One Month, 500,000 Face Scans: How China Is Using A.I. to Profile a Minority


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05 June 2019



Video commentary for June 4th 2019



Eoin Treacy's view

A link to today's video commentary is posted in the Subscriber;s Area. 

Some of the topics covered include: Fed signals it is listening to the messages being sent by the bond market, Wall Street rebounds, Dollar eases, Europe bouncing led by banks, gold steady, oil quiet, China eases and India pauses, Treasuries pause.



Powell Signals Openness to Cut If Needed Over Trade Tensions

This article by Matthew Boesler and Christopher Condon for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell signaled an openness to cut interest rates if necessary, pledging to keep a close watch on fallout from a deepening set of disputes between the U.S. and its largest trading partners.

Referring to “trade negotiations and other matters,” Powell said Tuesday in Chicago that “we do not know how or when these issues will be resolved.”

“We are closely monitoring the implications of these developments for the U.S. economic outlook and, as always, we will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion, with a strong labor market and inflation near our symmetric 2% objective,” Powell said in opening remarks at a conference at the Chicago Fed.


Eoin Treacy's view

The big question last year was how much tolerance the Federal Reserve has for drawdowns in the stock market. 10% was not enough in January, not least because Jay Powell had just taken the job. However, the persistent pace of raising rates and reducing the size of the balance set nerves on edge that the Fed was not paying attention to signals sent by the market. A 20% drawdown was enough to change that and the Fed rode to the rescue in December.



Woodford Confronts Career Crisis After Freezing Fund Withdrawals

This article by Suzy Waite and Nishant Kumar for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The decision to freeze withdrawals gives Woodford time to position illiquid holdings, the company said in a statement late Monday. While investments in unlisted securities are unusual for a mutual fund, Woodford hasn’t shied away from them.

Two of the top 10 holdings in Woodford’s main fund, accounting for about 7% of assets, were in private companies. A significant drop in size could undermine Woodford’s ability to run the fund effectively, Hargreaves Lansdown said in a statement explaining its decision to remove that fund and the Income Focus Fund from its list.

Freezing withdrawals "is a difficult to decision to make," said Emma Wall, Hargreaves’s head of investment. "It’s disturbing for investors. Any negative news like this is worrying. But it gives him the breathing space to get on being an investor rather than constantly worrying about redemptions. He can use these 28 days to offload illiquid assets, which he’s doing anyway.”


Eoin Treacy's view

I’m at a Marcus Evans fund managers speed dating event in Palm Springs at the moment. What I find particularly interesting is the exposure it gives me to the strategies being purveyed and where investment managers believe there is money to be made.

I sat in on a panel discussion yesterday where there was a lively discussion about the merits of Liquid Alternatives. The asset class was created in response to the desire for liquidity that arose from the fear of a repeat of the halted withdrawals that occurred during the credit crisis. Many people, however, have complained that the long/short strategies that characterise the product offering are closet trackers and fail to deliver the uncorrelated returns required by Modern Portfolio Theory. Instead they, to a man, recommending ditching liquid alternatives and buying bonds. That’s a clear testament to the fact the bond rally is forcing investment managers to participate because the momentum is beating everything else.



One Month, 500,000 Face Scans: How China Is Using A.I. to Profile a Minority

This article by Paul Mazur from New York Times, dated April 14th may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Chinese authorities already maintain a vast surveillance net, including tracking people’s DNA, in the western region of Xinjiang, which many Uighurs call home. But the scope of the new systems, previously unreported, extends that monitoring into many other corners of the country.

The police are now using facial recognition technology to target Uighurs in wealthy eastern cities like Hangzhou and Wenzhou and across the coastal province of Fujian, said two of the people. Law enforcement in the central Chinese city of Sanmenxia, along the Yellow River, ran a system that over the course of a month this year screened whether residents were Uighurs 500,000 times.

Police documents show demand for such capabilities is spreading. Almost two dozen police departments in 16 different provinces and regions across China sought such technology beginning in 2018, according to procurement documents. Law enforcement from the central province of Shaanxi, for example, aimed to acquire a smart camera system last year that “should support facial recognition to identify Uighur/non-Uighur attributes.”


Eoin Treacy's view

Last April, Mrs. Treacy was at a 7-Eleven in Guangzhou and the cashier offered her a 10 Yuan discount for taking her photo and before she could answer had already taken her data. A day later she found herself accidentally paying for items at a different store with her face.

We are having a significant discussion in the West about privacy and how much of our data should be available to corporations. That discussion does not exist in China and regardless of what venue gathers your data, it all ends up in the hands of the government and that is everything from passwords to fingerprints, to facial features, to browsing history, to utility usage, to travel history to social media contacts to purchasing patterns and genetics.



2019: The 50th year of The Chart Seminar



Eoin Treacy's view

There will be a memorial concert for David at the Royal Festival Hall on October 5th. It looks like we will have a room at the Royal Festival Hall for an hour before the concert for a memorial. Wine and canapes will be served. Afterward we will retire to the Benefactor's Lounge where Tim Walker, Chairman of the LPO will dedicate the concert in David's memory. The concert will be from 7:30 to 10pm. If anyone would like to attend the concert in addition to the memorial there will be a box to tick on the booking form which I will provide as soon as I have it.   

Since this is the 50th year of The Chart Seminar we will be conducting the event on October 3rd and 4th to coincide with the memorial on the Saturday.

In the meantime, if you have any questions, would like to attend, or have a suggestion for another venue please feel to reach out to Sarah at [email protected].  

The full rate for The Chart Seminar is £1799 + VAT. (Please note US, Australian and Asian delegates, as non-EU residents are not liable for VAT). Annual subscribers are offered a discounted rate of £850. Anyone booking more than one place can also avail of the £850 rate for the second and subsequent delegates.



Eoin's personal portfolio - cryptocurrency long opened



Eoin Treacy's view

Details of this trade are posted in the Subscriber's Area. 






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