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Global Affairs

Breakfast Briefing: Alibaba’s Record Sales, Trump Defends Putin and Hammond in Hot Water

 4 min read / 

Trump Defends Putin

Donald Trump described Vladimir Putin’s denials of Russian hacking during the 2016 US elections as “sincere”.

Editor’s Remarks: Over the weekend, President Trump told reporters that he felt that Putin’s claims that Russia did not meddle in the US elections were true. The US president went as far as saying that Putin felt “insulted” by the charges against his country, thereby sparking further questions of whether his administration is inappropriately close to the Kremlin. Trump’s comments put him at direct loggerheads with US intelligence agencies, which have concluded that Putin did indeed orchestrate a campaign to have Trump installed. Senator John McCain picked up on this and said “There’s nothing ‘America First’ about taking the word of a KGB colonel over US intelligence”.

Chancellor to Lower VAT Threshold

Philip Hammond aims to raise an additional £2bn by lowering the turnover threshold for small businesses. 

Editor’s Remarks: Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond appears to be on a collision course with the UK’s small businesses. Presently, companies that turn over less than £85,000 are exempt from paying VAT, which requires companies to slap on a 20% tariff on all their sales. Details are yet unknown as to how low the new threshold might be, but given that the present level is significantly higher than the EU average of around £20,000, many are concerned that the shakeup could be significant. Given that the UK government is committed to keeping corporation tax low, Hammond can expect a popular backlash from small enterprises should he pursue this policy.

Alibaba Rakes in $25bn

During China’s annual Singles’ Day, Alibaba enjoyed record turnover that far exceeded expectations.

Editor’s Remarks: The world’s largest shopping spree struck again – and Alibaba saw its sales jump a whopping 39%. In just 24 hours, Jack Ma’s e-commerce conglomerate turned over more than $25bn across its various platforms, $8bn of which was made in the first hour alone. However, this year Alibaba faced some not insignificant competition from other Chinese e-commerce sites, notably from The challenger posted total sales of $19bn across its “Singles Day Period” from November 1st to November 12th. While these numbers are not nearly as impressive as Alibaba’s, they do indicate that other businesses want a slice of Jack Ma’s pie.

Karaoke App Sold for $800m

Beijing ByteDance Technology has acquired popular karaoke app for around $800m.

Editor’s Remarks: Beijing ByteDance is the company behind some of China’s most well-known startups, including popular media company Jinri Toutiao. currently has 100m users who will now be added to Toutiao’s 120m readership, creating a significant partnership that is set to transform China’s media landscape. The app was created by Louis Yang and Alex Zhu in 2014 and has since gained a huge amount of traction amongst American teenagers. Meanwhile, Toutiao has also proven enormously successful and is one of the few Chinese internet companies that is not backed by either Tencent, Baidu or Alibaba.

Boies’ Reputation on the Line

David Boies – perhaps the US’ leading litigator – has come under further fire as the Weinstein scandal unfurls.

Editor’s Remarks: In recent weeks, David Boies, who was previously Harvey Weinstein’s personal attorney, has had his reputation dragged through the dirt. First, he was accused of helping to silence women that were abused by his client and preventing independent board members of The Weinstein Company from viewing Weinstein’s personal folder. Most recently, Boies has come under flak for having hired Black Cube, a business intelligence agency, to allegedly stifle The New York Times’ efforts to investigate the accusations against Weinstein. Controversially, The New York Times is itself represented by Boies’ own firm, Boies Schiller Flexner, with whom they have now cut ties with.

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