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June 9, 2020 – The U.S. plans to levy oil tanker sanctions, calls to defund the police around the country continue and man, baseball blew it.

Today’s newsletter is 1106 words, a 6-minute read. Let’s get to it:

U.S. Sets Plan to Expand Sanctions Against Tankers

To hinder the growing relationship between Venezuela and Iran, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control is “preparing to add as many as 50 tankers to its blacklist for working with Venezuela’s Maduro government,” according to the Wall Street Journal. By handing down sanctions and applying pressure to companies associated with those vessels, the Trump administration is making a dramatic effort to limit the revenue and developing correspondence between “two autocratic governments.”

Why It Matters

Inhibiting the Iranian-Venezuelan relationship now could go a long way in avoiding “a possible military confrontation stemming from other types of action at sea,” according to the Trump Administration. Over the past two years, the U.S. has made efforts to hinder the Iranian shipping industry, with a similar pressure exerted on Venezuela. In the past, both countries have turned to the private sector to secure petroleum.

Venezuela is in desperate need of oil, with an expectation that the latest Iranian delivery will only last a few weeks. Leaders from both countries have stated they are planning to continue forward, with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro aiming to reach a deal when he visits Iran on an upcoming trip.

Numbers to Consider

  • 70,000 – What the U.S. was able to cut Iran’s crude exports to per day
  • 2.5 million – Iran’s crude experts per day before the U.S. got involved
  • 150 – how many Iranian tankers the U.S. has deflagged, according to the State Department


Calls to Cut Funding for Police Grow in Wake of Protests

The ongoing protests of the last few weeks, sparked by the killing of George Floyd in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department, has continued to generate momentum toward reducing police funding in departments across the country. The house unveiled a new bill Monday, making “it easier to prosecute officers for misconduct, collect national data and establish new training programs to counter racial bias.”

Why It Matters

The protests are working. Minneapolis, Los Angeles, New York City and many others have also launched efforts to restructure or reduce their police forces and budgets. Cities considering similar actions include Baltimore, San Francisco and Philadelphia.

However, redefining the role of the police is not simple, and some policymakers are resisting behind the scenes. The message of “defund the police,” a frequent sight and sound at protests, has become somewhat misconstrued as a call to completely eliminate law enforcement as opposed to transformational reform.

There’s a push toward positive change, one that will hold the police more accountable. But it’s unclear how fast it will arrive or what the reforms will look like.

Numbers to Consider

  • $6 Billion – New York City’s police budget, which NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed to reallocate part of which to youth and social services
  • $250 million – the amount Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has promised to shift away from the police to address health and education issues in the black and Hispanic communities
  • 79 % — the reduction of the murder rate in Camden, New Jersey since the city disbanded and restructured its police force in 2013


Baseball Had a Chance to Be the First Team Sport Back. It Blew It.

It’s beginning to feel a lot like 1994. Back then, a bitter labor dispute between Major League Baseball’s owners and players’ association resulted in the cancellation of the ’94 season. Now, an eerily reminiscent disagreement between the owners and the players has already cost MLB a massive opportunity to capture the American sports landscape as the first major sports league to return from its Covid-19 hiatus.

Why It Matters

The pandemic interrupted nearly every sports operation on the planet. As organizations waited for the world to sort itself out, a growing opportunity rose to whichever one could return first. Naturally, baseball had the advantage of its season not having started yet, and the owners and players agreed to a modified collective bargaining agreement based on the shifting environment.

The problem is that so much as changed since the deal was struck in March. And while the owners agreed to pay the players a prorated salary based on the number of games played, they’re fearful of the economic consequences of playing games without fans and have repeatedly tried to walk back those numbers.

The owners’ latest deal calls for a 76-game season with players earning 50 percent of their prorated salaries and an additional 25 percent on completion of the playoffs. The players are expected to rebuff this offer, and there’s little optimism a new deal will be reached. As a worst-case, per the agreement in March, MLB can institute a 48-game season without the players’ consent but will owe them fully prorated salaries.

Numbers to Consider

  • $1.206 Billion – The value of the players’ fully prorated salaries in a 48-game season
  • $1.43 Billion – The amount of the players’ total compensation, about 31 percent, contingent on completing the playoffs under MLB’s 76-game proposal.
  • 68,494,752 – MLB’s total attendance in 2019, a number that could crater due to Covid-19 restrictions


Worth Your Time

Global Stock Markets Retreat: Just a day after U.S. Stocks rallied the S&P 500 index into positive territory for the year, the market retreated backward. Since the U.S. officially entered a recession in February, the market performance may indicate things could turn positive quicker than expected. Still, questions remain and fears of a second wave of the virus persist. (LINK)

Sustainable City Living: In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Chinese tech conglomerate Tencent Holdings is taking the opportunity to reimagine urban centers. The company plans to begin construction on a 21-million-square foot development project in Shenzhen. With energy-efficient power consumption, a robust public transit system and a waterfront designed to withstand rising sea levels, the project could innovate on many aspects of how cities are designed and operate. (LINK)

Real Estate Investing with a Little Help from Friends: Throughout the stay-at-home duration of the pandemic, thousands of investors are opting to invest through commercial real estate. But rather than fund full deals, a number of them are buying small pieces of properties through crowdfunding. Covid-19 has knocked down prices, so active deals are in demand. (LINK)

Defiance in Hong Kong: Thousands of protestors rallied Tuesday in Downtown Hong Kong, defying police restrictions on demonstrations marking the one-year anniversary of a million-person rally of arguably the city’s most tense moment in decades. (LINK)

A Couple Cents on Social

Watch Justin Oh talk about NKLA and take questions from the community (LINK)

View how to take a dive into the international video game market (LINK)

Check out executive compensation at public companies (LINK)


See you tomorrow!

— Justin Birnbaum

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  1. European soccer will be back this month, the german league has already been back for a few weeks now. I really don’t see why north American sports can’t do the same.

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