Good morning! Let’s get started…
1. The Reserve Bank of Australia board meets today for its monthly meeting and we get the interest rate decision at 2.30pm AEST, with no change expected in the target cash rate of 2.5%. We have the outlooks for the meeting from NAB and ANZ here. The simple thing to look out for is any change in the phrasing around a “period of stability in interest rates” in the statement – any change there will set the hares running, but most think it unlikely.
2. Markets are flat with the US being off for a holiday. ASX futures are pointing to a slight fall at the open, so it might be a case of following the action in Asia for the day. The Nikkei was up 0.3% yesterday and Shanghai rallied 0.9%. A continuing escalation of tensions in Ukraine doesn’t seem to be bothering markets much at the moment. Meanwhile in Europe, the bad news continues to intensify – after a run of horror data, the forward-looking PMIs yesterday were horrible.
3. Australian companies are feeling chipper. There’s still a lot of uncertainty in the Australian economy and the recent spike in the unemployment rate hasn’t helped, but Dun & Bradstreet survey of business expectations show companies expect profits at a 10-year high in the last quarter of the year. This is hugely welcome news – confident businesses give people jobs. Here’s the chart, showing businesses are looking forward to Christmas:
Greg McKenna has the details.
4. How those nude celebrity photos ended up on the internet is now source of much discussion in technology, media, and celebrity circles. One guy who was suspected of being the hacker has denied having anything to do with it. A hacker on 4chan has taken credit for it, saying it was months in planning and he didn’t do it alone. James Cook has taken a look at the different ways it could have happened here. But it raises some other questions. Does anyone get that iCloud is constantly making a copy of your phone’s content and storing it elsewhere on the internet? Does Apple have a security problem? And why do celebrities take so many nude selfies?
5. Aussie startup DesignCrowd has doubled payments to designers to $20 million in the past year, after taking six years to get to the $10 million mark. It’s just payments to the user base, but it has been helped by rapid growth in the US and shows the platform is turning into a solid operation. They’re now opening up a US operation.
6. It’s the SydStart final in Sydney today. For Australia’s tech-led startups this is the event of the year, and 10 fledgling companies will pitch their business for the SydStart trophy. As we mentioned yesterday, there are some influential, front-line entrepreneurs, investors and lobbyists gathering at the Hilton so there’s likely to be some fairly pointed talks about how tech startups present themselves and prioritise their needs for government, regulatory agencies and the investment community. Already this morning, the heads of some of the major co-working spaces have been meeting to discuss how they organise themselves. A space to watch.
7. Can Putin attend the G20 summit in Australia? Foreign minister Julie Bishop will discuss the Russian president’s attendance at the summit, to be held in Brisbane in November, with other NATO leaders this week, the AFR reports. After the MH17 incident and the ongoing tensions in Ukraine, it’s difficult to see how Putin could be welcomed to Australian shores unless something changes in the coming weeks.
8. The argument for a four-day working week. Well, six arguments actually, including that it would make us all healtheir, productive and we’ll get more sleep. In 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that in 100 years time, technological advances would see us working as few as 15 hours a week. Which sounds nice.
9. The future is creepy (Part I): A new Google Glass app takes some rudimentary readings of a person’s face and tells you what emotions the person you are looking at is feeling, as well as some basic data about them. Here’s a screengrab with an example:
10. The future is creepy (Part II): Researchers have developed an algorithm for taxi services which, if used by enough people, could allow the vast majority of taxi trips to be shared. It was tested using New York data, which is a pretty unique environment for taxi trips, but the researchers say that just being willing to wait five minutes for your cab would mean costs drastically cut for consumers and a significant reduction in congestion. But really, do you want to share your cab with the next guy?
Bonus item: All the Russian space sex geckos have died. The science story of 2014 had a sad, sudden ending yesterday when the satellite capsule containing five geckos which had been orbiting the Earth landed safely and was opened. All the geckos were frozen solid. The one male and four females had been part of an experiment featuring live video feeds that examined the effect of weightlessness on reproduction. But the fruit flies made it and, by all accounts, reproduced successfully.
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