The Saudi Aramco IPO breaks records, but falls short of expectations


On December 11, 2019, shares amounting to 1.5% of Aramco’s value began trading only on the Tadawul, Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange. The IPO will, in fact, raise nearly $26 billion for the kingdom, at a price that values Aramco at $1.7 trillion. The events of the intervening four years tell an interesting story of changing global oil markets and dashed ambitions.

In an earlier post, I wrote that transparency, valuation, and listing locations were the most important challenges and unknowns in the IPO process. Each of those factors contributed to the scaled-back IPO and will continue to affect the market valuation of the company in the future.

Source: The Saudi Aramco IPO breaks records, but falls short of expectations

‘Black Swan’ index flashes yellow: Wall Street is not scared | Reuters


The options-based Black Swan index may be signaling surging demand from investors for protection against a stock market crash, but Wall Street analysts see little reason to panic.

The Cboe Skew Index .SKEWX is near a 14-month high. It tracks the implied volatility of deep out-of-the-money options – that is, contracts that need a large move in the market before they come into play – on the S&P 500 .SPX.

On Monday, the Skew Index hit 136.56, its highest since October 2018. It last traded at 134.37.

Source: ‘Black Swan’ index flashes yellow: Wall Street is not scared – Reuters

Shipping industry sails into unknown with new pollution rules | Reuters


Faced with imminent new global marine pollution rules, shipping companies and insurers are puzzling over the risks.

To reduce emissions of toxic sulphur that cause premature deaths, shipowners who have long relied on the dirtiest residues of oil extraction will have to either switch to low-sulphur fuel or install exhaust gas cleaning systems from Jan. 1.

Neither option has been fully tested for long, and some problems have already been reported, both with the more expensive new fuels and with devices known as scrubbers which extract the sulphur on board.

Source: Shipping industry sails into unknown with new pollution rules – Reuters

Egypt’s strongman extends crackdown to new foe: soap operas


Gamal el Adl’s company is one of the most popular television producers in the Middle East. Its gritty soap operas, touching on drug addiction amongst the middle classes, sexual abuse and life in a women’s prison, have been hits on TV in Egypt and across the Arab world.

Until, that is, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi unleashed a new wave of censorship.

In the past three years, the former general has turned the screws on the entertainment and news industries. A new regulatory agency is overseeing output and censoring content. Soap operas, it insists, must contain no sex scenes, no blasphemy, no politics. Police and other authority figures should be presented in a positive light.

Source: Egypt’s strongman extends crackdown to new foe: soap operas

Major Corporations Are Turning to A.I. for Hiring and Retention Help | Fortune


Large corporations are leaning on artificial intelligence to help them with the overwhelming applications they receive for one single job. That means that computers are eliminating a vast majority of candidates before a human ever even takes a look.

“For one position, we get 700 to 1,000 applications,” Niki Allen, Boeing’s vice president of human resources technology transformation said at Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women Next Gen summit in Laguna Niguel, Calif. on Wednesday. “A.I. is a huge component of that.”

But as companies implement the use of A.I. for hiring and retention purposes, they have a greater responsibility to make sure the technology isn’t biased. A.I. systems can discriminate against people of color or based on gender if the algorithms aren’t trained correctly.

To avoid some of these pitfalls, companies have to make a conscious effort in making sure the people and the data that are training the A.I. systems are diverse, said Rashida Hodge, vice president at IBM. But some companies are just starting to realize many times that’s not the case, said Frida Polli, chief executive officer of Pymetrics, an A.I. company that helps employers remove bias from the hiring process.

Source: Major Corporations Are Turning to A.I. for Hiring and Retention Help | Fortune

Space Exploration and U.S. Competitiveness | Council on Foreign Relations


Space exploration is expensive, but it is a relatively minor line item in the U.S. budget.

NASA’s spending peaked at almost 4.5 percent of the federal budget in 1966, declined to 1 percent by 1975, and has gradually fallen to about half a percent in recent years. (In comparison, defense spending has hovered around 20 percent of the budget in recent years.)

The Trump administration proposed just over $20 billion [PDF] for NASA in 2020, less than the $21.5 billion Congress appropriated for 2019.

Source: Space Exploration and U.S. Competitiveness | Council on Foreign Relations

European Green Deal will change economy to solve climate crisis, says EU | The Guardian


Nearly every major aspect of the European economy is to be re-evaluated in light of the imperatives of the climate and ecological emergency, according to sweeping new plans set out by the European commission on Wednesday.

The comprehensive nature of the European Green Deal – which encompasses the air we breathe to how food is grown, from how we travel to the buildings we inhabit – was set out in a flurry of documents as Ursula von der Leyen, the new commission president, made her appeal to member states and parliamentarians in Brussels to back the proposals, which would represent the biggest overhaul of policy since the foundation of the modern EU.

Source: European Green Deal will change economy to solve climate crisis, says EU | Environment | The Guardian

China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt are world’s worst jailers of journalists | Committee to Protect Journalists


For the fourth consecutive year, at least 250 journalists are imprisoned globally as authoritarians like Xi Jinping, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Mohammed bin Salman, and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi show no signs of letting up on the critical media.

The number of journalists imprisoned globally for their work in 2019 remained near record highs, as China tightened its iron grip on the press and Turkey, having stamped out virtually all independent reporting, released journalists awaiting trial or appeal.

Authoritarianism, instability, and protests in the Middle East led to a rise in the number of journalists locked up in the region — particularly in Saudi Arabia, which is now on par with Egypt as the third worst jailer worldwide.

Source: China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt are world’s worst jailers of journalists – Committee to Protect Journalists

These are the worst hacks, cyberattacks, and data breaches of 2019 | ZDNet


When a data breach occurs, companies will usually haul in third-party investigators, notify regulators, promise to do better and give any impacted consumers free credit monitoring — but we’ve reached a stage where you should consider signing up to such services anyway, given how much of our information is now available in data dumps strewn all over the internet.

(Consider using Have I Been Pwned to check if you’ve been involved in a breach.)

The reasons a cyberattack or data breach occur vary. In some cases, such as Equifax, the failure to patch a known vulnerability that has the potential to impact software or libraries in use — and in a reasonable timeframe — has serious repercussions.

In others, unsecured databases left exposed to the internet may be the problem, zero-day vulnerabilities may be exploited in the wild before fixes are available, or in some of the worst cases, an organization or individual may be targeted by state-sponsored advanced persistent threat (APT) groups with substantial resources and tools at their disposal.

Source: These are the worst hacks, cyberattacks, and data breaches of 2019 | ZDNet

I Worked at McKinsey. Here’s How the Firm Needs to Change | Fortune


After two years at McKinsey and a decade of following the firm since, here’s my personal takeaway: McKinsey is filled with good people and problematic values.

As individuals, my colleagues at McKinsey cared deeply about making the world a better place. Most served on nonprofit boards and gave generously to philanthropic causes. They treated others around them with sincere respect—especially those who had less money or power.

And, when given the chance, colleagues jumped at the opportunity to serve on projects that had a social or environmental dimension, even when it meant their career growth at the firm might be slightly slower.

But when we served traditional clients in the secrecy of our confidential relationships, one value prevailed: the client’s interests.

In recent months, we have seen the human toll of this strict adherence to clients’ interests, as numerous investigative news stories have shown how these interests compelled the firm to recommend cutting spending on food for migrants and accelerate the sales of opioids.

Source: Commentary: I Worked at McKinsey. Here’s How the Firm Needs to Change | Fortune