Electric truck startup announces $700 million funding round led by Amazon – Ars Technica

A man and a dog sit on an electric pickup truck
/ A marketing photo of Rivian’s R1T electric pickup truck.

On Friday, electric truck startup Rivian announced a $700 million funding round led by Amazon. The announcement is notable not just for the size of the investment but also due to Amazon’s involvement.

The e-commerce giant
has made a
variety of investments in mobility, and electric trucks and SUVs like the kind Rivian debuted at the
Los Angeles Auto Show in November could help the company further its ambitions in that regard.

Rivian’s R1T pickup and R1S SUV made a splash at their announcement. The startup is seen as a potential competitor to Tesla, which has promised to develop an all-electric pickup truck in the future. Rivian’s trucks are expected to be pricy: the startup is taking pre-orders, and it said in November that, when the R1T and R1S go on sale in late 2020, they’ll start at $61,500, and $65,000 after the $7,500 IRS tax credit. (Rivian has sold no trucks to date, so vehicles from that company would still be eligible for the full electric vehicle tax credit. The full tax credit begins to phase out after a company has sold more than 200,000 electric vehicles.)

Part of the attention that Rivian has attracted comes from the extraordinary range that its truck and SUV are said to have. The most expensive version of those vehicles is claimed to have a 400-mile range.

Earlier this week, Reuters reported that Amazon and General Motors were both expected to invest in Rivian, “in a deal that would value the US electric pickup truck manufacturer at between $1 billion and $2 billion.” According to Bloomberg on Friday, Rivian remains in talks with GM, but with the $700 million funding round, the Michigan-based startup has now raised $1.15 billion. GM appears to want to either invest or collaborate in some other way with Rivian.

Rivian’s CEO R.J. Scaringe said the company “will bring on additional partners, but less because of capital reasons and more because of a need to have strategic relationships as we scale towards our broader vision,” per Bloomberg.

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Should You Claim Social Security at 70? – The Motley Fool

Decisions, decisions. Many decisions that we make, such as what to have for lunch or whether to wear a blue or black suit to work, don’t matter all that much. Other ones, though, such as decisions related to our retirement, can have a significant impact on our future financial security and, therefore, on our future happiness.

A key retirement-related decision that many of us will have to make is when to start collecting our Social Security benefits. You can start as early as age 62 and as late as age 70, and you’ll make your benefit checks bigger or smaller depending on whether you start collecting late or early. To make your checks as fat as possible, delay starting to collect until age 70. But should you do that? Not necessarily.

Two lit candles are shown, in front of blurry colored lights, one candle is the number seven and the other is a zero, together representing the number seventy.

Image source: Getty Images.

Here’s a look at some reasons you might want to claim your Social Security benefits at age 70 and why you might not.

Reasons to claim Social Security at 70

Let’s start with why you might delay collecting until age 70. Know that each of us has a full retirement age at which we can start collecting our “full” retirement benefits — every dollar to which we’re entitled. For most of us these days, that age is about 66 or 67. But for every year beyond your full retirement age that you delay, up to age 70, your benefits will increase in value by about 8%. Delay from 67 to 70, and you can make your checks 24% bigger. That sure seems like a pretty good reason to delay. Here are some more:

