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Japan proposes guidelines to legalize ICOs

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Digital cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin, Ripple, Ethernum, Dash, Monero and Litecoin.

Chesnot | Getty Images

Digital cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin, Ripple, Ethernum, Dash, Monero and Litecoin.

Japan unveiled proposed guidelines for the legalization of a controversial means of raising money in the cryptocurrency space.

A government-backed research group has put forward rules that would see initial coin offerings (ICOs) given regulatory definition and approval. An ICO is a means of raising capital by issuing and selling new crypto tokens in exchange for cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum.

Proposed guidelines include identifying investors to prevent money laundering, protecting existing shareholders and debt holders, restricting unfair trade practices like insider trading and ramping up cybersecurity efforts.

The proposals come as China and South Korea toughen up on cryptocurrencies with their own regulations to rein in speculation in the nascent market. Last year, both countries banned ICOs due to concerns of illegal activity and speculative investing in the space.

Japan was host to a cryptocurrency heist that saw more than $500 million worth of digital tokens stolen earlier this year. Coincheck, the virtual exchange hit by the cyberattack, said it would refund customers following the theft. It is thought to be the biggest theft of cryptocurrencies, surpassing the $400 million in bitcoin lost by cryptocurrency exchange Mt. Gox in 2014.

The collapse of Mt. Gox was seen as a test for bitcoin, which roared to a record high near $20,000 last year but has pulled back significantly since.

On Monday, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged two founders of a cryptocurrency company that was endorsed by boxer Floyd Mayweather with carrying out a fraudulent ICO. The SEC has increased regulatory scrutiny of ICOs over concerns of fraudulent behavior associated with the practice.

Meanwhile, messaging service Telegram is holding what is thought to be the largest ever ICO. Telegram, which secures messages via end-to-end encryption, is itself used by many cryptocurrency investors as a means of communication. The firm is looking to raise $2 billion from the fund raise.

A CNBC investigation last month revealed that more than 1,000 investors were swindled by an ICO project called Giza. The people behind the project made more than $2 million from the scam.

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Dow futures fall 100 points as Wall Street tries to recover from 3-week losing streak

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People visit the Charging Bull Statue during Covid-19 pandemic in Lower Manhattan, New York City, United States on May 25, 2020.

Tayfun Coskun | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

U.S. stock futures dipped on Sunday night as the market tried to bounce back from its longest weekly losing streak in about a year.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were down by 100 points, or 0.4%. S&P 500 futures slipped 0.3% along with Nasdaq 100 futures.

The S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq Composite all fell for a third straight week. That marks the market’s longest weekly slide since 2019.

Those declines came as tech shares — which led the broader market off its coronavirus lows and into record territory — struggled. Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google-parent Alphabet and Microsoft all posted steep weekly losses. The S&P 500 tech sector pulled back by 1%.

Tech was under pressure last week in part because of valuation concerns within the space as well as options of individual stocks, ETFs and indexes expired.

“For the market to hold these levels buyers have to come into the technology sector over the next week to 10 days,” said Marc Chaikin, CEO of Chaikin Analytics, in a post. “Without the impetus of the call option buyers who helped propel the large cap tech stocks to extreme valuations, it is unlikely that the subsequent rally can exceed the September peak.”

Traders kept an eye on Washington heading into the new week as lawmakers struggle to make progress on a new coronavirus stimulus package. Republicans and Democrats have been in a stalemate since July after provisions from the previous stimulus bill expired.

President Donald Trump hinted last week he would back a bigger relief package. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows also said he was “probably more optimistic about the potential for a deal.”

However, stimulus negotiations could become more complicated after the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which could lead to a bitter nomination process ahead of the election. Trump said he would nominate someone this week to take Ginsburg seat, drawing criticism from key Democrats and some GOP senators.

Chris Krueger, Washington strategist at Cowen, said in a note that a new coronavirus stimulus bill is now “unlikely until post Nov 3 as the fight over Justice Ginsburg’s empty seat will consume DC.”

There are “dueling prisms in which we view the unfortunate passing of Justice Ginsburg and filling her seat on the Supreme Court: political & procedural,” said Krueger. “In a zero-sum, crass political world the immediate read-through is that anything that turns 2020 away from a Trump referendum is a positive for Trump.”

“The other narrative is that this avails Democrats to run the successful 2018 playbook again: GOP trying to take away healthcare,” he said.

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Reality TV show Space Hero sending contestant to the Space Station

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NASA astronaut Scott Tingle is pictured during a spacewalk in January 2018.

NASA

A U.S. television production company called Space Hero announced on Thursday that it plans send the winning contestant of a reality TV show on a 10 day trip to the International Space Station.

