China, Venezuela in oil and mineral deal; Carlos Slim moots three-day working week; Streaming music and the death of CDs

1 China, Venezuela in oil & mineral deal (BBC) Chinese President Xi Jinping has signed a series of oil and mineral deals with Venezuela. They include a $4bn credit line in return for Venezuelan crude and other products. The agreements came on the latest stop of a four-country visit to Latin America. Mr Xi has already signed key deals in Argentina and Brazil. He has now departed from Venezuela and will visit Cuba next.

In Argentina the Chinese leader agreed to an $11bn currency swap providing much needed money for the government of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. Argentina has been locked out of the international capital markets since a default in 2001. Mr Xi also helped launch a new development bank alongside the other emerging powers of the Brics group – Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa – at a summit in Brazil. The new bank is intended to create an alternative to the Western-dominated World Bank.

Chinese trade with Latin America has grown rapidly. It is now the second-largest trading partner in Argentina and Cuba, and has been Brazil’s largest since 2009. China is the second-largest market for Venezuelan oil after the US. Analysts say the underlying purpose of the visit has been to secure more natural resources from Latin American countries to fuel China’s long term economic expansion.

2 Carlos Slim moots three-day working week (Helen Davidson in The Guardian) Mexican billionaire tycoon, Carlos Slim, has called for the introduction of a three-day working week, offset by longer hours and a later retirement, as a way to improve people’s quality of life and create a more productive labour force. Slim suggested that the workforce could be spread over a full week, with employees working up to 10 or 11 hours a day.

“With three work days a week, we would have more time to relax; for quality of life,” the Financial Times reports Slim saying. “Having four days [off] would be very important to generate new entertainment activities and other ways of being occupied,” Slim said. He said current retirement ages come from a time of lower life expectancies, and should rise to 70 or 75.

Slim – routinely identified as one of the two richest people in the world – is the CEO of Telmex, a fixed phone line communications company which recently offered its employees a new form of contract. Telmex employees who joined in their teens can access early retirement, and anyone who wants to work beyond retirement can do so at full pay but a reduced load of four days a week. Slim, who is also the head of mining company Minera Frisco, is estimated to have a personal net worth of $80bn – around the same as Bill Gates.

Some small companies in Australia have instituted a four-day week flexible workplace policy, and advocates cite improvements in employee health and environmental impact as possible benefits.

3 Streaming music and the death of CDs (David Einstein in San Francisco Chronicle) I don’t play CDs anymore, and I certainly wouldn’t buy any. Why should I? I can listen to my music anywhere – on my phone, or on a Bluetooth speaker, using the phone as a remote control – without ever taking a CD out of its jewel case. I subscribe to Google’s All Access streaming music service. For $10 a month, I get instant access to more than 20 million songs, and I’ve created a Library on Google Play for the music I like.

It’s no wonder that CD sales are locked in a death spiral. Streaming music subscription services like Google All Access, Spotify and Beats Music (recently acquired by Apple) are doing to CDs what CDs did to vinyl LPs a generation ago (and what LPs did to brittle plastic records a generation before that).

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‘Time for Ukraine to divide’; Five reasons not to get an MBA; Mulling an oil change in the kitchen

1 ‘Time for Ukraine to divide’ (Paul Sheehan in Sydney Morning Herald) The people have already spoken. The splintering of Ukraine began to take a formal shape in the presidential election of 2010 when Viktor Yanukovych, a Russian-speaking former governor of the Donetsk Oblast province, defeated Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. She is a Ukraine nationalist who became internationally famous for her distinctive golden braids and for her advocacy of Ukraine joining the European Community and ending Russia’s control over the country.

The 2010 vote divided almost perfectly along ethnic lines. The greatest support for Yanukovych came from the regions in the east with Russian-speaking majorities, and the greatest support for Tymoshenko came from the Ukrainian-speaking west. Ukrainian politics became deeply polarisied when Tymoshenko was imprisoned for corruption by the new pro-Russian government, a move condemned by the European Community and supported by the Kremlin.

The polarisation of public life, exacerbated by government corruption and incompetence, became so intense it led to widespread civil disorder, culminating in the overthrow of President Yanukovych in February. A violent attempt to quell the unrest by the elite security police backfired so badly the president fled to Crimea, then to Russia.

