. I love how they become crispy and golden brown on the outside, but are soft and tender inside. There are so many ways to make these tasty fritters, but this recipe combines corn and thin strips of zucchini, bound together with egg and a little flour. Having made zucchini fritters many times in the past, this was the first time that I added corn into the batter and I really enjoyed the texture it contributed. I used a spiral vegetable cutter t cut my zucchini strips, but you could also grate the zucchini if you needed to. Although these fritters are best enjoyed right after they are fried, I also enjoy leftovers at room temperature the next day. You can serve these fritters simply as is with a squeeze of lemon juice and cracked black pepper, with some Greek yogurt mixed with chopped chives as I have, with some guacamole, or even some freshly made tomato relish.

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2014


Is HelloFresh worth It TLDR

  • Yes, with HelloFresh promo code VDAYMKC you can get a $100 dsicount upon signing up. That means you could try the service for a prolonged period for free (how long depends on how many people is your meal kit for).
  • Yes, its app is very easy to use, you can select your desired menu, and you can easily skip weeks if you don’t want to get meal kits periodically.
  • Yes, even a cooking rookie like me is able to cook everything, which means anyone can.
  • Yes, their meals are nutritionally balanced and can help you eat better (and fresher!). There is a clear calorie information available on HelloFresh Canada’s app.
  • Yes, user, bloggers, youtubers’ reviews across the internet and specifically in Canada are highly positive.

My Meal Kit Review Site

My wife and I started ordering Hello Fresh roughly two years ago. At the time, we were simply looking for a supper solution that would allow us to do three things:

  1. Encourage me to cook more (I’m not exactly the most motivated chef on the planet)
  2. Eat healthier.
  3. Consume less restaurant food.

Given recent events, I think these three goals are now shared by a whole lot of folks!

Anyway, after nine months of trying out several meal kits (why not make use of all of those tasty introductory offers?) we not only decided that we loved meal kits – but that the concept was widely misunderstood and under publicized. Consequently, I started Meal Kits Canada which is a review website dedicated to helping Canadians understand which meal kit options are available in their area, as well as showing off various pictures of the food we created!

Who Should Ignore Meal Kits

So here’s the deal. Meal kits aren’t for everyone. If you:

  • Love the creativity and challenge of cooking from scratch…
  • Look forward to your “hour of peace” as you prepare meals each evening…
  • Enjoy watching cooking shows and/or scanning Pinterest for new recipes…
  • Get a kick out of getting the most bang for your buck when you meal plan and grocery shop…

…then just keep doing what you’re doing! You’ve got this whole cooking part of life and personal finance on lock, and you honestly aren’t going to get that much value from meal kits.

Why Meal Kits Are the Perfect Fit for Families Like Ours

Here’s the main benefits that we’ve gotten from our Hello Fresh subscription over the last couple of years (and which have been a lifesaver life-easier the last few weeks):

1) I don’t worry about cooking supper until 30 minutes before it needs to be on the table! This is a big deal for me as I actually don’t mind cooking – I just hate preparing to cook! I detest thinking about thawing ingredients or “just running to the store” to get the one last thing I need.

2) We’re trying new recipes from all over the world. Both my wife and I were raised as average middle-class North Americans. We had exposure to foods from European countries, and enjoyed sampling culinary traditions from a wide variety of places – we just didn’t really know where to source the ingredients or actually cook anything that wasn’t “mainstream North American”. Now, all kinds of new spices and ideas land on our doorstep each week.

3) Fewer trips to the grocery store. Yes, I am that classic lazy (efficient?) Millennial who hates standing in lines at the best of times. These days it’s obviously taken on a new dimension. We go to the grocery store roughly half as often as we used to. That’s a whole lot of after-work errands or weekend-eating errands that we no longer have to run.

4) Way less food thrown out. I always feel guilty about throwing food out. I know, I know, if I meal-planned better I wouldn’t ever have to throw food out. If I didn’t love carbs so much I might be a model – sue me! Not having that garbage day shame of “cleaning out the fridge” is a nice little mental pick-me-up.

5) Shrinking restaurant bills and smaller waistlines. Look, I’m a big guy that loves to eat, and meal kits like Hello Fresh aren’t going to change that. That said, I do like to take my health wins where I can get them. Hello Fresh lessens the HUGE convenience factor that ordering delivery has over grocery shopping. Sure, you still have to make the meal – but it’s all ready to go right there in your fridge – and it will taste (at worst) good – and most of the time it’s superb. While Hello Fresh is definitely not “Weight Watchers” it is certainly way healthier than the vast majority of restaurant options! We’ll get into the dollars and cents here a bit more in just a second.

