Market Morning: US Tanks to Taiwan, Alexa Improvements, Fiat Fires Renault, Trump Taunts Mexico

Market Morning: US Tanks to Taiwan, Alexa Improvements, Fiat Fires Renault, Trump Taunts Mexico

Military Industrial Complex To Sell $2B in Weapons to Taiwan In China’s Face

The trade war now involves weapons sales, putting it closer to an actual war, thought not yet in an alarming way. The United States wants to sell $2 billion worth of weapons to Taiwan, presumably for the purpose of helping it defend itself against Chinese encroachment, which claims Taiwan as part of its One China policy, but Taiwan doesn’t really like that, because they don’t like one-party communist dictatorships and such. The sale includes 108 tanks from General Dynamics (NYSE:GD), generally considered dynamic, equipped with anti-tank and anti-aircraft guns. China has never renounced the use of force for the purposes of bringing Taiwan under its control, but likely doesn’t do anything drastic because the United States will act by proxy in its defense. The US has no formal relations with Taiwan, probably so as not to upset China by recognizing it as a separate country, but watch out. That might be Trump’s next move.

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Alexa Will Plan Your Date Night, Get Excited

Right now Amazon’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) Alexa can play music, tell you about the weather, and fulfill basic requests. This is quite an improvement from being a webmaster traffic toolbar, but there is much improvement yet to be made. Alexa’s head scientist, Rohit Prasad, is planning some major revamps, including ordering movie tickets, hailing an Uber (NYSE:UBER), and reserving tables at restaurants. The aim is to have Alexa be able to arrange a whole evening out for you without speaking to it as if it were a robot, which it is, but rather just speaking to it as if it were a person, which it isn’t, unless somebody’s listening, which has  been a problem in the past. At this point, you’d have to give Alexa 40 commands to reserve a restaurant, buy tickets to a movie, and show a trailer for that movie. The improvements are trying to get that down to 3. What’s difficult is getting Alexa to come up with suggestions, which could be dangerous as it will make the assistant more annoying and tempt people who may not have the finances to do things they otherwise wouldn’t if the suggestion didn’t come up.

Renault, Fiat, Get Into Fight, Stop Dating, Break Up

Fiat Chrysler (NYSE:FCAU) wants to see other people after Renault (OTCMKTS:RNLSY) got cold feet and postponed the proposed merger for a second time, leaving Fiat at the altar. The reason for the cold feet was the French government, which is Renault’s biggest shareholder, which isn’t the best of moves for a private company, as it smacks of fascism and disrupts business, as this case amply demonstrates. Fiat was specifically upset with the French government for scuttling the deal and Fiat wanted no part of it. “It has become clear that the political conditions in France do not currently exist for such a combination to proceed successfully,” it said in frustration, stamping out of the room in a fury. The French government wanted more butter, higher paying jobs, more factories in France and such so Macron could boast about how amazing he is. That’ll teach him. But probably not. That was a kind of Ayn Randish sort of move.

Trump Getting More Fed Up With Mexico

“Not nearly enough” progress has been made in talks with Mexico, says President Trump, in stemming the flow of illegal immigrants to the United States, so it looks like more tariffs are set to take hold in about 4 days, assuming Republicans don’t stop it. “If no agreement is reached, Tariffs at the 5% level will begin on Monday, with monthly increases as per schedule, tweets Trump,” continuing in a gross display of economic ignorance and self-harm, “The higher the Tariffs go, the higher the number of companies that will move back to the USA!” He continued to chant “USA! USA!” in an undertone after hitting the tweet button, maybe, though reports are unconfirmed. If the last statement is true, better to raise tariffs to 25% now to get companies back to the USA! USA!

Facebook Shareholders Call On Mark Zuckerberg to Step Down as Chairman

Over 66% of outside Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) shareholders want to make the Chairman of the Board role an independent position. The calls are coming from public pension fund leaders in New York and Illinois, and this while the Federal Trade Commission is about to hit the company with multibillion-dollar fines for privacy violations, even though the FTC is in the business of privacy violation itself. So basically, these calls are coming from government operatives that are ganging up on the social media giant in a concerted effort to stir up trouble. Yet, private shareholders seem to agree here, with 68% voting in favor of splitting the roles, up from 51% who supported the same in 2017.