Trump Steps Back From The Brink

Catch up with this week’s Five on Friday!

Jamie O’Donoghue
Jun 14 · 5 min read

#Tariffs

US markets scored a five-day winning streak on Monday after President Trump said that he would suspend proposed tariffs on Mexican imports.

What does this mean?

In a tweet sent on Sunday night, Trump said that the imminent tariffs against Mexico were “indefinitely suspended”. This was due to Mexico agreeing to take “strong measures” to reduce illegal immigration coming into the US through the country. Trump also added that “details of the agreement will be released shortly by the State Department.” A fortnight ago, markets were rocked by an unexpected threat from Trump, where he declared that tariffs of 5% would be imposed on all imports coming into the US from Mexico as punishment for the “illegal immigration problem”. This was a ratcheting up of the administration’s previous rhetoric surrounding efforts to stop migrants crossing the border and won only patchy support from the Republican party. Sunday’s news represented a close call to many US companies, for whom Mexico is a key part of their supply chain. Best not to get too relieved, though: on Wednesday, Trump hinted that more would be demanded from the Mexican government before tariffs were permanently taken off the table.

#DeepFake

Facebook took a hit this week when a “deepfake” video was uploaded to Instagram in which CEO Mark Zuckerberg boasts ominously about having “total control” of the future.

What does this mean?

For those still out of the loop, a deepfake is a type of video bolstered by AI technology that manipulates human features and voices in order to deceive viewers into thinking somebody has said or done something that, in fact, they haven’t. In recent weeks, we have seen this sinister technology used against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Trump, among others. The video was uploaded to Facebook-owned Instagram as a deliberate provocation to Zuckerberg, who has been ambivalent about removing such material. However, an Instagram spokesperson said the company would treat it “the same way we treat all misinformation,” which means it will stay on the app for now, but will likely be downgraded by Instagram’s algorithm. The trouble is, there’s little reason to believe these videos will become any less sophisticated or widespread. The challenge for Facebook, along with other social networks and the governments that struggle to regulate them, is how to lay down a set of rules that remain consistent in an ever-changing technological landscape.

#TeslaMeeting

Tesla CEO Elon Musk made a number of announcements at the company’s annual shareholder meeting on Tuesday, including news about its upcoming insurance product.

What does this mean?

Speaking to a large and rowdy audience, Musk was characteristically vague when he said that Tesla is “pretty close” to releasing an insurance offering, with only the completion of a mysterious acquisition and “a bit of software” standing between the product and the public. Back in April, Musk announced on an earnings call that Tesla would start offering insurance within a month, which would be “more compelling than anything else” on the market due to the quality of available data on its cars and drivers. The deadline has come and gone since then, but as one commentator put it, “One month is at least two months when translated from Musk-time to rest-of-us time.” Musk also pleased investors by addressing a major concern — demand. There is still no sign of the much-anticipated $35,000 Model 3, which would partly solve what Musk calls Tesla’s “affordability” problem, but he was unequivocal about the popularity of existing models: “I want to be clear: there is not a demand problem,” he said.

#TopBrand

This week, Amazon surpassed two of its top Big Tech rivals, Apple and Google, to become the world’s most valuable brand.

What does this mean?

According to a global brand ranking compiled by the research agency Kantar, the e-commerce colossus has a brand value of $315.5 billion, representing a fourfold increase from five years ago. Once a humble online bookstore, the power of the Amazon brand these days rests mostly on its diverse range of services and offerings, which range from cloud computing to film production, from food delivery to consumer technology. “Amazon’s phenomenal brand value growth of almost $108 billion in the last year demonstrates how brands are now less anchored to individual categories and regions,” a spokesperson for the agency commented. In the past few years, the number one spot has fluctuated between Apple and Google, while Microsoft, Facebook, and Visa often came in as runners-up. Another interesting feature of the report was the increase in representation for Chinese companies, especially Alibaba and JD.com. As for Huawei, the beleaguered telecom company managed to weather the storm of spying accusations and add a respectable 8% to its brand value, which now stands at $26.9 billion.

#AndFinally

After a long string of scandals and disappointments, Snap Inc. has finally given investors something to smile about, according to a new study by mobile analytics firm, Sensor Tower. The hard-pressed company behind the popular app Snapchat launched a new suite of features last month, including gender-swap and baby filters. What could easily have been a mildly amusing set of add-ons for pre-existing users turned out to be a major draw for the uninitiated. In April, Snapchat was downloaded 16.8 million times. In May, after the new filters were unveiled, that figure soared almost 150% to 41.5 million. The gender-swap feature’s success lies not only in its appeal to an innate curiosity among Snapchat fans but also in its eerie sophistication. As with deepfakes, the face-swaps can be very convincing. Indeed, some male users have reported taking their altered portraits to Tinder in order to see how the opposite sex experiences the world of dating. It turned out to be an eye-opener.

What does this mean?

Armed with first-rate technology, and a highly engaged user base, Snap Inc. is showing that it’s not quite out of breath yet.

The Week In Numbers

10 hours

is how long fans waited in line yesterday hoping to be the first to ride the all-new Harry Potter coaster at Universal in Orlando.

2 million

vehicles were recalled by Ford this week after dangerous steering issues were uncovered.

$8 million

is how much Amazon donated this week to fight homeless in its hometown of Seattle.

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Jamie O’Donoghue

Written by

Content Specialist at MyWallSt

The MyWallSt Blog

Investing is for everyone, we show you how. MyWallSt is a multi-award winning company that helps you to become a confident and successful investor.