French logistics company Gefco hires banks to start IPO process

MOSCOW/PARIS (Reuters) – Logistics company Gefco IPO-GEFC.PA, which is controlled by Russian Railways (RZhD), has hired several leading investment banks to start the process for its possible stock market flotation, sources told Reuters.

The banks in the process are Societe Generale, JP Morgan, Citigroup, UBS and Credit Suisse.

A spokesman for Gefco declined to comment on the matter, while Russian Railways also declined comment. SocGen and JP Morgan had no immediate comment.

One source told Reuters that bankers had already started meeting investors about Gefco’s IPO (initial public offering).

“The deal is on the market,” said the banking source.

Gefco, whose main business is servicing the car industry, is a former subsidiary of France’s PSA Group (PEUP.PA). The French carmaker sold 75 percent of the company to Russian Railways in 2012 for 800 million euros ($915 million).

Last year, Russian Railways said it aimed to cut its stake in Gefco to 40 percent by 2020 but also planned to retain control of the company.

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Asha Rangappa: 'FBI left only one option to 'neutralise' threat of President'

The FBI, according to the ‘New York Times’, opened a counter-intelligence investigation into whether US President Donald Trump was secretly working on behalf of Russia after he fired former FBI director James Comey in 2017.

As a former FBI agent who conducted investigations against foreign intelligence services, I know the bureau would have had to possess strong evidence that Trump posed a national security threat to meet the threshold for opening such an investigation. But the more important question is not how or why the case was opened, but whether it was ever closed.

The goal of a counter-intelligence investigation is to identify and stop threats to national security. Such cases are fundamentally different from criminal investigations, which seek to collect evidence of a crime and are eventually resolved by either pursuing or declining to pursue charges in court. By contrast, once a counter-intelligence investigation is opened, it is ultimately closed either by determining that no threat to national security exists or that it has ceased to exist, or by taking actions to render ineffective – in intelligence lingo, to “neutralise” the threat.

The FBI can neutralise a counter-intelligence threat several ways. One is to simply monitor the activity under the radar and, in the process, collect intelligence on what our foreign adversaries are interested in and able to do.

Another avenue to neutralise a target who might be acting on behalf of foreign power is to remove their access to information that could help our adversary. In the case of someone sharing classified information with foreign intelligence, for example, the FBI could surreptitiously ensure that they are no longer able to obtain sensitive information.

Under certain circumstances, the FBI can also take more aggressive steps. If the target is in a position to provide direct foreign intelligence about an adversary and appears to have wavering loyalties, our intelligence services can offer financial and other incentives to “flip” the target – turning him or her into a double agent who provides information to the United States while pretending to co-operate with their foreign handlers. And in the case of a foreign national or spy who is working under diplomatic cover who poses an egregious threat to national security, the FBI can force the target to leave the country – as the Obama administration did when it declared 35 Russian spies persona non grata in December 2016 in retaliation for Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.

Unfortunately, none of these is a feasible option if the national security threat is the president of the United States.

Naturally, the president, as a US citizen, cannot be removed from the country. Nor can the president, who is the country’s chief executive, be restricted from access to classified information or provided with falsified information. It also makes no sense to “flip” someone who is already in a position of public trust and has taken an oath to protect and defend the United States from foreign enemies. And merely monitoring the threat to collect intelligence on what foreign adversaries are doing is not an option, since the ultimate consumer of such intelligence is the president himself – which means whatever intelligence is collected could eventually be passed on to the president, who is also the target.

At the same time, the possibility that the president is compromised by a foreign power is the ultimate national security threat: The awesome powers of the presidency, which include almost unfettered discretion in the realm of foreign affairs and intelligence operations, leaves open the potential for him to use those powers to advance the interests of a foreign adversary over those of the United States.

This leaves only one option for neutralisation: Exposure. Exposing the activities of a foreign intelligence service renders them ineffective, since it removes plausible deniability, which is the hallmark of covert intelligence operations. It also reveals the sources and methods a foreign power is using, forcing them to abandon the operation. Special counsel Robert Mueller has utilised this avenue by bringing criminal charges against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies for a disinformation campaign on social media and against 12 GRU officers for hacking Democratic National Committee emails. (© Washington Post Service)

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Opinion | Donald Trump: The Russia File

If, beleaguered or bemused by the onrush of scandal and political antics, you’re searching for some index of just how truly not-normal American governance has become, you might consider this: Standing on the White House lawn on Monday morning, his own government shut down around him, the president of the United States was asked by reporters if he was working for Russia.

He said that he was not. “Not only did I never work for Russia, I think it's a disgrace that you even asked that question, because it's a whole big fat hoax,” President Trump said.

