TWTR - Twitter, Inc.

NYSE - NYSE Delayed Price. Currency in USD
38.31
-0.74 (-1.90%)
At close: 4:04PM EST

38.33 +0.02 (0.05%)
After hours: 7:51PM EST

Stock chart is not supported by your current browser
Previous Close39.05
Open38.67
Bid38.33 x 4000
Ask38.36 x 3200
Day's Range38.04 - 38.76
52 Week Range28.63 - 45.86
Volume14,935,796
Avg. Volume15,717,301
Market Cap29.969B
Beta (5Y Monthly)0.43
PE Ratio (TTM)20.49
EPS (TTM)1.87
Earnings DateApr 29, 2020
Forward Dividend & YieldN/A (N/A)
Ex-Dividend DateN/A
1y Target Est35.89
  • Social Media Stocks That Are Here To Stay
    Zacks

    Social Media Stocks That Are Here To Stay

    Social media is one of the most influential mediums in the world today, youmake sure that you put your money where the influence will last

  • Fake News In 2020 Election Puts Social Media Companies Under Siege
    Investor's Business Daily

    Fake News In 2020 Election Puts Social Media Companies Under Siege

    Social media giants Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are marshaling resources to stop the flow of fake news and "deepfakes" for the 2020 election. Or else.

  • Bloomberg

    An Africa United on Trade Faces U.S.’s One-on-One Tactics

    (Bloomberg) -- The good news is that the U.S. doesn’t seem to make the often loathed assumption that Africa is one big country. The less good news is that its trade relations with the continent’s 55 states could become increasingly fragmented.On his first trip to Africa as secretary of State this week, Michael Pompeo focused on business ties as he met with officials in Senegal, Angola and Ethiopia. President Donald Trump “loves deals” and “wants more to happen between the U.S. and nations all across Africa,” Pompeo said in Addis Ababa.That came two weeks after Washington announced that it intended to start talks for a free-trade deal with Kenya. The only other such pact is with Morocco.But on the same trip, Pompeo took a swipe at South Africa, the continent’s most-industrial economy and currently the U.S.’s biggest trading partner in the region. He said the plans of the country’s ruling party to allow land expropriation would be disastrous and described the policy proposal as an example of central planning that has failed in other African states like Zimbabwe.Trade relations between the U.S. and African nations will come under increased scrutiny between now and 2025. That’s when the African Growth & Opportunity Act, which provides sub-Saharan African countries duty-free access for about 6,500 products to America, expires.The Trump administration doesn’t favor renewing it and wants the planned Kenyan deal to be a model for other arrangements with individual countries.But there’s an all-for-one, one-for-all pull in the opposite direction, with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement that’s been signed by all but one of the countries recognized by the African Union. A deal between the U.S. and Kenya could undermine this continent-wide commerce pact and limit Africa’s power to negotiate, according to the secretary-general of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Mukhisa Kituyi.“Kenya should not provide cracks in the armor of those who have pushed for further collective engagement,” Kituyi said in a joint statement this month with Erastus Mwencha, the former head of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa. “There is strength in numbers.”Charting the Trade WarThe unprecedented gyrations caused by the coronavirus have hit the shipping business because 90% of all trade moves by sea and China has grown into the maritime industry’s main source of cargoes. The disruptions have left toy makers like Hasbro and fashion houses like the owner of Michael Kors, Versace and Jimmy Choo struggling with their supply chains. Vessels are idling. And exporters to China face diversions as clients there use force majeure clauses in their contracts to walk away from commitments to buy cargoes.Today’s Must ReadsCoronavirus fallout | South Korea’s early trade data suggest the coronavirus epidemic has started to disrupt the region’s supply chains, and the effects are going global. Deere in headlights | American farmers aren’t ready to heed President Donald Trump’s advice to buy bigger tractors after his deal with China, a new survey of their spending plans showed. Quick turnaround | The shipping industry has run into headwinds ranging from China’s health crisis to poor weather. One CEO who oversees a fleet of 55 vessels expects a quick comeback. Cattle drive | Australia overtook the U.S. to become the world’s top exporter of beef by value in 2019, aided by a 9% increase in export volumes. Brazil stayed the top shipper by volume. Shell games | American farmers have deposed Iran as king of the global pistachio industry, benefiting from U.S. policies hostile to Tehran, climate change, and egregious failures of economic and water management.Economic AnalysisTracking the virus | South Korean import data highlight the coronavirus outbreak’s disruptions. Brexit bargains | The U.K.'s lower-tariff plan should cut prices and raise competition.Coming UpFeb. 25: CPB World Trade Monitor; Hong Kong trade balance  Feb. 28: U.S. advance goods trade balance Britain’s departure from the EU on Jan. 31 marked the start of a new and, if anything, more complex phase of the negotiations. Click here for a timeline to the year ahead.\--With assistance from Nick Wadhams and David Malingha.To contact the author of this story: Rene Vollgraaff in Johannesburg at rvollgraaff@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Brendan Murray at brmurray@bloomberg.net, Zoe SchneeweissFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Virgin Galactic's Share Price Has Left the Stratosphere
    Bloomberg

    Virgin Galactic's Share Price Has Left the Stratosphere

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- A year ago Richard Branson was on his private island, Necker, when the former Twitter executive Adam Bain came to see him with a proposal for how to take Branson’s suborbital space travel company public.The bearded British billionaire is doubtless glad he took the meeting: After an unsteady start, Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc.’s valuation has rocketed. The stock has surged more than 400% since a low in December, valuing the company at close to $8 billion, or almost 2,000 times the revenues it’s estimated to have generated in 2019. (For comparison, Uber Technologies Inc. trades on about 5.5 times last year’s revenue).Vieco USA, a Virgin-controlled entity, still owns more than half of the shares,(1) meaning Branson’s net worth — estimated by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index at about $5 billion before the listing — is suddenly a whole lot bigger. The loss-making company is now his most valuable asset. There haven’t been any big company developments to justify such market euphoria, which makes you wonder whether it’s sustainable. The stock gains since the start of this year are about double those enjoyed by Tesla Inc.’s rip-snorting shares.Several hedge funds, including Suvretta Capital Management, which owns 3.4% of Virgin Galactic’s equity, have profited from the surge but plenty of its peers are betting that a meeting with cold reality is inevitable. About 30% of the free float has been shorted, according to IHS Markit data. This space battle isn’t for the fainthearted, and there’s a danger that overenthusiastic retail investors end up getting hurt. On Thursday, the stock rose as much as 13%, erased all those gains, then fell as much as 18%, before closing broadly unchanged.In fairness, Virgin Galactic’s technical achievements are impressive, even inspiring. Branson’s company has spent years perfecting its product, giving it a head start in the nascent space tourism business. At $250,000 a ticket for a 90-minute flight (including a few minutes of zero-gravity weightlessness) it could prove to be pretty lucrative. The company might have almost $600 million of yearly revenue by 2023, according to a management projection.But, as I’ve noted before, a lot can go wrong when your business is carrying tourists into suborbital space and twitchy regulators are poring over your every move. Any unexpected delays or interruptions (never mind an accident) would cause the stock to swiftly lose altitude.As with Elon Musk’s Tesla faithful, Virgin Galactic’s fans don’t seem too bothered by these near-term challenges. One hope among investors is that the company will use the technology and experience gained from ferrying tourists into space to build a potentially far more lucrative market: intercontinental hypersonic flight.Yet the regulatory hurdles to launching such flights will be daunting. Perfecting the technology will require much more than the $430 million in net proceeds that Virgin Galactic received from the listing.(2)It’s conceivable, then, that the huge run-up in the stock — if sustained — might tempt Branson to raise more money, just as Tesla did last week with a $2 billion stock offering. The investor enthusiasm shown for Branson’s company won’t have escaped Musk’s attention either. His Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) has had no trouble raising money in private markets; it’s been valued at about $33 billion. But the Tesla founder is also considering a public offering of SpaceX’s internet offshoot, Starlink, in a few years, and any market fervor around space investing would make that easier. A hard landing for Virgin Galactic investors could change the dynamic.For now, Branson could afford to splash out on another private island if he wanted. Or maybe some acreage on the moon. (1) Vieco owns a 58.6% stake and Branson is the beneficial owner of 80.7% of that, according to this filing.(2) Virgin Galactic could receive a further cash boost if warrants conveying the right to purchase a total of 31 million shares are exercised for cash.To contact the author of this story: Chris Bryant at cbryant32@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Boxell at jboxell@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Chris Bryant is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering industrial companies. He previously worked for the Financial Times.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Review: Can Samsung’s New Z Flip Convert iPhone Fans?

