It’s Monday. Welcome to the 4 day working week.
1. America is closed right now. The first anniversary of Donald Trump’s ascendancy to the White House was marked by a partial shutdown of the government on Saturday, because the US Senate voted against a key procedural step to pass a short-term funding bill. It’s the eighth shutdown since 1980 – and the first since a 17-day closure in 2013 in a fight over Obamacare. The reason you can’t go to a museum or pay US troops is because the Democrats want protections for young illegal immigrants in the US known as “Dreamers” so this cash-flow crisis is now a defacto fight over immigration.
But Trump has a plan.
Great to see how hard Republicans are fighting for our Military and Safety at the Border. The Dems just want illegal immigrants to pour into our nation unchecked. If stalemate continues, Republicans should go to 51% (Nuclear Option) and vote on real, long term budget, no C.R.’s!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 21, 2018
However, Republicans say yeah, nah, so the stalemate in Congress – and negotiation – continues, with new vote is due tonight, Australian time.
2. Meanwhile US bond yields have hit a three-year high, with US 10-year bond yields at 2.66% on Friday, while US stocks ignored that jump as well as the shutdown to also hit new highs. The Dow is at 26,071.72 and that good mood looks set to spread to the Australian market today. And the Aussie dollar is back pushing towards 80 cents.
3. The new consumer arms race is over voice computers. Amazon launched its virtual assistance Alexa in Australia last week and now appears to have the edge on Google, which announced partnerships with companies including LG, Sony, and Lenovo as both tech giants gather their troops.
4. There’s a very simple explanation for the crypto crash. It’s a turf war by governments against a sector now worth more than $US500 billion (down about $US800 billion from its peak – a plunge of 36% in less than a month). As Business Insider UK’s Jim Edwards succinctly explains here:
Governments only stay in business because they have the power to control how much cash flows through the economy. They can create new money or reduce the amount in circulation. Their interest-rate-setting powers control the cost of everything, from the price of patching a pothole in the street to the cost of war in the Middle East.
Russia, South Korea, China, Algeria, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nepal, and Kyrgyzstan have all outright banned bitcoin or made noises about tightening regulation around crypto that would make owning the currency much less attractive. Sounds like there’ll be a few high-paid lobbyist jobs in the crypto sector coming up soon.
5. Before you invest in a company, ask what kind of car the CEO drives. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos chugged around in a Honda Accord, despite being a multi-billionaire, as recently as 2013, a sign of the frugality that kept the global juggernaut focuses on its customers with the mantra “Accomplish more with less”.
6. 5G is not what you think in business. In our tech-driven era, one important and astonishing fact is that five generations can now be found in the workplace – people old enough to remember the telex, ticker tape and Abba releasing hit singles. Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO James Pearson says that brings enormous challenges amid competing demands in the workplace. And while the discussion focuses on Millennials and Boomers, Gen X is under pressure as the managers of people both younger and older than them. Read more on Pearson’s thoughts – and what he wants to do about it – here.
7. Steve Smith’s not a fan of soft signals. A what? Cricket’s equivalent of jawboning is when the on-field umpire offers their view on a dismissal, but isn’t sure and refers it to the third umpire anyway. Like, for example, Smith’s edge to England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler, which looked like it hit the ground on review, but the footage was not conclusive enough to overturn the umpire’s soft signal of out.
— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) January 21, 2018
It was a bad night at the SCG for the Aussies, who lost the one day series to England 0-3 after falling 16 runs short of the 303 chase. Smith was fined 40% of his match fee and the rest of the team 20% each because their over rate was too slow – by two overs, which is how many wides the side bowled to England. But gee century-maker Buttler has fun with the bat in the 49th over as England added 26. Next up is Adelaide Oval on Australia Day.
8. The search for MH370 is back on. Ocean Infinity’s ship, Seabed Constructor, starts looking for the missing Boeing 777 in a 25,000km sq patch of ocean 1800km south-west of Perth today. They have a high stakes deal with the Malaysian government – they won’t be paid if they don’t find the missing plane.
9. New Zealand has joined the space race. LA-based Rocket Lab launched its 17-metre Electron booster rocket from Mahia Peninsula, on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island in its first test flight from the country. It might be a test flight but the commercial venture also sent three mini-satellites into a low Earth orbit. Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck called it a new era for access to space as “we debuted and successfully put in orbit the very first small launch vehicle that the industry has ever seen”.
Today marks the beginning of a new era in commercial access to space. Thank you to @planetlabs and @SpireGlobal for joining us on this ride. #Electron #StillTesting #PassedTheTest pic.twitter.com/RUMx31MzN8
— Rocket Lab (@RocketLab) January 21, 2018
10. Nick Kyrgios won fans last night. Yes, Australia’s last hope in the singles went down to world No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov in four sets – 6-7, 6-7, 6-4, 6-7 – in the fourth round but amid the 22-year-old’s usual pantomime carry on, there was courage and grit, especially when the odds were stacked against him. The closeness of the match is reflected in Dimitrov winning 157 points, Kyrgios 156. Meanwhile, Lleyton Hewitt’s brief comeback to support Sam Groth in his final tournament has turned into a fairytale. After knocking out third-seeded Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau in three sets in the third round, they face 11th seeds Juan-Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah in the quarterfinals tomorrow after Spanish duo Albert Ramos-Vinolas and Pablo Andujar retired from their fourth round clash after just 22 minutes.
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