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Bezos said he had hired investigators to probe how the National Enquirer obtained the sensitive texts. He added that Pecker was apparently “apoplectic” about the investigation, and that the alleged “Saudi angle” appeared to have “hit a particularly sensitive nerve.”

“Maybe some of our citizens read the National Enquirer when they’re in the United States,” Jubeir said, when pressed by CBS’ Margaret Brennan. “Other citizens watch the soap opera unfold on television, but that’s it.”

Pecker’s attorney Elkan Abramowitz denied Bezos’ accusation that his client engaged in extortion and blackmail, and dismissed the implication of any involvement from the Saudi government.

“This was a source that had been giving information to the National Enquirer for seven years. It was a person that was known to both Bezos and Ms. Sanchez, therefore giving his information more credibility,” Abramowitz told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.

The Daily Beast, citing multiple sources, said Sanchez’s brother, Michael, was the source of the texts. The news site said Michael Sanchez, a Trump supporter, declined to comment.

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Gold could hit $2,000 in a world full of negative yielding debt



In a world full of negative yielding debt, hard assets like gold could become even more attractive, and some strategists say a case could be made for a $2,000 per ounce price tag on the precious metal.

Gold futures were at $1,513.80 an ounce Tuesday, down about 0.2%. In late May, gold snapped out of its slumber, broke above $1,300 and has not looked back. In September, 2011, gold futures reached all-time high of $1,923.70 per ounce.

“We have a long position trade on. We are targeting $1,585,” said Daniel Ghali, commodities strategist at TD Securities. “We do think gold is on its way higher for the time being…Over the coming years as the likelihood of the unconventional policy becomes more of a reality, I could see a case for gold at $2,000.”

Gold has also been firming as the world watches protests in Hong Kong and also the uncertainty around U.S., China trade relations. On Tuesday, gold erased its gains and risk assets rallied after the U.S. announced it would hold off on tariffs on consumer products until mid-December.

TD Securities strategists believe the many years of unconventional and easy monetary policy from the world’s central banks has resulted in a shortage of “safe assets” and that’s “evident by the fast growing pile of negative yielding debt, which is ultimately leading to a growing appetite for precious metals.”

“Negative yields are symptomatic for the search for safe assets. The reason they’re trading at negative yields is because the demand for safe assets is bigger than the supply for them,’ said Ghali. “Gold stands to benefit quite a bit from that.. the trade we’ve been recommending we have it as a three moth time horizon. I would argue we are likely on the cusp of a multi-year bull market for gold.”

Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s metals strategist Michael Widmer, in a note, also says negative yields are making gold shine. He said the successive rounds of monetary easing driving bond yields lower and creating $14 trillion in negative yielding debt have also been recently supported gold prices. “With more easing to come, the dynamic will likely sustain a bid for the yellow metal,” he wrote.

But Widmer said all of the rounds of central bank moves, including quantitative easing, have clearly delivered “less bang for the buck” when it comes to stimulus. He said this could result in “quantitative failure,” or an environment where markets focus on high debt levels or the lack of economic growth, and that could lead to volatility.

“At the same time, and perhaps perversely, such a sell-off may prompt central banks to ease more aggressively, making gold an even more attractive asset to hold. We have a relatively conservative 2Q20 forecast of $1,500/oz, but in this scenario, we see scope for gold to rise towards $2,000/oz,” he wrote in a note.

Widmer said central banks are also driving up gold, as they have now become net buyers of the metal. Widmer notes that the World Gold Council expects gold reserves to increase over the next year at central banks.

“The motivation behind the respective reserve strategies varies, with the historical positioning, the long-term store of value, gold’s role as an effective portfolio diversifier and lack of default risk featuring the highest among EM and DM institutions. De-dollarization features as well as a motivation,” Widmer wrote.

Gold futures [for December] are up more than 5.2% in August so far, and 18% for the year so far.