Yet the reporters were right to ask, given Mr. Trump’s bizarre pattern of behavior toward a Russian regime that the Republican Party quite recently regarded as America’s chief rival. Indeed, it’s unnerving that more people — particularly in the leadership of the Republican Party — aren’t alarmed by Mr. Trump’s secretive communications with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and reliance on his word over the conclusions of American intelligence agencies.

The Times reported last week that the F.B.I. started a counterintelligence investigation into Mr. Trump in 2017 after he fired James Comey, the bureau’s director, to determine whether Russia had influenced him. The Washington Post reported over the weekend that the president has concealed details about his meetings with Mr. Putin even from officials of his own administration — going so far, on at least one occasion, as to confiscate his interpreter's notes.

These revelations joined a long list of suspicious incidents and connections between Mr. Trump and the Russian government.

The Russian government interfered in the 2016 election in order to get Mr. Trump elected, of course. America’s intelligence community agrees on that. The special counsel, Robert Mueller, is examining what happened before and after Election Day between the campaign and Mr. Putin’s government.

But Mr. Trump’s behavior simply since he’s been in office hasn’t given any peace of mind even to those willing to give him the benefit of the doubt — at least, those outside the Republican leadership.

In the past month, the president announced that American troops would pull out of the conflict in Syria, something that the Russians have long called for. Mr. Trump subsequently said the Soviet Union was right to invade Afghanistan in 1979, parroting Russian revisionist history by claiming it was seeking to quell terrorism.

This month, it was revealed that federal prosecutors had accused Mr. Trump’s former campaign chief Paul Manafort of sharing political polling data in 2016 with an associate linked to Russian intelligence, the most direct evidence to date that the campaign may have tried to coordinate with Russia.

Meanwhile, the Treasury Department is pushing to end sanctions against companies owned by Oleg Deripaska, an oligarch closely tied to Mr. Putin. Those sanctions were put in place in 2018 in retaliation for Russian meddling with the election.

Despite Mr. Trump’s insistence that he has been “much tougher on Russia” than previous presidents, he sure has a strange way of showing it. Throughout his time in the White House Mr. Trump has praised leaders aligned with Mr. Putin, like Marine Le Pen in France and Viktor Orban in Hungary. He has praised Mr. Putin outright.

At the same time, the president has fired broadside after broadside at the twin pillars of stability in Western Europe: the European Union and NATO. He reportedly suggested that France leave the bloc and repeatedly called into question whether the United States would stand by its commitments to the military alliance. Weakening Western unity, as evidenced by those organizations, has long animated Russian foreign policy.

Some of these moves are consistent with Mr. Trump’s isolationism and pronounced yen for authoritarians, and perhaps also with his demonstrated ignorance of history.

It’s harder to come up with a rational excuse for Mr. Trump’s secrecy about his dealings with Mr. Putin, or for why, in 2017, he shared highly classified information from Israel with the Russian foreign minister in a meeting in the Oval Office while also boasting about relieving heat from the investigation into his possible Russia ties by firing the F.B.I. director. Mr. Trump has also sided with Mr. Putin and against the conclusions of American intelligence agencies by denying that the Russian government tampered with the election.

While Mr. Trump has plenty of kind words for a foreign leader who doesn’t have America’s best interests at heart, he seems to be willing to heap no end of abuse on his fellow Americans, particularly those in the F.B.I. and the Justice Department who have sworn to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

On Monday, Mr. Trump lashed out at F.B.I. agents for opening the counterintelligence investigation against him, calling them “known scoundrels.”

With the House of Representatives newly under Democratic control, Mr. Trump might finally receive meaningful oversight that could help either uncover wrongdoing or put Americans’ minds at ease about their president.

On Sunday, the new Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, urged his Republican colleagues to back his effort to obtain notes or testimony from the interpreter present at the meetings between Mr. Putin and Mr. Trump.

“Shouldn’t we find out whether our president is really putting ‘America first?’” Mr. Schiff tweeted.

This is not a new or unexplored possibility, even among Republicans at one time.

“There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” Kevin McCarthy, who was then House majority leader, told his fellow Republicans at a closed-door meeting, The Washington Post first reported, shortly before Mr. Trump won his party’s nomination for the White House in 2016.

Dana Rohrabacher, a 15-term congressman from California who lost his bid for re-election in November, was such a staunch supporter of Moscow on Capitol Hill that the F.B.I. concluded that Russian spies were trying to recruit him.

Mr. McCarthy said later that his line about Mr. Trump being paid by Moscow was a quip that landed flat.

What’s no laughing matter is the unwillingness of the Republican Party to cast a critical eye upon a sitting president who has so flouted accepted practice for dealing with any foreign leader — not to mention one as adversarial as Vladimir Putin.

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Opinion | Donald Trump and His Team of Morons

There have been many policy disasters over the course of U.S. history. It’s hard, however, to think of a calamity as gratuitous, an error as unforced, as the current federal shutdown.