    (Bloomberg) -- Many iPhone users are wed to Apple Inc.’s ecosystem, but the latest Galaxy device from Samsung Electronics Co. may finally get them to turn a curious eye.The Galaxy Z Flip is Samsung’s second try at a compelling foldable device after last year’s Galaxy Fold. This sophomore effort costs a less astronomical $1,380, fits into much smaller pockets and opens and closes just like the flip handsets of years past.The reactions -- at least in Samsung’s home base of South Korea -- to the foldable Z Flip have been instant and infectious. For a gadget intended to attract attention, this rethinking of the Android smartphone is off to a solid start. The Flip was released on Valentine’s Day and sold out on the first day in several key markets. It’s out of stock now on Samsung’s website, which went down for two hours around midnight Friday after a limited edition designed by Thom Browne went on sale. Posts of creative Flip accessorization are gaining traction on Twitter and Instagram. In a world of me-too mobile devices, the Z Flip is eye-catching. But it’s also an absolute fingerprint magnet that requires tender use and care.“I’ve always stuck to the iPhone, but this is the most tempting moment to consider switching to Galaxy,” said Kyuhee Kang, a 29-year-old designer in Tokyo who’s been an Apple loyalist since the iPhone 4.Read more: Samsung Bets on Big Camera Upgrade in Galaxy S20, Unveils Z FlipThe 6.7-inch screen of the Galaxy Z Flip collapses into a palm-sized square akin to a Chanel compact -- and Samsung encourages that luxury association with high-gloss finishes and a limited edition in collaboration with designer Browne.Priced between the upgraded versions of Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro Max and 11 Pro, the Flip is a premium offering that Samsung wants to differentiate. There’s a certain nostalgic tug about answering calls by opening the gadget, then hanging up by snapping it shut. At the same time, it’s such a large device that if I were to operate it single-handedly every time I’d quickly develop thumb or wrist strain. Two hands are required for safety.The still-nascent foldables category has two huge hurdles to overcome: proving its durability and offering sufficient, not necessarily superlative, specs. Motorola’s Razr, a close competitor to Samsung’s Z Flip, is thought to be fragile by at least one reviewer and is a step behind on almost every front: the camera, battery life, processor and display are all underwhelming.Motorola’s $1,500 Razr Reboot Feels More Prototype Than PremiumTrue to its spec-obsessive pedigree, Samsung made sure the Z Flip is well stocked in most categories, though the Z Flip is noticeably behind on battery life. It has a large display but its battery is segmented in two because of the space requirements of its hinge, so it’s smaller. That hinge applies lessons learned from the Galaxy Fold and feels rigid and strong. One early Z Flip owner, however, managed to break his device’s display by merely flipping it open, and there’s been a controversy online about how easily the Flip’s ultra-thin glass gets scratched. Samsung says there’s a protective layer atop the glass and that’s what testers are able to scuff.The hinge enables the Z Flip to stand at a variety of angles much like a laptop. This has allowed me to record my four-month-old puppy’s first bathing moment and shoot time-lapses of snowy scenes without a tripod. Couples may like the split-screen mode that lets them message each other on one half of the screen while watching or playing something on the other. The phone also becomes its own stand for watching videos and taking selfies.Samsung still has room for improvement on the design of its foldables, which feature a chunky bezel that doesn’t sit flush with the display and thus prevents smooth swipes from the edge of the screen -- required by Samsung’s own user interface. The Z Flip also has an underwhelming mono speaker. Last but not least, the 1.1-inch front display is too small to show anything more useful than an icon signifying the type of notification received.Will iPhone fans end up abandoning their iMessages and Apple Music playlists? Probably not that many for this Flip generation, as the balance between price, benefits and compromises still has a way to go. But Samsung has crafted the most refined and fully featured foldable device to date. It won’t move the entire market just yet, but it’s stirring the interest that may yet make the foldable category a success.(Updates with Samsung website outage in the third paragraph)To contact the reporter on this story: Sohee Kim in Seoul at skim847@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Edwin Chan at echan273@bloomberg.net, Vlad SavovFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Trump’s India Trip: Full Stadium and Mostly Empty Promises

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- If there’s one thing everyone knows about President Donald Trump, it’s that he loves a captive audience — the larger and more enthusiastic, the better. This is one of the many things he has in common with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Next week, both of them will have a chance to indulge their shared passion. Trump is to visit New Delhi and Modi’s home town of Ahmedabad — and the president has said that he expects seven million people to greet him there, although Twitter was swift to note that that would be 80% of the city’s population, which is perhaps unlikely. What is certain is that Modi and Trump will headline a rally opening Ahmedabad’s new cricket stadium, the world’s largest, in front of 125,000 people. Like most Americans, Trump might be a trifle unsure about what cricket is, but both leaders considered the last rally they attended together, in Houston last year, a roaring success.Aside from putting the two adulation-hungry politicians in front of crowds, the policy goals of Trump’s trip are unclear. Some in New Delhi hope that it will restore a bit of dynamism to the relationship, given that India’s stock in Washington is not very high at the moment. Modi’s embrace of Trump has served to alienate many Democrats, including many of the contenders for the party’s presidential nomination. But even some Republicans have expressed dismay at recent divisive actions by Modi’s government. Recently, Senator Lindsey Graham and India’s foreign minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, had an unusually testy exchange at the Munich Security Conference about Kashmir.India’s status as a fast-growing large economy often serves to paper over such concerns, but economic growth has cratered recently. Trade relations have also declined sharply, with Trump saying that “we’re not treated very well by India, but I happen to like Prime Minister Modi a lot.” This month, the U.S. declared that India would no longer be treated as a developing country when it comes to trading rules, which is very bad news for Indian exporters. Any hope that a reinvigorated trading relationship would emerge from the visit was dashed by Trump. The president said that he was “saving the big trade deal for later on.” In fact, the U.S. Trade Representative recently cancelled a visit to India because nothing was expected from it.A lot has changed in just a few years. In the years after George W. Bush and Manmohan Singh signed the Indo-U.S. nuclear agreement, which essentially formalized India’s status as a nuclear power, a genuine sense of optimism about bilateral ties prevailed. But multiple recent disappointments have caused these expectations to sour; there is a new and cynical tone to how the two capitals talk about each other. In that context, any visit by an American president is good news, even if nothing comes of it — at least it will keep the conversation  going, and hope alive.We should, in fact, expect at least a little forward movement, if only to satisfy both leaders’ demands for good press. One bit of good news would be if Westinghouse finally got to sell its nuclear reactors to India. Policymakers in Washington have complained for a decade that Bush’s big bet on India though the nuclear deal has not led to any payoff for U.S. companies; this might at least set those concerns to rest. Another giant irritant — to Trump at least — has been Indian tariffs on Harley-Davidson motorcycles, which are made in electorally crucial Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Indian officials have apparently promised to lower tariffs to “a single digit.” In spite of severely strained defense budgets, India is also likely to buy two different sorts of military helicopters from the U.S., at a combined cost of $3.4 billion. New Delhi at least clearly wants to show its desire for bilateral relations to be restored to some kind of equilibrium.It has bet big on Trump being the person who makes that happen. That wager may be unwise; Trump has made no secret of his skepticism about trade. In any case, India’s approach to the U.S. has always been predicated on the assumption that the relationship cannot be merely transactional. New Delhi’s policymakers think that, since India’s rise is in the U.S. interest, America must be prepared to give more to India than it will receive in return. But this doesn’t sit easily with Trump’s well-known disdain for America’s “unequal” strategic relationships. I’m not sure how many stadiums full of cheering crowds it would take for Trump to jettison that principle.To contact the author of this story: Mihir Sharma at msharma131@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Gibney at jgibney5@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Mihir Sharma is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He was a columnist for the Indian Express and the Business Standard, and he is the author of “Restart: The Last Chance for the Indian Economy.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • 20 Donald Trumps? Check out this animated graphic for some perspective on Mike Bloomberg’s wealth
    MarketWatch

