🌍 Italy hits banks with surprise tax

Plus: India bans Chinese parts in domestic drones

Today’s newsletter supported by:

Hi there Intriguer. Is it a bird? Is it a meteor?! Nope, it’s Russian space debris re-entering the atmosphere over Australia.

Today’s briefing is a 4 min read:

  • 🇮🇹 Italy targets bank profits.

  • 🇮🇳 India bans Chinese components in its drones.

  • Plus: A satirical publication gets blocked in Jordan, how the papers are covering Australia’s new foreign aid policy, and why folks in Denmark are googling a pharma company.

⏱️ Around the world in sixty seconds

  1. 🇵🇰 Pakistan: Speculation is mounting that Pakistan will delay this year’s elections, days after key opposition figure Imran Khan was served a jail term. The likely delay stems from the redrawing of Pakistan’s constituency boundaries, which the government claims is necessary after the population increased by 35 million in six years.

  2. 🇳🇴 Norway: Oslo has announced it’ll fine Meta (Facebook’s owner) nearly $100k per day if the company doesn’t stop harvesting location data to target ads at Norwegian users. The decision could have far-reaching implications for all social media platforms operating in Europe.

  3. 🇹🇭 Thailand: The Thai election’s runner-up party is partnering with the conservative third-placed party to mount a coalition government bid, after weeks of political stalemate. The first-placed (and reformist) Move Forward Party isn’t part of the coalition.

  4. 🇻🇪 Venezuela: A court in Caracas has dismissed the long-serving president of Venezuela’s Red Cross over alleged "harassment and ill-treatment". Red Cross executives are asking President Maduro to stop court intervention in the organisation, which focuses on issues like food security and the protection of detainees in Venezuela.

  5. 🇨🇫 Central African Republic: A referendum removing presidential term limits has reportedly passed with 95% support, though critics say turnout was 10%. There’s a civil war in the country, where President Touadéra is backed by Russian Wagner mercenaries.

🇮🇹 Italy | Finance

Italian PM Giorgia Meloni is going after bank profits

Italy hits its banks with a surprise new tax

Italian bank shares slid on Tuesday (yesterday) in response to a surprise new one-off 40% tax on “excess” bank profits.

It’s been a turbulent year in the global financial system. Three US banks failed in five days, and Credit Suisse was gobbled up via emergency sale.

For other banks, though, times have been pretty good: higher interest rates mean they’ve charged more on loans, but they haven’t passed the higher rates on to savers. This gap (the ‘net interest margin’) has generated billions in profit.

So, Italy’s populist government is taking a slice with its new tax, hinting it’ll introduce cost-of-living relief in return.

Interestingly, though, Rome partly hit ctrl-z on the tax overnight (Tuesday) to calm spooked markets, saying it’ll cap the measure at 0.1% of bank assets.

Intrigue's take: A couple of things come to mind here.

First, banks all over are in this grey zone where they’re privately owned but perform a very public role. So sure, they might get bailed out when times get tough. But governments might come knocking when times are good.

And second, Rome’s move may well trigger a bump in government revenue and approval ratings. But there’ll be a real hit to investor confidence, too. And these hits tend to last longer than any electoral or budgetary cycle.

Also worth noting:

  • Italy’s parliament now has 60 days to approve the measure.

  • Other European governments, including Spain and Hungary, have introduced windfall taxes on their banking sectors in the past year.

  • Earlier on Monday, rating agency Moody’s downgraded the credit ratings of a range of small and mid-sized U.S. banks.

📰 How newspapers covered…

Australia’s new foreign aid policy

Singapore

“Australia sets climate target for aid programme, pledges more local jobs”

Sydney, Australia

“New Australian foreign aid policy aims to counter China”

Washington, US

“Climate and Gender at Center of Australian Aid Revamp in Indo-Pacific”

Today’s newsletter is supported by: Press Hook

Is anyone using Press Hook yet?

If you haven’t heard of it, it’s designed as a platform to connect journalists looking for story sources with brands who want to showcase their products and experts. It also offers a suite of helpful workflow tools. Journalists can search by product and category, and participating brands get exposure and affiliate opportunities - so it’s designed as a win-win for everyone!

🇮🇳 India | Defence & security

India bans Chinese parts in its drones

Delhi has barred (on national security grounds) domestic drone producers from using Chinese parts, according to official documents seen by Reuters.

Officials are worried Beijing could exploit weaknesses in the drones’ cameras, radio transmission and software to gain access to Indian intel.

The move also comes as India seeks to reduce its reliance on imported military kit:

  • 🚀 Domestic production just crossed $12B for the first time, and

  • 💸 Delhi aims to place $100B in domestic orders in the next decade.

Intrigue’s take: The Russo-Ukraine War has made clear that drones are key. So the global military drone market is projected to more than double to $36B by 2030.

Drones are cheap, effective, and easily deployable. And this is exactly why governments like India want to develop domestic advantages, while ringfencing them from rivals.

Also worth noting:

Extra Intrigue

Here’s what people around the world googled yesterday, Tuesday 8 August.

  • 🇩🇰 Danes wanted more info on local pharma company ‘Novo Nordisk’, after its shares jumped as news of a positive drug trial emerged.

  • Folks in 🇮🇳 India searched how to get their ‘Police Admit Card’, which they’ll need to sit a police recruitment exam in Madhya Pradesh state later this week (the state is recruiting 7,090 new constables).

  • 🇻🇳 Vietnam’s sports fans googled Liverpool to read up on the British team’s friendly soccer match against German club Darmstadt (spoiler: Liverpool won 3-1).

🗳️ Poll time!

Should governments tax banking sector windfalls?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

🖍️ Cartoon of the day

AlHudood, self-described as “the Middle East’s second-best satirical news site after Russia Today”, was blocked in Jordan after it mocked the Crown Prince’s wedding in May. Its jokes included the above cartoon of the couple being showered with stones, plus a satirical story on folks being arrested for not smiling enough on the day.

Lawmakers in Jordan then moved to criminalise certain online speech last month.

Yesterday’s poll: Which of the following climate-vulnerable crops would you be unable to live without?

🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🍸 Olives (11%)

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 ☕ Coffee (50%)

🟨🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🍚 Rice (22%)

🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🌽 Maize (8%)

⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🌾 Soybeans (7%)

⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ ✍️ Other (write in!) (2%)

Your two cents:

  • 🌽 W.G: “Rice and corn are the only food source of any value on this list. The rest are conveniences.”

  • 🍚 C.G: “Rice provides 20% of the world's calories consumed and is a staple food for more than half the world.”

  • C: “The others are more nutritious, I know. But my self-worth is too tied up in that wonderful caffeine high.”

  • Honourable mentions: cocoa, grapes, tomatoes and potatoes.

Reply

or to participate.