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Trump is Wall Street’s favorite in 2020, but his reelection prospects look bad in state polls

Presidents who seek reelection usually win. So Las Vegas oddsmakers, despite President Donald Trump’s low-40s approval ratings, still rate him even money for another term. Wall Street expects him to win next year.

But a look at state-by-state data clarifies the scale of Trump’s challenge. As the president tries to rally supporters at a 2020 kickoff rally in Orlando on Tuesday, he is fighting from behind.

A new Quinnipiac University poll of Florida showed the president trailing former Vice President Joe Biden by nine percentage points, 50%-41%, in their potential matchup for that state’s 29 electoral votes. Trump also trailed other possible Democratic nominees, including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Last week, a veteran Michigan pollster showed Trump trailing Biden by 11 points for that state’s 16 electoral votes. Before that, statewide polls in North Carolina and Texas showed Biden ahead by 12 and four percentage points, respectively.

Trump carried all those states in 2016, and could do it again in 2020. Polls four years ago showed Trump way behind Hillary Clinton. Sixteen months of campaigning remain.

But the data show that Trump will have to climb out of the deep hole he has dug for himself in nearly two and one-half years in office. Americans know him much better than they did in 2015 – and not in a good way.

Despite a strong economy, this week’s NBC News/Wall Street Journal national survey shows that 62% of Americans report themselves uncomfortable or with reservations about a second Trump term; 52% called themselves “very uncomfortable.” A Fox News poll showed every major Democratic candidate ahead of Trump – Biden by 10 percentage points.

Of course, results in battleground states determine the Electoral College winner. That’s how Trump, while losing the popular vote to Clinton, reached the Oval Office in the first place.

Yet key battlegrounds have grown increasingly unhappy with him. This far from Election Day, with the Democratic nominee still unknown, the best measurement comes from his approval ratings in those places.

The polling firm Morning Consult continually measures state-level presidential approval. Its latest calculations show that Trump’s net approval has declined in all 50 of them.

That poses particular problems in the three battleground states where his narrow 2016 victories moved him past the 270 electoral votes needed to win: Michigan (16), Wisconsin (10) and Pennsylvania (20).

In Michigan, the firm shows Trump with approval of 42%, disapproval of 54%. That net-negative of 12 percentage points is 20 points worse than in January 2017.

In Wisconsin, his net-disapproval stands at 13 percentage points – 19 points worse than the start of his term. In Pennsylvania, he’s underwater by 7 points, an erosion of 17 points since the start of his presidency.

Indeed, Trump currently faces net-negative job approval rating in 27 states with 328 electoral votes. Add Florida, where he breaks even on job approval but trails in the Quinnipiac Poll, and the eventual Democratic nominee would hold a strong chance of winning 358 electoral votes.

At this point, there’s little reason to expect such a lopsided result. No Democrat can count on winning Arizona (where Trump’s net-disapproval is 6 percentage points), Ohio (-4 points), North Carolina (-4) or even Iowa (-12).

But winning will require Trump to make up ground across the electoral map at a time when signs point to slowing economic growth and, in personal terms, the public views him negatively.

Some of Trump’s predecessors have certainly won from behind. At similar points sixteen months before their reelection contests, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama each struggled with 43% Gallup approval ratings and disapproval higher than that. Both ended up winning with more than 50% of the vote.

Voters held more favorable personal views of both, however. Reagan’s net-disapproval was just two percentage points in mid-June 1983; Obama’s was six points in June 2011.

Gallup’s most recent survey showed that just 40% of Americans approve of Trump’s job performance. A 55% majority disapprove.


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Adobe rises despite soft guidance

Shantanu Narayen, CEO, Adobe

Mark Neuling | CNBC

Adobe shares rose more than 3% after hours on Tuesday after the company announced better-than-expected earnings for the second quarter of its 2019 fiscal year, which ended on May 31, and lighter-than-expected guidance.

Here are the key numbers:

  • Earnings: $1.83 per share, excluding certain items, vs. $1.78 per share as expected by analysts, according to Refinitiv.
  • Revenue: $2.74 billion, vs. $2.71 billion as expected by analysts, according to Refinitiv.

