10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

British theoretical physicist professor Stephen Hawking Getty Images

Good morning.

1. The Dow Jones industrial average fell as much as 306 points Wednesday, bogged down by concerns of possible Chinese retaliation against President Donald Trump’s metals tariffs, disappointing retail sales, and another downward revision to the Atlanta Fed’s first-quarter GDP forecast. The latter is one of Wall Street’s most followed forecasts for the US economy and lately it’s been looking worse and worse.


2. Bill Shorten is walking back his attack on pensioners. He says he’ll increase part pension payments to potentially hundreds of thousands of people affected by his proposal to cancel cash rebates on franking credits. In effect, it’s replacing dividend-related tax credits with welfare payments. More here.

3. Wage growth and cost of living pressures look set to dominate Australia’s next election campaign, Business Insider’s David Scutt writes. Historically, there’s been a reasonable relationship between job security fears and consumer confidence in Australia. Although recently, and despite strong jobs growth in 2017, consumer sentiment remains subdued, even with over 400,000 jobs created last year. With that in mind, don’t be surprised if the next election slogan morphs from “jobs and growth” to something along the lines of “pay rises and lower taxes”.

4. Stephen Hawking’s final Reddit post was an ominous warning about the future of humanity and capitalism. The late physicist said technological automation could result in a utopia – or it could send inequality skyrocketing and leave most people “miserably poor”. “The trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality,” he wrote. The world-renowned scientist died yesterday on March 14 – Pi Day and Albert Einstein’s birthday – aged 76 but left behind one of the most incredible legacies for a human being on Earth — here are some of the most remarkable and memorable things he ever said.

5. Gary Cohn’s replacement has been announced. Conservative economist Larry Kudlow will step in as Trump’s top economic adviser after Cohn resigned last week following what had been months of internal chaos in the White House. The CNBC host was a staff economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, worked in the Reagan administration, and was chief economist for Bear Stearns.

6. The age of the ICO is coming to an end. Cryptocurrency fundraising is off to a record-breaking start this year. But the rest of 2018 could see the market fizzle out as the industry shifts to so-called security token offerings as regulators crack down on ICOs, according to numerous cryptocurrency experts. Meanwhile, cryptos took a big hit overnight after Google announced it will ban ads for cryptocurrencies on its platform, starting in June. Bitcoin slumped from around $US9,000 to less than $US8,300 amid a broad-based selloff, with other major cryptos now trading at their lowest level of the year.


7. A car antenna will help an Australian telco bring the internet to “virtually anywhere on the planet”. Australian telco Pivotel just signed on as a launch partner for Iridium Communications, the owner of a satellite constellation known as Iridium NEXT. There are currently four satellites in the NEXT constellation, and Iridium has pegged $3 billion to have another four join it this year. Together, they will provide a service known as Iridium Certus. The company says it will provide “high speed mobile data coverage to the entire Earth, connecting oceans, deserts, airways and polar regions”.

8. “The Crown”. Matt Smith, the actor who played Prince Philip on the Netflix-original drama, made more money than Claire Foy, the actress who played the show’s main character, Queen Elizabeth II — and people are furious. Producers said Smith was paid more than Foy because he had become famous as the doctor on “Doctor Who”. But people are not happy about the wage gap, considering Foy is clearly the lead. Following the backlash, producer Suzanne Mackie has agreed: “Going forward, no one gets paid more than the queen.”

9. Smartphones. Not only do scientists says they are addictive and can lead to depression, they now also say this tech is slowing down our thinking processes. With that in mind, the UK government is now considering adding warning labels to social media, which would indicate that sites can be harmful in the same way that cigarette packets currently carry labels. The proposal is part of plans being considered by the government for legislation around technology companies.

10. China banned all mention of a sassy, eye-rolling reporter after she became a meme. A reporter was caught on live TV dramatically rolling her eyes at a government press conference in Beijing. She was listening to a fellow reporter ask a rambling and fawning question when it occurred. See the YouTube clip of the incident here:


BONUS ITEM: Move over one armed-robot, this bot can build a $13,000 house within 12 hours. The homebuilding startup ICON uses a 3D-printing robot that can make parts for houses. The machine can print the walls, roof, and floor of a 650-square-foot model in as little as 12 hours. A worker then adds the windows, doors, plumbing, and electrical systems. See it in action:

Have a great day.

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