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Business | The Guardian

Latest US financial, market & economic news and analysis.

Published: Fri, 20 Oct 2017 12:57:41 GMT2017-10-20T12:57:41Z

Copyright: Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2017

How big pharma's money – and its politicians – feed the US opioid crisis

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 10:00:03 GMT2017-10-19T10:00:03Z

Tom Marino might have withdrawn from consideration as Trump’s drug czar, but drug money is coursing through the veins of Congress – contributing directly to an epidemic that kills thousands of Americans each year

Donald Trump was not wrong. Hours before his nominee for “drug czar” withdrew from consideration over his part in a law limiting the Drug Enforcement Administration’s ability to crack down on pharmaceutical distributors feeding the US’s opioid epidemic, the president took a shot at the influence of drug companies over Congress.

“They contribute massive amounts of money to political people,” he said, standing next to Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader.

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Senate passes Trump's budget, a first step toward contentious tax reform

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 01:37:24 GMT2017-10-20T01:37:24Z

Move allows Republicans to begin ‘once-in-a-generation’ attempt to overhaul US tax code, a plan criticized by Democrats as ‘Robin Hood in reverse’

The Senate has approved a multi-trillion dollar budget that Donald Trump has called a “first step towards massive tax cuts”, a largely symbolic move that sets the stage for Republicans to rewrite the US tax code without a single Democratic vote.

The Senate on Thursday voted 51-49 to pass the budget resolution, a blueprint of trillions of dollars in federal spending over the next decade. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky was the lone Republican to oppose the blueprint, objecting to the spending levels provided in the proposal.

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Tesla workers claim anti-LGBT threats, taunts, and racial abuse in lawsuits

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 16:53:44 GMT2017-10-19T16:53:44Z

Exclusive: A factory worker says he was harassed for being gay. A father and son say they faced daily racial epithets. Each claims that Tesla failed to stop it

Soon after he started working on the assembly line at Tesla, Jorge Ferro said he was taunted for being gay and threatened with violence. “Watch your back,” a supervisor warned after mocking his clothes for being “gay tight”, Ferro said.

The harassment didn’t stop after he reported it to a manager, and days after he made a second complaint, Ferro was punished, according to his account. An HR representative took away Ferro’s badge, claiming that he had an “injury” that prevented him from working and saying there’s “no place for handicapped people at Tesla”, he alleged.

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US civic groups urge Amazon tax pledge: 'We expect you to pay your fair share'

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 15:43:59 GMT2017-10-17T15:43:59Z

  • Plans to open second headquarters, dubbed HQ2, spark bidding frenzy
  • Open letter demands Amazon be transparent about tax breaks it receives

As US cities throw billions in tax breaks and build war rooms to strategize on how best to lure Amazon to their city, civic leaders on Tuesday called on the tech giant to pay its fair share.

Related: If tech firms push the law to the limit, is that such a bad thing? | Alex Hern

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Goldman Sachs boss talks up Frankfurt as Brexit talks loom

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 14:07:34 GMT2017-10-19T14:07:34Z

Pressure grows on Theresa May before EU dinner as Lloyd Blankfein tweets plan to spend ‘a lot more time’ in German finance capital

Goldman Sachs piled pressure on Theresa May in advance of a crunch European summit by ridiculing London’s hopes of staunching the flow of lucrative banking jobs after Brexit.

In a teasing tweet that captured growing business anxiety over the direction of talks, the US bank’s chief executive, Lloyd Blankfein, wrote on Thursday that he expected to be “spending a lot more time” in Frankfurt from now on.

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Bob Weinstein accused of inappropriate behavior by female TV producer

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 21:20:12 GMT2017-10-17T21:20:12Z

Weinstein denies claim by Amanda Segel, a showrunner for Spike TV’s The Mist, who says he made unwanted advances despite her multiple refusals

Bob Weinstein on Tuesday denied an accusation that he made unwanted advances toward a female showrunner working for the Weinstein Company last year.

The showrunner, Amanda Segel, is an executive producer on Spike TV’s The Mist. Segel claims that beginning last summer, Weinstein repeatedly asked her to dine alone with him and made romantic overtures despite her multiple refusals, according to Variety.

