Protectionism What? EU and South America Strike Major Trade Deal

One of the largest multilateral trade deals in history was signed just a few days ago, between the European Union and Mercosur, a South American trade bloc that includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. The deal covers countries with a total population of nearly 800 million people and it took 20 years to hammer out. It will open up Europe to more South American agricultural goods, while reducing their duties on European manufactured exports like cars, shoes, machinery, and, of course, wines and cheeses.

Three quick thoughts on this:

Trump wasn't even in the room, but he's in this story: One reason the long-deadlocked talks got crackling again was that Trump's more confrontational approach to US allies on trade had pushed the Europeans into seeking opportunities elsewhere. This is the largest trade deal the EU has ever struck, following smaller recent deals with Japan, Canada, Mexico, and Singapore.

Did you think all "populists" were protectionists? They aren't. Brazil's controversial far-right president Jair Bolsonaro is a major backer of the deal. He has made it his mission to reduce tariffs and other investment barriers in what is one of the world's most protectionist countries. He sees that as a way to spur growth and clear away a legacy of left-wing economic policies.

Could it go up in smoke? Yup. Farmers in Europe and manufacturers in Mercosur don't like it, and that matters because the deal still requires ratification by each member country (that means 28 in Europe alone.) But the biggest immediate challenge will come in Argentina. If Wall Street friendly President Mauricio Macri loses his fading re-election bid to the leftwing protectionist ticket of Alberto Fernandez and former president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner later this year, Buenos Aires could throw a wrench into this thing fast.

Technology is changing the way modern geologists locate precious resources and harness energy. With supercomputers capable of processing geophysical data from all over the world, geologists are reconstructing models of the subsoil to identify hydrocarbon deposits. The efficiency of these powerful data processors can scan massive rock formations to help laboratories analyze geological systems. While today's modern geologists still have a compass and hammer to collect samples, petaflops of computing power are changing energy research at lightning speed.

Learn more at Eniday: Energy Is A Good Story

Are e-Cigs an example of tech gone wrong?


There's a real tradeoff in e-cigarettes. To the extent that people stop smoking regular cigarettes to use e-cigarettes, that's good. To the extent that new people who wouldn't have been smokers, particularly young people, start smoking, that's bad. Now there are real societal problems and health problems and the data show that there are lots of new people starting to smoke. I don't think of it as much as a tech problem though or tech gone wrong as much as a social problem.


Moviepass has shut down. Final thoughts?


Moviepass was this insane business. You pay them ten dollars a month and then they let you see all the 2D movies you want. That was one business plan. They had about 20 business plans. It's kind of just, there lots of tech companies where the business model is: pay us a dollar and we'll pay you two dollars. And then they say to the venture capitalists: "Look we're growing. Give us more money." Of course that's going to run out.


Nostalgia. What's the next old tech about to make a resurgence?


Snapchat. A year ago, it looked like they were poached. That Instagram was just going to knock them out. And now, everybody's using Snapchat again.

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