Macro Links Oct 12th – “He Threw a Fit”
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MACRO LINKS TABLE OF CONTENTS (Click or Scroll Down)
- IRAN DEAL SABOTAGE
- SEETHING, NUKES, PRESS THREATS
- NAFTA THREAT
- CATALAN INDEPENDENCE
- CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES
- NORTH KOREA
- HARVEY WEINSTEIN
- RUSSIA PROBE, SPYING TOOLS
- PUERTO RICO
- NFL PROTESTS, VEGAS SHOOTING
- UNDERMINING OBAMACARE, TAX PLAN, GOP INFIGHTING
- KOBE STEEL SCANDAL
- RATES, LIQUIDITY, SYSTEMIC RISK, BALANCE SHEETS
- MACRO OP-EDS, INSIGHT, EVENTS AND TRENDS
- CENTRAL BANKS & MONETARY POLICY
- USA ECONOMY DATA, CITIES AND STATES
- POSITIONING, INFLECTION, MARKET CALLS
- HEDGE FUNDS, PRIVATE EQUITY, MONEY MGMT
- ENERGY COMPANIES, NOCs, INDUSTRY
- ENERGY CRUDE OIL, OIL SANDS, SHALE
- ENERGY RENEWABLES, NUCLEAR
- COMMODITIES BASE METALS, MATERIALS
- POLLUTION, CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT
- FRONTIER MARKETS
- BREXIT, SCOXIT, LONDON, UK ECONOMY
- GEOPOLITICS, CRIME, TERRORISM
- PROPAGANDA, CORRUPTION, AUTHORITARIANISM
- TRUMP WORLD
- TRADE, PROTECTIONISM, REGULATION, OVERSIGHT
- ELECTORAL POLITICS
- CONSUMER TECH, SOCIAL MEDIA, E-COMMERCE, MOBILE
- RETAIL APPAREL, SPECIALTY, DINING, BIG BOX
- MEDIA, CABLE, SPORTS, ENTERTAINMENT
- AUTOS, ELECTRIC, SELF-DRIVING
- AIRLINES, SHIPPERS, RAIL, TRANSPORTS
- AEROSPACE, MILITARY & DEFENSE
IRAN DEAL SABOTAGE
President Trump was livid. Why, he asked his advisers in mid-July, should he go along with what he considered the failed Obama-era policy toward Iran and prop up an international nuclear deal he saw as disastrous?
He was incensed by the arguments of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and others that the landmark 2015 deal, while flawed, offered stability and other benefits. He did not want to certify to Congress that the agreement remained in the vital U.S. national security interest and that Iran was meeting its obligations. He did not think either was true.
“He threw a fit,” said one person familiar with the meeting. “. . . He was furious. Really furious. It’s clear he felt jammed.”
So White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster and other senior advisers came up with a plan — one aimed at accommodating Trump’s loathing of the Iran deal as “an embarrassment” without killing it outright. To get Trump, in other words, to compromise.
National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told Congress that President Trump has made a final decision to decertify the Iran nuclear deal, per NBC. This decision was expected, though not formally announced. Trump has been hinting at an impending announcement all week.
What’s next: Congress has 60 days to decide whether to reimpose the sanctions against Iran that were lifted in exchange for roll backs to Iran’s nuclear program in the 2015 deal.
President Trump is coming under mounting pressure from European allies and fellow Republicans to preserve the Iran nuclear deal. With the president widely expected to disavow the agreement when he outlines his Iran strategy on Friday, defenders and even erstwhile opponents of the deal are urging him not to unravel it completely.
Mr. Trump’s top national security aides are united behind a plan to decertify the deal, but leave it in place, with a goal of revising its terms. But in pursuing that course, the president will set off a volatile sequence of events that some warn could end up mortally wounding the agreement.
European officials are working on a unified response to President Donald Trump’s expected decision to pull U.S. backing from the 2015 Iranian nuclear accord, but strains have emerged that threaten to weaken Europe’s common stance.
Several of France’s European partners have pressed Paris to back off talk of supplementing the agreement to address issues including Iran’s missile tests and how to contain Tehran’s future nuclear work.
Under U.S. law, Mr. Trump faces a Sunday deadline to certify that Iran is complying with the deal and that the agreement remains in the U.S. national interest. The pact resulted in most international sanctions on Tehran being lifted in exchange for Iran winding down its nuclear activities.
SEETHING, NUKES, PRESS THREATS
At first it sounded like hyperbole, the escalation of a Twitter war. But now it’s clear that Bob Corker’s remarkable New York Times interview—in which the Republican senator described the White House as “adult day care” and warned Trump could start World War III—was an inflection point in the Trump presidency. It brought into the open what several people close to the president have recently told me in private: that Trump is “unstable,” “losing a step,” and “unraveling.”
In recent days, I spoke with a half dozen prominent Republicans and Trump advisers, and they all describe a White House in crisis as advisers struggle to contain a president who seems to be increasingly unfocused and consumed by dark moods. Trump’s ire is being fueled by his stalled legislative agenda and, to a surprising degree, by his decision last month to back the losing candidate Luther Strange in the Alabama Republican primary. “Alabama was a huge blow to his psyche,” a person close to Trump said. “He saw the cult of personality was broken.”
President Donald Trump said he wanted what amounted to a nearly tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal during a gathering this past summer of the nation’s highest-ranking national security leaders, according to three officials who were in the room.
Trump’s comments, the officials said, came in response to a briefing slide he was shown that charted the steady reduction of U.S. nuclear weapons since the late 1960s. Trump indicated he wanted a bigger stockpile, not the bottom position on that downward-sloping curve.
According to the officials present, Trump’s advisers, among them the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, were surprised. Officials briefly explained the legal and practical impediments to a nuclear buildup and how the current military posture is stronger than it was at the height of the buildup. In interviews, they told NBC News that no such expansion is planned.
Earlier on Wednesday, Mr. Trump called the nuclear weapons story “pure fiction” and suggested on Twitter that NBC and other news organizations should have their broadcasting licenses challenged. Mr. Trump wrote: “With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!”
Later, in his Oval Office remarks, he said that it was “frankly disgusting the press is able to write whatever it wants to write.”
“People should look into it,” he added.
It is simply untrue that “the press is able to write whatever they want to write.” News outlets that defame or invade the privacy of the people they cover can be sued into extinction. Just ask Gawker, which went bankrupt and shuttered last year after losing a case brought by Hulk Hogan.
Rolling Stone, which already has settled one libel suit resulting from a retracted report about sexual assault at the University of Virginia, put its majority ownership stake on the block last month, two days before a federal appeals court said a second lawsuit could move forward.
The consequences of bad reporting can be severe — contrary to the president’s suggestion that journalists operate with total impunity. Even when mistakes are minor and there is no legal risk, news outlets often hold themselves — and one another — accountable. Hours before Trump made his remarks, for example, I called out MSNBC for misleading language in two social media posts. The network promptly acknowledged the flaws and removed the posts.
On Twitter, Trump called the report “pure fiction made up to demean” him and questioned whether networks that report “Fake News” should be stripped of their broadcasting licenses — although the Federal Communications Commission licenses individual stations and affiliates, not networks.
For Mr. Trump, attacks on what he calls the “fake news” industry have been one of the primary metiers of his presidency, a way to ventilate his deep sense of grievance over news coverage of his tenure while energizing a political base that itself is largely hostile to the mainstream media. At one point, he labeled some outlets “the enemy of the American people.”
President Trump is yet again threatening to crack down on media outlets he doesn’t like. But this time he’s doing it in a much more brazen fashion. And it’s almost exactly what Richard Nixon appeared to attempt in the 1970s. The difference here is that Nixon talked about the scheme only privately.
The North American Free Trade Agreement, long disparaged by President Trump as bad for the United States, was edging closer toward collapse as negotiators gathered for a fourth round of contentious talks here this week.
In recent weeks, the Trump administration has sparred with American businesses that support Nafta and has pushed for significant changes that negotiators from Mexico and Canada say are nonstarters. All the while, the president has continued threatening to withdraw the United States from the trade agreement, which he has maligned as the worst in history.
As the trade talks began on Wednesday, Mr. Trump, seated in the Oval Office beside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, said it was “possible” that the United States would drop out of Nafta.
“It’s possible we won’t be able to make a deal, and it’s possible that we will,” the president said. “We’ll see if we can do the kind of changes that we need. We have to protect our workers. And in all fairness, the prime minister wants to protect Canada and his people also. So we’ll see what happens with Nafta, but I’ve been opposed to Nafta for a long time, in terms of the fairness of Nafta.”
President Donald Trump, speaking alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, opened the door to separate trade deals with Canada and Mexico to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement and repeated his warnings that the U.S. could withdraw from the pact.
“I think Justin understands this, if we can’t make a deal, it will be terminated and that will be fine,” Mr. Trump said Wednesday, underscoring the plan for now is to “renegotiate” the 23-year-old trade pact.
Asked if he would consider separate deals with Canada and Mexico, Mr. Trump said that he would. He added: “It’s possible we won’t be able to reach a deal with one or the other. But in the meantime, we’ll make a deal with one.”
The Trump administration has honed its strategy for remaking the North American Free Trade Agreement in recent weeks as it prepared for a critical round of talks that started Wednesday—by proposing a number of specific ways to water down the pact and reduce its influence on companies.
U.S. trade officials have made that theme clear in recent days, prompting a backlash from Mexico and Canada and from business groups in all three countries, casting new uncertainty over the talks as they resume in Washington.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the White House on Wednesday seeking a new “fairer trade” deal among the United States, Canada and Mexico amid growing alarm from business leaders that President Trump is leaning toward jettisoning the North American Free Trade Agreement in favor of bilateral accords.
In a news briefing at the Canadian Embassy, Trudeau insisted that maintaining the trade deal between the United States, Canada and Mexico would “produce better outcomes for the citizens of all three countries,” enabling North American businesses to compete more effectively in the global market.
Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, told President Donald Trump on Wednesday he would block his country’s armed forces from buying Boeing aircraft if the US presses ahead with plans to slap import tariffs of 300 percent on Bombardier aeroplanes.
Catalonia’s middle class has emerged as the bedrock for separatist sentiment, fueled by accusations that the rest of Spain drains—and wastes—tax revenues from a region proud of its banks and industrial prowess.
The widespread belief among Catalans that Madrid saps money from the wealthy northeastern region is one of the main propellants of an independence movement that has brought Spain to the brink of a constitutional crisis. That sense of grievance among the region’s middle class means the pressure for secession will remain high even as Carles Puigdemont, leader of the separatists, opened the door Tuesday to talks with Madrid.
“Catalan independence is a middle-class revolt,” said Andrew Dowling, a historian at Cardiff University in the U.K. “Middle-class Catalans think independence will bring them a better life, while working-class people tend to think their life won’t get any better with independence.”
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain took a tentative step on Wednesday toward seizing administrative control of Catalonia, but he asked the region’s leader to first clarify whether he had actually declared independence from the rest of the country following an unusual series of events the night before.
In a short news conference, Mr. Rajoy called on Carles Puigdemont, Catalonia’s leader, to confirm his intentions, given what the prime minister called “the deliberate confusion” generated by the comments and actions of Mr. Puigdemont and other Catalan leaders on Tuesday.
Pending a response from the Catalan government, Mr. Rajoy said he was initiating a request for his government to invoke Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution — a broad tool that has never been used. The article would allow Madrid to suspend Catalan lawmakers and take charge of the region’s autonomous administration.
But Mr. Rajoy’s action did not commit his government to an emergency intervention, and Mr. Puigdemont was given until Monday morning to respond.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy demanded that Catalonia’s leader clarify whether he declared independence, taking the first step toward potentially stripping the restive region of some of its powers and escalating his confrontation with the separatists.
Using Article 155 to suspend Catalan autonomy would deepen the constitutional crisis in Spain since Catalonia held a contested referendum on independence on October 1. Spain’s government says Catalonia’s independence drive is unconstitutional.
Mr Puigdemont on Tuesday night stepped back from making a full declaration of immediate independence, calling for more dialogue with Spain to resolve the matter peacefully. But his speech to the Catalan parliament was ambiguous.
At one point he appeared to declare independence, saying he now assumed the “mandate for Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a republic”. But this was followed by a proposed suspension of independence for a “few weeks”.
The European Commission has ducked an appeal by Catalan authorities for mediation in the latest sign of Brussels’ reluctance to intervene in the secession crisis.
The commission said the conflict with Madrid must be resolved in “full respect of the Spanish constitutional order”, knocking back efforts by Carles Puigdemont, the Catalan president, to make the dispute a “European issue”.
Firefighters facing a resurgence of high winds on Wednesday struggled to halt wildfires that have killed at least 23 people, destroyed 3,500 structures and left hundreds missing in chaotic evacuations across northern California’s wine country.
Nearly two dozen blazes spanning eight counties have charred around 170,000 acres (68,797 hectares). Flames erupted on Sunday night when gale force winds toppled power lines across the region, possibly igniting one of the deadliest wildfire outbreaks in California history.
Powerful, hot and dry winds like those that have fanned the deadly wildfires now raging in California are a common occurrence in the state, a result of regional atmospheric patterns that develop in the fall.
The impact of climate change on the winds is uncertain, although some scientists think that global warming may at least be making the winds drier. “That is a pretty key parameter for fire risk,” said Alex Hall, a climate researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles.
“The wind is seeking the path of least resistance to lower pressure,” Dr. Hall said. “That tends to be where there are gaps in the topography.” The result is hot, dry winds with speeds that can exceed 70 miles per hour. In the wildfires that have devastated parts of Northern California’s wine country since Sunday night, the highest gusts were recorded in Sonoma County, at 79 m.p.h.
undreds of sleep-deprived, stubble-faced firefighters, their yellow coats layered with soot, assembled here Wednesday to hear their commanders say what they already knew: The fires that have devastated California’s wine country were still spreading, nowhere near containment, and the crews battling the blazes were stretched to their limits.
“I wish I could say the cavalry is coming — it’s not,” Battalion Chief Kirk Van Wormer of Cal Fire, the state firefighting agency, told the gathering of firefighters, flecks of ash raining down on them. “Look to your left and look to your right. Those are the people you are responsible for right now.”
Wildfires in California continue to rage, having killed at least 21 people, sent hundreds to the hospital, and damaged or destroyed thousands of buildings. The fires, which started Sunday night, span the length of the state.
We asked people who evacuated to share their experiences by leaving us voice mail messages. Many shared emotional stories of getting out of their homes in minutes with only the clothes on their backs, and others praised their neighbors and fellow residents for help and support.
Three days after powerful winds spread more than a dozen wildfires across Northern California, firefighters were still struggling to contain the fast-moving blazes. By Wednesday afternoon, state officials said, they had made little progress, and many of the fires were growing and out of control.
The charred ruins of hundreds of homes in Coffey Park stretched on for two-thirds of a mile, block after block, cul-de-sac after cul-de-sac. Cars had been flipped over, or knocked more than 100 feet away from their original parking spaces, residents here said.
China got right back to work after a week-long public holiday, urging the two parties to “cool it,” in an editorial published Tuesday in state mouthpiece People’s Daily. “War on the Korean Peninsula would be catastrophic, and dialogue remains the best option,” the Communist Party-owned newspaper said.
North Korea’s foreign minister has accused President Donald Trump of having “lit the wick of a war” between his country and the US, saying that America would be made to pay with a “hail of fire”.
A breach of South Korea’s military database in which suspected North Korean hackers pilfered defense secrets originated in compromised third-party cybersecurity software and was made possible by an unintended connection to the internet, according to people familiar with the attack.
A Malaysian police officer testified Thursday that the two women on trial for the murder of the estranged half brother of North Korea’s leader were seen on airport security videos with two men believed to have provided the VX nerve agent used to kill him.
Bob Weinstein and three other members of the rapidly dwindling board issued a statement saying that new allegations of extreme sexual misconduct and sexual assault had come as “an utter surprise” and that any “suggestion that the Board had knowledge of this conduct is false.”
But interviews and internal company records show that the company has been grappling with Mr. Weinstein’s behavior for at least two years. David Boies, a lawyer who represented Mr. Weinstein when his contract was up for renewal in 2015, said in an interview that the board and the company were made aware at the time of three or four confidential settlements with women.
And in the waning hours of last week, as he struggled to retain control of the business in the wake of allegations first reported by The New York Times, Harvey Weinstein fired off an email to his brother and other board members asserting that they knew about the payoffs, according to people who spoke on the condition of anonymity about the confidential communication.
“The notion that we would try to cover for a powerful person is deeply offensive to all of us,” the NBC News president said at an employee meeting, according to a transcript NBC made available. He added, “Suffice to say, the stunning story, the incredible story that we all read yesterday, was not the story that we were looking at when we made our judgment several months ago.”
But the picture is complicated by several facts. On at least one occasion during the course of Farrow’s reporting for NBC, Weinstein’s lawyers contacted NBC’s news division with their concerns about what he was finding, people at the network confirmed. Although the exact nature of their issues couldn’t be determined, their inquiry could be read as an implied threat to sue, people at the network acknowledged. In any case, the news division referred Weinstein’s lawyers to the network’s in-house attorneys.
All of the sources who spoke to HuffPost asked not to be named, either because they weren’t authorized to speak to the media about the story or because they were fearful of retribution from NBC News executives. These sources detailed a months-long struggle within NBC News during which Oppenheim and other executives slow-walked Farrow’s story, crippling it with their qualms and irresolution.
Toward the end, the concerns seemed to take on a personal tone, and it became difficult to tell where the Weinstein team’s attempts to discredit the story left off and NBC News’ editorial forbearance began. According to multiple sources inside and outside of NBC News who worked on the aborted story, Oppenheim related to Farrow what Weinstein’s lawyers had said in complaint to NBC: that Farrow had a conflict of interest because Weinstein had helped revive the career of Farrow’s estranged father, director Woody Allen. Weinstein’s representatives would later use a similar line of attack when the story landed at The New Yorker. The magazine, known for its rigorous vetting process, saw no conflict of interest.
RUSSIA PROBE, SPYING TOOLS
A data firm backed by some of Donald Trump’s closest allies is now facing scrutiny as part of an investigation into possible collusion between the president’s team and Russian operatives, The Daily Beast has learned.
The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) is looking at Cambridge Analytica’s work for President Donald Trump’s campaign as part of its investigation into Russian efforts to meddle in the 2016 race, according to sources familiar with the probe.
The company is in the process of turning over documents to HPSCI, according to a source familiar with the committee’s work. Another source close to the investigation said that the probe’s focus on Cambridge Analytica is “fruitful.”
Few would associate it with politics – let alone Russian trolls. But in the run-up to the 2016 election, the site became a repository for thousands of political posts created by Russian operatives seeking to shape public opinion and foment discord in U.S. society, the company acknowledged Wednesday.
Russian operatives don’t appear to have posted directly on Pinterest, but their influence spread to the site through users who came across Russian content elsewhere and unwittingly “pinned” it onto their Pinterest scrap boards.
The Russian government used a popular antivirus software to secretly search computers around the world for classified U.S. government documents and top-secret information, according to current and former U.S. officials with knowledge of the matter.
The software, made by the Moscow-based company Kaspersky Lab, routinely scans files of computers on which it is installed looking for viruses and other malicious software. But in an adjustment to its normal operations that the officials say could only have been made with the company’s knowledge, the program searched for terms as broad as “top secret,” which may be written on classified government documents, as well as the classified code names of U.S. government programs, these people said.
