What I am watching today = June 7, 2019
Curation and commentary from Marc A. Ross
Reporting from Alexandria, Virginia
Maybot, Walmart, The Fed, Fiat Chrysler, France, Scooters
✔️ Theresa May steps down as leader of the Conservative Party
✔️ Walmart will start delivering online grocery orders directly to refrigerators in shoppers’ homes and garages
✔️ Fed headed for an unusual U-turn as Trump’s trade conflicts escalate
✔️ How Fiat Chrysler’s proposed merger with Renault crashed
✔️ Today: The eighth Women’s World Cup begins in France
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Today: Theresa May steps down as leader of the Conservative Party
Brexit means Brexit.
Strong and Stable.
Her step down as leader of her Conservative Party will formally trigger the race for a successor who will try where she failed to deliver Brexit.
Crowned, defined and destroyed by Brexit, UK PM Theresa May resigns: DW reports, without Brexit, Theresa May might never have occupied 10 Downing Street. It let her in, chewed her up with help from all sides and spat her out. But Brexit isn't done, neither as a policy nor a political career killer.
Brexit Party falls short in its first parliamentary election challenge: WSJ reports, the UK’s opposition Labour Party fended off the upstart euroskeptic Brexit Party during a by-election touted as a litmus test for a protest movement that threatens to reshape British politics.
The Times: Brexit Party fails to unseat Labour in Peterborough by‑election
Matt Chorley: Brexit Party balloon has not burst but it’s losing air
Spain would not obstruct Scottish efforts to join EU: The Times reports, the Spanish government would not block an independent Scotland from joining the European Union if the country’s exit from the UK was “legally achieved”, a senior diplomat said. Miguel Ángel Vecino Quintana, the Spanish consul general in Edinburgh, also insisted that his country would “never intervene in the internal affairs of the United Kingdom”. He spoke out in the wake of reports which had indicated Spain could veto an independent Scotland from being part of the EU.
AFP: Paris to restrict electric scooters after dangerous year on French capital’s streets
Paris is officially fed up with electric scooters: AP reports, Paris is cracking down on electric scooters after an anarchic year in which start-ups flooded the city's streets with their vehicles. The French capital has 12 free-floating scooter operators, more than the entire United States, according to a study released Thursday, and about 20,000 of the two-wheeled vehicles. Broken scooters end up in some of the city's famed gardens or are even tossed over bridges into the Seine, and the city's sidewalks have become something of a battleground between riders and pedestrians.
ESP = End Scooter Pollution
BTW = I used a JUMP bike the other to move around DC - it was wonderful, easy, quick, and cheap.
Bikes > Scooters
OTD: In 1929 the Vatican City became an independent city-state, located entirely within the city of Rome, Italy.
Germany's Greens hit poll high, ahead of Merkel's bloc: survey: DW reports, the opposition Greens have hit a record high in a new opinion poll, pulling ahead of Angela Merkel's conservatives. The center-left SPD have dropped even further, slipping behind the far-right Alternative for Germany.
A Deutschlandtrend poll by Infratest dimap has put the environmentalist Greens up 6 percentage points at a record 26%, one point ahead of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and sister party Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU).
Chile tinkers with its ground-breaking pensions system: Under the current system, those who don’t save get very little. https://econ.st/2QSHutD
Chilean wage growth is improving.
@POLITICOEurope: "We're on the verge of signing an agreement between Mercosur and the European Union," Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro said during a press conference with his Argentine counterpart Mauricio Macri.
Canada votes: Four months before an election, Canadians remain split on whether they see Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or his main rival, Andrew Scheer, as the best manager of the nation’s economy. Asked which leader they trusted to support growth, 30% of Canadians picked Trudeau and 29% chose Scheer, according to a survey this week by Nanos Research Group for Bloomberg News. About a quarter of respondents didn’t trust any of the leaders or were unsure, with the rest trusting leaders of smaller parties.