Adobe’s revenue grew 25% year over year in the quarter, according to a statement.

Adobe’s largest business segment, Digital Media, which includes the Creative Cloud and Document Cloud products, produced $1.89 billion in revenue, up 22% and above the $1.86 billion consensus estimate among analysts polled by FactSet. The Digital Experience segment, which contains Magento and Marketo, had revenue of $784 million, over the FactSet consensus estimate of $777.2 million.

“With Digital Media ARR [annualized recurring revenue growth coming down from 30%-plus range in the last couple of quarters, investors have begun to question the long-term growth potential of the segment,” Stifel analysts led by Tom Roderick wrote in a note distributed to clients on Sunday. “While the potential for seat conversion still remains internationally, we view existing account penetration and new use-cases as the primary seat and ARR growth drivers in the near-term.”

The analysts suggested that additional price increases could bring about more growth.

Adobe said that for the fiscal third quarter, it expects $1.95 in earnings per share, excluding certain items, on $2.80 billion in revenue. Analysts polled by Refinitiv had been looking for $2.05 in earnings per share, excluding certain items, and $2.83 billion in revenue for that period.

Adobe’s stock is up 22% so far in 2019.

Executives will discuss the quarterly results with analysts on a conference call at 5 p.m. Eastern time.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

WATCH: Adobe CEO: We’re ‘optimistic’ about our prospects in the wake of tariffs


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Trump on demoting Fed Chair Jerome Powell: ‘Let’s see what he does’

President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C. 

Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images

President Donald Trump, asked if he still wants to demote Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, told reporters Tuesday, “Let’s see what he does.”

Trump’s remark came a day before the Fed was set to announce its next decision on interest rates.

Trump added that he wants a “level playing field” from the central bank.

Bloomberg News reported Tuesday morning that the White House had looked into demoting Powell in February. Top White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow told reporters that the Trump administration was not currently considering such a move.

The Fed will make a decision on interest rates on Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET, concluding a two-day meeting. The central bank is not expected to make any policy changes, but is investors are hoping for the central bank to signal a rate cut as soon as July. Powell will be holding a news conference Wednesday following the decision.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.


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‘Bitcoin is easily going to take out its all-time highs’: Fundstrat’s Tom Lee

Bitcoin appears to be back in business.

Having crossed above the $9,000 level on Sunday ahead of Facebook announcing its own cryptocurrency, Libra, bitcoin is now up 146% this year. But that could be just the beginning for its bounce back, says bitcoin bull and Fundstrat Global Advisors’ research chief Tom Lee.

“I think bitcoin is easily going to take out its all-time highs” of $20,000, and has the potential to run to $40,000 if its use cases grow, Lee said Tuesday on CNBC’s “Futures Now.” “We’re deep into a bull market, and people are pretty silent about it.”

In his latest note, Lee wrote that he felt there was a lack of conviction about bitcoin’s recent rally, based on his attendance at the CryptoCompare Digital Asset Summit in London last week.

Many in the crypto space were hesitant to agree that the “crypto winter” was indeed over, Lee wrote. They cited worries around persistent volatility in alt-coins and initial coin offerings, fundraising issues in the digital currency market, general bearishness and residual concerns stemming from crypto’s huge drop in 2018, he wrote.

But Facebook’s latest move serves to legitimize the space in a way that could provide further runway for bitcoin, which could even become a “reserve currency in crypto” down the line, Lee said Tuesday.

“The Facebook announcement is a complete validation that mainstream is now focused on cryptocurrencies,” he said. “I think it really destroys those arguments that say, ‘I believe in blockchain, not bitcoin.'”

And, while Lee saw Facebook’s Libra project as “clearly a cryptocurrency play,” the main thrust of it revolves around the idea of decentralized finance, he said.

“I think it is more targeted at stablecoin and creating a new kind of banking system, and it’s very complementary to bitcoin,” he said. “So I think this is actually a really bullish development for bitcoin. I think it’s really bad for stablecoins and anyone who’s been trying to do decentralized finance.”

Facebook’s project has the backing of payment processors Mastercard and Visa, as well as travel giant Booking Holdings. Lee noted that decentralization in finance is “probably really good for payment processors” but will likely pose a challenge to traditionally structured banks.

