PIMCO parent Allianz is under investigation by German regulators after its US funds racked up billions of dollars in losses

sad NYSE trader
  • Insurer Allianz, one of the world’s largest money managers, faces a German probe over huge losses at its US funds, Reuters reported Tuesday.
  • BaFin is investigating the Structured Alpha Funds, which suffered billions of dollars in losses during the pandemic-led market rout.
  • Investors have reportedly filed 25 lawsuits and are claiming $6 billion in damages from Allianz.
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German financial regulators are investigating Allianz after the insurance giant’s US investment funds took a painful hit during the pandemic, Reuters reported Tuesday, citing people with direct knowledge of the matter.

Allianz, which manages global assets worth around $2.9 trillion, already faces several other probes and US lawsuits related to the Structured Alpha Funds run by its Allianz Global Investors asset-management subsidiary.

BaFin’s investigators are looking into how much Allianz executives outside the fund division knew about the events there that preceded billions of dollars of losses.

AGI was created a decade ago when Allianz separated it from bond giant PIMCO. Its Structured Alpha Funds cater to US pension funds for workers such as teachers and subway employees, and they were also promoted to European investors.

The funds suffered heavy losses during the coronavirus-led March market rout, with some declining 80% or more. That forced the asset manager to liquidate two hedge funds, Structured Alpha 1000 and Structured Alpha 1000 Plus, both of which ran a derivates-based strategy, and were worth $2.3 billion at the end of 2019.

The regulator’s probe gained momentum after Allianz revealed an investigation by the US Department of Justice on August 1, according to the Reuters report. The insurer’s board said at the time that matters relating to the Structured Alpha Funds could materially impact its future financial results.

Allianz didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Investors have filed 25 lawsuits against Allianz and are requesting $6 billion in damages, claiming that it deviated from a strategy of providing downside protection during crashes, according to reports.

Read More: Big-name investors are turning to these 10 experts to make sense of China right now

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Germany, Canada, Spain, and New Zealand have finished evacuating people from Afghanistan as the US scrambles to get people out of Kabul

Crowds at kabul airport look across barbed wire at us military troops
Men stand behind barbed wire fencing at the Kabul airport.

  • Several European countries, Canada, and New Zealand finished their evacuations from Afghanistan.
  • American forces are scrambling to finish the US evacuation before the August 31 deadline.
  • At least 95 Afghans and 13 US troops were killed in blasts near Kabul airport on Thursday.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Spain, New Zealand, and Australia are the latest countries to finish their evacuation mission from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, CNN reported Friday.

Germany and Canada finished evacuations Thursday, and Poland and Belgium wrapped up on Wednesday, Reuters and the Associated Press reported.

General Wayne Eyre, Canada’s acting chief of defense staff, said allied countries have to leave before the US can finish its evacuations, the report said, and that military flights evacuated around 3,700 people.

“I have received emails from people that I worked with during my tours in Afghanistan who are desperate to get out or get their families out,” he told the AP. “Their pleas and the photos of the families in terrible situations that accompany many of them are heart wrenching. They tear at our souls.”

The Czech Republic ended its evacuation mission last week.

“We cannot risk the lives of our diplomats and of our soldiers any longer,” Marcin Przydacz, a Polish deputy foreign minister, told the AP.

Some countries are still racing against the clock to wrap up their evacuation efforts.

Italy’s Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said its evacuation mission will end on Friday, according to CNN.

France will likely end its evacuation ahead of the US, according to a government official quoted in the AP report.

“Due to extreme tension on the ground … and the scheduled departure of American forces, these evacuations are a true race against time,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal told the AP.

The US and UK are still scrambling to evacuate citizens and allies as the August 31 deadline to leave the country looms, and the threats to people outside the airport increase. UK defense secretary Ben Wallace said they would likely finish on Friday, according to CNN.

Explosions outside the Kabul airport on Thursday killed at least 13 US service members and nearly 100 Afghans. The explosion occurred outside Abbey Gate, where many people have crowded daily trying to get into the airport to get out of Afghanistan.

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Germany, Canada, and Belgium have finished evacuating people from Afghanistan as the US scrambles to get people out of Kabul

Crowds at kabul airport look across barbed wire at us military troops
Men stand behind barbed wire fencing at the Kabul airport.

  • Germany completed its military evacuation from the Kabul airport on Thursday.
  • Canada, Poland, and Belgium have also finished getting their citizens and allies out of Afghanistan.
  • American forces are scrambling to finish the US evacuation before the August 31 deadline.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Germany has completed its military evacuation from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Reuters reported on Thursday.

