Macro Links Oct 10th – “On the path to World War III”

Macro Links Oct 10th – “On the path to World War III”

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Bob Corker Says Trump’s Recklessness Threatens ‘World War III’ – The New York Times

Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, charged in an interview on Sunday that President Trump was treating his office like “a reality show,” with reckless threats toward other countries that could set the nation “on the path to World War III.”

In an extraordinary rebuke of a president of his own party, Mr. Corker said he was alarmed about a president who acts “like he’s doing ‘The Apprentice’ or something.”

Bob Corker joins a fast-growing list of Trump advisers who infantilize him – The Washington Post

A dominant news story last week was the controversy over whether Secretary of State Rex Tillerson actually called President Trump a “moron.” But even if he didn’t, there’s now an increasing volume of people who have worked closely with Trump offering similarly dim depictions of him — and doing so publicly.

Bob Corker just confirmed it: Republicans know Trump is unfit – The Washington Post

Corker has forced out into the open the fact that Republicans recognize the sheer abnormality and danger to the country of the situation we’re in, which opens the door for much tougher media questioning of them about their awareness of — and acquiescence to — this state of affairs.

Corker says all Americans should be worried about Trump – Axios

“I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it’s a situation of trying to contain him… Look, except for a few people, the vast majority of our caucus understands what we’re dealing with here… of course they understand the volatility that we’re dealing with and the tremendous amount of work that it takes by people around him to keep him in the middle of the road.”

Corker’s Blast at Trump Has Other Republicans Nodding in Agreement – The New York Times

Other Republicans share the senator’s view of the president but fear retaliation if they express it out loud. Still, it could spell trouble for Trump.

Mr. Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, evidently feels liberated now that he has decided not to run for re-election, while other Republican senators with concerns keep quiet fearing the retaliation of a Twitter-armed president and his allies in the conservative media. But Mr. Corker’s passionate statements reflect growing troubles for a president attempting to govern with a narrow and increasingly disenchanted Republican majority.

Trump’s feud with top Republican clouds agenda

The extraordinary public feud between Mr Trump and one of his party’s most influential senators presents a new threat to the president’s agenda. The Republicans have a paper-thin lead in the Senate and are trying to push through measures including an ambitious tax reform package without Democratic support.

“Politics, like life, is highly personal and Corker will remember to squeeze Trump hard when Trump most needs his vote,” said Marc Sumerlin, a former White House official under George W Bush and now managing partner at Evenflow Macro. “The weekend feud with Corker ensures that the tax bills will bog down in the legislative process this year.”



Trump’s popularity is slipping in rural America: poll

Trump, who inspired millions of supporters last year in places like Morgan County, has been losing his grip on rural America.

According to the Reuters/Ipsos daily tracking poll, the Republican president’s popularity is eroding in small towns and rural communities where 15 percent of the country’s population lives. The poll of more than 15,000 adults in “non-metro” areas shows that they are now as likely to disapprove of Trump as they are to approve of him.

The poll found that Trump has lost support in rural areas among men, whites and people who never went to college. He lost support with rural Republicans and rural voters who supported him on Election Day.

For some foreign diplomats, the Trump White House is a troubling enigma – The Washington Post

Senior diplomats and officials from nearly a dozen countries in Europe, Latin America and Asia expressed a remarkable coincidence of views in interviews over the past several weeks. Asked to describe their thoughts about and relations with the president and his team as the end of Trump’s first year approaches, many described a whirlwind journey beginning with tentative optimism, followed by alarm and finally reaching acceptance that the situation is unlikely to improve.

Stung Over Being Called a Moron, Donald Trump Now Insists NBC is ‘Run by Morons’

In yet another sign of how deeply NBC News has managed to get under his skin, Donald Trump has, in recent days, taken to saying that the network is “run by morons,” two sources who have spoken to the president told The Daily Beast.



U.S. and Turkey Suspend Visa Services Amid Growing Dispute – The New York Times

The confrontation is taking place against a backdrop of deteriorating relations between Turkey and the United States, NATO allies who are at odds over a number of issues: American support for Kurdish fighters in Syria; calls by Turkey for the extradition of a cleric in the United States who it says was behind a failed coup last year; and Turkey’s tilt toward Russia in the war in Syria.

The visa suspension came on Sunday evening, after a Turkish employee of the American Consulate in Istanbul was arrested amid reports that another consulate employee was being sought by Turkish authorities.

The Turks accused the employee, Metin Topuz, of having links to the wanted cleric, Fethullah Gulen, who is living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania.

The United States Embassy said Sunday that it would suspend the processing of all nonimmigrant visas while it reassessed Turkey’s commitment to the security of its staff. Students, business travelers, tourists and diplomats all travel on such visas.

Turkey Debt Investors Face Rude Awakening After U.S. Spat Heats Up – Bloomberg

The lira’s sharp drop on Monday, spurred by a diplomatic spat with the U.S., underscores the litany of risks facing foreign money managers who piled into the local debt market in recent months.

The share of government debt held by foreigners stands at 23 percent, or $32.5 billion, the highest since August 2015, according to Deutsche Bank AG. That’s about a 3 percentage-point increase from December — a $6.4 billion advance.

Turkey’s currency slumps on U.S. visa spat – Oct. 9, 2017

The tit-for-tat moves by Turkey and the U.S. come following the arrest of a U.S. consulate employee in Istanbul last week. The staff member, Turkish national Metin Topuz, has been accused of having links to Pennsylvania-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Turkey wants Gulen, who it blames for last year’s attempted coup, extradited from the U.S. to Turkey. Topuz is the second U.S. government employee in Turkey to be arrested this year.

What Contagion? Only Turkish Assets Are Suffering Nation’s Woes – Bloomberg

For a moment, it looked like the kind of event that could trigger a wider selloff across developing markets. The lira and Turkey’s stocks retreated the most in the world after the nation became embroiled in a diplomatic spat with the U.S. Given the growing number of voices saying this year’s emerging-market rally was headed for a fall amid frothy valuations and waning central bank accommodation, some traders might have thought this was the catalyst for a correction.

But it wasn’t. While damage was done to Turkish assets, most other emerging-market currencies and stocks showed little reaction. Many strategists were similarly sanguine, underscoring the changed reality in developing markets.



Russia Recruited YouTubers to Bash ‘Racist B*tch’ Hillary Clinton Over Rap Beats

Wannabe YouTube stars and diehard Donald Trump supporters ‘Williams & Kalvin’ totally swear they’re from Atlanta. In reality, they were working for the Kremlin.

Google Finds Accounts Connected to Russia Bought Election Ads – The New York Times

Google has found evidence that Russian agents bought ads on its wide-ranging networks in an effort to interfere with the 2016 presidential campaign. The findings from an internal inquiry draw Google further into the growing investigation of how social networks and technology services were manipulated by the Russian government to spread misinformation and sow division during the 2016 election.