  • You can’t afford to retire early. Many people are way behind in their savings for retirement. Thus, they expect to be retiring later than they’d like to. (About 19% of workers 55 and older report having less than $1,000 saved for retirement, according to the 2018 Retirement Confidence Survey.)
  • You don’t need the money. If you’re lucky enough to not need the income you’d get from Social Security until age 70 or beyond, waiting for bigger checks can be a reasonable choice.
  • You expect to live a long life. An underappreciated fact about Social Security is that if you live an average-length life, your total benefits will be about the same whether you start collecting early or late. Start early and you’ll get smaller checks, but there will be many more of them. Thus, if you stand a good chance of living a long life — and if you aren’t in urgent need of income before age 70 — consider waiting until age 70 for those fatter checks.
  • You earn more than your spouse. If you expect to live an average-length life or even a shorter one, it can still make sense to delay, in some circumstances. For example, imagine that you’re married and that you have always earned much more than your wife. You might decide together that she will start collecting early or on time and that you’ll try to hang in there until age 70. That way you both get some income early, and much more income, from two checks, once you turn 70. When one of you dies, the survivor will collect only one of those two checks but can take the bigger one.
  • You plan to keep working. If you plan to keep working until age 70 or so, know that Social Security reduces your Social Security check by $1 for every $2 you earn in income from working above $17,640 if you’re under your full retirement age. If you’re at or older than your full retirement age, your benefits are docked by $1 for every $3 that you earn above $46,920. (These income thresholds are for 2019. They change from time to time.) It’s not the end of the world, as those withheld benefits don’t disappear; instead, they’re used later to increase the size of your monthly payments.
Part of a clockface is shown, with the phrase timing is everything on it and the hands pointing to everything.

Image source: Getty Images.

Reasons to not claim Social Security at 70

That’s a lot of reasons to consider waiting until age 70 to claim your benefits. But the reasons to not wait are just as compelling, if not more so:

  • You stand a decent chance of living a life below-average in length. If you’re not in good health, or many of your relatives have died young, starting to collect those checks as soon as possible will help you maximize the money you get from the program.
  • You want to retire early — and can. If you’ve been diligently socking away money for your retirement and you’re just about able to retire early, having Social Security income can help you do so. Retiring early is a great move for most people who can do it, as it means they will be younger at the beginning of retirement, and likely more able to enjoy it, being active, traveling, and perhaps playing some sports.
  • You need the money as soon as possible. While many people retire early because they planned to, many others just end up out of work sooner than they expected, often without enough money to support them comfortably. Thus, getting those Social Security checks can be a lifesaver.
  • You earn less than your spouse. If you’ve earned less over your working life than your spouse, then your benefit checks are likely going to be smaller than theirs. The two of you might employ the strategy outlined above, with you starting to collect your checks early, while they wait until age 70, if possible.
  • Benefits might be cut in the future. A last consideration is this: Social Security changes from time to time. Benefit levels can change, increases can change, tax rates that support Social Security can change, and so on. The program is facing some challenges in the years ahead, as its years of running a surplus are running out, and while our representatives in Congress can strengthen the program, they may choose not to. Some think it’s not a bad move to start collecting your benefits as soon as you can, in case they end up reduced, as you may be grandfathered in at the higher level. Remember that this is just speculation, but it’s worth a little consideration.

The decision about when to start collecting Social Security benefits is a personal one, depending on your needs, your financial situation, and any strategies you have in place. Be sure to read up on Social Security, so that you make smart decisions that will maximize your future income.

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Someone Please Let Jamie Dimon Know That His New Cryptocurrency is a Fraud – CCN

JP Morgan Chase and Co. announced Thursday it would be the first major institutional bank to release its own cryptocurrency. Its new JPM Coin is an almost shockingly impotent reaction to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies by the United States’ largest bank.

Jamie Dimon Gets a New Toy

JP Morgan says you can now give them a dollar, and they’ll give you a JPM Coin, which you can redeem for your dollar with them any time.

So they’re using JPM Coin to keep track of how much money you’ve deposited and withdrawn. So they are offering basic banking as a new crypto.

The embarrassing level of fail in this move is difficult to overstate.

It would be shocking but for the fact that we already knew for years where institutional banking’s head is at regarding cryptocurrency, how it thinks about crypto, the knowledge about crypto that it represses, and what it wants the world to think about Bitcoin.

We know from such well-worn shibboleths as:

“We’re excited about blockchain the technology underlying Bitcoin.”

Which would be like horse-drawn carriage makers a hundred years ago saying they’re excited about some of the underlying technology of these new horseless carriages…

But not the horseless part.

