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10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

James Hennessy

Happy Tuesday, crew.

1. The world's central bankers are telling us that low interest rates are going to be a fact of life for a long while yet. A report from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), overseen by RBA governor Philip Lowe, calls on governments to do more to kickstart their economies rather than relying on central banks to deploy "unconventional" policy – like, for example, negative interest rates.

2. A new report says HSBC is set to axe 10,000 jobs globally, amid a generally bad year for bank workers across the globe. The Financial Times, which broke the story, reported that the majority of the cuts will be in the upper echelons of the banks. Makes you wonder how they'll find 10,000 jobs to slash near the top.

3. Donald Trump announced US forces will withdraw from Syria, defending the decision in a late night flurry of tweets. Many in the US, including allies of the President, are criticising the move on the basis it represents an an abandonment of the Kurds in northeast Syria, who are now susceptible to military action from Turkey. Trump thinks that will be fine, as per this very normal pair of tweets:

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1181232251390042118

4. Also on Trump: he's been ordered to hand over eight years of tax returns by a federal judge in New York. His team argued the president is immune from criminal prosecution, which the judge described as “repugnant to the nation’s governmental structure and constitutional values.”

5. Hungry Jack's has announced a plant-based version of its Whopper burger in Australia, making it the latest fast food chain to explore alternatives to meat. The "Rebel Whopper" is made using a flame-grilled patty from v2food – the plant-based meat startup backed by Hungry Jack's founder Jack Cowin. The company says it isn't targeting vegans or vegetarians per se, but rather 'flexitarians' who want to explore non-meat alternatives in their diet.

6. SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son says he's "embarrassed" over recent IPO failures backed by his company, like Uber and WeWork. But he's pointing the finger squarely at founders – like recently booted WeWork boss Adam Neumann – telling them to "know [their] limit" to prevent this sort of debacle in future. One could not unreasonably point to the huge effect of SoftBank's massive Vision Fund as a problem too, but perhaps I digress.

7. Over at Instagram, the user experience experiments continue apace. Starting this week, the 'Following' tab is going away, meaning you can no longer stalk your friends' activity on the app. Previously, you could use that tab to see the likes and comments of the people you follow. According to the company, barely anyone was using the feature regularly anyway.

8. Apple has released MacOS Catalina, its latest computer operating system. If you have a compatible machine, you can update for free right now. There are a stack of new features – which we've helpfully outlined for you here – but the most noticeable is that iTunes, that clunky behemoth of an app, is finally no more. It has been split into its constituent parts, like music, podcasts and TV, much like it is on iOS.

9. Also interesting on Apple – apparently the company is considering the no-brainer idea to bundle Apple Music and Apple TV+ in a single subscription. Such a package would no doubt have wide implications in the subscription market, and early reports suggest the music industry is feeling pretty unhappy about the idea, on the basis they might end up getting the short end of the stick.

10. New leaks suggest Google's new smartphone, the Pixel 4, will be priced similarly to the iPhone 11 – putting it very much in 'eye-wateringly expensive' territory. The cheapest phone will be AUD $1,171.75, according to the leak. The leak relates directly to Canadian pricing, but you can be sure that the Aussie prices will be in a similar range. It really does seem that top spec smartphones are not getting cheaper anytime soon.

BONUS ITEM
I'm just going to put the headline for this story here: "A golden chamber buried under a mountain in Japan contains water so pure it can dissolve metal, and it's helping scientists detect dying stars." Cool.