• Breaking Bad star Dean Norris makes fictional beer Schraderbräu a reality
    Yahoo Finance

    Breaking Bad star Dean Norris makes fictional beer Schraderbräu a reality

    Breaking bad actor Dean Norris has taken the fictional beer Schraderbräu, the mythological homebrew from Norris’ beloved character Hank Schrader, and made it a reality.

  • Startup uses remittances to remove 'time and distance' from health care
    Yahoo Finance

    Startup uses remittances to remove 'time and distance' from health care

    Hoy Health launched less than two years ago, but sees strong growth potential in paving the way to the Latin American health care market.

  • Bloomberg

    Lawmakers Seek Intel from Customers in Big Tech Antitrust Probe

    (Bloomberg) -- A House panel investigating big tech companies for potential antitrust violations is seeking information from customers of Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook about the state of competition in digital markets and the adequacy of existing enforcement, according to documents reviewed by Bloomberg.It’s the latest development in the bipartisan congressional investigation being conducted by House antitrust subcommittee chair David Cicillini, a Democrat from Rhode Island.The eight-page survey doesn’t mention any companies by name, but it seeks information about the industries they dominate such as mobile apps and app stores, search engines, digital advertising, social media, messaging, online commerce and logistics as well as cloud computing.The survey asks respondents to identify the top five providers for the various digital services and how much it paid each of those providers since Jan. 1 2016. It also asks for any allegations of antitrust violations or business practices that hurt competition. The committee offered respondents the possibility of confidentiality if they desired.Assessing AntitrustThe survey appears geared toward businesses that pay the big technology companies for services such as cloud computing, digital advertising and help selling mobile apps and products online. It doesn’t appear to focus on general retail consumers that buy products from Amazon or iPhones from Apple.It also shows how regulators are relying on customers and competitors of Big Tech to help them better understand digital markets and and how dominant players can stifle competition. The Federal Trade Commission has been quietly interviewing online merchants that sell goods on Amazon to better understand the business.The questionnaire shows the House panel trying to assess the grip big technology companies have in various markets, a first step in probing for antitrust violations. If the panel finds competition is so scant that the customers of big technology companies have no viable alternatives, it justifies further scrutiny of business practices as well as mergers and acquisitions.The questions also suggest the panel is open to examining how antitrust laws are applied in digital markets and if enforcement and laws need to be updated.A Google spokesman declined to comment. Apple didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Amazon and Facebook both declined to comment, but pointed to previous comments by executives in which both companies said they welcomed government scrutiny and maintain they exist in markets with healthy competition. Emails to representatives for the House committee weren’t immediately answered.The survey sent to customers follows the public disclosure of letters the House antitrust subcommittee sent to Google parent Alphabet Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Facebook Inc. and Apple Inc. Those letters, posted online, seek detailed information about acquisitions, business practices, executive communications, previous probes and lawsuits. The letters followed a July hearing in which lawmakers grilled tech executives.The House panel has been the most visible of various probes of technology companies. Representative Cicilline has been a vocal critic.Speaking at an antitrust conference in Washington, D.C. last week, he said, “you would be amazed” at the number of companies that have come forward with concerns about the potentially unfair way that big tech companies compete. Some have even expressed fear that the tech giants will respond with economic retaliation if the smaller companies’ concerns are made public, Cicilline said, without providing more detail.The House panel’s probe is part of a broader examination of the control companies such as Amazon, Google and Facebook have over the U.S. economy. The FTC is investigating Amazon and Facebook while the Justice Department is probing Google. Separately, 50 state attorneys general have announced an antitrust probe of Google.\--With assistance from Naomi Nix and Ben Brody.To contact the reporter on this story: Spencer Soper in Seattle at ssoper@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.net, Ian FisherFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Global regulators to question Facebook's Libra amid EU concerns: paper
    Reuters

    Global regulators to question Facebook's Libra amid EU concerns: paper

    Officials from 26 central banks, including the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Bank of England, will meet with representatives of Libra in Basel on Monday, the FT said, citing officials. Libra's founders have also been invited to answer key questions about the currency's scope and design, FT said. Facebook did not immediately respond to Reuters' request for comment outside regular business hours.

  • Google Agrees to $1 Billion Settlement with France
    Market Realist

    Google Agrees to $1 Billion Settlement with France

    Google has agreed to make a one-time settlement of over $945 million euros to the French ministry. The ministry accused Google of evading taxes.