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Russian hackers used Kaspersky’s software in 2015 to target a contractor working for the National Security Agency, who had removed classified materials from his workplace and put them on his home computer, which was running the program. The hackers stole highly classified information on how the NSA conducts espionage and protects against incursions by other countries, said people familiar with the matter. An NSA spokesman didn’t comment on the breach.
But the use of the Kaspersky program to spy on the U.S. is broader and more pervasive than the operation against that one individual, whose name hasn’t been publicly released, current and former officials said.
Kaspersky Lab, founded by an engineer trained at a KGB technical school, has long insisted that it doesn’t assist the Russian government with spying on other countries. But many U.S. officials now think the evidence the U.S. has collected shows the company is a witting partner, said people familiar with the matter.
When night comes, the vast majority of this 100-mile long, 35-mile wide island plunges into profound darkness, exposing the impotence of a long-troubled power grid that was tattered by Maria’s winds and rains. Eighty-four percent of the island is still without power, according to the governor’s office, and local officials in many areas are steeling themselves — with a sense of anger and dread — for six months or more without electricity.
Roughly half of Puerto Ricans have no working cellphone service, creating islands of isolation within the island and cutting off hundreds of thousands of people in regions outside the largest metropolitan areas from regular contact with their families, aid groups, medical care and the central government. Christine Enid Nieves Rodriguez, who has set up a community kitchen near the southeastern city of Humacao, has dubbed the new reality Puerto Rico’s “dystopian future.”
Federal officials privately admit there is a massive shortage of meals in Puerto Rico three weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.
Officials at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) say that the government and its partners are only providing 200,000 meals a day to meet the needs of more than 2 million people. That is a daily shortfall of between 1.8m and 5.8m meals.
“We are 1.8 million meals short,” said one senior Fema official. “That is why we need the urgency. And it’s not going away. We’re
doing this much today, but it has to be sustained over several months.”
The scale of the food crisis dwarfs the more widely publicized challenges of restoring power and communications. More than a third of Puerto Ricans are still struggling to live without drinking water. However, Fema provides no details on food deliveries, keeping its public statements to the most general terms.
On its website, Fema says it has provided “millions of meals and millions of liters of water”. In fact many of those meals are military ready-to-eat meals that civilians find hard to digest if consumed for more than a few days.
People are starving. People are desperate. A real crisis is everywhere, but especially outside of San Juan. Massive efforts need to begin. If America truly wants to be great again and keep its end of the colonial bargain it holds with Puerto Rico, this is the only option left, and if President Trump wants to avoid his own Katrina, it’s time for a large deployment of troops to arrive.
NFL PROTESTS, VEGAS SHOOTING
Trump voters are now much more likely to say that they view the N.F.L. negatively, reflecting a sharp change around Sept. 23, when Mr. Trump criticized the players at a speech in Alabama. The views of Hillary Clinton voters have not changed appreciably over the last few weeks. Some of the difference may be a result of our collective filter bubbles, which make Americans more likely to engage with and share articles that reinforce their views.
Hours after a Wednesday morning tweet by President Trump said otherwise, the National Football League put out a statement clarifying that the organization has yet to make a decision regarding its position on players protesting while the pre-game national anthem is playing. The NFL said Commissioner Roger Goodell has been meeting with athletes, law enforcement, and community members and that the league plans to work with athletes before announcing an official position. “
The NFL’s policy allowing players to kneel, sit or otherwise protest during the national anthem before games will remain in place for the time being, according to a joint statement from the league and the NFL Players Association on Wednesday.
Embracing the Twitter hashtag “VegasStrong,” Vegas residents have rallied to help in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Lines for blood donations the day after the shooting stretched for hours. So much food and water was donated to police and the American Red Cross that Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo advised donations be sent to other places.
Within an hour, the first volunteers began showing up at Catholic Charities, and within four days a trailer there was filled with 24,000 pounds of supplies to give victims, their families and the many other people who have flooded into Las Vegas to help, said Leslie Carmine, spokeswoman for the charity.
Bill Martinez, 58, who works as a local insurance adjuster, has been working eight hours a day at Catholic Charities for a week, unloading trucks and sorting donated food supplies. “When stuff like this happens, you have to be part of this community,” said Mr. Martinez. “It’s a small town mentality, and that’s where I came from.”
A victim in the Las Vegas shooting is suing the owner of Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, where the gunman used a 32nd-floor suite as his perch, claiming the company didn’t do enough to prevent the Oct. 1 attack that killed 58 people and injured hundreds more.
The negligence lawsuit filed Tuesday on behalf of a California college student is believed to be the first to target MGM Resorts International , which owns Mandalay Bay. The suit blames MGM for alleged lapses including failing to notice the shooter was stockpiling weapons in his suite and not responding quickly enough to the shooting of a Mandalay security guard outside the gunman’s room.
Gunman Stephen Paddock opened fire on the guard, Jesus Campos, six minutes before turning his weapons on the crowd below, according to a revised timeline outlined this week by law enforcement. The apparent gap in response time could expose the casino to significant liability, legal experts said Wednesday.
MGM has cast doubt on the revised timeline, saying the company “cannot be certain about the most recent timeline that has been communicated publicly” by police and believes “what is currently being expressed may not be accurate.”
UNDERMINING OBAMACARE, TAX PLAN, GOP INFIGHTING
President Trump, after failing to repeal the Affordable Care Act in Congress, will act on his own to relax health care standards on small businesses that band together to buy health insurance and may take steps to allow the sale of other health plans that skirt the health law’s requirements.
Although Mr. Trump has been telegraphing his intentions for more than a week, Democrats and some state regulators are now greeting the move with increasing alarm, calling it another attempt to undermine President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. They warn that by relaxing standards for so-called association health plans, Mr. Trump would create low-cost insurance options for the healthy, driving up costs for the sick and destabilizing insurance marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act.
“It would have a very negative impact on the markets,” said Mike Kreidler, the insurance commissioner in Washington State. “Our state is a poster child of what can go wrong. Association health plans often shun the bad risks and stay with the good risks.”
President Donald Trump is planning to sign an executive order Thursday to initiate the unwinding of the Affordable Care Act, paving the way for sweeping changes to health-insurance regulations by instructing agencies to allow the sale of less-comprehensive health plans to expand.
Mr. Trump, using his authority to accomplish some of what Republicans failed to achieve with their stalled congressional health-care overhaul, will direct federal agencies to take actions aimed at providing lower-cost options and fostering competition in the individual insurance markets, according to a Wall Street Journal interview with two senior White House officials. The specific steps included in the order will represent only the first moves in his White House’s effort to strike parts of the law, the officials said.
By boosting alternative insurance arrangements that would be exempt from some key ACA rules, the change would provide more options for consumers. But health-insurance experts say it could raise costs for sicker people by drawing healthier, younger consumers to these alternative plans, which could be less expensive and offer fewer benefits.
“American trucks will glide along our highways—so beautiful will those highways be: smooth, beautiful, no potholes,” he said to cheers. “I know, no potholes. I have many friends in the trucking business and they tell me it’s never been like this…They will be beautiful again—they will be smooth, beautiful highways again.”
He warned Congress to quickly approve legislation. “You better get it passed,” he told lawmakers.
Populist conservative groups are calling on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other members of the Senate Republican leadership team to resign from their top roles, saying the lawmakers have “made war with your own grassroots” while failing to deliver on promises.
“It is time for you and your leadership team to step aside, for new leadership that is committed to the promises made to the American people,” wrote a group including Jenny Beth Martin, the co-founder of Tea Party Patriots; Adam Brandon, the president of FreedomWorks; and longtime conservative activist Brent Bozell, in a letter released Wednesday.
The developments, coming in the middle of a week-long Senate recess, raised new questions about the trajectory of the intensifying war for the soul of the Republican Party and further blurred the battle lines within it. The complex struggle is expected to affect not only the midterm campaigns, but also the ongoing GOP attempt at a sweeping rewrite of the nation’s tax laws.
The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee reiterated his authority to handle judicial nominations, after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said judicial nominees would no longer need home-state senators’ approval.
KOBE STEEL SCANDAL
The head of Kobe Steel, the Japanese metals conglomerate embroiled in the country’s latest data falsification case, on Thursday said that the list of affected products could widen as the company continues its investigation.
“There are products which we have our doubts about” said Hiroya Kawasaki, chief executive of Kobe Steel. I apologise deeply,” he said adding:”Our trustworthiness has fallen to zero” as he visited the ministry of economy, trade and industry.
A scandal at one of Japan’s biggest aluminum manufacturers is forcing customers including auto makers to check the safety of their products while heaping further scrutiny on corporate governance in the country.
Car makers said Wednesday that they were attempting to identify vehicles containing aluminum supplied by Kobe Steel Ltd., after the company on Sunday said it had doctored product-quality paperwork. Toyota Motor Corp. said it thought the issue was restricted to its plants in Japan.
Nissan Motor Co. singled out hoods using Kobe Steel aluminum as a concern, since it could impact the safety of the vehicle in collisions. Outside of Japan, a spokeswoman for General Motors Co. in Singapore said the company was examining whether there was any impact on its products.
Japanese auto makers said it was unclear how widespread the issue is, and if the substandard metal affected vehicle safety. Car makers and others increasingly use lighter-weight aluminum—costlier to produce than steel—to improve fuel economy. Kobe Steel is the largest supplier of aluminum panels for automobiles in Japan, and has a large share of the global market for forged aluminum pieces used in suspension systems.
Kobe Steel is Japan’s third-biggest steelmaker and also makes aluminium and copper products. The 112-year-old conglomerate has divisions making welding and industrial machinery. It also offers engineering services, construction equipment such as cranes and excavators and power generation.
On October 8, Kobe Steel admitted falsifying inspection data on about 20,000 tonnes of metals shipped to more than 200 customers in the year to August 2017 and warned that the problems could stretch back a decade.
The company sold aluminium, copper and steel powder products that did not match the quality or strength level specified by its customers. However, officials at Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said Kobe Steel’s products did not fall below industry minimum standards. It said this was an issue between the company and its customers because it had not met specifications that they had demanded.