Google uncovers Russian-bought ads on YouTube, Gmail and other platforms – The Washington Post

The discovery by Google is also significant because the ads do not appear to be from the same Kremlin-affiliated troll farm that bought ads on Facebook — a sign that the Russian effort to spread disinformation online may be a much broader problem than Silicon Valley companies have unearthed so far.

Facebook confirms Russia ads on Instagram – BBC News

Facebook has confirmed that around 5% of the adverts it has identified as having been bought by Russia around the time of the US presidential election also appeared on Instagram. The firm has handed over around 3,000 ads to investigators working for the US Congress. It said the subject of the ads included immigration issues, gun rights and LGBT topics. They focused on “divisive social and political messages”, it said.

Facebook Security Chief Warns of Dangers in Fake-News Solutions – Bloomberg

Alex Stamos, who’s handling the company’s investigation into Russia’s use of the social media platform ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, cautioned about hoping for technical solutions that he says could have unintended consequences of ideological bias. It’s very difficult to spot fake news and propaganda using just computer programs, Stamos said in a series of Twitter posts on Saturday.

Stamos’s comments shed light on why Facebook added 1,000 more people review its advertising, rather than attempting an automated solution. The company sent a note to advertisers telling them it would start to manually review ads targeted to people based on politics, religion, ethnicity or social issues. The company is trying to figure out how to monitor use of its system without censoring ideas, after the Russian government used fake accounts to spread political discord in the U.S. ahead of the election.

Twitter Investor Ballmer Says Social Media Companies Can’t Police Fake News – Bloomberg

Ballmer, in an interview Monday with Bloomberg Television, said he would like to see social networks, such as Facebook Inc. adopt some sort of system in the future for noting trusted sources, similar to Twitter’s blue-checkmark “verified” badge, but they shouldn’t be measured the same way as news organizations. Ballmer, who in April released a government data website called USAFacts, said voters need places to find objective facts rather than information that validates their views or makes them feel good.

“The goal has to be to say ‘this is how it looks, you can see it any way you want to, but someplace you have to be able to come and be able take a look at stuff objectively’,” he said. “I’m not sure you can say that is Facebook’s job, they’re not in the news business, they pass along other people’s news. Same thing with Google. That’s part of the issue here is things can look authentic.”

Russia threatens severe curbs on US media

Russia’s justice ministry is threatening to pass severe restrictions against US media in an escalation of Moscow’s war of words with Washington over alleged interference in last year’s US election.

Current Time, a Russian-language news channel that is part of the congressionally funded network Radio Free Europe, posted a letter on Monday from Russia’s justice ministry that said it would classify it as a foreign agent. The justice ministry’s threat comes as the Kremlin considers a response to increased pressure in the US on Russia’s English-language propaganda networks, the TV channel RT and the news agency Sputnik.



Nobel in Economics Is Awarded to Richard Thaler – The New York Times

Richard H. Thaler, whose work has persuaded many economists to pay more attention to human behavior, and many governments to pay more attention to economics, was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences on Monday.

Professor Thaler is the rare economist to win a measure of fame before winning the prize. He is an author of a best-selling book, “Nudge,” about helping people to make better decisions. He also appeared in the 2015 film “The Big Short,” delivering what is surely one of the most widely viewed tutorials in the history of economics, on the causes of the 2008 financial crisis.

The Nobel committee, announcing the award in Stockholm, said that it was honoring Professor Thaler for his pioneering work in establishing that people are predictably irrational — that they consistently behave in ways that defy economic theory. People will refuse to pay more for an umbrella during a rainstorm; they will use the savings from lower gas prices to buy premium gasoline; they will offer to buy a coffee mug for $3 and refuse to sell it for $6.

Thaler’s Nobel is a well-deserved nudge for behavioural economics

One trivial behavioural insight that Prof Thaler is fond of mentioning concerns a large bowl of cashew nuts he once served to dinner guests over drinks. Observing his guests hoovering up the contents of the bowl, he removed it to the kitchen so as not to spoil everyone’s appetite. The guests could in principle have stopped of their own accord; nevertheless they were pleased to see temptation removed.

Early in his career, he started making a list of “Dumb Stuff People Do” on the blackboard in his office. The cashew nut example was on the list, and it is a classic piece of Thaler thinking: obvious, trivial, fun and yet completely beyond the scope of traditional economics to model. Prof Thaler’s insight is that such trivia might lead to important analytical and policy insights.

Richard Thaler wins Nobel Prize in Economics

Economists have traditionally assumed that individuals behave rationally, making decisions on the basis of all the information readily available to them. But Prof Thaler’s work has incorporated insights from psychology to help explain why people behave in ways that are not fully rational — for example, struggling to save for retirement and placing a higher value on items or money they already have than on those they might buy or win.



Lethal Weapon: How Kim Jong Nam’s Alleged Killers May Have Unleashed VX – WSJ

In the case of two women accused of murdering the half-brother of North Korea’s dictator, one question has puzzled authorities: How could the alleged attackers unleash a chemical weapon in a crowded airport without harming themselves or passersby?

Evidence presented this week shed more light.

The alleged assailants appear to have been unharmed. Neither woman tested positive for VX in the bloodstream. But even if one was exposed to VX, she could have washed it off quickly enough to avoid harm, or been wearing a cream barrier to prevent VX from absorbing into the skin, experts said.

Sri Lanka imposes sanctions on North Korea – Hiru News

Sri Lanka has decided to impose sanctions against North Korea. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted that this decision was reached following a proposal made by the UN Security Council.

North Korea: South Korea threatens to drop blackout bombs

Military sources told the Yonhap news agency that the “blackout bomb” works by spreading chemically treated carbon graphite filaments over electric facilities to short-circuit and disrupt the electricity grid.

The weapons have been developed by South Korea’s Agency for Defence Development, as one element of the Kill Chain pre-emptive strike program. The program is designed to detect, identify and intercept incoming missiles in the shortest possible time.



Most of Puerto Rico Remains Dark Nearly Three Weeks After Storm – Bloomberg

It’s been almost three weeks since Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico and most of the island is still without electricity. The U.S. Department of Energy said Monday that 85 percent of customers lack power. Some portions of feeder lines have been restored and about 30 percent of the island’s substations are back online, the agency said.

New York Fed President Sent Puerto Rico a Jet Filled With Cash – Bloomberg

Less than a week into the massive blackout that followed Hurricane Maria and essentially turned Puerto Rico into a cash-only economy, one top local banker became so concerned about the supply of bills that he called the Federal Reserve.

William Dudley, the New York Fed president, put the word out within minutes, and ultimately a jet loaded with an undisclosed amount of cash landed on the stricken island, according to Richard Carrion, the Popular Inc. executive chairman who made the call. He and Chief Executive Officer Ignacio Alvarez reflected on the chaotic early days of the crisis in an interview Friday at their office in San Juan’s Hato Rey financial district.