  • Saudi Oil Output Cut in Half After Drones Strike Aramco Site
    Bloomberg

    Saudi Oil Output Cut in Half After Drones Strike Aramco Site

    (Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabia’s oil production was cut by half after a swarm of explosive drones struck at the heart of the kingdom’s energy industry and set the world’s biggest crude-processing plant ablaze -- an attack blamed on Iran by the top U.S. diplomat.Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, who’ve launched several drone attacks on Saudi targets in the past, claimed responsibility for the assault on the kingdom’s Abqaiq plant.U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said in a tweet there’s no evidence the attacks came from Yemen and blamed Iran directly, but didn’t offer evidence for that conclusion either. President Donald Trump spoke with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman by telephone but hasn’t commented directly. Dow Jones reported that Saudi and U.S. officials are investigating the possibility that cruise missiles were launched from Iraq, which is much closer than Yemen.About 5.7 million barrels per day of output has been suspended, Saudi Aramco said in a statement. “Work is underway to restore production and a progress update will be provided in around 48 hours,” said Amin H. Nasser, Aramco’s president and chief executive officer.That’s affected about half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production. Gas output was also disrupted, with 2 billion cubic feet in daily output, about half of normal production, stopped by the attack, SPA news agency said, citing the kingdom’s Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman. Operations in Abqaiq and Khurais are halted for now.“Abqaiq is the heart of the system and they just had a heart attack,” said Roger Diwan, a veteran OPEC watcher at consultant IHS Markit.The biggest attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure since Iraq’s Saddam Hussein fired Scud missiles into the kingdom during the first Gulf War, the drone strike highlights the vulnerability of the network of fields, pipeline and ports that supply 10% of the world’s crude oil. A prolonged outage at Abqaiq, where crude from several of the country’s largest oil fields is processed before being shipped to export terminals, would jolt global energy markets.“For the oil market, if not the global economy, Abqaiq is the single most valuable piece of real estate on planet earth,” Bob McNally, head of Rapid Energy Group in Washington.Aramco is working to compensate clients for some of the shortfall from its reserves. Emergency crews have contained the fires, Aramco said.Trump expressed support for the kingdom’s self-defense during a phone call with Saudi’s Bin Salman after the attack, the White House said.Saudi Aramco, which pumped about 9.8 million barrels a day in August, will be able to keep customers supplied for several weeks by drawing on a global storage network. The Saudis hold millions of barrels in tanks in the kingdom itself, plus three strategic locations around the world: Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Okinawa in Japan, and Sidi Kerir on the Mediterranean coast of Egypt.The U.S. Department of Energy said it’s prepared to dip into the Strategic Petroleum Oil Reserves if necessary to offset any market disruption.The International Energy Agency, responsible for managing the oil reserves of the world’s industrialized economies, said it was monitoring the situation, but the world was well-supplied with commercial stockpiles.Facilities at Abqaiq and the nearby Khurais oil field were hit at 4 a.m. local time, SPA reported.A satellite picture from a NASA near real-time imaging system published early on Saturday showed a huge smoke plume extending more than 50 miles over Abqaiq. Four additional plumes to the south-west appear close to the Ghawar oilfield, the world’s largest. While that field wasn’t attacked, its crude is sent to Abqaiq and the smoke could indicate flaring. When a facility stops suddenly, excess oil and natural gas is safely burned in large flaring stacks.​The attacks were carried out with 10 unmanned aerial vehicles -- drones -- and came after intelligence cooperation from people inside Saudi Arabia, Yemen’s rebel-run Saba news agency reported, citing Houthi spokesman Yahya Saree.“Our upcoming operations will expand and would be more painful as long as the Saudi regime continues its aggression and blockade” on Yemen, he said.Saudi Arabia’s oil fields and pipeline have been the target of attacks over the past year, often using drones, with the incidents mostly claimed by Yemeni rebels. Tensions in the Persian Gulf -- pitting Saudi Arabia and its allies, including the United Arab Emirates, against regional foe Iran -- have highlighted the risk to global oil supply.Saturday’s attack is the largest and most sophisticated yet. The Houthi forces have used small and medium-sized unmanned aerial vehicles in various roles, according to a United Nations report. Some are loaded with munitions for use as “kamikaze drones” with a range of up to 1,500 kilometers (932 miles).Yemen’s Houthi rebels have been battling a Saudi-led coalition since 2015, when mainly Gulf forces intervened to restore the rule of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and his government after the Houthis captured the capital, Sana’a. The conflict has killed thousands of people and caused one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.Red LinesIn recent months, Iran has become increasingly aggressive, regionally and over the issue of oil, attacking and hijacking tankers especially near the Straits of Hormuz. Yet they’ve seemed careful about crossing perceived “red lines” as they protest U.S. sanctions against their own oil.At the same time, the Trump administration’s own impulses have seemed to vary: Trump has warned Iran against escalation, yet pulled back on a planned retaliatory attack, and fell out with his former National Security Adviser John Bolton, in part because of Bolton’s militancy against Iran.The attacks come as Aramco, officially known as Saudi Arabian Oil Co., is speeding up preparations for an initial public offering. The energy giant has selected banks for the share sale and may list as soon as November, people familiar with the matter have said.Khurais is the location of Saudi Arabia’s second-biggest oil field, with a production capacity of 1.45 million barrels a day.Abqaiq has a crude oil processing capacity of more than 7 million barrels a day, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.(Updates with Aramco CEO’s comments on output in fourth paragraph.)\--With assistance from Nour Al Ali, Mohammed Hatem, Nadeem Hamid, Zainab Fattah, Sebastian Tong, Maria Jose Valero and Serene Cheong.To contact the reporters on this story: Nayla Razzouk in Dubai at nrazzouk2@bloomberg.net;Javier Blas in London at jblas3@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Nayla Razzouk at nrazzouk2@bloomberg.net, Ros Krasny, James LuddenFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Why Vinyl, Books and Magazines Will Never Go Away

