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Michimasa Fujino on HondaJet dream taking flight

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Fujino, in his late 50s, said he was 26 when he first went to the U.S. and attended a business jet trade show. “I thought, some day in the future, if I display a jet I designed, how wonderful it is.”

Honda’s jet was first introduced to the public in 2005, but it only began receiving its certifications in recent years due to the extensive testing required.

Honda recently announced its largest deal to date from Wijet, a European air taxi service, which ordered 16 jets. It also counts GE as a vital customer — the American company buys jets for executive use.

According to Fujino, perseverance without seeing any tangible results over decades was the biggest challenge.

There were several occasions he wanted to give up, he said, adding that he didn’t because he took inspiration from Japanese marathon runner Kenji Kimihara: “He didn’t think he needs to run 42 kilometers. He just thinks about running to the next pole.”

“When I almost gave up, I just thought: I need to work six months more or three months more,” he said. “It ended up being 30 years, but I tried to set short-term goals and not give up.”

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How much they spend, what life is like

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In 2009, my husband Vernon and I got married on the beach in Mazatlán, México. At our reception, we told each other that we would one day move there.

Of course, life happened, and that dream was pushed off until later, perhaps when we were ready to retire. We had three beautiful kids, two cars, a home in the suburbs of Chicago and a dreamy white picket fence.

Still, something was missing. We were working full-time jobs, including side hustles in the fitness industry, that gave us a combined income of close to six-figures. But we found ourselves increasingly frustrated at the amount of energy it took to simply get by.

Every day, we came home feeling tired and disheartened. What were we working so hard to achieve? What was all of this “stuff” for? The house, the cars, the student loans — everything was a series of bills to pay. This was not what we envisioned for ourselves.

We constantly dreamed of living on the beach and building our own businesses so we could have the flexibility to spend more time with our kids.

Then, in February 2016, I received the call that no daughter ever wants to receive. My mother had died — unexpectedly and alone — in Mazatlán, where she and my father moved to retire.

As I slid to the floor, nearly dropping my phone at the news, a sense of realization washed over me: Nothing, including tomorrow, was guaranteed. If we wanted to experience happiness, we had to take action.

Now or never: Leaving the U.S.

By October 2016, we had sold our home and cars, quit our jobs and downsized our lives into 10 suitcases and eight carry-on bags. With our three kids (then ages three, four and five), we booked a one-way flight to Mazatlán.

For two years, we lived in that beautiful, colonial city on the Pacific Ocean. My husband worked on building his consulting company, while I started my own copywriting business, which I still run today. Both businesses were profitable, and the financial freedom and flexibility allowed us to enjoy ourselves without being chained to someone else’s time clock.

Living abroad gives you a different perspective — one that encourages growth, compassion, self-awareness and a deeper understanding of other cultures.

We created a life we truly loved, full of activities, friends and cultural experiences, all just blocks from the beach. With our monthly expenses at around $1,500 (USD) per month, we spent significantly less than we ever did in the U.S.

  • Private school for all three kids: $425
  • Four-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom home rental: $475
  • Groceries: $250 to $300
  • Transportation: $100
  • Leisure activities: $100

We used any leftover money to eat out at nice restaurants, splurge on new clothes or pay for medical needs as they came up (which when they did, we paid out-of-pocket cash without any issues, as the cost of treatment in Mexico is significantly lower than in the U.S.).

We felt like we were finally living the American Dream — except we had to leave America to do it.

As a Black family, we never felt safer

Here’s a memory I’ll never forget: On one of our first days in Mazatlán, a policeman got out of his car and paused traffic to allow our family to cross a busy street. As we walked, he gave a warm smile to my husband, who nodded his head in return.

Once we reached the other side, my husband looked at me and said, “Wow.”

With that one word, I realized that my strong, kindhearted Black husband had never felt safer around a police officer than he did in that moment.

Gabriella M. Lindsay and her family in Mexico

Gabriella M. Lindsay

All our experiences with the police while living in Mexico were favorable. I’m sure locals might feel differently, but compared to the abrasive treatment we received from some police officers in the U.S., it was a welcome change.

