Eq: Tech

(San Francisco)

All of the last year’s fear of anti-trust regulation seem to be coming true. Tech shares dropped yesterday on news that top US regulators had divvied up jurisdiction of tech giants for a forthcoming probe. The Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, the agencies in charge of anti-trust, have decided who will manage what as they prepare to launch an anti-trust probe into Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Apple. It is still unclear exactly what will be investigated, as well as the scope of the probe. After the market closed, the US House of Representatives also announced its own investigation. The tumble in shares sent Google into a bear market.


FINSUM: This has been looming for some time, but now looks like a reality. This could be the start of some very serious volatility and changes for the FANGs.

(San Francisco)

We ran a piece yesterday highlighting the risk of China using rare earth elements as a bargaining chip in the trade war. The US currently gets 80% of its rare earths from China, and the elements are used in everything from smartphones, glass, electric vehicles, and jet engines. The biggest loser if China blocks access could be Apple. The company is currently planning a ramp up in production for its new fall products, so according to Goldman Sachs “even a short term action affecting production could have longer term consequences for the company.”


FINSUM: It is hard to calculate the financial impact at this point, but we expect it could be significant given that these elements are key to smartphone production.

(Washington)

The next phase of the US-China trade war is coming, and it looks like it may be even worse. At the beginning both sides focused on levying higher tariffs on more goods, then Trump took the step of limiting China’s access to semiconductors with his ban on Huawei. Now the next phase may be much more specific and potentially damaging for the US—China is likely to limit the US’ access to rare earths used to make all kinds of technology devices. Access to such rare earth elements is one of the biggest US weaknesses in tech and Beijing has the power to block access because the US imports 80% of its rare earths from China.


FINSUM: It is hard to tell how bad this could be. On the one hand, the total US imports of Chinese rare earths are only $160m, but on the other, if there is not another easy source then it could hamstring the businesses that use them.

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