The deeper reality is that Ukraine is now two nations in everything but law. It can be split via plebiscite. On the western side is a de facto sovereign state, Ukraine, which is aligned with the European Community and could quickly be invited to membership. On the eastern side is the autonomous region of Donetsk, which could become sovereign or be absorbed into Russia as an autonomous department. Ukraine’s river system even provides natural borders.

As for the detail of where a new border between Ukraine and Donetsk would run, that should be decided by the people, by plebiscite. Better a formal division than more blood, blackmail and disaster.

2 Five reasons not to get an MBA (Belo Cipriani in San Francisco Chronicle) While getting an MBA may appear like a good way to boost your credentials, in the San Francisco Bay Area, it may not give you the best return on your investment. Here are five reasons why you should not get an MBA.

Experience carries more weight. Local hiring managers and recruiters look at experience over education. They are more intrigued by someone with the hands-on experience with a particular technology or type of client than with a candidate with a graduate degree in business. When considering less-seasoned applicants, employers prefer internships over an MBA.

Follow your passion. There are other graduate programs that may be more aligned with your interests than an MBA. For instance, if you enjoy managing engineering teams, a Masters in Engineering may be a better fit. Too many MBAs. With the large number of weekend and online graduate business programs, the Bay Area has experienced a jump in MBA graduates. And with the MBA becoming more and more common, it has lost the prestige it once had.

The new way to network. Once upon a time, people got an MBA for the opportunity to build their network. Social media has changed that. With LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Plus, people have access to decision makers without having to set foot in the classroom.

Doesn’t guarantee an executive role. Again, when considering a candidate for an executive position, hiring committees are looking for business experience. For example, a startup would most likely hire a CIO who has prior startup experience. In this case, an MBA would not help close the deal.

Graduate degrees in Business Administration are expensive. And in the Bay Area, they don’t provide much of a career boost. Whether you want to be a manager at a startup or with a tech giant, decision makers are looking for work experience and culture fits—not for an MBA.

3 Mulling an oil change in the kitchen (Straits Times) As is their nature, sinful foods are the ones that are oh so delectable but, alas, do no good when taken in excess. This is a key reason why champions of healthy eating habits have their work cut out for them. No one knows this better than Health Promotion Board (HPB) advocates who have been stoutly offering pointers on how to “survive the hawker paradise”.

Comfort food like chicken rice, nasi lemak and mee soto are among the foods that rank high in cholesterol, salt and fat, including that arch rogue, saturated fat. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the palm oil commonly used by hawkers, as it is the cheapest, has a high proportion of saturated fat which raises the risk of heart disease, says HPB.

Boldly going where few health authorities have ventured, it plans to spend millions of tax dollars a year to subsidise oil merchants so the price of a canola-palm oil substitute matches that of palm oil. The intent is to overcome any resistance from food sellers for whom cost is paramount. While the vigour of the effort is to be hailed, the intended outcomes call for closer scrutiny.

The oil substitute might be eschewed for perceived taste reasons. Resources would be better spent in public education that emphasises a holistic approach to health. Ingredients, salt and sugar use, and preparation methods all contribute to a balanced diet. Physical activity, weight management and lifestyle pursuits are also central to staying healthy. Tuning up sedentary routines within homes can achieve more than an oil change within woks.

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Forbes sold to Chinese investors; In some parts of India, immunity for soldiers who kill and rape; Inside a ‘she cave’

1 Forbes sold to Chinese investors (BBC) After 97 years of family ownership, Forbes Media has announced it has sold a majority stake in the company to a Hong Kong-based group of international investors. Forbes Media – which includes Forbes magazine – was sold to Integrated Whale Media Investments for an undisclosed sum. The Forbes family said it would still have a “significant” stake. Steve Forbes will remain as chairman and editor-in-chief.

“While today marks a fundamental turning point in this 97-year-old company founded by my grandfather, it should be seen as an opportunity to continue and strengthen our mission,” said Mr Forbes in a blog post. Forbes – which says it reaches 75 million people worldwide every month through its print, digital, TV, conferences and research ventures – began looking for a buyer last November.

