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Nigerian Lady Finds Biafran Currency In Her Dad’s Cupboard,

According to Francesca, she would have been a millionaire by now if the Biafra currencies were the Nigerian naira which is currently accepted as a legal tender in Nigeria.

Although Naija News understands that the Biafra currencies Francesca discovered are not accepted as a legal tender in Nigeria, she, however, stated that she would preserve the Biafra currencies.

Francesca, who shared the photos on Facebook, captioned it: “I found BIAFRA NOTES in my Dad’s cupboard today!!.. It’s so many. I’m here thinking, how rich I would be if it was Nigerian currencies. I am preserving history oo,” the Facebook post read.

Meanwhile, Naija News reports that the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu is seeking a referendum for the Republic of Biafra, a fight which has seen him detained by the Nigerian court and also granted bail on health issues.

Since Kanu was granted bail, he has continued to push for a Biafran referendum, a push, which has seen his group, IPOB proscribed by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

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The man who is spending hundreds of thousands of pounds buying up old chapels

A retired church minister is spending hundreds of thousands of pounds saving old chapels from being turned into flats in an "act of faith".

Over the last few years Reverend Robert Stivey has bought 12 chapels in the South Wales valleys. His latest acquisition, Calfaria Chapel in Aberdare , cost him just £25,000.

But Rev Stivey said it was not about the money and he is reluctant to put an exact number on how much he has spent so far.

"Some of the chapels are pretty derelict but some are in pretty good order too," Rev Stivey said.

"Some are magnificent Grade II listed buildings which are architecturally worth saving as well as spiritually

The 71-year-old retired minister from Treherbert in Rhondda Cynon Taf said he wanted to spread the word of "the Lords' work".

"It's important that we conserve our heritage," he said.

"But 100 years ago, the church would have been at the heart of our communities and churches and chapels would have been packed out to the door."

Rev Stivey came to South East Wales in 2012 after he tired as a minister at Highbury Quadrant Congregational Church in North London. He had visited the Welsh valleys many years beforehand and even then had noticed how many of the chapels were being closed, turned into flats or razed to the ground.

He decided to do his utmost to save as many as he could and reopen them to be used for their original purpose.

"We hope to plant these evangelical churches in the valleys," he explained.

"It's a non-denominational project which I'm doing in my retirement and it's very rewarding to have been able to save chapels from those entrepreneurs who want to turn them into flats and homes."

He is "consumed by his work" even though he is retired, he admitted, and likes nothing more than sitting down to read at the end of the day.

The 12 chapels he has snapped up, mostly using inheritance money from his mother, are spread out in Cynon, Merthyr, Porth and Aberdare.

Rev Stivey buys the buildings as and when they come up for sale. Ironically, the better chapels go for less money because they are more likely to be listed, which can put developers off.

"It's not about the money," Rev Stivey said, who reluctantly admitted he had spent anything between £100k and £200k.

"They do go pretty cheap and the cheapest ones are those that are listed which means we can buy them and keep them as they were.

"When they aren't listed, developers see potential because they have more options with what they can do with them."

Not that he buys chapels on a whim. Rev Stivey looks for chapels in or close to a town or village to make sure there is a population to minister to.

"Then I pray to see if it's the Lords' will to carry on with it," Rev Stivey added.

He is keen to stress he advocates a free church which welcomes everybody. He said: "People do respond and you just have to be loving, kind and thoughtful.

"I won't say we are in the middle of a revival of faith because we are not. But I do believe if the Lord Jesus Christ is presented in a way that people can understand then they will start to listen to the message again.

"People need a simple message about love and how Jesus died for them."

His plan is simple: to start small and build up over the years. He might not be able to reopen all of the chapels, but they will at least be saved from demolition, he said. Others can then take over where he finishes.

"I find that very satisfying and I am very positive about the future," he added.


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Meet the lady making money in the forest

One of the resources that Africa is endowed with is the natural resource of which forestry is part. However, many young ones have centered their career on white-collar jobs, leaving the forestry business for the ageing group. But Yvonne, a young lady, is charting a different path. She has decided to use sustainable means to tap into the country’s forestry and agriculture to earn a living and create employment for others. Read how she is doing this as she narrates her story to the B&FT’s Inspiring Startups.

Yvonne Odame-Nti has a background in natural resource and climate change. She is a product of the Kumasi Girls Senior High School. She holds a degree in Natural Resource from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). Then she had a scholarship to do her second degree in Climate Change and Development at the University of Sussex, UK, in 2012. From there she worked in Geneva for the United Nations for some time and came back to Ghana to pursue a passion she has developed for years— protecting the environment through eco-friendly and sustainable agriculture.

But before then, she worked with the Kumasi Institute of Technology and Environment (KITE) and as a research assistant for a former Minister of Environment. In 2016, she felt the time was right for her to start her own business.

The beginning

Yvonne’s business dates back to the lecture hall in 2009 while she was still a university student. In one of their presentations in class which centered on reforestation projects being done in Ghana, she became aware that people supply seedlings to the Forestry Commission for the project. It struck her that she can also be among the people who supply such seedlings. With guidelines from her lecturer, she decided to engage in nursery of seedlings for timber. After registering her business with the name Y&M Regeneration Ltd, she got a contract from the Forestry Commission to supply seedlings under a programme dubbed ‘The National Plantation Development Programme’.

In 2010, she moved a step further by adding plantation to her business. But all these were on a very small scale as she didn’t have the time to commit fully to it. So, in 2016, she finally made the decision to leave her job and focus on her own business fulltime.

As it stands now, the company has expanded from nursing timber seedlings to planting cash crops using modern methods that do not harm the environment. Today, Y&M Regeneration Ltd owns 480 hectares of timber plantation (teak, mahogany, ofram, gmelina, etc), 20 acres of cashew, and 10 acres of maize farm, and other vegetable farms. The annual production for both the timber and cash crop nurseries is around 1 million seedlings. Again, she has provided direct employment for seven other people.

She also has implemented the Integrated Biomas Project— a sustainable means of producing and using charcoal. Then, she has initiated what she calls ‘Edu 4 SDG’ which facilitates the planting of trees in schools to promote sustainable development. Yes, that is how far a business that has its roots from the lecture hall has grown.

Working in a male-dominated field

For Yvonne, choosing a field that is largely male-dominated has rather been to her advantage. She says most men are awed to see the energy and commitment with which she does her work. Because of that, they are willing to provide her with the needed assistance.


Y&M Regeneration Ltd has big plans for the future. Yvonne says in the next five years she wants to move from planting cash crops to agro-processing. Again, she wants to use innovative technology to plant other species of timber that is rarely used.


The number one challenge she mentioned is lack of adequate capital to expand. With the vision outlined for the business, she has to invest so much into technology to achieve this. But with killer-interest rates, she dreads the idea of borrowing from the bank to finance her projects. She has to rely on the revenue she generates from the business to plough back as capital and that is not enough to drive the vision.

The role education has played

Yvonne says her educational background has been of immense benefit to her. Even though she is largely driven by passion for what she does, had it not been for her educational background, she wouldn’t be able to make that passion a reality. Remember, it was in the lecture hall she got this business idea, so the role of education cannot be downplayed at all.

How GCIC has contributed

Joining the Ghana Climate Innovation Centre (GCIC) programme, Yvonne says, has put her business on another level. She says the GCIC gave the business a grant when she provided convincing evidence that the business is profitable.

Women economic empowerment

Women economic empowerment, Yvonne maintains, is very crucial to the society as women are very influential and shows much commitment to a course than men. So, for her, women must be educated and have their capacities built to make them ready for gainfully employment.

How government can support

Yvonne thinks with government’s assistance and support, forestry and agriculture can be rebranded to attract the youth. She feels if the right policies are implemented by government, more young people will become attracted to agriculture.

Advice for young entrepreneurs

“I will say, not only gold is money; there is also money in forestry. If you have the right business idea and commitment, you can also make money in forestry and agriculture business. Forestry is very diversified; you can go into planting, processing, among others. So if you have the right idea, you can succeed in this business.”

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Ghana’s young millionaire Ibrah One asks why Kennedy Agyapong has been silent on Menzgold issues.

Ghana’s young millionaire, Ibrah One who is known for wading into every social issue has taken Kennedy Agyapong on asking why the member of Parliament for Assin Central has all of a sudden gone silent on issues regarding Menzgold.
Hon. Kennedy Agyapong some months ago was the one whose voice was loud when the issues of Nana Appiah Mensah’s gold investment company Menzgold came up and even warned NDC secretary Asiedu Nketia to stay off matters relating to Menzgold.

The controversial and outspoken Member of Parliament in his one of his exposé disclosed that the CEO of Menzgold, Nana Appiah Mensah (NAM1) once sent some beautiful girls to trap him.

According to him, NAM1 selected beautiful girls to come and attract him three consecutive times at the Parliament House but he never fell for it.

The self-proclaimed Ghanaian millionaire, probably believes this is the time for the loudmouthed lawmaker, who has gone on a self-imposed exile from the political scene, should wade into the brouhaha and make an impact his status.

