From tensions in Kosovo to potentially life-saving pig zombies – Here’s your August 4 news briefing
To start off, we’re looking into:
Tensions rise in Kosovo
Kosovo, which is in southeastern Europe and used to be part of Yugoslavia, declared independence in 2008 after a violent conflict which ended with NATO bombing Serbia in 1999. Still, Kosovo isn’t totally recognized as an independent country, and it’s not a member of the UN. And to many Serbians and Albanians, the conflict never really ended. With an Albanian-led government, ethnic Serbians are the minority in the country, making up only around 6% of the population. Many Serbians continue to use documents and license plates issued by Serbia, refusing to recognize the institutions currently in place in the capital, Pristina.
Now, Albanians and Serbians are having problems in Kosovo again. The government is making Serbian residents apply for Kosovan documents and license plates. As a result, demonstrations have erupted in the north, with protesters blockading northern roads and reportedly firing guns (though injuring no one). Over the weekend, the government spoke with EU and US leaders, deciding to put off carrying out the decision until September. Since then, the roadblocks have been removed.
After Pelosi’s visit, China-Taiwan hostilities rise
With House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arriving in Taiwan on Tuesday, tensions were high. Beijing warned against her and the US “playing with fire” by visiting the breakaway region, which China claims as its own. On Tuesday, Chinese military planes briefly entered the Taiwanese air defense zone. Yesterday, Pelosi left the region after staying for about 18 hours. It was a demonstration of Pelosi’s longtime support of Taiwanese independence and her anti-mainland attitude.
During her trip, she met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and visited the human rights museum. She left Taiwan just before China is set to begin a series of military exercises against Taiwan, a show of pushback against the visit. These exercises will reportedly involve live fire and the Chinese military entering Taiwanese waters. This could be a risky move as these exercises can be seen as an act of war under the international rules of engagement, according to Arthur Zhin-Sheng Wang, a defense studies expert at Taiwan’s Central Police University. Although the US is required by law to supply weapons to Taiwan, there’s no guarantee the US would help directly defend the territory if war breaks out in the region.
AMTD’s bizarre growth
For the most part, financial giants are giants because they’ve been there forever. But every once in a while, a company breaks through that shatters the mold.
As of Wednesday’s close, a Hong Kong-based software company called AMTD Digital was worth more than US$203 billion, a pretty giant leap ahead considering it only brought in US$25 million in revenue for the last financial year. Its stock price is up 14,000% from its IPO price of US$7.80, and its IPO was just last month. To put it more simply, it got really big, really fast.
In fact, the company is so big now that it’s worth more than Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. And the weird part is that no one seems to know precisely why it’s booming in the way it is. Some have pointed to its relatively low amount of shares available for sale, and others have pointed to recent pump-and-dump schemes that have played out through Reddit and Twitter – although many confused Redditors insist that sub-reddit WallStreetBets had nothing to do with the situation.
But ultimately, the question is whether or not it’s worth that much or if the valuation exists only on paper. The unpredictable trading continued on Wednesday, with the stock rising as much as 26% before closing down 34%.
To end, we’ll look into:
There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead, it turns out
For a while now, scientists have thought that when an animal (or a human) dies, cells in all the various organs of the body also start dying rapidly.
A recent new finding might challenge that, though.
See, some researchers in the US have developed a technology called OrganEx, which reverses some of the immediate damage that happens when an animal dies. Here’s how it works. First, a synthetic kind of blood gets pumped into the vessels of the animal to carry oxygen around without clotting so that it can pass through the vessels that have collapsed; second, a chemical cocktail gets pumped in to stop the death of cells; and third, a device rhythmically pumps all of this around the body like the heart would.
If that all sounds like it’s from a science fiction novel, you aren’t wrong. But it’s real, and, at least on the pigs these scientists have tried it on, it works to a degree.
