Welcome to your weekly Ocrolus Update – 9/8/19!
Here’s a curated list of industry news, recommended reads, fundraising announcements, and some laughs. Please drop us a line if you have any tips or content that you want to see in the future.
Strong consumer spending propping up U.S. economy (Reuters): As the stock market moves up and down on the whims of the trade war, strong consumer spending is propping up the US economy. The amount US consumers spent increased 0.6% last month, continuing a trend that in recent months has served as a shield from market uncertainty. Consumer spending accounts for two thirds of the US economy, and it is currently acting as one of the few firewalls in the global economy. But some experts say that stagnant wages indicate the pattern can’t last forever.
China’s Yuan Drops to Fresh 11-Year Low (Wall Street Journal): China’s yuan weakened further on last week, at one point nearing 7.2 to the dollar, less than a month after Beijing let the currency pass a threshold it had previously defended. The yuan crossed 7 per dollar on Aug. 5, and has since slid further, as both China and the U.S. have detailed fresh tariff plans. Some economists think China might need to tolerate further depreciation to offset the effect of coming U.S. tariffs. Existing levies on about $250 billion in Chinese goods will be raised on December 15th.
Cuomo Signs Bill Cracking Down on Small-Business-Loan Abuses (Bloomberg): New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently signed a bill aimed at preventing lenders from using the state’s court system to seize the assets of small businesses. The new law prohibits the use of confessions of judgment against individuals and businesses located outside of the state. The legislation doesn’t help New York borrowers, but existing law already gives them some protection, requiring confessions of judgment to be filed against them in their home counties.
Snapshot On Australia: Growth In The Making (deBanked): The Australian alternative lending market continues to gain momentum, bolstered in part by increased awareness, heightened competition, and growing dissatisfaction with the status quo. Notably, Australia’s alternative funding volume surpassed $1.14 billion in 2017, up 88 percent from $609.59 million in 2016. Right now, Australia is the largest country in terms of total alternative finance market volume in the Asia Pacific region, excluding China.
The US manufacturing sector contracted in August, its first decline in three years (CNBC): The ISM U.S. manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index fell to 49.1% in August, the lowest reading in more than three years. Any reading below 50% signals a contraction. The report raised fears of a recession and hit the stock market. The escalated trade war with China is taking a significant bite from the manufacturing sector, which for a time was notching big gains in employment and activity. But that has now appeared to be nullified by the trade war.
Cartoon of the Week
Fundraising Announcement of the Week: Credijusto
Congrats to Credijusto (ABL Advisor) for gaining $42 million in Series B financing! Mexico-based Credijusto offers asset-backed loans and equipment leases to small and medium-sized enterprises. The funding will be used to support the company’s rapid growth trajectory and to launch new products, including digital advisory services and a credit card for SMEs. This Series B marks the first foray into the Mexican market for both Point72 Ventures and Goldman Sachs PSI.
Investor Insights: Regulation of Human Behavioral Data is Coming (Ocrolus): David Magerman, Managing Partner at Differential Ventures and Ocrolus investor, examines the economic and ethical dimensions of human behavioral data. Does human behavioral data benefit companies at the expense of human beings? What are the implications of ubiquitous devices collecting this form of data? David uses his expertise in computer science and business to tackle the problem.
California adopted the country’s first major consumer privacy law. Now, Silicon Valley is trying to rewrite it. (Washington Post): For the past two months, residents in California’s capital have been inundated by mysterious ads on Facebook and Twitter, warning that the government is about to destroy the Internet as they know it. Little did viewers know, though, that the ads came from a lobbying organization representing the very social media sites they were using. Facebook, Google, and other tech giants in Silicon Valley are trying to change the country’s first-ever consumer privacy law before its protections take effect in January.
How to Stop Slack From Taking Over Your Life (New York Times): Slack messages can pop up at any time of the day, and it’s important make the app manageable in your life. Setting boundaries with Do Not Disturb, telling Slack which channels actually matter, stopping the app from interrupting your productiveness, coming up with a vacation plan, and treating Slack like a work tool are all ways to get the most out of the app while still maintaining a healthy distance.
An AI system identified a potential new drug in just 46 days (MIT Technology Review): A team from AI pharma startup Insilico Medicine, along with researchers at the University of Toronto, recently created 30,000 designs for molecules that target a protein linked with fibrosis. The teams synthesized six of these molecules in the lab and then tested two in cells. The most promising molecule was tested in mice. The researchers concluded it was potent against the protein and showed “drug-like” qualities. All in all, the process took just 46 days. The research was published in Nature Biotechnology this week, marking a new milestone in AI pharmacology.
Upcoming Events (See You There!)
Boston Fintech Week – 9/11
Lend360 – 9/25 – 9/27
Digital Mortgage – 9/23 – 9/24
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