Ibrah One born Ibrahim Dauda has been a thorn in the flesh of the Hon. Ken and we think this could probably one of his schemes to get on the nerves of the Assin Central MP.

Ibrah in a post on his Snapchat handle posted; ”Is Kennedy Agyapong in this country? Why is he silent on the current Menzgold saga? #Obiawonemaster.”

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Quadriga: Cryptocurrency exchange founder's death locks $140m

Canada's largest cryptocurrency exchange is unable to access millions in digital currency following the sudden death of its founder.

Quadriga has filed for creditor protection and estimates that about C$180m ($137m; £105m) in cryptocurrency coins is missing.

It has not been able to locate or secure its cryptocurrency reserves since Gerald Cotten died in December.

Cotten, 30, had sole responsibility for handling the funds and coins.

In court documents filed with the Nova Scotia Supreme Court on 31 January, his widow Jennifer Robertson, says the laptop on which Cotten "carried out the companies' business is encrypted and I do not know the password or recovery key".

"Despite repeated and diligent searches, I have not been able to find them written down anywhere," the affidavit states.

The company hired an investigator to see if any information could be retrieved but ongoing efforts have had only "limited success in recovering a few coins" and some information from Cotten's computer and phone.

Image result for pictures of cryptocurrency

The company is also investigating whether some of the cryptocurrency could be secured on other exchanges, according to court files.

They say about 115,000 Quadriga users hold balances in their personal accounts in the form of cash obligations and cryptocurrency.

The company estimates it owes about C$250m ($190m; £145m) - including C$70m in hard currency.

The affidavit says the majority of the cryptocurrency was kept by Quadriga in a "cold wallet" or "cold storage", which is located offline and used to secure cryptocurrency from hacking or theft.

Liquidity problems for the British Columbia-based company began in January 2018 when Canadian bank CIBC froze C$25.7m linked to its payment processor after the bank had difficulty determining who were the owners of the money.

Those problems have been compounded by Cotten's passing.

The founder died unexpectedly due to complications with Crohn's disease while travelling in India, according to court documents.

Image result for pictures of cryptocurrency

In a statement posted online last Thursday, Quadriga said it is working to address its "liquidity issues, which include attempting to locate and secure our very significant cryptocurrency reserves held in cold wallet".

The company is due in court in Nova Scotia on Tuesday for a preliminary hearing on appointing firm Ernst and Young as an independent monitor to oversee the proceedings.


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'If the factory closes what could I afford to eat?'

Sao Run is worried that if the clothing factory where she works closes down she won't be able to feed herself and her son.

A 34-year-old widow, she has spent almost 13 years making coats and jackets at a facility on the outskirts of Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh.

With overtime she can earn up to $250 (£200) a month, but the future of the workshop and others like it in the country is now uncertain due to a continuing political dispute between the European Union (EU) and Cambodia.

Cambodia's garments manufacturing sector has boomed in recent years, in no small part due to the EU granting the country's exports tariff-free access to Europe, starting back in 2012.

This has led to around 200 international fashion brands now using more than 600 factories in the country, lured by both the country's low wages, and the fact they don't have to pay any duties when exporting the EU.

However, back at at the start of October the EU warned that Cambodia's tariff-free access to the European single market could come to an end if the government did not improve political freedom and human rights in the country.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said that the EU was launching a six-month review of the situation in Cambodia, and that unless Phnom Penh showed "clear and demonstrable improvements, this would lead to suspension of trade preferences" within 12 months.

Cecilia Malmstrom

Her comments were a response to what both the EU and US see as increasingly autocratic behaviour by the Cambodian government of Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has been in power since 1985.

Back in July his Cambodian People's Party won all 125 seats in parliament,helped by the fact that the main opposition party - the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) - was officially shut down by the country's Supreme Court back in November 2017.

The court ruling was based on a complaint by Hun Sen's government that the CNRP was conspiring with the US to overthrow it, something it denied.

Ken Loo, secretary general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, says that the EU's threat has "heightened concerns" that international fashion firms could take their manufacturing business to other countries.

This would be a major concern for Cambodia when you consider the numbers involved. Mr Loo says that the industry employs more than 700,000 people, 85% of whom are women.

Meanwhile, official EU figures show that Cambodian clothing exports to Europe reached €3.8bn ($4.3bn; £3.4bn) in 2017. That is 44% of all Cambodia's $9.6bn exports last year.

No wonder then that there are fears over the possibility of significant factory closures and job losses, not only if the EU does end Cambodia's tariff-free status, but simply as a result of the threat.

Cambodian textile workers being trucked to work

George McLeod, an economic and political risk analyst based in Bangkok, says that Western clothing firms could easily switch production to Bangladesh, Vietnam or Indonesia.

For Sao Run, who has a three-year-old son to support, this is now a real concern. "The local union in our factory told us that the factory could close if the [EU] taxes are high," she says.

"For me, if the factory closes, what could I afford to eat?"

Global Trade

Another clothing industry factory work, Yon Chansy, 24, says that she found out about the EU's threat via Facebook, and that she is also now worried she may lose her job.

"I could consider migrating to Thailand if the situation in our country is very bad," she says.

For its part, the Cambodian government may now be prepared to compromise, but whether it does enough remains to be seen.

Last week the country's parliament (in which the government holds all the seats) said it would review a ban on more than 100 members of the opposition CNRP, but no timetable was given. Nor was there any indication of whether fresh elections would be held, or if the leader of the CNRP would be released from house arrest.

Meanwhile the government has been downplaying the importance of the EU market. Ministry of Industry and Handicraft spokesperson Oum Sotha told the BBC that "the market of Cambodia does not solely depend on Europe, we have a lot of markets."

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen

Sebastian Strangio, journalist and author of a book called "Hun Sen's Cambodia", says the Cambodian government faces a real dilemma over the EU issue.

"The problem is that the 'clear and demonstrable improvements' the EU is demanding would, almost by definition, weaken Hun Sen's hold on power," he says.

"This he will never accept. It is therefore hard to see how the two sides will find common ground. Any concessions the Cambodian government makes will fall short of meaningful democratic reforms.

"Whether or not the EU will accept something cosmetic remains to be seen."

A source at the European Commission says the announcement that the ban on the Cambodian opposition might be lifted was "a first positive step".

"However, this needs to produce concrete and substantial results to alleviate the EU serious concerns... the implementation of this announcement and concrete changes on the ground would be among deciding factors," she added.

Tieng Ratana, a mother-of-three who works at a clothing factory to the west of Phnom Penh, says she hopes that the Cambodian government will think of people like her.

"We work very hard, so I really want our leaders to think about the workers first," she says.

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Will Opec defy Trump's call for low oil prices?

Initially it is difficult see what President Donald Trump and Usman Ahsan, a taxi driver in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, have in common.

One is the leader of the US, with an estimated personal fortune of $3.1bn (£2.4bn), the other is struggling to support his wife and eight-month-old daughter.

Yet both are this week hoping that the Opec oil producers' cartel doesn't decide to cut production in an attempt to increase global crude prices.

Representatives of Opec's current 15 member states meet at its headquarters in Vienna, Austria on Thursday, 6 December, for their latest biannual meeting, where they will set production levels for the next six months.

Usman Ahsan

The expectations are that at the urging of Opec's de facto leader, Saudi Arabia, output will indeed be cut to help boost prices, which fell to their lowest levels in more than a year at the end of November

Saudi Arabia argues that output needs to be trimmed because it fears that otherwise prices could fall further next year due to a predicted slowing in demand for oil.

Both Mr Ahsan and President Trump will not be happy if Opec - which accounts for more than a third of oil supplies - does indeed cut production.

"The price of petrol is already way too high," Mr Ahsan, 28, tells the BBC over the telephone. "I sometimes have to work 16 hours a day, for 30 days in a row, to provide for my family."

Meanwhile, President Trump tweeted last month: "Hopefully, Saudi Arabia and Opec will not be cutting oil production." In another tweet in November in response to falling oil prices he wrote: "Thank you to Saudi Arabia, but let's go lower!"

A US car being filled with petrol

Like the rest of us Mr Ahsan doesn't have any clout with Opec, but President Trump certainly does. And he wants petrol prices to stay low to help US drivers and the country's economy.

So what exactly should we expect to be announced following the Opec meeting and why?

And what are the other issues that Saudi Arabia and Opec have to consider?

If we look at the current oil prices and how they compare with the past decade, they are undeniably low. Brent Crude, widely used as a benchmark for global oil prices, fell to $58.76 a barrel on 28 November, its lowest level since October 2017.

Opec oil production

Even though the price has subsequently risen above $63, on growing agreement among analysts that Opec will announce some production cuts, this is still less than half the highs reached in March 2012 of more than $128. Prices soared then due to fears over supplies from Iraq because of continuing instability in the country.

Opec wants to cut production because it forecasts that the rate of growth in the worldwide demand for oil will slow in 2019 as the global economy cools slightly.

