This is an amalgamation of the “best bits” of the daily weekday newsletter/blog woven together to form a concise and coherent view on the things that matter in the commercial and economic news of the week.
THE DAY IN BRACKETS REFERS TO THE EDITION WHERE THE STORY APPEARED IN WATSON’S DAILY. Clicking on the day will take you to the appropriate edition of Watson’s Daily.
THERE WERE SOME JUICY MACRO/POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS THIS WEEK...
- In France, President Macron had to address the problem of his proposed fuel tax rises – which was the root problem of the weekend riots in Paris – as he pondered the aftermath (Monday) which led to a delay in the proposed rollout (Wednesday) that then turned into a bigger climbdown (Thursday). This is going to make further tricky reforms even harder to implement now the French people have successfully found his pain threshold
- OPEC started its meetings in Vienna this Thursday to discuss the oil price and whether to cut production to stem its slide. Although many observers had assumed that a production cut was pretty much a done deal, it doesn’t quite sound like that (Friday) as OPEC members are trying to balance their own interests with those of Trump, who continued to push for keeping production levels unchanged. Mind you, given that the US is now the world’s biggest oil producer it seems that its interests in keeping a reasonably buoyant oil price will soon outweigh the preference for lower oil prices (Monday)
- The week started with renewed hopes for US-China trade relations as they agreed a 90-day truce (Monday) but the markets wobbled on Trump saying he was a tariffs man (Wednesday) before they wobbled again on Chinese anger at the US’s actions re arresting Huawei’s CFO (Friday)
THERE WERE SOME IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENTS THIS WEEK FOR DIFFERERENT VEHICLES...
- The week started with some positive news about China reducing and/or doing away with the 40% car import tariffs (Monday), although there were subsequent wobbles about how robust this would be (Wednesday – because Trump tweeted that he was a “tariff man” and Friday – because of Chinese anger at the arrest of Huawei’s CFO)
- Alphabet’s Waymo announced a “driverless” taxi service called Waymo One in Arizona that had paying passengers (Thursday). It’s very restricted at the moment both in terms of the passengers and actual geographical area, but it’s a step in the right direction for the development of driverless cars.
- There was another exciting development this time in the world of driverless electric trucks as Swedish autonomous vehicle start-up Einride and German logistics group DB Schenker announced their T-pod truck (Monday) that would shortly be carrying freight on public roads. A remote operator can control up to ten trucks at once from a hundred miles away to take over when needed. Currently, the T-Pod is only allowed on 100 miles of public road and can only go for six miles but again, like the Waymo thing above, it’s a step in the right direction
- The week ended on a cautionary note as a study by PA Consulting showed that, if things carry on the way they are now, 8 out of 13 of Europe’s major car companies could face fines of up to 20% of their profits (Friday) because they would fail to hit new limits on carbon dioxide emissions.
UK RETAIL GOT A BIT OF A KICKING THIS WEEK (SURPRISE! SURPRISE!)...
- Department store spending fell for the 13th consecutive month (Wednesday) according to the latest Barclaycard figures. This will presumably give Sports Direct’s Mike Ashley an excuse (if he ever needed one) to shut down more House of Fraser stores
- Ted Baker suffered PR problems due to employees rebelling against a culture of “forced hugging” (Tuesday), so the company got the lawyers in to investigate
- Thomas Cook had a right rollercoaster of a ride as concerns increased about its debt (Tuesday, Wednesday) but were then batted away (Thursday)
- Travis Perkins decided to mull over a potential sale of its Wickes DIY business (Wednesday) so that it can focus more on the more profitable trade business
THERE WAS ALSO A LOT OF HOO-HA OVER HUAWEI...
- There was a ton of drama this week because the CFO (and daughter of the founder) of Chinese telecom equipment maker Huawei was arrested (Thursday) as part of a criminal investigation related to alleged attempts by Huawei to sell US-made equipment to Iran, flouting sanctions against the country. China wasn’t best pleased (Friday) and so markets went weaker (Friday)
My favourite stories this week were Bus driver can lick his own forehead with his tongue in unusual trick (The Mirror, Laura Forsyth https://tinyurl.com/ya43nwyz) and Sumo wrestler goes viral with video of him signing autographs (Nextshark, Carl Samson https://tinyurl.com/y72swrn4), although I think the sumo wrestler just edges it for me!
I hope you have a great weekend!