While You Were Working - March 8

A tariff two-step

Using a black marker that would put a regular ol’ Sharpie to shame, President Trump signed an order today implementing tariffs on steel and aluminum from all countries outside North America. That’s right, Canada and Mexico got an exemption.

It will probably take a few days for other countries seeking exemptions to sort out what they need to do to get a free pass.

Blockchainitis

If there is any organization rooting for blockchain to become applicable to cross-border bank transaction, I am willing to bet it is Swift. After all, if blockchain had been in use by Swift, it would have made it nearly impossible for fraudsters to steal $100 million from the central bank of Bangladesh a couple of years ago.

This story is about a recent test that seems to offer hope that blockchain will soon be operational for Swift ... until you read this:

“Mr Vanderveken told the Financial Times that the test had showed there would be significant “operational challenges” to using blockchain technology for all of its 11,000 members. This is not least because the 28 banks that ran tests on the system required the creation of 528 sub-ledgers to avoid confidential information being seen by rival banks. To roll it out to all of Swift’s members, Mr Vanderveken estimated it would require 100,000 sub-ledgers to be created, making them extremely unwieldy to maintain, upgrade or configure.”

We’re almost there!

US to miss out on Namibia’s cobalt?

I was recently in Namibia, so this story about the country looking to leverage its cobalt resources piqued my interest. For those who don’t know, Namibia is already a big player in the natural resources game via uranium (not to mention diamonds). Right now, China reaps the rewards of most of Namibia’s uranium. And if you ask me, I suspect China will snare most of the cobalt too once Australian and Canadian firms get it out of the ground. After all, when I was in Walvis Bay, one of Namibia’s strategic ports, I saw signs like this:

Note the name of the company at the bottom of the billboard. That ain’t no American company. That is China Harbor Engineering Company Ltd.

Airborne bovines!

The Qataris have been pretty good about finding ways to survive and prosper amid the Saudi-led embargo aimed at crippling their economy. And this story about how the powers that be are shipping 3,000 cows from California, Arizona and Wisconsin is a USDA Choice example (sorry, I couldn’t resist).

WYWW Appetizers