Update: Corrects title to clarify that Daniel Ghali is a strategist at TD Securities

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Apple Card promotes iPhone, steers users from Android



The back doesn’t have any personal information.

Todd Haselton | CNBC

Apple’s highest-profile launch this year hasn’t been a new phone or tablet — it’s been a credit card. Investors and analysts have placed a lot of hope in the card as a high-profile new product in Apple’s online services business that management has highlighted as a growth engine for the company.

But the Apple Card could end up being a smashing success even if it doesn’t contribute a meaningful amount to the company’s services revenue or end up being Apple’s beachhead in the financial industry.

Rather, the Apple Card is all about keeping users glued to Apple’s most important product: the iPhone.

The Apple Card can only be signed up for on an iPhone. Sure, there’s a metal card, but the primary interface for the credit card is on your iPhone — and that includes for paying bills.

If you lose your iPhone, you have to pay your bill from another iOS device, or you can call an Apple support phone number, which will connect you to Goldman Sachs to pay your bill, according to Buzzfeed. There’s no web portal on Apple’s website.

All this means is that if you have an Apple Card, it’s going to be hard to switch to Android, at least before you pay off your balance. The credit card makes the phone much stickier.

And people with iPhones are much more likely to buy AirPods, Apple Watches and apps for their devices, all of which essentially require an iPhone to work properly, and all of which feed back into the cycle — when the person with all those Apple products wants a new phone, they’ll buy an iPhone, because it works with all of their Apple products.

Tracking switchers

Apple’s leadership used to make a big deal about “switchers. ” From time to time, Apple CEO Tim Cook would drop nuggets of information in earnings calls or interviews that suggested that Apple was having a lot of success getting people to move from an Android phone to Apple’s ecosystem.

Switchers are important to Apple because 81% of Americans own smartphones, according to a Pew study, with similar rates of penetration in other rich markets. Many people in the market for a new smartphone either had an iPhone or Android phone before.

Getting Android users to switch is a big enough priority for Apple that some Apple advertisements last year focused on it. Apple has also released software to help people easily transfer data from an Android phone to a new iPhone.

The other side of that coin is that people who have iPhones might want to buy an Android phone when it’s time to upgrade. The latest generation of Android phones are thin, light and powerful, and some are significantly less expensive than the $999 starting price for an iPhone XS.

That’s where the card comes in: as a way to reduce iPhone churn.

Lots of financial details about the relationship between Goldman Sachs and Apple aren’t public, like if Apple is getting a bounty for sign-ups or whether it gets a cut of transactions. But even if those sums aren’t material to Apple, the number of iPhone users who stick in the Apple ecosystem because of their shiny titanium credit card will be.

Goldman Sachs is even approving customers with low credit scores, CNBC previously reported. Even someone with a low FICO score needs to buy a new smartphone eventually.

Apple not a financial company

For what it’s worth, Apple’s leadership pointed to the card last month as a part of its services business, a catch-all line item including App Store fees, search engine fees from Google, AppleCare warranties, and subscriptions to iCloud and Apple Music.

But although the card is a financial product, Apple’s not really transforming into a regulated financial company. Goldman Sachs is providing backend API services to Apple, whose Apple Pay team is in charge of the user interface and product, CNBC previously reported. When you sign up for the card, fine print makes it very clear that the lending and payment aspects are being handled by Goldman Sachs.

This means that Apple can focus on the user experience, which is where its strengths lie. The Apple Card has a lot of nice user interface features. It tracks your spending, charts it, and you can even visualize where you bought things on a map. Apple frames the software as a way to improve your personal finances and as a secure way to pay for things in person and online.

It’s not the most groundbreaking stuff, but if you’re comfortable with Apple software and hardware, it’s nice to have. And in exchange, it will make Apple hardware and software something current iPhone users need to have.

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Women are traveling far and wide for affordable IVF



Over the past eight years, one Los Angeles-based prenatal health coordinator has helped thousands of women during their pregnancies. Yet working in the field didn’t help much when it came to her own pregnancy, which proved to be a costly challenge.

