The Taylor Swift Is a Volatile Asset Edition

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S1: This ad free podcast is part of your slate plus membership.

S2: Welcome to the Taylor Swift is a volatile asset edition of Sleep Money, your guide to the Business Unfinanced News of the Week.

S3: I’m Felix Salmon of axios. I am coming to you from Oxfordshire, where I have flown for a conference. And I’m joined by the amazing Janine Gibson. Hi, Janine. Hi. You are? Yes. I’m a grand job.

S4: I’m an assistant editor at the Financial Times.

S5: You just have a new boss. Congratulations.

S4: Elton hasn’t left yet. So I think he would be slightly offended, Jan..

S5: Is that in January, after F.T., too, will be taken over by a woman? Just look at collections. Should be. Is the best person in the world.

S6: So you are going to be here to talk to us about Hong Kong and other things. But before we get there, we also need to mention, as ever, that we are joined by Emily Peck of HuffPost in New York. Hello. And also Anna SHYMANSKY of Breaking Views. Hello. And what’s on the menu for this week? I feel like we have to talk about Taylor Swift, obviously. And we also need to talk about Tick-Tock, because I have become addicted to Tick-Tock and I need to understand what is going on with its Chinese ownership. But since we’re thinking about China, I think we should start by talking about Hong Kong, because that seems to be going from bad to worse. So I think that’s the menu for today. It’s going to be Hong Kong and Taylor Swift and Kylie Jenner because obviously and Tick-Tock and the Slate Plus segment all about Hamis was you’re going to listen to that one.

S3: All coming up on sleep money. Anna, yes, as the expert on all things international, Shei Slate money, what has happened in Hong Kong? Has it got even worse?

S7: It does appear to have gotten worse. So there have been pretty severe protests at the Polytechnic University and the protests, which had been kind of concentrated in certain areas and at certain times have really spread out and are kind of affecting the lives of now a lot of people in Hong Kong. And as as well, you’re now actually seeing the U.S. government start to weigh in. What’s the U.S. government doing? So the U.S. government has basically is saying that they are putting their support on the side of the protesters, and they’re saying that they want the special status of Hong Kong to potentially be looked at every single year to make sure that Hong Kong is actually separate from the mainland and thus received certain special privileges related to trade and other things.

S6: This is not just Congress. This is the White House. This is the American executive. It’s really coming out in favor of basically the protesters demands.

S7: Yeah. And yet be really this is something that you are seeing as a bipartisan move on Congress, which is interesting because obviously there aren’t many bipartisan issues on Congress right now. But the support for Hong Kong and this kind of anti mainland China feeling is also clearly pretty popular on both sides of the aisle.

S8: It’s actually remarkable in the House if this legislation passed by a vote of 417 to 1 and then know was the one. I don’t know, half in my head and then unanimously approved in the Senate Tuesday. So, I mean, this is this rare moment where we have this cross-party support for something and. But it’s coming at a tricky time, I think. Yeah. The president who’s sort of trying to fix the mess, he created it with the China trade war. So I think this is going to make it a little more difficult to end that saga.

S6: We just had a big move in the markets when the markets finally woke up and realized that they were not going to resolve the trade war anytime soon. Right.

S9: Well, yeah. I mean, I think that this has been this ongoing kind of issue where it’s like Donald Trump, you know, says something in front of an airplane or tweet something. And all of a sudden people like, oh, there’s gonna be a phase one trade deal. And then two days later, it’s not. And then it’s it’s kind of silly at this point.

S8: But to go back to Hong Kong, I mean, this is five months now of disruption. The local economy is kind of in a shambles. They keep having to close schools. People aren’t shopping. I mean, long term, what is the say about the city as a place where businesses, you know, like to do business? What what is it going to mean long term? What are people saying?

S7: Yeah, you’re actually getting the economy in Hong Kong in recession and you have this in kind of a micro and then a larger level, because if you’re thinking about, you know, businesses, restaurants that potentially for a few months aren’t having a lot of traffic, I mean, that’s a huge deal, you know. And then when you start to expand and think outwards from that, you know, Hong Kong has been this hub of kind of the way that you get capital into China, the way you get capital out of China. And it’s it’s served this purpose. You a lot of businesses there. And there is a lot of discussion now about are people going to be looking at Hong Kong the same way moving forward?

