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The US’s new tariff on steel and aluminum could support domestic production… or trigger a global “tax war.” The Hustle Mon, Mar 12 Brought to you by Bright Cellars… the closest thing to heaven in a box. Is it the...
Brought to you by Bright Cellars… the closest thing to heaven in a box.
Is it the Boston Tea Party? … ’Cause everyone’s talking about tariffs like it’s 1773
Last week, in an effort to boost American manufacturing and beef up national security, President Trump signed an order to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports — which, to no surprise, really grinds foreign manufacturers’ gears.
Haven’t heard the word “tariff” since high school government class? Here’s a breakdown of what they are, how they work, and how this one could affect the global economy.
A tariff is a government tax on imports that makes foreign goods more expensive and, in turn, makes the domestic product more attractive and gives the country’s manufacturers a leg up.
This particular tariff includes a 25% tax on steel imports and a 10% tax on aluminum imports from all countries except Canada, Mexico, and Australia.
In theory, this will help America’s struggling steel and aluminum industries get back on their feet, and even the playing field against powerhouse foreign steel manufacturers like China that play a role in driving down global prices.
“Sounds gravy… what’s the catch?”
Well, one concern is that US manufacturers won’t be able to keep up with the spike in demand: The US produces just 5% of the world’s steel, down from 12% in 2000.
Another is that the increase in steel and aluminum costs could penalize American companies that rely on them to make crucial things like beer cans and cars.
Then, there’s the rest of the world: Steel-producing countries affected by the tariff are concerned that this will handicap sales and threaten manufacturing jobs — and, if these countries decide to pass their own tariffs in retaliation, it could trigger a global “trade war” of revenge tariffs.
Meanwhile, the EU is filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization, arguing that the obscure, national security-related trade law Trump used to justify the tariff violates WTO rules. They’ve also threatened to tax major American exports like Harley-Davidson motorcycles, and bourbon.
Grab your popcorn, people, this is gonna be interesting…
Steel’s no longer a steal
Why are millions of clocks in Europe suddenly running slow?
Throughout Europe, clocks that rely on alternating current to tell time — those found on ovens, radios, microwaves, and other devices — are running up to 6 minutes slow.
The unlikely cause: a long-running dispute between the countries of Serbia and Kosovo.
“I’m gonna need an explanation here”
Back in 2008, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia. Since then, the EU has spent years trying to normalize relations between the two countries.
But Serbia has refused to recognize Kosovo’s sovereignty — and as a result, ethnic Serbs residing in northern Kosovo have declined to pay electric bills to Kosovo’s utility department.
For some time, Kosovo’s government subsidized the cost of electricity for Kosovo-residing Serbs. Then, last December, they stopped paying…
Which just so happened to throw off Europe’s entire grid
Thing is, 25 countries in Europe (including Kosovo and Serbia) are on what’s called the Continental Europe power system. These 25 countries all use the same electrical network, which runs on a frequency of 50Hz.
The disruption caused by the Serbia-Kosovo power feud has caused the entire grid to slow from 50Hz to 49.996Hz — enough to knock alternating current-dependent clocks, like those on ovens, slightly out of whack.
Last week, Kosovo’s public energy firm said it would temporarily start paying the bills again, but the Hz deficit could take weeks to rectify. And until then, the ol’ “I’m late to work because of an ongoing sovereignty dispute” excuse will remain fair game.
At SXSW in 2014, Edward Snowden recommended Ghostery — a browser extension that lets users decide what advertisers can track — to people looking to beef up their online security.
The endorsement cultivated an entire cottage industry of for-profit ad-blockers, causing many skeptics to question the benevolence of companies like Ghostery and their complicated data-farming business models.
Now, Ghostery has officially made all of their code open source in an effort to promote transparency and resuscitate their consumer credibility.
Ad-blockers or data sellers?
Ad-blockers are businesses too. And, as it turns out, they aren’t that different from the very data-starved advertisers they’ve sworn to protect users from.
Ghostery, for example, paid the bills by getting users to share data about ad trackers they encountered on the web.
They would then turn around and sell that information to e-commerce websites, as a double agent of sorts: protecting users from thirsty advertisers by day, and selling their data by night.
Now they’re cleanin’ it up
Ghostery’s open-source software gives anyone the opportunity to copy, change, and improve their services.
They’re also changing their business model in an attempt to make money without betraying users’ trust. New revenue streams include a paid premium-tier product, plus a rewards program that serves up discounts as you browse the web.
Will Ghostery be able to blaze the trail into less shady ad-blocking territory? Maybe only Snowden knows for sure.
Rent the Runway gets a $20m investment from Alibaba’s Jack Ma and Joe Tsai
The women’s clothing rental startup locked in a sweet $20m from Jack Ma and Joe Tsai’s multi-billion dollar investment fund, Blue Pool Capital, on Friday — a deal that values the company just south of $800m.
“I’ll take one runway with my best friend Joe Tsai please” — Jack Ma
Founded in 2009, Rent the Runway started out as a service that loaned designer dresses to women for special events at a fraction of the retail price.
Now, the company’s $139-a-month clothing rental subscription, touted as “Netflix for dresses,” brings in well over $100m in revenue per year.
Does that mean Alibaba wants to buy?
According to Rent the Runway CEO Jennifer Hyman, not necessarily. She believes having Jack and Joe on board allows RTR to keep their options open. “It’s good for us whether we IPO, or we sell the business, or we stay private,” she said.
According to Rent the Runway, Blue Pool Capital hasn’t decided which executive will take a board observer role, but some speculate it will be Tsai.
It’s beautiful. Stainless steel carafe, built-in bean grinder, the full monty. Big whoop, right?
Well, it is a big whoop, and I’ll tell you why: A year ago, we were working out of the third floor of a house.
Actually, we were working out of half of the third floor of a house that we rented from our friend who was kind enough to let us stay there.
In other words, our office was a sixth of a house, the only “gift” for new hires was a cinder block to put your monitor on, and we definitely didn’t have a top-of-the-line Cuisinart that makes you feel like the Alton Brown of beanwater every time you use it.
Point is, we’ve come a long way. We have our own office in downtown San Francisco, we’re hosting events all over the country, and we’ve hired more awesome people that make it fun to come to work.
We still use cinder blocks for monitor stands, but that’s because they’re practical and frankly, we’re not the ping pong table types.
So sure, our coffee maker isn’t as newsworthy as the headlines we cover every day, but for us, it’s a sign of the times (plus it’s stainless steel, AKA one of the few things in our office Sam won’t be able to break).
Cheers to changing for the better, and a higher quality cup o’ joe.