CNBC: White House kickstarts USMCA trade deal approval process
This was a headline 8 days ago.....
USA-MEX: Mexico and the United States are discussing significant changes in asylum rules and border enforcement that could forestall President Trump from imposing tariffs on all Mexican imports, senior officials from both countries said Thursday.
Trump said Mexico must “step up to the plate” to head off tariffs planned for next week.
Pence said the US still plans to impose tariffs on Mexico next week.
Mexico's vehicle exports continue to climb. However, business investment has been shrinking.
How high will the average US tariff rate get?
Will Washington’s rapid policy shifts on trade end in 2020, or carry on for another four years if Trump is re-elected?
Bloomberg: China's lessons for Mexico on Trump: Dig in and keep it personal
NY Mag: Talking to China expert James McGregor about Trump’s haphazard trade war https://nym.ag/2WUyn0P
Trump allows high-tech US bomb parts to be built in Saudi Arabia: NYT reports, tucked into an emergency order to sell arms to Saudi Arabia is the approval for a defense company to team with the Saudis to build bomb parts there. It raises concerns that the Saudis could gain access to technology that would let them make versions of American precision-guided bombs.
Duterte’s daughter emerges as Philippine presidential contender: FT reports, Sara Duterte’s increased presence on the national stage sparks speculation of run in 2022.
East China Sea + USA + RUS: Russia's Pacific Fleet on Friday accused a US warship of nearly causing a collision with a Russian military vessel in the East China Sea due to what it called dangerous maneuvering.
China warships leave Sydney after surprise visit 'raises hackles': Reuters reports, three Chinese warships sailed out of Sydney on Friday after an unannounced visit that came amid a tussle for influence between Australia and China in the Pacific.
AFP: China has tools to handle trade war: central bank chief
"We have plenty of room in interest rates, we have plenty of room in required reserve ratio rate, and also for the fiscal, monetary policy toolkit, I think the room for adjustment is tremendous," People's Bank of China governor Yi Gang said on Bloomberg TV.
Jacob Lew: America is surrendering the moral high ground over Huawei: Small victories in a trade war come at the price of hard-won global leadership.
"If economic enforcement actions in the name of national security are to be reversed for unrelated concessions, it distorts the purpose of the national security authorities, and gives truth to previously erroneous allegations that national security standards are really non-tariff economic barriers."
"I fear that confusing principle on national security policy with the brass tacks of trade negotiations is damaging that foundation, and we need a course correction."
Australian PM Morrison cautioned against forcing countries to make “binary choices”: Morrison is the region’s latest leader to air concerns about the growing tensions between the US and China.
“Trade conflict between the US and China is testing the system as never before. As independent sovereign nations in the Indo-Pacific, we don’t see our options as binary and nor do we wish them to become so.”
Walmart in your fridge: This fall, Walmart store workers in three cities will start delivering online grocery orders directly to refrigerators in shoppers’ homes and garages, the company said. The workers will wear body cameras clipped to their chests, allowing customers to watch live streams of deliveries being made while they aren’t home. Workers will enter residences equipped with smartlocks, internet-connect devices that can be controlled remotely to unlock a door.
Americans are moving to warmer cities (as the country ages).
Death of a car salesman: Subscriptions disrupt business: Carmakers seek out different models to appeal to streaming generation.
Book to read = Subscribed: Why the Subscription Model Will Be Your Company's Future - and What to Do About It https://amzn.to/2WQGeN2
Satellite constellations could threaten science: The International Astronomical Union (IAU) is voicing concerns about the risk that SpaceX's Starlink and other planned massive satellite constellations in low Earth orbit pose to astronomy.
"The organization, in general, embraces the principle of a dark and radio-quiet sky as not only essential to advancing our understanding of the Universe of which we are a part, but also as a resource for all humanity and for the protection of nocturnal wildlife. We do not yet understand the impact of thousands of these visible satellites scattered across the night sky and despite their good intentions, these satellite constellations may threaten both."
