tv Bloomberg Business Week Bloomberg August 18, 2019 4:00am-5:00am EDT
- [narrator] check out our huge selection of custom t-shirts and more, for teams, businesses, and every occasion. you'll even get free shipping. get started today at customink.com. ♪ jason: welcome to "bloomberg businessweek." i'm jason kelly in new york. this week, hong kong's unrest. to understand the chaotic and violent protests, we looked all the way to 2047. and as the election years in the that nears in the united states, it is a democracy versus the hackers.
how vulnerable are states to outside attacks? and why the so-called tech lash has only made facebook stronger. 10 straight weeks of antigovernment protests in hong kong are raising fears about the one country, to systems policy that has prevailed since the british hand over. >> we have been talking about it almost every issue, ever since they broke forth, but what really happened was the airport, clashes at the airport. we really felt like it had become a tipping point, all eyes on hong kong. when we really stepped back and thought about the perspective we could bring to this story, one of the things that came out of the conversation was where is it coming from? one of the things we realized is ,hat it is about 24/7, -- 2047
when hong kong was handed back to china, one country, to systems being this guiding idea for how it would be managed. that is the expiration date for that. when you think about the stakes of the situation, five years out isn't enough time to solve that -- 10 years out isn't enough. our thesis for this story by we are watching is ultimately about 24/7, hong kong's countdown to 24/7. jason: when you think about the nexus there are few other places in the world where it happens in such sharp relief. >> this speaks to the dilemma that the president has. if you use force right now the situation could really escalate really quickly and only others if you use a little patience, maybe the students who are a large portion of the protesters could go back to school in september.
there is a dilemma between use force and be patient. the word that is now being dropped is terrorism, and terrorism would perhaps be a justification to escalate and have things turn to force sooner rather than later, and obviously all eyes are on hong kong -- that would become a much bigger challenge for the world. >> for more, let's check in with bloombergs managing editor, overseeing all our government coverage in asia. he joins me from hong kong late in the evening. thank you so much for joining me. give us a sense of what we have seen this week in hong kong. >> this week we saw unprecedented scenes of protesters going into the airport and grounding all the flights. in hong kong this is very unusual -- i was in thailand in
2008 when they shut down the airport and that ended in a coup. that is not going to be the case here -- china is firmly in control of the government here and of the territory. this is a drastic move, the government was fairly tolerant for the first couple days, allowing them to occupy the terminals. if you are flying into hong kong you would see masses of people, and this severely affected the economy and significantly raise the stakes. -- raised the the stakes. jason: you provide such great historical perspective being there on the ground -- the story takes us all the way to 20 47. >> that is the day the basic law expires, which was put in place when the british handed over hong kong to the chinese in 1997. it was actually negotiated i margaret thatcher.
right now we are nearly halfway through that period, and that hasn't happened. we have had a significantly over the past couple years -- we have seen that system, in hong kong has a future where they are fighting against it. >> we see these pictures, and and for people in the business world, the financial world, this is not the hong kong they know. this is a place that has been central to the global economy, a home to many ex-pats from around the world. what is at stake for the global financial system here? >> well, a lot is at stake. hong kong is one of the premier financial hubs in asia. it facilitates a lot of the investment that goes into china, and that goes out of china.
the chinese use hong kong to raise money, to invest around the world with the belt and road, which is a massive policy for president xi jinping. toulouse hong kong, an international financial center, would make businesses wary of investing in hong kong, which is a significant worry. what we are seeing is that they have been here a long time, and they are very worried about how this is going to end. that it many people think it -- many people think it will and ugly, and there's a lot of money already moving. >> thank you so much. our other big story this week, wall street whiplash. selloff or stocks and sounding the alarm after the u.s. and
u.k. curves invert, historically a harbinger for recession. here's our economics editor to make sense of it all and to talk about a story. he is apologizing for something he wrote before most of us were born. >> first of all, what is an inverted yield curve? it means the long-term interest rates are lower than short-term interest rate, it is a reversal of the normal condition. it can be a harbinger of recession, and we had already had an inversion between the three month and 10 year and now the longer signals are impending recession, not necessarily tomorrow but maybe in 18 months. that was the big news of the week, one of the big factors and why the stock market did so badly. >> this is an economic story, a business story, a market story, but also a political story. >> donald trump getting very nervous because if a recession hits in 2020 it will be bad for his reelection campaign and he
has taken off after jay powell, saying the fed urgently needs to lower interest rates. if the fed did that, the inversion would go away because the short-term rates would come down and we would have a normal shaped yield curve. >> talk to me about the story you had this week because you go all the way back to a businessweek cover story 40 years ago. >> 40 years ago, august 1979, we read a cover story called the death of equity and people are still giving us a hard time about it, because equities have done quite nicely. the article came out at a time when inflation was very high and what we were observing was that stocks did not seem to be a good hedge against inflation. what was a good hedge was gold, diamonds, single-family homes, and stamps.
