Monday , November 18 2019
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FT Alphaville

Looking back at the Beanie Baby bubble

On our flight to New York on Saturday, FT Alphaville read The Great Beanie Baby Bubble by Zac Bissonnette in between watching Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s All About Eve. Yes, we are that cultured at AV towers.The book documents what is perhaps, in terms of its shear level of mass insanity, the greatest market bubble of all time.Never one to avoid drawing parallels with current market events, FT Alphaville thought it was worth sharing just a few snippets from the book which speak to the anatomy of a...

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Further reading

Elsewhere on Tuesday...-- Just another day in insurance-- Warning signs flash in student accommodation-- Boulder battles in San Francisco-- Mayor Pete, what’s not to love?-- Spotify’s ARPU problem-- Elizabeth Holmes, out of cash-- Do Americans support impeaching Donnie?-- The future of Apple Music-- Song of the day: Autechre -- Leterel...

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Further reading

Elsewhere on Monday,-- China and Taiwan clash over Wikipedia edits.-- A possible antidote to the opioid crisis, but the side-effect sometimes is death.-- Something good is happening with American wages.-- Why Narayana Kocherlakota is worried about the repo market.-- Students being forced into hotels because of unfinished housing.-- When Elon got scammed.-- The key to understanding Vladimir Putin.-- The repo spike as the money trust revisited.-- Why hospitals are getting into the housing...

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A radical plan to slash cross-border payment costs… with subscription fees

We live in a world in which we’re constantly being told that payments should be “frictionless” and free, and should move around the world as seamlessly as information moves around on the internet. So it comes as something of a surprise when, in 2019, you’re sent a press release about a company that actually wants to do the opposite of making cross-border payments frictionless and free, and instead wants to charge a monthly subscription fee for the privilege of being able to partake in them....

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How RTGS inadvertently killed system liquidity 

Long before blockchain was considered a transformational ledger technology, something far less hyped was being treated as equally revolutionary: the transition to real-time gross settlement systems (RTGS).RTGS might sound like a meaningless jargon acronym that you shouldn’t care about, but it’s probably one the most important and least-talked about technologies in the world. It is the tech that underpins central bank clearing and the settlement of large value payments by allowing the transfer...

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Solutions 30 and the disappearing audit letter

On Wednesday, Alphaville published a story on Solutions 30, a €1.1bn Luxembourg-domiciled company that provides an array of technological services to corporate customers across Europe.In the piece we noticed several oddities in its annual reports, such as tables of subsidiaries populated with error messages, and barely legible text.After we asked the company about these issues while researching the story on Monday, it set about fixing them Tuesday. In the end it switched some of its English...

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Overvalued in the Long Room: London

A note from UBS landed in the usual place on Tuesday which we couldn’t resist having a read of.The report is the latest in the Swiss bank’s “Real Estate Bubble Index” which takes a look at the relative valuations of metropolitan housing markets across the globe. New to the party this year are Madrid (overvalued), Moscow (overvalued), Dubai (fair valued) and Tel Aviv (overvalued).You may sense a theme developing here already.Being residents of a certain city in the south of England, our eyes...

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How to solve a problem like European banking

Earlier this week, we looked at how the impact of negative rates varies by country after the ECB’s introduction of a new policy to relieve their effects.Today, Barclays has a piece of research out which points to the “structural drag” from negative rates, due to the zero bound of household deposits. In France and Germany in particular, it says, tiering only provides “partial relief”.From the note:Hence, euro area policymakers will eventually face a dilemma: do they accept lower credit growth...

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Tesla, meet wall

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk has promised that by the end of 2020, it will have launched a robotaxi service. Pending, of course, the approval of regulators. At the company’s “Autonomy Day” back in April, Musk even went a step further (transcript from Sentieo):By the middle of next year, we'll have over 1 million Tesla cars in the road will full Self-Driving hardware, future complete at a reliability level that we will consider that no one needs to pay attention. Meaning you could go to...

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Sark’s energy hits prices only billionaires can afford

Sark’s famous tractor-bus (or as the locals call it: the toast rack) You might remember that earlier this year Alphaville went on what frankly became quite an infamous trip to the tiny island of Sark, in the English channel, to investigate an electricity crisis that was brewing on the semi-feudal island.Sark’s monopolistic energy company, Sark Electricity, had threatened to switch the electricity off entirely on the “dark sky” island after an independent price control commissioner had...

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