2 In some parts of India, immunity for soldiers who kill and rape (Gardiner Harris in The New York Times) A colonial-era law in effect in India’s periphery gives blanket immunity from prosecution in civilian courts to Indian soldiers for all crimes, including rape. Human rights advocates have for years called for the repeal of the law, known as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. Christof Heyns, the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, wrote last year in a report to the United Nations Human Rights Council that the powers granted under the law “are in reality broader than that allowable under a state of emergency as the right to life may effectively be suspended.”

Yet it endures. As the world’s largest democracy and home of Mohandas K. Gandhi, a pioneer of nonviolent resistance, India has long been counted among the world’s most progressive nations. The country now has 168 state and federal rights organizations, including the National Human Rights Commission. But a darker reality has always lurked beneath this progressive image, particularly in India’s hard to reach places. In Kashmir, there are thousands of unmarked graves in secret cemeteries created by the army and the police to hide their crimes.

“We have all these great human rights institutions, but still nobody in India gets justice when the state murders one of their family members,” said Henri Tiphagne, chairman of the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development based in Bangkok. “That’s true all over the country, not just in Kashmir.”

The law is in place in large parts of India’s northeast, a protrusion of land sometimes no more than 14 miles wide that loops around the top and eastern side of Bangladesh and nestles in green mountains along the border with Myanmar. Perhaps because of the limited attention given this remote part of the world, soldiers and police officers do not even bother to hide the evidence when they murder and rape innocents, said Babloo Loitongbam, founder of Human Rights Alert in Imphal.

Efforts by victims’ groups as well as the Supreme Court investigation have had an effect, Mr. Loitongbam said. The police and soldiers once killed hundreds each year; this year has seen only a handful of killings. Defense Minister Arun Jaitley said on June 15 that the immunity law would remain in place until peace was secure.

3 Inside a ‘she closet’ (Heather Alexander in Houston Chronicle/San Francisco Chronicle) If you were ever wondering how to throw the perfect party in a closet, this Texas woman knows the secret: all it takes is a wonderful caterer, lots of champagne, a DJ … oh, and a gigantic, three story, 3,000 square foot “she cave.”

Theresa Roemer’s closet, recently added to her Houston area home at a cost of about $500,000, is nothing short of amazing: a spiral staircase leads up through boutique style shelving showing off handbag upon handbag, jewels, perfume and shoes (OMG, shoes like nothing you have seen!). The former Miss Texas United America’s closet was featured in a new blog post by department store Neiman Marcus … which theoretically could consider opening the giant closet as a new local retail department.

“It started years ago when I had a closet party and all the girls came over and they said, ‘I just wish it was bigger,’” That’s when the glamorous fundraiser realized size was key after all, “Since then it’s just been getting bigger and bigger and bigger, it’s like a ‘she cave’.” Roemer said.

In the normal universe the closet is much more akin to Aladdin’s Cave of Wonder than a foul-smelling basement man cave filled with video games and questionable publications. “The third floor houses all my furs and big hats, you come down the spiral staircase to the second floor which is where I get my hair and make up done, it also houses all the shoes from Louis Vuitton and Gucci,to my tennis and work out gear,” Roemer revealed.

Tickets are auctioned off and wealthy women come from all over the area to go, well, into the closet. Some simply deemed it the “Holy Grail” of closets. For Theresa Roemer, though, the closet has become life-defining. “We held a Saks Fifth Avenue fashion show over the pool with a seated dinner for 200 in a tent on the basketball court and a vocal performance from Yvonne Washington, and all people wanted to see was the closet,” Roemer laughed.

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After twin tragedies, Malaysia Airlines faces doubtful future; Addicted to inflation; World’s first indoor city

1 After twin tragedies, Malaysia Airlines faces doubtful future (BBC) Shares in Malaysia Airlines closed down 11% in Malaysia following the crash of flight MH17 in Ukraine on route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. This is the second catastrophe to hit the Malaysian airline this year after flight MH370 disappeared in March. Questions are being asked about whether the carrier can now survive.