“One thing to keep in mind [is] Facebook’s annual revenue per user is probably $50. That might be a little high,” Lee said. “But an average bank generates close to $1,000 per user. So, Facebook has a 20x upside to their customer model if they start doing banking services, and so I can see why banks aren’t really enthusiastic about this.”

Bitcoin was down nearly 3% toward the end of Tuesday’s trading session. The digital currency managed to retrace its 2018 highs in late May.



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Finance, privacy experts skeptical of Facebook’s cryptocurrency ambitions

Facebook’s choice of the name “Libra” for its new cryptocurrency venture is apt, because experts and consumer advocates say it will take quite a balancing act for the social media giant to pull it off.

The company announced that it will lead a nonprofit collaborative — the Geneva-based Libra Association — of 27 organizations, including tech companies and payment providers like Visa, PayPal, Uber and Spotify, with the goal of launching Libra in the first half of 2020.

Read more from NBC News:

What Facebook’s Libra could mean for consumers

Unlike the fluctuating valuations that characterize many of the better-known cryptocurrencies, Facebook execs said the value of Libra would be tied to government-backed funds, making it relatively stable. Facebook said it won’t manage the Libra currency itself, but it will create a digital-wallet division it dubbed Calibra.

The company also said it wouldn’t use purchase information to target ads to users because the two divisions would be separate, but made clear it sees opportunities to monetize Libra through merchant fees and potentially even lending.

It’s hard to tell how much of this might be legal, experts say. “Cryptocurrencies are so new that the manner in which they’re regulated or not regulated is still being sorted out,” said banking analyst Bert Ely. Most cryptocurrency regulation so far pertains to securities laws governing speculative investments — which wouldn’t come into play in the case of Libra’s hard-currency-backed valuation.

“Its usefulness really depends on how widely accepted it becomes,” said Bruce McClary, spokesman for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. “If you have acceptance from merchants and partnerships with payment transfer systems, I think it could have the potential to stand out,” he said. “Early indications are that it has the potential to go mainstream, but really, time is going to tell.”

But McClary also sounded a cautionary note. “My concern is that when you put social media and your wallet into a blender, there could be some problems. First of all you want to make sure your financial transactions are secure and private,” he said.

McClary also noted that Facebook said one of its goals with the Calibra wallet was to keep people in its ecosystem for longer. “The initial intent is hoping this will get people to spend more time on its platforms. If people are spending more time on the platforms they’re also spending more time in front of advertising,” he said.

For people with limited financial literacy or discipline, this could be risky, he said. “It might be tempting for some people to overspend the longer they spend on the platform knowing they have available cryptocurrency.”

But whether or not a critical mass of Facebook account-holders would use Libra — especially given the company’s checkered record on user privacy — remains an open question. “It’s difficult for me to see anyone who cares about privacy actually adopting this new offering, particularly given Facebook’s laughable record on respecting their users’ privacy choices,” said Brian Krebs, a cybersecurity expert who runs the blog

Although Facebook said it would use two-factor authentication and protect consumers’ assets if their accounts were breached, consumer advocates say this falls short of the kinds of protections people get from established payment systems.

“There are well-documented issues with the security of crypto/virtual currency wallets,” said Christina Tetreault, senior policy counsel for Consumer Reports. “And as yet, consumers do not have error resolution rights under law for virtual currency transactions — meaning if something goes wrong, consumers do not have clear legal remedies. For these reasons, consumers should be leery,” she said.

“Though they claim it is backed by government currency and that it is free, it is not backed by deposit insurance,” said Lauren Saunders, associate director of the National Consumer Law Center. “It is not clear if costs could be built into the exchange rates, and it may not be protected by the federal laws that protect remittances or funds held in prepaid accounts like PayPal.”

The Wild West atmosphere of the cryptocurrency marketplace might keep Libra relegated to the fringes of the financial mainstream, some experts pointed out.

“Cryptocurrencies are popular in large part because they enable people to transact anonymously, or at least they make it difficult to track financial transactions for goods and services that are illegal, dodgy or severely regulated,” Krebs said.

