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Australians Continue To Think Positive

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Westpac-Melbourne_Consumer_Confidence_Index__[Close]_TMMChart.png

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Editor’s Remarks:
The past few years have been particularly turbulent for Australians including one year seeing 3 different prime ministers take office. 2016 was about to start in similar fashion with one of the tightest elections ever seen and Brexit taking centre stage. Even economically, the situation looks grim for Australia. The combination of a continuing slowdown in Chinese growth with the mining and oil industries experiencing a terrible past year would be enough to dampen consumer confidence. However, with the initial doom and gloom shock of Brexit wearing off and not experiencing another political change, Australian confidence is continuing the slow creep upwards it started last year. The index published today should see it go over 100 again, which indicates more optimism than not. However, holding it there is probably a hop too far.

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The Darkest Hour: Fatalities in WW2

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darkest hour

Following the release of The Darkest Hour, which stars a beefed-up Gary Oldman as former British prime minister Winston Churchill, the Second World War has once again peaked the interest of the public. The movie depicts how Churchill dealt not only with the mess at Dunkirk in the opening stages of the war but internal divisions in his war cabinet as Neville Chamberlain and Lord Halifax pushed for a diplomatic solution to avoid all-out war. In the end, Churchill’s decision to go to war prevailed and, as the common quip goes, victory was seized through British intelligence, American strength and Russian blood. Looking at the number of fatalities that each side sustained, there is no small amount of truth to this statement. Following the collapse of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, the consequent launch of Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa and the eventual push back of German forces after their defeat in Stalingrad, an astronomical 20 million Russians died.

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How Are the Chinese Net Giants Faring?

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chinese tech

In the last year, China’s tech giants have really come into their own. Finally, Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent have shed their former reputation as “China’s version of [insert western tech company]” and begun to define their business models by their own terms. The market has rewarded them for it too: Baidu gained 60% in 2017, with Tencent and Alibaba each up about 120%, which trumped the price gains achieved by their western competitors. Tencent has cemented itself as the world’s biggest video games company due to its ever-expanding portfolio of mobile games and savvy investments in a broad range of foreign tech firms. Alibaba, meanwhile, has expanded into physical supermarkets in China, where it hopes to build further streams of revenue. Baidu is somewhat lagging, as its relatively small market cap indicates but the company is actively testing autonomous cars.

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How Big Banks Have Invested in FinTech Since 2013

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big banks fintech

In the UK at least, fintech has been characterised by challenger banks such as Starling and Monzo opening their (virtual) doors to customers in recent years. However, that does not mean that big banks aren’t getting in on the fun too. Since 2013, premier investment bank Goldman Sachs has completed some 37 fintech-related investments with Citibank trailing with 25 similar deals over the same period. Kensho is one company that has received a lot of attention from Wall Street’s biggest players; Goldman, JPMorgan, Citi and Morgan Stanley all invested in the machine learning startup’s Series B fundraise last year at a valuation of $500m. with the advent of blockchain, it seems like 2018 will see many more fintech deals take place.

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