RATES, LIQUIDITY, SYSTEMIC RISK, BALANCE SHEETS
A boom in issuance of risky debt used to finance takeovers has resulted in a fee bonanza for investment bankers, with revenues generated this year from selling leveraged loans and high-yield bonds close to surpassing their post-crisis peak.
Investment banks have made $10.5bn in revenues from selling leveraged finance deals so far this year, up from $6.9bn in 2016 and have hit the highest level since 2013, according to data from Dealogic.
The surge in fees paid for arranging junk bond and leveraged loan deals reflects an explosion in demand for riskier debt from yield-starved institutional investors, such as pension funds, which have been among the largest buyers of $1.1tn of this debt so far this year.
Speculative-grade bond issuance in the developing world has hit a record $221 billion this year, according to data from J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Dealogic, up 60% from the full-year total in 2016.
Buyers reason that the debt pays a healthy yield and carries few immediate risks. The global economy appears robust and emerging-market defaults are low. Bankers say they expect emerging markets to sell tens of billions of dollars in additional junk bonds by year-end.
The euphoria is worrying some investors, who warn that frenzied buying of risky assets sometimes presages market turning points. The average yield on speculative-grade corporate bonds in emerging markets dropped to 5.53% late last week, the lowest on record, according to J.P. Morgan. Two years ago, that yield was more than 9%.
Passive investments, already eating away at active managers’ assets, are getting another boost. That effect is on the radar of companies such as BlackRock Inc., which has $5.7 trillion in assets. “We’re seeing regulatory changes change the ETF environment,” Chief Executive Officer Laurence Fink said on a July 17 earnings call. “We do believe we’re seeing accelerated flows because of MiFID II, because of the movement toward the fiduciary rule in the United States.”
BlackRock Inc is closing in on an industry-record $6 trillion in assets under management as investors storm into the company’s index funds and the bull market in U.S. stocks rages on. The increase in assets under management to $5.98 trillion, a figure on par with Japan’s gross domestic product, along with strong investment performance boosted revenue by 14 percent.
MACRO OP-EDS, INSIGHT, EVENTS AND TRENDS
If you are Mr Kim, you would conclude that you have been right all along: the US cannot be trusted, even when it puts its name to an international agreement.
Seen from Pyongyang, the only way to deter an American invasion has always been to establish North Korea as a nuclear power that is both capable and willing to strike first or retaliate devastatingly. That is why China argues against excessive pressure on the regime. Mr Kim, says one official, would “prefer to die standing” than give in to the US.
Now Mr Kim will feel vindicated in his intransigence, and confident that his nuclear programme, far more advanced than Iran’s, remains the ticket to his regime’s survival.
Many have hoped, and still hope, that Mr. Trump’s aggressive posture is mostly theater, designed to slake his thirst for attention, keep adversaries off guard and force changes in their behavior by words alone. But there is no underlying strategy to his loose talk, and whatever he means by it, Congress has been sufficiently alarmed to consider legislation that would bar the president from launching a first nuclear strike without a declaration of war by Congress.
That’s a sound idea, and could be made stronger with a requirement that the secretaries of defense and state also approve any such decision. As things stand now, the Atomic Energy Act of 1946, passed when there was more concern about trigger-happy generals than elected civilian leaders, gives the president sole control. He could unleash the apocalyptic force of the American nuclear arsenal by his word alone, and within minutes.
Under pressure from nearly a decade of budget stagnation, the system is nearing a breaking point. Conversations with more than two dozen statistical experts, present and former officials, find agencies sharply cutting back on the scale and ambition of their data-gathering, reducing sample sizes, delaying investments and, in some cases, eliminating surveys altogether—a last-resort measure that forever leaves a hole in what we know about how the nation is changing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, for instance, which publishes the nation’s monthly jobs report, has seen its funding fall by nearly 10 percent since 2005, after adjusting for inflation. In turn, the agency has scaled back its quarterly survey on employment and wages, which serves as a benchmark for the jobs report; in 2013, it was forced to stop a survey on mass layoffs and another on green jobs. The little-known Bureau of Transportation Statistics, which collects national transportation data, has seen its budget decline by 21 percent and has been unable to collect data on the number of trucks and their use in the United States.
The biggest anxiety looming over this landscape is the 2020 census. Mandated by the Constitution and conducted without fail every 10 years, the census is the most important and expensive project of any kind that the government regularly undertakes. But it’s already well behind schedule. Strapped for funding in the 2016 and 2017 budgets, it has canceled two of the three field tests scheduled for 2018 and pushed back its advertising campaign designed to get people to answer the survey. When the Census Bureau asked for money in the three-month stopgap spending measure that passed in early September, Congress denied those funds.
“The 2020 census is still in significant trouble, budget-wise,” said Terri Ann Lowenthal, former co-director of the Census Project, an organization that tracks the census. “That keeps me up at night.”
The course China’s leaders set for their country over the next five years will have a major bearing on global markets and the economy. China is more than merely big—the opening of its economy, the development of its financial markets and the rising wealth of its citizens have integrated it into the rest of the world like never before. Growth, inflation, jobs, financial markets—China will touch them all. In six charts, here is why investors need to watch China carefully.
China’s twice-a-decade Communist Party reshuffle this month will hand even more power to President Xi Jinping, whose emerging grand strategy for managing the economy—and avoiding a debt crisis—will shape global asset markets for years to come.
With private business already commanding around 70% of the economy, Mr. Xi and his allies have decided to strengthen key state-controlled companies by boosting their market power and easing their debt burdens.
For investors, the implications are significant: higher global goods prices because state-owned companies are notoriously inefficient, and a smaller chance of the long-feared Chinese debt crisis. Corporate debt, which is largely in the state-owned sector, ticked down as a percentage of GDP in the second quarter, according to J.P. Morgan—the first decline since 2011. The trade-off is slower Chinese growth. Chinese banks, whose shares are currently on a tear, will need to keep subsidizing bloated state enterprises. And those enterprises’ need for a deep pool of capital inside China means a free-floating yuan will remain a distant dream.
While Donald Trump’s rise may have, as Politico’s Eliana Johnson recently wrote, “scrambled the pecking order” on the right—elevating Breitbartesque populists over the conservative intellectuals at the Journal and The Weekly Standard—the conservative media complex as a whole is bigger, stronger, and more influential today than it’s ever been. And with so many of its most powerful members now pursuing a scorched-earth assault on America’s journalistic institutions, it’s worth considering what they hope it will look like once they’re done burning down our villages, desecrating our temples, and howling at our lamentations.
Boyle said his goal was simple: “The full destruction and elimination of the entire mainstream media.” Breitbart played up his speech on its homepage that day, but the remarks barely registered in broader media circles. The site and its staff have become known for this kind of bluster, and most journalists have taught themselves to tune it out. Maybe we ought to be paying closer attention.
It doesn’t require an overly active imagination to picture the post-apocalyptic news landscape that so many conservatives seem to be working toward. Media fragmentation accelerates to warp speed. Agenda-driven publishers—be they professionally staffed websites or one-man YouTube channels—churn out narrowly tailored news for increasingly niche audiences. There’s still plenty of factual reporting to turn to when you want hurricane updates or celebrity news, and adversarial investigative journalism doesn’t quite go out of style. But it’s easier than ever for news consumers to ensconce themselves in hermetically sealed information bubbles and ignore revelations that challenge their worldviews. For most people, “news” ceases to function as a means of enlightenment, and becomes fodder for vitriolic political debates that play out endlessly on social media. (Like I said, it’s not hard to imagine.) Inevitably, the rich and powerful—those who can afford to buy and bankroll their own personal Pravdas—benefit most in this brave new world.
This is, of course, a worst-case scenario. But is it really so far-fetched? Already, many of the nation’s most important outlets—the publications and networks that comprise the core of American journalism—have seen their audience shrink and splinter; their credibility plummet among vast swathes of the public; and their financial futures turn bleak. If The New York Times and ABC News were to shut down or, more likely, dwindle into shells of their former selves, would they be replaced with new mega-outlets that share their resources, their reach, and their editorial values? It’s possible. But it seems just as likely that they wouldn’t be replaced at all.
The tipping point, experts say, follows three developments, each rippling outward with economic and cultural consequences.
— China’s flexing: In addition to setting aggressive production quotas for EVs, China plans to scrap internal combustion engines entirely as soon as 2030. By taking a lead role in the shift to plug-ins, the world’s largest auto market is forcing the rest of the international community to follow in its footsteps.
— The debut of Tesla’s Model 3: The company’s first mass-market vehicle has ushered in an era of excitement about EVs because of the car’s slick design and starting price of around $35,000.
— Major automakers announce plans for an “all-electric future.” General Motors finished 2016 as the world’s third-largest automaker, meaning its decision to create 20 new electric vehicles by 2023 is bound to have an impact on the global marketplace. Volvo, Volkswagen, Mercedes, Audi, BMW and Ford have also announced EV plans in recent months.
“You really do feel like this electrification thing is suddenly very real,” Jessica Caldwell, executive director of industry analysis at Edmunds.com. “There’s a momentum we haven’t really seen before. It’s coming from other countries around the world and from big automakers, and that’s forcing everyone else to comply.”
Anxious kids certainly existed before Instagram, but many of the parents I spoke to worried that their kids’ digital habits — round-the-clock responding to texts, posting to social media, obsessively following the filtered exploits of peers — were partly to blame for their children’s struggles. To my surprise, anxious teenagers tended to agree. At Mountain Valley, I listened as a college student went on a philosophical rant about his generation’s relationship to social media. “I don’t think we realize how much it’s affecting our moods and personalities,” he said. “Social media is a tool, but it’s become this thing that we can’t live without but that’s making us crazy.”
Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University who researches adolescent mental health and psychological differences among generations, used to be skeptical of those who sounded an alarm about teenage internet use. “It seemed like too easy an explanation for negative mental-health outcomes in teens, and there wasn’t much evidence for it,” she told me. She searched for other possible explanations, including economic ones. But the timing of the spike in anxious and depressed teenagers since 2011, which she called one of the sharpest and most significant she has seen, is “all wrong,” she said. “The economy was improving by the time the increase started.”
The more she looked for explanations, the more she kept returning to two seemingly unrelated trend lines — depression in teenagers and smartphone adoption. (There is significantly more data about depression than anxiety.) Since 2011, the trend lines increased at essentially the same rate. In her recent book “iGen,” and in an article in The Atlantic, Twenge highlights a number of studies exploring the connection between social media and unhappiness. “The use of social media and smartphones look culpable for the increase in teen mental-health issues,” she told me. “It’s enough for an arrest — and as we get more data, it might be enough for a conviction.”
With our desires in their sights, The Four have gone about declaring war on what entrepreneurs euphemistically refer to as “friction.” It turns out that “friction” includes every obstacle in the way of satisfying a given desire. Everything from the synaptic connections in the brain responsible for decision-making processes, to the rules issued by regulatory and tax authorities – all the way down the supply chain, to those making products in the developing world. Galloway shows that it is The Four that have been the most able at circumventing these barriers; making it as easy and rewarding as possible for people to engage with a platform, enter a search query and click for a product.
The Four are also creating new economic rules. Take for example Amazon, an organisation which has marshalled more cheap capital than any firm in history and yet only started turning a profit in 2002. Galloway argues convincingly that through simple and consistent storytelling, Jeff Bezos has reshaped investor expectations, providing Amazon with an ocean of long-term capital, at the expense of the rest of the industry.
In creating their media duopoly, Google and Facebook have also re-written economic models. By creating products and platforms that improve with use, Galloway describes how a “Benjamin Button Economy” is emerging in media. Network effects strengthen their targeting algorithms and drive down the cost of their advertising products. Unsurprisingly they now constitute 103 per cent of growth in digital media advertising revenues (meaning the rest of the industry is in structural decline.)
Their success has come at the expense of entire industries. In the age of The Four, investors are rewarding a small band of companies and punishing the rest. Combine this with a committed drive towards automation, and Galloway concludes that major job destruction is not just around the corner, it has already arrived.
Uber faces at least five criminal probes from the Justice Department—two more than previously reported. Bloomberg has learned that authorities are asking questions about whether Uber violated price-transparency laws, and officials are separately looking into the company’s role in the alleged theft of schematics and other documents outlining Alphabet Inc.’s autonomous-driving technology. Uber is also defending itself against dozens of civil suits, including one brought by Alphabet that’s scheduled to go to trial in December.
Interviews with more than a dozen current and former employees, including several senior executives, describe a widely held view inside the company of the law as something to be tested. Travis Kalanick, the co-founder and former CEO, set up a legal department with that mandate early in his tenure. The approach created a spirit of rule-breaking that has now swamped the company in litigation and federal inquisition, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing sensitive matters.
An exhaustive search of Mr. Paddock’s life for a motive has so far turned up nothing. His brother, Eric, noted that Stephen was “the least violent in the family during my childhood.” I have no doubt that had Stephen Paddock seen a psychiatrist, he would not have raised suspicion of dangerousness.
To put it another way, most mass killers are gun-owning, angry, white, paranoid males, but it is also a fact that nearly all men with these same characteristics will never commit a crime.
In addition, the mentally ill contribute very little to overall violence in this country. Even if you were to eliminate all psychiatric illness from the population, the rate of violence would drop by only about 4 percent. (The contribution from mass killers is far smaller: In 2015, mass killings accounted for only 0.35 percent of gun-related homicides.)
The disturbing reality is that a vast majority of homicide is committed by healthy people in the grip of everyday emotion using guns. That is exactly what many politicians don’t want the country to think about.
At a time when the news media is under financial distress, when billionaires with political agendas or personal grudges, like the Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel, have shown a willingness to fund lawsuits able to run media entities out of business — as Mr. Thiel did to Gawker — legal threats are newly intimidating.
It is far worse for the victims of those in power, who are all too aware that speaking up may lead to stalled careers and ruined reputations. Many women who have fought back against sleazy, powerful men by filing lawsuits against them often end up with the consolation prize of an out-of-court settlement that comes complete with a nondisclosure agreement dictating that they must remain silent on the matter forevermore or face a steep financial penalty.
In this climate, breaking a story that includes tough accusations against those in high places requires more than a scrappy reporter with a notebook. It means having the resources to work the story exclusively for months. It means withstanding any legal challenges that may come. It means coaxing understandably reluctant victims to speak out against those who have the means and motivation to crush them.
It is the perverse, insistent, matter-of-factness of male sexual predation and assault — of men’s power over women — that haunts the revelations about Mr. Weinstein. This banality of abuse also haunts the American movie industry. Women helped build the industry, but it has long been a male-dominated enterprise that systematically treats women — as a class — as inferior to men. It is an industry with a history of sexually exploiting younger female performers and stamping expiration dates on older ones. It is an industry that consistently denies female directors employment and contemptuously treats the female audience as a niche, a problem, an afterthought.
As they gather in Washington for the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund, there is a crisis of confidence in central banking. Their economic models are failing and there are doubts whether they understand the effects of interest rates and other monetary policies on the economy.
In short, the new masters of the universe might not understand what makes a modern economy tick and their well-intentioned actions could prove harmful.
While there have long been critics of the power of central bankers on the left and the right, such profound doubts have never been so present within their narrow world. In the words of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, they risk being the next ones to be found swimming naked when the tide goes out.
With central bankers credited for keeping the economic show on the road over the past decade, it will come as a shock to many to hear how little confidence they have in their models, their policies and their tools.
One question posed by Richard Barwell, a senior economist at BNP Paribas, is whether they should let on about how little they know. “It’s rather like Daddy is driving the car down a hill, turning round to the family and saying, ‘I’m not sure the brakes work, but trust me anyway’,” he says.
For now, the public still trust the women and men who work in the marbled halls of central banks around the world. But that confidence is fragile. Central bankers might have been the masters of the universe of the past decade, but they know well what happened to the previous holders of that title.
CENTRAL BANKS & MONETARY POLICY
Most Federal Reserve officials believed at their September meeting that they would likely raise short-term interest rates again this year, but some cautioned the decision would hinge on whether inflation picks up.
Minutes of the Sept. 19-20 meeting, released Wednesday, indicate that lingering questions over inflation were driving a split among officials. The key question was whether the recent soft patch was due to temporary factors or longer-lasting developments.
One group of officials at the meeting believed it was the former. Others worried it was the latter and indicated that could lead them to reconsider the Fed’s projected path of rate increases this year and beyond.
The persistence of slow inflation was the dominant topic at the Federal Reserve’s most recent policy-making meeting in September, but most officials were still inclined to raise the Fed’s benchmark interest rate later this year.
The Fed is likely to raise rates so long as the medium-term economic outlook remains unchanged, according to an official account of the meeting that the Fed published on Wednesday. The account said that recent hurricanes had not disrupted that outlook. The Fed expects slower growth for a few months, but it does not expect a long-term effect.
The Fed next meets Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, but investors expect the Fed will wait to raise its benchmark rate at its final meeting of the year, in December. The Fed has held rates at a low level to encourage economic growth; by raising rates, it is slowly ending that stimulus campaign.
Many of the US central bank’s policymakers declared at its latest rate-setting meeting that a further increase is likely to be needed “later this year” as long as the economy stays on track.
But minutes of the Fed’s gathering on September 19-20 revealed a body of policymakers who are troubled by this year’s doggedly weak inflation readings and divided over how best to respond.
Many expressed worries that poor price growth could reflect entrenched factors following a half-decade of sub-target readings on the Fed’s favoured measure of core inflation. Several insisted they wanted to see economic data that “increased their confidence” that inflation would move towards the Fed’s 2 per cent objective before they acted again.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is strongly pushing for the White House to name Jerome Powell as the next chair of the Federal Reserve, the most powerful economic job in the U.S. government, according to three people close to the selection process.
Mnuchin has privately recommended Powell to President Donald Trump, according to one adviser close to the administration. The people familiar with the process indicated that Mnuchin, who knows Powell well, feels comfortable with him and feels that he is a safe pick over whom Mnuchin can exert some measure of influence.
Economists see former Fed governor Kevin Warsh as the most likely to be nominated by President Donald Trump to lead the Federal Reserve, followed by Janet Yellen and Jerome Powell, according to a Wall Street Journal survey.
Mr. Warsh, a former Morgan Stanley executive who served on the Fed’s board of governors from 2006 to 2011, has expressed skepticism of the central bank’s policy and communications, criticized its asset-purchase programs and accused officials of “trying to fine-tune the economy.”
He was a member of Mr. Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum, a group of business leaders that disbanded in August in protest over what they said was Mr. Trump’s failure to sufficiently condemn racism.
“Warsh has muscle memory of the crisis, is well-known by Republicans on the Hill and knows the president,” Diane Swonk of DS Economics said in the survey, in which she assigned Mr. Warsh a 55% probability of becoming the next Fed chairman.
USA ECONOMY DATA, CITIES AND STATES
The quits rate is trending at levels recorded before the recession began, but below 2001 rates. That could suggest that years of steady hiring and labor shortages reported in several industries have not yet made workers feel as if they’re likely to find something better if they leave their current jobs.
The unwillingness to quit could be a factor holding back better wage growth, reflecting workers’ relative lack of bargaining power. It might also suggest other factors—such as the unwillingness to move for work, or satisfaction with work-life balance—is keeping workers in their jobs despite ample opportunities elsewhere.
San Francisco is the best city in the country for trick-or-treating, according to the annual Trick-or-Treat Index released by real estate website Zillow. The California metropolis reclaimed the top spot from Philadelphia, which this year ranked third behind San Jose, Calif. Prior to that, San Francisco had reigned supreme where candy-giving was concerned for five straight years.