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'It's able to create knowledge itself': Google unveils AI that learns on its own

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 17:00:02 GMT2017-10-18T17:00:02Z

In a major breakthrough for artificial intelligence, AlphaGo Zero took just three days to master the ancient Chinese board game of Go ... with no human help

Google’s artificial intelligence group, DeepMind, has unveiled the latest incarnation of its Go-playing program, AlphaGo – an AI so powerful that it derived thousands of years of human knowledge of the game before inventing better moves of its own, all in the space of three days.

Named AlphaGo Zero, the AI program has been hailed as a major advance because it mastered the ancient Chinese board game from scratch, and with no human help beyond being told the rules. In games against the 2015 version, which famously beat Lee Sedol, the South Korean grandmaster, in the following year, AlphaGo Zero won 100 to 0.

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George Soros gives $18bn to his charitable foundation

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 09:16:58 GMT2017-10-18T09:16:58Z

Hungary-born financier’s donation makes his Open Society Foundations the third largest charitable foundation in the world

The financier George Soros has transferred about $18bn (£13.7bn) to his human rights foundation, bringing his lifetime giving to $32bn and making the foundation one of the world’s largest.

The donation makes Soros’s Open Society Foundations the third largest charitable foundation in the world, behind the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and the Wellcome Trust.

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Twitter further tightens abuse rules in attempt to prove it cares

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 12:18:13 GMT2017-10-18T12:18:13Z

Company updates rules on hate speech, revenge porn and violent groups to counter perceptions social network is not doing enough to protect users

Twitter is introducing new rules around hate symbols, sexual advances and violent groups, in an effort to counter perceptions that the social network is not doing enough to protect those who feel silenced on the site.

The company was planning to announce the new rules later on this week, but they leaked in an email to Wired magazine, which published the changes on Tuesday.

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Small fortune: Trump plummets 92 places in Forbes' American rich list

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 18:57:00 GMT2017-10-17T18:57:00Z

  • Magazine estimates president’s wealth has fallen 31% in two years
  • Trump worth $3.1bn, down from $3.7bn in 2016

Donald Trump has dropped 92 places in the Forbes list of wealthiest Americans, with the magazine putting his wealth at $3.1bn, down from $3.7bn last year.

Related: Trump tax plan for 'average Americans' would mainly help richest 1%, study finds

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Richard Branson reveals conmen targeted him twice

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 16:04:35 GMT2017-10-17T16:04:35Z

Virgin boss was asked by impersonator of defence secretary Michael Fallon to contribute $5m to rescue a kidnapped British diplomat

Sir Richard Branson has revealed he was the target of two elaborate confidence tricks – one involving someone posing as the defence secretary, Sir Michael Fallon, in a phone call – that saw a “very successful” business associate swindled out of $2m (£1.5m).

“This story sounds like it has come straight out of a John le Carré book or a James Bond film, but it is sadly all true,” the Virgin billionaire said.

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Airbus takes majority stake in Bombardier jet project

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 08:54:17 GMT2017-10-17T08:54:17Z

European group joins Canadian multinational’s C-series programme, with ‘win-win’ deal potentially saving 1,000 jobs in Belfast

European aircraft giant Airbus is taking a majority stake in Bombardier’s controversial C-Series jet programme, potentially safeguarding 1,000 jobs in Belfast.

The French-based plane maker is acquiring 50.1% of the programme, the future of which was left in doubt after Canadian company Bombardier was hit by a 300% import levy by the United States. The huge tariff followed a complaint from Boeing that the company had dumped its C-Series jets at “absurdly low” prices.

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'All wifi networks' are vulnerable to hacking, security expert discovers

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 08:33:38 GMT2017-10-16T08:33:38Z

WPA2 protocol used by vast majority of wifi connections has been broken by Belgian researchers, highlighting potential for internet traffic to be exposed

The security protocol used to protect the vast majority of wifi connections has been broken, potentially exposing wireless internet traffic to malicious eavesdroppers and attacks, according to the researcher who discovered the weakness.

Mathy Vanhoef, a security expert at Belgian university KU Leuven, discovered the weakness in the wireless security protocol WPA2, and published details of the flaw on Monday morning.

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Uncertainty over Brexit transition 'could put 75,000 City jobs at risk'

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 23:01:21 GMT2017-10-16T23:01:21Z

London will lose £10bn in revenue and thousands of jobs if a two-year transition deal is not agreed quickly, says TheCityUK

Urgent progress is needed on a Brexit transition period to prevent City firms implementing contingency plans that could put up to 75,000 UK financial services sector jobs at risk, a leading industry lobby group has warned.