    20 Donald Trumps? Check out this animated graphic for some perspective on Mike Bloomberg’s wealth

    Even if the whole presidency thing doesn’t work out — after last night, it might be a stretch — Mike Bloomberg will still have a fluffy pile of cash to fall back on. How fluffy? This animation makes it pretty clear.

  • Twitter tests labels, community moderation for lies by public figures
    Reuters

    Twitter tests labels, community moderation for lies by public figures

    NBC News earlier reported that Twitter company documents showing a mockup of the new approach were accessible on a publicly available website, although it did not identify the site. "We're exploring a number of ways to address misinformation and provide more context for Tweets on Twitter," Twitter said in a statement.

  • Dow Jones Falls 200 Points On Virus Concerns; Domino's Pizza Surges, While Twitter Nears A New Buy Point
    Investor's Business Daily

    Dow Jones Falls 200 Points On Virus Concerns; Domino's Pizza Surges, While Twitter Nears A New Buy Point

    The major stock indexes were squarely lower amid new coronavirus fears. Twitter stock has a new buy point.

  • Bloomberg

    Argentina’s Government Needs to Speak With One Voice on Debt

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Anywhere else, news that a cratering economy, a collapsing currency and evaporating international reserves had pushed sovereign debt to “unsustainable” levels would be occasion for national dread. Yet the International Monetary Fund’s woeful bill of health on Feb. 19 brought relief and even something close to exaltation to the governing halls of Argentina.“I celebrate the IMF for recognizing the Argentine position regarding debt,” President Alberto Fernandez said on Twitter late Wednesday, shortly after the Fund concluded a weeklong visit. “If all parties are willing to agree, we can return to growth, honor our commitments and put Argentina on its feet again.”It’s going to be a long way up. Argentina desperately needed the IMF’s imprimatur before it could strike a pact with private creditors. Yet while the Fernandez government read the Washington-based lender’s bulletin as vindication of the Argentine demand that private creditors take a hit on their loans, the way forward is far less certain. Neither the IMF – which is on the hook to Argentina for $44 billion or 47% of its entire credit exposure – nor the minimum 75% or so of bondholders required to sign off on any agreement will be bullied easily into a bad deal any more than they will be moved by Pope Francis’s prayers. That’s the cue for the country’s ruling Peronists to swap the balcony for the negotiating table. Will they?Ever since he swept Argentina’s presidential primaries last August, virtually ensuring his electoral victory, Alberto Fernandez has been the topic of fierce speculation. Would a famously behind-the-scenes politician serve as merely the mouthpiece for his willful deputy, the former president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner? Or would he outflank the Peronist flamethrowers and work up a pragmatic plan to spare the nation another ruinous default?Half a year on, we’re no wiser, though the signs out of Buenos Aires are hardly auspicious. The ruling Front for All electoral alliance remains a coalition of rivals. The resulting mixed messaging from Fernandez’s inner circle is confusing investors and lenders, and stoking popular demands that his administration will be hard pressed to meet.In January, Buenos Aires governor and alpha Peronist Axel Kicillof issued creditors an ultimatum: Take a late payment on $250 million in provincial debt or face a “disorderly” situation. His mentor Fernandez de Kirchner upped the ante, warning – on a trip to Cuba, no less – that the International Monetary Fund wouldn’t get even “half a cent” back until the country grew again and only if it agreed to a big haircut on Argentine debt. Both petards may have been no more than ill wind off the pampas (neither the provincial bondholders nor the IMF blinked), but the malodorousness was hard to miss.The IMF has given Argentina a reprieve but not a pass. Fernandez must convince chary creditors to come to terms with a nation storied for serial default. His self-imposed timeline for closing a deal: March 31.Yet the government’s economic agenda offers few clues and thin hopes. On the campaign trail, Fernandez pledged to find an amicable solution to the country’s debt imbroglio: Argentina owes around $312 billion, worth 91% of gross domestic product. He also promised to spare his compatriots any more pain and scolded the IMF for deepening the country’s woes. Fernandez then doubled down on that message during a recent diplomatic tour, on which he sought the blessings of European heads of state and Pope Francis ahead of the country’s debt negotiations.He left the details to Economy Minister Martin Guzman, a young (he’s 37) respected academic with no hands-on experience. Like his mentor, the Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, Guzman is no fan of laissez faire economics. At the same time, he has been hailed as a moderate and a rare pragmatist in a palace packed with nationalist hardliners.Optimists took heart from Fernandez’s first policy initiative, the December economic emergency law, which included measures to rein in the primary fiscal deficit to 0.4% of GDP in 2020 by raising taxes on farm exports, tourism, personal goods,  buying dollars and reducing spending by selectively freezing prices and capping pension increases. Yet the government’s subsequent loose money policies could erase even those modest savings, and fuel what Oxford Economics calls the highest rate of monetary expansion in 16 years.Nor was Guzman’s debut in congress reassuring. In a hearing before lawmakers, he warned bondholders to brace for “frustration” over the coming “deep debt restructuring,” and forecast reaching fiscal balance only in 2023. “We’re not going to allow foreign investment funds to set the guidelines on macroeconomic policy,” he said. Argentina’s dollar bonds slumped.The populist pitch was likely a nod to the domestic audience, which is bracing for a third straight year of recession, with one of every three Argentines already living in poverty. “The government position may reflect the paranoia of a leader in a region on fire,” Benjamin Gedan, director of the Argentina Project at the Wilson Center in Washington, told me. “Austerity was a trigger for social unrest across Latin America over the last year, and after four years of worsening poverty and a deep recession, Argentina has every ingredient for explosion. Adjustment is a toxic word.”Alternatively, standing tough with creditors may have been Guzman’s strategic opening move in an eventual compromise on debt. But if that’s so, the government’s leverage is limited in a marketplace already inured to Argentine bluster. (When Buenos Aires’s creditors refused to budge on provincial debt, Kicillof paid them in full.) “The message from Buenos Aires was that Argentina will do anything to avoid default,” said Gedan.“The Fernandez government is not wrong to say that under current conditions the debt is unpayable, and to ask creditors to sit down to discuss better terms,” said Adriana Dupita, of Bloomberg Economics. “But first you need to have the right diagnosis of the problem and a plan, and I don’t see one.”Dupita is not alone. Just to repay the IMF, the country’s priority creditor, Argentina will have to spend out the equivalent of a quarter of all export revenues projected for 2022 and 2023, financial analysts Nouriel Roubini and Alessandro Magnoli Bocchi wrote this week. Since that’s out of the question, the only recourse is for Argentina to persuade the Fund to reschedule its debt.Yet in lieu of a “sensible plan,” a new loan arrangement with an easier repayment schedule is unlikely, they concluded. “Given the current lack of a clear and comprehensive strategy by the government, a formal default on the foreign law debt appears to be quite likely at this stage,” Roubini and Bocchi wrote.Before Argentina can come up with a solid economic plan, it needs a credible political pact. That takes a government which speaks with one voice, mutes the palace incendiaries and treats debt and economic recovery not as a passion play but as part of a national business plan. “Argentines need to have a discussion of what type of country they want: a state-led industrial policy? A country open to global trade?” said Nicolas Saldias, an Argentina expert at the Wilson Center. “That requires cutting across partisan lines and getting the opposition on board to come to an understanding about economic basics.” Now that would be something to celebrate.To contact the author of this story: Mac Margolis at mmargolis14@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Gibney at jgibney5@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Mac Margolis is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Latin and South America. He was a reporter for Newsweek and is the author of “The Last New World: The Conquest of the Amazon Frontier.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Argentina Gets IMF’s Seal of Approval to Hit Bondholders Hard
    Bloomberg

