China weakens renminbi, Google restructures and galactic warfare

The daily briefing “FirstFT” from the Financial Times.

China’s central bank this morning moved to devalue the tightly controlled renminbi as the economy shows further signs of weakness. The People’s Bank of China surprised the market by weakening the fix on its daily reference rate for the renminbi by a record 1.9 per cent.

The move comes amid a push by China to have the renminbi accepted as a global reserve currency by the International Monetary Fund, which in a report last week highlighted some shortcomings of the redback. (FT)

In the news:

The transformation of Google

The tech group launched a radical corporate restructuringaimed at accelerating its transformation from a search and advertising company into a conglomerate with stakes in some of the most promising long-term tech markets. In an interview with the FT last year, co-founder Larry Page said he saw Google becoming more like Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, making bets in a series of unrelated markets. (FT)

And on that note …

Warren Buffett struck the largest deal of his life as Berkshire Hathaway agreed to purchase Precision Castparts, an aerospace equipment maker, for more than $30bnin a big bet on US manufacturing. Here is Lex’s take. (FT)

Russian recession

The country’s economy contracted by 4.6 per cent in the second quarter compared with the same period in 2014, marking its first recession since the financial crisis. Economists warned that the renewed slide in oil prices would make a quick recovery unlikely. (FT)

A new commerce model

Two giants of Chinese retail, Alibaba and Suning Commerce, are buying stakes in each other in a bid to develop a new model that integrates online and offline shopping. The companies said the “strategic alliance” would create synergies in areas such as ecommerce and logistics. (FT)

Clinton’s debt-free college push

Hillary Clinton is proposing a $350bn plan to make university more affordable and reduce the burden of student debt on millions of Americans. (FT)

Hand-drawn brutality

Sketched images of police torture in China have captured the attention of the nation after they were carried by state media. The disturbing pictures were commissioned by a man wrongly convicted of murder as he seeks redress for years of abuse and imprisonment. (NYT)

It’s a big day for:

Japanese energy

The country is poised to re-enter the ranks of nuclear power-producing nations after a two-year hiatus that has heightened its reliance on imported energy and sent electricity prices soaring. (FT)

Ferguson, which stands on the precipice after a state of emergency was declared in the US city last night. The declaration was made because of the “potential for harm to persons and property” as protesters gathered near the site where Michael Brown, a black teenager, was shot dead by police last year. (Reuters)

Food for thought:

How the left tired of liberal London life

Lefties fleeing London say the city has changed but the truth is they did too, says the FT’s Janan Ganesh. A must-read piece for anyone – on the left or right – who loves or has ever loved London. (FT)

Galactic battlestars

No longer considered the final frontier, outer space is rapidly shaping up as the next battleground. With militaries around the world increasingly reliant on the hundreds of satellites orbiting the globe, the likes of the US, China and Russia are all developing capabilities to disable or even destroy crucial space infrastructure. (Scientific American)

Aluminium: Meltdown fears

Soaring Chinese output is causing trade friction as rivals, from North America to Russia and the Middle East, claim Beijing’s tax loopholes offer unfair advantage. (FT)

The China Delusion

Beijing’s attempts to create a pan-Asian alliance aren’t working, argues Philip Bowring. “The reality is that China is far from being a natural leader for Asia. Japan is hostile, South Korea is wary, Southeast Asia mostly nervous if not hostile, and India now as concerned with building up sea power to counter China’s developing presence west of the Strait of Malacca as with its Pakistani border.” (FT)

The end of LOL is nigh

The classic internet slang term, which stands for “laugh out loud,” has been replaced by the likes of “haha” or emojis to indicate internet humour. A recent study by Facebook found that – of the people who use such expressions online – only 1.9 per cent used LOL, while 51 per cent used “haha”. (CNN)

Video of the Day:

Tigger or dead cat bounce

John Authers analyses a day when some bad economic news from China helped to trigger a bounce across world markets. (FT)


This article is published in collaboration with The Financial Times. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.

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Author: FirstFT is the Financial Times’ editors curated free daily email of the top global stories from the FT and the best of the rest of the web.

Image: A Chinese national flag flutters at the headquarters of a commercial bank on a financial street near the headquarters of the People’s Bank of China, China’s central bank, in central Beijing November 24, 2014. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon. 

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