It said last month it now expects worldwide demand for crude will increase by an average 1.29 million barrels per day in 2019, compared with 2018, to a total of 100 million barrels a day. Earlier, in July it was predicting an increase of 1.45 million barrels a day.

Ann-Louise Hittle, vice president in charge of oil at research group Wood Mackenzie, agrees demand will cool next year. Like many she predicts that Opec will announce production cuts, but only modest ones due to pressure from President Trump.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Russian President Vladimir Putin

"We expect a production restraint agreement to emerge from the meeting and have had this in our base case 2019 forecast. We have expected this for some months because without it, there will be a large scale oversupply."

But by how much is Opec likely to cut supplies? Ms Hittle suggests around 800,000 barrels a day, that would "stabilise prices and prevent further declines". She adds that a cut of one million barrels a day would mean price rises of "several dollars a barrel".

Fellow oil industry analyst Rachel Ziemba from the Center for a New American Security predicts a cut of "up to 500,000 barrels a day".

However, she cautions that "this meeting is still tricky to call". She says that as the US and China now appear to be trying to patch up their trade dispute, the global economy may actually be stronger than previously predicted next year.

US oil workers in North Dakota

Other commentators speculate that Saudi Arabia may be more willing than usual to pay heed to President Trump's call, after the reputational damage it suffered following the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the country's consulate in Istanbul.

Saudi Arabia has actually already increased its production slightly since the summer, in response to urging from Mr Trump.

This was to make up for a fall in global supply following the US reinstating sanctions on Iran, and led to the recent yearly lows.

Brent crude

Jim Krane, energy research fellow at Rice University's Baker Institute in Houston, says that an Opec production cut is "looking likely" despite the pressure from President Trump.

"A lot of producers need $60-80 [per barrel of] oil to balance their national budgets," he says. "When oil falls much below $60, they get nervous."

He adds that what has strengthened Opec's hand is the organisation's close ties with Russia, and that if Opec trims production, Russia will probably do the same.

What has brought Opec and Russia together in recent years has been their mutual concern at the vast group wth of the US shale oil industry. The resulting rise in its oil production means the US is now the world's largest oil producer, according to some estimates. This puts it ahead of Saudi Arabia and Russia in second and third place.

So despite President Trump's tweets, Opec is widely predicted to announce a production cut, if only a small one, to try to raise global oil prices.

For Mr Ahsan, in Islamabad, it won't be welcome news. "Life is tough, if I try to do normal hours of driving, like eight hours, I don't make a profit because of the cost of fuel," he says.

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Trump's trade war: Stakes are high at G20 summit

The stakes are high at this week's G20 summit, where President Trump is due to meet China's President Xi Jinping.

Hopes that the meeting could open the way for a deal over trade between the two countries have been undermined by recent threats by the US president.

Only days before the summit in Argentina, President Trump said current tariff levels on $200bn (£157bn) of Chinese imports would rise as planned.

He also threatened tariffs on $267bn of other Chinese exports to the US.

Then, just before taking off for Argentina, President Trump told reporters at the White House that while China was interested in striking a deal, "I don't know if I want to do it" and "I like the deal we have now".

The stage could now be set for a possible escalation of the trade war between the two nations.

What is likely to come out of the meeting?

President Trump started the dispute with China earlier this year, accusing the Chinese of "unfair" trade practices and intellectual property theft.

The US has hit a total $250bn of Chinese goods with tariffs since July, and China has retaliated by imposing duties on $110bn of US products.


Media captionSo how does a G20 summit work?

China had already hit the US with $3bn of tariffs in April, in response to US tariffs on global steel and aluminium imports.

President Trump offered a glimmer of hope earlier this month, when he said he thought the US could strike a trade deal with China.

Chinese dock workersImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Image captionTrump has long accused the Chinese of unfair trading practices

But only days before the summit, he poured cold water on such optimism.

President Trump told the Wall Street Journal he expected to go ahead with plans to raise tariffs on $200bn of Chinese goods - first introduced in September - to 25% (up from 10%) starting in January 2019.

President Trump also said that if talks were unsuccessful, he would carry out a threat to hit the remaining $267bn of annual Chinese exports to the US with tariffs of 10-25%.

The Trump administration also recently accused China of not changing its "unfair" trade practices.

"I think the most likely scenario is that Xi Jinping doesn't offer big enough concessions to Trump, and so nothing much comes of the G20 meeting," says Julian Evans-Pritchard from Capital Economics.

Recent summits also do not bode well for any resolutions at the G20 level.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit recently ended without a formal leaders' statement because of US-China divisions over trade.

And a G7 summit in Canada in June ended in disarray as Trump retracted his endorsement of the joint statement.

"I think unfortunately, the US and China remain quite far apart in the issues behind the trade conflict, so we are not too optimistic," says Valerie Mercer-Blackman, senior economist at the Asia Development Bank.

"Failure to agree on the communique at the Apec meeting... also suggests that there is quite substantial distance between the two sides, and there doesn't seem to be a specific proposal on the table yet to end the impasse."

What's at stake?

The stakes are high.

"If the meeting fails to deliver a truce, then the US will almost certainly hike tariff rates [on $200bn of existing Chinese goods] in January, and a further expansion in tariffs is quite likely," says Mr Evans-Pritchard.

A woman works on socks that will be exported to the US at a factory in Huaibei in China's eastern Anhui province on August 7, 2018.Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Image captionUS tariffs on $200m worth of Chinese imports could go up from 10% to 25% in January

A rise in those tariffs would see many multinational firms accelerate their plans to move supply chains away from China, while tariffs on additional Chinese imports would pose "a significant political and economic risk for Trump", says Michael Hirson, Asia director at Eurasia Group.

"Remaining US imports from China are more heavily tilted towards consumer items. American households, especially those from lower income brackets, will feel the impact more than they have over tariffs on previous rounds," he adds.

What happens next?

If the US were to impose tariffs on additional Chinese goods, China could seek to retaliate, but would have limited room to do so via trade.

This is because China's existing $113bn tariffs on US goods are not far from the $130bn it imported from the US in 2017.

Instead of fighting back aggressively with more tariffs, China is more likely to defend its economy by easing fiscal and monetary policy, letting its currency fall and forging trade deals with other countries, analysts say.

Chinese aluminium workers

Image captionChina has also been affected by the US's tariffs on global steel and aluminium imports

"China's strategy towards Trump will favour resilience over retaliation," Mr Hirson says.

If the conflict between China and the US continues to escalate, non-tariff barriers particularly in the technology sector are likely to become increasingly popular.

The US has already made moves in this direction. It recently restricted American firms from selling parts to a Chinese company over national security concerns.

"While tariffs draw most of the attention, non-tariff measures are just as important in this trade war and will probably be in play for much longer," says Mr Hirson.

"On the US side, this includes measures such as recently passed legislation that tightens investment restrictions and export controls... In China, it involves using regulatory tools such as anti-trust investigations to squeeze US tech firms and tip the advantage to domestic competitors."

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Bitcoin mining operations in the US and China are facing closures after the plummeting price of bitcoin means they may no longer be profitable.

The world's most valuable cryptocurrency is currently trading at around $4,500, having lost almost a third of its value in the space of a week.

Bitcoin mining – the process of generating new units of the cryptocurrency by solving complex puzzles – requires vast amounts of electricity to power the computers performing the calculations.

This means that the profitability of mining falls when bitcoin's price drops, and if the price falls too far  then operations may no longer be economically viable.

Satoshi Nakamoto creates the first bitcoin block in 2009

The biggest casualty so far may be the US-based mining firm Giga Watt, which was forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this week after it was unable to pay debts of around $7 million.

"The corporation is insolvent and unable to pay its debts when due," the filing stated, according to CoinDesk. 

"The corporation and its creditors would best be served by reorganisation of the corporation under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code."

Bitcoin has suffered two major price falls in less than a week, following months of market stability (CoinMarketCap)

The majority of bitcoin mining operations are based in China, where electricity costs are some of the lowest in the world.

Yet despite the cheap electricity, images and videos of mining operations shutting down in the country have been spreading across social media.

The first bitcoin ATM appears

Hon Kong-based mining platform Suanlitou announced this week that it was unable to cover electricity fees for a 10-day period in November, according to the South China Morning Post. 

Another group of Chinese cryptocurrency miners also reportedly shut down 20,000 mining rigs due to the fall in profitability.

It is not clear what the future holds for the price of bitcoin, with some analysts predicting more falls, while others expect the market to turnaround before the end of the year.

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How Facebook helped this inspirational beauty business grow

Tracey Broadway’s life changed forever in early 2015 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 34. The mum-of two had to undergo surgery and gruelling rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. 

Determined to get through the darkest days, she discussed with her partner, Henry Baker, her ideas for a skincare business that could not only help people look and feel better, but also raise money to fight the disease.

“Originally it was just to try to take my mind off the fact I was sitting in a chemotherapy ward, which is a horrible place to be,” Tracy says. “My hair had gone and Henry was saying I needed a distraction as I was in so much pain.”

