Macro Links Feb 20th – Russian Indictments

Macro Links Feb 20th – Russian Indictments

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Banks Replaced With Blockchain at International Food Program – Bloomberg

The World Food Programme is expanding its blockchain-payments system, said Robert Opp, a director of the United Nations effort that feeds as many as 100 million people across 80 countries. The agency expects to cut millions of dollars in bank transfer fees by switching to distributed ledgers based on Ethereum’s digital-currency network, he said.

A Prime Number Could Be the Answer to Bitcoin’s Power Problem – Bloomberg

The Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search found and confirmed the biggest known prime number, a 23-million-digit-long figure discovered with the math of 16th century French monk Marin Mersenne, according to a statement earlier this month. That effort, along with other collaborative computing methods, are advancing the science of cryptography, which is essential to creating and tracking bitcoins.

Switzerland sets out guidelines to support initial coin offerings – FT

Switzerland’s financial supervisor has bucked the trend of global regulators cracking down on cryptocurrencies by announcing guidelines that should help local initial coin offerings, where start-up companies sell digital tokens to investors. The Finma financial authority hopes to support the ICO market and boost blockchain technologies by clarifying when entrepreneurs will have to apply anti-money laundering and securities laws.

Bitcoin’s Latest Glitch: Double Charges at Fast-Growing Coinbase – WSJ

Thousands of customers of Coinbase, one of the largest bitcoin-related firms dealing with the public, may have suffered repeated, incorrect duplicate charges on their digital-currency purchases, the firm said Friday.

Bogus Charges, Surprise Fees: Inside Coinbase’s Credit-Card Pain – Bloomberg

Coinbase, which has said its business won’t work without public confidence, has been firing off accusations on Twitter, blaming banks and card networks such as Visa Inc. for the troubles. But behind the scenes, some in the financial industry are pushing back, noting there’s one common denominator: Coinbase.

Worldpay, Visa caught in storm over ‘erroneous’ Coinbase charges – FT

Visa and Worldpay have been thrust into a swirling controversy over erroneous charges that hit traders using Coinbase, America’s biggest cryptocurrencies exchange. Coinbase has denied that it is to blame for the duplicate charges.

Visa confirms Coinbase wasn’t at fault for overcharging users – TechCrunch

While the statement doesn’t give a ton of clarity on the issue, it seems to absolve Coinbase of any blame, which is a win for the startup considering it’s been trying to prove to the world that its engineering and customer service teams can stand up to the challenge of maintaining a reliable financial platform.

It costs $26,000 to mine one bitcoin in South Korea — and just $530 in Venezuela – CNBC

Mining just one bitcoin in one of the world’s biggest digital currency markets costs $26,170, according to data released by lighting and furniture firm Elite Fixtures. The Elite Fixtures data also showed that Venezuela is the cheapest country in which to mine bitcoin. It costs $531 to mine the world’s best known virtual currency there. Some Venezuelans have turned to bitcoin mining for survival in the economically struggling South American country.

Telegram has raised an initial $850M for its billion-dollar ICO – TechCrunch

This initial sum is most likely the pre-sale stage of the ICO which, as TechCrunch reported on extensively and in detail last month, was targeted at venture capital firms and top figures in the investment community who were given deep discounts to buy Telegram’s Gram token. The pre-sale was originally targeted at raising $600 million, but demand pushed the figure up to $850 million, according to a Bloomberg report.

A Virginia Resort Town Helps Build a Crypto Hub – Bloomberg

Even Virginia Beach, famous for its miles of sandy Atlantic waterfront, is angling to cash in on virtual currencies. A local agency has approved a $500,000 grant to a startup based in town that’s embarking this month on a rapid expansion, opening a digital mining operation in a former beer distribution warehouse.

Half of Large British Businesses Hold Stockpiles of Cryptocurrency – Bitcoin News

A new poll of IT managers at large UK businesses found that exactly half keep stockpiles of cryptocurrency for various reasons. Unlike what some might imagine, only a very small fraction of the companies that are holding bitcoin claim to be doing so as preparation for a ransomware attack.

