Economics/Class Relations

Profiting from disaster

September 3, 2023
Hi, this is Cadie Thompson, an executive editor at Insider, filling in for Matt Turner. It’s Labor Day weekend here in the US — so hopefully you’re having a restful time and looking for some great reads. Let’s get right to some of this week’s top stories.

On the agenda today:

 — Cadie Thompson

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Disaster vultures

Tyler Le/Insider
When disasters strike, so do these investors.

They came after tornadoes struck Tennessee in 2020. They were there after Hurricane Ian hit Florida last fall. Now, they’re calling residents in Hawaii’s townships that were destroyed by wildfires.

These so-called “disaster vultures” look to buy properties from vulnerable families in the immediate aftermath of natural disasters and resell them — often without making any repairs.

And with the increasing frequency of natural disasters, these profiteers will seemingly have no shortage of opportunities.

More on investors making a quick buck following tragedies.

China’s struggling economy
Arantza Pena Popo/In
China’s economy is turning into a big black blob, Insider’s Linette Lopez writes. Increasingly, critical pieces of economic data that might illustrate the negative state of China’s economy are vanishing or becoming corrupted to the point that they’re no longer useful.

Ironically, by keeping everyone in the dark about the economy, Beijing is actually showing its hand. As Linette writes: “The Chinese Communist Party’s priorities have shifted from economic development to maintaining a closed society where it is absolutely dominant.”

Read the full story.

Microsoft’s leaked pay memo
GERARD JULIEN/AFP via Getty Images
August is typically when employees at Microsoft find out if they got a raise. But this year, things are different. After freezing salaries and cutting budgets for bonuses and stock awards in May, managers have now been instructed not to discuss budgets with employees during their performance reviews.

“It’s natural for employees to ask questions about budget given the decisions shared in Satya’s email,” the guide states. “However, it’s most important to focus discussions with direct reports on their impact for the past fiscal year and directly tie it to their rewards.”

More on the leaked memo here.

Also read:

Behind-the-scenes at Arias
Rosem Morton for Insider
One of Globe Life’s top insurance agencies is going through turmoil after an Insider investigation. Insurance regulators showed up unannounced at the agency’s headquarters. Eight of its locations shuttered. And three more women have come forward with sexual-assault or coercion claims. Around the same time, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway dumped more than half its Globe Life stock.

The latest string of probes and allegations reveals an increasingly tumultuous image of the agency, now rebranded as the Arias Organization. This high-performing insurance sales force may have tolerated years of customer abuse and a nightmarish environment of sexual harassment of female agents.

Dive into the investigation here.


“Austin is where ambition goes to die.” 

— Mike Chang, a 30-year-old founder and angel investor, regrets moving from downtown Los Angeles to Austin.

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