S3: Janine, everyone has always thought of Hong Kong as being the foremost Asian financial center. Is that now over?

S10: I was just listen to the conversation thinking every conversation I have with businesses in the UK about Hong Kong ends and someone saying, I mean, it’s over that oversee lots of business that had a lot of connections between the UK, Hong Kong and somebody immediately wishes t. What is your alternative Asian headquarters going to be? There’s a lot of talk about Tokyo’s talk about Singapore. But people really feel that Hong Kong is is done. But they say the same about London, obviously because of Brexit. So I don’t know that you should immediately make plans, but but that is the sort of sentiment around it.

S3: And do you think that is important? Like what? What are the bigger consequences beyond like a few banks moving from Hong Kong to Singapore?

S10: I do think it a few banks. I think I think a lot of people’s business in that area of the world is is anchored in Hong Kong. Ours is. And we’re owned by Japanese company. And our business is anchored in Hong Kong.

S11: There are, you know, Japan’s Nikkei moving its business from Hong Kong.

S12: No, but I think all media bureau are thinking about what they do and looking about where they put their resources. China’s so tricky anyway. So it’s it’s a real issue for everyone to think about. What you going to do. And covering the protests is exhausting and difficult. And your younger staff are very conflicted about what they want to be part of the protest or covering the protest. So that that must be read across to all other businesses. I think it is can be very difficult for people to plan long term in Hong Kong.

S7: And I think that that’s really important, too. Right. Because if you’re thinking about this kind of acute issue right now with these protests, but then there’s also the question of. Okay. But like, what actually happens if the protests resolve? Like, well, what does that mean? Does that mean you’re going to get a very, very. You almost certainly mean you’re gonna get a very, very different Hong Kong, but in which direction? Right. Because.

S10: Right. I mean, I think that this is exactly everyone’s thinking, which is this end, somehow it’s only going to lead to further crackdown and more authoritarian regime in Hong Kong that isn’t authoritarian regimes to go. This is going badly.

S13: Let’s look at it. Right.

S8: I mean, China’s interest to lighten up a little bit. I mean, if if the whole status of the of the city is basically in jeopardy. I mean, is in China’s interest to kind of back off and and let Hong Kong be Hong Kong.

S13: Or am I just being idealistic in one country, two systems? I I don’t know.

S7: I mean, I think there are two things. I mean, you know, they they don’t want to give anyone else any ideas. Right. So I think that’s that that is a big issue here.

S6: You know, when you say anyone else, you mean other like Chinese provinces.

S9: Exactly. Or in fact, people in mainland China as well. I mean, like you don’t want you know, when you’re this kind of authoritarian government, you don’t want to show that you have weakness. So I think that that puts Hong Kong in a very kind of dangerous position.

S6: And where does that leave the Hong Kong population? Because they feel that they have made it abundantly clear millions and millions of Hong Kongers have come out on the streets. Maybe they haven’t. Or, you know, hold themselves up in universities with Molotov cocktails. But they’ve made it very clear that they have no interest in being part of a communist dictatorship, that they really value their freedoms and that they have been guaranteed their freedoms at least until 2047. And they’re going to fight very hard for those. They’re not going to stop fighting anytime soon if they see those freedoms being eroded. Right.

S7: I mean, I think you’re right. And I think this, you know, leads to these larger questions of, as you know, China is becoming more and more dominant and it’s going to be harder and harder for countries to exist in this kind of liminal space between, you know, what we perceive of as kind of the American sphere and what is increasingly becoming, you know, that the Chinese sphere and there aren’t any good answers of what’s going to happen to the people in Hong Kong, because, you know, and this is obviously very much about the desire for democracy and freedom and and also does have economic realities that caused it to write. You know, you have issues with significant income inequality, with massive housing issues. And, you know, these issues certainly aren’t going away. Granted, the price of housing is probably going to come down. But, you know, if you’re having a contracting economy, that’s just going to make it even harder for a lot of the young population. So. It’s not easy to see this ending well anytime soon.

S8: Yeah. I don’t I don’t see how it can neatly resolve, but I would say again that it really would be in China’s interest to cave. I don’t think it shows weakness. I think it shows strain. And I guess my other thought was what Janine was saying a little bit ago about people are saying sort of a similar thing about London as they are now, like London’s over. Hong Kong’s over. Is there something bigger picture to think about that’s going on right now?

