Ten years ago, Puerto Rican municipal bonds were cheap, easy to purchase, and tax-free. Now, U.S. investors may face the consequences of purchasing Puerto Rican debt, realizing that the territory may not be able to pay. Puerto Rico’s sluggish economy, combined with rapid emigration, has reduced the tax revenue. As a result, the territory has the highest per capita debt of all U.S. states without the necessary means to pay investors.
The Puerto Rican debt crisis has much greater implications for domestic markets than Greece. Unlike Detroit, Puerto Rico’s government and public corporations cannot file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. Governor Padilla hopes to postpone debt payments; however, many question what would stimulate economic growth in the territory. To make matters worse, Puerto Rican muni-bonds trade in the U.S. markets, unlike Greek debt that is “in the hands of the IMF”. Of the $350bn in Greek debt, only $14bn is owed to U.S. banks. Meanwhile, much of Puerto Rico’s $72bn debt is owed to traditional muni-bond investors (Hedge funds and crossover investors holding the remainder).
In some respects, the Puerto Rican debt crisis is very similar to Greece. It has an overwhelming debt burden and has limited means to pay off the debt. Still, the holders of Puerto Rico’s municipal bonds are U.S. Investors, and the domestic markets will feel the brunt of the crisis.
The company, Splacer, brings together people who are looking to discover and book unique event spaces. What Airbnb does for longer-term stays in a home, Splacer does for short-term event spaces. Through the website, users can list either personal or commercial space, set prices, and other users can rent them out for different types of events.
Splacer, started in Tel Aviv by architects Lihi Gerstner and Adi Biran, announced that it has raised $1.4 million in seed funding led by Carmel Ventures.
Alongside the funding announcement, the company announced that it is also going live with a beta product in New York City, launching with 70 spaces listed.
The Interns, and Henry’s, favorite salad place, Sweet Greens, has just recently raised 35 million in additional venture capital funding.
In a the highly competitive food industry, this healthy salad chain is building a healthy brand that targets millennials. Much healthier than traditional fast food restaurants such as Wendy’s and McDonald’s, Sweet Greens views its competitors as Chipotle and Chop’t. To stand out from those two companies, Sweet Greens has been on the edge of the technological transformation in the food industry. Their app, which is available on IPhone and Android, currently is accountable for a quarter of all of their purchases.
They also hosted a music festival last month, which featured artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Calvin Harris and The Weeknd. Clearly Sweet Greens is becoming a hot investment due to their desire to be more than just your lunch spot.
Dom Hoffman created a new creative tool and a social network that went into private beta yesterday. It is schedlued to open to the public later in July. Byte aims to destroy he notion of constraints and see what emerges from the chaos, unlike Vine. How does the app work? There’s a feed of creations from the people you follow, an activity feed , and a place to edit your profile. One of Byte’s more original features is a “soundtrack” button, which lets you create miniature, looping synths that play inside your creations. Byte’s most ambitious tool, though, is the computer — an app launcher within the app that lets you pull a variety of images, text, and memes into your Bytes. The content is selected at random, but you can cycle through it by tapping arrows on either side of the rectangle that houses the content.
It seems that nowadays personal interaction is a thing of the past. Start-up companies such as Zingle or Kipsu are offering an app that allows hotel concierge employees to connect with smartphone savvy hotel guests in a matter of minutes. Through text messages, hotel guests are able to ask simple questions such as “where is the gym?” to more personal questions like “can you get me a flight from New York to Florida?” Hotels say that this service will lead to happier customers and hopefully save them from bad reviews on powerful travel sites such as TripAdvisor or Expedia. However, if you are still craving personal interaction, there will always be the option to pick up the phone and have a voice at the other end.
Researchers at Columbia University have recently created a unique engine that is powered by evaporation. Evaporation unlike other types of renewable energy is constantly occurring, and the device created at Columbia contains bacterial spores, Bacillus subtilis, that respond to even the slightest changes in humidity. The spores expand when they absorb water and contract as they begin to dry out; the device uses the energy created by the contractions and expansions of the spores to power rotary or piston engines. Scientists can then control the amount of moisture in the air to help regulate the rate at which and the amount of water that the spores are absorbing or releasing.
Currently the size of the engines are too small to produce a practical amount of electricity (a water surface of 8×8 cm produces about two microwatts of electricity). However the creation of the device is what’s promising as Ozgur Sahin, the lead researcher, has said that it is possible to make the engines 100 times more powerful with adjustments to the engine. One method is to increase the size of the spores or adjusting the placement of the devices. Sahin suggested putting the devices on the surface of a body of water to have a consistent source of water for renewable energy but conceded that they are years away from being able to do so. While impractical at the moment, the device can eventually help revolutionize the field of natural energy.
Google’s education platform, “Classroom”, is helping teachers and students communicate. It operates in a similar space as Blackboard or Canvas, where users can organize assignments, syllabi, and curriculum. Although “Classroom” launched a year ago, the recent facelift will make the platform more competitive in the space.
Google has introduced a new API and “Share” button, creating a better user experience for teachers and students. With the new Classroom API, admins can easily populate the platform with information and sync content from their Student Information systems. Admins also have a better way of monitoring the classes taught in their domain. The “Share” button facilitates the creation and completion of assignments for students and teachers. It allows teachers to post links to sources that augment the curriculum, and students can similarly post relevant information. The recent upgrades to Google “Classroom” could change the way students and teachers interact.