Connect with us


Trump’s trade truce met with scepticism – and here’s why

Judging by the euphoric reaction of markets on Monday, particularly equities and the price of oil and some other agricultural commodities, one could be forgiven for thinking that Donald Trump and Xi Jinping signed a free trade agreement at the G20 summit over the weekend.

They did not.

All the US and Chinese presidents agreed in Buenos Aires was to hold off on imposing any new tariffs for the next 90 days. The US will leave tariffs on $200bn (£157bn) worth of Chinese imports at 10% on 1 January, instead of the planned increase to 25%, where they will remain provided that China, as apparently agreed, buys an unspecified amount of “agricultural, energy, industrial and other” products from the US.

By today, though, reality has set in. All of the main US stock indices have opened lower while all of the European indices have returned a significant chunk of Monday’s gains.

US President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping are attempting to agree trade terms
Image: US President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping are attempting to agree trade terms

Why? Having had an extra 24 hours to reflect on what may or may not have been agreed at the G20, investors have concluded that a good deal of uncertainty remains. The increase in Mr Trump’s proposed tariffs will still kick on 1 April next year, in the absence of any agreement.

And the next 90 days will elapse far more quickly than anyone expects once respective lay-offs in Washington and Beijing for Christmas and New Year and the Chinese New Year are factored in.

Nor is any longer-term rapprochement particularly likely when the second part of what was agreed at the weekend is also factored in.

This saw Mr Trump and Mr Xi agree to “structural changes with respect to forced technology transfer, intellectual property protection, non-tariff barriers, cyber intrusions and cyber theft, services and agriculture”.

Good luck with getting even a fraction of that in place by the beginning of March, as intended, as these are hugely complex issues.

:: US-China trade war thaw as new tariffs postponed

US President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping are attempting to agree trade terms 2:27
Video: US-China trade war begins to thaw as new tariffs halted

They are vexed ones, too: neither side trusts the other, as shown by Mr Trump’s move earlier this year to block the $117bn takeover of US chipmaker Qualcomm, a record for the tech sector, by a Singaporean company many in Washington suspected was a front for the Chinese.

China, which has antagonised businesses worldwide on its insistence that they give up proprietary technology in return for gaining access to its markets, is equally suspicious of the US in this regard and particularly because it knows its domestic chip designers and suppliers depend on mainly US companies for both hardware and software.

In fact, the closer one looks at what was agreed at the weekend, the less optimistic one becomes.

Mr Trump, for example, tweeted on Sunday that President Xi had agreed to “reduce and remove tariffs on cars coming into China from the US. Currently the tariff is 40%”.

Yet there may be more to that particular offer than meets the eye.

Beijing has not confirmed the measure and some observers think this apparent pledge would merely replicate the cut in tariffs on imported cars, announced in May, from 25% to 15%.

An investor reacts to stock market information in Beijing as the US tariffs come into effect
Image: An investor reacts to stock market information in Beijing as US tariffs come into effect

The 40% tariff on US car imports is a specific measure introduced by Beijing imposed in July in response to higher tariffs slapped on Chinese cars imported by the US.

Cutting it to 15% might not necessarily be regarded as a great outcome from the G20 ‘deal’ and even the White House itself admitted on Monday that the supposed concessions won by Mr Trump from Mr Xi may not be all they initially cracked up to be.

As Larry Kudlow, Mr Trump’s senior economic adviser, told reporters: “We don’t yet have a specific agreement on that, but I will just tell you, as an informed participant, that we expect those tariffs to go to zero.”

Not that the Americans are the only ones over-spinning the outcome of the G20.

Force leaders to debate on TV

Force leaders to debate on TV

More than 100,000 people have signed the petition – have you?

China’s state-run media made no reference to car tariffs in its reporting of the Trump-Xi discussions. It also failed to mention the 90-day deadline to resolve issues such as technology transfer. And users of WeChat, the Chinese messaging and social media app that boasts more than one billion users, were prevented from sharing Chinese and English versions of the White House’s statement on the talks from the US Embassy in China’s official WeChat account.

As Sue Trinh, head of Asia FX Strategy at RBC Capital Markets in Hong Kong, noted: “Other than a deferral of tariffs, there wasn’t really much of a ‘deal’ agreed. For one thing, the US and China failed to issue a joint statement laying out the framework going forward [but] instead issued separate statements on their take of what went down. There are significant gaps between the US and China statements… the wide gap in what was agreed at the G20 leaves a lot of room for disappointment.”