In a plea to negotiators ahead of a key negotiating meeting later this week, TheCityUK also said that the stakes are high for the remaining 27 EU nations, where jobs and inward investment will be at risk if a two-year transition period cannot be agreed quickly.

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Franklin Foer: 'Big tech has been rattled. The conversation has changed'

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 10:00:03 GMT2017-10-19T10:00:03Z

When the author Franklin Foer first raised concerns about Silicon Valley’s power players, ‘people looked at me funny’. Now his work appears prophetic

The admission by Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg was alarming.

“Things happened on our platform in this election that should not have happened,” she said in an onstage interview last week with Mike Allen, the journalist and Washington diary-keeper. “Especially, and very troubling, foreign interference in a democratic election.”

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Wealth before health? Why intellectual property laws are facing a counterattack | Joseph Stiglitz

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 07:42:50 GMT2017-10-19T07:42:50Z

The current regime is unsustainable. Emerging economies are right to lead the pushback against patenting standards

When the South African government attempted to amend its laws in 1997 to avail itself of affordable generic medicines for the treatment of HIV/Aids, the full legal might of the global pharmaceutical industry bore down on the country, delaying implementation and extracting a high human cost. South Africa eventually won its case, but the government learned its lesson: it did not try again to put its citizens’ health and wellbeing into its own hands by challenging the conventional global intellectual property (IP) regime.

Until now. The South African cabinet is preparing to finalise an IP policy that promises to expand access to medicines substantially. South Africa will now undoubtedly face all manner of bilateral and multilateral pressure from wealthy countries. But the government is right, and other developing and emerging economies should follow in its footsteps.

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All change at the Fed? Yellen's term ends soon but Trump won't say if she'll stay

Fri, 13 Oct 2017 06:00:25 GMT2017-10-13T06:00:25Z

The president, true to form, has been teasing the public about the identity of the next Fed chair, and Wall Street is watching with interest – and some anxiety

The Federal Reserve chair, Janet Yellen, will end her term in February, and Donald Trump has yet to say if he will follow tradition and renominate the Obama-appointed incumbent to a second term – or nominate someone of his own choosing.

Related: The great unwinding: Fed begins slow demise of its post-crash stimulus

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This is what America's eco city of the future looks like

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 11:49:55 GMT2017-10-16T11:49:55Z

Georgetown mayor Dale Ross is ‘a good little Republican’ – but ever since his city weaned itself off fossil fuels, he has become a hero to environmentalists

When the caller said he worked for Harry Reid and the former Senate majority leader wanted a word, Dale Ross assumed it was a joke. “OK, which of my buddies are messing with me today?” he wondered.

He shouldn’t have been so surprised. Ross is the mayor of Georgetown, population 65,000, and he has become a minor celebrity in environmental circles as a result of a pioneering decision in 2015 to get all the city’s electricity from renewable sources.

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End of the road: will automation put an end to the American trucker?

Tue, 10 Oct 2017 11:00:46 GMT2017-10-10T11:00:46Z

America’s 2 million truckers have long been mythologised in popular culture. But self-driving trucks are set to lay waste to one of the country’s most beloved jobs – and the fallout could be huge

Jeff Baxter’s sunflower-yellow Kenworth truck shines as bright and almost as big as the sun. Four men clean the glistening cab in the hangar-like truck wash at Iowa 80, the world’s largest truck stop.

Baxter has made a pitstop at Iowa 80 before picking up a 116ft-long wind turbine blade that he’s driving down to Texas, 900 miles away.

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Donald Trump applies art of exaggeration to handling of US economy

Tue, 10 Oct 2017 17:36:17 GMT2017-10-10T17:36:17Z

The president boasted of using inflated figures in his business dealings and seems bent on using similar tactics to justify protectionism despite IMF warnings

In his interview with Forbes, published on Tuesday, Donald Trump showed how his self-confessed tactics of exaggeration when negotiating business deals are now being applied to the US economy. He also called for protectionist measures, directly clashing with recommendations contained in a key International Monetary Fund (IMF) report released the same day.

Related: Trump challenges Tillerson to 'compare IQ tests' after reported 'moron' dig

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Warnings grow louder over cryptocurrency as valuations soar

Sun, 08 Oct 2017 11:00:48 GMT2017-10-08T11:00:48Z

With bitcoin and Ethereum gathering momentum among investors, some experts fear a bubble could soon burst

Joe Kennedy, patriarch of the Kennedy clan, said he knew it was time to exit the stock market after a shoeshine boy gave him stock tips. If everyone thinks it’s time to buy, it’s time to sell, reasoned Kennedy. Then came the great crash of 1929 to prove him right. Perhaps some of that thinking could be applied today to the digital currency bonanza.