“Even if this is pure coincidence, it’s never happened in history that a flag carrier has seen two wide-body aircraft disappearing in a few months,” said Bertrand Grabowski, head of aviation at DVB Bank, which acts as a banker to Malaysia Airlines. The company has been losing money for many years and its market value has fallen by more than 40% in the past nine months.

Reports suggest that state investment firm Khazanah Nasional, the major shareholder in the airline, is looking to take the carrier private. The firm has invested more than $1bn into the airline in recent years and had previously indicated that a major restructuring was on the cards. Mohshin Aziz, an investment analyst at Maybank in Kuala Lumpur, said the challenges now facing Malaysia Airlines were “insurmountable”. Without significant funding, he said the airline would not survive beyond a year.

2 Addicted to inflation (Paul Krugman in The New York Times) The first step toward recovery is admitting that you have a problem. That goes for political movements as well as individuals. So I have some advice for so-called reform conservatives trying to rebuild the intellectual vitality of the right: You need to start by facing up to the fact that your movement is in the grip of some uncontrollable urges. In particular, it’s addicted to inflation — not the thing itself, but the claim that runaway inflation is either happening or about to happen.

The roots of inflation addiction run deep. Reformers like to minimize the influence of libertarian fantasies — fantasies that invariably involve the notion that inflationary disaster looms unless we return to gold — on today’s conservative leaders. But to do that, you have to dismiss what these leaders have actually said.

More generally, modern American conservatism is deeply opposed to any form of government activism, and while monetary policy is sometimes treated as a technocratic affair, the truth is that printing dollars to fight a slump, or even to stabilize some broader definition of the money supply, is indeed an activist policy.

The point is that inflation addiction is telling us something about the intellectual state of one side of our great national divide. The right’s obsessive focus on a problem we don’t have, its refusal to reconsider its premises despite overwhelming practical failure, tells you that we aren’t actually having any kind of rational debate. And that, in turn, bodes ill not just for would-be reformers, but for the nation.

3 World’s first indoor city (Oliver Wainwright in The Guardian) For the desert city-state Dubai that has the tallest building in the world, as well as the biggest flower garden and largest aquarium on the planet, plus islands shaped like palm trees, buildings in the shape of sails, and an entire archipelago shaped like the world itself, there was only one obvious next step: building an entire city indoors. Unveiled this week, the Mall of the World is a vision for a climate-controlled leisure district, a place of hotels and shops, entertainment and healthcare, all connected by hermetically sealed avenues – 7km of them – along which trams will trundle.

Launched by the emirate’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, it is the first state-sponsored mega-project to emerge from Dubai since the light-headed days of the pre-crash bubble, when anything seemed possible, drunk on the tidal wave of petrodollars. “We plan to transform Dubai into a cultural, tourist and economic hub for the two billion people living in the region around us,” said Sheikh Mohammed.

There will be 20,000 hotel rooms and enough parking for 50,000 vehicles, servicing the largest shopping mall in the world, at 8 million sq ft (750,000 sq m). “Our ambitions are higher than having seasonal tourism,” said Sheikh Mohammed. “Tourism is a key driver of our economy, and we aim to make the UAE an attractive destination all year long.”

No timeframe or budget has yet been announced for the Mall of the World, but Dubai Holding, the state-owned development company behind the project, hopes it will be the emirate’s main focus at the UAE World Expo trade fair in 2020. Dubai Holding is no stranger to dreaming big. Back in 2003, the company launched an ambitious plan for Dubailand, a gargantuan $64bn leisure district, planned to cover an area of 278 sq km, making it three times bigger than Walt Disney World. It was put on hold in 2008 – although cranes are once again moving and the first phase, the Miracle Garden, opened last year.

With a recent Deloitte report suggesting that $12bn of the UAE’s stalled construction projects are back on track, spurred on by the new deadline of the 2020 Expo, Sheikh Mohammed’s stately pleasure-dome might be more than just a mirage in the desert.