    Argentina Gets IMF’s Seal of Approval to Hit Bondholders Hard

    (Bloomberg) -- For all their turbulent relationship over the decades, the International Monetary Fund just gave Argentina the backing it needed to hit its bondholders with a significant haircut.Argentina’s debt load is “unsustainable” and private creditors would need to make a “meaningful contribution” for the country to regain its footing, the IMF said in a statement on Wednesday, adding that no fiscal adjustment by itself would be sufficient to reverse the situation.Bond prices reflected the aggressive language, with Argentina’s 2021 bonds falling 1.2 cent to a three-week low of 52 cents. Neither the IMF nor the government have indicated how big the haircut should be.“The private bondholders’ fears have come true,” said Jimena Blanco, head of Latin America political research at consulting firm Verisk Maplecroft in Buenos Aires. “The Fund throws them under the bus to save its position. The haircut has to come from the private sector.”Even if hardly surprising for a country that has lost more than a third of its international reserves since July and had installed draconian capital controls, the Fund’s declaration marks another chapter in Argentina’s long history of fiscal crises and debt mismanagement. The nation, which has defaulted eight times in its two centuries of independence, is trying to again reduce its liabilities as the economy heads for its third straight year of contraction in 2020.Read More: Argentine Sovereign Bonds Primed For Government-Led News CycleAligned IncentivesThe Fund, a perennial villain in Argentina after more than 20 financing agreements since 1958, this time has its incentives aligned with the South American country: a big haircut to private creditors would give the Washington-based organization more space to recover the $44 billion disbursed of the record $56 billion loan approved to Argentina in 2018, which has been the subject of heavy criticism.“The primary surplus that would be needed to reduce public debt and gross financing needs to levels consistent with manageable rollover risk and satisfactory potential growth is not economically nor politically feasible,” the Fund said in its statement.IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva told reporters in Rabat, Morroco Thursday that the time line is tight for Argentina to reach an agreement with creditors.The Fund’s assessment came after a week of meetings with Argentine officials during its first technical mission in Buenos Aires under Alberto Fernandez’s presidency. Fernandez said in a tweet that he celebrated the IMF’s recognition of Argentina’s posture.“If all parties show the willingness to reach a deal, we can return to growth, honor our commitments and get Argentina back on its feet,” he wrote.Fernandez is seeking to renegotiate billions of dollars in debt with private creditors, including the loan with the Washington-based organization, and said he expects to wrap up the talks by March 31, a deadline most analysts see as too ambitious.“The fact that it is politically and economically impossible for Argentina to constitute a primary surplus is a complete and total break from the norm of the IMF’s relationships with other emerging market debtors going through a restructuring,” said Walter Stoeppelwerth, Chief Investment Officer at Portfolio Personal Inversiones in Buenos Aires. “In a game theory of three, you have two lined up looking to put the third player in check-mate.”Heavier DebtArgentina’s record IMF loan has been on hold since August after Fernandez pulled off a shock upset of incumbent Mauricio Macri in a presidential primary vote, sending markets reeling. This is the first time IMF officials have formally commented on Argentina’s debt since the fourth review of the credit line in July, when they called it “sustainable, but not with a high probability.”“IMF staff emphasized the importance of continuing a collaborative process of engagement with private creditors to maximize their participation in the debt operation,” according to the statement. Argentina’s debt rose to nearly 90% of gross domestic public at the end of 2019, 13 percentage points higher than the July projection, the Fund said.For all the Fund’s suggestions, Economy Minister Martin Guzman had already warned investors last week they’ll probably be frustrated with negotiations, without providing many details. His mentor, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, said in an interview in Davos in January that bondholders should brace for ‘significant haircuts.’Guzman will meet with the IMF’s at the G-20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting that takes place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Feb. 22-23. He will also hold bilaterals at the event with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and France’s Economy & Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.(Updates with comment from IMF Director in 8th paragraph)\--With assistance from Patrick Gillespie, Ben Bartenstein and Souhail Karam.To contact the reporters on this story: Jorgelina do Rosario in Buenos Aires at jdorosario@bloomberg.net;Sydney Maki in New York at smaki8@bloomberg.net;Scott Squires in Buenos Aires at ssquires4@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Juan Pablo Spinetto at jspinetto@bloomberg.net, Scott Squires, Matthew BristowFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Singapore Plans Biggest Budget Gap in Over Two Decades
    Bloomberg

