Macro Links Mar 26th – Storm Warnings

Macro Links Mar 26th – Storm Warnings

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BITCOIN, CRYPTOCURRENCY, INITIAL COIN OFFERINGS

A Nobel-winning economist is part of a team launching a low-volatility cryptocurrency – Quartz

Saga is being developed by The Saga Foundation, a Swiss non-profit created last year that is dedicated to developing new technologies in open and decentralized software. The advisory board includes Jacob Frenkel, the former Governor of the Bank of Israel and chairman of JPMorgan Chase International; economics Nobel laureate Myron Scholes, known for creating the Black-Scholes formula, the most well-known model for pricing options and derivatives; Dan Galai, a co-developer of VIX, the leading measure of financial market volatility; and Leo Melamed, the chairman emeritus of CME Group and pioneer in financial futures. Needless to say, the board knows a thing or two about how markets work.

Binance Moving to Malta | CoinCentral

Binance currently has no official headquarters and tries to keep locations secret for security reasons. However, we do know they maintain offices and servers in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea. With legal uncertainty in the Asia Pacific, Binance will move from Hong Kong island to the island of Malta. The exchange with $1.6 billion of daily volume made over $200 million profit during quarter 1 of 2018.

Malta Prime Minister Welcomes Binance to Its “Blockchain Island” – Bitcoin News

“Binance’s presence in Malta sustains our vision, that of making Malta ‘The Blockchain Island’,” said Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services, Digital Economy & Innovation Silvio Schembri, joining his Prime Minister in welcoming the exchange. With Binance seeking to recruit 200 staff as soon as possible, the move will provide an instant boost to the island’s economy, and bolster its quest to become a center for crypto innovation.

The World’s Biggest Crypto Exchange Is Heading to Malta – Bloomberg

Regulators from China to the U.S. have been cracking down on cryptocurrency exchanges since last year, making it difficult for venues like Binance to find a permanent base. The company had an office in Japan and was trying to get a license to operate there, but decided to remove its staff to avoid a clash with local regulators, Zhao said. Japan’s Financial Services Agency issued a warning to the exchange on Friday for operating without approval.

Binance To Add “USD To Crypto” Trading Pairs Soon – BitPlex

Opening an office on Malta gives Binance several advantages. One of which is that they can start to set up a fiat-to-crypto trading pair, allowing people to purchase crypto directly with USD or the Euro. Before, people had to purchase Bitcoin from other exchanges and then move it into Binance to purchase altcoins.

Cryptocurrency Backed by Habanero Peppers Is a Thing in Mexico – Bloomberg

The small peppers are an integral part of Mexican cuisine — particularly in the Yucatan Peninsula where Quintana Roo is located. Agrocoins can be bought on the company’s website, and — after a year-long lockup period — exchanged on a cryptocurrency trading platform. The company has sold 50,000 of the 1 million it’s planning to issue.

Why are So Many ICOs Failing? | CoinCentral

According to a recent study, 418 of the 902 new crowdsales (46%) listed on Tokendata for 2017, have already failed. 142 failed during the ICO stage. 276 projects failed post-ICO. The alarming thing to note about this statistic is that these are only the projects that have already failed. An additional 113 ICOs are currently deemed to be ‘unresponsive’ to questions from the public on social media. This could equal to a lot of additional failures from the 2017 cohort of ICOs in the near future.

China: IT Ministry To Create Committee For Blockchain Standards, Domestic And International – CoinTelegraph

The Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (CMIIT) has published a list of objectives to encourage the development and standardization of the technology sector, including Blockchain, according to a document released March 23.

College students use financial aid money to invest in bitcoin – CNBC

Tuition paid, textbooks bought…time to buy bitcoin? More than 20 percent of college students use their financial aid money to invest in cryptocurrencies, according to new findings by The Student Loan Report, a website for student loan information. The site polled 1,000 current college students with loan debt this month. The survey did not ask how much students were investing and many could be buying only smaller amounts.

Crypto-Focused Hedge Funds on SEC’s Radar – WSJ

The Securities and Exchange Commission is preparing to examine as many as 100 hedge funds focused on cryptocurrencies, according to a person familiar with the matter. The initiative is separate from the dozens of enforcement investigations already under way, which largely target initial coin offerings, or digital tokens that startups offer in exchange for investments. The SEC has pushed aggressively to police the unregulated world of ICOs, saying that many token deals flout investor-protection laws.

Edward Snowden On Bitcoin: World Needs Better Option To Avoid Gov’t Coercion – CoinTelegraph

“It’s a question of how do we design competing systems that are simply so attractive that they will not be ignored by the global consumer base but also the governments themselves who are seeking to compete against them will not simply be able to outlaw them and have that be meaningful.”

IRS Reminds US Taxpayers to Report Crypto Earnings – CoinDesk

The Internal Revenue Service has reminded U.S. taxpayers to include any cryptocurrency income on their annual tax forms. In a release published Friday, the IRS noted that cryptocurrency transactions are taxable like other forms of property, echoing a release issued in 2014 outlining how cryptocurrencies would be taxed. At the time, the IRS said profits and losses on digital currency would be treated as capital gains when the currency is being used as a capital asset.

Telegram On Track to Push Its Cryptocurrency Sale to $1.7 Billion – Bloomberg

Messaging service Telegram Group Inc., which smashed the world record for selling a new cryptocurrency in February, is on track to raise another $850 million as its initial coin offering extends toward a third month, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Eddie Murphy-Inspired Fintech Firm Signs With Winklevoss Crypto Exchange – Bloomberg

A U.K. fintech firm named after one of Eddie Murphy’s early movies has hooked up with crypto royalty. Beeks Financial Cloud Group Plc — whose name is a reference to the 1983 film ‘Trading Places’ starring Murphy and Dan Aykroyd — signed a pact with Gemini Exchange, the crypto trading platform run by the billionaire Winklevoss twins. The agreement will allow Beeks clients to trade Bitcoin and Ethereum through Gemini, according to a statement Wednesday.

Intro: How CoinMarketCap (CMC) manipulates the market by showing fraudulent information to the…

Pump and dumps are also being actively allowed and managed by the team at CMC without the knowledge of the coin creators or coin communities themselves. This can be seen by the direct manipulation of the circulating supply of some coins. CMC puts the circulating supply as very high at certain points (increasing the market cap), then drops it down to a much lower number later (lowering the market cap). This moves these coins up or down their numbered list causing massive buys and sell offs at the whim of CMC. Luckily this fraud can only be made to happen once or twice with each coin as the public outcry from the coin communities (sometimes) usually puts an end to it one way or other.

Monthly Web Traffic for Major Bitcoin Exchanges Falls by Half – Bitcoin News

The disappointing price performances of the cryptocurrency markets in January and February have apparently driven many bitcoin traders to avoid checking on their exchange accounts. Estimations of the total number of visits to the trading venues based on web traffic show a sharp decline month over month.

Rubles Can Buy You Petro Maduro Says While Denominating Venezuela’s Currency – Bitcoin News

El Petro, the Venezuelan cryptocurrency, can now be purchased with Russian rubles, among other fiat currencies, President Nicolás Maduro announced. Companies from many countries, including the United States, want to buy the oil-backed crypto, he added. Venezuela’s head of state also said he decided to denominate the national currency, the bolivar.