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Vinyl records, paper books, glossy magazines – all should be long dead, but they’re refusing to go away and even showing some surprising growth. It’s probably safe to assume that people will always consume content in some kind of physical shell – not just because we instinctively attach more value to physical goods than to digital ones, but because there’ll always be demand for independence from the huge corporations that push digital content on us.According to the Recording Industry Association of America, vinyl album sales grew 12.9% in dollar terms to $224 million and 6% in unit terms to 8.6 million in the first half of 2019, compared with the first six months of 2018. Compact disc sales held steady, and if the current dynamic holds, old-fashioned records will overtake CDs soon, offsetting the decline in other physical music sales. Streaming revenue grew faster for obvious reasons: It’s cheaper and more convenient. But people are clearly not about to give up a technology that hasn’t changed much since the 1960s.In 2018, hardcover book sales in the U.S. increased by 6.9%, paperback sales went up 1.1% and eBook sales dropped 3.6%. The number of print magazine titles published in the U.S. rose to 7,218 from 7,176, according to the Association of Magazine Media. That’s more magazines than the U.S. had in 2009. For all the havoc the digital revolution is wreaking on newsrooms, people are still starting new titles – and 96% of the magazine industry’s subscription revenue still came from the print editions, with digital providing the rest.One explanation could be that, as Ozgun Atasoy from the University of Basel and Carey Morewedge from Boston University wrote in a paper based on a series of experiments, people are more willing to buy physical goods than equivalent digital ones, and they’re likely to pay a higher price for them. Offered an easy choice, people would rather have a vinyl LP than its digital image in the cloud somewhere; it’s just that the choice isn’t there most of the time. Atasoy and Morewedge wrote that the effect is mostly explained by “psychological ownership”: It’s hard for people to feel they own something they can’t physically touch.They wrote, however, that other, unidentified factors were also at play, since psychological ownership didn’t fully explain the difference in people’s willingness to pay for the two kinds of products. I think Michael Palm from University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill put a finger on those factors in a paper published earlier this year. He suggested that physical vs. digital, or new vs. old, could be a less relevant differentiation point than corporate culture vs. independent culture.The record industry got rid of vinyl fabrication when CDs appeared. Big store chains stopped selling LPs. But small producers and record stores that also function as community centers have kept the culture and the format alive. Now, the big companies see a commercial potential again – but they’re ordering vinyl records from independent producers, who can’t always keep up with the orders, and distributing to small stores, not just to giant chains like Best Buy, which are also stocking vinyl records again.“To combat the corporate incursion into vinyl markets, some independent labels are vertically integrating and beginning to manufacture as well as distribute and sell their own records,” Palm wrote. “The stakes of vinyl’s future involve the viability of an independent supply chain for popular music, and these stakes are raised in a media landscape dominated by online access to content controlled by corporate gatekeepers.”A similar logic applies to books. According to the American Booksellers’ Association, independent bookstores’ sales went up about 5% in 2018. These stores are where people hang out, discuss their discoveries, receive recommendations and advice. They are also where the products of small publishing houses can get more attention than they do in major bookstores or on Amazon.The increase in the number of print magazines also isn’t occurring thanks to major launches by big industrial publishers. There’s space in this industry for niche publications that want intimate contact with readers, not a tiny share of the attention squandered on the internet. The Association of Magazine Media claims the average time to read an issue of a magazine published in the U.S. is almost 50 minutes. A magazine is the same kind of alternative to Instagram or Twitter as a vinyl record is to Spotify or Apple Music.This may be the last line of defense for old content formats – a line they could be able to hold forever: The preserve for independent creation, manufacturing and distribution in a world that belongs to giant corporations that mass-produce content and mass-distribute it through the cloud. The old-new dichotomy may well turn out to be misleading; there's nothing “old” about trying to go beyond the mass market.To contact the author of this story: Leonid Bershidsky at lbershidsky@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Tobin Harshaw at tharshaw@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Leonid Bershidsky is Bloomberg Opinion's Europe columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Axes Swing and Bonuses Land in Dubai Ruler's Government Shake-Up
    Bloomberg

