Saudi-Russia oil deal, China's search for aliens and financial lessons from Kanye West

Technology Eye | Feb. 17, 2016

Saudi Arabia has agreed with Russia to freeze oil output at January levels if they are joined by other large producers, in a co-ordinated move to reduce a supply glut and halt the collapse in prices.

After more than 15 months of opposition to unilaterally cutting oil supplies, Saudi Arabia’s powerful oil minister Ali al-Naimi said the agreement between some of the world’s major producers to freeze output should be enough to stabilise the market , which has been hit by a 70 per cent slide in prices.

But traders remained sceptical the provisional agreement would gain wider acceptance, with Iran absent from talks and determined to raise production . (FT, Reuters)

In the news:

Fed official: break up the banks

Neel Kashkari, new head of the Minneapolis Fed and a key architect of Wall Street’s 2008 bailout, said America’s banks pose a potentially “nuclear” threat to the US economy. A break-up should be on the table, alongside a plan to turn the largest into public utilities by “forcing them to hold so much capital that they virtually can’t fail”, he said. (FT)

Beijing places weapons on disputed island

China has placed surface-to-air missile equipment on one of the disputed islands in the South China Sea, newly published satellite images appear to show, in a move that will probably exacerbate already-high tensions . (The Guardian)

Neymar assets seized

A Brazilian judge has ordered the seizure of a private jet, a luxury yacht and other goods worth nearly $50m from Neymar, the country’s biggest football star, who is accused of using shell companies to avoid taxes . (FT)

Apple prices $12bn bond sale

The most valuable company in the world completed the second largest bond sale of the year on Tuesday to fund its share buyback programme, as international debt markets began to reopen after a challenging start to the year. (FT)

More guns, says Paris attacks musician

The Eagles of Death Metal — the Californian rock band that was performing when terrorists stormed the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, killing 89 fans — have “resumed their gig”. The band’s frontman used a preconcert interview to call for more access to firearms, saying “until nobody has guns everybody has to have them ”. (BBC)

It’s a big day for:

Rate watchers

The Fed releases minutes from its January monetary policy meeting as continued market turmoil causes many traders to question whether the central bank can stick to its plans to gradually raise rates this year. (FT)

Food for thought:

The many foes — and few friends — of Angela Merkel

The German chancellor was hailed as the unassailable leader of Europe just last year, getting her way on everything from the Greek rescue package to sanctions on Russia. But she will arrive in Brussels on Wednesday to face the most hostile reception in her 11 years in office. (FT)

Banks are still the weak links in the economic chain

Recent market turmoil has exposed financial groups, writes Martin Wolf . “The world economy is not necessarily heading for a crisis, it is probably just heading for a slowdown — but risks abound. Moreover, such risks are bound to affect banks, particularly those of bank-dependent Europe. The weakened banks will then damage economies.” (FT)

The architecture of Donald Trump

Before he was a prospective presidential candidate, Donald Trump liked to build things — towers, hotels, golf courses. But what do the buildings say about the man ? “They pop up like middle fingers disdaining their surroundings. They are less architecture than marketing, with the Trump sign the most important component,” writes the FT’s Edwin Heathcote. (FT)

China’s search for aliens

Construction is nearly completed on a massive radio telescope — designed to survey the sky for signs of extraterrestrial life — in southwestern China. More than 9,000 people were forced to move to make way for the telescope. They were compensated around $2,000 . (Quartz)

Financial lessons from Kanye West

By publicly boasting about his $53m debt pile, the rapper has identified an issue with which millions of fans around the world can empathise. “Debt is a fact of life, a shared problem that unites us. But there is clearly a danger that as we come to accept higher and higher levels of borrowing as ‘safe’ or ‘normal’ that we are sleepwalking our way into trouble ,” writes FT Money editor Claer Barrett. (FT)

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here

Welcome to the Gates of Hell , a 230-foot-wide crater that has been on fire for over 40 years in the desert of Turkmenistan. (Atlas Obscura)

Video of the day:

Why is Japan trading like an emerging market?

Tokyo stocks are moving in a strangely binary fashion, either roaring bullishness or total despair. Negative interest rates have painted an unsettling picture , but beneath the surface are technical issues that were already there. The FT’s Leo Lewis reports. (FT)

SOURCE: World Economic Forum

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