The ranking was based on three main factors: home values, housing density and the share of population under 10 years old. It did not conclude that you could get better candy, per se, just posited that the chances were far higher in these cities neighborhoods with higher-income households. That, plus a higher housing density makes it easier, safer and — given the economies of scale — smarter for children to collect candy from multiple homes, the researchers added.
The state has a thriving technology hub in the roughly 80-mile swath from Provo to Ogden, with Salt Lake City in between. The region has given rise to at least five companies valued at more than $1 billion. The concentration of these so-called unicorns is surpassed only by California, New York and Massachusetts, according to CB Insights, which tracks venture capital investment.
Mr. James has even helped coin the name “Silicon Slopes” to brand the region — a wink at the Bay Area and a nod to the renowned ski areas in the state, home to the 2002 Olympics.
One reason for the growth, said Mark Gorenberg, a venture capitalist with Zetta Venture Partners in San Francisco, is the emphasis that some start-ups have placed on data analytics — a growing field that has helped put the state on the map. E-commerce companies, as well as those specializing in medical devices and cloud computing, have also flourished.
As the local tech community has grown, local venture capital firms have formed in the state, providing seed money as well as participating in later funding rounds. According to CB Insights, more than $2.6 billion has been invested in the 10 most well-funded companies in Utah.
POSITIONING, INFLECTION, MARKET CALLS
With the momentum driving U.S. stocks to one record after another showing few signs of breaking, even a group of money managers ranked as the most skeptical are loading up on equities. That’s according to a weekly survey by the National Association of Active Investment Managers, which found them to be more than 90 percent long the market. They typically have a net short position averaging 93 percent, according to data going back to 2006.
Asian stocks reached a 10-year high on Thursday, riding the bull run in global equity markets, while the dollar sagged after the Federal Reserve showed a more guarded view towards inflation.
Asia took cues from Wall Street, where major indexes rose to yet another set of record closing highs overnight following a report that a market-friendly candidate was being pushed as successor to Janet Yellen at the helm of the Fed.
Wage growth would be exactly what Trump voters (and anyone concerned by rising inequality) want to see. But it would be doubly bad for Wall Street. It would both eat into margins, but raise the chances of higher rates from the Federal Reserve. That would endanger hopes for future profit growth and multiple expansion.
David Kostin of Goldman Sachs suggests that what executives have to say in their earnings calls about wage pressures and their ability to retain workers will be critical to how this earnings season is received. No issue preoccupies Wall Street more at present — with the possible exception of the prospects for a corporate tax cut, which would transform 2018 earnings prospects if something can be agreed by the end of the year.
Even given concerns about margins, it looks a very good bet that earnings will eclipse forecasts. Savita Subramanian of BofA points out that of the trickle of companies to report so far, 87 per cent have beaten on earnings and 70 per cent on both earnings and sales. This ties with the second quarter as the best showing by early reporting companies since the bank started keeping records in 2012.
The problem is that such beats have already been priced in by the strong markets of recent weeks. She adds: “A solid earnings season may not be enough to move the market higher — valuations are lofty, focus has increasingly shifted to policy, and last quarter, for the first time since the peak of the Tech Bubble, beats were not rewarded”.
HEDGE FUNDS, PRIVATE EQUITY, MONEY MGMT
Could Bridgewater be the next Bernie Madoff Investment Securities LLC. While we don’t know the answer, the following stark and concerning questions posed by Jim Grant should certainly prompt some thoughts.
Jim Grant, editor of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, said he’s bearish on Bridgewater Associates because founder Ray Dalio has become less focused on investing, while the firm lacks transparency and has produced lackluster returns.
In a five-page critique of the world’s largest hedge fund, Grant said Dalio has been preoccupied with his new book, sitting for media interviews and sending Tweets.
“Such activities have one thing in common: They are not investing,” Grant writes in the Oct. 6 issue of his newsletter. “Yet here he is, laying it all out to the world again, Tweeting, promoting his book, attacking the press — necessarily doing less of his day job than he would otherwise do.”
Morgan Stanley plans to charge about $2,500 an hour for private meetings with its stock analysts, almost twice the rate of many top corporate lawyers, once new European Union financial rules kick in next year. according to people with knowledge of the plan.
The fee is on top of the annual rate Morgan Stanley plans to charge some clients for basic access to its equity research portal once the MiFID II regulations come into force in January, the people said, asking not to be named as the negotiations are private. The bank also quoted a small client $25,000 annually for five users for basic equity research access and five total hours of analyst time, another person said.
The price tag for meetings makes the time of a Morgan Stanley analyst more valuable than even a top commercial lawyer — the hourly rate for a partner at a prestigious London law firm can be as much as 1,100 pounds ($1,450), according to one analysis last year. The one-on-one meeting prices can vary depending on the seniority and ranking of the analyst, the people said.
“It is classic supply and demand,” says Ari Rubenstein, chief executive of Global Trading Systems, a high-speed trader. “A lot of firms are sophisticated and are now mature at building innovative technology that enables them to supply liquidity to the marketplace . . . So profit margins are suffering.”
Europe’s looming regulatory overhaul is inducing a “massive headache” for the US finance industry, which is still anxiously waiting for regulators to resolve crucial conflicts with American rules, according to representatives of US banks and investment groups.
The EU’s new regulations for the continent’s financial markets, known as Mifid II, come into effect at the start of 2018 and have profound implications for global markets — especially in the US, where local rules sometimes conflict with the thrust of the new European rule book.
ENERGY COMPANIES, NOCs, INDUSTRY
Last week as the US reported a record 2m barrels a day in crude oil exports, refineries located up the highway from Washington on the east coast imported about 900,000 b/d, mainly from Africa.
A big reason is the Jones Act, a 97-year-old US law that requires all ships starting and ending their voyages on US coasts to be American-flagged, built and crewed.
What animates critics in the oil market about the Jones Act is that it increases the cost of shipping crude from the Gulf coast to the east coast above the rate charged by foreign-flagged carriers. That helps incentivise exports from Texas oilfields and imports by refiners in the east. The reliance on shipping reflects the fact that no crude oil pipelines link the oilfields of the central US to the east coast.
“It’s basically a constraint on the efficient operation of the oil market,” says Sandy Fielden, director of research for commodities and energy at Morningstar.
Ending the export ban has caused shipments to soar to countries previously blocked from buying US oil, including long hauls to Asia. Crude oil exports to countries other than Canada are averaging about 325,000 b/d this year, ClipperData’s records show, more than treble the levels of 2015.
ENERGY CRUDE OIL, OIL SANDS, SHALE
The head of Libya’s national oil company has warned that the country’s recovery in oil output is under threat as it has only received a quarter of its budget from the UN-backed government.
Mustafa Sanalla, the NOC chairman, told reporters in London that a target of 1.25m barrels a day of output was “very uncertain” with current production around 1m.
While that level is around four times higher than early 2016 the recovery is in jeopardy, with damage from earlier fighting still hampering production while political uncertainty in the country has led to a number of shut-ins at fields otherwise capable of producing.
Sanctions against Russia are likely to stay in place for at least the next 10 years, the country’s second-largest oil company has said, at a time of sharply deteriorating relations between Moscow and the west.
Russian oil and gas companies should prepare for long-term restrictions, Lukoil’s chief executive said, while also backing the extension of a deal between Russia and Opec to reduce crude output if oil prices fall below $50 a barrel.
Opec expects stronger demand for its crude oil next year due to higher consumption growth and lower estimates for supply from outside the cartel, as relatively low prices boost driving and crimp output.
The cartel’s monthly oil market report said its in-house analysts now expected demand for Opec’s oil to reach 33.1m barrels a day in 2018, up by roughly 200,000 b/d from last month’s forecast, with the reason for the increase largely split between stronger demand and lower estimates of non-Opec supply.
OPEC crude-oil production jumped last month by nearly 90,000 barrels a day, complicating the cartel’s efforts to limit output, curb the global supply glut and raise oil prices.
Output by members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries rose by 0.27%, to 32.75 million barrels a day in September, compared with the month prior. That level was about 100,000 barrels a day higher than the average in 2016, a year of elevated output from OPEC.
The comments are consistent with the country’s longstanding pattern of trying to jawbone the market when it wants higher prices. Based on Monday’s activity, the effort didn’t work. “The fact that we did not get any significant strength from the Saudi news is rather disheartening for the bulls,” Stephen Schork, an analyst and author of the Schork Report, told the WSJ . “The market is very skeptical of this.
Of course, real cuts to oil exports will be felt if they are carried out, but after a few years of getting jerked around by every utterance from OPEC, the markets want to see proof in the pudding. Aggressive rhetoric no longer moves the market the way it did a year ago, so we’ll have to just wait and see what OPEC does at its November meeting.
ENERGY RENEWABLES, NUCLEAR
The U.K. might soon be powering its lights with energy that comes from the trash. A Danish energy company is working on new machines that sort household trash from recycling, while rapidly breaking down organic materials like food to create power from biogas produced by the process.
Dong Energy A/S, which runs hundreds of wind turbines in the North Sea, says its plant 30 kilometers (19 miles) outside of Manchester is one of the first to use enzymes on an entire waste stream and then combine it with recycling sorting technology. That would be particularly helpful in cities where space is at a premium and small apartments often have room for only one trash bin.
COMMODITIES BASE METALS, MATERIALS
The price of steelmaking ingredient iron ore, a major source of profit for some of the world’s biggest mining companies, has fallen below $60 a tonne on concern demand will suffer from an environmental crackdown in China.
Beijing has ordered heavily polluting industries that operate in the smog prone provinces of Hebei, Shanxi and Shandong to reduce output and curb emissions over the winter heating season, a period that runs from October to March.
POLLUTION, CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT
The outbreak of plague in Madagascar has spread to the Seychelles, a nearby chain of islands in the Indian Ocean, the country’s health ministry said Wednesday.
