'Trade War'

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The World

The trade war between the U.S. and China failed to prompt American businesses to leave the Chinese market, with costs from tariffs instead passed along to consumers, new research found. In a paper published on the preprint platform SSRN this month, researchers argued that US tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese products – launched in mid-2018 to bring US companies home – hurt the US economy and did not successfully pressure China to change its economic policies. Despite tit-for-tat tariffs and intensifying political hostility between the powers, businesses in each of the countries remained “deeply integrated” with the other and foreign investment into China still hit a record US$144.4 billion last year. (South China Morning Post)

  • The People’s Liberation Army sent 24 warplanes to Taiwan’s air zone in show of force, the 20th time PLA planes had entered the air zone this month. The incursion came as China’s Maritime Safety Administration reported the PLA was having live-fire drills in the Yellow Sea and Bohai Sea. (South China Morning Post)

Voters want to curb the influence of Big Tech companies, new poll shows. The survey indicates broad support for stronger U.S. regulations over use of data and wariness of social media’s effects on children. American voters have deep-seated concerns about the power wielded by big technology companies and want the federal government to take a stronger stand in regulating them. The poll conducted for the privately funded Future of Tech Commission found that 80% of registered voters—83% of Democrats and 78% of Republicans—agreed the federal government “needs to do everything it can to curb the influence of big tech companies that have grown too powerful and now use our data to reach too far into our lives.” On another issue, 84% of voters said they were “very nervous” about the effects of social media on children, including 84% of Democrats and 85% of Republicans, according to the poll. (Wall Street Journal)

  • The U.S. and EU plan to take a more unified approach to limit the growing market power of Big Tech companies, according to a draft memo seen by Reuters. The move will be among announcements on tech, climate, trade and supply chains likely to be made at a U.S.-EU Trade & Technology Council meeting on Sept. 29 in Pittsburgh. (Reuters)

Alaska, once a leader in vaccinating its citizens, is now in the throes of its worst surge of the pandemic, as the Delta variant rips through the state, swamping hospitals with patients. As of Thursday, the state was averaging 125 new cases a day for every 100,000 people, more than any other in the nation. That figure has shot up by 42% in the last two weeks, and by more than twentyfold since early July. (New York Times)

  • Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel thinks the coronavirus pandemic could be over in a year as increased vaccine production ensures global supplies. (Reuters)

Chinese authorities are asking local governments to prepare for the potential downfall of China Evergrande Group, signaling a reluctance to bail out the debt-saddled property developer while bracing for any economic and social fallout from the company’s travails. Officials characterized the actions being ordered as “getting ready for the possible storm,” saying that local-level government agencies and state-owned enterprises have been instructed to step in to handle the aftermath only at the last minute should Evergrande fail to manage its affairs in an orderly fashion. (Wall Street Journal)

Leading German politicians sparred one last time on an array of issues on Thursday evening, with none of them landing truly telling blows in a broad closing debate. The debate took place with a final opinion poll indicating the vote would be too close to call, and potential coalition options wide open. The latest numbers compiled for broadcaster ZDF on Thursday put the SPD ahead on 25%, the CDU/CSU close behind on 23%, the Greens third at 16.5% followed by the FDP on 11%, the AfD on 10%, and the Left at 6%. Whatever happens, forming a government could be a process of lengthy negotiations and uneasy compromise. (Deutsche Welle)

The coastal US north-east is one of the fastest warming areas in the northern hemisphere, having heated up rapidly by 2C (3.6F) already over the past century due in part to the soaring temperature of the nearby Atlantic Ocean, new research has found. This is one of the fastest temperature increases in the northern hemisphere, researchers found, and is double the level of heating that has taken place further inland in the same region. (The Guardian)


Economy

After largely standing aside for years as cryptocurrency grew from a digital curiosity into a volatile but widely embraced innovation, federal regulators are racing to address the potential risks for consumers and financial markets. Their concerns have only grown as both new and established firms have rushed to find ways to profit from bringing the massive wealth held in cryptocurrency into the traditional financial system through quasi-banking services like interest-bearing accounts and lending. Now the Treasury Department and other agencies are moving urgently on an initial target for tighter regulation: a fast-growing product called a stablecoin. (New York Times)

  • Coinbase CEO: 50% of the people he spoke to in DC think crypto is a risk. While half of the lawmakers in DC have misconceptions about crypto, the other half have realized that the crypto industry is a huge opportunity. (Blockworks)

The Bank of England has signalled additional concern about rising inflation, predicting it was now likely to peak above 4 per cent and stay at this level into 2Q22, but stressed that no immediate action was needed to quell price rises. (Financial Times)

Automakers globally will produce 7.7M fewer cars this year due to the chip shortage, costing them $210B in sales, as chip lead times slip to 21 weeks. (Bloomberg)

81% of business travelers — those who say they were regularly required to travel for work before the pandemic — say they are somewhat or very concerned about the delta variant compared to 75% of non-business travelers. However, business travelers generally report higher levels of comfort across several aspects of travel when compared to their counterparts, despite these elevated delta worries. Still, those in households earning more than $100,000 per year are 10 percentage points more likely than those making less than $50,000 to say they’re worried about the delta variant. (Morning Consult)


