Headlines 

Monopolies cost Americans $300 a month. We’re no longer the land of free markets | Thomas Philippon

In a reversal from a few decades ago, American consumers are facing oligopolies while Europeans benefit from competition When I landed in Boston in 1999, the United States was the land of free markets. Many goods and services were cheaper here than in Europe. Twenty years later, American free markets are becoming a myth. Internet service, cellphone plans, and plane tickets are now cheaper in Europe and Asia than in the US. In 2018, the twice as much on cellphone services as households in France or the UK. This is…

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Odds and Ends 

Sources: Lilium is looking to raise up to $500M for its electric flying taxis

“Flying cars” — airborne vehicles designed for urban and other short-distance commutes to replace conventional private automobiles — are (at best) still years away from being a reality, with significant safety, technology and business model hurdles to clear before they ever hit the sky. Now, sources tell us that one of the more promising startups in the field, the German startup Lilium, wants to put itself into pole position by ramping up its financial position. Lilium has been talking to investors to raise a big round of funding, between $400…

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Startups Weekly: SoftBanks second act

Hello and welcome back to Startups Weekly, a weekend newsletter that dives into the week’s noteworthy startups and venture capital news. Before I jump into today’s topic, let’s catch up a bit. Last week, I noted some challenges plaguing mental health tech startups. Before that, I wrote about Zoom and Superhuman’s PR disasters. Remember, you can send me tips, suggestions and feedback to kate.clark@techcrunch.com or on Twitter @KateClarkTweets. If you don’t subscribe to Startups Weekly yet, you can do that here. accelerating its IPO plans and targeting a September listing. We don’t…

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Google launches new Assistant developer tools

At its I/O conference, Google today announced a slew of new tools for developers who want to build experiences for the company’s Assistant platform. These range from the ability to build games for smart displays, like the Google Home Hub and the launch of App Actions for taking users from an Assistant answer to their native apps, to a new Local Home SDK that allows developers to run their smart home code locally on Google Home Speakers and Nest Displays. This Local Home SDK may actually be the most important…

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Mark Carney tells global banks they cannot ignore climate change dangers

Financial sector warned it risks losses from extreme weather and its stakes in polluting firms The global financial system faces an existential threat from climate change and must take urgent steps to reform, the governors of the article published in the Guardian on Wednesday aimed at the international financial community, Mark Carney, the Banks governor, and Villeroy de Galhau, the governor of the Banque de Extinction Rebellion protests and Paris climate agreement, with the banking system required to play a pivotal role. If some companies and industries fail to adjust…

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Odds and Ends 

Africa Roundup: Kenyas BRCK acquires EveryLayer, Nigerias TeamApt eyes global expansion

Kenyan communications hardware company BRCK acquired the assets of Nairobi-based internet provider Surf and its U.S. parent EveryLayer in a purchase deal of an undisclosed amount in February. Based in Nairobi, Surf is a hotspot service provider aimed at offering affordable internet to lower-income segments. BRCK is a five-year-old venture that pairs its rugged Wi-Fi routers to internet service packages designed to bring people online in frontier and emerging markets. With the acquisition, BRCK gains the assets of San Francisco-based EveryLayer and its Surf subsidiary, including 1,200 hotspots and 200,000 active customers…

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Odds and Ends 

Guardian Circle upgrades with a decentralized alert network

Chris Hays and Mark Jeffrey wanted to create a way for everyone to be able to tell their loved ones if they were in trouble. Their first product, Guardian Circle, did just that, netting a mention a few years ago. Now the same team is truly decentralizing alerts with a new token called, obviously, Guardium. The plan is to create an ad hoc network of helpers and first responders. “Guardium and Guardian Circle together open the emergency response grid to vetted citizens, private response and compatible devices for the very first…

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Paul Ryan sold shares on same day as private briefing of banking crisis

