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Daily briefing - 09 October 2019

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Brexit update: Boris Johnson's current Brexit proposal is looking very much like a version previously put forward by Theresa 'Brexit means Brexit' May. Johnson's team yesterday briefed eager media that Angela Merkel and the Irish government wanted to 'trap the UK forever' in a customs union, which was news to Ms Merkel and the Irish government, who are already trapped on the island with the unionists. As the FT reports: "Merkel said that if Germany wanted to leave the EU, they could do it no problem, but the UK cannot leave without leaving Northern Ireland behind in a customs union and in full alignment forever," said a Downing Street insider. It's almost incomprehensible that there are people so stupid inside Downing Street that they believe Merkel said anything like this. EU council president Donald Tusk responded (by tweet) to tell the UK not to play a "stupid blame game". These, by the way, are the negotiating partners talking to one another. The UK is doomed and does not realise how few friends it has.

Is Mark Carney going to join Libra when he leaves the Bank of England? Don't rule it out. The UK regulator seems to be taking progressive steps to engage with Facebook's Libra project while other European central bankers are huffing and puffing about money laundering and anti-terrorist financing. "Libra has the potential to become a systemically important payment system," the BoE's Financial Policy Committee said", reports Reuters. "So-called wallets for crypto-payments are akin to bank accounts that are subject to a welter of rules, such as deposit insurance, liquidity and capital requirements. The European Union on Tuesday said it will propose a new law to cover crypto-asset projects like Libra, saying they posed a risk to the wider financial system." The BoE is doubtless aware of the caution with which other regulators are approaching Libra and sees an opportunity to drive competition. The UK payments system has seen significant innovation in recent years. It's not an accident.

Police in China have recovered 13 tons of gold from the cellar of Zhang Qi, a former Communist Party official and onetime mayor of Danzhou, according to the News International. The haul was discovered as part of a corruption crackdown. It seems that the investigation will pay for itself after this find. A ton of gold is currently worth about 48 million dollars, making the gold haul worth about 624 million. Apart from the spectacular haul of gold, the paper reports, police also recovered $37 billion in cash and assets. Hold on, that's the same amount of money that the Hong Kong Stock Exchange offered last week to buy the London Stock Exchange. God only knows what type of favours Mr Qi handed out in order to accumulate that kind of wealth.

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