    Singapore Plans Biggest Budget Gap in Over Two Decades

    (Bloomberg) -- Follow Bloomberg on LINE messenger for all the business news and analysis you need.Singapore will post its biggest budget deficit since at least 1997, pledging S$6.4 billion ($4.6 billion) in dedicated support for an economy being slammed by the coronavirus outbreak.The deficit will widen to 2.1% of gross domestic product in the year through March 2021 from a projected 0.3% in the current fiscal year, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said Tuesday in Parliament. The median in a Bloomberg survey of economists was for a fiscal 2020 shortfall of 1.5% of GDP.Faced with an election due by April 2021 and a virus outbreak that’s having a worse impact than SARS, the government is stepping up its support for an economy that was already under strain from last year’s trade tensions. The state will set aside S$800 million to fight and contain the coronavirus outbreak, and will provide two economic support packages totaling S$5.6 billion to assist businesses and consumers.“This year we usher in a new decade, one marked by tectonic shifts in our operating environment, and major uncertainties,” Heng, who is also deputy prime minister, said in his budget speech in Parliament. The government is putting in every effort to “slow down the spread of the virus,” he said.Singapore had been planning additional support for businesses hit by the ongoing U.S.-China trade war before the coronavirus outbreak set in earlier this year. The city state, which has more than 70 confirmed cases of the virus, downgraded its growth outlook on Monday as it braces for an economic impact that’s worse than the 2003 SARS pandemic.“Such exceptional circumstances definitely call for a robust fiscal response,” said Irvin Seah, a senior economist at DBS Group Holdings Ltd. “The very prudent fiscal planning that we always abide to over the years has enabled us the ability to respond strongly in such a difficult period.”Read More: After Dismissing Musk’s Jibes, Singapore Is Welcoming EVsThe coronavirus package announced Tuesday dwarfs the S$230 million stimulus the government rolled out in the wake of the SARS outbreak.Heng also outlined the following steps in his budget speech:Economic SupportThe bulk of the S$800 million support to fight the coronavirus will go to the Health Ministry. Of the S$5.6 billion economic support, S$4 billion will primarily go toward supporting businesses with wage costs. The rest will assist consumers by offering “additional, timely help to more households with cost of living,” especially for lower-income families.Sectors directly affected by the coronavirus -- like tourism, aviation and food -- will get additional support such as property tax rebates and rental waivers.GSTThe government still plans to raise the goods-and-services tax by 2025, but won’t increase it next year, Heng said. He outlined an enhanced package of subsidies, worth S$6 billion, to support consumers when the GST increase does take effect. The majority of Singaporean families will receive offsets of at least five years’ worth to cover GST expenses. Lower- and middle-income Singaporeans and retirees remain eligible for additional support.Foreign WorkersThe proportion of mid-level skilled foreign workers in some industries will be lowered as the government continues to strike a balance between providing job opportunities for locals and retaining an open labor market. The ratio of maximum permitted S Pass workers to a company’s total workforce in construction, marine shipyard and process sectors will be lowered to 15% from 20% in two phases beginning in January 2021, Heng said. The government won’t reduce the threshold for manufacturers at this point, given the economic uncertainties, but intends to eventually do so, he said.Cash HandoutsThe government will provide a S$1.6 billion package to assist households with expenses “during this period of uncertainty." This will include a one-off cash payout of between S$100 and S$300, depending on income, for all Singaporeans aged 21 and above.(Corrects items covered by S$1.6 billion package in last paragraph of story originally published Feb. 18.)\--With assistance from Chanyaporn Chanjaroen, Melissa Cheok, Jasmine Ng, Kyunghee Park, Derek Wallbank and Myungshin Cho.To contact the reporters on this story: Michelle Jamrisko in Singapore at mjamrisko@bloomberg.net;Faris Mokhtar in Singapore at fmokhtar1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria at nseria@bloomberg.net;Joyce Koh at jkoh38@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Trump Names U.S. Envoy Who Riled Germany as Acting Director of Intelligence
    Bloomberg

    Trump Names U.S. Envoy Who Riled Germany as Acting Director of Intelligence

    (Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump said he’ll appoint Ric Grenell, the current U.S. ambassador to Germany, to be the next acting director of national intelligence.Grenell is a Trump loyalist who was nominated to be ambassador to Germany in 2017 after having served as spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in the early 2000s. He regularly caused friction with the NATO ally by demanding German companies leave Iran and warning them against working on a Russian gas pipeline, among other moves.Grenell will be the highest-profile, openly gay member of Trump’s administration, leading an intelligence community that for decades viewed homosexuality as a reason for suspicion and a firing offense.Grenell will replace Joseph Maguire, a former Navy SEAL whom Trump appointed as DNI after the resignation of former Indiana Senator Dan Coats last year. Maguire has held the job in an acting capacity and Trump was required by law to either replace him or ask the Senate to confirm him in the position by next month.Appointing Grenell in an acting capacity will avoid the need for a potentially complicated Senate confirmation, but Trump will face the same six-month deadline on his tenure.Sidestepping SenateSenator Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, criticized the president in a statement for picking “an individual without any intelligence experience to serve as the leader of the nation’s intelligence community in an acting capacity.”He said Trump was using the acting director’s role in an apparent “effort to sidestep the Senate’s constitutional authority to advise and consent on such critical national security positions.”Congress created the DNI position after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to coordinate the activities of U.S. intelligence agencies. It’s a Cabinet-level position that leads the U.S. intelligence community -- 17 organizations which include the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency and National Reconnaissance Office. One of its key responsibilities is assembling the president’s regular intelligence briefings.Grenell’s appointment could help bridge a divide between the president and his intelligence community, whose work Trump has questioned ever since he was told days before taking office that Russia meddled in the 2016 election to damage his opponent, Hillary Clinton. While Maguire has had a low profile as DNI, Coats was known for publicly countering some of the president’s assertions on issues ranging from Islamic State to North Korea.In Berlin, the 53-year-old Grenell has eagerly taken up the Trump agenda, tangling frequently with Chancellor Angela Merkel and her coalition, demanding that Germany spend more on defense, withdraw support for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and criticizing the government for its meetings with Iranian leaders.That loyalty has given Grenell outsize influence in Trump’s inner circle. He was appointed the presidential envoy for Serbia and Kosovo, scoring quick wins that he trumpeted loudly: tentative agreement to open rail and road links between the two, and resume commercial flights.Grenell has also taken a leading role in warning countries against incorporating China’s Huawei Technologies Co. hardware into their 5G telecommunication networks, tweeting threats to cut intelligence sharing if they do so. Ignoring that advice, he said, would be like “asking the KGB to install your phone lines.”His fiery appearances on Fox News have earned him praise from the president. To other political appointees at embassies around the world, Grenell’s advice has been to get the president’s phone number and call him directly, circumventing the apparatus of the State Department.That dynamic has engendered frosty relations with the department. Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson blocked an early plan to appoint Grenell ambassador to NATO but allowed him to take Germany instead. And Grenell has had strained relations, at times, with Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, in part for his campaign to decriminalize homosexuality internationally, a move he took with Trump’s blessing but not Pompeo’s.He opposed Pompeo’s decision not to issue a statement commemorating the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, and was critical of an edict that Pompeo issued not to fly the gay pride flag from the same flagpole as the American flag at embassies across the world. When Pompeo visited Germany for the Munich Security Conference last week, Grenell brought his partner Matt Lashey to the airport to meet him.(Updates with Democrat Warner’s criticism in sixth paragraph)To contact the reporters on this story: Jennifer Jacobs in Washington at jjacobs68@bloomberg.net;Nick Wadhams in Washington at nwadhams@bloomberg.net;Jordan Fabian in Washington at jfabian6@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Alex Wayne at awayne3@bloomberg.net, Larry LiebertFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • The Funded: Founders Fund raises $3B and 11 startups score over $260M
    American City Business Journals

    The Funded: Founders Fund raises $3B and 11 startups score over $260M

    $3 billion raised by Founders Fund, over $260 million raised by 11 startups, and a $2 billion purchase by Palo Alto-based Symphony Technology Group top the Bay Area's venture news at midweek. Here are the details on those stories and more.