And then presenting a new “automobile” to the market that looks a lot like a Model T carriage and copies some of its finer details, but it’s pulled by horses.

The Very Idea of JPM Coin as a Currency Is A Fraud

They call it “
minting” a coin to mean buying a digital JPM Coin from them, and “redeeming” the coin means selling it back to them for your U.S. Dollar.

This is almost too ridiculous to criticize cogently.

To begin with, you’re not minting anything. That usage, in this case, is in the realm of 100% fluff metaphor. When bitcoin is put into your bitcoin wallet, the fact that it was transferred to your account is indelibly minted into those bits.

Once the transaction has cleared, it’s irreversible. It’s much more permanent and immutable than a design stamped into a metal blank with a coin die and press.

But all that’s happening with JPM Coin, a stablecoin pegged to the dollar at a 1 to 1 ratio, is a client gives JPM a dollar, and JPM’s computer remembers it gave them a dollar and that they’re obligated to give it back when the customer wants to withdraw it.

That is literally exactly how things were at JPM before this so-called cryptocurrency. Clients would give them their money, and they’d give it back when the clients asked for it.

That’s just called banking.

The only meaningful difference may be that they’ve worked up some solutions to manage transfers between accounts faster and can verify more quickly whether there are errors.

JPM Coin Is Just JP Morgan Optimizing Its Database Software And Calling That A Crypto

It’s 2019 and JP Morgan Chase and Co. is finally getting around to spending some of that TARP bailout money on computer software to improve its electronic record keeping.

And it has hilariously decided to pass that off as JPM Coin, a new “cryptocurrency” brought to you by Jamie Dimon, the guy who called bitcoin a fraud.

The response from the crypto community was fierce and hilarious, ranging from “nothing like Bitcoin” (MIT Technology review), to “isn’t even a real cryptocurrency” (CCN), to 2019’s most popular token for money laundering:

JPM Coin Will No Doubt Be Used to Commit financial Fraud

That tweet by Morgan Creek Capital partner Anthony Pompliano is no glib remark.

Although its billionaire CEO Jamie Dimon said “Bitcoin is a fraud” in Sept. 2017, his company has paid billions and billions of dollars in what are amazingly slap-on-the-wrist fines compared to the amount of money being manipulated by JP Morgan for nefarious purposes:

“Since 2010, the year Bitcoin first began to circulate, under the leadership of Jamie Dimon JP Morgan Chase has been charged with 48 different violations of banking and securities fraud. $28,675,456,874.00 is the total they’ve paid out just in the past 7 years in slap-on-the-wrist fines by politicians whose coffers they’ve filled with money.”

They should have just named it FraudCoin because, chances are, it will be used for that at some point.

This is also just a way for JP Morgan, which says its new bank token is designed for wholesale business-to-business financial settlement among its major clients, to inflate its reserves with new JPM bucks created out of thin air and tell its clients: “Here, give us your money for these tokens.” What’s the convertibility of JPM Coin to Schrute Bucks?

Get Out of Here with Your So-Called ‘Bitcoin Killer,’ Jamie Dimon

The idea behind a stablecoin is an exercise in futility.

Like contemplating one of those absurdist koans.

The coin is pegged to the value of something else.

So why not just hold the something else, which ostensibly will always have the same value as the stablecoin, but is actually itself and not just something redeemable for itself?

This is just so funny because Dimon and the likes of institutional finance scoffed at Bitcoin, comparing it to the Dutch Tulip Mania, arguing that it is merely a shared hallucination of one greater fool after another of some kind of value in something with no intrinsic value.

Now they’re asking big players with a lot of money to buy their stablecoin, which they say is worth $1, but why is it worth that? Stablecoins are only worth what all the people who share the hallucination agree it’s worth, but there’s no intrinsic value in JPM Coin.

JPM Coin is so absurd it’s almost like a post-modern art project.