Wall Street Firms Gambled on Puerto Rico. They’re Losing. – The New York Times

Mr. Paulson and his firm, Paulson & Company, have invested hundreds of millions of dollars there as he, along with many of the best-known names on Wall Street, bet big on taking advantage of a long period of depressed prices for luxury properties and other real estate. Their wagers are looking increasingly unlucky, especially after the storm.

Moody’s Analytics, an economic forecasting firm, estimates that the hurricane could cost Puerto Rico up to $95 billion in damage and lost economic output. It could take months, even years, for parts of the island and its 3.4 million residents to recover from the storm, which destroyed much of its electrical grid and left millions without running water or reliable mobile phone service.

Even before Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico’s economy was ailing, with 45 percent of the population living in poverty. In May, Puerto Rico effectively filed the largest-ever federal bankruptcy proceeding by a local government, and much of Wall Street’s attention has focused on the creditors who hold some of Puerto Rico’s $74 billion in public debt.



Head of ETF provider warns on concentration of holdings in bigger stocks

The head of the fourth-largest exchange traded fund provider has warned that investors are blindly pouring money into highly concentrated stock indices, putting them at risk of outsized losses if markets tumble.

Martin Flanagan, president and chief executive of Invesco, an asset manager that bought Guggenheim’s suite of ETF’s in September, said that relying on indices that weight stocks according to their market value could inflate losses if stock markets take a nosedive.

Mr Flanagan said he was worried that investors were unaware of these high concentrations in funds they thought of as broad and diversified. “I am concerned about the financial impact to people who might not understand their exposures,” he said. The 10 largest stock ETFs in the US are all weighted by market cap and have taken in close to $65bn of new cash from investors so far this year.


Eurozone regulators to push for tougher rules on bad loan stockpiles

Eurozone bank supervisors are set to escalate a clash with Italy by pushing for tougher rules to tackle a stockpile of almost €1tn-worth of non-performing loans left from the region’s financial crisis.

After the European Central Bank last week unveiled plans to require banks to hold more collateral against new lending that turns sour, euro area supervisors now want a similar rule for banks’ backlog of bad loans, according to two sources familiar with the discussions. “There is a very broad coalition among eurozone regulators in favour of treating the existing stock of non-performing loans like future ones,” a person familiar with the deliberations said.

Central banks have created a doomsday machine, Macquarie says – Business Insider

Central bank policy has created a false sense of calm. Major credit for that apparent stability goes to central banks and their several years of low interest rates and large bond purchases, according to Macquarie’s Viktor Shvets and Chetan Seth.

However, that also means any policy mistake could undo their efforts and shake up the global economy. They’ve created “what is essentially a long-term ‘doomsday’ machine,” Shvets said in a note on Monday. “Unfortunately, we do not see evidence that velocity of money is improving and neither are there signs that sectoral balances are moving towards sustainably higher private spending while core inflationary pulse remains weak,” Shvets wrote.

“We continue to view China’s leveraging and CBs’ injections of liquidity and suppression of volatilities as the key drivers of global reflation. We also maintain that it is unlikely that the Trump administration policies will lead to any sustained gain in either consumption, investment or current-account deficits.”

In short, the slightest mistake by central banks or China could be disastrous.

Central Banks Try to Avoid Buzz Kill as They Pull Punchbowl Away – Bloomberg

The world’s major central banks are declaring last orders at the punchbowl. The Federal Reserve — which has been raising interest rates since 2015 — takes the next step toward normalizing monetary policy this month when it starts to reduce its $4.5 trillion balance sheet. The European Central Bank is expected to soon lay out its own plans for cutting asset purchases, possibly followed by a rate increase by the Bank of England in November. The Bank of Canada has already raised borrowing costs.

The trick for policy makers gathering this week in Washington for the semi-annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund is to scale back their support without hurting the global economy by upsetting financial markets that have been juiced by monetary largesse for years.

It’s “the end of an era,” Ray Dalio, who leads the world’s largest hedge fund at Bridgewater Associates, said in a Sept. 21 report for clients. The world economy and the markets are “entering a more dangerous time,” he co-wrote in the report, according to a money manager who’s seen it.

AIG sees third-quarter catastrophe losses of about $3 billion

American International Group Inc said on Monday it expected to book pre-tax catastrophe losses of about $3 billion in the third quarter mainly related to hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.



Corker’s Alarm About Trump Is Spot-on — and Overdue

While President Trump’s unconventional leadership has elicited concern and rebuke from his fellow Republicans before, Corker may be the first to explicitly label his behavior a threat to national security. “I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it’s a situation of trying to contain him,” Corker told the Times.

Corker’s complaint that Trump treats the Oval Office like the set of a reality-TV show is also well-taken, considering how eerily Trump’s keep-’em-guessing approach to war planning resembles a teaser for sweeps week: “Maybe it’s the calm before the storm.” What storm, Mr. President? “You’ll find out.” That’s right, folks: Tune in next week to find out if 200,000 Koreans die in a nuclear inferno.

That Corker is the only Republican openly remarking on the irresponsibility of this behavior is, frankly, an indictment of the rest of the party. Those among the GOP who are surprised at Trump’s antics, by the way, would do well to remember that he repeatedly and explicitly promised to behave like this on the campaign trail last year, claiming that it was stupid to give any clear indication of what he planned to do before doing it, especially when it comes to military policy.

Crypto-Fool’s Gold? by Kenneth Rogoff – Project Syndicate

The price of Bitcoin is up 600% over the past 12 months, and 1,600% in the past 24 months. But the long history of currency tells us that what the private sector innovates, the state eventually regulates and appropriates – and there is no reason to expect virtual currency to avoid a similar fate.

It is folly to think that Bitcoin will ever be allowed to supplant central-bank-issued money. It is one thing for governments to allow small anonymous transactions with virtual currencies; indeed, this would be desirable. But it is an entirely different matter for governments to allow large-scale anonymous payments, which would make it extremely difficult to collect taxes or counter criminal activity. Of course, as I note in my recent book on past, present, and future currencies, governments that issue large-denomination bills also risk aiding tax evasion and crime. But cash at least has bulk, unlike virtual currency.

Finally, it is hard to see what would stop central banks from creating their own digital currencies and using regulation to tilt the playing field until they win. The long history of currency tells us that what the private sector innovates, the state eventually regulates and appropriates. I have no idea where Bitcoin’s price will go over the next couple years, but there is no reason to expect virtual currency to avoid a similar fate.

Why Bitcoin’s Bubble Matters – WSJ

As the bubble grows, analysts say, a crash has a greater chance of affecting investor sentiment about stocks, especially in the technology and financial sectors.

“Any product that blows up, there’s always collateral damage,” says Joe Kinahan, chief market strategist at brokerage TD Ameritrade . Tech and financial “companies who are relying on it for business, and those who have put a significant investment into the [blockchain] infrastructure would be the first” to suffer collateral damage, Mr. Kinahan says.