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Microsoft to cut 18,000 jobs; Google revenue up on ad sales; England & Wales crime lowest in 33 years; Rising voice of Hong Kong

1 Microsoft to cut 18,000 jobs (San Francisco Chronicle) Microsoft announced the biggest layoffs in its 39-year history Thursday, outlining plans to cut 18,000 jobs in a move that marked the CEO’s sharpest pivot yet away from his predecessor’s drive for the company to make its own devices. Although some cuts had been expected ever since Microsoft acquired Nokia’s mobile-device unit, the number amounted to 14 percent of the Microsoft workforce — about twice what analysts had estimated.

The cuts will include some 12,500 jobs associated with the Nokia unit — nearly half of the 28,000 employees Microsoft brought on board in April through the acquisition. When the cuts are complete, the company will still have about 10,000 more employees than before the Nokia acquisition, with an overall headcount of 109,000.

In a public email to employees, CEO Satya Nadella said the changes were needed for the company to “become more agile and move faster.” Nadella is clearly backing away from former CEO Steve Ballmer’s strategy of getting Microsoft to make its own smartphones and tablets.

The move dwarfs Microsoft’s previous biggest job cut, when it eliminated about 5,800 jobs in 2009. That was the company’s first widespread layoff. Microsoft has been shifting its focus from traditional PC software to cloud computing and cloud-based products like its Office 365 productivity software that can operate on mobile devices.

With its $7.3 billion acquisition of Nokia’s cellphone business, Microsoft had sought to meld its software and hardware business into a cohesive package, similar to rival Apple. But investors had lingering doubts about the strategy, especially because the two brands’ market share in smartphones and tablets was so far behind Apple and Samsung. According to the latest financials, the Surface and Nokia device units are both losing money.

2 Google revenue up on ad sales (BBC) Internet giant Google has reported a 22% jump in revenue during the second quarter period from March through June compared to a year earlier. Revenue rose to $16bn and profits were up 6% to $3.4bn, said the firm in its earnings report. Strong demand for Google’s advertising helped boost revenues above expectations.

Google also announced chief business officer Nikesh Arora was leaving for SoftBank. Mr Arora, who has been with Google for 10 years, will be temporarily replaced by Omid Kordestani, who who was Google’s business founder and formerly led Google’s sales team.

3 England & Wales crime lowest in 33 years (Alan Travis in The Guardian) A record 14% fall in the last 12 months has taken crime levels in England and Wales to their lowest level for 33 years, according to the Office for National Statistics. Crime has fallen across most types of offences, according to the authoritative crime survey of England and Wales with the largest falls in the 12 months to March including a 20% drop in violent crime, a 17% fall in criminal damage and a 10% fall in theft.

The figures also show that the number of police officers has fallen by a further 1,674 over the past year to 127,909, bringing the total cut in police numbers to 15,825 since 2010. Ministers linked the fall in police numbers to the fall in crime, saying that fewer officers were needed on the street.

The crime survey of England and Wales, which is based on interviews with 10,000 people about their experience of crime, estimates there were 7.3m crime incidents involving households and adults over 16 in England and Wales in the year to March 2014. ONS said this was 62% below the level in 1995, when crime peaked in England and Wales.

4 Rising voice of Hong Kong (Khaleej Times) East Asia’s reigning metropolis of billionaires, a city which served as a lodestone for entrepreneurs whose ambitions endowed it with a remarkable skyline a generation before Shanghai’s overtopped it, has become a source of much worry for Beijing’s mandarins.

The reason is to be found in the shorthand of ‘7.1’ by which is meant the 1st of July. On that day was organised one of the biggest protests in East Asia of the past decade. The great outpouring of Hongkongers — media sources in the city estimate some 500,000 came into the streets — in a demonstration against the government of the Chinese Communist Party is the most strident signal yet of the deepening political crisis in Hong Kong.

The provocation for the waves of protest that have shut Hong Kong down several times in recent is the reneging by the Party on what Hongkongers say is its promise, extracted after years of negotiation, to allow Hong Kong’s Chief Executive to be chosen through elections. Hong Kong’s citizens want an election. Beijing’s government, however, insists on a nomination committee (which a broad front of citizens’ groups and pro-democracy coalitions in Hong Kong say will enable it to screen out candidates).