Ely said one primary use of stable cryptocurrencies is to speculate in more volatile ones, he said — suggesting that Libra might have limited practical use for people in countries that already have stable currencies. “There are all these transactions taking place, but it’s not being used in a meaningful way [like] paying for gas or groceries.”

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WATCH: How Facebook makes money by targeting ads directly to you


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What consumers need to know about Libra, Facebook’s new cryptocurrency

What does it mean for the average consumer that the first truly global currency could be on the horizon?

To start: lower fees, more accessibility and close-to-instantaneous transfers worldwide. At least that’s Facebook’s goal.

The social media behemoth announced on Tuesday it’s creating a cryptocurrency called Libra to debut in 2020. The currency, built on blockchain, the technology underlying other cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, was developed in part to ease money transfers across borders and serve un- and underbanked populations around the globe.

The currency is meant to be sent almost instantly, with fewer fees than current money transfer services. Here’s what consumers need to know.

What is the purpose of Libra?

Essentially, Facebook wants to make it as easy to move money around the world as it is to send a text message.

The company released a White Paper to explain the details. It doesn’t see the cryptocurrency as an attempt to replace the current financial system, as is Bitcoin’s aim. Rather, it’s intended to extend a digital payment method to under-served populations that don’t currently have easy access to traditional financial institutions.

Worldwide, almost two billion adults “remain outside of the financial system with no access to a traditional bank, even though one billion have a mobile phone and nearly half a billion have internet access,” reads the paper. Libra aims to fill the gap.

Even in the U.S., where consumers have access to a wealth of payment options, the FDIC estimates that more than 8 million households are unbanked. But the currency’s potential lies well beyond the U.S. Populations in Africa, Southeast Asia and some Latin American countries are lacking stable, accessible currencies and payment methods, Nicholas Colas, co-founder of DataTrek Research, tells CNBC Make It.

“For large chunks of the world, Libra will be about having a superior form of payment and wealth preservation,” says Colas. Representatives from Libra did not respond to CNBC Make It’s request for comment.

How will Libra work?

Libra will be managed by a Swiss-based nonprofit. It is currently backed by Facebook and more than two dozen Founding Member companies, including Ebay, Uber, Lyft, Spotify, Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, Coinbase and venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. Unlike other cryptocurrencies, Libra will be backed by “real” government-backed assets from central banks to give it stability.

Facebook says Libra will be made available to Messenger and WhatsApp users, who can cash in their local currency to buy Libra. The currency will be held in a digital wallet called Calibra (more on that below) and can be spent on products and services at participating merchants, just like any other currency.

To withdraw funds, users will be able to convert their digital currency into legal tender based on an exchange rate. It won’t be so dissimilar to when you exchange U.S. dollars for euros during a European vacation, for example.

Currently, Libra is not “pegged” to a single currency. Its value will depend on the value of its underlying assets, which may fluctuate. Still, this will reportedly help it be less volatile than other cryptos.

For those worried about security, Libra payments will not be connected to a user’s Facebook data and won’t be used for ad targeting.

How to set up a digital wallet

Libra will not be available until the first half of 2020, so you can’t buy the currency today. Once it does become available, there should be several ways consumers can buy the currency, and you won’t necessarily need to go through Facebook.

Facebook is launching a digital wallet called Calibra to hold and transfer the currency to other organizations. (Calibra is also the name of the subsidiary Facebook is operating that will build financial services, including the cryptocurrency.) Colas relates it to a “Starbucks card with a balance on it, but one you can use for more things than just coffee.”

Transaction fees will likely be lower than those currently charged by traditional finance companies, Colas notes, which will primarily benefit merchants, but also people who, for example, routinely send money to family members abroad and are forced to rely on expensive wire transfer services.

Facebook says that it won’t make money on the currency at first. But Colas notes that once the company has set up the first-of-its-kind global payment system, it will be a natural progression to add other services to Calibra, such as loans, that can earn the company returns.

“Everybody understands the global payment system is inefficient in cross-border transactions, and there’s no bigger market than money,” he says. “It’s the biggest market on the planet.”

How is this different from a credit card?