Coal Is Fueling Bitcoin’s Meteoric Rise – Bloomberg

The cryptocurrency has wowed markets this year with breakneck gains as investors flocked to an asset that exists only in cyberspace. But the laborious creation of each digital bitcoin by private computer networks has real-world consequences in the form of massive energy use — including from fuels that cause the most pollution.

Crypto Regulation? Not Anytime Soon, Says White House Official – CoinDesk

A White House official said Friday that legislation around cryptocurrencies is unlikely to materialize anytime soon. “I think we’re still absolutely studying and understanding what the good ideas and bad ideas in that space are. So I don’t think it’s close,” Joyce told the network.



Higher bond yields fail to arrest an ever-weakening dollar – FT

The bet in equity and precious metals markets at present is that the Fed will blink and not move aggressively against inflation. That would allow US stocks to continue with their “melt-up” and also justify buying gold. But it would explain the discomfort with buying US bonds, and also the weakness of the dollar.




Trump Administration Proposes Stiff Penalties on Steel and Aluminum Imports – The New York Times

The Trump administration for the first time declared imports of steel and aluminum from China and other nations a threat to national security, laying the foundation for President Trump to impose the types of punitive tariffs he has long championed.

China Warns It May Retaliate If U.S. Imposes Metal Tariffs – Bloomberg

China said proposed U.S. tariffs on imported steel and aluminum products are groundless and that it reserves the right to retaliate if they are imposed. The U.S. recommendations, unveiled by the Commerce Department on Friday, aren’t consistent with the facts, Wang Hejun, chief of the trade remedy and investigation bureau at China’s Ministry of Commerce, said in a statement posted on its website.

U.S. Weighs Tariffs, Quotas on Metals Imports – WSJ

The Trump administration said it is considering sweeping new limits on imports of steel and aluminum as the next phase of its “America First” economic policies, playing down warnings from economists and allies about the risks of higher prices and trade wars.

US eyes global tariff of ‘at least’ 24% on steel imports – FT

US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross said on Friday that separate investigations into imports of both metals launched last year had determined that surges seen in recent years “threaten to impair our national security”. As a result, he said, he was recommending options to President Donald Trump including imposing a global tariff of “at least” 24 per cent on imports of steel and 7.7 per cent on aluminium.



Donald Trump in 2000: “I support the ban on assault weapons” – The Intercept

Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has campaigned as an ardent advocate of expanding gun rights, but in the past he called for banning assault weapons and a longer waiting period for gun purchases. What are Trump’s true views on gun rights and gun control? It appears that it depends on the audience he’s talking — or writing — to.

Prominent Republican Donor Issues Ultimatum on Assault Weapons – The New York Times

Al Hoffman Jr., a Florida-based real estate developer who was a leading fund-raiser for George W. Bush’s campaigns, said he would seek to marshal support among other Republican political donors for a renewed assault weapons ban. “For how many years now have we been doing this — having these experiences of terrorism, mass killings — and how many years has it been that nothing’s been done?” Mr. Hoffman said in an interview. “It’s the end of the road for me.”

A ‘Mass Shooting Generation’ Cries Out for Change – The New York Times

When a gunman killed 17 people at Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Fla., the first response of many of their classmates was not to grieve in silence, but to speak out. Their urgent voices — in television interviews, on social media, even from inside a locked school office as they hid from the gunman — are now rising in the national debate over gun violence in the aftermath of yet another school shooting.

In Wake of Florida Massacre, Gun Control Advocates Look to Connecticut – The New York Times

Analyses by the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence show that, with few exceptions, states with the strictest gun-control measures, including California, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York, have the lowest rates of gun deaths, while those with the most lax laws like Alabama, Alaska and Louisiana, have the highest. The center is named for former Representative Gabrielle Giffords, a Democratic lawmaker from Arizona who suffered a serious brain injury in 2011 during a mass shooting in which she was the intended target.



US business mourns after Dreamers deal dies – FT

“I’ve been very worried for quite a while that I was watching a train wreck in slow motion, and yesterday we had that train wreck,” said Tamar Jacoby, president of ImmigrationWorks USA, an alliance of small businesses that rely on immigrant workers. The bill’s failure come after months of lobbying by trade association and business groups, most of whom had thrown their weight behind the bipartisan bill.

