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Breakfast Briefing: Ingvar Kamprad, Coincheck Hack & the Russian Election

Ikea Founder Dies at 91

Ingvar Kamprad, who founded the global furniture chain, died in his hometown.

Editor’s Remarks: The businessman, widely considered one of the 20th century’s greatest entrepreneurs, died in Småland, the same town in which he was born. Kamprad founded Ikea, which is the world’s largest furniture maker, way back in 1943 when he was just 17. Despite his net worth at one point exceeding $40bn, Kamprad was famous for his frugality and in fact bought a lot of his clothes second-hand. He credited much of Ikea’s success to his careful eye over money. This attitude frequently attracted the ire of various European tax authorities, who quickly grew frustrated at the company’s highly efficient tax minimisation schemes.

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Coincheck to Refund Customers

The Japanese exchange apologised after hackers stole $500m worth of cryptocurrencies.

Editor’s Remarks: Coincheck announced yesterday that it would repay customers after a hacker stole 523m XEM tokens last Friday. Coincheck is Japan’s second largest cryptocurrency and the attack is reminiscent of the 2014 Mt. Gox hack, which left that exchange bankrupt. Coincheck’s COO Yusuke Otsuka said that his company would reimburse customers but, given the scale of the theft, it is unclear how it would do this. So far, Coincheck plans to pay aggrieved investors ¥8.5 for each stolen XEM, compared to their current market price of around ¥104. The theft highlights the increasing need for cryptocurrency investors to maybe store their holdings offline in cold wallets.

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Davos Discusses AI

Forget Trump and Macron, international leaders were preoccupied by AI at this year’s WEF. 

Editor’s Remarks: Were it not for the present cryptocurrency boom, it is likely that artificial intelligence would be the talk of the day. At the World Economic Forum in Davos this year, government and business leaders spoke of AI’s potential. While Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron spoke of new investment opportunities in the tech space, Google’s Sundar Pichai and Alibaba’s Jack Ma struck a deeper tone. Pichai said that AI would be more transformative than humanity’s master of fire, while Ma said that AI would “kill a lot of jobs” and could even start another world war. Ma added that every new technology has caused imbalances of power, and AI would be no different.

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Prince Alwaleed Released

The Saudi prince and global investor had been detained under Prince Salman’s crackdown.

Editor’s Remarks: Prince Alwaleed’s detainment has probably not been too stressful an affair since he has been detained in Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton hotel. Regardless, Alwaleed has stressed that he is innocent of all charges that have been levied against him and professes that they are the product of a “misunderstanding” between himself and the Saudi government. In a statement made to Reuters, he said that he expects to soon return to running his investment firm, Kingdom Holding, and that he will not have to turn over any assets to the state. Salman’s crackdown is part of a wider plan that aims to diversify the kingdom’s economy.

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Russian Election Tensions Rise

Russian police raided opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s Moscow office on the weekend.

Editor’s Remarks: Navalny is the only credible opposition that incumbent president Vladimir Putin faces, but has been banned from running in the March election. In response, Navalny called upon his supporters to boycott the election and protest across the country yesterday. On his Twitter page, Navalny responded to rumours that he had himself been arrested by saying that he was “still at liberty”. Meanwhile, the Kremlin has made it clear that any unsanctioned protests would lead to “certain implications”. Putin’s spokespeople added that police action against Navalny was not motivated by the election but instead by compliance with Russian law.

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