South Korean Investors To Buy Crypto Exchange Bitstamp For $400 Mln, Sources Report

Cryptocurrency exchange Bitstamp is reportedly about to be sold to South Korean investors for a sum of around $400 mln dollars, according New York Times finance and tech journalist Nathaniel Popper’s tweet from yesterday, March 22. Sources familiar with the matter have also confirmed the information in the tweet to Cointelegraph today, March 23.

Sweden Is Becoming a Haven for Cryptojackers – Bloomberg

The number of such attacks surged an estimated 10,100 percent in the biggest Nordic economy in the fourth quarter, about double the jump globally, according to Symantec Corp.’s 2018 Internet Security Threat Report. And the thing is, it’s not even illegal. “Cryptojacking where you install a program without my permission and steal capacity is very impolite,” said Ola Rehnberg, head of Nordic Enterprise Security at Symantec. “But not a crime in itself. So the hacker takes a very small risk.”

Yahoo Japan is Launching a Cryptocurrency Exchange – CNN

Yahoo Japan is preparing to launch a cryptocurrency exchange, regional media sources say. Nikkei Asian Review reported on Friday that the tech firm — originally a joint venture between Altaba (formerly Yahoo!) and Softbank — will begin an acquisition of BitARG Exchange Tokyo in April and will spend the next year using BitARG’s technology to build a full-fledged exchange that will launch in 2019.

Quebec Pushes Hydropower Utility to Halt New Bitcoin Mines – CoinDesk

The Canadian province of Quebec has temporarily put a halt to the development of new cryptocurrency mining operations. The region – known for its cheap hydropower – has been an attractive destination for cryptocurrency miners looking to expand their businesses. Yet on Friday, Canadian newspaper Les Affaires reported that operators tied to utility firm Hydro-Quebec are turning down new clients, in part due to the demands placed on the hydroelectric dam by existing operations.

US: Hackers Shut Down Government Computers In Atlanta, Demand Bitcoin – CoinTelegraph

Hackers have shut down key computer systems in the US city of Atlanta, Georgia and are demanding $51,000 in Bitcoin to reenable the affected systems, Fortune reports today, March 23. Atlanta’s Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced the attack in a press conference on Thursday, March 22. She told members of the press that officials “don’t know the extent [of the attack] or if anyone’s personal data or bank accounts will be compromised. All of us are subject to this attack.”

Smart Contracts Now Recognized Under Tennessee Law – CoinDesk

The governor of Tennessee has signed a bill that legally recognizes blockchain data and smart contracts under state law. Governor Bill Haslam signed the measure on Thursday, public records show, capping a months-long process that saw Tennessee become the latest U.S. state to pursue such legislation. According to data from LegiScan, the bill had sailed through the legislature since its introduction in January, passing both chambers unanimously.

The UK Government Is Launching a Cryptocurrency ‘Task Force’ – CoinDesk

U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond is expected to announce a government “crypto assets task force” and a host of other fintech initiatives on Thursday. According to a statement from the office of the Treasury, Hammond will reveal the task force, which will include the Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority in addition to the Treasury, at the government’s second International Fintech Conference.

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BLOCKCHAIN, FINTECH, DIGITAL PAYMENTS

This Startup Is Using Blockchain to Fight Art Forgers – Bloomberg

Trust — or lack of it — is at the core of the challenge, with potential buyers balking at the possibility of spending considerable sums on works whose provenance can’t be fully verified. Sources estimate the value of fraudulent activity in the global art market to exceed $6 billion per year and 80 percent of such activity is due to forgery, said Norton, the former chief executive officer of Saatchi Online and Sedition Art.

Europe’s new data protection regulation could spell trouble for Blockchain companies. – Bloomberg

Under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, companies will be required to completely erase the personal data of any citizen who requests that they do so. For businesses that use blockchain, specifically applications with publicly available data trails such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, truly purging that information could be impossible. “Some blockchains, as currently designed, are incompatible with the GDPR,” says Michèle Finck, a lecturer in EU law at the University of Oxford. EU regulators, she says, will need to decide whether the technology must be barred from the region or reconfigure the new rules to permit an uneasy coexistence. Compliance headaches could afflict thousands of companies. More than 1,000 apps are being built on the Ethereum blockchain alone, according to the stateofthedapps.com directory. “I think it will impede some of the applications,” Greg McMullen, a lawyer based in Germany and blockchain expert, says of the law. “We’ll get a bit of a reality check on what the right kinds of applications are to build on a blockchain.”

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TRADE, PROTECTIONISM, REGULATION, OVERSIGHT

U.S. and South Korea Reach Trade Agreement – Bloomberg

The U.S. agreed to revise its trade deal with South Korea and spare the country from President Donald Trump’s steel tariff, as the allies sought to resolve disputes before planned meetings with Kim Jong Un. The two countries reached an agreement “in principle” on the trade deal known as Korus, South Korea’s trade ministry said in a statement Monday. The announcement came after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer had reached a “very productive understanding.”

U.S., China Quietly Seek Trade Solutions After Days of Loud Threats – WSJ

China and the U.S. have quietly started negotiating to improve U.S. access to Chinese markets, after a week filled with harsh words from both sides over Washington’s threat to use tariffs to address trade imbalances, people with knowledge of the matter said. The talks, which cover wide areas including financial services and manufacturing, are being led by Liu He, China’s economic czar in Beijing, and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer in Washington.

White House Names Allies to Receive Tariff Reprieve – WSJ

Tariffs of 25% on steel imports and 10% on aluminum imports go into effect on Friday for nations not covered by exclusions. The president late Thursday suspended tariffs for the following: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, European Union nations and South Korea. Effectively that means tariffs will apply to three major steel exporters: China, Russia and Japan.

Misreading Trump: Ally Japan Is Spurned on Tariff Exemptions – The New York Times

The omission of Japan, the largest foreign supplier to be so excluded, was especially pointed. Australia, Brazil, Mexico and even South Korea, which is engaged with the United States in tense renegotiations of a free-trade pact, appeared on the list. The move also seemed a personal snub of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has courted Mr. Trump through rounds of golf, frequent telephone calls and lavish steak meals. “It’s really kind of almost tragicomic,” said Koichi Nakano, a political scientist at Sophia University in Tokyo and frequent critic of the Japanese leader. “Abe was being really sycophantic in trying to please Trump, and at a certain point, quite recently, he was talked about as the closest friend that Trump has. And it all turns out that that wasn’t good for anything when it comes to furthering the national interests of Japan.”

Why China’s Response to Trump’s Tariffs Is So Muted – The New York Times

There are many ways that China, America’s biggest foreign creditor and its third-largest export market, could intensify its response. In particular, it could add aircraft and soybeans — both enormous American industries for which China is a critical market — to its list of restricted items. The United States exports $12.4 billion worth of soybeans to China, and analysts say that Boeing, which competes against Airbus of Europe to sell jetliners to Chinese carriers, is another obvious target.

China prepares retaliatory tariffs on US imports – FT

“The Chinese made it clear they will not be using a big knife,” said Joerg Wuttke, who served until recently as head of the EU Chamber of Commerce in Beijing. “They will do it Chinese acupuncture style, and take out the needles. And the needles will go into the swing states, into agriculture, anything that is painful for Donald Trump’s constituency.”

Trade War Rips Through Farm World; Soybean, Hog Prices Fall – Bloomberg

“The market fears a bigger, broader range of tariffs will be imposed by China,” Bill Lapp, the president of Advanced Economic Solutions in Omaha, Nebraska, said in a telephone interview. “Brazil is harvesting a record crop, so they have options in the next few months to wait and see what happens when U.S. harvesting gets started in September.”

