Posts belonging to Category Europe

Britain unveils new fintech plans, including cryptocurrencies

G20:  no consensus for global regulation of cryptocurrencies

Britain announced a task force on Thursday to exploit the technology underpinning cryptoassets, such as bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, as part of new plans to help fintech companies find more customers.

British finance minister Philip Hammond said he was committed to helping fintech grow and flourish by taking a series of domestic steps and forging links overseas.

“As part of that, a new task force will help the UK to manage the risks around cryptoassets, as well as harnessing the potential benefits of the underlying technology,” Hammond told a fintech conference hosted by the finance ministry.

Investors have flocked to cryptocurrencies like bitcoin despite wild price swings.

Regulators have warned that investors could lose all their money, but see promise in the blockchain technology that underpins cryptoassets.

Britain’s announcement comes after finance ministers from the Group of 20 richest economies (G20) were unable this week to find enough consensus for global regulation of cryptocurrencies.

Machines have replaced human stock market traders

Impact on the next financial crisis could be devastating

The February sell-off in stocks demonstrated the impact of automated trading on markets, according to Charles Himmelberg, Goldman Sachs’ cohead of global markets research.
“In this new market structure, machines have replaced humans, and speed has replaced capital,” Himmelberg said in a note.
This new ecosystem dominated by machines has dried up the sources of liquidity that would be needed in the next major wave of selling, he said.

Trump’s election consultants filmed saying they use bribes and sex workers to entrap politicians

Dirty tricks to swing elections

Cambridge Analytica, a  company at the centre of the Facebook data breach (harvesting of more than 50 million profiles), boasted of using honey traps, fake news campaigns and operations with ex-spies to swing election campaigns around the world, a new investigation reveals.

Executives from Cambridge Analytica spoke to undercover reporters from Channel 4 News about the dark arts used by the company to help clients, which included entrapping rival candidates in fake bribery stings and hiring prostitutes to seduce them.

In one exchange, the company chief executive, Alexander Nix, is recorded telling reporters: “It sounds a dreadful thing to say, but these are things that don’t necessarily need to be true as long as they’re believed.”…  March 20, 2018

Soros: Only the EU can break Facebook and Google’s dominance

Social media giants have left the US government impotent – Europe must lead the way

The current moment in world history is a painful one. Open societies are in crisis, and forms of dictatorships and mafia states, exemplified by Vladimir Putin’s Russia, are on the rise. In the United States, President Donald Trump would like to establish his own mafia-style state but cannot, because the constitution, other institutions, and a vibrant civil society won’t allow it.

Not only is the survival of open society in question; the survival of our entire civilisation is at stake. The rise of leaders such as Kim Jong-un in North Korea and Trump in the US have much to do with this. Both seem willing to risk a nuclear war in order to keep themselves in power. But the root cause goes even deeper. Mankind’s ability to harness the forces of nature, both for constructive and destructive purposes, continues to grow, while our ability to govern ourselves properly fluctuates, and is now at a low ebb.

Facebook and Google effectively control over half of all digital advertising revenue. To maintain their dominance, they need to expand their networks and increase their share of users’ attention. Currently they do this by providing users with a convenient platform. The more time users spend on the platform, the more valuable they become to the companies.…  March 16, 2018

China February exports surge most in three years

Global trade war fears build

China’s exports unexpectedly surged at the fastest pace in three years in February, suggesting both its economy and global growth remain resilient even as trade relations with the United States rapidly deteriorate.

Trade tensions have jumped to the top of the list of risks facing China this year, with planned U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum signaling more measures may be on the way, Zhou Hao, senior emerging markets economist at Commerzbank, told the Reuters Global Markets Forum this week.

China’s February exports rose 44.5 percent from a year earlier, far more than analysts’ median forecast for a 13.6 percent increase and January’s 11.1 percent gain, official data showed on Thursday.

