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10 things in tech you need to know today, September 11

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The iPhone 11 Pro and the iPhone 11 Pro Max.
Lisa Eadicicco/Business Insider

Good morning! This is the tech news you need to know this Wednesday.

  1. Apple announced three new iPhones at its event on Tuesday: the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max. The new iPhones retain their same prices as last year’s designs, but Apple made some significant improvements to each of its top-of-the-line phones.
  2. Apple also unveiled the Apple Watch Series 5, which comes in new titanium and ceramic casings and has an always-on display. Like the name suggests, the always-on display allows you to view information at a glance without moving your wrist to turn the screen on.
  3. Tim Cook announced that Apple’s streaming service Apple TV Plus will launch November 1 and cost just $5 a month. The $5 pricepoint ranks Apple TV Plus among the cheapest of streaming services out there, although Apple’s service won’t include any licensed content beyond its original content.
  4. Uber fired more than 400 product and engineering employees in its second major round of layoffs this year. In a statement, Uber said the move was about staying nimble as a 27,000-person, global company.
  5. Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Sergey Brin, and Marissa Mayer reportedly attended an elite private dinner with Jeffrey Epstein just two years after he served a prison sentence for soliciting sex from a 14-year-old girl. The elite dinner party known informally as the “billionaires’ dinner” was held in 2011 during the TED Conference in Long Beach, California.
  6. California approved a landmark bill to reclassify contractors for companies like Uber and Lyft as employees. The Assembly Bill 5 passed in a 29 to 11 vote in the State Senate and now heads to the State Assembly for passage.
  7. Peloton plans to raise as much as $1.3 billion in an IPO that would double its valuation to $8 billion. The maker of internet connected fitness equipment said it intends to sell 40 million Class A shares in the offering.
  8. WeWork may soldier on with its IPO despite reports that it’s slashing its valuation by more than half. WeWork could begin its IPO roadshow as soon as Monday, September 16, based on a report from CNBC.
  9. A party planned for the millions of Facebook users signed up to storm Area 51 is raising concerns it could become “Fyre Fest 2.0.” Organizers of the Facebook event turned it into a music festival called Alienstock, and thousands of people are expected to flood the town near Area 51 later this month.
  10. Elon Musk said he wants to buy The Onion after his satirical startup shut down earlier this year. The Daily Beast reported in 2018 that Musk considered buying The Onion in 2014 and hired several former staff members for a satirical startup, Thud, that folded in May after Musk stopped funding it.

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Here’s why Iran would target Saudi oil fields, risking US response

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Two major oil facilities in Saudi Arabia were hit in an attack on Saturday that’s disrupted 5% of the world’s daily oil supply.

Iran-backed Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the attack, but US officials and Saudi Arabia have doubts about this.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over the weekend explicitly blamed Iran, and Saudi Arabia on Monday said preliminary evidence shows Iranian weapons were used in the attack and that it did not originate in Yemen.

On Tuesday, CNN reported that Saudi and US investigators have determined “with very high probability” that the attack was launched from an Iranian base in Iran close to the border with Iraq.

But neither the US nor Saudi Arabia have presented evidence to back up their finger-pointing at Iran, and both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the French foreign minister have pressed for more information before jumping to conclusions. Iran has also denied any involvement.

But if Iran was responsible for the attack it would fall in line with a cycle of events that in recent months as Tehran seeks relief from crippling US sanctions under what the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign.

Iran has been battling Saudi Arabia for regional supremacy and has reacted to the US sanctions by planting mines on tankers and seizing them at sea, efforts that have largely failed to compel the Trump administration to ease them. The Saudi attack, by contrast, sent shockwaves through global energy markets.

An expert said Iran may be simply trying to spike oil prices to raise pressure on the US to ease the sanctions and to punish the Saudis for supporting the US’s campaign against Iran.

‘Iran is trying to raise the costs for the US and its partners for the economic pressure it’s facing.’

“Assessments are still in the works, and it’s important not to rush to judgment without international scrutiny. At this point, however, it does appear that Iran is implicated in the attack. If this is the case, it would certainly fit a pattern we’ve seen over the summer where Iran is trying to raise the costs for the US and its partners for the economic pressure it’s facing, particularly the US sanctions that are significantly curtailing its oil exports,” Dalia Dassa Kaye, a top Middle East expert at the RAND Corporation, told Insider.

According to some reports, drones and more than 20 cruise missiles struck the Saudi oil facilities with precision — the kind of attack few insurgencies are likely to be able to mount.

“All signs point to Iranian responsibility,” Michael Singh, a former senior director for Middle East affairs on the National Security Council under former President George W. Bush who’s now at The Washington Institute.

“This is not merely because US officials seem to have intelligence indicating that this is so. The scale and precision of the attack suggests that a state, rather than one of the Middle East’s many non-state militias, is behind it,” Singh said. “And few states if any beside Iran would have both the capability and motivation to mount an attack on Saudi oil production.”

Singh said Iran’s denial of responsibility “tells us little” and characterized it as par for the course from a country that “wants to inflict pain but avoid a broader conflict.”

Iran wants leverage

The incident in Saudi Arabia occurs in the broader context of an impasse between the US and Iran over crippling economic sanctions that Tehran is desperate to find relief from. Since President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement — designed to keep them from building nuclear weapons — and reimposed sanctions, US-Iran relations have deteriorated and reached a boiling point this summer.

