Tiffany Tumbles After Report of Uncertainty on LVMH Deal

Jun.03 -- Tiffany & Co. shares plunged following reports that LVMH’s $16 billion deal to buy the brand is uncertain due to U.S. economic concerns. Bloomberg Intelligence’s Deborah Aitken has the details on "Bloomberg Markets: European Close."

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  • Ethiopia's Nobel Winner Can't Rest on His Laurels

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- It’s not a good look on a Nobel Peace laureate. As protests raged in Ethiopia’s most populous region over the killing of a pop star, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered an internet blackout, preventing the rest of his country — and the wider world — from getting a complete picture of what was going on in Oromia.This isn’t the first time Abiy, who collected his Nobel last year, has shut down the internet in Ethiopia. There were four such blackouts last year, more often than any other nation in sub-Saharan Africa. On the most bizarre of these occasions, the government cited exam cheating as the reason.But no clampdown on communications can conceal the fact that the celebrated peacemaker is struggling to calm his own people. Nor can Ethiopia’s economic success, which has won Abiy praise abroad, paper over the country’s political grievances and ethnic rivalries, some of them unleashed by his ambitious reforms. These are threatening to stain Abiy’s Nobel laurel.Worse, they may jeopardize Ethiopia’s economic progress. Only last week, a revised outlook for 2020 from the International Monetary Fund had growth slowing to 1.9%, the smallest increase since the great famine of 2003. Abiy, who was slow to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, has had to seek emergency funding from the IMF to deal with the crisis.On top of everything else, the prime minister is bracing for his most difficult foreign-policy test since the peace accord with Eritrea that won him the Nobel. Relations with Egypt are near breaking point over a giant Ethiopian dam project on the Nile. At a virtual meeting of the United Nations Security Council this week, Egypt warned of conflict if Ethiopia proceeds with plans to fill the dam.At home, political upheavals will probably worsen as the country feels the economic shock of the pandemic, combined with a devastating plague of locusts and floods caused by unusually heavy rainfall. This will complicate Abiy’s efforts to attract more foreign investors, especially to the private sector. (His government has been working toward setting up Ethiopia’s first stock exchange.)One potentially dangerous political flash point is coming up next month, when the northern region of Tigray is planning to hold elections, in open defiance of the decision of Ethiopia’s election board to postpone the vote to next March. This scratches a painful political scab: The Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which runs the regional government, ruled Ethiopia for nearly three decades before Abiy’s appointment. Territorial disputes between Tigray and the region Ahmara are also expected to flare.The prime minister has been struggling too with political tensions in Addis Ababa, where opposition groups are warning that the postponement of the first general election under Abiy — again, because of the pandemic — would create a constitutional crisis. The government’s mandate ends on October 10.The last thing Abiy needed was fresh unrest among the people of his own ethnicity, the Oromo. Protests broke out in Addis Ababa and other parts of Oromia after musician Haacaalu Hundeessa was murdered on Monday by unidentified gunmen. His songs had been anthems of protest during the long years of political struggle leading to the overthrow of the previous government and Abiy’s elevation to office in 2018.At least 80 people died during protests that followed the murder. Abiy deployed the military in the capital, and called for national unity. But the Oromo, many of whom feel a sense of political marginalization, won’t easily be mollified. Their discontent bodes ill for Abiy’s own election prospects, whenever the vote is held.The multiple crises will test Abiy’s commitment to his political reforms, and more generally to democratic values. His credentials have been called into question by reports from human-rights groups about extra-judicial killings continuing to blight Africa’s second-most populous country under his watch. The internet blackouts won’t have helped.(This column was updated to correct Abiy Ahmed’s title. )This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Bobby Ghosh is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He writes on foreign affairs, with a special focus on the Middle East and the wider Islamic world.For more articles like this, please visit us at now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Netflix’s ‘Wasp Network’ Stings Miami’s Cuban Exiles