What happens now? For an avowedly global city that turned the curious phrase ‘one country, two systems’ into a case for business as usual, the near future looks decidedly tense. Reportage from Hong Kong suggests that feelings are running very high, reminiscent of 2003 when 500,000 people marched in opposition to the Chinese government’s attempt to push through a tough anti-subversion law.

At issue for the Party is how much can be tolerated in the name of economic expediency, for an even partly-successful season of protest could reverberate through China, and especially in regions in cities that have expressed their displeasure with central rule publicly. There may be only so much of ‘two systems’ that Beijing will tolerate.

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US Fed warns social media valuations are ‘stretched’; BMW recalling 1.6m cars; India economy looks stronger; When fashion meets tech

1 Fed warns social media stock valuations are ‘stretched’ (BBC) The US Federal Reserve has warned of “stretched valuations” in social media and biotechnology firms as part of chair Janet Yellen’s semi-annual report in front of Congress. The warning sent US indexes down, with shares of social media firms such as Yelp plunging. In prepared remarks, Ms Yellen also said that she thought the US economy continued to improve. However, she warned of weakness in the housing market and slow wage growth.

In a separate monetary policy report, the Fed wrote: “Valuation metrics in some sectors do appear substantially stretched – particularly those for smaller firms in the social media and biotechnology industries, despite a notable downturn in equity prices for such firms early in the year.” That sent all three major US indexes into the red after they had been trading slightly higher during the morning.

In terms of the US economy overall, Ms Yellen said that she saw “continuing slack” in the US jobs market and warned of long-term unemployment that remained at historic highs. She also said that gains in the housing market had been disappointing, and that despite better-than-expected jobs growth as of late, wages remained stagnant.

2 BMW recalls 1.6m cars (The Guardian) BMW is expanding a recall of its most popular models to fix an airbag problem that is hitting much of the global auto industry. The German carmaker says it will recall 1.6m 3 Series cars from model years 2000 to 2006 across the world, including 574,000 in the US. The company said that it is a precaution because other manufacturers using similar systems have reported problems.

Airbag inflators in systems made by Takata can rupture. If that happens, the bags might not work properly, and shards could fly out and cause injury. The problem is responsible for millions of recalled vehicles during the past few years made by manufacturers such as Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Nissan and Toyota. The recalls have mostly been of vehicles in states with hot and humid weather.

BMW said it has no reports of problems in its vehicles. Dealers will replace the passenger-side front airbags. In June, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began investigating airbags made by Takata, a Tokyo-based supplier of seat belts, airbags, steering wheels and other auto parts.

3 India economy looks stronger (Anant Vijay Kala & Rajesh Roy in The Wall Street Journal) India’s merchandise exports expanded by more than 10% for the second month in a row in June, the latest sign that India’s economy may be rebounding. June exports rose 10.2% from the year-earlier month, to $26.48 billion, after climbing 12.4% in May and 5.3% in April, the trade ministry said. Imports rose 8.3% to $38.24 billion, following an 11.4% decline in May.

The trade deficit stood at $11.76 billion in June, compared with $11.23 billion in May and $11.28 billion in June 2013. “The whole gamut of data announced lately points to one thing, which is that an economic recovery is already under way and the pace will strengthen going forward,” said Sujit Kumar, an economist at Union Bank of India. “What has mainly anchored India’s exports is a recovery in India’s main trading partner nations such as the US, some African and even South Asian economies.”

Data over the past week showed India’s industrial output jumped to a 19-month high while consumer inflation dropped to its lowest level in more than two years. India has been struggling over the past two fiscal years with low growth and high inflation.

In one bad sign for the Indian economy, the latest trade figures showed gold imports jumped 65% in June, to $3.1 billion, reviving worries that India’s current-account deficit could widen again. Expectations that the government may roll back some of the measures it took last year to clamp down on gold imports could widen the current-account gap.

4 When fashion meets tech (Lorraine Sanders in San Francisco Chronicle) It was once novel to talk about the intersection of fashion and technology, but today it’s surprising we ever thought it might be otherwise. Fashion is also changing technology, and the San Francisco Bay Area is at the center of this revolution in the way we discover, share and consume fashion (among other products).