Infrastructure Plan Falls Flat for Investors – WSJ

Whether one calls it a $1.5 trillion plan or a $200 billion plan—the latter is the actual value of proposed new federal spending over a decade—investors clearly sense that there is less to it than meets the eye. The recently passed tax cut also weighs on the infrastructure plan. The growing federal budget deficit and rising bond yields have made borrowing more expensive for state and local governments. A lower marginal top tax rate makes municipal bonds less attractive to wealthy individuals, their biggest buyers. And limits on deductions for state and local taxes makes it harder for governments to raise taxes.



13 Russians Indicted as Mueller Reveals Effort to Aid Trump Campaign – The New York Times

The Justice Department charged 13 Russians and three companies on Friday in a sprawling indictment that unveiled a sophisticated network designed to subvert the 2016 election and to support the Trump campaign. It stretched from an office in St. Petersburg, Russia, into the social feeds of Americans and ultimately reached the streets of election battleground states.

Inside a 3-Year Russian Campaign to Influence U.S. Voters – The New York Times

The indictment presented in astonishing detail a carefully planned, three-year Russian scheme to incite political discord in the United States, damage Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and later bolster the candidacy of Donald J. Trump, along with those of Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein. The precise description of the operation suggested that F.B.I. investigators had intercepted communications, found a cooperating insider or both.

Indictment Makes Trump’s Hoax Claim Harder to Sell – The New York Times

For Mr. Trump, who has tried to discredit Mr. Mueller’s investigation as a politically motivated witch hunt, it was a direct assault on the version of reality that he has sought tirelessly to create. By laying out a meticulous case for how Russia tried to tip the electoral scales toward Mr. Trump in 2016, Mr. Mueller has made it much harder for the president to dismiss the investigation as mere politics. He may also have made it harder for Mr. Trump to fire Mr. Mueller himself, since, as some Democratic lawmakers argued, that would look like an attempt to help Russia further undermine American democracy.

Worries about Trump’s legitimacy resurface with Russia indictment – POLITICO

New charges on Friday in the special counsel’s Russia investigation put attention squarely on a notion President Donald Trump has aggressively sought to avoid: the legitimacy of his 2016 election. For the first time, Americans were shown in granular detail how Russian spies worked to sway the election in Trump’s favor, with everything from social media campaigns and ad buys to the organization of rallies and payments to demonstrators dressing up as Hillary Clinton in a cage.

Mueller Still Investigating Possible Collusion, Source Says – Bloomberg

Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his prosecutors haven’t concluded their investigation into whether President Donald Trump or any of his associates helped Russia interfere in the 2016 election, according to a person with knowledge of the probe. Friday’s indictment of a St. Petersburg-based “troll farm” and 13 Russian nationals should be seen as a limited slice of a comprehensive investigation, the person said. Mueller’s work is expected to continue for months and also includes examining potential obstruction of justice by Trump, said the person, who requested anonymity to discuss an investigation that is largely confidential.

Trump attacks everyone but Russia – Politico

President Donald Trump railed against the investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election Saturday night into Sunday, sending off a stream of tweets attacking the FBI, CNN, the Democratic Party, his own national security adviser, former President Barack Obama and the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. He did not criticize Russia, or voice concern over Vladimir Putin’s attempts to undermine U.S. elections.

To Stir Discord in 2016, Russians Turned Most Often to Facebook – The New York Times

While the indictment does not accuse Facebook of any wrongdoing, it provided the first comprehensive account from the authorities of how critical the company’s platforms had been to the Russian campaign to disrupt the 2016 election. Facebook and Instagram were mentioned 41 times, while other technology that the Russians used was featured far less. Twitter was referred to nine times, YouTube once and the electronic payments company PayPal 11 times.

Facebook plans to use U.S. mail to verify IDs of election ad buyers – Reuters

Facebook Inc will start using postcards sent by U.S. mail later this year to verify the identities and location of people who want to purchase U.S. election-related advertising on its site, a senior company executive said on Saturday.



Pimco calls top in 10-year Treasury yields at 3% – FT

Mark Kiesel, global credit chief investment officer at the California-based manager, said the recent jump in the benchmark Treasury yield towards 3 per cent is unlikely to go much further, as he believes inflation is rising only gradually. “We think most of the back-up in US rates is over,” Mr Kiesel said. “That is somewhat of a controversial statement . . . there are a lot of investors out there that think this is a trend that’s going to continue.

