17 July 2019

Erica Salowe

17 July 2019

Good morning,

We’ve all been there: in the morning commute, hearing the ominous beeps marking the train’s imminent departure as we sprinted, panting, arm outstretched, only an instant too late as the doors closed and locked with a resounding thud. 
 
Before important plans, I’ve eyed the clock as I frantically brushed my hair and blotted a David-Bowie-Life-On-Mars amount of blush onto my cheeks, too blinded by cakey mascara to notice that three whole minutes slipped by and I am now officially late. In my university days, I’ve blanched as I realised the rickety city bus would never reach the professor’s office in time for me to hand in the hard copy of that paper worth half my grade.
 
Regardless of the exact situation, sometimes you just need to get somewhere in a pinch.
 
When I was studying at the University of Glasgow, I sometimes ran into all the aforementioned scenarios in one morning. When in doubt, Uber was my best bet for fast and cheap service. The fees and ease of Uber were certainly optimal when I compared it to the pricey yellow cabs my shoulder would ache from hailing while working in New York one sweltering summer.  
 
Apparently, I’m not the only one smitten with the ridesharing service. Daring to be a trendsetter, the rural town of Innisfil in Ontario, Canada embarked on an experiment to be the first to replace all public transit with Uber.
 
For the past two years, Innisfil residents have paid a maximum of CAD$5 (£3) to reach destinations within the town, the rest of their Uber cost being subsidised by the city. The results? Both Innisfil authorities and residents consider the transport experiment a success.
 
Car services are more personalised, and residents love having what is basically a subsidised taxi service. Though ironically, the more successful the Uber public transit is, the more Innisfil needs to subsidise costs. In the two years of running the programme, the town has run CAD$200,000 over its budget. Critics say it is not sustainable – financially or environmentally.
 
Not to be dissuaded in its determination to develop a reputation as a “smart city hub,” the town has found other ways to innovate and grab headlines – including accepting Bitcoin for municipal taxes.
 
What are the wider implications of this tiny town’s governmental decisions? Despite the overspending, planners from other cities have contacted Innisfil for advice on how to set up a similar system. It’s also no secret that some of the world’s biggest cities are striving to make waves in the technological sphere, and Uber can scent the blood in the water.
 
Denver’s partnership with Uber earlier this year for its citizens to plan bus or rail trips on the Uber app is one such example of the public and private transit sectors joining forces. And who can forget Uber’s bold push to trial Uber Air in Melbourne, which could reduce the city’s $16.5bn yearly traffic congestion costs?
 
Of course, scandal around Uber’s abrasive business tactics and poor compensation of drivers has turned off the service completely to some key cities like Barcelona. But how long can European cities resist the push when its citizens need to be somewhere in a pinch and crave the fast, cheap service they see making headlines elsewhere in the world?

News

The latest figures from the National Records of Scotland show that per capita, Scotland has more drug death rates than any other European country. Drug deaths are 27% higher than last year and at an all-time high. Scotland’s rate is even marginally higher than that of the US, when contextualised as number of deaths per million people. Results show that 72% of deaths last year were male and the primary fatal drugs were heroin, diazepam and etizolam. Scottish public health minister Joe Fitzpatrick expressed shock at the news, acknowledging that drug abuse needed to be a stronger public health issue but lamenting that changes to drug policy were the jurisdiction of Westminster.
 
Ursula von der Leyen last night narrowly secured the top job of European Commission president. Though she faced deep scepticism from pro-EU parties and had to mainly rely on votes from populist MEPs and those on the far-right, Leyen inched across the finish line with just nine more votes than the minimum of 374 to secure a majority. Von der Leyen’s victory is the narrowest backing received by a commission president since the 2008 Lisbon Treaty. Despite criticism of how her narrow win will affect her administration, von der Leyen has expressed confidence in continuing Jean-Claude Junker’s policy agenda.
 
Boots has pledged to make the switch from plastic bags to unbleached paper bags that use water-based ink. The decision comes after criticism earlier this year for the health and beauty chain’s policy to keep medical prescription bags in plastic for protection purposes during transport. The new bags will roll out in stores by early 2020 and are expected to cut the use of 900 tonnes of plastic annually.

Business & Economy 

The Queen’s property managers are establishing terms for the biggest offshore wind auction the world has seen in a decade as they set out to lease the sea bed around the British Isles. Profits from the sale go to the Treasury, which sends a sovereign grant of 25% back to the royal household.  Potentially £100m in royalties could be generated each year for the Queen, with sea beds  contributing up to 80% of offshore wind power by 2050.
 
After Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced thawing tensions between the US and Iran on Tuesday, US oil prices plunged 4.2%. Pompeo claimed that Iran said it was ready to negotiate about its missile programme, which would ease fears of military conflict between the two countries that would throttle supplies near the Strait of Hormuz. However, Iran maintains a different outlook on the situation, and asserts that its missiles are not negotiable with any country.
 
As many have predicted, Facebook’s cryptocurrency Libra faced further scrutiny at a US hearing on Tuesday, with senators saying the company was “delusional” and that plans to launch the new business model were untrustworthy. Facebook executive David Marcus tried to assuage fears by saying Libra was a democratic, open system “over which Facebook does not have control,” but doubts were still prevalent in the courtroom.

Markets

What happened yesterday?

US president Donald Trump’s remarks that Washington could impose another $325bn on Chinese goods dragged stocks from record highs, with the S&P 500 falling 0.4% after Trump’s statements and, after a sell-off in oil weighed on energy shares, closed 0.3% lower. Also affected were the Nasdaq Composite, down 0.4% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which declined by 0.1%.
 
