GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian share markets cautious, pound stumbles on Brexit drama

GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian share markets cautious, pound stumbles on Brexit dramaThe Brexit maelstrom, worries over slowing global growth and international trade frictions have kept investors on edge over recent months. The vote for an extension dealt a blow to optimism that a deal agreed last week would ensure Brexit happens with little economic disruption. While the British government insisted Brexit will take place on Oct. 31, uncertainty over whether the EU will agree a delay and how British lawmakers will respond could weigh on sentiment over the week.

South Korea Exports Set for Another Drop as Trade Woes Drag

South Korea Exports Set for Another Drop as Trade Woes Drag(Bloomberg) -- South Korea’s exports are poised for an 11th monthly decline as China’s economy slows and tech demand struggles to rebound.Exports during the first 20 days of October fell 20% from a year earlier, data from the Korea Customs Service showed Monday. Shipments to China, South Korea’s biggest trading partner, also dropped 20%.South Korea’s 20-day trade data is closely watched as an indicator for global demand, due to their early release. With trade weakness hurting investment and consumption, the country saw its consumer prices drop for the first time in September while producer and export prices sank as well.“As a leading indicator for the global economy, Korean export prices are key,” Rory Green, an economist with research firm TS Lombard, said before the release. “The decline in export prices reflects continued weakness in core global economic drivers, namely China and the broader technology sector.”With South Korea’s economy headed for the slowest expansion since the global financial crisis, the government is ramping up spending while the Bank of Korea last week cut interest rates for a second time this year to support growth. The latest trade data indicates there’s no immediate sign of the outlook improving for the economy, despite a tentative truce in the U.S. and China trade war.Semiconductor sales, which account for the largest share of exports, declined 29%. Overseas shipment of automobiles dropped 6.5%.Overall imports fell 20% in the first 20 days of October from a year earlier. Exports to the U.S. slid 17%, while imports dropped 22%.Shipments to Japan dropped 21%, while imports plummeted 30%. The two neighbors are embroiled in a trade spat linked to lingering disagreements over Japan’s colonial past.Considering the difference in the number of working days, daily exports value fell 13.5% on average during the first 20 days of October from a year earlier, the data show.(Updates with economist comment, additional details.)To contact the reporter on this story: Sam Kim in Seoul at [email protected] contact the editors responsible for this story: Malcolm Scott at [email protected], Jiyeun LeeFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Hedge Funds Piled Into MongoDB (MDB) At The Wrong Time

Hedge Funds Piled Into MongoDB (MDB) At The Wrong TimeOur extensive research has shown that imitating the smart money can generate significant returns for retail investors, which is why we track nearly 750 active prominent money managers and analyze their quarterly 13F filings. The stocks that are heavily bought by hedge funds historically outperformed the market, though there is no shortage of high profile […]

Trump Says His Doral Resort No Longer Considered for G7 Venue

Trump Says His Doral Resort No Longer Considered for G7 VenueOct.20 -- President Donald Trump pulled his Trump National Doral golf resort in Miami as the venue for the 2020 Group of Seven meeting after facing widespread criticism that he was using a major government event for personal gain. Meanwhile, some of Trump’s closest associates are assembling a roster of possible replacements if the president decides to replace Mick Mulvaney, his acting chief of staff, said three people close to the situation. Ros Krasny reports on "Bloomberg Daybreak: Australia."

In a big reversal, Libra reportedly could peg its cryptocurrencies to national currencies

Facebook is willing to reverse course on its plans to tie its digital currency project to a synthetic currency tied to a basket of global currencies.

Reuters is reporting that Facebook’s head of the Libra project, David Marcus, told a group of bankers that the company’s main goal was to create a better payments system and was open to alternative approaches to the original structure of the project.

Facebook and its partners had intended to create its cryptocurrency by pegging it to a basket of national currencies whose holdings would be set by the Libra Association.

National banks considered the plan part of a dangerous end-run around their regulatory authority and have been holding up the project until they could assume tighter control over how the Facebook-architected cryptocurrency and payment technology would operate.

The scrutiny from regulators proved too much for some of Facebook’s largest, and earliest, partners in the Libra Association, whose members would determine how the cryptocurrency would operate.

