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A group managing nearly US$1 trillion wrote to the U.S. Federal Reserve, the Securities and Exchange Commission and a number of other key regulators. (Financial Times)

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Talking point: The signatories, which include some of the largest pension funds in the U.S., want regulators to mandate that companies disclose climate threats. That may be unlikely under the Trump administration, which has repealed 70 environmental regulations and is currently rolling back 30 more. However, European regulators are increasingly sympathetic to these kinds of requests. Earlier this month, European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde said she was looking at “every avenue available in order to combat climate change.” There may also be an appetite for these kinds of changes depending on the outcome of the upcoming U.S. presidential election. In June, a group of Democratic lawmakers released a report calling for greater disclosure around climate risk.

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The system has been built over two decades to rival the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS). Its chief designer Yang Changfeng told state broadcaster CCTV the launch was “entirely successful” and “signifies that we are moving from being a major nation in the field of space to becoming a true space power.” (CNBC, The Guardian)

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Talking point: This was the second attempt to complete the US$10-billion navigation network after technical issues postponed a scheduled launch a week ago. As of late last year, about 70 percent of Chinese smartphones already supported BeiDou, and more than 100 partners had lined up to use the mapping technology. It is now one of four global navigation satellite systems in the world, including the GPS, the European Union’s Galileo and Russia’s GLONASS. India is also building its own navigation system. Shi Yinhong, an international relations expert from Renmin University of China in Beijing, told South China Morning Post the completion “can be seen as one of the latest signs of a hi-tech decoupling between China and the United States.”

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The pension plan earned $11.5 billion on its investments in 2019. Public equities, which make up 29 per cent of OMERS’ portfolio at the end of the year, returned 20.3 per cent, up from -8.3 per cent in 2018. Its large investments in infrastructure (19 per cent of holdings, with a return of 8.7 per cent), credit (17 per cent of holdings at an eight per cent return) and real estate (16 per cent of holdings, with a return of 8.3 per cent) also contributed significantly to the result.  (The Logic)

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Talking point: The pension plan actually cut its stock-market holdings last year, down from 33 per cent at the end of 2018. The reduced exposure comes as some major indices are down or stagnant in 2020 amid investor concern about the global economic impacts of the COVID-19 virus. Infrastructure was the only portfolio component OMERS increased last year, and it’s an area in which it’s been making some big international deals. In April 2019, it paid $3.25 billion for a stake in Highway 407.

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The Facebook CEO is set to deliver a speech at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday backing proposals for a new way of allocating taxing rights between countries that would inflate how much the U.S. company pays in foreign markets. It will be Zuckerberg’s first public expression of support for the new system. (Reuters)

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Talking point: The remarks come as pressure is increasing on Facebook and its U.S. peers to compete fairly in overseas markets. Taxing firms where they have a digital presence regardless of where they’re physically located could help ensure foreign tech companies don’t have an unfair advantage over local firms. The OECD has proposed such changes, which financial leaders from the G20 countries are set to discuss when they meet in Riyadh next week. Zuckerberg has asked for governments to regulate his firm in the past, amid mounting calls for the company to improve its data and privacy practices. Putting the onus on governments to craft laws that apply to a swath of digital companies—not just Facebook—could help temper criticism against the company without disadvantaging it relative to its tech peers.

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The increase is equivalent to four per cent of governments’ current corporate income tax revenues. The OECD said 100 “large [multinational enterprise] groups” will account for over half the reallocated profit from proposals that allow a country to tax firms with sales within its borders, even if they don’t have a corporate presence. (The Logic)

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Talking point: In January, officials from 137 countries agreed to negotiate on the changes and finalize a deal by the end of the year. Today’s analysis incentivizes them to stay engaged in those talks, since most governments would see some revenue gains, with “low and middle-income economies” particularly benefitting. But the document also teases a bigger payoff for a second set of policies that ensure firms pay a minimum level of tax, in part by reducing rate differences between jurisdictions; countries like Ireland have been accused of providing illegal state aid to attract investment by reducing multinationals’ tax burdens. However, the end-of-year timeline only applies to the first set of changes; participating governments said last month the technical details of the second group of proposals still need to be worked out before adoption negotiations begin.

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The three firms, which are at the start of a three-month bidding process, embedded at Deutsche Bank’s office in Frankfurt last week, according to multiple sources. (Reuters)

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Talking point: The bids are part of a $19-billion technology investment the bank is making as part of a restructuring after a steady stream of losses. Last year, the bank announced it was laying off around 20 per cent of staff, or about 18,000 people. The tech firms are being tasked with improving internal efficiency processes. Another idea under consideration is a corporate credit marketplace. Deutsche is leaning on tech giants as a growing number of fintechs are looking to take away its traditional business. Also today, U.S. fintech Varo Money said it had cleared a key regulatory hurdle as part of its application to become a full bank.

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The system predicts the likelihood of an individual committing benefits or tax fraud using data on their employment, benefits and previous education and housing. The court ruled the system breached the right to private life guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights. (TechCrunch)

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Talking point: Privacy advocacy groups have argued the system has been disproportionately used in neighbourhoods with mainly low-income and minority residents, dubbing it a tool of the “welfare surveillance state.” The ruling conveyed similar concerns, finding that the system may amount to discrimination based on socioeconomic or migrant status. This is the first time a court has stopped the use of digital technology on human rights grounds, according to Philip Alston, UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights. He called it “a clear victory for all those who are justifiably concerned about the serious threats digital welfare systems pose for human rights.”

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Stocks in China, Europe and the U.S. traded up. The S&P 500 index was up 0.44 per cent in late afternoon trading, with its tech sector up the most among the 11 major sectors. (Financial Times, Reuters)

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Talking point: There’s plenty of positive macroeconomic news for stock markets today. China’s manufacturing sector is growing. The number of people filing jobless claims in the U.S. ticked down. Earlier this week, U.S. President Donald Trump said he’d sign a phase one trade deal with China on January 15. Apple and Microsoft, both of which have extensive presences in China, led the tech sector rally, up 1.67 per cent and 1.40 per cent, respectively. However, much of this positive news could be temporary. The initial China-U.S. deal leaves many contentious issues unresolved. Chinese manufacturing strength is tied closely to the trade deal; today’s numbers, while strong, are down from the three-year high reached in November.

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The social media giant has tasked Mark Lucovsky, a Microsoft veteran, to develop a Facebook-owned operating system to help reduce its reliance on Google’s Android. (The Information, The Verge)

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Talking point: Facebook’s Oculus and Portal devices currently run on a version of Android. “We really want to make sure the next generation has space for us,” Andrew Bosworth, Facebook hardware head, told The Information. “We don’t think we can trust the marketplace or competitors to ensure that’s the case. And so we’re gonna do it ourselves.” Previous reports have suggested the company is betting big on creating its own hardware and software: Facebook is presently working on its own custom chip alongside a voice assistant. The company is also creating augmented reality glasses that may have a brain control interface, allowing users to control them with their thoughts.