Debating the pound’s plunge, the rise of ‘gig’ consultants and death from overwork

Markets feel the aftermath of sterling’s crash

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Currency markets were in turmoil on Friday after the British pound crashed in early morning trading. Shortly after currency markets opened in Asia, sterling lost as much as 6.1 per cent, dropping to $1.1841. The sharp nature of the move sparked speculation that it could have been triggered by a mistaken “fat finger” trade or a rogue automated algorithm, exacerbated by thinner liquidity during early Asian trade.

But not all analysts agree. A number of them attribute the sudden drop to heightened risk from the Brexit process in the aftermath of a speech by Prime Minister Theresa May last weekend. Mrs May signalled that Britain would trigger Article 50, which sets the clock ticking on the exit from the bloc, next spring and would pursue a so-called ‘hard’ Brexit, restricting the UK’s access to the EU’s single market. One analyst at HSBC warned that the pound is “now the de facto official opposition to the government’s policies.

Traders say the currency is likely to weaken further in the coming weeks. (FT)

In the news

And the peace prize goes to . . . The Nobel Peace Prize has been won by Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos for his efforts to end the 52-year conflict with Marxist rebels. The decision comes despite the result of a referendum last weekend in which Colombians narrowly voted to reject his peace deal. (BBC)

Mars takes a bite out of Buffett The world leader in the confectionery market said on Thursday it would buy out the billionaire investor’s 20 per cent stake in Wrigley, the chewing gum group. The move comes as sugary snacks are under threat from changing trends. Consumers are moving towards healthier products and high-protein foods and away from traditional snack foods. (FT)

Storm warning Hurricane Matthew lashed Florida on Friday, with the eye of the storm sitting just offshore from Cape Canaveral. Matthew’s high winds and heavy rains have knocked out power in hundreds of thousands of homes. Officials in Haiti said that at least 339 people were killed by the storm, which destroyed homes, uprooted trees and caused widespread flooding. (Reuters)

Pence-Trump shift The US vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence on Thursday shifted on Donald Trump’s policy of banning Muslims from entering the US. Mr Pence said it was no longer the position of his populist running mate. Mr Trump has yet to comment. (Foreign Policy)

Rocks and hard places The shale gas industry in the UK scored a major victory, as the government overturned local objections to a project. The decision clears the way for the first exploration since an earthquake five years ago. The communities secretary said the industry had the potential to support 64,000 jobs. (FT)

Test your knowledge with the week in news quiz.

It’s a big day for

Jobs We’ll get another glimpse into the economic health of the world’s biggest economy today as the US is set to report employment figures for the month of September. The report, due at 8.30am EST, could cement plans at the Federal Reserve over whether to raise interest rates before the end of the year. (FT)

Morocco The country is holding its second parliamentary elections since constitutional changes were enacted in 2011, during the Arab uprisings. Around 30 parties will compete for 395 seats. (WaPo)

Food for thought

The rise of ‘gig’ consultants Above the layer of “gig economy” Uber drivers, Deliveroo couriers and TaskRabbit handymen and women, is a higher paid, and growing stratum of “gig consultants”. They are part of a shift away from established consultants and are increasingly carrying out all but “a core of critical work”. (FT)

Death from overwork The Japanese, known for their long working hours, have a word for dying of overwork: karoshi. But for the first time a survey by the ministry of health confirms the phenomenon. Of 10,000 businesses and 20,000 workers surveyed, 22 per cent worked more than 80 hours of overtime each month. That’s the threshold at which risk of death from overwork becomes significant. (NAR)

Abandoning ship The bankruptcy of South Korea’s Hanjin Shipping and the restructuring of AP Moller-Maersk are signs that the consolidation of the shipping industry has a long way to go. (Foreign Affairs)

Why are American airports so awful? It’s been a subject for debate in the US presidential campaign, and a frequent complaint from travellers visiting the US. But what are the reasons behind the problems at US airports? Here’s an attempt to explain. (Bloomberg)

Chechnya’s next top assistant In the market for a new job? Chechen strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov is hiring. And he has taken to reality TV to find the best candidate. This is the same man who put his three young sons into a mixed martial arts tournament. Get your applications in now. (WaPo, The Guardian)

Video of the day

Mess is good Undercover Economist Tim Harford says we shouldn’t feel bad about messy desks. So long as we have a highly efficient, self-organising, rapid-access filing system, it doesn’t matter if we’re untidy. (FT)

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