Posts by The Trend Letter


Is your car spying on you?

If you have bought a new car in the last couple of years, you may be shocked at how much data it is collecting about you. Of course it is not just cars that are collecting personal data, but any device that is connected to the internet has the potential to become a spy, even if its original purpose was harmless.

Most people who purchase the Google Home or Amazon’s Echo devices are aware that these devices are tracking and recording what is being said in their home. But do owners of new cars understand how much of their personal data is being tracked and recorded? Users typically agree to be tracked and monitored by checking off a box on one of the user agreement forms needed to register a car’s in-dash system or a navigation app. In most cases, the driver must agree to such terms to use the app or service.

Newer cars can now track phone calls and texts, log queries to websites, record what radio stations you listen to — even record when you are breaking the law by exceeding the speed limit. While most consumers appreciate how these abilities can enhance their lives and driving experiences, most are likely unaware of how all this data is being used, and by who.

Police, automakers, insurance companies, retailers, and many other groups  are eager to leverage this information. As we move into the self-drivng cars, they will want to track even more.  Adobe just announced new services unveiled today to help businesses analyze data from web-enabled autos.  Adobe will provide analytics, marketing features, and help automate audio ads, enhanced by the company’s artificial intelligence feature called Sensei.

From Adobe …”With the new analytics service, companies can capture behavior signals in the vehicle, such as song selections or voice interactions with the infotainment systems. This could then help better personalize what driver or passenger sees or hears in their vehicles—such as an offer from a restaurant or a discount at the hair salon, based on navigation data.”

There are many valuable services where drivers are willing to trade their data, such as live traffic services like Inrix, that can save a driver hours of time in exchange for sharing location and speed information. There are also products like Autobrain, that offers connected car services, like car diagnostics, via a dongle that plugs into a car.

Insurance companies are now offering discounts to drivers who use their apps that can record driver behaviors such as speed, braking , and if the driver is holding the phone or using Bluetooth.

“We give value back to the customer,” said Mariel Devesa, Farmers’ head of product innovation, noting that drivers can save up to 13 percent on their insurance based on their habits. “And they can improve as drivers by seeing their scores.”

While there are definite benefits to the consumers,  there are a lot of groups anxious to get hold of this data. Companies are now trading information collected from multiple sources, including cars, to reveal travel and buying patterns.  Aggregated information can be purchased from navigation companies, for example, and combined with other so-called anonymized information from dating apps to identify the habits of a specific demographic.

“We can tell who’s on the road, where they live, how frequently they make this trip, and whether or not they are on vacation,” said Laura Schewel, founder of StreetLight Data, which provides such information to clients like urban planners and retailers.

As for privacy, don’t be looking for the courts to protect you. As reported in Forbes, the government has a solid argument in noting drivers’ right to privacy does not stand where they consent to using services like OnStar that rely on tracking to work effectively. As a SiriusXM spokesperson told Forbes  “all customers agree to the terms and conditions, and the privacy policy, of the service when they sign up”.

Sources: NY Times, Bloomberg, Forbes


Headlines – September 11/17

  • Wall St set for relief rally as Irma, North Korea fears ease. Read story
  • Bye Bitcoin: China to ban commercial trading of virtual currencies. Read story
  • Oil weakens on fears Irma could dent US demand. Read story
  • North Korea warns US of ‘greatest pain’ if sanctions pass. Read story
  • Trump calls for a tax reform ‘speed up’ in light of Hurricane Irma. Read story
  • London retains its crown as world’s top financial centre. Read story
  • Did Saudi Crown Prince make a covert visit to Israel? Read story
  • The new CEO of Heinz Kraft is 29 years old. Read story
  • Apple’s trillion dollar iPhone. Read story
  • India’s traffic is so bad it’s changing the cars people buy. Reads story
  • Adobe wants to bring digital marketing to your car. Read story
  • Survivors of Irma beg for aid and face armed looters as they brace for Jose. Read story
  • ‘Inspirational’ robots to replace teachers in 10 years. Read story
  • On the lighter side. Check it out!

Stay tuned!