Breaking Down the Cost of Meal Kits in Canada

Like most products, meal kits do vary depending on the brand, and the specific food subscription box plan that you order.

There is roughly a 20% gap between the cheapest and most expensive brands in Canada, but the bigger factor in price-per-serving comes down to two things:

  1. How many overall servings are you ordering? (How many meals per week, and how many servings per meal.)
  2. Are you going with a vegetarian plan or an omnivore plan?

Given that shipping is included in the pricing for all of these companies, it makes sense that if you order more services, the per-serving meal cost drops substantially. And given that veggies obviously cost less than meat, (on average) the vegetarian options are cheaper across the board for all of Canada’s meal kit boxes.

Are There Taxes On My Meal Kits?

Short Answer: Almost never.

The more nuanced answer is that meal kits have to play by the same tax rules as other grocery products in Canada. What that means is that any food product deemed to be “essential” can be purchased tax free. However, “snack goods” or non-essential items can have taxes applied.

Overall, I looked through several months of Hello Fresh receipts and I have not been charged PST/GST or HST on any item that I’ve purchased. The charge to my credit card has always been a nice round number. Whatever number you see on the website is the all-in cost as shipping is included, and there are no taxes applied (unless for some reason your kit includes snack foods).

Is Hello Fresh Worth It?

While Hello Fresh meal kits are less expensive than some of the more niche regional food subscription boxes, they are the most expensive out of the Big 3 national brands.

They are also by far the most popular meal kit service.

Here’s why my wife and I decided to go with Hello Fresh after sampling all of Canada’s national meal kit offertings (despite it being roughly a buck-per-meal more expensive).

  • Hello Fresh has by far the widest delivery net in Canada. Living in a rural area, this is a godsend.
  • Their portion sizes are consistently larger than those of other companies. (Remember, I’m not interested in eating less.)
  • The average level of quality and freshness of meals was noticeably higher with Hello Fresh. Nothing to that my uneducated palate found wrong with the other meal kit options though.

Cost of Meal Kits vs DIY Groceries vs Restaurants

When I’ve tried to explain the cost of meal kits to friends and co-workers (some of whom get a little bit of sticker shock at the $10-per-serving rough price) I find it best to give it some context for that number. I’ve found that a lot of Canadians don’t actually know how much money they are spending on groceries because they don’t track their spending.

The more pre-made meal options or “take-n-bake” grocery items you purchase the more you will be spending on groceries, and the less healthy your caloric intake is likely to be. If these type of meals tend to be a staple for you, then meal kits probably won’t alter your food budget line at all! If on the other hand you do more cooking from scratch – and depending on what cuts of meat you prefer – you can probably save a significant amount of money versus meal kits.

The two big factors that I’ve found most helpful to consider when looking at the overall cost-benefit of meal kits are:

1) Do you tend to eat out, get delivery, or order takeout a lot?

2) Do you tend to throw a lot of food out?

For us, meal kits have replaced 60-70% of our restaurant food – at a much lower price. Think about the added expenses that you often have when you go out to eat. You have the tip, possible delivery fee, sky-high beverage pricing, the gas to drive to the restaurant, etc. I think we’re likely to save close to $800 this year by switching from restaurant food to meal kits. We still enjoy the experience of going out once in a while, but it’s just much less now than it used to be. I honestly don’t feel like we have sacrificed anything on the taste buds side of that equation either!

I also mentioned earlier that we no longer throw out much food, because a lot of our meal planning is now done for us, with the perfect amount of ingredients tossed in. T he average Canadian throws out 375 pounds of food per year . When you think about multiplying that out by the size of your family, it’s not only something that one can feel a bit guilty about, but it’s also a significant amount of money!

What better time to try getting a box full of fresh tasty meals delivered to your step?!

My wife and I love the lack of mental stress of knowing that we have a healthy, delicious meal ready to go for dinner – and that it will only have to start thinking about it 30 minutes before it has to be on the table! I’d be lying if I said that meal kits (aka: Food Subscription Boxes) have turned me into a “Top Chef” that loves to cook – but I do competently contribute much more in the kitchen department than was previously the case. My wife would likely say that alone has been worth the price of meal kits!