Nor can I think of another disaster as thoroughly personal, as completely owned by one man. When Donald Trump told Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, “I will be the one to shut it down,” he was being completely accurate — although he went on to promise that “I’m not going to blame you for it,” which was a lie.

Still, no man is an island, although Trump comes closer than most. You can’t fully make sense of his policy pratfalls without acknowledging the extraordinary quality of the people with whom he has surrounded himself. And by “extraordinary,” of course, I mean extraordinarily low quality. Lincoln had a team of rivals; Trump has a team of morons.

If this sounds too harsh, consider recent economic pronouncements by two members of his administration. Predictably, these pronouncements involve bad economics; that’s pretty much a given. What’s striking, instead, is the inability of either man to stay on script; they can’t even get their right-wing mendacity right.

First up is Kevin Hassett, chairman of Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers, who was asked about the plight of federal workers who aren’t being paid. You don’t have to be a public relations expert to know that you’re supposed to express some sympathy, whether you feel it or not. After all, there are multiple news reports about transportation security workers turning to food banks, the Coast Guard suggesting its employees hold garage sales, and so on.

So the right response involves expressing concern about those workers but placing the blame on Democrats who don’t want to stop brown-skinned rapists, or something like that. But no: Hassett declared that it’s all good, that the workers are actually “better off,” because they’re getting time off without having to use any of their vacation days.

Then consider what Sean Hannity had to say about taxing the rich. What’s that? You say that Hannity isn’t a member of the Trump administration? But surely he is in every sense that matters. In fact, Fox News isn’t just state TV, its hosts clearly have better access to the president, more input into his decisions, than any of the so-called experts at places like the State Department or the Department of Defense.

Anyway, Hannity declared that raising taxes on the wealthy would damage the economy, because “rich people won’t be buying boats that they like recreationally,” and “they’re not going to be taking expensive vacations anymore.”

Um, that’s not the answer a conservative is supposed to give. You’re supposed to insist that low taxes on the rich give them an incentive to work really really hard, not make it easier for them to take lavish vacations. You’re supposed to declare that low taxes will induce them to save and spend money building businesses, not help them afford to buy new yachts.

Even if your real reason for favoring low taxes is that they let your wealthy friends engage in even more high living, you’re not supposed to say that out loud.

Again, the point isn’t that people in Trump’s circle don’t care about ordinary American families, and also talk nonsense — that’s only to be expected. What’s amazing is that they’re so out of it that they don’t know either how to pretend to care about the middle class, or what nonsense to spout in order to sustain that pretense.

So what’s wrong with Trump’s people? Why can’t they serve up even some fake populism?

There are, I think, two answers, one generic to modern conservatism, one specific to Trump.

On the generic point: To be a modern conservative is to spend your life inside what amounts to a cult, barely exposed to outside ideas or even ways of speaking. Inside that cult, contempt for ordinary working Americans is widespread — remember Eric Cantor, the then-House majority leader, celebrating Labor Day by praising business owners. So is worship of wealth. And it can be hard for cult members to remember that you don’t talk that way to outsiders.

Then there’s the Trump effect. Normally working for the president of the United States is a career booster, something that looks good on your résumé. Trump’s presidency, however, is so chaotic, corrupt and potentially compromised by his foreign entanglements that anyone associated with him gets tainted — which is why after only two years he has already left a trail of broken men and wrecked reputations in his wake.

So who is willing to serve him at this point? Only those with no reputation to lose, generally because they’re pretty bad at what they do. There are, no doubt, conservatives smart and self-controlled enough to lie plausibly, or at least preserve some deniability, and defend Trump’s policies without making fools of themselves. But those people have gone into hiding.

A year ago I pointed out that the Trump administration was turning into government by the worst and the dumbest. Since then, however, things have gotten even worse and even dumber. And we haven’t hit bottom yet.

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Paul Krugman has been an Opinion columnist since 2000 and is also a Distinguished Professor at the City University of New York Graduate Center. He won the 2008 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his work on international trade and economic geography. @PaulKrugman

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Opinion | Animal Slaughter, Rights and Religion

To the Editor:

Re “Balancing Animal Welfare and Religious Rites” (editorial, Jan. 9):

The Belgian Council for Animal Welfare reviewed international research on the topic of animal slaughter. The result is remarkable: For sheep it takes 14 seconds to 5 minutes before spontaneous brain activity stops. For cattle it takes between 19 seconds and 11 minutes. Several audits of Belgian slaughterhouses showed that ritually killed animals were still conscious up to several minutes.

There are two options for politicians: ignore or act. I chose to act and submitted a law proposal that led to the ban against slaughter without stunning. All members of Parliament (except one who abstained) voted for the ban, including politicians from the left and with Islamic belief.

The Belgian law is not inspired by anti-Semitic feelings or hate against Muslims. To the contrary, the government funded research to fine-tune the halal stunning method that is already in use in Islamic countries.

