Planet Business

Australia loses steam, Google adopts a smiling ‘e’ and the Fiat Chrysler boss gets huggy

 

Image of the week: Great Rainfall of China

Extreme volatility is still the dominant weather pattern across Chinese financial markets, with Wednesday’s equities plummet prompted by news that securities regulators are putting pressure on brokerages to clean up “grey market” margin lending by the end of the month – a move designed to lend support to the market. Large-cap Chinese stocks managed to bounce off their lows late in the session, which was the last of the week as stock markets in the country closed on Thursday and Friday for a big old military parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of the second World War. All that marching is expected to be a bit of a dampener for productivity. Photograph: Reuters/Tyrone Siu

In Numbers: Australian winning streak

26 Years of consecutive growth in the Netherlands from 1982 to 2008 on the back of the discovery of North Sea oil, a modern-era record.

24 Years of uninterrupted growth in Australia as the country profited from demand for mining resources from China. “We are going to break the record and go beyond the Dutch,” says Australian treasurer Joe Hockey.

0.2 Percentage growth in the Australian economy in the second quarter compared to the first. This rate of growth was more sluggish than it has been of late, putting Hockey’s big target in doubt.

The Lexicon: Smiling “e”

“This isn’t the first time we’ve changed our look and it probably won’t be the last,” said Google’s Tamar Yehoshua and Bobby Nath in a blog post as they introduced the tech company’s new logo and branding. But there was no mention of one of its most controversial new elements: the upward slant on the “e”, known as a crooked or “smiling” letter. “I really hope this ‘e’ does not become a thing,” said type designer Tobias Frere-Jones, when asked for his verdict by media site The Verge. But is it too late to stop it? Heineken already slants the three “e”s in its name, giving its logo a tipsy air. The beer brand cheerfully pointed out its prior claim to the smiling “e” this week by tweeting a Googlefied version of its logo in toddler-bright colours with the line “Hi @Google, you’ve inspired us too...”

Getting to know: Sergio Marchionne

The car industry has been busy this week trying to decipher the unpleasant analogies of Sergio Marchionne (63), the chief executive of Fiat Chrysler. Two months after his attempt to merge with General Motors was rejected, Marchionne appears to be ready to fight for a deal. “It would be unconscionable not to force a partner,” Marchionne told Automotive News. “There are varying degrees of hugs. I can hug you nicely, I can hug you tightly, I can hug you like a bear, I can really hug you. Everything starts with physical contact. Then it can degrade, but it starts with physical contact.” But he’s not necessarily talking about a hostile bid, he said, and neither was he trying to “date Mary” – Mary being GM chief executive Mary Barra – but he would like to see her some time. Okay then. Time for a restraining order?

The list: Smoking crackdowns

Big tobacco may be lobbying hard, but anti-tobacco health campaigners are no slouches either, judging from this lot of measures.

1 China Tobacco advertisements in mass media and outdoors have been banned in the country that is both the world’s biggest producer and consumer of tobacco. In Beijing smoking was banned in public places in June.

2 Russia Civil servants who disappear for a few puffs will have to work longer hours to make up for the time lost to their habit, it was suggested last December. Not quite a smoke break then, is it?

3 North Korea Its leader Kim Jong-un has been known to like a cigarette, but the one-party state has consulted leading anti-tobacco campaigner Judith Mackey about how it might cut its lung cancer rates.

4 Ireland and England Following a lead set years ago by Australia, plain packaging rules will be introduced in both countries from May 2016, with the sale of branded cigarettes banned a year later.

5 France Fines were recently introduced for smoking in children’s playgrounds – “to respect our children”, the health minister said. Strictly pure air on beaches may be next.

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