Facing immense pressure, Facebook had no choice but to ban new political ads week before election

Facebook Inc.’s first action to limit political advertising in the U.S. with a ban of news ads in the week preceding the Nov. 3 elections announced Thursday comes amid unrelenting criticism that its platform fuels misinformation and is a haven for far-right groups.

Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, who in particular has taken heat for political manipulation of the social-media company’s platform during the 2016 U.S. elections, made the announcement early Thursday in another attempt to tamp down meddling.

“It’s important that campaigns can run ‘get out the vote campaigns’, and I generally believe the best antidote to bad speech is more speech, but in the final days of an election there may not be enough time to contest new claims,” Zuckerberg said.

The specter of voter manipulation has weighed heavily on Facebook. The company is running what it calls the largest voting information campaign in American history, with a goal of helping 4 million people to register and vote. Last month, Facebook launched a Voting Information Center to help users with accurate, easy-to-find information about voting wherever they live. The addendum will link to a new voter information hub similar to one about COVID-19 that Facebook says has been seen by billions of people globally.

See also: Facebook hardens digital defense for misinformation ahead of elections

However, Facebook’s latest election-integrity move was immediately met with skepticism from privacy groups that argue Facebook should be fact-checking and removing political ads, in addition to intentionally deceptive posts, that proliferate across its platform that includes Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger. Some openly questioned why the ban didn’t extend longer, and if money trumped principle.

“Nothing more than a PR stunt designed to distract from the fact that Facebook is the single biggest vector of dangerous misinformation and voter suppression campaigns in the United States. It falls well short of even being a half measure,” Shaunna Thomas, co-founder and executive director of national women’s organization UltraViolet, said in a statement.

Others were more positive about the new policy. “It’s a strange feeling to read something by Mark Zuckerberg and say, ‘Yup, yup, yup,’” said Claire Wardle, the U.S. director of First Draft, a nonprofit group that combats misinformation. “I’m pretty excited by it.”

Election interference remains top of mind at Facebook, which is as concerned about vote counting in the days and perhaps weeks following Nov. 3. Officials at Facebook, Twitter Inc.

and elsewhere have hinted there could be attempts by politically motivated groups to question the legitimacy of votes, including mail-in ballots.

Read more: Facebook and Twitter are concerned about what is going to happen after Election Day

Facebook, which is under investigation for anti-competitive business practices by the Federal Trade Commission, faces immense political pressure for the torrent of information it fire-hoses to its 2.7 billion monthly active users.

Despite the relatively civil relationship between Zuckerberg and President Donald J. Trump, who has nearly 31 million followers on the social network, it might only take a mild disciplinary action by Facebook over Trump’s profile feed to raise his ire and prompt regulatory punishment, Anurag Chandra, a partner at venture-capital firm Fort Ross Ventures, told MarketWatch.

The White House said as much in a terse statement Thursday.

“In the last seven days of the most important election in our history, President Trump will be banned from defending himself on the largest platform in America,” Samantha Zager, the campaign’s deputy national press secretary, said in a statement. “When millions of voters will be making their decisions, the President will be silenced by the Silicon Valley Mafia, who will at the same time allow corporate media to run their biased ads to swing voters in key states.”

The campaign of Trump’s Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., had no immediate comment.


shares declined 3.8% in trading Thursday in a as tech stocks were routed in a selloff.

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Palantir takes swings at Silicon Valley on its way to Wall Street

Palantir Technologies Inc., a software company founded in Silicon Valley to help governments and companies collect and parse data, used its Tuesday filing for a direct listing to confirm a move away from the California technology hub and declare that “we seem to share fewer and fewer of the technology sector’s values and commitments.”

The controversial and secretive software company, co-founded by Facebook Inc.

board member and Donald Trump supporter Peter Thiel, made its filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission public Tuesday. The document begins with a letter from Chief Executive Alexander Karp that defends Palantir’s work with governments and militaries around the world and declares its differences with Silicon Valley, while confirming a headquarters move to Denver.

“Our company was founded in Silicon Valley,” Karp wrote. “But we seem to share fewer and fewer of the technology sector’s values and commitments.”