China’s Tariffs Are Sobering News for California’s Wine Country – Bloomberg

Just three days ago, a trade group representing California’s vintners issued a report showing China was among the top importers of the Golden State’s wine, bringing in almost $79 million worth of U.S. wine last year. “China is one of our largest export markets — we’re already expensive, because they already have existing duties and tariffs,” said Michael Honig, president of Honig Vineyard & Winery and past chairman of the Napa Valley Vintners Association. “It’s a burgeoning market that we had been hoping to make great strides in growing forward.”

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BUDGET, INFRASTRUCTURE, HEALTHCARE, IMMIGRATION

Donald Trump Signs Spending Bill After Threatening to Veto It – WSJ

President Trump signed a sweeping $1.3 trillion bill detailing U.S. spending levels until October, dropping a threat to veto the bill just hours before the government’s funding was due to expire.

Trump Signs Spending Bill, Reversing Veto Threat and Avoiding Government Shutdown – The New York Times

Even as he signed the bill, the president seethed about being forced to swallow legislation that broadly repudiated an agenda that once foresaw the reshaping of the federal government into his “America First” image. Enactment of the bipartisan spending package, which had seemed like a certainty at dawn, brought an end to hours of chaos at the White House, where Mr. Trump surprised his advisers — and Republican congressional leaders — with an angry morning tweet threatening to sink a measure that his aides had already promised he would sign.

Trump Approves New Limits on Transgender Troops in the Military – The New York Times

Transgender troops who are currently in the United States military may remain in the ranks, the White House said late Friday, but the Pentagon could require them to serve according to their gender at birth. The policy recommendation that President Trump approved flatly states that “transgender persons who require or have undergone gender transition are disqualified from military service.” But it also largely gives the Pentagon the ability to make exceptions where it sees fit.

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GUN CONTROL, POT BOOM, OPIOIDS, PUBLIC POLICY

Thousands register to vote at March For Our Lives demonstrations – NBC News

At many of the March for Our Lives events across the United States on Saturday, speakers reminded the hundreds of thousands of people in attendance that there was an important way they could push for gun reform: register to vote and go to the polls. According to many of the student speakers at the Washington rally, voting is the only way to pressure politicians to propose legislation that would meet the movement’s demands, which include universal background checks and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

March for Our Lives Updates: Chants of ‘Enough Is Enough’ at Huge Rallies on Guns – The New York Times

Hundreds of thousands of protesters, outraged by a recent massacre at a South Florida school and energized by the students who survived, thronged in streets across the globe in protests on Saturday, demanding action against gun violence in their most ambitious show of strength yet.

Planes, Trains and Autos: Students Pour Into D.C. to Rally for Tougher Gun Laws – WSJ

Young people from across the U.S. are piling into buses, cars and airplanes and heading to Washington, D.C., where they plan to gather by the thousands on Saturday to demand stricter gun laws in America.

Justice Department proposes banning bump stocks, branding them machine guns – The Washington Post

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Friday that the Justice Department is proposing a regulation to define bump stocks as machine guns under federal law, effectively banning the device used by a gunman in Las Vegas last fall that killed 58 people and wounded hundreds of others in just minutes. Sessions’s effort to ban the device is likely to face lawsuits from manufacturers.

Gun Maker Remington Seeks Bankruptcy Protection – WSJ

Firearms maker Remington Outdoor Co. sought bankruptcy protection Sunday, in the face of a heavy debt load, falling sales and lawsuits tied to the Sandy Hook school shooting. Remington filed for chapter 11 protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., with plans to hand over control of the company to its creditors—including Franklin Resources Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s asset-management division—in exchange for wiping much of its debt from its balance sheet.

The NRA Quadrupled Its Digital Ad Budget After Parkland Killings, Flooding Facebook and YouTube – Gizmodo

Per an investigation by the Chicago Tribune, while the NRA may have initially fallen back of its familiar strategy of taking a long social media weekend after the massacre, four days later it returned with a weeks-long digital advertising campaign that saw average spending spike to nearly $50,000 a day.

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RUSSIA MEDDLING, RUSSIA PROBE, TRUMP WORLD

Stormy Daniels: I was told to ‘leave Trump alone’ in parking lot threat – The Guardian

The allegation that an individual threatened Daniels with actual violence while attempting to frighten her off going public about her sexual history with Trump takes the dispute between the president and the porn star to an entirely new level. The adult film actor used the platform of the 60 Minutes interview to suggest that there was an echo of the bullying implicit in the alleged incident in 2011 in more recent moves by the Trump team relating to her renewed attempt to tell her story.

Highlights From 60 Minutes Stormy Daniels’ Interview – CBS News

“He was like, ‘Wow, you– you are special. You remind me of my daughter,'” Daniels says. “You know, he was like, ‘You’re smart and beautiful, and a woman to be reckoned with, and I like you. I like you.'” According to Daniels, she and Mr. Trump ate dinner, and then she asked to use the restroom, which adjoined the bedroom in Mr. Trump’s suite. When she emerged, Mr. Trump was “perched” on the edge of the bed—and she knew what that meant.

Trump met with Michael Cohen before Stormy Daniels “60 Minutes” interview – The Intercept

A night before CBS News’ “60 Minutes” aired its interview with Stephanie Clifford, better known as the adult film actress Stormy Daniels, President Trump had dinner with Michael Cohen, his longtime personal attorney. According to Clifford, Cohen paid her $130,000 in return for her silence about her alleged affair with President Trump.

U.K. Ire at Russia Prompts Focus on London-Based Oligarchs – WSJ

The Russian moguls who made their fortunes from the privatization of Soviet assets in the 1990s saw Britain as a safe place to shield their wealth from volatility in their homeland. For the new Russian elite, Britain offered unparalleled tax perks, a reliable court system, and a social milieu that let them play at aristocracy after decades of forced egalitarianism. British officials lauded the flow as proof of Britain’s attractiveness to foreign wealth—though residents blamed it for pushing up property prices and suggesting that Britain courts corrupt wealth.

Trump Fundraiser Offered to Help Lift Sanctions on Russian Firms – Bloomberg

The plan never went forward, Broidy and Baev said, and no such lobbying took place. But the discussions are a striking illustration of how Russians’ efforts to escape sanctions led them to seek political allies close to Trump. Broidy, a Los Angeles money manager and deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, said in a written statement to Bloomberg that he didn’t offer to “personally” set up meetings with top U.S. officials for Baev’s clients. The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment.

At a Crucial Juncture, Trump’s Legal Defense Is Largely a One-Man Operation – The New York Times

As President Trump heads into one of the most critical phases of the special counsel’s investigation, his personal legal team has shrunk to essentially just one member, and he is struggling to find any top lawyers willing to represent him. Working for a president is usually seen as a dream job. But leading white-collar lawyers in Washington and New York have repeatedly spurned overtures to take over the defense of Mr. Trump, a mercurial client who often ignores his advisers’ guidance. In some cases, lawyers’ firms have blocked any talks, fearing a backlash that would hurt business.

McCain asks CIA director nominee Haspel to explain role in post-9/11 interrogations – The Washington Post

Sen. John McCain, whose experience as a prisoner of war in Vietnam has established him as Congress’s moral conscience on torture, asked CIA director nominee Gina Haspel to detail her role in the agency’s “enhanced interrogation” program.