The show is being produced by Propagate, a venture run by Ben Silverman and Howard T. Owens, known for making U.S. adaptations of British shows like “The Office” and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”  The mission is scheduled for 2023 and Space Hero is working with Houston-based start-up Axiom Space to train the crew and manage the mission, as the winning candidate of the show will receive full training for the trip to the ISS and back.

“The series will search the entire globe for an everyday citizen with a deep love for space exploration. Space Hero will provide an opportunity for anyone from any background to become the first globally-elected space explorer to take part in a mission to the International Space Station,” the company said in a news release.

Deadline first reported the company’s announcement. While that report said the winner would fly on a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, Axiom told CNBC that the launch provider has yet to be determined. 

“Along with constructing and operating the world’s first privately-funded commercial space station, Axiom is the industry leader today in offering NASA-level astronaut training and full-service crewed missions to the International Space Station to all interested customers,” an Axiom spokesman said in a statement to CNBC.

Space Hero’s show isn’t the first Hollywood project to set its sights on the ISS, nor is it the first private space tourist launch that Axiom has booked. NASA confirmed in May that it is working with actor Tom Cruise to film a movie onboard the orbiting laboratory, and Axiom in March announced a deal with SpaceX to fly three privately paying space tourists on a 10-day ISS mission in the second half of 2021.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 crew members seated in the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft during training. From left to right: NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Oliver and Mike Hopkins, and JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi.

SpaceX

Neither NASA, Axiom, SpaceX or Space Hero have disclosed how much it will cost per person to launch a private individual to the ISS. But recent contracts mean that it will likely cost more than $50 million per person, as NASA expects to pay SpaceX about $55 million per astronaut for missions to the ISS, and last year SpaceX had an agreement with Bigelow Aerospace to fly individuals to the ISS for $52 million per person.

In addition to the launch costs, a 10-day mission would rack up a $350,000 bill with NASA. Under the agency’s cost structure unveiled last year, NASA would get $35,000 a night per person, as compensation for the agency’s services a tourist would need while on board the ISS.

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Singapore minister on coronavirus pandemic effect on white-collar jobs

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SINGAPORE — Competition for white-collar jobs will become more intense after the coronavirus pandemic showed that a lot of work can be done over the internet, Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said on Thursday.

“In the past, people think that the blue-collar workers are the ones at risk and that’s because their jobs can be replaced by robots and automation. To some extent, that is true,” Chan said during a panel discussion moderated by CNBC’s Nancy Hungerford at the virtual Singapore Summit.

“But increasingly, I think the world is realizing that competition is even tougher for the white-collar jobs that can be done over the internet,” he said. “The jobs that can be done over the internet can be done anywhere in the world and because of this, white-collar jobs will no longer have the geographical insulation it used to have.”

Singapore, an open and trade-dependent Southeast Asian economy, has been hit hard by global uncertainties resulting from the pandemic and reduced activity during a partial lockdown to contain Covid-19. That led Singapore’s economy to shrink by a record 13.2% in the second quarter this year compared to a year ago.

To support the economy, the government has dug into its reserves to fund fiscal stimulus worth close to 100 billion Singapore dollars ($73.68 billion), or around 20% of gross domestic product. Much of the government’s focus is on preserving and creating jobs in industries with good growth prospects, said Chan.

The jobs that can be done over the internet can be done anywhere in the world and because of this, white-collar jobs will no longer have the geographical insulation it used to have.

Chan Chun Sing

Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry

But that’s a difficult task for many governments which face political pressure to subsidize companies that may not have good prospects, said Fleur Pellerin, founder and managing partner of venture capital and private equity firm Korelya Capital, who also spoke on the panel.

“I think from a public point of view, it’s a very difficult topic to handle because we see that the new economy creates jobs, but probably not enough jobs to replace all the jobs that would become obsolete because of automation, artificial intelligence et cetera,” she said.

She said one of the biggest challenges facing governments in the coming years is anticipating shifts in the labor market over a five- to 10-year horizon that could come from advancement in technology or changes in the global environment. Then, governments have to prepare their people to transition into those new jobs, she added.

Before founding her company, Pellerin held various positions in the French government, including minister overseeing small- and medium-sized enterprises, innovation and the digital economy.

Not waiting for pandemic to ‘blow over’ 

Singapore — governed by the same political party since its independence in 1965 — is known for its ability to plan for the long term.

Chan said the government is not waiting for the pandemic to be over to ramp up its economic recovery effort. But he noted that a worsening spread of Covid-19 in other parts of the world could hurt the global economy, with knock-on effort on Singapore.  

“We expect to progressively recover for the last two quarters of this year but whether we will be in the clear by next year will very much depends on the global economic performance,” he told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Friday.

“We will continue to diversify our markets and pivot into new products and services. So we’re not waiting for the pandemic to blow over.”

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