jason: that was my favorite. i can't even believe that was a thing. >> what happened after that was that the article was right for three years because stocks continue to go down, but then in 1982 after the chairman of the federal reserve managed to squeeze inflation out of the system with punishing back to back recessions, the conditions were set for the rebound. if you look at the market now, if you invested dividends over that period of time, we were at 7000%. the story is right in the short-term but wrong in the long term. i'm glad we are owning up to it. thank you. coming up, as the 2020 election approaches, are the polls prepared for hackers? plus, rebirth in baltimore. e-commerce reviving the american
"bloomberg businessweek." join us every day on the radio from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. wall street time, and catch up by subscribing to our podcast. you can also find us online at businessweek.com, and on our mobile app. as the 2020 election approaches, it is democracy versus the hackers. this week's solution section focuses on how efforts in illinois to protect the voting system show how vulnerable
states are, still, to outside attacks. >> you know, i think we got a little preview when robert mueller went before congress to testify and, putting aside everything else about that event, he kept hitting on this message, that this is a very serious threat we are confronting. that's what the takeaway was from that report first and foremost, and i think when we get into the details, focusing on illinois, emblematic of what's happening across the country, it is a huge problem that is becoming bigger, and that is really hard to contend with for a number of reasons. >> illinois got hacked in 2016. >> one of two states that were clearly singled out in mueller's report, and that is really owning up to the hacking and trying to say we don't want to repeat this. we really want to be prepared.
what's happening is there is a concern that the hacking of 2016 was almost like a practice run for what they are going to do in 2020. the number of parties will be more, the number of countries doing these kinds of geopolitical moves, it is not just russia, it's north korea, it's china. the resources you need to contend with this are tremendous, and while a lot of resources have been devoted, it's a fraction of what's necessary. >> we are talking low double digits percentagewise of what a state like illinois would need. so let's talk about the electoral system a little bit. one of the things i was reminded of in this story is it is incredibly complicated, and it is really decentralized in a lot of ways. >> exactly. it is state-by-state, localities. you have election boards and secretaries of state that deal with it, you have different positions, and you really have to figure out how you are going
to persuade -- since it is not centralized -- all of those people about the necessity to invest. the first thing this comes down to his money and a lot of them -- two is money and a lot of them don't have the money and they are not getting quite as much as they need. so when you are saying try to find the money -- $50 million more than what you are devoting to contend with this -- they look at it and say why would anyone want to hack us? >> that was such an important point because you have local officials who are saying i know they might go after voting in chicago or in the state of florida, a ground for a lot of this -- and you talked to the governor of that state as well. a small county in kansas will be like who cares? >> but a lot of damage can be done and it is not just messing with the voting machine, it is getting at databases ahead of time, messing with the names of voters.