How to Make Cappuccino without a Machine

Without a doubt, the best cappuccino I’ve ever enjoyed was at a lovely, local Italian restaurant called Villa Verone. The drink was creamy and smooth with a strong taste of coffee, but not bitter. Perfection in a cup! The next day left me craving more so I concocted my own frothy mixture. A few years ago I got rid of my espresso/cappuccino machine because it required too much space and wasn’t used often enough … so I quickly figured how to make cappuccino without a machine.

Granted, this simple homemade version of cappuccino isn’t as decadent as one made with fancy gadgetry, but it hits the spot when you need a shot of caffeine and don’t feel like putting on your makeup to take a trip to Starbucks.

Start your cappuccino with Arabica beans, which are less bitter than Robust beans.

It’s best to use whole beans and grind them fresh just before using. Coffee grinders don’t cost a lot of money and it only takes a few seconds to grind the beans … well worth the freshness!

Since cappuccino is made with espresso, I ground more coffee than I typically use for a regular cup of coffee. About 2 heaping tablespoons of ground coffee per cup of water, and brew with your coffee maker.

While your coffee is brewing, heat your milk over a low flame to about 160 degrees. If you don’t want to use a thermometer, simply remove the milk from heat before it boils. Non-fat milk provides the most froth, but 2% milk provides a bit richer flavor. I used 2% milk.

Using an immersion blender, whip the milk for a minute or two until it’s nice and frothy. If you don’t have an immersion blender, place your heated milk in a lidded jar and shake vigorously until you have quite a bit of foam. Make sure you use a large enough jar that leaves room for creating the foam.

Fill your coffee mugs a little less than halfway with the freshly brewed coffee.

Slowly pour the heated, frothed milk into the coffee. A cappuccino should be equal parts coffee and foam, with about half the amount of milk. If necessary, use a spoon to make sure the foam empties into the cup.

Sprinkle cinnamon or nutmeg onto the frothed milk. And that’s how to make cappuccino without a machine.

If you’re wondering what the difference is between cappuccino, cafe latte, and other coffee options, here’s a handy chart I found at Coffee Wikia …

I hope you enjoy my instructions on how to make cappuccino without a machine. You can always add flavored syrup or sugar to your coffee for a sweeter taste before adding the milk and foam.


Use Whole Spices

"Always buy whole spices and grind them yourself,” says Kadri. “Spices lose their volatile oils so quickly once they're ground, so the longer you want your spices to stay delicious, the more incentive to buy them whole. When I hear about pre-ground pepper and cardamom, I just shudder. What a loss and what a rip-off for the customer.”

Frisch agrees: “Whole spices are going to taste better, taste fresher, and they last longer.” He recommends getting a few inexpensive pepper grinders and adding the whole spice you use most often to those grinders. “So if you love cumin, put cumin in a pepper grinder and grind the whole seed as you use it rather than buying ground cumin.” Another bonus: “You’ll find that you need a lot less than you’re used to because you’ll get so much more flavor from something that’s fresh,” he says.


Nathan Outlaw is considered one of the best seafood chefs in the world

In November, I stayed at the Burj Al Arab, a Dubai hotel frequently described by travel writers and critics as the most luxurious in the world. The Burj's flagship restaurant, Al Mahara, is currently helmed by the Michelin-starred British chef Nathan Outlaw. Staying at the Burj for a story, I had to eat there.

Outlaw's main restaurant, Restaurant Nathan Outlaw in the United Kingdom, has two Michelin stars and is considered one of the best restaurants in the world. Outlaw is known for his pared-back approach to seafood.

While I can't speak to his main restaurant, I suspect that his culinary ethos is chasing that feeling of eating fish pulled by a fisherman straight from the sea to the grill. Seafood that shines because of its freshness.

Al Mahara appears to have a slightly more maximalist take on seafood, perhaps to better fit the golden surroundings of the Burj.

The centerpiece of the dining room, designed before Outlaw took over, is a floor-to-ceiling, 260,000-gallon aquarium filled with fish. The entrance to the restaurant is a golden seashell. The menu is marked by oysters, caviar, lobster, and a vividly orange Porthilly crab sauce, a concoction used at all of Outlaw's restaurants that tastes like a buttery bisque. Checks can easily top $500 for two people.

While there on assignment, I ordered the salt-baked whole sea bass ($266). It was both simple and theatrical, arriving encased in salt and filleted tableside. The fish was as fresh and tender as you'd expect in a dish the price of a smartphone, but it wasn't like I was licking the plate. It was, more or less, just that: a big fish. There was plenty left over. My mother is somewhere screaming about the money I wasted.