Canada has also ended its Afghanistan evacuation effort, the Associated Press reported, one day after Poland and Belgium did the same.

General Wayne Eyre, Canada’s acting chief of defense staff, said allied countries have to leave before the US can finish its evacuations, the report said, and that military flights evacuated around 3,700 people.

“I have received emails from people that I worked with during my tours in Afghanistan who are desperate to get out or get their families out,” he told the AP. “Their pleas and the photos of the families in terrible situations that accompany many of them are heart wrenching. They tear at our souls.”

Poland and Belgium on Thursday followed the Czech Republic, which ended its evacuation mission last week, the report said.

“We cannot risk the lives of our diplomats and of our soldiers any longer,” Marcin Przydacz, a Polish deputy foreign minister, told the AP.

France will likely end its evacuation ahead of the US, according to a government official quoted in the report.

“Due to extreme tension on the ground … and the scheduled departure of American forces, these evacuations are a true race against time,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal told the AP.

The US and UK are still scrambling to evacuate citizens and allies as the August 31 deadline to leave the country looms, and the threats to people outside the airport increase.

A bomb exploded outside the Kabul airport on Thursday, causing “a number of US & civilian casualties,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said.

The explosion occurred outside Abbey Gate, where many people have crowd daily trying to get into the airport to get out of Afghanistan.

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A woman gave birth to a baby girl aboard a US Air Force evacuation flight from Afghanistan

Afghan mother gives birth on evacuation flight
An Afghan moments is seen moments after giving birth to a baby girl on a US military evacuation flight.

  • A woman gave birth aboard an Afghan evacuation flight on Saturday, according to the Air Force.
  • The pilot descended to lower altitude when the woman went into labor and experienced complications.
  • She gave birth to a baby girl on the plane after it landed at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A mother gave birth to a baby aboard an Afghan evacuation flight on Saturday, according to a series of tweets from the US Air Force’s Air Mobility Command.

According to the Air Force, the woman went into labor and began having complications on a flight to Ramstein Air Base in Germany, from an intermediate staging base in the Middle East.

The pilot decided to descent to a lower altitude to “increase air pressure in the aircraft, which helped stabilize and save the mother’s life,” the tweet said.

After landing in Germany, Airmen from the 86th Medical Group boarded the flight and helped deliver the baby in the plane’s cargo hold, according to the Air Force.

The mother and her baby girl were then taken to a nearby medical facility and are in good condition, the tweet said.

Thousands of American citizens and US visa holders have been evacuated from Afghanistan in recent days as the country fell to the Taliban.

Most have been taken to other Middle Eastern countries such as Qatar, where they await transfer to Ramstein, and eventually the US, according to Military.com.

On Saturday, Brig. Gen. Josh Olson told CNN that Ramstein has the capacity to accommodate 5,000 people but that they are building extra facilities to house up to 7,500 by Sunday evening.

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Elon Musk invites residents and members of the public to take a tour of Tesla’s new Gigafactory in Germany

Tesla CEO Elon Musk
Tesla CEO Elon Musk said Gigafactory will open for a tour in October.

  • Elon Musk said Tesla’s new factory in Germany will be open for a tour in October.
  • The tour will prioritize residents but the general public will also be invited, he said.
  • During his visit to the site this week, he said car production should kick off there in October.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Elon Musk on Friday invited residents and the general public to a tour of Tesla’s new Gigafactory outside of Berlin, Germany.

“Giga Berlin-Brandenburg county fair & factory tour on 9 October!” the Tesla CEO tweeted.

Musk said Tesla will prioritize residents of Brandenburg and Berlin for the tour around the battery and electric vehicle plant, but the general public will also be able to visit.

Tesla didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

The billionaire announced the Gigafactory tour on the same day that he met with German leaders and visited the site in Gruenheide, east of Berlin.

During his trip, he said he hopes Tesla will start producing cars at the factory in October, according to a Reuters report.

“We’re looking forward to hopefully getting the approval to make the first cars, maybe in October if we are fortunate,” Musk said, per Reuters.

Tesla is still waiting for the green light from Brandenburg’s environmental authorities to open the site, Insider’s Hannah Towey reported on Friday.

The Gigafactory was supposed to open on July 1 but environmental activists, permit delays, and lizards on the site put its opening date behind schedule.

Since Tesla started building the factory in early 2020, Grüne Liga, a local environmental group, has argued that the site could threaten the area’s drinking water.

“This region has so much water, look around you,” Musk said on his visit to the factory on Friday, per Reuters. “It’s like water everywhere here. Does this seem like a desert to you?” he said.