Scientists found that when they used the tech on pigs that had been dead for an hour and then used it for another six, the organs in the pig were partially revived with some of their functions restored.
“Things are not as dead as we previously presumed,” said researcher Dr. Zvonimir Vrselja. “We have demonstrated that we can actually initiate cell-repair on a molecular level. We can persuade cells not to die.”
The tech could make more organs available for transplant and buy doctors more time to save lives if in becomes effectively used in people.
In other news …
📈Stocks: MSCI’s gauge of stocks worldwide gained 1.01%.
- Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.29% to 32,812.50.
- S&P 500 gained 1.56%, to 4,155.17.
- Nasdaq Composite was up 2.59%, to 12,668.16.
- Hang Seng Index rose 0.4% to 19,767.09.
🧠Quick factors to bear in mind:
- After China spent weeks warning House Speaker Nancy Pelosi not to drop by Taipei during her Asia trip, Pelosi has now departed the neighboring island, resuming the remainder of her tour. With the relief, investor risk appetite in that area helped market gains.
- As we’ve previously mentioned, the reason some experts and economists don’t believe the US is in a recession at the moment is because of the strong labor market. Because while two-quarters of GDP slowdown is the broad measure of a recession, labor market data from the first half of this year isn’t really matching up with what would typically happen in a recession.
- Other strong economic data included an increase in factory orders, which suggested that businesses could withstand the current climate.
- Corporate earnings were also impressive, helping boost sentiment.
- Stocks in Hong Kong recovered from a broad sell-off. Alibaba is due to post quarterly earnings on Thursday.
👄Some comments and chatter:
“As the chair said, we’re not in recession right now. With all the job growth in the first half of the year, it’s hard to say that there was a recession," Bullard said to CNBC.
“The real show of force by China is still to come. This is not a point on the Taiwan situation overall, simply to state that it places additional pressure on the military of all three nations and will most definitely set back US-China relations for many years," said Clifford Bennett, chief economist at ACY Securities, in a note to clients.
🛢Oil: OPEC+ have agreed to increase world production slightly by 100,000 barrels per day, and a US report showed lower demand and higher than expected stockpiles. With that, US crude fell 3.98% to US$90.66 per barrel. This is the lowest since February before Russia invaded Ukraine. Brent settled 3.74% lower at US$96.78 per barrel.
👛Bitcoin: Bitcoin rose 1.26% to around US$23,282.
🚀SpaceX part found in the Land Down Under: A farmer in New South Wales, Australia, found a large black object in a distant part of his land. At first, he thought it was a dead tree, only to realize it was actually from outer space. The country’s space agency later confirmed it was from a SpaceX capsule. While, on the one hand, this is exciting, events like this will likely begin to happen more often.
🦄India’s next unicorn? The delivery space in India is definitely crowded, but that didn’t stop two young Stanford University students from dropping out of school to start Zepto, an Indian delivery app. We know; it’s a classic story. Zepto’s whole shtick, though, is that it’ll get groceries to the impatient, busy or lazy (you don’t have to pigeonhole yourself, you can be more than one here) in under 10 minutes. They shared three tips with CNBC Make It on founding what could be India’s next unicorn:
- Talk to your customers: “Just use that as a holy grail."
- Fall in love with your product: “If we don’t build it, somebody else will. When you operate with that mentality, everything becomes less intimidating."
- Be accountable.
👟Ye rips into Adidas: Adidas has a yearly tradition whereby the sportswear giant releases new and old models of Kanye West (Now known as Ye) sneakers and slides on what’s called “Yeezy Day." Now, the artist has DMed several media outlets to say that Adidas used aspects of this annual initiative without his approval. This includes hiring people that usually work with him, choosing styles and materials, hiring a YEEZY general manager, making its own Yeezy slide variation, etc. He also says that YEEZY sales make up over 65% of Adidas’s online sales.
Written and put together by Jake Shropshire, Vanessa Wolosz, Christine Dulion and Krystal Lai