    Axes Swing and Bonuses Land in Dubai Ruler's Government Shake-Up

    (Bloomberg) -- In July, the ruler of Dubai promised to reveal the country’s worst- and best-performing government-service providers. On Saturday, he carried out his pledge.Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, acting in his capacity as United Arab Emirates prime minister, tweeted a list of the nation’s five worst and best centers. Managers at the worst will be immediately replaced, while teams at the best will get two-month bonuses.It isn’t Sheikh Mohammed’s first attempt at improving government performance. In 2016, after receiving complaints about deteriorating services, he surprised workers at Dubai’s Land Department by walking into sparsely populated offices in the morning. It was followed by the dismissal of several top officials.The Worst:Emirates Post Group (Al Khan center, Sharjah)Federal Authority for Identity & Citizenship (Muhaisnah preventive medicine center, Dubai)General Pension & Social Security Authority (Sharjah center) Ministry of Community Development (Bani Yas social affairs center, Abu Dhabi)Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratisation (Tawteen center, Fujairah)The Best:Federal Authority for Identity & Citizenship (Fujairah center)Ministry of Education (Ajman center)Ministry of Interior (Traffic and licensing center, Ajman)Ministry of Interior (Wasit police station, Sharjah)Sheikh Zayed Housing Programme (Ras Al Khaimah center) To contact the reporter on this story: Zainab Fattah in Dubai at zfattah@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Lin Noueihed at lnoueihed@bloomberg.net, Shaji MathewFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Reuters - UK Focus

    UPDATE 1-Facebook fact-checker finds UK Conservatives ran ads with altered BBC headline

    One of Facebook's third-party fact-checkers accused Britain's governing Conservative Party on Friday of misrepresenting a BBC News article in its ads on the social media platform. Full Fact, which is part of the third-party fact-checking program created by Facebook to fight misinformation on the platform, said it had been scrutinizing online advertising ahead of a possible snap election in the country. The charity said it had raised its concerns with Facebook.

  • Reuters - UK Focus

    EXPLAINER-One possible culprit in vaping lung illnesses: 'Dank Vapes'

    A study published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine found that more than half of patients with the lung illness - 24 of 41 - who were extensively interviewed in Wisconsin and Illinois reported having used the "Dank Vapes" brand. The New York State Department of Health identified "Dank Vapes" and "Chronic Carts" as products containing Vitamin E acetate, a thickening agent in THC oil that has been a key focus in its investigation into the illnesses. While Vitamin E acetate is often applied to skin or used as a dietary supplement, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned against inhalation because "data is limited about its effects" on the lungs.

  • Watch 5 to Position Apple as Undisputed Market Leader?
    Market Realist

    Watch 5 to Position Apple as Undisputed Market Leader?

    Apple (AAPL) announced an upgrade to its Watch series with the Apple Watch 5. Here's why Apple should keep leaning into the health ecosystem to stay on top.

  • Vindicated Stock Bulls Now See Choppy Markets Ahead for Canada
    Bloomberg

    Vindicated Stock Bulls Now See Choppy Markets Ahead for Canada

    (Bloomberg) -- Canadian stocks have broken out of their summer stupor, handing investors September’s best first half in seven years as they finally reached a record high.Now things are about to get interesting, according to strategists who predicted the rally.The S&P/TSX Composite Index rose 0.2% Friday, capping the week at a new peak of 16,682.42 as both the U.S. and China made moves to ease tensions ahead of talks expected in the coming weeks. After hitting a previous peak in April, stocks traded in a narrow range through summer even as volatility soared amid concerns surrounding global economic growth.What market watchers said last month and now:In August, Brian Belski, chief investment strategist at BMO Capital Markets, said he was staying “very bullish on Canada” with a 17,000 year-end target for the key equity gauge. He now expects more new highs for the benchmark but added that things could get choppy.Candice Bangsund, portfolio manager at Fiera Capital, urged investors in mid-August to “resist the temptation to panic and recommend staying invested at this time.” She’s continuing that theme, though “periodic bouts of volatility are surely to prevail.” Longer term fundamentals for the global economy remain largely intact and Canadian stocks should outperform due to the bias toward larger value-oriented sectors of the market such as financials and banks and resources, which should catch up.Eight Capital’s technical research analyst Tina Normann had said that a more attractive entry point would present itself for investors in mid-September.“Investor sentiment had become overly negative even though growth numbers are still good,” said Hans Albrecht, fund manager at Toronto-based Horizons ETFs Management Canada Inc. “It could be a resumption of more of what we’ve seen earlier in the year.”Smooth Ride?Like Belski, Horizons’ Albrecht doesn’t expect the stock rally to be smooth. “I wouldn’t discount a bit more volatility over the next month or so,” he said.October has been somewhat of a volatile month and that could play out this year with trade talks expected, the Bank of Canada’s set to make a decision on interest rates (will they or won’t they cut?) and elections. Polls showing that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are locked in a tight race with the opposition ahead of the vote next month may have investors on edge.“Although politics rarely plays a meaningful role in equity performance, we found there is some evidence to suggest minority governments can be positive for markets, particularly when the valuation starting point is low, as it is currently,” said BMO’s Belski in an a Sept. 12 report.“At the same time, it’s a low yield world again and equities is one of the places we can be,” Albrecht said.Markets -- Just The NumbersChart of The WeekPolitics & EconomyCanada’s election campaign enters its second week after Trudeau kicked it off on Wednesday in Ottawa. He then traveled to British Columbia where he pledged to impose a federal speculation housing tax for non-residents.Trudeau Enters Campaign Playing on a Steady Economic BackdropAugust inflation figures are expected on Sept. 18 and August existing homes sales, July manufacturing and retail sales are also due next week.TrendingInCanada1\. Two-time Canadian Olympic champion Kaillie Humphries sues ‘Bobsleigh Canada’ and wants to start training with the U.S. team.2\. Themes of financial malfeasance and class struggle were more prominent in movies at the Toronto International Film Festival this year.Read more: Class Warfare Is the Running Theme of This Fall’s Best MoviesTo contact the reporter on this story: Divya Balji in Toronto at dbalji1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Madeleine Lim at mlim131@bloomberg.net, ;David Scanlan at dscanlan@bloomberg.net, Jacqueline ThorpeFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Factbox - Facebook's cryptocurrency Libra and digital wallet Calibra
    Reuters

