5 things you need to know before markets open in Australia and around the world.

1. The New South Australian Space Agency

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and SA Premier Steven Marshall told the press that they had tasked the ASA with tripling the size of Australia’s space industry by 2030. To help them reach this target, Adelaide was chosen to act as a home for the new Australian Space Agency (ASA) Headquarters.

The new HQ for ASA will replace the old Royal Adelaide Hospital located on North Terrace in the city. The ASA will also be budgeted to increase its employment factor by 20,000 new roles by 2030.

Morrison stated that “Australia’s space industry is set to hit new heights. This agency is going to open doors for local businesses and Australian access to the US$345 billion global space industry.” The decision to relocate to Adelaide came after 18 months of decision making and has been allotted a small $41 million budget commitment from the federal government.

The local space industry in Adelaide was ecstatic by the decision, as CEO and Co-Founder of Adelaide-based Fleet Space Technologies told the media in light of the decisions that “Space and the related industries provide South Australia a huge economic opportunity, and this spells the beginning of an amazing future for not just South Australia, but for the entirety of Australia.”

At present, the staff and its head, former CSIRO chief Dr. Megan Clark, number 20 in total, and will set up in an interim location during the construction process.

2. France’s Macron bows to the Mob

The President of France, Emmanuel Macron, capitulated to the ever-increasing frenzy of the Paris mob and stated that he would provide wage rises for the poorest workers and tax cuts for pensioners.

Whilst Macron did announce a lot of placating remarks in his first National Address that came after some of France’s worst street mob violence in decades, he does not intend to reinstate a wealth tax and will not back down from his reform agenda that is set to commence in 2019.

Macron stated in his speech that “We will respond to the economic and social urgency with strong measures, by cutting taxes more rapidly, by keeping our spending under control, but not with U-turns”. The measures that Macron has agreed to will include a new minimum wage that will increase by 100 euros ($113.76) a month in 2019, and this comes with no extra costs to employers.

Pensioners will also see changes, all those earning less than 2,000 euros a month will not face a tax increase. As such, Macron said that “The effort we asked for was too big and was not fair.” He went on to add that “I take my responsibility”, and continued to placate the masses.

In response to Macrons rather late response to the violence, one “yellow vest” protestor told the media that “In terms of substance, these are half measures. We can feel that Macron has got a lot more to give.”

3. Trump considering several chiefs of staff candidates

President Trump has started to vet candidates for the role of White House Chief of Staff which is the top job in the White House and comes with a lot of power and influence. As such, the candidate list is being leaked out from various sources.

So far, the names that have hit the headlines include Republican Representative Mark Meadows, former campaign adviser David Bossie, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

These names popped up after Nick Ayers decided to forgo the honor, and as he is already the VP’s Chief of Staff, fills the job as a temp., as part of an agreement between the President and the Vice President.

Current Chief of Staff retired General John Kelly is leaving his post at the end of the year due to a long and hard clash with his boss.

The new incumbent will have to take under consideration the period in which the role covers. This is President Trump’s third year in office and is the start of a pre-election period where political rivalry and extreme campaigning come into play. With a Democratic majority in the house, the pressure of the media is continuing to dog President Trump’s heels, and will only increase as time gets closer to the election year.

President Trump is expected to make a decision before the end of the year, and more names will definitely crop up before his final decision.

4. Chinese Electric Car Manufacturers Race against Looming Tesla Entry

Local manufacturers of electric cars in China are scrambling to enter the market before Tesla’s planned Chinese offensive. One company that is ahead of its local and foreign competitors is Xpeng Motors, which began deliveries of its first commercial electric car model on Wednesday.

Founded by entrepreneur He Xiaopeng and partners in Guangzhou, southern China, the G3 sport utility vehicle demonstrates their ability to deliver a finished product to customers. In contrast to hundreds of other startups working on prototypes and competing for investment, the vehicle launch also marks the beginning of a viable revenue stream for Xpeng.

The winning prize of dominating this field is a market set to expand to hundreds of billions of dollars in the coming decades, largely due to Chinese government promotion of greener vehicles. As Tesla plans to begin car manufacturing in Shanghai next year, local brands are trying to demonstrate quality, reliability and relevance.  Analysts have highlighted the availability of smart features and an ability to produce at scale as the success criteria of these efforts.

Xpeng has raised more than 10 billion yuan ($1.4 billion) from investors including Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Foxconn Technology Group and Xiaomi Corp. founder Lei Jun. Yet just 1 percent of China’s electric-car startups will survive in an industry that requires significant investment in technology.

“EV startups have become hot potatoes for investors,” said Qiu Kaijun, a Beijing-based independent EV industry analyst. “Most of the startups are destined to fail” due to difficulties and costs of ramping up production.

5. Journalists are Time’s ‘Person of the Year’

In a year marked by increased political pressure on journalists across the world, Time on Tuesday named a group of journalists as their “Person of the Year”.

The winners included two Reuters reporters imprisoned by Myanmar’s government for reporting on the treatment of the Rohingya, the founder of a Philippines news website critical of that country’s authoritarian government, a Maryland newspaper that was the target of a mass shooting, and Jamal Khashoggi, the murdered Saudi writer and critic of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

Time warned that the idea of truth as a critical ingredient to democracy was under assault. “I hope that this is received by the public at large far, far beyond the United States as a reminder of the importance of defending free expression and the pursuit of truth and facts,” Ben Goldberger, Time magazine’s assistant managing editor, said in an interview. “Democracy certainly cannot function without a shared understanding of the facts”.

The annual award recognizes the person, group or idea that has had the greatest influence on world events during the year, regardless of whether this has been positive or negative. This has led to winners of the award ranging from U.S. civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. to Adolf Hitler, the leader of Nazi Germany.

The four groups were highlighted on four respective covers for the magazine.

Andrew Mortimer
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