ways that will just really create a lot of chaos, no confidence in the system ultimately. what you are doing here is the psychological kind of war, which is going to lead people to say why should i vote when this is all happening? >> from illinois, let's go east to maryland, specifically baltimore, a renaissance story that may set a template for other american cities hollowed out by forces of globalization. tom maloney has the 3100 acre picker upper. -- fixer upper. >> this is a story about trade onnt atlantic, a development the edge of baltimore city. it used to be one of the biggest steel mills in the world, which at its peak employed 30,000 people and started falling on hard times at the beginning of the 21st century, like a lot of other sites in the u.s., and went through a series of owners, which finally went back in 2012
-- bankrupt in 2012 and was bought out by this company, which is really more of an asset. -- asset stripper. but after spending some time at the site, they realized it could actually be incredibly valuable as logistics center, which is what it is becoming today. >> and you have some well-known names in the business world who have been betting big on this, not the least of which is kevin from under armour. that has probably been one of the biggest champions of the hometown of his company. how does he play into this? >> under armour opened a facility there very recently, 1.5 million square feet, the size of 23 football fields or something like that, just enormous. and what was interesting, speaking to the guy at the atlantic, even though kevin plank is a big baltimore booster, he was looking all
across the east coast and saw that trade point atlantic is really unique in a lot of ways. what made it attractive as a steelmaking facility being right on the water, close to the rail, the same thing that makes it ideal as an e-commerce or logistics facility. they can unload goods right now and get them straight onto trains, 24 hours from the third of the u.s. population. >> still to come, my exclusive interview with private equity legend don gogo on how to invest in chaos. this is "bloomberg businessweek." ♪
99.1 fm in washington, d.c., am 960 in the bay area, and london on dab digital, as well as the bloomberg business app. now to a bloomberg businessweek exclusive. -- has worked at private equity firms for three decades. he became the ceo back in 1998, but we are seeing about $18 -- overseeing about $18 billion in assets. in today's period of chaos, hong kong, brexit, volatility in the u.s., i asked him what role pe plays right now. >> i think private equity can be a bit of a buffer during these periods. to be fair, private equity firms, virtually all of them, are not foolhardy and don't say we will just buy on a downturn -- one of the challenges that private equity has to play that buffer is that it is harder now to deploy capital that it has
-- then it has been in a while there. and i say that because notwithstanding the chaos, valuation and private equity transactions have remained stubbornly high. they have been growing over the last four or five years. you can't reverse the laws of supply and demand, and with all the money that has been raised, this a powder that's available, the animal instincts of private equity firms to put it to work, the equity valuations have moved up and up and it is harder to put money to work. the only way you justify it is if you see this not unbroken but long-term trend up, and given the chaos in a number of industries caused by factors we don't need to enumerate right now, all you need to do is watch bloomberg to find them out -- it is just harder to put money to work. some of the technical factors
are still favorable, although high-yield flows have been diminished -- i think there's been 38 straight weeks of people taking money out of high-yield funds. there is still available capital, there is still investor demand. the capital capital will still be there -- there's plenty of equity. it's a matter of selectivity, that in these periods of time, there's a rush to businesses that seem to have a lower risk profile, and the price gets sped up. for us and many others, navigating your way to find the right transaction with the right capital structure and management team, the right path through the regulatory maze, if it is a businesslike health care, it is complicated. but i still view it as a flexible buffer that can normalize economies and companies.
when needed. jason: right. you have the ability and probably the need to talk to ceos all the time, ceos of companies you control, of companies you want to control -- you have a whole network at your disposal -- if you can generalize how the leaders of big and small companies are feeling right now, what would you say? >> there is high anxiety, and appropriately so. anxiety about the economic and macroeconomic clinical conditions that you described. but i think public company ceos feel under more pressure than ever to show at least some level of performance improvement, and it is of course a function both of the stock market, which gives you a report card every day, activists that come in and let you know what you are doing
wrong and what they think you should be doing right, boards that feel that they have to respond to a lot of those pressures, and if you look at the statistics -- i would freeze it in a way that sounds shocking, but it is just math -- if you recognize that about one in five s&p 500 ceos change every year, that means there's a ceo change in the s&p 500 about every four or five days. it's just math. jason: just math there. >> so if you are the ceo looking at those numbers, looking to the left and right, you would like to have eyes behind you -- it's not that you don't trust your board or that people will not give you time, but it's a measure of the environment that it is tough, and ceo tenure is being reduced, and ceos have a tough job in public companies. it is tough everywhere. leadership is always hard. i just think now the scrutiny, social media, activists,
shareholders, makes it very hard to be a public company. jason: for my entire conversation with him, including what he has learned from hiring and firing dozens of ceos, check out our extra podcast wherever you get them. we turn now from anxiety can the -- in the boardroom to anxious students and graduates, and the lasting burden of student debt. here's this week's business week explainer from the finance section. >> do the math on america's $1.6 trillion student loan balance, and the bottom line is pretty grim. a bloomberg businessweek analysis found that student loan borrowers are paying down about 1% of their federal debt every year. for the average borrower, that is a kin to only $300 on a typical $30,000 loan. at that rate, the debt won't be paid off first century.