‘You should do it’: Trump officials encouraged George Papadopoulos’s foreign outreach, documents show – The Washington Post

President Trump dismissed the young foreign policy adviser as a ‘low level volunteer,’ but emails show he had more-extensive contact with key campaign figures than previously known.

University of Texas Courts Rex Tillerson to Be Next Chancellor – WSJ

The University of Texas is pursuing Rex Tillerson to become its next chancellor. The outgoing U.S. secretary of state remains undecided about his next move after his abrupt departure from Washington.

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KOREAN PENINSULA, MIDDLE EAST, NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Mattis isn’t sure he can work with Bolton: report – The Hill

Defense Secretary James Mattis has told colleagues he’s unsure if he can work with John Bolton, President Trump’s new pick for national security adviser, The New York Times reported. Mattis reportedly told staffers he would find it difficult to work with Bolton prior to Trump’s announcement last Thursday that Bolton would replace H.R. McMaster. Bolton is said to be an unpopular pick with both Mattis and White House chief of staff John Kelly.

‘The Whole World Should Be Concerned’: U.S. Allies React to Bolton’s Appointment – The New York Times

Mr. Bolton’s views are well known and largely seem to align with Mr. Trump’s: the Iran nuclear deal is flawed and should be scrapped; North Korea must denuclearize or face military action; the United Nations and most other multilateral institutions are of little use to Washington. In this sense, said Josef Janning, a German policy analyst, Mr. Bolton “will provide significant support and intellectual ammunition to President Trump.”

John Bolton Is a National Security Threat – Foreign Policy

As the nuclear crisis with North Korea enters a critical period, Trump’s choice of Bolton as national security advisor dims the prospect of reaching a peaceful solution. Bolton, like McMaster, sees Kim Jong Un as fundamentally irrational and undeterrable — a view that seems to justify launching a preventive war if North Korea refuses to denuclearize. But McMaster supported diplomacy and, as a military man with extensive combat experience, understood the costs of war. Bolton, on the other hand, has spent his entire career sabotaging diplomacy with Pyongyang and seems downright giddy about a possible military confrontation.

Mattis Holds Firm as Chaos Engulfs Trump’s National Security Team – Bloomberg

President Donald Trump’s shakeup of his national security team adds to the burden on one man at the center of any decision about war and peace: Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Long a champion of alliances and diplomacy, Mattis increasingly finds himself surrounded by policy hawks on issues from Iran to North Korea. Yet his command of the nation’s 1.2 million active duty personnel makes him uniquely placed to steer Trump away from any rash decision to unleash the U.S. military.

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INFLATION, RATES, DEBT AND CREDIT, BALANCE SHEETS

China won’t rule out scaling back US Treasury purchases – CNN

The Chinese ambassador to the United States would not rule out his nation scaling back the purchase of US government debt if the two nations end up in a trade war. When asked by Bloomberg Television if China is considering scaling back its purchases of US debt, ambassador Cui Tiankai responded, “We are looking at all options.”

China Signals It Could Ease Treasury Purchases to Counter Trump – Bloomberg

The U.S. can ill-afford to see weaker demand for its debt from its major buyers. With budget deficits rising in coming years and tax cuts approved in December expected to hurt revenue, the Treasury has to sell more securities to pay the government’s expenses. The Federal Reserve is already scaling back purchases of Treasuries as it gradually reduces its $4.4 trillion balance sheet.

U.S. Corporate Borrowers Have an Overseas Investor Problem – Bloomberg

Overseas money managers are a key pillar for the market, having bought more than $1.4 trillion of the securities since 2013, UBS said. With the dollar extending losses after plunging last year and hedging costs near decade-highs by one measure, overseas investors have fewer reasons to buy fewer U.S. company notes. The securities are on track for their worst first quarter since 1994. The weakness could translate to even higher borrowing costs for companies than they’ve already experienced in the last three months.

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VOLATILITY, BLACK SWANS, LIQUIDITY, TAIL RISKS

China to Intervene in Stocks After Tariffs Trigger Rout – Bloomberg

China’s so-called National Team of state funds has a long history of smoothing swings in the country’s $7.7 trillion stock market, particularly during big down days. While the interventions are meant to protect individual investors and prevent excessive volatility, critics say government meddling creates moral hazard and undermines official pledges to move toward a more market-driven economy.

Low risk as a predictor of financial crises – Vox

Economic theory is quite clear on where we should look for indications of crisis. Both Keynes (1936) and Hayek (1960) suggest that perceptions of risk – especially when they deviate from what economic agents have come to expect – affect risk-taking behavior. Perhaps the best expression of this view is Minsky’s (1977) instability hypothesis, where economic agents observing low financial risk are induced to increase risk-taking, which in turn may lead to a crisis – the foundation of his famous dictum that ‘stability is destabilising’. At the start, economic agents observe that volatility is lower than what they have come to expect. This fuels optimism, making the agents more willing to take more risk. This is manifested within the banking sector, which will both lend more than it did before and also make riskier loans. Eventually, loan defaults mount, a banking crisis ensues, at which time volatility increases sharply. This chain of events implies that a considerable time passes between an observation of low volatility and crises. By contrast, an observation of high volatility directly results from a crisis, implying that by the time volatility peaks, it is too late to react.

18H26 - MINSKY GRAPH

Markets Show They Aren’t Prepared for the End of Stimulus – Bloomberg

Central banks bought $21 trillion in government debt globally, pushing investors to search for yield in riskier markets. The result is a pyramid of trades dependent on stable interest rates: $12 trillion of government debt yields less than 1 percent and $11 trillion of corporate debt have yields near record lows. About $8 trillion of high-dividend and growth stocks trade at record high valuations, as cash-flows and growth rates are discounted at near-zero rates. At the top of the pyramid are strategies betting on stable volatility and asset correlations, which total up to $2 trillion, according to our estimates. While carry trades flourished, the architecture of financial markets has become increasingly fragile. In 1976, Hyman Minsky wrote that a crisis can develop when financial structures amplify rather than dampen an initial shock. Today, there are a number of negative feedback loops across strategies that use leverage, buy illiquid assets or own a large percentage of their asset class. A bank-loan exchange-traded fund issues listed shares, but it takes between 30 and 60 days to settle a loan sale in the secondary market.

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MACRO OP-EDS, INSIGHT, EVENTS AND TRENDS

‘America First’ Bears a New Threat: Military Force – The New York Times

Not since the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, have key national security leaders so publicly raised the threat of military confrontation if foreign adversaries do not meet America’s demands. But George W. Bush’s war cabinet was responding to the biggest direct attack on the United States since Pearl Harbor. The current moment of peril arises from Mr. Trump’s conviction that the United States is being pushed around by adversaries who need to understand that “America First” means they have a brief window to negotiate a deal, or force may follow.

How Calls for Privacy May Upend Business for Facebook and Google – The New York Times

The consumer surveillance model underlying Facebook and Google’s free services is under siege from users, regulators and legislators on both sides of the Atlantic. It amounts to a crisis for an internet industry that up until now had taken a reactive, whack-a-mole approach to problems like the spread of fraudulent news and misuse of personal data.

EU competition chief holds threat of breaking up Google – UK Telegraph

The European Union harbours “grave suspicions” about the dominance of Google and has not ruled out breaking it up, the bloc’s competition commissioner has warned. Margrethe Vestager told The Telegraph that the threat to split the 
internet giant up into smaller companies must be kept open.