CEO letters are rather common in filings for initial public offerings and direct listings, but Palantir took the approach one step further by making Karp’s letter the first section of its filing. The letter seemed to relish in calling out advertising-based business models such as Facebook and Alphabet Inc.’s



“From the start, we have repeatedly turned down opportunities to sell, collect, or mine data. Other technology companies, including some of the largest in the world, have built their entire businesses on doing just that,” Karp wrote. “Software projects with our nation’s defense and intelligence agencies, whose missions are to keep us safe, have become controversial, while companies built on advertising dollars are commonplace. For many consumer internet companies, our thoughts and inclinations, behaviors and browsing habits, are the product for sale. The slogans and marketing of many of the Valley’s largest technology firms attempt to obscure this simple fact.”

Palantir has faced acrimony and anger far beyond Silicon Valley for its secretive work with powerful entities.The company has contracts with the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, including for software used to track migrants at the border. Because of that, it has been targeted by protesters and activists including Mijente, an immigration advocacy group.

“This is not just a question of one pocket of the country, the protests are happening nationwide,” said Jacinta Gonzalez, senior campaign director at Mijente.

“Palantir is complicit in the surveillance, arrest and deportation of our communities through their work with ICE,” Gonzalez said. “Their S-1 recognizes that these are risky contracts to take on. We’re calling on investors everywhere not to invest when the IPO happens.”

See also: The CEO who made one of Silicon Valley’s worst acquisitions wants a $400 million blank check

Karp said that Palantir employees “embrace the complexity” of deals that involve helping government surveil people, and other ethically questionable actions.

“The construction of software platforms that enable more effective surveillance by the state of its adversaries or that assist soldiers in executing attacks raises countless issues, involving the points of tension and tradeoffs between our collective security and individual privacy, the power of machines, and the types of lives we both want to and should lead,” Karp wrote. “The ethical challenges that arise are constant and unrelenting. We embrace the complexity that comes from working in areas where the stakes are often very high and the choices may be imperfect.”

Irina Raicu, the director of internet ethics at Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, told MarketWatch on Tuesday that Karp’s letter “includes some very old (and repeatedly debunked) Silicon Valley tropes,” and pushed back against three specific points the CEO made.

“For example, that ‘[t]he bargain between the public and the technology sector has for the most part been consensual, in that the value of the products and services available seemed to outweigh the invasions of privacy that enabled their rise,’” Raicu wrote in an email, quoting Karp’s letter. “It has become very clear, over the past several years, that the public had no understanding of the privacy-invasive practices behind many of the services it was offered; had assumed that laws were in place to prevent such practices; and has been pushing for new laws to prevent them.”

In response to Karp’s claim that Americans will not “remain tolerant of the idiosyncrasies and excesses of the Valley,” Raicu said that Americans have not been tolerant of the Valley’s actions for years, adding “Surely Palantir has crunched enough data to be aware of that.”

As to Karp’s statement that Palantir has “chosen sides” between Silicon Valley and the government, Raicu said Palantir’s “clients in law enforcement and intelligence agencies do not represent a different ‘side’ from the American public.”

Read: Facebook and Twitter are worried about the day after Election Day

While attacking Silicon Valley, Palantir still is retaining some of the DNA of the tech hub, especially in regards to retaining power with its founders after going public, just as Mark Zuckerberg maintains control of Facebook and Sergey Brin and Larry Page still rule over Google. The company created a three-tiered stock structure that gives one vote to publicly available shares, 10 votes to class B insider shares, and “variable” votes to “class F” shares owned by its three co-founders: Thiel, Karp and Stephen Cohen. The collective class F shares will hold up to 49.99% of votes, while other shares owned by the trio will allow them to effectively control the company.

A direct listing allows a company’s shares to be sold on the open market, but does not involve the sale of fresh shares like an IPO, and has been used by well-funded mature startups including Spotify Technology SA

and Slack Technologies Inc.

. Palantir’s class A shares will eventually trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol PLTR. Palantir listed a dozen banks that are acting as financial advisers on the deal, with Morgan Stanley as the main consultant with the designated market maker, which will determine the opening price of the shares.

Palantir launched its first software platform, Gotham, in 2008, after receiving funding from the Central Intelligence Agency’s In-Q-Tel funding arm.