S6: Some kind of reordering that we need to or in general are sort of UNILAG rise of unilateralism and decline in internationalism and everyone’s sort of retreating into their shells in the United States.

S8: That’s what it feels like. Yes, it really feels like a retreat from from globalism.

S9: And this this is something you hear a lot of people talking about this idea of like d globalization. And what that looks like as a systems are really just our economic system is nothing. Does is it that you could potentially deal with slower globalization, but the idea of actually countries breaking apart, like traditionally when you’ve seen that happen, it’s been really scary places like right before leading up to World War 2. You know, it it tends to not auger anything good because it does show countries, you know, kind of looking in. And I think we have two different trends here that are related, which is you do have this significant pushback on globalization, which I do think will kind of give more strength to authoritarians. And you have this pushback against income inequality, which is getting a lot of young people in countries throughout the world essentially kind of pushing back and protesting.

S6: All of the world’s major global cities have extreme income inequality, at least the ones that I can think of. It’s not just Hong Kong and London, but it’s also Dubai hero and.

S10: Yeah, but but but the more interesting thing, I think layering on top of those questions, these are incredibly complex things. We’ve had so much of this in the UK around Brexit, incredibly complex, detailed questions about how to unpick a 20, 30 year relationship with a European wide community and business and infrastructure on every single level. And that responds incredibly well to a really simplistic message. I take that control. So you get these three word slogans to combat insanely complex global economic knitted together that needs to be unpacked. And you’d just get some guy that comes along, goes take back control and people respond. They flock to the simplicity of one message against the complexity of the other. And I think that’s why it keeps happening again and again. We spent a lot this morning talking about protests and why they’re being merged around the world. And I think the response to complexity from very simple authoritarian message is not going to slow down.

S9: Now, I agree and and I do think this is, you know, could potentially be the sign of, you know, people talk like that through cinetis trap. Right. This idea of when you have one global power, in another global power, and usually you end up having some type of conflict, we don’t know what that type of conflict is going to look like. But this could be kind of a, you know, a sign of this kind of battle between these different kind of Chinese and more U.S. and kind of Western model.

S14: Let’s talk about something later. I feel like after all of that bleakness about the end of democracy, we should talk about Taylor Swift. Janine, are you a fan?

S12: I’m a huge fan of Taylor Swift with me. I met some people the other day who claimed that they were the ones who first approached her with a big vault of money and said, let’s put people back catalogue.

S6: And she knocked them back and they she didn’t own her back catalogue. This is the big problem here is that her first six albums are not owned by Taylor Swift. Her first six albums were owned by a record label called Big Machine. She did not own Big Machine. Her dad owned a small chunk of it. And the guy who did own it wound up selling it to Scooter Braun, who’s her arch enemy, because he represents Kanye’s worst and now they’re in a massive fight.

S10: Yes. So I’m telling you, I met the financiers who said we approached her first and said, do you want to buy your archive?

S3: And she said, no, wait. So what you’re saying we are saying is that she had to write a few first refusal on her own masters.

S5: And she said, no, this is like original reporting must credit sleep money.

S13: I mean, I’m not going on the record, but it was backstage at a gig. I was in corporate hospitality.

S5: I mean, that would be a big development in this case because there’s a lot of he should she said it’s quite consistent.

S15: I think is quite consistent with her. Her position, which is an artist, should automatically, through natural right, own the right to perform and play the work. They create their work and it should be theirs. So she didn’t want to do a massively over financed, engineered deal in order to buy her catalog and is appealing to the natural rights of Arceus to own their material. That’s that seems.

S5: And so then the people who did buy it were financed by Carlyle, the great private equity giant. And now she’s fighting with Carlyle. And now Elizabeth Warren is siding with Taylor Swift against Carlyle because Carlyle is private equity. Anna, can any of this end well?

S9: I mean, I I’m pretty sure that the end of the day, both Carlyle and Taylor Swift will be just OK. Yeah. I mean, going after Carlyle is kind of odd because like they have a minority stake, like they don’t really have any control about, you know, they have a significant control over what happens here right now.

S3: But they couldn’t put Scooter Braun couldn’t have done this deal without them.

S9: Correct. But it’s done. It’s not like they can do that much. Now that. That’s what I’m saying. I mean, I understand the especially now that PE funds are kind of like the new kind of goblin’s of finance that I understand, you know, putting that name out there. And then I’m also not surprised that you had Elizabeth Warren and AOC coming out, you know, against them.

