A weekly summary of what I’ve found interesting at the intersection of economics, finance and technology.
The NSA alerted Microsoft to a critical vulnerability in Windows — This marks a bit of a departure for the agency, which in the past would probably have tried exploiting the flaw first. In terms of the vulnerability itself, it looks bad and you should apply the security patch as soon as possible. Read
Visa is acquiring little-known fintech startup Plaid — The startup allows popular fintech apps like Venmo and cryptocurrency trading apps to connect to users’ bank accounts easily. Seems mostly US oriented though, and the acquisition price looks steep. Read
Alphabet/Google’s chief legal officer resigned/was fired due to conduct issues — More corporate culture problems surfacing at previously untouchable companies… Read
E-Commerce’s negative externalities — An analysis released by the World Economic Forum (of all places) estimates that CO2 emissions of urban last-mile deliveries will increase by 30% in the next 10 years. Similarly, traffic congestion is expected to rise by over 21%. Add this to similar findings for ride-sharing companies and things don’t look so rosy. Read
SpaceX’ plan to send tens of thousands of satellites into orbit worries scientists — Another example of a public good that is being privatised, and without sufficient attention given to the negative externalities. Read
Exercising your rights to see a copy of all the data a company has on you, e.g under GDPR rules, requires handing over more personal data. A privacy paradox, as it were? Read ($)
🔈 Very interesting conversation on internet security, cryptography and tech regulation between Bruce Schneier and Kara Swisher. Listen
Beyond the very specific worries of protesters in Hong Kong and other authoritarian places, facial recognition seems to be the bridge too far for many.Read ($)
This article doesn’t go into much detail, but offers some interesting thoughts on how on-demand service companies (e.g. Uber) are changing urban life. Read
That’s it for this week’s edition. As always, thanks for reading and please forward this to anyone who you think might be interested, it would be much appreciated.