    Factbox - Facebook's cryptocurrency Libra and digital wallet Calibra

    SAN FRANCISCO/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Facebook Inc revealed lofty plans to establish a cryptocurrency called Libra in June, but the project quickly ran into trouble with sceptical regulators around the world. Opposition deepened on Friday, when both France and Germany pledged to block Libra from operating in Europe and backed the development of a public cryptocurrency instead. Facebook's goal is for Libra to be run by an association of other corporate investors and non-profit members, with an expected launch in the first half of 2020.

  • Apple Says TV+ Service Won’t Harm Results, Rebutting Goldman
    Bloomberg

    Apple Says TV+ Service Won’t Harm Results, Rebutting Goldman

    (Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. said a new video service won’t have a material impact on its financial results, seeking to counter research from a Goldman Sachs analyst who cut his share price target on concern that aggressive pricing of the TV+ offering will trim profit.Earlier this week, Apple outlined a strategy that involved lower prices on several devices and services, including a monthly cost of $4.99 for TV+. It will also be free for one year with purchases of new Apple devices. This is relatively rare for a company that has historically charged premium prices to support healthy profit margins.Rod Hall, the Goldman Sachs analyst who covers Apple, cut his price target on Apple shares to $165 from $187, saying the company’s plan to offer a trial period for TV+ was “likely to have a material negative impact” on average selling prices and earnings per share.“We do not expect the introduction of Apple TV+, including the accounting treatment for the service, to have a material impact on our financial results,” Apple said in an email.The stock jumped after the statement, trimming losses from earlier in the day. It traded down 1.8% at $219 at 2:56 p.m. in New York.The TV+ service is entering a crowded video-streaming field that already includes Netflix Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Hulu and AT&T Inc.’s HBO. In November, Walt Disney Co. plans to launch a Disney+ streaming service, with a giant catalog of titles, for $6.99 a month. Netflix’s entry-level subscription is $8.99 a month in the U.S.Apple, which doesn’t currently have a back catalog of content for TV+, announced the $4.99-a-month pricing on Tuesday, sparking a rally in its shares and declines in Netflix and Disney stock. In India, the TV+ service will be 99 rupees ($1.40) a month. (Updates with background on TV+ in final paragraphs.)To contact the reporters on this story: Mark Gurman in San Francisco at mgurman1@bloomberg.net;Nico Grant in San Francisco at ngrant20@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net, Alistair BarrFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Amazon Delivery under Scrutiny: More Trouble for Bezos?
    Market Realist

    Amazon Delivery under Scrutiny: More Trouble for Bezos?

    Amazon has received a lot of flak for its deliveries. This time, employees are claiming to be under tremendous pressure to meet deadlines.

  • Lawmakers request tech giants' records for antitrust investigation
    Yahoo Finance

    Lawmakers request tech giants' records for antitrust investigation

    Lawmakers asked Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple for a broad range of documents, another step in Congress's anti-trust investigation of the big tech companies.

  • Apple has a 'big acquisition' up its sleeve, tech analyst Dan Ives says
    Yahoo Finance

    Apple has a 'big acquisition' up its sleeve, tech analyst Dan Ives says

    Apple TV + is price affordably but it really needs to focus on content to win the OTT race.

  • Google: Is Its News Service Trying to Get ahead of News Corp?
    Market Realist

    Google: Is Its News Service Trying to Get ahead of News Corp?

    Google (GOOGL) updated its online news search technology to prioritize original reporting when returning search results.

  • FedEx Q1 Earnings Next Week: Will It Disappoint Again?
    Market Realist

    FedEx Q1 Earnings Next Week: Will It Disappoint Again?

    Analysts expect FedEx (FDX) to disappoint investors again when it reports its fiscal 2020 first-quarter earnings results on September 17.