Is Facebook spinning out of control over Russian revelations?

A 13-year-old company that began as a small online playground for college kids to snoop on crushes, today Facebook has more than 180m users in the US and Canada, a market value of more than $500bn and is a source of news for almost half of US adults.

But the measures have done little to ease the political pressure on the company. The revelations over Russia’s purchase of 3,000 political ads threaten to shake the business to its core.

Members of Congress who used to fawn over Facebook are realising the limitations of existing regulation. Its self-service platform lets anyone with a credit card buy ads without the need for direct contact with a Facebook employee. A complex algorithm creates filter bubbles that mean no single user has a full view of all the campaigns. Only in the past few weeks have lawmakers realised the potential for misuse.


Theresa May’s untenable premiership might last

What protects Mrs May is the suspicion among Tories that no leader can reconcile their differences on Europe. If the party is to be riven regardless, why bother with a change? Especially if it eats time in talks with the EU that are already one-quarter into their budgeted duration.

If this is right, and Mrs May’s colleagues are too resigned to their splits to demand a new leader, then the prime minister can last as long as her absorptive capacity for punishment holds up. Her resilience seems improbable until you recall that Gordon Brown sustained a rolling crisis of a premiership for three years, and John Major for twice as long.

Brexit Poses Risk to U.K.’s Existing Economic Order – WSJ

The British people didn’t vote for a revolution. They simply voted to leave the European Union. But senior figures across the political spectrum believe that a revolution is what Britain is getting.

Contrary to what Brexiters said during last year’s referendum—and continued to insist until recently—Britain’s departure from the EU is going to be anything but easy. It is increasingly clear that Brexit was an act of violence against the existing economic order.

There is scarcely a corner of the U.K. economy that is unaffected by the decision to reverse 43 years of European integration. At last week’s conference of the ruling Conservative Party, there was growing concern at where this process is heading and how it might end.

What makes Brexit so destabilizing is that it shares two features common to revolutions. First, it has created a parallel legitimacy, pitching the supposed “will of the people” expressed in the referendum against the traditional sovereignty of Parliament, thereby constraining the ability of elected representatives to exercise their own judgment.

Second, it has created a power vacuum. Brexiters campaigned under the slogan “Take Back Control,” but they never agreed who should take control of the powers currently held by Brussels. They shook the economic order but without a coherent plan as to what to put in its place.

The result is a paralyzed political system as different groups push their own answers to the question: How should scarce resources be allocated in post-Brexit Britain?

From plains to chains: how the state was born

Scott views state-building as the final stage of hundreds of thousands of years of human intervention in the physical environment, first through the use of fire (for cooking and landscaping) and then via the domestication of plants and animals (both useful and destructive). These processes gradually reduced what he calls the “radius of a meal” — how far people had to move to obtain sustenance — and thus also human mobility. The more our ancestors came to rely on these carefully managed symbiotic relationships, the more irreversibly they themselves were domesticated, first by crops and livestock demanding unceasing care and later, in a sense, by human masters. Physical wellbeing declined with the shift away from foraging, as crowding and lethal animal parasites took a heavy toll. Yet as long as rising mortality was offset by even higher birth rates, sedentism, farming and herding survived.

Confined to territories of arable land, early farmers submitted to a new political order that protected them in much the same way as the mob protects its unwilling clients. The early state was born, erecting ambitious structures of command and control in support of steep hierarchies, vast inequality and endless war. Scott rightly stresses the critical role of domesticated grains — wheat, barley, millet, maize and rice — in sustaining political power: grown above ground, ripening on a predictable schedule and eminently storable, grain invited assessment and appropriation by the taxman. Alongside compulsory labour services, grain taxes formed the sinews of the early state.

Writing was invented to support taxation. Elites’ insatiable appetite for fully domesticated workers boosted forced labour and slavery. It almost comes as a relief to be reminded that the oppressive character of the state was leavened by its own brittleness: rather than precipitating a calamitous slide into chaos, periodic collapse would simply have disassembled larger states into their constituent communities. Plenty of fetters were loosened in the process.

In a similar vein, Scott argues that peoples outside centralised polities, while commonly denigrated as barbarians, were in some ways better off than the subjects of states, free from despotic rule and exploitation, and benefiting from trade with — and raids on — neighbouring states. But they were hardly immune to the latter’s attractions, tapping into their wealth by selling next-door enemies as slaves or signing on as mercenaries. While barbarian societies held their own for many generations, the economic pull of the state, rooted in its ability to tax ever larger and more productive domesticated populations, ultimately proved too strong to resist.

Schooled in Scandal: What Makes Ukraine a Hotbed of Intrigue – The New York Times

“Why is there so much noise around Ukraine? Because Ukraine is the epicenter of the confrontation between the Western democratic world and authoritarian, totalitarian states,” Oleksandr Turchynov, the head of Ukraine’s national security and defense council, said in an interview. He denounced reports of Ukraine providing missiles to North Korea as Russian disinformation aimed at undermining Western support.

But while Russia has worked steadily since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union to weaken Ukraine and keep it within Moscow’s orbit of influence — first through economic pressure and political meddling and then military aggression — Ukraine has also enfeebled itself.

“The thread that ties strange things together in Ukraine is nearly always corruption,” said Serhiy A. Leshchenko, an opposition member of the Ukrainian Parliament and vociferous critic of President Petro O. Poroshenko.

Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock typifies a common sociological pattern among violent men — Quartz

Scholars who study masculinity and mass shootings have consistently drawn attention to the fact that mass shootings are not only a uniquely American social problem; they are a problem with American men. We’ve argued before that there are two questions that require explanation related to gender and mass shootings. First, why is it that men commit virtually all mass shootings? And second, why do American men commit mass shootings more than men anywhere else in the world?

Social psychologists have a theory referred as “social identity threat” that has been studied across a wide range of contexts. The idea is pretty simple. Research demonstrates that if people feel that a part of their identity that they hold dear is being called into question, they are likely to respond with an exaggerated display of qualities associated with that identity.

Applied to gender, social scientists refer to this issue as “masculinity threat.” Men who have their masculinity called into question (or “threatened” to use the social psychological language) react in patterned ways. Research shows that they are more supportive of violence, less likely to accurately identify sexual coercion as such, and more likely to support statements about the inherent superiority of males, among other responses.

Research has also shown that men whose masculinity has been threatened are more likely to identify as Republican, supported sexually prejudiced statements about gay men, and more supportive of war as a solution to national disputes. They were even more likely to say that they wanted to purchase as SUV. When men’s masculinity is threatened, they don’t respond by backing down; they double down on masculinity and “overcompensate” to demonstrate just how manly they are.