The couple carried out plenty of thorough research into ingredients before approaching companies that could help them formulate products. Within months they had set up their beauty business, HighBorn, with a modest £300 investment.

The fact they had complementary backgrounds was very much in their favour. While Tracey had worked in the beauty industry, Henry was involved in marketing. It has proved to be a winning combination: the company’s turnover is expected to hit £1m this year.

Henry credits social media for helping to spread the word about HighBorn. “We advertised on Facebook and that’s how the business has grown,” he says. “It was the right forum to tell our story as people commented and shared it.”

HighBorn’s range of beauty products now includes a beauty serum, eye gel and moisturiser. A donation towards the fight against cancer is made for everything sold, while further money is raised for charity from the sporty couple running marathons. “I also visit cancer wards where the ladies have a beauty day to try to help them feel better,” Tracey adds.

“I just want to do everything I can to help others — that’s the driving force of our business.”

Henry Baker and Tracey Broadway use Facebook to raise awareness about HighBorn

The determined couple advise anyone wanting to follow in their business footsteps to find an area they are really passionate about — and to make sure they know the basics of marketing to snare people’s interest and turn them into potential customers.

While understandably thrilled by how quickly the business has taken shape, Tracey is focused on expansion, with future plans including a clothing range.

“It’s been absolutely amazing,” she says. “To go from thinking you’re really ill and may die from this horrendous illness called cancer, to all your dreams coming true is just crazy.”

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Rare 50p coin sells for nearly £300 on eBay

A RARE 50p coin has sold for a whopping £290 on eBay – and Royal Mint has just released a new batch.

Millions of Brits collect coins and often rare ones can sell for hundreds and sometimes thousands of pounds. The rarer the coin the more sought after and valuable it becomes. The coin in question, is a 50p piece which was produced in 2003 and features treasured Christmas character The Snowman. The commemorative coin was launched on the Isle of Man and only 10,000 were ever minted.  It was released as a limited-edition coin to mark the 25th anniversary of the release of the much-loved classic The Snowman by children's author and illustrator Raymond Briggs.

The highest price the festive coin has fetched on eBay recently is £292 after 29 people bid for it at the end of October. And it rarely sells for less than £200 when one of the rare coins makes its way onto the auction website. The 50p coin – which is technically only worth its face value of 50p – was produced by the Pobjoy Mint in Surrey, which used to make all of the Isle of Man's coins and banknotes until last year.

**Rare coins: How to find out if your UK coins are worth THOUSANDS**

50p coin

SOUGHT AFTER: The coin is sold for hundreds on eBay despite being worth 50p (Pic: eBay)


NEW: The colourful coins were released by the Royal Mint today (Pic: Royal Mint)

The coin was re-released in 2008 with the same design but it never entered general circulation.

And this week three new Snowman 50p coins were released by Royal Mint – and two of them sold out within hours.

They won't enter general circulation though so there's little chance of one of these valuable coins ending up in your spare change.

The Snowman coins aren't the only valuable 50ps around.

rare coins

BUSINESS: Selling coins and notes has become popular in the past couple of years (Pic: Getty)

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Sir Philip Green named as businessman behind newspaper injunction

Topshop owner Sir Philip Green has been named as the businessman behind an injunction against the Daily Telegraph newspaper.


Speaking in the House of Lords on Thursday, Labour peer Lord Hain used parliamentary privilege to name Sir Philip.


The former cabinet minister told peers: "I feel it's my duty under parliamentary privilege to name Philip Green as the individual in question given that the media have been subject to an injunction preventing publication of the full details of this story which is clearly in the public interest."


Lord Hain said the case involved "a powerful businessman using non-disclosure agreements and substantial payments to conceal the truth about serious and repeated sexual harassment, racist abuse and bullying which is compulsively continuing".

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Theresa May told MPs it is "clear" some employers are using non-disclosure agreements "unethically", but refused to comment on "a particular case that is currently before the courts".


Billionaire Sir Philip, 66, is the chairman of Arcadia Group, which includes high street brands Topshop, Topman, Wallis, Evans, Burton, Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins and Outfit.


The BHS department store used to be part of the chain until its collapse two years ago.


The Daily Telegraph reported on Wednesday an unnamed senior executive in a company group had hired at least seven lawyers and spent close to £500,000 in legal fees in his quest to get an injunction against the newspaper.

Under the court ruling, it is illegal to reveal the businessman's identity or to identify the companies, as well as what he is accused of doing or how much he paid his alleged victims.




Sir Philip Green has been named in the House of Lords

Mrs May told MPs on Wednesday the government will look at ways to improve rules around non-disclosure agreements and make it "explicit" to companies when they cannot be used.


Speaking during Prime Minister's Questions, she said: "Sexual harassment in the workplace is against the law.


"Such abhorrent behaviour should not be tolerated and an employer that allows that harassment of women to go undealt with is sending a message about how welcome they are and about their value in the workplace.


"So, just as we won't accept any behaviour that causes people to feel intimidated or humiliated in the workplace, there must be consequences for failing to comply with the law.


"Non-disclosure agreements cannot stop people from whistleblowing but it is clear some employers are using them unethically.

"The government is going to bring forward measures for consideration for consultation to seek to improve the regulation around non-disclosure agreements and make it absolutely explicit to employees when a non-disclosure agreement does not apply or cannot be enforced."

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The £1.3bn finance firm that was conceived in a pub

The BBC's weekly The Boss series profiles a different business leader from around the world. This week we speak to Samir Desai, founder of peer-to-peer lender Funding Circle.

Friends often share money-making ideas over a few drinks in a pub, but it is not often that the scheme in question ends up creating a billion pound business.

But that is ultimately what happened after Samir Desai first discussed his big vision with two old university mates when they met up for a few pints in a bar in central London in 2009.

At the time the UK and the rest of the world were still mired in the maelstrom of the global financial crisis.

As a result, banks had stopped lending to small businesses.


The situation looked hopeless for small firms, but Samir - then a 26-year-old management consultant - had come up with what he thought was a good idea. He wanted to remove the banks from the equation, and instead allow the companies to more easily borrow funds from elsewhere.

Specifically he wanted to create an online marketplace where small firms could apply to borrow money from a pool of funds supplied by individuals and other businesses - peer-to-peer lending.

Samir's friends from his Oxford University days - James Meekings and Andrew Mullinger - both agreed that it was potentially a great idea for a business, so the three of them decided to research its feasibility.

In August 2010 they quit their jobs and launched Funding Circle.

Earlier this month, the company became the first lender of its type to float on the London Stock Exchange, and is now valued at more than £1.3bn. An impressive figure, albeit down from its initial listing price of £1.5bn with analysts saying the flotation may have overpriced the firm.

Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Image caption

The global financial crisis caused a number of banks to collapse, including the UK's Northern Rock

Samir, now 35, says he came up with the idea for the company because even before the financial crisis "small business lending was pretty broken".

"It took 15 to 20 weeks to get a loan [from a bank]," he says.

"And I came to realise that actually only a very small part of what a bank does is small business lending - it [can be as low as] only 5%.

"But small businesses are quite a big deal to society - they employ 60% of the private-sector workforce, so there's a big disconnect on how much banks care about lending, and how much society cares."

To get London-based Funding Circle up and running, the three friends put £60,000 of their combined savings into the business. James had also previously been a management consultant, while Andrew had worked in risk management.

The three friends also raised £700,000 from a dozen investors, including friends, and friends of friends. The funds enabled them to build the technology platform behind the website, and to then market and launch the business.

Image copyrightVICKI COUCHMAN

Image caption

Samir formed the business with friends Andrew Mullinger (left) and James Meekings

However, persuading both the lenders and small firms to come on board proved complex.

"It was interesting in the early days," says Samir. "It was like the chicken and the egg - which comes first, the business or the investor?"

To attract early investors the company offered them a "cashback" deal, whereby if the money they were lending via the website was due to pay them 7% interest, Funding Circle would increase this to 9%, and pay the investors the other 2% from its own funds.

To gain small business customers, Samir and his co-founders would send out letters. So much so that he says they ended up breaking the printer they had borrowed from James's dad.

User numbers on both sides then started to slowly grow, and in 2011 Funding Circle secured £2.5m in venture capital funding. This then rose to £250m, prior to this month's flotation.

More than 50,000 small businesses and 80,000 investors have now used the company, which expanded to the US in 2013, and Germany and the Netherlands two years later.

Image copyrightRADEK BAYEK

Image caption

Funding Circle lends money to all sorts of businesses, from restaurants to motorcycle shops

The business makes its money by charging the borrowers a fee of between 1% and 7% per loan, plus a 1% annual servicing fee.

It hasn't made a profit yet though, but Samir says that this is deliberate, because the company has been investing heavily in expansion.

"The business continues to grow rapidly," he says. "From our perspective we want to be the first choice for small businesses globally."

Last week, the firm announced that loans arranged via Funding Circle totalled £2.8bn as of 30 September, up 61% from the same date last year.

