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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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Cannabis

The Allure of Craft Cannabis to Investors

Craft products are taking the retail world by storm. Find out why investors should be paying close attention to craft cannabis and its potential impact.

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The Investor Appeal in Craft Cannabis

They say if you do what you love, then the money will follow. In the multi-billion dollar cannabis business, that has certainly proved true for those who have been passionate about the plant for decades — otherwise known as craft growers.

Today’s infographic from Pasha Brands dives into the huge consumer demand for craft products, and why investors should pay attention to this trend as it extends into cannabis.

The Perfect Craft Product

Chances are, you may have encountered any of the following at least once: microbrewed beer, specialty coffee, premium wine, or organic food. They’ve become so popular, that craft versions of all these are steadily carving a valuable niche in their original markets.

 U.S. Market Size, 2017Craft Market Size, 2017Share of total
Beer vs Microbrew Beer$111B$26B23%
Coffee vs Specialty Coffee$32B$10B31%
Wine vs Premium Wine$80B$44.8B56%
Food vs Organic Food$898B$49.4B5.5%

Whether it’s introducing flavors into brews, slow-roasting beans, producing wine in small lots, or using a conscious “farm to table” label — what they have in common is the careful attention that’s paid to the process from start to end.

Craft cannabis bears a strong resemblance to all of these in that way, as growing it involves extra care, compared to large-scale producers. For example, hand-trimming is more labor intensive than using machines, but results in products with superior quality.

What are some other characteristics of craft cannabis?

  • Attention to detail
    A hands-on approach allows growers to personally ensure each cannabis plant is healthy.
  • Sustainable practices
    The use of organic farming to save energy, creating a smaller environmental footprint.
  • Social responsibility
    Smaller growers typically leverage local connections, creating employment opportunities.
  • Artisanal branding
    Sophisticated and modern packaging helps appeal to different types of craft cannabis consumers.

It’s clear why consumers care about craft cannabis. But what does it offer investors?

Making the Case for Craft

Investors should be paying close attention to craft cannabis for three key reasons: a higher price point, a focus on quality, and access to the retail market.

Upscale Price Tag

On average, organic cannabis has a higher price point attached to it, compared to regular grade cannabis.

  • Industry average: $9.02/ gram
  • Organic average: $11.40/ gram

Using organic methods to grow cannabis means that the final product on shelves boast an enhanced potency and effect. Since craft cannabis is also grown organically, it’s clear that consumers are willing to spend more to secure a premium product.

Promise of Quality

It might not come as a surprise that the most famous craft cannabis regions are also where the biggest volume of legal cannabis sales come from. California and Canada accounted for nearly 38% in global market share in 2017:

  • Worldwide sales: $9.5 billion
  • California sales: $3 billion
  • Rest of U.S. sales: $5.5 billion
  • Canada sales: $0.6 billion
  • Rest of world: $0.4 billion

These two areas have a foothold in cannabis sales, and with recreational legalization unfolding in both – and 75 million people living between the two jurisdictions – it will only continue to grow.

Opening the Doors

Following nation-wide legalization in Canada and an increasing number of states in the U.S., the continent is facing a cannabis shortage. Why? As it turns out, while craft growers are abundant, they still face regulatory hurdles in order to move from the “gray” underground market into launching legal operations.

Craft cannabis could be a cornerstone for industry growth, but its growers have been in the shadows for a long time. As cannabis gains momentum, tapping into the huge network of craft growers will be key for success.

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How the Modern Consumer is Different

We all have a stereotypical image of the average consumer – but is it an accurate one? Meet the modern consumer, and what it means for business.

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How the Modern Consumer is Different

How the Modern Consumer is Different

There is a prevailing wisdom that says the stereotypical American consumer can be defined by certain characteristics.

Based on what popular culture tells us, as well as years of experiences and data, we all have an idea of what the average consumer might look for in a house, car, restaurant, or shopping center.

But as circumstances change, so do consumer tastes – and according to a recent report by Deloitte, the modern consumer is becoming increasingly distinct from those of years past. For us to truly understand how these changes will affect the marketplace and our investments, we need to rethink and update our image of the modern consumer.

A Changing Consumer Base

In their analysis, Deloitte leans heavily on big picture demographic and economic factors to help in summarizing the three major ways in which consumers are changing.

Here are three ways the new consumer is different than in years past:

1. Increasingly Diverse
In terms of ethnicity, the Baby Boomers are 75% white, while the Millennial generation is 56% white. This diversity also transfers to other areas as well, such as sexual and gender identities.

Not surprisingly, future generations are expected to be even more heterogeneous – Gen Z, for example, identifies as being 49% non-white.

2. Under Greater Financial Pressure
Today’s consumers are more educated than ever before, but it’s come at a stiff price. In fact, the cost of education has increased by 65% between 2007 and 2017, and this has translated to a record-setting $1.5 trillion in student loans on the books.

Other costs have mounted as well, leaving the bottom 80% of consumers with effectively no increase in discretionary income over the last decade. To make matters worse, if you single out just the bottom 40% of earners, they actually have less discretionary income to spend than they did back in 2007.

3. Delaying Key Life Milestones
Getting married, having children, and buying a house all have one major thing in common: they can be expensive.

The average person under 35 years old has a 34% lower net worth than they would have had in the 1990s, making it harder to tackle typical adult milestones. In fact, the average couple today is marrying eight years later than they did in 1965, while the U.S. birthrate is at its lowest point in three decades. Meanwhile, homeownership for those aged 24-32 has dropped by 9% since 2005.

A New Landscape for Business?

The modern consumer base is more diverse, but also must deal with increased financial pressures and a delayed start in achieving traditional milestones of adulthood. These demographic and economic factors ultimately have a ripple effect down to businesses and investors.

How do these big picture changes impact your business or investments?

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