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Three Farm-to-Table Recipes Created for Orthodontic Patients -- and Their Families

ST. LOUIS, MO --(Marketwired - August 31, 2015) - One of the most common questions adult patients ask their orthodontist is, "What can I eat?" The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) found some answers. The AAO asked a personal chef to cook up a few ideas that patients could bite into without harming their braces, aligners and retainers.

Taking advantage of the freshness of the season, these three delicious farm-to-table recipes are easy on orthodontic patients, loaded with nutrients and simple to prepare.

"Soft, tender foods like those in these recipes are ideal for orthodontic patients because they don't risk breaking brackets, wires or other elements, which could prolong treatment," according to Morris N. Poole, DDS and president of the AAO. "It's a wonderful thing when the foods that are good for your health happen to be great for your orthodontic treatment, too."

These recipes feature fresh, quality ingredients that can be grown at home or obtained at local farmers' markets, such as oregano, basil and spinach, and require no more than thirty minutes to prepare.

Summer Corn-Tomato-Basil Orzo Salad with Shrimp

1 pound of orzo, cooked according to package directions

2 to 3 ears of fresh corn, husks and silk removed, kernels cut off of cob

½ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 pound of medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved

Parmesan cheese, for serving

Melt the butter over medium heat in a sauté pan and cook the corn, salt, and pepper for 7 minutes.

Add the shrimp and cook, stirring until pink.

Toss the orzo, corn and shrimp, tomatoes, and fresh basil together. Taste for salt and pepper and serve with grated Parmesan cheese, hot, cold, or at room temperature.

Farm Stand Frittata

10 ounces fresh spinach or broccoli

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Fresh black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350° and spray pie dish with cooking spray.

Melt the butter on the stovetop in a pan and sauté the onion over medium heat until tender.

Mix all ingredients together and pour into pie dish.

Bake 30 minutes or until frittata is set.

Farm Stand Zucchini-Garlic Fusilli with Feta (not pictured)

1 pound fusilli, cooked according to package directions

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 medium zucchini, sliced into half moons

¾-1 teaspoon kosher salt, to taste

Fresh black pepper, to taste

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a sauté pan. When the oil is warm but not hot, add the sliced garlic and stir for two minutes.

Add the sliced zucchini, kosher salt, a few grinds of fresh black pepper, and sauté until tender.

Add the fresh oregano and cook one minute.

Toss zucchini and garlic with the pasta and top each serving with the crumbled Feta cheese.

About the American Association of Orthodontists

Founded in 1900, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) is the world's oldest and largest dental specialty organization. It represents 17,000 orthodontist members throughout the United States, Canada and abroad. The AAO encourages and sponsors key research to enable its members to provide the highest quality of care to patients, and is committed to educating the public about the need for, and benefits of, orthodontic treatment.

Orthodontists are uniquely qualified specialists who diagnose, prevent and treat dental and facial irregularities to correctly align teeth and jaws. Orthodontists receive an additional two to three years of specialized education in orthodontics beyond dental school at an accredited orthodontic residency program. Visit the AAO's websites, mylifemysmile.org and aaoinfo.org, for information about orthodontists, orthodontic care and to locate nearby orthodontists.

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Archegos Fiasco Spurs Regulators to Demand Banks’ Answers Soon

(Bloomberg) -- Britain’s top banking regulator is pressing ahead with an international push for answers on how banks’ exposure to Archegos Capital Management got so massive, leading to more than $10 billion in losses.The Prudential Regulation Authority has started a probe, asking firms including Credit Suisse Group AG, UBS Group AG and Nomura Holdings Inc. to hand over information related to their lending to Archegos by next month, according to people familiar with the matter.Authorities around the world have said they would scrutinize Archegos’s meltdown and are now making progress on those pledges. The Prudential Regulation Authority is taking the lead on positions that were held by the U.K. entities of foreign banks and coordinating with U.S., Swiss and Japanese watchdogs, said the people, who asked not to be named discussing information that is not public. Most of the leverage Credit Suisse extended to Archegos was booked in London, they added.Before its collapse in March, Bill Hwang’s once-obscure family office built giant stakes in companies without the market knowing because the assets were held on the books of its brokers. The PRA aims to build a fuller picture of its bets by cross-checking data from the banks, the people said. The watchdog aims to conclude its probe by the end of the summer, the people said.U.K. regulators will also scrutinize the standstill agreement that lenders initially proposed, the people said. Bloomberg has reported that banks led by Credit Suisse tried to make a deal with Hwang to untie positions without causing panic in the wider market. The trades became public knowledge anyway, triggering a selloff as brokers liquidated assets worth nearly $30 billion.Spokespeople for the PRA and banks including UBS, Credit Suisse and Nomura declined to comment.Banks and their supervisors are still grappling with the consequences of one of the biggest margin calls in history. Nomura has tightened financing for some hedge fund clients and is reviewing its prime brokerage unit. An internal probe is still ongoing, the people said. Credit Suisse is reducing leverage in its prime brokerage by a third, which will lead to exiting relationships with some hedge fund clients. Losses booked so far include about $2.9 billion at Nomura and $5.5 billion at Credit Suisse.In a speech this week, Jon Hall of the BOE said the central bank was considering closer scrutiny of the work banks carry out for hedge funds, without giving further details. The Swiss parliament is preparing to hold hearings on the blowup, the SonntagsZeitung has reported, while the U.S. Senate Banking Committee is also seeking answers. The Securities and Exchange Commission has previously opened a preliminary investigation into Hwang.Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said last month the central bank was examining the Archegos blowup because it revealed risk-management failures at a number of banks his agency supervises.More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