Some of the world’s biggest technology companies are now bringing in fashion veterans like former Yves Saint Laurent CEO Paul Deneve and Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts (Apple), partnering with designers like Diane von Furstenberg (Google), and betting on acquisitions, including a 3-D virtual-fitting technology company (eBay), to secure long-lasting style cred among a wider audience.

But much of the innovation is coming from next-generation startups. They’re providing novel ways to buy, swap or borrow clothing (Poshmark, Style Lend); reinventing fit methodology (True & Co., ThirdLove); and disrupting traditional seasonal clothing cycles to give buyers more input (Betabrand, Everlane).

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Brics nations to have $100bn bank; Ad slump hurts Yahoo; Microsoft layoffs likely this week

1 Brics nations to have $100bn bank (BBC) The leaders of the five Brics countries have signed a deal to create a new $100bn development bank and emergency reserve fund. The Brics group is made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The capital for the bank will be split equally among the five participating countries. The bank will have a headquarters in Shanghai, China and the first president for the bank will come from India.

Brazil’s President, Dilma Rousseff, announced the creation of the bank at a Brics summit meeting in Fortaleza, Brazil on Tuesday. At first, the bank will start off with $50bn in initial capital.

The emergency reserve fund – which was announced as a “Contingency Reserve Arrangement” – will also have $100bn, and will help developing nations avoid “short-term liquidity pressures, promote further Brics cooperation, strengthen the global financial safety net and complement existing international arrangements”.

The creation of the Brics bank will almost surely create competition for both the World Bank and other similar regional funds. Brics nations have criticised the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund for not giving developing nations enough voting rights. One of the goals for the bank would be to increase the amount of money loaned to developing countries to help with infrastructure projects.

2 Ad slump hurts Yahoo (San Francisco Chronicle) Yahoo Inc. has said that its second-quarter earnings and revenue declined, as the company struggled again with display advertising sales. Both fell short of Wall Street’s expectations, as did revenue forecast for the current quarter.

Before the forecast was revealed, Yahoo’s stock rose as the company announced that Alibaba Group agreed to reduce the number of shares Yahoo is required to sell in the Chinese e-commerce company in an initial public offering of stock this year. Yahoo, which holds a 23 percent stake in Alibaba, now has to sell only 140 million shares in the IPO, down from 208 million earlier.

Although the reduction means that Yahoo’s immediate windfall from the Alibaba IPO will be smaller, it’s also a long-term bet on Alibaba’s success. Analysts say Alibaba’s IPO could be bigger than Facebook’s $16 billion stock debut two years ago, which would make Alibaba the biggest tech IPO ever.

Yahoo earned $270 million, or 26 cents per share, in the March-June quarter. That’s down from $331 million, or 30 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier. Revenue fell 4 percent to $1.08 billion from $1.14 billion. After subtracting commissions paid to Yahoo’s ad partners, revenue totaled $1.04 million, down 3 percent from $1.07 billion a year ago.

Yahoo has seen its key display advertising sales slump amid competition from No. 1 Google Inc. and No. 2 Facebook Inc. Even Microsoft Corp. is catching up. Research firm eMarketer, which tracks digital advertising, expects Microsoft to surpass Yahoo to take the No. 3 spot in the worldwide digital ad market.

3 Microsoft layoffs likely this week (Stephanie Mlot in PC Mag) Microsoft is expected this week to announce its largest round of layoffs since 2009. According to a report by Bloomberg, the tech giant plans to slim down its 127,104-person workforce—likely in those divisions that overlap with the newly acquired Nokia handset unit. Microsoft declined to comment on the reports.

The news comes days after new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella issued a lengthy memo to staffers, which suggested that layoffs might be on the horizon in the form of “engineering and organization changes” this month. Bloomberg’s anonymous sources suggested this round of layoffs could eclipse the 5,800 cuts made five years ago—the largest in Redmond history.

Microsoft has handed out a number of pink slips in its time, dropping an undisclosed number of marketing and advertising jobs two years ago. But those cuts pale in comparison to the sweeping changes executed in 2009. The Redmond rumors come less than three months after Microsoft and Nokia sealed a $7.2 billion deal, in which the Seattle company purchased Nokia’s smartphone and mobile phone businesses.,2817,2460883,00.asp

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