The company did not, however, unveil any new turnover or profit and loss figures. Instead, the most recently available show that it had annual revenues of £94.5m in 2017, up from £50.9m in 2016.

Meanwhile, the pre-tax losses in 2017 totalled £36.3m, compared with £47.2m a year earlier.

The company's share price also remains below the level at which it floated on 3 October.

Laith Khalaf, a senior analyst at financial services group Hargreaves Lansdown, says that Funding Circle is likely to face challenges in the future.

"The peer-to-peer lending sector is relatively new and few companies within it have been through a severe economic downturn, which means there is a higher level of uncertainty about how these businesses will fare in difficult market conditions.

"The risk is that in a poor economic environment borrowers default on their loans in large numbers, and this will put the credit and risk mitigation methods within lending platforms to the test."

Image copyrightREUTERS

Image caption

UK regulator, the FCA, is looking at potentially tightening up the peer-to-peer lending industry

Meanwhile, the BBC's business editor Simon Jack has questioned whether Funding Circle and its rivals could be harmed by a proposed regulatory tightening of the peer-to-peer lending sector in the UK.

The regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), is considering rule changes that would only allow very wealthy personal investors to use Funding Circle and its rivals in the future. The FCA's concern is that an investor's capital is potentially at risk.

Samir, who has the chief executive job title, remains confident, however, in the continuing growth of the business.

"We're getting more and more repeat customers," he says.

"Investors are quite excited about the market size growth rates, high margins, and the scale of repeat customers."

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Philip Morris accused of hypocrisy over anti-smoking ad

One of the world's biggest tobacco firms, Philip Morris, has been accused of "staggering hypocrisy" over its new ad campaign that urges smokers to quit.

The Marlboro maker said the move was "an important next step" in its aim to "ultimately stop selling cigarettes".

But Cancer Research said the firm was simply trying to promote its smoking alternatives, such as heated tobacco.

"This is a staggering hypocrisy," it said, pointing out the firm still promotes smoking outside the UK.

"The best way Philip Morris could help people to stop smoking is to stop making cigarettes," George Butterworth, Cancer Research UK's tobacco policy manager said.


The charity said smoking was the leading preventable cause of cancer and it encouraged people to switch away completely from smoking, including through the use of e-cigarettes.

Tobacco giant launches anti-smoking ad

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Vapers rise 'to more than three million'

Health charity Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) also criticised the campaign - which is called Hold My Light and has been launched in a four-page wraparound on Monday's Daily Mirror - saying it was a way for Philip Morris to get around the UK's anti-tobacco advertising rules.

There is also a campaign video, which shows a young woman negotiating a Mission Impossible-style room in order to hand her cigarette lighter over to a group of friends, who are supporting her in a bid to give up smoking.

Most forms of tobacco advertising and promotion in the UK are banned, and rules introduced last year mean cigarettes and tobacco must be sold in plain green packets.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Ash, said Philip Morris was still advertising its Marlboro brand wherever globally it was legal to do so.

"The fact of the matter is that it can no longer do that in the UK, we're a dark market where all advertising, promotion and sponsorship is banned, and cigarettes are in plain packs.

"So instead Philip Morris is promoting the company name which is inextricably linked with Marlboro," she said.


Philip Morris has said previously that it wants to achieve a "smoke-free" future.

Like many tobacco firms, Philip Morris is moving towards a focus on new products to replace cigarettes as the number of smokers in the UK continues to decline.

In the UK, it markets several alternatives to cigarettes, including a heated tobacco product, Iqos.

It also owns the Nicocig, Vivid and Mesh e-cigarette brands.

'It takes time'

The firm's managing director Peter Nixon said its new advertising campaign was "about supporting smokers in finding alternatives".

Asked why, if Philip Morris was so keen for smokers to quit, it did not simply stop making cigarettes and focus entirely on alternative products, he said it was because smokers would just switch to a rival product.

"Cigarettes still generate 87% of our business. We want to get to [smoke-free] as soon as possible, and we want to be selling alternatives, but it does take time," he said.

Mr Nixon said the firm had invested over £4bn in developing alternative products to cigarettes.

The campaign suggests four ways to give up cigarettes, including going cold turkey, using nicotine patches, vaping and using heated tobacco products.

In an unusual move, the Daily Mirror made a reference in its editorial column to the advertising feature which envelops the paper. It said it was "pleased to back the campaign".

It added: "Yes, we were surprised too that this is a campaign created by Philip Morris Ltd. But it can only be a good thing that they are now trying to encourage people to quit cigarettes."

In July last year, the government set out a plan to make England, in effect, smoke-free in the next few decades.

The new Tobacco Control Plan aimed to cut smoking rates from 15.5% to 12% of the population by 2022.

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What China's Cashless Revolution Can Teach the West About Crypto

Cash appears to be disappearing from China's teeming cities.

Foreign tourists talk of struggling to buy things because they don't have Alipay or WeChat Payinstalled on their smartphones and because merchants no longer bother to accept the banknotes they get from ATMs.


These stories elicit fascination among Americans, but not much more. Here in the U.S., many can't grasp what the big deal is about digital payments. After all, pulling a credit card from your wallet isn't much more inconvenient than pulling a smartphone out of your pocket and it costs you – if not the merchant – no more than if you used cash. To the average American, China's system seems no different from Venmo or Paypal, just more pervasive.

But as Andreessen Horowitz partner Connie Chan told me during a fireside chat at the HYTSAconference at Stanford a week ago, the real benefits of China's cashless revolution lie in how this new, software-based system of value exchange has become a platform on which new business models can be built.

Digitizing payments in this way, at very low cost, enables micropayments and seamless integration across different service providers, which in turn means merchants can provide a variety of new services to customers over an app. This helps to enhance the user' experience, boost loyalty and engagement, and build network value.

Consider how Kuguo, the most popular of a number of Chinese music apps, provides "song coins" to fans, based on their level of engagement, which they can exchange into renminbi, the local currency.

Essentially, by removing intermediation costs from the payments system, Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial's Alipay and Tencent's WeChat Pay – which together now boast a billion users, according to Aite Group – have created a seamless foundation for a whole new digital economy. Chan says this is where U.S. app developers are being left behind, because their products can't integrate with this new model.

The relevance in this for CoinDesk readers, with their interest in cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, starts with the fact that this dream of a seamless, micropayments-enabled system of hitherto impossible new services is one that's often cited by crypto enthusiasts.

So, does China prove that you don't need a blockchain to build a new Internet of Value, powered by device-to-device exchanges in an Internet of Things economy?

Well, yes, and, no.

Crypto dream, Chinese characteristics

There is a very real and illuminating limit to China's system: It can't easily go outside its borders.

Although some U.S.-based providers are now creating services for Chinese tourists so they can buy things in America with their WeChat Pay or Alipay accounts, most of the activity on these networks happens in China. Most importantly, while Alipay and WeChat Pay are trying to crack other markets, there is no cross-currency facility. For all intents and purposes, this "cashless revolution" is happening within the boundaries of a renminbi universe.

The reason for that is that unlike cryptocurrency systems, the Chinese digital payments system is entirely built on the rails of the Chinese banking system, which deals almost exclusively in the Chinese currency. In that sense, it does share a foundation more like Venmo's and Paypal's, whose accounts also settle back into the banking system, than that of bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.

The big difference is that for a host of reasons, the banks don't charge the same kind of exorbitant interchange fees to Chinese merchants that U.S. banks do to U.S. businesses, allowing the digital payments providers to build a much more fluid micropayments model on top.

But here's the thing: the Chinese banking system is essentially an instrument of Chinese policymaking. The four biggest banks make up the bulk of the financial system and are all majority government-owned. Their capacity to make profits, essentially on the spread they charge for loans over what they pay for deposits, is enabled by a carefully managed monetary policy. The People's Bank of China sets a ceiling for deposit rates – often below inflation – and can get away with that because it imposes capital controls on savers to prevent them fleeing low rates for higher-earning currencies.

To be sure, Ant Financial and Tencent both have a variety of financial and banking licenses of their own. But their own financial profits are very much enabled by the same interest rate policy framework that a wider state-run Chinese banking system is compelled to accept.

For now, that policy framework has sustained a quid pro quo arrangement with Chinese savers, who more or less support a banking system that otherwise eats into their savings because the benefits are manifest in continued economic growth and in services like those of Tencent and Alibaba.

But for some time, there has been an expectation that China, in its desire to "internationalize" the renminbi, will relax both its interest rate and capital controls, which could seriously undermine banks' profit margins. If China were also to allow more private and foreign investment into the banks, would those institutions continue to subsidize the digital payments economy? Maybe, maybe not.

Since we can't be like China, maybe embrace crypto?

The bigger point is that China's circumstances are unique. There aren't many governments, if any, that could get away with this kind of control over the banking system. Others have tried – such as Venezuela and Argentina – and have destroyed confidence in their currencies in the process.

So, if the rest of the world can't use compliant banks to subsidize a fluid, digital payments system, what instead will it use as the platform?