Daimler Disagrees With Tesla and VW’s Batteries-or-Bust View

(Bloomberg) -- Daimler AG’s truck chief expects hydrogen-powered big rigs to play an important role in slashing emissions from the transportation sector despite the technological hurdles and skepticism raised by two prominent rivals.Focusing solely on battery-electric vehicles would be risky because of the scarcity of certain raw materials and challenges grids will have supporting wide-ranging charging networks for trucks and buses, Martin Daum, Daimler Truck’s chief executive officer, said in a phone interview.“We cannot afford to bank on just one technology to reach the climate goals,” Daum said. “The focus until 2025 will be 100% on battery-electric vehicles. Between 2025 and 2035, we’re going to need both battery-electric and fuel cell vehicles because the massively growing infrastructure requirements require a two-legged approach.”Fuel cells, which generate electricity from hydrogen and therefore eliminate the need to recharge batteries, have been touted for years as a potential alternative to combustion engines. But high costs and sparse fueling infrastructure have stood in the way of broader adoption and left the technology far behind battery-electric powertrains in the passenger-car market.Electrifying commercial vehicles is more complex -- they’re larger, heavier and used for everything from deliveries to supermarkets in urban areas to long-haul transport in remote areas. Daimler recently formed a joint venture with rival Volvo AB to jointly develop fuel cell stacks.Daimler’s DetractorsWhile prominent industry leaders including Tesla Inc.’s Elon Musk and Volkswagen AG’s Herbert Diess have repeatedly criticized fuel cells and argued battery power is the only way forward, Daimler and Volvo aren’t alone in seeing long-term potential.“Decarbonization of the energy mix represents the most profound shift in energy since the start of the industrial revolution,” Sanford Bernstein analysts led by Neil Beveridge said in a note to clients. “It is simply impossible to reach net zero by 2050 without hydrogen playing a major role.”Daimler’s truck division is the world’s largest maker of commercial vehicles and on track to be spun off from the Mercedes-Benz luxury-car operations this year. The split reflects the diverging technology trends between passenger cars and commercial vehicles. Both will need enormous investment in new technology to comply with stricter emissions standards.Daum, 61, mapped out more aggressive profitability targets on Thursday and objectives to generate the funds needed to navigate the industry’s transformation.“We want to be a resilient company that can avoid losses even in difficult years,” he said. The unit plans to list at the Frankfurt stock exchange later this year and could enter the country’s blue-chip DAX Index.Global PresenceDaimler boasts a truly global footprint that’s unique among commercial-vehicle manufacturers. While Volvo just trimmed its presence in Asia by selling its UD Trucks business in Japan, VW’s Traton SE unit is finishing its takeover of U.S. truckmaker Navistar International Corp. next quarter.Apart from Mercedes trucks, Daimler’s trucks and buses division comprises Fuso in Japan, BharatBenz in India, Setra in Germany and Freightliner, Thomas Built and Western Star in North America.The company has relied heavily on profits from Freightliner in recent years, as North America tends to generate much of the industry’s earnings. Executives said Thursday that boosting profitability at European operations will be a top priority and pledged to reduce personnel and material costs to become more competitive in the region.Asked whether Daimler may consider an acquisition of CNH Industrial NV’s Italian business Iveco, Daum said his focus is on the company’s own operations. “I don’t see the need for us to add an asset to our European business,” he said. “There are no plans for any structural changes.”More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