Imports grew 6.3 percent, missing forecasts for 9.7 percent growth and down from a sharper-than-expected 36.9 percent jump in January.…  March 08, 2018

Theresa May’s hopes of a post-Brexit trade deal with Trump in doubt

Trump launches European trade war

Theresa May’s plans for a quick post-Brexit trade deal with the US have been thrown into doubt after Trump announced plans to launch a trade war with Europe.

The president is reportedly planning to impose up to 25% tariffs on imported steel and 10% on aluminium in an attempt to save US industry.

“We are on the losing side of almost all trade deals,” Trump tweeted on Monday.

“Our friends and enemies have taken advantage of the U.S. for many years. Our Steel and Aluminum industries are dead. Sorry, it’s time for a change! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”…  March 06, 2018

Trump announces plans for heavy tariffs on steel and aluminum imports

Ugly trade war with China

President Trump unveiled plans Thursday to slap hefty tariffs on global imports of steel and aluminum, catching much of his administration by surprise, sending stocks plunging and sparking widespread fears that he was leading the United States into an ugly trade war with China as well as key American allies. Trump said he would sign an order next week to impose 25% tariffs on steel imports and 10% duties on aluminum, using his authority under an obscure trade law provision that permits the president to take sweeping measures in the name of national security.

Trump has long been a critic of U.S. trade policies, and he was elected partly on the promise to revamp the way Washington does business with the rest of the world. On Thursday, Trump assured U.S. manufacturers that they will “have protection for a long time .… You’ll have to regrow your industries. That’s all I’m asking.” For months, administration officials with less nationalistic views on trade, such as chief economic advisor Gary Cohn, have tried to dissuade Trump from imposing broad tariffs in response to America’s big trade deficit and what the president views as the world taking unfair advantage of the U.S. The shift was reflected in the recent rise in influence of more hawkish advisors who share Trump’s skepticism of trade, including Peter Navarro.…  March 02, 2018

Brexit: North Ireland would stay under EU customs union rules

Avoid a hard border post-Brexit if no wider EU-UK trade deal or alternative is agreed

Northern Ireland will in effect remain in the EU’s customs union and single market to avoid a hard border post-Brexit if no wider EU-UK trade deal or alternative is agreed, the draft withdrawal agreement will state.

EU sources said the draft agreement from Brussels covering the UK’s withdrawal from the bloc in March 2019 – to be published in Brussels on Wednesday – will maintain a common regulatory area on the island of Ireland.

This will be triggered should the EU and the UK not agree a future EU-UK free trade deal or if London fails to propose an alternative arrangement for the Border post-Brexit.…  Febuary 28, 2018

Murdoch bid for Sky challenged by US giant

US cable TV giant Comcast has made a £22.1bn takeover bid for Sky, challenging an existing offer from 21st Century Fox

Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox had already agreed an £18.5bn deal to buy the 61% of Sky it does not already own. Comcast said the bid of £12.50 per share was a 16% higher than the 21st Century Fox offer. Comcast is the biggest US cable TV firm. It also owns the broadcast TV network NBC and Universal Pictures.

The company’s chief executive Brian Roberts, said: “We would like to own the whole of Sky and we will be looking to acquire over 50% of the Sky shares,” he said. Mr Roberts added that the UK “is and will remain a great place to do business” and that Comcast wanted to “use Sky as a platform for our growth in Europe”.…  Febuary 27, 2018

Irish government : Brexit talks ‘could collapse at any moment’

Negotiations could break down over the border issue

There is renewed fear within the Irish government that Brexit talks could collapse over the UK government’s refusal to consider staying in a customs union with the European Union. enior figures in the Irish government said privately that they fear that Theresa May’s insistence on leaving the customs union will make a hard border impossible to avoid and lead to a complete break down in negotiations.

A high-ranking member of the Irish government said “talks could collapse at any moment” in a meeting with a prominent British MP this month, a source familiar with the meeting has told Business Insider. The Irish government did not wish to comment when contacted by BI.

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said on Friday that border checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are “unavoidable” if Britain decides to leave the customs union and single market.…  Febuary 12, 2018