Religious freedom is an important value of the Enlightenment. But it cannot be a free guide to animal suffering.

Hermes Sanctorum
The writer is a member of the Belgian Parliament.

To the Editor:

Thank you for your very measured treatment of the disagreement between animal protection supporters and adherents to the rules of kosher and halal slaughter. Animal protection supporters want animals stunned before their throats are cut, while the religious adherents point to religious texts dictating that only conscious animals should be slaughtered.

Judaism and Islam have strong traditions and canonical texts that support animal welfare, and so it is difficult to understand this legitimate disagreement.

The solution that provides reconciliation was discussed in The New York Times a few months ago: growing meat directly from cells requires no slaughter (“Pursuing a Once-Impossible Goal: Kosher Bacon,” Business Day, Oct. 1).

This cell-based meat, grown in clean facilities and with significantly lower environmental effects and no animal suffering, is being developed by companies from Silicon Valley to the Netherlands to Israel.

In addition to continuing to pass laws that protect farm animals from cruel treatment, the federal government should be investing financial resources in bringing this slaughter-free meat to market as quickly as possible.

Bruce Friedrich
The writer is executive director of the Good Food Institute.

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Opinion | Trump’s Shutdown Is a Sucker Punch for Struggling Farmers

KNOXVILLE, Iowa — Today President Trump will address the American Farm Bureau’s 100th annual convention in New Orleans. But any promises of help will be too late for many farmers.

Had he set out to ruin America’s small farmers, he could hardly have come up with a more effective, potentially ruinous one-two combination punch than tariffs and the shutdown.

The trade wars collapsed farmers’ markets. Now, with farmers down, he’s kicking them with a partial shutdown that has effectively slammed the door on farm payments, loans and more. It’s hurting rural Americans — those who formed a big part of the base of Mr. Trump’s support in 2016.

Normally, January is a special and often joyous month for farmers, as they recover from the hard work of harvest and look to spring and a new planting season. They have sold much of their crops and are paying bills, taking out new operating loans for the coming year and buying seed, fertilizer and more.

Not this year. With his tariffs, Mr. Trump kicked the legs out from under the markets. Much of our soybean and corn crops had nowhere to go. The agricultural giant Cargill repeatedly idled its two terminals on the Mississippi last fall for lack of work, and in November, workers stayed home unpaid, a nearly unheard-of occurrence. Between September and December, soybean volumes were down 40 percent on the year.

Here in Iowa, farmers unloaded their soybeans when they could at low prices. Extreme weather left many farmers with a low-quality product that they thought wouldn’t store well. They’re sitting on their corn with the hope of better prices down the road. Hog producers are losing about $18 a hog, with cumulative losses in the millions, if not billions.

During the farm crisis of the 1980s, farm families wondered how they were going to keep the farm afloat. The story is the same in 2019. Farm real estate listings have doubled; in Minnesota, there are more than double the number of farm bankruptcies than there were in the same period in 2013 and 2014. Dairy associations are publicizing suicide hotlines. Bankers have publicly stated that the rural economy is suffering because of “bad policy from the White House.”

That’s just the tariffs. A banker friend bent my ear the other day to lay out the other hammer being brought down on our farmers: the Trump shutdown.

Remember the $12 billion tariff bailout fund — a Band-Aid on a shotgun wound, but better than nothing? With the shutdown, the president cut that off. The bailout is called the Market Facilitation Program, run by the Agriculture Department’s Farm Service Agency, and the offices that accept applications and handle payments are closed. Many producers held off signing up before the end of 2018 because they didn’t want to declare the income this year on tax returns. For now, they are frozen out.

Any farmers who have a loan with the Farm Service Agency will have the agency’s name on any checks they get in the mail for sales of grain or cattle. Now no one at the agency can sign their name on those checks, and they can’t be deposited until that happens. Those farmers can’t get money to pay bills.

Farmers who are in financial straits can’t apply for a guaranteed loan from their local bank, because they have to look for F.S.A. concurrence when decisions are made on one. When banks can’t get the confirmation, farmers can’t get loans.

Money isn’t moving, and when farmers aren’t moving their money, whole towns suffer. Thousands of towns. All across America.

Mark White has been farming for 40 years. His farm, which his brother rents and operates, is just south of the county line, near Williamson, Iowa, population of approximately 150. Mr. White works with Smith Fertilizer and Grain, a full-service fertilizer, feed supplier and grain-receiving facility.

“The biggest problem is immediate cash flow,” he said. “It doesn’t necessarily mean that they are broke — or headed out of business — but they are having to use some equity that they have built up over the years to survive a downturn like we are in.” Using equity, he said, means putting land or equipment up as collateral against operating notes, or past operating notes they can’t pay off. He says this can be risky and is “taking a step backward.” Younger farmers and farmers who rent and don’t own land are more at risk.