Anna, who asked to be identified by a pseudonym to protect her privacy, is one of thousands of women each year who opt to travel to clinics in other states (and sometimes other countries) in search of affordable in vitro fertilization, or IVF, procedures. She and her husband found that it was cheaper to travel across the country, from Los Angeles to Albany, New York, to receive treatment, than move forward with clinics closer to home. Yet they still spent about $20,000 in total to get pregnant, she tells CNBC Make It.

Each year, millions of American families struggle with infertility. For every 100 couples, 12 to 13 report they’ve experienced trouble getting pregnant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And about 7.3 million women of childbearing age in the U.S. have used fertility treatments to get pregnant.

IVF is one of the most popular routes. It’s a multistep procedure where a medical team removes eggs from a woman’s ovaries, and then fertilizes the eggs with sperm in a laboratory. The fertilized embryo is given a few days to grow and then implanted into a woman’s uterus. In total, the process generally takes four to six weeks.

The going rate for IVF

Last year, the average patient paid more than $22,000 for a single IVF cycle, according to FertilityIQ, a database that provides information about costs and treatments. Many times, that price does not include the necessary fertility drugs and testing, which can add up to an additional $3,000 per cycle. Not to mention the expenses associated with pregnancy and a hospital delivery.

Anna, however, didn’t qualify for the basic IVF, which isn’t uncommon. Women using an egg or sperm donor or those seeking genetic testing or specialized treatments such as intracytoplasmic sperm injection should expect to pay more.

In her case, Anna sought out preimplantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD. This is a specialized procedure where doctors test the fertilized embryos for chromosomal or genetic abnormalities before they are implanted. Anna has a genetic nerve disease and, after undergoing multiple surgeries and treatments throughout her life, she didn’t want to pass that onto her children.

But that extra testing increases the cost of treatment. At CNY Fertility, the clinic Anna and her husband opted to use, a basic round of IVF costs $3,900. The facility estimates that PGD costs roughly an additional $300 to $600 per embryo including biopsy and third-party lab fees. In Anna’s case, she and her husband chose to pay for testing on 17 viable embryos collected.

In the U.S., about 34% of IVF procedures performed in 2017 resulted in live birth among women ages 35 to 37, according to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology. But that success rate drops as women age — those ages 41 to 42 only have a 10% chance.

To help increase families’ chances of a successful IVF treatment, many clinics offer “guarantee” programs and pricing packages. The programs differ slightly clinic to clinic, but these tend to be money-back guarantees for if the IVF does not result in a successful pregnancy and birth. Patients pay more for the guarantee than they otherwise would if they were successful after just one IVF cycle.

“I’m pretty risk averse,” Anna says, adding she would have definitely paid more in advance because she was expecting to undergo several IVF cycles. But only certain patients qualify, and Anna wasn’t eligible because she chose to do PGD IVF.

Fertility treatments in the US are an insurance minefield

The reason IVF is so expensive isn’t that it’s a cutting-edge technology — in fact, the first successful procedure took place in 1978 — it’s that for many women, the cost of the treatment isn’t covered by insurance. About 71% of the women who went through IVF last year had no fertility treatment coverage, according to FertilityIQ.

Only 16 states — Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas and West Virginia — require insurance companies to have some sort of coverage for families seeking infertility treatments, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. Fourteen of those states require insurance companies to actually cover infertility treatment, but California and Texas have limitations. California specifically excludes IVF from the mandate. Meanwhile, Texas law requires insurance companies to let employers know the coverage is available, but insurers are not required to provide the coverage and employers are not required to include it in their health plans.

“The only reason we’re talking about the cost of IVF is because it’s not covered by insurance,” says Betsy Campbell, chief engagement officer at Resolve, the national infertility association. “Infertility is a disease and should be covered by insurance just like other diseases,” she adds.

