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France: Macron vs. Le Pen to Decide Fate of EU

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France: Macron vs. Le Pen to Decide Fate of EU

French Elections: Macron vs. Le Pen to Decide Fate of EU

The first round of the French presidential election is now complete, with only two candidates remaining:

Candidate% Vote (Round 1)
Emmanuel Macron23.9%
Marine Le Pen21.4%
François Fillon20.0%
Jean-Luc Mélenchon19.6%
Benoît Hamon6.4%
Nicolas Dupont-Aignan4.7%
Others4.0%

Because no candidate received a majority of votes, there will be a run-off vote on May 7 in which French voters decide between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen.

While the two candidates are each considered outsiders for different reasons, their key platform differences could not be more stark. The major fundamental issue they disagree on is EU membership – and as a result, French voters potentially hold the fate of the entire EU in their hands.

Head-to-head: Macron vs. Le Pen

Today’s infographic is from Swissquote, and it compares the platforms of Macron and Le Pen head-to-head.

Here are some of the key differences between the two:

Background:
Emmanuel Macron is an investment banker that was the Minister of the Economy for François Hollande’s government. He left in 2016 to start En Marche!, a centrist political movement that describes itself as “neither right nor left”.

Marine Le Pen has been the leader of the National Front since 2011, and is a lawyer by trade. She is the youngest daughter of National Front founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, and has worked in politics since 1998. She’s also been a Member of European Parliament since 2004.

European Union:
Macron wants to remain in the European Union and to seek a common asylum policy. Meanwhile, Le Pen wants to hold a referendum on France’s EU membership, while re-instating a national currency.

Economic Policies:
Macron wants to cut government spending to 50% of GDP, to limit the wealth tax to real estate, and to cut the corporate tax rate from 33.3% to 25%.

Le Pen supports re-industrialization of France as well as “intelligent protectionism”. She wants to allow the Banque de France to print money to fund the treasury up to an annual maximum of 5% of total money supply, and also advocates a 10% cut for the lowest income tax brackets.

Security:
Macron wants to stay in the Schengen border-free zone, while Le Pen wants to exit it. Both want to hire new police officers and to add new prison spaces, though Le Pen wants to add higher amounts of each.

Le Pen also wants to cut legal immigration to France to 10,000 per year.

Military:
Both Macron and Le Pen want to re-introduce military conscription for short periods of time. Each wants to increase defense spending, as well: Macron by 2% by 2025, and Le Pen by 3% of GDP by 2022.

Labor:
Both want to keep the 35-hour work week, although with some exceptions. Macron wants to extend unemployment benefits to entrepreneurs, farmers, self-employed, and those who quit jobs voluntarily. He also wants to implement a universal pension system, and to boost training schemes for unemployed youth.

Le Pen advocates the lowering of the retirement age to 60, and for a “purchasing-power bonus” of €1,000 a year for low-wage earners and pensioners. She also wants a national plan for equal pay for women, and for overtime to be tax-free.

Environment:
Macron is opposed to the exploitation of shale gas and offshore drilling, and wants the remaining coal-fired plants in France to be closed.

Le Pen calls for a move to a “zero-carbon” economy, and to ban shale gas exploration, while setting a moratorium on windmills for power generation. Le Pen also would like to ban GMOs.

Education:
Macron says up to 5,000 new teaching jobs should be created. Le Pen wants there to be no free education for children of illegal immigrants, and to restrict the use of foreign languages in schools. She also thinks school uniforms should be mandatory.

Civil Liberties:
Macron supports same-sex marriage, while Le Pen wants to scrap the 2014 law allowing same-sex marriage and to replace it with civil unions.

Macron supports medically assisted procreation for lesbians, but opposes recourse to surrogate mothers by homosexual couples. Le Pen wants to ban surrogacy and to restrict medically-supported procreation to people with sterility problems.

Governance
Both candidates want to introduce some degree of proportional representation to the electoral system, though Le Pen wants to take it further.

Macron wants to cut 120,000 state jobs by not replacing retiring civil servants. Le Pen wants to put French flags on all public buildings, to cut the number of lawmakers in the National Assembly and Senate, and to shrink the size of local governments in half.

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Pandemic Recovery: Have BEACH Stocks Bounced Back?

