Google’s Modular Phone Broken Into Pieces, Plus People Are Still Reading Books So Society Isn’t Doomed After All

“It took a minute to realize the guys under the smoke are us” — Spacecom CEO David Pollack, whose company’s telecom satellite was destroyed during a SpaceX prelaunch test gone wrong last week. Pollack found out the news while on a flight from New York to Orlando—not ideal.

Big Picture

  • U.S. markets ended last week on a high note after a so-so jobs report (more on that shortly)

Alternatives to Watch

  • Oil prices rose slightly after Saudi Arabia and Russia, the two largest producers, announced that both would be open to cooperation on price stabilization (oh yeah, more on that shortly too)


China Asserts its Dominance

…By investigating Didi Chuxing’s buyout of Uber China…and Comcast’s proposed acquisition of DreamWorks. Yep, China got busy in a hurry. This weekend, the Chinese government announced its reservations about both deals, even though formal complaints haven’t been released. To be fair, the Didi deal might have serious implications in China, so we get that the government’s probe there is an appropriate measure. But DreamWorks has almost no footprint in China, so why look into the Comcast-DreamWorks deal at all? We’re not sure, but for now, we’ll wish China safe travels on its sudden power trip.

Three Years Down the Drain

…As Google decides to shut down Project Ara. Quick refresher: the project was started in 2013 to develop phones that could be customized and beefed up with replaceable parts. The plans included developing various devices like speakers, camera lenses and other gadgets that could snap on and off the back of a phone. Sounds cool, right? Sure, but the big problem with these so-called “modular phones” was that the customizability would make it a lot tougher to integrate the hardware and add unnecessary bulk and complexity. Even though development has stopped for these phones, Google hopes to sell the patents and technology created for the project. Even Google can’t win ‘em all.


The Latest Jobs Report

…Struck quite the balance. Released last Friday, the always-anticipated August jobs report came in showing just enough progress to reassure us that the economy is still basically on track…but not quite enough for the Fed to raise rates just yet. In other words, we’ve got the best of both worlds. To break things down, the reportshowed 151,000 new jobs created, decent but slightly slowing wage growth, and no change in the unemployment rate (stuck on 4.9%). So while it didn’t crush expectations like July’s report, flying under the radar has its benefits.

Russia and Saudi Arabia

…Grab the barrel by its horns. In a deal reached in the background of the G20 summit in China, global oil heavyweights Saudi Arabia and Russia reached a dealover the weekend to cooperate in the saturated global oil market. While both parties have yet to confirm a freeze in production, markets are already getting antsy: Brent crude shot up 5% before ultimately stabilizing once news of the deal broke. The looming production freeze also has the support of OPEC countries, like the United Arab Emirates. Looks like a more stable oil market is something pretty much everybody can get on board with.



  • Monday: Labor Day (U.S. Market Closed)
  • Tuesday: Dave & Buster’s Earnings; ISM Non-Manufacturing Index
  • Wednesday: Hewlett Packard Enterprise Earnings; Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey; Beige Book
  • Thursday: Barnes & Noble Earnings; Weekly Jobless Claims
  • Friday: Kroger Earnings


Just a few years ago, we were told the death of the printed book was inevitable. Can we get an update on that? According to a Pew survey, it turns out those prognostications may have been a bit premature. Not only has the population of adult Americans who read books remained fairly high, but the percentage of Americans who use old school print books has remained steady. Read on for the rest:

  • We’ve been on a pretty solid run rate: since 2012, around 75% of adult Americans have claimed to have read at least one book each year.
  • But now we come to the big question: what kind of books are we talking about? The ones that used to be trees or the ones with backlit screens and finite battery life? 65% have read a print book in the last year…while only 28% have read an e-book.
  • What about auditory learners? Only 14% have listened to an audio book in the last year.
  • In the e-book landscape, however, things are changing—the share of e-book readers on tablets has tripled, while the share on phones has doubled since 2011. It’s a changing landscape, but ye olde paperback isn’t in danger just yet.


What economic indicators are most used when forecasting an exchange rate? (Answer)


Random Walk Theory — The random walk theory suggests that stock price changes have the same distribution and are independent of each other, so the past movement or trend of a stock price or market cannot be used to predict its future movement. In short, this is the idea that stocks take a random and unpredictable path.


How do you spend your time online when not reading the Brew? Probably on a smartphone app. According to media analytics company comScore smartphone apps now account for 50% of U.S. users’ time online, an all-time high.

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