The FTSE 100 followed decent gains from Monday by edging higher in early trading, up 0.36% at 7,558.96. Despite reduced capacity due to delays with the Boeing 737 Max, Ryanair’s shares were up higher yesterday morning. Luxury fashion house Burberry stole the show with strong like-for-like sales over the first quarter, which shot the brand to the top of the FTSE 100, up 11.8% at £22.24. The biggest FTSE faller is Rightmove, down 2.3% at 519.55p.
 
The FTSE 250 was up marginally at 19,591.11, and the share price of AG remains stagnated after a shock profits warning as it is down nearly 25% at 652p.

Finals
Koovs Plc
Versarien
 
AGMs
Ao World
B.p Marsh
Burberry
Charles Stanley
Codemasters Gr.
Electrocomponents
Johnson Matthey
Martin C.asia
Premier Foods
Ramsdens Hldgs
Renold
Severn Trent
Techfinancials
Yellow Cake Plc

Interims
Augean

UK Economic Announcements
(09:30) Producer Price Index
(09:30) Consumer Price Index
(09:30) Retail Price Index
 
Intl. Economic Announcements
(10:00) Consumer Price Index (EU)
(12:00) MBA Mortgage Applications (US)
(13:30) Building Permits (US)
(13:30) Housing Starts (US)
(15:30) Crude Oil Inventories (US)

Columns of Note

Afua Hirsch writes in The Guardian about how Trump’s crude remarks for congresswomen to “go back to their countries” was calculated and predicated on his belief that US voters aren’t “ready for a Democratic party which looks like them.” She argues that Trump’s remarks were intentionally racist to play on many people’s fears. However, Hirsch points out that the US has risen to the challenge of calling out and denouncing racism, and that a discussion needs to be had on the presence of racism in the UK. She also finds commonalities in the populist movements taking over both the US and the UK.
 
Martin Wolf of the Financial Times argues that the case for globalism remains strong and that the most pressing policy challenges we face require multilateral cooperation. With the 75th celebration of Bretton Woods this month, Wolf praises the 10% decline in the proportion of the population living in poverty. However, he juxtaposes this by pointing out that with an increase in complexity of economies and societies, the world needs to catch up with demand in a sustainable way. Thinking and acting globally while changing the norms of corporate governance is key to survival.

Did you know?

The Apollo astronauts’ footprints will likely stay on the moon for at least 100 million years, because there is no wind or water to erode or wash away the marks.

Parliamentary highlights

TODAY
 
House of Commons
Oral questions
International Development (including Topical Questions)
 
Prime Minister's Question Time
 
Ten Minute Rule Motion
Reservoirs (Flood Risk) - Holly Lynch
 
Legislation
Census (Return Particulars and Removal of Penalties) Bill [Lords]: 2nd reading
 
General debate
The Gemma White Report
 
Motion
Debate on a Motion relating to the changes to the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme - Mel Stride
 
Adjournment
Transport in Bedfordshire - Mr Gavin Shuker
 
House of Lords
Oral questions
A comprehensive plan for inter-faith dialogue for areas of religious conflict - Lord Lea of Crondall
 
Introducing a 10p plastic bag charge in England - Lord Hayward
 
Whether defence expenditure is sufficient to meet UK responsibilities nationally and internationally - Lord Lee of Trafford
 
Role of British gambling companies and football clubs in encouraging children in Africa to gamble illegally - Baroness Sheehan
 
Legislation
Wild Animals in Circuses (No.2) Bill - Report stage - Lord Gardiner of Kimble
 
Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill – Report stage and third reading - Lord Duncan of Springbank
 
Orders and regulations
Draft Electricity Capacity (No. 2) Regulations 2019 - Lord Henley
 
Debate
Devolution to English cities in the light of Lord Heseltine’s report 'Empowering English Cities' - Lord Heseltine
 
Scottish Parliament
On recess until Monday 1 September.
 
TOMORROW
 
House of Commons
Oral questions
Transport (including Topical Questions)
 
Business Statement
Business Questions to the Leader of the House - Mel Stride
 
Select Committee Statement
Eighteenth Report of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee on Governance of Official Statistics: redefining the dual roles of the UK Statistics Authority; and re-evaluating the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007, HC 1820
 
Consideration of Lords amendments
If necessary
 
Backbench Business
Debate on a Motion on the Bishop of Truro's Review on Persecution of Christians Overseas - Chris Philp, Fiona Bruce, Jim Shannon, David Linden
 
General Debate on Non-Invasive Precision Therapies for cancer - Grahame Morris, Tim Farron
 
Adjournment
Sanctuary Housing Group - Mr Mark Francois
 
House of Lords
Oral questions
Government advice to British citizens intending to climb Mount Everest during the autumn and spring seasons to reduce the risk of loss of life - Lord Forsyth of Drumlean
 
Reviewing the recruitment processes of UK Visas and Immigration and the Border Force - Lord Marlesford
 
Ensuring that lottery providers who operate on a national basis, other than the National Lottery, spend a minimum of 25 per cent of their profits on the funding of good causes - Lord Addington
 
The government of Turkey's purchase of surface-to-air missiles from Russia - Lord West of Spithead
 
Debate
Conduct Committee report: 'Amendments to the rules of conduct' - Lord Mance
 
Future of trade unions; and of wider industry representation, solidarity and collective action; and of the 100th anniversary of the International Labour Organisation - Lord Jordan
 
Assessment of the United States’ Peace to Prosperity economic plan for Palestine, published on 26 June - Lord Cope of Berkeley
 
Impact and response to the funding levels of public services that interact with young adults - Baroness Massey of Darwen
 
Scottish Parliament
On recess until Monday 1 September.