The Rise of the Jumbo Student Loan – WSJ

During the housing boom of the 2000s, jumbo mortgages with very large balances became a flashpoint for a brewing crisis. Now, researchers are zeroing in on a related crack but in the student debt market: very large student loans with balances exceeding $50,000. Most borrowers who left college or graduate school owing at least $50,000 in student loans in 2010 had failed to pay down any of their debt four years later, according to a study by the Brookings Institution.

The Rise of Private Assets Is Built on a Mountain of New Debt – WSJ

A major change in financial markets in recent years is that private-equity firms have increasingly got into lending to buyouts, too—and often to their own deals. Their credit businesses are adding to the huge growth in specialist private debt funds and retail money that has taken place in loan markets since the crisis. The flood of money into credit has driven down borrowing costs and cleared out traditional lender protections known as covenants on many loans.




Stock volatility: back with a bang and here to stay – Reuters

U.S. stock markets are unlikely to return to the unusually calm conditions seen last year, even though equities have already recovered more than half the ground lost in the recent selloff and traders have rapidly dialed down fear. Stock market volatility spiked to a multi-year high in the selloff and some products that flourished in low volatility collapsed. A higher-volatility environment means the 1 percent stock market swings of the past two weeks will become commonplace, strategists said.

Add Stock Buybacks to the Causes of the Market Downturn – Bloomberg

Some market watchers are adding corporate share repurchases to the list of reasons for last week’s turmoil, which already included rising interest rates, higher inflation, growing government debt, volatility-linked investment funds and Washington instability. More significantly, those pointing the finger at buybacks say continued corporate stock purchases — which, unlike some of those volatility funds, survived the brief market downturn — will make the next one far worse.

How China Is Getting Serious About Financial Risk – Bloomberg

China is getting real about dangers in its financial system. While de-risking has been the government’s mantra since 2015, the country’s most powerful politicians have been ramping up directives on everything from excessive borrowing to stock-market speculation. Those efforts have gained momentum since October’s Communist Party Congress, where leaders pledged to make controlling financial risk a top priority. Their challenge is to do so without derailing the economy.

Peter Thiel Had $244 Million Bet on Volatility Jump at Year-End – Bloomberg

Thiel Macro, which invests the billionaire’s fortune, held a bet at the end of 2017 tied to the Cboe Volatility Index, or VIX, according to a regulatory filing Wednesday from the San Francisco-based firm. Thiel, 50, would have reaped big profits if he continued to hold the wager — composed of put options — when stocks tumbled last week and the VIX soared.

Volatility Wave Washed Over Credit Markets—Now Another Test – Bloomberg

Investors pulled $14.1 billion from debt funds, the fifth-largest stretch of redemptions in the week through Feb. 14, according to a Bank of America Merrill Lynch report, citing EPFR data. High-yield bonds lost $10.9 billion alone, the second highest outflow on record. As benchmark Treasury yields traded at a four-year high, it shook the foundations of a key support for risk assets — low rates.

JPMorgan Says Don’t Lose Any More Sleep Over Stock Volatility – Bloomberg

The volatility shock that rocked markets a week ago is unlikely to violently return, making it unattractive to buy expensive options that would benefit from big gyrations in U.S. stocks, strategists led by Bram Kaplan and Marko Kolanovic say. That’s because stocks should continue to recover now that selling forced by systematic trading strategies has likely ended and underlying equity fundamentals remain strong.



Trump’s Conspicuous Silence Leaves a Struggle Against Russia Without a Leader – The New York Times

In 13 months in office, Mr. Trump has made little if any public effort to rally the nation to confront Moscow for its intrusion or to defend democratic institutions against continued disruption. His administration has at times called out Russia or taken action, and even Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, speaking in Germany on Saturday, called evidence of Russian meddling “incontrovertible.” But the administration has been left to respond without the president’s leadership.