Now would be a good time for Mark Zuckerberg to resign | TechCrunch

Facebook is not a platform for connecting people, it’s a platform for monetizing the connections they make on their own. The company simply doesn’t prioritize the quality of these connections themselves in any meaningful way — nor, I think, can it. That’s probably a realization they reached early on. These flailing attempts to grow appendages were always just ways to multiply the number of superficial connections and train users to conflate constant, convenient updates with meaningful interactions. The parallel track to this is on the sales and advertising side, where Facebook has repeatedly been cavalier with the data it has been entrusted with and selectively honest with the users from which it was sourced. People have stopped trusting it, if they ever really did. No one believes its executives when they say things about quality time, and respecting your data and so on. Some of them may be sincere — but it doesn’t matter. The work that needs to be done to connect the world can’t be done by an entity as compromised as Facebook; it’s just the wrong tool for the job. Zuckerberg’s mission to connect the world isn’t happening the way he planned and it isn’t going to happen.

‘A grand illusion’: seven days that shattered Facebook’s facade – The Guardian

“Dumb fucks.” That’s how Mark Zuckerberg described users of Facebook for trusting him with their personal data back in 2004. If the last week is anything to go by, he was right. Since the Observer reported that the personal data of about 50 million Americans had been harvested from Facebook and improperly shared with the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, it has become increasingly apparent that the social network has been far more lax with its data sharing practices than many users realised.

Andrew McCabe: Not in my worst nightmares did I dream my FBI career would end this way – The Washington Post

I have been accused of “lack of candor.” That is not true. I did not knowingly mislead or lie to investigators. When asked about contacts with a reporter that were fully within my power to authorize as deputy director, and amid the chaos that surrounded me, I answered questions as completely and accurately as I could. And when I realized that some of my answers were not fully accurate or may have been misunderstood, I took the initiative to correct them. At worst, I was not clear in my responses, and because of what was going on around me may well have been confused and distracted — and for that I take full responsibility. But that is not a lack of candor. And under no circumstances could it ever serve as the basis for the very public and extended humiliation of my family and me that the administration, and the president personally, have engaged in over the past year.

After Another Week of Chaos, Trump Repairs to Palm Beach. No One Knows What Comes Next. – The New York Times

Aides said there was no grand strategy to the president’s actions, and that he got up each morning this week not knowing what he would do. Much as he did as a New York businessman at Trump Tower, Mr. Trump watched television, reacted to what he saw on television and then reacted to the reaction. Aides said he was still testing his limits as president while also feeling embattled by incoming fire — from Congress, the Russia investigation, foreign entanglements, a potential trade war and a pornographic film actress and a Playboy model who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump and were paid to keep quiet.

Vladimir Putin’s wildest dreams are coming true — courtesy of a U.S. president – The Washington Post

When Vladimir Putin falls asleep, I can imagine what he dreams of: He sees himself basking in the glory of another landslide victory in a sham election as Washington offers congratulations, not criticism. The White House press secretary tells the world that it is no longer America’s place to push for democracy. NATO splinters as the United States abandons its European allies. And the president of the United States snubs longtime friends while publicly praising Russia as a new friend that America should court — regardless of what Moscow does. A guy can dream, right? President Trump is making Putin’s fantasies come true. And, as those long-sought dreams come to life, America’s role as a defender of democracy and freedom is fading fast.

Trump Just Pushed the World Trade Organization Toward Irrelevance – The New York Times

The W.T.O. is the direct descendant of a global trading pact reached at the end of World War II, fueled by the idea that trade across borders minimizes prospects for war. “If the member countries simply begin to take matters into their own hands, disregarding all these principles, all these concepts, we may be in a situation where the global economic environment could deteriorate very fast,” Mr. Azevêdo said. “These measures tend to exacerbate nationalistic sentiments. They tend to exacerbate intolerance.”

Cloak and Data: The Real Story Behind Cambridge Analytica’s Rise and Fall – Mother Jones

By most accounts, Cambridge Analytica’s main feat of political persuasion was convincing a group of Republican donors, candidates, and organizations to hand over millions of dollars. (A company called Emerdata that lists Nix as a director recently added Rebekah Mercer and another Mercer daughter to its board, suggesting that Nix hasn’t fallen out with all his GOP patrons.) But Cambridge’s controversial foray into US politics spawned larger questions about how our social-media habits can be turned against us, and how companies such as Facebook hold more power over our lives—the ability to shape public conversation, even political outcomes—than many people are comfortable with.

Inside the Secret Plot to Reverse Brexit – Bloomberg

Early every Wednesday morning, 15 people leave their homes and travel separately to a secret location in central London, where, over cups of filter coffee and plates of cookies, they plot to stop Brexit. Those who gather, bleary-eyed, in the meeting room are a mix of women and men, old and young. They include politicians and activists, both professional and little-known, though their identities haven’t been formally released. The one thing that unites them is opposition to Theresa May’s plan for Britain to make a clean break from the European Union.

Richard Haass: Liberal World Order, R.I.P. – Project Syndicate

America’s decision to abandon the global system it helped build, and then preserve for more than seven decades, marks a turning point, because others lack either the interest or the means to sustain it. The result will be a world that is less free, less prosperous, and less peaceful, for Americans and others alike.

When Professionals Rise Up, More Than Money Is at Stake – The New York Times

Technological developments like the internet have undermined claims to expertise, as anyone can research an illness or dash off a blog post. Shrinking budgets have left teachers and other government workers with fewer resources. Consolidation in the health care and media industries has made doctors, nurses and journalists feel like cogs in corporate machines that don’t share their values. The upshot is a group of workers who perceive a relatively persistent assault on their status, and who occasionally rise up in response.

Globalization’s Backlash Is Here, at Just the Wrong Time – The UpShot

No one should be surprised that there has been a backlash to globalization, given the scale of disruption that has resulted from more interconnected economies. What is surprising is that it has arrived now. That’s because globalization, at least in the form we have known it, leveled off a decade ago. And that shows a crucial risk of the recent push to re-set the terms of the global economy — including tariffs on steel and aluminum and punitive actions against China that President Trump has introduced. It is coming after the major costs of globalization have already been borne. And it comes just as billions of people who have become integrated into the global economy over the last three decades are starting to become rich enough to become valuable consumers. In short, the anti-globalization drive that is spreading across the Western world may be coming at exactly the wrong time — too late to do much to save the working-class jobs that were lost, but early enough to risk damaging the ability of rich nations to sell advanced goods and services to the rapidly expanding global middle class.

Robert Shiller: The Trump Boom Is Making It Harder to See the Next Recession – The New York Times

Contagious words and stories, analogous to those using the #MeToo hashtag, could be enough to change the public mood about the Trump boom. Maybe a shift will come from the kind of stories that contributed to the dot-com collapse: tales of recently revered companies that turned out to have taken too many chances and so flamed out and crashed. A downturn could be set off by compromising stories about Mr. Trump himself, possibly those impugning his judgment in starting an international trade war. Or maybe it will be something subtler, whose link to animal spirits and mass psychology is only indirect.

Cartier boss with $7.5bn fortune says prospect of the poor rising up ‘keeps him awake at night’ – The Independent

The multi-billionaire owner of luxury jewellery company Cartier has revealed his greatest fear – robots replacing workers and the poor rising up to bring down the rich. Speaking at the Financial Times Business of Luxury Summit in Monaco (obviously), the fashion tycoon told his fellow elite that he can’t sleep at the thought of the social upheaval he thinks is imminent.