These less secure farmers with cash flow problems are the ones most at risk during the shutdown because they can’t cash F.S.A. checks or get loans. Farming for most is a losing proposition already because of low commodity prices — the tariffs and shutdown hurt even more. Many Americans can’t afford to lose their monthly paychecks — and that includes farmers. My banker friend tells me we lost a generation of farmers because of the farm crisis of the 1980s, and if it gets much worse, she fears we could see it again.

Most rural American farms are not big corporate operations. The most recent available farm census data, from 2012, shows that Iowa has nearly 89,000 farms, and 57 percent are small farms under 180 acres. Generally, to make a living on farm income, operations of at least 225 to 750 acres or more are needed. Of the farmers that Mr. Trump’s tariffs and shutdown are hurting, about 80 percent are family businesses.

So “big ag” — the only farmers with the capital to survive over the long term — profits from the blundering crisis. If and when small farmers fail, larger operations can swoop in and buy up the land at fire sale prices. The large seed and other input companies would rather deliver product to one farm in a township than 27.

It’s not all President Trump’s doing. He has only accelerated a trajectory that now seems inevitable — fewer and larger farms.

Yet farmers are smart. This mess is also about politics, and if Democratic presidential candidates pay attention, they might have an opening at least in some parts of rural America. For example, Elizabeth Warren was recently in Iowa. She began her campaign in the heart of “Trump country,” western Iowa — in Sioux City and Storm Lake. She showed us that she is willing to get manure on her boots. Her message resonated — her humble beginnings in a time when a family of three could make a living off one minimum-wage job and send a kid to college, at a time when America worked for the average Jane or Joe, not just for corporate profiteers.

Many more Democrats will follow this year. They should spend a lot of time talking to farmers and be bold in their proposals.

The consequences of failed Republican policy won’t damage only President Trump. His staggering failures in farm country will have an impact on every Republican member of Congress in every state with a rural agricultural constituency — which means every state, period. Congressional Republicans have complained, but they have not acted to stop the president when they have had the power to do so.

Sure, some farmers will follow President Trump to hell and back. They will be cheerleading him from their jobs in town, though, as they surely won’t be farmers anymore.

Others won’t. Maybe they’ll be voting for Democrats.

Robert Leonard is the news director for the Iowa radio stations KNIA and KRLS.

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Opinion | Consider Firing Your Male Broker

When people picture a financial adviser, they typically think of a gray-haired guy who looks like Bernie Madoff, or perhaps a younger man like Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in “The Wolf of Wall Street.” The imagined portrait rarely resembles someone like me, a woman. And that underlying perception is fairly accurate.

Roughly less than 20 percent of financial advisers are women, a number that has barely budged for the past two decades despite rising gender equity in other fields. But what has this overwhelmingly male work force accomplished?

Banks and brokerage firms consistently rank rock bottom on lists of the most beloved companies and brands — and not by coincidence. A major basis of the distrust is rampant conflicts of interests. In 2015, the Department of Labor estimated that the cost of conflicted investment advice for retirement savers is more than $17 billion per year. Then there are the roots of the financial crisis last decade, several of which can be traced to advisers convincing clients that investing in high-risk subprime mortgages was a safe bet.

While neither sex is immune to shoddy behavior, research has shown that female investors are more likely than men to focus on a family’s financial goals over their own absolute investment performance. A study by the Warwick Business School concluded that women outperformed men at investing by 1.8 percent. For one, women avoid “lottery style” trading and are more likely to focus on shares with good track records or on overlooked yet productive funds.

Clare Francis, a director at Barclays Smart Investor, agreed with the researchers, who attributed the difference in performance to women’s judiciousness. “The stock market is often portrayed as a high-energy, risky environment,” she said. “But this analysis shows that taking a more long-term view about what to invest in, rather than picking eye-catching and potentially more volatile shares, is actually likely to provide a better return on your money.”

In one of my favorite papers, “Boys Will Be Boys,” published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, Terrance Odean at U.C. Berkeley and Brad Barber at U.C. Davis found that accounts owned by women outperformed those of men because women traded a whopping 69 percent less than men and incurred less in trading costs. Why did the men trade more? The research indicates men regularly exhibit overconfidence in their ability.

Christine Lagarde, chairwoman of the International Monetary Fund, was one of many world leaders to remark that the 2008 crisis might have never happened if there had been more women in high-ranking positions to pull the reins on the testosterone-tinged frenzy. Instead, all told, $19.2 trillion of household wealth was lost in America alone.

As a result, finance in general, and the financial advice field in particular, continues to be viewed as an industry plagued with slick con artists. And it’s a shame because as much as we may trust our best friends and close relatives, we rarely disclose to them that most private and sensitive aspect of our personal information: the state of our money. That discretion is instead placed with your financial adviser, who ideally is one of the good guys (or gals) in your life.

