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‘Tis the Season: U.S. Holiday Spending Projected to Reach All-Time High in 2020

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U.S. Holiday Spending Projected to Reach All-Time High in 2020

The Briefing

  • U.S. consumers are expected to spend up to $767 billion this holiday season
  • Online and non-store sales are projected to account for $218 billion of that
  • On Black Friday alone, U.S. consumers spent $9 billion online—a 22% increased compared to 2019

U.S. Holiday Spending Projected to Reach All-Time High in 2020

Despite the economic uncertainty caused by COVID-19, Americans are still willing to shell out some serious cash this holiday season.

This year, the National Retail Federation (NRF) expects U.S. consumers to spend up to $767 billion through the months of November and December—a 5.2% increase compared to 2019.

Why the increase, given 2020’s economic turmoil? The NRF cites recent job growth, low energy costs, and reduced spending on travel and entertainment as a few key factors driving this year’s projected spending growth.

15 Years of U.S. Holiday Spending

In America, November and December are generally the busiest retail months of the year. Here’s how much U.S. consumers have spent during the holidays since 2005:

Year          U.S. Retail Spending During Holiday Season (Billions)YoY Change
2005$496.06.2%
2006$512.13.2%
2007$526.02.7%
2008$501.5-4.7%
2009$502.71.2%
2010$528.85.2%
2011$553.34.6%
2012$567.62.6%
2013$584.43.0%
2014$614.15.1%
2015$632.93.1%
2016$652.63.1%
2017$687.45.3%
2018$700.71.9%
2019$729.14.1%

While this year’s spending is set to break records, the shopping experience will likely look different for many consumers. For instance, 59% of U.S. shoppers plan to do more shopping online this year, in an attempt to stay safe during the pandemic.

»What about other major retail holidays? Read our full article How Holiday Spending Compares Around the World

Where does this data come from?

Source: U.S. Census via National Retail Federation
Note: NRF holiday spending is defined as the months of November and December. NRF’s forecast excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations, and restaurants.

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Datastream

The Most Significant Cyber Attacks from 2006-2020, by Country

Cyber crime is expected to cost the global economy trillions per year by 2025. Here are the countries with the most severe cyber attacks from 2006-2020.

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The Briefing

  • From 2006 to 2020, the U.S. experienced 156 significant cyber attacks—more than the UK, India, and Germany combined
  • A “significant” cyber attack refers to a hack into a country’s government agency, a defense or high-tech company, or a crime with losses of more than $1M

Significant Cyber Attacks from 2006-2020, by Country

Committing a cyber crime can have serious consequences. In the U.S., a cyber criminal can receive up to 20 years in prison for hacking into a government institution if it compromises national security.

Yet, despite the consequences, cyber criminals continue to wreak havoc across the globe. But some countries seem to be targeted more than others.

Using data from Specops Software, this graphic looks at the countries that have experienced the most significant cyber attacks over the last two decades.

RankCountry / RegionNumber of Significant Cyber Attacks (2006-2020)
1🇺🇸 United States156
2🇬🇧 United Kingdom47
3🇮🇳 India23
4🇩🇪 Germany21
5🇰🇷 South Korea18
6🇦🇺 Australia16
7🇺🇦 Ukraine16
8🇨🇳 China15
9🇮🇷 Iran15
10🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia15
11🇯🇵 Japan13
12🇨🇦 Canada12
13🇫🇷 France11
14🇮🇱 Israel11
15🇵🇰 Pakistan9
16🇷🇺 Russia8
17🇭🇰 Hong Kong7
18🇻🇳 Vietnam6
19🇹🇷 Turkey6
20🇰🇵 North Korea5

The U.S. comes in first place, with 156 recorded cyber attacks. That’s an average of 11 significant attacks per year, which is more than Russia’s had in 14 years.

What are the Most Common Types?