In recent months, warning voices have grown louder as the digital assets known as cryptocurrencies have attained record valuations. The price of bitcoin, the most famous cryptocurrency, has soared this year, from $969 to more than $5,000 in September; rival Ethereum began the year at $8 and has traded as high as $400 – while new coins or tokens are issued weekly, often attached to tech startups as a way to raise venture capital.

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How the firm behind the Fearless Girl statue quietly opposed gender equality

Fri, 06 Oct 2017 22:10:17 GMT2017-10-06T22:10:17Z

SEC files seen by the Guardian show that in 2017, money manager State Street rejected shareholder proposals to tackle gender inequality at least 12 times

In March, State Street Global Advisors unveiled Fearless Girl, a statue of a young girl confronting the charging Wall Street bull. It became an instant cultural touchstone.

Related: Fearless Girl company discriminated against women by underpaying them

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'It's a bit of pride': the last Holden marks an end of car manufacturing in Australia

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 17:00:31 GMT2017-10-19T17:00:31Z

Thousands to gather outside Adelaide’s Holden plant to say farewell to the car that became ‘part of the family’

At 5.45am on Thursday, three generations of the Grant family piled in to a Holden Commodore and pulled out of their driveway in the western Melbourne suburb of Sunbury and turned toward Adelaide.

It was the second time in six days they had made the 700km trip. The first, on Saturday, was a two-car convoy: Daniel Grant and his 16-year-old son, Jacob, in the 2006 red VZ SS Commodore and Grant’s father, Ross, in his new white SS Commodore.

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World's first 3D-printed bridge opens to cyclists in Netherlands

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 01:52:15 GMT2017-10-18T01:52:15Z

Crossing printed from 800 layers of concrete could take weight of 40 trucks, designers say

Dutch officials have toasted the opening of what is being called the world’s first 3D-printed concrete bridge, which is primarily meant to be used by cyclists.

There was applause as officials wearing hard hats rode over the bridge on their bikes at the inauguration in the southeastern town of Gemert on Tuesday.

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Murdered Panama Papers journalist’s son attacks Malta’s ‘crooks’

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 09:47:23 GMT2017-10-17T09:47:23Z

Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed because she ‘stood between rule of law and those who sought to violate it’, says son Matthew

The son of the murdered Maltese investigative journalist and blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia has described finding parts of his mother’s body around the blazing car in which she died and attacked the island as a “mafia state” run by “crooks”.

“My mother was assassinated because she stood between the rule of law and those who sought to violate it, like many strong journalists,” Matthew Caruana Galizia, who is also an investigative reporter, wrote in a moving and at times graphic Facebook post.

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Tesco stocks green satsumas in drive to reduce food waste

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 11:51:23 GMT2017-10-18T11:51:23Z

Supermarket says easy-peelers are ripe and edible but failed to turn usual orange colour due to hotter weather in Spain

Tesco has started selling “green” satsumas and clementines after relaxing its quality specifications in its latest attempt to reduce food waste.

The flesh inside is orange, ripe and edible, but as a result of recent warm weather in Spain the skins have failed to turn the normal colour.

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Mercedes-Benz recalls 400,000 cars in UK over airbag fault

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 00:01:38 GMT2017-10-17T00:01:38Z

Company says vehicles are safe to drive but customers should contact roadside assistance service if airbag warning light comes on

Hundreds of thousands of Mercedes-Benz cars in the UK are being recalled over airbag concerns.

Some 400,000 UK cars are being recalled as well as vehicles in “other markets”, the manufacturer said. The models affected include the A, B, C, and E-Class, and CLA, GLA, and GLC, built between November 2011 and July 2017.

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Australia lagging on electric cars and tax breaks needed to drive demand – report

Fri, 13 Oct 2017 03:03:37 GMT2017-10-13T03:03:37Z

Australia Institute wants free access to bus lanes after electric cars accounted for just 0.1% of new car sales in 2015

Tax breaks and free access to bus lanes should be used to help reverse Australia’s poor uptake of electric vehicles, a new report has said.

Australians remain deeply reluctant to buy electric cars, which accounted for just 0.1% of new car sales in 2015. Australia is increasingly falling behind other countries, particularly in Europe, where sales of electric cars represented 1.2% of new European Union car sales in the same year.