  • J.J. Abrams's Bad Robot Better Be Good at AT&T
    Bloomberg

    J.J. Abrams's Bad Robot Better Be Good at AT&T

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Careful, AT&T, those Hollywood lights can be blinding. The industry newbie has just struck an eye-popping deal with sought-after director J.J. Abrams to bring more of his movie magic to the telephone-giant-turned-media-conglomerate. AT&T Inc.’s offer amounted to: Dear J.J., please take this wheelbarrow of money. The deal between AT&T’s new WarnerMedia division and the Bad Robot production company, led by husband-and-wife team Abrams and Katie McGrath, is reported to be worth more than $250 million. That’s after Apple Inc. bid $500 million, according to Hollywood Reporter, though Abrams was said to have turned down that offer in part because he wanted to maintain a large box-office presence. With WarnerMedia, Abrams can create content for both the big screen and online-streaming properties. Bad Robot has previously produced hits such as “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” and the shows “Lost” and “Alias.” The outrageous sums that AT&T and reportedly Apple put forth are emblematic of the escalating arms race for content. Entertainment giants – those new to the business, in particular – are trying to secure hit TV series and films for new streaming-video services launching in the coming weeks and months to compete with Netflix. Apple TV+ is set to be released Nov. 1, followed by Disney+ on Nov. 12 and AT&T/WarnerMedia’s HBO Max next spring. (Last year, AT&T acquired WarnerMedia, formerly called Time Warner, the parent of Warner Bros., HBO, CNN, TBS and other networks.) While most of these relatively low-priced subscriptions are years away from being able to turn a profit, the media giants are willing to bear the cost and pay up for the content to attract and keep customers.But WarnerMedia also threw in an unusual perk for Abrams: He gets to own potentially as much as a 50% stake in the projects he creates for the company, according to NBC News. The inclusion of a term like that, combined with the value of the contract, makes the deal look like a rookie move by WarnerMedia and the executive spearheading its streaming strategy, John Stankey, a three-decade veteran of AT&T’s phone business. Either that or desperation. Virtually no other media or tech giant would likely agree to give up those content rights. In fact, Walt Disney Co. is moving to cut back on the profits it shares with showrunners and stars after hit series pass the crucial 100-episode mark and enter into lucrative syndication deals, according to the Los Angeles Times. Disney wants control over that future licensing windfall, preferring to instead divide profits earlier on, when they aren’t quite as big.It’s no wonder that after Disney, Comcast Corp., Viacom Inc., Sony Corp. and Netflix Inc. were all said to have looked at Bad Robot, AT&T and its new media moguls landed the deal. Stankey, known for a brusque management style, has already had a rough start when it comes to gaining the respect of his new media employees and shaping the vision for WarnerMedia. It's part of the reason shareholder Elliott Management Corp. launched an activist campaign at AT&T this week, calling for more operational focus and a clearer strategy. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson recently promoted Stankey to chief operating officer in addition to his role presiding over WarnerMedia specifically.Stankey and Stephenson aren’t the only industry outsiders starstruck by Hollywood and feeling the pressure to pay whatever’s necessary to expand streaming-app libraries and keep viewers from canceling subscriptions. Apple TV+ has reportedly dished out $300 million for the first two seasons of “The Morning Show,” an original series starring big names like Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon. Disney+ spent about $15 million on each episode of its “Star Wars” series, “The Mandalorian,” which adds up to the cost of a big-budget film. But AT&T’s leaders are showing their inexperience in the world of content and entertainment, driving away key internal personnel while so eagerly courting Abrams. The company’s post-deal turnover was punctuated by the high-profile exits of HBO’s Richard Plepler and Turner’s David Levy earlier this year.In reporting on the Abrams deal, Bloomberg News also uncovered an interesting detail about what actually happened to Kevin Tsujihara. He’s the former head of Warner Bros. who left in March amid a sex scandal involving an actress with whom he was having an affair and was accused of helping to land film roles. At first it seemed like Tsujihara was going to stay on despite the scandal, and in fact he had even just been promoted by Stephenson. However, Bloomberg reports that Abrams’s wife, McGrath, essentially gave AT&T an ultimatum, saying that’d it be hard for Bad Robot and WarnerMedia to work together if Tsujihara was there. It all makes sense now.As for the deal, Stankey had better hope Bad Robot makes good movies, because it seems none of his industry peers were willing to offer what he did. To contact the author of this story: Tara Lachapelle at tlachapelle@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Beth Williams at bewilliams@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tara Lachapelle is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the business of entertainment and telecommunications, as well as broader deals. She previously wrote an M&A column for Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • T. Boone Pickens Saw How Fast Energy Markets Could Change
    Bloomberg