While there are many different types of cyber attacks, Specops highlights the four most commonly used for significant cyber crimes:

  • Structured Query Language (SQL) Injection Attack
    SQL is the code used to communicate with a database. In an SQL injection attack, the hacker writes vindictive SQL code and inserts it into a victim’s database, in order to access private information.
  • A man-in-the-middle (MitM)
    This form of attack happens when a cyber criminal hacks into a communication channel between two people, and eavesdrops on their online exchanges.
  • Phishing Attack
    When a cyber criminal poses as a legitimate institution and emails a victim to gain personal details like login credentials, home address, credit card information.
  • Denial of Service Attack (DoS)
    This involves flooding a victim’s system with traffic, to the point where their network is inaccessible. The hacker doesn’t gain any valuable information from this style of attack.

»Like this? Here’s another article you might enjoy: The 15 Biggest Data Breaches in the Last 15 Years

Where does this data come from?

Source: Specops Software
Details: Report is based on each entry made by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in their record of significant cyber-attacks between May 2006 and June 2020.

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Datastream

How Does the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Invest Its Money?

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is funded by a trust that has a portfolio value of over $25 billion. Here’s how it invests its assets.

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Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

The Briefing

  • The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Trust has a total portfolio value of over $25 billion
  • Almost half of the money is invested in Berkshire Hathaway, a holding company run by chairman and CEO Warren Buffett
  • The trust favors industrial stocks, with a 34% weighting in the sector

How Does the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Invest Its Money?

Bill and Melinda Gates have announced they are ending their marriage, but will continue to work together at their foundation.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, launched in 2000, is the largest private philanthropic organization in the United States. It has spent over $50 billion on global public health over the last two decades, including $1.75 billion on COVID-19 relief.

Of course, the foundation’s assets are managed by a trust until they are ready to be distributed to grantees. Here’s a look at how the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Trust invests its assets.

The Portfolio Breakdown

The trust has invested 100% of its holdings in stocks. It holds almost half of its value in Berkshire Hathaway, the holding company run by Warren Buffett.

StockValue% of Portfolio
Berkshire Hathaway$11.8B45.5%
Waste Management$2.6B10.0%
Caterpillar$2.6B10.0%
Canadian National Railway$1.9B7.2%
Walmart$1.6B6.4%
Crown Castle$1.0B3.9%
Ecolab$991M3.8%
UPS$960M3.7%
FedEx$921M3.6%
Schrodinger$518M2.0%
Coca-Cola FEMSA$294M1.1%
Grupo Televisa$213M0.8%
Liberty Global$156M0.6%
Apple$133M0.5%
Amazon$102M0.4%
Alphabet (Google)$102M0.4%
Twitter$15M0.1%
Liberty Latin America$14M0.1%

However, the portfolio is more diversified than initially meets the eye—Berkshire Hathaway itself is invested in almost 50 stocks.

Shrodinger, a healthcare-focused software company that makes up 2% of the trust’s total portfolio, was one of the best performing stocks of 2020 by price returns. The portfolio has also been boosted by delivery companies UPS and FedEx, both of which saw their share prices more than double over the last year as online shopping took off.

While the trust is dominated by U.S.-domiciled companies, a few foreign names do make the list. For example, Canadian National Railway makes up over 7% of the portfolio, while the Latin American bottler Coca-Cola FEMSA makes up just over 1%.

The Future of the Foundation

The trust continues to be managed by a team of outside investment managers, whose decisions have a critical impact on the amount of money the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has to fund its initiatives. For example, if Berkshire Hathaway were to dip 10%, this would drop the portfolio value by more than $1 billion.

In addition, the foundation is funded in part by the Gates’ personal donations—more than $36 billion from 1994 to 2018. Should Bill and Melinda go on to create their own separate philanthropic efforts post-divorce, the foundation may have a smaller portfolio to pull from going forward.

» Like this? Then you might also like The Warren Buffett Empire in One Giant Chart

Where does this data come from?

Source: SEC filings and MarketWatch
Notes: Portfolio holdings are as of December 31, 2020. Stock values are as of market close on May 3, 2021.

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