no wonder it has become a political issue. progressives propose a bailout because tuition has outpaced inflation in wages. conservatives blame the government for promoting out-of-control borrowing. about 8 million borrowers are in income-based plans to reduce monthly payments which can lead to debt forgiveness and as few as 10 years, which has led to fewer delinquencies. on the other hand they let the slower repayment and rising balances, which is why it is at a 50 year low and the economic spansion is the longest in test expansion -- expansion is the longest in history. it is time to get tougher while student loan prices likely get worse. jason: still ahead on "bloomberg businessweek," amd is back to making life difficult for intel, and the spc and facebook. -- ftc and facebook. why the tech clash is only making the social network stronger. this is "bloomberg businessweek." ♪ ♪
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thriving. >> that one is amd. it has been a rivalry between amd and intel. amd is in white, up 600% in the last five years. the gains in intel only up 50% or so. you know there is a rivalry between these two, even with the trade war. it is impressive from a market perspective. jason: that outperformance is really something for. amd is thriving thanks to the ceo efforts to exploit intel's woes. >> a little volatile, and as you expect from amd, they have had huge run ups and huge declines. but in general, i spoke to one
fund manager who said i don't want a rock star. we have had people who thought they were rock stars and never turned out well. i am much more comfortable somebody comfortable in their own skin. she is the person who goes in and check some people. checks whether the chips will be out on time, rather than the person out there on stage. that appears to have resonated with investors and analysts. jason: look at the other side of the coin. the intel side. obviously, that is a company we have talked about. it has had some management challenges and technical challenges as it has tried to continue down the road of shrinking things on semi conductors, shrinking down to 10 nanometers. >> nobody has ever seen this from intel.
like any company, they have ups and downs, but this appears to be fundamental. this is the thing they have used to beat up everybody. amd is remarkable because they are a survivor. all manner of companies try to compete with intel, all of them are gone. that is because they ran the best factories on the planet. that was their boast and it was hard to argue. normally, 18 months, we are on to the next node of processing. that gives not just cheaper costs, but makes these chips perform better. nobody was even coming close to what intel was capable of. but now, 2017 is when they promised 10 nanometer. not going to happen in server chips until next year. jason: something you point out that is so fascinating is that
lisa su and her team made a key decision around their own manufacturing which has allowed them to step in at a time when intel has stumbled. >> this is an example of her pragmatism and what people tell us about her. she makes decisions not based upon becoming intel are trying to compete but doing the best for her company and positioning themselves. what she has done is shift production to a company called taiwan semi conductor manufacturing. that company has really pulled ahead in the last couple of years. that company, which only does outsource manufacturing company the vast majority of volume comes from smartphone processors and memory.
a lot of what goes on in chip factories, of course, pure science. it's material science, applied physics and chemistry, the simple making sure these are working flat out. tsmc is the best at making these work right now and has, in theory, better manufacturing them intel. jason: staying with technology, the techlash has only make facebook stronger. didn't see that coming. we are looking at the fine print of last months $5 billion privacy settlement. >> think about facebook and what makes facebook work. the $70 billion advertising revenue business, it's all about data. the data facebook has compiled, not just from users, but from third parties and tracking
people, understanding what they click on and watch and care about, that is the value at the center of their advertising business. and so when the ftc comes and tells them you can't share that data with anybody else, great! facebook loves that, in a way. they are big enough not to rely on other companies. they -- there used to be a reason for facebook to share its data with developers of games and quizzes for facebook and things you remember from the facebook of five or six years ago. but now, the company is big enough that it does not need to rely on that network. so the ftc is punishing a version of facebook that no longer exists. jason: it is such a provocative idea. i love this story because it
turned it on its head. it made me think about this in a whole different way. you go back to the cambridge analytical story, part of the reason we are even talking about this. >> right. the cambridge analytical, there was a developer who used a tool to gather information on millions of people and sold that data to this political consultancy. it worked for conservative campaigns including trump. that was an uproar, but that happened before 2015. the fact that facebook knew about it and did not do anything, that is a problem. but we will continue to see leaks like that from the past. these breaches of user data that will come back to haunt facebook. but the facebook of today, the facebook of the future, is not the same company. so when regulators think about
how to fix the current problem of this company with tremendous power over our society and information we get, that facebook is not the one sharing data with third parties. it is not the one relying on people to make personality quizzes. in fact, it is just trying to become self-sufficient network of its own making and combine its messaging app so they have this network to work with. it is a very different company. it'll be interesting to see if regulators start to think about the future of what they are looking at. jason: up next, the next stage in legal cannabis cultivating returns. this is "bloomberg businessweek." ♪
jason: welcome back to "bloomberg businessweek." i am jason kelly. join us every day on the radio from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. wall street time. and catch up on our daily show, and subscribe to our podcast. and find us online at businessweek.com. turning to a story you can find online, here is our reporter on how weed is normalizing by going upscale. >> we are about a $10 billion industry, it is becoming big business. there are 11 states were adults can buy marijuana, another 24 with medical access. the latest progression is luxury products and customized products. we talked to a company from colorado that will make custom blunts, a cigar filled with marijuana.