“Defense agencies in the United States then began using Gotham to investigate potential threats and to help protect soldiers from improvised explosive devices,” Palantir disclosed in its filing. “Today, the platform is widely used by government agencies in the United States and its allies.”

Opinion: A tale of two $2 billion Chinese IPOs headed in very different directions

In 2016, Palantir launched a second platform, Foundry, that it has sold to commercial entities; Airbus SE


was used as an example of a private-sector customer in the filing. The company said that it had only 125 customers as of the first half of this year, with a little more than half — 53% — coming from the private sector and the rest from government. Palantir collected an average of $5.6 million per customer in 2019, and its largest customers have a much larger average.

“Our top 20 customers, based on our revenue in 2019, generated $495.2 million in revenue, or 67% of our total revenue in that period. From those top 20 customers, we generated an average revenue per customer of $24.8 million during 2019,” Palantir disclosed in its filing. “Our average revenue per customer for our top 20 customers grew 36% to $15.0 million per customer in H1 2020 from $11.0 million per customer in H1 2019.”

Palantir said that it had contracts with government entities for an additional $1.2 billion in business on its books, and an additional $2.6 billion in “indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity” contracts that are not counted because the funding has not yet been determined.

“Our partnerships with government agencies in the United States and abroad have had and will continue to have a significant impact on our business,” the company stated.

The company said that its business has not been materially impacted adversely by the COVID-19 pandemic, and that it may help Palantir’s business.

See also: A ‘powerful force’ will determine what happens next in the stock market, Wharton professor predicts

“The pandemic has made clear to many customers that accommodating the extended timelines ordinarily required to realize results from implementing new software solutions is not an option during a crisis,” the company disclosed. “As a result, customers are increasingly adopting our software, which can be ready in days, over internal software development efforts, which may take months or years.”

Palantir revealed in its SEC filing that revenue grew to $742.6 million in 2019 from $595.4 million in 2018, while losses stayed even at more than half a billion dollars a year — $579.6 million in 2019 and $580 million in 2018. In the first six months of this year, Palantir recorded a loss of $164.7 million on revenue of $481.2 million, after recording a loss of $280.5 million on sales of $322.7 million in the same period of 2019.

Palantir joins a parade of software companies filing this week to enter the public markets. At least five software companies filed with the SEC on Monday, including Asana Inc., which was co-founded by a Facebook co-founder and will also undergo a direct listing. Snowflake Inc., Unity Software Inc., Sumo Logic and Jfrog Ltd. also filed for IPOs on Monday.

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Postal Service issues have affected Netflix and Amazon

Issues at the U.S. Postal Service have created concerns about the November elections, but they have already caused headaches for some of the 2 million Netflix customers who still receive DVDs by mail, as well as Amazon.com Inc.’s fulfillment network.


, which still mails rental DVDs in its iconic red envelopes in addition to offering its more popular streaming service, has experienced isolated delivery delays via the U.S. Postal Service, according to a person with knowledge of the company’s operations. The Postal Service remains an important strategic partner of Netflix, and the two operations are working closely to navigate the situation, which is not expected to have any material impact on customer service nor sales because of the isolated issues, the person said.

The Postal Service is in the process of removing 671 high-speed mail-sorting machines nationwide, which will eliminate 21.4 million items-per-hour’s worth of processing capability from the agency’s inventory. Relief could be on the way with Tuesday’s statement from Postmaster General Louis DeJoy that the mail service is ready to handle all mail-in ballots it receives in November, and that he is putting off drastic changes until after the election.

But with Democrats openly skeptical about that vow, as well as budget cuts to mail delivery, tech companies are taking nothing for granted.

Read more:Postmaster has no intention of restoring mail cuts, Pelosi says

“There has been a noticeable delay,” says Nitin Gupta, founder of One Hundred Feet Inc., a mapping geocode app developer that helps delivery systems get to their locations faster. He has seen a surge in use of his company’s app, which is used by the likes of FedEx Corp.

, Uber Technologies Inc.

and Verizon Communications Inc.

, over the past few weeks.

Netflix’s DVD-by-mail service makes up a relatively small slice of the company’s overall business, but is still popular is rural areas, where access to high-speed internet and streaming services is limited. The DVD business reported revenue of $297 million in 2019 from more than 2 million subscribers, down from $366 million in 2018; as recently as 2012, Netflix reported more than $1 billion in DVD revenue. Netflix reported $20.16 billion in 2019 sales, so only 1.5% of that total comes from the DVD business.

