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Watch Fed Chair Jerome Powell debate the global economy with the IMF live



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Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is participating in a virtual debate on the global economy presented by the International Monetary Fund.

Joining Powell will be IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, Ireland Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director general of the World Trade Organization.

The event will be moderated by CNBC’s Sara Eisen.

Powell and his Fed colleagues have been largely upbeat on the economy as of late, though he has expressed concern over the uneven nature of the economic recovery. The Fed is committed to keeping policy loose until it reaches full and inclusive employment along with inflation running around 2%.

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Bitcoin hits new all-time high above $62,000 ahead of Coinbase debut



The Coinbase cryptocurrency exchange application seen on the screen of an iPhone.

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Bitcoin surged to a fresh record high of more than $62,000 on Tuesday, as investors awaited the highly-anticipated stock market debut of cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase.

The price of bitcoin climbed more than 4% in the last 24 hours to hit $62,718, according to data from Coin Metrics. Ether, the second-most valuable digital coin after bitcoin, also set a fresh record, climbing to $2,210.

Coinbase is set to go public on Wednesday, and could be valued at as much as $100 billion — more than major trading venue operators like Intercontinental Exchange, owner of the New York Stock Exchange. Crypto investors are hailing the company’s stock market debut as a major milestone for the industry after years of skepticism from Wall Street and regulators.

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U.S. tech companies and their reliance on Taiwan



Taiwanese chipmakers are ahead of their international rivals and it will be tough for U.S. tech companies to reduce their reliance on Taiwan, said Sebastian Hou from CLSA.

Tech firms like Apple, Amazon, Google as well as Qualcomm, NVIDIA and AMD rely heavily on Taiwanese contract manufacturers to produce up to 90% of their chips, according to Hou, who is managing director and head of tech research at the brokerage firm.

“It’s going to be a challenging and long journey for them to diversify away, and thinking about how long it takes for the chip development and cooperation — it’s going to take a while,” he said Monday on CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia.

Semiconductors are used in everything, from smartphones and computers to cars as well as home appliances.

While the United States dominates the global semiconductor market share by revenue, Asia is the manufacturing powerhouse, according to a recent report from Bank of America. Asian countries produce more than 70% of global semiconductors — Taiwan and South Korea, in particular, have established unrivaled positions in high-end chip manufacturing capacity, the report said.

A man walks past TSMC’s logo at the company’s headquarters in Hsinchu, Taiwan. TSMC is the world’s largest semiconductor foundry.

Sam Yeh | AFP | Getty Images

Upside for Taiwan chipmakers

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world’s largest chip foundry, is up more than 13% year-to-date. Its rival United Microelectronics Corp — seen as a distant second to TSMC in Taiwan’s contract chip manufacturing space — is up about 16% in the same period.

CLSA has a “buy” rating on TSMC and a price target of 825 New Taiwan dollars ($28.97) — that’s a 35% upside from Friday’s close.

The brokerage has an “outperform” rating on UMC and a price target of 62 New Taiwan ($2.18), a 16.76% upside from last week’s close.

Hou explained that between the two stocks, TSMC has a higher risk — due to a wider spread between its target price and current share price — but it offers greater returns. He added that the price target is “highly achievable” since the company is expected to maintain technology leadership over the next five years and customers are set to rely heavily on it.

China’s SMIC lagging

A report from market research firm TrendForce ranked China’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) fifth by revenue among the world’s top 10 foundries in February, based on estimated first quarter numbers.

SMIC is China’s largest and most important chipmaker — it is seen as key to Beijing’s plans for self-sufficiency in the semiconductor space, following tensions with Washington. Last December, the U.S. blacklisted SMIC, and restricted American companies from exporting technology to the firm.

Hou explained that it is almost impossible for SMIC to catch up with TSMC and other chipmakers in light of the U.S. sanctions.

The technology gap between SMIC and TSMC is currently about six years, he said. If SMIC cannot acquire the technology it needs to bolster its high-end chip manufacturing capacity, it will fall behind even further, Hou said.

“Which means, it not only cannot catch up, but the gap will further be widened,” Hou said, adding the gap may extend to between seven to nine years.

A report last month from Reuters said the U.S. government has been slow to approve licenses for American firms to sell chipmaking equipment to SMIC.

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Experts see innovation and pop-up stores



A shopper browsing through secondhand clothes at a pop-up swap event in Singapore.