We now had a chance to live peacefully without the fear that came with being Black in America. I no longer had to worry about my husband or sons being in the wrong place at the wrong time with someone who saw their skin color first, and their hearts second.

Next stop: Antigua

In 2018, my husband was offered a professorship at a medical university in Antigua, an island in the Caribbean West Indies.

We loved Mazatlán, but felt this was a unique opportunity we couldn’t pass up. Even though our expenses would go up, we knew that the income provided by the university, along with earnings from my copywriting business, would allow us to comfortably make ends meet.

So we said goodbye to our friends and set out with our suitcases for yet another adventure abroad.

Scenic overlook, Antigua

Gabriella M. Lindsay

Antigua is an island of about 97,000 people, 108 square miles, 365 beaches and a rich history. Here, we’ve once again created a life we love, free from the materialism that we were so desperately and vehemently sold in America.

The population is primarily Black (as a result of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade), so my family fits right in and feels very comfortable here. The pace of life is slow, the people are friendly, the beaches are serene, and the societal expectations are less demanding.

We now had a chance to live peacefully without the fear that came with being Black in America.

The median rent in our area is around $1,200. We live one block from the Caribbean Sea in a beautiful four-bedroom, five-bathroom home with a pool on a large plot of land, which we rent for significantly less than some downtown apartments in Chicago.

For all three kids combined, school tuition, along with swimming lessons, cost $800 per month. We don’t dine out as much because of Covid, and our monthly grocery bill is roughly $600.

Aside from friends, family, and the Cheesecake Factory, we don’t miss the U.S. all that much. We can get almost everything we need here.

We left America to discover something new, and in return we finally found happiness.

Most people here are very compliant when it comes to following the Covid guidelines. We sanitize, we mask, we distance. My husband is required to take a rapid Covid test twice a month in order to be on campus. He works from home whenever possible.

Leaving the U.S. was the best decision for our family



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SPACs are becoming less of a sure thing as the deals get stranger, shares roll over

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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., January 31, 2018.

Brendan McDermid | Reuters

Things are getting weird in the sizzling SPAC market. A leisure SPAC is now doing a biotech deal, while a cannabis blank-check company ended up merging with a space company.

Sponsors are rushing to get their deals done in an increasingly crowded space as more than 370 U.S. blank-check companies with over $118 billion in capital are seeking to make a match, according to data from SPAC Research. Nearly 60 SPACs identified their merger targets in February alone, the biggest month ever, the data said.

“They are bringing lower and lower quality companies public,” said Ross Mayfield, investment strategy analyst at Baird. “They run up against the capacity of reasonable quality companies especially in the niches that are popular.”

Faced with intense competition, deadline pressure and a volatile market, some SPACs had to settle for less ideal targets, and in some cases, throw their entire blueprint out the window. And the rally in red-hot SPAC stocks has started to roll over as shareholders scramble to redeem when deals turn out to be disappointing.

The proprietary CNBC SPAC 50 index, which tracks the 50 largest U.S.-based pre-merger blank-check deals by market cap, dropped more than 15% in the past two weeks, wiping out all of its 2021 gains. The CNBC SPAC Post Deal Index, which is comprised of the largest SPACs that have come to market and announced a target, tumbled a similar amount and is now down 10% on the year.

Last month, Leisure Acquisition Corp., a SPAC that was initially targeting a leisure company as its name suggests, announced a $200 million deal with Ensysce Biosciences, a biopharmaceutical company fighting drug overdoses. Stable Road Acquisition Corp., a cannabis SPAC, also did a major pivot and is closing a deal with space company Momentus.

While one or two cases don’t make a trend, it did raise concerns that the quality of the SPACs could deteriorate going forward just given the sheer number of deals outstanding. SPACs also compete with private equity firms, many of which still have a lot of dry powder to deploy.