According to the ministry, a 34-year-old man who fell ill after returning from Madagascar on Friday has tested positive for pneumonic plague. He is now in isolation at Seychelles Hospital and is receiving antibiotics. Fifteen people who had contact with him after his return also have been given antibiotics as a precaution and are under surveillance, the ministry said.
In Kenya, they are called the “clothes of dead white people.” In Mozambique, they are the “clothing of calamity.” They are nicknames for the unwanted, used clothing from the West that so often ends up in Africa.
Now, a handful of countries here in East Africa no longer want the foreign hand-me-downs dumped on them because they’re trying to manufacture their own clothes. But they say they’re being punished for it — by the United States.
Here in East Africa, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan and Burundi have been trying to phase out imports of secondhand clothing and shoes over the last year, saying the influx of old items undermines their efforts to build domestic textile industries. The countries want to impose an outright ban by 2019.
Across Africa, secondhand merchandise is the primary source of clothing — much as it is for cars, planes, hospital equipment, computers and sometimes even drugs that have passed their expiration date.
Buses with Japanese lettering are ubiquitous. Planes in Congo have signs in Italian. Aspirin from Europe past its sell-by-date floods markets in Cameroon. Old medical equipment from the Netherlands lies idle in hospitals in South Africa. Ghana has become a dumping ground for huge amounts of electronic waste.
BREXIT, SCOXIT, LONDON, UK ECONOMY
Brexit talks are at a virtual political standstill, with no substantial advances made in the fifth round of negotiations, according to several diplomats briefed on the discussions.
Expectations were low for the final UK-EU negotiating round before a crucial summit next week, where EU27 leaders are almost certain to declare there has been insufficient progress to move from divorce to trade talks.
Negotiators were still surprised, however, at the lack of movement in any areas this week, most notably on the big outstanding questions over citizen rights. One official directly involved in the process said: “There was nothing, zero, no progress.”
Europe will be the big winner of Brexit, Germany’s economics minister said, as UK-headquartered companies move to the continent and Emmanuel Macron’s reform push leads to a new “spirit of revival” that will benefit the whole of the EU.
Brigitte Zypries made the prediction on Wednesday as she revealed the German economy was growing at a faster rate than previously estimated. The government now expects gross domestic product growth of 2 per cent this year, up from a forecast of 1.5 per cent, as Europe’s economic powerhouse continues to charge ahead. The economy will also grow by 1.9 per cent in 2018, she said.
Devising a legal way for the U.K. to continue to trade with the EU “on current terms” while no longer in the EU? Teresa May’s Brexit proposed Brexit transition period would be fiendishly difficult to pull off.
Anxious about political trends in Germany that are sowing divisions with the United States under President Trump, foreign-policy experts have warned the incoming German government that the trans-Atlantic relationship must be preserved at all costs.
In a manifesto titled “In Spite of It All, America,” the German signatories said: “The liberal world order, with its foundation in multilateralism, its global norms and values, its open societies and markets, is in danger” from the Trump administration because of its “America First” credo. But, the manifesto says, “It is exactly this order on which Germany’s freedom and prosperity depends.”
“If Germany wants to be an effective actor in Europe,” the paper says, “it needs the United States.”
The document, to be published in Thursday’s edition of the weekly Die Zeit newspaper, suggests that the government should concentrate on the fundamentals of the trans-Atlantic relationship with the United States, like security, and avoid more contentious issues like trade and migration.
The Chinese government is pushing some of its biggest tech companies—including Tencent, Weibo and a unit of Alibaba—to give the state a stake in them and a direct role in corporate decisions.
While the authoritarian government already exerts heavy sway over businesses through regulation, a management role would give Beijing a direct hand in innovative companies that service hundreds of millions of Chinese.
Troubled by huge debts run up by big state companies and politically connected local governments, China is taking steps instead to go after the little guys.
Chinese officials have ordered provincial governments to establish online platforms naming those who do not pay their obligations, official media reported this week. The lists should be maintained by local news organizations as well as courts and regulators, the report said, with an aim of exposing deadbeats and pressuring them to pay up.
The new effort is unlikely to affect big borrowers, like major state-owned companies and other big firms, whose debts are almost never called in. But it could intensify and centralize officials’ broader moves to assign ratings to individuals based on creditworthiness and other criteria; practices like credit scoring are only just now taking off in the country.
The world’s largest lender by assets has seen a near doubling of its share price in less than two years. Now, a growing chorus of analysts argue that improving asset quality, a shadow-banking crackdown and international comparisons could justify a still-higher valuation for Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd., currently worth HK$2.54 trillion ($325 billion).
A government campaign to tackle excessive leverage is curbing China’s shadow banking sector, which will benefit large lenders like ICBC. Asset quality is improving at the major state-owned enterprises, allowing the lenders to reduce reserves against bad debts. And ICBC still trades at a large discount to international peers, even after the 73 percent surge from the low in February 2016.
China’s new digital barons are rising. One of its most ambitious global deal makers is falling. And a property mogul who likes to borrow heavily is on top.
Xu Jiayin — an entrepreneur behind China Evergrande Group, one of the country’s most aggressive property developers — has become the country’s richest person, according to a survey released on Thursday by The Hurun Report, which tracks wealth in the country.
The results paint a broad picture of a dynamic economy fueled by consumption as well as a voracious appetite for real estate. Both are helping to fuel growth in a country where the traditional engines of manufacturing and big spending on government projects are beginning to lose power.
“The top 10 on our rich list had a year like they’ve never had for 10 years,” said Rupert Hoogewerf, Hurun’s chairman.
Still, the list released Thursday also points out some of China’s weaknesses. The Chinese authorities are struggling to tame surging property prices, which have added to the wealth of homeowners but made housing increasingly unaffordable for many. Much of China’s economic activity continues to be fueled by debt.
He has fallen to fifth place in this year’s Hurun rich list with a net worth of $23bn, down more than a quarter from last year. Xu Jiayin, head of property group Evergrande, now tops the rankings with a fortune of $43bn. Mr Xu, also known as Hui Ka-yan, has focused on the domestic market and funded domestic football.
The shift in the rankings underlines how authorities are favouring entrepreneurs who support China’s domestic growth above those who pursue cross-border trophy acquisitions that deplete China’s foreign exchange reserves.
Removing the two generals was the latest step by Mr. Xi to strengthen his grip on the military, a pillar of Communist Party power. On the eve of the party congress, which will kick off his second five-year term as the nation’s leader, he seems to have concluded that he must exert greater control to remake the country’s armed forces into a power worthy of China’s global standing.
Mr. Xi’s reorganization of the military has already gone further than seemed possible under his recent predecessors, but as the overhaul and its attendant personnel cuts have begun to take shape, Mr. Xi has confronted poor coordination among branches of the armed forces and foot-dragging from senior officers whose positions have been threatened.
Most foreign news organizations in mainland China rely heavily on Chinese nationals to navigate the country’s complex bureaucracy, flag important developments, and find people willing to be quoted in a foreign paper. But China bans its citizens from working as full-fledged journalists for these publications. Instead, they are only allowed to offer “assistance,” after they sign employment contracts with agencies affiliated with the Chinese foreign ministry, according to a set of regulations released by the ministry in 2008. In other words, news assistants in foreign organizations are officially employed by the Chinese government, much like Chinese staffers at foreign diplomatic missions. (The restrictions don’t apply to Chinese nationals based in Hong Kong.)
Bain Capital is planning on further ramping up its dealmaking in Japan after it came out on top in the recent battle to purchase Toshiba’s semiconductors arm and as it bids to buy out Japan’s third-largest advertising agency, Asatsu-DK (ADK).
In making further acquisitions, the Boston-based Bain would cement its position as one of the most active private equity firms in Japan and help to break down a corporate culture that has been mostly hostile to foreign investors.
“Japan is a hard market. It takes years to build teams, relationships, credibility,” said David Gross-Loh, who is Bain’s co-head of Asia and is in charge of its business in Japan, in an interview. “I wouldn’t be surprised that five years from now we’ll have twice as many deals as we do now.”
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is poised for a big victory in Oct. 22 parliamentary elections, according to five polls by major Japanese news organizations that forecast trouble for a challenge by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike.
GEOPOLITICS, CRIME, TERRORISM
Survivors said they saw government soldiers stabbing babies, cutting off boys’ heads, gang-raping girls, shooting 40-millimeter grenades into houses, burning entire families to death, and rounding up dozens of unarmed male villagers and summarily executing them.
Much of the violence was flamboyantly brutal, intimate and personal — the kind that is detonated by a long, bitter history of ethnic hatred.
“People were holding the soldiers’ feet, begging for their lives,” Rajuma said. “But they didn’t stop, they just kicked them off and killed them. They chopped people, they shot people, they raped us, they left us senseless.”
Human rights investigators said that Myanmar’s military killed more than 1,000 civilians in the state of Rakhine, and possibly as many as 5,000, though it will be hard to ever know because Myanmar is not allowing the United Nations or anyone else into the affected areas.
Peter Bouckaert, a veteran investigator with Human Rights Watch, said there was growing evidence of organized massacres, like the one Rajuma survived, in which government soldiers methodically slaughtered more than 100 civilians in a single location. He called them crimes against humanity.
On Wednesday, the United Nations human rights office said that government troops had targeted “houses, fields, food-stocks, crops, livestock and even trees,” making it “almost impossible” for the Rohingya to return home.
PROPAGANDA, CORRUPTION, AUTHORITARIANISM
Why Vance was gun-shy in prosecuting Weinstein and the Trumps is hard to know. Whether his reluctance speaks to his honesty, judgment, or competence, is unclear. But his excuses in both cases for not prosecuting are extremely troubling, and do not inspire confidence in his impartial and aggressive enforcement of criminal law.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance on Wednesday defended his office’s decision not to prosecute disgraced Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein or members of the Trump family.