Headlines – September 7/17

  • US dollar tumbles as Yen, Euro rally on Irma, ECB. Read story
  • Deadly Irma heads for Miami as Caribbean islands are wrecked. Read story
  • Equifax executives sold stock after data breach, before informing public. Read story
  • Trump urges Republicans to start tax reform immediately. Read story
  • The cost of long-term care is going to bankrupt us. Read story
  • Hurricane scientists have never seen an image like this before. Read story
  • Defying Trump, Senate panel approves funding for U.N. climate body. Read story
  • Will Saudi Aramco deliver the world record profit for next year’s IPO? Read story
  • US mortgage rates follow bond yields down to 10-month low. Read story
  • Big banks hike prime rate as Bank of Canada tightens monetary policy. Read story
  • HSBC joins Bell Pottinger exodus after S. Africa scandal. Read story
  • President Trump’s and Richard Branson’s Caribbean homes  destroyed by Irma. Read story
  • Scientists have invented a pen that can screen cancer in seconds rather than weeks. Read story
  • On the lighter side. Check it out!

Stay tuned!


Headlines – September 6/17

  • Wall St opens higher even as North Korea, Irma weigh. Read story
  • Canadian dollar jumps as Bank of Canada raises benchmark rate to 1%. Read story
  • US trade gap edges up; deficit with China at 11-month high. Read story
  • Irma makes landfall in Caribbean, heads toward Puerto Rico. Read story
  • How to track Hurricane Irma in real time as it hits land. Read story
  • Oil job losses in UK ‘worse than expected.’ Read story
  • “We’re now seeing bubbles everywhere”- Deutche Bank boss urges end to “era of cheap money.” Read story
  • Stock market investor who sank Valeant thinks Bitcoin fund is ‘most dangerous’. Read story
  • Kentucky public employee retirements surge on fears of pension fund collapse. Read story
  • China fears radioactive fallout from North Korea blast. Read story
  • White Christians now a minority in the US. Read story
  • Kohls to sell Amazon devices in 10 LA, Chicago stores. Read story
  • On the lighter side. Check it out!

Stay tuned!


Headlines – September 5/17

  • Stock market set for lower open as North Korea standoff intensifies. Read story
  • North Korea threat prompts Japan evacuation preparations. Read story
  • What heavier US military activity in the Pacific means for North Korea. Read story
  • Putin warns of ‘planetary catastrophe’. Read story
  • Euro area poised for fastest economic growth in a decade. Read story
  • China bans initial coin offerings calling them ‘illegal fundraising’. Read story
  • Robert Schiller wrote the book on bubbles, and says ‘the best example right now is Bitcoin’. Read story
  • Hurricane Irma to track toward US east and gulf coast. Read story
  • Trump: We must fix our self-destructive tax code. Read story
  • Trump to end ‘Dreamer’ program. Read story
  • How debt ceiling could put government pending on diet. Read story
  • Does your job pay less than it did five years ago? Read story
  • Wary of robots taking jobs, Hawaii toys with guaranteed pay. Read story
  • More than half in UK have no religion. Read story
  • On the lighter side. Check it out!

Stay tuned!


Headlines – September 1/17


  • US job growth slows in August; wage growth retreats. Read story
  • Dollar falls as weak job number cuts Fed outlook. Read story
  • Retail US gas prices surge as Harvey keeps refiners shut down. Read story
  • Putin warns North Korea situation on verge of ‘large scale conflict’. Read story
  • Canadian economy smashes expectations with 4.5% growth. Read story
  • Kenya presidential election cancelled by Supreme Court. Read story
  • Tesla Model 3 killer? Nissan to launch redesigned Leaf. Read story
  • Wells Fargo reveals even more fake accounts. Read story
  • Battle over Robert E, Lee statue enters Charlottesville courthouse Friday. Read story
  • Stock-market investor who sank Valeant thinks a bitcoin fund is the ‘most dangerous’. Read story
  • China, India rivalry looms over BRICS summit. Read story
  • This grim map shows all the places working-class Americans can’t afford to live. Read story
  • Only 13% of Americans worry about tech making their jobs obsolete. Read story
  • On the lighter side. Check it out!

Headlines – August 31/17

  • Stocks gain on growth, US dollar extends run. Read story
  • Texas Chemical plant explodes after Hurricane Harvey flooding. Read story
  • Harvey shuts key US fuel pipeline. Read story
  • China says it will never allow war or chaos at its doorstep as tensions escalate on Korean peninsula. Read story
  • US oil set for biggest monthly loss in over year as flood hits demand. Read story
  • Bitcoin rises again, sets another record. Read story
  • UBS and other big banks are showing governments how to put cash on a blockchain. Read story
  • Small business owners angry over proposed Liberal tax changes. Read story
  • US housing prices keep rising on supply constraints. Read story
  • Markets about to find out what China’s leadership reshuffle means. Read story
  • Spanish tycoon outs Gates as world’s richest. Read story
  • A new t-shirt robot can make as many shirts as 17  factory workers. Read story
  • 12 places that aren’t keeping your data safe. Read story
  • On the brighter side. Check it out!