The answer may well lie in cryptocurrency and blockchain-based protocols. And as the race to build a stablecoin proceeds, a foundation for something that could viably compete with China's model may emerge. It might even go one step better, as it would allow for cross-border payments.

As U.S. government officials look nervously across the Pacific at China's growing economic clout, rather than launching destructive trade wars that do nothing but prop up outdated, 20th-century industries, they should instead be figuring out how to emulate and compete with China's new Internet of Value model for business development and innovation.

It's in that context that they should be looking at cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology less as a threat and more as an opportunity.

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The Finance 202: Uber illustrates long Saudi shadow in U.S. business world

The Finance 202: Uber illustrates long Saudi shadow in U.S. business world

By Tory Newmyer

National reporter focused on economic policy

October 19 at 8:12 AM

Uber Technologies chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi was among the first corporate chiefs to announce he’s skipping the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh next week. 

But the ride-sharing giant can’t disentangle itself from Saudi Arabia so easily: The government owns about a seventh of the privately held company. 

PowerPost  Analysis


Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP)

Uber Technologies chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi was among the first corporate chiefs to announce he’s skipping the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh next week. 

But the ride-sharing giant can’t disentangle itself from Saudi Arabia so easily: The government owns about a seventh of the privately held company. 


Uber took a $3.5 billion investment from the Saudi’s sovereign wealth fund in 2016, a stake for which the regime secured a seat on the company’s board. And the country owns still more through SoftBank’s tech-focused Vision Fund, to which the Saudis have committed $45 billion. The fund is Uber’s largest investor and holds another two seats on the board. 


Uber has remained mum about the country’s investment, as evidence mounts implicating the Saudi government in the death of Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi expat and U.S. resident. But corporate governance experts say the company could seek to make changes to its charter to dilute the Saudis’ stake if it becomes an issue ahead of a blockbuster initial public offering that Uber is expected to undertake next year. 


Uber is hardly alone in facing a potential reckoning over a massive Saudi Arabian investment. Firms from Silicon Valley to Wall Street are engaging in a similarly awkward dance. In the immediate term, they need to broadcast concern over reports that Khashoggi was the victim of a brutal, premeditated murder at the hands of Saudi agents. But they also want to avoid irreversibly alienating the kingdom’s leaders and the gusher of profit-making opportunities they have to offer. 


“This incident is unacceptable, and clearly they have to answer questions,” Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon told CNBC on Thursday. “How they answer those questions and how more information becomes apparent around this will have an impact on how we all interact.” Solomon said the firm will no longer be sending Dina Powell, a top executive and former Trump administration official, to next week's conference. That doesn’t mean, however, that lower-wattage Goldman bankers won’t still make the trip.

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink. (Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg)

Other top firms have made feints in the direction of skipping the conference while maintaining plans to send some representatives. “Senior investment bankers from HSBC Holdings Plc, Societe Generale SA and Credit Suisse Group AG are planning to attend … even though their chief executives have told the world they’ve canceled appearances there,” Bloomberg News reported Wednesday. “Wall Street firms such as Morgan Stanley and Citigroup Inc., which have yet to publicly signal their intentions, are also expecting to send executives, people familiar with the companies said.” (In part, Barron's notes, banks want in on “future deals as the kingdom ramps up its debt offerings, privatizes huge swaths of its economy, and builds new infrastructure... For instance, the crown prince has a plan to spend $500 million to build a city from scratch, NEOM, on the Red Sea.")

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink announced Monday he's scrapping plans to attend the conference. Then, on Tuesday, he said his firm will not cut ties with the kingdom, even if it becomes clear King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud or Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered Khashoggi's murder.

Fink has long-standing ties to Saudi officials and unveiled plans last year to open offices in the country. His firm, with $6.4 trillion under management, is the largest investment fund in the world. (It also holds its own stake in Uber, having invested $175 million back in 2014.) And if BlackRock decides against shunning Saudi Arabia, other major investors could follow suit. That could ease heat on Uber and other tech firms to reckon with Saudi investments.

“If underwriters were to detect purchasers of the stock weren’t going to touch Uber because of the Saudi presence, that would get a reaction,” John Coffee, a professor at Columbia Law School who specializes in securities law, tells me. “But that’s a rather remote possibility in my mind, that there would be enough of a reaction that it would chill the IPO. And if there were a reaction, there are steps Uber could take.”


Saudis stand next to a portrait of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the Gitex 2018 exhibition at the Dubai World Trade Center this week.  (Karim Sahib/ AFP)

Because Uber is privately held, it’s unlikely to take any steps in the meantime to diminish the Saudi stake, says Kathleen Rice, principal at Renaissance Capital, which provides pre-IPO research. “There’s not enough pressure yet,” she said, calling it a public policy failure that a company could reach Uber’s size with limited disclosure of its ownership. “I don’t know all I’d like to about their governance… We’re in an era where it’s unprecedented to have this many companies at this size still private. That’s a problem.”

If so, it’s one not unique to Uber. The Saudis are now the single largest funding source for American start-ups, the Wall Street Journal reports. Over the last two years, the crown prince has directed $11 billion in investments to companies either directly or through the Vision Fund. Beneficiaries include WeWork, the office space-sharing outfit, augmented reality device maker Magic Leap, and the messaging platform Slack, according to data assembled by PitchBook.

But as the Journal notes, Uber has been trying to polish a tarnished brand after an extended run of legal scrapes and other controversies. The company saw a reported 200,000 users delete the appfrom their phones last year after a social media-based protest to then-CEO Travis Kalanick’s participation on an advisory board for President Trump. For an entirely different reason, Bahrain attempted to promote its own Uber boycott this week — as punishment for Khosrowshahi’s decision to quit the Saudi conference.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome H. Powell, left, and Vice Chairman for Supervision Randal Quarles listen during an open meeting in Washington on June 14. (Cliff Owen/AP)

— Fed's Quarles is optimistic. WSJ's Kate Davidson: “Federal Reserve Vice Chairman for Supervision Randal Quarles reaffirmed the central bank’s gradual monetary-policy course Thursday, saying policy makers should avoid focusing too much on metrics that come with a higher degree of uncertainty, such as some measures of labor slack, productivity and inflation. Speaking to the Economic Club of New York, Mr. Quarles said his outlook hasn’t changed much since February.

"'The U.S. economy is still ‘in a good spot,’ he said, and there are reasons to be optimistic about the economy’s potential capacity. ‘The more the economy’s potential growth increases, the more gradual we can be in our removal of monetary-policy accommodation,’ he said.”

Fed's Bullard less so. Reuters's Jonathan Spicer: “The Federal Reserve’s current monetary policy path would raise the risks of recession in an economy where recent, unexpectedly strong growth may start to taper anyway, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said on Thursday. In remarks to the Economic Club of Memphis, Bullard pointed to a possible next chapter in the central bank’s discussion: What to do if, as expected, the growth rush from recent tax cuts, increased government spending and other positive economic trends begins to fade.”

— Gary Cohn: Trump should knock off the Fed criticism. CNBC's Jeff Cox: "As the latest former official to speak about Trump's verbal barrage against the central bank, Gary Cohn said the president's job is to appoint the officials who make policy and then let them do their jobs. 'The Fed is doing their job as an independent agency,' Cohn told CNBC's Steve Liesman... Asked if Trump should be critiquing the Fed, Cohn replied, 'I don't think he should make comments on any independent agency.'"

More from Cohn: "If you look at what's actually going on in the economy, when you look at the real numbers, we're way exceeding on growth, we're way exceeding on employment, and the Fed is basically on target. It seems to be like the Fed's in a methodical rate-raising environment, exactly what they're supposed to do."

Traders and financial professionals work ahead of the closing bell on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Oct. 11. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

— Stocks plunge. WSJ's Jessica Menton and Michael Wursthorn: “The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled more than 300 points as geopolitical tensions and worries about the state of the global expansion renewed concerns over the durability of the longest bull market rally ever. Losses accelerated throughout Thursday’s session, pulling the Dow industrials down as much as 471 points at one point, as investors confronted several more threats to the market, including companies struggling with rising costs, further instability in the European Union and increasing pressure between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. While the selloff was broad, investors culled risky stocks from their portfolios, punishing shares of fast-growing companies that have led the market higher this year. Nearly all 30 stocks in the blue-chip index fell, with shares of Caterpillar , often considered a proxy of investors’ views on global trade, and widely held Apple suffering the biggest declines.”

They usually rally after the midterms. The Associated Press's Alex Veiga and Marley Jay: “Regardless of how midterm elections turn out, Wall Street usually ends up a big winner. The S&P 500, the stock market’s benchmark index, has climbed in the 12 months after each of the midterm elections going back to 1946. That’s 18 elections, many of which ended up shuffling the balance of power in Congress. ‘It turns out that under every political makeup in Washington, stocks have gone up and the economy has grown,’ said Kate Warne, an investment strategist for Edward Jones. In midterms going back to 1946, the S&P 500 index had an average price return of 16.7 percent in the 12 months after the elections, according to CFRA.”

