Google’s Self-Driving Car Is…A Chrysler Minivan? Plus The Amount Of Time Kids Spend On Their Phone Is ALARMING

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“We were down 8% in February and for us that’s a lot…my worst fears were realized” — Famous (or infamous?) billionaire Steve Cohen, speaking about his hedge fund, Point72. It has been a tough year for hedge fund managers so far…except for the fact that they’re hedge fund managers.

 

MARKET SNAPSHOT
Big Picture

  • U.S. stocks finished lower on Tuesday as oil prices dropped and disappointing economic data from both Europe and Asia fueled a global selloff that hit European mining stocks the hardest (a 6% drop in the sector)

Market Movers

  • Shares of the infamous Valeant Pharmaceuticals rose 10% after new CEO Joseph Papa officially took office on Tuesday, leading to credit agencies revising their outlook
  • Apple CEO Tim Cook talked up the company’s long-term potential in an interview Monday night, leading to shares finally breaking their eight-day losing streak, jumping 1.6%

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WORLD MACRO
Aussies Loosen Up

Low inflation and a relatively strong Australian dollar pushed the Aussie central bank to cut its benchmark interest rate for the first time in a year yesterday, down to 1.75%. The bank hopes to encourage lending to promote economic growth after data showed the first quarterly deflation since the financial crisis—and if you think low inflation is bad, deflation (which is when prices are actually falling) is even worse for a country. On top of this, Australia has been trying diversify its mining-based economy, which is hurt by a strong Australian dollar (remember: a strong local currency hurts exports).

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CORPORATE PRIMER
Another Two Bite the Dust

This earnings season has been absolutely brutal for banks, and we’re not just talking about the big U.S. players like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. British bank HSBC was unfortunately not spared, posting plummeting profit and falling revenues—not exactly what you want when your shares are already down 32% from a year ago. The lone bright spot? HSBC says its market share grew in key Asian markets, although given China’s volatility, that may not be quite enough. And a little something extra: Swiss bank UBS fell 7% after poor earnings of its own, resulting from falling trading revenues and a slowing investment banking division. The carnage just won’t stop.

Getting Into Shape

Sprint is running out of breath. The wireless carrier’s revenue dropped last quarter for a performance even worse than last year’s. Unfortunately, its pricing strategy of discounting services to 50% of the competition hasn’t been too effective in adding new growth—yes, Sprint added 22,000 new customers, but 50% discounts should ideally lead to a bit more than that. So what’s being done about it? Sprint intends to add 2,500 more stores, cut costs by $2.5 billion and invest $3 billion in network construction. Those are some seriously lofty goals—let’s see how this one plays out.

Minivans of the Future

Say goodbye to soccer moms—soon, they’ll be able to send their cars to pick up the kids from practice. Self-driving tech is just around the corner, and just took another leap forward thanks to this latest alliance: yesterday, Google and Fiat Chrysler tied the knot, signing a partnership to create 100 self-driving minivans. Not the most glamorous car of the future, but if Chrysler is known for one thing, it’s minivans (Town and Country, anyone?). Chrysler + Google might be just the first in a series: analysts are expecting immense consolidation across the industry. Also, the partnership doesn’t mean either company is off the market. Expect multiple tech partnerships with many auto giants in the future—free self-driving love, baby.

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OTHER STORIES

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ECONOMIC CALENDAR

ONLY USE YOUR PHONE TO READ THE BREW

Hi, my name is Bill, and I’m addicted to…my phone. It’s no secret that we’re all attached to our mobile devices. Heck, you’re probably reading this on your phone right now. But, how serious is this habit? A recent survey of over 1,200 teenagers and their parents gauged the effects of technology on parent-child relationships. If you’re still in denial, wake up:

  • On average, 8- to 12-year-olds spend six hours a day using their cell phones, while 13- to 18-year-olds spend nine hours a day behind screens. Ever heard of books? The outdoors? Do you even watch TV?
  • The survey also found that 50% of teenagers and 59% of their parents felt that teens are attached to their phones. The other 50% must be lying.
  • But hey, it’s not just teenagers. 28% of teens surveyed said that their parents check their phones too frequently, and 27% of parents admit they’re addicted to their phones too. The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree…
  • The result? Family conflict. About one-third of participants reported arguing over screen time on the daily. If you’re looking for a job, maybe now’s the time to go into family therapy.

INTERVIEW QUESTION OF THE DAY

There are 20 different socks of two types in a drawer in a completely dark room. What is the minimum number of socks you should grab to ensure you have a matching pair? (Answer)

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BUSINESS TERM OF THE DAY

Return on Invested Capital — A financial metric that measures how efficient a company is at making money from all the capital it has invested (hint: the formula is a rough measure of cash flow divided by equity + debt – cash). It’s also sneakily become one of the most-tracked financial metrics in the corporate world—for example, GM fended off a group of activist investors by showing that it was using a 20% internal ROIC benchmark on its investments.

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Captain America: Civil War doesn’t release in the U.S. until this weekend, but it has already grossed an insane $200.4 million thanks to its international release last week. As if the highly-anticipated Marvel all-star extravaganza needed any more hype…

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