June 26, 2017 nº 1,878 - Vol. 14

"Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in."

Napoleon Bonaparte

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  • Top News

Easiest path to riches on the Web? An Initial Coin Offering

A new crop of technology entrepreneurs is forgoing the usual routes to raising money. The entrepreneurs are not pitching venture capitalists, selling stock in an initial public offering or using crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter. Instead, before they even have a working product, they are creating their own digital currencies and selling so-called coins on the web, sometimes raising tens of millions of dollars in a matter of minutes. The pitch is that once the products are up and running, the currencies — with names like BAT, Mysterium and Siacoin — will be redeemable for services like data storage or anonymous internet access, and could appreciate in value in the meantime. Known as initial coin offerings, this latest twist in online fund-raising has made it easier than ever for entrepreneurs to raise large sums of money without dealing with the hassles of regulators, investor protections or accountants. It is a frothy, sprawling and completely unregulated way of funding start-ups, leaving even veteran technology watchers scratching their heads. Proponents of initial coin offerings hail them as a financial innovation that empowers developers and gives early investors a chance to share in the profits of a successful new enterprise. But where some see a new method of crowdfunding online projects, critics say the phenomenon is ripe for abuse and, in many cases, a violation of American securities law.

Europe and Japan near trade deal as US takes protectionist path

The European Union and Japan are close to sealing one of the largest trade agreements ever, a deal that could further isolate the United States as President Trump forges a protectionist path. The deal, which brings together two giants encompassing a quarter of the world's economy, would be a potent symbol of free trade during a time of populist backlash over globalization. The agreement would give both parties better access to core industries like cars and machinery, while laying down new rules for resolving investment disputes and removing structural barriers to trade, according to a partial draft of the agreement obtained by The New York Times. The deal, which is expected to be signed in the coming weeks, also reaffirms the two powers’ commitment to the Paris climate accord, abandoned by the Trump administration this month.


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  • MiMIC Journal

Why China's secretive regulators are an issue for Asian Dollar debt

China's regulatory moves can appear secretive and scattershot to outside observers. When it comes to the country's deleveraging drive, that’s presenting challenges for parts of the booming Asian dollar-bond market. Chinese regulators have tightened restrictions on offshore corporate debt as they try to rein in record leverage built up after the global financial crisis. The sometimes opaque way the curbs are being implemented is making it difficult for cash-strapped firms to plan and undertake bond sales. Given needs to roll over maturing debt, the uncertainty could even boost the risk of defaults, according to S&P Global Ratings.

Online concern over Chinese 'human embroidery' trend

Image caption People's Daily warns parents to look out for such acts of self-harm. Chinese media are asking parents to be vigilant about a new, online trend: stitching patterns into your skin, an act of self-harm. Online users have in recent weeks been posting pictures on social media of patterns embroidered onto their skin. It seems to have been inspired by a forbidden Japanese cartoon, and follows a trend set by the controversial "Blue Whale" self-harm and suicide "game". Media warn that this form of self-harm may cause a bacterial infection or a virus, and lead to septicaemia.


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  • Brief News

Airbag-maker Takata files for bankruptcy

Japanese car parts maker Takata has filed for bankruptcy protection in the US and Japan. It is facing billions of dollars in liabilities over its defective airbags, which have been linked to at least 17 deaths worldwide. Some of the airbags contained faulty inflators which expanded with too much force, spraying metal shrapnel. US-based Key Safety Systems has bought all of Takata's assets, apart from those relating to the airbags. The $1.6bn deal was announced after the Japanese firm filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the US, with similar action taken in Japan. In January, Takata agreed to pay $1bn in penalties in the US for concealing dangerous defects, and pleaded guilty to a single criminal charge. "Although Takata has been impacted by the global airbag recall, the underlying strength of its skilled employee base, geographic reach, and exceptional steering wheels, seat belts and other safety products have not diminished," said KSS chief executive Jason Luo. More than 100 million cars with Takata airbags, including around 70 million vehicles in the US, have been recalled since concerns first emerged in 2007. It is the biggest safety recall in automotive history. (Click here)

Federal judge rejects bid to dismiss immigration suit against Trump and USCIS

The US District Court for the Western District of Washington on Wednesday denied in part and granted in part a motion to dismiss a class-action suit filed against President Donald Trump and the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. The suit was filed against the Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program and claims that the USCIS secretly and unlawfully targets immigration applicants who are Muslim or from certain Muslim-majority countries.

