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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
China may be taking the lead in the next evolution of money, as representatives of the country's central bank say a state-backed digital currency could be ready this year.
Why it matters: China already is outpacing the U.S. and much of the developed world in mobile payments, and a new digital currency that authorities say would be like cash and accepted everywhere would put China miles ahead in the currency space.
Agustín Carstens, general manager of the Bank for International Settlements, told the Financial Times in June that central banks around the world may need to issue digital currencies sooner than expected because of growing demand and increasing reliance on for-profit banks and the private sector to provide payment options.
What they're saying: “Why is the central bank still doing such a digital currency today when electronic payment methods are so developed? It is to protect our monetary sovereignty and legal currency status,” said Mu Changchun, deputy director of the People’s Bank of China’s payments department, per Reuters. “We need to plan ahead for a rainy day.”
How it would work: China's digital coin would resemble Facebook's Libra, Mu said. As proposed, the Libra would be backed by a reserve of real-world assets, including bank deposits, and overseen by a network of partners through its Calibra blockchain platform.
J.P. Morgan Chase is close to winning the lead advisory role for state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco's IPO, which is expected to be the largest ever at $25 billion. A final decision is expected next week, CNBC reports, citing inside sources.
What's happening: Saudi authorities reportedly plan to sell 5% of Aramco’s shares on the local Tadawul stock exchange and launch another, much larger, offering in a foreign market in the next 2 years.
Of note: The Tadawul was recently incorporated into MSCI's emerging markets index, which has brought billions of dollars to the exchange so far this year.
Last month's weak reading for the U.S. ISM manufacturing index has analysts at Goldman Sachs bullish, as it has sent fear and shockwaves through the market, creating "an opportunity for equity investors."
What it means: Goldman is expecting the S&P to end the year at 3100, up a little more than 4% from its current level, and to finish 2020 at 3400, meaning another year of meaningful gains.
Details: The ISM manufacturing index fell to 49.1 in August, its lowest reading since January 2016, helping send markets significantly lower on the day.
The health care industry added almost 24,000 jobs in August, helping to buoy overall employment growth amid economic fears associated with the U.S.-China trade war, Axios' Bob Herman reports.
Almost 1 out of every 9 Americans works in health care, and the industry has not seen a net loss of new jobs in any month since January 2014. But everyone's insurance premiums and tax dollars are funding this swelling workforce.
Between the lines: More than half of all health care job additions occurred in ambulatory settings, like doctors' offices, outpatient centers and home health agencies.
The bottom line: Health economist Uwe Reinhardt famously said, "Every dollar of health spending = someone else's dollar of health care income." A consistently growing workforce means it'll be that much more difficult to control the country's ballooning health care spending.
State attorneys general are expected to formally launch antitrust investigations this week into Facebook and Alphabet’s Google.
Background: These are separate from ongoing investigations by the Justice Department and the FTC, which have been looking into the 2 megacompanies since last year, plus ongoing inquiries from the FBI and SEC.
Details: The new investigations, which involve 2 large bipartisan coalitions that may include more than 40 attorneys general, is being led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, according to WSJ.
Why it matters: While Google's stock has underperformed the broader stock market this year, gaining around 13% compared to the S&P 500's 18% rise, Facebook has managed to nearly double the market's return, up around 35% as it has continued to unroll solid earnings in spite of the mounting controversies.
Yes, but: Since July 2018, when early investigations into Facebook's involvement with the Cambridge Analytica scandal took off, the stock is down almost 3% compared to gains of around 9% for both Alphabet and the S&P.