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FT Alphaville

FT Alphaville

FT Alphaville is a free daily news and commentary service giving finance professionals the information they need, when they need it. In a world where market professionals are inundated with information there is a pressing need to edit and filter, and hopefully sow a few ideas along the way. That’s where the FT Alphaville team comes in.

Articles by FT Alphaville

Ant split says more about money than Ma

9 days ago

FT Alphaville updatesSign up to myFT Daily Digest to be the first to know about FT Alphaville news.

Beijing’s order for Ant Group to hive off its loans business into a separate app has made big news Monday. From the FT’s take (our emphasis):Chinese regulators have already ordered Ant to separate the back end of its two lending businesses, Huabei, which is similar to a traditional credit card, and Jiebei, which makes small unsecured loans, from the rest of its financial offerings and bring in outside shareholders. Now officials want the two businesses to be split into an independent app as well. The plan would also require Ant to turn over the user data that underpins its lending decisions to a new credit scoring joint-venture which would be partly state-owned, according to

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Walmart/ Litecoin: halfway around the world

9 days ago

Retail & Consumer industry updatesSign up to myFT Daily Digest to be the first to know about Retail & Consumer industry news.

A few short moments ago at 2:30pm UK time, news landed at Reuters, Yahoo Finance, CNBC and Globe News Wire that Walmart is entering into a partnership with Litecoin.From the press release:Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT), the No. 1 U.S. retailer and world’s largest grocer, is pleased to announce a major partnership with Litecoin. The eCommerce giant intends to give its millions of shoppers across the world an opportunity to seamlessly make payments with cryptocurrencies.Bullish for Litecoin right? Well, we’re not quite sure. First, because the press release has not appeared on either Walmart’s website, nor in the form of an 8-K on its SEC page. Second,

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Active investors’ interest in the Chinese tech trade fades

9 days ago

Chinese economy updatesSign up to myFT Daily Digest to be the first to know about Chinese economy news.

It’s been a tough few months for investors in Chinese tech. After two years of warning shots from the powers that be in Beijing, the sector has been on the end of a crackdown which has covered everything from online tutoring to video gaming to payments.Quite a shock then to those investors used to a global governance regime which, bar a few exceptions, usually places the rights of shareholders above the health of the planet. Many famed active investors, including acerbic Berkshire Hathaway number two Charlie Munger, perhaps believing that China would simply not burn its foreign backers for the sake of its own politics, have found themselves in the red after trying to

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Further reading

9 days ago

Elsewhere on Monday . . . – Assembly line apartments– SOFR takes the lead– Losing the inflation anchor– Revelations from the 9/11 files– The mystery of the multi-linguals — American capital exceptionalism– China’s real estate market continues to cool– Song of the day: Intrusion — Angel Version

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Further reading

12 days ago

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13 days ago

Elsewhere on Thursday, — The new age of American power.– Another failed presidency at hand. (New York Times, $)– The Trump Trump suburban squirm.– El Salvador’s big bitcoin bet is backfiring in the bond market. (Bloomberg, $)– El Salvador forced through its bitcoin law by any means necessary.– The REIT-trading Fed official. (Bloomberg, $)– Credit Suisse and Ai Weiwei.– Starmer and the Speaker struggling for the same reasons. — A special place in hell.– Magical thinking. (Washington Post, $)– How 9/11 created the surveillance state.– Where the Romans funny?

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Further reading

14 days ago

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Why SDRs should be used by states not central banks

14 days ago

Global Economy updatesSign up to myFT Daily Digest to be the first to know about Global Economy news.

This is a guest post by Andrés Arauz, a senior research fellow at CEPR, a doctoral fellow at UNAM, and a former Ecuadorian presidential candidate.The IMF’s Special Drawing Rights (SDR) allocation added $650bn worth of potential dollar liquidity into the global financial system on August 23. But some of the world’s most stricken economies are floundering when it comes to putting that liquidity to use due to disagreements in some cases about who has ownership over the funds: central banks or governments.Since SDRs are relatively unknown to policymakers in Latin America, Latindadd, a civil society organisation who works on tax, debt and development, put out a handbook for the

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The sunk cost of shipping to the UK

15 days ago

UK updatesSign up to myFT Daily Digest to be the first to know about UK news.