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A former German chancellor slammed Volkswagen for replacing an iconic German bratwurst dish at its cafeteria with a vegetarian version

Currywurst with fries
Currywurst is a popular German fast-food dish, consisting of Bratwurst covered in tomato and curry sauce and served with french fries.

When the Volkswagen headquarters cafeteria in Wolfsburg, Germany, removed the iconic currywurst from its menu in favor of a vegetarian option, the company received backlash from one well-known fan of the popular bratwurst dish – former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder.

“Do employees at VW really want this?” he said on a LinkedIn post in German, where he ranted about the dish’s removal and created a new hashtag, #savethecurrywurst. “A vegetarian diet is good, and I even do that in phases. But basically no currywurst? No!”

Currywurst is a national favorite dish in Germany and consists of fried bratwurst covered in a spiced tomato and ketchup sauce and sprinkled with curry powder. It’s usually served with fries or bread.

Currywurst is such a popular dish that it’s estimated that Germans eat 800 million portions of currywurst every year.

“Currywurst with fries is one of the power bars of skilled workers in production. It should stay that way,” Schröder said.

Schröder noted that the Volkswagen butcher shop sold 7 million currywurst dishes in 2019 alone, and the sausage dish was voted the national favorite cafeteria dish for the 26th year in a row, according to Deutsche Welle. It’s so popular that it’s estimated that Germans eat 800 million portions of currywurst every year.

Similar to the US, demand for vegan and vegetarian products has risen in recent years in German while meat consumption has slumped, according to Deutsche Welle. Major fast food chains from Panda Express to Starbucks have jumped onboard the fake meat craze, and companies like Oatly and Beyond Meat that offer plant-based alternatives to traditionally non-vegan foods have seen successful initial public offerings.

The plant-based trend hasn’t won over Schröder yet, though.

“Will I like the vegan version? We will see,” he said.

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84-year-old man fined $293,000 for possessing a German World War II tank that he kept in his basement

The World War Two era Panther battle tank being made ready for transportation from a 84-year-old's property in Heikendorf, Germany, 02 July 2015.
The World War Two era Panther battle tank being made ready for transportation from a 84-year-old’s property in Heikendorf, Germany, 02 July 2015.

  • An 84-year-old man from Germany has been convicted of illegal weapons possession.
  • In 2015, an investigation found a WWII Panther tank in his basement, as well as a hoard of ammunition.
  • The stash of weaponry took the army nine hours to remove.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

An 84-year-old man from Germany has been convicted of illegal weapons possession and has been fined €250,000 ($293,972) along with a suspended prison sentence of 14 months.

An investigation into the man’s home in Heikendorf, Northern Germany, in 2015 unveiled a World War II-era Panther tank, as well as a plethora of ammunition.

The court ruling, ordered on 2 August, stated that the man must sell or donate the tank and anti-aircraft cannon to a museum or collector within the next two years, the BBC report.

The armaments were discovered in the retiree’s basement in 2015 after local authorities were informed of its war-time contents after the property was searched for Nazi-era art, according to the BBC.

It took 20 soldiers nine hours to remove the trove of military hardware from the unnamed man’s home.

There was also a horde of Nazi memorabilia, including a bust of Hitler, mannequins in Nazi uniforms, swastika pendants, SS rune-shaped lamps, and a statue of a naked warrior holding a sword in his extended hand that once stood outside Hitler’s Chancellery in Berlin, by the dictator’s favorite sculptor, Arno Breker, reported War History Online.

At the time of the raid, the mayor of Heikendorf, Alexander Orth, told Suddeutsche Zeitung that the man once drove the tank as a snow plow in 1978.

When asked his thoughts on the ownership of the tank, the mayor replied, “One loves steam trains, the other old tanks.”

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How sleep deprivation may be making you unpopular and lonely

bloodshot eyes tired sleepy
The past few decades have seen a marked increase in loneliness and an equally dramatic decrease in sleep duration.

  • Sleep loss can badly impact your social life, a team at University of California at Berkeley found.
  • It can lead to antisocial and reclusive behavior but it can also affect how others treat you.
  • If you’re sleep-deprived, it may also cause others around you to shy away from you too.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Whether it’s crying babies, loud neighbors, or simply endless thoughts running through your head, sometimes you just can’t fall asleep.

Regardless of how hard you try, the consequences the following day are always unforgiving: crippling fatigue, poor concentration, and – above all – struggling to think of anything other than your bed.

However, as researchers from the University of California at Berkeley found, sleep deprivation can have serious social consequences, and they aren’t just limited to how you perform at work or throughout the day.

