Russia’s ‘coded warning’, banks look to stockpile cash and fixing the eurozone
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Whistleblower Edward Snowden has suggested that the auction of hacking tools by a hitherto unknown group is a coded warning from Russian intelligence to the US. The tools, thought to belong to the US National Security Agency were offered for sale in an iffy-looking auction that kicked off on Tuesday with an improbable one million bitcoin reserve price.
Snowden said in a series of tweets that the auction isn’t intended to raise millions of dollars for the hackers behind the Shadow Brokers group, but to send a coded warning from Russian intelligence to the US government and the NSA.
The gist, according to Snowden, is that the US should stop pointing the finger of blame at Russia for the attacks on the US Democratic Party’s organising group, the Democratic National Committee. (The Inquirer, The Register)
In the news
Apple to open R&D centre in China Tim Cook, chief executive, revealed the plans to increase investment in local R&D during a meeting this week with Zhang Gaoli, China’s vice-premier. The move is the latest in a series of steps to bolster its presence in a vital region as sales slow down. China has also become a growing focus for Apple’s environmental efforts as it pushes its supply chain partners to use more renewable energy. (FT)
Trump reshuffles, again Donald Trump has shaken up his presidential campaign for the second time in two months in an attempt to reverse a steep decline in his poll numbers. The Republican candidate has appointed Kellyanne Conway, a Republican pollster, as his campaign manager, and Stephen Bannon, executive editor of Breitbart News, the conservative site, as chief executive. The move reduces the influence of Paul Manafort, the veteran Republican lobbyist, who had been running the campaign since the ousting of Corey Lewandowski two months ago. (FT)
Master thieves take note European banks are considering locking up piles of cash in high-security vaults as interest rates sink below zero across much of the continent. Europe’s highways are not yet jammed with heavily guarded trucks transporting money to top-secret locations but if it becomes financially sensible for banks to hoard cash as rates are cut even further, the practice could undermine central banks’ ability to use negative rates to boost growth. (FT)
Univision buys Gawker The Spanish-language TV broadcaster has trumped a rival offer to buy Gawker Media for $135m, in a bankruptcy auction for the online media group. Gawker, founded by journalist Nick Denton, had filed for bankruptcy in June after a judge upheld a ruling for it to pay $140m in damages for publishing a sex tape involving the wrestler Hulk Hogan. The sale will ensure that Gawker employees are “protected” and can work “disentangled from the legal campaign against the company”, Mr Denton said. (FT)
Hedge funds under pressure Investors are pushing hedge funds to commit to a set rate of return before they earn incentive fees, as managers are pressured to borrow a page from their competitors in private equity. Meanwhile, a growing exodus from hedge funds extended to two of the biggest names in the industry on Tuesday, Tudor Investment and Brevan Howard, as disenchanted investors increasingly shun what was once the hottest place to put money. (FT, WSJ)
Russia bombs Syrian rebels from Iran air base The bombing campaign strengthens Moscow's position in the Middle East and increases pressure on the US to co-ordinate its Syrian military campaign with the Kremlin. (FT)
Car wars Ford is revving up plans to build the first mass-market driverless car, doubling the number of staff in Silicon Valley and teaming up with China’s Baidu search engine. Meanwhile, German carmakers led by BMW are training their sights on Tesla, pushing to catch up with the electric carmaker. (FT)
It’s a big day for
Aung San Suu Kyi The de facto leader of Myanmar begins a four-day visit to China. It will be her first visit outside an Asean country since her party came to power earlier this year. (NAR)
Rate watchers The Fed will release minutes from its July policy meeting, where traders will look for signals of a rate rise as soon as September. But inflation retreated in July, which may give the Fed cover to keep rates steady. (FT)
Food for thought
Fixing the eurozone Some argue that there is nothing wrong with the euro that could not be fixed by putting someone else in charge. Joseph Stiglitz disagrees. There are fundamental problems with the eurozone’s rules and institutions he says. “These may well be insurmountable, raising the prospect that the time has come for a more comprehensive rethinking of the single currency, even to the point of unwinding it.” (FT)
Why did Aetna change course on Obamacare? Just a few months ago, Aetna was an insurer you could count on to be especially bullish on Obamacare. But last week, the insurer scrapped a planned expansion, citing millions in losses on the marketplaces, and on Monday, announced it would quit 11 states it currently sells in, remaining in just four markets. “Right now there are two sides to the story — one told by Aetna and the other told by health law supporters.” (Vox)
Rise of the DIY algo traders A swelling number of mathematicians, programmers, data engineers and physicists are taking advantage of cheap, powerful computers and the availability of financial data to code their own trading strategies. And some analysts believe these DIY “algo” traders can be harnessed to disrupt one of Wall Street’s elite professions: the hedge fund manager. (FT)
Mind the app gap Lisa Pollack on how in the age of apps, tiring of technology is becoming one of the milestones of growing old. (FT)
How Nasa tech uncovered the ‘megacity’ of Angkor Recent laser surveys have revealed traces of a vast urban settlement, comparable in size to Los Angeles, around the temples of Angkor in the Cambodian jungle. (Guardian)
Video of the day
Rio Olympics wins over fans The success of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games was in doubt due to fears over terrorism, Zika and pollution. But gloomy predictions have not materialised. Samantha Pearson talks to fans about their impressions of the city and the games.
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