  • How Twitter Makes Money: advertising and data Licensing
    Investopedia

    How Twitter Makes Money: advertising and data Licensing

    Twitter (TWTR), the social media company founded barely 14 years ago, is now ubiquitous via its posts - called tweets - on the Internet and all forms of media. It's best known for news-breaking tweets from politicians and celebrities, but it provides a platform for millions of users to publish their thoughts, interact, share content, and read breaking news. Once a user has created an account, they can post messages ("tweets") of up to 280 characters and up to 2,400 times per day, which are automatically distributed to followers in a feed that is constantly refreshed. Twitter divides its revenue into two categories: the sale of advertising services, which constitutes the vast majority of the company's revenue, as well as data licensing and other services. Twitter's major competitors include other social media companies like Facebook, Inc. (FB) and Alphabet, Inc. (GOOG).

  • Barr Takes Aim at Legal Shield Enjoyed by Google, Facebook
    Bloomberg

    Barr Takes Aim at Legal Shield Enjoyed by Google, Facebook

    (Bloomberg) -- Attorney General William Barr is taking aim at a legal shield enjoyed by companies such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc. as the provision comes under increasing fire from both liberals and conservatives.Barr has accused social media companies of hiding behind a clause that gives them immunity from lawsuits while their platforms carry material that promotes illicit and immoral conduct and suppresses conservative opinions.The attorney general convened a workshop Wednesday, featuring many of the tech companies’ critics, to explore potential changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which was passed in 1996 and has been credited with allowing the then-fledgling internet to flourish.“The Justice Department is concerned about the expansive reach of Section 230, but we’re not here to advocate for a position,” Barr said in his opening remarks. “Rather, we are here to convene a discussion to help us examine 230 and its impact in greater detail.”Barr said 230 liability is relevant to the Justice Department’s ability to “combat lawless spaces online.” He could instruct his Justice Department to explore ways to limit the provision, which protects internet companies from liability for user-generated content.The technology platforms warn that any changes in their legal shield could fundamentally alter their business models and force them to review every post, making it impossible for all but the biggest companies to operate.Barr and lawmakers from both political parties have blamed Section 230’s sweeping legal protections for allowing what they see as irresponsible behavior by the big technology companies.“We are concerned that internet services, under the guise of Section 230, can not only block access to law enforcement -- even when officials have secured a court-authorized warrant -- but also prevent victims from civil recovery,” Barr said. “Giving broad immunity to platforms that purposefully blind themselves -- and law enforcers -- to illegal conduct on their services does not create incentives to make the online world safer for children.”FBI Director Christopher Wray also addressed the workshop, along with a range of lawyers, academics, child advocates, tech critics, and trade groups. Some of the speakers, such as a representative from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, have expressed concerns about how the law is currently written, or called for changes.Others argue that the law should be left alone, including the Computer & Communications Industry Association, a tech trade group that counts Google and Facebook as members. The Justice Department also plans to host private listening sessions.Representatives from Google and Facebook didn’t respond to questions about whether they’d received invitations. A spokeswoman for Twitter Inc. declined to comment.Liberal groups say internet platforms don’t do enough to stop the spread of hate speech or police political disinformation from foreign and domestic operatives. Conservatives say the tech companies censor right-wing viewpoints.Both groups seek changes to the shield that would increase companies’ liability as a solution. Lawmakers and tech policy experts from both sides of the aisle worry about children’s safety online as well as drug sales, harassment and stalking, among other issues.“A lot of people are angry for different reasons at the large platforms,” said Jeff Kosseff, a professor at the U.S. Naval Academy who has written a history of the law and is also scheduled to address the workshop. “Section 230 is a pretty attractive proxy for that anger.”While the Justice Department can make recommendations, only Congress can change the law. Some legal experts say they are perplexed by the department’s role in the Section 230 debate, which doesn’t tie the government’s hands in prosecuting violations of criminal law.“DOJ is in a weird position to be convening a roundtable on a topic that isn’t in their wheelhouse,” said Eric Goldman, a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law and longtime defender of Section 230, who is also set to speak.Lawmakers are exploring an array of possible changes to the law, looking to use it to make companies police content in a politically “neutral” manner, rein in use of the shield by short-term home-rental companies or protect voters from misinformation. Democratic presidential hopefuls including former Vice President Joe Biden have weighed in with calls to repeal or change the law.When it comes to cases where online material exploits children, a draft bill from Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a top Trump ally, would only allow the companies to keep the liability shield if they follow a set of best practices. For example, they would be required to report and delete the material, but also preserve it for law enforcement. Critics worry that the measure would also undermine encrypted communications because encoded platforms can’t see what material the law would prompt them to report.In 2018, in the first successful effort to chip away at the shield, Congress eliminated the liability protection for companies that knowingly facilitate online sex trafficking.The critics propose a range of changes -- from raising the bar on which companies can have the shield, to carving out other laws, to repealing Section 230 entirely. Uniting them, however, is the belief that the provision enables an online environment rife with political misinformation, drug dealing, child abuse and other ills.Technology companies counter that Section 230 allows social media startups to flourish because they don’t have to monitor postings and protects free speech. It also fosters their efforts to remove offensive content because the law allows them to take down material without facing penalties.“Section 230 encourages services to fight misconduct and protect users from online harms by removing disincentives to moderate abusive behavior,” Matt Schruers, the president of the Computer & Communications Industry Association, said in an excerpt from his prepared remarks.David Chavern, president of the News Media Alliance, a trade group representing publishers, doesn’t favor repealing the law but proposes “limiting the exemption for just the very largest companies, who both derive the most benefits from Section 230 and have the greatest capacities to take legal responsibility,” according to a copy of his remarks obtained by Bloomberg.Chavern’s group blames the advertising practices of Google and Facebook for the decline of journalism and advocates for policies to rebalance the relationship.(Updates with comments from Barr from eighth paragraph)\--With assistance from Naomi Nix.To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Brody in Washington, D.C. at btenerellabr@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sara Forden at sforden@bloomberg.net, Paula Dwyer, John HarneyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • U.K. Aims to Slash Unskilled Immigration After Leaving EU
    Bloomberg