— Jobless claims dip. WSJ's Sarah Chaney and Sharon Nunn: “The number of Americans filing applications for new unemployment benefits fell last week, indicative of a tight labor market in which employers are reluctant to lay off workers. Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs across the U.S., decreased by 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 210,000 in the week ended Oct. 13, the Labor Department said Thursday.”

Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, talks to journalists at the White House in Washington on Oct. 12. (Oliver Contreras/For The Washington Post)

— Kudlow blasts China. CNBC's Fred Imbert: “Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, went after China on Thursday for digging in its heels in trade talks with the U.S. ‘They are unfair traders. They are illegal traders. They have stolen our intellectual property,’  Kudlow said at the Detroit Economic Club on Thursday. ‘China has not responded positively to any of our asks.’ ‘America has the greatest technology in the world; it is the backbone of our economy,’ he said. ‘China can't seem to do that, so they steal it. We can't allow that.’ ”

— Chinese growth seizes. WSJ's Lingling Wei: "China's economic expansion slowed to its weakest pace since the financial crisis, as top financial regulators launched an extraordinary coordinated effort to calm jittery investors. The rate of growth in the third quarter dropped to 6.5%, falling short of market expectations, official statistics released Friday showed. Growth in industrial output and consumption weakened in the quarter, while exports held up despite the country’s bruising trade fight with the U.S.

"Shortly before the data was released, People’s Bank of China Gov. Yi Gang, banking and insurance regulatory chief Guo Shuqing and top securities cop Liu Shiyu all issued statements urging investors to remain calm."

Yuan sinks. AP's Joe McDonald: “China’s politically sensitive yuan sank to a 22-month low against the dollar on Thursday after the U.S. Treasury declined to label Beijing a currency manipulator amid a mounting tariff battle. The closely watched yuan fell to 6.9411 per dollar at mid-morning, coming its closest to breaking the symbolically significant level of seven to the greenback since December 2016. It recovered slightly in the afternoon.

"The yuan, also known as the renminbi, or ‘people’s money,’ has declined by almost 10 percent against the dollar since April as China’s economic growth cooled and U.S. and Chinese interest rates went in opposite directions. ... While it helps exporters, a weaker yuan also might encourage an outflow of capital from the world’s second-largest economy. That would raise borrowing costs at a time when communist leaders are trying to shore up cooling growth.”

— Trump: “It certainly looks” like Khashoggi is dead. The Washington Post's Erin Cunningham and John Wagner: “Trump said Thursday it appears that Jamal Khashoggi is dead and warned that his administration could consider 'very severe' measures against Saudi Arabia, sharply raising pressures on the kingdom as it prepares its own accounting of the journalist’s disappearance. . . . As he boarded a flight to Montana for a political rally, Trump was asked by a journalist whether he believed Khashoggi was dead. ‘It certainly looks that way to me,’ he said. ‘It’s very sad.'”

Mnuchin to skip Saudi conference. The Post's Damian Paletta and Jeanne Whalen: “Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that he would not attend the Future Investment Initiative summit in Saudi Arabia next week, delivering the Trump administration’s first formal rebuke of Saudi’s royal family following the suspected killing of [Khashoggi] inside a Saudi compound in Turkey. Mnuchin made his announcement on Twitter, saying he had met with [Trump] and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, but he did not explain the reasoning for the decision. . . . Last week, even after reports surfaced about a possible link between the alleged killing and the Saudi royal family, Mnuchin signaled that he would still attend the conference.”

Jared makes himself scarce.  CNN: “Facing scrutiny for cultivating close ties with Saudi Arabia's powerful and domineering crown prince, Jared Kushner has remained intentionally in the background this week as West Wing officials feared a more public role would prompt backlash, multiple people familiar with the matter say. Kushner instead has been operating behind-the-scenes to mitigate the fallout... Senior administration officials said Kushner's close relationship with bin Salman was an early cause for concern among career national security staffers, who worried off-the-books conversations with the young prince could lead to misunderstandings or worse. Kushner is known to have messaged with the prince on the communication app WhatsApp.”

The logo in Santa Monica, Calif., on Sept. 6, 2012. (Reed Saxon/AP)

— Northern Virginia well positioned for Amazon HQ2. The New York Times's Karen Weise: “Amazon won’t say a word about where it plans to put its much-hyped second headquarters . . . The growing consensus is that the place that checks the most boxes is Northern Virginia. In online betting forums, it has the best odds of landing the project. Analysts at Citi recently said most investors they spoke with also expected HQ2 to end up in the Washington area, noting that Northern Virginia is home to Amazon’s cloud computing division’s ‘largest and fastest-growing office outside of Seattle.’

"Many have gone a step further, suggesting that Crystal City, an older office area being revitalized just across the Potomac River from Washington, offers the best site. Its upsides: good transit, diverse residents, a friendly business climate and a single developer with a big chunk of land . . . Amazon says it will announce its decision by the end of the year.” ( founder and chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

— Marchick to leave Carlyle Group. The Post's Thomas Heath: “One of the architects of The Carlyle Group’s expansion from a boutique private-equity firm into a global publicly-traded asset manager is leaving. David M. Marchick, 52, a member of the firm’s management committee, will depart by year’s end, moving to a senior adviser role as the company completes its transition into new leadership. More changes could come as the next generation of private-equity executives puts its stamp on the firm, seeking to boost Carlyle’s lagging stock price and compete with rivals Blackstone Group and KKR. . . . Marchick is an attorney who started at Carlyle as head of global government affairs as the firm expanded overseas and evolved from traditional leveraged buyouts into an array of assets with $210 billion under management.”

— Musk announces cheaper Model 3. The Post's Drew Harwell: “Tesla chief Elon Musk said late Thursday that the automaker was preparing to sell the cheapest version yet of its newest electric car, the Model 3, signaling an attempt to get back to business after months of controversy. Musk said on Twitter that the sedan, with its ‘mid-range’ battery pack, would cost $35,000, bringing it in line with the mass-market model he had promised for years would revolutionize the availability of electric cars. But that price takes into account federal and state tax rebates.”

Elizabeth Warren. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

— Warren pushes Fed to fire Wells chief.  Reuters: "U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren said on Thursday the Federal Reserve should not allow Wells Fargo & Co to grow in size until the bank replaces Chief Executive Officer Tim Sloan. In a letter to Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, Warren said Sloan, a 30-year veteran of Wells, was 'deeply implicated' in prior bank misconduct and it was untenable for him to remain at the bank as the Fed sought a drastic overhaul of its operations. 'The Wells Fargo Board of Directors cannot plausibly claim that it is "ensuring senior management’s ongoing effectiveness in managing the firm’s activities" while retaining a CEO that helped oversee this much misconduct,' she wrote."

— Kamala Harris pitches middle-class tax break. Politico's Brian Faler: "Sen. Kamala Harris, a potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, today proposed a big new tax break for average Americans. The California Democrat wants to create a new $6,000 tax credit for families earning up to $100,000. The break would be “refundable,” which means people could claim it even if it exceeded their tax liabilities, by receiving a check from the government for the difference... Harris's office said it doesn't yet know exactly how much the plan would cost, but that Harris would finance it in part by repealing the parts of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that benefit people earning more than $100,000. She would also impose a new bank tax on institutions with more than $50 million in assets."


Mick Mulvaney. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

— CFPB to probe official's racial comments. The Hill's Sylvan Lane: "The acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has asked internal government watchdogs to investigate the emergence of and response to writings by a top agency employee dismissing racial discrimination. Acting CFPB chief Mick Mulvaney has asked the Federal Reserve Inspector General Office to probe the growing controversy over 14-year-old blog posts written by Eric Blankenstein, associate director of the Office of Supervision, Enforcement and Fair Lending... The Washington Post reported last month that Blankenstein had written anonymous blog posts in 2004 arguing that most reported hate crimes were hoaxes and questioning whether using the N-word was inherently racist."


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China’s economy grows at its slowest pace since early 2009

China’s economy is growing at the slowest pace since the depths of the financial crisis in early 2009, according to newly released official data that heightens pressure on leaders in Beijing who are navigating a trade dispute with Washington.


China’s National Bureau of Statistics said Friday that GDP rose 6.5 percent during the third quarter compared to a year prior, slightly below the 6.6 percent estimate by economists polled by Reuters. The sequential growth from the previous quarter also slowed.


Beijing has previously signaled that growth would naturally fall this year as it coaxes Chinese companies to cut down risky levels of investment and debt, but the underwhelming GDP figure — combined with the weakest industrial output numbers in years and a badly slumping stock market — may deepen anxieties in the world’s second-largest economy.




“The government is clearly getting concerned about the loss of growth momentum, as evidenced by the recent cut in banks’ reserve requirements,” said Eswar Prasad, a Cornell University professor and former head of the IMF’s China division, in an email. “The slower but still strong headline growth masks the increasing drag from domestic financial vulnerabilities and the expanding trade war with the U.S.”


