Situational awareness: Jack Dorsey, the founder and CEO of Twitter, came clean yesterday about how the "machine learning-based optimization of messaging and micro-targeting" in digital ads erodes our civic discourse.
Also happening, in a very busy week:
In this week's 1,434 words (< 6 minutes): An angry world, Brexit meltdown, debt consolidation, IMF realpolitik, and much more. As ever, if you got forwarded this email by a friend, you can always sign up free at edge.axios.com.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
"Monsters walk among us. Corruption is normal. Trust, outside a narrow circle of friends or kin, is unthinkable."— NYT film critic A.O. Scott, on how Bong Joon Ho's films reflect reality
The world is angry. Millions have taken to the streets not only in countries like Egypt and Iraq, which are beset by poverty or ravaged by war, but also in places like Chile and Hong Kong, previously known mostly for their boring prosperity.
Driving the news: Protests reminiscent of the Arab Spring have toppled the billionaire president of Lebanon and forced the billionaire president of Chile to cancel the upcoming APEC and UN climate summits.
Why it matters: Just like the Arab Spring, most of these protests are aimed squarely at existing governments.
My thought bubble: The anger sweeping the globe is more destructive than constructive. Anybody attempting to "harness" it will inevitably fail.
New data from TransUnion suggests traditional banks might not be able to squeeze quite as much money from their credit card customers as they have in the past.
What's happening: Americans have $143 billion in unsecured personal loans — up 19% from 2018, with an astonishing 211% rise from the 2012 low of $46 billion, per TransUnion.
Why it matters: Banks have historically made it very difficult for customers to get unsecured personal loans, because they make much more money when those customers carry a balance on their credit cards instead.
The other side: When it's easier to borrow money, people will borrow more money.
The bottom line: Indebtedness is nothing to celebrate, but the most insidious debt trap of all is the one where your convenient payment device ends up costing you hundreds of dollars in interest every month. Anything that helps people cut down on expensive credit card debt is ultimately a good thing.
"Axios on HBO"
After my interview with IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva aired on Sunday, I received one question from multiple viewers: Why was she so keen to go out of her way to praise the Trump administration and its tax cuts? Take your pick from the following reasons:
The bottom line: Georgieva is building up political capital. In her job, she's inevitably going to need it.
Why it matters: With GDP growing at a modest 1.9% per year, it's hard to foresee stellar aggregate earnings growth. That helps to explain why stocks are trading at multiples significantly lower than they were for most of 2017 and 2018.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
The bottom line: If Johnson can win a majority, he will take Britain out of the EU on Jan. 31 with the deal he negotiated this month. If his Conservative Party ends up in opposition, however, there will probably be a second referendum before Britain leaves.
Uber reports quarterly figures for the third time as a public company on Monday. The company's losses are expected to have widened from the year-ago period, Axios' Courtenay Brown writes.
Why it matters: Wall Street has less appetite than it did in the past for money-losing companies without a clear path to profitability. Uber’s report will come as rival Lyft insists that it can attain profitability, at least if certain costs are excluded.
Shuri Castle. Photo: STR/Jiji Press/AFP via Getty Images
Shuri Castle, in Okinawa, was the capital of the Ryukyu Kingdom from 1429 to 1879, when Okinawa was annexed by Japan. The castle has been destroyed and rebuilt multiple times — in 1453, 1660, 1709, and 1945. The most recent devastation, by fire, took place today.
Today's fire took place in the early hours of the morning. Once again the main building was destroyed. As a World Heritage site that has become a major tourist destination, however, Shuri will surely be rebuilt more quickly this time.
Finally, happy Halloween! It is 502 years to the day since Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of churches in Wittenberg. Ed Luce has a very interesting column comparing the present day to that time.