When we wrote in late August about the widening gulf in shipping costs between big companies and smaller ones, a reader asked if there was a difference between the cost of shipping to mainland Europe and to the UK. In short, the answer’s yes. The chart below is based on rates charged for deliveries to some of Northern Europe’s largest ports — specifically, Antwerp, Zeebrugge, Bremerhaven, Hamburg, Wilhelmshaven, Le Havre and Rotterdam — for goods arriving from the Far East, and cargoes making the same journey but docking in either Felixstowe, London Gateway Port or Southampton. Throughout 2021 it has consistently been cheaper to ship to continental Europe than the UK. Xeneta only began recording

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Further reading

15 days ago

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Go ahead, smother yourself in “NFT perfume”

16 days ago

Non-fungible tokens updatesSign up to myFT Daily Digest to be the first to know about Non-fungible tokens news.

You may or may not be aware that NFTs — which we have written about before here and here and here if you want to get more of a feel for what they are all about — are having another moment. We were a little unsure about whether it was just our inboxes and Twitter feeds that were once again absolutely overflowing with talk of these non-fungible strings of 1s and 0s, but Google Trends confirms that it is not just us being targeted with this stuff:
So it was with some level of resignation that we opened this email that landed in our inboxes over the weekend:L’Eau de Distance (LDD) launches a Digital Perfume: A limited-edition drop released as an NFT What does

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Further reading

16 days ago

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Now you too can “dismantle white supremacy”, for just $48

19 days ago

Food & Beverage updatesSign up to myFT Daily Digest to be the first to know about Food & Beverage news.

Happy Friday folks. It’s Good Food Box Friday and you could have amazing produce like this by next week if you order by 4pm today!Pictured: the contents of our Dismantling White Supremacy Box this week including mustard greens, tatsoi, perilla, chili peppers, garlic & more! https://t.co/9UTOBV4epO pic.twitter.com/WjEspB1wL7— FoodShare (@FoodShareTO) August 27, 2021
OK so yes, today is technically not Good Food Friday — that was last week — and you can’t actually currently buy a Dismantling White Supremacy Food Box from the FoodShare website because IT’S SO POPULAR IT’S SOLD OUT, but we felt we would share this with you anyway.So what, prey tell, is a Dismantling White

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Further reading

19 days ago

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Financial crime fighting has lost its way

20 days ago

UK financial regulation updatesSign up to myFT Daily Digest to be the first to know about UK financial regulation news.

This is a guest post by Tom Keatinge, who directs the Centre for Financial Crime & Security Studies at the Royal United Services Institute. He argues that outsourcing the job of fighting financial crime to the financial industry is turning out to be a losing formula. It’s an unfashionable view to take, but I feel sorry for the banks. At this point you’ll be thinking “well of course you do, you worked for them for 20 years”. But before you label me an unrepentant apologist, hear me out.Banks are, quite rightly, required to monitor the transactions they facilitate, and the customers they serve, for suspicious activity. In the old days, when transactions

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Further reading

20 days ago

Markets updatesSign up to myFT Daily Digest to be the first to know about Markets news.