BEACH stocks—bookings, entertainment, airlines, cruises, and hotels—were pulverized at the beginning of the pandemic. Here’s how they’ve bounced back.

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Pandemic Recovery: Have BEACH Stocks Bounced Back?

The travel and entertainment industries have had a volatile ride over the last year.

During the initial stages of the pandemic, when panic and uncertainty ran rife, BEACH stocks–booking, entertainment, airlines, cruises, and hotels—were left scrambling. Collectively, $332 billion in market cap washed away.

Now, it appears the tide might be turning for these companies, buoyed by vaccine breakthroughs and glimmers of hope for a return to normalcy.

This infographic looks at the growth in market cap value across BEACH stocks one year from when the WHO officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

Washing Back to Shore?

BEACH stocks have gained a collective $376 billion in market cap in the year since the pandemic was declared, with about half the companies trading at their respective all-time highs.

In fact, about 70% of BEACH stocks have actually outperformed the S&P 500, which returned 43.7% during the same period.

CompanyTickerCategoryMarket Cap: 03/11/20 ($B)Market Cap: 03/11/21 ($B)Change
American AirlinesAALAirlines7.214.296%
Southwest AirlinesLUVAirlines23.534.446%
Alaska Air GroupALKAirlines5.78.142%
United AirlinesUALAirlines13.017.233%
Air CanadaACAirlines5.97.933%
Delta Air LinesDALAirlines29.130.96%
Expedia GroupEXPEBooking12.024.6105%
Allegiant TravelALGTBooking2.04.198%
Booking HoldingsBKNGBooking64.096.051%
Caesars EntertainmentCZRCasino & Hotel2.220.8824%
Norwegian Cruise LinesNCLHCruise & Casino4.310.9151%
Royal Caribbean CruisesRCLCruise & Casino10.822.4108%
CarnivalCCLCruise & Casino16.431.893%
Penn National GamingPENNEntertainment & Live Events2.620.4661%
Six FlagsSIXEntertainment & Live Events1.74.1142%
Live NationLYVEntertainment & Live Events10.819.379%
The Walt Disney CoDISEntertainment & Live Events201.2357.177%
Cedar FairFUNEntertainment & Live Events1.82.857%
HiltonHLTHotels25.034.638%
Marriott InternationalMARHotels35.648.235%
Choice Hotels InternationalCHHHotels4.55.930%
Hyatt HotelsHHotels6.78.729%
Marriott Vacations WorldwideVACHotels & Resorts3.87.7103%
Vail ResortsMTNHotels & Resorts7.113.488%
Park Hotels & ResortsPKHotels & Resorts3.45.358%
Wyndham Hotels & ResortsWHHotels & Resorts4.26.451%
MGM Resorts InternationalMGMResorts & Casino10.219.389%
Wynn ResortsWYNNResorts & Casino9.715.964%
Las Vegas SandsLVSResorts & Casino40.748.218%

BEACH Stocks Leaders and Laggards

When dissecting this basket of stocks by industry, it’s clear that much of the recovery story is lopsided. One reason for this, despite the pandemic, is that there are more granular, idiosyncratic trends occurring within these sectors.

Let’s look at what’s propelling the leaders, and dragging down the laggards:

Leading: Online Betting

There’s reason to be bullish on gambling stocks. Since late 2018, some 20 states have legalized sports betting, with more expecting to follow. Relative to other areas, the pandemic has been kind to gambling stocks. Many of those with an online presence have witnessed a spike in traffic, as more people continue to flock towards online betting.

Within the BEACH stocks basket, Penn National Gaming and Caesars Entertainment are clear outliers, having grown an epic 661% and 823% respectively. In addition, the broader industry (measured by the BETZ ETF) has nearly doubled the performance of the S&P 500 since its inception.

Laggard: Airlines

The return to normalcy will be much more delayed for airlines. Global RPKs, an industry metric, are not expected to reach pre-pandemic levels until 2024.

Actions of insiders also seem to match this negative sentiment. Warren Buffett, once a staunch supporter of airlines, decided to call it quits during the pandemic—dumping his entire position.

Airline COVID RPKs

U.S. airline executives have collectively been selling their stakes much more aggressively than in the last few years. To add insult to injury, there’s significant shorting of airline stocks as well. At a short interest of 11.6%, American Airlines is most heavily shorted BEACH stock.

