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China’s economic slowdown, responsible for everything from falling luxury goods sales to steel plant closures around the world, has been officially blamed for another casualty: spending on the People’s Liberation Army.
In remarks published in the PLA Daily, President Xi Jinping, who also chairs the Chinese Communist party’s Central Military Commission, linked slower growth to a lower than expected increase in the country’s military budget, which was formally approved in March.
“It is not easy to secure a normal rise in the military budget any more,” Mr Xi said, citing “mounting pressure from the economic downturn”.
In the news
Greece reaches deal with creditors Eurozone finance ministers and the IMF have agreed to a range of measures to restructure Greece’s debts when its €86bn bailout ends in 2018 — but put no figures on the concessions and left them subject to political decisions by eurozone countries. (FT)
Monsanto: show me the money The US agribusiness said it was open to discussions on a deal with Bayer, even as it rejected a record-breaking $62bn cash bid from the German conglomerate as “incomplete and financially inadequate”. (FT)
Google raided French authorities on Tuesday conducted an early morning raid on the tech group’s Paris offices, turning up the heat in the spreading European tax war against US tech giants. The move comes as European authorities attempt to crack down on the use of complex tax-avoidance schemes by multinationals to shift profits to lower-tax countries. (FT)
US backs Kurds in assault on Raqqa The Syrian Democratic Forces, a US-backed alliance of Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighters, has begun a campaign to expel Isis militants from land north of Raqqa. The group is believed to have deployed about 30,000 fighters, which will be supported by US-led coalition aircraft and Russia has also given its backing. The SDF did not mention any plan to take Raqqa, the de facto capital of the “caliphate” proclaimed by Isis in 2014. (BBC)
Thiel ‘funds lawsuits against Gawker’ One of Silicon Valley’s best-known investors has been footing a former wrestler’s legal bills in lawsuits against Gawker Media, Forbes reports. It says Peter Thiel, a PayPal co-founder and one of the earliest backers of Facebook, has been secretly funding Hulk Hogan’s lawsuits against the online news organisation. Mr Thiel, who is gay, “has made no secret of his distaste for Gawker, which attempted to out him in late 2007 before he was open about his sexuality”, and which he has accused of having the “psychology of a terrorist”. (Forbes)
Egypt crash still a mystery Five days after the crash of EgyptAir flight MS804 in the Mediterranean, the lack of any real progress in the investigation has continued to fuel speculation that terrorism was to blame, even though there have been no claims of responsibility. What we know so far. (FT)
Motor industry bets on taxi apps Volkswagen has put $300m into Israeli taxi start-up Gett on the same day that Toyota announced an undisclosed investment in US ride-hailing app Uber. The moves are the latest sign of carmakers placing bets on the future of personal transport. VW’s investment, which more than doubles the amount of funding raised by Europe’s biggest taxi-hailing app, comes months after General Motors injected $500m into US ride-hailing app Lyft. (FT)
Hackers turn stock advisers Having made a name for itself with high-profile cyber attacks on government offices and businesses, international hacker network Anonymous is now taking on the role of investment adviser. Anonymous Analytics, the network’s research report site, examines companies’ financial statements and recommends investors sell their shares when irregularities or inconsistencies are uncovered. Recently, their targets have included a growing number of Chinese companies. (NAR)
It’s a big day for
Google v Europe After months of agonising, the European Commission’s investigation into internet platforms is set to arrive with a bit of a whimper. Fears of an all-encompassing inquisition into internet platforms — with commission officials bursting into the offices of Facebook and Google like a Monty Python sketch — have not come to pass. (Brussels Blog)
Food for thought
How to defeat rightwing populism Martin Wolf argues that while it seems quite likely that Donald Trump will fail in his quest for the presidency, his backward protectionism and ignorant views may yet live on. “Mr Trump’s rise is a symptom of a disease that he would undoubtedly exacerbate. If it is not too late, people must now find more effective ways to cure it.” Sign up for our daily US politics email here. (FT)
Sunk How a Chinese billionaire’s dream of making an underwater fantasy blockbuster turned into a legendary movie fiasco. (The Atavist)
Hedge funds: Overpriced, underperforming The industry — along with managers’ wallets — ballooned thanks to pension funds. But now institutional investors are taking a long look at costs that don’t seem to be justified by returns that pale in comparison to an index fund. (FT)
Iceland v tourists Iceland may be beautiful, but it’s dangerously close to full. This is the message currently filtering out from the north Atlantic island as it struggles to absorb unprecedented numbers of visitors. Last year, the nation hosted 1.26m tourists, a staggering number for a chilly island whose population barely scrapes past 330,000 citizens. (The Atlantic)
The rise of rage rooms Faced with a sluggish economy and fed up with their lot, Americans are increasingly taking to “rage rooms” to blow off steam. Turns out destroying domestic appliances with a golf club or baseball bat is a popular form of therapy — and a lucrative business model. (Guardian)
Why we were wrong about millennials If — like the rest of us — you had accepted the idea that millennials are impatient, footloose souls who have little sense of employer loyalty, then it might be time to re-evaluate your thinking. A new survey of nearly 20,000 21 to 36-year-olds across 25 countries found that 87 per cent said job security was a priority, second only to money and way ahead of things such as “purpose” and “flexibility”. (FT)
Video of the day
More sterling jitters ahead over Brexit EU referendum opinion polls show a clear lead for the Remain camp. This is having an impact on sterling. The FT’s Roger Blitz explores why the pound has been volatile and whether the market is more bullish about the Remain campaign winning. (FT)