Mass shootings follow a consistent pattern: The men who commit them have often experienced what they perceive as masculinity threats. They’re bullied by peers, gay-baited by classmates, and often perceive themselves as unable to live up to societal expectations associated with masculinity, such holding down a steady job, having sexual access to women’s bodies, or being tough or strong.



A Four-Year Degree Is Still a Gateway to Greater Wealth in U.S. – Bloomberg

Four-year degrees in the U.S. are still a gateway to increased wealth over a lifetime, according to the latest Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances. Still, the picture isn’t completely rosy for graduates, as both median net worth and income for degree-holding households haven’t reached their pre-recession peak. That’s even as costs of attending college continue to rise and student debt has ballooned to $1.3 trillion, according to the New York Fed.




OECD Indicators Show U.K., Russia as Weak Spots – WSJ

The global economy is set for continued strong growth into 2018, but the U.K. and Russia are likely to miss out, according to leading indicators released Monday by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The Paris-based research body’s gauges of future activity, based on data for August, pointed to faster growth in China, Italy and Brazil, while the strong growth experienced over recent months is set to continue in the U.S., the eurozone as a whole and Japan.

The Economy Is Humming. Bankers Are Cheering. What Could Go Wrong? – The New York Times

Never mind political turmoil, populist uprisings and threats of nuclear war. From Wall Street to Washington, economists have been upgrading their forecasts for the global economy this year, with the consensus now pointing to an expansion of more than 3 percent — up noticeably from 2.6 percent in 2016.

Economists from the I.M.F. are likely to follow suit when the fund releases its biannual report on the global economy on Tuesday. The rosy numbers are noteworthy. But what’s more startling is that virtually every major developed and emerging economy is growing simultaneously, the first time this has happened in 10 years.

“In terms of positive cycles, it is difficult to find very many precedents here,” said Brian Coulton, the chief economist at Fitch, the debt ratings agency. “It is the strongest growth we have seen since 2010.”



A Remarkable Run for Stocks Gets More Extraordinary – Bloomberg

With a 2 percent gain in September, the S&P 500 Index has set a record: positive returns 1 in each of the first 10 months of the year. There’s never been a full calendar year when this has happened every month.

Going back to November 2016, the index has ripped off 12 consecutive monthly gains. The S&P hasn’t had a down quarter since the third quarter of 2015, a streak of eight in a row without a loss. Since the start of 2013, 18 of the past 19 quarters have been positive. And it’s not like stocks are melting up either. They are going up slowly as volatility is slowly going down.

Not only have stocks been consistently profitable recently, but they have done so with remarkably low volatility. This year, there has yet to be a 2 percent move up or down on the S&P 500. For a frame of reference, in 2009, there were 55 separate 2 percent up or down days and there were 35 in 2011. The annualized volatility of daily returns on stocks since 1928 has been 18.7 percent. For 2017, that number is 7 percent, a little more than one-third of the long-term average.

The average absolute daily price 2 change this year on the S&P 500 is just 31 basis points. If the year ended right now, that would be the lowest daily price change on record since 1965. The worst peak-to-trough drawdown is just 2.8 percent this year. Over the past 100 years, the average intrayear drawdown in stocks has been around 16 percent. The shallowest calendar-year peak-to-trough drawdown was in 1995, when the worst loss in stocks was just 3.3 percent for the year.

Foreigners Flocking to Stocks in China – MoneyBeat – WSJ

Two years on from a dramatic crash in Chinese stocks, foreign investors are wading deeper into the country’s markets. That’s the tale told by data showing a sharp rise in the amount foreigners are plowing into China’s two leading stock exchanges via the so-called Stock Connect trading links with Hong Kong.

Northbound net inflows through the two trading schemes–from Hong Kong to Shanghai and Shenzhen–surged to 155.5 billion yuan ($23.4 billion) during the first nine months in 2017, surpassing the combined inflows of 2015 and 2016, according to data provider Wind Information Co. In September alone, net inflows reached nearly 21 billion yuan.

China’s solid economic growth and a rebound for the country’s currency appear to have boosted foreigners’ confidence in stocks there. The yuan has risen some 3% against the dollar this year despite a pullback to end September. Markets in China were closed last week for holiday.

Another helpful factor: China’s stock markets have been unusually calm. Shanghai’s benchmark index hasn’t closed more than 1% from the prior trading day’s finish for 25 straight session, its longest stretch of such stability since 1992.

Investors Just Placed Their 2nd Biggest Ever Bet on Industrials – Bloomberg

Investors poured $1.35 billion into the Industrial Select SPDR Fund last week, an allocation only surpassed by the record inflow notched in the aftermath of the U.S. election, and the largest commitment among U.S.-listed exchange-traded funds across asset classes.

The flood of interest underscores bullish bets that the upswing in global manufacturing will add fresh legs to the rally in industrial stocks, which are acutely sensitive to economic activity around the world.




GE Gives Activist Trian a Seat on the Board – WSJ

General Electric named activist investor Trian Fund Management’s co-founder Ed Garden to its board, the latest move by new CEO John Flannery to change the direction of the struggling industrial giant.

New No. 1: JPMorgan tops Bank of America for deposits – Oct. 9, 2017

JPMorgan Chase is the undisputed king of banks after dethroning Bank of America as the biggest holder of deposits.

The feat adds to JPMorgan’s impressive resume. At $339 billion, Jamie Dimon’s bank is also the most valuable American bank. (By a long shot. The next closest is Wells Fargo, at $274 billion.) It also holds $2.1 trillion in assets, the most in the United States.

JPMorgan weathered the 2008 financial storm far better than its peers. Its stock price recovered from the crisis years ago, and is now trading at an all-time high. BofA and Citigroup (C) remain well below their historic highs. Customers are also flocking to JPMorgan. The bank’s deposits jumped nearly 8% over the past year, compared with 5.3% for BofA, according to the FDIC.

Barclays: We’re still waiting on Tesla’s ‘iPhone moment’ (TSLA) | Markets Insider

The true test of Tesla’s stock price will occur in the coming weeks, before the company’s November 19 big-rig announcement, when a middle segment of investors – coined “purple pillers” by the bank – may lose confidence and be swayed to the bear side.

“Purple pillers are a more realistic crowd – and generally don’t believe the blue-sky Tesla scenarios proposed by blue pillers (in which Tesla will sell several million units a year, while also leading in other business opportunities – e.g. battery storage),” Johnson wrote. “However, they recognize that Tesla stock is driven by a substantial number of uber-bull investors who believe in these scenarios.”

Google’s $19 Billion Black Box Is Worrying Investors – Bloomberg

There’s a $19 billion black box inside Google. That’s the yearly amount Google pays to companies that help generate its advertising sales, from the websites lined with Google-served ads to Apple and others that plant Google’s search box or apps in prominent spots.

Investors are obsessed with this money, called traffic acquisition costs, and they’re particularly worried about the growing slice of those payments going to Apple and Google’s Android allies. That chunk of fees now amounts to 11 percent of revenue for Google’s internet properties. The figure was 7 percent in 2012.