CATHERINE LAI | AFP | Getty Images

LONDON — The future of physical stores has been called into question by the coronavirus pandemic, but experts believe the key to survival will be reinvention.

For some time now, retailers have tried to attract customers by creating experiences in store, but they now need to get creative as shopping habits change and customers become more demanding.

Online shopping has boomed since the start of the pandemic. In the U.K. alone, internet sales jumped from under 20% to more than 32% in just three months at the start of the first Covid-induced lockdown. And experts expect the convenience of buying online to mean consumers will continue this habit even after the pandemic.

Meanwhile, almost 50 stores closed every day in the U.K. in 2020, according to accountancy firm PwC.

Both trends show how important it is for retailers to get their physical presence right.

Kristina Rogers, consumer global leader at Ernest Young, told CNBC in March that there is a “real redefinition” in how retailers use their physical spaces.

“It’s not just an exchange of goods anymore,” she said, adding that retailers have to understand who their customers are and what these want.

Customers browse clothing in the pop-up shop Pangaia inside Selfridges department store in London on April 12, 2021 as coronavirus restrictions are eased.

GLYN KIRK | AFP | Getty Images

She highlighted how Target, one of the largest retailers in the U.S., has opted to have a bigger space in its stores for Apple products. This effectively allows customers who are interested in Apple devices to check them out while shopping for other things in Target. It is also convenient for current Apple users who can merge two trips into one.

“They’re recreating a ‘mini mall’ within their store,” she said.

But not every retailer has such a large area to work with. In fact, some experts believe that successful stores of the future might be ones that, irrespective of size, keep offering new things.

“Undoubtedly there will be less physical stores as we move forward,” Matt Clark, managing director at consulting firm AlixPartners told CNBC’s Street Signs Europe in March. “But the stores that remain will need to offer an even greater experience and an additional set of services, as well as just the ability to buy products.”

One way for retailers to stand out is by focusing more on pop-up stores. These are spaces that are open temporarily to show off a particular line or product, and have been gaining in popularity in recent years.

Stella McCartney store in Bond Street in November 2020.

SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images

“One of the prime opportunities for pop-up shops are to create new opportunities for exploration. It’s not about a consumer going to a Ralph Lauren store that is the same today as it was 10 years ago or 20 years ago,” Alex Cohen, a commercial property expert at Compass told CNBC.

Some big-name brands have already looked to pop-ups as a way to attract more customers. Stella McCartney, the British fashion designer, is featuring different local businesses in her flagship store on Old Bond Street, London, to celebrate the lifting of restrictions for retailers in the U.K. Guess, meanwhile, is about to open its first pop up store in Germany for Activewear.

Pop-up spaces allow retailers to create something “really fresh” while saving on costs, Cohen said.

“The brands, they have the opportunity to spend much less, to not having to commit themselves to a long-term contract, to spend less with modular installations and to do it very quickly,” he added.


In addition, this sort of store boosts the idea of exclusivity — a feeling increasingly popular for many customers.

“The whole idea of exclusivity is really important. The fact that a pop-up will expire … creates in the consumers kind of an excitement. ‘Wow, if I don’t check out this pop-up retail offering … in the next 3 months, it is going to go away, I will never be able to see it,'” he said. This adds the sort of excitement missing from many traditional stores.

So it is not just about the feeling of having an exclusive product, but also an exclusive experience. And this means there are other ways for retailers to capitalize on this exclusivity trend.

“In terms of exclusivity, a lot of the high street retailers are now requiring, either by appointment or actually when you arrive at a store, that you must be linked up to a sales person. You can’t browse and that — for better or worse — creates a feeling of exclusivity,” Cohen added.


Brands are also recognizing the increasing importance of sustainability, both from a business perspective and because of growing customer awareness.

And it’s not just coming through in more “ethical” product lines, but also in what services are available at physical stores.

At its flagship space in Stockholm, for instance, H&M is offering services to fix old clothes and is hiring out some of its outfits for special occasions.

“The sustainability movement really highlights one of the core dichotomies that the fashion industry particularly is facing but broader retail is also facing,” Clark from AlixPartners said.

“The value versus values debate: the need to be really, really clear on your sustainability credentials, ethical sourcing, etc but at the same time offering great value for money that doesn’t just mean cheapness but value for money to the consumers.”

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