He listens first. You can calculate to the penny how much you paid for his services last year. His company adheres to the fiduciary standard of putting clients’ interests first. Your financial plan does not conveniently lean on products that happen to pay him a hefty sales commission. Usually, you’re the one calling back, because he’s anticipating your needs before they arise.

Unfortunately, far too often, the opposite is true. I’ve heard and seen horror stories from the front lines: the guy who retires a couple of years after acquiring your business and hands you off to his son-in-law or a junior broker who just left business school. The mansplainer who takes only the husband seriously and barely lets a widow get a word in as he rejiggers her estate. Or the one who scales back his hours to two days a week but doesn’t bother to tell you because he has collected enough clients to fund a perpetual state of semiretirement — logging enough days with his second wife down in Florida to claim residency and avoid state income tax.

While gendering any ability or trait can make people uncomfortable in these forward-thinking times, which sex seems better equipped to help families nurture and protect their nest egg?

The gender gap in finance looks increasingly like not only an ethical quandary but also a financial blow to millions of households. And its persistence stems from both explicit historical exclusion and a self-selecting process, in which the crowd most attracted to finance’s clubby reputation pushes hardest to get in, then feels most at ease once there, perpetuating the reality.

Two generations ago, when newspapers still ran gender-segregated ads, there were virtually no women on Wall Street aside from the secretaries. But once women were begrudgingly welcomed to the business world, Wall Street was not their first choice. Male brokers largely worked for commissions alone — an “eat what you kill” mentality that did not appeal to women. Instead, professional women gravitated to stable sources of income in fields like law, education or medicine.

Those divides have a way of calcifying. The Chartered Financial Analyst Institute — the premier global association for investment professionals — surveyed its members in 2016 and found that 83 percent of women and 80 percent of men chose their career before age 25. Only 18 percent of its members are women.

The public doesn’t perceive brokers as loyal stewards of their clients and neither do enough young women considering career options. First, they’ll need to see it to believe it.

Informal mentorship is great, but women need institutional advocacy, not just someone who is willing to grab a cup of coffee and chat. Firms should also take a look at their investment committee members and client-facing advisers. If they’re mainly men, there’s a problem.

Harvard’s Kennedy School found the use of blind auditions for symphony orchestras increased the likelihood of female musicians’ being selected by as much as 30 percent — to the shock of many conductors who did not believe they were biased. The percent of female musicians in the five highest-ranked orchestras in the nation increased by 15 percent over a 23-year period. Similarly innovative measures might be necessary to bring about change in the business world.

Whatever the paths taken, the future of finance should be female. It wouldn’t just be more fair. If the years of data are any indication, it’s a future in which all of us would make more money. Find me a good argument against that.

Blair duQuesnay (@BlairHduQuesnay) is an investment adviser for Ritholtz Wealth Management. She is the author of the personal finance blog The Belle Curve.

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Opinion | What’s the Best Way to Dump Trump?

Last weekend, a smart friend of mine raised an interesting question: Would political opponents of Donald Trump rather see him removed from office via impeachment and conviction, or would we rather see him voted out of office in 2020?

The question has the makings of a parlor game that could occupy the passions of anti-Trump Americans for months. Strong cases can be made for both sides of the argument. I come down on the side of the ballot box, and firmly so, because it has more historical authority and legitimacy — and for one other reason that I’ll reveal in a bit.

The impeachment side of the argument, though, isn’t to be dismissed out of hand. It’s true that impeachment is a political process, and getting enough Republicans to support removing a president from their party would take a formidable list of offenses.

But to a lot of us, the list is already quite formidable — Mr. Trump has, by any common-sense definition, obstructed justice repeatedly in public. Many House Democrats are raring to go with what they have; Representative Brad Sherman of California has already introduced his own articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump.

And there is likely to be much more. For the moment, let’s presume that several months from now, Robert Mueller has given us evidence of obstruction, cooperation with Russians during the 2016 campaign and compelling evidence that Russian banks on some level “own” Mr. Trump. And that’s leaving aside everything investigators may be learning about the Trump Organization from Michael Cohen and Allen Weisselberg.

Let’s also assume that House Democrats will have done their work and, at a minimum, documented numerous and ghastly Trump family violations of the emoluments clause. Remember also on that front that two lawsuits are working their way through the federal courts, so let’s imagine that they are allowed to proceed as well.

This is to say nothing of the instances of more banal forms of corruption Democrats may have unearthed through their own investigations this year that could rightly be called high crimes and misdemeanors.

In sum, let us say that by next football season, the president’s goose will be well and truly cooked, and House impeachment proceedings seem amply justified.

There will then hang the question of whether 20 Senate Republicans — at least, assuming that all 47 Democrats would vote to convict — would actually agree to remove Mr. Trump from office. That seems exceedingly unlikely.