    T. Boone Pickens Saw How Fast Energy Markets Could Change

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- T. Boone Pickens, the legendary American oil entrepreneur who died this week at 91, was known for his aggressive corporate plays in the 1980s and the oil and gas investing strategies that earned (and sometimes lost) him billions since the 1990s. He also had a vision for America’s energy future. His 2008 Pickens Plan thoughtfully delineated which resources needed to flow, and where, to make the U.S. energy-independent.Last week, as it happened, I was at Pickens’s Mesa Vista Ranch to talk to investors and industry executives about how fast the energy system is changing, thanks to new technology — some of it envisioned by Pickens, and some not. Reflecting now on Pickens and his plan, I’m struck, first, by his boldness in imagining a changed energy future and, second, by how quickly things shifted in ways even such a visionary could not foresee.At almost the exact moment the Pickens Plan debuted, oil prices hit their all-time peak of $147 a barrel. They’re now hovering about $90 a barrel lower.As Pickens mentioned in his whiteboard presentation, the U.S. was then importing most of the oil it consumed. U.S. production amounted to a little over 5 million barrels a day. Since then, thanks to the hydraulic fracturing revolution, oil production has more than doubled.And natural gas production has risen almost 60%.In 2008, as Pickens noted, half of America’s electricity supply came from coal, a share that has since fallen to 27%. In the Pickens Plan, wind and nuclear power were expected to displace gas-fired power, so that gas could be shifted into transportation. Solar energy and electric vehicles were not even mentioned. Now, both natural gas and wind have become alternatives to coal, while the biggest disruption for oil has been new technology in the oil business itself.Pickens got the wind industry wrong, by his own rather salty admission. But, that’s not a criticism of his plan. (As he pointed out, he wasn’t really wrong, just early.) It’s a testament to the man’s forward thinking that he could see natural gas as an alternative to oil, and wind as a major source of power. A new research paper from the World Economic Forum has an elegant framework for thinking about such energy transitions: They differ according to whether you consider the big picture of global supply and demand, or the change that happens at the margins of both. The authors describe these two narratives as “gradual” and “rapid.”The gradual narrative, the authors say,… is that the energy world of tomorrow will look roughly the same as that of today. Gradual scenarios extrapolate current patterns of policy, industry, consumption and investment, thus supporting planned carbon-intensive investment decisions and implying that the global energy system has an inertia incompatible with the Paris Agreement.The rapid narrative, on the other hand,… is that new energy technologies are rapidly supplying all the growth in energy demand, leading to peak fossil fuel demand in the course of the 2020s. Rapid scenarios suggest that current technologies and new policies will reshape markets, business models and patterns of consumption, challenging planned carbon-intensive investment and leading to a low-carbon global economy while creating considerable economic and social benefits.The difference is explained by the fact that total global energy supply is immense and grows only about 1 to 2% per year. In 2017, total primary energy supply was 13,475 million metric tons of oil equivalent; the change in supply was 246 million metric tons of oil equivalent. A focus on the former makes it hard to see not only that change is happening but also that change is possible.Last year’s growth in supply was unusually high, but more than a third of it came from renewable energy. If total supply had grown only as much as it did in 2015, then renewables would have been all new supply. In other words, the implications of rapid change are significant. No one sets out to get things wrong, of course, least of all Pickens, who spent $100 million of his own money on his plan. Some questions have yet to be answered — and big changes are underway — even in large and established systems like energy. Rapid changes are happening even faster than their proponents expected.Pickens was also an avid Twitter user to the very end. Seven years ago, the recording artist Drake tweeted that “The first million is the hardest.” Pickens, who had made and lost far larger amounts many times over, had this response:Weekend readingJoe Nocera bids fond farewell to T. Boone Pickens.We are in the era of four gas mega-players, says Nikos Tsafos — Russia, the U.S. and Qatar as exporters, and China as importer.The shipping industry’s dream of carbon neutrality is drifting away.Investment manager David Swensen made Yale fabulously rich.In markets gone mad, investors find rare comfort in data science.Karl Smith has some good news about income inequality.WeWork’s planned IPO marks the end of the unicorn era.Felix Salmon outlines MIT’s expanding Jeffrey Epstein scandal.Insurers are dropping home coverage in Berkeley, California, due to fire risk.A new poll finds that Democrats and Republicans both say humans are causing climate change, though they differ in their certainty about human causes.Last month, Porsche set a four-door electric car record at the Nürburgring. Tesla now plans to beat that record, with former Formula One champion Nico Rosberg driving.To contact the author of this story: Nathaniel Bullard at nbullard@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Mary Duenwald at mduenwald@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Nathaniel Bullard is a BloombergNEF energy analyst, covering technology and business model innovation and system-wide resource transitions.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Big Tech Troubles: Will Google Staff Work Hard?
    Market Realist

    Big Tech Troubles: Will Google Staff Work Hard?

    This week has been rough for big tech companies. On Monday, 50 states and territories announced that they're launching an antitrust investigation into Google.

