Angus Watt Advisory Group

10 Second Headline of the Week - July 7, 2017

UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA: ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE RESEARCH LAB

  • Alphabet Inc.’s DeepMind, an AI company, is hiring 3 prominent computer scientists from the University of Alberta; its first international AI research lab will be stationed in downtown Edmonton.

BARRON’S: BEYOND BITCOIN (Avi Salzman)

  • Early on, bitcoin trades were easily corruptible, used by criminals, hackers, and blackmailers.
    • One person “lost” 850,000 bitcoin worth $450bil in a hack
  • Bitcoin’s adoption rate is slow; banks are not adopting bitcoin because they cannot effectively comply with “know your customer” laws.
  • Network is too slow to handle volume of transactions, forcing users to pay fees to process payments.
  • In 2017, Bitcoin has nearly tripled to as high as $3,000; more institutional investors are supporting its underlying technology – “blockchain”.
  • ASX Australia, Bank of Canada, Bank of New York Mellon, Diamler, and Northern Trust are already using blockchain technology.
  • The new technology could speed up several back-office operations, such as settling trades or making cross-border payments, and make them cheaper (save financial institutions $15bil to $35bil/year.)

CANADA

  • Canada added 45,000 jobs in June (mostly part-time) vs. 10,000 expected
    • Unemployment rate 6.5% vs. 6.6%
  • Alberta added 7,400 jobs in June
    • Lost 11,400 full time and added 18,800 part-time
    • Unemployment rate 7.4% vs. 7.8%
  • The federal government has allocated $2bil over 11 years for a national trade corridor aimed at helping Canadian exporters move goods to the U.S. and international markets.
    • The new $35bil federal infrastructure bank will also invest at least $5bil on transportation trade routes.

GLOBAL

  • U.S. added 222,000 jobs in June vs. 179,000 expected
    • Unemployment rate 4.4% vs. 4.3%
    • Average hourly earnings up 0.2% M/M (2.5% Y/Y)
  • Borrowing by small U.S. businesses hits highest level since June 2016.
    • Driven by 11% Y/Y increase in borrowing by businesses in arts and entertainment.
  • The EU and Japan have reached a political agreement on their free-trade agreement and the legal text is expected within the next few months; the deal will eliminate 99% of tariffs when fully enacted.
  • France aims to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles by 2040 and become carbon neutral by 2050.

TIDBITS

  • All Volvo car models launched after 2019 will be electric or hybrids; Volvo is owned by China’s Geely Motors.
  • Apple Inc. is working on a 3-D facial scanning feature to allow users to log in, authenticate payments, and launch secure apps; eye scanning is also being tested.
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