Elsewhere on Thursday . . . – The New Puritans– Amazon’s Ivermectin problem– The fight over Jeff Buckley’s back catalogue– On the issue of US inflation– What the Texas abortion law means for Roe vs Wade– Replacing Powell would be a blunder– Greedcare– America’s Stimmy culture has gone too far– Song of the day: The Black Dog — Pot Noddle

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NFTs transform the art market for young novice buyers

20 days ago

There he stands in the middle of a Mayfair gallery, $90,000-worth of fine, milky marble chiselled into the shape of a male torso: headless, fig-leaved and gloriously visible. His name is Kouros, but he could be a waiter in a West End café or a gym-obsessed banker over in the City of London, because large parts of his shoulders and back are obscured by an enormous, psychedelic tattoo. “Kouros” is the work of Fabio Viale, an Italian sculptor who takes fine stone, chisels it into replicas of classical statues, then inks tattoos on their marble flesh. He has adorned the neck of Michelangelo’s “David” with wings, and the shoulders of the “Venus de Milo” with flowers. Viale’s work may not be to older collectors’ taste, but it has been exhibited at galleries and art fairs all over the world.

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Further reading

21 days ago

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The Disney Park Indicator continues to lag

21 days ago

Walt Disney Co updatesSign up to myFT Daily Digest to be the first to know about Walt Disney Co news.

Back in the early months of the pandemic, FT Alphaville proposed a new economic gauge to truly measure when life had returned to normal. We crowned it “The Disney Parks Indicator” (DPI). The idea was simple: a visit to one of Disney’s resorts requires several recoveries, from the psychological to the economic, to take place. For instance, consumers must not only have enough disposable income to plop down $1,500 per head on a holiday, but also be comfortable standing shoulder-to-shoulder in long indoor queues for rides such as Space Mountain. Oh, and they must be OK with potentially getting puked on.Our thinking was that once Disney’s Parks, Experiences and Products segment

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Seasoned investors pile into the industry behind new currencies

21 days ago

Some benefits of investing in cryptocurrencies can be quite unexpected. For billionaire financier Mike Novogratz, it was the chance to give a speech about digital art at a prestigious auction house — and settle an old score. “I was thinking: if only my third-grade art teacher could see me now,” says the 56-year-old former money market trader. “She didn’t think I was very good and here I am, on stage at Christie’s giving a talk.”It may not be his biggest achievement, but it adds to the pleasure he says he is finding in his current venture, Galaxy Digital, a specialist cryptocurrency financial services and investment management company. For him, the excitement of the crypto boom stands comparison even with his greatest professional triumph: the 2007 flotation of Fortress, the first

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Twitter Spaces with Tariq Fancy

22 days ago

ESG investing updatesSign up to myFT Daily Digest to be the first to know about ESG investing news.

It’s no secret that FT Alphaville has long been suspicious about ESG investing. Whether it’s the bubbly valuations attached to European businesses like wind-power play Vestas, or the attempt from many companies — and funds — to reframe their usual corporate strategy as ESG-friendly, its hard to escape the feeling that the three-letter initialism sometimes is doing more harm than good (if it’s doing anything at all).So when we came across an essay on Medium last week from Tariq Fancy — former chief investment officer for sustainable investing at BlackRock — we weren’t surprised to see that he had arrived at roughly the same conclusion. His arguments were expertly distilled by

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Further reading

22 days ago

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Here’s what globalisation has done to inflation

26 days ago

Global Economy updatesSign up to myFT Daily Digest to be the first to know about Global Economy news.

Lots of words will be written about what Grandmaster Jay had to say about tapering at Jackson Hole. We’re not going to add to the chatter. Instead, we want to draw your attention to another aspect of his speech: the chart below. The graphic shows that the cost of durables, often made abroad, has persistently fallen over the past 25 years — by an average of 1.9 per cent a year, according to Powell. At least, up until the pandemic began. Inflation in services, which are often produced domestically, meanwhile, has increased every year.
It’s a great example of the disinflationary impact of globalisation in the US and, indeed, elsewhere. For reference, here’s what’s

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Further reading

26 days ago

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Who’s really feeling the shipping cost squeeze?

26 days ago

Transport updatesSign up to myFT Daily Digest to be the first to know about Transport news.

