Market Morning: Microsoft vs North Korea, Uber vs California, Ghosn vs Japan, Rioters vs US Embassy

Market Morning

Microsoft to the Rescue From North Korean Hackers

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Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), besides having a skyrocketing stock price, is now responsible for taking over 50 websites it has accused North Korean hackers of taking over in order to steal highly sensitive information from US computers. A court gave the tech giant the mandate to take over the sites after phishing emails were sent to break into accounts. The hacking group, called Thallium, pretended to be Microsoft and used its brands including Office 365 to gain access to the accounts. The judge ordered the companies that host the websites to hand control over the Microsoft.

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“Representatives” from the North Korean hacking group have a chance to appear in court on January 3 to argue their case, but there’s a fat chance that anyone from a North Korean hacking group named after a type of rat poison will show up at a US court to defend their right to phish private information by impersonating Microsoft and using Microsoft products. Though it sounds like a good premise for a comedic slapstick thriller of sorts. Somebody call Seth Rogan and James Franco. “The Interview” may yet have a sequel.

Uber, Postmates Sue California

Uber (NYSE:UBER) and Postmates are together suing California over a law requiring gig workers to be considered employees instead of independent contractors. The law would require Uber and competitor Lyft (NASDAQ:LFYT) to lose even more money than it is already losing because employees need to be paid benefits and independent contractors do not. According to the joint complaint, the law violates parts of the US and California constitutions, though that hasn’t stopped most laws. “AB-5 is a vague and incoherent statute that does not accomplish what its sponsors have stated they sought to achieve,” the lawsuit claims. Drivers are also not happy about this and are suing together with the two companies, since the law would mean the loss of their jobs as independent contractors. California responded with punchy words about making America great again, or something along those lines. “The hollowing out of our middle-class has been 40 years in the making, and the need to create lasting economic security for our workforce demands action,” it said. Good luck with the action. Proponents of the gig law say it protects workers. Opponents say it protects workers from the burden of actually having jobs.

The Great Ghosn Escape, Details

Former Nissan (OTCQB:NSANY) chairman Carlos Ghosn fled his Japanese house arrest in a musical instrument case, reports The Guardian. He was helped by a band and a team of former special forces officers. The band arrived at Ghosn’s Tokyo home where he was under house arrest, and as they packed up, they packed him up instead of one of their instruments, big enough to fit the man inside it. Ghosn was then taken to a local airport. A private plane took him to Turkey, and from there he flew to Lebanon. His Japanese lawyer was insulted, reportedly.  “If this is true, we have to assume that this is a breach of bail conditions,” his council Junichiro Hironaka said. “His act is unforgivable and a betrayal of Japan’s justice system.” He probably won’t be going back to Japan any time soon. The plan was worked out by his wife Carole, who he was prevented from speaking to for 7 months while under house arrest.

China Trade Deal to be Signed in Two Weeks

“I will be signing our very large and comprehensive Phase One Trade Deal with China on January 15,” tweeted US President Donald Trump tweeted on Tuesday. The ceremony will take place in the White House including “high level representatives” from China, which could mean the highest level Chinese representative could be skipping out on the fun. Talks on “phase 2” will begin “at a later date” as opposed to an earlier one. The deal requires (somehow) China to buy $200 billion worth of US products over two years, though it isn’t clear if they can do this by simply selling their stock of US treasuries and buying US stuff with that, which would hurt the federal government, which needs every creditor it can get these days. In return, the US will only impose tariffs on $380 billion of Chinese products.

Iraqi Protesters Burn Security Post at US Embassy

The conflagration continues in Baghdad at the US Embassy. Protesters have burned down a security post, angry about US airstrikes. US soldiers have responded with tear gas. Trump has threatened to retaliate against Iran, who he claims is responsible. He still says that he does not want to go to war against Iran though. If he did, it would likely send the annual budget deficit into the $1.2 trillion range or higher.


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