The importance of mail delivery in rural areas has intensified the stakes for online retailers shipping products like prescription drugs, groceries, jewelry and DVDs, including Amazon

“It’s so critical to older people who are homebound during the pandemic, especially those reliant on medicines,” Shivaram Rajgopal, a professor at Columbia Business School, told MarketWatch.

Online pharmacy Honeybee Health Inc. says about 20% of patients who order delivery via first-class mail have experienced delays so far. “Neither mail-delivery nor brick-and-mortar is reliable for pharmacies,” says Cary Breese, CEO of NowRx Inc., a pharmacy based in Mountain View, Calif., that uses proprietary software, robotics, and artificial intelligence to provide free same-day delivery of prescription medication in the San Francisco Bay Area, Orange County (Calif.), and Phoenix.

Delivery of Amazon packages in the U.S. can be “hit or miss,” according to Helium 10, which is tracking Amazon sellers who rely on the postal service. A seller who ships 500 units via USPS weekly said that for the same area, package deliveries can take anywhere from a couple days to a week. Other businesses report some packages shipped by USPS have not been delivered in three weeks.

Any Postal Service issues could affect Amazon on a larger scale because the e-commerce giant ships billions of packages annually. However, the company has built redundancies into its delivery network — utilizing its own deliveries along with the Postal Service and private carriers — because its products are so geographically dispersed.

Amazon Logistics, the company’s in-house logistics operation, “more than doubled its share” of U.S. package volumes from about 20% in late 2018 and is now shipping at a rate of 2.5 billion per year. Morgan Stanley estimates United Parcel Service Inc.

and FedEx have U.S. shipping volumes of 4.7 billion and 3 billion packages per year, respectively, and that Amazon is already delivering about half of its own packages in the U.S.

By 2022, Amazon’s U.S. package delivery volume could more than double, to 6.5 billion, according to the Morgan Stanley report. That would easily surpass UPS’s estimated 5 billion and FedEx’s 3.4 billion package volume.

Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos, who as owner of the Washington Post has been publicly targeted for vitriol by President Donald Trump, has put into place a vast network of delivery partners to avoid bottlenecks. Besides its ubiquitous vans that have become as common in neighborhoods as mail carriers, Amazon has agreements with the USPS and UPS to fulfill customer service.

“We regularly balance capacity across our extensive network of carrier partners to ensure we are able to meet our delivery promises,” an Amazon spokeswoman told MarketWatch in a phone interview. “While we don’t comment on our agreements with carrier partners, we continue to look at all of our options to ensure we’re providing the best possible service to customers.”

That hasn’t always translated into timely delivery for small businesses that partner with Amazon. Sharon Buchalter, CEO of Products on the Go, an e-commerce seller of baby products and other goods, said her company has lost sales in recent weeks because Amazon has been late in processing and delivering some orders, prompting customers to ask Amazon for refunds or cancellations.

“There’s really nothing I can do if Amazon runs late,” Buchalter told MarketWatch. “This [slower mail] and the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic have impacted sales a bit.”

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‘Fortnite’s’ impact could be Epic on antitrust investigations of Big Tech

As lawmakers and privacy advocates continue to methodically press for antitrust overhaul of four of tech’s biggest companies, some big names in videogaming could speed up things.

That is one of the initial conclusions of legal experts and developers following Epic Games Inc.’s lawsuits against Apple Inc.

and Alphabet Inc.’s


Google for booting Epic’s hit videogame “Fortnite” out of their app stores Thursday. “Fortnite’s” ouster came after Epic publicly announced an offer for players to receive a discount on in-game purchases if they paid Epic directly.

(Late Monday, Epic sought a temporary restraining order in federal court in California to block Apple from removing “Fortnite” from the App Store. Epic also asked the court to stop the iPhone maker from terminating its developer account on Aug. 28.)

Epic’s size and market influence just might be the impetus to ramp up antitrust investigation, said Ram Mohan, chief operating officer of domain-name registrar Afilias Inc.

