Planet Business: the weird and wonderful world of finance
From drones to conceptual driving and the ’Jenga effect’
The wheel of the new Nissan Vmotion 2.0 concept vehicle. Photograph: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
The week in numbers: Drones and dronies
Number of “mini-drones” in a “swarm” launched from a fighter jet during a test in California by none other than the US military, video footage of which was published this week. The drones all shared a distributed “brain”.
Size of the global market for drones, according to a new report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
Starting price for Polaroid’s range of “selfie drones”, unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. A selfie taken with a drone camera – other brands are available – is called a dronie. Yes, it is.
Image of the week: Conceptual driving
Meanwhile, in Detroit, this is what cars look like now – metallic tributes to crinkled up crisp bags with wheels made out of broken-up glitterballs. Pictured in true fetish style at the North American International Auto Show is the wheel of the new Nissan Vmotion 2.0 concept vehicle, which we’re assured (knowing absolutely nothing) isn’t just a car with a grand theme, like the automotive equivalent of a concept album, but more akin to a designer thinking out loud and signalling the future direction of the brand. It’s the haute couture of car manufacturing. PS: This one lights up when it’s in self-drive mode.
The lexicon: Jenga effect
According to the Urban Dictionary, the “Jenga effect” describes an inertia or fear of taking any action to change the status quo, because too much at risk – just like removing one wooden block from the Jenga tower – risks the collapse of the entire edifice (see toymaker Hasbro for further details). The 52 per cent of UK voters who opted for Brexit was clearly not suffering from Jenga fear, and yet the referendum outcome has meant the UK’s financial services industry is now grappling with its very own game.
“The ecosystem in London is a bit like a Jenga tower,” HSBC chairman Douglas Flint said this week. “We don’t know if you pull one small piece out, whether nothing happens or indeed there is a more dramatic impact.” The challenge now is for architects to design a Jenga tower for the London skyline.
Getting to know: Rex Tillerson
Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, not yet confirmed at the time of writing, is the former chief executive of Exxon and “big oil personified”, according to climate-change campaigner Bill McKibben: “It’s like appointing Ronald McDonald to run the agriculture department,” McKibben writes, before going on to concede this might be a possibility in the crazy world of Trump. The 64-year-old Texas oilman ranked 24th in the most recent Forbes list of the world’s most powerful people and has close ties to the man ranked first on that list, Vladimir Putin, who Tillerson knew in the 1990s when he led Exxon’s interests in Russia. It’s a small world.
The list: Destined for Davos
The annual power-shindig in the Swiss town of Davos is almost upon us, so which names – apart from Enda Kenny and Michael Noonan, obviously – are bound for the snowy confab this year?
1. Shakira: The Colombian singer is receiving a “Crystal” award for her commitment to philanthropic causes, as are actor Forest Whitaker and violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter.
2. Sadiq Khan: The London mayor will be making his Davos debut to insist “London is open” despite that whole Brexit business.
3. Jamie Oliver: If the chef is looking for a break from Brexit woes, he just might have chosen the wrong place.
4. Brendan Cox: The widower of Jo Cox, the MP murdered during the Brexit campaign, will be there to talk about his campaign More in Common.
5. Xi Jinping: The Chinese president will be the first person holding that office to rock up to Davos, making him almost as big a turn as Shakira.