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Airbnb hosts to earn more than 2 million in Gangwon



With the Winter Olympics underway in South Korea, residents in the country’s Gangwon province are set to earn more than $2 million from renting out their homes to visitors, according to Airbnb.

Gangwon is set to house more than 9,000 travelers in Airbnb-listed homes during the games, the short-term rentals company said at a press conference in Seoul last week. There were about 4,000 Airbnb listings in the province, the company added.

On average, people booked accommodation for three nights and paid about $170 a night, the firm said. The costliest listing on Airbnb’s website, as of Feb.14, was more than $400 for a one-night stay in Gangwon province.

The median income for residents from renting out their homes during the games was predicted to be about $260, according to the firm. In total, hosts in Gangwon were set to earn about $2.1 million, Airbnb said.

The Winter Olympics end on Feb. 25, and most of the events are held in Pyeongchang, a county within the Gangwon province.

Airbnb said many of the travelers were arriving from other parts of South Korea, the United States, China, Canada and Japan.

During major sporting events, accommodation is usually a scarce commodity. Because of the excessive, temporary influx of visitors to host cities, hotels are able to charge a higher rate than usual. But the prevalence of vacation rental sites like Airbnb has widened the selection of accommodation options available to visitors.

Still, last year, reports said that the South Korean government cracked down on hotels attempting to charge travelers excessively.

Hotel-booking website showed that as of Feb. 14, hotels in Gangwon province were charging from anywhere between $30 to more than $700 a night.

In recent years, Airbnb hosts have collectively made millions of dollars by renting out their homes to visitors during special events.

For example, during the recent Super Bowlweek, Airbnb said hosts in Minneapolis and Saint Paul earned about $3.7 million thanks to about 7,000 visitors.

Similarly, users in the Washington D.C.-area made nearly $6 million from renting out their homes to people who arrived to watch President Donald Trump’s inauguration last year, the firm said.

During the Summer Olympics in 2016, Airbnb hosts in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, made more than $30 million in additional income from about 85,000 visitors, who paid on average $165 a night.

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Facebook bans Myanmar’s military on FB, Instagram platforms over coup



Pro-military supporters throw projectiles at residents in Yangon on February 25, 2021, following weeks of mass demonstrations against the military coup.

Sai Aung Main | AFP | Getty Images

SINGAPORE — Myanmar’s military has been banned from using Facebook and Instagram with immediate effect, Facebook said in a blog post on Thursday.

“Events since the February 1 coup, including deadly violence, have precipitated a need for this ban. We believe the risks of allowing the Tatmadaw on Facebook and Instagram are too great,” the statement said, referring to the official name of Myanmar’s armed forces.

Military-controlled state and media companies will also be blocked from the two social media platforms, while army-linked commercial firms will not be able to run advertisements.

The coup greatly increases the danger posed by the behaviors above, and the likelihood that online threats could lead to offline harm.

The ban does not affect government ministries and agencies that provide essential public services, such as the health ministry and the education ministry, the social media giant said.

Myanmar’s army seized power on Feb. 1, after arresting members of the democratically elected government, including Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. The military claimed there was voter fraud in last year’s election and declared a one-year state of emergency.

Thousands of people have protested the coup, and clashes with authorities have sometimes turned violent. Reports say at least three protesters and one policeman have died so far.

Facebook said it has in recent years removed content from military pages and accounts for violating its community standards and to prevent the Tatmadaw from abusing the platform.

It will now “indefinitely” suspend the army accounts, the company said, citing reasons such as the military’s history of “exceptionally severe human rights abuses and the clear risk of future military-initiated violence in Myanmar.”

It added that the military has been trying to rebuild networks involving misrepresentation and upload content that was previously removed for breaching Facebook’s policies against violence, incitement and coordinating harm.

“The coup greatly increases the danger posed by the behaviors above, and the likelihood that online threats could lead to offline harm,” Facebook said.

report commissioned by Facebook found in 2018 that the social media giant had previously failed to stop the platform “from being used to foment division and incite offline violence.”

“We agree that we can and should do more,” Facebook said at that time.

In 2018, the tech giant banned military-linked individuals and organizations, including junta leader Min Aung Hlaing, the general who mounted the recent coup.