The worry is the traffic toll will keep climbing and squeeze the plump Google profit margins investors love. Let me add a risk that is so far theoretical but nevertheless intriguing. Google’s traffic fees might go higher because of one of the biggest threats facing the company: the possibility of increased regulation in Europe or the U.S.



Battered Dollar Roars Back, Catching Investors by Surprise – WSJ

Investors are buying the U.S. dollar again, betting that an increasingly aggressive Federal Reserve and tumult in European politics will help lift the currency as it rebounds following its longest slide in a decade.

The dollar has already bounced roughly 2.9% from its September lows and has risen in five of the past six weeks, powered by gains against the euro, yen and emerging-market currencies. Investors betting against the dollar have also cut back on their positions recently.

The surge in demand for dollars caught some investors off guard. The Fed took an unexpectedly aggressive tone when officials signaled they expect four rate increases by the end of next year and the Republican tax overhaul plan spurred hopes for faster U.S. growth. Meanwhile, strong showings by antiestablishment parties in Germany and a secession push in Spain’s Catalonia region led to renewed concerns about the European Union, halting gains in the euro that had sapped the greenback’s strength.



Bill Ackman takes a hit from Herbalife short as stock soars | New York Post

Bill Ackman found himself cornered and squeezed on Friday as shares of Herbalife soared to a nearly three-year high. The maker of nutritional shakes jumped 11.2 percent, to $75.25, after it revealed its recent offer to repurchase up to $600 million of outstanding shares was under-subscribed.

Ackman has long maintained that Herbalife is a pyramid scheme and its stock would fall to zero. A review of the company by the Federal Trade Commission last year ripped its business practices — but left it standing and able to make changes. The FTC stopped short of calling the company a pyramid scheme.

The stock’s rise Friday to its highest close since January 2014 was a costly reminder that Ackman — so far — has bet wrong.

Cash Is Pouring Into Singapore’s Biggest Private Venture Fund – Bloomberg

The Singaporean venture capital firm led by Finian Tan, who made his name investing early in Chinese search giant Baidu Inc., has completed its largest fundraising yet to bankroll global deals. Vickers Venture Partners raised a total of $230 million, the company said in a statement. That includes $190 million in their fifth fund and a yuan-denominated vehicle of $40 million.



OPEC Chief Says Floating Storage Is Shrinking – Bloomberg

Crude oil in floating storage is declining, showing that the market is rebalancing, OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo said.

Crude in tankers has fallen by an estimated 40 million barrels this year, according to a transcript of a speech delivered by Barkindo on Monday. The drop has been helped by the return of backwardation — when near-term prices are higher than those in later months, indicating tighter supply.

“This trend will obviously make it unprofitable to continue to store crude,” Barkindo said.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its partners agreed last year to curtail production by 1.8 million barrels a day to reduce bloated global inventories and end the price rout. The group will meet next month in Vienna to decide whether to extend the supply-cut deal beyond the end of March.

Saudi Arabia curbs oil exports to combat glut

The disclosure of Saudi Arabia’s monthly allocations emphasises a new focus on foreign sales, alongside production, that Riyadh deems vital to the effort by global producers to reduce surplus inventories.

The remarks also underline how the Opec kingpin, and world’s top oil exporter, is doubling down on its pledge to curb supplies and reduce excess global stockpiles that have kept a ceiling on prices. “It is very interesting they are now trying to communicate to the market about exports,” said Olivier Jakob at consultancy Petromatrix. “They have gone the extra step of putting out numbers on this, which is the first I’ve ever seen.”



Wildfires in Northern California Kill at Least One and Destroy Hundreds of Buildings – The New York Times

In one of the most destructive fire emergencies in California history, fast-moving wildfires raged across several counties in the northern part of the state on Monday, killing at least 10 people, forcing the evacuation of up to 20,000 and destroying well over one thousand buildings, the authorities said.

Firefighters were battling blazes in eight counties — Napa, Sonoma, Lake, Mendocino, Yuba, Nevada, Calaveras and Butte — officials said.

In Santa Rosa, the fire gutted a Hilton hotel and flattened the Journey’s End retirement community, a trailer park not far from the freeway that crosses the city. Most of the trailers were leveled, leaving a smoldering debris field of household appliances, filing cabinets and the charred personal effects of more than 100 residents. Pieces of ash fell like snowflake flurries, and a pall of white smoke across the city blotted out the sun.

Ben & Jerry’s to launch glyphosate-free ice-cream after tests find traces of weedkiller | Environment | The Guardian

Ben & Jerry’s has moved to cut all glyphosate-tainted ingredients from its production chain and introduce an “organic dairy” line next year, after a new survey found widespread traces of the controversial substance in its European ice-creams.

It will add to a growing unease around the herbicide, which was first marketed in the US by Monsanto in 1974, as RoundUp, but is now the world’s most popular weedkiller, made by companies worldwide. Recently Prosecco DOC announced that wines marketed under the banner would not be able to use glyphosate and the US state of California added it to its list of chemicals that cause cancer.



Pakistan’s Ex-Prime Minister Fails to Appear in Court for Corruption Trial – WSJ

Pakistan’s former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, failed to appear before an antigraft tribunal on Monday, where he was to be indicted on corruption charges along with several family members and co-defendants.

One of the co-defendants in the case—Mr. Sharif’s son-in-law, Mohammad Safdar —was arrested at Islamabad airport, after he and his wife, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, arrived from London, cabinet minister Tallal Chaudry said.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s Satisfaction Ratings Plummet – WSJ

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s approval ratings fell sharply in September to their lowest level since he took office nearly 16 months ago, following a series of political scandals and an outpouring of opposition to his flagship antinarcotics campaign.

The president’s net satisfaction rating fell 18 points to 48, classified as “good,” in a survey conducted late last month by independent pollster Social Weather Stations, compared with figures from its June survey. Mr. Duterte’s net trust rating fell 15 points to 60, or “very good,” over the same period, the pollster said Sunday.

Welcome to Asia’s newest one-party state | This Week In Asia | South China Morning Post

“Hun Sen has now effectively established a one-party state,” said Lee Morgenbesser, an assistant professor at Australia’s Griffith University who studies authoritarian regimes. “As the most established threat to Hun Sen’s government, the CNRP has no hope for survival. A new form of authoritarian rule is about to sweep Cambodia.”

Morgenbesser believes it was naive for the opposition to place faith in what was always a facade of democracy. “The downfall of the opposition was entirely predictable.”



Inflation bungle piles on the pressure for rate rise | Business | The Times & The Sunday Times

Pressure on the Bank of England to raise interest rates may be building more rapidly than first thought after a mistake by the Office for National Statistics led to domestic inflation being understated.