More from Business

  • Banks face claims blitz over variable rate mortgage charges

  • Mark Carney warns no-deal Brexit could see 10% shopping bill hike

  • Theresa May suffers three Commons defeats in a day as Brexit debate begins

  • Thomas Cook on course to crash out of FTSE 250 this week

  • Toyota faces ‘stop-start’ production under no-deal

  • Black Friday fails to lift high street gloom

And that is the conclusion at which many investors, reluctantly, are now arriving.

The grim reality is that what was agreed at the weekend is merely a ceasefire in the trade war rather than anything more meaningful.


A delivery robot burst into flames on Berkeley university campus, and students held a candlelit vigil

  • A Kiwi delivery robot burst into flames while wheeling through campus at the University of California, Berkeley.
  • The blaze was extinguished by a local, while the fire department made sure there was no risk of re-ignition.
  • Startup Kiwi said the fire was caused by a faulty battery and it pulled all of its robots from service to investigate.
  • Students were said to be saddened by the robot's demise and held a candlelit vigil.

A delivery robot burst into flames at the University of California, Berkeley, and students were said to be so devastated, they held a candlelit vigil to mark its demise.

The incident took place on Friday, when a Kiwi delivery robot caught fire after its battery malfunctioned, the company said in a Medium blog on Sunday.

Pictures and video posted online showed the diminutive robot engulfed in flames, before a local rushed to put out the blaze with a fire extinguisher.

Read more: People kicking these food delivery robots is an early insight into how cruel humans could be to robots

A reporter at The Daily Californian caught the moment the fire was contained. The Berkeley Fire Department arrived shortly after and doused the robot with foam to ensure there was no risk of re-ignition.

Here's a video of the Kiwibot on fire:

A student posted this image after the fire was dealt with:

One of the Kiwibots, the food delivery robot, caught on fire on campus. #kiwibot @kiwicampus

— Alex (@AlexLi98) December 14, 2018

Kiwi said it took the matter "very seriously." The company, which is housed at Berkeley's startup incubator SkyDeck, said it pulled all of its robots out of service to investigate.

"Customers that had orders in progress had their food delivered by hand, minimizing the impact on the service. At no time were customers or members of the public at risk," the firm added.

Kiwi has a fleet of more than 100 robots and cofounder and CEO Felipe Chavez Cortes told TechCrunch this year that the company has fulfilled more than 10,000 orders.

The Daily Californian said the robot was not delivering a meal when it caught fire, meaning no one missed out on their food order. Students, however, reacted with sadness to the robot's demise.

Citing comments on the Overheard at UC Berkeley Facebook page, The Daily Californian said students described the robot as a "hero" and a "legend." Berkley alum James Wenzel tweeted that some even held a candlelit vigil.

so a delivery robot caught fire on berkeley's campus and students set up a candlelight vigil for it

— James Wenzel 🦊 (@ratherbright) December 15, 2018

SEE ALSO: Robot delivery company Starship Technologies raised $17.2 million in a round led by Daimler

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: USB-C was supposed to be a universal connector — but it still has a lot of problems

Continue Reading


From Elon Musk to Satya Nadella: Here are the 29 top tech CEOs of 2018, according to employees

  • This week, Comparably — a website that rates companies across a number of different areas — released its list of Best CEOs of 2018.
  • Of the 50 chief executives on that list, 29 were from tech companies.
  • Below, we've compiled the list of best tech CEOs of the year.

For tech, 2018 was a year full of scandal.

From Facebook's dealings with Cambridge Analytica, to Elon Musk smoking weed on-air, the tech industry had its share of controversy in 2018.

When tech executives weren't being questioned on Capitol Hill, however, some were being praised by employees for their leadership and the companies they've helped create.

This week, Comparably — a website that rates companies across a number of different areas — released its 2018 list of Best CEOs. Of the 50 chief execs on that list, 29 were from tech companies.

Here are the 29 best large tech company CEOs of the year:

SEE ALSO: The 29 tech companies with the best company culture in 2018

29. Bill McDermott, SAP

Headquarters: Newtown Square, Pennsylvania

Year they became CEO: 2002

What their company does: Enterprise software for business operations and customer management

28. Scott Wagner, GoDaddy

Headquarters: Scottsdale, Arizona

Year they became CEO: 2018

What their company does: Internet domain registry and website hosting

27. Daniel Schulman, PayPal

Headquarters: San Jose, California

Year they became CEO: 2014

What their company does: Online payments

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Continue Reading


There’s an easy way to make your iPhone screen even dimmer than its lowest brightness setting, and it’s perfect for reading at night

  • I read on my iPhone at night all the time.
  • Sometimes, though, the iPhone's lowest brightness setting isn't dim enough for the environment, or my eyes.
  • There's a trick that can make your screen even dimmer than the brightness settings Apple provides, and it's perfect for nighttime.