“Clearly, for the first time, there is a company that has the ability to challenge the rules that Apple and Google have created,” Mohan told MarketWatch. “Smaller companies can’t do that. Ironically, it takes big tech to take on Big Tech.”

Underscoring Epic’s standing, Spotify Technology Inc.

and Match Group Inc.

quickly offered statements of support, and Facebook Inc.

later claimed Apple refused to wave its 30% fee on Facebook’s new paid online events feature.


Read more: ‘Fortnite’ maker accuses Apple, Google of illegal monopolistic practices in tech battle royale



Eventbrite Inc.

, too, could join the chorus of dissent. The company said it has been notified it has until December to start following Apple’s rules on in-app purchases because of events going online.

Privately held Epic could prove to be Apple’s most dangerous antagonist, both financially and symbolically. “Fortnite” hauled in $1 billion in player spending on Apple iOS devices through mid-May, based on estimates from mobile-app research company Sensor Tower, suggesting Apple received hundreds of millions of dollars from the hit videogame.

In the larger picture, Epic represents a videogame industry that may prove a tipping point for anti-competitive actions by federal lawmakers, who grilled the chief executives of Apple, Facebook, Google, and Amazon.com Inc.

in a landmark antitrust hearing last month, as well as separate investigations by the Justice Department, Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general. Microsoft Corp.

has excoriated Apple for its stance on cloud gaming apps, which the iPhone maker does not allow on the App Store for apparent violations of its guidelines.

When asked for comment on Epic’s legal actions, Apple late Monday emailed the following statement: “The App Store is designed to be a safe and trusted place for users and a great business opportunity for all developers. Epic has been one of the most successful developers on the App Store, growing into a multibillion dollar business that reaches millions of iOS customers around the world. We very much want to keep the company as part of the Apple Developer Program and their apps on the Store. The problem Epic has created for itself is one that can easily be remedied if they submit an update of their app that reverts it to comply with the guidelines they agreed to and which apply to all developers. We won’t make an exception for Epic because we don’t think it’s right to put their business interests ahead of the guidelines that protect our customers.”

Apple’s unbending stance on videogaming — and pushback from developers, both small and large — is the type of scenario that feeds into antitrust pressure on Apple and Google to change their platform operations, said Rebecca Allensworth, a law professor at Vanderbilt University.

“Antitrust has always had a dual system of enforcement: Private like the Epic suits, and public such as FTC and DoJ investigations,” Allensworth told MarketWatch. “Companies feel maximal pressure when under both kinds of scrutiny.”

Antitrust attorney Jonathan Rubin adds, “What the Epic suit suggests is that even private marketplaces organized within the confines of a private company should be subject to antitrust oversight.”

So far, only a small developer, Blix Inc., has taken on Apple — both in court, and in cooperating with the office of Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., chairman of the House Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law. Cicilline led an hours-long inquisition of the four CEOs on July 29.

Read more: Antitrust questions bruise but don’t break Big Tech CEOs in historic hearing

“What Epic is doing is very powerful. I think it’s a big step forward, and pushes momentum for stronger antitrust scrutiny,” Blix co-CEO Ben Volach told MarketWatch. “We’ve heard this from Spotify [it filed a complaint with the European Commission last year against Apple, charging the iPhone maker with anti-competitive behavior related in part to the fees it charges on purchases made through the App Store], but it took a bold move in the U.S. Epic’s action talks to a broader monopoly by Apple.”

Blix, which claims it has data showing Apple suppressed App Store rankings of products that compete with Apple’s own apps, sued Apple last October, alleging patent infringement and antitrust violations.

Blix also believes Apple and Google are working in concert on pricing, which led Google to abruptly kick its BlueMail email app off its Play Store — 36 hours after Blix developers revealed they cooperated with House lawmakers. “Google retaliated against us for outspokenness on antitrust issues,” Volach said.

A Google spokesperson said in a written statement that the BlueMail app had been reinstated to the store. Volach countered that unfavorable media coverage forced Google’s hand after only 15 hours.

Yet it might take the actions of much larger companies like Epic to move the needle on antitrust actions in a political setting that is growing increasingly hostile to Big Tech.