Laggard: Hotels

In a year where social interactions and gatherings have largely disappeared, so too has much of the business activity for hotels. For instance, Hilton sales suffered a 58% decline year-over-year.

But even without the pandemic, the hotel industry had their work cut out for them, through a growing and formidable competitor in Airbnb. Airbnb can scale its network beyond what any hotel can. This is evident in its room count, which is greater than the largest hotels combined.

Airbnb room count vs hotels

More Bumps On The Road Ahead?

The investing landscape today looks to be disconnected from reality, in part because of the forward-looking nature of markets. Even though things are dire today, there’s a belief that light exists at the end of the tunnel.

But the path to recovery isn’t quite so linear. When the dust settles, it’ll become more apparent which industries will “return to normal” and which have set out permanently on a new trajectory.

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Mapped: The Top 10 Billionaire Cities

Where do the most billionaires live? For years, NYC has topped the list of billionaire cities, but 2020 marked a monumental shift.

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top 10 cities for billionaires

Mapped: The Top 10 Billionaire Cities in 2020

In 2020, the world gained 493 new billionaires—that’s one every 17 hours.

For the last seven years, New York City has been home to more billionaires than any other city in the world. However, last year marked a monumental shift in the status quo.

Beijing has unseated the Big Apple, and is now home to 100 billionaires. That’s one more billionaire than the 99 living in New York City.

Today’s map uses data from Forbes to display the top 10 cities that house the most billionaires.

Where do the Most Billionaires Live?

The richest of the rich are quite concentrated in cities, but some cities seem to best suit the billionaire lifestyle. Here’s a breakdown of the top 10 billionaire capitals and the collective net worth of all the ultra wealthy that live there.

RankCityRegionNumber of BillionairesNet Worth of the City's Billionaires
#1Beijing🇨🇳 Asia100$484.3B
#2New York City 🇺🇸 North America99$560.5B
#3Hong Kong🇨🇳 Asia80$448.4B
#4Moscow🇷🇺 Europe79$420.6B
#5Shenzhen🇨🇳 Asia68$415.3B
#6Shanghai 🇨🇳 Asia64$259.6B
#7London 🇬🇧 Europe63$316.1B
#8Mumbai🇮🇳 Asia48$265.0B
#9San Fransisco🇺🇸 North America48$190.0B
#10Hangzhou🇨🇳 Asia47$269.2B

Some cities have some obvious billionaires that come to mind. New York’s richest person and former mayor, Michael Bloomberg, is worth $59 billion. Beijing’s richest billionaire is the founder of TikTok (among other things), Zhang Yiming with a net worth of $35.6 billion.

In terms of the locations themselves, London, New York, and San Francisco are the only Western cities to make the list. Though New York was ousted from the top position last year, altogether the city’s billionaires are still worth more than Beijing’s.

One new city to make the top 10 list of billionaire cities was Hangzhou, the home of Jack Ma. It booted out Singapore from the 10th spot.

East Meets West

More than half of the top 10 cities are located in Asia, providing evidence of the shift eastwards when it comes to seats of wealth. Five of the six Asian cities listed are all in China.

What’s helped lead to this?

The country has seen an e-commerce boom, not in the least thanks to the pandemic. Additionally, the efficient handling of COVID-19 has allowed the economy to get back on track much more quickly than other countries. According to the BBC, 50% of China’s new billionaires have made their wealth either through tech or manufacturing.

Four of the Chinese cities on the list also had the biggest billionaire growth in 2020. Each of them gained more than 10 net new billionaires:

  • 🇨🇳 Hangzhou: 21
  • 🇨🇳 Shanghai: 18
  • 🇨🇳 Shenzhen: 24
  • 🇨🇳 Beijing: 33

The only other city to gain more than 10 new billionaires in 2020 was San Francisco with 11.

Now sitting at 698 billionaires, China is coming up on the 724 held by the United States. Beijing overtaking NYC could be the beginning of a larger tipping point.

Shifting Tides

Asia-Pacific’s collective 1,149 billionaires are worth $4.7 trillion, while U.S. billionaires are worth $4.4 trillion in total wealth.

Overall, it looks like the wealth tides may be turning as China continues to progress economically and more billionaires become based in the East over the West.

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