    U.K. Aims to Slash Unskilled Immigration After Leaving EU

    (Bloomberg) -- Boris Johnson’s government unveiled plans to end what it called the U.K.’s dependence on “cheap low-skilled labor” and deliver on its pledge to halt freedom of movement from the European Union after Brexit.Under a points-based immigration system to come into effect on Jan. 1, 2021, workers must prove they can speak English, have a verified job offer and meet a points threshold based on their specific skills, qualifications and prospective salaries, according to a government policy paper published Wednesday.The system will “bring overall migration numbers down” while attracting “the brightest and the best from around the globe,” Home Secretary Priti Patel told LBC radio. The aim is to “end our reliance on low-skilled workers that are obviously -- more often than not -- low paid,” she said.Why Immigration Down Under Appeals to U.K.’s Johnson: QuickTakeJohnson has repeatedly said voters opted for Brexit at least in part to control immigration, but the plans triggered immediate warnings from businesses about the impact of anticipated worker shortages. A government advisory group estimated last month that 70% of EU workers already in the U.K. wouldn’t have qualified for visas under the new rules. The government says companies must “adapt” and do more to train the domestic workforce. Net migration from the EU has fallen dramatically since the 2016 referendum.“The speed and scale of these changes will require significant adjustment by businesses,” said Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce. “Companies are already investing heavily in home-grown talent across the U.K., but critical labor shortages mean firms will still need access to overseas workers at all skill levels.”A table published by the Home Office showed 70 points would be needed to get a visa. Examples include 10 points for speaking English, 20 points for a job offer, 20 for a salary of 25,600 pounds ($33,000) or above, and 20 points each for a post-doctoral qualification or a job in a designated shortage occupation.Although Johnson has branded the rules a complete change, it largely involves making EU citizens apply for visas under the existing system for non-EU migrants. That will include student visas. With employers no longer able to access the entire EU to fill job vacancies, required thresholds on the existing system have been lowered, both in salaries and required qualifications.In moves describing how the U.K. border itself will work from next year, the government said that EU citizens will be able to use electronic gates, reducing waits, and they won’t need a visa for stays of less than six months.The existing system for high-earners and the most skilled, which allows them to come to the U.K. without a job offer, will likewise be extended to EU citizens, the government said, though it gave fewer details.BacklashRepresentatives of the social care, hospitality and food industries were among those quick to criticize the new system. Minette Batters, president of the National Farmers’ Union, told the Times newspaper plans to restrict visas for low-skilled workers could severely affect the sector.The opposition Labour Party said the government’s plan amounted to a “salary threshold system” that will make it difficult to attract needed workers and pledged to challenge the proposal as the legislation goes through Parliament. The pro-EU Liberal Democrats said the proposal is “based on xenophobia.”But Patel argued that the government is delivering on what voters demanded in the 2016 Brexit referendum, and when they kept her Conservative Party in power in general elections in 2017 and 2019.The public “are fed up,” she told LBC. “They want to see a British government with its own immigration policy and system, a government that would take take back control of our borders.”(Updates with policy details from fourth paragraph)\--With assistance from Robert Hutton and Alex Morales.To contact the reporter on this story: Olivia Konotey-Ahulu in London at okonoteyahul@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Stuart Biggs, Alex MoralesFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • China’s Government Created a Pair of Anime Idols. Outrage Ensues
    Bloomberg

    China’s Government Created a Pair of Anime Idols. Outrage Ensues

    (Bloomberg) -- China’s Communist Party invented a duo of virtual social media influencers in its latest bid to win the hearts and minds of millennials. They did just the opposite.The ruling regime’s Youth League this week debuted the officially sanctioned anime characters -- a pair of adolescents in Chinese traditional garb with names straight out of Mao Zedong’s poetic oeuvre. It introduced the would-be online idols -- the boy’s name roughly translates as “red flag flutters freely” while his sibling is “rivers and mountains are beautiful” -- on Twitter-like site Weibo, igniting an onslaught of ridicule and vitriol. Within hours, the Youth League had pulled the duo offline.Read more: ‘Fangirls’ Defend China From Hong Kong Protesters and the WorldDigitally created avatars are the latest rage on social media, inspiring huge followings just like real-life pop icons or idols. But in this case, the pair stoked concerns that Beijing was subverting a trend for political purposes. In tens of thousands of comments, Chinese bloggers lashed out against Beijing’s use of cartoon figures to communicate policy. The Youth League -- the Party branch for younger members -- quickly removed its original Weibo post and scrubbed content from a Weibo account dedicated to the pair.“I’m your citizen, not your fan,” one Weibo user wrote in a widely circulated comment.China’s government has over the years tried to engage the country’s youth and reinforce its ideology with rap, anime and chat-app stickers. Unsurprisingly, the Youth League is at the center of such campaigns: It ranks among the top 10 creators of content on anime-focused video service Bilibili in terms of both followers and views, according to data tracker Biliob.com.“The government’s legitimacy is at a very low point more than a month into the coronavirus outbreak. Previously people have already accumulated dissatisfaction with state media tapping into fandom culture in virus coverage,” said Fang Kecheng, assistant professor of communication and journalism at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “Co-opting anime and fandom culture is no panacea.”Using virtual idols to fan Chinese nationalism isn’t a new concept -- but up to this point it’s been a distinctly grass-roots one. During Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests in 2019, online patriots created a viral personification of their nation called “Brother Ah Zhong” or Brother China, a pop idol who debuted 5,000 years ago with a fan base of 1.4 billion. The Youth League and state media praised what they called a spirited defense of their homeland against foreign attack.The League’s attempt to replicate that with its own virtual pair fizzled near-instantaneously. One point of criticism centered on the use of women by the propaganda machine. The debut of the idols came just days after a controversial state-media video in which female medical workers wept silently while men shaved their heads to help prevent infection during the coronavirus outbreak. Many Weibo users in fact directed a rhetorical question at the Youth League’s female anime character: “Why don’t you shave your head?”Read more: China Ramps Up Virus Propaganda, And Stirs Even More OutrageTo contact the reporter on this story: Zheping Huang in Hong Kong at zhuang245@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Edwin Chan at echan273@bloomberg.net, Vlad SavovFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Trump Rebukes His Hardliners, Blocks Curbs on China Sales
    Bloomberg