Whatever Trump Is Hiding Is Hurting All of Us Now – The New York Times

Our democracy is in serious danger. President Trump is either totally compromised by the Russians or is a towering fool, or both, but either way he has shown himself unwilling or unable to defend America against a Russian campaign to divide and undermine our democracy. In sum, Trump is either hiding something threatening to himself, or he’s criminally incompetent to be commander in chief. It is impossible yet to say which explanation for his behavior is true, but it seems highly likely that one of these scenarios explains Trump’s refusal to respond to Russia’s direct attack on our system — a quiescence that is simply unprecedented for any U.S. president in history. Russia is not our friend. It has acted in a hostile manner. And Trump keeps ignoring it all.

A former Russian troll speaks: ‘It was like being in Orwell’s world’ – Washington Post

“I arrived there, and I immediately felt like a character in the book “1984” by George Orwell — a place where you have to write that white is black and black is white. Your first feeling, when you ended up there, was that you were in some kind of factory that turned lying, telling untruths, into an industrial assembly line. The volumes were colossal — there were huge numbers of people, 300 to 400, and they were all writing absolute untruths. It was like being in Orwell’s world.”

Mueller’s charge sheet leaves all possibilities open – FT

In practice, nobody except Mr Mueller and his team has inside knowledge of what will happen next. It has so far been a leak-free investigation. But it is very clear that Mr Mueller is leaving no stone unturned. The Russians, meanwhile, continue to troll with skill. “Americans are very impressionable people,” Mr Prigozhin told Ria Novosti, the Russian news agency, on Friday. “They see what they want to see.”

Bob Mueller Is Not Playing Around – POLITICO Magazine

These are not vague allegations; over 37 pages, the indictment lays out in careful detail a step-by-step scheme involving identity theft, fake accounts, carefully orchestrated trips and outreach, a concerted social media strategy and even real live rallies across the United States secretly planned from Russia. That is not to say that the president and his supporters will necessarily accept the allegations in the indictment, but this serious and thorough document does not leave them much of a leg to stand on if they continue to deny meaningful Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Is Donald Trump a Traitor? – The Intercept

Americans must live with the uncertainty of not knowing whether Trump has the best interests of the United States or those of Russia at heart. Most pundits in Washington now recoil at any suggestion that the Trump-Russia story is really about treason. They all want to say it’s about something else – what, they aren’t quite sure. But if a presidential candidate or his lieutenants secretly work with a foreign government that is a longtime adversary of the United States to manipulate and then win a presidential election, that is almost a textbook definition of treason.

Donald Trump, the Playboy Model Karen McDougal, and a System for Concealing Infidelity | The New Yorker

The interactions that McDougal outlines in the document share striking similarities with the stories of other women who claim to have had sexual relationships with Trump, or who have accused him of propositioning them for sex or sexually harassing them. McDougal describes their affair as entirely consensual. But her account provides a detailed look at how Trump and his allies used clandestine hotel-room meetings, payoffs, and complex legal agreements to keep affairs—sometimes multiple affairs he carried out simultaneously—out of the press.

Tech Luminary Peter Thiel Parts Ways With Silicon Valley – WSJ

Billionaire investor Peter Thiel is relocating his home and personal investment firms to Los Angeles from San Francisco and scaling back his involvement in the tech industry, people familiar with his thinking said, marking a rupture between Silicon Valley and its most prominent conservative.

Chris Dixon — Why Decentralization Matters

Decentralized networks can win the third era of the internet for the same reason they won the first era: by winning the hearts and minds of entrepreneurs and developers. When you compare centralized and decentralized systems you need to consider them dynamically, as processes, instead of statically, as rigid products. Centralized systems often start out fully baked, but only get better at the rate at which employees at the sponsoring company improve them. Decentralized systems start out half-baked but, under the right conditions, grow exponentially as they attract new contributors.


Two US grocery chains are on the verge of bankruptcy as Amazon moves in – Quartz

Bloomberg reports that Winn-Dixie parent Bi-Lo and Tops Friendly Market could both declare bankruptcy this month, an ominous shakeout in a grocery industry that is bracing for new competition from Amazon and its newly acquired Whole Foods subsidiary. Dig a little deeper and the situation is more complicated: Both companies are wheezing under heavy debt loads after being acquired by private equity firms.

China’s tech industry is catching up with Silicon Valley – In e-commerce and mobile payments, it has already overtaken America – Economist

China is now approaching parity on the most forward-looking measures. In e-commerce and mobile payments, its industry is now bigger than America’s. Its universe of “unicorns” (unlisted firms worth over $1bn) is almost as large, as is its venture-capital sector. Both are proxies for China’s ability to produce tomorrow’s giant firms. And in cutting-edge areas such as facial and speech recognition, China now has recognised leaders. There are even some signs that it is catching up in hard science: it has produced nearly as many papers on artificial intelligence cited by parties other than their author as America has.

Authers’ Note: Comparisons to 2007 – FT

The evidence from the BofAML fund managers’ survey is that many are invested in equities even though they think they are overvalued. That is cynical bubble behaviour. Stay invested at this point in 2007, and you had two great new market highs to look forward to. You would also have two points when the market would be lower than it is now, and if you did not get out at the end of the year you faced the unfolding disaster of 2008. But the temptations of trying to be Chuck Prince are clear.


As China Marches Forward on A.I., the White House Is Silent – The New York Times

China’s embrace of A.I. comes at a crucial time in the development of the technology and just as the lead long enjoyed by the United States has started to dwindle. For decades, artificial intelligence was more fiction than science. In the past few years, however, dramatic improvements have prompted some of the biggest companies in Silicon Valley and Detroit — and China — to invest billions on everything from self-driving cars to home appliances that can have a conversation with a human.

The Robots Are Coming for Garment Workers. That’s Good for the U.S., Bad for Poor Countries – WSJ

Automation is finally invading the garment industry, transforming sweatshops and putting people out of work in poor countries like Bangladesh. For the U.S., that means lower prices and new domestic production possibilities. All that is upending the economics of the apparel industry, which long served as the first rung on the economic ladder for poorer countries, especially in Asia. A 2016 International Labor Organization study predicted some Asian nations could lose more than 80% of their garment, textile and apparel manufacturing jobs as automation spreads.

Brexit alarm bells are ringing for British industry – FT

The political cacophony created by the war raging inside government over the UK’s post-Brexit relationship with the EU risks drowning out the very real concerns of Britain’s manufacturing industry about the future. While the politicians bicker, they are not focusing on what needs to be done now to ensure that, whatever the trading relationship with the EU, industry will be ready to meet the challenges of Brexit.



Americans Are Confident About Retirement – Bloomberg

Americans aren’t letting stock-market volatility spoil their retirement plans. A gauge measuring the chances of retiring comfortably, compared with how consumers assessed their financial position five years ago, advanced in February to the highest level since 2001, according to the latest University of Michigan survey of consumer sentiment.

Copycat Threats and Jittery Nerves Force School Shutdowns Across the U.S. – The New York Times

From New Jersey to Kansas to Texas, the aftermath of the Florida high school shooting has turned the routine of going to class into a nerve-racking proposition, as schools have ordered new lockdown drills, beefed up security and in some cases closed down entirely.



Hedge fund Bridgewater makes $22 billion bet against European firms – FT

Bridgewater has shown its hand in Europe with a $22 billion bet against some of the continent’s biggest companies, filings reviewed by Reuters show, part of a bigger shift by the world’s largest hedge fund manager. Although data was not available to show whether Bridgewater holds more European stocks than it “shorts” overall, an investor in the hedge fund firm’s Pure Alpha Major Markets strategy said that its position was slightly net “long” on Feb. 6.



Tesla delays, tax credit concerns spur sales of Chevy Bolts – Reuters

Some potential buyers of Tesla’s long-delayed Model 3 sedan are concerned that they will miss out on big federal tax breaks and are looking for alternatives, including General Motors Co’s Chevrolet Bolt, according to postings by would-be Tesla buyers on websites and interviews with GM dealers.

Big Food Faces Pressure as Consumers Seek Fresh Meals, Snacks – WSJ

Food makers have struggled to adapt as Americans swap boxed and canned foods for fresher options, while also eating more snacks and fewer full meals. Nestlé SA on Thursday said sluggish demand for its food in the U.S. last year led to its slowest sales growth in decades.



Kiwis consider foreign house buyer ban – BBC News

The new Labour-led government blames, in part, foreigners for runaway prices that have squeezed many Kiwis out of the market. It wants to ban non-residents from purchasing existing residential properties and farms. “I am trying to protect New Zealanders against some of the excesses of global capitalism,” trade minister David Parker said. “We think that some of the difficulties that are arising in politics around the world are driven by an insecurity of middle class citizens in their own country who feel that their interests are being sold out to the interests of this super-wealthy cohort.”