JP Morgan, JPM Coin, Ripple, XRP

Psst, Jamie. Your so-called cryptocurrency is an exercise in futility. | Source: REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

JP Morgan just issued a digital certificate that you can redeem for another digital certificate that you haven’t been able to redeem for hard specie since Nixon was president.

Are we actually witnessing the banking system viciously satirize itself?

Forget World War 3, nuclear Armageddon, the zombie apocalypse, rising sea levels, the AI winter, gamma rays from outer space, or some kind of nano-biotic gray goo.

Is the real chthonic force that will overwhelm the world the unbearable hilarity and terrifying blindness of dinosaur legacy institutions fumbling through our brave new world?

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not represent those of, nor should they be attributed to, CCN.

Jamie Dimon Image from AP Photo / Jacquelyn Martin

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Stern memo sent to hundreds of Southwest mechanics as daily out-of-service planes double – News3LV

With daily out-of-service aircraft numbers more than double the daily average of 20, a Southwest Airlines official has sent a stern memo to hundreds of the company’s mechanics, including threatening them with termination if they are sick one day and do not return with a doctor’s report. (MGN Online)

High numbers of aircraft being out of service on any given day this week has prompted a stern memo to several hundred Southwest Airline mechanics, including 80 based in Las Vegas.

The memo from Lonnie Warren, Southwest’s senior director of tech ops production, called the airline’s situation a “state of operational emergency.”

Chicago Business Journal reporter Lewis Lazare obtained a copy of the memo on Friday and first reported about it.

The memo was sent to 277 mechanics in Houston, 167 mechanics in Orlando, 375 mechanics in Phoenix and another 80 in Las Vegas.

Some 2,400 mechanics work full time for Southwest. All mechanics belong to the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA).

Warren wrote in the memo: “We have been experiencing an unusually high number of out-of-service aircraft over the last few days. Due to this number of out of service aircraft, our operation requires all of our scheduled aircraft maintenance technicians and inspectors. We have an obligation to our customers and to our fellow employees to safely and efficiently run our operation.”

Southwest’s maintenance organization issued a call to maximize the number of mechanics available for work. On an average day, the airline plans for as many as 20 aircraft to be unexpectedly out of service for maintenance items. Each day this week, the percentage of out-of-service aircraft in our available fleet of approximately 750 aircraft, has more than doubled the daily average with no common theme among the reported items. To take care of our customers, we are requiring all hands on deck to address maintenance items so that we may promptly return aircraft to service. At the same time, our operational planners have been working in the background to minimize the impact to our customers.

— Southwest statement from Michelle Agnew

The airline is the most prolific carrier at McCarran International Airport, flying more than 15 million passengers in and out of the Las Vegas each year. There are no specifics if the number of planes out of service have caused an uptick in cancellations or delays at McCarran, the airline told News 3.

“On any given day, maintenance items and weather can result in daily cancellations for the airline operation,” Agnew said in an email Saturday. “The uptick in maintenance items we’ve experienced over the last few days have resulted in a slight increase in that number but we do not have a breakdown of cancellations per city attributed to weather versus maintenance. On a daily basis our operational teams work hard to manage cancellations within the operation in an effort to cause as little impact to our Customers as possible.”

The mechanics have been trying to negotiate a new contract with the airline since August 2012. The Chicago Business Journal described the talks as contentious.

“We remain steadfast in our commitment to secure a new contract for our hard working mechanics,” Agnew wrote.

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Payless Shoes to Shut All U.S. Stores and Wind Down Online Operation – The New York Times

Payless ShoeSource, a once-popular seller of inexpensive women’s footwear and a staple in many suburban shopping malls, is closing all of its American stores.

The company said on Saturday that it would begin liquidating all 2,100 of its stores in the United States and Puerto Rico. Payless is also winding down its online business.