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- It’s been a long time since the Latin American Cold War. Maybe not long enough, judging by the fury over French director Olivier Assayas’s new film “Wasp Network,” inspired by the real story of a Cuban spy ring operating in the U.S. in the 1990s.Launched last month on Netflix, after the coronavirus forced the producers to cancel a movie theater debut, the feature film has reignited ideological passions across the Florida Straits. The vociferous right-wing Cuban diaspora in Miami has led a petition drive RemoveWaspNetwork (18,000 signatures as of July 2) for Netflix to take down the film. Many left-wing enthusiasts, by contrast, have lit up social media with their encomiums to revolution and anti-imperialism. “Seen. Heroes. Huge Film,” Spain’s Vice President Pablo Iglesias tweeted July 1.José Basulto, the exiled Cuban impresario who inspired one of the script’s homonymous central characters, said he’s weighing legal action for alleged calumnies. One of the original snitches, Juan Pablo Roque, who defected by swimming to Guantanamo Bay, called the story “shit”; the woman he betrothed, hoodwinked and abandoned in Miami wished the picture a “quiet death.” Not that the island regime’s boosters were overjoyed: It was hardly a “manifesto” for “the Cuban cause,” sniffed the official government mouthpiece, Granma.In fact, “Wasp Network” has something to displease just about everyone. In his meandering and often rococo rendering of the tale of the Cuban Five, the Castroite intelligence operatives who infiltrated Miami’s rabidly anti-communist Cuban exile community, Assayas (“Personal Shopper,”  “Summer Hours”) strains not to take sides. Start with the opening story card, which reads like a disclaimer. “Cuba has lived under a Communist regime since 1959. It is subjected to a brutal embargo imposed by the United States. This has resulted in tremendous hardship for the population. Many Cubans fled an authoritarian state and settled in Miami where many militant groups fight to free Cuba.”Duplicitous gringo lawmen. Zombie  communist apparatchiks. Right-wing zealots and criminals posing as Cuba libre humanitarians. Fidel Castro playing Fidel Castro. Pick your slimeball, this movie has them in all shades of tropical pastel.Assayas’s painstakingly ecumenical treatment of the messy historical context — a hex on all their ideological houses — is both the film’s charm and curse. Its talented cast includes some of the biggest names that appear on the Latin American screen: Penelope Cruz, Edgar Ramirez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Ana de Armas and Wagner Moura. Yet all this star power is dimmed by a tale riven into subplots and diversions — from rescuing boat people to running terrorist missions, Cuban double agents trying to game the FBI as it games them, Central American mercenaries fueled by drug money. It might have worked better broken up into a series. Jammed into 128 minutes, what could have been a taut political thriller turns into a piñata of Cold War cliches.For all its ambitious historicizing, this movie works best when it zooms in. While the plot hews to the fate of the spies, the compelling performances come from those they step on in the line of duty and glory. Indeed, the most grievous betrayals are not to flag and country, but to home and family.When Olga Salanueva (played sublimely by Penelope Cruz) learns years later that her fugitive husband Rene Gonzalez (Edgar Ramirez) was not a “gusano” — a traitor — after all, but a patriot who abandoned her and their daughter in Cuba as part of a secret mission to infiltrate anti-Castro zealots in Miami, the wave of hurt, relief and outrage that hits her is almost excruciating to watch. And try not to wince as Ana Margarita (Ana de Armas) tumbles masterfully from blissful Miami bride to jilted dupe, discovering from a television newscast that her furtive defector husband Roque (Wagner Moura) has defected back to Havana, and that what he really misses about the U.S. is his Jeep Cherokee.It’s telling that the current fury over “Wasp Network” misses the larger tragedy it exposes. Six decades after the Cuban revolution, Latin America still seems hostage to its cant and stuck in a negative ideological feedback loop. Even as the region faces a deadly pandemic and economic collapse, partisan grievants in leadership positions remain stupidly polarized over yesterday’s conceits — right-wingers bashing communists without communism, or nostalgic leftists waxing over bygone companeros who captured rents and institutions in the name of revolution.“Latin American peoples are going to stand tall again,” Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez commiserated last week in a video conference with former Brazilian president and Workers Party icon Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Both rued the fading Pink Tide of left-wing leaders and vowed a triumphant revanche.  “We are going to rebuild the Patria Grande (the great fatherland), and we will recover that dignity that we had,” Fernandez said.The revolution, however, will not be Zoomed. “The Wasp Network” doesn’t settle any of the woolly Cold War scores it evokes. But when it chooses to focus on the victims of that conflict’s overheated slogans and tangled schemes, it produces what passes for a win in these conflicted times. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Mac Margolis is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Latin and South America. He was a reporter for Newsweek and is the author of “The Last New World: The Conquest of the Amazon Frontier.”For more articles like this, please visit us at now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • What Price Would You Put on Your Personal Data?