S7: But at the end of the day, I do think this goes back to this idea that you’re saying earlier that artists, almost all artists, do not own their masters. And while now you have some artists, they have a lot of power, people like Taylor Swift. I can negotiate new contracts with and potentially have control over their new masters. It’s a sad situation because on the one hand, you want to say, like, oh, artist should have control over this, but they also sign contracts. And that’s also how some of these smaller labels continued to produce their music and employ people. Right.

S6: I guess the question is, if you’re Carlyle and you are interested in buying Taylor Swift’s masters or buying a minority stake in Taylor Swift’s masters, do you ever stop and think to yourself, wait. I’m doing this not only without her consent, but against her wishes. And that is a bad look.

S10: And we have this could have come as a surprise to them. This is us, you know, Prince changed his name to a squiggle in a very similar thing. Back in my era and before that, I think Queen had a with somebody. There was certainly two rival versions of Queen’s greatest hits in the 70s. It was a very big deal.

S3: I’m Jane McCartney, had a huge fight with Michael Jackson when Michael Jackson bought the Beatles back catalogue.

S4: Right. And yet everybody, as Anna quite rightly points out, seems to have done just fine out of everything.

S16: Michael, there’s a whole bunch of artistically who do not have Taylor’s clout, who are being squeezed by streaming services in this tiny, tiny, tiny returns and don’t own their rights and don’t have the ability to say, well, I simply won’t do a medley at the next Grammys because it’s because of bad schools abroad and their properties struggling. So Taylor stands up and says, this is really bad. An artist should own the intellectual copyright to their work. This is a bit like I see it as her suing that deejay that grabbed her arse. I see it in the same way as. It’s not really for her. She’s doing it for other people. I stand Taylor.

S11: I stand. We stand over here in Oxfordshire. We stand with Taylor. Emily, are you with us? Are you with anyone?

S17: I mean, I’m with no one here.

S8: I mean, I think, first of all, this was not a great deal like Carlisle and and backing Scooter Braun on this. I mean, that was dumb. Like Taylor Swift does not like as you point out earlier, she despises this guy because he is, you know, Kanye’s manager. And they did that that video, the famous video where there was like a Taylor Swift clone who was naked. So she hates him. So buying a label that basically only exists because they have her master recordings, I think 80 percent or something like 80 percent of big machines revenues through Taylor Swift like that was a bad idea. And as soon as that happened, Taylor Swift said, well, you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to rerecord all my music as soon as my as soon as I’m allowed to. And then you won’t have to go to a big machine anymore. So she basically said after this deal happened, she’s like, I wanna put these guys out of business. So, of course, they tried to prevent her from singing back catalogue at the American Music Awards because they needed to do something to have kind of some kind of leverage over her. It just seems like, Adam, I don’t stand with Taylor Swift, like I don’t care if she’s really rich.

S11: Do you think she’s someone hiding her first six albums?

S5: So do you think she’s just threatening to rerecord them in order to get some kind of leverage?

S8: I think I think it’s a threat. I don’t think she’s gonna spend her time rerecording all those albums. I think. Yeah, I agree. I think it’s a threat and it’s just posturing.

S3: Jeanine, is she going to do it? I think she will.

S13: I think they’ll be rainbows and unicorns.

S10: France and sneakers and T-shirts and high heels. And she will do it.

S13: I mean, I I mean, I. All of those recorded items because I stand to lose.

S9: What what I think is interesting here is that you’re getting these very, very different views of like Taylor Swift’s art. Right. Like you have the kind of view of Taylor Swift and her. Many, many. And on Twitter and this idea of like, you know, this is this is the thing I’ve created. And honestly, those are cashflows to Carlisle. Those are cashflows. Right. And Emily. You’re not wrong that you do think that if you are buying nightclothes. No, you’re not. You know, if you’re if you’re buying a stake in something and it’s primary way of generating cash is this incredibly volatile asset that in theory could significantly dilute the value of that asset.

S11: Are you saying that Taylor Swift is an incredibly volatile.

S17: She is incredibly. I mean. Right. I’m sorry. And she’s I can say never. I respect.

S6: I mean, just read the lyrics to blank space. It’s all in.