It isn’t just your health that suffers from night-time restlessness; you can end up completely sabotaging your social life too.

Sleeping too little leads to reclusive behavior

Led by postdoctoral fellow at the Walker’s Center for Human Sleep Science Eti Ben-Simon, the team found that a lack of sleep can lead to unsociable and reclusive behavior – and that it can have the same effect on the people around you.

According to the researchers’ findings, published in Nature Communications, people who sleep badly more often are lonelier as a result.

While it’s already a well-known fact that social isolation can cause sleep disorders, it hasn’t been clear whether a lack of sleep could also lead to people feeling lonely.

The less you sleep, the more physical distance you need from others

To conduct their study, the scientists performed an experiment in which one group of subjects didn’t sleep for a night, while another group was allowed to sleep in.

Both groups received a video the following day in which they were faced with people approaching them, where they had to gauge how close was “too close”.

The results were pretty clear: those who hadn’t slept felt their space was invaded between 18% to 60% faster than those of the group who had.

This led participants to create more of a social distance between themselves and others if they missed sleep on a given night, according to the researchers.

Too little sleep leads to unsociable tendencies

The researchers used magnetic resonance imaging to prove that the results weren’t accidental.

While the “near space” networks in the brains of well-rested participants didn’t show any abnormalities, those of the other group were “braced” and on alert for potential threats.

Not only that, but the “theory-of-mind” network, an area of the brain responsible for empathy and sociability, was less pronounced in those with sleep deprivation.

yawning
Your own lack of sleep can have a knock-on effect on those around you.

Interestingly, the results showed that those who were suffering from sleep deprivation didn’t just have issues with shying away from those around them.

Another experiment, in which researchers used videos to evaluate people who had slept well and those who hadn’t, showed that those who hadn’t were perceived by viewers as worse in terms of their potential for cooperation and sympathy.

Your own lack of sleep can have a knock-on effect on those around you

“The less sleep you get, the less you want to socially interact,” said Matthew Walker of the University of California.

“In turn, other people perceive you as more socially ‘repulsive’, further increasing the grave social-isolation impact of sleep loss,” he continued, saying: “Sleep deprivation can turn us into social lepers.”

depression anxiety mental health
Just one night of good sleep makes you feel more outgoing and socially confident.

Worse still, those who have to deal with people suffering from a lack of sleep – or even, in the case of this study, those who watched videos of them – also end up being “infected”, leading to an almost viral transmission of the feeling of social isolation wherever there’s a lack of sleep.

“It’s perhaps no coincidence that the past few decades have seen a marked increase in loneliness and an equally dramatic decrease in sleep duration,” said Ben-Simon.

“On a positive note, just one night of good sleep makes you feel more outgoing and socially confident, and furthermore, will attract others to you,” said Walker.

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Why drinking water probably won’t help you avoid a hangover, according to a molecular biologist

nausea vomiting headache
According to molecular biologist Patrick Schmitt, drinking water won’t help you avoid a hangover.

  • Many drink a glass of water between drinking alcohol to help avoid the effects of a hangover.
  • The body doesn’t get dehydrated when drinking alcohol, molecular biologist Patrick Schmitt says.
  • He said drinking water won’t help with a hangover, as hangovers aren’t caused by dehydration.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

My phone is vibrating – but I don’t have to look at it. I know exactly what the display says.

Somewhat exasperated, I take a sip of water. I’m one of those people who, if it weren’t for modern technology periodically reminding them to hydrate, would probably end up looking like a prune in a very short space of time. I rarely manage to empty a whole glass in one go.

There is, however, one exception to that rule: at around two o’clock in the morning, after a few too many tipples, I no longer need an alarm to remind me to drink water.

As if by magic, I’m able to knock back glasses of water at an astonishing rate, as if Nestlé might rock up to the local reservoir at any moment.

I’m currently in the middle of a last-ditch attempt to avoid a hangover – because last night, once again, I didn’t follow the recommendation to drink a glass of water with every helping of wine.

Alcohol doesn’t actually dehydrate the body

According to molecular biologist Patrick Schmitt, drinking water wouldn’t have helped anyway. Neither did my sorry attempt to ease the threatening symptoms by drinking copiously after the event.

“It’s a misconception that drinking water helps you avoid a hangover,” said Schmitt.

According to the results of a study published in the 1950s, it’s true that the body excretes more water while drinking alcohol.

hangover
If you think logically about it, there’s already water in both wine and beer – they are drinks, after all.

“However, the wrong conclusions were drawn from these results,” said the scientist. “It was thought that, as the body was excreting more water, it would therefore become dehydrated – and this was simply accepted as a conclusive explanation for why we get hangovers.”

