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U.S. federal budget deficit surpassed $1 TRILLION in 2019

The US government budget deficit for the calendar year that ended in December topped $1 trillion for the first time since 2012, according to US Treasury Department data released on Monday.

The gap between government spending and revenues widened to $1.02 trillion, which is 17.1 percent more than it was in 2018. However, last year’s increase is more than 10 percent lower than the US saw in 2018 due to rising corporate tax revenue.

For the first three months of fiscal year 2020, which began on October 1, the budget shortfall is up nearly 12 percent compared to the same period of 2019 and amounting to $356.6 billion. According to the Treasury Department figures, both federal spending and revenues rose in the first quarter of the fiscal year, with the government pulling in $806.5 billion while spending more than $1.16 trillion.

If it keeps growing at that pace, the deficit for fiscal year 2020 will be above $1 trillion.

“That’s just over $100 billion per month. The rise in 2020 will be even greater. If we really had a good economy, the deficits would be getting smaller, not larger,” Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital wrote.

Some have noted that if it wasn’t for the $21 billion in customs duties, mostly collected from China as a result of the trade war between the world’s two largest economies, the cumulative budget deficit through December would be even worse than it was in 2011 when the US was still dealing with the consequences of the financial crisis.

The widening gap stands in contrast to US President Donald Trump’s campaign promises to lower or even eliminate future deficits. When he took office at the beginning of 2017, he inherited a deficit of $585 billion, and the figure has only grown since then.


The world is drowning in debt

The world’s already huge debt load smashed the record for the highest debt-to-GDP ratio before 2019 was even over.

In fact, it broke that record in the first nine months of last year. Global debt, which comprises borrowings from households, governments and companies, grew by $9 trillion, to nearly $253 trillion, in the first nine months of last year, according to the Institute of International Finance.

That puts the global debt-to-GDP ratio at 322%, narrowly surpassing 2016 as the highest level on record.

More than half of this enormous number was accumulated in developed markets, such as the United States and Europe, bringing their debt-to-GDP ratio to 383% overall.

The are plenty of culprits. Countries like New Zealand, Switzerland and Norway all have rising household debt levels, while the government debt-to-GDP ratios in the United States and Australia are at all-time highs.

In emerging markets, debt levels are lower, for a total of $72 trillion, but they have risen faster in recent years, according to the IIF.

China’s ratio of debt to GDP, for example, is approaching 310%, the highest level in the developing world. Investors have long kept a skeptical eye on the highly-leveraged country. Following a push for Chinese companies to deliver in 2017 and 2018, debt levels rose again last year, the IIF said in its Global Debt Monitor report.

Such massive worldwide debt is a real risk for the global economy, especially because the IIF expects levels to rise even further in 2020.

“Spurred by low interest rates and loose financial conditions, we estimate that total global debt will exceed $257 trillion” in the first quarter of 2020, the IIF said.

The Federal Reserve lowered interest rates three times last year, and the European Central Bank’s benchmark rate is still at its post-financial crisis lows.

Despite favorable borrowing conditions, the refinancing risk is massive. A total of more than $19 trillion of syndicated loans and bonds will mature in 2020. It’s unlikely that all of these will be refinanced or repaid.

Another issue that the report brings up is the financing needs for urgent climate change action.

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals require $42 trillion of infrastructure investments by 2030, but “countries with limited borrowing capacity could face severe challenges in meeting development finance needs,” the IIF said.


Florida: Recreational bill filed today by Senator Jeff Brandes

Today Senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) filed SB 1860, Availability of Marijuana for Adult Use. The bill establishes a robust and free-market regulatory approach to the governance of cultivation, processing, and retail sales of both medical and adult use of marijuana in Florida for those over 21 years of age.

“For me this is a liberty issue. We should give adult Floridians the freedom to make their own choices when it comes to cannabis,” stated Senator Brandes. “It’s not a matter of if, but when, Floridians will have access to adult use marijuana. This bill allows the legislature to lead on an issue a super majority of Floridians support.”

This legislation:

  • Creates multiple license categories, including growing, processing, and retailing, and establishes a new transportation license
  • Allows contracting and wholesaling by growers to processors or retailers
  • Permits adults over 21 access to an MMTC without a medical marijuana card
  • Allows eligible individuals to petition the court for resentencing or expungement
  • Prohibits marijuana from being utilized in public spaces
  • Maintains home-rule by allowing counties and municipalities to prohibit or limit the number of MMTCs within their jurisdiction

“More harm has been caused by the prohibition of marijuana than by marijuana itself,” Brandes said. “I believe decriminalizing marijuana will enable law enforcement to deal with more serious crimes and allow them to have a greater impact in our communities with their limited resources.”

For more information about SB 1860, visit: http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2020/1860


NEWS: VSBLTY & Sensormatic Solutions Demonstrate Comprehensive Shopper Analytics & Advanced Loss Prevention Solutions

VSBLTY Groupe Technologies Corp. (CSE: VSBY) (Frankfurt: 5VS) (OTC: VSBGF) (“VSBLTY”), a leading software technology company, and Sensormatic Solutions, the leading global retail solutions portfolio of Johnson Controls, are teaming up to demonstrate targeted display content that produces high impact advertising and shopper insights, as well as context-based security and loss prevention, at the National Retail Federation expo in New York City January 12-14.