Technology

FTC Chair Lina Khan laid out her policy priorities and vision in a memo to staff dated Wednesday and recently made public. Khan outlined five principles of her plan: 1) Have a “holistic approach to identifying harms.” 2) Focus on “targeting root causes rather than looking at one-off effects.” 3) Integrate more “analytical tools and skillsets” for more empirical assessments of business practices. 4) Be “forward-looking” and act fast to mitigate harm. 5) Democratize the FTC by making sure it’s “in tune with the real problems that Americans are facing in their daily lives.” Khan then laid out three specific policy priorities based on those goals: 1) Addressing consolidation across industries by revising merger guidelines for businesses and deterring deals that are illegal on their face and have overwhelmed commission resources. 2) Going after “dominant intermediaries and extractive business models.” 3) Assessing how contracts can set up unfair methods of competition or deceptive practices. (CNBC)

It’s almost time for the official release of Android 12, but Google isn’t saving every feature for the public launch. The company announced a handful of new abilities coming soon to Android, Google TV, the Assistant, and Gboard, including some that were previously exclusive to Google’s own Pixel lineup. There are new facial gesture controls designed for people with motor impairments, as well as a new handwriting recognition feature for Lookout, a Google app that uses a phone’s camera to help people with low vision or blindness. There are also improvements coming for Google Assistant, Digital Wellbeing, Nearby Share, and Google’s Android keyboard. (Gizmodo, The Verge)

Since the beginning of the pandemic, food delivery workers on bikes have become even more ubiquitous features of the New York City streetscape, earning low wages and often braving horrendous weather, hazardous streets and the threat of robbery to bring people their takeout orders at all hours of the day. The city became the first in the nation to take aggressive steps to improve those employees’ working conditions, approving a groundbreaking package of legislation that will set minimum pay and address the plight of couriers employed by app-based food delivery services like Grubhub, DoorDash and Uber Eats. (New York Times)

Manufacturers will be forced to create a universal charging solution for phones and small electronic devices, under a new rule proposed by the European Commission. All smartphones sold in the EU must have USB-C chargers, the proposal said. Apple has warned such a move would harm innovation. The tech giant is the main manufacturer of smartphones using a custom charging port, as its iPhone series uses an Apple-made "Lightning" connector. (BBC News)

Live video shopping format is on fire: The everything old is new again trend is alive and well in retail with shoppable livestreaming — which is basically interactive commercials. Thanks to social technologies popularized by Gen Z, live video shopping a la QVC is on fire. Consumer media and shopping habits moving online have primed retail and digital video to combine more seamlessly. Supermarkets are activating on the trend too. Albertsons, which also owns Acme and Safeway, is set to become the first U.S. grocer to use Firework's shoppable video platforms. The format has been wildly successful in China and is spreading globally. (Axios)

  • Is live-stream shopping the future of retail? Ntwrk, a 3-year-old app, functions as a sort of streetwear QVC. Ntwrk announced $50 million in new funding to add products, grow staff and invest more in marketing. But how well does live-stream shopping really work? Ntwrk — a livestream shopping platform for limited-edition products like streetwear and NFTs — are in a race with the likes of Amazon, YouTube and Facebook to capture this growing sector of retail. (Wall Street Journal, Axios)


Weekend Reads

New Research Busts Popular Myths About Innovation: Some technologies improve much faster than others, and they do so at a more or less steady pace, regardless of individual breakthroughs and inventors. This should change how investors, policy makers and anyone choosing a career decides where to invest time and money. (Wall Street Journal)

An in-depth look at Amazon's flagship BFI4 warehouse, located in Kent, WA and capable of processing over 1M items/day, which is run almost entirely by software. At BFI4 outside Seattle, the retailer uses algorithms and robots to ship more than a million packages a day—vastly changing the jobs of humans in the process. (Bloomberg)

In era of quick-fire bosses, Wall Street embraces the ‘forever CEO’. Brian Moynihan, Jamie Dimon and James Gorman buck trend of shorter tenures at US companies. (Financial Times)

Why these Facebook research scandals are different. How the company found itself in its biggest crisis since Cambridge Analytica. (Platformer)


Live Event

Today, 2 pm ET: Tale of Two States: Contrasting Economic Policy in CA & TX, co-sponsored by the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research & the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. America’s two most populous states take dramatically different approaches to making economic policy. California has the nation’s highest top marginal tax rate, while Texas doesn’t have an income tax. Every 1-in-3 Californians have health insurance through Medicaid, but only 1-in-6 Texans do. Both states are betrayed by their electric grids during extreme events, yet California and Texas manage those problems differently. (Register)


Smart Links

Nine charts that show who’s winning the U.S.-China tech race. (Washington Post)

Twitter introduced the ability to tip in bitcoin on its Apple iOS app. (The Information)

A 30% female author experiment in political science syllabi. (Inside Higher Ed)

An uncomfortable question in France: Are we still a great power? (New York Times)