However, the hypothesis was never tested, let alone confirmed.

When we metabolize alcohol, our bodies are processing the compound ethanal. Some may lack the enzymes to effectively expel alcohol from their bodies, which scientists think is part of the reason we get hangovers.

According to a report in the Berliner Morgenpost, Schmitt decided to conduct his own study and monitor the hydration of his subjects.

The study found that alcohol consumption doesn’t lead to dehydration, despite increased fluid excretion. “This means that the body does not lose any significant amounts of water,” said Schmitt.

“That recommendation to drink a lot of water when consuming alcohol is based on exactly this misconception,” he explained. “Since the body isn’t actually getting dehydrated, drinking water alongside alcohol has absolutely no effect on whether or not you end up with a hangover.”

Drinking water will have a negligible effect on a hangover at best

If you think logically about it, there’s water in both wine and beer – they are drinks, after all.

Though alcohol is present in both these drinks, you’re also adding liquid to your body when you drink them. “You’re never really ‘dehydrated’. It’s not too dissimilar to the myth surrounding coffee.”

drunk party drinking shots
The alcohol content in your stomach will be high for a very short period of time only if you drink it in a very concentrated form.

Only if you drink the alcohol in a very concentrated form – in other words, if you’re throwing back shots – is the alcohol content in your stomach very high for a very short period of time.

“If you then drink a sip of water, the stomach mucosa may be slightly less affected, for a short while,” said Schmitt. “Though this hasn’t yet been investigated, we know it has no effect on a hangover itself in any case.”

Drink water instead of alcohol – not in addition to it

If you start drinking water the next day, it’s too late by then anyway.

You can drink as much water as you want – it will have little to no effect on your pounding skull.

“At most, it might alleviate the symptoms of having a dry mouth from drinking and cigarettes – but obviously I’m not going to tell anyone not to drink water if they think it makes them feel better,” said Schmitt.

Of course, that also applies to the evening itself. “You can tell yourself your hangover will be less painful if you drink water with every glass of wine but that won’t make it true.”

Drinking Water
At best, drinking water could alleviate the symptoms of a dry mouth from drinking or cigarettes.

That said, to make it abundantly clear, drinking water obviously isn’t going to do any harm – it’s relatively pointless if you’re trying to alleviate a hangover but it’s hardly likely to make it any worse.

“Besides, you can’t drink alcohol if you’re busy drinking water,” said Schmitt.

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Bitcoin falls 5% after rallying above $42,000 to its highest price since May

Bitcoin
Bitcoin

  • Bitcoin slipped more than 5% on Monday after surging above $42,000 over the weekend.
  • After 10 consecutive days of gains, the coin was trading lower by 5.47% to $39,295 as of 9:06 a.m. ET.
  • Technically, bitcoin has closed above the 21-week EMA on Monday, as well as the 100-day SMA, said Marcus Sotiriou of GlobalBlock.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

Bitcoin slipped more than 5% on Monday after the world’s largest cryptocurrency surged above $42,000 over the weekend.

After 10 consecutive days of gains, the coin was trading lower by 5.47% to $39,295 as of 9:06 a.m. ET. It hit $42,606 on Saturday, its highest level since mid-May.

“It seems we’re seeing some profit-taking in bitcoin after the crypto broke $41,000 – a level it’s struggled with since late May,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda, in a note Monday.

Still, some metrics suggest a continuation of the recent uptrend, said Marcus Sotiriou, sales trader at GlobalBlock.

Technically, bitcoin has closed above the 21-week exponential moving average on Monday, regarded by many as the key bull market support, as well as the 100-day simple moving average, Sotiriou said.

However, he added bitcoin may fall back to roughly $36,000 or lower before another embarking on another rally.

Investors are looking to a new law in Germany that allows institutional funds to invest as much as 20% of their assets in cryptocurrency, he said. Combined, total assets under management of these funds amounts to around $2 trillion, which translates to around $415 billion that could potentially come into the market. The law took effect Monday, August 2.

Bitcoin has been trading rangebound for the past months after inching near $65,000 in mid-April, its highest price ever. The coin then suffered a massive crash in May, kicked off by Tesla‘s reversal in accepting bitcoin as payment and China’s bitcoin mining clampdown.

More recently, bitcoin has staged smaller rallies after bullish comments from its biggest proponents such as Elon Musk, Cathie Wood, and Jack Dorsey in July. Speculation of Amazon‘s foray into digital assets spurred by a curious job listing also helped push the its price upward.

Bitcoin is up 34% year-to-date.

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