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Trump trade war delivers farm boom in Brazil, gloom in Iowa



Like their U.S. counterparts, Brazil’s farmers produce much more grain than is needed at home. Foreign customers are responsible for the country’s agricultural boom. Nearly 80 percent of Brazil’s soy exports now head to China.

The city of Luís Eduardo Magalhães is a testament to the importance of this international trade. Located in the state of Bahia, with farms stretching in every direction, the formerly unincorporated rural area in less than two decades has swelled to 85,000 people. That is bigger than Sioux City, Iowa’s fourth-largest city.

Major employers in Luís Eduardo, as most locals call the city, include fertilizer factories, seed producers and processors of soy and cotton. The area “relies 100 percent on agriculture,” said Carminha Maria Missio, a farmer and president of the local growers union.

While Brazil’s overall economy is stuck in a ditch, the nation’s farm sector rolled to 13 percent growth last year. The John Deere dealership in Luís Eduardo saw its sales rise 15 percent in 2017 and is expecting double-digit growth again this year, managing partner Chico Flores Oliveira said.

The local real estate market is surging too. Another new luxury condo tower is slated to open next year. Single-family homes are sprouting throughout the city. Prices for prime farmland are up 37 percent since 2012, according to consultancy Informa Economics IEG FNP.

Brazil’s total soy area is expected to expand to a record 36.28 million hectares this season due to robust Chinese demand, according to a Reuters poll of analysts.

Farmers here also are bullish on this month’s presidential election in Brazil. Far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro, who is leading in the polls, favors rolling back fines for farmers who deforest illegally or break other environmental laws. Like Trump, Bolsonaro, is wary of China. But producers here trust him not to blow it on trade.

“Rural producers support Bolsonaro emphatically,” said Congresswoman Tereza Cristina, head of the powerful agriculture voting bloc in Brazil’s Congress. “We have access to him…and I am certain that he is smart and sensible.”

U.S. Farm Belt Pinched The outlook is much gloomier in Iowa, the long-established heart of U.S. agriculture.

It is the nation’s top corn-producing state and the No. 2 producer of soybeans. But its access to some global markets has suffered under Trump.

The president walked away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that would have opened valuable markets such as Japan to more American ag products. His renegotiation of the NAFTA accord had Mexico, the largest importer of U.S. corn, exploring other suppliers, including Brazil. Now the Chinese are pulling back.

Boone lays smack in the state’s center, surrounded by miles of row crops, hogs and poultry. Farmland values here fell 12 percent from 2012 to 2017, according to Iowa State University. Worries about the U.S.-China trade war loomed over the recent Farm Progress show, which comes to town every other year.

Equipment dealer Lee Randall jotted down prices at an auction of used tractors and implements at the show. Prices have dropped on trade tensions and low crop prices, he said, shaking his head as a green and yellow Deere & Co combine sold for $118,000 and another fetched $82,000.

“Five years ago you could have added 30 percent to every one of these pieces,” said Randall, whose business, Randall Brothers, is based in Ohio.

Nearby, Brett Begemann, chief operating officer for Bayer Crop Science said farmers were likewise scrutinizing purchases of seeds and chemicals. The trade dispute is making it difficult for Bayer to predict 2019 earnings for its agriculture unit.

A two-hour drive north of Boone in Algona, Iowa, a town of about 5,500 people, farm doldrums are crimping business at the local Deere and Harley-Davidson Inc dealerships, the operators said.

“Ultimately this area lives and dies by the farmer,” said Jim Wilcox, an owner of the Harley store.

Farmers’ woes are showing up on bank balance sheets as well. The proportion of the region’s agricultural loans reported as having repayment problems was up in the second quarter, reaching mid-year levels not seen since 2002, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

Rodney Jensen, who farms near Algona, regrets not making deals to sell soybeans from his autumn harvest when prices were higher. Like many, he is storing his crop, waiting for better times.

He worries China will not buy as much U.S. soy as it used to, even if the two nations patch things up.

“It’s been pretty pessimistic around here,” Jensen said.

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Businessman Theo Paphitis on how dyslexia boosted his career



Theo Paphitis is considered one of Britain’s most successful entrepreneurs, thanks to having helped revive several brands. The magnate has said however, that he may not have reached the level of success he’s now attained, if it wasn’t for a learning difficulty he’s had since he was young.

Speaking to BBC radio 5 live’s “Wake Up to Money” show, the serial businessman revealed that in spite of how painful it was, “dyslexia was an advantage” for him as it drove Paphitis to always look for an answer to any given issue.

“If I hadn’t have had dyslexia, I’m pretty certain I wouldn’t be here today, because I wouldn’t have gone down the path I went down,” the entrepreneur told the BBC.

With dyslexia estimated to affect at least 10 percent of any given population, according to Dyslexia International, a person with the learning difficulty will often find it challenging to spell, write and read. Paphitis is just one of many leaders who have spoken about their dyslexia, with Richard Branson, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley all having recently commented on how it affects their livelihoods.

