Global News January 12, 2018

  1. BBC
  2. Global News January 12, 2018

“Mark Zuckerberg Just Blew Up Facebook From the Inside.”

For much of the past few months, Mark Zuckerberg has been thinking aloud about Facebook Inc.’s mission. He kept saying he wanted Facebook to become a place for meaningful social interaction. His resolution for 2018 was to «fix» Facebook.
Zuckerberg disclosed late Thursday the billionth, and seemingly the most drastic, change to how Facebook determines what people see when they surf the social network. The stated goal is to make Facebook feel less like a depressing cesspool. (Zuckerberg didn’t put it that way.)
The company is reprogramming its computers to prioritize posts on which people feel compelled to interact in a rich way, by writing a long reply to a grieving family member, for example, or by having a back-and-forth with friends about a wacky local TV news story. It seems like a bit of a return to Facebook’s roots, which was more about the first word in «social media» than the second.
The company wants people to aimlessly scroll and surf Facebook less and instead wallow for a while in a meaningful interaction or two. Whether this makes people feel less bad about hanging out on Facebook, or makes Facebook less of a tool for propaganda or misinformation, remains to be seen. People share puppy photos on Facebook but also misleading diatribes about people they don’t like. And misinformation turns out to be pretty darn engaging.
The big warning — imagine alarm bells ringing on a broker’s desk somewhere — is that Zuckerberg expects the changes to lead to a decrease in the collective time Facebook’s users spend there. There’s a direct relationship between the quantity of time people spend surfing Facebook and revenue. More time translates into more slots for Facebook to sell ads, which translates into overflowing Facebook cash registers. Some stock analysts worried on Friday that Zuckerberg didn’t address the potential business implications of Facebook’s mission shift or didn’t seem to care about them. Shares are declining in market trading.
When Facebook, Google and other technology firms enshrine their founders with the power to overrule all other shareholders, this is exactly the moment to which they aspire. Zuckerberg doesn’t have to fear being thrown out of his job because he’s trading short-term interests for longer-term aspirations with both global social ramifications and financial uncertainties for one of the world’s most valuable companies.


“Trump cancels Britain trip, blames Obama for ‘peanuts’ London embassy deal.”

U.S. President Donald Trump canceled a trip to London scheduled for next month to open a new embassy, saying he did not want to endorse a bad deal agreed by the Obama administration to sell the old one for “peanuts”.
The trip’s cancellation is a further blow to relations between the close allies. More than a year into his presidency, Trump has yet to visit London, with many Britons vowing to protest against a man they see as crude, volatile and opposed to their values on a range of issues.
The decision to move the U.S. Embassy from its current Grosvenor Square location in the upmarket Mayfair area of London and to a site on the south bank of the Thames was agreed in 2008 under the presidency of George W. Bush.
However, Trump blamed former president Barack Obama for the sale, saying he would not attend the official opening of the new site.
Many British politicians have voiced their opposition to Trump being granted a state visit, and say the invite should be recalled.
“Many Londoners have made it clear that Donald Trump is not welcome here while he is pursuing such a divisive agenda,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who has often exchanged barbs with Trump on social media, tweeted.
May’s spokesman told reporters Trump was welcome in London and that the invitation to visit had been accepted, although no date agreed. He said the opening of the embassy was a matter for the U.S. government.


BBC News
“Germany coalition talks: Merkel welcomes breakthrough.”

German politicians have achieved a breakthrough in talks aimed at forming a new coalition government. A blueprint for formal negotiations was agreed between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and their former coalition partners, the Social Democrats (SPD).
Politicians stayed up all night to discuss the 28-page document, with the talks lasting more than 24 hours. But they managed to reach agreement on key sticking points such as migration. They plan to limit asylum-seeker arrivals to about 200,000 annually. The blueprint also speaks of capping at 1,000 a month the number of migrants who will be allowed to join their family living in Germany.
Mrs Merkel and SPD leader Martin Schulz told a news conference they were optimistic that a new «grand coalition» could be formed. They spoke of a «fresh start» for Germany, and Mr Schulz said that in Europe «we are determined to deploy Germany’s strength». They signalled that a stronger alliance with France in the EU would be a priority.
Both stressed the need to ensure Germany’s «social cohesion». It was a veiled recognition of voter frustration with centrist politics, amid tensions over the influx of asylum seekers.
The September election saw the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) win 94 seats in parliament – a first for post-war Germany. Both the CDU and SPD suffered their worst election results for more than 50 years.


“U.S. 2-Year Yield Tops 2% for First Time Since Financial Crisis.”

The two-year Treasury yield jumped above 2 percent, marking a rebound to a key psychological level last seen just as the U.S. sank into the depths of the financial crisis in September 2008.
The past 14 months have witnessed a remarkable reversal for the coupon maturity that’s most sensitive to Federal Reserve expectations. After failing to eclipse 1 percent through much of 2016, the yield surged following President Donald Trump’s election victory, and kept climbing throughout 2017 as policy makers delivered on their promised three rate increases.
Data Friday showing that the underlying pace of U.S. inflation accelerated last month finally drove it above 2 percent, as traders priced in a growing likelihood that the Fed would follow through on its projection of three rate increases this year. Treasuries fell broadly, led by shorter maturities, with the difference between yields on five- and 30-year maturities approaching the smallest since 2007.
The latest inflation reading “has left the market pricing in higher odds of a March rate hike and the odds of more rate hikes in 2018 have increased as well,” said Gennadiy Goldberg, a strategist at TD Securities in New York. “We’re seeing the market move toward the Fed so we should see more curve flattening and more pressure on the front-end.”
The last time investors saw two-year Treasuries yielding 2 percent was Sept. 30, 2008, about two weeks after the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., which sparked a global flight to safety. On Sept. 15, the day of the bankruptcy filing, the yield plunged 50 basis points, driving it below 2 percent on an intraday basis.
After a turbulent stretch where the Treasury and the Fed tried to bolster confidence in the financial system, the yield closed below 2 percent at the end of September 2008 and remained below that mark until today. In September 2011, it set a record low of 0.143 percent, with the Fed’s benchmark rate locked near zero.