  • Is Warren Buffett’s Nightmare Scenario Coming True?
    Market Realist

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  • Trump’s 50-Year Bond Dream Saves Little for American Taxpayers
    Bloomberg

    Trump’s 50-Year Bond Dream Saves Little for American Taxpayers

    (Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump’s big idea to refinance America’s burgeoning debt by selling ultra-long-term bonds, locking in historically low interest rates for a half-century or more, has never been all that popular on Wall Street.But even if he goes through with it, there’s little chance it will actually save taxpayers much money as the deficit spirals toward $1 trillion.The Treasury Department shelved the idea of ultra-long bonds after a tepid reception just two years ago. But it resurfaced during an economic briefing in the Oval Office on Aug. 14 -- the day that rates on 10-year U.S. debt fell below those due in two years, according to one person familiar with the matter. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and his top economic adviser Larry Kudlow suggested ultra-longs to Trump, who wanted to learn more, the person said. Two days later, Mnuchin announced the government was once again considering issuing 50- or even 100-year bonds.The flaws in their plan, at least among those on Wall Street, are obvious. First, with a public debt burden of $16 trillion and rising, it’s unlikely the U.S. could ever sell enough of the securities to shift the interest burden from its shorter-term obligations in any meaningful way. Second, investors would likely ask for higher yields to hold onto ultra-long obligations vis-à-vis shorter-term debt. That could easily raise -- rather than lower -- the government’s overall costs.“This wouldn’t really move the needle,” said Praveen Korapaty, chief global rates strategist at Goldman Sachs. “So it’s questionable if it’s even worth your energy trying to potentially save -- and it’s not a guaranteed saving.”That hasn’t stopped the administration from pressing its case. Since that August meeting, Trump has hinted at his interest in long bonds.On Thursday, Mnuchin said he would issue ultra-long bonds as soon as next year if there is investor appetite. His team has already reached out to the Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee and other market participants on the issue, and will soon do the same with foreign governments as well.“It’s quite attractive for us to extend and de-risk the U.S. Treasuries borrowing,” he said on CNBC.The numbers suggest that might be easier said than done.Currently, the U.S. government pays roughly $300 billion a year in net interest expenses, which includes the coupon payments on its Treasury debt. That amount is set to more than double over the next decade as Trump’s tax cuts and increased spending on Social Security and Medicare push the government even deeper into the red -- boosting its debt load by trillions.So even if the Treasury sold $50 billion in 50-year bonds next year at a small premium to the 2.3% yield on 30-year bonds -- which some have pegged as a best-case scenario -- it wouldn’t move the needle on interest costs.True, it would defer the need to repay that amount far into the future and avoid potentially higher refinancing costs in the short-term. But it would be a drop in the bucket compared with the over $10 trillion increase in the nation’s debt burden that the Congressional Budget Office forecasts for the next decade. That growth is the main force driving up U.S. interest expenses.And TBAC, a committee of large bond dealers and investors that advises the Treasury on debt-management matters, has in recent years indicated that shifting issuance more heavily to securities with maturities of five years or less is the most attractive mix to meet the government’s debt-financing goals.Granted, “there is a rare opportunity to get low interest rates and also lower roll-over risk,” said Marc Goldwein, senior policy director at the nonpartisan budget watchdog Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. “But to think that issuing ultra-long term debt is a sort of cheating way out of our fiscal problems is pretty naïve. Our interest costs are surging fundamentally because the amount of our debt is rising.”The Treasury’s longstanding preference for regular and predictable debt issuance may also complicate matters. While there have been any number of cases in recent years of governments (see Austria, Belgium and even Argentina) selling 100-year bonds to take advantage of the global decline on borrowing costs, they’ve all been largely opportunistic one-offs.To inundate the market with regular sales would be quite another thing. It’s one reason Wall Street predicts demand for ultra-long Treasuries would be limited and lead the Treasury to pay more in interest to attract buyers. According to a JPMorgan Chase & Co. client survey, a 50-year bond would likely yield 10 to 20 basis points more than the 30-year.Another is the added risk of owning such long-maturing debt, prices on which are more sensitive to swings in interest rates. A small increase in yields can lead to large losses for investors on their principal. Those risks were never more clear than on Sept. 5, when optimism about the trade war drove longer-term Treasuries to their biggest intraday rout since the day after Trump’s election in 2016. Austria’s 100-year bonds also suffered losses, leading commentators to point out just how quickly gains on ultra-longs can evaporate.Of course, nobody is doubting Uncle Sam’s ability to auction its debt, regardless of maturity. And some see good reasons for issuing longer-term debt, in particular that it reduces roll-over risk -- the chance that when the government’s obligations mature Treasury has to refinance at higher rates.But to many observers, adding 50-year securities isn’t an effective way give taxpayers a break.“You do have an aging population, so demand for long-term fixed-income instruments will go up over the next decade,” said Chirag Mirani, head of U.S. rates strategy at UBS. “But given that our debt outstanding is so high, even sales of $20 or $30 billion of 50-year bonds a year doesn’t give any real clear marginal gain given we have to finance a near $1 trillion deficit.”(Updates yields, adds context on issuance projections.)\--With assistance from Alex Wayne.To contact the reporters on this story: Liz Capo McCormick in New York at emccormick7@bloomberg.net;Saleha Mohsin in Washington at smohsin2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: David Gillen at dgillen3@bloomberg.net, Michael Tsang, Mark TannenbaumFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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