He denied specifically that any donations to his campaign had or would ever influence his decisions. Weinstein was accused of sexual assault in 2015, and Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. were investigated earlier this decade for allegedly misleading real estate buyers.
Vance’s office has faced criticism for accepting a $10,000 donation from David Boies, an attorney for Weinstein, in August 2015, according to campaign financial disclosure forms from the New York State Board of Elections. The donation came just months after Vance’s office declined to press charges against Weinstein. Stephen Sigmund, a spokesman for Vance, said in a statement that Boies was not Weinstein’s lawyer in that criminal case.
Barrack, in interviews with The Washington Post, said he has been “shocked” and “stunned” by some of the president’s rhetoric and inflammatory tweets. He disagrees with some of Trump’s proposals, including his efforts to ban immigrants from certain Muslim countries and his push for a border wall with Mexico. He wonders why his longtime friend spends so much of his time appealing to the fringes of American politics.
Comics including Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel took aim at Trump for his feuds with Bob Corker and Rex Tillerson, who he challenged to an IQ test
“We wrestle with him annually,” Lane said. “Donald Trump cares more about where he ranks on the Forbes 400 than anyone in our 35-year history.” In fact, Lane said, “we used to have at Forbes what we called the ‘Donald Trump rule,’ which whatever Donald Trump tells you, you divide by three and that probably is what he’s really worth.”
TRADE, PROTECTIONISM, REGULATION, OVERSIGHT
President Donald Trump picked cybersecurity expert Kirstjen Nielsen to be the next Homeland Security secretary, putting a low-profile figure into a critical job after former Secretary John Kelly was named White House chief of staff.
Ms. Nielsen, 45 years old, was Mr. Kelly’s chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security. She followed him to the White House, where she serves as principal deputy chief of staff, Mr. Kelly’s top aide. Her close relationship with Mr. Kelly was critical in the decision to name her to the post, people familiar with the selection said Wednesday.
Secretaries of homeland security have traditionally been high-profile figures, including former governors and, with Mr. Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general. That isn’t the case with Ms. Nielsen. But administration officials point to her wealth of experience in many issues the agency handles and note that she would be the first secretary to have worked at the agency before.
CONSUMER TECH, SOCIAL MEDIA, E-COMMERCE, MOBILE
Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg announced an ambitious goal of getting a billion people into virtual reality and said he wants to ensure the technology is “a force for good.”
The comments, made Wednesday at Facebook’s annual Oculus Connect developers’ conference, conveyed a different tone for the CEO: anticipating the negative ways a new technology can be used, ahead of its widespread use. They follow a torrent of criticism leveled at Facebook for its hands-off policy on controversial information ranging from the live broadcasting of murders and suicides on its app, to its display of ads and content intended to sow social discord.
High-end virtual reality has been stymied thus far by high prices, plus the need for expensive computers to run it on, so the latest moves are a step in the right direction. But Facebook and its VR rivals still lack a killer app that can help sell the concept. Oculus said it is working with respected videogame developer Respawn on a new title but it isn’t expected until 2019.
RETAIL APPAREL, SPECIALTY, DINING, BIG BOX
Restaurant chains are turning to complex debt deals that lower their borrowing costs, but at the price of control over their most valuable assets.
This summer, Domino’s Pizza Inc. sold $1.9 billion of bonds backed by essentially all of its revenue streams, including payments from franchisees, intellectual property and license and distribution agreements. The deal, which allowed it to borrow at well below the going rates on junk bonds, was the latest example of firms putting all their cash-generating assets into separate entities that are used to back the debt.
The practice, known as whole-business securitization, is enabling companies to issue bonds more cheaply by effectively giving lenders more-direct access to the most valuable pieces of their enterprises. The companies that have done these deals tend to have stable cash flows, but many would likely have trouble getting investment-grade ratings if they wanted to issue typical corporate bonds, market participants say.
In some ways, the structure requires the company and investor to iron out what would happen to the debt in a hypothetical bankruptcy before the securities are even issued. Typically with these deals, cash flows like franchise fees continue to be pledged for repayment, and investors can snatch the assets in the event of a default.
While the company generally benefits from lower borrowing costs, the rigidity of the debt structure can leave it with less ability to issue debt outside the securitization or sell assets if its cash flows start to decline.
MEDIA, CABLE, SPORTS, ENTERTAINMENT
Medium’s biggest challenge, according to many of these sources: its capricious founder and CEO. Today’s Medium is the product of five years’ worth of zigzagging decisions that Williams has made as its leader — which makes its path forward unclear.
“I don’t even have to make an argument against it,” said one ex-employee, bluntly, of the most recent change. “I just have to wait six months.”
For many tech startups, continued refinement of a business model is all part of the process. But writers and publishers who’ve dealt with Medium and its unpredictable strategic shifts say they’ve begun to realize that Bay Area techno-utopian startup culture may be an inherent mismatch with the business of publishing — or, at the very least, that Medium’s culture is.
“Ev Williams is trying to brute force his way through the problem of publishing and monetization,” said Choire Sicha, cofounder of The Awl network, which migrated a handful of its sites onto Medium during its publisher partner phase in late 2015 and early 2016. “In doing so, he has upended people’s lives — he has upended good publications.”
“I understand the desire to be agile and to pivot, and to try new things when things aren’t working,” Sicha continued. “But it’s destructive — you can’t try people and things on, then discard them. It’s not how a media company or a publishing company can work.”
AUTOS, ELECTRIC, SELF-DRIVING
A $2.7 trillion chasm stands between electric vehicles and the infrastructure needed to make them popular. That’s how much Morgan Stanley says must be spent on building the supporting ecosystem for EVs to reach its forecast of 526 million units by 2040.
The estimate, projected by scaling up Tesla Inc.’s current network of charging stations to assembly plants, shows how infrastructure can be the biggest bottleneck for the industry’s expansion, Morgan Stanley said in a Oct. 9 report.
To support half a billion EVs, the projected investment will require a mix of private and public funding across regions and sectors, and any auto company or government with aggressive targets will be at risk without the necessary infrastructure, the report said.
The industry shift to battery-powered cars is being helped by government efforts to reduce air pollution by phasing out fossil fuel-powered engines. China, which has vowed to cap its carbon emissions by 2030 and improve air quality, recently joined the U.K. and France in seeking a timetable for the elimination of vehicles using gasoline and diesel.
China will become the largest EV market, accounting for about a third of global infrastructure spending by 2040, according to Morgan Stanley.
AIRLINES, SHIPPERS, RAIL, TRANSPORTS
European travelers haven’t had an easy ride of late. Monarch Airlines went belly up last week, stranding 100,000 mostly British passengers across Europe. And, for weeks now, Ryanair has been canceling thousands of flights.
Weaker carriers have fallen by the wayside amid fierce competition, while others have been hit by bad luck. The result: thousands of canceled flights.
“Passengers have had a really good run for a long time with incredibly cheap tickets,” said Andrew Charlton, managing director of Aviation Advocacy, a consultancy. But, he added, “Europe’s got too many airlines.” The shakeout, along with other issues, has made for some tough travel in Europe.
AEROSPACE, MILITARY & DEFENSE
Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. successfully launched another reused rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida as it continues its mission to drive down flight costs through refurbishment and reusability.
The launch, SpaceX’s 15th this year, carried a high-powered communications satellite for customers EchoStar Corp. and SES SA to geostationary transfer orbit.
The secretary of the U.S. Navy plans to unveil potentially far-reaching changes in the wake of a deadly collisions at sea that led to the dismissal Wednesday of two top commanders.
Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has said the accidents are part of a larger trend of military units being asked to do too much with too little. Mr. McCain has said the military must make better assessments of what they need.
A day after a decade’s worth of mistakes came home to roost, the U.S. federation now needs to clean up a program that for too long clung to aging talent and false hopes.
Or at least that’s what is supposed to happen after the debacle of Tuesday night, when in the space of 90 minutes, on a soggy field in a sleepy stadium in Trinidad, the Americans lost to a last-place team with nothing to play for and were denied a spot in the 2018 World Cup.
How U.S. Soccer got here is a long tale of a broken system. At the grass-roots, good young players are treated vastly differently in this country than virtually anywhere else in the developed world.
Everywhere else, a young player with promise joins a local club and is trained and cultivated throughout childhood by the club itself. In the U.S. a good young player joins a travel team and his parents are told to foot the bill for coaching, travel, uniforms, equipment and any additional training.
“We have to get to point in the U.S. where, when you are a good young player interested in the game, the first thing you get handed isn’t an invoice for several thousand dollars,” U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said two years ago.
The U.S. Soccer Federation invests millions of dollars each year to increase participation and train coaches, and Major League Soccer’s franchises have in recent years begun to open youth academies. But those efforts are a pittance compared with what happens in so many countries, where local athletic clubs view raising the next generation of players as both a civic responsibility and an investment, because one of them just might turn out to be the next Lionel Messi.
Six thousand years or more of human civilization have come to this: In the citadel’s central square is a tall metal pole with a Kurdish flag the size of a boxcar. Down in the new city, black smoke belches from dozens of rooftop diesel generators during daily power cuts. Their cacophonous roar disrupts the tranquillity of the scene, while hanging over it all for days on end is the pungent smell of burning plastic from a nearby trash dump.
Because of the regional Kurdish government’s ban on tall buildings in a buffer zone around the citadel, it retains a commanding aspect over the city, and its ancient sobriquet, “the Crown of Erbil.” Even today, much of the road system in Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdish region, is arranged like the spokes of a wheel, with the citadel as the hub.
May Shaer, an architect who was Unesco’s project director on the citadel, said that there were other sites as ancient, and fortified cities as big, but that few combined a living city on top of an enormous archaeological mound, connecting ancient and modern history in an unbroken stream.
“It is really very rare,” she said, “really interesting.”
To hold on to the citadel’s “continuously occupied” title after the evictions, Kurdish officials arranged for one family to remain in their ancestral home in the middle of the old town.
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