Vice-presidential candidate denies he profited from a 2008 meeting with Fed chairman in which officials outlined fears for financial crisis Paul Ryan, Mitt Romneys vice-presidential running mate, sold stock in US banks on the same day he attended a confidential meeting where top level officials disclosed the sector was heading for a deep crisis. The congressman on Monday denied profiting from information gleaned from the meeting on 18 September 2008 when Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, then treasury secretary Hank Paulson and others outlined their fears for the banking sector.…

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Nordea’s Bitcoin Ban Leaves Financial Regulator Taking Back Seat

As Nordea Bank AB blazes a trail in Europe by banning its employees from trading Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, the regulator is taking a back seat in a decision-making process it says is better left to the industry. Sweden’s Financial Supervisory Authority thinks “every institution must decide on the details of their internal regulations specifying the rules for their employees’ investments and trading,” spokesman Peter Svensson told Bloomberg, in response to questions about Bitcoin guidelines. The hands-off approach may surprise some who associate the Nordic region, and Sweden in particular,…

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FBI investigates Russian-linked Cyprus bank accused of money laundering

Request for financial information may be connected to inquiries into possible conspiracy between Trump and Kremlin The FBI has asked officials in Cyprus for financial information about a defunct bank that was used by wealthy Russians with political connections and has been accused by the US government of money laundering, two sources have told the Guardian. The request for information about FBME Bank comes as Cyprus has emerged as a key area of interest for Robert Mueller, the US special counsel who is investigating a possible conspiracy between Donald Trumps…

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The Strange Case of the Look-Alike Credit Cards

First National Bank of Marin was a small Las Vegas lender with an image problem. Federal investigators accused it of issuing credit cards to strapped consumers, then piling on so many fees and obligations that some new clients couldn’t buy a sandwich without hitting their credit limit. But by 2006, it had settled the claims and was ready to expand. It changed its name to Source: Credit One Bank If that looks familiar, there’s a good reason. In 2008, credit-card titan Source: Capital One Financial Corp. And so began the improbable story of…

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Teslas Newest Promises Break the Laws of Batteries

Elon Musk knows how to make promises. Even by his own standards, the promises made last week while introducing two new Tesla vehicles—the heavy-duty Semi Truck and the speedy Roadster—are monuments of envelope pushing. To deliver, according to close observers of battery technology, Tesla would have to far exceed what is currently thought possible. Take the Tesla Semi: Musk vowed it would haul an unprecedented 80,000 pounds for 500 miles on a single charge, then recharge 400 miles of range in 30 minutes. That would require, based on Bloomberg estimates, a charging system that's 10 times more…

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Asia’s Richest Banker Spots a Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity

For India, it’s a $207 billion mess, a pile-up of bad loans years in the making that’s dragging on growth. For the nation’s wealthiest banker, it’s the kind of opportunity that very rarely presents itself. What has billionaire Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd., in an interview. “Through this you could actually get assets that would give disproportionate returns for long periods of time.” Funds controlled by Kotak Mahindra are looking at deals involving the assets and debts of some of the first 12 companies going through the bankruptcy courts, Kotak said. Industries…

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Germany Tightens the Screws on International Funds to Turkey

The German government is wielding its influence with international development institutions to restrict financing to Turkey over an escalating political dispute, people familiar with the matter said. Germany is actively working to cut funding to Turkey from the country’s state-owned European Investment Bank and the European Bank for European Union’s pre-accession funding for Turkey. That’s part of a broader break between Turkey and its traditional Western allies, including the U.S., which on Oct. 8 suspended visa services in the country. Germany is Turkey’s largest economic partner by far, accounting for…

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Yellen Calls Inflation the ‘Biggest Surprise’ in the Economy

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said that the U.S. central bank expects to continue to raise interest rates gradually as solid growth, a strong labor market and a healthy global economy lift prices even as she recognized that inflation has been surprisingly low.  “My best guess is that these soft readings will not persist, and with the ongoing strengthening of labor markets, I expect inflation to move higher next year,” Yellen said Sunday at the Group of Thirty’s Annual International Banking Seminar in Washington. Yellen’s term expires in February and…

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