But whether they would or would not, many would argue that Democrats would still have a constitutional responsibility to exercise. Impeachment is the only remedy the founders provided for removing from office someone who is clearly unfit to hold it.

If all of what I stipulated above happens and the Democrats don’t act, aren’t they saying the Constitution is meaningless? If you can’t impeach a president whose very election is found to have been illegitimate, then whom can you impeach? And how do you recover, as a country, from such a bitterly partisan episode?

Those are good questions. But they have an obvious answer. While impeachment is clearly a valid exercise of power, so is another method of removal, also prescribed by the Constitution: an election. This is how Americans like to ditch presidents and parties they don’t like — presidential power has changed hands 44 times in this country’s history.

In addition, nine incumbent presidents have lost re-election, including three in the last half-century, and all have peacefully (if not always gracefully) yielded power. In contrast, only two presidents, Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, have been impeached by the House, though both were acquitted in the Senate. Richard Nixon, facing certain and imminent impeachment, resigned.

That’s a historical record that suggests that an electoral outcome will be much more widely accepted. Mr. Trump’s partisans will whine about the unfairness of it all in either case — they’ll blame “voter fraud,” or George Soros, or the “fake news media.” But if the voters have rebuffed the president, the whining will sound to most Americans like just that.

There’s one more reason I’d prefer to see Mr. Trump laid low via the ballot. It will do more long-term damage to the Republican Party.

If Mr. Trump is removed via impeachment and conviction — that is, with those 20 Republican votes — Republicans can say, “See, we’ve come to our senses; got that out of our system.” But if they renominate Mr. Trump and stick with him through November 2020 and the voters clearly say no, not again, Republicans are left sitting in the wreckage. They will be trying to air out the Trump stench for a generation, maybe two, which is precisely the fate they deserve.

True, this carries the risk that Mr. Trump might win in 2020. But the impeachment process carries the (considerable) risk that a Senate conviction will fall short, which would enable Mr. Trump to seek re-election as the victim of those vicious Democrats and of the enemy of the people, the press. Nothing in life is risk free.

But risk’s opposite is reward, and in this case the far greater reward — for liberals and Democrats, yes, but also for our democracy itself — is the one that would come on the night of Nov. 3, 2020, when perhaps a record number of voters will cast their ballots and a decisive majority will say to Mr. Trump: Go home.

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Michael Tomasky is a columnist for The Daily Beast, editor of Democracy: A Journal of Ideas and a contributing opinion writer.

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Brendan O'Connor: 'Her name was Dawn Croke'

Her name was Dawn Croke. She has been called a tragic young mum, a beauty queen, a hero, and she was all those things. But remember that her name was Dawn Croke. And it is scant consolation today for her family or her two young children, for those who loved her, or for the community in which she was embedded and to whom she contributed so much, that Dawn Croke is a hero. But in times to come, whenever they remember her name, her heroism will console them.

Dawn Croke is not here to tell us about that crucial moment when she acted, but many everyday heroes like her will tell you that they just did what anyone would have done. They saw someone in trouble, something that needed to happen, and they just did it. As if possessed by some force outside of them, possessed by some kind of grace perhaps.

It seems that it was not out of character for Dawn Croke to have moved, in that moment, to save that six-year-old’s life as the 4X4 moved towards them in that schoolyard in Dungloe in Co Donegal. The way her community is remembering Dawn, it seems that she was one of those people whose instinct was to do the right thing: duty, contribution, usefulness.

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Before Christmas, Dawn the schoolteacher brought her class down to Dublin. They visited Leinster House and then they went to Brother Kevin to give him the €1,000 they had raised for him. Again that instinct of seeing what needs to be done and doing it.

Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher said that warmth radiated from Dawn. It almost gave a sense of someone who shone with grace.

Another small community in Ireland is in distress this weekend, too. Even the thought that the fire at the Shannon Key West Hotel in Rooskey, a hotel that was earmarked to take asylum seekers, may have been started deliberately, has clearly upset most of the community terribly. The people of Roosky and their representatives have been at pains to point out that, if the fire was deliberate, it was certainly not done in their name.

There has been discussion around how the consultation with the community was managed, and Leo Varadkar has warned that we must not ignore people’s concerns around migration. Which is, in reality, nothing to do with an act of hate, if that’s what this was. But the voices from this small community that resonated most last week, from local representatives nearly crying on camera, to ordinary decent people, those voices have clearly said that concerns about migration or not, this is not who they are.

We might take a moment to reflect what these two devastating stories from small Irish communities tell us about ourselves. Perhaps they remind us always to aspire to be the best of who we are, to the kind of decency and heroism and contribution that goes on in communities every day, from mothers, teachers, nurses, midwives, even beauty queens. And perhaps it reminds us to say that for all that we can be down on ourselves as a nation, as a people we are fundamentally decent.

Like most people in Rooskey, like Dawn, we do not choose ugliness and hatred, we choose grace and contribution.

