From the Iran prison fire to Netflix’s new profile transfer feature – Here’s your October 18 news briefing
To start off, we’re looking into:
Inside the Iran prison fire
In Tehran, Iran, Evin prison is a notorious detention center known for holding dissidents and political prisoners among its thousands of inmates. Sections of it are run by Iran’s intelligence services and Revolutionary Guard, and there have been accusations of torture and human rights abuses against the facility.
On Saturday, a fire broke out at Evin prison. So far, eight prisoners have been confirmed dead, and at least 61 have gotten injuries that sent them to the hospital. On Sunday, inmates reported that guards fired tear gas all night, and witnesses also reported gunshots during the blaze.
Right now, Iranian authorities are blaming the fire on an attempted prison escape. With all of the demonstrations and protests going on after the death of Mahsa Amini, this fire is concerning to activists and is contributing to national anxiety amid intense political unrest.
China delays releasing its economic data
All heads are turned toward China’s Communist Party Congress right now. As we reported yesterday, President Xi’s opening speech on Sunday covered a ton of ground, and we’ll be seeing how different leadership races unfold under his vision of China’s future.
But, this week, we were also supposed to get a better idea of China’s recent past with the release of important economic data. For instance, the GDP data for China’s third quarter was supposed to come out on Tuesday. But, according to an updated calendar on the statistic bureau’s website, its release has been delayed.
It’s not clear when this data will be released, and the delay is throwing a wrench in the Chinese market, causing speculation that the numbers may be worse than expected.
Credit Suisse hits another bump
Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse has had its ups and downs recently. See, the company hasn’t done the best job of risk management, meaning investors have been a little shaken. And it’s seen its share price fluctuate as a result of its upcoming turnaround plan.
On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported that the bank is looking at selling off its US asset management arm, which is a pretty big chunk of the company as a whole. The hope is that the asset management business will have some interest from private equity firms and other asset managers, but a final decision hasn’t been made yet on whether or not it will actually hang on to the branch.
It also had a massive blow on Tuesday over one of many cases related to how it was making mortgage-linked investments in the US, which was one of the things that led to the 2008 financial crisis. This settlement means the company will pay out nearly half a billion dollars to settle with the state of New Jersey. That’s no chump change.
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To end, we’ll look into:
Netflix is rolling out profile transfers
Netflix has sort of been going through it recently. It used to have a hard grip on the streaming market, but now with all sorts of other streaming services, it makes up a much smaller market share. Earlier this year, it released a report that said it was losing subscribers. In addition to the increased competition, it pointed toward those people who share accounts, cutting down on the number of users actually paying for the service.
So, Netflix recently cracked down on account sharing, allowing users to add people to their plan – for a fee, of course. But what happens when a user doesn’t want to be in the same Netflix “home" account anymore? Think ex-partners, roommates or people just wanting to start their own account.
Well, now, Netflix is rolling out profile transfers. The idea is pretty simple – if you have a Netflix profile on someone else’s account, you can transfer it to a new account of your own without losing all your curated lists and suggestions.
Netflix is advertising it as a service for users sharing accounts with people they’ve parted ways with. Let’s say you move out of your parent’s house, or you don’t want your ex to know you’ve been binge-watching “Is it Cake?" For those people, the frustration of needing Netflix to relearn all of their preferences can be annoying, especially since we’re not talking about TikTok here – the content is long-form (which means it takes longer to learn your preferences in the first place).
But the clear motivation is that Netflix wants these account sharers to pay up. And this isn’t the only thing it’s rolling out to solve the shared-account problem; it’s also created ways to charge more to have extra users on one account, limit the amount of “homes" an account can be used in and use codes to verify if it’s your account or not.
Long story short, if you’re one of those people still on your best friend’s cousin’s roommate’s account, then Netflix is coming for you, and one way or another, it’s going to get you to pay up. Profile transfers are just a way of asking nicely.
In other news …
📈Stocks: MSCI global gauge of stocks went up 2.32% to 2,431.84.
- Dow Jones jumped 1.86% to 30,185.82.