The US has sought to hit Iran where it hurts with sanctions designed to choke of the oil revenue that is its primary source of income; they went into full effect in May. Some countries, including China, have still taken oil from Iranian tankers and risked economic penalties from the US.

Read more: Iran could take advantage of Trump’s wishy-washy response to the Saudi oil field attacks

There’s also another piece to this: Saudi Arabia and Iran have been at odds for decades, and are currently engaged in a proxy war in Yemen. Iran is backing the Houthi rebels in the war, who are fighting against the Saudi-led coalition.

In this context, there are many reasons for Iran to target the Saudi oil industry, given the kingdom is one of their top adversaries and a close partner of the US. Not to mention, Iran has already been blamed for oil tanker attacks in the region and has also been involved in the seizure of oil tankers in recent months — including on Monday.

Singh told Insider there are at least four reasons why Iran would want to conduct an attack like this:

  1. “First, and quite simply, to raise oil prices, which is not an insignificant consideration given the sharp reduction in the volume of Iran’s oil exports.”
  2. “Second, to punish Saudi Arabia for its participation in the US ‘maximum pressure’ campaign.”
  3. “Third, to expose and widen a gap between the US and its regional allies by demonstrating American reluctance to act to defend its partners.”
  4. “And fourth, to generate pressure on the United States to relax its sanctions against Iran by stoking a sense of crisis.”

“Iran’s months-long campaign of regional escalation — attacks on tankers, pipelines, and now the Abqaiq facility — is linked to its nuclear escalation, in that it sees both areas as points of leverage against the US and our allies, and believes we will be hard-pressed to respond,” Singh added.

‘If Iran is in the mindset it has nothing to lose, we can expect more provocations.’

An attack on major oil facilities impacting the global oil supply is a much bigger deal than tanker attacks and seizures, and could signal that more attacks of this magnitude are on the horizon as Iran seeks leverage in the stalemate with the US and other Western powers over sanctions and the 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran has taken steps away from the deal over the past few months, raising anxiety among European countries scrambling to save the landmark agreement.

“This attack is particularly brazen, especially if it was launched directly from Iran rather than through regional proxies,” Kaye said. “But it’s not terribly surprising given the escalation cycle we’ve seen since the US withdrawal from the nuclear agreement and the maximum pressure campaign.”

“If Iran is in the mindset it has nothing to lose, we can expect more provocations, unfortunately,” Kaye added. “Presumably, Iranian leaders believe these types of activities can gain them leverage in the future, but it’s a risky gambit when their actions are threatening global stability.”



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Bank of America says fund managers’ worries about a global recession are at its highest level since 2009

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Associated Press

  • Bank of America surveyed 235 fund managers, asking them a variety of questions including how likely a recession in the next year is, and whether interest rates were to rise. 
  • Few in the survey said interest rates would rise within the next 12 months, while the number who said a recession would hit in the next year was the highest since 2009. 
  • Most also said that a resolution to the trade war doesn’t look likely before the 2020 election. 
  • The other takeaway, BoA says: “It’s time for fiscal stimulus.”
  • View Markets Insider’s homepage for more stories.  

Global fund managers have increasingly become more worried about the state of the economy, and according to Bank of America’s global fund manager survey, the risk of recession is at its highest since 2009. 

The survey, released on Tuesday, surveyed 235 fund managers who manage a combined total of $683 billion, showed that 38% of fund managers expect a recession within the next year — the highest net percentage to say so since the depths of the financial crash in 2009. 

The survey also showed that fund managers aren’t expecting great things from the economy, ahead of what’s expected to be a Federal Reserve rate cut this week. Just 21% of the fund managers expect a rise in short term rates in the next 12 months. 

FMSBAML

BoA said that this was a complete reversal of this time last year, when 87% of those surveyed said they expected higher short term rates. 

Most blame the trade war for the increased risk of recession

More than a third said that the US-China trade war is the “new normal,” and 70% felt that no resolution between the two superpowers would be achieved prior to the election next year. 

The survey was taken between September 12 and 16, meaning that this week’s spike in oil prices and potential geopolitical conflict has not been factored into this survey.

Bank of America highlighted that the key takeaway from the survey was that fiscal stimulus was “essential” to boosting allocations to stocks — an important point given Trump has been focusing on monetary policy to try and stimulate the economy in the form of rate cuts. 

“Infrastructure spending (fiscal policy) is also the area of US economic policy where Fund Manager Survey investors think there is the most bipartisan support,” the report said, adding: “Whatever the outcome of the 2020 US Presidential election, we expect government spending to rise.”

trade war BAMLBAML

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Elizabeth Warren drew crowd of thousands for 2020 campaign stop in NYC

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NEW YORK — Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren delivered a forceful speech in a campaign stop in New York City on Monday evening, presenting a vision of systemic change driven from the inside while also vowing to tackle political corruption if she were elected as the nation’s next president.

The campaign estimated over 20,000 people turned out to hear the senator from Massachusetts make her case for the White House, which would make it the biggest rally of her presidential run so far.

Her address focused on corruption in American politics, and she also spoke about the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, which killed 146 garment workers — most of them women — and spurred substantial workplace safety reforms.

Insider was on the scene as Warren delivered a defining speech of her candidacy. Here’s what we saw.



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