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Stock markets look frothy, but Standard Chartered CEO sees no reason to panic over inflation



LONDON —The chief executive of Standard Chartered on Thursday warned stock market valuations appear to have reached unsustainable levels amid a period of what he described as “speculative hype,” warning it is possible for a tech-led sell-off to spill over into other sectors.

“There are indications that the broader stock market is frothy, whether it’s the various valuation multiples (that) would indicate that the markets are, certainly (in) some aspects, are toppish,” Bill Winters, CEO of Standard Chartered, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” on Thursday.

“That does not apply to banks, I will add very quickly. I would say value stocks generally don’t look like they are very fully valued right now. But that’s the nature of the speculative hype that we are in right now,” he added.

His comments come after U.S. futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at a record high on Wednesday, and as Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell downplayed the threat of inflation.

Powell said it may take more than three years for prices to reach the U.S. central bank’s inflationary targets. It was another sign that the Fed plans to look beyond any short-term bump in inflation and will likely hold interest rates steady for some time to come.

Inflation fears have risen in recent weeks amid a sharp rise in bond yields as policymakers debate another round of economic relief during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

Winters, however, said he was not concerned about inflation in the short term. The StanChart CEO said the combination of ongoing “very accommodative” monetary policy and “very substantial” fiscal impetus, particularly in the U.S., could lead to a temporary pickup in inflation.

“But for that to translate into real market volatility would probably require some other exogenous shock,” he added.

Tech worries

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what Italian stocks to buy as Draghi prepares new reforms



A man wears a protective mask as he sits near the Colosseum, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Rome, Italy November 12, 2020.

Guglielmo Mangiapane | Reuters

LONDON — Mario Draghi‘s new government could be good for financials and consumer recovery plays, an analyst told CNBC, as investors turn more bullish on Italian stocks.

The former European Central Bank chief has ambitious plans to reform the country, including Italy’s judiciary, public administration and tax system — an agenda welcomed by market players who have been tentative on Italy as multiple governments struggled to pass through any meaningful reforms in recent years.

“Accomplishing structural reform will be difficult. But after a long period of Italian underperformance, expectations are low. So any signs that Draghi may succeed in achieving growth-boosting structural reforms could lead to an upward rerating of Italian assets,” analysts at investment research firm Gavekal Research said in a note. 

The FTSE MIB, Italy’s main stock market index, has risen about 7% from a low on Jan. 29 on the back of Draghi’s appointment. But experts believe there is further room to grow.

Strategists at UniCredit last week forecast that large and mid-cap segments of the Italian market could have “an absolute performance potential of about 10% from current level” in 2021.

Shifting the tax burden away from the workforce by reducing income taxes and employers’ social security contributions would reduce employment costs, boosting corporate productivity.

Italy has taken measures to support firms and citizens in the wake of the Covid crisis, including through tax deferrals. However, it is also set to benefit from more than 200 billion euros ($243 billion) in European funds, which are due to start coming in later this year.

Financial stocks

Mislav Matejka, head of global and European equity strategy at JPMorgan, said that Draghi’s policies are “bullish for the Italian equity market, through tighter peripheral spreads, greater policy credibility and the bottoming out in activity momentum, helped by the strong fiscal support.”

“At sector level, this is especially positive for Financials, as well as for consumer recovery plays,” Matejka said.

Financials  are the biggest sector among Italian large and mid-cap firms and consumer discretionary stocks make up the third-largest sector.

Draghi, who was called to take on the country’s leadership after a political crisis emerged in January, told lawmakers that he will be dealing with some problems “that have been open for decades.”

Analysts are particularly bullish about potential changes to the tax system.

“Shifting the tax burden away from the workforce by reducing income taxes and employers’ social security contributions would reduce employment costs, boosting corporate productivity,” Gavekal analysts said.

Draghi has also pledged to use the upcoming European funds to focus on digitalization, reskilling and to speed up plans for the country to transition away from fossil fuels.

“This reform agenda will find its counterpart in the selection of investment projects associated with the EU-wide facilities,” Marco Protopapa, economist at JPMorgan, said in note.

Last year, “Draghi emphasized the importance of the Recovery Fund resources for Italy by distinguishing between good debt, linked to targeted, productivity-enhancing spending in the form of investment with a high social rate of return, versus bad debt resulting from scattered policy measures,” Protopapa said.

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