    Trump Rebukes His Hardliners, Blocks Curbs on China Sales

    (Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump has intervened to stop his own administration’s developing plans to block sales of General Electric-made jet engines to China and other proposed restrictions on American exports, declaring that national security is being used too often by his own officials to limit American companies’ ability to transact with China.“We don’t want to make it impossible to do business with us,” Trump said in a tweet on Tuesday. “That will only mean that orders will go to someplace else.”The presidential intervention represents a rare public rebuke of some of the administration’s hardliners on China, who have been pushing stricter rules to curtail sales of U.S. technology to Beijing -- from semiconductors to jet engines. It also comes as Trump is touting a “phase one” deal with China that is meant to spur a $200 billion Chinese buying spree of American exports including commercial jets and other manufactured products.Senior officials were expected to decide by the end of this month whether to block exports to China of jet engines made by a General Electric Co. joint venture with France’s Safran SA for use in the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China’s C919 single-aisle passenger jet now undergoing flight tests, according to three people familiar with the issue. They also have been considering broadening restrictions on sales by U.S. and overseas suppliers to Huawei Technologies Co.The president indicated to reporters later on Tuesday that his concerns over the use of the “fake term of national security” extended to new proposed Huawei provisions, which are aimed at limiting its access to chips.“I mean, things are put on my desk that have nothing to do with national security, including with chipmakers and various others,” Trump said as he departed Washington. “I’ve been very tough on Huawei. But that doesn’t mean we have to be tough on everybody that does something. We want to be able to sell all of this incredible technology -- we’re number one in the world.”Hawks vs. DovesTrump’s tweets Tuesday brought into public light what in recent years has been a bitter battle between two factions in his administration. One group sees China’s economic rise as an existential challenge to the U.S. and advocates a “decoupling” of the two economies. The other views any such move as too extreme, arguing it would present its own risk to U.S. power and American innovation.The president’s comments also came as another crucial moment was approaching.Both the GE and Huawei potential restrictions and other China-related policies were due to be discussed by senior officials on Thursday ahead of a cabinet-level meeting scheduled for Feb. 28, according to people familiar with the proposals. The measures appeared to have some backing from several agencies including the Department of Commerce, the people said.“I have seen some of the regulations being circulated, including those being contemplated by Congress, and they are ridiculous,“ Trump tweeted.Trump also indicated in his posts that his concerns about the calls from China hardliners within his administration went beyond the issue of jet engines. That leaves him siding with those in his administration who have advocated for a more business-friendly approach to China.“We want to sell product and goods to China and other countries. That’s what trade is all about. We don’t want to make it impossible to do business with us. That will only mean that orders will go to someplace else,” he tweeted.The intervention is not the first Trump has made against his China hardliners. In May 2018, he overruled his own Commerce Department on behalf of blacklisted Chinese telecommunications company ZTE after a call with Xi Jinping, the Chinese leader.Derek Scissors, who tracks the U.S.-China economic relationship at the conservative American Enterprise Institute and has advised the Trump administration in the past, said Trump appeared in his tweets to be thumbing his nose at those in Congress and in his own administration who see limiting tech and other exports to China as a national security priority. “He cares about the trade balance right now,” Scissors said.The president didn’t address directly Tuesday proposed changes also under discussion related to Huawei. But he has in the past opposed restrictions on sales by American suppliers to the Chinese company of non-sensitive products. “I like our companies selling things to other people,” he told reporters in Japan last year after a meeting with Xi in which he agreed to allow sales to Huawei.Huawei, which has faced long-standing U.S. accusations of being a conduit for Chinese espionage efforts, was placed on a Commerce Department black list last year that effectively bans U.S. suppliers from doing business with it. Huawei has denied such claims.The new measures under consideration are aimed in large part at semiconductor exports and part of a broader administration campaign to convince allies not to use Huawei’s equipment in new fifth-generation communications networks, an effort that heated up again at a weekend security conference in Munich.The administration is now talking about closing a loophole that allows American companies to use overseas production facilities to sell materials with less than 25% U.S. content by lowering that limit to 10%. It’s also discussing changing something known as the “foreign direct product rule” to further restrict Huawei’s access to products based on U.S. technology manufactured overseas by non-U.S. companies.Semiconductor IndustryTrump’s tweets on Tuesday were welcomed by the Semiconductor Industry Association, which has been lobbying against the new Huawei restrictions and arguing they would “unduly curtail” the ability of U.S. companies to sell products to China.“As we have discussed with the Administration, sales of non-sensitive, commercial products to China drive semiconductor research and innovation, which is critical to America’s economic strength and national security,” said John Neuffer, the SIA’s president and CEO.China’s foreign ministry earlier on Tuesday accused those pushing a ban on the GE engine exports of seeking to “wantonly oppress China.”“What’s worse, it will severely disrupt bilateral and even global exchange and cooperation in science, technology and trade,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told reporters in Beijing.The discussions over banning the sale of the GE/Safran Leap 1C engine to China were first reported by the Wall Street Journal over the weekend. Some administration officials were considering whether sales could help Chinese companies reverse engineer the technology used and speed up the development of their own jet engine programs.GE shares fluctuated Tuesday, gaining after Trump’s remarks and later declining.GE, which has lobbied heavily against being blocked out of what it sees as a promising new market, said in a statement Monday that it had decades of experience selling products internationally. “We aggressively protect and defend our intellectual property and work closely with the U.S. government to fulfill our responsibilities and shared security and economic interests,” a spokesperson for the company said in an emailed statement.The engine has been approved for sale to China multiple times since 2014 and a dozen of the engines have already been shipped to Comac, Bloomberg reported Monday.(Updates in paragraphs five and six with Trump quotes)\--With assistance from Bill Faries and Richard Clough.To contact the reporter on this story: Shawn Donnan in Washington at sdonnan@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Margaret Collins at mcollins45@bloomberg.net, Sarah McGregorFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Twitter Buys Chroma Labs, Startup Founded by Facebook Veterans
    Bloomberg

    Twitter Buys Chroma Labs, Startup Founded by Facebook Veterans

    (Bloomberg) -- Twitter Inc. is acquiring Chroma Labs, a seven-person startup that was founded by former Facebook and Instagram employees for building photo and video-editing features.Chroma Labs was launched last fall with an app that lets people edit photos and videos before sharing them on the Stories features inside other apps, like Instagram or Snap Inc.’s Snapchat. The company is joining Twitter to “give people more creative ways to express themselves in conversations,” said Twitter’s head of product, Kayvon Beykpour, in a tweet. A Twitter spokesman declined to comment on deal terms.John Barnett, Alex Li and Joshua Harris, Chroma Labs co-founders, worked on products at Facebook Inc. before setting out on their own to build a company around creative editing tools. While at Facebook, the group’s members were involved in projects such as Instagram Stories, augmented-reality camera effects and Oculus virtual-reality headsets. Early investors in the San Mateo, California-based startup include Index Ventures, Sweet Capital and Combine VC.Twitter has said that improving conversations on the social-media service is a top priority. In recent weeks, the San Francisco-based company has changed the way some user interactions appear in the app and has added the ability to respond to direct messages with emojis. Twitter hasn’t unveiled a Stories-like product for disappearing posts, though it introduced some camera features like tags and labels last year.“[We] built Chroma Labs and many successful products together to inspire creativity and help people tell their visual stories,” Barnett said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing this mission at a larger scale with one of the most important services in the world.”To contact the reporter on this story: Kurt Wagner in San Francisco at kwagner71@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.net, Andrew PollackFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • CNBC’s Jim Cramer: Elizabeth Warren’s attack on billionaire Leon Cooperman hurt us all and could cost her the presidency
    MarketWatch

    CNBC’s Jim Cramer: Elizabeth Warren’s attack on billionaire Leon Cooperman hurt us all and could cost her the presidency

    Hedge-fund billionaire Leon Cooperman joked back in September that the stock market wouldn’t even open if Sen. Elizabeth Warren were to win the presidency and bring her plans to tax the rich to the White House. Now her popularity is fading.

  • Elon Musk uses one unflattering word to describe Porsche-driver Bill Gates
    MarketWatch

    Elon Musk uses one unflattering word to describe Porsche-driver Bill Gates

    Gates discussed his new ride last week with YouTube influencer Marques Brownlee. “Certainly Tesla, if you had to name one company that’s helped drive that, it’s them,” Gates said, before telling Brownlee that he bought a “very, very cool” Taycan, which comes with a price tag deep in six-figure territory.

  • DNA tests may soon reveal the optimal diet for your body — down to the variety of lettuce you should be eating
    MarketWatch

    DNA tests may soon reveal the optimal diet for your body — down to the variety of lettuce you should be eating

    People are pouring their blood, spit and tears into finding the best diet for their bodies. April Summerford, a women’s health coach in Fresno, Calif., has spent thousands of dollars over the past several years taking at-home DNA tests, reading her hormone levels and analyzing the bacteria in her gut to create the perfect diet for her particular body. “I’ve been able to biohack my way to feeling better through what, I think, is the future of wellness,” Summerford, 34, told MarketWatch.

  • Moore Kuehn, PLLC Encourages Investors of IRBT, TWTR and WORK to Contact Law Firm
    PR Newswire

    Moore Kuehn, PLLC Encourages Investors of IRBT, TWTR and WORK to Contact Law Firm

    Moore Kuehn, PLLC, a securities law firm located on Wall Street in downtown New York City, is investigating potential claims involving directors and officers regarding possible breaches of fiduciary duties and other violations of law related to whether insiders, as alleged in federal securities lawsuits, caused their companies to make false and/or misleading statements and/or failed to disclose, among other things, that: