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Global Affairs

Breakfast Briefing: CryptoKitties on Ethereum and Starbucks in China

 4 min read / 

CryptoKitties Swamps Ethereum

The CryptoKitties game is now responsible for 11% of all traffic on the Ethereum network.

Editor’s Remarks: Since going live, speculators have hailed Ethereum’s decentralised platform as the future of applications performing high-level functions and self-executing smart contracts. However, the network is currently being slowed down by traffic stemming from CryptoKitties, a game in which players buy virtual kittens and breed them with other cats. So far, 22,000 such cats have been sold for a total of $22m. The game’s creators, Axiom Zen, built it in order to show consumers how blockchain technology could impact their day-to-day lives, even in relation to something as mundane as a game.

Starbucks Gambles in China

The coffee chain today opened a 30,000 square-foot roastery in Shanghai.

Editor’s Remarks: Starbucks currently operates around 3,000 stores in China in 130 cities and is opening new outlets at a rate faster than one each day. Today, the company opened its new roastery, which is its first outside of the US, in a bid to retain its reputation as a high-end beverages company in the nation. As Starbucks has spread across cities like Shanghai – where it now has over 600 stores, more than in New York or London – locals feel it has lost some of the exclusivity that first made it popular. The new roastery will allow visitors to watch beans be roasted or brewed in order to transform the regular coffee run into more of an experience.

Nobel Laureates Criticise Bitcoin

Nobel prize-winners Joseph Stiglitz and Robert J. Shiller have come down hard on bitcoin.

Editor’s Remarks: Stiglitz opined that bitcoin should be outlawed because it offers no “socially useful function”. Meanwhile, Shiller said that bitcoin’s popularity and subsequent price rises are derived largely from the same satisfaction that people get from watching a murder mystery – the chance to outsmart the system. Shiller added that while he does not know how high bitcoin will go, it “will reach a 1929 eventually”, referring to the Great Depression. Shiller and Stiglitz’ remarks coincide with bitcoin storming towards $12,000 after briefly dipping as low as $9,000 early last week just hours after it broke past the $10,000 milestone.

Black Friday Does Little for UK Stores

Retail sales rose just 0.6% in November compared to the same period a year before.

Editor’s Remarks: Black Friday is one US tradition that has gained significant traction in the UK in recent years, due largely to the proliferation of e-commerce and the consequent adoption of the trend by traditional stores. However, data collected by KPMG showed that consumer spending in November was hardly boosted by the sales bonanza that swept the British high street. Instead, sales growth was driven largely by food spending in the run-up to the Christmas period. However, Barclaycard, which processes around half of the UK’s total payments, said that on Black Friday itself there was a 7% increase in sales compared to 2016.

Supreme Court Allows Travel Ban

The US Supreme Court has allowed Trump to enforce his travel ban while it deliberates its legality.

Editor’s Remarks: On Monday, the court said that the Trump administration can implement the ban and prevent citizens from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen from travelling to the US. So far, the plan has faced opposition at every turn and has been called everything from “racist” to “xenophobic”, underlying the racial tensions that have characterised the Trump presidency thus far. The policy effectively works in tandem with Trump’s promise to build a Mexico-US border wall (which has not materialised yet) to form the twin pillars of his administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration.

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