Watson’s Weekly 15-02-2020

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.


  • President Trump announced his final budget before the November election (Tuesday). Basically, he wants more spending on defence and infrastructure and less spending on social welfare
  • China’s inflation shot up from 4.5% in December to 5.4% in January (Tuesday), which isn’t really surprising considering that food prices have shot up by around 20% in the last 12 months due in large part to the African Swine Flu-induced pork shortage
  • Eurostat was downbeat about the outlook for the Eurozone (Thursday) with particular weakness from Germany, France and Italy – the Eurozone’s biggest countries! It had looked like things were turning a corner on the manufacturing front but that will be out of the window  now given the effect of the coronavirus
  • In France, Macron’s popularity is taking a dive (Thursday) as he continues his attempts to introduce difficult policies, Germany’s Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (AKK) shocked everyone by announcing that she’d be stepping down as leader of the CDU (Tuesday) and won’t be running for Germany’s Chancellor at the next election (she was Angela Merkel’s annointed successor). Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid was replaced by Rishi Sunak (Friday) in a dramatic Cabinet reshuffle, so it is possible that the Budget could be postponed from March 11th – the original plan


  • China encouraged factories to restart after the Lunar New Year holiday (Monday) but many are struggling with lack of workers and even when they are getting there, product is difficult to transports as there are massive delays on the roads, flights are very hard to come by and shipping is also heavily restricted
  • There was a big spike in reported coronavirus cases (Friday) as Chinese authorities are now reporting confirmed cases “based on clinical diagnosis of symptoms” rather than confirming them “only after positive laboratory tests”
  • Mobile phone production will take a big hit in the first quarter (Tuesday) as research by TrendForce forecasts that smartphone production will fall by 12% in the first quarter versus last year due to factory shutdowns and lack of workers
  • Economists are saying that global growth could slow down in the first quarter for the first time since 2009 (Tuesday) as they all continue to trim their forecasts
  • Trump could actually end up benefiting from the coronavirus (Friday) because although he managed to get a phase one deal with the Chinese, it’ll be the coronavirus that does what he actually set out to do – smash supply chains that are overly reliant on China


  • Car makers continue to suffer as Daimler had its worst profits for ten years (Wednesday) due to rising legal and R&D costs. It already announced big job cuts last year but things aren’t improving. Nissan had its first quarterly loss in ten years (Friday) and it looks like it could get worse as this doesn’t take into account any coronavirus effects!
  • Uber was dealt a blow as a judge upheld AB5 (Wednesday) despite its protests. This is all about the classification of workers as either employees (which means they get benefits etc.) or contractors (the current situation, where workers don’t get any benefits). The company argues that classifying them as employees will raise costs by 20%
  • Tesla made more waves this week as it did a surprise $2bn fund raising (Friday) in order to take advantage of its incredibly strong share price performance particularly in the last six weeks. This came at the same time that the SEC announced another investigation into the company and that it was seeking “information concerning certain financial data and contracts including Tesla’s regular financing arrangements”


  • In the “Preview of 2020” section, the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona has been cancelled (February 13th). Potential attendees who are concerned about whether the the World Banknote Summit will still be on will no doubt be on tenterhooks…In the “Themes for 2020” section, Nestlé this week (Friday 14th) announced that its plant-based alternative protein business – which is only a tiny part of the overall business – achieved double-digit organic sales growth via brands such as Garden Gourmet. It also announced the launch of a plant-based “tuna salad” – impressive because seafood alternatives have lagged those of their “meat” cousins. In the “Country-by-country overview for 2020” section, Germany‘s potential successor to Angela Merkel – Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer – stepped down from the leadership of the CDU and said she would not stand for election as Chancellor, leaving the door open to other candidates; Italy‘s Salvini courts more controversy as he loses immunity and faces trial for blocking a migrant boat while in office (February 13th) and India‘s PM Narendra Modi suffered a big defeat in Delhi’s city election as his BJP party was thrashed by Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi (Common Man aka “AAP”) party as divisions between the haves and have-nots widens


My absolute favourite story this week involved a little guy kicking the *ss of a big guy 👊 in The bigger they are… Smallest top sumo wrestler takes on yokozuna with amazing result (SoraNews24, Casey Baseel https://tinyurl.com/vrer2bu)! If you can’t see the video in the story, click on this to see it. Impressive!