Training a single AI model can emit as much carbon as five cars in their lifetimes: Deep learning has a terrible carbon footprint. http://bit.ly/2WWsGPQ
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, performed a life cycle assessment for training several common large AI models. They found that the process can emit more than 626,000 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent—nearly five times the lifetime emissions of the average American car (and that includes the manufacture of the car itself).
Arii has over 2 million followers. So why did her clothing line fail? Social media star fell short of selling 252 items in 13 days. http://bit.ly/2WMLqBx
252 out of 2.6 million is just over .009%. If you look at that number as a conversion rate, it’s low—too low for anyone who calls themselves an influencer to aspire to. It’s basically less effective than a display ad, which is saying something.
Breaking: May Jobs Report: 75,000 jobs added | Economists expected 180,000 | Unemployment rate stays at 3.6%
House contempt votes: The House Oversight Committee failed to reach an agreement with William Barr and Wilbur Ross and will move forward with a contempt vote for ignoring its subpoena over efforts to add a citizenship question to the census.
FCC to allow telecom companies to block robocalls automatically.
Fed headed for an unusual U-turn as Trump’s trade conflicts escalate: WP reports, the Federal Reserve has signaled it may cut interest rates to counter the effects of a trade war. But doing so would serve almost as an insurance policy that could facilitate the president’s use of tariffs.
Heather Long: Trump probably has the upper hand in trade war — until September
"Trump is also facing a campaign for reelection in 2020, and he’s banking on a strong economy to propel him to victory. There are already signs that Trump’s trade policies are making the markets and economy jittery, and the pain is likely to escalate if he doesn’t make some deals by September."
"But this could change in August and September for two key reasons. First, as he prepares new rounds of tariffs, Trump is dramatically ramping up the costs of the trade war on Americans making it more likely people will start to notice they are paying the tab for these fights."
"Second, according to the National Retail Federation, August and September are the key months when U.S. retailers import goods for the holiday shopping period. If Trump’s tariffs remain in place then, it will be nearly impossible not to pass some — if not all — costs on to consumers for holiday season 2019."
Ross Barkan: Why tariffs could be Trump's undoing: Even otherwise spineless Republican senators are alarmed at Trump’s trade wars – because tariffs are hurting crucial 2020 battleground states.
Flip-flop alert: Joe Biden said he now opposes a ban on the use of federal funds for most abortions, reversing his position amid pressure from fellow Democrats and abortion-rights groups.
Jonathan Bernstein: Yes, Iowa and New Hampshire still matter: It’s true that the nomination contest is increasingly “national.” But the early-voting states are still crucial.
Reuters/Ipsos Dem 2020 poll:
de Blasio 1%
Reuters/Ipsos 2020 head-to-head poll:
Biden 47% (+13)
Sanders 44 (+9)
Warren 40 (+4)
Harris 39 (+3)
Buttigieg 37 (+2)
@Alex_Panetta: Interesting thing here: Trump’s numbers barely budge from one opponent to the next. But Dem opponent numbers diverge wildly, based on name recognition and presumably Indy/Dem enthusiasm
Trump net approval (approval minus disapproval) in key states:
• Penn: +10
• Ohio: +7
• Michigan: +14
• Wisconsin: +6
• Florida: +22
• Ariz: +19
• Penn: -7
• Ohio: -4
• Michigan: -12
• Wisconsin: -13
• Florida: 0
• Ariz: -6
HT Morning Consult
Playboy: A primer for the first Democratic debates: With 2020 looming, the DNC is scrambling to make their debates relevant again. http://bit.ly/2WMIswV
See, I read Playboy for the articles.
HT Alex Thomas = @AlexThomasDC: @Playboy’s Washington Correspondent
Iowa Democratic Party's Hall of Fame dinner: Nineteen Democratic presidential candidates will swarm Iowa this weekend for the biggest political gathering of the 2020 election cycle so far, as the White House race picks up steam ahead of debates and a key fundraising deadline at the end of the month.