S17: Oh, forget that Felix has that whole, like, pop music thing.

S11: But I want to stick on this whole idea of incredibly volatile assets because without changing the subject too much, there’s this fringe cosmetics company called Koti.

S3: Just spent $600 million buying an asset, which, if there’s any asset more volatile than 29 year old Taylor Swift, it’s surely 21 year old, right? I think that they have just bought 50 percent of Kylie. Jennifer, $600 million.

S9: I think this was a move of genius like her fire, because I think that they are over. They are significantly overpaying for this asset. I think that Univerity, I believe, started to see some sales at Carly Cosmetics decline. I think as you as you are now rightly pointing out, I think the idea that she’s going to be able to maintain her current popularity and that she might not just do something crazy at one point, you know, that’s that’s a big chance you’re taking. But you know what? She sold 51 percent of that company at a very high valuation. So good for her.

S8: And now they’re doing Cody was not doing very well. And now I mean, they should rename themselves Cody with a K.. Right. And I think their stock went up after they announced the deal.

S9: Well, that’s also not because you are actually seeing less of this is less fun, but you are seeing a lot more M&A in this kind of beauty in cosmetics. And you’re seeing a lot of these kind of larger brands in legacy brands that are purchasing these kind of these upstarts. Right. Because it’s cheaper, it’s allergy, but it’s sometimes easier to just buy those brands as opposed to trying to generate that type of thing internally.

S8: Well, that’s where the sales are now. And make up like the big drugstore brands are basically in decline. People just you know, they want to buy like the cool Instagram makeup. And so that’s where these big companies are going to go to do deals.

S9: But it does suggest that even though right now that that might seem to make sense, you know, it will be interesting to see, like what happens in 10 years. Right.

S6: Or in one year, Kylie Jenner more or less invented the entire category of makeup that is sold over Instagram.

S11: No one really did it before her class yesterday. Yay, Gloria was there.

S6: But so the question is, because she has such a huge following on Instagram, she managed to become much richer than any of her sisters. She kind of touched some kind of a nerve.

S18: Her sister, Kendall, is the highest paid model in the world, is making $18 million a year. And that’s nothing compared to what Kylie is making selling makeup.

S10: It’s amazing the power of her reach, and that’s how it is almost entirely grander, which is so bizarre than that moment sort of 23 years ago when people started talking about Kylie and they were not talking about monogamy.

S4: And as as old. So just a bit, Kylie will always be mineau to always be monarch. And I’m just glad that trademark dispute went the right way. My team started talking about Kylie in a way that was clearly unmannerly related and were exercising my economic power in order to buy something. I’d never heard of your evidence of our own Lipsky’s.

S10: Yes, quite an that I’d never heard of related to a family brand that I was frankly dismissive of. And suddenly I’m, you know, funding it. So, yes, Instagram was completely the oyster and it went through the hearts and minds of teens and the pocketbooks of their parents.

S5: And do you think, Hayley, cosmetics is worth 1.2 billion dollars?

S12: Again, all those things like Jo Malone and Mr. Harris, Lynn Harris’s perfume company, and they start out as these incredibly artisanal bespoke brands and then get bought by state order or whoever.

S10: And usually and usually then fall out terribly with the person. I think even Lauvergne was one of the original beauty people who got burned badly by being bought out by a big firm and it went off to do her own thing. Interestingly, the founders had never really heard of again because their name is a brand and they can’t exist aside from it. So I would be, you know, Kylie, they have to accept that her 30s are going to be very quiet. I think Kylie did this right.

S5: I think that we have seen, as you say, like we’ve seen names like Helmut Lang and Jill Sander get bought up.

S3: And those names then cannot be controlled by the people who were born with those names. And it’s a bit weird that you can’t use your own name anymore. But that’s not what happened here. Kylie only sold 50 percent and she still runs the company. And Coty has and does not have control.

S16: With its two year earnout is next two year owner, she sold 51 percent.

S7: I don’t know that now, but I know it will be interesting, though, because unlike some of these other names we’re thinking of. I mean, this, Brett, I mean, like because it was designed with these like literal images of herself that she’s putting out consulate. She is so tied to this brand in a way that I do think is actually different to what we’ve seen in the past, just because social media has changed that.

S3: And you just one label anymore is an actual person, right?