One of the purposes of Libra is to serve people who do not currently have access to traditional banking and financial tools. Currently cryptocurrencies can be used like a credit card to buy goods online. But Libra will theoretically go beyond that. Consumers will be able to purchase the currency and use it at participating merchants.

“You have a balance of, say, $100, you go to a merchant, you scan your smartphone for a $10 purchase, the Libras are taken out of your account and held by the merchant,” says Colas.

Transaction fees will also be lower than they are for traditional forms of payment. Calibra is similar, then, to a payment network like PayPal, but uses the cryptocurrency Libra rather than a fiat currency, like the U.S. dollar for transactions.

The currency won’t launch until next year, but users can sign up for early access here.

Don’t miss: Facebook’s cryptocurrency chief says if you don’t trust our digital wallet use our competitors

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Facebook announced its cryptocurrency, called Libra.

Chesnot | Getty Images News | Getty Images


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Facebook created a ‘gateway drug’ to introduce billions to cryptocurrency, experts say

Blockchain experts on Tuesday said Facebook’s new Libra cryptocurrency promises to introduce introduce billions of new users to the world of digital coins, but there are several concerns over how the social network’s checkered past when it comes to trust and privacy could impact the new currency.

Facebook on Tuesday unveiled its long-rumored digital coin called Libra that will become available to users in the first half of 2020. The open-source digital currency has been under development by Facebook over the past year, but it will be managed by a nonprofit association with support from a variety of companies and organizations.

“Libra is a major validation of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology to be the financial infrastructure of the future,” said Garrick Hileman, head of research at Blockchain, which makes a cryptocurrency wallet. Libra “could be one of the most significant and positive events in cryptocurrencies’ history as billions of Facebook users could join the ecosystem we’ve been building over the last decade.”

Many in the blockchain space say they believe Libra will leverage Facebook’s more than 2.7 billion monthly users to finally bring cryptocurrencies into the mainstream.

“Worst case scenario, Facebook crypto could become the gateway drug to introduce people to the greater crypto ecosystem,” said Roneil Rumburg, CEO of Audius, a blockchain-based music streaming service. “Best case, their stablecoin is sufficiently decentralized to enable interesting censorship-resistant use cases and is still usable by a mainstream audience.”

More specifically, Libra could be beneficial to users in third-world and developing countries as well as loved ones who currently rely on services like Western Union to send remittances.

“Facebook and WhatsApp are huge in developing nations like Africa and India,” said Tony Perkins, editor of Cryptonite, a media company focused on blockchain. By providing users the ability to transfer funds to one another and to merchants at a low cost, Libra “will bring billions of people into the modern economy. This is huge, and represents a gigantic economic opportunity like we have never seen.”

Upon the announcement of Libra, Facebook also released a whitepaper detailing the technology behind the new digital currency. Many in the space commended Facebook for its decision to keep Libra as an open-source software that others will be able to develop code for.

This openness should also stand to benefit other cryptocurrencies, said Joseph Guagliardo, chair of pepper Hamilton LLP’s blockchain practice.

“The development efforts supporting this ecosystem will at the very least influence the evolution and maturity of other blockchain technology,” Guagliardo said. “This is especially true because the Libra blockchain is open source, so all technology advancements on this blockchain platform should in theory be open and transparent.”

But there are some who question just how much control Facebook will try to maintain on Libra.

“What’s not entirely clear is you know how open it will be and over what timeframe,” said Jeremy Allaire, CEO of Circle, a cryptocurrency company. “It looks like this is going to be a little bit more tightly governed and a little bit more tightly controlled for a period of time and again.”

Others also highlighted that Facebook’s checkered past with privacy and trust while inherently be an obstacle for the company to overcome.

“Facebook has already garnered a reputation for questionable privacy practices,” said Jake Yocom-Piatt, co-founder and project lead of Decred, a digital currency. “A trackable cryptocurrency from a ‘free’ network with a history of selling consumer data could just as easily track financial decision-making and sell it to third parties.”

(Facebook said it won’t use data about payments made with Libra for targeted advertising.)

To some, Libra is nothing more than a smokescreen by Facebook for its problems.