- Nasdaq Composite flew up 3.43%, reaching 10,675.80.
- S&P 500 went up 2.65% to 3,677.95.
- Hang Seng Index is up 0.15% to 16,612.90.
🧠Some quick factors to bear in mind:
- With news of solid earnings and the financial policy reversal on tax cuts coming in from the UK, US investors’ risk appetite has increased. On Wall Street, some believe that the market is due for a rebound, and third-quarter earnings season already looks promising.
- Stocks rallied hard, with banks reporting better-than-expected results (benefiting from the Fed’s recent interest rate hikes) and the UK walking back on PM Liz Truss’ tax cuts and energy subsidies, boosting the pound sterling and the euro against the dollar.
- Investors have an eye on tech earnings later this week, most notably from giants like Tesla, Netflix and IBM reporting.
- Meanwhile, in the East, several Asian countries are expected to report on inflation data later this week. APAC shares are still mixed, with fears of recession and continued tightening monetary policy still in the air.
- In China, investors are staying cautious as they wait on last quarter’s GDP info, which has been delayed due to the current Party congress, with no confirmed new release date.
👄Some comments and chatter:
- “The 200-week moving average is a serious floor of support until companies fully confess or a recession officially arrives, both of which could take several more months and lead to a technical rally in the short term,” said Morgan Stanley’s Mike Wilson in a note to clients.
- “[China’s real estate sector is] going to be very much monitored so that housing affordability improves in China while not having defaults. This means more state-led developers,”says economist Alicia Garcia-Herrero of Natixis.
🛢Oil: Crude prices have been up and down with the threat of recession. US crude went down 0.18%, closing at US$85.46, and Brent is at US$91.62 per barrel, basically not moving.
👛Bitcoin: Bitcoin was up 1.45% at US$19,539.00 at the time of writing.
💥Kyiv hit by Russian drones: On Monday, explosions went off all over Kyiv as dozens of Russian kamikaze drones were sent over the city. At least four people have been killed. Ukraine says the drones were Iranian-made, but Iran’s foreign ministry has denied providing drones to Russia.
💧Nigerian floods kill hundreds: More than 600 people have died due to massive flooding in Nigeria. Over 2,000 have been injured. These are the worst floods the country has seen in over a decade.
👮♀️Hong Kong protester beat up in the UK: In Manchester, a Hong Kong pro-democracy protester outside of the Chinese consulate was pulled onto consulate grounds and beaten up. Local police pulled him out. Manchester police are launching an investigation into the incident.
📃EU’s Iran sanctions: A few EU ministers called for sanctions against Iran for giving Iranian drones to Russia. And the EU has already agreed to a set of asset freezes and travel bans due to Tehran’s crackdown on protests and demonstrations.
🔎Unification Church investigation: Japanese PM Kishida has launched an investigation into the Unification Church due to public outcry over the religious sect’s ties with the Liberal Democratic Party.
💲UK mini-budget cuts reversed: The UK’s new chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, has announced that the government will reverse most of the tax cuts it announced last month. He also said that it would scrap a scheme for capping household and business energy bills.
😮“Tiny little dictator:" In a Brazil TV debate, leftist challenger candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva called incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro a “tiny little dictator." He also referred to him as a “shameless liar."
💻Hong Kong’s ambitions in virtual assets: Hong Kong is trying to become an international center for virtual assets to boost its status as a global financial hub after challenges due to the pandemic. The government will announce its framework for developing virtual assets, like cryptocurrency and NFTs, during Hong Kong’s FinTech Week.
🤑Ye is buying Parler: Well-known for his controversial outbursts and right-wing rhetoric, Kanye West is set to buy Parler, a social media platform that claims to stand for unrestricted free speech. Its parent company has said that Ye will help it “continue the fight against censorship, cancel culture and authoritarianism."
📄BTS is enlisting: For years, it’s been debated whether the K-pop stars of BTS would have to sign up for military service in South Korea, where all able men aged 18-28 are required to serve about two years. So far, they had been allowed to put it off until they turned 30. Now, their manager has confirmed they will be following through with their service.