they sell for $1200 a pop. people are buying these for their weddings. we are seeing these for bachelorette parties and rap groups that are getting custom joints. so the progression and a normalization is now the emergence of luxury products. jason: it's interesting. the celebrity angle i feel like , one of the subheads could be smoking weed, it's not just for snoop dogg anymore. you are talking about chelsea handler, jay-z, willie nelson, obviously. >> there are a lot of celebrities that have been out there with it, way before, when this was demonized. and you are seeing again, this is about the normalization. in new york, it is still illegal. if you go out to california, it is a very different attitude. people are moving away from drinking. happy hour, people think it's crazy to get drunk after work
because they have to up early and do you go to for all these other things. cannabis has been positioned as part of an active lifestyle and i think you are seeing more and more celebrities. martha stewart is a great example. she has a friendship with snoop. i think the important piece here is how this is being embraced by people here. jason: walk me through where we have come. we've got big institutional investors. that feels like evidence of a step forward or a maturing of this industry. >> 100%. a year ago is when different brands put millions into the world's most valuable cannabis company, that was the inflection point. a big, public company saying we think this is real and we are betting on that. in the fall, we had a slew of companies going public and it
has been a steady drumbeat. the big banks are largely on the sidelines. federal prohibition is keeping the goldmans, the credit suisse, those guys are staying away. it is small enough to ignore and they are concerned about the regulatory risk. the federal government still considers it illegal and amongst the worst narcotics around, with heroin. it is this crazy dichotomy. the government says it is illegal, but it is a thriving business in california, the sixth largest economy in the world, and business is booming. family offices are showing up, hedge funds are getting interested. josh kushner's thrive capital invested in marijuana. slowly but surely, people see the growth and potential across a variety of industries and are starting to put money in.
just for fomo. they see a lot of growth and don't want to have missed out. in the interesting thing about kushner, it is non-plant touching. that is still a distinction for a lot of people. . they invested in a tech company. they do not touch the plant, which is the industry term for dealing directly with marijuana. so they did not invest in a grower or a brand or a retail chain. they invested in a technology company that is working in canada. so there are still these subtle distinctions. jason: for more on the business of cannabis, we spoke with leaf link ceo and cofounder ryan smith, the online marketplace for wholesale buyers and sellers of cannabis. they just raised a $35 million round led by thrive management. thrive back to before its acquisition by facebook. this is the first
cannabis-related investment. i asked what they planned to do with this money. >> we are really proud to be that bridge that connects institutional quality investors to the cannabis space. we are a technology company, so it is a valuable way to look in and participate. we want to think of ourselves as this professional tech outfit and we want the best investors. jason: give me the basic pitch. an a to b k is marketplace, connecting brands, territories, with licensed retailers. if you are at a dispensary, you need to buy from 30 to 50 brands to stock your shelves, you do that in one cart on leaf link. jason: you'll be scaling the financial piece, all of those issues have got to be one of the most, located thing to tackle.