“Libra is a distraction for the core challenges which Facebook has with its community of users,” said Christian Lanng, CEO of Tradeshift, a supply chain payments and marketplaces platform. “Blockchain doesn’t solve trust issues if there is lack of trust to begin with. There is no magical trust just because someone sprinkles blockchain over it.”

There are also some who think Libra will not become an all-encompassing digital currency for everyone in the world to use, but rather, the first in a long line of many corporate currencies that will soon follow.

“Expect to see a boom in new ‘corporate currencies,’ most of which will flop,” said Vin Armani, chief technology officer of CoinText, an SMS-based digital wallet.

“Every platform will have its own coin eventually,” said David Koepsell, CEO of EncrypGen, a service that uses blockchain technology to store users DNA data. “It makes perfect sense to monetize attention and loyalty, which is what branding is all about.”

With Libra, Facebook has an opportunity to lead the way with cryptocurrency technology.

“The proposed system design of [Libra] will show us whether Zuckerberg and company will lead the revolution of trust-based ecosystems, or rather, cynically strip the innovation of blockchain tech to simply do more of the same — control and sell our data,” said Danny Brown Wolf, head of partnerships and strategy at Orbs, an enterprise blockchain.

— CNBC’s Kate Rooney contributed reporting.

WATCH: Here’s how to see which apps have access to your Facebook data — and cut them off


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Tesla investors regain confidence in a quieter Elon Musk as all eyes turn to production

SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk gestures during a conversation at the E3 gaming convention in Los Angeles, June 13, 2019.

Mike Blake | Reuters

Tesla investors are regaining confidence in a quieter Elon Musk — even as they question the company’s ability to hit its production goals for the second quarter.

The automaker’s stock rose by as much as 4.3 percent Tuesday and are up by more than 7% over the last four trading days, giving investors a short respite from a tough year for Tesla. Its shares have fallen by about a third so far this year, shaving almost $19 billion off its market value since Dec. 31. 

Musk has been largely laying low on Twitter after reaching an agreement in April with federal securities regulators governing his social media use. On Monday, he claimed he was deleting his Twitter account before changing his profile picture to black and his Twitter handle to “Daddy DotCom,” presumably in honor of Father’s Day on Sunday.

While it stirred some controversy among his followers, it didn’t worry shareholders, said analyst Dan Ives of Wedbush Securities. Musk has steered clear of tweeting about the company’s financial performance and production numbers, which is what got him into trouble with the Securities and Exchange Commission. 

“I think it takes risk out of the equation, I mean not just from the SEC situation but there’s just so much more bad that could happen than good. From an investor perspective, the less that he talks on twitter the better,” Ives said in an interview.

The Securities Exchange Commission charged Musk with contempt over a February tweet that contained production forecasts — after Musk agreed not to share potentially market-moving information without the company’s approval. 

Musk has frequently set ambitious production goals, only to repeatedly fall short. He told employees in a May 22 email Tesla was on track to break its production record of 90,700 vehicles set in the fourth quarter.

“In order to achieve this, we need sustained output of 1,000 Model 3′s per day. Almost all parts of the Model 3 production system have exceeded 1,000 units on multiple days (congratulations!) and we’ve averaged about 900/day this week, so we’re only about 10% away from 7,000/week,” Musk said. 

The company has produced 1,000 Model 3s on just one day since Musk sent that email, Business Insider reported Tuesday, citing documents describing Tesla’s daily  output rate for one segment of the Model 3 production. 

Ives said he too doubts Tesla will hit that goal. 

“We think that there’s a better chance of the Knicks making the playoffs than [Tesla] hitting their year-end number,” he said.

Tesla’s goal of producing 360,000 to 370,000 vehicles for the year is a “herculean task,” he said. However, Ives said he estimates Tesla will be able to produce 345,000 to 350,000 vehicles, which would be the closest Musk has ever come to reaching one of his production targets and gives investors hope. 

Tesla is set to release its second-quarter production numbers as soon as July 1 and earnings on July 30.

SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk gestures during a conversation at the E3 gaming convention in Los Angeles, June 13, 2019.