NRF 2020 is the world’s largest retail conference and expo and will feature keynote addresses by Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft; Corie Barry, Best Buy CEO; and Gwyneth Paltrow, founder & CEO of goop, among others.

Using Edge and/or cloud-enabled digital display solutions, VSBLTY and Sensormatic will show how retailers can now enhance the guest experience with proximity-aware, interactive brand messaging triggered by demographic, identity or even sentiment, while simultaneously gaining groundbreaking levels of measurement and actionable insights. The state-of-the-art retail technology will be demonstrated at Booth #5401.

VSBLTY Co-founder and CEO Jay Hutton said, “Retail continues to change at an accelerated rate. Digital technology is being leveraged to enhance the shopper journey while multiple methodologies are being deployed to measure and maximize retail intelligence for both retailers and major consumer brands.”

VSBLTY is the world leader in Proactive Digital DisplayTM that transforms retail and public spaces as well as place-based media networks with SaaS-based audience measurement and security software using artificial intelligence and machine learning. VisionCaptor™ is VSBLTY’s advanced content management solution that is optimized for retail environments. This advanced technology can alter the path to purchase in order to deliver brand messaging at the point of purchase. The entire experience can be measured in real time, improving ROI for brands.

The firm’s proprietary analytics software, DataCaptor™, is an artificial intelligence-inspired audience measurement and shopper analytics tool that captures gender, age range, dwell time, content interaction, among other key metrics that helps retailers and brands determine the effectiveness of their messaging and at the same time measures shopper traffic and sentiment. VSBLTY’S AI-driven software, VectorTM, in addition to customizing messages to VIPs, also identifies persons of interest and weapons, both crucial to enhancing today’s security requirements.

Sensormatic Solutions Head of Strategy Amin Shahidi said, “VSBLTY is an important piece of our strategy. As retailers increasingly rely on in-store video beyond security use cases, together with our analytics they can also understand and provide contextual support of the shoppers’ experiences.”

Data is redefining everything about retail operations and the shopper experience, from how retailers and brands interact with shoppers, to how, why and where shoppers make their decisions and purchases. Sensormatic Solutions is the leading global retail solutions provider that enables smart and connected shopper engagement. By combining critical insights into retail inventory, shopper traffic and loss prevention, Sensormatic Solutions powers operational excellence at scale and helps create unique shopping experiences.

Integrating VSBLTY’s ground-breaking software technology with Sensormatic’s broad portfolio of existing advanced retail solutions provides retailers with enriched, actionable shopper demographic information, and also boosts in-store sales through demonstrated concepts such as the delivery of context-sensitive, targeted advertising and promotional video content throughout the store and on loss prevention pedestals.

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NEWS: ManifestSeven Acquires Lady Chatterley Health, Expanding Retail Footprint Into San Francisco

ManifestSeven (“M7” and formerly known as MJIC), California’s first integrated omnichannel platform for legal cannabis, today announced the acquisition of Lady Chatterley Health, a San Francisco-based legal cannabis delivery service focused on high-end women’s products.

The company will be integrated into M7’s retail arm Weden, which has storefront and delivery operations across the state. The acquisition also gives M7 direct entry into the San Francisco market, complementing its licensed operations in Oakland and Brisbane.

“M7’s acquisition of Lady Chatterley Health is an enormous growth opportunity in a critical market, allowing us to directly service more than 640,000 residents over the age of 21, as well as the tens of millions of visitors who come to San Francisco every year,” said Pierre Rouleau, Chief Operating Officer of ManifestSeven. “Delivery is a cornerstone of our range of services, and this highly-scalable asset further expands our reach across California.”

Founded in 2015, Lady Chatterley Health has established a robust database of active retail customers in the highly-coveted Bay Area market, many of whom are women. This acquisition also broadens the market reach of M7’s subsidiary MyJane, created by women, for women, and specializing in curated product boxes.

“We’re thrilled to be joining with M7, a market leader that will allow Lady Chatterley Health to maximize our growth potential and continue to build on the exceptional service we offer,” said Stephen Kerford, Chief Executive Officer of Lady Chatterley Health. “Integrating into this powerful omnichannel platform also gives us access to a new universe of customers who’ll be able to access a wider variety of the safest, highest-quality cannabis products.”


ManifestSeven (“M7” and formerly known as MJIC) is the first integrated omnichannel platform for legal cannabis, merging compliant distribution with a retail superhighway. M7, based in Commerce, California, services the needs of lawful operators across the supply chain, from the cultivator to the consumer, through an expansive network of seven facilities stretching from the San Francisco Bay Area to San Diego. M7 further augments its business-to-business value proposition with a growing portfolio of owned and operated retail operations located in major metro markets, including brick-and-mortar dispensaries, local on-demand delivery services, e-commerce and subscription offerings.

As further described in M7’s April 10, 2019 press release, M7 has entered into a merger agreement with, among others, P&P Ventures Inc. (“P&P”), pursuant to which M7 will complete a reverse-takeover of P&P (the “Proposed Transaction”). Pursuant to the Proposed Transaction, the shares of ManifestSeven Holdings Corp., the resulting issuer of the Proposed Transaction, are expected to be listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange. Closing of the Proposed Transaction is subject to a number of conditions precedent, including regulatory approval. To learn more, please visit manifest7.com.

Full release