And remember her name. Her name was Dawn Croke.

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Opinion | The Joy of Being a Woman in Her 70s

When I told my friends I was writing a book on older women like us, they immediately protested, “I am not old.” What they meant was that they didn’t act or feel like the cultural stereotypes of women their age. Old meant bossy, useless, unhappy and in the way. Our country’s ideas about old women are so toxic that almost no one, no matter her age, will admit she is old.

In America, ageism is a bigger problem for women than aging. Our bodies and our sexuality are devalued, we are denigrated by mother-in-law jokes, and we’re rendered invisible in the media. Yet, most of the women I know describe themselves as being in a vibrant and happy life stage. We are resilient and know how to thrive in the margins. Our happiness comes from self-knowledge, emotional intelligence and empathy for others.

Most of us don’t miss the male gaze. It came with catcalls, harassment and unwanted attention. Instead, we feel free from the tyranny of worrying about our looks. For the first time since we were 10, we can feel relaxed about our appearance. We can wear yoga tights instead of nylons and bluejeans instead of business suits.

Yet, in this developmental stage, we are confronted by great challenges. We are unlikely to escape great sorrow for long. We all suffer, but not all of us grow. Those of us who grow do so by developing our moral imaginations and expanding our carrying capacities for pain and bliss. In fact, this pendulum between joy and despair is what makes old age catalytic for spiritual and emotional growth.

By our 70s, we’ve had decades to develop resilience. Many of us have learned that happiness is a skill and a choice. We don’t need to look at our horoscopes to know how our day will go. We know how to create a good day.

We have learned to look every day for humor, love and beauty. We’ve acquired an aptitude for appreciating life. Gratitude is not a virtue but a survival skill, and our capacity for it grows with our suffering. That is why it is the least privileged, not the most, who excel in appreciating the smallest of offerings.

Many women flourish as we learn how to make everything workable. Yes, everything. As we walk out of a friend’s funeral, we can smell wood smoke in the air and taste snowflakes on our tongues.

Our happiness is built by attitude and intention. Attitude is not everything, but it’s almost everything. I visited the jazz great Jane Jarvis when she was old, crippled and living in a tiny apartment with a window facing a brick wall. I asked if she was happy and she replied, “I have everything I need to be happy right between my ears.”

We may not have control, but we have choices. With intention and focused attention, we can always find a forward path. We discover what we are looking for. If we look for evidence of love in the universe, we will find it. If we seek beauty, it will spill into our lives any moment we wish. If we search for events to appreciate, we discover them to be abundant.

There is an amazing calculus in old age. As much is taken away, we find more to love and appreciate. We experience bliss on a regular basis. As one friend said: “When I was young I needed sexual ecstasy or a hike to the top of a mountain to experience bliss. Now I can feel it when I look at a caterpillar on my garden path.”

Older women have learned the importance of reasonable expectations. We know that all our desires will not be fulfilled, that the world isn’t organized around pleasing us and that others, especially our children, are not waiting for our opinions and judgments. We know that the joys and sorrows of life are as mixed together as salt and water in the sea. We don’t expect perfection or even relief from suffering. A good book, a piece of homemade pie or a call from a friend can make us happy. As my aunt Grace, who lived in the Ozarks, put it, “I get what I want, but I know what to want.”

We can be kinder to ourselves as well as more honest and authentic. Our people-pleasing selves soften their voices and our true selves speak more loudly and more often. We don’t need to pretend to ourselves and others that we don’t have needs. We can say no to anything we don’t want to do. We can listen to our hearts and act in our own best interest. We are less angst-filled and more content, less driven and more able to live in the moment with all its lovely possibilities.

Many of us have a shelterbelt of good friends and long-term partners. There is a sweetness to 50-year-old friendships and marriages that can’t be described in language. We know each other’s vulnerabilities, flaws and gifts; we’ve had our battles royal and yet are grateful to be together. A word or a look can signal so much meaning. Lucky women are connected to a rich web of women friends. Those friends can be our emotional health insurance policies.

The only constant in our lives is change. But if we are growing in wisdom and empathy, we can take the long view. We’ve lived through seven decades of our country’s history, from Truman to Trump. I knew my great-grandmother, and if I live long enough, will meet my great-grandchildren. I will have known seven generations of family. I see where I belong in a long line of Scotch-Irish ancestors. I am alive today only because thousands of generations of resilient homo sapiens managed to procreate and raise their children. I come from, we all come from, resilient stock, or we wouldn’t be here.

By the time we are 70, we have all had more tragedy and more bliss in our lives than we could have foreseen. If we are wise, we realize that we are but one drop in the great river we call life and that it has been a miracle and a privilege to be alive.

Mary Pipher is a clinical psychologist in Lincoln, Neb., and the author of the forthcoming “Women Rowing North: Navigating Life’s Currents and Flourishing as We Age.”

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