Another week, another surge in shipping costs. But just how big has the surge been? It all depends on who you ask. Over the past seven days, the price of taking a 40ft container-full of goods from the Far East to the US West Coast has, according to shipping cost calculators Xeneta, risen by another 3.6 per cent. Over the course of August prices are up a shade under 20 per cent. Xeneta says the average Transpacific rate is now $7,574. Other data outfits, however, such as Freightos, say the cost to transport goods from China to the West Coast has been as high as $15,800 over the past month. That’s an almighty gap. Yet neither figure is necessarily wrong. That’s because what we’re

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Cambria Autos: car salesman offers shareholders a special deal

27 days ago

Cambria Automobiles PLC updatesSign up to myFT Daily Digest to be the first to know about Cambria Automobiles PLC news.

British punters have been taught to be wary of car dealers. The old trope of a moustachioed man cloaked in a cheap suit shilling an overpriced rust bucket to unwary customers has lingered in popular culture for generations. But the question facing investors in Cambria Automobiles, a £82m car dealer group which owns high street names such as Doves, Grange and Invicta, is: would you trust a wheeler dealer to take your company private at a fair price?Shareholders in the Aim-listed business are being asked just that after the board accepted a £80m cash offer from Cambria’s chief executive and 40 per cent shareholder Mark Lavery back in June. Investors can

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Twitter Spaces with Pippa Malmgren

27 days ago

Cryptocurrencies updatesSign up to myFT Daily Digest to be the first to know about Cryptocurrencies news.

Pippa Malmgren is a former member of the US President’s Working Group on Financial Markets and The President’s Working Group on Corporate Governance. She is also an author and entrepreneur. Her books include Signals, an economic megatrend analysis, and the Leadership Lab, about how good leadership skills can help us all. She has now turned her attention to the Metaverse including crypto ,Defi, sovereign digital currencies and drones. She joins the FT Alphaville team this Friday at 4pm UK time to discuss the megatrends we might not yet have spotted, especially with respect to how the worlds of Defi, economics and geopolitics are likely to come together.To take part in

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Supply chains are a mess. So how come trade is booming?

28 days ago

ING Groep NV updatesSign up to myFT Daily Digest to be the first to know about ING Groep NV news.

World trade, we are told, is booming. After slumping in dramatic fashion during the second quarter of 2020, export volumes have since soared to the extent that, by September, they were above levels seen before pandemic began to impact the global economy and are now at an all-time high. Yet how can this be the case when at the same time we read daily of global supply chain snafus from shuttered Chinese ports and seemingly chronic shortages of semiconductor chips? On the face of it, it seems perplexing that we’re heralding an export boom at the same time as economists in manufacturing powerhouses such as Germany are warning the problems with sourcing parts are weighing on the

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Further reading

28 days ago

Elsewhere on Wednesday,– Germany flirts with a power crunch. — Why the bezzle matters to the economy. — The real CEO of “Succession”. — Inflation for whom. — A conversation between former Alphavillain Tracy Alloway and former Afghanistan central banker Ajmal Ahmady (with a bit of Joe Weisenthal). — Inside the bitcoin mine with its own power plant. — More GB News culture wars. — Is the media’s new business model propaganda? — History may vindicate Biden over Afghanistan. — New Zealand’s zero Covid delusion. — Eavesdropping on the Taliban. — Infections caught in laboratories are surprisingly common.

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Crypto Cummings is back

29 days ago

Dominic Cummings updatesSign up to myFT Daily Digest to be the first to know about Dominic Cummings news.

When Dominic Cummings said back in May that he had the “only copy of a crucial historical document” and that he was going to auction it off as an NFT, we hoped that this was just going to be a fleeting flirtation with the world of blockchain. A way of showing off his tech bro credentials, perhaps, or even an attempt to push Brexit and Barnard Castle further down the suggestions list when you type “Dominic Cummings b” into Google. But alas, it appears our Dom is still riding that crypto wagon. Here’s his latest “very very unappreciated” (by us anyway) tweet: Think this is very very unappreciated in policy circles & there will be many startups solving government problems

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