2 November 2018

Katie Stanton

2 November 2018

Good morning,

Google employees all over the world staged a walkout yesterday, after it emerged that a male executive received a $90 million pay package on exiting the company, despite sexual misconduct allegations against him being deemed “credible”.  

Andy Rubin, the creator of Android software, left Google in 2014. At the time the company failed to disclose the allegations against him due to a forced arbitration procedure that demands all disputes be dealt with internally. Rubin denies the accusations and claims that the size of the payout was exaggerated.  

Yesterday’s protest saw employees in fifty different locations leave their desks in a ‘Walkout for Real Change’. They say Rubin’s case is indicative of a systematic problem: they demand change in the way sexual misconduct allegations are dealt with, and change to a workplace culture that downplays harassment and misconduct and disregards transparency.  

They want to see an end to forced arbitration in cases of harassment and discrimination; a commitment to end pay and opportunity inequality; a publicly disclosed transparency report and a clear, consistent policy for reporting sexual misconduct anonymously. 

To illustrate the point, a San Francisco protester’s placard read: “I reported and he got promoted”. Another called the firm out on its hypocrisy, calling it a “very exceptionalist organisation that in some ways even paints itself as a social enterprise”.  

(Meanwhile in London, in true British style, Google employees protested inside to avoid the rain.)  

Google is not alone in receiving criticism from within. Throughout the tech industry, employees are increasingly “taking Silicon Valley to task” in calling out company policies they disagree with, emboldened by the knowledge that their skillset is in high demand. A recent article entitled, “I am an Amazon employee. My company shouldn’t sell facial recognition tech to the police” is just one example of a swell of tech workers taking public issue with employers’ policies.  

In a world increasingly wary of the influence of tech giants, we shouldn’t count out the power within those companies – the tech employees themselves, fighting to preserve moral codes. 

News

Sports minister Tracey Crouch has resigned over “delays” to a crackdown on maximum stakes for fixed-odds betting machines following the Chancellor’s announcement that the measure would come into force in October 2019 rather than in April 2019. The crackdown would see a reduction in the amount people can bet from £100 to £2 every 20 seconds. Crouch tweeted on her exit: “politicians come and go but principles stay with us forever”.  

The National Crime Agency (NCA) is investigating Arron Banks and Liz Bilney for alleged offences during the 2016 EU referendum prompting calls for Brexit to be suspended. The NCA has reasonable grounds to suspect that Banks was not the true source of £8 million worth of funding – some of which went to Ukip – after a series of reports linked him with Russia.  

A senior police officer described Britain as a “Wild West”, as it was revealed that children as young as nine have been found carrying knives. Jackie Sebire, the National Police Chief’s Council spokeswoman for serious violent crime, said that there were 69,000 recorded child woundings in the year to June – an increase of 4,000 on the year before. She said the “constant torrent” of murders and knife attacks shows an apparent disregard on the part of young people for the consequences of their actions. (£)

Business & Economy

The Bank of England has fixed interest rates at 0.75% and forecasts growth of 1.3% this year, rising to 1.7% in 2019. Interest rates may continue to rise if the UK negotiates a smooth end to its EU membership, in spite of the inevitable economic shock initially. The Bank warned against a no-deal Brexit, which would see the supply side of the economy is damaged, job losses increase and access to credit reduced, driving up inflation – and adding further to pressure to Theresa May’s negotiating team.  

Apple announced yesterday that it will stop revealing unit sales, leaving investors wary and wiping $70 billion from the company’s market capitalisation. For the past ten years, the figures have been a compelling part of earnings announcements and the decision raises questions over whether Apple can ever return to the number of units sold in 2015. Finance chief Luca Maestri insisted that “a unit of sale is less relevant today than it was in the past” and shareholders should focus on revenues and profit margins. (£) 

Royal Dutch Shell profits have soared as oil and gas prices increase. The company is pushing ahead with a planned share buy-back, and reported that underlying earnings, on a current cost of supplies basis, rose 37 per cent to $5.6 billion for the three months to November. Shell promised in July to buy up to $2.5 billion shares following its £42 billion acquisition of BG Group. 

Markets

What happened yesterday?

It was a turbulent trading day for the FTSE 100, ending down 0.46% at 7,095.65. Shares in BP lost 4.85% in spite of good profits in the third quarter. Today’s winners included BT Group, with shares up 8.7% after publishing their interim results. The FTSE 250 finished 1.19% higher at 19,142.82. 

Meanwhile, the US stocks continued their rebound into November following Trump’s increased optimism surrounding a US-China trade deal and positive corporate earnings reports.  

There were also gains for China’s equities after the authorities pledged new economic stimuli. China’s CSI 300 rose 0.7% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 1.8%.  

Brent crude had dropped drastically by 3.6% at $72.77 a barrel amid fears that global demand was slowing, although it has reversed early losses this morning.  

On the currency markets, the pound jumped after the Bank of England signalled a possible increase in interest rates in the event of a Brexit deal. It reached $1.30 after rising 1.82%, helped by a weaker dollar. The pound was up 0.97% against the euro at €1.14. 

Interims
System1 Group

Q3 Results
Paddy Power Betfair
TP ICAP
 
Trading Announcements
Glencore
Paddy Power Betfair

AGMs
Murgitroyd Group
 
UK Economic Announcements
(09.30) PMI Construction
 
Intl. Economic Announcements
(08.55) PMI Manufacturing (GER)
(12.30) Balance of Trade (US)
(12.30) Non-Farm Payrolls (US)
(12.30) Unemployment Rate (US)

Columns of Note

Alex Massie checks in with the US this week in the run up to the midterms. He writes in the Spectator that Trump is ramping up his “America under attack” rhetoric, rallying conservative voters to the cause. But not only this: Trump is also embracing his freedom, comfortably confrontational and blissfully ignorant.  

The unilateralism of the US can be countered if Europe cooperates with Iran to secure hegemony and protect the long-term interests of all parties, writes Hassan Rouhani in the Financial Times. He argues that the troubling US dialogue, currently plagued by Islamophobia and racial hatred, is incompatible with Europe’s multilateralism and societal norms. A more reasoned ally, he argues, would be Iran given their commitment to overcome difficulties and follow international protocol, demonstrated during nuclear deal negotiations.

Did you know?

In 1875, a whiskey storehouse caught fire in Dublin, killing 13 people. None of the victims died from burns or smoke inhalation - they all died after the fire from alcohol poisoning as a result of drinking “freely of the derelict whiskey”.

Parliamentary highlights

TODAY

House of Commons
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House of Lords
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Scottish Parliament
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