Harvard Alums Have Idea to Boost Endowment: Buy Index Funds – Bloomberg

A group of Harvard alumni proposed a solution for how the university’s endowment can pay for a new tax on investment income and boost returns: don’t think so much. Harvard should use the savings from shifting half of its $37.1 billion endowment into low-cost funds tracking the S&P 500 to cover the cost of a new tax that some of the wealthiest schools will face, the group said Thursday in a letter to incoming President Lawrence Bacow.



Top U.S. officials tell the world to ignore Trump’s tweets – Washington Post

U.S. lawmakers — both Democrats and Republicans — and top national security officials in the Trump administration offered the same advice publicly and privately, often clashing with Trump’s Twitter stream: The United States remains staunchly committed to its European allies, is furious with the Kremlin about election interference and isn’t contemplating a preemptive strike on North Korea to halt its nuclear program.

Netanyahu to Iran: ‘Do Not Test Israel’s Resolve’ – The New York Times

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, attending a security conference with international leaders here in Munich, on Sunday brandished what he said was part of an Iranian drone shot down by Israel and warned that he was ready to go to war if Tehran continued to entrench itself in Syria.

Tillerson Says U.S.-Turkish Ties Have Reached a ‘Crisis Point’ – Bloomberg

Acknowledging that ties with Turkey are at a “crisis point,” U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson pledged cooperation with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government but also issued new warnings over the erosion of democratic norms and the country’s plan to sign a defense deal with Russia.

Ethiopia declares state of emergency in effort to quell unrest – FT

Ethiopia has declared a state of emergency in an effort to quell almost three years of often violent anti-government protests and safeguard an economy that has been suffering from the unrest, the state broadcaster announced. The declaration was made on Friday night, the day after Hailemariam Desalegn resigned as prime minister, citing the need to secure peace and guarantee democracy in the country. No successor has been announced yet.



Hackers stole $6 million from Russian bank via SWIFT system: central bank – Reuters

Unknown hackers stole 339.5 million roubles ($6 million) from a Russian bank last year in an attack using the SWIFT international payments messaging system, the Russian central bank said on Friday. The disclosure, buried at the bottom of a central bank report on digital thefts in the Russian banking sector, is the latest in a string of attempted and successful cyber heists using fraudulent wire-transfer requests.



Waymo Gets the O.K. for a Commercial Driverless Ride-Hailing Service – Bloomberg

The designation lets Waymo’s fleet of driverless Chrysler Pacifica minivans pickup and drop off paying riders in Arizona through a smartphone app or website, the spokesman said on Friday. Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. are good examples of transportation network companies in the state, Harding added.



SpaceX joins race to make web truly worldwide – FT

The satellite trial points to an impending space race that has drawn in powerful backers. Google, which once looked at developing its own satellite-based network, became one of SpaceX’s biggest backers when it led a $1bn investment round three years ago. Meanwhile, SoftBank and Richard Branson are among the backers of OneWeb, a European rival that hopes to start providing broadband internet next year.



Astronomers expect to find many more Earth-like planets – FT

“Exoplanets are amazingly common,” said Aki Roberge of Nasa Goddard Space Flight Centre. “On average there is at least one planet for every star in the Milky Way galaxy, meaning over 100bn stars in our galaxy alone. Even better, the exoplanets discovered [so far] are surprisingly diverse, with exotic types that we don’t have in the solar system.”

Good bacteria can help brain function better – FT

Researchers are discovering remarkable new links between gut bacteria and the brain. Problems from poor sleep to memory loss could be helped by manipulating the microbiome, the trillions of bacteria living inside healthy human bodies, the American Association for the Advancement of Science heard on Thursday.

Neuroscientists Have Followed a Thought as It Moves Through The Brain – ScienceAlert

A study using epilepsy patients undergoing surgery has given neuroscientists an opportunity to track in unprecedented detail the movement of a thought through the human brain, all the way from inspiration to response. The findings confirm the role of the prefrontal cortex as the coordinator of complex interactions between different regions, linking our perception with action and serving as what can be considered the “glue of cognition”.


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