Trudeau Tightens Up Mortgages After Macklem Sounds Housing Alarm

(Bloomberg) -- Canadian officials escalated efforts to cool the nation’s booming housing market, moving ahead with tighter mortgage qualification rules after the central bank issued a fresh warning against buyers taking on too much debt.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government set a new benchmark interest rate on Thursday afternoon to determine whether people can qualify for mortgages that are insured by Canada’s housing agency. The move matches an April decision by the nation’s banking regulator to do the same for uninsured mortgages.The regulator -- the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions -- announced earlier Thursday it would implement its new rules June 1.Those steps coincided with a stern warning from Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem in the morning cautioning that Canadians should neither assume interest rates will remain at historic lows nor expect recent sharp gains in home prices to continue.“It is vitally important that homeownership remain within reach for Canadians,” Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a statement.The moves come amid a surge in housing prices that’s raising concern among policy makers and economists. Cheap mortgages and new remote-working conditions have spurred a frenzy of demand for more spacious homes, with house hunters bidding up prices across the country.Canadians are so alarmed by the red-hot housing that nearly half the respondents in a Nanos Research Group poll for Bloomberg News say they’d like to see the Bank of Canada raise borrowing costs to curb demand for real estate and stabilize prices.Still, the measures announced Thursday are seen as incremental steps rather than representing a fundamental shift in policy.With the changes, home buyers will have to show they can afford a minimum rate of 5.25%. The current threshold, based on posted rates of Canada’s six largest lenders, is 4.79%. Economists have been estimating the tighter qualification restrictions would reduce the buying power of households by about 5%.The changes will have little impact on current housing price dynamics, according to Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.“This is not a game changer by any stretch of the imagination and it was highly expected,” Tal said by phone from Toronto.The measures from the government and the regulator came only hours after the Bank of Canada released its annual financial stability report, which highlighted the growing vulnerabilities associated with overleveraged households and speculative housing activity. It flagged three urban markets -- Toronto, Hamilton and Montreal -- as showing excess “exuberance,” with the national capital of Ottawa on the cusp of crossing that threshold.‘Not Normal”At a press conference, Macklem said some people have taken on “significantly” more debt, with many carrying very large mortgages relative to income. Borrowers and lenders need to understand that interest rates won’t always be at historic lows, and home buyers won’t be able to rely on rising values, he said.“It is important to understand that the recent rapid increases in home prices are not normal,” Macklem said. “Counting on ever higher house prices to build home equity that can be used to refinance mortgages in the future is a bad idea.”Outside of the warnings Thursday, it’s not clear how much the central bank can do to cool the market.Growing household vulnerabilities could give policy makers more reason to consider raising borrowing costs, for example, but higher rates would also inflate risks -- such as slow growth or a price correction. Macklem’s next interest-rate decision is due June 9 and the Bank of Canada has said it won’t consider raising its 0.25% benchmark rate until he economy is recovers fully from the Covid-19 pandemic.The Bank of Canada’s financial system review did find that Canada’s lenders could absorb a significant amount of losses in the case of another shock. The central bank said household debt and housing market vulnerabilities probably don’t pose a significant systemic threat to bank solvency, even though they could undermine future growth.“We have to look at the whole economy,” Macklem said at the press conference. “There are important parts of the economy that remain very weak, and the economy needs our support.”(Updates with context throughout.)More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

Investors shun tech, rush for inflation protection - BofA

LONDON (Reuters) -Investors pumped money into inflation protection and dumped some tech stocks, BofA's weekly fund flow data showed on Friday, as U.S. Federal Reserve policymakers hinted at discussing tapering of government bond purchases "at some point". Gold funds attracted $1.3 billion, BofA said. Tech stocks are particularly sensitive to rising interest rate expectations because their value rests heavily on future earnings, which are discounted more deeply when rates go up.

Deutsche Bank: 'The value of bitcoin is entirely based on wishful thinking'

Analysts are piling on bitcoin as it plunges, noting headwinds and issues that might stunt its increased adoption.

UPDATE 4-Apple App Store profits look ɽisproportionate,' U.S. judge tells CEO Cook

A federal judge on Friday grilled Apple Inc Chief Executive Tim Cook over whether the iPhone maker's App Store profits from developers such as "Fortnite" maker Epic Games are justified and whether Apple faces any real competitive pressure to change its ways. Cook testified for more than two hours in Oakland, California, as the closing witness in Apple's defense against Epic's charges that the iPhone maker's App Store controls and commissions have created a monopoly that Apple illegally abuses.


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