Mike Blake | Reuters


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Here’s the tech behind Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency

Facebook’s creator Mark Zuckerberg speaks on the opening day of the 2015 Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona on March 2, 2015.

Lluis Gene | AFP | Getty Images

Facebook on Tuesday revealed its much-anticipated Libra cryptocurrency project, and in the process it published a corresponding white paper alongside other groups participating in the non-profit Libra Association.

The announcement is significant because it’s the first time a major technology company is implementing a digital currency, which could further legitimize the overall category.

“The existing blockchain systems have yet to reach mainstream adoption,” the white paper states. “Mass-market usage of existing blockchains and cryptocurrencies has been hindered by their volatility and lack of scalability, which have, so far, made them poor stores of value and mediums of exchange.”

The document spells out various facets of the project.

  • How the currency is funded: The group stresses that its Libra currency is different because it’s backed a reserve of real assets, including short-term securities from central banks. The assets will be distributed on “custodian” infrastructure located around the world. Money for the reserve will come from people who use Libra and Libra Investment Tokens that are bought by founding members of the nonprofit association. Interest on the assets in the reserve will help cover costs for maintaining the system. Only the association can create or delete Libra currency coins.
  • The underlying blockchain: In general, cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ether use a technological concept known as a blockchain, which uses a set of computers distributed among different owners and locations to keep track of all transactions on the system. The idea is that this computerized ledger makes it impossible for bad actors to manipulate the system by creating new coins, or duplicating old ones, out of thin air. The Libra currency depends on a new Libra blockchain database. This database can keep track of resources like Libra coins. The blockchain uses an implementation of Byzantine Fault Tolerance, or BFT, for its consensus protocol, which is a system whereby various “validator nodes” decide to accept or turn down a transaction. “This approach builds trust in the network because BFT consensus protocols are designed to function correctly even if some validator nodes — up to one-third of the network — are compromised or fail,” the association says. “This class of consensus protocols also enables high transaction throughput, low latency, and a more energy-efficient approach to consensus than “proof of work” used in some other blockchains.”
  • A programming language: Facebook has developed lots of open-source projects over the years, and as Facebook is leading the initiative, it’s not surprising to see Facebook unveil an entire language called Move, which will enable developers to build atop the Libra blockchain. The new language code and other components of the blockchain are available online on GitHub under an open-source license. The open-source approach is “designed so that anyone can build on it, and billions of people can depend on it for their financial needs,” the organization says.
  • Organizational plans: Although the organization already involves more than two dozen companies and nonprofits, it wants to rack up 100 members by the intended launch of the entire system, which will happen sometime in the first half of 2020. The group says it also wants to appoint a managing director.
  • Additional information: The group points to detailed technical documents describing the blockchain, the Move language and the implementation of BFT.

WATCH: Facebook’s cryptocurrency is way more ambitious than bitcoin, says Tally CEO Jason Brown


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These tips will help you max out your retirement contributions this year

Jamie Grill | Getty Images

As the calendar crosses the mid-year mark, are you on track to reach your retirement savings goals?

The IRS has raised the limits for what you can put away in pre-tax retirement savings account this year.

That means you can sock away as much as $19,000 in your 401(k), 403(b), Thrift Savings Plan and most 457 plans, up from $18,500 in 2018.

You can also save as much as $6,000 in an IRA, up from $5,500 in 2018.

If you’re age 50 and over, you can put in an additional $6,000 in your 401(k) and other employee plans and another $1,000 in your IRA.

Even if your personal savings will be nowhere near those limits, now is a great time to check on whether your savings rates will get you to your goals for this year and beyond.

If you’re behind, these two tips will help you maximize your savings.

Don’t underestimate small increases

Ideally, you should be saving as much as 10% to 15% of your salary annually toward retirement.

If you are saving 6% now, getting to 15% may sound daunting.

One way to gradually get there: Strive to increase your savings rate by at least 1% each year. You may not notice the difference this year. That change could add up big over time.

“Those small jumps by just 1% or 2% over a 20-year or 30-year career can really make a big difference in the end,” said Meghan Murphy, vice president at Fidelity Investments. “The longer that money is in the plan and has time to grow, the better off you are.”

Factor in surprise income


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