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FCA met Saudi Aramco before trying to change rules for $2tn flotation

Fri, 13 Oct 2017 17:31:17 GMT2017-10-13T17:31:17Z

Regulator has attracted controversy by allegedly seeking to water down rules to attract oil company’s IPO to London

The chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority has admitted meeting officials from Saudi Aramco before publishing plans to water down rules in an attempt to attract the $2tn (£1.5tn) stock market listing of the oil giant to London.

Andrew Bailey told MPs that the meeting with officials from the Gulf kingdom’s state oil company, planning the world’s biggest flotation, took place in the early part of this year.

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All the places I’ll never live: a period property with USB plug sockets

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 12:00:07 GMT2017-10-20T12:00:07Z

For the homeowner who wants everything: a 19th-century cottage with original beams and a brick fireplace that can deal with modern electrical demands

People will pay more for a period property. For years, this baffled me. “Why pay extra for a house that has a downstairs bathroom, needs endless repairs, and has had someone die in it?” I’d wonder. “Nostalgia must be one hell of a drug.”

I now know that many homebuyers think about resale value, and the joy of waking up in a high-ceilinged room flooded with daylight from sash windows. For buying to let, there are generous room sizes and the potential for modification to maximise occupancy. But what these future landlords don’t think about enough is plug sockets. How is any modern human meant to survive with only two double plug sockets per room? Don’t get me wrong, I like an ornate fireplace, but the mounting tension in the living room over who unplugged whose phone puts its beauty into perspective.

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How the oligarchy wins: lessons from ancient Greece | Ganesh Sitaraman

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 10:00:29 GMT2017-10-15T10:00:29Z

Ganesh Sitaraman looks at what two recent books – Classical Greek Oligarchy by Matthew Simonton and Oligarchy by Jeffrey Winters – can teach us about defending democracy from oligarchs

A few years ago, as I was doing research for a book on how economic inequality threatens democracy, a colleague of mine asked if America was really at risk of becoming an oligarchy. Our political system, he said, is a democracy. If the people don’t want to be run by wealthy elites, we can just vote them out.

The system, in other words, can’t really be “rigged” to work for the rich and powerful unless the people are at least willing to accept a government of the rich and powerful. If the general public opposes rule-by-economic-elites, how is it, then, that the wealthy control so much of government?

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How can companies cut the UK's class pay gap?

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 05:30:08 GMT2017-04-27T05:30:08Z

Professionals from poorer families earn almost £7,000 less per year than those from wealthier ones, despite businesses claiming to act on social mobility

It’s no surprise that social class can affect your life chances, but recently the education secretary highlighted the problem with a stark statistic.

Children who show signs of low academic ability at the age of five, but who come from high-income families, are 35% more likely to become high earners than those who show signs of high ability but come from poorer families, said Justine Greening.

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'Nice skirt, it would look better on my bedroom floor' – your sexual harassment stories

Mon, 11 Sep 2017 06:00:00 GMT2017-09-11T06:00:00Z

Readers share their stories of sexist comments and harassment in the workplace

When I was in my early twenties, I organised a meeting with three older male colleagues – two at senior management level and an external PR professional who was working with us on some projects.

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The unbanked: stop catering for the middle classes and open up to the world | Chris Walker

Mon, 30 Jan 2017 11:11:37 GMT2017-01-30T11:11:37Z

Grand plans to get a further 2 billion people in the formal financial system sound impressive, but scepticism abounds

Bladimir didn’t want a bank account. The 22-year-old son of corn and bean farmers in rural El Salvador had moved to the capital in search of greater economic opportunity, but a bank account was not part of that plan. He had grown up with stories of scams and disappointments, and had a deep distrust of bank accounts as a safe way to store his money. Bladimir, however, was not given a choice. As part of his job as a security guard at a mall, he was required by his employer to open an account in order to receive his pay.

Bladimir’s entry into the formal financial system happened at a time when the poor of the world were gaining unprecedented access to financial tools and services. Regulatory changes and technological advances were complemented by an international push from multilateral organisations to make sure that poor people were able to have bank accounts. This all follows a grand target (set by the World Bank) of achieving universal financial access by 2020, allowing 2 billion adults who currently aren’t part of the formal financial system to gain access to a transaction account to store money, send and receive payments as the basic building block to manage their financial lives.

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