As part of a stimulus push to inject cash into the economy, China’s central bank earlier this month took a step back from its stated goal of tightening monetary policy by cutting banks’ reserve requirements for the fourth time this year. The stock market fell anyway amid a global sell-off and has been down about 25 percent since the start of the year.

China’s stock regulator took additional steps to boost the market on Friday, saying it would help investment funds buy shares in companies and expedite approvals for mergers and acquisitions.


Investors and economic observers are waiting for the outcome of a meeting between President Trump and his counterpart, Xi Jinping, in Buenos Aires at the G-20 summit in November, which could help defuse tensions and breathe some confidence back into China’s market.


But China’s underlying economy is showing some signs of strain. Industrial output growth rose 5.8 percent, lower than what economists expected, according to Reuters. Retail sales, however, rose more than expected, showing that Chinese domestic consumption, which leaders have been hoping to boost, remains strong.


Chinese officials have downplayed concerns about the trade war on China’s large export economy. Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng told reporters Thursday that the tariffs would only inflict “limited and manageable” impact on Chinese firms.


“For enterprises with strong competitiveness and low substitutability, it can be said that the impact isn’t big,” Gao said, while acknowledging that small companies might see fewer orders and production stoppages.|2

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Trump moves to quit 144-year-old postal treaty

The US has announced plans to withdraw from a 144-year-old postal treaty, which the White House says lets China ship goods at unfairly low prices.

Under the treaty, a UN body sets lower international rates for packages from certain countries, a move originally designed to support poorer nations.

But the US says the discounts put American businesses at a disadvantage.

Officials said they hoped the notice of withdrawal would set the stage to agree a better deal.

"We're looking for a fair system," a senior administration official told reporters. "We do hope that ultimately we achieve a negotiated outcome."


The BBC's Asia business correspondent Karishma Vaswani says the move to pull out of the treaty is aimed at forcing the Chinese to give up the developing nation status they had when they first entered the pact back in 1969.

How does the system currently work?

International mailing rates are governed by the Universal Postal Union (UPU), a unit of the United Nations that traces its roots back to the 1870s.

It subsidises shipments from developing countries while setting higher rates for wealthier nations, including the US.

But the White House said China - a major global exporter - was now the biggest beneficiary of that system.

The US wants changes to the postal treaty to allow countries to set their own rates for parcels weighing under 2kg (4.4lbs). They are already allowed to do so for bigger packages.

The rise of international online shopping has led to a huge increase in the number of small parcels being sent via the postal system.

American firms say it can cost significantly more to post an item within the US than it does to send the same item to the US from China.

What is the US argument?

The bid to overhaul the treaty is part of US President Donald Trump's combative "America First" approach to trade, which has led to tariffs on billions of dollars in goods, attacks on existing trade treaties and criticism of multilateral agreements.

He has frequently singled out China, which exports more goods to the US than any other country.

How China is fighting back in the trade war

The US-China trade war so far

Officials said the discounts strain the finances of the US Postal Service, facilitate the shipment of counterfeit goods and distort pricing within the US, leading to higher fees for domestic companies.

Due to lower rates, foreign packages cost the US about $300m (£228.5m) each year, according to administration estimates.

Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES

The process of withdrawing from the treaty takes at least a year and the White House said it would be willing to remain in the UPU if negotiations were successful.

The US Postal Service and companies such as Amazon and FedEx have complained about the discounts for foreign shippers for many years.

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Saudi Arabia using the 'oil weapon option' could cause prices to soar to $150

While Saudi Arabia isn't likely to follow through with what many saw as a veiled threat to pressure the energy market if the West imposes sanctions against Riyadh, analysts aren't ruling that scenario out.

  • There is increasing evidence Saudi Arabia was behind the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, a US resident who has been a critic of the crown prince.
  • After the US threatened sanctions against Saudi Arabia, the oil-rich country seemed to hint at its ability to hit back through the energy market.
  • Analysts see a 1973-style embargo as unlikely, but warn oil prices could hit triple-digits if tensions escalate.

Saudi Arabia has pushed back against the overwhelming evidence that it was behind the disappearance of the Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, emphasizing its "vital role in the global economy."

And while the oil-rich country isn't likely to follow through with what many saw as a veiled threat to pressure the energy market if the West imposes sanctions against Riyadh, analysts aren't ruling that scenario out.

"We believe that Saudi leadership would be extremely reluctant to exercise the oil weapon option, as its reputation as the world’s stable, reliable oil central banker would be severely undercut," RBC analysts wrote in a research note. "Perhaps more likely is a Saudi decision to slow-walk any Trump inspired output hikes as the Iran energy sanctions deadline looms."

Saudi Arabia, the largest crude exporter in the world, is set to play an increasingly crucial role in maintaining global supply when US sanctions against Iran take effect next month. Following requests from the Trump administration, Riyadh agreed to increase output by a "measurable" amount earlier this year.

"The Kingdom already looks to be close to reaching the upward limits of what it can easily bring on, and it could now dress up any near-term production constraints as a deliberate policy choice," the analysts wrote.

While analysts doubt Riyadh would go as far as an energy embargo now, the government has used oil resources to exert political pressure before. During the 19 70s, a Saudi-led coalition slashed oil exports to the US in protest of Washington's support of Israel in the Yom Kippur War.

"We cannot entirely rule out that the leadership would dust off the 1973 playbook if the bilateral relationship with Washington deteriorates sharply from here," RBC added.

Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members slashed about a quarter of total oil production that year, sparking an energy crisis across the world. Prices nearly quadrupled, rising to about $12 per barrel in 1974 from $3 per barrel two years earlier. But after failing to achieve major policy goals, the embargo and output cuts were both lifted.

Caroline Bain, chief commodities economist at Capital Economics, agrees Riyadh would be reluctant to go that route this time around. But she said energy costs could nearly double by the end of the year if it did come to that, with Brent already at four-year highs, above $81 a barrel, and output disruptions among key OPEC producers.

"This does not look too improbable given that the Saudi cut would come at a time of declining output in Venezuela and Iran," Bain said. "The oil price ... has already proved its sensitivity to changes in supply this year, rising by nearly 20% since August on fears of a sharp drop in Iran’s production as a result of the re-imposition of US sanctions."

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Official: Move of Japan fish market could have been better

A top market official acknowledged Tuesday that the recent move of Japan's main fish market from Tsukiji to a site found contaminated by arsenic could have been better handled.

"I can't say that discussions were sufficient," Hiroyasu Ito, chairman of the Toyosu Market Association, told reporters.

A few businesses are staying in Tsukiji, selling their products in the morning, even as dismantling work starts around them. But nearly all of the 500-plus wholesalers and other businesses have now shifted to Toyosu.

A top market official acknowledged Tuesday that the recent move of Japan's main fish market from Tsukiji to a site found contaminated by arsenic could have been better handled.

"I can't say that discussions were sufficient," Hiroyasu Ito, chairman of the Toyosu Market Association, told reporters.

A few businesses are staying in Tsukiji, selling their products in the morning, even as dismantling work starts around them. But nearly all of the 500-plus wholesalers and other businesses have now shifted to Toyosu.

The move was delayed for two years after contamination, including arsenic, was found in the groundwater and soil at Toyosu, the former site of a gas plant.

But Tokyo's city hall finalized the move earlier this year, declaring Toyosu safe.

"We are not going to be drinking the groundwater. We are not going to be washing the fish in the groundwater," Ito said. "Safety has already been declared."

Ito said various proposals had been considered over the years to see if the Tsukiji facility could have been modernized, but were rejected.

Some wholesalers and workers have expressed worries the new location will tarnish the image of the fish market.

"There is nothing better about the new place except the toilets are cleaner," said Hiroshi Yamaguchi, whose family ran fish wholesaler Hitoku Shoten in Tsukiji since 1964.

His wife Tai Yamaguchi was one of the most vocal opponents of the move to Toyosu.

Tsukiji, which opened 83 years ago, was a popular destination for tourists, including its cluster of quaint sushi restaurants and stores selling seaweed and green-tea ice cream.

The main market's final business day was Oct. 6.

Toyosu, which looks more like a modern warehouse, opened last week with the traditional pre-dawn tuna auction accompanied by the rhythmical shouts of auctioneers.

Tsukiji is being turned into a parking lot for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. What will be built afterward is still being studied, according to city hall.

Ito said more talks with market workers and businesses are needed to allay worries and convince them the move was the best option.

But he stressed that the move to Toyosu went smoothly overall, despite some glitches, such as unloading taking longer than usual.

The more than 400 kinds of seafood sold at the market come from all over Japan and abroad, including octopus, eel, sea urchin and other items special to Japanese cuisine. The market serves top restaurants as well as everyday supermarkets.

Rieko Suzuki, a part-time worker at a Tokyo advertising company who used to shop at Tsukji, thinks some consumers remain skeptical.

"I really don't want to eat contaminated food," she said. "A market that needs to open with a safety declaration is a bit strange."

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