S8: That’s what we’re seeing with Taylor Swift, too. She was able to go out on social media, talk directly to her fans and like use that as leverage and a licensing dispute. Essentially, like now celebrities have this immense, immense leverage on their own, this economic power, a small number of them, a small number of of of one of them.

S10: Clearly trying to free her lipstick and used.

S3: Okay. Let’s talk about Tick-Tock, because the only thing which is more popular than Kylie Jenner is tick tock, tick tock has been downloaded by 80 million Americans and they have, what, 700 million people around the world, something like that. It is the most addictive app in the history of apps. I have fallen down Tick-Tock holes and suddenly realized that I’ve managed to spend like two hours looking at Tick-Tock. When you think that only lasting fifteen seconds and I don’t know how that is possible. And it is crack cocaine and it is all done by some. I want to say it’s all done by some Chinese algorithm. But now all of the Tick-Tock people are saying, no, no, this isn’t by Donne’s Chinese artificial intelligence algorithms that all this is all non-Chinese based in the United States.

S5: The Chinese owners don’t have any control or influence whatsoever because there’s this big controversy over Tick-Tock being Chinese owned and whether we should be worried about that. Janine, should we be worried about that?

S10: Well, I will say this. I worry about tech platforms at the point where they arrive in London with very expensive papers and invite you to a dinner and a bite dance and the ticket up found.

S15: And they’re very expensive. Newly hired European powers arrived in London about four months ago and an invited a bunch of opinion formers turned to a nice dinner where they explained to us that they had regulators in every market, that there were 75 moderators in the UK and Covent Garden and another, however many hundred in America and Germany and France. And everybody should stop worrying about the content that was being fed to their teens because everything was being sort of seamlessly merged into the local markets and held to local standards.

S10: And then I overheard somebody else saying, how do you check the age of your users and the content? And everybody started talking about facial recognition of teens.

S13: And I thought, oh, yeah, that’s also not true at all. So you have each other.

S8: I think it’s like it’s supposed to be 13 and overprotect. I mean, my son is eleven. Literally. He said everyone has tech talk and his in his class, all the other 11 year olds. There is no the age thing is I mean, that’s a lie. All right. Yeah.

S9: Yeah. And this story does seem to be kind of bringing together these these fears of tech platforms in general and then these fears of kind of going back to what we talked about earlier of Chinese ownership and this kind of these different standards. And I know, like Mark Zuckerberg was saying, that tech talk was censoring the Hong Kong protests. I don’t know if that’s true or not. And it’s kind of I’d have Mark Zuckerberg being the person out here saying this. But but but I do think Tech Target, it’s an interesting company that we’re you know, we’re I imagine we’re gonna see a lot of fights over it moving forward because it does just seem in this kind of center of all these different conversations.

S8: They seem to really I think Mark Zuckerberg and other Facebook executives are out there speaking up against tech talk because it’s owned by the Chinese. It’s like a great distraction from Facebook. Doesn’t have to be like the big bad social media company anymore.

S13: Now, they can they can say, oh, at the chain use social media company, that’s the real world, especially because, you know, if a tick tock is great, I mean, it’s so.

S3: It’s what everyone likes to call the only good social network. You go on. And you see things that make you happy.

S18: There’s I mean, people are talking a little bit about political information and misinformation because that happens in every social network. But I genuinely feel with that kind of thing happens much less on Tick-Tock than almost any other.

S16: They’re censoring it. Felix.

S5: Janine, do you think that the Chinese owners have Tick-Tock are actively interfering in how it’s run?

S10: I think well, I mean, is that it’s not interfering if you’re running your own platform according to your rules and your guidelines. That’s just having a business. They I think they would be very, very happy to think all of the content on this network is teens doing very funny dancing and memes and things that are homeless and joyful. And that’s not how media peer-to-peer teen media works, because that’s not how. Teenagers work, they are passionate and rebellious, and they go on strike from school and and want to change the world.

S12: So there will be a clash. And the cultural Chinese way of dealing with content that you don’t think is appropriate is to excise it. And I don’t doubt for a second that that is happening.

S7: And I also think there’s this issue, because even though right now, I think a lot of the, you know, the kind of service with this data are actually in the US, I believe. But I also think that moving forward, I think next year that Chinese security laws are going to be expanding towards U.S. companies. I guess the U.S. parts of Chinese companies in a much stricter way. And then it’s going to be a lot harder for these companies to get around Chinese requirements about giving the government access to data. And I think that’s going to make the argument of Tic-Tac a lot harder.