Reading, Writing and Xi Jinping Thought: China’s Students Learn Leader’s Philosophy – WSJ

Dozens of universities have founded centers devoted to studying the doctrine known as Xi Jinping Thought since October, when the Communist Party inscribed it in its charter alongside Mao Zedong Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory. In the fall, high-school students will be required to take lessons in Mr. Xi’s philosophy, according to the Ministry of Education. Alongside changes that consolidate power with the president and allow him to rule indefinitely, the curriculum revamp is another step toward installing Mr. Xi as a guiding light in the Communist Party’s pantheon.

China Wants Its Own Brains Behind 30 Million Self-Driving Cars – Bloomberg

China’s aspiration to deploy 30 million autonomous vehicles within a decade is seeding a fledgling chip industry, with startups like Horizon Robotics Inc. emerging to build the brains behind those wheels. The Beijing-based company is taking aim at Nvidia Corp. and Mobileye NV just as the autonomous-driving business takes off and uncertainty looms over international trade. Annual revenue from the chips used in driverless vehicles globally should more than double to $5 billion by 2021, according to Gartner Inc.

Elon Musk Is a Modern Henry Ford. That’s Bad. – Bloomberg

Throughout its history, Tesla has been plagued by poor manufacturing quality and missed production deadlines. And now, CNBC’s Lora Kolodny has the scoop on Tesla operations tasked with “reworking” and “remanufacturing” poor quality cars and parts, illustrating a deeper problem than the poor quality itself. By reworking vehicles after they come off the line at its Fremont, California, assembly plant at a dedicated remanufacturing facility in nearby Lathrop — and even reportedly in its service centers — Tesla is taking automotive manufacturing back to dark ages.

Drowning in Tokens – Medium

The world has fallen in love with the magical Rube Goldberg machine of money — TOKENS. Everyone wants to tokenize everything, and there’s a massive pipeline of token supply that is coming to market. But without any demand for these assets, what is a token actually worth? I’ve seen the story of markets with a glut of supply but no natural demand play out before. When I started working in Oil & Gas in 2008, shale gas was the hottest thing around. Companies focused on the exploration and production of assets — finding shit and getting it out of the ground — were going absolutely crazy. Companies saw a cheap resource that could be exploited to juice valuations and rushed to get it out of the ground. Here’s a 5 part rundown of how to flood the market and destroy price.

Inflation Rebound Signals China Is No Longer a Source of Global Disinflation – PIMCO

Strong Chinese Consumer Price Index (CPI) data for February suggest the world’s second-biggest economy will no longer be a source of global disinflation. China’s CPI rebounded by 2.9% year-over-year (YoY) in February, the strongest rise since 2013. Although the Chinese New Year holiday boosted food prices in February, the less volatile core CPI, which excludes food and energy, accelerated 2.5% YoY (versus an average 2.2% over the past three months) ‒ the fastest pace since the fourth quarter of 2011. And services prices rose more than 3% YoY ‒ the fastest pace in six years.

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CENTRAL BANKS & MONETARY POLICY

Powell Disses Dots Again as He Stresses Limit of Fed’s Knowledge – Bloomberg

Jerome Powell dissed the dots when he was a Federal Reserve governor. Now he’s doing the same as central bank chairman. In his first press conference since taking over as Fed chief, Powell advised investors against reading a lot into the central bank’s dot-plot projection for interest rates in 2020, saying policy makers “don’t have the ability to see that far into the future.” Powell has long stressed the uncertainty surrounding the Fed’s assessments of the economy and the forces affecting it — a point he made repeatedly in his kick-off press conference.

Russia trims interest rates with eye on ‘uncertainty on global trade policy’ – FT

Russia’s central bank is keeping a close eye on wobbly markets and global trade tensions, it said on Friday as it cut its benchmark rate by a quarter of a point in response to “sustainably low” inflation. The chop took the key rate to 7.25 per cent. Annual inflation was at 2.2 per cent in February, well below the 4 per cent target.

San Francisco Fed’s John Williams Is Front Runner to Serve as New York Fed President – WSJ

San Francisco Fed President John Williams is the leading candidate to become the next president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, one of the most influential positions within the U.S. central bank, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Williams has been recommended by the New York Fed’s board for the position. If approved by the Washington-based Fed board of governors, Mr. Williams would succeed William Dudley, who plans to step down this summer.

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USA ECONOMY DATA, CITIES AND STATES

Demand for Long-Lasting U.S. Factory Goods Rise at Best Rate Since June – WSJ

Demand for long-lasting U.S. factory goods rose in February at the best rate in eight months, supported by an uptick in business investment. A closely watched proxy for business investment, new orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft, rose 1.8% in February—the best gain since September—to $67.83 billion.

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POSITIONING, INFLECTION, MARKET CALLS

How commodities may be signaling a global economic slowdown – MarketWatch

The optimism about synchronized accelerating global growth has underpinned equity markets march higher for must of the past several months, but recent fragility in commodities may well be signaling the beginning of a slowdown, according to Simon Derrick, chief currency strategist at BNY Mellon.

A Horror Week for the Dow Has Investors Begging for Trump Respite – Bloomberg

In the past five years, there have been only two other stretches with losses of this magnitude. The S&P 500 Index is down 6 percent. And the picture looks just as bad for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which sank to a four-month low by the Friday close. Both indexes suffered their steepest weekly drop in more than two years. Equities are now teetering near — and for blue chips, below — levels seen at the worst point in February’s volatility-fueled meltdown. At the epicenter this time is U.S. President Donald Trump, with his China tariffs driving Boeing Co. down more than 5 percent in a single session on Thursday and losses rippling across industries from technology to banks.

The World’s Richest Have Lost $436 Billion Since Late January – Bloomberg

It’s been an expensive two months for the 500 wealthiest people on the planet. Their combined net worth fell $181 billion this week as the S&P 500 Index and Dow Jones Industrial Average suffered their steepest weekly drop in more than two years amid heated rhetoric over tariffs and retaliation. The group’s wealth has shrunk $436 billion since markets peaked on Jan. 26.

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COLOR, EARNINGS, SENTIMENT, VALUATIONS

Exclusive: As Grocery Wars Rage, Target And Kroger Mull A Merger – FastCompany

Target and Kroger are discussing a possible merger, several people with knowledge of the matter tell Fast Company. The talks come as the grocery industry grapples with Amazon’s increasing hold on the market. The two companies first started conversations last summer about a partnership that could improve Target’s grocery business and give Kroger customers more access to merchandise and e-commerce. Target and Kroger spoke again in the fall and talks are ongoing this year. The companies appear to be struggling to decide whether a merger is the best path forward. Last year, Target and Kroger’s combined annual revenue added up to $195 billion.

Steve Wynn Sells Remaining Shares in Wynn Resorts – WSJ

Steve Wynn sold the remainder of his stake in Wynn Resorts Ltd. Thursday evening, according to the company, part of a deal with two long-term institutional investors that will “effectively eliminate his ownership” in the company. The total value of Thursday’s sale of 8 million shares, at $175 a share, is $1.4 billion. That comes after Wednesday’s sale of about 4.1 million shares for a combined $738.9 million.

