Business review from the Economist
Disney's splashes into streaming business
Disney's streaming video service went live, the latest in a lengthening line of challengers to Netflix's dominance of the market. The trove of programming on Disney+ not only includes its archive of animated classics, but also catalogs of material from other studios that Disney owns, which include Marvel, Pixar and 20th Century Fox. Along with rivals like Amazon and Apple (but not Netflix) Disney wants to entice customers into its wider product range — in its case, theme parks and cruises.
President Donald Trump increased the pressure on China to agree to a "phase one" trade deal, threatening to raise tariffs "substantially" if it does not. Whether the U.S. removes all tariffs or just those that are scheduled to come into effect in December remains a sticking-point in the negotiations. Diplomats are also searching for a neutral venue where the two countries' presidents can sign a deal in front of the world's cameras, after Chile canceled the APEC summit in Santiago where the ceremony was supposed to take place.
GDP in both Germany and Japan grew by just 0.1% in the third quarter compared with the previous three months. Germany avoided a recession (its economy shrank by 0.2% in the second quarter), helped in part by a welcome rise in the country's exports, which have struggled during global trade tensions. Britain also dodged a recession, chalking up growth of 0.3% following a contraction. Solid performances in the construction and services sectors offset flat growth in agriculture and manufacturing.
Alibaba was reported to have secured approval from the Hong Kong Stock Exchange to sell shares in a secondary listing. The Chinese e-commerce giant listed on the New York bourse five years ago. It had been expected to float shares in Hong Kong earlier this year before the outbreak of huge street protests; the threat of escalating unrest to the financial hub still remains.
The prospectus for Saudi Aramco's IPO provided few details for investors, such as an indicative share price or an exact date for its stock market debut on the Riyadh exchange. Those particulars are expected to be announced soon. The prospectus did indicate that 1 billion shares in the state-owned oil company will be offered to Saudi Arabia's small investors.
The California Trucking Association launched a legal challenge against the state's new law giving wage and benefit protections to independent contractors. The rules are aimed at workers in the gig economy, though they will also apply to caretakers, maids and many others. The truckers' group says its drivers' ability to set their own timetables will be hampered and interstate commerce undermined. Uber and others want a measure to be put before voters next year that would exempt them from the law, which comes into effect Jan. 1.
Carl Icahn, an activist investor, revealed that he has built a 4.2% stake in HP and will push it to accept a takeover offer from Xerox.
Tesla chose Berlin as the site for its first factory in Europe, making electric cars and batteries. "Berlin rocks," raved Elon Musk, Tesla's boss. Production should start in 2021.
Global politics from the Economist
Violent clashes grow in Hong Kong
Unrest flared again in Hong Kong after a protester died. Another was shot at close range by a police officer, allegedly while trying to grab his gun. A man was set on fire by demonstrators after remonstrating with them. One senior officer said society was on the "brink of a total breakdown." The Chinese government said Hong Kong was "sliding into the abyss of terrorism."
China's president, Xi Jinping, paid a visit to Greece, an important partner in the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to improve global infrastructure.
Evo Morales quit as Bolivia's president after nearly 14 years in office. The chief of the armed forces had suggested he leave following widespread protests, which broke out after Morales' victory in a dubious election Oct. 20. Morales accepted Mexico's offer of political asylum. Jeanine Áñez, a political foe of Morales, took office as Bolivia's interim president. She has said she will hold fresh elections.
Hassan Rouhani, Iran's president, claimed that a new oil field containing 53 billion barrels of crude had been discovered. If true, this would increase Iran's proven reserves, already one of the world's largest, by about a third.
The central bank of Zimbabwe began reissuing Zimbabwean dollars after a decadelong hiatus. The new notes are in effect the country's third currency in the past three years.
Venice was hit by its worst floods for half a century. Water entered St. Mark's Basilica, causing "grave damage," according to the city's mayor.