RBS rising from ruins as shadow of former self (Reuters)
RBS's management has been selling or running off on average 3 billion pounds worth of assets every week, according to the analysis which tracked the size of the bank's balance sheet from 2008 onwards. In total about 1.6 trillion pounds of assets have been stripped out of RBS's balance sheet - equivalent to the economic output of Brazil. [Chief Operating Officer] Mark Bailie was tasked with shedding much of these unwanted assets. "You had an unsustainable balance sheet, an unsustainable culture and an unsustainable cost base and, therefore, I do think it will be the biggest turnaround ever done," he said.
Caution Signals Are Blinking for the Trump Bull Market (Shiller/NYT)
Many people appear to believe that a business-oriented president will preside over a long stock market boom. At a glance, there appears to be some precedent for this, first with the 1920 election that brought in President Warren G. Harding and Vice President Calvin Coolidge and then with the 1980 victory of Ronald Reagan. These elections were followed by the Roaring Twenties of 1921 to 1929 and the Millennium Boom market of 1982 to 2000. But in both cases, during the initial election campaigns the economy was in recession and the CAPE ratio was extremely low — around 5 in 1920 and 9 in 1980.
Donald Trump in his own words (FT)
Do you regret any of your tweets?
I don’t regret anything, because there is nothing you can do about it. You know if you issue hundreds of tweets, and every once in a while you have a clinker, that’s not so bad. Now my last tweet, you know the one that you are talking about perhaps, was the one about being in quotes wire tapped, meaning surveilled. Guess what, it is turning out to be true . . . I predicted Brexit.
Global surveys or hard data – which are the fake news? (FT)
In conclusion, we believe that the hard data in the US are understating activity growth in that economy, and consequently in the official GDP series for the global aggregate. We expect to see this reflected in much stronger growth in US hard data and the official GDP series for 2017 Q2.
Trouble Bubbling Under at Chinese Banks (WSJ)
For now, major pain from souring corporate debt seems at bay as Chinese companies’ cash flows grow—up a whopping 9% last year. But corporate debt balances are growing even faster at 13%, according to Deutsche Bank analysts. The moment there is a pull back in the broader economy, debts will get tougher to service and pay off. There are already signs that debt is spinning further out of control: state-backed companies that account for almost two-thirds of corporate debt recorded just 1% of profit growth last year, while their liabilities grew by 10%.
The Quietest Quarter for the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 51 Years (WSJ)
The average daily move by the 30-stock gauge in the first quarter was 0.3185%, according to The Wall Street Journal’s Market Data Group. That is the smallest average since the fourth quarter of 1965, when Lyndon B. Johnson was president. And it isn’t just the blue-chip companies the Dow tracks. The S&P 500, a broader measure of U.S. equities, posted an average swing of 0.3172% in the first three months of 2017, making the quarter the quietest since the third of 1967, the data show.
Silicon Valley's Quest To Live Forever (New Yorker)
Aging doesn’t seem to be a program so much as a set of rules about how we fail. Yet the conviction that it must be a program is hard to dislodge from Silicon Valley’s algorithmic minds. If it is, then reversing aging would be a mere matter of locating and troubleshooting a recursive loop of code. After all, researchers at Columbia University announced in March that they’d stored an entire computer operating system (as well as a fifty-dollar Amazon gift card) on a strand of DNA. If DNA is just a big Dropbox for all the back-office paperwork that sustains life, how hard can it be to bug-fix?
Ackman Jokes About Career Falling Apart at Florida Tennis Event (BBG)
Just before matches began at the Finance Cup tennis tournament near Miami Beach, bankers and investors huddled around hedge-fund manager Bill Ackman to hear him riff about the stakes for his portfolio. The annual event, which marked its third year on Saturday, pits American financial professionals including Ackman against their European counterparts. To hear him tell it, the U.S. victory in 2015 coincided with the peak of his investing prowess. “And then I made the mistake of losing and my career fell apart,” he said, prompting nervous laughter from the crowd.
How Uber Uses Psychological Tricks to Push Its Drivers’ Buttons (NYT)
Some local managers who were men went so far as to adopt a female persona for texting drivers, having found that the uptake was higher when they did. “‘Laura’ would tell drivers: ‘Hey, the concert’s about to let out. You should head over there,’” said John P. Parker, a manager in Uber’s Dallas office in 2014 and 2015, referring to one of the personas. “We have an overwhelmingly male driver population.” Uber acknowledged that it had experimented with female personas to increase engagement with drivers.
Tyrannosaurus rex was a sensitive lover, new dinosaur discovery suggests (Guardian)
The fearsome carnivore, which stood 20 feet tall and ripped its prey to shreds with dagger-like teeth, had a snout as sensitive to touch as human fingertips, say scientists. T rex and other tyrannosaurs would have used their tactile noses to explore their surroundings, build nests, and carefully pick up fragile eggs and baby offspring. But the snout is thought to have served another purpose. Experts believe that males and females rubbed their sensitive faces together in a prehistoric form of foreplay.