In the past month seven of the Libra Association’s founding members dropped out including: PayPal, Mastercard, Visa, Ebay, and Stripe. Those seven represented a big chunk of the strategic value and commercial heft of the planned association, with Stripe, Mastercard, Visa, and Ebay standing in for a huge number of payment processors and merchant touchpoints that the new cryptocurrency would need were it to dramatically scale to the size Facebook wanted right out of the gate.

Now, in another strategic reversal, Marcus is conceding the synthetic currency in favor of stablecoins tied to the local currency in each market that Libra would operate.


“We could do it differently,” Reuters quoted the Libra Association chief as saying. “Instead of having a synthetic unit … we could have a series of stablecoins, a dollar stablecoin, a euro stablecoin, a sterling pound stable coin, etc.”

All of this is happening against the backdrop of Facebook’s stated launch date of June 2020 for the Libra cryptocurrency. Marcus told Reuters that the June launch was still the goal, but that the association would not move forward unless it had addressed the concerns of regulators and received the proper approvals.

Those approvals are becoming harder to come by as the regulators who overseen global monetary policy cast a more skeptical eye at on stablecoins as well.

Reuters reported that the G-20 financial overseers wrote in a statement that money laundering, illicit finance and consumer protection need to be evaluated before any stablecoin projects can “commence operation.”


Should we rethink the politics of ‘blocking’?

Years ago, I wrote a piece criticizing a cover story by a well-known writer and political commentator that I’d met a few times, with whom I’d occasionally sparred on Twitter. The piece wasn’t merely a representation of my own views, but pulled in snarky tweets from other journalists disparaging her work too. It was a pile-on, and not my proudest moment.

The Writer wasn’t exactly thin-skinned; in fact, quite the contrary: She was a brash, sometimes obnoxious feminist with strong opinions, unafraid to speak her mind. I often agreed with her, even when I found her delivery abrasive. Still, after a couple of years with me as a thorn in her side, she decided she’d had enough—and so she did something that many readers will find familiar: She blocked me on Twitter.

The block button is an important tool that allows women and other vulnerable people to have some semblance of the same Twitter experience that the average white man might, free from constant harassment. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve used it over the years to drown out nasty ad hominems, sea lions, and of course, sexual harassment and worse. 

Twitter wasn’t always the “hell site” we know it as today. Many early users like me found professional advancement and lasting friendship in 140-character missives. But as the site grew, so did its potential for misuse. By 2014—two years shy of its tenth anniversary—Twitter had become central to the GamerGate controversy, ostensibly a dispute about issues of sexism and progressivism in gaming but on Twitter, a free-for-all of harassment and doxing of any woman even tangentially involved in the discussion. The harassment was so severe that it drove some women off the site permanently.

Out of GamerGate emerged better tools for blocking, tools like BlockTogether that allow individual users to share a list of people they’ve blocked. The idea behind these tools is that harassers are likely to have multiple targets, so why not make it easier for potential targets of harassment to block numerous would-be harassers all at once?

But BlockTogether and similar tools are not without flaws. Once you’re on a blocklist, it can be hard to get your name removed and if you end up, for whatever reason, on one created by a prominent or well-respected user, you may find yourself blocked by people you don’t know and would’ve enjoyed following. Some might call this reasonable collateral damage.

Numerous journalists and others have complained of finding themselves on a blocklist after a disagreement with an individual who uses them. I’m unfortunately on one used by a number of journalists. Why, you might ask, was I blocked in the first place? I remember quite clearly: It was for disagreeing with someone about the life sentence handed to Ross Ulbricht, the creator of the Silk Road website. For my opinion, I’ve lost the ability to follow or interact with dozens of journalists whose work I read.

Despite that, I don’t blame women or other minorities who’ve experienced harassment for using the block button liberally. Blocking someone isn’t a matter of free speech (unless of course the blocker in question is an elected official), as some of my harassers have claimed—rather, it’s often a matter of preserving one’s sanity. The block button, along with blocklists, are useful tools for curating space—not a safe space per se, but one free from random harassers, spammers, and the like. Think of it more as a large invite-only event, as opposed to a New York City street.