U.S. stocks rose on Wednesday after stronger-than-expected U.S. economic growth outweighed concerns about escalating tensions between the United States and North Korea, and uncertainty in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

The S&P 500 closed the day up .46% moving out of its short-term downtrend channel.


Technology stocks lead the way higher, with the NASDAQ closing up 1.05%. It has now broken out of its near-term downtrend channel.


The Canadian TSX Index was up .33%, but remains in the downtrend channel it has been in since late April.


In Asia we saw the Shanghai Index takes a small breather after rocketing higher on Monday and Tuesday.


The Japanese Nikkei was up .74%, regaining most of yesterday’s loss, as the Yen retreated.


In Europe, the German DAX, was with up .47%, but like most Euro stocks, remains in the downtrend that it has been in since mid June. The Euro’s strength hurts exports.


The London FTSE gained .38%, but still remains in its downtrend channel.


Gold was able to break through powerful resistance on Monday at the 1280-1307 level. Gold closed today down 4.80 at 1314.10, and we will watch tomorrow to see how gold closes the month. Near-term we have resistance at 1325, 1340, and the the previous high of 1367.


With currencies, the $US is trying to climb back into its downtrend channel after dropping almost 10% since the start of the year.


The $CAN fails to penetrate strong resistance at .80. Longer-term we are looking for the $US to regain strength, so last week we suggested that Canadians would want to look to convert to $US at these levels.


The Euro was up slightly today. Longer-term, we are very bearish on the Euro, and expect that 2018 will be a tough year for the Euro. Last week we said that Europeans will want to start to convert to $US on this strength, as we identified strong resistance at 1.18-1.20.


After gaining on safe-haven capital flow, the Yen has now broken down out of its near-term uptrend channel. Longer-term, we are bearish on the Yen.


The British Pound bounces after recent weakness. A break below 1.28 opens the door to further weakness at 1.27 and 1.262.


With bonds we saw the US 10-year bond decline slightly, resulting in a .94% gain in yield, now at  2.15%.


Stay tuned!


Headline – August 29/17

  • Gold climbs as N. Korea missile test sees price at 2017 high. Read story
  • Trump vows “all options open” after N. Korea launch over Japan. Read story
  • S. Korea drops eight heavy bombs near N. Korea to show ‘overwhelming force’. Read story
  • Oil prices dip as market assesses hurricane damage. Read story
  • US dollar dives to lowest level since 2015 after N. Korea missile launch. Read story
  • Euro rises to 18-month high against dollar. Read story
  • Harvey set to pummel flooded Houston again. Read story
  • US home prices surge in June. led by Seattle. Read story
  • Burger King launches Whopper Coin crypto-cash in Russia. Read story
  • Generals bring battlefield expertise to business world. Read story
  • Weight-loss and fitness goals often backfire. Here’s what to do instead. Read story
  • Mark Zuckerberg tells new daughter to play outside. Read story
  • Hilary to let her guard down for $1200 a ticket. Read story
  • On the lighter side. Check it out!

Stay tuned!


Headlines – August 25/17

  • Stocks heading for best weeks in six ahead of Draghi,Yellen speeches. Read story
  • Samsung heir jailed 5-years for corruption and bribery. Read story
  • Oil trims weekly drop as storm heads for Texas;gasoline surges. Read story
  • Draghi has reason to tone down the drama at Jackson Hole. Read story
  • Trump to start push for tax reform in speech next week. Read story
  • Gary Cohn says he’ll stay because neo-nazis won’t drive him out. Read story
  • Clashes over Indian guru rape verdict kill 12. Read story
  • Ex-PM Yingluck “flees Thailand” ahead of trial verdict. Read story
  • Bitcoin. Ether extend gains, even as digital currencies take a regulatory hit. Read story
  • US, Mexico, Canada ink non-disclosure agreements for NAFTA talks. Read story
  • Without insurance, some vendors balk at stalking shelves at Sears. Read story
  • California’s legislature is being asked to consider taxing robots. Read story
  • French president Macron under fire for spending $30,000 on makeup. Read story
  • If you are super indecisive, psychology says technology is to blame. Read story
  • On the lighter side. Check it out!

Stay tuned!