S6: One of the ways that Tick-Tock became big was that it bought this app called musically, which was quite big in the United States, and they rebranded it as Tick-Tock. But because it was an acquisition, it technically falls under the purview of syphillis, which is the regulator in the United States, which makes sure that Chinese companies don’t do acquisitions, which are bad for national security.

S14: And famously, Syfy’s forced a Chinese company to sell Greineder after having bought it because they thought that was a security risk. And it is entirely possible and I would go so far as to say probable that silvius will go along to bite dones and say you have to sell tickets. Yeah. And I’m not sure that bite dump’s is going to be too upset about this because Tick-Tock is worth, what, like $70 billion now or something musically for chump change.

S18: They’re going to make a huge amount of money on it. They’re big moneymaking apps in China are going to remain big money making apps in China. And they just get to, you know, be the victims here and walk away with 70 billion dollars.

S4: It doesn’t sound terrible, does it? And they’re not gonna have to carry on hiring moderators in Covent Garden, which is no tech companies idea of fun. That’s not what they want.

S9: So like Carlyle Group and Taylor Swift, they will also end up just OK.

S13: Everything is going to be factum less podcast. There are no victims except for, you know, Hong Kong is in Polytechnic University.

S14: Let’s have a numbers round. Why not? Janine, you get to go first. Because you’re the guest.

S4: Oh, Meitner. This is very unfair on Emily.

S10: But my week is $700, which is the amount per week that the Park Slope Food Co-op spends on plastic bags. There is a brilliant, brilliant 80000 word piece in The New Yorker about Brooklyn’s Park Slope Food Co-op, which is a perverse and fascinating institution. I urge you to read it. I could read it for the rest of my life, and it will take you a significant chunk of your life to read it.

S5: But every word is golden. And the idea is that if they replace those plastic bags and these aren’t plastic bags where you carry your groceries home and these are just a little thin plastic bag, you actually pick your grapes in the weighing your chemicals.

S3: And only if they replace those plastic bags with biodegradable bags, then that would cost $17000 a week.

S10: I mean, for a start, we’d need to discuss it over to our 45 minute monthly council meeting. And I would need you to think about the rights of the people that made the plastic bags. I’d just like you to think about that before you make that kind of decision and consider the impact on those in the global south.

S11: And can we, um, can we talk about hummus? Oh, do you remember the hummus world? The hummus? The hummus was a classic. Emily, were you part of the hummus was over.

S8: I was just sitting back and just enjoying the content. That’s that’s my relationship with the Park Slope. Food Co-op is just purely a spectator.

S10: I’m afraid I lived in Park Slope during the homicide’s. We used to get leafleted in the streets.

S11: Emily, do you have a number which may or may not be. Park Slope Food Co-op related?

S8: Well, I won’t do this of my Park Slope food co-op. No, my backup number is three and has nothing to do with food. That is the number of months in Democratic candidate Amy Klobuchar is paid family leave plan vs. six months, which is the number of months off you get in. Kamala Harris says paid family leave plan. And I’m talking about this because we had here in the U.S., we had the Democratic debates, presidential debates on Wednesday night. And it was the first time this year, at least that any candidate was asked about paid family leave, which is a big and important issue. And it was just really striking. And I’m excited about it because there are these two female candidates talking about their proposals. There were four women asking them questions in the debate on Wednesday night. And it was just, I think, a very significant moment in sort of for progress in a sense.

S5: My number is 26 billion dollars, which is the amount of money that Charles Schwab is reportedly wanting to pay for T.D. Ameritrade. These are two online brokerages which have both recently slashed the commissions to zero. And judging by the $26 billion dollar purchase price of TV Ameritrade.

S14: This doesn’t seem to have hurt either of their values much, if at all.

S9: Well, I think that’s nuts, oh, overly surprising cause I feel like in this kind of new zero commission world, you’re gonna need scale, right? And so I think you’re probably right. I would imagine this is gonna be the first of a lot of these kind of consolidation in the industry and you get to have the last number.

S11: I will.

S9: So mine is 77 cents. So that would be the price on the Ecuadorian 2028 bonds. So they hit a record low this week, but they’re still higher than the 70 cents on the reworked.