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- For all the talk of digital rights — and the Big Brotherly tentacles of Big Tech — a surprising number of Americans would sell even their most sensitive data, sometimes for a song.In fact, according to research commissioned by Okta, which develops cloud software for authenticating users, only 24% of Americans would refuse to sell any of their online information, at any price.Perhaps unsurprisingly, users were less willing to trade biometric data, offline conversations and identifying personal information than they were data on their purchasing, browsing and location. But 15% would still sell their passwords for $100 or less.It’s hard to know exactly why users would part with even profoundly private information for such relatively small sums, though one might hazard a few guesses: They are strapped for cash; they are less fearful of corporate surveillance than people suppose; they assume that their personal data is already being secretly stolen as a matter of routine. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Ben Schott is a Bloomberg Opinion visual columnist. He created the Schott’s Original Miscellany and Schott’s Almanac series, and writes for newspapers and magazines around the world. For more articles like this, please visit us at now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • How to Nudge a Coronavirus Nonbeliever

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- A lot of Americans aren’t taking Covid-19 seriously. They aren’t wearing masks. They aren’t social distancing. They aren’t staying home.That’s one reason that the number of cases is spiking in the South and West. The problem is especially serious in Florida, Arizona, South Carolina, North Carolina, California, Tennessee and Texas, which are reporting the highest numbers of hospitalizations since the coronavirus pandemic started spreading across the U.S. in March.The result is likely to be many thousands of preventable deaths.Why are so many people refusing to take precautions? A key reason is their sense of their identity — their understanding of what kind of person they are, and of the groups with whom they are affiliated. It follows that appeals to adopt responsible practices are unlikely to work unless they take group identity into account.An alarming example: In Alabama, college students have been holding “Covid-19 parties,” including people who are infected and intentionally designed to see who else can catch the virus first.In the last decades, behavioral science has drawn attention to the immense importance of personal identity in motivating behavior. A central idea, pressed by Dan Kahan, a law and psychology professor at Yale University, is that people’s beliefs and understandings are often “identity-protective.”With respect to some risks — such as those posed by climate change, nuclear power and gun violence — people’s judgments about whether a danger is high or low are deeply influenced by their understanding of the group, or tribe, to which they belong.People ask, “Am I the sort of person who thinks and does this, or not?” The answer to that question can be decisive.Tragically, that’s become true of Covid-19. If you think of yourself as someone who rejects elite prescriptions about how you should live your life, and if you consider yourself part of a group that defies national nannies, you might be proud to go about your business, just as you did six months ago.What can be done? We can find terrific lessons from the great state of Texas and an ingenious environmental campaign that started there in 1985.In that year, Texas faced a problem. It was dealing with a great deal of littering on the highways, roads and elsewhere. A public relations campaign to reduce littering did not seem promising. In some states, officials were drawn to an old jingle: “Litterbug, litterbug/Shame on you/Look at the terrible things you do.” To say the least, that was unlikely to work in Texas.The challenge was to do something that would make the anti-littering campaign fit with Texans’ identity, rather than seem antithetical to it, a high-handed imposition from people with foreign accents.The solution began with a slogan: “Don’t Mess With Texas.” The slogan suggested that littering was an insult to the state and those who cherish it. It turned Texan identity, and a sense of local pride, into a reason not to litter — and a reason to dislike and deter those who do.“Don’t Mess With Texas” became the foundation of something much more than a slogan. For over 30 years, it has been a full-scale campaign, including endorsements by trusted celebrities such as Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Matthew McConaughey and LeAnn Rimes. By all accounts, it has been exceptionally successful, producing substantial reductions in littering.For Covid-19, the problem is straightforward: Many Americans regard wearing masks, social distancing and the like as a capitulation to some “other” — creepy, self-appointed experts who don’t know what they are talking about. In states that have not gotten Covid-19 under control, the meaning of precautions has to be made to shift. It must fit with people’s local identity and their sense of pride.A possible example: Tennessee is known as the Volunteer State, a term that came from the War of 1812, when many of its citizens volunteered to protect their nation. You could imagine a campaign against Covid-19 that invoked that idea. And in Texas itself, the “Don’t Mess With Texas” campaign could be adapted to the fight against the virus.As that campaign shows, it is also important to find surprising validators, trusted people who would not be expected to call for the relevant precautions. They might be local politicians, admired by and believable to the very people who are refusing to take those precautions, or celebrities who are similarly credible.When people change their behavior, it is often because the change conforms to, or at least doesn’t compromise, their sense of who they are. Too many Americans are getting sick and dying because precautions against Covid-19 have violated their self-understandings.Stop messing with the U.S. Leaders, both large and small, need to tackle the problem now.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Cass R. Sunstein is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is the author of “The Cost-Benefit Revolution” and a co-author of “Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness.”For more articles like this, please visit us at now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.