“There could be no deal, or there could be a deal with a company that is not necessarily warranted of being a public company,” said Sylvia Jablonski, chief investment officer at Defiance ETFs, which launched the first ever SPAC ETF (SPAK) in September. “If time has gone by and they haven’t done one, there is a chance that they could just do a bad merger to complete it because now all this time, energy and investment has gone into it.”

SPAC stocks rolling over

The SPAC trade, which once seemed like it could only go up, may have started to come undone as more of the SPACs’ chosen takeovers flop. The speculative areas of the market also tend to get hit hard when volatility spikes.

“The sharp end of the stick, which is the IPO space, is going to feel more pain when you have a risk-off move than other areas of the market,” said Justin Lenarcic, Wells Fargo, senior global alternative investment strategist.

SPACs stand for special purpose acquisition companies, which raise capital in an initial public offering and use the cash to merge with a private company and take it public, usually within two years. Excited investors piled into shares of these empty corporate shells hoping they would hit a home run.

Some of the high-profile deals are trading more than 40% above their IPO price, including Bill Ackman’s $4 billion Pershing Square Tontine Holdings and two of Chamath Palihapitiya’s SPACs.

“Some people get pulled into a bit of complacency when they hear that SPACs are risk-free because you have the ability to redeem your interest if you don’t like the deal … but you also have to realize that only works if you invest early on,” Lenarcic said. “It really depends on where in the lifecycle of the SPAC you are investing.”

Many retail investors buy SPACs in the secondary market, which means they most likely would miss out on the early pop in common shares as well as the benefits associated with warrants. Meanwhile, for buy-and-hold investors who only get in after a deal is struck, they almost always lose money.

‘Unsustainable’

In terms of SPAC issuance, there’s no signs of it slowing down. The funds raised in the first two months of 2021 already rival the capital from a record full year of 2020 — $68.5 billion year to date versus $83.4 billion last year, according to SPAC Research.

“The blistering pace of issuance is likely unsustainable,” David Kostin, head of U.S. equity strategy at Goldman Sachs, said in a note. “SPACs could generate more than $700 billion in acquisition activity in the next two years.”

Some recent new issuance is raising eyebrows on Wall Street. Last month, a SPAC named “Just Another Acquisition Corp.” was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission to raise $60 million for a deal in an unspecified sector. There’s also “Do It Again Corp.” this week, a Delaware-based SPAC that could target restaurants and retail brands, according to a filing.

“There could be a growing element of FOMO [fear of missing out] here,” Lenarcic said. “I do think you need to be cautious. You certainly need to understand that not all SPACs are created equal, certainly not all sponsors are equal and not all deals are going to work out.”

— CNBC’s Gina Francolla contributed reporting.

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Sets 2021 GDP growth target of over 6%

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Chinese Premier Li Keqiang speak following Germany-China government consultations on July 9, 2018 in Berlin, Germany.

Sean Gallup | Getty Images News | Getty Images

BEIJING — Chinese Premier Li Keqiang announced Friday the world’s second-largest economy would target growth of over 6% for 2021.

Li said the nation aimed for an urban unemployment rate of around 5.5% and targeted the creation of more than 11 million new urban jobs, the same as in 2019 and up from 9 million last year.

China will also aim for an increase of around 3% in the consumer price index, a measure of inflation, Li said.

China reported growth of 2.3% last year as the only major economy to expand amid the coronavirus pandemic. The country’s official economic figures are often doubted for their accuracy.

The Chinese government kicked off its “Two Sessions” annual parliamentary meeting this week for approving national priorities for 2021. This year’s gathering will last just about a week.

The political advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, held its opening ceremony Thursday. The National People’s Congress legislature began its annual gathering on Friday.

The gathering of delegates, known as the “Two Sessions,” has overseen such changes as President Xi Jinping‘s abolition of term limits in 2018 and the proposal for a new security law for Hong Kong last year.

The otherwise generally symbolic meeting takes on particular significance this year as it marks the beginning of China’s five-year development plan — the 14th such in the country’s history. It is also the 100th anniversary of the ruling Communist Party.

Authorities are expected to lay out details on topics ranging from employment targets to management of the semi-autonomous region of Hong Kong.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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