EU prepares to move two agencies from London

EU leaders have officially launched the competition between member states to decide which will host two London-based EU agencies, responsible for medicines and banking. The relocation must take place by the Brexit deadline - 30 March 2019. Some countries are bidding to host both the European Medicines Agency and European Banking Authority.It means hundreds of jobs moving from London, along with significant revenue from hotel stays and conferences. The deciding vote will take place in November.

Germany Parliament passes bill to compensate those persecuted under anti-homosexuality laws

The lower house of the German Parliament on Thursday passed a bill to compensate thousands of individuals who had been persecuted and imprisoned for their sexuality. The law under which the individuals had been convicted is paragraph 175 of Germany's criminal code, and was put in place in 1871. The scope of the law was broadened under the Nazi regime, and was used to convict men as recently as 1967. Individuals who were wrongfully convicted are expected to receive 3,000 euros for each conviction and 1,500 euros for each year in jail as compensation. The bill will still need to be voted on by the parliament's upper house, although it has already announced that the bill will be approved. (Click here)

Italy forced to bail out two more banks for 5.2bn euros

Italy's government is bailing out two banks in the Venice region at a cost of 5.2bn euros ($5.8bn). The move comes two days after the European Central Bank warned that Banca Popolare di Vicenza and Veneto Banca were failing or likely to fail. The banks' "good" assets will be taken on by Intesa Sanpaolo banking group. Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said the rescue was needed to protect savers and ensure "the good health of our banking system". The two banks' branches and employees will be part of Intesa by Monday morning in a move designed to avoid a potential run on deposits that could have spread to other Italian banks. (Click here)

How the Senate Health Care Bill could disrupt the insurance market

In their Affordable Care Act repeal bill, Senate Republicans dropped the requirement that all Americans get health insurance. But they also kept the mandate that insurance companies cover everyone.

Despite claims to contrary, Trump has signed no major laws 5 months in

The president has been boasting about all the laws he has signed, but compared with other recent presidents, it's not that many — and he still hasn't gotten any major pieces of legislation.

Thailand parliament approves legislation giving military political influence

Thailand's parliament unanimously approved national strategy legislation on Thursday which will provide the military with political influence for at least 20 years. The National Strategy Act will create a committee, led by coup leader Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, that will collaborate with future cabinet members to revise national strategy plans every five years. The committee will also consist of military leaders, business and industries representatives, and other experts. Critics of the legislation say it is a way for the military to maintain influence over future governments. (Click here)

E.C.B. seeks control over London trading after 'Brexit'

The European Central Bank took steps Friday to ensure it can oversee trillions of euros in London trading of derivatives and other risky securities even after Britain leaves the European Union. The central bank's action was an example of how Britain's vote to leave the bloc — which took place a year ago Friday — could force a realignment of financial markets and undercut London's status as a global trading center. The central bank asked for a change in European Union legislation so that it can monitor clearinghouses, the companies that act as intermediaries in financial transactions and have a profound impact on the eurozone economy.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

The lie detector. Will Robert Mueller separate fact from fiction?

US Supreme Court Case: First Amendment Battle. The dispute pits two provisions of the US Constitution's First Amendment against each other.

Business Week
Krakow’s Essential Accessory: A Smog Mask

The Economist
India’s economy: Modi's India

Der Spiegel
Kampf um einen Toten (Helmut Kohl)

Pezzi di coalizione


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