On Friday, the ONS published an error in one of the critical data points used by the Bank of England to gauge domestic price pressures. In a correction to be released today, the nation’s official statisticians are expected to reveal that companies’ employment costs have been rising faster than previously believed.

Unit labour costs, which show the overall cost of employment per person, are watched closely by the Bank for evidence of inflation creeping into the domestic economy.

U.K. Plans for No-Deal Customs Regime as Brexit Talks Resume – Bloomberg

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May won public support from cabinet critics of her Brexit policy after she outlined contingency plans for leaving the European Union without a deal, upping the stakes in exit talks with the bloc.

“While I believe it is profoundly in all our interests for negotiations to succeed, it is also our responsibility as a government to prepare for every eventuality,” May told lawmakers. These white papers “support that work including setting out steps to minimize disruption for businesses and travelers.”

U.K., EU Disagree Over How to Get Out of Brexit Stalemate – WSJ

Seven months after the U.K. opened the two-year negotiating window to leave the EU, the two sides have hit a stalemate over preliminary issues around the terms of Britain’s exit.

The EU is insisting on “sufficient progress” being made on these issues before moving on to talk about their future relationship. It wants more clarity on British plans to make payments it committed to before the referendum and to what extent the EU’s top court should have jurisdiction over the rights of EU citizens living in the U.K.

Margaritis Schinas, the European Commission’s chief spokesman, rejected Mrs. May’s view that the ball is EU’s court. “There is a clear sequencing to these talks. And so far no solution has been found to step one, which is the divorce proceedings. So the ball is entirely in the U.K.’s court for the rest to happen,” he said. The commission, the EU’s executive branch, is conducting the negotiations on behalf of the bloc.



Austria’s populist Freedom party gears up for poll

After last month’s breakthrough by the rightwing nationalist Alternative for Germany — which won 13 per cent of the vote in Germany’s election and took more than 90 seats in parliament — a strong Freedom party performance would be the next challenge for mainstream European politicians. It could reawaken fears of a populist insurgency across Europe and make Vienna a more antagonistic EU partner, creating the threat of Austria joining an “awkward squad” of countries prepared to challenge Brussels — and Angela Merkel — on European issues.

But Mr Strache and the Freedom party faces a formidable challenge from Sebastian Kurz, Austria’s youthful foreign minister and leader of the centre-right People’s party. He is riding a surge of support after outflanking the Freedom party on its main issue – Austria’s response to Europe’s 2015 migration crisis.

Madrid’s finger hovers over constitutional nuclear option

A single article of the Spanish Constitution — Article 155 — is viewed as the “nuclear option” for Madrid to impose its will on the Catalan government should the separatists decide to make a unilateral declaration of independence this week. The article in the 1978 document empowers Spain’s central government to take any “necessary measures” to ensure compliance of a rogue autonomous region, for example ousting officials, calling fresh local elections or taking control of the local police.

For investors spooked by the push for succession after last week’s independence referendum, Article 155 is a comfort blanket. The rating agency Moody’s has cited it as one reason why independence would never happen. But in Madrid, there is a growing fear that what seems an atomic constitutional weapon in theory will turn out to be much less fearsome in practice, because the Spanish state could struggle to enforce the measures.

“The big fear is that we will use 155 to take control of the Mossos [the local Catalan police] and oust the government, but they will simple refuse to obey us,” says one senior politician based in Madrid in the ruling Popular party.

Merkel’s Bloc Agrees to Limit Number of Refugees Entering Germany – WSJ

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc agreed to limit the number of refugees allowed to enter Germany annually, in an attempt to bridge differences on migration and form a much-needed united front in coalition talks.

Sunday evening’s agreement comes two weeks after national elections brought a victory but also the worst turnout in nearly 70 years for Ms. Merkel’s Christian Democrats and their Bavarian Christian Social Union allies, who are also the most vocal in-house critic of her migration policy.

The bloc agreed to limit to 200,000 annually the number of people allowed to enter Germany for humanitarian reasons. The conservatives pledged at the same time that people wouldn’t be turned back at the German border, expressing their support for the right to seek asylum in Germany and for the Geneva refugee convention, which states that countries should give protection to those who flee war and expulsion, and those who are politically persecuted.



Chinese Village Where Xi Jinping Fled Is Now a Monument to His Power – The New York Times

Almost 50 years after Xi Jinping first trudged into this village as a cold, bewildered teenager, hundreds of political pilgrims retrace his footsteps every day.

They follow a well-trod course designed to show how the seven years that the young Mr. Xi spent in this hardscrabble village in China’s barren northwest forged the strongman style that he now uses to rule the world’s most populous nation. Visitors peer down a well that Mr. Xi helped to dig, admire a storage pit that he built to turn manure into methane gas for stoves and lamps, and sit for inspirational lectures outside the cave homes where he sheltered from the chaos of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution.

Turning a leader’s former home into a tableau for propagating his political-creation myth has a venerable precedent in the People’s Republic. Back in the 1960s, Mao’s birthplace, Shaoshan, was turned into a secular shrine for slogan-chanting Red Guards who looked on modern China’s founder as a nearly godlike figure.

The devotion at Liangjiahe falls far short of the fervent cult of personality that Mao ignited. Even so, Mr. Xi stands out for turning his own biography into an object of adoration, and zeal. Neither of Mr. Xi’s recent predecessors as leader, Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin, could tout a similarly dramatic tale of coming of age in a dim, flea-infested cave.



White House Makes Hard-Line Demands for Any ‘Dreamers’ Deal – The New York Times

The long list of proposals imperiled a fledgling bipartisan push to reach a legislative solution to give legal status to the young undocumented immigrants.

White House Sends Congress Plans for Immigration Enforcement – WSJ

The White House sent Congress an expansive set of principles that would increase immigration enforcement at the border and inside the U.S. and would limit new legal arrivals.



2 Paths for Yemen’s War-Scarred Children: Combat, or Marriage – The New York Times

Yemen is a country in crisis. After more than two years of war, its infrastructure has been badly damaged and its people impoverished, with hundreds of thousands sickened with cholera. But hidden among the numbing statistics of death and destruction is another insidious scourge: Desperate families are increasingly selling their daughters off as child brides or letting their boys be recruited as child soldiers.

“It is impossible to say how many kids are being pulled out of school now to be married off or sent to fight, but we know that more and more parents are doing this,” said Meritxell Relano, the United Nations Children’s Fund representative in Yemen. “The lack of livelihood and unemployment is forcing them to do this.”



Ivana Trump says she’s the ‘first lady.’ Melania Trump’s office claps back. – The Washington Post

Things are getting a little “Real Housewives” around the White House. In one of the stranger sideshows to his presidency, President Trump’s first and third wives, Ivana and Melania, respectively, on Monday had a very public war of words — and his second wife, Marla Maples, is getting some shade out of the spat, to boot.

