Good morning from Guangzhou.
The Fortune Global Tech Forum got underway this morning, and first on stage was Sequoia China’s Neil Shen—who, depending on which list you believe, is either one of the top, or the top venture capital investor of 2018, by virtue of investments in companies like Alibaba, JD.com, and Didi Chuxing. Shen has seen more than a dozen of his companies successfully launch IPOs this year.
But Shen says he doesn’t see the IPO as an exit—he claims that “in 13 years I haven’t sold a single share.” Instead, he stays in, because he believes the Chinese tech economy still has a long way to go before meeting its full potential.
What about the risk of a trade war? Shen says that doesn’t threaten the future of Chinese tech. For one thing, he says, the Chinese economy is in the midst of a long-term transition from an export-led to a consumer-led economy, and that is going to continue to drive economic growth. And second, the disruptive companies he is investing in are taking share from traditional companies, so they can grow faster than the overall economy. With less growth in the U.S., companies there have less potential for growth.
His bottom line, which was shared by other experts here today: the trade war may hurt China more than the U.S. in the short term, but it will hurt the U.S. more in the long term.
“What we have now is Chinese entrepreneurs going global with Chinese business models,” Ben Harburg of MSA Capital told the group. As a result, China is defining the future of globalization, and the U.S., because of its protectionist push, is in danger of being left behind.
You can follow the event in Guangzhou on fortune.com. More news below.
Unilever CEO Paul Polman is retiring, with his replacement being beauty unit head Alan Jope. Polman’s departure announcement comes a couple months after he clashed with shareholders over a plan to consolidate Unilever’s headquarters in the Netherlands. In the event, the firm decided to maintain its HQ in Brexit Britain, meaning certain U.K. shareholders wouldn’t be forced to sell their stock. Reuters
Former Nissan chair Carlos Ghosn reportedly accumulated $80 million in deferred-pay IOUs from the Japanese automaker, but had not yet made a plan for collecting the cash. That’s according to Nissan’s internal probe of the scandal, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. The question now is whether his tactics were legal or not under Japanese securities law. WSJ
Fed Chair Jerome Powell may be open to changing tack on rate rises next year. With another hike expected next month, Powell said yesterday that the rises thus far had brought rates policy just shy of the “neutral” point where it neither stimulates nor dampens the economy. Powell on forecasts: “There is a great deal to like about this outlook.” Bloomberg
But Wait, There’s More
The Fed also released its first-ever financial stability report yesterday, which warned of risks that could whack the markets. Those risks include ongoing trade tensions, rising corporate debt from companies that have weak balance sheets, and rising geopolitical uncertainty. If stuff hits the fan, the report reads, “the resulting drop in asset prices might be particularly large, given that valuations appear elevated relative to historical levels.” Fortune
Around the Water Cooler
President Trump is threatening new auto tariffs again, this time in the context of GM which, he said, would not be closing so many plants if the U.S. had more protectionist policies in place. “The President has great power on this issue,” tweeted the president. BBC
After New Zealand became the latest country to shun Huawei’s 5G telecoms equipment, the U.K. and Germany are apparently also starting to heed the pressure coming out of Washington. But there’s no indication yet that those countries will follow suit—rather, at this point, they are more closely monitoring the possible security threats posed by the equipment. Financial Times
A lot of financial technology outfits are setting up shop in China—so many that they could pose major risks to the economy, according to Phoenix Finance’s Vince Zhang. “A lot of companies are not [there] in terms of their business plan, in terms of their risk management process, in terms of their overall management. A lot of these corporate control mechanisms are not in place,” he said. CNBC
Here’s a piece written by yours truly (meaning David) about the increasing likelihood of data privacy legislation being passed in the U.S. A year ago, that would have been unthinkable—but a lot has happened in the last year. And yes, Facebook’s behavior is a big factor here. Fortune