>> we have done our best to follow the rules that exist and we work closely with regulators to make sure the things we put in the market are following regulations. for example, if we were a marketplace selling shoes, we could plug in paypal or dhs. none of those are available to our clients, so we had to come up with a solution that was somewhat removed but also compliant. that is what gave rise to leaf link financial. allows them to pay for their goods through the marketplace. jason: walk me through how you even go about building something like this. as you say, it's not like selling shoes or books or anything we are used to buying. >> for us, the first three and a half years about being close with our clients.
people were paying a flat fee to be on the platform, so we were not a part of the transaction. what we found was that it's not that banks and financial is as cancer cannabis companies, is that there is a higher level of due diligence. jason: know your customer. >> exactly. and we deeply know our customers and licenses, the individuals. so we have a solution that takes advantage of things that only we have to provide them to banks and institutions that lessen the amount of work they need to do to service these companies. jason: how did you get this idea? >> my cofounder and i, zach, was at ebay for a bit. i have been selling things online. my parents would say things went missing in the house. we both sold independent companies and began thinking about a way to virtualize the supply chain.
why aren't b to b marketplaces a thing? we go to work and we are emailing and writing po's, faxes. we were thinking about a great place to bring this value. if we were to launch this in the paper industry our space itself is a startup so we built a marketplace here. jason: let's talk about that ecosystem a little bit. we have had some highly valued, public companies come onto the scene. some of which you are associated with. talk about that relationship. >> we have been growing over the last 3.5 years in canada, it is federally legal and that was a market for us. we reached out to canopy rivers to open up international markets. they are operational in over 12 international territories.
so we formed with them to launch our software into these markets that are still trying to find their way amongst regulators. so we opened up an office in toronto around that effort. jason: coming up, the world of pursuits from a slightly different angle. why you can't quite get what some consider dirty money out of museums around the world. this is "bloomberg businessweek." ♪
we can't let you go without a little news, this week's opener, the art world is in crisis. the wave of protests against museum donors is creating an existential threat to art organizations across the world. >> these protests that are occurring across the united states and europe have to do with some very, very wealthy families who have been doing controversial things. there is the sackler family, which owns purdue pharma which produce oxycontin, which various lawsuits allege is responsible for perpetuating the opioid epidemic. and there's a man who produces teargas, which processors allege was used during confrontations at the u.s.-mexico border. it just so happens that the sackler family and others are
major art patrons. there was a tremendous movement to remove the sackler family from various cultural institutions. the point of all of this is that protesters are alleging that cultural institutions are, in whatever way, forward-looking and liberal and a spouse various -- espouse various worldviews that are completely in opposition to people like the sackler's. they feel these cultural institutions are art washing these families in a way they benefit in a way they should not. jason: let's take a step back. when you have just laid out goes to the very core of how
institutions have been funded for centuries, a millennia, in some ways. >> that is exactly right. the entire thing is that, in europe, institutions are funded by the government. in the united states, they have always been paid for by wealthy people. in the united states, most wealthy people have made their money in ways that are not necessarily completely blameless. there are only a finite number of people whose fortunes are derived from green energy. everybody else is, in whatever way, subject to scrutiny. the issue, then, is that museums rely on this vast wealth to stay in business. they don't really have any other way of getting money.
there aren't public funds available. so as museums attempt to respond to the protesters, they are put in this interesting position, some might say impossible position, where they want to be responsive to their constituents but they also need to keep the lights on. this is the real crux of the issue and nobody has a great answer. jason: let's take a virtual stroll through the various wings of various museums in new york city. look at the outsides of the buildings, the boards of trustees. you don't have to dig very deep to find oil, private equity, hedge fund money. what is a museum to do? >> currently, they have no idea. that's the short answer. for the time being, museums are putting out fires whenever they come.
but also, partly by necessity, and partly by principal, saying look, if people believe in our mission, we are not in a position to make value judgments about the ways they might have made their money in a capitalist society. jason: bloomberg businessweek is available on newsstands now, online, and through our mobile app. there, you can find more stories from this week's issue, including a political upset and panicking investors in argentina. plus, french tv reform as netflix and youtube capture a growing chunk of advertising dollars. and china and its bid for technological supremacy has one small problem, research and development spending at a little more than 2% of gdp, and by that of israel, japan, and the united states. more bloomberg television starts now. ♪ from the couldn't be prouders
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this is bloomberg "etf iq," where we focus on the access, risks and rewards offered by exchange traded funds. panic buying up bonds. evidence of slowing growth, plus political unrest in emerging markets fueling global recession fears. the perils of passive investing. a vanguard sustainable fund -- sustainable fund -- messes up big-time. a setback for crypto vols. the sec punts on a bitcoin etf once again, delaying a decision until october.