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FT Alphaville

Someone should have a word with the government’s graphics team

When you’ve got a global pandemic on your hands, it’s important, as a government, that you put out clear messaging. In fact, getting the messaging right could literally be a matter of life and death. As Health Secretary Matt Hancock put it back in May:How we communicate as a government, as ministers, has a direct impact on the amount of cases that we have and therefore the amount of people who die.With those grave words ringing in your head, do take a look at the latest bit of sloganeering...

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Markets Now – Monday 3rd August 2020

The FT’s first ever mention of Bytedance, the owner of video silo Tiktok, was in Alphaville. Back in November 2016, FTAV cast a crook eye at Bytedance’s technology stack and mooted $10bn valuation as part of its This is nuts. When’s the crash? strand. Spin forward less than two years and the valuation had risen to $75bn. A year and ten months after that, the actual POTUS is using mafia tactics to break up Bytedance on undefined national security grounds. History is a relentless master.On this...

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Cayman, Curaçao and Cyprus: the hunt for $240m of Russian bank bonds

© Phuongphoto | Dreamstime.com An owner of a fertiliser company and wine merchant walk into a Russian bank.That may sound like the first line of a below-average joke but in 2017 these two individuals, along with close to 250 other savers, did so and walked out proud owners of $240m of guaranteed loan notes.As it turns out, the joke was on the investors. And it wasn’t a funny one. Three years later, they are embroiled in a legal battle that stretches across the European continent.The...

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Further reading

Elsewhere on Monday,-- Xi’s global panopticon is already here. -- Has Imperial’s Neil Ferguson been vindicated?-- Why the Premier League couldn’t let Newcastle’s Saudi takeover happen.-- Why SPACs are the new IPOs.-- US equities have a place in global portfolios.-- The anti-vaxxers don’t matter. -- Inside the meteoric rise of Asia's answer to Gatorade.-- Why research analysts can’t value their own businesses.-- A sociologist who can save us from coronavirus. -- Netflix rankings tell us people...

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Argentina’s debt dance: a pivot to the IMF?

© AFP via Getty Images Eric Lalo is head of sovereign advisory at Rothschild & Co. Before that he was co-head of the Sovereign Advisory Group at Lazard, where he advised numerous sovereigns and sovereign owned entities including Argentina in 2004. In this post he argues that Argentina is a good illustration of the inherent conflict facing any sovereign issuer wishing to avoid a hard default, while also landing a sustainable debt restructuring operation with international private...

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Does anyone know what the coronavirus rules are any more?

© PA In the mid-1970s Henry Kissinger, “the godfather of diplomacy” and the then US secretary of state, deployed a technique called “constructive ambiguity” (indeed the term is attributed to him). The concept, according to the Brookings Institution, “is premised on the belief that ambiguously worded text can create opportunities for advancing the interests of both parties to a negotiation”. In recent years, a slightly tweaked version of the phrase, “creative ambiguity”, has become...

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Further reading

Elsewhere on Friday: – Germany calls for Russian help to catch Marsalek. (WSJ,$)– Why does Monaco exist? – Who wins from five subs?– Is a special parliamentary inquiry into Wirecard now likelier? – NY taxi drivers’ real estate play goes awry. – Choral music is not elitist. – Fleeing Venezuela. – The Economist on the consolations of mingei. ($)...

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Markets Now – Thursday 30th July 2020

“Distracted from distraction by distraction,” wrote TS Eliot about second-quarter results season. About a hundred UK and European large-cap companies chose the last Thursday in July for an interim update, plus another 100 or so in the US. The choice was probably very convenient for executives, who could achieve inbox zero before they jet off to Mustique, but is actual hell for everyone else. It’s like DDOS by RNS out there this morning. If only as a coping mechanism, let’s start with...

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General Motors: age of Ultium

If you frequent the pixels of Alphaville regularly, you might know that we have a particular fondness for Morgan Stanley’s Adam Jonas.One of the most vocal analysts on the Street, Adam has, over the years, provided some of the most colourful moments — both via his research and his conference call questions — in recent corporate memory. (So much so that we dedicated an entire article to him last year.)So, it wasn’t that surprising that our Adam, once again, was his useful blue-sky self on...

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A bakery and beacon of hope re-opens its doors

When Liverpool lifted the Premier League trophy at Anfield late last Wednesday, the shutters of the Homebaked café and bakery, a stone’s throw away from The Kop end, were down. Despite making a Champions’ pie – packed with chilli beef with red onion and peppers – Homebaked wanted to keep fans, keen to gather outside the stadium to celebrate the team’s first triumph in English football’s top league in 30 years, away. “We opened a little later than usual – to 5pm, instead of 3pm – but were...

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