The retailer, which filed for bankruptcy two years ago, had already closed hundreds of stores in recent years as its brand lost luster among women searching for deals on shoes. It is the latest mass-market retailer to vanish from the retail landscape.

The liquidation of Payless, based in Topeka, Kan., is another example of how bankruptcy has helped retailers shed their debt, but it has not helped many of them restructure their businesses and regain sales.

Toys “R” Us and Bon-Ton, a department store chain, liquidated last summer, after failing to come up viable reorganization plans. Sears narrowly escaped liquidation this month after a judge allowed its chairman and largest lender, the hedge fund manager Edward S. Lampert, to buy the company and keep its stores open.

The Payless liquidation comes as more people are opting to shop online rather than in stores, which were at the core of the shoe company’s strategy. But e-commerce explains only part of Payless’s challenges. While Payless struggled to stay relevant with shoppers, other retailers catering to bargain conscious shoppers, like TJ Maxx and Nordstrom Rack, are thriving.

Keeping up with emerging fashion trends and creating attractive stores requires constant investment, which was a challenge for Payless. Some of the company’s stores have also been hurt by their location in struggling suburban malls that are anchored by Sears and J. C. Penney, another listing retailer. As hundreds of those anchor stores have closed, traffic to nearby retailers in the malls has slowed.

A Payless spokeswoman said that liquidation sales would start on Sunday and that the stores would remain open through the end of March, with many open until May.

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Amazon will pay $0 in taxes on $11,200,000,000 in profit for 2018 – Yahoo Finance

report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), Amazon (AMZN) will pay nothing in federal income taxes for the second year in a row.’ data-reactid=”16″>According to a report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), Amazon (AMZN) will pay nothing in federal income taxes for the second year in a row.

Thanks to the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), Amazon’s federal tax responsibility is 21% (down from 35% in previous years). But with the help of tax breaks, according to corporate filings, Amazon won’t be paying a dime to Uncle Sam despite posting more than $11.2 billion in profits in 2018.

How is that possible?

“It’s hard to know exactly what they’re doing,” said Steve Wamhoff, ITEP’s Director of Federal Tax Policy. “In their public documents they don’t lay out their tax strategy. So it’s unclear exactly which breaks [the company is taking advantage of]. They vaguely say tax credits. One could think of many different ways a corporation could do this, like the depreciation breaks which were expanded under TCJA.”

Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive officer of Amazon.com Inc., listens during a discussion at the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018. (Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

‘It’s hard to tell’

“Amazon pays all the taxes we are required to pay in the U.S. and every country where we operate, including paying $2.6 billion in corporate tax and reporting $3.4 billion in tax expense over the last three years,” an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement.

According to Wamhoff, the company’s apparently nonexistent tax bill highlights that there have always been issues with corporate tax liability.

“The thing we would need to know is would they have had positive corporate income tax liability were it not for TCJA?” Wamhoff asked. “Maybe. It’s hard to tell.”

(Source: Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy analysis of SEC filings)

national debt has ballooned up and over $22 trillion.’ data-reactid=”68″>Declining tax revenue has only widened deficits, as national debt has ballooned up and over $22 trillion.

Amazon briefly touched $1 trillion in market cap on September 4, 2018. (Chart: Yahoo Finance)

Amazon not alone

TCJA had been criticized in large part due to the benefits it provided the wealthiest Americans and big corporations. Wamhoff says it’s ironic that the corporate tax rate was slashed to 21% (from its previous 35%) because the effective corporate tax rate under previous tax law was 21%, after accounting for tax breaks and loopholes.

Therefore, Wamhoff says, we’ll likely see the effective tax rate fall even lower.

throughout the years, he says.’ data-reactid=”97″>And historically Wamhoff says, this story is nothing new. Several corporations have avoided paying federal income tax throughout the years, he says.

“These companies have been consistently profitable,” he explained. “And they should really be paying taxes.”

Amazon makes money in a lot of ways. (Graphic: David Foster/Yahoo Finance)

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