PG&E's New Financial and Environmental Reality
(Bloomberg) -- California has continued to fight their most devastating wildfires on record with blazes burning at both ends of the state. The death toll has risen to at least 66 people, and hundreds more remain missing. The widespread damage has overburdened the state's largest utility company, PG&E, with potential liability. On What'd You Miss This Week, Scarlet Fu, Joe Weisenthal, Romaine Bostick and Caroline Hyde spoke with Carolyn Kousky, Director for Policy Research and Engagement at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton Risk Center about the impact on utilities. California has a unique legal structure of inverse condemnation, which is a "strict liability regime," Kousky explained. Companies are stuck footing the bill regardless of whether their power lines are found to be at fault. No final determination has been made about the cause of the fires, but Kousky estimated they could leave behind up to ten billion dollars' worth of their damage. That number would be on top of 2017's then record-setting year. "We're seeing no more fire season," Kousky said. "They’re happening year round." A new financing regime is needed to deal with the environmental reality, Kousky said.
ICOs were the buzzword of the moment-- raising 22 billion dollars this year alone. That number has dipped along with the broader cryptocurrency market that is nearly 80 percent off its peak. Brendan Blumer, the co-founder and CEO of Block.one, came on to discuss whether too much money was being poured into an over-hyped market. Blumer, who is known for the EOS Token , explained how they were able to capture the four billion dollars they raised and transfer it into fiat. Block.one has had to strike a balance in terms of transparency, Blumer said. To give their investors more insight into how the money was being used, Block.one "structured it very similarly to a proof of work network." But, creating too much transparency can prove to be a problem, Blumer said, and "can actually take away the competitive advantage."
Ron Coughlin, the CEO of Petco, came on to talk about their 100 million dollar bet on pet food. The San Diego-based retailer made the decision to stop selling pet foods with artificial flavorings, colors and preservatives. Coughlin said their all-natural offerings is not a price play and will still include entry-level pricing options. Petco has to focus on the people as much as the pets, and one of the big challenges has been convincing customers to make the trip to their stores, instead of making a few clicks online. The key is providing the total experience, Coughlin said. "We need to play in the digital age, but we can't play Amazon's games," Coughlin said. "We have to take advantage of our brick and mortar capabilities" with initiatives like buy online and store pickup. With their own digital presence growing at a double-digit rate, Coughlin said they "want to be a part of digital, not a victim of it."
Michael Huyghue, the former commissioner of the United Football League and a former NFL executive, sat down with Scarlet Fu to talk about his new book "Behind the Line of Scrimmage." From the owner's box to the sideline, white men occupy most senior positions in the National Football League. The glass ceiling is not unique to football, Huyghue said, which is what makes his story “relatable.” One of the most visible discrepancies in the league is the lack of racial diversity among head coaches. The key culprit is a system within the NFL that silos everyone from players and coaches to executives, Huyghue said. The majority of white players are cast in "thinking positions" like quarterback, while "skill positions" like running back are made up of predominantly African-American players. This systemically excludes diversity from the head coaching ranks, Huyghue said, because African-American coaches tend to coach African-American players in skill positions. "It’s a backwards system," Huyghue said, that never allows head coaches to rise up from the ranks of the skills coaches.
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