Market Morning: Iran Threatens UK, Blockchain Roadblock, Tesla Slashes Prices, Mnuchin Suspicious of Libra

Stock Market Roundup

Iran Supreme Leader Khamenei Threatens UK

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Speaking of not being comfortable with something, Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei isn’t comfortable with the U.K.’s seizure of an Iranian oil tanker and called it an act of piracy, which technically it is, though it was committed by a state. It threatened Britain saying that the move would not be left unanswered. How Iran will answer, he did not say. It probably won’t be with tea and crumpets. In the meantime, Khamenei threatened to continue scaling back Iran’s commitments towards the 2015 nuclear agreement, which is all but dead following US President Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the accord, adding that it can “go back where it came from.” Oil prices are steady on the news, but won’t be if Iran actually does something to answer.

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Blockchain Roadblock?

Say what you want about cryptocurrencies and their volatility and controversy regarding their viability as money, blockchain technology itself has been up to now less controversial in terms of its prospects for making record-keeping more efficient. Or maybe not. Nasdaq (NASDAQ:NDAQ) and Citigroup (NYSE:C) two years ago began their trek into blockchain for facilitating securities payment, but have since suspended the project because the cost of fully adopting it would have outweighed the benefits. Widescale adoption may take longer than expected, according to unnamed sources surrounding the project. A review of 33 projects announced over the past 4 years by Reuters shows that blockchain technology has yet to deliver on its promises. About a third have not gone beyond testing, and those that have, have yet to be widely implemented.

Tesla Drops Cheaper Model X and S, Lowers Other Prices

Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) needs sales to keep up the stream of positive press. The electric car company has ended its “Standard Range” models and lowered the prices on its “Long Range” models, now only carrying “Performance” and “Long Range” which is, ironically, the shorter range of the two remaining variants. Starting price will, therefore, become more expensive. Model 3 starting prices have been lowered to $38,990. “To make purchasing our vehicles even simpler, we are standardizing our global vehicle lineup and streamlining the number of trim packages offered for Model S, Model X and Model 3,” Tesla said. 80% of the cars delivered in the second quarter were Model 3s. “We are also adjusting our pricing in order to continue to improve affordability for customers,” said Tesla, meaning they are trying to spur demand.

Peter Thiel Bashes Facebook over China Ties

Peter Thiel, a Facebook board member, doesn’t like the China/Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) love affair, calling its links to China “treasonous” and encouraging the FBI, CIA, and possibly other three-lettered government agencies to investigate whether the company has been infiltrated by Chinese intelligence. The concerns were raised at the National Conservatism Conference in Washington. Thiel wants the government to ask Google three questions. First, how many government agencies have infiltrated its AI project. Second, is Google senior management compromised by Chinese intelligence? Three, how many licks does it take for Chinese intelligence to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Google Pop? The world may never know. (For the actual third question, see this link.) Will Google actually answer these questions in the affirmative? Probably not.

Speaking of Not Liking, Mnuchin Doesn’t Like Libra

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin doesn’t like the idea of Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) launching its own fiat-backed cryptocurrency. He says he’s “not comfortable” with it. Facebook apparently has “a lot of work to do” before it gets Mnuchin comfortable. Maybe some therapeutic memory foam pillows or some such. He bandied about regarding the possible misuse of Libra by terrorists etc., but dollars can and are used by terrorists, so that’s probably not it. He also talked about privacy issues and Facebook not being so strict about the privacy of its users, but neither are US banks, typically, so that can’t be it either. What Mnuchin did not talk about was the fact that if everyone starts using Libra, which would be backed by a mix of fiat currencies and Treasuries and other bills, then the actual money backing it would not have to be transferred at all, meaning it could all sit in a single bank and not move, which could put a lot of banks out of business since nobody would need them. That could cause a systemic banking crisis, which Mnuchin doesn’t really like that much.


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