And yet, I can’t help but wonder if our liberal use of the block button prevents us from experiencing the kind of reconciliation that can happen in our offline communities. We often remove someone from our life, only for them to apologize their way back in later on. Even the Amish, who practice shunning as a matter of faith, allow for the repented to return.

twitter logo sketch wide inverted

Twitter’s architecture has changed over time, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse. Presently, its algorithm sometimes surfaces replies from people you do follow, to tweets from individuals you don’t, based on some assumption that you mind find them interesting. Occasionally, it will surface a reply from a friend to someone with a locked account or, in rare cases, to someone who blocks you, as it did for me the other day. Someone I follow had replied with an interesting comment to a tweet from The Writer—a tweet that, of course, I couldn’t see without logging out and going directly to her profile. And so I did.

What I found was someone who, with that same fierce energy, seemed a lot more thoughtful, with views more similar to mine than I remembered. I felt a momentary pang of sadness for the camaraderie that might have been. I realized the obvious: That we’ve both grown, alongside the backdrop of the horrific political environment that’s accompanied us through the past half-decade. “Have you thought about reaching out to her?” a friend asked.

Therein lies the rub: In the case of The Writer, I could reach out to her; we’ve met in person a few times, and we retain mutual friends. She might respond favorably, or with a “thanks but no thanks”, but either way, it’s unlikely she would deem my approach to be harassment. But there’s this other journalist I’ve never interacted with, who no doubt signed up to a blocklist that I happened to be on. I discovered that she blocked me when I went to read a tweet someone had DM’d me, and was disappointed—but reaching out to her through some other channel would seem weird, invasive. It isn’t worth it.

I recently reviewed my own list of blocked accounts (you can do so through your settings), a list that numbers well into the hundreds. Most aren’t worth revisiting—there’s sexual harassers and transphobes, Bahraini bots and Roseanne Barr, some Trumpites and a few high-profile right-wing accounts. But among them, close to the bottom of the list (coinciding with the early days of the block button), I spotted a few outliers, and decided to give them a second chance.

Technology is constantly changing and progressing and yet, the block button—and blocklists—remain in rudimentary form. They’re simply not priorities for companies whose focus is on profit. But were we to redesign them, perhaps we could find a way to make blocks time-limited, or at least provide users with more nuanced options. One such existing feature is Facebook’s “snooze” button, which allows users to “mute” another person for 30 days, with a reminder when that time period is up; I found that one particularly handy last summer while a friend was going heavy on self-promotion. I use Twitter’s “mute” function to rid my feed of people with whom I have to interact professionally and thus can’t block. And then there’s the “soft block”—a feature or bug, it isn’t clear—wherein one can block and unblock someone quickly on Twitter so that the user no longer follows them…at least until they wisen up (this feature/bug is made easier by the fact that Twitter seems to be perpetually plagued by an “unfollow bug”). These tools are helpful, but with all the riches these companies have, they could design something—with input from those most affected by harassment—that is less blunt, more elegant, more thoughtful.

Ultimately, the block button is an imperfect solution to a pervasive problem, and therefore remains as necessary as ever. I know that I’ll continue to use it as long as I’m on social media. But…don’t we deserve something better?

Hedge Funds Have Never Been This Bullish On Black Knight, Inc. (BKI)

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Original Content podcast: ‘El Camino’ provides a quiet coda to ‘Breaking Bad’

When a TV show gets turned into a movie, it often represents a big change of pace, with a standalone plot, a bigger budget, all made for a bigger (or at least more casual) audience.

“El Camino: A Breaking Bad Story” — which premiered a week ago on Netflix —doesn’t take that approach at all.

Far from telling a new story or serving as jumping on-point for new viewers, “El Camino” functions more like a two-hour epilogue to the existing show. It appears to have been made exclusively for existing “Breaking Bad” fans who were wondering about what happened to Aaron Paul’s character Jessie Pinkman after the series finale.

As we acknowledge in the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, Jordan is the only regular OC host who’s actually seen the entirety of “Breaking Bad.” And she was reasonably satisfied with the film, feeling that it had some of the same strengths as “Breaking Bad” — though it didn’t quite capture the strong character development and elaborate plotting that made the series great.

Darrell, meanwhile, gets a chance to explain why he’s so resistant to “Breaking Bad,” and why nothing in “El Camino” changed his mind.

In addition to our review, we discuss Netflix’s latest earnings, in which which the streamer reported better-than-expected profits, despite still-sluggish subscriber growth in the United States.

You can listen in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

And if you want to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:

0:00 Intro
2:12 Netflix Q3 earnings
16:06 “El Camino” reviews (spoilers for “Breaking Bad” but not “El Camino”)
38:20 “El Camino” spoiler discussion