If you're like me, you spend your last waking minutes reading on your iPhone in bed until you're tired enough to fall asleep.

But sometimes, your iPhone's screen can be too bright for you and your partner — even if it's on the lowest brightness setting.

Thankfully, hidden away in your iPhone's settings is a way to make the screen super-dim. It's easy to set up and works really well — I use it all the time.

SEE ALSO: Apple's new iPhone software is better than ever: Here are the 12 most useful features in iOS 12

DON'T MISS: I've used the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR — here's which one I'd recommend buying

First, go to your Settings app.

Click General.

Scroll down and click Accessibility.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Continue Reading


The Stories Slide Deck: How Stories stack up across social platforms (FB, SNAP)

In the last few years, there’s been a major shift as to how consumers interact with social media.

Rather than posting content that lives on the platform in perpetuity, users are now posting and viewing more “Stories,” video or images that live for only 24 hours.

Many platforms have introduced some form of Stories format — whether it be Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or WhatsApp. Snapchat was the company to introduce it to the world, but Instagram has surpassed it in terms of volume and perhaps usability.

Business Insider Intelligence has compiled a slide deck that looks into how Stories work on Instagram and Snapchat, and how brands and publishers should be using the Stories feature to reach their audiences.

This exclusive deck can be yours for FREE today. As an added bonus, you will gain immediate access to our exclusive BI Intelligence Daily newsletter.

To get your copy of the FREE slide deck, simply click here.

Join the conversation about this story »

Continue Reading


We just got the most alarming sign yet that investors are bracing for a stock market crash

  • US stocks have been whipsawed in recent months, and internal trends aren't looking very encouraging for a full recovery.
  • Warning signs are continuing to pile up amid the chaos, and we may have just gotten the most jarring indication yet that a market collapse is coming.

It's no secret that the US stock market has been taken for a wild ride over the past few months.

Sharp sell-offs have occurred with frightening regularity, and investors haven't seemed particularly inclined to buy the dip. Yes, there have been relief rallies after large pullbacks, but equities haven't been recovering as quickly as they once did. And they certainly aren't bouncing back to record highs.

The reluctance of investors to scoop up shares at discounted prices shows just how nervous they are about the future of the market. And this past week we got the latest sign that they're bracing for an imminent stock meltdown.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch found that traders pulled a whopping $27.6 billion out of US equities in the week ended Dec. 12, the second-biggest outflow of all time. And the trend was no rosier on a global basis, as a record $39 billion was yanked from stocks worldwide, the data show.

While the numbers themselves are eye-popping, it's the fact that they're so historically dire that should have people very concerned. Overall, it indicates extreme trepidation amongst investors. And, given the confluence of negative factors weighing on the market right now, you can hardly blame investors.

They're still worried about the fallout from President Donald Trump's trade war, a potential global growth slowdown, the pace of Federal Reserve tightening, and new vulnerabilities in tech stocks. And those are just the headliners. Many more minor headwinds lurk under the surface.

If, for some reason, BAML's outflow data hasn't convinced you of the nervousness pervading the market, consider that bearish bets against the S&P 500 are at their second-highest levels all year. This is reflected in the level of short interest for an exchange-traded fund tracking the US equity benchmark.


Adding to confusion is the fact that experts are sending mixed messages. On one side, you have someone like Leuthold Group chief investment officer Jim Paulsen. He's largely bearish and recently argued that a crash may be the only thing that can completely hit the reset button on the market's biggest problems.

Then you have the collection of Wall Street equity strategists, who aren't necessarily ready to bail on the US stock market quite yet. Sure, most of them think 2019 will be the bull market's last hurrah, but even the most bearish one — Mike Wilson of Morgan Stanley — forecasts that equities will rise next year.

Ultimately, if one thing is clear right now in the US stock market, it's that investors are seeking shelter now and asking questions later. It's a prudent approach, considering the nearly 10-year bull market will have to meet its demise at some point, and we're currently getting some of the strongest signals yet that a collapse is near.

SEE ALSO: We interviewed Wall Street's 8 top-performing investors to get their secrets for success — and their best ideas for 2019

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Why Harvard scientists think this interstellar object might be an alien spacecraft

Continue Reading