For years, developers have groused about Apple’s 30% tax as exorbitantly high. But many felt they had no choice: There are some 1.5 billion Apple gadgets in use worldwide, and users of Apple devices collectively spend nearly twice as much on apps as do owners of Android gadgets.

“It shows the power of Apple and Google, when you have a company as big as Spotify teaming up with Epic. When titans are taking on titans, you know there is a problem, and that gets people’s attention,” Jamie Court, president of nonprofit Consumer Watchdog, told MarketWatch.

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A tale of two $2 billion Chinese IPOs headed in very different directions

KE Holdings Inc. on Thursday became the first Chinese initial public offering to raise $2 billion from a U.S. listing since iQiyi Inc., then saw its stock soar 87% into the close.

Less than an hour later, iQiyi gave a stark reminder of the rocky path that many young Chinese stocks have walked on U.S. exchanges. Hovering over everything is the possibility that all Chinese companies could soon have to choose between living up to the laws of their own country or allowing U.S. investors greater visibility into their finances.


a streaming company often dubbed the Netflix of China, announced that the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating allegations that it was inflating its user numbers, revenue and other metrics, and shares plunged to a 12% decline in after-hours trading. IQiyi said it has hired “professional advisers” and begun an internal investigation.

IQiyi went public in March 2018 at $18 a share, and has largely stayed higher than that level on the public markets. It fell lower this past April, though, when Wolfpack Research, a short seller focused on Chinese IPOs, issued an alarming report about iQiyi’s allegedly inflated numbers. Dan David’s firm based its report on in-person surveys of people in iQiyi’s target demographic, credit reports for all related entities and holding companies, and data from two Chinese advertising agencies with access to iQiyi data.

That tale feels too familiar to U.S. investors in Chinese stocks. Not long before Wolfpack’s iQiyi report, Luckin Coffee Inc.
dubbed the Starbucks of China, plunged after similar accusations of over-inflating numbers. Luckin has now lost 94% of its value, and the stock has been delisted from the Nasdaq and is now trading over the counter. Luckin, however, was not the first company to pull the wool over the eyes of investors. According to Stop The China Hustle, a website created by Geoinvesting to draw attention to the issue, U.S. investors have been defrauded of more than $50 billion by publicly traded Chinese companies listed on the NYSE or the Nasdaq over the past 10 years.

More from Therese: The cautionary tale of Luckin Coffee

While Chinese IPOs are required to file financial statements and other corporate filings with the SEC, they are extremely risky for investors. These companies have complex business structures created to evade both litigation from investors and repercussions from the Chinese government, which prohibits foreign investment in certain types of Chinese companies, including technology firms. In addition, their auditing firms do not have access to what is called the working papers of the company, so they can only conduct their audits based on materials they are given by company executives.

Chinese deals are starting to get attention in Washington, with the Senate passing the “Hold Foreign Companies Accountable Act” in May. But the current heavy-handed approach, which seeks to de-list companies that do not allow for audit inspections after three years, would actually further hurt U.S. investors. In addition, as relations between the U.S. and China continue to deteriorate, the latest legislative efforts have been described by some pundits as attempting to advance foreign policy under the guise of securities laws, according to scholars at the Cato Institute, a Washington think tank.

Also read:Washington is finally paying attention to Chinese IPOs, but Wall Street may pay the consequences.

Yet nothing stops the constant parade of Chinese companies on Wall Street. According to Renaissance Capital, which tracks IPOs and manages IPO ETFs

18 Chinese companies, including KE Holdings

, have gone public so far this year, raising $5.5 billion, excluding blank-check companies (yes, China is getting involved in those too). That compares with 13 deals that raised $2.7 billion in the same time frame last year. So far this year, Chinese companies have already raised more cash than the full year of 2019, when 25 companies raised $3.5 billion, according to Dealogic.

See also: The CEO who made one of Silicon Valley’s worst acquisitions wants a $400 million blank check

Investors clearly cannot get enough of Chinese initial public offerings. Since they missed the boat on the real Netflix and many other now-hot tech companies in the U.S., they are hoping to catch the upside on a copycat company with an even more massive addressable market in China. But until these companies are held to the same accounting standards as U.S. companies, they will always be much higher risk because it is easier for executives to fudge or fabricate numbers with fewer safeguards and watchdogs. Investors need to be cognizant of the big risks.

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