Anna’s insurance did have a policy for PGD, so initially, she thought the procedure would be covered. But after seeing a reproductive endocrinologist, her claim was rejected. The insurance company only covered diagnosis, not treatment. So while her pretesting, such as the saline sonogram and hormonal testing, was covered, the IVF and PGD procedures were not.

So she “scoured for months and months” to find the most affordable out-of-pocket option. Initially, she looked into travelling to the Caribbean for care because the clinics there offered cheaper basic IVF, but the “logistics of traveling further to go abroad were too overwhelming,” Anna says.

In the end, she settled on CNY Fertility because it was the cheapest after a countrywide comparison, even with the additional travel costs.

Families finding creative ways to keep costs down

Typically, IVF patients have many expenses beyond the procedure itself that can add significantly to the overall cost, including medications, blood tests and ultrasound monitoring.

To keep her expenses as low as possible, Anna ordered the priciest medications from Israel and purchased others through discounts she found using GoodRx. Plus she paid for her IVF using a newly acquired credit card to snag a promotional points offer. Those points paid for the flights to and from New York, as well as accommodations and a rental car.

During the egg retrieval phase, Anna rented an Airbnb and a car, staying for about 10 days. Her job provides “pretty good benefits,” she says, so she was able to just take vacation time, but her husband was only able to join her for the last few days of the trip.

The only reason we’re talking about the cost of IVF is because it’s not covered by insurance.

Betsy Campbell

chief engagement officer at Resolve

Once both Anna and her husband donated the eggs and sperm, the doctors went to work. Of the roughly 40 eggs retrieved from Anna, 17 were successfully fertilized. Those embryos were then biopsied and tested, but just one turned out to be chromosomally normal. That surprised and disappointed Anna, who was hoping for a few embryos in case the transfer was not successful. “I was pretty prepared for failure, but I went back [to the clinic for the transfer],” she says.

Anna flew back to Albany by herself for the frozen embryo transfer process, staying at a hotel near the clinic for three days. From there, Anna opted to do monitoring with an OBGYN in LA.

Thankfully, Anna’s IVF process proved successful. “I was really, really lucky, because if it didn’t work, I would have had to pay that approximately $20,000 all over again,” Anna says. Today, she is the mother of a happy, healthy 18-month-old son.

“It could have gone a totally different way,” she says. More than half of patients have to undergo a second IVF cycle, FertilityIQ reports, and almost a third must seek three or more.

Anna and her husband could only afford to try one cycle without going into debt. And they had already waited years to start a family. “We waited until we were in a financial position that we could afford it,” Anna says.

While Anna was able to rely on savings to pay for her fertility treatments, many women are not so fortunate. Over half of women, 52%, who were planning to undergo IVF this year say they will pay for treatment with a credit card, according to a poll of 776 women from Student Loan Hero. And many go into debt.

More employers helping couples shoulder the costs

For those living in states that do not mandate coverage, employers are typically the best resource for financial help. And the ranks of companies offering fertility options is growing. In the past year, major companies such as Cisco, and MassMutual have added fertility benefits. Starbucks and Chobani even offer coverage to hourly employees. Many tech companies, such as Apple, Facebook and Microsoft have even gone beyond basic benefits, offering egg harvesting or freezing services to employees as well.

This year, 66% of employers plan to offer fertility benefits, according to a Maternity, Family and Fertility Survey from Willis Towers Watson. If your employer does not currently offer this benefit, Resolve has a Coverage at Work program, which is designed to empower employees to ask their employers for fertility coverage.

“You need to be an advocate for yourself when it comes to you and your family,” Campbell says. “This journey affects people physically, mentally, spiritually, financially and socially.”

Fertility treatments are definitely a “high-pressure” situation, Anna says, one that should be easier for families to navigate. “It shouldn’t be as hard for other women as it was for me,” she says. “Even though it worked out for me, it was a great challenge — definitely a life challenge.”

Don’t miss: The ‘motherhood penalty’ is real, and it costs women $16,000 a year in lost wages

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Christina Corso | Twenty20

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