MORNING WRAP

🗞️Amazon was sued

WhatsApp is in a privacy war with govern...

Hello! The Dow Jones index is celebrating its 125 years - Happy birthday! 🥳 Dow was first introduced in 1896 at 40.94, and it closed at more than 34,323 just hours ago… that’s 800+ times gain!


Morning Wrap your day:

  1. Amazon was just sued by Washington DC yesterday.
  2. WhatsApp vs. India government: a privacy war.
  3. The change in the Federal Reserve leader team?

MARKET

Wall Street: S&P 500 Index increased modestly, helped by energy producers, retailers and banks. Small-caps outperformed.


European stocks ended flat as banks fell after the policymakers pledged to keep monetary policy loose, offsetting gains in travel and leisure stocks.


Asia: Hong Kong and China ended higher as inflation concerns eased after the Fed reaffirmed a dovish monetary policy stance on Tuesday. Xiaomi Corp said US formally removed restrictions on US persons buying or holding its stock.

ANTITRUST

Amazon, How’s Everything Going?

Source: Mother Jones, Morning Wrap

The answer here is most likely to be: “not very happy”… as Amazon was just sued by Washington DC yesterday.


Sounds scary 😧 what happened?

Amazon was charged for making everything expensive. Here’s the accusation: Amazon charges sellers 40% for using its platform + Amazon bans sellers from selling cheaper elsewhere = price is higher in the market. 

  • In professional terms, the ban is called a “fair pricing policy” - enabling Amazon to sanction sellers who sell cheaper elsewhere.
  • The attorney-general claims that this harms both sellers and buyers. 🤬

Amazon disagreed… and said that it actually offers “low prices across the broadest selection”. Sellers set prices on their own, and its platform reserves the right not to highlight expensive offers to customers, just like other physical stores. 

  • “The attorney has it exactly backwards”, said Amazon. It then commented that the claim is “oddly going against core objectives of antitrust law”.

Is this a big problem? 🤔

Maybe...or maybe not. The lawsuit here only claims that Amazon violated the law of DC, but not the federal law. So even if Amazon loses the lawsuit, the impact of this case is still limited inside DC.


But it might be a test. Filing an antitrust case in DC could become a pilot for other states, or federal agencies, to file their own cases against Amazon… if that’s the case then they will get into big trouble. 🤯


+ No matter big or small, this is the first antitrust lawsuit hitting Amazon inside America, though it has been sued so many times in Europe.

TECHNOLOGY

WhatsApp vs. India Government: A Privacy War

Source: Morning Wrap, Libertatem Magazine

Another privacy war is ongoing in India: WhatsApp sued the Indian Government, demanding the court to rule the Government’s new internet regulations unconstitutional.


A new set of rules? What’s included?

It’s related to message traceability… The Indian Government introduced a new set of rules to tackle the spread of rumors and unverified information. It would require all messaging apps to create a “traceable” database and find out the originator behind a particular message. ✉️


+ Remember the “forwarded” arrow? When WhatsApp first introduced the message forwarding function, there was no “forwarded” tag above that particular message. WhatsApp actually added it as a way to identify forwarded messages in response to India’s request.


I see… What did WhatsApp say?

If you can remember the pop-up while using WhatsApp, private messages are delivered with end-to-end encryption - only the message sender and receiver could view the message, no one else… neither the platform nor the government.

  • WhatsApp claims the new internet rules would break their encryption technology and violate citizen’s constitutional privacy rights.

But India is also important to WhatsApp - it accounts for 30% of WhatsApp users. So instead of fighting, will they reach a deal? 🧐

ECON

Change In Fed’s Leader Group?

Source: Bloomberg, Morning Wrap

It seems that we have gotten used to saying “Fed’s Chairman Powell” without realizing that this leadership group may change... as Chair Powell and vice chairs Clarida and Quarles could all potentially be replaced in the coming year when their tenure expires. 


Oh really...who is likely to stay? Who to leave?

It will depend on how Biden wants to reshape the Federal Reserve’s leadership. He’s now facing increasing pressure to make changes at the Fed:


#1 Please replace Vice chair Quarles 🚫

“Our financial system will be safer when you are gone”, this is what Senator Elizabeth Warren said to Quarles at a Tuesday Senate hearing.

  • 💣 Credit Suisse’s Archegos crisis is the trigger. She criticized Quarles, who is responsible for watching foreign banks including Credit Suisse, for loosening the supervision - allowing it to carry such big risks when knowing it had problems estimating potential trading losses. 
  • ..though Quarles denied, and argued that blns of losses were related to Archegos - Bill Hwang’s family office, rather than faulty Fed oversight. 🤔

P.S. If you are not familiar with the Archegos crisis, this is our previous wrap: how it happened + Credit Suisse’s huge losses


#2 Powell: more likely to stay?

Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s term ends early next year, but 75% of economists surveyed by Bloomberg expect him to be reappointed for another 4-year term. 

  • How the reappointment works: Normally the next chair of the Fed was often the previous chair, regardless of parties dominance. But Trump broke the continuity in 2014, when he didn’t reappoint Janet Yellen but elevated Powell.
  • Powell can be a safe choice ✅ for the inflation-wary investors. Less uncertainties, after all.

We may see Biden’s decision in the coming months. 

WRAP UP

What’s Moving in the Business World?

⚠️ France: Sorry UK. If you’ll travel from UK to France, be aware of this. The French government is set to impose extra restrictions on UK travelers to fend off the Indian variant. (more)


🤝 Biden to meet Putin: They would meet in person on June 16 in Geneva, to repair the strained relation. (more)


💬 US and China talks: US Trade chief is expected to hold her first discussions with Chinese counterpart this week. (more


🦁 Amazon bought that lion. Amazon finalized its acquisition of MGM, the film studio behind James Bond, at USD 8.45 bln. This marks the largest media deal this year. (more)


🧥 Clothing sales crashed. British retailer Marks & Spencer reported an 88% slump in annual profits, making it nearly impossible to pay out dividends. (more)


🚗 Lamborghini is not for sale. Volkswagen rejected a USD 9.2 bln takeover offer on Lamborghini, saying the brand is “not for sale”. (more

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