Recession

MARKETS

  • Europe: It's Christine Lagarde's first day as president of the European Central Bank, which means she's sitting at her desk trying to look busy and praying someone will take her out to lunch.
  • U.S. economy: The sun is setting on a busy week of economic data, but not before the grand finale-the October jobs report. Economists predict 89,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy.

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INTERNATIONAL

Hong Kong Is Officially in a Recession

Five months of sustained protests will do that.

An international commerce hub, Hong Kong was already feeling the effects of the U.S.-China trade war and China's slowing economic growth. But months of anti-government protests compounded those problems, dragging the region's economy down 3.2% in the quarter spanning July to September.

Local businesses are hurting. Protesters have targeted and vandalized organizations they perceive as opposing their cause.

  • Bottomless dim sum baskets aren't boosting restaurant attendance.
  • Hotel occupancy dropped from 90%+ to around 66%.
  • HK's Cathay Pacific Airways's inbound traffic nosedived 38% in September.

Things won't get better soon

Economists predict Hong Kong will fall short of growth targets for the year and face negative GDP growth in 2020 or earlier. But even if protests ended tomorrow, the consequences could stretch long after.

  • Take the yellow vest protests that ripped through France last holiday season. The worst impacts weren't expected until the last few months of 2019 when supply chain and delayed tax bill disruptions finally hit.

In response, HK leader Carrie Lam has committed to billions in social welfare programs and cut capital requirements for business loans. Still, without ending protests, stimulus measures feel like fighting a kitchen fire with a brass succulent mister.

That wasn't yesterday's only scary news

Halloween celebrations were substantially less chipper this year in Hong Kong's Lan Kwai Fong nightlife district. Tens of thousands of protesters flouted a new ban on facial coverings and turned out in full Guy Fawkes force, leading to an hours-long standoff with police.

  • The NYT sets the scene: "Later in the evening, with the area blocked off, a reveler dressed as Snow White could be seen coughing in the tear gas as tourists took selfies."

Big picture: Chinese leaders were sequestered behind closed doors this week for the Communist Party's secretive Central Committee plenary. One item on the agenda? Figure out how to juice China's flagging economy.

MEDIA

Apple + TV = Apple TV+

November means watching male colleagues slowly morph into Hagrid and the official launch of the streaming wars.

First up? After years of prep and spending $1 billion on just the first year of programming, Apple TV+ is now live for $4.99/month.

Don't let the price fool you

$15 million-per-episode production costs of series like The Morning Show and See rival those during the final season of Game of Thrones.

  • Why so pricey? A-listers like Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carell don't come in value packs like Chewy bars.

But ≠ , and early releases have mixed reviews. However, with content from Oprah, Steven Spielberg, J.J. Abrams, and Octavia Spencer still to come, this could be a Parks and Rec Season 1-esque start.

Because what Apple lacks in early titles, it might make up for in established customer relationships. The company's offering promotions like a year of "free" streaming with Apple purchases.

Looking ahead...rival service Disney+ goes live in 11 days.

E-CIGARETTE

Altria Gets Hit in the Family Juuls

Altria's investment in Juul is going about as well as your contribution to your friend's wax throwing venture. Yesterday, the tobacco giant said it's taking a $4.5 billion writedown of its investment in the e-cigarette leader.

  • Altria now pegs Juul at about a $24 billion valuation. The company paid $12.8 billion for a 35% stake in Juul last December.
  • Fidelity cut the value of its own stake in Juul by almost 50% Wednesday.

The backstory: This one would take longer than The Two Towers. Juul is dealing with a) a possible FDA ban on flavored e-cigarettes that would affect more than 80% of Juul's U.S. sales b) city and state bans already in effect and c) an outbreak of vaping-related illnesses and deaths. It's tried to respond by...

  • Suspending online sales of some flavored products last month.
  • Hiring a new CEO in September who began revamping the c-suite earlier this week.

+ While we're here: Altria announced it will expand iQOS, its tobacco-heating device, to Richmond, VA. It was previously only available in Atlanta.

BEVERAGE

There's a Foam Party at the Moab Brewery

Today, alcohol limits on beer sold in Utah grocery stores, convenience stories, and bars will be raised from 3.2% to 4% alcohol by weight (which is equivalent to 5% alcohol by volume).

This is a long time coming. Lighter beer limits were set by Congress during the Prohibition era, but most states have since raised the threshold to accommodate your increasing thirst for an 11.4% quintuple IPA.

  • For smaller brewers…the transition has been a logistical "nightmare." Try switching up your entire branding and packaging with just seven months' notice.
  • For larger brewers...it's a marketing opportunity. On Wednesday, Budweiser called in the Clydesdales to hold a mock funeral for 3.2% beer.

Zoom out: "In Utah, the state's predominant religious faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, teaches abstinence from alcohol, and strict liquor laws continue to hold sway," writes the AP. But lawmakers and industry boosters reached a compromise to raise the limit in March.

Pop quiz: There is now only one state left with 3.2% beer. What is it? (Answer at bottom.)

QUIZ

Double Quizzing

No longer accepts political ads. Worse reviews than Peter Luger. Now at 1.5x speed. It's the Brew's Weekly News Quiz.

1. Fill in the blanks: French luxury conglomerate _____ has made an offer to buy ______, a NYC-based jeweler.

2. What is the colloquial name for Saudi Arabia's Future Investment Initiative conference held this week?

3. Chinese President Xi Jinping urged his country to take the lead in which technology?

  1. Blockchain
  2. Mars colonization
  3. Plant-based meat
  4. Facial recognition
  5. Email newsletters

4. Which country's president said it would no longer host two major international conferences as it confronts massive protests?

5. In Belleville, IL, it is illegal for anyone older than 12 to participate in what activity?

Answers: 1. LVMH, Tiffany 2. Davos in the Desert, 3. Blockchain 4. Chile 5. Trick-or-treating

WHAT ELSE IS BREWING

  • Alphabet's Sidewalk Labs got approval for a futuristic city in Toronto, but agreed to walk back a few plans to reach a compromise.
  • Pinterest is scooping up market share from Facebook and Google, but it still posted discouraging Q3 results. Shares fell 19% after hours.
  • Samsung pointed to a weak computer chip market as it reported a 52% drop in net profit.
  • PG&E restored power to most customers in northern California yesterday, but wildfires spurred by strong winds fueled new fires across southern California.
  • House lawmakers approved a measure establishing the framework for an impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

FRIDAY PUZZLE

What is the most consecutive points a tennis player can lose and still win a best-of-five-sets match?

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Breakroom Answers


FRIDAY PUZZLE ANSWER
76 points. How it works: You go up 5-0, 40-love in the first set, then lose every single point thereafter in the set (29 points). Your opponent then wins the next set (24 points) and goes up 5-0, 40-love on you in the third set (23 points). You then storm back to win all the remaining points. What. A. Comeback.

Source: NPR

Beer trivia answer: Minnesota is now the only state left with a 3.2% alcohol limit on beer in grocery and convenience stores.

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