Reuters: Beto O'Rourke, a Democratic darling in 2018, struggling on national stage
Beyond Carbon: Michael Bloomberg will donate $500 million to a new campaign to close every coal-fired power plant in the United States and halt the growth of natural gas, his foundation said Thursday.
How Fiat Chrysler’s proposed merger with Renault crashed: WSJ reports, the deal was doomed by the collision of cold financial logic with politics and pride, leaving mistrust and annoyance on all sides of the 10-day tangle. “It’s about trust, and that’s the problem here.”
FT: Paris exasperates Fiat Chrysler as Renault merger flops
Demand that minister use Japan trip to smooth deal with Nissan was too much for FCA.
The plan to create the world’s third-largest carmaker, a titan with bases in Detroit, Europe, and Asia, was dead.
Italy’s Industry Minister Luigi Di Maio squarely blamed the French government for Fiat Chrysler withdrawing its €33bn ($35bn) merger offer for Renault, which could have created a new global giant spanning the USA, Europe, and Japan.
Lionel Laurent: Emmanuel Macron gets a lesson in capitalism: The French state needs to get out of the way of its industrial leaders, or missed opportunities like Fiat-Renault will keep happening.
Toyota to buy batteries from Chinese suppliers for the first time: FT reports, the Japanese carmaker wants half of its sales to come from electrified vehicles by 2025.
"The decision highlights Toyota’s expected massive demand for batteries and the reality that its current arrangements may encounter what senior executives described as a “a gap” between the impending supply and demand."
Automaker diversifies battery source and moves up electrification goal by 5 years.
FT: Google warns of US national security risks from Huawei ban
Tech group pushing Trump officials to exempt its Android operating system from the measure.
Richard Waters: Peloton faces an uphill climb as it heads towards IPO: Hotly-anticipated hardware listings for Fitbit and GoPro have proved disappointing.
Australian regulator rules Uber drivers are not employees: FT reports, landmark decision could have implications for investigations in other jurisdictions.
Aldi enters tough China market: FT reports, supermarket openings in Shanghai draw crowds but longer-term growth is seen as challenging.
Walmart replaces iconic blue vests with 'modernized' options made from recycled bottles.
Bloomberg: CEOs are being forced to hedge against the chaos of a full-on trade war
Toyota has a "virtual war room" of about 150 employees mapping out the impact of various US trade policy scenarios, according to a person familiar with its strategic planning. About 50 of them, mostly supply chain and logistics experts, are based in North America.
Barnes & Noble to be bought by Elliott in $476 million cash deal.
Marketing and the science of ‘knowing what economists are wrong about’: Rory Sutherland, the British advertising veteran, rails against a business culture that preaches rational, data-driven decision-making over all else. http://bit.ly/2WV1W28
Obamas strike podcasting deal with Spotify: WSJ reports, Spotify struck a deal for Higher Ground, the entertainment-production company started by Barack and Michelle Obama, to develop and produce podcasts that will be available only on the streaming service.
Wendell Steavenson: Coffee is the secret of health and happiness: Maybe we should be taking caffeine prophylactically, like aspirin? https://on.ft.com/2WUTRuk
El Chapo: What the rise and fall of the kingpin reveals about the war on drugs http://bit.ly/2QVcvwK
Americans need to take a break: Working longer hours has many drawbacks: https://econ.st/2WPJBDP
Today: The eighth Women’s World Cup begins in France.
These girls’ soccer players joined boys’ leagues. And dominated. Spanish clubs like Barcelona, Atlético Madrid, and Athletic Bilbao are increasingly testing their girls’ teams in leagues filled with boys’ teams. Is this the future of women’s soccer development? https://nyti.ms/2WS6Vkf
Hockey: Blues take Game 5 from Bruins and are one win away from first Stanley Cup championship
Enjoy the ride + plan accordingly.