S11: When?

S9: That is a very fair point. No, I just. So basically, it was a pretty significant fall in the price of the bonds after this reform bill didn’t go through. And I guess I just think it’s interesting partly ‘cause I think Ecuador is interesting, but also because part of the reason that people were really opposed to this tax reform was because it was seen as being connected with the IMF. And it just seems like increasingly in Latin America, even though countries often still need to go to the IMF. The very act of going to them then completely eliminates the political capital of that politician and makes it impossible for them to push through the reforms mandated by the IMF, which seems like a problem.

S11: So the IMF needs to rebound with it. If you had to choose in Ecuador bond or a we work bond, which one would you choose? Oh, Ecuador. One hundred percent in like. Definitely Ecuador. Definitely Ecuador. No, no one is long. We work. There was just no sleep on it.

S1: OK. I think that’s it for us this week.

S3: Amazing trans-Atlantic edition of Slate. Many, many thanks to not only just mean Molly, but also Kevin Bobby here in the U.K. for helping put this whole show together. And especially many thanks to Janine Gibson for wrapping up warm in the cabin, number five in oxygen to record this. Many thanks to you guys for listening.

S19: Our email, as ever, is leaked money at Slate dot com. And we will talk to you next week on Sleep Money.

S3: Janine, can you tell us a little bit more detail about the hummus wars?

S12: Oh, such a long time ago now. I mean, don’t we we were different people. I believe it began over a proposed boycott of Israeli hummus.

S5: Or is it all Israeli goods? And it just so happened to be only Israeli goods really were.

S4: I don’t know if it was chick populated in itself or not, but it definitely centered on the hummus. And I feel it was for political reasons. I cannot remember what particular act of the Middle East controversy had caused. It was definitely bbf related. Almost certainly. And I love the Park Slope Food Court for this reason. And I was never a member. I just really, really enjoyed watching it.

S16: It was a bit like working for The Guardian in the 80s, 90s, 80s, 90s, where you could not infringe anybody’s rights. Everybody had rights. So The Guardian was the last newspaper to ban smoking and inside the offices because of a fear that you’d be infringing the rights of the smokers.

S4: So they moved them out of the newsroom into the corridors and then out of the corridors and downstairs and then out of the canteen and into the car park. And all through all of these cycles, there was just endless. Henry about.

S13: But smokers have rights to. He was vomiting at the desk. I mean, like that about the Park Slope Food Co-op, just everyone go put the plastic bags have. Right.

S20: I mean, reading that, it was like there’s no we’re often talking here about the problems with, you know, public companies or private companies. And then along came these idealistic co-ops. And they’re they’re worse now.

S11: They’re just terrible. On one level, they’re worse. On one level, the sales per square foot of the park. Yes. Yes.

S20: Go off the charts higher than other any other grocery store, according to that piece in The New Yorker in the world.

S4: Yeah, but what was what was the waiting time to pay at the checkout?

S17: It was like 17 hours before they make a newspaper just for that purpose. And yes, it is the same as Trader Joe’s.

S4: He loves the Big Mac they built. They had a problem with theft like every every supermarket. So they built like an umpire chair for someone to sit on, to watch everybody to see see if anyone was thieving. And as a security measure, shoppers didn’t like it, so they had to treat the shoppers felt surveyed.

S17: They thought of the prices as one has rights. It probably was razors.

S20: Maybe that’s the right way to run a business is just extremely massive. No one’s ever happier.

S8: And people have to sit through three hour meetings and, you know, debate Hamas.

S10: Maybe that’s to show it adds a bit, have the right to even privacy.

S20: Yeah. It’s like you can live in a messy democracy. And, you know, and you have your freedom. But it’s kind of a pain in the ass or you live in like a terrible authoritarian regime.

S4: So, you know, you go back to come on China and Hong Kong.

S13: Hong Kong. Go let them have their teeth. See, the Park Slope Food Court is the Hong Kong.

S20: It’s obvious. And I also like that anyone at the Park Slope Food Co-op can get onto the intercom and make announcements.

S17: Oh, yeah, that was incredible. That one example, everything about planting fruits.

S13: That know we’ve got gluten free cornmeal shattering us all over. It just goes. Oklahoma is the most wonderful piece.

S11: I made it to ideaand off all your corn meal jokes to be found in the latest issue of The New Yorker.