Stephen Miller, the Powerful Survivor on the President’s Right Flank – The New York Times

Mr. Miller’s journey to this point, outlined over dozens of interviews with friends, classmates and current and former colleagues, is a triumph of unbending convictions and at least occasional contrivance. It is a story of beliefs that congealed early in a home that he helped nudge to the right of its blue-state ZIP code, and of an ideology that became an identity for a spindly agitator at a large and racially divided public high school.

These formative years supplied the template for the life Mr. Miller has carved out for himself in Washington, where he remains the hard-line jouster many of Mr. Trump’s most zealous supporters trust most in the White House — and many former peers fear.

“I can hear Stephen’s voice,” said a fellow Santa Monica student, Nick Silverman. “Even when Trump reads these statements, I know, ‘That’s Stephen.’”



E.P.A. Announces Repeal of Major Obama-Era Carbon Emissions Rule – The New York Times

The Trump administration announced on Monday that it would take formal steps to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature policy to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, setting up a bitter fight over the future of America’s efforts to tackle global warming.

At an event in eastern Kentucky, Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, said that his predecessors had departed from regulatory norms in crafting the Clean Power Plan, which was finalized in 2015 and would have pushed states to move away from coal in favor of sources of electricity that produce fewer carbon emissions.

“The war on coal is over,” Mr. Pruitt said. “Tomorrow in Washington, D.C., I will be signing a proposed rule to roll back the Clean Power Plan. No better place to make that announcement than Hazard, Ky.”

EPA Chief Calls for Ending Wind Tax Credits to Help Coal Survive – Bloomberg

Tax incentives for the wind industry should be eliminated, Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt said Monday. “I would do away with these incentives that we give to the wind industry,” Pruitt said, responding to a question about the effectiveness of renewable energy at an event held at the Kentucky Farm Bureau on Monday. “I’d let them stand on their own and compete against coal and natural gas and other sources.”

In a video of the appearance on the farm bureau’s Facebook page, Pruitt said those energy sources should compete in the market “as opposed to being propped up by tax incentives and other types of credits that occur, both in the federal level and state level.”



For Disney’s Iger, an Unlikely Political Turn – The New York Times

Robert A. Iger, the 66-year-old chief executive of this entertainment giant, is starting to find his voice on matters having nothing to do with PG-rated blockbusters or amusement park rides. And he is emerging as a credible contender in the 2020 presidential speculation game.

The entry of the mild-mannered Mr. Iger and his squeaky-clean company into the arena shows how President Trump has a way of drawing people and corporations once considered apolitical into the red-hot center.



Why Big Tech Is Tuning In to Speakers – WSJ

For the world’s largest tech companies, smart speakers are less about plugging in to home audio and more about securing a foothold in the home for their vast networks of services powered by artificial intelligence. So far it is a two-horse race, with Amazon accounting for about three-quarters of smart speaker sales and Google the rest, according to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners. But it is also a young market. According to NPD, sales of voice-activated speakers tripled in the last year but are now in just 10% of U.S. homes connected to the internet.



America’s Retailers Have a New Target Customer: The 26-Year-Old Millennial – WSJ

This age bracket, bigger than any other, is pushing companies to revamp marketing and products to meet its needs. That includes a lot of education about the basics, such as how to use a tape measure. “You have to start somewhere,” says a Home Depot executive.

Are prescription drugs the next target for Amazon? – Oct. 9, 2017

Amazon has already disrupted much of the retail business. Pharmacies could be next. Shares of CVS and Walgreen fell after analysts at a healthcare research firm suggested that Amazon may want to start selling prescription drugs online.

Ikea turns to ecommerce sites in online sales push

Ikea has become the latest big-name retailer to radically overhaul its sales strategy in the face of online competition, launching a test to sell its flat-pack furniture through big ecommerce websites amid a fall in visitors to its out-of-town outlets.

Torbjörn Lööf, chief executive of Inter Ikea, said the decision to turn to online retailers — which could include Amazon and Alibaba, though he declined to comment on who he would be working with — is part of a broader overhaul that has also forced the company to turn to new types of stores, particularly in city centres.



GM’s Conundrum: Too Many Factories Making Slow-Selling Cars – WSJ

Despite its drastic downsizing a decade ago under a federally funded bailout, General Motors again finds itself with too many U.S. factories that can turn out too many vehicles, particularly slow-selling passenger cars.



Musk’s Successful SpaceX Iridium Launch Brings It Closer to 2017 Target – Bloomberg

Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. successfully launched its 14th Falcon 9 rocket of the year, bringing the company a step closer to the 20 to 24 total missions it’s targeted for 2017.

SpaceX just launched its 14th orbital rocket of 2017 | Ars Technica

Under dark skies, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launched on Monday morning from California. After sending the rocket’s second stage into low-Earth orbit, the first stage then made a successful landing offshore, on a droneship. Meanwhile, the second stage entered a coast orbit, preparing to fire again later Monday morning and release 10 satellites into orbit. This was the 14th orbital launch of the year for SpaceX.



As Cancer Tears Through Africa, Drug Makers Draw Up a Battle Plan – The New York Times

In a remarkable initiative modeled on the campaign against AIDS in Africa, two major pharmaceutical companies, working with the American Cancer Society, will steeply discount the prices of cancer medicines in Africa.

Under the new agreement, the companies — Pfizer, based in New York, and Cipla, based in Mumbai — have promised to charge rock-bottom prices for 16 common chemotherapy drugs. The deal, initially offered to a half-dozen countries, is expected to bring lifesaving treatment to tens of thousands who would otherwise die.

Pfizer said its prices would be just above its own manufacturing costs. Cipla said it would sell some pills for 50 cents and some infusions for $10, a fraction of what they cost in wealthy countries.

The price-cut agreement comes with a bonus: Top American oncologists will simplify complex cancer-treatment guidelines for underequipped African hospitals, and a corps of IBM programmers will build those guidelines into an online tool available to any oncologist with an internet connection.

“Reading this gave me goose bumps,” Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said after seeing an outline of the deal. “I think this is a phenomenal idea, and I think it has a good chance of working,”



Che Guevara’s Fiery Life and Bloody Death – The New York Times

ifty years ago, the news spread rapidly around the world: Che Guevara was dead, again, and this time, it seemed likely to be true.

Still, news organizations were wary. The day after he was shot to death in a village schoolhouse by Bolivian forces, the third sentence of a front-page New York Times article warned, “Mr. Guevara, 39 years old, has been reported killed or captured before.”

That caution was warranted, such was the legend of Guevara, whose symbolism was growing only more powerful. As his image evolved from an emblem of leftist movements to a more general badge of defiance, it was harnessed as a marketing tool. Later, many marveled at how, in death, the communist revolutionary had been put to work for capitalism.

Before all that, though, there was the man, an Argentine-born doctor who first arrived on the world stage during the Cuban revolution, when he became a trusted comrade of Fidel and Raúl Castro.



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