Reviving TTIP, US consumer spending rises and beware the trolls

Technology Eye | Jun. 01, 2016

Washington and Brussels are scrambling to rebuild momentum for a landmark trade accord, amid signs that it is faltering under an increasingly bitter onslaught from politicians on both sides of the Atlantic. Frustrated by hardening opposition from Germany’s influential socialists and the French government, Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, has called for the 28 member states to reconfirm their commitment to the deal at a summit in June. (FT)

In the news

Oil boss's $1bn dividend The boss of Gunvor, one of the world’s biggest oil traders, has awarded himself a bumper $1bn dividend to sever his ties with a former business partner who is the subject of US sanctions. Torbjörn Törnqvist, chief executive, used the $1bn dividend to settle a debt owed to Russian oligarch Gennady Timchenko. (FT)

US consumer spending rises The case for an interest rate rise this summer just got a boost, with fresh data showing that US consumer spending rose by the most in more than six years in April. (FT)

Another (supremely ironic) Brazilian scandal Interim president Michel Temer has lost his second minister to corruption investigations in less than three weeks of coming to power. Fabiano Silveira's main responsibility was to fight corruption — he was known as the transparency minister — and he was caught on tape discussing how to avoid investigations into graft at the state-owned oil company. (FT)

Malaysia announces wind-up of 1MDB The country has paved the way for the dissolution of the troubled state investment fund by replacing its board with treasury officials. (NAR)

France braced for more labour unrest François Hollande has insisted labour reform will go ahead as strike action spreads to the railways. Protesters clashed with police last week during marches against a bill which makes hiring and firing easier and which was pushed through the lower house of parliament without a vote. There are concerns the Euro 2016 football tournament, which France hosts as of next week, may be disrupted. (BBC)

Internet giants sign up to EU hate speech rules Google, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft have signed up to new EU rules on taking down illegal hate speech as lawmakers and internet groups try to cope with violent racist abuse and technically savvy terrorists. The “code of conduct” will require companies to “review the majority” of flagged hate speech within 24 hours — and remove it, if necessary — and even develop “counter narratives” to combat the growing problem. (FT)

It's a big day for

Brazil Last year saw Latin America's largest economy shrink by the most in a quarter century. Economists expect more of the same in 2016 for the scandal-plagued nation, and its interim government is responding with a bold plan to shrink the government . (FT)

Food for thought

Central banks as pawnbrokers of last resort Martin Wolf on former Bank of England governor Mervyn King's new book, The End of Alchemy : “The title is appropriate: alchemy lies at the heart of the financial system; moreover, banking was, like alchemy, a medieval idea, but one we have not as yet discarded. We must, argues Lord King, now do so.” (FT)

Mario Draghi v the banks Savers are fearful and politicians warn about the rise of populism. Both blame the ECB. Are they right? (FT)

The Muslim tamale king of Wyoming Zarif Khan — aka Hot Tamale Louie — arrived in a small-town in 1909 and sold his signature dish well into the 1960s. More than a century after he arrived in Wyoming, the small Muslim community he started is under siege . (New Yorker)

Xi has changed China’s winning formula Politics in the west are so dramatic at the moment that China can look relatively staid and stable by comparison. But that impression is deceptive. Xi Jinping is taking his country in radical and risky new directions , writes Gideon Rachman. (FT)

Perils of taking on Russia’s internet trolls Seeking to shine some light into the dark world of internet trolls, a journalist with Finland’s national broadcaster asked members of her audience to share their experiences of encounters with Russia’s “troll army” , a raucous and often venomous force of online agitators. The response was overwhelming, though not in the direction that the journalist, Jessikka Aro, had hoped. (NYT)

Why some cultures frown on smiling In some countries, smiling might not be taken as a sign of warmth or respect — but rather evidence of a lack of intelligence. The issue relates to a phenomenon called “uncertainty avoidance”; these countries were typically institutionally unstable and therefore viewed smiling — and its implicit contentment — as an absurdity . (The Atlantic)

Video of the day

Japan’s consumption tax delay explained Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, intends to put off raising the country’s consumption tax until October 2019. The FT’s Robin Harding explains why. (FT)

SOURCE: World Economic Forum

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