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CREDIT, YIELD, BUYBACKS, CORPORATES

South Africa Dodges Third Junk Rating as Moody’s Lifts Outlook – Bloomberg

South Africa escaped a third junk rating as Moody’s Investors Service kept its assessment of the nation’s debt unchanged, citing more transparent and predictable policies under President Cyril Ramaphosa. The African nation’s outlook was revised to stable from negative. The decision will boost sentiment and probably bolster the rand, which rallied after Ramaphosa took over as leader of the ruling African National Congress in December and became president last month.

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DEALS, MERGERS, IPOs, LBOs, RESTRUCTURINGS

Dropbox IPO Defies Market’s Gravity With 36% Jump – WSJ

The company’s stock closed up 36% to $28.48 on Friday, well above its already elevated $21 initial-public-offering price, defying the gravity of a stock market that lost 6% this week and a technology sector that slid 7.9%, according to S&P.

Dropbox Shares Leap in I.P.O., and Silicon Valley Smiles – The New York Times

The strong reception for Dropbox, which sells subscriptions to software that lets users collaborate and share files online, suggests that the public markets remain willing to offer a crucial exit point for early-stage investors in the largest private Silicon Valley start-ups, even amid broader concerns about large tech companies.

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REAL ESTATE, HOUSING, REITS, COMMERCIAL

WeWork’s massive growth has made it the second-biggest private office tenant in Manhattan – ReCode

Approaching 50 locations in New York City, WeWork has now amassed more Manhattan office space than any other tenant except banking behemoth JPMorgan Chase, according to data from real estate services company Cushman & Wakefield. It was in fourth place just last year. If WeWork leases another 407,356 square feet — roughly eight more typically sized locations — it would be the biggest private office tenant in Manhattan.

18H26 - WEWORK SQF NYC

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HEDGE FUNDS, PRIVATE EQUITY, MONEY MGMT

Inside the Strange Odyssey of Hedge-Fund King Eddie Lampert – Vanity Fair

In 2003, many were skeptical when Lampert married Sears to Kmart. Now, with hundreds of stores closed and thousands thrown out of work, Lampert defends his strategies in his first in-depth interview in 15 years. The author also tracks down the man who kidnapped Lampert before the Kmart deal went through.

More Hedge Funds Closed Than Opened in 2017 – Bloomberg

More hedge funds closed than opened in 2017 amid lackluster performance. Yet it wasn’t all bad news for the industry. A total of 784 funds were liquidated while 735 launched, according to data from Hedge Fund Research Friday. Liquidations, however, declined 25 percent last year compared with 2016 as the industry collected more assets. In the fourth quarter, launches exceeded liquidations for the second straight quarter. An estimated 190 funds were started in the final quarter of 2017, up from 176 in the third quarter.

Investor Who Won Big Betting on Housing Collapse Falters With China Bets – WSJ

Kyle Bass made his name betting on the collapse of the U.S. housing market a decade ago. His latest attempt to profit from what he sees as a speculative bubble—this time in China’s economy—has gone less smoothly. Mr. Bass’ Dallas-based hedge fund, Hayman Capital Management LP, was down 19% last year largely due to an unexpected rally by China’s yuan that spoiled its bets against the currency. The fund’s worst-ever annual return since its launch in 2006 contrasted with last year’s global market surge, as the S&P 500 gained 19% and emerging-market stocks soared nearly 40%.

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ENERGY COMPANIES, NOCs, INDUSTRY

Oil Explorers Push U.S. Drilling to Pace Last Seen in 2015 – Bloomberg

Crude explorers boosted drilling activity in U.S. oil fields to levels not seen in three years amid rising confidence that worldwide demand will keep energy prices elevated. U.S. working rigs targeting oil rose by four this week to 804, the highest since late March 2015, according to data from Baker Hughes. West Texas Intermediate crude, the American benchmark, flirted with $66 a barrel this week for the first time since early February amid a confluence of bullish, international supply and demand indicators.

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POLLUTION, CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

At Hamburger Central, Antibiotics for Cattle That Aren’t Sick – The New York Times

Many industrial feedlots see routine use of antibiotics as essential. Some cattlemen disagree, calling them “performance enhancing drugs.” Some 70 percent to 80 percent of American antibiotic sales go to livestock. In addition to the emergence of resistant disease strains, some microbiologists worry that the proliferation of antibiotics, despite their miraculous health benefits, is having a chaotic impact on microbes in the human gut.

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BREXIT, SCOXIT, LONDON, UK ECONOMY

Brexit campaign was ‘totally illegal’, claims whistleblower – Channel4

A Brexit campaigner has told Channel 4 News that Vote Leave cheated in the 2016 referendum by over-spending. But the prime minister’s political secretary says the allegations are “factually incorrect and misleading”, and outs the accuser as gay.

EU opens decisive new phase of Brexit talks – FT

European leaders opened a decisive new phase of Brexit talks on Friday, endorsing the start of negotiations on future relations and a transition that would extend the UK’s de facto membership of the EU until the end of 2020. At a summit in Brussels, the other 27 EU countries took only a few minutes to sign off on the 21-month transition period and adopt guidelines on the bloc’s approach to a future relationship with the UK, covering trade, security and other issues.

Theresa May fights to keep UK in EU satellite project – FT

Theresa May is leading efforts to stop an “outrageous” EU move to freeze Britain out of Europe’s €10bn Galileo satellite project, as space becomes a new frontier in Brexit negotiations. The UK prime minister has been warned that hundreds of millions of pounds of contracts are at stake in the coming months, as Brussels prepares to lock Britain’s space industry out to protect security elements of the satellite programme from being “irretrievably compromised” after Brexit.

Brexit delivers longer blow to bank sentiment than global crisis – survey – Reuters

The prospect of quitting the EU has hurt sentiment in Britain’s finance industry for longer than the global financial crisis that plunged economies into recession and destroyed some of the world’s biggest banks, a survey found on Monday. The quarterly poll of 81 finance firms by business lobby CBI and accountancy PwC found optimism dropped to levels not seen since the 2007-9 crisis and that the declines have been more sustained.

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GEOPOLITICS, CRIME, TERRORISM

Saudi Arabia shoots down missiles from Yemen; one dead from debris – Reuters

Saudi air defenses shot down seven ballistic missiles fired by Yemen’s Houthi militia on Sunday, with debris killing a man in what was the first death in the capital during the Saudi-led coalition’s three-year military campaign in Yemen. Saudi forces destroyed three missiles over northeastern Riyadh shortly before midnight, as well as others fired at the southern cities of Najran, Jizan and Khamis Mushait, the coalition said in a statement carried by state news agency SPA.

Deadly fire in Russian shopping mall kills 64, many of them children – The Washington Post

At least 64 people, many of them believed to be children, perished in the Siberian city of Kemerovo on Sunday as a massive fire swept through a crowded shopping center. Even as flames still licked parts of the huge building, about 40 people were treated at the site, and at least 10 others were hospitalized, according to Russia’s Ministry of Health. Emergency services officials said that 64 is the final death toll, but local media reported that dozens of people could be missing. Some bodies will require genetic testing to identify, officials said.

Suicide Attack in Afghanistan Kills at Least 14 at Wrestling Match – The New York Times

The attacker drove a car bomb into an Afghan crowd in southern Helmand Province. “I saw death up close and consider myself lucky,” a survivor said.

Three Dead in France in Terrorist Attack – WSJ

A gunman killed three people Friday in a terrorist attack in southern France that tore through roadways and a supermarket, illustrating the difficulty Europe faces in countering radicals whom Islamic State has instructed to hit soft targets.

On U.S. Trip, Saudi Prince Gets Approval for Weapons, But Warnings on Yemen – WSJ

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman wrapped up an official trip to Washington that put the spotlight on the kingdom’s war in Yemen but also emboldened Saudi Arabia to more forcefully counter rival Iran.

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PRIVACY, HACKING, CYBERWAR, SURVEILLANCE STATE

Atlanta Hit With Cyberattack – WSJ

The Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport’s Wi-Fi services was down Friday amid a cyberattack on the city. The airport, the world’s busiest by passenger traffic, shut down its Wi-Fi and limited some information, such as wait times, on its website “out of an abundance of caution,” said airport spokesman Reese McCranie. The attack didn’t impact airport operations, and flights were arriving and departing as normal, Mr. McCranie said.

U.S. Charges Nine Iranians With Cyberattack Campaign – WSJ

Prosecutors unsealed criminal charges accusing nine Iranians of years of cyberattacks on behalf of the Iranian government to steal data from hundreds of universities and businesses in the U.S. and abroad.

State Department Seemingly Buys $15,000 iPhone Cracking Tech GrayKey – MotherBoard

Grayshift, a company that offers to unlock modern iPhones for as little as $50 each, has caused a buzz across law enforcement agencies, with local police already putting down cash for the much sought-after tech. Now, it appears a section of the US State Department has also purchased the iPhone cracking tool, judging by procurement records reviewed by Motherboard.

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ELECTORAL POLITICS

Former Cambridge Analytica workers say firm sent foreigners to advise U.S. campaigns – The Washington Post

Cambridge Analytica assigned dozens of non-U.S. citizens to provide campaign strategy and messaging advice to ­Republican candidates in 2014, according to three former workers for the data firm, even as an attorney warned executives to abide by U.S. laws limiting foreign involvement in elections. The assignments came amid efforts to present the newly created company as “an American brand” that would appeal to U.S. political clients even though its parent, SCL Group, was based in London, according to former Cambridge Analytica research director Christopher Wylie.

Facebook Quietly Hid Webpages Bragging of Ability to Influence US Elections – The Intercept

When Mark Zuckerberg was asked if Facebook had influenced the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, the founder and CEO dismissed the notion that the site even had such power as “crazy.” It was a disingenuous remark. Facebook’s website had an entire section devoted to touting the “success stories” of political campaigns that used the social network to influence electoral outcomes. That page, however, is now gone, even as the 2018 congressional primaries get underway.

Facebook’s Zuckerberg says sorry in full-page newspaper ads – CNN

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg took out full-page ads in several British and American newspapers Sunday to apologize for a “breach of trust” in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. “You may have heard about a quiz app built by a university researcher that leaked Facebook data of millions of people in 2014,” said the ads signed by Zuckerberg, referring to the political consultancy company accused of manipulating Facebook data during the 2016 US election.

Cambridge Analytica’s ‘mindfuck tool’ could be totally useless – Wired

Experts have cast doubts on the research company’s controversial Facebook data scraping and argue it might actually have made ad targeting worse. Was it all just a waste of time? That’s certainly the view of social scientist Sandra Matz, who was part of the Cambridge Psychometric Institute team – including Michal Kosinski and David Stillwell – who researched links between personality tests and Facebook likes and inspired Aleksandr Kogan to develop the controversial Cambridge Analytica research. “Targeting based on this research might have some impact on people who have no idea who they’re voting for but frankly, you’d probably get similar results with different targeting – like income,” Matz says.

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CONSUMER TECH, SOCIAL MEDIA, E-COMMERCE, MOBILE

Musk deletes Facebook pages of Tesla, SpaceX after challenged on Twitter – Reuters

Verified Facebook pages of Elon Musk’s rocket company SpaceX and electric carmaker Tesla Inc disappeared on Friday, minutes after the Silicon Valley billionaire promised on Twitter to take down the pages when challenged by users.

Elon Musk Joins #DeleteFacebook With a Barrage of Tweets – The New York Times

Mr. Musk deleted the Facebook pages of two of his companies, SpaceX and Tesla. He and the Facebook C.E.O., Mark Zuckerberg, have, er, not always gotten along.

Zuckerberg Takes Steps to Calm Facebook Employees – The New York Times

Calming employees was particularly vital because morale had sunk at the company, Facebook employees have said, especially after months of scrutiny over how the social network was used by Russian agents to influence the 2016 presidential election. Keeping workers engaged is crucial in Silicon Valley’s highly competitive job market, where recruiting and retaining talent often is difficult against deep-pocketed rivals.

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AUTOS, ELECTRIC, SELF-DRIVING

Uber Crash Highlights Growing Safety Concern: Pedestrians – WSJ

A deadly crash in Arizona involving an autonomous vehicle operated by Uber Technologies Inc. spotlights a pedestrian-safety problem that is getting increasingly worse in an era of constant smartphone use and a surge in impaired driving. Pedestrians were victims of about 15% of traffic fatalities in 2017, with the roughly 6,000 pedestrian deaths representing a level not seen in 25 years, according to a report released last month by the Governors Highway Safety Association. More broadly, regulators are reckoning with a sudden rise in traffic deaths that follows a decadelong improvement in highway safety.

Uber’s Self-Driving Cars Were Struggling Before Arizona Crash – The New York Times

Uber’s robotic vehicle project was not living up to expectations months before a self-driving car operated by the company struck and killed a woman in Tempe, Ariz. The cars were having trouble driving through construction zones and next to tall vehicles, like big rigs. And Uber’s human drivers had to intervene far more frequently than the drivers of competing autonomous car projects.

After Uber Crash, Florida Still Welcomes Free-Range Robot Cars – Bloomberg

Jeff Brandes, the Florida state senator who has led the local effort to become a hotbed of autonomous vehicles, said in an interview this week he sees no reason to add tougher regulation to self-driving cars. Florida already allows carmakers and technology companies to run autonomous vehicles without a driver, and the companies aren’t required to report problems such as traffic accidents. “We have to remember that there was a safety driver in the vehicle,” Brandes said of the pedestrian death in Arizona. “The technology and the driver couldn’t react fast enough to avoid the accident. I don’t think this changes anything for the state of Florida.”

Sensor Supplier to Self-Driving Uber Defends Tech After Fatality – Bloomberg

Marta Thoma Hall, president of Velodyne Lidar Inc., maker of the special laser radar that helps an autonomous car “see” its surroundings, said the company doesn’t believe its technology failed. But she’s surprised the car didn’t detect 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg as she pushed her bike across a road in Tempe, Arizona, around 10 p.m. on Sunday. “We are as baffled as anyone else,” Thoma Hall wrote in an email. “Certainly, our Lidar is capable of clearly imaging Elaine and her bicycle in this situation. However, our Lidar doesn’t make the decision to put on the brakes or get out of her way.”

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MISCELLANEOUS

Wayne Huizenga, Owner of Teams and a Business Empire, Dies at 80 – The New York Times

Mr. Huizenga (pronounced HIGH-zing-ah) achieved his first success with the sanitation company Waste Management, which traced its origins to a garbage route he personally drove in 1962. At the time, he would begin his days before dawn and, once he finished hauling garbage to the dump, would shower and spend the rest of the day meeting with business owners and homeowners in an effort to win contracts. He went on to build a business empire with the Blockbuster and AutoNation chains and owned three South Florida teams, the Marlins, Dolphins and Panthers.

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