A report published by EY and charity Made by Dyslexia this month indicates, however, that dyslexic individuals “hold a unique set of skills” that are crucial to the future workforce. Such talents include creativity, complex problem solving, and cognitive flexibility, which are seen as “increasingly valuable” to a labor force that’s becoming ever more advanced and digitized.

For Paphitis, he credits his desire to problem solve as an ability that’s helped drive him in business.

“Even as an 11-year old, I can remember quite clearly, learning to get round the things I had to do and finding another solution. Whatever it was, I had to find another solution,” he said.

“So, it really gave me that confidence to be able to tackle anything in business — but not from an arrogant point of view or a false confidence. But a confidence of ‘How hard can it be?'” The entrepreneur added that his method was to “look at the problem, break it down, (and) find a solution to it.”

During his career, Paphitis has restored several retail brands and in 2015, he launched the Theo Paphitis Retail Group, which includes popular U.K. brands, Robert Dyas, Boux Avenue and Ryman. Annually, this combined group serves more than 28 million customers, and has over 350 stores, according to the group’s website.

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Boxing champion Canelo signs the richest deal in sports history with new $365 million contract



Canelo Alvarez, left, throws a punch against Floyd Mayweather Jr. during a 152-pound title fight, Sept. 14, 2013, in Las Vegas.

Steve Marcus | Reuters

Canelo Alvarez, left, throws a punch against Floyd Mayweather Jr. during a 152-pound title fight, Sept. 14, 2013, in Las Vegas.

WBA and WBC middleweight world champion Canelo Alvarez and the streaming service DAZN have agreed a five-year, 11-fight deal that will pay the boxer at least $365 million.

The partnership is being described as the highest-paying athlete contract in history.

“I am humbled to be selected to lead this new vision for the sport of boxing, which without doubt will be for the benefit of the fans,” said Canelo at the announcement in New York on Wednesday.

DAZN became the broadcast home of boxing in the United States after HBO announced in September that it’s getting out of the fight business. DAZN is owned by the U.K.-based Perform Group — it launched in Austria, Germany, Japan and Switzerland in August 2016 and moved into the U.S. market this year, making boxing one of its premium sports.

Its biggest fight night to date has been last month’s world heavyweight encounter between Anthony Joshua and Alexander Povetkin, with the entire event card being offered for just $9.99, a fraction of what the traditional pay-per-view cost usually is in the U.S.

“By bringing Canelo’s fights to DAZN, we will turn his pay-per-view success into a growth engine for subscribers — a truly transformational moment for our business and for the entire industry,” John Skipper, the executive chairman of DAZN said at the announcement also on Wednesday.

Mexican fighter Canelo has fifty wins on his record and just one defeat, coming in 2013 in a controversial majority point’s decision against Floyd Mayweather. His last victory came in a much publicized middleweight unification fight against previous unbeaten fighter Gennady Golovkin. That bout reportedly earned HBO $121 million, with Canelo himself taking home $5 million.

This new partnership will now elevate him to the top of the list of highest paid athletes, in terms of an annual fee for the contract duration. Canelo’s value overtakes the 13-year, $325 million that the Miami Marlins paid to Giancarlo Stanton back in 2015. However, when the salary is broken down purely into an annual amount, Paris Saint-Germain soccer star Neymar still earns more, supposedly receiving $42.3 million a year.

DAZN’s boxing partnership with Alvarez will kick in later this year with his move up to super middleweight to challenge British fighter and secondary world titlist Rocky Fielding on December 15 at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

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GTA V cheat developers’ homes raided by Rockstar, Take-Two Interactive



Copies of 'Grand Theft Auto V' on display for sale at a GameStop store in Peru, Illinois.

Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Copies of ‘Grand Theft Auto V’ on display for sale at a GameStop store in Peru, Illinois.

The publisher of “Grand Theft Auto V” and its parent company were granted the right to raid the homes of five people who allegedly made cheat software to manipulate the video game’s online mode.

A court order issued by the Federal Court of Australia, dated September 21, gave Rockstar Games and Take-Two Interactive’s lawyers the right to search the homes of the developers and seize any evidence related to the cheat.

The people were identified in the court order as Christopher Anderson, Cyrus Lesser, sfinktah, Koroush Anderson and Koroush Jeddian.

The cheat software, known as “Infamous,” effectively grants players the ability to become invincible and have access to unlimited in-game funds and the best vehicles and weapons in the game.

The search was carried out last month, according to tech publication TorrentFreak, which originally reported the news and posted the court order online. The court also froze the assets of the developers and prohibited them from further cheating.

“You must not remove from Australia or in any way dispose of, deal with or diminish the value of any of your assets in Australia (Australian assets) up to the unencumbered value of 286,609.80 Australian dollars,” the court order stated.

Rockstar Games owner Take-Two Interactive was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.

It’s one of the most stringent legal actions surrounding video game cheating. Cheating is a significant issue in the gaming industry, due to copyright concerns around the modification of games. Fornite developer Epic Games for instance recently sued two YouTube video makers who allegedly promoted cheating.

Modding is a popular means — particularly among PC gamers — to alter a game’s look or functionality by installing modifications. But for competitive online gaming it can wildly unbalance the playing field, enabling some players to have an unfair advantage over others.

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