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CEO Daily: Monday, August 24

August 24, 2015, 10:56 AM UTC

It’s Black Monday in China – that’s the term used this morning by China’s official state news agency, which usually downplays bad news. The Shanghai index fell another 9%, pushing stocks, currencies and commodities down around the world. U.S. stock futures point to a bad day as well.

The market rout means it is increasingly unlikely the Fed will raise interest rates next month. Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers – who was Janet Yellen’s competition for the Fed job – writes in the Financial Times this morning that raising rates now would be exactly the wrong thing to do:

“There may have been a financial stability case for raising rates six or nine months ago, as low interest rates were encouraging investors to take more risks and businesses to borrow money and engage in financial engineering … That debate is now moot. With credit becoming more expensive, the outlook for the Chinese economy clouded at best, emerging markets submerging, the US stock market in a correction, widespread concerns about liquidity, and expected volatility having increased at a near-record rate, markets are themselves dampening any euphoria. The Fed does not have to do the job. At this moment of fragility, raising rates risks tipping some of the financial system into crisis, with unpredictable and dangerous results.”


A fine mess. Make the most of the day.


Alan Murray

Top News

China again pressures global markets

China's stocks plunged the most since 2007, with the Shanghai Composite Index dropped 8.5% at the close to erase its gains for the year. More than 800 stocks fell by the daily 10% limit on the index, which has lost more than $4 trillion of value since June 12. The bad session in China led to sharp declines in Europe and Asia, and trading in Standard & Poor's 500 futures indicate another drop at the opening bell after a 3.2% drop on Friday. Bloomberg

China to flood economy with cash

With so much of global financial community's attention on China, a lot of focus today will likely be on a new plan to flood the nation's banking system with new liquidity to offset the effects of the recent surprise currency devaluation. The plan is to reduce the deposits banks must hold in reserve. But a big problem China must face: banks there are risk averse and continue to favor state-owned companies, creating problems for high-tech entrepreneurs to secure financing since the stock market drop started in June.  WSJ (subscription required)

 Apple shares enter bear market

With Apple's shares down 8.5% last week, the gadget maker's stock is a bad performer even among an ugly market. The stock has now swung into the red for the year, and with shares now down 20.6% from their all time high earlier this year, a decline of that magnitude is within the range of the unofficial definition of a bear market. Because the stock is a top holding by individual investors, it says a lot about what those investors are thinking.   USA Today

Around the Water Cooler

 Mondelez defends cost cutting

Mondelez CEO Irene Rosenfeld is in defensive mode with the arrival of a second major activist investor that claims the company could do more to cut costs and boost the snack maker's operating margins, which still lag behind many food-industry peers. Rosenfeld told WSJ that she would continue to follow the strategy the food company has been executing, touting potential for both revenue and profit growth. But she also admitted the cost cutting private-equity firm 3G Capital has achieved since buying Heinz has set a higher bar for the industry.  WSJ (subscription required)

What will happen to Cuban cigar prices?

Last year, a lot of 50 Cuban cigars from 1992 sold for over $41,000. But with relations thawing between the U.S. and Cuba, many are wondering what will happen to the price of hand-rolled Cuban cigars – could they lose their cachet or will high demand drive up prices even higher? Cigar markers are hopeful strong interest will drive up global prices, but a look at what happened to Russian vodka suggests otherwise. The beverage became very popular in the U.S. after the collapse of the U.S.S.R., but competitor brands from other countries fought for relevance, hurting premium pricing.  Fortune

 Could Google rig the election?

A pair of researchers at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology have come to a disturbing conclusion: Google has the power to potentially rig the 2016 presidential election. Through five experiments in two countries, they found that biased rankings in search results can shift the opinions of undecided votes pretty dramatically. That means if Google were to tweak its algorithm to favor a candidate with more positive search results, the candidate could poll better.  Fortune

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